Food for Thought: The Fear of the Lord

fearShould we still fear the Lord?

First John 4:18 is a beautiful passage. Speaking of the Day of the Lord, John writes: ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.’ By themselves, John’s words capture an important truth: for those who have trusted Christ, there is confidence to approach God with boldness (Heb 4:14-16); we are no longer mean servants, we are cherished friends (John 15:15) and beloved children (Gal 4:4-6).

However, like with every verse in the Bible, when 1 John 4:18 is taken as the singular and definitive word on fear, it necessarily misrepresents the whole counsel of God. God has far more to say to us about fear, love, and worship than that God’s love merely casts out fear. Let me suggest four truths about the fear of the Lord. Continue reading

Food for Thought: Competing Visions of Heaven

heaven2What would a trip to heaven look like?

In 2004, Baker Books decided to test-run a book about one man’s trip to heaven. The book was Don Piper’s Ninety Minutes in Heaven. In ten years, his book has sold over 6 million copies, been translated 46 times, and prompted a whole new genre of “Christian “ book—heavenly tourism.

I put “Christian” in quotes because even as visions of heaven are known in Scripture, the descriptions are nothing like the visions described in newfangled spiritual journeys. In fact, it is worth asking: What should we think about  Heaven is for Real, Ninety Minutes in Heaven, Twenty-three minutes in Hell, etc.? Let me offer five thoughts.

First, descriptions of heaven are superfluous to and compete with the Bible.

There are a number of times in Scripture when God’s word speaks of prophets and apostles entering God’s heavenly court. However, in the case of Isaiah (Isa 6), Paul (2 Cor 12), and John (Revelation), their vision became recorded Scripture. This is categorically different from the accounts offered by Piper, Burpo, and others. In a world of competing sound bytes, these books add to Scripture’s testimony of what to know and believe about God, heaven, and how we get there.

Likewise, for those raised back to life, Scripture has no record of their experience. Apparently, God’s sufficient word did not (and does not) need such testimony. In fact, in Jesus’ parable with the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31), Jesus makes it clear that if earth-dwellers “do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” In context, this has direct application to Jesus death and resurrection, but it also relates to near death experiences today. If Heaven is for Real is considered a way to engender faith in those who won’t read the Bible, such thinking is a vain invention of man, not the ways of God. The Spirit (who inspired the Word) will do nothing to undermine the authority of the Scripture.

Second, in Scripture heavenly visions were accompanied by great afflictions.

John was not brought into heaven until his tortured exile on Patmos; when Isaiah left God’s throne room, he was tasked with proclaiming the ‘gospel’ to a nation who wouldn’t believe (Isa 6:9–11). And in Paul’s case, the apostle declared that a messenger from Satan accompanied his visions, so as to keep him from becoming conceited (2 Cor 12:7). By contrast, the recent heavenly accounts have brought acclaim, book contracts, and movie deals. There might be some slight discomforts that followed, but thorns sent from Satan himself? I’m doubtful. When we reconsider the places in Scripture where Paul, John, and Isaiah encounter God, it is apparent that the comparison is apples and oranges.

Third, God’s revelation always exalts Scripture and Jesus Christ.

In 2 Peter 1, Peter speaks of the origin of Scripture as arising from the Spirit and not man (vv. 19–21). Strikingly, he contrasts his own vision of glory with that of the OT. He says that the inspired word is more reliable than his own experience with the divine. Such apostolic humility gives us pause when we hear others speaking (and getting paid to speak) of their experience, especially when their message is more about heaven than Jesus. While Scripture is a radically, Christ-centered book (Luke 24:27; John 5:39), these new bestsellers focus more on heaven, than Jesus. And yet, what would heaven be like without Jesus? In a word, it would be hell! Indeed, for Christians, Christ is our heavenly hope. Or more put more starkly: Heaven is Christ.

Fourth, why are we convinced that uninspired heavenly visions are from God?

Since we know Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 10:4), why would be surprised that in these days, the father of lies would seek to lead astray the elect of God, as Jesus says in Matthew 24:22, 24, 31? Would it not be a stratagem of Satan to concoct a series of visions that feign heaven, but without mentioning the gospel? Satan is very happy for people to believe in heaven and the afterlife, especially if takes them away from God’s Word or it increases the likelihood that they would begin looking for the sensational in life, instead of life in Scripture (cf. Deut 32:47). In other words, if Satan’s goal is to distance Christians from the truth God’s Word, why wouldn’t he use heavenly tourism as a way creating a taste for something less than Christ himself?

Fifth, and most importantly, heavenly visitations are superfluous for the believer who worships every Sunday.

Though we don’t often speak this way, when Christians assemble for worship, they visit heaven every Lord’s Day. Or better, heaven visits them. According to Hebrews 12, when believers gather in the name of Jesus, they are Spiritually and literally (if not bodily), gathering around the throne of Christ. Read Hebrews 12:22–24.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 

It doesn’t say, “And you will come to Mount Zion” in the future; it speaks in the present tense: “You have come . . .”

When believers gather to worship, the Spirit of Jesus is present. When the Scriptures are read and preached rightly, Jesus, who sits in heaven, speaks on the earth. When the congregation sings a new song (i.e., a song of salvation), they are joining with the angels. And when we lift our hears in prayer, we are entering the very throne room of God. Sadly, too many Christians forget that they “travel” to heaven every week. As a result, they are vulnerable to the exotic testimonies of others.

In the end, heavenly tourism, as sold at the local Wal-Mart, is deficient, dangerous, and possibly even demonic. It competes with the way in which God has spoken, and it leads believers and unbelievers alike to put confidence in the words of men and experiences that stand outside of Scripture. All in all, it is a kind of literature that is not needed and should be avoided. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness in God’s word (2 Pet 1:3). The question for each of us is, “Do we have an appetite for the things of God, or are we content to settle for visions of heaven that speak little of the gospel?”

For more on visits to heaven, read David Jones four-page outline on ‘Near Death Experiences.’ It will give you more than a few things to think about and help you formulate a better understanding of what Scripture says about heaven, seeing God, and near death experiences.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

 

Is Capital Punishment Biblical?

deathIs Capital Punishment Biblical?

By now, you’ve probably heard the news about the ‘botched’ execution of an Oklahoma inmate. On Tuesday of this week, two days after I referenced Genesis 9:6 as a proof-text for capital punishment, Clayton Lockett, a man convicted of rape and murder died 43 minutes after his lethal injection failed to produce the effect of a sedated death. This kind of gruesome execution leads ethicists, politicians, humanitarians, indeed all of us to question the use of capital punishment.

As Christians, such incidents should grieve us, but as always we must turn to Scripture to find God’s perspective. And on this issue, like so many, God is not silent.

What Does the Bible Say?

Throughout the Bible, God is presented as sovereign over life: “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god besides me; I kill and make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none who can deliver out of my hand” (Deut 32:39). “The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up” (1 Sam 2:6).

As the Sovereign Creator and Just Potter, he has the right to give life and take it away. In Adam, we deserve death, not life (Rom 5:18-19), but such a sentence of death does not permit man to take the life of another. Just the reverse, only God has that right.

Still while God alone has authority over life, there are two primary texts that describe God giving humanity a right to execute a murderer: Genesis 9:6 and Romans 13:4. In other words, while men in and of themselves have no right to take life, God has ordered a world that endows states the right to take the life of renegade life-takers. Continue reading

Spotting Counterfeit Gospels

gospelThis week, I discussed “counterfeit gospels” with a couple guys I am meeting with for discipleship. After unpacking the horizontal gospel and vertical gospel for the last three months (those are my terms for what Matt Chandler has called the “gospel in the air” and the “gospel on the ground”), things began to crystalize as we considered ways in which evangelicals misunderstand the gospel.

To that end—understanding and recognizing our deviations from the gospel—Trevin Wax’s book Counterfeit Gospels is a great aid. In three sections, he outlines the gospel in terms of story (creation, fall, redemption, and new creation), announcement (God sent his son to die in the place of sinners; he raised him to life on the third day for the justification of sinners; and any and all who trust on Christ for the forgiveness of their sins will be saved), and community (the people of God are formed by the gospel and are called to announce the gospel).

In each section, Trevin explains in detail what the gospel is, but then he devotes two chapters in each section to tackle what the gospel isn’t. And better than any book I’ve read on the gospel, his book exposes the false gospels of our day. What Counterfeit Gospels does so well is, borrowing the language of J. I. Packer, to show how half-truths masquerading as whole truths become damnable untruths—okay, so  I might have added the anathema. But the point remains.

A Modern Evangelical Problem

As is too often the case, Christians who (I think) believe in the gospel fail to communicate the gospel. Instead of articulating the gospel in Scriptural terms, they dress it up in psychological language, reduce the weight of God’s judgment, and replace evangelistic witnessing with social action as the mission of the church. And these deviations does not include the false teachers who outright reject the true gospel or intentionally declare a false gospel.

Concerning the unintentional misrepresentation of the gospel, I heard a pastor recently preach a gospel-less Good Friday message. Yet, when I spoke with him about it later and asked him what the gospel was, he clearly articulated it’s meaning. What is going on? Continue reading

The Need for Expositional Preaching (pt. 4): Apostolic Preaching is Expositional

pulpit2I recently shared this article with our deacons. This post which focuses on the pattern of preaching in the New Testament is part four of four. (Parts onetwo, three).

Not surprisingly, from the pattern of Old Testament priests and prophets to the teaching ministry of Jesus, the church continues a pattern of expositional preaching. This is most evident in the book of Acts.

The Expositional Acts of the Apostles

In Acts, Luke gives a selection of exemplary sermons by Peter (Acts 3-4), Stephen (Acts 7), and Paul (Acts 13-14, 17). In these sermons, the Spirit-filled preachers are regularly appealing to the Old Testament, retelling the history of Israel, and explaining how Jesus Christ fulfills the Old Testament patterns, promises, and prophecies.

For instance, in Acts 13:15 Paul and Barnabas are invited to give a word of exhortation (a sermon?) “after reading from the Law and the Prophets.” It is easy to see the pattern of exposition here: read the word, preach about the same word. Paul paid attention to his audience, but he faithfully proclaimed God’s Word according to the pattern of sound words that was found in the Old Testament.

Of course, from the terse details in Acts, we cannot replicate the form of the apostle’s exposition, but we can see their commitment to explaining the Old Testament Scriptures: They showed how the Old Testament related to Jesus, and called their audiences to repent and believe.

Moreover, when Paul handed off his ministry to the Ephesians elders, he said to them, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (vv. 26-27). His reference to blood harkens back to the watchman’s role in Ezekiel (ch. 3, 33); he likens the preacher’s task of protecting the flock to the watchman’s task of warning the city, and the way he tells the Ephesians elders to guard the flock is by means of teaching the whole counsel of Scripture.

Therefore, from the book of Acts, we can discern a flexible pattern of exposition intended to proclaim Christ from all the Scriptures. Still, there is one more place in the New Testament that demonstrates the validity and vitality of expositional preaching. And this final illustration is arguably the most convincing, as it is the only sermon full-length sermon in Scripture—Hebrews.

Hebrews: An Expositional Sermon

While we read Hebrews today as a letter, it has every indication that this epistle was a sermon first, and a letter second. On that point Dennis Johnson observes a number of sermonic features ( Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures, 167-78):

  1. The book closes with the words, “my word of exhortation,” which in other contexts including Acts 13 indicate a sermon;
  2. Hebrews regularly exalts in God’s spoken word (1:1-2; 2:1-4; 12:25-29);
  3. the Scripture citations are introduced as words spoken, not just written (3:7, 15; 5:6; 10:15);
  4. the author of Hebrews twice abbreviates his comments in order shorten his sermon (9:5; 11:32);
  5. unlike other letters that begin with doctrine and transition to application, Hebrews unites exposition and application, such that in each section of the sermon there is biblical quotation, explanation, and exhortation;
  6. there is a discernible outline to the sermon—Jesus is better than angels (1:4-2:28); better than Moses (3:1-4:13); better than Aaron (4:14-7:28); better than old covenant sacrifices (8:1-10:31); better than the patriarchs (10:32-12:17); better than Moses as the mediator of worship (12:18-29);
  7. the length of Hebrews read aloud totals about 55 minutes, which is in the ballpark for a sermon.

In this outline, it becomes clear that the content of Hebrews is a series of biblical expositions. Specifically, the author cites, explains, and applies Psalm 8:4-6 (Hebrews 2), Psalm 95:7-11 (Hebrews 3-4); Psalm 110:1, 4 (Hebrews 5-7); Jeremiah 31:31-34 (Hebrews 8-10); Habakkuk 2:2-4 (Hebrews 10-11); Exodus 19:16-23 (Hebrews 12). By citing, explaining, and applying these six passages (plus drawing attention to other Old Testament persons and passages), the author models a kind of biblical exposition that is loaded with Scripture, well-illustrated, and filled with application. For this reason, it serves as conclusive support that the kind of preaching modeled by Scripture is expositional preaching.

The Pastoral Epistles

But Scripture goes even further. God’s word not only models exposition; it also commands it. If we take seriously the words of Paul to Timothy as words of instruction for the church, we find that Paul actually commands pastors to preach expositionally. In his first letter to Timothy Paul writes,

Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim 4:11-16)

Stressing Timothy’s role of teaching (mentioned 3x, plus “commanding” and “exhortation”), Paul tells his son in the faith: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” Like the priests of old (who functioned as pastors in their own right), Paul instructs Timothy to read the Scripture and teach the Scripture with exhortation. In short, to turn back the false teachers and the false teaching in the Ephesian church, Timothy is to herald the truth of the gospel, trusting that the word of God will sufficiently equip the saints, expose the wolves, and build up the church.

A Final Plea for Expositional Preaching

The same is true today. Pastors do not build true churches by managerial excellence, neither do they comfort souls with modern psychology. Rather, pastors are to lead the flock of God to read the Scriptures, understand the Scriptures, and apply the Scriptures.

When pastors are faithful to do that, churches will grow and be built up in the doctrines of the faith. When they fail to do that, they are left to the most popular strategies and psychologies that the world has to offer. In our Southern Baptist context, expositional preaching has been out of fashion in local churches for too long. Only by returning to it, will the word of God be given room to purify the church, sanctify the saints, and convert the lost.

May God be pleased to give us ears to hear the whole counsel of God word preached and heard from faithful expositors of God’s word.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

 

The Need for Expositional Preaching (pt. 3): Jesus was an Expositor

emmausI recently shared this article with our deacons. This post which focuses on Jesus’s own practice of preaching is part three of four. (Parts one and two).

The Old Testament is the not the only place where we find expositional preaching. Jesus himself was expositional preacher. In fact, he was more than an expositional preacher, according to John John 1:18 he literally ‘exegeted’ the Father, meaning that he explained, exposed, and revealed the character of God in his very life and person.

Jesus Was an Expositional Preacher

Jesus also carried on a ministry of exposition before and after his death and resurrection. For instance, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly quoted the Old Testament and then provided a more accurate interpretation and deeper application. In full agreement with his opponents that God’s word was divinely inspired, Jesus taught as one with authority (Matt 7:29). Interestingly, with absolute authority, he did not create his own sermons; he repeatedly put himself under the word of God (cf. Gal 4:4) and interpreted how he himself fulfilled the Old Testament.

One example of this exposition comes on the road to Emmaus. Writing about the day of his resurrection, Luke records the manner in which Jesus spoke to Simon and Cleopas, the two forlorn followers of Christ who had left Jerusalem for the hot springs of Emmaus. Luke records,  “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). While we cannot know the content of his ‘sermon,’ we know that Jesus began with Genesis and continued through the Old Testament expositing all the places that Christ’s sufferings and glories were revealed. Jesus followed the same pattern in the Upper Room. Luke 24:44-47 reads,

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 

Though condensing Jesus’ instruction, it is apparent that Luke gives the sense of Jesus’ teaching. Like on the road to Emmaus, he explains how all three sections of the Old Testament (the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings/Psalms) relate to himself. In so doing Jesus exposits the whole Hebrew Bible in light of his cross and resurrection.

While it was the Holy Spirit that gave Peter and the other apostles power to proclaim the gospel; it was Jesus post-resurrection instruction that explained how the often-confused disciples could understand how to interpret the Old Testament in the light of Christ. As George Smeaton observed a century ago, “Christ’s oral expositions are to be taken as the middle term, or as the connecting link between Old Testament records on the one hand, and the apostolic commentary on the other.  In a word, He was Himself the interpreter of Scripture.” His Christ-centered interpretations sit underneath the testimony of the apostles and can be observed in the texture of the New Testament (cf. George Smeaton, The Apostle’s Doctrine of the Atonement4-7).

Jesus is the Model

In the end, it is impossible to duplicate Jesus’ teaching style, because Jesus is inimitable and because we only have the testimony of Jesus’ apostles, not his actually sermon manuscripts. Still, while we cannot copy Jesus’ sermon style, his pattern of citing the Scripture, explaining Scripture, and applying Scripture is the basic formula for all exposition preaching. It is discernible when we look carefully at how Jesus related to the Old Testament, and it is even more apparent when we look at how his immediate followers preached in the books of Acts and Hebrews. We’ll do that tomorrow.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

The Need for Expositional Preaching (pt. 2): A Biblical Defense

pulpit

I recently shared this article with our deacons. This post which focuses on the practice of preaching in the Old Testament is part two of four.

The simple answer for why expositional preaching is necessary is that the health of the church depends on the regular reading of God’s word and the full explanation of the whole counsel of God. This claim can be supported by church history (as seen yesterday), but it can also be seen in Scripture. And in Scripture, expositional preaching is supported by both the doctrine of God’s word and the practice of God’s people. Today we will consider the doctrine of Scripture and the practice in the Old Testament; tomorrow and Friday we will consider the practice of Jesus himself and the apostles.

A Short Doctrine of Scripture

First, as to doctrine, the belief that God’s word is powerful is seen in the way that God’s created the light by his word (Gen 1:3); he upholds the universe with his word (Heb 1:3); and he raises the dead to life  with his word (Ezekiel 37; John 11). Understanding the power of God’s Word, preachers who are unashamed of the Word must labor to expound God’s word and not arrange Bible verses around their own words, ideas, or outlines.

The power of preaching is not in the preaching of the Word; it is the Word preached. A short list of verses can illustrate this point.

  • The prophets of old never spoke for themselves; they always began their messages, “Thus says the Lord.” For these messengers of God; the power of their ‘preaching’ was in God’s oracle; not in there rhetorical giftedness.
  • Accordingly Isaiah says that God’s word never returns void and always accomplishes what God purposes. (55:10-11)
  • In Jesus’ parable of the four soils, the seed was the word of God; and the seed had power to create life when it landed on the good soil. (Matthew 13).
  • In another parable of the kingdom, Jesus spoke of the word growing when the farmer slept. (Mark 4; 1 Corinthians 3).
  • God’s word is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword; thus, only the word has the power to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12)
  • After hearing the voice of God on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter writes that there is more certainty in Old Testament Scriptures than in his own personal encounter with God. In other words, the Bible is more reliable and authoritative than our subjective experiences. (2 Pet 1:19-21)

In short, expositional preaching can only be seen as effective when the doctrine of God’s word informs our theology. A high view of God’s word will enable us to preach the word in season and our of season; a low view of God’s word exposes us to the temptation of looking for something with more immediate flash and less eternal impact. For these reasons, expositional preaching is the method of preaching which best conveys the form and substance of God’s word.

In the Old Testament

Still there is another reason why expositional preaching is necessary—it is modeled by God’s people. In the Old Testament, a kind of expositional preaching occurred when the Levites gave the sense of the text to the nation of Israel on a feast day that commemorated their return to the land. Listen to Nehemiah 8:5-8.

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

Carrying out their priestly duties (cf. Lev 10:11; Deut 33:10-11; Mal 2:1-9), these servants of the Word enabled the righteous remnant to understand what God expected of them. Tragically, the nation of Israel suffered greatly when the priests failed to instruct the people with the Law (Mal 2:1-9). When the Old Testament “pastors” failed to feed God’s people from the book of Moses, the people starved spiritually and went in search for other deities.

Summary

Applied to today, could it not be the case that one reason why expositional preachers pack stadiums today is because there is a hunger for the Word of God among God’s people (cf. Amos 8:3)? True believers hunger and thirst for God’s word and they are willing to go anywhere to feast on his Word. As a preacher, who also hungers for the word of God, I know of no better way to ensure that God’s people hear God’s voice than by regularly preaching the Word as it was inspired, praying that God would illuminate eyes and captivate hearts as the Scriptures are explained and applied, verse-by-verse, week-after-week.

Tomorrow, we’ll pick up the biblical argument for expositional preaching in the New Testament.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

The Need for Expositional Preaching (part 1)

pulpit_paigeI recently shared this article with our deacons. This post which focuses on exposition in recent history is part one of four.

Paige Patterson has said, “There is no genuinely good preaching except exposition.” Such serious words require us to consider what expositional preaching is and why it is so important that preachers only preach expositional sermons. Continue reading

What Does the Flood Teach Us About God?

floodAs it so often happens in preaching, to make one point from the text of Scripture, requires glossing over another. This is especially true when working with large chunks of Scripture.

Yesterday, I did that as I preached the Flood narrative (Gen 5:28–9:17). In that section, Moses records that God was ‘sorry’ that he had created man (6:6), which raises a whole host of questions related to God and his relationship to the world: Can God suffer? What does it mean that he is sorry? Does God change his mind? Does God know the future? Etc.

As I mentioned those things in the message, my mind was thinking: “I am not spending enough time explaining this.” But since the goal was not verse-by-verse exposition but the exposition of the whole narrative, I pressed on.

Still important questions remain about what Moses meant in Genesis 6:6. Whole revisionist theologies have been created on the basis of those questions. Open Theism, a view that denies God’s absolute knowledge of the future along with his foreordination of contingent events, arises from the emotional problem with evil and passages like Genesis 6:6 which on the surface insinuates that God changes his mind or grieves over mistakes in history.

In yesterdays sermon, I did not get a chance to answer some of those questions, but here are a few places where I or others have addressed the subject of God’s impassibility and his relations with the world.

Can God Suffer?

Immutability and Impassibility: Essential Truths in an Uncertain World

God Does Not Repent Like a Man (John Piper)

Here’s the sermon audio from yesterday:

This message kicked off a series on the holiness of God in the Old Testament. Admittedly, the message focuses more on God’s justice and mercy than his holiness per se. Nevertheless, as the first major display of God’s action in redemptive history (post-fall), it displays a vital reality: In his holiness, God is dreadfully severe towards sin and awesomely gracious towards his covenant people (cf. Rom 11:22).

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

What’s Going on in Genesis 1–11?

genesisSince Julius Wellhausen suggested that the first five books were not written by Moses, there has been an endless discussion between biblical scholars about the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Some have suggested that it is a compilation document written over time from the various viewpoints of various redactors. For others, its poetic form proves that it is mythological account of creation, on par with other pagan etiologies. However, following the likes of G. K. Beale, it seems best to see any interaction between Moses and other ancient Near Eastern religions (and there certainly was familiarity and interaction) as polemical attempts to esteem Yahweh-Elohim as the sovereign creator of all things.

There are many reasons for affirming the historical nature of Genesis 1-11 and the singular authorship of Moses, but perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring is the literary arrangement of Genesis 1–11. Borrowing from the observations of others, let me suggest two suggestive patterns in Genesis 1-11 that show how carefully Moses, schooled in Egypt and inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote a record of Creation, Fall, Judgment, Salvation, and New Creation. Continue reading