Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"I'd prefer just to be totally frank with you."

So said Phil Johnson as he began his critique of the emerging church movement at last week's Shepherd's Conference. Phil went on to say:

Virtually all the literature, style, and philosophy associated with the emerging subculture are shot through with conspicuous elements of worldliness, man-centered worship, the narcissism of youth, liberal and neo-orthodox theology, and the silly, ages-old campaign to be "contemporary" at all costs.

Read the whole thing HERE.

HT: Justin Taylor

Friday, March 03, 2006

How Christ Fulfilled and Ended the Old Testament Regime

By John Piper

The glory of Jesus Christ shines more clearly when we see him in his proper relation to the Old Testament. He has a magnificent relation to all that was written. It is not surprising that this is the case, because he is called the Word of God incarnate (John 1:14). Would not the Word of God incarnate be the sum and consummation of the Word of God written? Consider these summary statements and the texts that support them.

1. All the Scriptures bear witness to Christ. Moses wrote about Christ.

John 5:39, 46: You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me. . . . If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

2. All the Scriptures are about Jesus Christ, even where there is no explicit prediction. That is, there is a fullness of implication in all Scriptures that points to Christ and is satisfied only when he has come and done his work. “The meaning of all the Scriptures is unlocked by the death and resurrection of Jesus.” (Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, p. 54)

Luke 24:27: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

3. Jesus came to fulfill all that was written in the Law and the Prophets. All of it was pointing to him even where it is not explicitly prophetic. He accomplishes what the Law required.

Matthew 5:17-18: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

4. All the promises of God in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. That is, when you have Christ, sooner or later you will have both Christ himself and all else that God promised through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:20: For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

5. The law was kept perfectly by Christ. And all its penalties against God’s sinful people were poured out on Christ. Therefore, the law is now manifestly not the path to righteousness, Christ is. The ultimate goal of the law is that we would look to Christ, not law-keeping, for our righteousness.

Romans 10:4: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Therefore with the coming of Christ virtually everything has changed:

  1. The blood sacrifices ceased because Christ fulfilled all that they were pointing toward. He was the final, unrepeatable sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 9:12: “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”
  2. The priesthood that stood between worshipper and God has ceased. Hebrews 7:23-24: “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.”
  3. The physical temple has ceased to be the geographic center of worship. Now Christ himself is the center of worship. He is the “place,” the “tent,” and the “temple” where we meet God. Therefore Christianity has not geographic center, no Mecca, no Jerusalem. John 4:21-23: “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. . . . But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.’” John 2:19-21: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. . . . He was speaking about the temple of his body.” Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
  4. The food laws that set Israel apart from the nations have been fulfilled and ended in Christ. Mark 7:18-19: “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him . . . (Thus he declared all foods clean).’”
  5. The establishment of civil law on the basis of an ethnically rooted people, who are ruled directly by God, has ceased. The people of God are no longer a unified political body or an ethnic group or a nation-state, but are exiles and sojourners among all ethnic groups and all states. Therefore, God’s will for states is not taken directly from the Old Testament theocratic order, but should now be reestablished from place to place and from time to time by means that correspond to God’s sovereign rule over all peoples, and that correspond to the fact that genuine obedience, rooted as it is in faith in Christ, cannot be coerced by law. The state is therefore grounded in God, but not expressive of God’s immediate rule. Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.”

Let us worship the wonder of Christ who unleashed these massive changes in the world.

©Desiring God

"Nothing tells you more about Hollywood than what it chooses to honor."

Read the rest of Charles Krauthammer's column from today's Washington Post HERE.

George Will: "Axis of Evil" More Dangerous Than Ever

In his column in yesterday's Washington Post, George Will points out that since 2002, when President Bush coined the term, each member of the "Axis of Evil" (Iraq, Iran, N. Korea) has become more - not less - dangerous. He also laments the current state of affairs in Iraq:

Last week, in the latest iteration of a familiar speech (the enemy is "brutal," "we're on the offensive," "freedom is on the march") that should be retired, the president said, "This is a moment of choosing for the Iraqi people." Meaning what? Who is to choose, and by what mechanism? Most Iraqis already "chose" -- meaning prefer -- peace. But in 1917 there were only a few thousand Bolsheviks among 150 million Russians -- and the Bolsheviks succeeded in hijacking the country for seven decades.

How Incurable God-Lovers Should Discuss Theology, Part 4 By Steve Lehrer

No Hotline to Heaven
Take a deep breath and repeat after me: “I could be wrong.” In the light of day it sounds crazy that we even need to discuss the fact that when we talk about theological issues we must be mindful that we are not infallible. But as crazy as it sounds, when most people enter into theological discussion, the light of day dims. We speak as if our understanding of Scripture was itself divinely inspired. There is much today that is taught about “the preacher’s authority” as he gives his holy message. Some even argue that the pastor is the modern day prophet bringing the Word of God to the people. I would love it if that were truly biblical because then I would not have to be concerned about misleading people when I teach. I could simply be faithful to repeat God’s message verbatim and I would be sure that everything I said was 100% correct. But you and I do not have a hotline to heaven giving us God’s confirmation that our well-studied interpretations of Scripture are correct. When you and I teach the Word of God in a church gathering, in a Sunday school class, or in small-group setting, we are giving everyone our “best guess” as to what Scripture means by what it says. It may be a highly educated, a well thought out, and a beautifully sculpted guess, but it is still a guess. This is also true whenever we discuss theology with someone. Here are some common “I have a hotline to heaven” statements:

“No, you are wrong about that.”

“That is Scripture means X, and your interpretation is simply incorrect”

“Doctrine A is obviously proven by Scripture B and if you don’t see it you are simply blind.”

There is a time and place for absolute statements, but these should not be the common fare in theological discussion. The fact that we do not have a hotline to heaven but that we are all growing in our understanding of God’s Word should be evident in the words we use. Below I have reworded the absolute statements in such a way that take into account the fact that I am a fallible man striving to represent my Lord:

“It seems to me that your interpretation does not take into account Scriptures A and B.

How do these Scriptures fit with your viewpoint?”

“From my perspective it appears that Scripture X means Y because of context Z, but I could be wrong about the context, what do you think?”

“That does not seem correct given Scriptures A, B, and C, but perhaps I am missing
something. Do you see something that I have missed?”

Now it is certainly possible that you can go overboard using these qualifiers, but especially on points of contention it would seem that such careful and qualified language should be the norm.

A Word of Encouragement
Watch some television and consider how they portray people having disagreements. Go out into your community and listen to people as they have disagreements. Disagreement in the world can be harsh and it can be quiet. Unbelievers can argue and they can be sarcastic and they can also, on occasion, remain at peace with one another. The one thing they cannot do is lay down their lives for one another as they disagree. They do not have the God of heaven and earth at work in them causing them to love God and love others. If we as Christians love one another as we talk about the things of God, the way that we disagree will be stamped with the supernatural love and power of God. The world will take notice of us, not because we are divisive and always fighting, but because we are following in the footsteps of our Lord by loving one another more than life itself. Then, perhaps, we will have an opportunity to talk about the gospel and the world will have a reason to listen to us.

Steve Lehrer is director of biblical counseling at In Depth Studies.

How Incurable God-Lovers Should Discuss Theology, Part 3 By Steve Lehrer

Honoring God With Our Intentions
The way we speak to one another is as important as the truth of our theological point of view. We have already established that Christ has commanded us to love one another. We are not only to love fellow believers, but our enemies as well. We have also established that in order to live out the command to love one another, we need to strive to understand the point of view of the person with whom we are discussing theology. Understanding usually involves listening and a bit of speaking in order to clarify what is being said. Now we need to consider those situations when we have to open our big mouths to present our point of view, to point out errors, and to defend what we believe the Scriptures teach.
Are we going to choose “adjectives” to the glory of God, or are we going to allow our tongues to wreak havoc and dishonor God? That is the simple choice we need to make. Are we going to put our love for God, our love for our brothers, and even our love for our enemies as our first priority, or are we going to choose to live for ourselves by feeding our pride and dishonoring our Lord? The book of Proverbs and the book of James are full of admonitions to be very careful about how we speak to others. Jesus says that the words that we speak reveal what is in our hearts. The things that we say reveal who our Lord really is:
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:43-45).

Most of us who engage in theological discussion know this, but sadly I see this truth applied far too infrequently. It wasn’t that we intended to be prideful or hurtful, we just wanted to win the argument. Of course, we don’t want to admit that winning the argument was our motive. We might refer to our prideful and arrogant way of interacting as, “defending the truth.” But notice that even this stated intention in discussing theology doesn’t mention that we should love whom we speak to and help him to understand God better. Our intention wasn’t to lay down our lives for our enemies, taking insults quietly and humbly attempting to show a more excellent way to think about the God of heaven and earth. It is a wonderful thing to “defend the truth” of the specific doctrine you are discussing, just so long as you remember that you simultaneously have to obey the other truths of Scripture like loving your brothers and loving your enemies, just as God has loved you. Without love and concern for the person you are talking to being a primary intention, there is no way you will consistently choose “adjectives” to the glory of God.