Archive for October, 2007

Reformation Day: Thou does not protest enough!

A few resources for your enjoyment:

  1. What is it and why?
  2. Here‘s my review of Stephen Nichols’ The Reformation.
  3. Don’t miss the Reformation Polka (to the tune of”Supercalifragilistic-expialidocious”) Video here.
  4. John Piper’s lecture notes and audio on the life of Martin Luther
  5. Everything Martin Luther
  6. Lutheran Mad Libs
  7. Martin Luther warp game
  8. To mark the day our student ministry will be having a German food cookout and showing the recent Luther movie.
  9. Here are some wacky ideas to get the party started:
  • Make a “Diet of Worms Cake” and bring it to your office or school.
  • Have a “Baptismal Apple Dunk”
  • Run a “Law and Gospel Shuffle Relay”
  • Create a “Fishers of Men” Fishing Pond
  • Do a “Defeat the Devil Ball Toss”
  • Play “Pin the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Door”
  • Run a “Throw Indulgences in the Trash” relay

Ligonier conference and Limousines…

I had the privilege of attending Ligonier ministries 5th annual Pastor’s Conference this past week in Orlando. The primary speakers were R.C. Sproul, Steven J Lawson, and Joel Beeke. The purpose of the lectures was to highlight the significance of having a God-centered ministry that is conducted in humble submission to the Word of God and that emphasizes the glory of God in worship, evangelism, prayer, and preaching. Dr. Sproul picked the right speakers to help communicate these wonderful themes.

Now some of you are probably wondering what a limousine has to do with Ligonier ministries? Keep reading and I will evidentially get there…Before I talk about any of the specific lectures per say I want to say what a wonderful job the Ligonier staff did in hosting this conference. The meals each day were unbelievable and the subsidized cost of the conference was amazing ($150 for registration and room/board). The size of the conference was just right (250 pastors), as opposed to the mega conferences (like Desiring God or Shepherds or Together for the Gospel) where 2000 people is considered a small crowd. The smaller venue allowed one to interact with the speakers (especially Dr. Beeke) as well as get to know various pastors from throughout the world.

I had two strikes against me going into this conference seeing I’m both pre-mill and Baptistic (by conviction). I would guess that the vast majority of the men who attended this conference were obviously Covenantal and either Post or Amill. With that said, all the attendees shared a common bond though our personal commitments to the gospel of grace and to a high view of God. All that to say, I enjoyed some great fellowship with various pastors including my father, Kent who came in from Washington state.

Dr. Lawson started off the conference preaching from Psalm 93. The sermon topic was on “the Eclipse of God.” He reminded us that man can build beautiful buildings but only God can build a church. All of Lawson’s sermons during the conference were expositions of various Old and New Testament texts. It was great to have someone model what expository preaching is and to help show everyone why expository preaching is so powerful (Scripture truth in Scripture dress). It’s more and more common these days to have conferences that deal with biblical issues via lectures rather than pure expositions of the Word of God. That is not to say there isn’t a place for great Biblical lectures but personally I’ll take a wonderful exposition of Scripture over a great lecture any day. Lawson concluded his first sermon by reminding us that the greatest issue facing the church today is who is seated above. Who is your God? Psalm 93 is very clear that the God of the Bible reigns!

Dr. Joel Beeke lectured next on hitting your “Target Audience.” This was a very practical lecture. Beeke said our preaching must be both applicatory and discriminatory. He said preaching must not ignore the pew nor be controlled by the pew. He briefly mentioned that in his opinion Haddon Robinson goes too far here. Dr. Beeke then went on to talk about the various people that listen to our sermons in the pew each Sunday: those include the growing believer, the backsliding believer, those who are in spiritual bondage, the open-conscience unbeliever, the indifferent unbeliever, etc. In short, we must remember that we have all kinds of hearers in our congregations. A mature preacher recognizes this and thus will aim his sermon arrows at the various people groups during the course of his expositions. Dr. Beeke reminded us that it would be a mistake to aim for every target in every single sermon. Wisdom and balance are needed here.

Dr. Sproul then gave one of his classic sermons from Genesis 22. He illustrated how we should tackle an Old Testament narrative with power and clarity. Dr. Sproul reminded us that the OT is God’s autobiography. If you want to teach your people about the nature and character of God study the Old Testament.

Dr. Lawson concluded the opening day sessions with a powerful sermon from 2 Timothy 4. I believe that preaching from common passages of Scripture has its advantages and its unique challenges. Steve Lawson eats, sleeps, and breathes this text of Scripture so the sermon was quite amazing to say the least. The first business of the preacher is to preach the Word. As the pulpit goes, Lawson noted, so goes the church. Lawson said there are 8 imperatives that instruct us how we are to preach in 2 Timothy 4:1-5. I’d encourage all you preachers to get this CD. In the mean time PREACH THE WORD!!!

Lawson started off Tuesday’s sessions with an exposition of Revelation 4. His topic was the God-centered worship service. Lawson picked this particular text because he believes that church worship services should be as much like heaven as possible. This thought goes against the contemporary church movement; which is cool, casual, laid back, informal, horizontal, trendy and often very trivial. Lawson asked the following question: If God were to design a worship service what would it look like? Steve encouraged us to examine Revelation chapter 4 if we want to find out. Steve then provided 4 distinguishing marks of a God-centered service from this chapter of Scripture. 1. A high view of God. 2. A deep fear of God. 3. A distinct separation from God. 4. A constant focus upon God. All these marks flowed out of the text of Revelation 4.

Perhaps the highlight of the conference was Lawson’s sermon on God-centered Evangelism from Matthew 7:13-29. All of us are aware of the scary reality that there are many people in every congregation who are born in the church but whom never been born again. This was a wonderful text to preach from in effort to address the following theme mentioned above. I’d encourage all of you once again to get to CD as well…

Dr. Sproul gave a great lecture on “A God-centered view of the Truth.” He went to John 18 and reminded us that we must embrace, proclaim, and contend for the truth! Sproul asked and answered two essential questions from this dialogue between Jesus and Pilate. Question one was what is truth? (Truth is reality as it’s perceived by God). Question two was how can true truth be known (an epistemology question)? Sproul then reminded us that rationalism and rationality are very different things. He also noted that sometimes we reduce apologetics to proclamation of truth instead of giving people a reason for the hope that’s within us. This was a great lecture because we minister to those influenced by post-modern thought.

Now I promised everyone I would get to the Ligonier/Limo connection, so here it is. On Wednesday night there was a Vesper’s service at Saint Andrew’s Chapel (R.C.’s home church). Now for those of you who’ve never been here before it’s really a hard church to describe. The inside of this building is quite spectacular (think stained glass art, massive paintings, exquisite architecture, etc). You preachers will especially appreciate the 8-foot high pulpit that sits on a raised platform…Ligonier ministries provided two large buses for those pastors who did not rent cars during the conference to get to Saint Andrews. For the guest speakers there was a different mode of transportation…you guessed it…a limousine service provided. Now before I go off on this let me say that I’m worried about how some of you readers may use this story. I know there are some pastors who seem to have an issue with every well-known preacher ministering in our day. I believe these men often struggle with envy. They wonder why God chooses to uniquely bless some pastors/churches the way he does? Why them and not me they wonder? It appears men like this often have an over inflated view of their own gifts and abilities and thus see zero value in hearing more gifted and experienced pastor-preachers. On the flip side of the coin, there is a growing (legitimate) concern that we Christians don’t turn our Christian heroes of the faith into some type of Christian “celebrities”. There is a line between honoring and esteeming faithful men and worshipping them. I’ve written about this before so I won’t repeat myself all over again. Now, you probably know where I am going with this already don’t you? I need to give my friends at Ligonier the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps R.C. Sproul has someone from his local church who actually owns a Limo company. Theoretically, this man could have offered free services to the guest pastors during the Pastor’s Conference. Honestly I don’t know. Even if that were the case I must ask the following question, what were you thinking?

Let me paint the picture a little bit better for you. All the pastors are at Saint Andrews Chapel waiting for the start of the Vesper’s service and all of a sudden here comes a white limo. The limo parks underneath the St. Andrew’s Chapel overhang and drops off…the conference speakers. (I would imagine the guest speakers had nothing to do with this decision so I don’t want to indict anyone here unnecessarily). I’m just concerned that this picture sent the wrong message. I know too many solo pastors who have to work another full time job in order to bring home an livable income. If the Christian community wants to work against creating a Christian celebrity community I’d suggest ideas like this be reconsidered. Gospel preachers and limos don’t go together. Save the limousine services for newly weds, professional athletes, and movie stars.

Let us focus our attention back on more important things. All things considered this was both an encouraging and an edifying pastors conference. Drs. Sproul, Lawson, and Beeke were very approachable during this conference. In particular, Dr. Beeke made a special effort to have breakfast and dinner with the men. The sermons and lectures that were given during this conference were clearly labors of love. I’d highly recommend you purchase the conference audio set and consider attending next year’s conference. I’d simple suggest if do come you drive your own car or fly in on a major airline…Let’s leave the limos for the rich and the famous.

Weekend Fun: “Reformation Polka”

Here in the US we have a wonderful Protestant tradition whereby millions of children play dress-up on October 31 to show their love and support of the Reformers. It is common for kids to wear ghoulish outfits which are meant to represent the oppressive excesses of the medieval church of Rome. After dressing up they knock on doors as a form of solidarity with Luther’s “knock on the door” at Wittenberg (modern Lutherstadt). If those in the house support the solas of the Reformation then they reward the children with treats of candy to fill their bags. However, as can be expected, their are some anti-Reformation groups who protest the events of October 31 every year. We are certain they are probably funded by holdouts in Rome who have yet to embrace the Reformation and worse they attribute the events of October 31 to Beelzebub. For adults who don’t want to miss out on the fun there is always the “Reformation Polka.” Enjoy!

Isaiah 7:14 and Matt. 1:23

Jim Hamilton has made available his paper “THE VIRGIN WILL CONCEIVE:
TYPOLOGY IN ISAIAH AND FULFILLMENT IN MATTHEW, THE USE OF ISAIAH 7:14 IN MATTHEW 1:18–23″ which will be published as a chapter in the forthcoming book Built upon the Rock which examines various biblical-theological nuances of Matthew. See his paper here (PDF).

He writes, “My objective in this essay is to argue for an understanding of Matthew’s use of Isaiah 7:14 which allows the text to mean what it says in its OT context.That is to say, I am not arguing against the virgin birth by saying that Isaiah was not predicting it. Matthew’s testimony to the virgin birth of Jesus is sufficient for it to be established. The question for this study is how Matthew understands and claims fulfillment for the OT.”

When to buy books

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

~Desiderius Erasmus

“It’s in God’s Hands Now”

That was the morning headline of our local newspaper here in north San Diego County, and it’s certainly true. We are currently enduring the worst fires ever in this area, and thousands have had to evacuate their homes, including several families in our church.  

Even as I write, I can hear the wind blowing hard outside my window, and smoke covers the horizon to the east. UC-San Marcos, which is just five miles down the 78 from our church, was evacuated earlier this morning, but I just got word that it might letting up in that area. The news reports tell us to stay calm, but to be ready to leave at any time.  

A young married couple in our church had to evacuate their home in the middle of the night because the fire had reached the hillside just behind them, but they are back home now. In the words of the wife: “If the Lord hadn’t changed the direction of the wind, our home would be gone.” Which is a profound reminder of the sovereignty of God, isn’t it? After all, it really is in God’s hands, and not just now, but always.  

In light of that, please pray that He would bring the fires under control and enable the Body of Christ to rise to the occasion.

By request: Your favorite series

Some of you have asked for it so here it is. Below are the links to two of our more provocative series that have received enormous amounts of praise, scorn and general discussion. I have received numerous email requests that we write a post containing all the pertinent links in one place. I pray they will taste even better a second time. Enjoy and we don’t often say it but thanks for dropping by. There were a thousand of you yesterday and we appreciate each one of our readers even if half of them are from Caleb’s family.

Apostolic/Christological  Hermeneutics

What Exactly is the “Apostles’ Hermeneutic”? By Matt Waymeyer

In search of the Apostles’ Hermeneutic (Part I) by Matt Waymeyer

In search of the Apostles’ Hermeneutic (Part II) by Matt Weymeyer

Test Case: Who is the “Seed of Abraham”? by Paul Lamey

Is the NT like the conclusion to a mystery novel? by Paul Lamey

Did Jesus spiritualize the OT? by Paul Lamey

The Relationship Between the Testaments

An Introduction by Paul Lamey

Christological Hermeneutic by Matt Waymeyer

Apostolic Hermeneutic by Matt Waymeyer

The NT View of the OT by Paul Lamey

The Priority of the OT by Randy McKinion

Walter Kaiser on 1 Peter 1:10-12 by Matt Waymeyer

Paul’s Use of Hosea in Romans 9:25-26 by Matt Waymeyer

Concluding Thoughts by Paul Lamey

Weekend Fun: “How NOT to be missional”

Whatever “missional” means, I’m pretty sure this is not it.

What ever happened to “Ryle” Anglicans?

Have you ever wondered what happened to Anglicans in the tradition of J. C. Ryle who preached the gospel with clarity and passion? There are still some in Britain like John Cheeseman and in Austrailia like Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney. However, it’s the African Anglicans who are holding the line with their lives, at times, literally on the line. In a recent issue of  First Things (August/September, 2007), Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi details their obvious passion for God’s Word. This causes me to wonder, would American Episcopals die for their putrid articulation of eternal realities? These African Anglicans write with more clarity and with their finger on the issue than just about anybody in the Evangelical Theological Society or from among the leaders of any North American denomination.

Orombi writes, “We are convinced that Scripture must be reasserted as the central authority in our communion. . . . The Bible cannot appear to us as a cadaver, merely to be dissected, analyzed, and critiqued, as has been the practice of much modern higher biblical criticism. Certainly we engage in biblical scholarship and criticism, but what is important to us is the power of the Word of God precisely as the Word of God–written to bring transformation in our lives, our families, our communities, and our culture. For us, the Bible is ‘living and active, sharper than a doubled-edged sword, it penetrates to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ (Heb. 4:12). The transforming effect of the Bible on Ugandans has generated so much conviction and confidence that believers were martyred in the defense of the message of salvation through Jesus Christ that it brought. . . . We would not be facing the crisis in the Anglican Communion if we had upheld the basic Reformation convictions about Holy Scripture: its primacy, clarity, sufficiency, and unity. . . . Without a commitment to the authority of the Word of God, a confidence in a God who acts in the world, and a conviction of the necessity of repentance and of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will be hard-pressed as a communion to revive and advance our apostolic and missionary calling as a church.”

HT: Ref21

Willow Creek Repents

What happens when one of the most influential churches in America admits, “We made a mistake”? This is interesting but I’m not sure they understand the amount of damage done over three decades or the way forward to biblically remedy the situation.

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