Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Funny or Not? Vol. 33

Contemplate & Consider Vol. 17

Watch your words!

A fool's lips walk into a fight,
and his mouth invites a beating.
A fool's mouth is his ruin,
and his lips are a snare to his soul.

Proverbs 18:6-7

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Systematic Theology Part 21-Do Angels Do What You Think They Do?

A few notes on what angels do:

Angels are ministers to God:

1. Angels are the first line of God's worshipers (Psalm 148:1-2; Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 5:11-14)

2. Angels are the first line of God's workers (Psalm 103:20-21)
-Angels patrol the earth (Zechariah 1:9-11)
-Angels assist Christ (Matthew 4:8-11; Luke 22:42-43
-Angels deliver messages (Daniel 9:20-23; Mark 16:4-10; Luke 2:8-14; Acts 8:26; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) They had the pleasure of announcing Christ's birth and resurrection and will announce his return!
-Angels administer wrath (2 Chronicles 32:21)
-Angels care for believers (1 Kings 19:1-8)

As we see in these last three (messages, wrath and care) angels also minister to believers. It is important to remember that, even when they are ministering to people, everything they dio is in worship and obedience to God.

Angels are ministers to Men:

1. Angels are ministers of God's judgment to man
-when a command of God is directly disobeyed (1 Chronicles 21:7-17)
-When God's people are surrounded by enemies (2 Chronicles 32:16-22)
-When God is not given the glory (Acts 12:20-24)
-In the final separation of the righteous and the unrighteous (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; Matthew 13:36-43)
-In the final judgment of the earth (Revelation 16:1-21)

2. Angels are ministers of God's favor to man
-The favor of divine revelation (Galatians 3:19; Daniel 8:15-17; Luke 1:11-20, 30-32)
-The favor of divine protection (Genesis 19:1, 15-17; Psalm 91:11)

This brings up a question. If God uses angels as protectors of man, does this mean that guardian angels are real? Are there really individual angels charged with guarding individuals? If we could see into the spirit world, would it look something like this?

The bible gives clear examples of God using angels to protect believers (2 Kings 6:15-17; Psalm 91:11-12; Acts 5:19; Luke 16:22), and there is the traditional Jewish belief in guardian angels that carried over to the early Christians (Acts 12:6-5), but here are a couple of quotes to help balance the belief in guardian angels with what we know to be true:

There is insufficient evidence for the concept of guardian angels...A report indicating that certain disciples believed in guardian angels (Jewish tradition) does not invest the belief with authority. Some Christians still had mistaken or confused beliefs on various subjects.

Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, p469

Angels are great ministers from God and are important, but do not live in awe of the angels of God or fear of the fallen angels. Instead live in surrender, awe and worship of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Don't let your conversations always be about the side issues but about the most important issue-salvation in Jesus Christ.

I love the way the angel in Revelation 22 wraps this up:

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, 'You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!'

Revelation 22:8-9

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Start Here

Alex & Brett Harris' new book (you know, the guys who wrote Do Hard Things) is can pick it up here. It gives you ideas on HOW to do hard things, some places to start, now that you know you need to do hard things.

Check out this little promo video about one girls trip to get the new book, Start Here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Systematic Theology Part 20-Wings, Harps, Weapons & Halos?

I’m beginning to think that people have a bit of an obsession with angels...

angel gifts
angel cults
praying to angels
angel guides
angel tattoos
angel sports teams
hells angels
angels with harps
baby angels
love angels
Highway to Heaven
Touched by an Angel
Angels in the Outfield
The Prophecy
It’s a Wonderful Life
City of Angels
guardian angels
animal angels
Blue Angels

It seems that what most people believe about angels they have learned form popular culture:

All angels have wings (and earn them). Angels look like people. Angles fall in love with humans. Angels really want to be human. People become angels. Angels hold the fate of the world in their hands.

But what is really true about angels? What are they like? What do they do?

According to the Bible, Angles are:

-Created, not eternal (Psalm 148:1-6)

-have emotions (Job 38:7), they worship (Psalm 148:2); they have conversations (Luke 1:13-17); make moral choices (Matt 25:31; John 8:44).

-Spirit (do not normally appear in bodily form)
-Hebrews 1:14; Matt 22:30 (don’t marry); Luke 20:36 (don’t die)
-occasionally reveal themselves in bodily form (Gen 18-19; Matt 28:5; Heb 13:2)
--2 Kings 6;17; Numbers 22:31-cannot be seen unless God opens our eyes to them.

-Appear w/ the brightness of God’s glory (Luke 2:9; Rev 18:1; Luke 1:19)-They are reflecting/manifesting the “glorious brilliance of the holy God from whose presence they have been sent.” (p296-A Theology for the Church)

-Wise but not omniscient-Matt 24:36 (don’t know the end time);

-Strong but not omnipotent
-Ps 103:20; Matt 28:2; Acts 5:19; Acts 12:7; Rev 10:1)-superhuman power (Col 1:16; Eph 6:12)

-Authority comes from God-Jude 9

"Angels derive their great power from God and remain dependent on his favorable will or permission to exercise it. They are restricted to acting within the limits of his permission.” (Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, p465)-even Satan

-Not omnipresent-Job 1:7; Dan 9:21; Dan 10:10-14; Luke 1:26

-Innumerable (Heb 12:22, Deut 33:2; Ps 68:17; Rev 5:11-12

-Michael, the archangel of Jude 9 “conveys some degree of authority and leadership over other holy angels. Michael exercises his authority as he leads a host of angels into battle against the great dragon, Satan, when war breaks out in heaven (Rev 12:7)”’
-Daniel 10:13-there are other princes
-Col 1:16-presumably the terms thrones, dominions, principalities and powers indicate order and ranking in the angels.

-Susceptible to evil-2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6;

Angels are amazing creatures, but as Millard Erickson says in Christian Theology:
"Every reference to angels is incidental to some other topic...When they are mentioned, it is always in order to inform us further about God, what he does and how he does it." (p459)

I find it interesting that people are often more willing to have a conversation about angels than about Jesus. People are obsessed with knowing more about angels and don't care to know more about Jesus. People give credit to angels and none to Jesus.

Hebrews 1:3-9 is very clear that Jesus is superior to the angels. Angels are created beings, and while powerful, they are not worthy of worship, praise or honor, especially when they are receiving praise and honor instead of Jesus.

As 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, we have built the study and belief of angels up against the truth of God. One particular area where this happens is in our beliefs about satan and fallen angels. While evil angels are real and Satan is surely real they are still angels. They are still subject to God. They are still limited in the same way other angels are. They cannot be everywhere. They are not all powerful. They don't know everything.

And most importantly, Jesus has already defeated them.

Angels are great ministers from God (as we’ll see next week) and are important. But do not live in awe of the angels or fear of the fallen angels. Instead live in surrender, awe and worship of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Don’t let your conversations always be about the side issues (angels and demons and such) but about the most important issue (salvation in Christ alone).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Systematic Theology Part 19-Creating Confidence

Have you ever noticed the differences between people that are confident and people that lack confidence? See if you agree with these:

Confidence means we make choices faster, easier, more boldly, without doubt and with certainty.

Lack of confidence shows itself with hesitation, uncertainty, doubt and fear.

The Doctrine of Creation gives us confidence, specifically in 3 areas. But why?

When you look at the story of creation in Genesis 1 and further into the Old Testament you see the creative act attributed to God. As you go through the Old Testament and into the New Testament you see that God created with ALL of who he is in that the Spirit and Son also contributed to the creative act along with the Father.

Genesis 1, Isaiah 37:16, Isaiah 44:24 and Isaiah 45:12 speak of the Father's Authority as the AUTHOR of creation.

John 1:1-3, 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16 and Hebrews 1:2 show how the Father created THROUGH the son.

And Genesis 1:2, Genesis 2:7, Psalm 33:6, Psalm 104:30, Job 26:13 and Job 33:4 talk about the Father giving life THROUGH the Spirit.

While we don't see the word "trinity" in the Bible creation is one of the doctrines in which the truth and reality of the Trinity is revealed and confirmed.

"It appears from scripture that it was the Father who brought the created universe into existence. But it was the Spirit and the Son who fashioned it, who carried out the details of the design. Although creation is from the Father, it is through the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, p399)

The doctrine of creation supports the truth that the Son and Spirit are eternal and the Son and Spirit are God.

God poured all of who he is into the act of creation and that can give us all kinds of confidence.

1. We can confidently WORSHIP God because he created

Remember that God is one. He does not need anything outside of himself. He is self-existent and self-sustaining. Understanding that, we know he did not have to create.

Worship goes back to the original purpose for which we were created. Creation helps us know that God is real, true and we can worship him as real and true.

As you read the Old Testament you see examples of worship arising from the great acts of God, and you see those acts tied back to a common theme: his act as creator.

In Psalm 96:1-5 and Isaiah 43:1 God is worshiped as the Creator who Saves
In Psalm 121 and Psalm 124 God is worshiped as the Creator who Protects
In Isaiah 40:28-31 and Isaiah 42:5-6 God is worshiped as the Creator who Sustains
In Genesis 1:22, Genesis 1:28, and Psalm 115:15 God is worshiped as the Creator who Blesses

The writers of the Old Testament expressed worship to God not just for what he was doing but what he had done, in the beginning, in Creation.

When we reject or ignore the Doctrine of Creation we reject and ignore a foundation of true Worship.

2. We can confidently pray to God because he created

In Acts 4:23-30 we see the early church praying fervently for the brothers who are sharing Christ in the face of great persecution. What's interesting about their prayer is that it begins with faith, trust and hope in God as CREATOR.

As they pray to the creator God they are praying for boldness to witness. As Paul ministers he also appeals to God as creator as a foundation of his witness. (Acts 14:15; Acts 17:24)

3. We can confidently talk about God because he created

When you talk about God you are talking about a real and true God as evidenced in creation. This should give you confidence.

There is a lot at stake in the Doctrine of Creation. Without a proper biblical understanding of the doctrine certain things are bound to happen (and are as many, even in our churches, reject the doctrine of creation)

Idolatry increases
True worship decreases

Fear of man increases
Fear of God decreases

Confidence in us increases
Confidence in God decreases

Belief in the goodness of man increases
Belief in the sinfulness of man decreases

Talk of man and what he's done increases
Talk of God and what he's done decreases

A biblical understanding of creation is foundational to right biblical belief about God, man, life, worship, salvation and eternity.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Contemplate & Consider Vol. 16

Sin, biblically speaking, is not only the absence of good. It also entails our active opposition to God. It is, then, the defiance of his authority, the rejection of his truth, the challenge to his sovereignty in which we set ourselves up in life to live the way we want to live. It is the way we wrench ourlseves free from obedience to him, cut ourselves off from his grasp, and refuse to let him be God. It is therefore all the ways we live life on our own terms, to our own ends, with accountability to no one but ourselves.

..the target missed, the path abandoned, the authority defied, the law transgressed are in each and every case God's. Sin is all about taking issue with God, defying him, refusing to submit to him, and displacing him from the center of existence.

Page 102

Contemplate & Consider Vol. 15

From The Bible is Not Self Help by David Wells

But the point of studying Scripture is not therapy. Bible study is not self-help. We are not there to listen to our own voice that is crying from within. We are there to hear his voice that comes from outside our experience. And his Word is not one of many. It is the only Word that has been there from all eternity because it comes from the eternal God.

God, then, is not there for our use when we need him; we are here on earth for his use. He is not there for our benefit as if he were a product; we are here for his service.

5 Ways Sin is Serious

From Desiring God Ministries
John Piper

In Psalm 51, as he laments and repents of his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah, David confesses at least five ways that his sin is extremely serious.

1. He says that he can’t get the sin out of his mind.

It is blazoned on his conscience. Verse 3:

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Ever before him. The tape keeps playing. And he can’t stop it.

2. He says that his exceeding sinfulness is only against God.

Nathan had said David despised God and scorned his word. So David says in verse 4,

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

This doesn’t mean Bathsheba and Uriah and the baby weren’t hurt. It means that what makes sin sin is that it is against God. Hurting man is bad. It is horribly bad. But that’s not the horror of sin. Sin is an attack on God—a belittling of God. David admits this in striking terms: “Against you, you only, have I sinned.”

3. He doesn't justify himself.

David vindicates God, not himself. There is no self-justification. No defense. No escape. Verse 4:

…so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

God is justified. God is blameless. If God casts David into hell, God will be innocent.

This is radical God-centered repentance. This is the way saved people think and feel. God would be just to damn me. And that I am still breathing is sheer mercy. And that I am forgiven is sheer blood-bought mercy. David vindicates the righteousness of God, not himself.

4. He intensifies his guilt by drawing attention to his inborn corruption.

Verse 5:

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Some people use their inborn corruption to diminish their personal guilt. David does the opposite. For him the fact that he committed adultery and murdered and lied are expressions of something worse: He is by nature that way.

If God does not rescue him, he will do more and more evil.

5. He admits that he sinned not just against external law but against God’s merciful light in his heart.

Verse 6:

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

God had been his teacher. God had made him wise. David had done so many wise things. And then sin got the upper hand. For David, this made it all the worse. “I have been blessed with so much knowledge and so much wisdom. O how deep must be my depravity that it could sin against so much light.”

So in those five ways at least David joins the prophet Nathan and God in condemning his sin and confessing the depths of his corruption.

Excerpted and adapted from the sermon "A Broken and Contrite Heart God Will Not Despise."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Contemplate & Consider Vol. 14

"One's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

Luke 12:15

Funny or Not? Vol. 32

The T-Shirt War from Ibrahim Nergiz on Vimeo.

Dumpster Juice or Jesus?

Philippians 3:7-8
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

Food, money, relationships, What is your treasure? Something eternal or something that will quickly fade with life and death. In Philippians 3 Paul encourages us with the treasure of his life, Christ. He considers everything else to be trash compared to the worth of Christ. This doesn't mean that food, money, relationships and stuff have no value, temporally, but compared to the eternal value of Christ they are like that juice you find at the bottom of the dumpster.

So, how do we value Christ? How do we use money, food, relationships and stuff in a way that shows the world we treasure Christ more?

Check out this John Piper Sermon Jam:

"The way we display the supreme worth of Jesus is by treasuring him above all things and then making choices which make the joy we have in his supreme worth manifest." (John Piper)

People need to see that we treasure Christ. That we treasure our relationship with him. That we understand the supreme value of eternity versus stuff.

Treasure Christ this week by keeping an eternal perspective in everything.