Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Paul refers to the cross of Christ in a curious way-
Galatians 5:11a In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.
This designation by Paul has caused me to reflect on three ways the cross of Christ is offensive to men and women today.
1. The Cross is offensive because it seems so primitive.
Sophisticated, modern man looks at the notion of one man dying for the rest as too simple, too primitive. Pompous, contemporary man looks at the account of Christ dying at the hands of an religiously zealous, unenlightened, unsophisticated mob as so terribly un-evolved. Present self-made man, is offended by the idea that he is in need of a sacrifice by someone else, especially someone living in the backward times of the first century Greco-Roman world. Many people today think humanity has progressed past the simple religious ways of the ancients, we’re so much smarter now. Everything was so violent back then, such a primordial, prehistoric message of a substitutionary atonement. The message of the cross is for the simple-minded. Sophisticated, advanced modern people, who can truly think and rationalize, can see the primitive, mythical nature of the story of Christ’s crucifixion and thus write off it’s importance.
Of course, Paul had “wise” people living in his day also. To whom he referred in his letter to the Corinthian Church-
1 Cor 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing...
2. The Cross is offensive because of it’s violence
Plain and simple- the cross is a symbol of torture, pain, and agony. The cross rightly conjures an image grotesque and inhuman. Modern forms of execution are relatively clean and neat- lethal injection is so benign, a person sleeps. Even hanging or firing squad provides instant, almost painless death. Crucifixion, by any comparison, is barbaric. The Romans expertly crafted the most extreme form of torture and death ever known and used it on Jesus Christ. The Cross was a form of torture and execution that brought a person to the edge of blacking out so as to cause the most pain and agony that could be experienced for the longest amount of time. Virtually every way a person could feel physical pain was accounted for when devising crucifixion: torn muscles, bruised tissue, pierced nerves, lacerated skin, terrible blood loss, dehydration, multiple dislocated joints, and a slow asphyxiation that would take hours, sometimes even days. All this distress while on display naked and under extreme psychological torture for the duration. Birds of prey pecking and feeding, insects biting, the sun beating down, producing a longing to die that would not come any time soon. If not fortunate enough to die before a certain deadline (in the case of Christ, the Sabbath day), you would have your lower legs clubbed and broken at the shins to hasten your demise.
Indeed, the cross is offensive to so many because it is so brutal. It depicts something so seemingly inhuman. The history of the cross and the actuality of Christ’s torment and death there is not often denied, however the relationship of the cross to us (man) is widely rejected or not considered. Many in our day will say, from their suburban settings no doubt, we have overcome such a violent, bloody, violent concept. As if we live in a peaceful, non-violent world, many modern men find the cross offensive because of how violent it was.
3. The Cross of Christ is offensive because it declares something about us we do not want to hear
The Cross of Christ declares that our sin is so great that it requires the ultimate punishment, and we do not want to hear or admit that. The Cross of Christ declares that our sin was so great that only One who has ever lived could shoulder it’s burden for us. We cannot save ourselves. The Cross of Christ declares that our sin brought about the necessity of the violence that came down on Christ and we could do nothing to improve upon it. The Cross of Christ is a message of complete sufficiency in Christ and total depravity and bankruptcy in us-that’s what is so offensive about the Cross. The Cross is an offense to the self-righteous. The man or woman who is relying on their own imagined strength for salvation, does not like the doctrine of the cross.
Charles Spurgeon spoke of how the Cross offends from the perspective of the preacher preaching the Cross:
“But if he starts to cast the sinner down in the dust, and to teach what Christ himself taught, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him;” and that, in the Scriptures, all men are declared to be “dead in transgressions and sins;” then the proud sinner will turn away, and say, “I am not going to be so insulted, as to have all my powers leveled to the ground! Am I to be made into a mere machine, or into a piece of clay, and to lie passive in the Potter’s hands? I will not submit to such an indignity.” If the minister will give him a little to do himself, and let him sacrifice a little to his own idol, he will drink down the false doctrine as the ox drinks down water; but since we tell him he is powerless, like the poor bleeding man when the Samaritan met him, he says, “I will have nothing to do with you.”
The Cross of Christ is offensive because it declares something about us we do not want to hear- we are sinners and only God can save us.
Indeed, considered personally- I am such a heinous sinner that saving me requires the punishment of Christ on the Cross and I can add nothing to it because I have nothing to add. I’m a poor sinner, and only Jesus Christ is everything to me.
So, Paul's reference to the "offense" of the cross makes good sense, as it relates to the perishing who do not believe. But for me, who believes (by God's grace), the cross means eternal life. All praise to Him.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The UN has become a joke and a mockery. To allow Amhedinijad to speak with only a limited amount of protest or rebuke shows how ridiculous the whole thing is.
Israel will not let Iran continue to develop nuclear weapons-be sure of it. They simply can't afford to. With "friends" like the UN, Israel can't afford enemies like Iran.
You can see Netanyahu's full speech on Youtube.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Well, Moody students have come a long way in their various arrangements of the hymn, the latest is a must hear remix-
That was clever for sure, but it is with great pride that I remember being the first person to rap in a Moody chapel service, back in 1991. Here's the audio. Too bad you can't see Pastor Nathan as one of the back up dancers for this groundbreaking performance. And NO, I won't do this rap for the Redeemer Missions conference...never. I'm retired as a rapper.
Hit the arrow below and be prepared to kick it old school.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
In this passage Paul again disparages the pernicious notion that the Law is able to make men righteous before God, a notion deeply rooted in man's reason. All mankind is so wrapped up in this idea that it is hard to drag it out of people. Paul compares those who seek to be justified by the Law to oxen that are hitched to the yoke. Like oxen that toil in the yoke all day, and in the evening are turned out to graze along the dusty road, and at last are marked for slaughter when they no longer can draw the burden, so those who seek to be justified by the Law are "entangled with the yoke of bondage," and when they have grown old and broken-down in the service of the Law they have earned for their perpetual reward God's wrath and everlasting torment.
We are not now treating of an unimportant matter. It is a matter that involves everlasting liberty or everlasting slavery. For as a liberation from God's wrath through the kind office of Christ is not a passing boon, but a permanent blessing, so also the yoke of the Law is not a temporary but an everlasting affliction.
Rightly are the doers of the Law called devil's martyrs. They take more pains to earn hell than the martyrs of Christ to obtain heaven. Theirs is a double misfortune. First they torture themselves on earth with self- inflicted penances and finally when they die they gain the reward of eternal damnation.
-Luther's commentary on Galatians
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
1. James Boice
2. Bryan Chapell
3. E.V. Hill
Now, I am sure most of my readers will know the first two. They are well known in reformed circles. James Boice is my model for expositional preaching. Bryan Chapell is my model for redemptive preaching and the use of illustrations.
The last preacher will not be known to most of you. I was introduced to him almost 20 years ago while I attended Moody Bible Institute. He is the late E.V. Hill. He is my model for talking to the people in an impassioned, clearly communicated, memorable way. Hill was basically an arminian theologically and aligned too much with some careless charismatic/pentecostal types toward the end of his life, but nevertheless, his witty communication coupled with a refreshingly straight forward belief and promotion of Scripture have inspired me.
The clip needs no explanation, his message is clear. It is his greatest sermon. I was in attendance (1992) to hear the sermon here posted. He even gives a humorous shout out to the Presbyterians in the house in part 4.
Must be listened to in sequence.
Please, no hyper-technical, overly theological critiques of Dr. Hill's sermon. Just enjoy.
This sermon changed my outlook on preaching in a way I can't really put in to words. I will forever be grateful for Dr. Hill.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Apparently President Obama will do a national address to public school students next Tuesday, as many schools open that day. Coinciding with Obama's speech is a suggested lesson plan that includes various classroom activities and projects that seem to include a certain level of indoctrination about the President himself.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
As I prepared recently for a Galatians sermon I came to some oft sited verses, especially during the Advent season.
Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
When reading and teaching on this passage my usual focus has been on the planned and purposeful first Advent of Christ as He was “born of a woman”, closely followed with the adjoining purpose phrase- “to redeem those who were under the law.” Christ was sent to redeem us. Hallelujah for sure! Admittedly I spend much of my teaching and preaching energy emphasizing this glorious purpose of God sending Jesus- to redeem us from our sins. Certainly I am not apologizing for speaking so regularly on redemption, the very heart of the Good News. It is right for us to bask in redemption. It is proper for us to worship God with a vigorous emphasis on Christ’s atoning death for our sins. Christ our substitute has bought us with His own life’s blood, we are free from the power and penalty of our sin-may we ever be faithful to meditate on this glorious reality of redemption.
But as I studied this passage recently I was struck with an inextricably linked secondary purpose for God sending Christ. Notice the last part of verse 5 once again-
Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Wow. Do you see it? We have been redeemed from the bondage and penalty of sin and to the status of sons and daughters of the King of the Universe!! We are not orphans. We belong to God our Father!! We are the children of God because of redemption! In this light, our primary identity isn’t what we do for a living, what we spend most of our daytime hours engaged in or thinking about, or some hobby we treasure, instead our primary identity is child of God through Christ!! So now, in Christ, as adopted sons and daughters of God, everything God calls us to in this life must be seen through the lens of our adoption. Talk about purpose in life! I hope this encourages you wherever you find yourself in life today, no matter what’s going on. In Jesus Christ, you are God’s beloved child. You are joined together with Christ and His inheritance has become yours. There are manifold blessings that flow to us through our elder brother, Christ, not the least of which is eventual resurrection from the dead and eternal life together with our Father in Heaven (1 Corinthians 15). Praise God for our adoption!With John I praise God saying- See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are (1 John 3:1). We are not slaves or orphans my brothers and sisters- we are children of the living God through Christ.