Category Archives: Theology

A Good Spanking

Couldn’t have said it any better…

“The older theology tended to produce character. By the end of the 20th century, we have become God’s demanding little brats. In church we must be entertained. Our emotions must be charged. We must be offered amusing programs. We give up a lot to become Christians, and what little teachings we do get must cater to our pragmatic, self-centered interests.

“Preaching must be filled with clever anecdotes and colorful illustrations with nothing more than passing references to doctrine. I want to know what this means for me in my daily experience. Have we forgotten that God is a Monarch? He is the King by whom and for whom all things were made and by whose sovereign power they are sustained.

We exist for His pleasure, not for ours. We are on this earth to entertain Him, please Him, adore Him, bring Him satisfaction, excitement and joy. Any gospel that seeks to answer the question, ‘what’s in it for me?’ has it all backwards. The question is, ‘what’s in it for God?'”

– Michael Horton

A fisherman put it this way in his day:

1 Peter 4:17-19 (Message)
It’s judgment time for Christians. We’re first in line. If it starts with us, think what it’s going to be like for those who refuse God’s Message! If good people barely make it, what’s in store for the bad?
So if you find life difficult because you’re doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust him. He knows what he’s doing, and he’ll keep on doing it.

Curses! He’s King! (a PG-13 apologetic for the Resurrection)

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law BY BECOMING A CURSE FOR US."
- Galatians 3:13

I settled a long time ago the matter of Christ’s resurrection from absolute death. I’m so convinced that King Jesus is alive forevermore that I don’t really need any more proof, but I did take note of a sideways or backhanded confirmation the other day. Maybe it was upside down. Or catawampus.

It was, nonetheless profanely convincing.

I was at the theater, cozied in for a Disney-produced movie, mind you, and as I settled in and got lost in the narrative, my reverie was suddenly capsized by the main character’s graphic expletive.

“Jesus Christ!”

There was no middle initial, so I knew the actor was cursing the one and only Jesus Christ of heaven, with whom his character obviously had an issue.

A few moments later, he cussed Him again.

That’s it. That’s all the evidence I need. I know that Jesus is not long-buried in some Middle Eastern grave somewhere. Otherwise, Hollywood wouldn’t give Him the time of day much less all the free advertisement.

Off-track Question: should Hollywood have to pay royalties to Jesus for each reference to Him…or is He public domain? Oh yeah, just remembered: they’ll each pay retribution when they have to face Him on the Day of Reckoning and the books are opened…

Back to the point: Sure we have the scriptural record that testifies to His risenness, the historical record, the testimonies of numerous reliable witnesses, and bookoos of forensic evidence, but I submit into evidence ‘Exhibit E’: the incessant and pervasive taking of our Lord’s Name in vain in every culture, every language, and in every era of human history since He left His footprint on planet earth.

You never hear anyone cursing Buddha or Mohammed or Santa or the Easter Bunny. Have you ever heard “MLK!” or “Mary Baker Eddy!” or “Joseph H. Smith!”? To get that much (sole) attention, Jesus, the Christ of God has got to be a credible, indelible contemporary influence. And with all that cussing and derision…

…how could He be out of sight and gone from public purview?

How, do tell, could He be gone from the context of our lives if He’s dead and buried? Every time someone shouts an invective built around that Blessed Name, I just hang on it the truth that my Jesus is alive and well.

And, conversely, since there’s no censuring of those other guys and gals, I know they’re cold dead. Unless they’re with Jesus, that is. If they’re not, then they’re hot dead. Only Santa and the E.B. get a pass.

Just like today, 2000 years ago angry people shook their fists at Innocence Himself and cursed Him. They wanted Him out of their lives for good. Their insults took on moisture as they spat upon His Holiness. Then they cussed Him some more.

Within hours His lifeless body was BOUND in grave clothes, SEALED behind a rock that weighed a ton, and GUARDED by soldiers who were trained to keep watch. Presumably, they were there to keep others out, and, just in case, to keep the dead Rabbi in.

Enter lightning, thunder and an earthquake. A moved stone. An empty tomb. A humiliated satan. A worshipping woman. Puzzled disciples. An angry prefect. Horrified Sadducees. An ascended Lord. A poured-out Spirit. A Church triumphant. A Coming King.

And you still want to curse Him?

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This Is That

When’s the last sermon you’ve heard on the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

I’ll wait.

Can’t remember the last time? Why is it that the church is so ill-equipped with this precious and powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit? Have our doctrines become iron gates so as to occlude our entering in to the secret place where divinely inestimable treasures are kept?

These treasures are for us – for our employment and our enjoyment.

Martin Lloyd-Jones described himself as a Calvinistic-Methodist, influenced both by the unadulterated exposition of Whitefield and Wesley’s ministry of the burning heart. He preached a subsequent work of the Holy Spirit for any of God’s children who ask (see Luke 11:11-13), which may or may not be accompanied by phenomenon we see in Acts. For the record, I am in his tribe.

Here is how the venerable Lloyd-Jones describes this amazing love-gift from God:

Alluding to the teaching of Puritan Thomas Goodwin, Lloyd-Jones said,

A father is walking down the road with his son’s hand in his own and the child is enjoying the presence of his father and knows that he is loved. Then, without the child doing anything special, moved only by the father’s love, the father reaches down and scoops his son off his feet and up into his arms. He hugs the child tightly, showers him with kisses, tells him he loves him more than life itself and sets him down again. The child already knew his father loved him, there was no doubt. But oh the added measure of assurance, the joy of knowing that love is not based on anything you have done but simply flows out of the heart of the father. That is what it means to have God near.

*

John Piper, citing this reference, said,

I think this is basically what happened at Pentecost. And has happened again and again in the life of the church.
— John Piper: You Shall Receive Power, 1990

Are we so afraid that our people can’t handle this added measure of love from God?

This is criminal, if you ask me. During the Middle Ages, Catholicism deemed it illegal for the common person to have access to Bibles. Catholic apologists say it was to stem the tide of heresy, but their own practices were heretical! Wittenberg Door, anyone? So committed to their laws were they that the scriptures were actually chained to the pulpits!

Is this like that?

I am grateful for this subsequent work of the Spirit for life and ministry. For the life of me, I don’t know where I would be without His sweet bathings. Let’s not memorialize Pentecost as if it was a one-time event never to be reproduced, when the truth is, there have been many fillings and (oh, let’s just say it) baptisms, with many yet to come!

D.L. Moody said of his own experience,

I was crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York — oh, what a day! — I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.

Are you hungry?

Thirsty?

Ask – with a pure heart, yes – but do ask.

And get ready to be swept up in the arms of grace.

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*Joy Unspeakable, David Martyn-Lloyd Jones