Marrying things to the Gospel

A Christian most certainly can be a good patriot and love their country. However, patriotism is not necessary to be a good Christian.

This past Sunday I gave the introduction to the sermon I plan to preach this week. You can go listen to it here.  It was called 1 Corinthians 2:6-9 Introduction.

I preached this sermon because often times I think we misunderstand what’s happening in Corinthian and what Paul is after. In the first 4 chapters of 1 Corinthians Paul uses the term wisdom 15 times. But the problem is not a problem inherent in wisdom itself. It is a problem with what we as men do with wisdom.

So I made the connection to our lives today, we have our own value systems that we attempt to marry to the gospel, rather than repent of our value systems and turn to Christ.  One of the values systems that I railed against was patriotism. I know some people would think, Brady what is wrong with you? Well there is a lot wrong with me, but in this case here is what I mean.

A Christian most certainly can be a good patriot and love their country. However, patriotism is not necessary to be a good Christian. So I thought I would show you what I think is a case of marrying patriotism to the gospel. The following video is the worship service of FBC Dallas from June 25. In this “worship” service you have the worship of a country and idea, but the worship of Christ Jesus did not happen that day. Even though the sermon was about and faith and fear, Christ was not worshiped. This is marrying the gospel to patriotism, and this ought not be.

Check it out. And then weep that this was a Sunday morning for God’s people to gather and worship the Risen Savior.

 

Purpose of Theology

The first intention of the Scripture, in the revelation of God towards us, is, as was said, that we might fear him, believe, worship, obey him, and live unto him, as God.

John Owen, The Glory of the Trinity: Taken from the Works of John Owen, electronic ed., vol. 2 (Simpsonville, SC: Christian Classics Foundation, 1999), 14–15.

I wanted to share this great quote, because this is often what is missing from the lives of many ministers. They have become event planners, people counters, culture changers, and process workers.

What they need to be is God lovers. It is far too easy to study the Bible as an academic act, an intellectual pursuit, or a simple curiosity. That will leave the soul lifeless and dead.

But when the eyes behold the greatness of Christ in the pages of Scripture, paradise breaks through from the age to come, and the soul can taste of the powers of the age to come.

But it is only the soul whose eyes stayed fixed on that point, through no strength of their own, that will one day see these glories face to face.

Scripture is meant to drive us to worship and love God.

Theology in trials.

He is the sovereign King over all things, and that was starting to go deep into my life.

Why is Theology important in Difficult times?

About 10 years ago I was taking my wife to the dentist. I had taken off work and was excited for some time away. While we were there I got a voice mail from my boss. I went outside to listen to the voice mail and slowly the tragedy that was about to happen caved in on me. “We would like to ask you to resign effectively by the end of the month.” Those words, didn’t really sink in to well for at least the first 30 seconds. All I could do was count the days, 15 days. But my wife was pregnant with our 5th child, and we were at least 4 to 5 hours from family or any sort of place we could stay.

Slowly outside of this dentist office a knot and a lump began to develop in my stomach. My stomach ached, I thought I was going to be sick.

The dizzying array of thoughts flooding through my mind, swirled past me like I was on the Tilt-A-Whirl at the carnival, and I just couldn’t catch myself.

I was about to have my fifth child, while being homeless and jobless. I know there are worse things in life, but that one hit me hard. I had no idea it was coming.

What I did not do was run through the “how to deal with suffering steps.” I knew the steps from a once-preached-sermon, but those steps didn’t even come to mind.

What did I do? I cried out to God. But because of the theology of our church, when I called on God, there was more confidence and hope. He is the sovereign King over all things, and that was starting to go deep into my life.

The more theology we know and understand, then more of God we can grasp and believe. So when we cry out to God in trouble: we call on a God who we know is able. Job said, “I have heard of you with the hearing of my ear, but now I have seen you with my eyes” (Job 42:5) The more we know of who God is, the more we will believe rightly in the middle of difficulty.

So how do we prepare for trials? Study who God is.

Friday’s Finds

I am an uncultured swine.

I am an uncultured swine.

  • I don’t like reading fiction books (I’d rather watch the movie)
  • I can’t stand artsy movies ( I couldn’t stand “O, Brother where art thou?” No I didn’t understand it, but once I did, I still hated it. I was like, can we play a video game now?)
  • I am not a go-to-the-museum art lover. I am usually more fascinated with how many people think they are clever while looking at art, than I am looking at art.
  • I don’t like the music involved with old hymns usually. (I know a reformed baptist that would rather have modern sounding music than old sounding music? what is the world coming to)

Right now I wanted to introduce others to this great website. Adam4d Here is an example of the quality.

Let's not waste this opportunity we've been given.

This website is a Christian Webcomic. Sometimes the comics are just funny, and sometimes the comics jab hard enough that you kind of check yourself.

So check it out. I think you will like it.

Disagreement

We see the logical conclusion of someone’s belief, and we immediately jump to accuse them of that conclusion.

The other day I wrote a summary of John Newton’s approach to controversy

Today I just wanted to talk about one more rule. This one comes from Archibald Alexander. Tim Keller has done a four part series on this same issue. (Part 1 can be found here)

But in part 2 Keller summarizes something that Alexander had to say. Here is what Keller says:

Perhaps Alexander’s most interesting rule however, was this: “Attribute to an antagonist no opinion he does not own, though it be a necessary consequence” (Calhoun, p. 92). In other words, even if you believe that Mr. A’s belief X could or will lead others who hold that position to belief Y, do not accuse Mr. A of holding to belief Y himself, if he disowns it.

Most of the of time, none of us are smart enough to see all of the pot holes and ditches our various doctrines or interpretations of passages will drop us in. This is why discussion and association with like-minded individuals is important. Others usually can see the problems with our doctrine before we can.

But far too often this rule is broken. We see the logical conclusion of someone’s belief, and we immediately jump to accuse them of that conclusion. If they claim to not hold to a particular error, then no matter how much we think their current beliefs could lead that way, we cannot say that they are already there.

I pray we will be more careful in our discussions.

Suffering, part 1

Suffering arises from issues out of our control. It can be things that start within us or outside of us.

I have a book on suffering I have been nursing for about 8 years now, so I want to use this blog to think through, sharpen, and perhaps write this book.

First, we must clarify our terms. Here are the terms about suffering as I understand them.

  1. Suffering arises from issues out of our control. It can be things that start within us or outside of us.
  2. Discipline or punishment comes from issues in our control and roll out from something we should not have done. Here we are talking about our sin.
  3. Consequences again flow from within us, but we are not talking about sin.

If I could chart it, I think this is how I understand the matrix of issues we face.

   Outside of me Inside of me
Sin Suffering Discipline or Punishment
Foolishness Suffering Consequences
Natural World Suffering Suffering

Outside of Me

An issue starts outside of me; I can’t control it. This is suffering. The natural world can produce our suffering. Suffering can arise from someone’s foolishness; The man who loses focus while driving can foolishly bring about suffering for someone else. Someone’s sin can also cause us to suffer.

Inside of Me

The second column is different. If my “suffering” is due to my sin, then it is not suffering at all. It’s discipline or punishment.

On Discipline and Punishment

Now I use both words because I am trying to distinguish a couple of things.

  1. God will discipline his children but not punish them. (Hebrews 12)
  2. God will punish the wicked, but I don’t mean God’s wrath and hell and final destruction.

Consequences. This is not due to my sin, but it is due to some foolish thing I have done that comes back to “haunt” me.

Finally, sickness, disease, malfunctions in my body can all be called suffering as well.

It is true that many circumstances in our lives are a combination of these issues. Sometimes I am suffering and respond wrongly. Then I get a mix of suffering and consequences.

It is also true that it is often hard to talk about suffering without constantly reminding ourselves that our discipline for our sin is not suffering.

So these are the terms. What do you think? Are there other categories I should consider?

 

A Good Disagreement

It never fails. Just a quick glimpse up and down the news feed reveals tons a disagreements. What’s more, there is usually not a lot of understanding wrapped up in those threads.

Our culture is quick to speak (read: type) and slow to hear or to even understand. Add to this our penchant for self promotion and sinful pride, and a news feed boils over with bad controversies and horrible disagreements.

Now I am not vying for no disagreements; I am after good ones. Most of the time the disagreements suffer from:

  • A useless topic (pretty much anything not theological)
  • poorly constructed arguments
  • bad form in the way of people argue.

John Newton wrote to a friend who was about to write an article criticizing another minister. (Yeah you read that right. Think about, the guy who wrote Amazing Grace is writing a letter on dealing with controversy) I think Newton’s advice needs to be repeated and heeded. Newton tells his friend to consider three things.

Consider Your Opponent

Here is what Newton has to say:

  • Pray for him before you criticize him
  • If he is a believer, be gentle because you know the Lord loves him, and the Lord has been gentle with you.
  • If he is an unbeliever, don’t believe that charge too hastily, be even more gentle.

If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling blocks in the way of the blind or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their principles, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable.

Consider the Public.

Newton wanted his friend to think about the various people who would read this critical article.

There will be those who disagree. Just consider the things already spoken.

There will be those who disregard religion. They may not be good judges of doctrine, but they certainly can tell tone and attitude. They expect us to act like we say we believe, but they can tell when we are being peevish, sarcastic, and biting. Write with a view that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (I said that last sentence, not Newton, but I think it is in the spirit of Newton)

There will be those who agree. Perhaps your writing will establish them further in their doctrine, and maybe it will show them the proper way to disagree.

Consider Yourself

To write on controversial things is both dangerous and honorable. Through confrontation many a man can be won to the truth by gentle firm appeals, but it is dangerous because it can harm you. Many have slid from controversy to pride, or anger, or running after secondary matters. So do not take offense if you are attacked. In fact, don’t mention their attack on you, simply keep to the truth.

Conclusion

The whole letter can be found at Ligonier Ministries, and I believe worth your time to read.

 

Judging, the Gospel, and Parenting

Parents, we must call out our children’s sin so that they can hear the gospel.

To Judge or Not to Judge?

Do you think this culture understands Matthew 7 as well as they pretend? Many want to demand that “you judge not” However, how should this be understood?

I think two things must be done. First, I want to give a brief explanation of this passage and its context. Second I want to talk about the Law and the Gospel.

First

Christ positively commanded this. Jesus declares we are not supposed to judge. “Judge” can mean: decided, prefer, evaluate, hold a view, make a legal decision, condemn, or rule. However, the meaning must be determined by the context, and in this passage the context is this little illustration that Jesus gives.

Here I am with this giant 2×4 sticking out of my eye. I can’t get dressed, I can’t sleep. I can’t walk through a door normally. I can’t sit behind the wheel to drive my car. I can stand at the sink to brush my teeth. Just how am I supposed to take a spec out of someone else’s eye? But the illustration continues. Jesus demands of the hypocrite to remove the LOG and THEN get the spec out of the eye of the brother.

Now if you can’t tell the connections, let me draw them for you. Judging someone else is the same as getting the spec out of their eye. So, if we go back to “Judge not, lest you be judged” I think it is obvious that we see two types of judgement.

  • Removed the plank already type of judgment
  • Not removed the plank type of judgment

So judge not is not all types and kinds of judgment, but it is a boastful, proud, unaware type of judgment.

And Jesus even demands that you pull the log out first and then pull the spec. In other words, there is a command to judge and a command to NOT judge. So don’t judge in this manner, but judge in this other manner.

Second

We can apply this truth as we think about the Law and the gospel and parenting. Without a clear view of the law in my mind and heart for my own heart – the gospel is nothing.

How will I know what sin is if I don’t see the law clearly? Most would define sin as break God’s law. So if I don’t judge myself and my heart by the law, then I cannot know sin and if I cannot know sin, I cannot know the Gospel. The law gives no life, instead the law kills. The law slays; the law flays open the conscience to the reality that we are wicked law breakers before God.

And this is when the gospel needs to be preached.  This is when we need to declare that by Christ we are saved from the wrath of God. Jesus’ substituted himself for us on the cross. He died FOR us, in our place, and the wrath of God covered him for us. He who knew no sin, became sin for us. That which is punished and destroyed by God, Christ, became punishment for us.

So, in raising children, it takes both the law and the gospel. When our child rebels against our authority, refusing to do what we have said, then that child stands condemned by the law of God that commands children obey their parents.

If we take the route that says, judge not lest you be judged, meaning I never point out sin, then I will never confront their sin. If I do that, then I can never offer that child the hope of the gospel. I must just let them go and do what they want, and I must offer some weak gospel that says, “Dear, Jesus loves you and wants to be your best friend.”

What a shock it will be when one day she learns, “if I don’t become friends with Jesus he will punish me? why? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Pointing out what is wrong in the manner that Jesus commands is like the gentle surgeon who gentle tells his patient he has a terminal illness. He is fearful, but he has the truth and perhaps some hope.

Parents, we must call out our children’s sin so that they can hear the gospel. However, we must do so only with the log pulling attitude. If you don’t think you have sin, then you have no business correcting your kids.