Notes and Resources July 13th, 2012
In this week’s Notes and Resources:
Loving the World?
The Ministry of the Word v. the Ministry of Deeds
Understanding the Old Testament
The Shellfish Argument
Jesus’ Doctrine of Scripture
How Many Hours Can I Work?
Loving the World: John, of course, tells us not to do that. In his first letter he writes , “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him…” (1 John 2:15)
And yet over the last few weeks as we’ve studied God’s three purposes in giving his people Sabbath rest - 1. to enjoy him, 2. enjoy each other and 3. enjoy all of his works - you might have begun to wonder how it is possible to enjoy life while at the same time heeding John’s instruction above not to love the world? Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile does an excellent job addressing that question in this article. In sum: “We Love the World Correctly Only When We Love the Father Completely”. It’s a short read but I found it very helpful. Here’s an excerpt:
You may have heard that phrase and thought to yourself, “I don’t love the Father completely.” You might think of the weaknesses in your love, the imperfections. You want to love the Father more completely but you despair and feel discouraged at ever doing so. Be encouraged because your heart and mind are in the right direction. Pay attention to the direction in which your heart does truly lean—toward God. If you were not Christ’s, you would not even have the desire to love the Father. If you were not Christ’s, you would not mourn over weaknesses in your love. A weak love is not the same as zero love. Take heart—the desire to love God that you possess comes from God. Rest your confidence not on the perfection of your love, but on the perfection of Jesus Christ, who loves you and has loved the Father for you.
How do we know whether we truly love God instead of the world? We know we love God and not the world when we deny our fallen motivations and desires and seek God’s way of living and God’s glory in everything. Is that you?...more
The Ministry of Words and the Ministry of Deeds: Good Shepherd is a task oriented congregation. By God’s grace we do lots of good things for lots of people. Almost everyone is involved in some kind of service or ministry. This is good and yet if we are always doing work and never being fed, our work will seem more and more burdensome and the results will be far less fruitful. We could easily begin to do good things for the wrong reasons…self-promotion, vanity, to feel good about ourselves, to attract people to the church, etc. It is a good thing to serve others and serve the community but learning, studying, meditating on God’s word should always come first. God uses his word to train us to do his work his way. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC has written a fine article explaining this principle:
First, we should establish that the ministry of the Word is the priority for the local church. The first thing I need to tell people when they come to church is “Believe in Jesus,” not “Do justice.” Why? First, believing in Jesus meets a more radical human need. Second, if they don’t believe in Jesus they won’t have a gospel motivation to do justice in the world. So the first priority of the local church under its elders is to make disciples, not to do housing rehabilitation or feed the poor.
However, the church must disciple and support its members so they love their neighbor, integrate their faith in their work, and seek a more just and wholesome society and culture. This means that within the church there must be adequate teaching, preaching, and emphasis on how to be Christian in the public sphere, and how to be loving servants in our neighborhood. And of course there should be strong “diaconal” or mercy ministry within the congregation to meet the economic and material needs of members.
Nevertheless, while the church disciples its members to help the poor and, for example, to be Christian filmmakers, the congregation should not own low-income housing or start a film production company.
So the institutional church should give priority to Word ministry, but Christians must do both word and deed ministry in the world, and the church should equip them to do so…more
Understanding the Old Testament: If you’re a relatively new Christian, it can be hard to read through the Old Testament, especially when you hit Leviticus and Numbers. It helps to remember that the Old Testament was given by God to point forward to Jesus Christ. So when Christians read any Old Testament book we’re always cognizant of the fact that God has embedded portraits of the gospel throughout. Articles like this one by Daniel Hyde enable us to see that truth more clearly. Hyde explains the gospel significance of the “Mercy Seat”, the cover of the Ark of the Covenant. Here’s an excerpt:
In the Bible, propitiation is an act by which God’s wrath is turned away from us. The imagery is expressed in Psalm 85, which says,
Lord, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin.
You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger. (vv. 1–3)
Toward this end, God gave a distinct set of instructions for the ark’s lid (Ex. 25:17–22), called the kapporet in Hebrew. When the Old Testament was translated into Latin, this word was translated as propitiatorium, which means “the place of propitiation.” The standard English translation is “the mercy seat” (KJV).
This lid, then, was the place of propitiation, the place where the wrath of God was turned away from His people…read more
The Shellfish Argument: Speaking of the Old Testament, often critics of Christianity, especially of Christian ethics, will say something like: “So you say you follow the bible…but the Old Testament says not to eat shellfish and I saw you eating shrimp the other day. It seems like you just pick and choose which parts of the bible to follow.” Tim Keller addresses that objection in this article
I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits, or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.” Most often I hear, “Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts—-about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on. Then they condemn homosexuality. Aren’t you just picking and choosing what you want to believe from the Bible?”
I don’t expect everyone to understand that the whole Bible is about Jesus and God’s plan to redeem his people, but I vainly hope that one day someone will access their common sense (or at least talk to an informed theological adviser) before leveling the charge of inconsistency…read more
Jesus’ Doctrine of Scripture: If we are going to follow Jesus it’s important that our view of the bible square up with his. This article and sermon by Kevin DeYoung explores Jesus’ use of scripture and his opinion of it. Here’s an excerpt:
He believed in keeping the spirit of the law without ever minimizing the letter of the law. He affirmed the human authorship of Scripture while at the same time bearing witness to the ultimate divine authorship of the Scriptures.
He treated the Bible as a necessary word, a sufficient word, a clear word, and the final word.
It was never acceptable in his mind to contradict Scripture or stand above Scripture.
He believed the Bible was all true, all edifying, all important, and all about him. He believed absolutely that the Bible was from God and was absolutely free from error. What Scripture says God says, and what God said was recorded infallibly in Scripture.
Jesus submitted his will to the Scriptures, committed his brain to study the Scriptures, and humbled his heart to obey the Scriptures…read more
How Many Hours Can I Work? Finally, Tim Challies offers this excellent article for fathers on balancing work and family. I really need to internalize this:
I have known men who have worked extra jobs and extra shifts in order to allow their children to attend Christian schools, something these men determined was important enough merit time away from family. I have known men who have worked extra jobs and extra shifts in order to maintain an otherwise unsustainable lifestyle that was more than their families wanted or needed or because they wanted to rise up through the ranks, achieving status and power. Long hours may reflect good motives or bad ones, God-ward loyalties or self-centered ones. We may make an idol out of family and we may make an idol out of being away from family. The human heart is so tricky, so sneaky, so idolatrous…read more