Friday, December 30, 2011

What the Gospel isn't

What is the Gospel? It is the ANSWER. What is the question? A wonderful, articulate, thorough, and helpful message delivered by Michael Horton will help codify the marching orders and solidify the basis on which we declare salvation in Christ.

Listen HERE.

I know that most people do not regularly take an hour out of their day to listen to a sermon (coincidentally most Christians would get rather uppity if their pastor went over the 35-40 minute message slot allotted on Sunday). But I am a sermon geek and as such love listening to sermons (even if they are closer to an hour long).

The Gospel is something. Because it is, it is also not other things, anything, or everything.

If we miss this, we risk turning the Message into the message. Both may be useful, but we lose something when we lose the categories into which these fall respectively. Christian culture often may lead one to lump everything together and create a great deal of confusion. The first generation recognizes the difference. The second one assumes the difference. The third assumes they're the same thing.

It's not a matter of pooping on your parade, it's a matter of distinguishing the importance of what is and what is not unique and special about the terms and their use.

I love the idea of a Gospel sports show if by that you mean a show that reviews sports news from a perspective and worldview that embraces and seeks to honor historical, orthodox, Christianity and tell people the Good News while telling them the sports news. However, what it often means is a show about sports by people who simply do not cuss or endorse unChristian behaviors (or run weekly series on the latest Tim Tebow updates). I am not against people promoting good language and good sportsmanship (or Tim Tebow - I like the guy). The problem is that those things are not the GOSPEL!

(and I am guessing Tim Tebow is the type of guy that would tell you he isn't the Good News).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

He not Who by our hands make Him

If tongue lay slack, if words flat fall
Still God and Savior, King of all
'Tis not my task to make Him LORD
He reigns forever by His Word

When fail my heart ascribe Him worth
Authority owed in Heav’n and earth
Yet God above and God below
Rob not Him I the gl’ry He owns

Should life fall short when deeds we shirk
No lack has He who treasure births
E’er Name above all other names
Jesus, worthy of all our praise

When before earth’s foundation laid
The Mighty Lord, set course to save
From Heaven’s rest brought forth and sent
The precious LORD in self content

The Three in One, myst’ry divine
Lit bright the world no less He shine
Unending source of love and light
Made nought to all, unseen to sight

Speak we no more than He hath said
Speak we no less the Word as read
Only to God, no other owed
Our love forever, only boast

Not One Who needs us vet Him God
The King forever, liveth on
We be at peace when we agree
Find rest do we in bended knee

Bend not He to our fickle whims
The is to Come, the Was, the Is
Who’s owed no less the more we give
He not Who by our hands make Him

~ an original poem/hymn by Todd Henry Van Voorst

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This n that, but this? What about that?

In my Bible reading today I came across Psalm 69.

There are some very clear Messianic portions of this Psalm.

Being hated without cause, being thirsty, having a zeal for God's house that consumes, and being offered sour wine to drink. All of these are directly related to Jesus and tied back to this Psalm.

It makes me wonder how much of this was written by David in a Messianic spirit. Maybe the whole thing is meant to somehow apply to Jesus.

Verse 5 makes that difficult however in that David states,

"5 O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you."

Jesus did not have any folly or wrongs that He committed. It makes me appreciate the apostles and the Holy Spirit which illuminated their minds and spirits to that which was directly related to the Messiah in a literal sense as they preached and wrote the New Testament and perhaps that which was not.

Of course the Road to Emmaus teaches us that the whole Bible is pointing to Jesus. This becomes a careful exposition when extracting themes from the Old Testament. God's promise to Abraham is clearly traced through literal, genealogical record and the preservation of the people through whom the Messiah would come is often the focal point of the stories (i.e. Esther, Joseph, Judges, etc...) The Psalms are interesting inasmuch as they are songs and poems inspired by the Holy Spirit to point us toward God and His only Son, Jesus, but written by men acquainted mainly with shadows of what was to come.

Read Psalm 69 today and if you have a study Bible, look up the cross-references. There is a lot of rich source material in this Psalm applied forward to Jesus. What parts make obvious sense to you? Which would be harder to understand in a Messianic context? Do you ever consider how the Old Testament passages you read apply to Jesus?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Good Shepherd, Farmer, and Fisherman

There are two types of people in the world. Those that divide the world into two types of people and those that don't. The Bible divides the world into two types of people. People that do not do so also do not read, understand, or believe in the Bible as an authority source.

Sheep go to Heaven. Goats go to hell.

Sheep and goats. Wheat and weeds. Good fish, bad fish. The final harvest.

Romans 8:9b-10
9 And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

If you do not have the Spirit of Christ, you do not belong to Christ.

Romans 8:30
30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Pray for those you know who do not yet have the Spirit of Christ. Preach the Good News of Jesus to them. Pray that the LORD grants protection from the evil one's attempts to snatch it from the path. Pray that persecution and the cares of this world would not strangle the only words capable of reviving a soul from death to life.

The world will one day be divided.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Not What My Hands Have Done

Listen HERE.

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, And set my spirit free.

I bless the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear, each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace; I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine, My God, my joy and light.
’Tis He Who saveth me, and freely pardon gives;
I love because He loveth me, I live because He lives.

A neat montage including sermon snippets here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Our God is God who saves

Psalm 68:20-23

20 Our God is a God of salvation,
and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.
21 But God will strike the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways.
22 The Lord said, "I will bring them back from Bashan,
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea,
23 that you may strike your feet in their blood,
that the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from the foe."

God's salvation is no small thing. It costs far more than we often think.

It cost Jesus His comfort in Heaven and His taking upon Himself human flesh and limiting Himself to our time and geography. A boundless God stepped in a small town in Israel. A timeless LORD became a baby.

It also costs the lives of those who oppose this LORD and His salvation.

It may be taboo, but it is undeniable with even a cursory glance through Scripture. Even Psalm 23, the staple of comfort for Christians in times of despair, mentions that our enemies will watch us reclining in rest (however they are not invited to the feast).

Even the great Psalm 139 which is often quoted on pillows and baby blankets showing that God knit us together in the womb ends on a very ominous tone.

The LORD is just and sin will require payment in full: either in Jesus' cross or by the individual who committed them.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

If Not For Christ

If not for Christ, His life and death
If not for Law fulfilled in breadth
If not for sin in Him was paid
The rest we seek would be in vain

To know the Rock, the living LORD
To mine His everlasting Word
Would to our minds and thoughts be blessed
Yet just to know dost grant no rest

To toe the line, to conscience cling
To hear the Word and do the thing
That lies close by, near’st to our chests
Yet just to do dost grant no rest

If not for Christ, the thoughts we think,
The works we do, our hearts unclean
No deeds, no tears, no other source
If not for Christ, we all fall short

If not for Christ, His life and death
If not for Law fulfilled in breadth
If not for sin in Him was paid
The rest we seek would be in vain

~ an original poem/hymn by Todd Henry Van Voorst

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I read an article in Modern Reformation magazine some time back that really clarified and crystallized something which had long been a sense inside me without words to express it.

The article marked the contemporary trend of replacing traditional funerals with "celebration of life" ceremonies.

I understand a person's desire to memorialize the loved one who has passed on and the mournful, morbid, dark, and haunting feeling of attending a funeral. A dead body in full view. A body that once was animated and vibrant and given the image of God by which to operate and experience life and influence (for better or for worse) the lives of others.

However, it robs people of their right to grieve. To invite people to a formal gathering in the name of the person now passed and ask them to be joyful is unBiblical and a pervision of the process. For a pastor to insist that the gatherers do not mourn or weep for their loved one is in a better place is an insult to the current pain of loss (especially when this sermon is preached with a broad brush, i.e. everyone's loved ones get cuts in the line to Heaven the moment they are dead).

My purpose here is not to indict unbelievers of their burial practices. They are not concerned with honoring God with their lives, thoughts, practices, or deaths.

Christians should mourn. Not like everyone else, but mourn none the less.

Death is horrible. It is a result of sin. It is the earthly destination of every single one of us born as sons and daugthers of Adam, our first father. Funerals remind us that we will someday die. It is good for us to ponder these deep things. It anchors us in reality. Real reality.

Even the author of Eccelsiastes knew that a funeral and a party are two different things and they have different purposes. There is a time to party and a time to cry.

Celebrations of life blur that difference and rob both of their function in drawing us near to God. I know that God loves joy and singing and dancing and partying. The Scripture is full of these images and a great wedding banquet awaits those saved by grace through faith in Jesus.

I am not worried that we will forget to party if we attend the occassional funeral. My concern is that if we turn funerals into FUNerals we may never mourn or think about all of that which is so deep and accessible primarily through the experience of sadness, reflection, and somberness.

I know we want to put on our church face and be happy Christians who are untouchable in a world of people far too touched by everything and everyone else (Snap!). But Christians are not called to be stoic, statuesque monsters who are absent of any real emotion other than spray on smiles.

Jesus wept. We should too. Not always, but sometimes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Brother Where Art Thou?

I thought of O Brother Where Art Thou? today when in my Bible reading I came across this from Psalm 66:13-14:

13I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will perform my vows to you,14that which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

I have no doubt that God uses trouble to bring us to our proud knees. C.S. Lewis may be right in saying that, “Pain is God’s megaphone.” Remember when Everett (having mocked God and those who are so simple as to believe in Him the duration of the movie) finds himself on the verge of certain death? He cries out to a God he doesn't believe in a la The Script - "Breakeven." The moment trouble passes, Everett shamefully attempts to explain away his deep longings in an effort to hedge the fact that he no longer has any intentions of coming through on the promises made under duress.

I am thankful in retrospect for many of the trials and hardships I have endured in my short life here on earth knowing that they were not without His notice. Imagine how wild my proud heart would run if not for the setbacks and hitches in my (gulp!) perfect plans for myself.

However, when we are in trouble, we say a lot of things. When we hurt our hearts deceive us into pledging any and all to avoid further consequence or threat of suffering.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 4When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.

I wonder if I have ever made a promise under duress that I have failed to keep? This is a reminder to seek the forgiveness of God for that which we are unable to perform. For all my self-absorbed attempts to avoid pain and suffering and in those moments offering an even more boastful and cocky prediction of that which I may possibly not be able to perform. For all of this, forgiveness is available through Jesus Christ, our faithful Promise and Intercessor.

We cannot make good on all our promises. We hope to fulfill them and in Jesus we rely to grant us the grace to carry them out. Woe to us, however, if in continued rebellion we seek to make our word (and by reflection - His Word) nothing by deliberately failing to produce that which we have promised.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rock of Ages

Listen Here

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Friday, December 16, 2011

You are NOT drowning

You are drowned. Dead at the bottom of the pool.

Stop me if you've heard this one:

You are drowning in a sea of your own sin and Jesus is reaching out His hand to save you if you would only reach back to the hand reaching for you.

That may sound right. But is it?

A common Biblical image used to describe our position prior to having our eyes and ears opened by the Holy Spirit is not someone in danger of dying, but someone who's already dead.

Ezekiel had to preach the Gospel to dead bones.

Lazarus was dead in a tomb.

Paul wrote to the churches of Ephesus and Colossae that we were dead. Walking Dead at best.

Dead people don't reach out. They usually do a lot of lying around. and stinking. and decaying (i.e. like these people). But even those are not "active" verbs. They are things being done to you.

The Bible is clear. We were dead. In, through, and by His iniative we (who repent and believe the Good News) are reborn.

You had as little to do with your rebirth as you did with your first birth. It was something that happened to you. You did not participate in it. You were a recipient of another's will. The first time it was the will of man. Your rebirth is only by the will of God.

John 1:9-13

9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

I do not presume to know how dead people receive something, but the Bible is clear in this regard: we are dead and only the will of God can resurrect us to new life. Smarter people than me have debated vigorously on the mechanics of how this works and the machinery that makes it happen.

Is God completely in control? Are we free? Are we less free than we think? On what basis is one punished if it was not in their control? Does that make God unjust? Does the jar have any right to complain to the Potter?

God is just and God is love.
Hell is real and people are going there... and they deserve it.
Jesus is real and people will be saved into Him... and they do not deserve it.

And for all of this glory unto the only God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My only Law, My Heart to Break

My only Law, my heart to break
When in my sin, did see and faint
This golden lamp from which I stray
The lonely, narrow, blessed way

My only hope, my sin be seen
In Him, on Calv'ry, bled and died
This gracious shift, His blood for mine
Done in my place and for my sin

My only plea, the wrath owed me
On Him, in full and satisfied
This worthy Lamb, His death my life
Fulfilled the Law, cursed on a tree

My only Love, the warrior LORD
Traversed the gulf my sin had wrought
His deep concern, it fails Him not
To guide His thoughts to me the more

My only LORD, the great high King
To You salvation does belong
This anchor Rock, secure and strong
Firm in Your hand, to You I cling

My only priest, the life He lives
On earth, in Heaven intercedes
This wounded Lamb, His pray'r for me
Right hand of God, Hosanna, Christ!

My only boast, this light lit dim
By Holy Spirit sanctified
This change in me by Him inspired
A sealed reward, grace earned by Him

The dead alive, in Him reborn
In mercy, pow'r, O can it be?
This great exchange, His life for me
My only God, to You I turn

~ an original poem/hymn by Todd Henry Van Voorst

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Nero by any other name

Please pray for Youcef Nadarkhani.

Full story HERE.

Pray, give, and support the persecuted Christians in our world HERE or HERE or HERE or HERE.

If you don't give a click, then don't worry about it.

Someone else will..eventually..maybe..probably..most. likely..someday.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sin, Sinner, Sinnest?

I was reading Romans 7 in my Bible reading today and was reminded of a recent episode of the White Horse Inn ( where they asked this question:

If we sin after we become Christians, are we still saved?

What about if we perpetually sin after we are saved? Are we then still saved?

Take a moment and think about it.


What would be your answer to one and then two. I half suspect I know what your answers will be.

Yes and then No. Am I right?

I perpetually sin. Not a day passes in which I do not fall short of the glory of God. But I am also perfect in Christ and being perfected in this life.

Break out the church words – sanctification

In my head, I just said "Break out the church words" to the tune of “Oh no they broke out the cardboard”

Romans 7:21-25

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Repentance is a changing of one’s mind. Here the Apostle Paul agrees in his mind that the Law is good and rightfully condemns him.

He agrees with God.

He agrees that his sin is sin and worthy of death. You cannot agree with God unless by His Spirit He gives you opportunity. The Apostle Paul has repented of his former way of thinking, however, and has embraced the Gospel of God in Jesus Christ.

Beware of anyone who tells you that you can become perfect and sinless in this life. Stay clear dear Christian of those who would entice you into thinking you can work hard enough to earn, deserve, keep, or maintain your salvation. It is not a halo, it is a sword of Damocles

Rest in Jesus alone. You are not saved because you stopped sinning. You were saved when you were sinning. John MacArthur once said, "If I could lose my salvation, I would."

This is not me saying your life and works do not matter. They do. So much so that Christ had to die for the sins you committed, commit and will commit tomorrow. Do not make light of what God paid to set you free by saying that grace makes your life irrelevant. Shameless man, do you accuse God of wrong?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hallelujah! What a Savior

Listen HERE.
Man of Sorrows! what a name
for the Son of God, who came
ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned he stood;
sealed my pardon with his blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
spotless Lamb of God was he;
full atonement can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was he to die;
"It is finished!" was his cry;
now in heaven exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When he comes, our glorious King,
all his ransomed home to bring,
then anew this song we'll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Some big words you should know

I was reminded of what smarter people call penal substitutionary atonement today when I read the following:

By one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified —Hebrews 10:14

“We trample the blood of the Son of God underfoot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only reason for the forgiveness of our sins by God, and the infinite depth of His promise to forget them, is the death of Jesus Christ… God is just in saving bad people only as He makes them good. Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong. The atonement by the Cross of Christ is the propitiation God uses to make unholy people holy.”
~ My Utmost For His Highest – Oswald Chambers

We are saved by works. GASP! Yes, I just said that and NO, I’m not Roman Catholic.

(Never even been to Italy)

We are saved because God did something. Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished!” He said this because He did something. He accomplished something. That is why we have nothing left to do to be saved but call on Him who is forever blessed for doing everything. Amen!

Jesus HAD TO die because you deserve to die. If your sin is not really that bad (as Alistair Begg once put it, “If God merely winks at sin”) then Jesus was punished excessively and the post-modern heretics are right: God is guilty of divine child abuse.

But you cannot accomplish what Jesus did and God is not unjust.

This is very Good News.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On purpose

"Contend for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints."

The Good News is a message. It is something which is relayed. You cannot be it, make it, add to it, or take away from it. You can either report it verbatim or create for yourself something more tailored to your liking. However, if you do the latter you are not reporting the Good News, but rather just plain ol' news. News announcing to all your opinions and the vain imaginations of your heart. We speak of a God who sent His one and only Son to be crucified for our sin, to be buried, and to be raised on the third day. This is an event that actually happened. What it means that the event happened is colored in by the writers of the New Testament. Just because you own crayons, doesn't mean you get to keep coloring. And to borrow a line from Pastor Mark Driscoll, "Just because you own a Bible does not mean you get to keep writing."

A baton is passed from one to another. The next runner does not have to find their own baton. They do not have to polish the one passed to them. They have to pass that same baton to the next runner. They have to stay on the right track, in the right lane (the one assigned to them). They don't earn the baton. It is passed to them. They receive the baton. The same baton that was passed to the runner before them. The same baton that started the race will finish the race.

You are not the baton.

The worst news in the world is the weight of thinking I have to be the Gospel. The worst scenario for the next runner is that I am the baton.

This blog is intended to be a resource for those interested in preserving that which has been consistently proclaimed by those who know, love, trust, and believe in YHWH. It may include some commentary from time to time, but the main thrust of it is to capture and report back to the reader that which I am gathering from the Bible and those that love Jesus who talk about, write about, and blog about the Bible.

I am not seeking to do your spiritual growth for you, but simply to gather all that I find interesting and helpful and condense it here in a context and proportion more easily digested. In other words, I will hit up the buffet and then tell you what was worth the space on the plate. That said, test all things, keep the good and chuck the bad. I will try on my end if you try on your end. Don't take my word for it.

Read for yourselves.

Enjoy. Please comment on what is helpful. Ask questions. If I don't know the answer, I will seek to find it. If the answer has not been unveiled yet by God, I will point you back to trusting in Him and His character (right, Elihu? - any Job love out there?)