Blog Merge, Irruption is Born

June 23, 2008

My brother, Brandon, over at LargerNeedle suggested that I merge with him, and offer in one blog a combination of our diverse giftings and interests to better serve the church and culture. I saw this as an incredible opportunity to unite with him for the cause of Christ and his kingdom. The merger has already been launched under the name Irruption, and from this point forward, we will be posting only there. All of our previous content, links, etc. has already been added to that site as well.

SBC Resolution Seeks Regenerate Church Membership

June 19, 2008

I am very pleased to see the Lord’s gracious work in moving the Southern Baptist Convention to take such a positive step toward maintaining a regenerate church membership and seeking to exercise restorative church discipline in the process. Read the “Complete text of amended membership resolution” here. Pray the local bodies will follow in this wise biblical counsel.

Gleanings from Stephen’s Faithfulness to the Righteous One

June 18, 2008

The account of Stephen’s trial, speech, and subsequent martyrdom found in Acts 6:8-7:60 always sets before me afresh the gravity and seriousness of the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ, a life that consists of both dying and hating one’s life in this world to gain the everlasting joys of presence with the Redeemer (e.g. Mark 8:34-38; John 12:24-26). When I need to observe a genuine Christian, a devoted follower of Jesus and reader/doer of his word, Luke’s portrait of Stephen helps me. There are a few more things I gleaned from this text as I read it this time around and I pray they would be beneficial to your faith also.

First, throughout Stephen’s message he makes numerous references to angels of the Lord mediating God’s words (and/or presence) to Moses and to the people (Acts 7:35, 38, 53; [cf. also Gal 3:19]). The text also notes that Stephen’s face “was like the face of an angel” in 6:15, and throughout chapter 7 Luke seems to portray him no differently than those very angels mentioned in his speech, at least in the sense of a kind of mediating deliverer/interpreter of God’s word. Surely, this highlights that the message concerning the Righteous One (Acts 7:52), in accord with the whole of Scripture, was something they rejected not only in Stephen’s day, but throughout the time Moses and the Prophets announced him.

Second, it seems rather obvious from his speech that Stephen not only read his Bible (i.e. the “Old” Testament), but also (and crucially) did so from the standpoint of faith (Acts 6:5), filled with the Holy Spirit (6:5, 10), and in light of its focus and aim, namely, the Righteous One (7:52). Ought we not learn from this faith-filled, Spirit-wrought, Christ-focused reading the Old Testament Scripture? Furthermore, do take note that Stephen finds that Scripture interprets Scripture. He sees that the Prophets interpret the Law when he quotes Amos 5:25-27 to better understand the people’s rebellion in Exodus; and notice that he interprets the Former Prophets (Josh-Kings) by the testimony of the Latter (in this case Isaiah 66:1-2 [Acts 7:44-50]). Surely by reading the Old Testament with Stephen, we might behold the Righteous One as he did, as well as letting it expose our own rebellion and unbelief.

Third, Acts 6:5 highlights that Stephen is a man “full of faith and and of the Holy Spirit.” We do know the others are “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” from Acts 6:3, assuming the Twelve were faithful to this criteria (as this is clearly implied in verse 5). Surely then, Luke repeats this only concerning Stephen because it anticipates the two forthcoming scenarios he encounters. The first points out the foolish arguing of those belonging to the synagogue (who have not the Spirit), in contrast to “the wisdom and the Spirit with which [Stephen] was speaking” (6:8-11). The second exposes the rebellion of the same crowd in that they are “stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, always resisting the Holy Spirit” (6:51). The connection is straightforward: Stephen speaks filled with the Holy Spirit; the people reject Stephen’s message; the people resist the Holy Spirit. Surely this is highlighted again in 7:55-57. 

Fourth, Stephen’s vision at the end of Luke’s narrative serves to confirm Stephen’s testimony concerning the Righteous One and gives hope to suffering Christians. Stephen just finished bearing witness to the Righteous One whom the people murdered (7:52), and he exposes the fact that in this the people did not heed the Law, nor pay attention to the Prophets. At this crucial point the question becomes, “Who has a correct view and interpretation of the Scripture, Stephen or the synagogue officials?” And, for those readers joining Stephen in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of the Gospel, the question becomes, “What shall become of this faithfulness of mine?” The vision leaves Luke’s readers with no doubts: Stephen “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, that is, Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God'” (7:55-56).

Fifth, Stephen’s salvation-historical overview with special attention to the people’s rebellion against God’s aim/purpose in the Law and temple, for the most part, contains a similar summary and highlights the same conclusions found in Nehemiah’s overview (cf. Acts 7:2 [Neh 9:7], 4-5 [Neh 9:8], 34-36 [Neh 9:9-10], 38 [Neh 9:13-14], 39-40 [Neh 9:16-17], 41 [Neh 9:18], 42-43 [Neh 9:26-27], 45-46 [Neh 9:24], and 51-53 [Neh 9:30]). Here (again), we find clear evidence of the unity of both Testaments, and thus all of Scripture.

He Established a Testimony

June 14, 2008

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God (Psalm 78:1-8).

Welcome Luke Allen Rogers!

June 12, 2008

We are rejoicing in our gracious God’s gift to us as a family, our first child, Luke Allen Rogers, who came at 8:45pm, Tuesday, June 10, 2008. He weighed 7 pounds 15 ounces and was 20 and one half inches long.

Quote of the Week – Thomas Schreiner on the Christian Presupposition of Canon in Biblical Theology

June 8, 2008

This past week, a dear brother of mine blessed me with Thomas R. Schreiner’s New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008 ) as a birthday present. Even though my German homework has piled to the ceiling, I could not resist giving the book a quick overview throughout the weekend. I am very appreciative of many aspects in and the main aim of the book already, and look forward at a more in depth look at a later time! 

From what I have read, I am thrilled to find a fellow Southern Baptist brother and scholar committed to careful exegesis, sound theology, a Trinitarian emphasis, the canonical witness, and (from the testimony of my brother who is one of his students) the obedience of faith. These commitments lead him to this thesis concerning the New Testament’s testimony: “The NT is about God magnifying himself in Christ through the Spirit” (13); or from his introduction, “…NT theology is God-focused, Christ-centered, and Spirit-saturated, but the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit must be understood along a salvation-historical timeline; that is, God’s promises are already fulfilled but not yet consummated in Christ Jesus” (23). (Without question, the third section of Schreiner’s book, “Experiencing the Promise: Believing and Obeying”, addresses how the Gospel demands the people it births live under this authoritative reality revealed from the text of the Bible.)

His conclusions stem from his own assiduous reading of the text as he himself testifies: “I wrote the first three drafts [of New Testament Theology] without consulting any secondary resources. Before I wrote, I carefully took notes on the entire NT, noting what NT authors discussed, so that my theology would be anchored by the text” (9). (Excluding bibliographies, the book is nearly 900 pages in length!)

The reason for this post, however, was to provide you with this quote from his work, which shows us the necessary Christian presupposition (no doubt birthed and generated by the work of the Holy Spirit himself) when assessing the testimony of the New Testament and putting together the theology it teaches for the sake of the church (and thus good of the world):

One must also presuppose that the canon is the limit for biblical theology because it is the word of God. This is not to say that one arbitrarily presupposes the truth of God’s word, for no other worldview makes sense of all reality as the biblical worldview does, and all other worldviews can survive only by borrowing from the biblical worldview at some point. Still, the divine character and authority of the Scriptures cannot be proved definitively; it is not as if we can demonstrate conclusively to others that the Scriptures are true. The starting point for grasping all of reality must be presupposed in any philosophical worldview, though it can be demonstrated that no other worldview makes sense of the world except the worldview generated by the canon of the entire Bible (885).

For conclusions in a similar vain of the previous quote, see my paragraph “What do we mean by ‘New Testament Theology’?“, Billy Marsh’s conclusions in his paper “A Christocentric Theological Method“, Ched Spellman’s post on K. Vanhoozer’s First Theology: God, Scripture, and Hermeneutics.

Waiting with Great Thanksgiving

May 25, 2008

photo by BB Rogers Photography

My wife and I are expecting our first child on June 13 (give or take two weeks). As the day draws nearer, it seems like there is an increasing amount of opportunities for thanksgiving to our great God in this precious gift of life. This, of course, only testifies to my former blindness. Opportunities for thanksgiving are increasing only because I did not see them before and the Lord has graciously been opening my eyes to behold his abundant kindness in the conception of and anticipation for this child. Not only has he done so through the reading of his word, but also and more recently through the love expressed from the body of Christ. They have lavished us with prayer, clothing, time, money, and other gifts that will aid in the rearing of our baby. Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to watch a network of love amongst the women in our local church body (Redeemer), who often go to great lengths to supply clothes, equip with wisdom, and encourage in the word my wife and each other during pregancy and after they have given birth. What a joy to be a part of this time, and even more, to have my eyes opened.

“So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son” (Ruth 4:13).

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3).

“…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 5:20).

Quote of the Week: Jim Hamilton on Christ, the Apostles, and the Old Testament

May 16, 2008

This week, I received Southern Seminary‘s Spring issue of The Tie, their quarterly school magazine. The theme of this issue is “Understanding Scripture in Light of Christ.” It includes some excellent articles written by their faculty and other pastors. Dr. Jim Hamilton has contributed a very helpful article entitled, “New Testament: Christ Revealed,” in which he submits that Jesus “modeled the interpretation of the Old Testament pursued by the apostles and others who wrote the books of the New Testament” (11). In short, Jesus used the same method of interpretation as the Old Testament writers, the apostles learned from him, and taught the church to do the same. Hamilton concludes his article by exhorting the church to read and re-read their Bibles. In doing so, he is convinced (and here is the quote of the week) that

…the more we will see that the Old Testament is a messianic document, written from a messianic perspective in order to provoke and sustain messianic hope, and the New Testament claims that these hopes are fulfilled in Jesus and the church (11).

Excellent. To see a review he recently wrote concerning a similar issue click here.

Sex, Romance, & The Glory of God

May 10, 2008

Mahaney, C. J. Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. 139 pp.

Husbands often forsake or ignore the delightful duty of romance God has ordained for them to share often and well with their wives. As far as intimacy goes, sex is often the primary concern of many husbands to the neglect of both the romance God has designed her to receive and perhaps even the celebration God has intended it to be for his glory. In Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God, C. J. Mahaney, president of Sovereign Grace Ministries, promotes a biblical understanding of not only the intimacy shared in the bedroom (glorious as God has created it), but also the romance that ought always and persistently to precede it. As he susinctly repeats throughout the book, “Before you touch her [your wife’s] body, touch her heart and mind.”

Mahaney begins with a biblical understanding of sex, being sure to highlight that it is part of God’s good creation and a result of his wise design for the marriage relationship. For this reason, it ought to be celebrated to his glory and used often to both serve and strengthen the marriage relationship. With repeated reference to the Song of Songs, and explanations accompanied by good Christian scholarship, he shows how this book both aides in and grants hope for the fruitfulness of biblical intimacy in the husband’s relationship to his wife.

Before Mahaney tackles the “sex chapter”, however, he first emphasizes the role and responsibility of the husband in learning, leading, and loving his wife. To put it plainly, great sex is the result of a healthy, intimate, covenant relationship that is cultivated long before a married couple enter the bedroom. With some of the most godly wisdom, practical suggestions, and humble exhortations, Mahaney devotes several chapters to ensure husbands are aware of their responsibilities in studying their wife (i.e. deliberately being interested in, knowing, and understanding all aspects of their physical and spiritual well-being), leading her in a godly marriage relationship (e.g. in theological knowledge, with spirtual disciplines, and toward closer levels of intimacy), and loving her with biblical affections (e.g. by kindling romance or winning her with “carefully composed words”).

His book concludes with an exhortation for husbands to “let the unifying, unquenchable power of covenant love continually strengthen your marriage in every way, that you and your wife mighty testify to the world and to one another the goodness of God” (104). An added bonus for the wife is also included at the end. This short chapter is titled, “A Word to Wives from Carolyn Mahaney” (which is also called “The Purity of Pleasure”, chapter 5 in her book Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother).

Overall, Mahaney’s work is well worth every Christian husband’s read. It is biblical, thoughtful, and practical. It is also a fairly quick read, one well worth repeated readings throughout the marriage (I just finished my second.). It supplies husbands with a biblical understanding of sex, romance, and their design to glorify God in marriage intimacy, and provides excellent advice/ideas that will cotinually strengthen the relationship.

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

May 9, 2008

Our (Redeemer Church’s) Minister of Worship, Gary Brumley, has arranged an old him of William Cowper’s, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” which our assembly has enjoyed singing as we walk our way through Ecclesiastes. Lately, it has been both a song in my heart and fuel for my prayers throughout the week. I have provided a link (here) for you to listen to a demo as you carefully read the lyrics below. It is a great joy for me to see the Lord gift musicians like Gary who seek to saturate the church with sound doctrine in song. What a great opportunity I have to make this post #100. May your ears and heart be blessed.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
You fearful saints, fresh courage take:
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

O, bless the Lord with heart and soul,
Let all within me sing
And trust the wisdom of my God,
My Father, Lord, my King.

With deepest wisdom, highest love,
And never failing skill
He masterminds His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

O, bless the Lord with heart and soul,
Let all within me sing
And trust the purpose of my God,
My Father, Lord, my King.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

O, bless the Lord with heart and soul,
Let all within me sing
And trust the goodness of my God,
My Father, Lord, my King.

Ending
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
God hides his smiling face.

Original Words by William Cowper (altered). Public Domain.
Additional lyrics and music by Gary Brumley. © 2007 New Moniker Music.
http://www.newmonikermusic.com