Archive for April, 2008

“Let Them Come Home”

April 27, 2008

My brother Brandon sent me a link to an article entitled “Let them Come Home,” published in the September 2007 edition of Decision Magazine. It is written by Abraham Piper, who rejected the faith at age 19 in order “to drink gallons of cheap sangria and sleep around”. Some time later, however, the Lord gloriously rescued him with an email and a reading of Romans 1-10. He writes,

“The best way I know to describe what happened to me that morning is that God made it possible for me to love Jesus. When He makes this possible and at the same time gives you a glimpse of the true wonder of Jesus, it is impossible to resist His call.”

Today the Lord is using him in mighty ways as the Web Content Manager for Desiring God Ministries. He often posts very helpful, Gospel-centered information on the Desiring God Blog as well. The reason I mention this article to you is because in it he also includes 12 very helpful ways one can minister to a prodigal child. I highly recommend reading the article, for as my brother mentioned to me, these biblical tips are valuable and helpful even if your own son is not rejecting the faith. Click here to view his article.

Seven Reasons Why Outlines are Helpful

April 20, 2008

Recently, I added another section to the “Theology & Exegesis” page. It consists of links to outlines I have drawn up of several books of the Bible (more will be added later). I hope you will be able to make use of them, and that they will aid in your understanding of Scripture. The outlines attempt to give the main idea of the author’s argument and/or purpose in writing each section and then analyzes how these sections relate to and make up the whole of his work. Here are seven practical reasons why creating such outlines are helpful for Bible study.

  1. Outlines force readers to articulate brief, helpful summary statements for each passage/section of the biblical book, and then prepares him/her to articulate those summaries to others in biblical discussions or evangelism opportunities. In short, they help the Christian to tell others what the Bible teaches and where it does so.
  2. Outlines help very detail-oriented, atomistic readers to see better the larger picture in the biblical narrative or argument, and thus grasp the main purpose(s) of a book. For example, each cycle in the book of Judges (Israel Rebels; Enemies Attack; Israel Cries; God Responds Mercifully; Land has Rest), when read together, paints a larger picture of now-Canaanized Israel’s need for a covenant-keeping king.
  3. Outlines aid in Scripture memory because they enable one to memorize the main point of complete sections of the Bible as well as how the individual memory verses fit into the larger picture. John 3:16, for instance, will thus include an understanding of the work of the Spirit, the Son’s mission, and the wrath of God that abides on all who reject 3:16’s message about them.
  4. Outlines act as quick reference guides (that have been memorized by the way) when searching for a verse or section of Scripture that might encourage a discouraged brother/sister, or address a difficult situation with another person, or answer an unbeliever’s question, “What does the Bible say about…?”.
  5. Outlines serve preachers and teachers by helping them map out how many sermons they should expect to preach after choosing to work through a certain book. The structure of the biblical book, then, shapes the sermon series and helps to prepare him to speak and the people to listen.
  6. Outlines, when developing them, force people to read the entire narrative, psalm, letter, etc. multiple times, in their parts and as a whole; and rereading the text (esp. in large blocks) is never a bad thing.
  7. Outlines look really neat and organized, and both of these are very cool 🙂

ESV Study Bible

April 17, 2008

I normally do not recommend many study Bibles to people since there is a tendency to be always relying on the study notes and commentary instead of reading (and rereading) the biblical text. However, when used properly as a tool for further study, they can be very helpful. After reading over the new website for the forthcoming ESV Study Bible, I believe this study Bible will be one of the best contributions to the church in helping believers to mature in their knowledge of Christ. They have done a superb job in selecting some of the most significant evangelical scholars and pastors to contribute and edit this study Bible. I am looking forward to purchasing one myself this October. Take some time to peruse their website, and note the helpful commentary, theological articles, maps, charts, diagrams, and much more.

A T4G Phone Call

April 16, 2008

My younger brother, Brandon, just called me from the T4G Conference (see previous post). Did he call to rub it in that he is there while I am here? No, not at all; he called to tell me how much he wishes I was there sharing in the conference with him. O what great encouragement I receive from him and the fellowship we share in Christ. It is truly a joy to be “together for the Gospel” with my younger brother; and it is my prayer that as a result of this conference, more brothers might be united for the sake of the Gospel across all spectrums (family, race, etc.). Thanks for the phone call, Brandon.

Together For the Gospel 2008

April 16, 2008

I had the opportunity to attend the Together for the Gospel Conference (“T4G”) in 2006. Hands down, it was the most fruitful conference I have ever attended: solid doctrine, great exposition, genuine fellowship, (theologically) sound music, amazing encouragement, humble speakers, and a profound love and concern for the Gospel, the church of Christ, and the world, to the glory of God. I am not in a position to attend this year, but am grateful for the opportunity to remain here in Fort Worth to care for my pregnant wife and the other tasks the Lord has set before me.

Thank you Tim Challies for covering this years conference. Your summaries have already been tremendously helpful, and I pray they continue to be for the larger community of Christ. I would encourage everyone else to check out Tim’s coverage, the T4G blog, and look out for the audio messages in the near future.

Baby’s Coming Soon!

April 13, 2008

Well, my wife has been doing a fantastic job keeping tabs on her blog with our preparation for the baby, who, Lord willing, shall be born into the world sometime in June! There she has some pictures of a stuffed elephant (which she crocheted), a baby blanket (which she crocheted), and the offic-ery (i.e. office/nursery). She is amazing and very gifted, as you will observe from the blog (and her life)! The Lord continues to use her in helping me to become a godly husband, and now an expectant father. What a blessing! Stop by her blog to check out the progress sometime.

Edwards on God’s Happiness and the Creature’s Joy

April 11, 2008

In answering how the creature participates and enjoys God’s supreme and ultimate regard for his own glory, Jonathan Edwards wrote:

Another part of God’s fulness [sic] which he communicates is his happiness. This happiness consists in enjoying and rejoicing in himself; and so does also the creature’s happiness. It is a participation of what is in God; and God and his glory are the objective ground of it. The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God; by which also God is magnified and exalted. Joy, or the exulting of the heart in God’s glory, is one thing that belongs to praise. So that God is all in all, with respect to each part of that communication of the divine fulness [sic] which is made to the creature (The Works of Jonathan Edwards [Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004 reprint], 1:101).

Rahab’s Confession: Confirmation & Anticipation of the Lord’s Covenant Faithfulness

April 11, 2008

After several weeks of meditation and research over the Israelite spies’ encounter with Rahab in Joshua 2 (esp. 2:8-14), I finally completed my paper for Hebrew class. It was a joy to write it, to gain an even better appreciation for the Hebrew text, and to behold the might and faithfulness of the God of Israel. I hope some of you take some time to look through it.

For those of you who saw the word “Hebrew” above and trembled at the thought of trying to read an exegetical paper, these next couple of notes should help calm your fears. Though it contains Hebrew, the English translation is provided most of the time in parentheses. There are also several syntactical and grammatical notes, but these should not hinder you from understanding the theological significance (i.e. the “so what”) of the text. Further, if you have any questions regarding the passage, feel free to dialogue with me about it on here or through email.

I would love to hear from all of you who do choose to read it at least one thing the Lord taught you about himself, his kingdom, his mercy, his justice, etc. Here is a preview of the introduction to wet your appetite:

“Spanning the ages, from the first day when God’s spoken order triumphed over the cosmic chaos, to these last days in which the Spirit gathers the elect from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation by the power of Christ’s gospel, the kingdom of God has not ceased to irrupt on earth. Within this metanarrative, the gift of the Promised Land to Israel plays a vital role in portraying the Lord’s impending (realized) reign over all creation. A noticeable storyline concerning the initial fulfillments of this land promise flows from the Pentateuch into Joshua, the first of the Historical Books. After the death of Moses, the Lord bolsters his leader, Joshua, and the people, by affirming his plan to give them the promised land of Canaan (Deut 34:1-Josh 1:18), some of which has already been claimed (Num 21:21-35; 31:25-32:42). Moreover, as providence would have it, evidence of this Divine Warrior’s conquest on behalf of his people would come even from the mouth of a harlot in Jericho (Josh 2:9-11). It is here, in the story of Rahab, that readers of Joshua will find not merely a Canaanite’s confession of faith in Israel’s God, but also an account that functions to confirm the Lord’s previous promises and anticipate the imminent taking of Jericho and then the Land–both a promotion of God’s kingdom.”

Click here for the rest of the paper.

Divine Election is…

April 2, 2008

In thumbing through some of my notes on Ephesians, I ran accross these seven points concerning the doctrine of unconditional election. They largely follow what John Piper lays out in his chapter, “The Pleasure of God in Election” in The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God (Oregon: Multnomah Press, 2000), 121-57. I find them quite helpful for the church and our understanding of this precious biblical teaching. I pray they are a blessing to you too.

Election is… 

  1. Biblical. God gave us His word as a revelation of who He is, and He longs for us to read it, that we might marvel at His grace, His glory, and His freedom.
  2. Humbling. Election is not based on how good we were, but simply upon the fact that God loved us and chose us in Jesus Christ for Himself.
  3. Effective. Because of divine election, people will be saved, and not merely made save-able. The cross not only purchased the Gospel going out to all peoples, but with it the faith people must have in the gospel in order to be saved.
  4. Personal. Election is not robotic, it is relational. God loves us, His church, personally, with a great electing love.
  5. Persevering. Not only does divine election guarantee the initial justification of those who believe the gospel, but it ensures that they will be kept by God to the end.
  6. Preserving. The doctrine of election keeps God, not human autonomy, at the center of the Gospel and the Church. That is, it preserves God-centeredness and defeats man-centeredness. 
  7. Triumphant. Election gives awesome hope for missions and evangelism. Apart from God’s electing grace, no human being would repent or respond to the missionary’s preaching. In other words, election ensures that some will meet the conditions of the Gospel: repentance of sin and faith in Christ. Therefore, preach!