Indeed, They Will Come to the Son!

May 5, 2008

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you, that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:35-40).

In these verses we find two great truths. (1) Eternal life is given only to those who meet the condition of coming to, looking upon, and believing in Jesus, the Son of God. (2) The Father guarantees that some will meet this condition; namely, those he gives to the Son in order that (as a result of his mission) he will raise them up on the last day.

What the Father demands in his Gospel by the former, he also supplies in his Gospel by the latter. Here then, does the church not only find hope in their efforts in missions and evangelism (i.e. sinners whom the Father gives the Son will come), but also promise in that it is impossible for the Son of God to fail his Father’s mission in raising every last one of them up on the last day. By the Father’s will they will come to the Son, and he will raise them up on the last day.

Let us preach and pray, therefore, and behold the fruit of the Son’s mission to accomplish all the Father has given him. 

Plans & Purposes for PhD Work

May 4, 2008

A dear friend of mine, Jon, made a motion that I should write a post regarding my future plans and purposes in PhD work. My brother has now seconded that motion, and so, below you will find five answers to the questions Jon asked me to share. Having known Jon, and his thoughtfulness and persistent prayerfulness, I am sure this motion has a far wider purpose than just to inform one person of our plans, but to unite a body of brothers and sisters around us in prayer and encouragement to bring about the Lord’s purposes in us all for his church and the world.

Where will you be living for the next couple of years and why? (i.e. Where are you studying your Ph.D.?)

Starting in August, I will be pursuing a Ph.D. in New Testament studies with a minor in Old Testament. According to Southwestern’s recommended course of study, this degree will take me another 4 ½ years to complete. Rachel and I are both excited about remaining at this institution and humbled by what the Lord has placed before us. 

What would you like to study in the Ph.D. program and why?

I wish to pursue the Ph.D. in New Testament because I am deeply interested in research of the New Testament documents, biblical Greek, and issues surrounding New Testament theology. In accomplishing my M.Div. at Southwestern, I spent all of my electives on courses in or related to the New Testament. Each semester I grew not only in my knowledge of the field, but in my love for God’s new-covenant revelation in Christ, the authority of the apostolic witness and hermeneutic, and the fascinating continuity of the Bible’s complete narrative beginning with and carried throughout the “Old” Testament into the New. Pursuing the Ph.D. will increase my critical and analytical capabilities, so that I might better specialize in the areas of my interest, and so that I might be more qualified to teach at the seminary or university level. 

Lord willing, how do you plan on serving the church with this Ph.D.?

My future goals in respect to this education consist of equipping myself with the available training to be a professor of New Testament, who then equips pastors, teachers, and laymen/women in both the academic and local church settings, that they might do the work of the ministry truthfully and with great zeal.

Lord willing, after finishing my doctorate, I plan to become a professor in an academic context whereby I will be able to influence the Christian and secular academies at both local and continental levels through lecturing and writing. I also have a strong desire to impact local church bodies in at least three ways: (1) by protecting the church from various interpretive and/or theological issues in scholarship that may cause harm to confessional Christianity; (2) by not only teaching church members the Scriptures, but also teaching them to read the Scriptures well for themselves on coherent biblical and systematic grounds; and (3) by encouraging and strengthening their faith through the occasional opportunities to preach in various church meetings and broader conference settings.

As of now, I hope that the results my research interests will serve as a corrective to the decades of scholarship that have, in a sense, taken the discipline of New Testament Theology out of the hands of the church and placed it into the hands of (unbelieving) critical scholars. In addition, hopefully my interests in the New Testament’s use of the Old–or perhaps the hearing of the Old Testament in the New–will also encourage members of the body of Christ (esp. pastors and teachers) to enjoy the first two-thirds of their Christian Bible as much as they do the last. It would be a delight to see members of all ages in the church grounded in and guided by a “whole-Bible” biblical theology, in and by which they might behold Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham, all the more clearly.

What are your prayer requests in balancing family, work, studies, and serving the local body at Redeemer?

Partnering with us in prayer, beseeching the Lord of glory on our behalf, is probably the most important thing you can do in coming along side of us in this ministry. The task is very demanding of both time and energy. At times this can also become spiritually draining, especially since I will be interacting with other scholars, whose worldviews often contradict that of the Gospel’s. You can pray these things for me: (1) that I remain discerning in all the Lord sets before me in the program; (2) that I do not grow weary but do grow in thanksgiving for the strength God daily gives; (3) that the Lord be magnified in how and what I write; and (4) that the Lord would daily humble me before himself in prayer and devotion to his word. More importantly, pray (4) that I remain faithful to my responsibilities as a husband to Rachel; (5) that I grow in an understanding and application of what it means to love Rachel as Christ loves the church; (6) that our sights might be fixed upon Christ daily so that he remains the center of our marriage; (7) that the Lord would grant us wisdom in raising a child starting in June; (8 ) that we would both devote ourselves to instructing him with the Gospel, teaching him to love righteousness and hate sin; and (9) that we might remain faithful to the needs, goals, desires, and ministries of the Redeemer Church body.

What will you buy your wife and kid(s) when you have your Ph.D. diploma in hand to serve as their “diploma” for “their half of the Ph.D.”?

This was a good one, and a hard one. I did not know how to answer it being it is so far away. I asked Rachel what she would like to do. Here is her answer: “I would like a month vacation with no reading and writing (except reading for fun), at the beach or out in the country, with perhaps provided house-cleaning.” Hmmm…If this were to take place, I may go through scholastic withdrawals. 🙂

“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.