The 5 Most Helpful Gleanings from the Capitol Hill BC Weekender

The five posts to follow this one will address what I observed most recently at the Weekender Conference at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and their extension ministry, Nine Marks.  I found the time spent in D.C. to be well worth the 11 hour drive from Louisville.  There were numerous things that served to encourage my heart and influence my thinking about the local church and the pastoral ministry in general.  Out of this variety, I will take five gleanings over the next few days in no particular order:

Accountability Structures

Congregational Singing

Expository Preaching (Word-Centered Ministry)

The Shepherding Emphasis

The Purity of the Church (Regenerate Membership and Church Discipline)

I hope that these will be helpful reminders to you, issues that you must and will think through.  Thus, I will offer some humble paragraphs on each of these matters.  May the Lord strike a match in the hay stack of your mind, even as he did in mine during this trip.

John Piper’s Upcoming Leave

This letter from John Piper is one that may prove to be some of his best work, not as a literary classic but because of the intent and content of his application.  There is no greater stewardship in all the world than that art of the biblical husbandry.  For even one’s faithfulness in Gospel ministry is derivative of faithfulness in one’s own home.  Biblical husbandry and Gospel ministry hold hands in inseparable unity.  It is well, then, that a man should attend to his wife and family, even if he has attended to this stewardship well before.  Let him be most faithful there, and God will see to his fruit both there and elsewhere.  It is also quite humbling and a thing worthy of emulation to take significant portions of time to war with sin that, perhaps due to Gospel business, has been neglected.  And, finally, the sort of trust that we find in his last line is one that we must all be reminded of in an age of evangelical rockstars – the church, its fruit, holiness, ministry, proclamation, unity, and victory, is not dependent upon any one man or group of men, but upon God alone.  Let us hope for a similar sensitivity to the workings of God upon our own souls.  May God bless this time for the Piper’s and for Bethlehem Baptist Church – as always, for his glory!

Love Invested With Morality

It is quite the common refrain of the contemporary American masses that love equals toleration and acceptance even of that which is morally deplorable, indeed, sinful.  This, I submit, is infinitely less than the notion of biblical love or, even, true love.  It must be said, however, that this is an easy move in the American mind that is becoming increasingly hostile to the everlasting Gospel, or the biblical portrayal and revelation of God.  Morality is no longer morality, but a matter of non-existence or extreme debatability.  All of this stems from the secular agenda of the removal of God from the modern mind.  If God can be removed, than any basis for morality can also be removed, or at least made to be a matter of pure subjectivity divorced from the objective revelation and authority of God.  Thus, morality or the lack thereof is cloaked, titled, not as what it actually is, namely, sin, but as something ironically inherent to us like genetics, the victimization of circumstance, a misstep in psychological hardwiring – I say “ironically”, for in truth, sin is inherent to us from birth.  Some simply refuse to call it such for it makes a claim of morality, and more than that, of an objective accountability to Another.  So, for example, as we make the move towards a genetic homosexuality, which it has been argued, renders a person incapable of being anything else, we might as well make the move towards a gene for murder, theft, adultery, or covetousness, such that Hitler is off the hook for being one of the greatest mass murderers of world history.  Rather, homosexuality, as well as any matter of sexual immorality, murder, theft, adultery, gossip, slander, the love of money, etc., are the sins of sin, the fruit of the flesh under sin – they are matters of morality. 

As the wage of such things is not only death, but an eternity of fiery torment, it is not loving to tolerate or accept such sin when it in fact is present in the life of a loved one or a random one.  Because God has made known the end of such, it is incumbent upon us to tell them the truth in love, to warn them of this end, of the free mercy of God so long as they live, and the provision that he has made for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of righteousness in His Son, Jesus Christ.  The Left will surely say that this truth telling is unloving, judgmental, intolerant; but this is only because they do not see the end, and they do not discern the truth; plus, it is just personally comforting to believe that you can do whatever pleases you without any kick back of morality (though this is not how the majority of people truly live).  Black is white and white is black, good is evil and evil good, love is hatred and hatred love.  And it is truly hatred and not love that would tolerate, accept, and promote further rebellion against God.  Love is a matter of morality, a matter of truth.  Love is concerned not only for the here and now, but as it is defined by God Himself in the Bible, it is concerned for that eternal state and the soul’s final satisfaction in God alone.

The death of Jesus Christ upon a tree for sinners was the supreme demonstration of divine love.  Morality was invested in this love on at least two fronts: first, the righteousness or perfect morality of Christ was the basis of this redemptive work being satisfactory to God, as by this, he offered his life as the payment of the penalty for the immorality of everyone else.  Secondly, the wrath of God poured out on His Son was a holy wrath against our immorality that was laid upon Christ.  Thus, Christ’s experience of death and wrath was an experience of God’s distaste for immorality, and conversely, love for a holiness characterized by His divine standard in the law.  Hence, this supreme act of love was invested with the issue of morality, the issue of God’s dealing with human sin.  Indeed, the Bible testifies in several places (Romans 13, Galatians 5, Colossians 3, etc.) that Christians, in following Christ’s example of self-sacrificial love, fulfill the whole law which is summed up in love.  Love is invested with morality.

Love does not equal toleration; love deals in truth and is, then, inseparably linked to that objective Word that God has given to humanity, love is inseparably linked to the redemptive person and work of that Man hung upon the cross for our sin.  Let us begin to truly love, laying down our lives also that sinners might come to Christ who so loved us by dealing with our sin.

From George Whitefield, 18th century Preacher of the First Great Awakening

The whole world is my parish.  Wheresoever my Master leads me I will go and preach the everlasting Gospel.

Praying Imprecatory Psalms: Weeping and Rejoicing Over the Same Event

It has often been wondered in our soft American culture if and how Christians should pray imprecatory prayers in light of Christ’s command to love our enemies.  In this blog post, John Piper answers “yes.”  I agree!

The Fear of the Lord in Joshua 24: A Paper

Go to “Other Writings” tab above.  The only thing lacking is the bibliography.  I hope to have it added soon.

Reading the Old Testament Christologically (in light of the coming of Jesus Christ)

We need to work hard on how the acorn becomes the oak tree.

This was a simple word of exhortation from one of my professors recently concerning how one is to come to Christ from any given Old Testament passage.  For those unfamiliar with the terminology, the “acorn-oak tree” dynamic is a way of speaking about the relationship between the revelation found in the Old Testament with that in the New Testament, particularly in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  When we properly observe an acorn, we realize that we hold an immature oak tree in our hands.  All of the potential for an oak tree exists within that seed.  It would be foolish to look at the acorn and deny the reality of its maturity, a reality that bears upon the seed itself.  So the Old Testament is the acorn, and the New Testament the oak tree.  The Old is the New concealed, and the New is the Old revealed (most fully).  The fullness of God’s revelation is the Son, and thus, all that God revealed of Himself in the OT is interpreted most properly in light of Jesus Christ.  Examples would be innumerable.  Here are a few: Jesus is the Second Adam; the serpent crushing seed of Abraham; the offspring of Abraham through whom the nations are and will be blessed; He is David’s greater son according to the flesh; He is the King of God’s sending who lives perfectly according to God’s law, disseminating His Word to His subjects; He is the true Israel, God’s Son; He is, as He would say, the One to whom all of the OT points and is fulfilled (Luke 24).

The quote from above makes an important point, however.  It is easy to be overzealous in our attempts to get straight to Christ from any obscure OT passage.  There is no doubt in my opinion that this is what we ought to do, that is, get to Christ, to think and teach Christianly.  But we need not press what is not there, or what is not necessarily clear.  We need to think long and hard about the cleanest and most natural way of coming to Christ in the text.  We need to think long and hard about how the acorn blossoms into the mighty oak tree.  This exhortation was a good and humble word to me, and I hope that it will be an encouragement to you also.  Christ is certainly involved in the text, but we must understand that text in its various facets before we can observe most fluidly the glory of Christ in it.  Let us engage such a task with humility and joy.