Play the Man

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #199 “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity” (1 Cor. 16:13–14). Nearing the end of this epistle, Paul gives a small burst of ethical exhortations. This cluster presents an interesting juxtaposition. The first set in v. 13 is quite martial, and then in v. 14 the “battlefield” consists of doing everything in love. One of the things that armed forces do is post sentries. The first exhortation says to “stay awake, be alert, be watchful.” The second says that we are to defend our position, which we do by standing firmly in the faith. The third is an interesting stand-alone verb andrizomai, which literally means to “play the man,” The fourth says that we are to be strong, powerful. So then, what we are told to do here is to be alert, to stand courageously, to be masculine and strong. Where then do we take this? Paul says … [Read more...]

Surveying the Text/Zephaniah

Introduction: As with many of the other minor prophets, what we know about the author of the book is basically contained within the book. This book begins with an unusual genealogy, one which means that Zephaniah is probably the great-grandson of King Hezekiah, which would place him in the tribe of Judah. From the nature of the prophecies, we can place his ministry during the reign of his kinsman, Josiah, and this ministry was probably during the early part of Josiah’s reign. He makes reference to the “remnant of Baal” (Zeph. 1:4), and these were dealt with after the discovery of the law in Josiah’s reign (621 B.C.). Nahum and Jeremiah were more or less contemporaries. The Text: “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zeph. 3:17). Summary of the Text: Like the book of Joel, the emphasis here in on the “Day of the Lord” (e.g. compare Zeph. 1:14-18 with … [Read more...]

The Covenant Home 1

Introduction: For various reasons, the word federal is grossly misunderstood today. But our word comes from the Latin word foedus, which means covenant. Thus a federal union, or confederated association, should be understood as one bound by covenant oaths and loyalties. As Christians who understand the importance of covenants in the Bible, we should set ourselves to understand the meaning of federal marriage. This is just another way of saying covenant marriage. The Texts: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3). “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23). The Face of Marriage Covenants: Some might want to assume that as Reformed Christians we simply have covenants on the brain, finding them everywhere in Scripture. You know, covenant peanut butter and covenant jelly. But this message is not an … [Read more...]

On Not Threatening the Minister

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #198 “Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren. As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time” (1 Cor. 16:10–12). Paul now gives a series of exhortations concerning two of his fellow workers in the gospel. If Timothy comes to Corinth, they are to make sure that he can work there “without fear.” The reason for this is that Timothy is engaged in the work of the Lord, just as Paul was. If they received Paul, so also should they receive Timothy. What the threat to Timothy would be, what he might have to fear from them, is not mentioned. … [Read more...]

Surveying the Text/Habakkuk

Introduction: Apart from what can be inferred from this book, we know nothing of the prophet who assembled it. But from the things described, we can see that he was a contemporary of Jeremiah, Nahum, and Zephaniah. The book is delivered sometime between 612 B.C. and 599 B.C.—before Babylon attacked Jerusalem, but after Babylon had become a hegemonic power. The Text: “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: But the just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4). Summary of the Text: In the first place, the structure of the book takes a chiastic form. A How long must I wait for justice? (1:2-4); B A great army is coming (1:5-11); C Why are the less wicked punished by those who are more wicked (1:12-17); D The just will live by faith (2:1-5); C' All wickedness will be put to rights (2:6-20); B' A great army from YHWH is coming (3:1-15); A' I will wait for justice (3:16-19). Looking at the flow of the book in another way, we can see this: … [Read more...]

On Christian Disobedience #6

Introduction: In times like these, what do we do to prepare ourselves? If a moment of “defiance” is going to come, what should we do to get ready? This is an appropriate question in the wake of these Planned Parenthood videos, because it is quite possible that the moment has already come. How should we think? Some Christians think we should drop everything and get involved because the secularists are taking over America and we have to get organized and stop them. Other Christians disparage political involvement and say we should get back to “preaching the gospel”—but the gospel they want to preach is as impotent as might be expected. In contrast to both these options, we assert the duty of the Church in preaching a world-transforming gospel, a gospel that will take our unbelieving culture, turn it upside down, and shake it until all the change falls out of its pockets. The Text: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It … [Read more...]

Beauty Works Out

"It is too much the habit to regard beauty, as mere ornamentation; as something that is added to other properties, instead of growing out of them . . . if the definition that has been given be the true one, beauty is rather an inevitable accompaniment, than a labored decoration" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 91) … [Read more...]

On Christian Disobedience #5

Introduction: As we have been considering the relationship of the believer to the modern secular state, what have we learned? We know that our current rulers are in high rebellion against God, and have therefore forfeited all moral legitimacy. Judgment, when meted out by God, will have been most mercifully delayed—even if it happens tomorrow. In the meantime, we submit to the de facto rule of the regime because God is the one who judges, and because we are included in His judgments. But even in judgment their authority is not absolute in God's eyes, and so there is a point where we must resist. Further, their authority is not absolute according to their own constitutions and laws, which have far more residual Christianity woven throughout them than the secularists would like us to believe. Remember particularly that resistance is sometimes the only way to submit to "the established authorities." Our dilemma can be summed up this way. Our rulers have no moral legitimacy. But neither … [Read more...]

Asahel’s Carcass

"Many preachers in our days are like Heraclitus, who was called the dark doctor. They affect sublime notions, obscure expressions, and uncouth phrases, making plain truths difficult, and easy truths hard. 'They darken counsel with words without knowledge.' Studied expressions and  high notions in a sermon, are like Asahel's carcass in the way, that did only stop men, and make them gaze, but did no ways profit or edify them. It is better to present truth in her native plainness than to hang her ears with counterfeit pearls" (Thomas Brooks, Smooth Stones Taken From Ancient Brooks, 177). … [Read more...]

No Partial Force

"The preacher who studies and ponders the Bible as a whole, will not be a half-educated man. He will not see great ideas on one side, but on all sides, because they are so exhibited in Scripture . . . His force will not be lawless and without aim" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 84). … [Read more...]

Surveying the Text/Nahum

Introduction: We know virtually nothing about Nahum, other than that this prophet was a magnificent poet. We have his name, this short masterpiece from him, and the fact that he was probably from Judah, from a town called Elkosh. He prophesied after the fall of Thebes (3:8) in Egypt (664-663 B.C.) but prior to the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. The Text: “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; And he knoweth them that trust in him. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies” (Nahum 1:7–8). Summary of the Text: The book is a series of fierce taunts and denunciations of Nineveh, that great city of the Assyrians. These denunciations alternate with various reassurances and promises for Judah. After the attribution, the book begins with a triumphant hymn to God the Warrior (1:2-8), which serves as the introduction to the first great oracle (1:9-2:2). This whole thing is an acrostic poem. Nahum … [Read more...]

Effectual Door

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #197 “Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit” (1 Cor. 16:5–7). Paul’s tentative plan was to pass through Macedonia, which was northern Greece. After that he planned to go down to Achaia, where Corinth was, and spend a bit more time there. He did not want to pass through Corinth briefly, such that he merely saw them “by the way,” but rather wanted to stay with them for a while. If the Lord permitted it, he hoped to spend the winter there with them. It is important to note that even the travel plans of an apostle are surrendered to the providential designs of God. He will do this if the Lord wills it. “But I will tarry at … [Read more...]