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...]

Tend the Weeds

As I mentioned before, love is what makes a Christian community grow. Community is like a garden, and gardens contain many growing, beautiful things. But community is also the garden in which grumbles grow. Since the fall of Adam, there has never been a garden without weeds, and this is because our hearts are in such a condition that a garden without weeds would be terrible for us. If sinful men were given weedless gardens, this would simply prove that the garden had been entirely abandoned, and that they were the weeds. So when a Christian community is a growing and thriving place, grumbles will grow, depend upon it. Everything depends on how the grumbles are handled. In ancient Israel, the problem with grumbling ran much deeper, and it was sometimes met with severe judgments from God. But in the New Testament, as the new Israel was growing, complaints sprang up as to how some of the widows were being neglected in the distribution of food (Acts 6:1). They handled it properly, … [Read more...]

Seven Courses

Not only is this a covenant meal, with all the parties to the covenant alive and present, Scripture gives us another image to use with our grasp of the word testament. “For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Heb. 9:17). Here we have the image of a reading of a will. Our elder brother has died, and we have gathered to hear what He has left for us. Now of course, these images complement each other, and we do this in the full and certain knowledge of His resurrection. But even though He is risen, we remain His heirs. That part of this image is true enough. In thinking about this, we can rely on the insights of the old Scots Reformed preacher John Willison. He points out that the executor of this will and testament in this world is the Holy Spirit. And as we have gathered to learn what we have received, we may learn it under the figure of a meal with seven dishes. This is a seven-course meal, and when you come in … [Read more...]

3 Marks of the God of the System

The bailiff will please show the gentleman to the door.

Every system has a god, which means that when you have identified certain markers, you have identified the god of the system. If the god of the system is not the true God, the God who made Heaven and earth, then the god of the system is an idol. In order to be an idol, the god of the system need not be an inert object, adored only by the superstitious. Paul says that those who sacrifice to idols sacrifice to demons (1 Cor. 10:20), and Paul certainly believed that the demons were there. Idolatry is not when you worship something that is non-existent; idolatry occurs when you worship something created. Because people (in the grip of modernity) have come to believe that idols are necessarily nullities, they subsequently have come to believe that anything that is not a nullity -- like the Supreme Court, or the spirit of the age, or what all the cool kids are doing -- cannot be an idol. But it can be, and if it is created and is the god of the system, then that is precisely what … [Read more...]

Not What Scissors Are For

The seventh Planned Parenthood video comes pretty close to Dante's seventh circle. That's not what scissors are for. But one of the first things I thought of after seeing it was the ninth circle, the circle dedicated to the treacherous. And that is what this is -- treacherous, horrific, appalling, heinous, and cold as Hell. Holly O'Donnell is the technician who worked for StemExpress, and who is testifying in the most recent of the sting videos. And, by the way, when I googled StemExpress to find out if it was two words or one, I was helpfully informed by Google through their suggested sub-directory searches that I can still buy fetal liver if I want, and at the very end of this macabre list was the "wish list" option. What do I wish they could put in my shopping cart for me? The fact that Planned Parenthood is being evil, and is committing indecencies that are beyond vile, does not mean that they are guilty of every evil. They are murderous, but that does not make them … [Read more...]

Carve Outs and Ghettos

What are you looking at?

So as I sat down at the computer this morning, I was wondering which particular box in my attic I should unpack and bring down. And one of the first things I encountered was an email from a friend with some links, in case I was looking for something to jump in on. Well, I was, as a matter of fact. Guidance, I call it. A minor dust-up involving complementarianism outside marriage and the church has arisen. John Piper started it here by answering a woman who wondered if she could become a police officer. Aimee Byrd responded, as did Carl Trueman  a couple ways, and we should not neglect mentioning Scot McKnight. What I want to do here is agree with John Piper on the fundamental issue at hand, and to do so in a way that emphasizes how important this is. John Piper is on to something here, and to let it go is to fall into a conservative complementarian neo-orthodox retreat to commitment. I hope explain that shortly. But first, I think some of Piper's particular criteria for … [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...]

Ann Coulter and the Disease of American Conservatism

Ann Coulter

Before I say anything critical, let me start by saying that Ann Coulter has made a lot of good sense over the years. I have read some of her books, and they were generally well-written and researched, and contrast somewhat markedly with the blonde brassiness that does the yelling heads television gigs. Having said that, she recently said something theologically atrocious, and it was something that revealed the disease that afflicts contemporary conservatism. Here it is: "I don't care if @realDonaldTrump wants to perform abortions in White House after this immigration policy paper. http://bit.ly/1EvT3Ja" By the way, I do understand that Coulter is anti-abortion, and that this statement was hyperbolic, intended to praise Trump's immigration stand. It does not represent what she would be willing to do. Of course not. But it does represent what she is willing to say, and what she is willing to say represents the central confusion of American conservatism. What are we conserving? … [Read more...]