Surveying the Text/Obadiah

Introduction: God has two ways of destroying His enemies. One might be considered the old school method—with the fire coming down out of the sky. This is the method that leaves a smoking crater. But the other is a far more glorious method, and that is His method of destroying enemies by turning them into friends. That is a far more wonderful destruction indeed, and it is the kind of destruction that all effective evangelism yearns for. Evangelism by such destruction is not recruiting; it is conquest. In order to accomplish the former sort of right-handed power, all God had to do was exercise His Almighty power. But to accomplish the latter, His Son had to die. In order to bring about peace between the warring brothers Jacob and Esau, a third one had to die. The Text: “The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the Lord, And an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. Behold, I have … [Read more...]

Communion Family Style

We come to the Lord’s Table every week, but what the seating arrangements? What should our posture be, and how is the Supper laid out? In the aftermath of the Reformation, this is one of the things that came to be reformed. Previously, the people would come to the Table rarely, they would come down a long nave, and they would kneel to receive just one of the elements. That is hardly a posture of table fellowship. After the Reformation, the statement made by the seating was strikingly different. The Scots and the Dutch particularly wanted to have the statement be that of a family seated at a table together, and they went so far as to have a very large Table made, at which the congregation could sit down together. But then, as a congregation grows, you have to eat in shifts, and you are losing some aspects of that wonderful picture. Another device that developed—the one we are using here—is the device of having the congregation seated on three sides of the Table. We are gathered at … [Read more...]

Adorned Clean Through

The Bible teaches that the woman is the glory of the man. This is why she takes what the man provides and glorifies. She is a glory, and she is a glorifier. The man brings home a paycheck, and she turns it into a living room, or bacon and eggs in the morning. Adornment is not a mere add-on extra; adornment is what the universe is driving toward. The woman therefore is the crown of her husband (Prov. 12:4). But what about the Church? If this is true of wives generally, is it also true of the bride of Christ? It is true. The Church is described as the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way (Eph. 1:23). Christ fills the cosmos, and the Church fills Christ. Yes—just as women are called to adorn themselves, and not just externally, so also Christians are called to adorn the doctrine of the gospel (Tit. 2:10). The Church is a woman, and is called to adornment. But she is called to adorn herself the same way individual Christian women are called to adorn themselves—with a … [Read more...]

And All God’s People Said, “Wut?”

Adam and Eve finding out they get to be people.

So I ordered John Walton's book The Lost World of Adam and Eve because I saw that it contained an excursus on Paul's use of Adam by N.T. Wright. I received the book yesterday, read Wright's contribution, was suitably appalled, and have come here to tell you about it. The first thing to note is that I am not being a troubler of Israel. I am not going off on a heresy-busting jag. The hard words, and the heresy hunting, is being done by Wright, not by me. I have merely been guilty of noticing what he is doing. "If we can study Genesis and human origins without hearing the call to be an image-bearing human being renewed in Jesus, we are massively missing the point, perhaps pursuing our own dream of otherworldly salvation that merely colludes with the forces of evil. That's what gnosticism always does" (p. 179). Gnosticism? Colluding with evil? I will leave you to parse out who the bad guys are here, but I can give you just one hint. In Surprised by Scripture, Wright says that … [Read more...]

Evolution as Power Move

"This is why the theory of evolution is such a big issue -- the theory of evolution is a jurisdictional claim that the devil is making. If we were not created in the image of God, then this means that we have no jurisdictional appeal beyond Caesar. If there is no God above Caesar, then Caesar is God. If there is a God in Heaven, and He has placed His image on us, then this absolutely requires the biblical concept of limited government" (Rules, pp. 132-133). … [Read more...]

Coin from God’s Mint

"The answer is that we are coin from God's mint. We are created in the image of God, and are therefore forbidden to render ourselves to Caesar. We give one thing to Caesar and another to God. We may not render it all to Caesar. It is prohibited. And they marveled at him" (Rules, p. 131). … [Read more...]

So, About That Blasphemy . . .

In the aftermath of the Islamic attack on the free speech/draw a cartoon of Mohammad contest, I think it is time for us to review what we think about blasphemy laws. I want to argue that events like the cartoon contest should be protected speech, but I also want to argue that life is not as simple as some are trying to make it. Some of my points below may initially seem to be leaning in different directions, but bear with me. I do believe that we need to protect free speech, now more than ever, but not because the porn gods of scurrilous speech might get angry if we don't. 1. Blasphemy laws are inescapable. No society exists in which absolute religious freedom of speech is permitted. Every society has a "god of the system," and in every society it is possible for a man to go down to the city center and get himself arrested for saying things in public about the god of that system. Saudi Arabia does not allow blasphemy against Allah, medieval Christendom did not allow blasphemy … [Read more...]

You May Be a Soul Man Now . . .

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #190 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:42–44). Just as there are variations in glory between different objects at the same time, as between the sun and moon, so also there are variations in glory between the same object at different times. The trajectory of history is foundational toward greater glory. The human body now is subject to corruption, and is therefore sown in corruption. It is place in the ground to rot. It is also placed in the ground to sprout and grow—cemeteries are, as my grandchildren put it, grave gardens. It is sown in corruption, but raised with much greater glory, the glory of … [Read more...]

Whose Ox Is Being Sued

Paul famously prohibits Christians from going to court against one another, except that he doesn't. What he prohibits is taking disputes between Christians before unbelievers. Here is the text: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather … [Read more...]

With Maggots Under Their Tongues

My friend Peter Leithart thinks the "most promising, and most peaceable" way out of our current marriage law impasse is a bill currently making its way through the Alabama legislature. “SB377 would remove the duty of confirming marriages from county probate judges and allow marriages to be recorded by the state after filing a simple contract between two people eligible to be married that is solemnized by a pastor, attorney, or other authorized witness. “This means that should the bill pass, only heterosexual couples will be eligible, but if gay marriage is legalized across the country by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, that eligibility would be expanded to homosexual couples.” And that last phrase shows why this proposal presents no way out at all. If the Supreme Court decides in favor of traditional marriage, then Alabama doesn't need to change anything. And if they decide against, then the change will have been worthless. It will have been worthless because states which are in … [Read more...]

A Reservoir of Blood Guilt

"According to Scripture, blood is something that returns to those who shed it. It also returns to the land where it was shed. And our vast reservoir of guilt is larger and deeper than it has ever been. The only blood that does not return with compounded guilt is the blood of Jesus" (Rules, p. 120). … [Read more...]

Itself a Fine Example of Contextualization

"The trouble is that too many of us push exegesis back in our preparation, and we clothe the message in a short red dress of contextualization by focusing on culture and our ability to connect with it. It's like we want to spin her out away from us in exciting circles, showing off her long legs and high heels" (Helm,  Expositional Preaching, pp. 40-41). … [Read more...]