So I have written about the problems of postmodernism, what I have called the problem of European brain snakes. This might seem a little dismissive, but it all works out, because it actually is dismissive. Allow me to collect my thoughts on this in one place.
First, postmodernism, and all the posturing and posing connected thereunto, is utterly inconsistent with the spirit of testimony that faithful Christians love to exhibit. Our testimony (marturia) is to the truth, and the truth is personal and ultimate. When I say the truth is ultimate, I do not mean ultimate in the concerns of our own little faith community. I mean Lord of all that is, Lord of Heaven and earth, and King of all nature. The truth is Jesus, and He is eternal life — and there is no other.
“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son” (1 John 5:10). “I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21). “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (1 John 2:27). “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6).
Anyone who can reconcile the aroma of these passages with the stench of postmodernism has already had too much graduate school, and should be sent home immediately.
Genesis 22 contains the famous account of Abraham’s aborted sacrifice of Isaac. But in the aftermath of that event, there was apparently some drama going on in the background. What did Sarah think of all this?
After Abraham came back from the mountain, he lived in Beersheeba. “So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba” (Gen. 22:19).
A few verses later, when we are told that Sarah died, Abraham comes to lament for her, and to arrange for her burial. But she was living at Hebron, about 26 miles away from Beersheeba. Abraham and Sarah were living apart at the time of her death. “And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her” (Gen. 23:2).
Where was Isaac in this? We are not told explicitly, but in the account of Rebekah, we learn that he was very close to his mother. “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Gen. 24:67).
So there you are, and you can make of it what you will. But it seems to me that Abraham’s great act of obedient faith was not exactly met with universal acclaim at the time. Not everyone was thrilled.
You are all here in response to a wedding invitation . . . well, I trust that you are all here in response to a wedding invitation.
Now one of the striking things about wedding invitations, whether in the Bible or in our own experience, is that they are invariably received as good news. Times of peace in Scripture are described as times when people marry and are given in marriage, and invitations to such events are thought of as glad interruptions of general times of plenty and peace. But how this can be possible is quite interesting.
We are familiar with the word gospel, but this is our English rendering of a Greek word that literally means good news. This what the etymology of our English word is also—the word gospel comes from godspel. The god means good, and the spel refers to news or a story. So godspel refers to a good story.
On Palm Sunday, we remember the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem shortly before He was betrayed, condemned, and executed. As we reflect on this moment in His mission, we should take care to remember what that mission was. His mission was not just to save people, it was also to save a people.
“And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matt. 21:9).
Summary of the Text:
There are many things that can be drawn out of this story, but this morning, we are just going to focus on one of them. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem—where He was to be lifted up and draw all men to Himself—He was greeted by multitudes. Contrary to the popular assumption that the Triumphal Entry crowd and the “crucify Him” crowd were the same people, we have no reason for identifying them. These people who greeted Him were doing so sincerely. Jesus was approaching Jerusalem in order to save multitudes, and He was greeted there by multitudes. Their central cry was Hosanna, which means “Save, we pray.” In other words, we are praying that You would save us. “Yes,” He answered.
One of the things we need to remember when it comes to church architecture is that a building is corporate clothing. A building is how the whole church dresses. The trick is how to dress up without playing dress ups.
This meal presents God’s answer to the problem of evil. It does this in at least two respects. The first thing God wants to do with evil is forgive it, cleanse it, wash it away. His eternal design, established before all worlds, was to populate the resurrection with untold millions of forgiven sinners. The apostle John saw a multitude that no one could number standing before the throne. And here on this Table we see the foundation of that forgiveness. If Christ had not died under the wrath of God, as a propitiation for our sins, we would all be utterly lost. And that is the meaning of the broken bread here. That is the meaning of the red wine in the cup. Christ died in the place of sinners.
I want to spend a few moments on why the penal substitution of Christ is the only possible ground of human happiness. My point is not to defend the doctrine here — that has been ably done by others — but rather to show one of the many glorious outworkings of the doctrine. In our life together, whether that life is being lived in family, church, or town, the substitutionary death of Jesus is the only thing that can keep us from becoming scolds who are impossible to live with.
This is what I mean, and I will use marriage for my example. Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself up for her (Eph. 5:25). Now, whatever it is we believe that He did there, that is what we are going to imitate.
“I have not seen the same kind of willingness on the part of sacramentalists to admit that what they are telling us isn’t working, as measured by those indicators that the New Testament gives us as being inconsistent with inheriting the kingdom of God” (Against the Church, pp.75-76).