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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Wednesday
Nov092016

I had the Weirdest Dream Last Night . . .

I woke up this morning and thought to myself, I had the weirdest dream last night . . .  

Donald Trump was elected president. 

The Cubs won the world series. 

The UK left the EU. 

And then the Clintons just disappeared . . .

But at least I can now get stoned if I want, even if I can't buy bullets or use a plastic bag when I go to the store.

The turnout numbers from this election help put things in proper perspective--Americans stayed home or didn't vote top of the ballot.

From Ben Sasse's twitter feed this morning:  Republican vote was down, but HRC's vote was down much more  . . .

2008 -- Obama 69 million
2012 -- Obama 66 million
2004 -- Bush 62 million
2012 -- Romney 61 million
2008 -- McCain 60 million
2016 -- Clinton 59.6 million (with a few more to go)
2016 -- Trump 59.4 million (with a few more to go)

Tuesday
Nov082016

"The Prayer of Your Servant" -- Nehemiah 1:1-11

The Eleventh in a Series of Sermons on Ezra-Nehemiah

Along with Ezra, Nehemiah is one of the great figures from that period in Israel’s history after the exile (second temple Judaism).  Nehemiah is a remarkable leader–serving for a time as governor of Judah–a Godly man as seen in his prayers and desire for his people return to the proper worship of YHWH.  At the same time, he is a trusted member of the Persian royal court.  Nehemiah stands as one of Israel’s greatest Reformers, and a man from whom there is much to learn.

We return to our series on Ezra-Nehemiah–picking up where we left several months ago, with opening chapter of the Book of Nehemiah.  Frankly, it is hard to make sense of Nehemiah, without some knowledge of the Book of Ezra–which is why I felt it important to tackle both books together, not just the Book of Nehemiah as many preachers do.  The two books of Ezra-Nehemiah circulated together in the Jewish canon for a reason–they are clearly connected and depict the return of the Jews from exile and the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple from two different perspectives.  If Ezra is the more fact-based narrative utilizing a number of official Persian government documents, Nehemiah is a much more personal book–more than half of which is the author’s journal and which is described by one commentator as “some of the most lively writing in the Bible.”  Ezra, he says, was more reserved, while Nehemiah “leaps out of the pages at us.”  A practical and emotional man, in this book we are snooping in Nehemiah’s personal journal, written during a time of great difficulty for the people of God.

As we proceed this time, we’ll begin by answering the questions, “who, what, where, and when,” before we turn to our text, the opening chapter of Nehemiah, which includes “Nehemiah’s prayer.”  As for the “who” question, in the opening verses the author introduces himself as Nehemiah the son of Ha-cal-iah.  The name “Nehemiah” means “the Lord comforts” which is certainly an appropriate name for a man who appears on the scene during a very difficult period in Israel’s history.  The author introduces himself to us as the “cupbearer” of the Persian king Artaxerxes I, who ruled over the vast Persian empire from 464 until 424 BC.  The book opens with Nehemiah pleading with the king to be sent to Judah (the land of his people, the Jews) to help them rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, which were in great need of repair so as to protect the now-returned Jewish exiles from attack from their neighbors–who, as we have seen, are angered that the returning exiles will not embrace the pagan rituals of the Canaanites, most Israelites choosing instead to remain loyal to the religion of their fathers.  Nehemiah is appointed governor of Judah, and quickly comes to the realization that his people (the Jews) are in great need of reformation–a reformation of their own hearts.

I have long felt that some of the poorest preaching I have ever heard has been on the Book of Nehemiah.  I say poor not because the preachers of whom I am thinking were bad communicators, or that they were not men of faith.  Quite the contrary, I’ve heard good preachers do remarkable, spell-binding things with the text of this book.  But they do so at the price of missing the whole point.  Nehemiah’s purpose really is as mundane as describing how the city and its defenses were rebuilt because his people were in real danger of attack.  In our day, the temptation is great to see this book as an allegory which applies to modern readers.  Because Nehemiah demonstrates passion and capable leadership, sermons on the book of Nehemiah are often framed as a series of principles for successful “leadership.”  The image of rebuilding the walls far-too often and far-too easily becomes an illustration to us as to how we can rebuild our own fallen lives and go from ruin to recovery.  Even worse, the wall-builder motif has been shamelessly invoked by churches as “biblical” support for fund raising during various church building projects.  Be a Nehemiah– “Help us build the walls of our new church.”

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Monday
Nov072016

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (November 7-13)

Sunday Morning, November 13.  We begin a new series on Paul's Letter to the Colossians.  I'll be introducing the letter and looking at the opening section (vv. 1-13).  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  This coming Lord's Day we continue to discuss Christ's rule (or session) in Lord's Day 19, Q & A 50-52.  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study, November 9:  We are looking at Paul's "Man of Sin" in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 and will discuss the great apostasy.  Our study begins at 7:30 p.m.

Academy, Friday,  November 11:  We are studying Mike Horton's theology text, The Christian Faith:  A Theology for Pilgrims on the Way.  We are continuing our time in chapter 10 (p. 343) looking at the doctrine of creation.  The discussion/lecture begins at 7:30 p.m.

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Info), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

Sunday
Nov062016

"God Shall Supply All Your Needs" -- Philippians 4:10-23

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon--the last in our series on Philippians

Click Here

Sunday
Nov062016

This Week's White Horse Inn (Updated Website)

Why the God Man?

Why did Jesus refer to himself as the Son of Man? Did he ever specifically make the claim that he was God? Why did the world need “God in human flesh” to rescue us in the first place, and was this idea of a divine descent ever mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament? The hosts will address these questions and more as they begin a new series on The Incarnation.

Click Here

Tuesday
Nov012016

"Make Confession to the Lord" -- Ezra 10:1-17

The Tenth in a Series of Sermons on Ezra-Nehemiah

What does it mean to repent?  Many of our contemporaries act as if repentance simply means to say “I’m sorry,” shed a few tears, promise not to commit the offense again, and then go merrily on their way.  In the case of Ezra, given his great sorrow for his people, Israel, repentance is much more than a declaration of “I’m sorry,” followed by a promise to do better.  Upon hearing the news that the Jews were again intermarrying with the pagan “people of the land,” (the Canaanites) Ezra went into a time of mourning.  After all that Israel had endured–seventy years of exile in Babylon, followed by a difficult return to the land, a prolonged struggle to rebuild the temple and the city which had been destroyed by the Babylonians–Ezra could not believe that the Jews had so quickly grown indifferent to the law of Moses.  Before Israel even entered the land of promise, in Deuteronomy 7:1-8, YHWH commanded his people not to intermarry with the Canaanites.  But the Jews disobeyed this command in the generations after they first entered the promised land, intermarried with pagan Canaanites, and now are doing so again.  After Ezra’s repentance–in the form of mourning for himself and for his people–stirred the people of Israel deeply.  Seeing him mourn because of their sin and then pray for Israel, the people too repented, and began ending the sinful marriages in which they had engaged, and looked to YHWH for mercy.  This is the theme of Ezra 10, our passage before us.

With this sermon we complete our time in the Book of Ezra.  We will pick up with the Book of Nehemiah when I return in mid-August.  And then we will turn to the Book of Daniel.  In the final chapter of Ezra, the account resumes where there narrative left off in chapter 9:5.  “And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God.”  Ezra’s prayer follows in verses 6-15, the tone of which can be seen in verse 6, Ezra’s first petition.  “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.”  Why is Ezra in a state of mourning?  Why is he too ashamed to lift up his prayer to YHWH?  What is the great sin which his people have committed?

As we saw last time, before the Israelites entered the promised land, YHWH gave the Israelites clear and explicit instructions that his people were to wipe out the Canaanites (all of them), that the Israelites were to destroy all Canaanite religious shrines, and finally, that the Israelites were not to intermarry with pagans.  We noted that the prohibition not to intermarry with the Canaanites was a theological prohibition–not a racial one.  Moses married a Midianite.  Aaron’s wife was a Cushite (Nubian/African).  Joseph married an Egyptian woman.  Even Israel’s greatest king, David, had Gentile ancestry.  The reason why God forbade intermarriage is not that the Canaanites were of a different race than the Jews.  The reason is that the Canaanites were of a different religion than the Jews–they were pagans, worshiped all kinds of so-called “gods,” in and through pagan rituals (often tied to nature), with some of the Canaanites even practicing child sacrifice.

The Jews struggled with this attraction to Canaanite ways from the very time they entered the promised land–the Canaanites were much better at convincing Jews to become syncretists (to add the pagan “gods” to the worship of YHWH), than the Jews were in convincing the Canaanites to worship YHWH alone as the true and living God.  Since YHWH is a jealous God, demanding that his people worship him and him alone, any worship of idols or pagan gods violates the terms of the covenant YHWH made with Israel at Mount Sinai.  After much long-suffering patience with his people–who are like an adulterous spouse who continually seeks other lovers–YHWH’s covenant curses came upon Israel in the form of defeat by enemies and then exile from the land.  The northern kingdom (Israel) was defeated by the Assyrians in 722 BC, before the southern kingdom (Judah) was defeated in 587 BC by the Babylonians, with substantial numbers of Jews taken to exile in Babylon–their return serving as the occasion for the writing of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Monday
Oct312016

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (October 31-November 6)

Sunday Morning, November 6.  We will conclude our series on Philippians this Lord's Day with a consideration of Paul's reminder of God's provision for our every need (Philippians 4:10-23).  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  This coming Lord's Day we will be dicussing Christ's rule (or session) in Lord's Day 19, Q & A 50-52.  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study, November 2:   We are continuing our discussion of Paul's "Man of Sin" in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.  Our study begins at 7:30 p.m.

Academy, Friday,  November 4:  We are studying Mike Horton's theology text, The Christian Faith:  A Theology for Pilgrims on the Way.  We'll pick up where we left off last time with chapter 10 (p. 337) and the doctrine of creation.  The discussion/lecture begins at 7:30 p.m.

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Info), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

Sunday
Oct302016

"Scripture Cannot Be Broken" -- A Sermon for Reformation Sunday

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon on Sola Scriptura and Jesus' view of the Bible

Click Here

Sunday
Oct302016

This Week's White Horse Inn (Updated Website)

College Ministry

Are today’s churches doing enough to prepare young people to face the challenges they will encounter on a secular college campus? What kinds of things should pastors and parents do as they prepare teens for college, and how should churches or campus ministries serve students in a university setting? On this program Michael Horton and Justin Holcomb discuss these issues and more with two representatives of the college campus ministry, Ratio Christi.

Click Here

Wednesday
Oct262016

Two Important New Volumes

Westminster Seminary California's J. V. Fesko's recent book, The Trinity and the Covenant of Redemption, is the  the first in a projected three volume series dealing with each of the major covenants as understood and articulated by confessional Reformed Christians (the covenants of redemption, works, and grace).

This is a very important and useful book on a neglected aspect of Reformed thought and reflection.

Here's the publisher's description

When Christians reflect on the gospel, their attention is rightly drawn to the cross and empty tomb. But is this it? Or is there much more to the story? In a ground-breaking work, J.V.Fesko reminds us that the great news of this gospel message is rooted in eternity, whereby a covenant was made between the persons of the Trinity in order to redeem sinners like you and me. J. V. Fesko, in the first of a three part series on covenant theology featuring Redemption, Grace and Works, aims to retrieve and recover classic Reformed covenant theology for the church.

The Trinty and the Covenant of Redemption is divided into three sections: historical origins, exegetical foundations, and dogmatic/systematic construction.  Fesko capably interacts with seemingly everyone who has tackled the subject from David Dickson's milestone essay in 1638  to Karl Barth, with a host of Reformed theologians in between.

The book is very accessible and not overly technical.  I highly recommend it to you.

You can order it here: The Trinity and the Covenant of Redemption

The second volume is a magnificent commentary on Ephesians from Westminster's New Testament professor Steve Baugh.

Here's the publisher's description . . .

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul emphasizes the unity of believers in the inaugurated new creation. He first sets before his audience the salvation freely offered to us through faith in Christ, then applies this truth to their lives, calling them to live lives of love. In this volume, S. M. Baugh approaches this important letter from a first-century perspective, examining ancient sources to determine what Paul's words meant in their ancient context, while also interacting with recent scholarship. The result is a commentary that is academically rigorous and at the same time presents Ephesians as the good news it was meant to be.

Baugh's commentary is easily one of the best I own, and has me looking for excuses to preach through Ephesians again (even though I did so just just a few years ago.  The fruit of thirty years of work, Baugh's introductory section defending Paul's authorship of Ephesians is outstanding.  If you are a student of Paul, this one is a must.

You can purchase it here:  Commentary on Ephesians