Living in Light of Two Ages
What is the Kingdom?
Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Yet his kingdom is present wherever his people submit to his gracious reign. In fact, Paul wrote to the Corinthians that Christians actually serve as ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom as they announce God’s reconciling work to outsiders (2 Cor. 5:20). What are the implications of this view on our understanding of Christian ministry? What is the kingdom, and how does it advance? Join the hosts as they continue this series and unpack the implications of Christ’s ascension on the White Horse Inn.
The Fourth in a Series of Sermons on 2 Peter
It is not a question of if, but a matter of when. False teachers and false prophets have come, they will come, and they will continually seek to introduce destructive heresies until the Lord returns. In his 2nd Epistle–which is Peter’s “testament,” i.e., his final words to the churches–Peter warns the churches of his day that false teachers and false prophets were already working their way into the churches and wreaking havoc. Peter tells us that these false teachers will speak false words and utter false prophecies. They blaspheme God and they seek to secretly introduce destructive heresies. They wilfully seek to exploit the people of God–looking for any struggling saint weak in faith, or for those who have even the slightest bit of apathy regarding the truth or Christian doctrine. Their doctrinal errors provide justification for indulging the lusts of the flesh, instead of manifesting those Christian virtues which Peter has described in verses 5-7 of the first chapter of this letter. As Peter has told us in verse 19 of chapter one, we have the prophetic word (the Scriptures) which is more sure than any human opinion and which is the light shining in the dark, and the standard by which we discern truth from error.
As we continue our series on 2 Peter, we come to Peter’s dire warning (in this chapter and in the next) about false prophets and false teachers who will arise, infiltrate the churches, and seek to lead the people of God astray. There is a very good reason why believers need to be concerned with how they live, and why they should live their lives in eager anticipation of Jesus’ return–so as to contrast themselves with those who have been deceived. The false teachers and false prophets described by Peter were undermining the very foundation of the Christian life–that God has saved us from the wrath to come, and then called us to reflect his glory through our conduct. Even as they encourage professing Christians to live no differently than the pagans around us, the false teachers are denying one of the fundamental doctrines of Christian theology; the bodily return of Jesus Christ at the end of the age, to judge the world, raise the dead, and make all things new.
If it is true, as the false teachers claim, that Jesus is not going to return a second time, then there is no basis for Christian ethics, nor is there any foundation for the Christian life. Not only is Christian preaching false when we proclaim that Christ will come again, but if Christ does not come again then there is no final judgment, no resurrection from the dead, no new heaven and earth, no eternal Sabbath rest for the people of God, and no heavenly inheritance. The proper motivation for the Christian life, which is that we live our lives in gratitude in light of these things, completely vanishes. If Christ is not returning, then critics of Christianity, like Nietzsche, are right–all we can do is live our lives carpe diem and “seize the day.” The past is irrelevant, the future remains to be written, there are no absolute standards of right and wrong, so all we have are the realities we face and the choices we must make in the present. And if Jesus is not coming back, and there is no judgment, then why not do as we please, indulge the lusts of the flesh, and seek to do what is right in our own eyes? If no one is watching, why worry about anything other than our momentary needs and pleasures?
But as Peter has told us in verse 16 of the previous chapter of this epistle, “we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” Peter was present throughout much of the messianic ministry of Jesus. Since Peter saw and heard Jesus in person, Peter (and the other apostles) do not need to invent myths or fables as do the false teachers and prophets. Since Peter was an eyewitness to the majesty of Jesus, the Apostle speaks the truth, while all the false teachers can utter are clever myths which they have devised to suit their own sinful ends. As Peter reminds his readers, he was with Jesus up on the Mount of Transfiguration. “For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, `This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” Peter was with Jesus. He saw our Lord’s glory. He heard the Father’s voice.
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The secret fantasy of every pudgy middle-aged baseball fan.
Sunday Morning, May 29: As we continue with our series on the Book of Daniel, we come to the second half of Daniel 7 (vv. 15-28), and Daniel's vision of a "fourth kingdom." Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.
Sunday Afternoon: We continue our discussion of Lord's Day 11 (Q 29-30) and will focus upon Jesus as the only and all-sufficient Savior. Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study, May 25: We continuing our time in chapters 4-5 of 1 Thessalonians, discussing Paul's teaching regarding Christ's second advent. Our study begins at 7:30 p.m.
The Gifts That He Gave
On this program the hosts are continuing their series unpacking the implications of the ascension of Christ. This week they are joined by Justin Holcomb, who is the canon for vocations for the diocese of Orlando of the Episcopal Church. He is the author of the recent work God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies. He is also the author of Rid of My Disgrace, Know the Creeds and other excellent books. We are also honored to have Adriel Sanchez with us, who is the pastor of North Park Presbyterian Church in San Diego.
What are the fruits of Christ’s victorious death and resurrection, and how are they distributed? The hosts will answer this question by exploring Ephesians 4 and Psalm 68. After introducing the gifts that Christ has given to his church, they challenge us to consider how a recovery of these things can provide lasting nourishment and health for the body of Christ. Join the hosts as they continue this series and unpack the implications of Christ’s ascension on the White Horse Inn.
Yup, I know, it is still a long way off, but here's the first look at an important new book.
My contribution is, "The Eschatology of the Reformers"
From the publisher (Crossway):
Reformation Theology: A Systematic Summary
Edited by Matthew Barrett, Foreword by Michael Horton, Contributions by R. Michael Allen, Gerald Bray, Graham A. Cole, Aaron Denlinger, J. V. Fesko, Eun Jin Kim, Douglas Kelly, Robert Kolb, Robert Letham, Peter A. Lillback, Korey Maas, Donald Macleod, Keith A. Mathison, Michael Reeves, Kim Riddlebarger, Scott R. Swain, Mark D. Thompson, Carl R. Trueman, Cornelis P. Venema, Matthew Barrett
About Reformation Theology
Far too often, the Protestant Reformation is seen as a bygone and irrelevant movement in church history. Some of the best theologians and historians of today, including Michael Reeves, Gerald Bray, Michael A. G. Haykin, Carl R. Trueman, and many others, have collaborated to counter this view, showing how Reformation theology is not only still relevant but actually essential—even five hundred years later. Offering readers accessible summaries of a host of important doctrinal issues discussed and debated by the Reformers, this comprehensive book includes entries on topics such as biblical authority, the Trinity, the attributes of God, predestination, union with Christ, justification by faith, the church, the sacraments, and more. Perfect for both individual and classroom use, this volume demonstrates that Reformation theology—far from being irrelevant—is more crucial to the vitality of the church than ever.
The Third in a Series of Sermons on 2 Peter
Peter is writing to warn those reading his second epistle of serious doctrinal error in the churches. Knowing that he does not have long to live, Peter leaves us with his testament (this epistle). In extending to us his final words, Peter includes an exhortation that Christians must strive to manifest those God-given virtues which flow from that eternal life given to us as a gift by the power of God. The desire to see these virtues manifest in the lives of God’s people stands in sharp contrast to the desire to serve the flesh, which is characteristic of the lives of those who have departed from the truth. But in order to properly rebuke the false teachers, Peter must first establish his apostolic authority, as well as that of the prophetic word (the Scriptures). Peter has seen the glory of Jesus with his own eyes. The Apostle relates how the glory he has seen on the holy mountain is but a foretaste of much greater glory yet to come when Jesus returns at the end of the age. In Jesus Christ the prophetic word (the Old Testament) is confirmed because all such prophecy comes from God, not from the will of men. God’s prophets are carried along by the Holy Spirit, giving to us that to which we commonly refer as “Holy Scripture.”
As we continue to work our way through 2 Peter, we come to that section of this letter identified by some as Peter’s “purpose statement” (to use a modern expression), or better his “testament.” We read in verse 14 of the first chapter that the Apostle is well aware of his impending death. In light of this fact, verses 12-15 serve several important purposes. In his farewell “testament” Peter refers back to his previous “mini” sermon in verses 3-11, in such a way as to assure his readers that the exhortation in verse 10 (“therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall”) is intended as a pastoral reminder, and is not intended as a threat to those Christians with a troubled conscience. Peter’s testament also serves as a literary bridge from the previous discussion of those virtues which ought to be manifest in the Christian life (vv. 5 -7), to the lack of such virtues apparent in the lives of those who teach false doctrine, or who have been taken in by it (chapters 2-3). The contrast between the virtues spelled out in verses 5-7, and the godless conduct described by Peter in the second chapter of this epistle could not be greater.
A “testament” such as we find here is not unusual in the ancient world. Peter’s “testament” mirrors several of those found in the Old Testament, like those of Jacob (Genesis 49), Moses (Deuteronomy 33), Joshua (Joshua 24 ), and David (1 Kings 2). There are also a number of extra-biblical testaments which may have been known to Peter, or to those reading this short epistle. These “testaments” include the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and the testaments of Job and Moses. There are also final testaments in the New Testament, for that matter. We think of Jesus’ “farewell” discourse given in the upper room shortly before Jesus’ arrest and trial (John 13-16), and even Paul’s “farewell speech” to the Ephesians elders recounted in Acts 20:17-35.
Such farewell speeches usually include the following elements: 1). A prediction of death, 2). A prediction of future crises for those the dying person leaves behind, 3). An exhortation to greater virtue, 4). The promise of God’s blessing or the giving of a divine commission, and then finally, 5). A reference to the legacy the departing dying person leaves behind. The structure of this epistle and its obvious differences in style and speech from 1 Peter, can be easily explained if 2 Peter is the Apostle’s “testament” (final words) to the churches. To fulfill his apostolic office, Peter is compelled to warn the churches of the dangers of false doctrine.
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Sunday Morning, May 22: We return to our series on the Book of Daniel. This week we take up the first half of Daniel 7 (vv. 1-18), and Daniel's vision of one like a "Son of Man." Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.
Sunday Afternoon: We will consider Lord's Day 11 (Q 29-30) and discuss the person and work of Christ. Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study, May 18: We are going verse by verse through 1 Thessalonians. We continuing to work our way through chapter 4 and we are discussing Paul's teaching regarding Christ's second advent. Our study begins at 7:30 p.m.