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

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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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

Wednesday
Oct262016

"O LORD, the God of Israel, You Are Just" -- Ezra 9:1-15

The Ninth in a Series of Sermons on Ezra-Nehemiah

Ezra has been sent to Jerusalem by Artaxerxes, the Persian king, on a fact finding mission.  Ezra has been given everything he needs by the king to successfully fulfill his mission.  But Ezra is also a priest who descended from Aaron, and a man skilled in the law of Moses.  Ezra was well-known for his zeal for and expertise in those commandments which YHWH gave to Israel through Moses.  Ezra must walk the difficult line between fulfilling his mission for Artaxerses–reporting back to the king the status of the Jews in Jerusalem–while at the same time becoming the de-facto spiritual leader of the Jews.  It is not long after his return to Jerusalem that Ezra becomes aware of Israel’s shocking indifference to the law of Moses, and accordingly, calls the nation to repentance.  The Persians desire that the Jews and their pagan neighbors, the people of the land, live in peace with one another.  Yet as a Jew and someone zealous for the law of Moses, Ezra knows that if the Jews become too close to their pagan neighbors, it might just be the Jews’ undoing as a people.

Ezra has been in the Jerusalem area about four months, when he is informed that a long-standing threat to Israel’s existence as YHWH’s covenant people has once again reared its ugly head.  Failing to learn the painful lesson taught them by YHWH–many of the Jews were exiled from the land of Canaan for seventy years because of the people’s disobedience to their covenant with YHWH–Ezra is told that the Jews have not completely separated themselves from the people of the land, and are, in fact, intermarrying with them.  As someone skilled in the Law of Moses, Ezra knows how serious this offense is.  New of this sends him into a time of deep mourning and repentance–the theme of our sermon this time. 

It was about this same time that God sent the prophet Malachi, who likewise called the Jews to repentance because of the same reason–a number of Jewish men were marrying pagan women (Canaanites).  Some of the Jewish men were even divorcing their wives in order marry pagans!  In chapter 2:10-16, the prophet laments,

    Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.  May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!  And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand.  But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

The record of Israel’s history in this regard has not been good.  Marital infidelity became a powerful metaphor for Israel’s spiritual condition–YHWH’s chosen people began seeking other gods.  It was Israel’s failure to drive out all the Canaanites when they first entered the land of promise during the days of Joshua, which led to the terrible days depicted in the Book of Judges, followed by YHWH directing the Assyrians to defeat the northern kingdom (Israel) in 722 BC, before Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and took a large of Jews into exile to Babylon in 586 BC.

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Monday
Oct242016

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (October 24-30)

Reformation Sunday and our Twenty-First Anniversary!

Sunday Morning, October 30.  This morning our focus is on Sola Scriptura, specifically, Jesus' view of Scripture.  Our primary text is John 10:22-39.  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Note:  Anniversary pot-luck to follow!

Sunday Afternoon:  The Heidelberg Catechism spends much time discussing Christ's ascension into heaven.  Why?  We will continue our discussion of Lord's Day 18, Q & A 46-49.  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study, October 26:   We are continuing our discussion of Paul's "Man of Sin" in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.  Our study begins at 7:30.

Academy, Friday,  October 28:  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. 335) 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
Oct232016

"Rejoice in the Lord" -- Philippians 4:2-9

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon

Click Here

Sunday
Oct232016

This Week's White Horse Inn (Updated Website)

Core Christianity

Nancy Guthrie recently had the opportunity to interview Michael Horton about his new book, Core Christianity, for her own podcast, Help Me Teach the Bible. The conversation serves as a helpful introduction not only to the themes in Mike’s book but also to the larger campaign of the same name. The campaign includes an online Bible study platform complete with articles, videos, and resources which churches and Bible study leaders can use completely free of charge.

Click Here

 

Saturday
Oct222016

Coming Soon from Michael Horton

Mike's new book on the Holy Spirit will be out in March of 2017.

Here's the info from the publisher:

For the Spirit, being somewhat forgotten is an occupational hazard. The Holy Spirit is so actively involved in our lives that we can take his presence for granted. As they say, familiarity breeds contempt. Just as we take breathing for granted, we can take the Holy Spirit for granted simply because we constantly depend on him. Like the cane that soon feels like an extension of the blind man’s own body, we too easily begin to think of the Holy Spirit as an extension of ourselves.

Yet the Spirit is at the center of the action in the divine drama from Genesis 1:2 all the way to Revelation 22:17. The Spirit’s work is as essential as the Father’s and the Son’s, yet the Spirit’s work is always directed to the person and work of Christ. In fact, the efficacy of the Holy Spirit’s mission is measured by the extent to which we are focused on Christ. The Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity who brings the work of the Father, in the Son, to completion. In everything that the Triune God performs, this perfecting work is characteristic of the Spirit.

In Rediscovering the Holy Spirit, author, pastor, and theologian Mike Horton introduces readers to the neglected person of the Holy Spirit, showing that the work of God’s Spirit is far more ordinary and common than we realize. Horton argues that we need to take a step back every now and again to focus on the Spirit himself—his person and work—in order to recognize him as someone other than Jesus or ourselves, much less something in creation. Through this contemplation we can gain a fresh dependence on the Holy Spirit in every area of our lives.

To pre-order, go here:  Rediscovering the Holy Spirit

Friday
Oct212016

Does It Look Better on Him or Her?

Couldn't resist . . . (h.t. Pam Compton)

Tuesday
Oct182016

"That We Might Humble Ourselves Before Our God" -- Ezra 8:15-23

The Eighth in a Series of Sermons on Ezra-Nehemiah

Erza–a man skilled in the law of Moses and a priest who descended from Aaron–was commissioned by the Persian king Artaxerxes to take a second group of Jewish exiles to Jerusalem.  This was to be an official fact finding mission for the king.  The others returning to Jerusalem with Ezra had not left Babylon with the earlier group of Jewish exiles several generations earlier for reasons unknown to us.  The journey was a difficult one–four month’s duration and nine hundred miles.  Chapter 8 of the Book of Ezra recounts Ezra’s journey from Babylon to Jerusalem to fulfill the mission assigned to him by the Persian king, and which fulfilled YHWH’s purposes for his people.  But from a theological perspective, the scene described by Ezra throughout this chapter is that of a second Exodus, a theme which surfaced earlier, in chapters 1-3 of this same book.  Apparently, as Israel’s prophets foretold of Jewish exiles returning to the land of Canaan, successive generations of Jews living in exile in Babylon sense the call to return home to Israel.  Those Jews going with Ezra are depicted as an “ideal Israel” in miniature, making the long and difficult journey through the desert to join their brothers and sisters who, several generations prior, had already made the same journey to that land in Canaan promised to them by YHWH.

We are continuing our series on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and we are taking up Ezra’s account of a second group of Jews returning from their exile in Babylon to Jerusalem in 458 BC.  Some sixty years have passed since the end of chapter 6, and the opening of chapter 7, which recounts Ezra’s appearance on the scene the same year.  In the first six chapters of Ezra, we saw that upon their return to the Jerusalem area the first group of returning exiles began the task of rebuilding the altar and conducting sacrifices according to the law of Moses.  Despite the efforts of their pagan neighbors–the people of the land–who made a sustained effort to keep the Jews from rebuilding, Jews finally completed rebuilding the temple 516 BC.  The Jews were back in their land, they were one nation, but remained under the control of the Persian empire.  While the second temple stands in continuity with the temple built by Solomon, things were not the same.  The focus of Ezra chapters 7-10 shifts away from Israel’s past glories, toward the hope of the messianic age.

This shift can be seen in Ezra 7, as Ezra’ account of the Jews returning home to Jerusalem in 538 BC, and completing their temple (in 516), fades into the background in light of the need for reformation and renewal within Israel.  Despite returning to their land and rebuilding their temple, the Jews once again face the perpetual struggle they have faced since first entering the promised land in the days of Joshua and the conquest, about seven hundred years earlier.  How do the people keep their covenant with YHWH, when so many of them find themselves drawn to the paganism all around them?  Although the people have been back in the land for several genrations, by the time of Ezra, a number of the Jews have intermarried with pagan Gentiles, and many are starting to adopt pagan ways of thinking and doing.  Now that the leaders of the first generation of exiles have died off (Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Haggai, and Zechariah), God raises up Ezra and Nehemiah, who play important roles in Israel’s immediate future.

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Monday
Oct172016

Better to Use "Die?" Or "Pass Away?"

Anyone who knows me well, is probably all too aware of my dislike of the common phrase, "passed away."  My long-time White Horse Inn colleague, Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, has been correcting me of this habit long enough that his words of wisdom finally took root, and now I am as adamant about giving up the term as he is.

Our producer, Shane Rosenthal, recently passed along this reminder of how our culture cannot deal with death, and why "passed away," completely evades the real issue--that death is brutal, ugly, and stems from the curse.

The word "death" is a strong and solid word that does not blush or flinch, calling life's terminus by its first name, without apology. But most people euphemize death with the softer phrase "passed away". To pass away suggests a gentle and painless transition from one state to another, like chilled water passing imperceptibly into ice. Thereby words conceal from thoughts the horrors of violent accidents and the wracking agonies of terminal illness, as if everyone, instead of only a lucky few, died peacefully in his sleep. And where we peacefully pass is "away", a nebulous word that does not suggest a termination, but neither specifies a destination. It is a kind of leaving off, a gesture of open-endedness, an ellipsis at sentence's end. It is, accordingly, the perfect word for the skeptical yet sentimental modern mind, which cannot accept annihilation, nor easily believe in immortality. "Passed away" allows vague hope without dogma, as if to say, "He has gone somewhere else, please don't ask for details."

Shane found this on Brian Jay Stanley's blog, aphorisms and paradoxes

Monday
Oct172016

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (October 17-23)

Sunday Morning, October 23.  As we continue our series on Philippians, we come to Paul's exhortation to Christians, "Rejoice!"  Our text is Philippians 4:2-9.  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Note:  Our New Members class is on-going @ 9:00 a.m.  You are welcome to join us.

Sunday Afternoon:  As we work our way through the Heidelberg Catechism, we come to Lord's Day 18 and a discussion of Christ's ascension into heaven (Lord's Day 18, Q & A 46-49).  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study, October 19:   We are continuing our discussion of Paul's "Man of Sin" in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.  Our study begins at 7:30.

Academy, Friday,  October 21:  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. 331) 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).

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