Living in Light of Two Ages
Comforting Those Who Grieve
Have you ever been at a loss for words at a funeral or visitation line? What kinds of things should we say in order to comfort those who have recently lost a close family member? How long should we allow people to grieve? Perhaps the most important subject that we need to think about around such times is how we talk about heaven and eternal issues. On this program Michael Horton discusses these questions and more with Nancy Guthrie, author of a brand new book titled What Grieving People Wish You Knew.
Sunday Morning, October 16. Rev. Brad Lenzner will be preaching. Our worship service begins @ 10:30 a.m.
Note: Our New Members class is on-going @ 9:00 a.m. You are welcome to join us.
Sunday Afternoon: Rev. Lenzner will be conducting our catechism service, which begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study, October 12: No Bible Study this week.
Academy, Friday, October 14: No Academy this week
The New Creation
What is the difference between what theologians refer to as “the intermediate state” and “the eternal state”? On this program the hosts will discuss issues related to this question and will survey the Bible’s teaching of the new heavens and the new earth. This new creation is the ultimate consummation of all the hopes and expectations promised throughout Scripture, and yet is largely ignored in Christian preaching and teaching today.
The Seventh in a Series of Sermons on Ezra-Nehemiah
Enter Ezra–the key figure in the next four chapters of the book which bears his name. The year is 458 B.C. The second temple was completed some sixty years previously, and sacrifices were being offered since that time according to the law of Moses. A priest in the genealogical line of Aaron, and also described as a skilled “scribe,” Ezra is among the first of a long line of Jewish biblical scholars who are devoted students of God’s law–men who later came to be known as “scribes” during the days of Jesus, four hundred years later. Some have described Ezra as the “secretary of state for Jewish affairs,” since Ezra was commissioned by the Persian king Artaxerxes to leave Babylon, travel to Jerusalem, and report back to the king about the current state of affairs regarding the Jews and their progress in rebuilding their capital city and its defenses (walls). Upon his arrival in Jerusalem, Ezra began a series of reforms including a renewed devotion to the law of God, renewed focus upon prayer and fasting, as well as insisting that the Israelites end the practice of intermarrying with the pagans around them. With his arrival in Jerusalem, the scene in the Book of Ezra shifts from its focus upon the temple to a focus upon the law of God as the people of God return to the pattern so well established throughout Israel’s history–times of revival (in this case the Jews returning to the land and the rebuilding of the temple), followed by times of unbelief and apostasy, as many Jews seek to make peace with their pagan neighbors, many more intermarry with them, and some even adopt their pagan practices.
We are the midst of a series on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and this morning we come to Ezra 7. In the previous chapters, we have considered the author’s account of that period of Israel’s history in which the Jews are back in their land, living as one people, with a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, and facing many of the trials and tribulations which the people of God have struggled from the time they first entered Canaan back in the days of the conquest. How do the people of God maintain their faith in YHWH and their loyalty to him, when the pagans all around them seek to entice them away from worshiping and serving the true and living God? As a man who can trace his ancestry back to Aaron (Israel’s first high priest), Ezra is well qualified for his role as a reformer of sorts, seeking to renew his people’s love for YHWH and their commitment to his covenant–specifically, the law of Moses. Israel many be back in the land of Canaan, but they live under Persian control, and the leadership of the nation naturally passes from the first generation of post-exile leaders, Zerubbabel and Jeshau (Joshua), to an increased role for the high priest, who now leads the people in both religious and political matters.
Since the days when Israel first returned to the land because of the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC, a whole series of Persians kings have come and gone. Cyrus’ successor Darius (who was featured prominently in earlier chapters of Ezra) died in 486 BC. Darius was replaced by his son Xerxes, who ruled over the vast Persian empire from 485 until his death in 465 at the hand of one of his own bodyguards. Xerxes’ son, Artaxerxes–who is king in the days of Ezra–ruled until he died 424 BC. Given the upheaval and intrigue within the Persian royal dynasty, it is important for Ezra to remind us six times in chapters 7-8 that “the hand of God” orchestrated all of these things for the benefit and preservation of his people. The Persian kings come and go, but God’s providential purposes remain the same.
To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here
Sunday Morning, October 9. We are continuing our series on Philippians. This Lord's Day we will take up Paul's discussion of our heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:12-4:1). 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: We have come to Lord's Day 17 in our study of the Heidelberg Catechism. We will be discussing our Lord's bodily resurrection from the dead. Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study, October 5: We have returned to our study of 2 Thessalonians, and begin our discussion of Paul's "Man of Sin" in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Our study begins at 7:30.
Academy, Friday, October 7: We are continuing our study of 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. 326) and the doctrine of creation. The discussion/lecture begins at 7:30 p.m.
Whatever Happened to Hell?
For the last half century or so, contemporary Christian faith and practice has been focused on positive and uplifting stories of personal transformation along with a kind of unbridled optimism about what each of us can do with God’s help. But in doing so, has the church ended up downplaying the negative aspects of biblical truth? In order to present Christianity as attractive to others, have we gotten rid of Hell? That’s the focus of this edition of White Horse Inn.
From a recent interview with Senator Ben Sasse . . .
How did you become theologically Reformed? In college I was very involved in evangelical and parachurch groups—Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade (my wife is a former Cru staffer). Although I grew up in the Lutheran tradition and was very involved in FCA in high school, I didn’t have a lot of clarity about the differentiation of theological views inside Protestantism. In college I became a part of evangelistic groups that were very action-oriented and not always very theologically reflective. There were things that I couldn’t make sense of about the connection between faith and practice. So I started reading theology on purpose to make sense of things I was wrestling with and to try to understand the text better. I started reading a lot of Luther and read some B.B. Warfield. Bob Godfrey (president of Westminster Seminary California), Mike Horton (White Horse Inn media and Modern Reformation magazine), and R.C. Sproul were all really influential in my college clarification of being Calvinistic, Reformed.
How does your faith and theology inform policy fights and discussions? Three thoughts: First, a basic Christian orientation to living in the world. We live in the already and the not-yet, so as a Christian I am convicted of my sin and aware of Jesus’ salvific work both by imputation and by atonement on my behalf. Now I get the chance to live out a life of gratitude to God by trying to serve my neighbor, and politics is one of many secular callings—like building good shoes or speedboats.
Second? The American system is a glorious inheritance, because it is an anti-statist tradition. The purpose of American limited government is to make a broader, affirmational claim about human dignity and natural rights. Government doesn’t give us rights. We get rights from God via nature, and government is our shared project to secure those rights. The American system is a wonderful place for Christians to labor. We don’t have the challenges that Daniel had. We’re not being asked to bend the knee and worship Caesar. That is a glorious thing that we get to live in a state that doesn’t try and require idolatry. We should understand, affirm, and pass along that free tradition.
And third. People of goodwill are going to argue about policy. That is a good and healthy thing. We, as Christians, have a responsibility to do it in a way that doesn’t violate the Ninth Commandment. We don’t want to bear false witness against our neighbor, so we should assume our neighbor means well and try to characterize their position accurately, not beat a straw man. As it turns out, really believing in the dignity of your neighbor and loving your neighbor means that you want to try to refine and shape their best argument. Sometimes I’m going to be converted. There’s going to be a policy issue where I thought I knew the answer and somebody else has a better argument. I should be humble enough to actually be persuadable. If I’m going to try to persuade them, I want to do it by not misrepresenting their view. Some debates are genuine, where you’re actually open to wrestle with another idea. Other debates are faux, where all you’re really trying to do is beat someone. It turns out the latter is not only unpersuasive and ineffective—it’s really boring. It’s also dishonest.
To read the entire article, Ben Sasse -- A Reformed reformer
h.t. Brad Frank