Living in Light of Two Ages
The Book of Job (Part 3)
On this program, we’ll wrap up our three-part series through the book of Job by looking at that wonderful expression of faith in which Job declares, “I know that my redeemer lives.” How does this hope in the future redeeming work of the Messiah comfort Job during his distress? How can a recovery of this Christ-centered focus help us when we suffer? We’ll consider questions like this as we conclude our miniseries on Job.
Great news! You probably know of Logos Bible Software. They have been around for a long time, and have produced many valuable resources--all of which are well formatted and fully searchable. I have used their Bible Software for some years now. The folks at Logos have heard our pleas and have packaged a number of their best resources together into a "Reformed Library." For more information, a complete list of what is available, and pricing for the various packages, go here: Reformed Resources
The list of resources they are making available in their packages is pretty amazing.
1. Philip Schaff’s Early Church Fathers (37 vols.)
3. The Works of John Owen (24 vols.) (Includes Owen’s 8 vol. commentary on Hebrews)
7. The only English translation of Geerhardus Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics (5 vols.) (only available in Logos)
9. Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics (4 vols.)
10. Richard Muller's Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (4 vols.)
This is only the stuff which I know will be of great interest to folks who frequent here. There is much, much more included in their various packages.
If you have questions about the Logos system in general, you can check out some of the new features Logos brings to theological studies with the videos found here: Features
For a video and some short descriptions of the datasets powering Logos 5, go here: Datasets
And last, this video answers some FAQ’s about how the resources mature and are enhanced over time with free updates.
This should be a great addtion to anyone's digital library!
This is what happens when you lose confidence--or if you never had confidence--in the power of the gospel to create faith. The same thing holds true for those who do not regard the sacraments as the divinely-appointed means to sustain that faith created by the gospel (cf. Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 65). Without confidence in God's chosen means to create and sustain faith, why not engage in evangelism by manipulation?
Billed as the "scariest Christian movie ever," "Final Watch: The Rapture" is marketed as a sure fire way to scare someone into accepting Jesus by using the horror film genre to warn unbelievers (as well as careless "professing" Christians) of the terror of being left behind after the Rapture occurs (h.t. Gene Veith--Cranach).
There is no question that the final product is slick and well-presented (the website is first rate). I do not doubt for a minute, the movie will achieve its purpose--to scare people.
But for the Christian, the return of Jesus Christ is pure gospel, and not something which should frighten us. Jesus' return is the blessed hope (Titus 2:13), when we shall see Jesus as he is (1 John 3:2-3). It is that moment when death is finally defeated, when the curse is overturned, and the time when every tear is wiped from our eyes (Revelation 21:4). For those in Christ, the return of our Savior is not to feared, but is something for which we eagerly wait.
For the non-Christian, however, the second coming of Christ is pure law (Matthew 25:41). There is not one bit of hope or good news for those outside of Christ, once he returns and every eye beholds him and the heavenly host in their collective glory. For those who have rejected the Savior, this is the moment in which the terrible realization dawns that it would be far better to be buried in an avalanche (Revelation 6:16) than face the wrath of the lamb!
In the hands of film-makers seeking to terrify people so as not to miss out on the rapture, the gospel is mutated into something like the old Sunday school refrain, "oh be careful little hands what you do." The law, on the other hand, becomes trviialized into yet another post-apocalypse Hollywood thriller, the likes of which every fan of The Walking Dead has seen many times before, and to which viewers grow increasingly desensitized. The law is now presented as "you certainly don't want to live through anything like that!"
We should not be surprised that this happens when folks don't really believe that the preached gospel is the power of God unto salvation, or that the penalty for breaking God's law--even but a single time (James 2:10)--is to face the wrath of God for all eternity without a mediator or his cross.
I don't question the motives behind those making and distributing the film. I grew up in the dispensational world where such things are common--remember Thief in the Night and Left Behind? In fact, I assume that folks behind this movie have the best of intentions--a desire to see people come to faith in Christ.
Because of my own personal interest in eschatology, I'll stick with the preaching of the law in all its terror, and the gospel in all its wonder. Scaring the living daylights out of people in this manner falls far short of the power of the means which God has given us in his word. And even worse, The Final Watch trivializes the blessed hope, by reducing Christ's return to the Netflix category, "Horror." Attempting to scare people into the kingdom (based on an improper view of law and gospel) will help create that myriad of scoffers about which Peter has warned us (2 Peter 3:1-13).
If you watch this, please understand in advance, this will consume fifteen minutes of your life which you can never get back. On the other hand, it is entertaining (if these prophecy pundit types fascinate you), and it certainly provides a lesson in how not to understand biblical eschatology. (h.t. Robin)
The Seventeenth in a Series of Sermons on the Epistle to the Hebrews
Three of the world’s great religions (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) trace their origins back to Abraham. Yet the Genesis account speaks of Abraham as one who believed God’s covenant promise. It is said of him, Abraham “believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” This explains why the account of the life of Abraham in Genesis 11-25 fits perfectly within the “catalogue of believers in God’s covenant promise” in Hebrews 11. That Abraham was justified by faith is the reason why Christians are considered to be the true children of Abraham–much to the chagrin of Jews, and to the disdain of Muslims. Abraham is a man who pitched his tent in the land of promise, yet who also knew that dwelling in the land was not all that God had promised to him–God’s promise included eternal life as well. Therefore, Abraham is regarded as the man of faith, because he believed God’s covenant promise to make him the father of a great nation, and that he would have so many descendants that it would be impossible to count them all–despite the fact that this seemed to be a physical impossibility. It is to the story of Abraham as summarized in Hebrews 11, that we now turn.
We are continuing our series on the Book of Hebrews and we are working our way through Hebrews 11, the so-called “hall of faith” because so many important Old Testament heroes are mentioned here. As we saw last time, the primary point being made by the author of Hebrews in this chapter is not that the people mentioned here are setting examples for us to follow (as people who had faith), but that these Old Testament saints all believed the same gracious covenant promise which God made to his people, and which the author of Hebrews has spent ten chapters unpacking. Rather than speak of Hebrews 11 as the “hall of faith,” it is much better to understand this chapter as a catalogue of justified sinners, sinful people who believed God’s covenant promise to save them from the guilt and power of their sin.
If we read Hebrews 11 as is often done (as a series of examples for us to follow), then we must ignore the critical point which the author of Hebrews is trying to make–that Jesus is superior to angels, Moses, and the priests of Israel. If the “hall of faith” interpretation is the correct one, then the author of Hebrews is telling those in this church who may be considering returning to Judaism, to “believe” just like your forefathers did. But that doesn’t get to the heart of the issue–recent converts from Judaism to Christianity, were going back to Judaism when they came under persecution. That their forefathers believed God is not under dispute. The issue is “what did their forefathers believe?” Or better, “in whom did they believe?”
The author’s point then is that everyone mentioned in Hebrews 11 believed God’s gracious covenant promise to save them from their sins. Therefore, what matters is not the presence of faith–that these famous Old Testament saints believed. What matters is the object of faith–these people believed the same gracious covenant promise, first issued in Genesis 3:15 when God declared, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The nature and character of this promise unfolds throughout the balance of redemptive history in the form of the types and shadows we see in the history of Israel and the old covenant, a subject which the author addressed in Hebrews 7-10.
To read the rest of this sermon: Click Here
Sunday Morning (March 16, 2014): As we continue our series on the Gospel of John, we are now in the "passion" section of the Gospel (chapters 18-19). This coming Lord's Day we will consider Peter's denial of Jesus, and Jesus' appearance before the high priest (John 18:12-27)
Sunday Afternoon: I am continuing my series on the Canons of Dort. We are covering the second head of doctrine (Christ's death) and dealing with refutation of errors (5-7). The catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study (March 12, 2014): In our "Studies in the Book of Revelation," we continue to work through the 14th chapter of Revelation and warning from the angelic messenger. Bible study begins at 7:30 p.m.
Friday Night Academy (March 14, 2014): We are studying Michael Horton's theology text, The Christian Faith, and we'll continue in part two, chapter seven, (259 ff.) and a discussion of God's communicable attributes.
For more information and directions, check out the Christ Reformed website: Christ Reformed Church
The Book of Job (Part 2)
Continuing the overview of Job, we’ll consider the various claims to health, wealth, and happiness made by Job’s counselors. What’s wrong with this approach and how should this influence the way we think about suffering in the Christian life? How do we deal with the fact that there is so much pain and misery in the world-and perhaps even in our own lives? What happens to our faith when having “our best life now” seems to elude us at every turn?