Friday, June 18, 2010

Who Has the Right to make the Rules?

Authority is the ultimate issue in life. Who makes the rules? When Adam and Eve sinned they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In other words, they decided to make their own rules. 

Ever since, we have been eating from the same Tree. We have been making our own rules, especially about sexual morality. In the words of Dr. Peter Jones, “We really are now in the presence of a massive rejection of authority in general. There is no authority…Seventy-some percent of Americans no longer believe that there is any absolute truth. Even amongst evangelicals, forty percent no longer believe that there is any kind of ultimate truth. We really are in the presence of a massive change in the way people view authority.”[1]

This rejection radically impacts every aspect of modern life. Who speaks with authority? Who sets the rules? That is the ultimate question, for whoever makes the rules is really our functional god. Are men and women the same or are we different? Do men and women have different roles in marriage? Should parents spank their children? Is homosexuality right or wrong? Is the life of the unborn child sacred? Is mercy killing for the terminally ill acceptable? Is man autonomous, or is he utterly dependent? Are we predestined to salvation? Does God really react to sin with wrath? Is there only one way to God the Father? Was Jesus death a substitution or merely a good example?

The questions are endless. How we answer them are ultimately a matter of authority. Who sets the rules...self, the pressures of our culture, or the living God revealed in the pages of  scripture? Everything depends upon how we settle the issue of authority.    

What do you think?

[1] From a talk by Dr. Peter Jones May 1998, Grace Valley Christian Center Special_Speakers/Pagan_Revival_in_Christian_America.html

Monday, June 14, 2010

Is the Trinity a Paradigm for a wife's submission to her husband?

 Tim Challies makes an controversial observation.Strange though it may seem, submission is a good and beautiful and godly thing. The most perfect relationship in the world, the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, displays a perfect example of submission. The Son submits Himself to the Father. They are, to echo the Shorter Catechism, "the same in substance, equal in power and glory." Yet the Father demonstrates headship. We speak of Jesus' mission to the earth in two ways. We speak of Jesus being sent by the Father. And this is true. From eternity it was decided by the Father that man would have to be ransomed by a perfect substitute. The Father tasked the Son with this responsibility. But we also speak of the Son willingly giving up his life. This is equally true. The Son's perfect submission to the Father's will meant that a command of the Father was indistinguishable from a decision of the Son. Christ was perfectly willing to submit to His Father's will. This relationship within the Trinity provides us many clues as to the nature of the relationship between husband and wife.” (, Headship in the Home, Part 2, Dec 1, 2009)

On the other hand, Dr. Graham Cole, in his recent book on the Holy Spirit, He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Foundations of Evangelical Theology) disagrees. He writes "I am not convinced that we can be much more specific and erect social models for marriage, church, and society based on speculative reconstructions of the inner life of the Trinity."

What do you think? Is the submission of the Son to the Father grounds for submission to the authority of an equal in this life? It has huge repercussions for marriage, church, and life in this fallen world.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Where Does Leadership Come From?

Leadership matters greatly. Nations rise and fall on their heads of state. Armies conquer or go down in defeat on the decisions of their commanders. Teams rise and fall on their coaches. Corporations thrive or wither on the performance of their CEOs. The most important social institution in any culture, the church, is no exception to this rule. We need capable leaders.

Isaiah warned Israel that leadership is a gift from God, one that he gives to those who please him.“For behold, the Lord God of hosts is taking away from Jerusalem ... the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms. And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them. And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable" (Isaiah 3:1–5). Isaiah's message was clear: Because Israel refused to turn from their idols and worship the true and living God, his people suffered. God deprived them of qualified leadership. Society degenerated into social chaos, and God's people suffered.

Many complain about our leadership in Washington and other  key social institutions. Could it be that we are under God's judgment? If that is the case, the crucial solution is repentance from all known sin Complaining is a sin. It merely amplifies the problem.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Why is the Gospel Controversial?

Just finished Greg Gilbert's little book, What Is the Gospel? (9marks). This short book lays out the gospel in all its glory. His premise is significant. We need this book because most Christians are confused, or substantially ill informed about the Gospel.

What Is the Gospel? (9marks)D.A. Carson, professor of theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity school, notes in the introduction, that the subject most apt to provoke argumentation and disagreement between his students is the gospel. We are talking about conservative graduates students studying theology. How could this be? The gospel is the most basic fact about Christianity. Supposedly, it is the non-negotiable bottom line, the one fact upon which all Christians agree.

The author notes a similar phenomenon at the Nine Marks website. The subject most apt to provoke spirited debate is not the timing of baptism, church government, the meaning of the sacraments, or the millennium. It is the gospel! And again, this is between mostly conservative, evangelical readers. This concern prompted this book...

Gilbert writes well. With winsome anecdotes and straightforward prose he demonstrates why the gospel stumbles believers and unbelievers. Before one can understand the Good News he must be prepped with the Bad News. God created us. We owe him an accounting. Sin is cosmic treason. A Day of Judgment approaches. We cannot work our way out of this problem. We are all in trouble, and human ingenuity or cleverness will not solve the problem.  For these reasons and more that gospel is inherently offensive. It cuts directly across the grain of our proud, fallen culture. There is a glorious solution. It is explicit faith in Jesus Christ, God's one and only Mediator.

This is a great book to read and ponder. Don't assume you understand the gospel. It is the most profound truth. It is a well with no bottom. Meditate on it. Think about it. This book is a great aid. You can read it in two hours. It will motivate you to evangelize.

Second, it is a great book to give to an unbeliever, or someone who has shown some interest in the gospel. You don't want to be that sad oxymoron, a professing Christian who lacks clarity on the gospel.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Message for the Historically Challenged

I have read fifty books on church history, maybe more, I'm not sure of the number. I know it is a lot. I am a lover of history. I'm am only saying that to put the following comment in perspective. I just read the best book on Reformation History yet. It is The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation by Michael Reeves.

The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the ReformationI am enthusiastic about this book for the following reasons. It is short (190 pages), it is written by a skilled author, it is easy to understand, it is illed with entertaining stories, and packed with punchy, crucial truth. And, the Reformation is a crucial story. Western history, secular and religious, turns on this historical moment. You can't understand Western Europe, North America, Great Britain, or the last 500 years without a solid grasp of the Reformation.

In addition, it is important because doctrine matters, some doctrines more than others. The Unquenchable Flame is the story of men and women willing to die for important doctrinal distinctives. Reeves devotes chapters to Luther, Calvin, the Anabaptists, and the English Reformation. Most importantly he clearly delineates the fight that caused the Reformation, the issues involved, and the fact that no steps have been made by the Roman Catholic tradition to repent and change. The question that provoked the Reformation, the Roman Catholic church is no closer to answering now than they were in 1550. 

We need books like this. The average Christian is historically deprived. I would be thrilled if every member of my congregation would devour this little gem.