Friday, October 2, 2009

Not the Jesus of Pop Culture

John MacArthur shares from his new book, The Jesus You Can’t Ignore.
The Great Shepherd Himself was never far from open controversy with the most conspicuously religious inhabitants in all of Israel. Almost every chapter of the Gospels makes some reference to His running battle with the chief hypocrites of His day, and He made no effort whatsoever to be winsome in His encounters with them. He did not invite them to dialogue or engage in a friendly exchange of ideas.
Jesus’ public ministry was barely underway when He invaded what they thought was their turf—the temple grounds in Jerusalem—and went on a righteous rampage against their mercenary control of Israel’s worship. He did the same things again during the final week before His crucifixion, immediately after His triumphal entry into the city.
One of His last major public discourses was the solemn pronunciation of seven woes against the scribes and Pharisees. These were formal curses against them. That sermon was the farthest thing from a friendly dialogue. But it is a perfect summary of Jesus’ dealings with the Pharisees. It is blistering denunciation—a candid diatribe about the seriousness of their error. There is no conversatsion, no collegiality, no dialogue, and no cooperation. Only confrontation, condemnation, and (as Matthew 23 records) curses against them.

God Himself is Judge

Psalms 50 | A Psalm of Asaph. The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers. “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

HT: Symphony of Scripture

Meet "Ardi"

Evolutionists aren’t yet sure if they should call it a human ancestor, but one thing they do know is that “Ardi” does away with the idea of a “missing link.” That belief was quite clear as evolutionist scientists went to the media yesterday with their conclusions, and America’s evening TV newscasts and the world’s major morning newspapers lapped it up.
Although first discovered in the early 1990s, the bones of Ardipithecus ramidus are only now being nominated for evolutionists’ fossil hall of fame—via a slew of papers in a special issue of the journal Science. In it, Ardi’s researchers describe the bones and make the case that Ardi is even more important in the history of human evolution than Lucy.
But despite claims of its evolutionary significance, one of the scientists who studied Ardi noted, “It’s not a chimp. It’s not a human.” That is, instead of looking like the hypothesized “missing link” (with both chimpanzee and human features), Ardi’s anatomy—as reconstructed by the scientists—shows it to have been distinct from other apes as well as from humans. The researchers have consequently shunned the notion of a missing link: “It shows that the last common ancestor [between humans and] chimps didn’t look like a chimp, or a human, or some funny thing in between,” explained Penn State University paleontologist Alan Walker (who was not part of the study).
We continue to research Ardi in preparation for a more extensive comment in this week’s edition of News to Note, our popular weekly news feature. Please return tomorrow to read the item!

HT: Answers in Genesis

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marks of a Spiritual Leader

Some more good quotes from John Piper's article on spiritual leadership:

  • "If you want to be a great leader of people you have to get away from people to be with God."
  • "Spiritual leaders have a holy discontentment with the status quo."
  • "Leaders must be able to digest depression because they will eat plenty of it."
  • On tactfulness: "There is a big difference between saying, 'Your foot is too big for this shoe" and 'This shoe is too small for your foot.'"
HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What Religion Faces the Most Discrimination?

Eight years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Americans see Muslims as facing more discrimination inside the U.S. than other major religious groups. Nearly six-in-ten adults (58%) say that Muslims are subject to a lot of discrimination, far more than say the same about Jews, evangelical Christians, atheists or Mormons. In fact, of all the groups asked about, only gays and lesbians are seen as facing more discrimination than Muslims, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of the public saying there is a lot of discrimination against homosexuals.

The poll also finds that two-thirds of non-Muslims (65%) say that Islam and their own faith are either very different or somewhat different, while just 17% take the view that Islam and their own religion are somewhat or very similar. But Islam is not the only religion that Americans see as mostly different from their own. When asked about faiths other than their own, six-in-ten adults say Buddhism is mostly different, with similar numbers saying the same about Mormonism (59%) and Hinduism (57%).

By a smaller margin, Americans are also inclined to view Judaism and Catholicism as somewhat or very different from their own faith (47% different vs. 35% similar for Judaism, 49% different vs. 43% similar for Catholicism). Only when asked about Protestantism do perceived similarities outweigh perceived differences, with 44% of non-Protestants in the survey saying Protestantism and their own faith are similar and 38% saying they are different

To continue reading click here.

Rebuilding Some Basics of Bethlehem: Christian Hedonism

September 9, 2009
By John Piper

One of the marks of our church is the aroma of Christian Hedonism. This is the biblical truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. The basis for this is deep, and the implications are as high as infinity and as long as eternity (both directions).

One place to see the basis is Philippians 1:20-21, where Paul says his “eager expectation and hope [is] that . . . Christ will . . . be honored in my body . . . by death. For to me . . . to die is gain.” His passion is that Christ be magnified in his death. Paul’s explanation is that for him “death is gain.” The reason death is gain is that to die is “to depart and be with Christ” (verse 23).

Therefore, Paul believed that Christ is magnified by his being so satisfied in Christ that leaving everything else behind in death is not loss but gain. So he says in Philippians 3:8, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

So I conclude: Christ is most magnified in us when we are most satisfied in him—especially in suffering and death. Hence the banner of Christian Hedonism flies over our church: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

The implications of this are pervasive. One of the biggest implications is that we should, therefore, pursue our joy in God. Should! Not may. The main business of our hearts is maximizing our satisfaction in God. Not our satisfaction in his gifts, no matter how good, but in him. Here are eight biblical reasons to pursue your greatest and longest satisfaction in God.

1) We are commanded to pursue satisfaction.

Psalm 100:2: “Serve the Lord with gladness!” Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord.”

2) We are threatened if we don’t pursue satisfaction in God.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48: “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart . . . therefore you shall serve your enemies.”

3) The nature of faith teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Hebrews 11:6: “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

4) The nature of evil teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Jeremiah 2:12-13: “Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

5) The nature of conversion teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Matthew 13:44: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

6) The call for self-denial teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Mark 8:34-36: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

7) The demand to love people teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Hebrews 12:2: “For the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross.” Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

8) The demand to glorify God teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Philippians 1:20-21: “It is my eager expectation and hope that . . . Christ will be [glorified] in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (final and total satisfaction in him).”

Therefore, I invite you to join George Mueller, the great prayer warrior and lover of orphans, in saying, “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.” In this way, we will be able to suffer the loss of all things in the sacrifices of love, and “count it all joy.”

Chandler: Two Questions for Sanctification

From Leadership 's interview with Matt Chandler:

Sanctification here at The Village begins by answering two questions. What stirs your affections for Jesus Christ? And what robs you of those affections? Many of the things that stifle growth are morally neutral. They're not bad things. Facebook is not bad. Television and movies are not bad. I enjoy TV, but it doesn't take long for me to begin to find humorous on TV what the Lord finds heartbreaking.

The same goes for following sports. It's not wrong, but if I start watching sports, I begin to care too much. I get stupid. If 19-year-old boys are ruining your day because of what they do with a ball, that's a problem. These things rob my affections for Christ. I want to fill my life with things that stir my affections for him. . . .

We want our people to think beyond simply what's right and wrong. We want them to fill their lives with things that stir their affections for Jesus Christ and, as best as they can, to walk away from things that rob those affections—even when they're not immoral.

You can read the whole thing here.HT: Mike Miesen