The god of William Paul Young — “A god who merely affirms us can’t call us to die, and be born to new life. But the true God can say, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isa. 45:22).”
Is Singleness a Problem – or an Opportunity? — Owen Strachan writes, “Singleness need not be a problem. It can be an opportunity. You may not have chosen to be single; you may not want to be single. I get that. Marriage is a good gift of God. But know this: you will not find a biblical text that encourages you to check out of kingdom work because you’re presently unsatisfied.”
The Hottest Thing at Church Today — Is preaching back? Tim Challies provides a helpful critique and warning to those who may want to add preaching to help in their church growth methods.
In this clip provided by Todd Friel and Wretched, Phil Johnson points to the “tone police” in the local church today who want every preacher to deliver soft messages.
The Worst Consequence of Skipping Church — Tim Challies writes, “This passage does, indeed, warn of the serious consequences of skipping church, but its focus is not what we might expect through our Western, individualized eyes. This passage does not warn us that when we skip church we put ourselves at risk. Rather, it warns us that when we skip church we put other people at risk. The first sin of skipping church is the sin of failing to love others.”
Christian Focus on the Reformation — Some helpful books from a noteworthy publisher on the subject of the Reformation. This year is a good year to beef up your knowledge of church history.
Dear Wormwood . . . — “We must make sure to keep these pastors naïve—on the one hand, assuming no one could possibly be an enemy from within. On the other hand, we must make sure that the pastor becomes defensive and overly protective, viewing everyone as his enemy. This will lead him to trust no one and to take on his work of the ministry alone.”
Is the pope the church’s high priest? In this short video, Dr. Nathan Busenitz provides some helpful information regarding the office of the pope and the doctrinal positions of the Roman Catholic Church.
James White Debate — Tonight, James White will debate Joe Ventilacion on the subject: Who is God? The focus will involved the doctrine of the Trinity, and the event organizers are planning a livestream of the event as well.
Teach Us to Number Our Days — Dr. Robert Godfrey writes, “If our need is to number our days by contrasting their shortness with the eternal nature of God, then our prayer to God is that He would teach us: ‘Teach us to number our days.'”
Luther — Today the new movie on Martin Luther is released. Get your copy here.
One Very Good Reason to Study Church History — Tim Challies writes, “You have entered into something. You have become a citizen of something with a present and a future, but also a past. And your ability to glorify God in the present and future requires knowing that past.”
Why I Love to Read — Randy Alcorn talks about books and “World Book Day”—scheduled for this upcoming Sunday.
Theology Word of the Week: Worship
A. Meaning for the Greeks. Usually connected with the Old High German Kuss, although in different ways, proskynéō is an ancient term for reverent adoration of the gods, which in the case of chthonic deities would mean stooping to kiss the earth. The Greeks abandon the outward gesture but keep the term for the inner attitude. Later the word takes on a much more general sense expressing love and respect.
B. Jewish Understanding.
1. The LXX uses the term for various words meaning “to bow,” “to kiss,” “to serve,” and “to worship.” Most of the instances relate to veneration of the God of Israel or of false gods. proskyneín may also be directed to angels, to the righteous, to rulers, to the prophets, and to the shade of Samuel (Saul). While it may express regard, it also suggests that those thus honored are in some way God’s instruments (cf. Gen. 18:2; 19:1). In Gen. 23:7, 12 observance of the formalities stresses the legality of the purchase. Mordecai’s refusal to do proskýnēsis to Haman is the focus of the dramatic action in Esther. Obeisance is always intended except later in 4 Macc. 5:12. The LXX prefers the dative or a preposition to the Greek transitive and accusative. This is partly due to the Hebrew, but partly to the fact that transitive kissing is impossible where there is no image of God.
2. Josephus follows the LXX in his use of the term for worship and respect. Yet he tends to restrict proskyneín to Gentile worship, to avoid the term with a human reference when speaking of the Jews of his own day, and to use it in relation to the temple and the law in the sense of respect rather than worship (for even the Romans respect the holy place; Jewish War 5.402).
3. Philo’s usage is mostly secular rather than religious except when he censures the worship of wealth or various forms of idolatry in city life. He accepts proskyneín to others as a form of respect but is critical of proskýnēsis to the emperor as a contradiction of ancient Roman freedom. He, too, speaks of a proskyneín directed to the temple, Scripture, and the Day of Atonement.
4. In rabbinic Judaism proskýnesis is an attitude in prayer (although standing is more customary). It may also be a means of showing respect to rabbis as those who are in a close relation to God because of their study of the law.
C. The NT.
1. The NT uses proskyneín only in relation to a divine object. Even Mt. 18:26 is no true exception, for in view of the importance of proskýnēsis in Matthew (cf. 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:2) the divine king plainly stands behind the king of the parable. Thus when those who seek help from Jesus fall at his feet, this is more than a gesture of respect. The wise men bow in worship (Mt. 2:2, 11). The tempter seeks the worship that belongs to God (4:9–10). The disciples worship Jesus when they begin to grasp his divine sonship (14:33) and when they meet the risen Lord (28:9). The thought of God’s transcendence forbids any weakening of the term in the NT. Peter rejects proskýnēsis in Acts 10:25–26. Even the angel forbids it in Rev. 19:10. The gesture is expressly mentioned in Acts 10:25.
2. In Jn. 4:20ff. proskyneín seems to have a wholly figurative sense. Yet the act of worship stands in the background. What Jesus says is that there is no one place to worship. The concrete act is lifted up into the sphere of spirit and truth which now controls it. This does not mean a total spiritualizing of worship but the possibility of true worship at all times and in all places.
3. The worship of heaven involves repeated proskýnēsis (Rev. 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:4). Those who fear God (and those who worship the beast!) are also proskynoúntes (Rev. 11:1; 13:4). Those who worship Satan will finally bow down at the feet of the angel of the church of Philadelphia (3:9), and all nations shall come and worship God at the last day (15:4).
4. While proskyneín is common in the Gospels and Acts, and then again in Revelation, it occurs in the epistles only in Heb. 1:6; 11:21 and 1 Cor 14:25. The last verse offers the only instance of proskyneín in the Christian community and it refers along OT lines to the unconditional subjection expressed by an unbeliever. Elsewhere we read of kneeling or raising hands in prayer (Acts 9:40; 1 Tim. 2:8), but the word proskyneín does not occur. Being a concrete term, proskyneín demands visible majesty. It is thus apposite only when the incarnate Christ is present or when the exalted Lord is again manifested.
D. The Early Church. The data in the apostolic fathers are much the same as in the NT. Mostly the reference is to pagan worship. Veneration of Christ is differentiated from the respect paid to martyrs in Mart. Pol. 17.3. Later the term is given very limited significance. Thus the Council of Nicea in 787 allows proskýnēsis to icons but reserves true latreía for the divine nature. The Greek accusative reappears alongside the more common dative, but with no consistent difference of sense. 
In this video, John MacArthur answers live questions from his congregation in an evening church service setting reserved for that occasion. You will find these questions and answers helpful as you think, study, and read the Word of God.
What We Gained When We Lost Our Hymnals — Tim Challies writes, “The reality is that neither hymnals nor PowerPoint are entirely good or entirely bad. Both have benefits and both have drawbacks (which is what we should expect for any technology or innovation that exists in a sinful world). What is important is that we properly weigh and assess both in the light of our context and decide which will best serve our local church.”
On this day set aside to remember the death of Jesus on the cross, take time to consider the immense significance. Paul Washer points to the text of Scripture where Jesus Christ died for sinners and ascended to the high throne of God—something no man has ever done in the history of humanity.
Why We Call the Worst Friday ‘Good’ — David Mathis writes, “God wrote “good” on the single worst day in the history of the world. And there is not one day — or week, month, year, or lifetime of suffering — not one trauma, not one loss, not one pain, momentary or chronic, over which God cannot write “good” for you in Christ Jesus.”
Baptism. In order to provide a unified treatment of baptism from its biblical roots to the present day, it is discussed here in two parts: the biblical theology of baptism, and reflection upon it in historical and systematic theology.
1. Biblical theology
Nature of the rite. Baptism as a washing in water with a spiritual significance had its roots in the OT and pre-Christian Judaism. The law prescribed bathing of persons deemed to be ‘unclean’ (see e.g. Lv. 14:8–9 and Lv. 15). Aaron and his sons were ceremonially washed at their ordination to the priesthood (Lv. 8:5–6). On the Day of Atonement Aaron had to bathe himself on entering the most holy place, and again on leaving it (Lv. 16:3–4); the person who released the scapegoat in the desert similarly had to bathe himself, as also he who burned his clothes (Lv. 16:26–28). Such ritual acts of washing led to a symbolic application in prayer for spiritual cleansing (e.g. Ps. 51:1–2, 7–10).
Shortly prior to the Christian era a kind of baptismal movement took place in the Jordan valley, the most notable instance of which was the monastic community at Qumran (cf. Dead Sea Scrolls). Originating among priests who rejected the temple worship as corrupt, its members emphasized the maintenance of ritual purity through daily baths, accompanied by repentance. It is possible that the baptism administered by John the Baptist was a radical modification of the Qumran practice. He preached ‘a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’ (Mk. 1:4) in preparation for the coming of the Messiah and his baptism of Spirit and fire (Mt. 3:11–12). Since his baptism was a conversion-baptism it was once for all, in distinction from the repeated washings of the Qumran community. Whether Jewish proselyte-baptism arose early enough to influence primitive Christian baptism is uncertain; it formed part of the initiation of Gentiles into Judaism, namely through circumcision, baptism and offering of sacrifice; since women had only to be baptized and offer sacrifice their baptism naturally assumed greater significance.
The submission of Jesus to John’s baptism, intended to prepare sinners for the coming of the Messiah, is explicable only as a deliberate act of solidarity with sinful men and women. It was the initiation of the process whereby the saving sovereignty of God came among men, issuing in his ministry of kingdom-of-God word and deed, his death and resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit. It is not surprising therefore that the missionary commission, given by the risen Lord, included a command to baptize (Mt. 28:18–20). The expression (baptize) ‘in the name of’ in a Semitic context signifies baptism ‘with respect to’, but especially denotes the baptism’s basis and purpose, to enter into a relationship of belonging to God. Greek readers would understand the phrase very similarly, as meaning ‘appropriation to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit with the use of this name’ (W. Heitmüller, Im Namen Jesu, Göttingen, 1903, p. 121).
Meaning of the rite. In the apostolic teaching on baptism the rite primarily signifies union with Christ: ‘All of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ’ (Gal. 3:27). The language reflects the stripping off and putting on of clothes at baptism (cf. the use of the imagery in Col. 3:9–14); ‘putting on’ Christ denotes receiving Christ, being in Christ, and so becoming one with him. In the Pauline instruction, since Christ is the crucified and risen Lord, baptism signifies union with Christ in his redemptive acts; it includes the thought of being laid alongside him in his tomb and one with him in his resurrection (Rom. 6:1–5; Col. 2:11–12), and so participating in the new creation initiated by his resurrection (2 Cor. 5:17) in anticipation of the resurrection for the final kingdom (Col. 3:1–4). Baptism further signifies union with Christ in his body, the church, for to be ‘in Christ’ is to be one with all who are united to him (Gal. 3:26–28; 1 Cor. 12:12–13). And since union with Christ is inconceivable apart from the ‘Spirit of Christ’, baptism signifies renewal by the Holy Spirit (so already in Peter’s Pentecostal proclamation, Acts 2:38, and in Paul’s theology of the church, 1 Cor. 12:12–13). Baptism also signifies entry into the kingdom of God, for the salvation of Christ is none other than life under the saving sovereignty of God (cf. Mt. 12:28; Jn. 12:31–32; Rom. 14:17; Col. 1:13–14). Its connection with baptism is referred to in Jn. 3:5, where ‘birth from above’ (v. 3) is explained as birth ‘of water and the Spirit’. This is best understood as alluding to the baptism of repentance, to which Nicodemus had declined to submit, and the outpouring of the Spirit which should come with the kingdom of God. In the gospel these two features become united through the redemption of Christ; baptism in the name of Jesus in repentance and faith, and the recreative action of the Spirit and entrance into the kingdom of God thus become one complex event. Finally baptism signifies life in obedience to the rule of God, as the main sentence in Rom. 6:4 indicates: ‘We were … buried with him through baptism into death … in order that … we too may live a new life.’ This is briefly illustrated in Col. 3:1–17 and worked out in detail in the catechetical instruction of the NT.
All this presupposes a fundamental assumption of the apostolic proclamation, that baptism is an embodiment of the gospel and of man’s response to it (1 Pet. 3:21 illustrates it perfectly). Most Christians, however, have been baptized in infancy; how does their baptism relate to the apostolic exposition of baptism? The traditional belief that it applies without modification is questioned by many sacramental theologians. A theology of infant baptism will emphasize the initiatory function of the rite within the community of the Spirit, having respect both to the accomplished redemption of Christ and the goal of appropriation of that redemption by faith and consecration to the service of Christ. Whatever the age of the baptized, baptism signifies grace and call for lifelong growth in Christ with a view to the resurrection at the last day. 
A Pro-Life Argument that Needs to Die — Jordan Standridge writes, “What the Bible never implies is that murder becomes more sinful when you kill a smarter person over one that is unlearned. Murdering a good looking person over one that might be considered ugly is not a greater travesty in God’s eyes. And murdering a doctor above a garbage truck driver should not be seen as a greater tragedy. The survival of the fittest is the most selfish and grossest concept that man has ever come up with. And does not belong in our pro-life arguments.”