DBG Spotlight (7-27-16)

DBG Spotlight (7-27-16)

In the latest Look at the Book video, John Piper covers Romans 15:8-9 asking and answering the question – “Why did Jesus come into the world?”

Are You a Universal Church-er or a Local Church-er? – Jonathan Leeman makes the case that balance is needed when talking about the church.  Too heavy on the universal side will be unbalanced and unhealthy, but to never reference the universal church is likewise problematic.

Amazon announced Monday it has partnered with the British government on a pilot program for its automated drone deliver… – Like it our not, technology is advancing and changes will eventually fly right over your head – literally.

Paul Washer Gives Young Men Counsel About Life – “You live in a culture that wants to keep you as a boy until you’re 35.”

3 Handy Shortcuts to Generate a Passage List – If you’re looking for helpful shortcuts in Logos Bible Software, you can often find them on the Logos site.

(Perhaps) The Most Insightful Interview You’ll Read This Election Year – Justin Taylor pointed to this interview with J.D. Vance, a graduate of Yale Law School graduate who grew up in dysfunctional Appalachian poverty and is the author of the new book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis as a the most encouraging interview of this election season.

Abraham’s Great Act of Faith – R.C. Sproul writes, “Apart from Christ’s obedient sacrifice, probably the greatest act of faith in fear and trembling recorded in all of Scripture is the obedient response of Abraham when God commanded him to sacrifice his son Isaac.”

What’s So Bad About Christian Radio? [HT: Mike Leake] – “Contemporary Christian radio does not exist to teach. It exists to entertain with Christian-themed content.”


Dead Men in a Golden Box Is Religion without Hope

Dead Men in a Golden Box Is Religion without Hope

This past week, I traveled through Europe on a Reformation tour with Ligonier ministries on the Rhine River. Through the tour, we visited several different key locations from church history – all centered on the Reformation. As we departed from each city, it was apparent that there remains a need for the Reformation to continue in our present day. Likewise there was the constant reminder of what religion without hope looks like in places and contexts far from home.

In the city of Cologne, Germany stands a massive cathedral that transcends over 500 feet upward above the city. Visitors come from all around the world to this historic landmark owned and operated by the Roman Catholic Church. The architecture is overwhelming and as you enter the lofty cathedral, it’s apparent that many people are on a mission to see the celebrated treasure in the heart of the cathedral.

As you walk forward, you can’t help but notice the large golden chest positioned in the front and center of the cathedral. After navigating through the crowd, you can finally move forward enough to get a glimpse of the box more closely. According to the Roman Catholic Church, the golden chest contains the bones of the “three wise men” who came to visit Jesus. They officially call it The Shrine of the Three Kings.  Apparently, they were brought back years ago and laid to rest in the cathedral.  Songs and skits have been written about these mysterious men.  They are often put on display in nativity scenes.  These men bring to mind specific images of three men riding on the backs of camels to find baby Jesus as they were led by the star.  Who knew they were buried in Cologne?

My first assessment was that this is nothing more than a good campus fundraiser. It draws crowds on average of 20,000 people per day.  And upon second thought, it’s much worse. People are traveling to Cologne to see a golden box that contains the bones of three men who are said to be the magi who visited the Christ child. Although the cathedral contains many relics and images of Mary, the cathedral has no gospel. It’s a beautiful building that points high into the European sky, but the hope of the gospel is lost inside this massive structure. There is a golden box with dead men inside, but no Christ. Cologne stands in need of the gospel of Jesus.

As I stood in the midst of this majestic cathedral, I watched people make their journey into the building.  They dropped their money into the box and lit a candle as they worshipped.  I looked onward to see what they were looking to, but the only visible thing that I could see were relics, images, carvings, and statues of saints – especially exalting Mary.  At the forefront was the centerpiece of this cathedral – the golden box.  John Owen once said:

Trying to be holy from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world. [1]

The gospel is good news because it presents hope to the hopeless. Far above shallow satisfaction provided by relics and golden boxes, the gospel of Christ actually saves sinners. While I don’t believe for a minute that the bones in the golden box are the actual wise men who visited Jesus (not to mention that far more than three men came to visit Jesus), but let’s suppose for a minute that the whole thing is valid. Now what? Does it change the scenario at all? Can a transcendent and historic cathedral with a golden box give hope to guilty sinners? The clear answer is – no.

We need a religion that provides true hope. We need something more than dead men in a box. That’s why we preach Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected. By extreme contrast, we can travel across the map to a different part of the world where we find an empty tomb with no bones. The very tomb of Christ contains no body. Jesus was raised from the dead after being put to death for guilty sinners. Therein is hope. In this message we find true contentment and genuine satisfaction. Paul said to the church at Corinth these words:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Examine your religion and make sure that you’re not building your eternal hope on a faulty foundation. Cling to Jesus Christ alone and find true hope and satisfaction. Make no mistake on such eternal matters, we need a religion that actually saves. We need a religion of hope.  J.C. Ryle writes, “Our hearts are weak. Our sins are many. We need a Redeemer who is able to save completely, and set us free from the wrath to come. We have such a Redeemer in Jesus Christ. He is ‘Mighty God’ (Isaiah 9:6).” [2]

Do you have true hope today?

  1. John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, (Scotland: Christian Focus, 1996), 23.
  2. J. C. Ryle, Mark, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 2.

Beware of False Religion

Beware of False Religion

Yesterday I preached from Mark 14:51-65 in our series through the Gospel of Mark.  The title of my sermon was, “Don’t Be Fooled by False Religion.”  As Jesus was being led to the midnight trial, it was apparent – they didn’t know Him.  As Jesus stood before them, it became even more apparent – they despised and hated Jesus.  They had no idea that He was their only hope as the God-man.

Just as history proves to be true, false religion in the hearts of these Jews had taken them to places they would never have imagined.  In the 1500s, the Roman Catholic Church burned nearly 300 Puritans at the stake for rejecting specific doctrines and working to organize the printing of the Bible in the common man’s language.  What fueled the burning of these protestants?  It was the appetite of false religion.  The same depraved and bloodthirsty appetite fueled Hitler and Osama bin Laden.

They Falsely Accused Jesus

The Jews organized specific witnesses to testify against Jesus in His public trial.  Keep in mind, this was an organized effort behind the scenes to condemn Jesus because such trials were not held in the middle of the night nor were they held on a feast day (or the day prior to a feast day).  This was a Kangaroo court orchestrated by the religious leaders of Israel.  Even with their organized plan, they still could not find witnesses to agree.  No fault could be found against Jesus.

They Publicly Questioned Jesus

After observing their failures, the high priest (Caiaphas), stood to his feet and questioned Jesus.  He asked, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you” (Mark 14:60)?  Jesus refused to answer His critics and He refused to answer the high priest.  In conjunction with Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus remained silent.

Isaiah 53:7 – He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

As his desperation increased, Caiaphas specifically questioned Jesus by asking, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed” (Mark 14:61)?  Suddenly, Jesus spoke with precision.  Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62).  Several key things must be noted:

  1.  Jesus had never publicly announced the fact that He was the Christ – the Messiah – with such precision until this point.  Before, the statements were reserved for the inner circle of His disciples.  Now, He openly declares Himself to be God in human flesh before His accusers.
  2. Jesus’ statement identified Him as the I AM of Exodus when YHWH spoke to Moses from the burning bush.
  3. Jesus’ words were saturated with theological truth.
  • Christ = Anointed One of God.
  • Son of the Blessed (God) = One with the Father – the Second Person of the Godhead Trinity.
  • Son of Man = The One who receives glory through suffering. This title identifies Him with Daniel’s prophecy.
  • Seated at the Right Hand = Place of power and sovereignty – privilege and honor.  Place of judgment.
  • Coming in the Clouds of Heaven = The One who will return to judge the world.

They Unanimously Condemned Jesus

Immediately the high priest tore his garments in protest and called for a conviction against Jesus.  The charge was blasphemy.  The punishment was worthy of death!

Leviticus 24:16 – Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

The vote was unanimous.  Jesus was sentenced to die as a blasphemer!  These depraved sinners had ears, but could not hear.  They had eyes, but could not see.  They were charging Jesus was the high crime of blasphemy, but little did they know they were guilty of blasphemy in their accusations against Jesus.  They were sentencing very God of very God to die.

Immediately, the crowd turned on Jesus.  They spit upon His face.  They struck Him.  They blindfolded Him, struck His face, and then asked Him to prophecy.  As Jesus was taking steps toward the cross, He was now putting His lips to the cup of God’s wrath.  He would soon drink the cup to the last drop.  All of this the Jews did as they were fueled by false religion.

Only one religion from human history offers true hope.  It’s the religion that takes the name of Christ – Christianity.

Consider the words of Phillip Bliss, from his famous hymn titled Man of Sorrows:

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

DBG Weekend Spotlight (7-22-16)

DBG Weekend Spotlight (7-22-16)

In the 2014 G3 Conference, Voddie Baucham preached on the subject, “Faithful Men Disciple and Send Faithful Men” from 2 Timothy 2.  You will enjoy this needful message.  We also would like to invite you to the 2017 G3 Conference – details and reservations.

Introducing the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, Large Print – If you like to take notes in your Bible, now you have enough space in the new ESV journaling Bible.

Why Does Sola Scriptura Still Matter? – John MacArthur writes, “The principle of sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) was the Reformers’ way of acknowledging that the unstoppable power behind the explosive advance of religious reform was the Spirit-empowered Word of God.”

Should Your Church Build a Bigger Building? – Jonathan Leeman answers a question that was submitted to 9Marks, and if you’re struggling with what direction to move as you stand at the crossroads of multi-site vs. larger building, you need to read his answer.

No, #NeverTrump is not over… at least it shouldn’t be. – Denny Burk explains why the #NeverTrump movement is not over.

What Is Patience? – R.C. Sproul explains, “Waiting for God is at the heart of living by faith. The Christian does not share the cynical skepticism dramatized by the theatrical production “Waiting for Godot.” The end of Christian hope is never shame or embarrassment, because we have a hope that is a sure anchor for our souls.”

Theology Word of the WeekGospel

GospelThe NT use of Gk. euangelion, ‘joyful tidings’, ‘good news’, has an OT background in Is. 40–66, where the lxx verb euangelizomai, ‘bring good news’, is used of the declaration of Jerusalem’s deliverance from bondage (Is. 40:9; 52:7) and also of a wider announcement of liberation for the oppressed (Is. 61:1, 2). This last passage provided the text of Jesus’ inaugural preaching at Nazareth: he gave notice that it had been fulfilled as he spoke (Lk. 4:17–21). Jesus’ message was otherwise described as the gospel of the kingdom of God. Its contents are set out in his parables, where the Father’s loving bestowal of mercy and free forgiveness on the undeserving and the outcasts is presented with vividness and warmth.

With Jesus’ death and resurrection a new phase of the gospel begins. The preacher becomes the preached one: his followers, whom he commissioned to preach the gospel after his departure, proclaimed him as the one in whom the Father’s pardoning grace had drawn near. ‘The gospel of God … concerning his Son’ (Rom. 1:1–3) tells how, in the coming and redemptive work of Christ, God has fulfilled his ancient promise of blessing for all nations. 

For the first generation after Christ’s ascension the gospel was exclusively a spoken message; the earliest written record of the gospel appeared in the 60s.

Only one saving message is attested by the NT. The ‘gospel to the circumcision’ preached by Peter and his colleagues did not differ in content from the ‘gospel to the uncircumcised’ entrusted to Paul (Gal. 2:7), though the form of presentation might vary according to the audience. Paul’s testimony is, ‘Whether therefore it was I or they [Peter and his colleagues], so we preach, and so you believed’ (1 Cor. 15:11).

The basic elements in the message were these: 1. the prophecies have been fulfilled and the new age inaugurated by the coming of Christ; 2. he was born into the family of David; 3. he died according to the Scriptures, to deliver his people from this evil age; 4. he was buried, and raised again the third day, according to the Scriptures; 5. he is exalted at God’s right hand as Son of God, Lord of living and dead; 6. he will come again to judge the world and consummate his saving work. [1]

  1. Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 279.

Stewardship . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

Stewardship . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, worship, evangelism, and service to the Lord. What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray? Essentially, these disciplines should lead us to godliness and a life that reflects the glory of God.  In this chapter today, we look at the subject of stewardship.  As Don Whitney makes clear, both time and money are to be spent for God’s glory.

The Disciplined Use Of Time

In this section, Don Whitney outlines ten biblical reasons to use time wisely.

  1. Use Time Wisely “Because the Days Are Evil”
  2. Wise Use of Time Is the Preparation for Eternity
  3. Time Is Short
  4. Time Is Passing
  5. Time Remaining Is Uncertain
  6. Time Lost Cannot Be Regained
  7. You Are Accountable to God for Your Time
  8. Time IS So Easily Lost
  9. We Value Time at Death
  10. Time’s Value in Eternity

Don Whitney writes, “Godliness is the result of a biblically disciplined spiritual life.  But at the heart of a disciplined spiritual life is the disciplined use of time” (159).  How often do we waste our time and how soon will we all regret it?  Consider the fact that Jesus prayed in John 17:4 confidently that He had kept the Father’s will and accomplished the work given to Him.  Can we pray with such confidence?  What hinders us from doing the Father’s will and glorifying Him in all of life and worship?

As Don Whitney makes clear, if time were like pebbles beside the road, it wouldn’t be very valuable, but since it’s scarce, it becomes like diamonds or gold and the value greatly increases.  We must remember this as we seek to make better use of our time, for it will soon be gone.  Whitney quotes the famous infidel Voltaire who once said to his doctor, “I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six-months life.”  What lessons can we learn from men like Voltaire who was trying so passionately to cling to life?

The Disciplined Use Of Money

Don Whitney writes, “The Bible relates not only the use of time to our spiritual condition, but also our use of money” (169).  In a similar manner, he then outlines ten reasons for the biblical use of money.

  1. God Owns Everything You Own
  2. Giving Is an Act of Worship
  3. Giving Reflects Faith in God’s Provision
  4. Giving Should Be Sacrificial and Generous
  5. Giving Reflects Spiritual Trustworthiness
  6. Giving—Love, Not Legalism
  7. Give Willingly, Thankfully, and Cheerfully
  8. Giving—an Appropriate Response to Real Needs
  9. Giving Should Be Planned and Systematic
  10. Generous Giving Results in Bountiful Blessings

According to Whitney, “A surprisingly large amount of Scripture speaks to the use of wealth and possessions” (169).  He makes it clear that if we are going to grow in godliness, we must learn the biblical principles of giving.  If we are mere managers (stewards) of all that we possess, that should change our perspective on our use of wealth.  We can’t take our wealth, possessions, and land with us when we leave this world.  Someone else will one day own everything we possess in this life.

Therefore, it’s essential for us to look at our possessions through a proper and balanced lens.  Don Whitney writes, “Regardless of your interpretation of these passages, regardless of how much God rewards you here for your giving and how much in heaven, the bottom lie is clear:  God will bless you bountifully if you give generously” (186).

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

Questions to Consider:

  1. Are you prepared for the end of time?
  2. Are you using your time as God would have you use it?
  3. Are you willing to accept God’s principles for giving?
  4. Are you giving like you mean it?

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 9 and look at the subject of fasting. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.

DBG Spotlight (7-20-16)

DBG Spotlight (7-20-16)

John MacArthur expains what to look for in a pastor.  This is an important subject for any church searching for a pastor.

My Vision for the Future of CBMW – Denny Burk explians his decision that led to accepting a new position as the president of CBMW.

The Necessity of Divine Sovereignty – Justin Feland writes, “Within church history, the doctrine of God’s sovereignty represents a continental divide between denominations and theologians. Indeed, few Christians have gone untouched by this discussion in one way or another.”

Church History 101 – Tim Challies explains why church history is important and how you can know more about what God has done in the history of His people.

The Legacy of One-Point Calvinism and Casual Churchianty – John Piper writes, I grew up among a few million “one-point Calvinists” who misunderstood their one point: ‘once saved, always saved.'”

LGBT history lessons planned for California students – WORLD is reporting a serious issue that everyone in the Christian church must pay attention to.