DBG Weekend Spotlight (4-28-17)

DBG Weekend Spotlight (4-28-17)

In this sermon, R. C. Sproul points to our calling to love the Lord with all of our mind.  To love God with everything but the mind is not to love God fully.

$5 Friday: Suffering, Predestination, & the Sovereignty of God — As always, Ligonier is offering some good books on Friday for just $5.

Theological Primer: The 144,000 — Kevin DeYoung looks at the controversial number that’s so popular among evangelicals and at least one popular cult group.

What Is Congregational Singing, and Why Is It So Important? — Is smaller better?  Listen to Mark Dever’s explanation.

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.

Hendrickson Publishing Acquisition of Rose Publishing — “Will Rose eventually be relocated to the east coast? Guess we’ll have to stay tuned.”

Is John Piper Happy? — “The promise of future joy penetrates back into the present and sustains us with joy now in the midst of sorrow.”

Theology Word of the Week: Struggle / Fight

ἀγωνίζομαι impf. ἠγωνιζόμην; fut. ἀγωνίσομαι (Just., D. 65, 2) and ἀγωνιοῦμαι (68, 3); 1 aor. ἠγωνισάμην; pf. ἠγώνισμαι (Eur., Hdt.+).

of a(n athletic) contest, lit. and fig. engage in a contest πᾶς ὁ ἀγωνιζόμενος 1 Cor 9:25 (AEhrhardt, ZNW 48, ’57, 101–10); cp. 2 Cl 7:1ff.

gener. to fight, struggle

lit., w. weapons (Polyb. 1, 45, 9; Plut., Marcell. 303 [10, 4]; 2 Macc 8:16) ἠγωνίζοντο ἄν, ἵνα μὴ παραδοθῶ J 18:36.

fig. of any struggle (περὶ τῆς ἀληθείας Orig., C. Cels. 1, 62, 63) κοπιῶ ἀγωνιζόμενος I labor, striving Col 1:29; cp. 1 Ti 4:10. Of wrestling in prayer (ἀ. δὲ διὰ τῶν πρὸς θεὸν εὐχῶν ὑπὲρ τῶν δικαίως στρατευομένων Orig., C. Cels. 8, 73, 24) ἀ. ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν Col 4:12 (ἀ. ὑπέρ τινος: Diod S 13, 14, 3; SIG 317, 20; 386, 19; 409, 33; Jos., Ant. 13, 193). ἀ. ἀγῶνα (s. ἀγών 2) 1 Ti 6:12; 2 Ti 4:7 (JBarton, Biblica 40, ’59, 878–84). W. inf. foll. (Thu. 8, 89, 4 ἠγωνίζετο εἷς ἕκαστος αὐτὸς πρῶτος προστάτης τοῦ δήμου γενέσθαι; Diod S 31, 19, 8 ὥστε ὁ πατὴρ ἐξίστασθαι τῆς ὅλης ἀρχῆς ἠγωνίζετο τῷ παιδί; PLond 1338.—ἀγ. simply=‘take pains, exert oneself’: Just., D. 38, 2; 65, 2 al.; Alex. Aphr., Fat. 31, II 2 p. 203, 9; Sb 6997, 9 [III b.c.]) ἀγωνίζεσθε εἰσελθεῖν strain every nerve to enter Lk 13:24; cp. 1 Cl 35:4; B 4:11.—DELG s.v. ἄγω. M-M. TW. [1]

  1. William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 17.
3 Questions to Ask Yourself about Modern Prophecy

3 Questions to Ask Yourself about Modern Prophecy

Is the gift of prophecy given to the church in our present day?  Was the gift of prophecy reserved for the apostolic era of church history?  What must we say about the numerous accounts of modern-day prophecies that people continue to share.  Some are formally given in a corporate worship gatherings and some happen in the break room at work.  According to B.B. Warfield, the age of the miraculous gifts has passed.  He writes:

The theologians of the post-Reformation era, a very clear-headed body of men, taught with great distinctness that the charismata ceased with the Apostolic age. [1]

Several years ago, Beth Moore told a story about how God often speaks to her in visions.  According to Moore, God placed this picture in her head while she was sitting out on her back porch.  She stated that it was as if she was raised up and could see the world as Jesus does.  Does God continue to speak to people by giving prophecies for them to share with the church?  What important questions must be considered?

Is the Gift of Modern Prophecy Compatible with Sola Scriptura?

At the heart of the Reformation was the principle of sola Scriptura.  The Reformers lived and died upon the fact that the Word of God was all that was necessary to communicate the binding and necessary elements of the faith.  They rejected the claims of the Roman Catholic Church’s authority and elevated the necessity of Scripture as the sole basis of truth.  Anything else was a counterfeit and was rejected.  This struck at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church and became a sharp sword that would be used on the battlefield of the Protestant Reformation.

Today, we have cults who knock on our doors and try to slide pamphlets and booklets over the top of sacred Scripture.  In other words, if a cult group comes to your door, they will often appear to have a high regard for God’s Word, but not far into the conversation they will start to point you in the direction of some other literature written by their cult group’s organization.  This is an ancient gimmick, one employed by Satan himself in the Garden of Eden as he cast shadows upon God’s Word asking Eve—”Did God really say” (Gen. 3:1)?

Within the charismatic movement, or as some choose to be labeled—the continuationist movement, the gift of prophecy is embraced as an ongoing normative gift given to the church of Jesus Christ.  Does the gift of prophecy square with the teachings of sola Scriptura?  As the Roman Catholic Church fought for control of God’s Word in church history, is the modern charismatic movement seeking to capture the greater stake in who actually has more of God’s revelation?  In fact, you could expect that Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen would both reject any notion of sola Scriptura, but today we find many Reformed Christians who claim to be continuationists.  Therefore, does a continuationist model invalidate the central principle of the Reformation?

As a cessationist, I do not find true theological consistency between the continuationist position and historic position of the Reformers.  If God’s Word is to be accompanied by modern-day revelations that are communicated by modern-day prophets—sola Scriptura is replaced with a multiplicity of words from God.  No longer is God’s Word sufficient because it comes in a plurality of ways—written and verbal.

Is God’s Word Authoritative and Less Authoritative?

When an ancient herald would be commissioned out into a town to deliver the message of the king, he would be received with honor and respect.  In fact, when the message of the herald was delivered to the people, the message was embraced with the same authority as if the king himself had been standing there to deliver the message.  When we read the Bible, we read the authoritative Word of God.  The authority of God’s Word is clearly articulated by Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-4:5.  Peter picks up this same tone as he writes:

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Wayne Grudem, a gifted scholar who holds to the continuationist positions writes:

Furthermore, aside from the question of current practice or belief, I have argued extensively elsewhere that ordinary congregational prophecy in New Testament churches did not have the authority of Scripture.  It was not spoken in words that were the very words of God, but rather in merely human words. And because it has this lesser authority, there is no reason to think that it will not continue in the church until Christ returns. It does not threaten or compete with Scripture in authority but is subject to Scripture, as well as to the mature judgment of the congregation. [2]

When we read the Bible, are we led to believe that what Paul said to the church at Corinth regarding church discipline is less authoritative than what Jesus said in Matthew 18?  Is what Paul said about justification by faith alone in Christ alone in Ephesians less authoritative than what James said about faith and works?  The point is clear—all of God’s Word is authoritative.  Therefore, the position that suggests that verbal prophecies are less binding than what we find in Scripture seems to contain logical and theological fallacies.  Why would God communicate lesser authoritative words to modern prophets than He did to ancient prophets?

Tom Schreiner provides a helpful consideration as he writes:

The burden of proof is on those who say prophecy in the NT is of a different nature than prophecy in the OT. Prophets in the OT were only considered prophets of God if they were infallible (Deut. 18:15-22), and the same is almost certainly true in the NT. [3]

It seems abundantly clear that God’s Word is the final and sure authoritative revelation given to us by the Holy Spirit.  It can be validated, trusted, followed, and remains our sole source of divine truth.

Is God’s Word Inerrant and Errant?

In 2011, the entire world was put on notice that the world was coming to an abrupt end.  At least, that was the message from Harold Camping and his dedicated followers—many of whom sold their homes and spent their “final days” warning the world.  In 2007, Pat Robertson delivered a message of doom by saying, “The Lord didn’t say nuclear but I do believe it will be something like that, that it will be a mass-killing, possibly millions of people, major cities injured.  There will be some very serious terrorist attacks.  The evil people will come after this country and there’s a possibility not a possibility, a definite certainty that chaos is going to rule.”  Still today, a man named Horacio Villegas is predicting the end of the world, by a nuclear event, will take place on May 13th, 2017.

Do any of these men speak for God?  How do we know if a self-proclaimed prophet is speaking for God?  The verification is based on the outcome of their prophecy.  In fact, that is the only basis of verification.  While some people within the charismatic movement dismiss people as Harold Camping and other radicals as false prophets, some people still hold to the idea that true modern prophets can make errant prophecies by accident.  All prophets are known by their fruit.  Therefore, the idea of an errant prophet who actually speaks for God is beyond the realm of what it means to be a true prophet of God.

Long before the Word of God was complete, God instituted a means to protect His Word from corruption.  According to Deuteronomy 18:20-22, if anyone came speaking for God and did not speak the truth, they were to be executed.  In short, the death penalty was the punishment for all false prophets.  This was God’s way of protecting His Word.  According to Ezekiel 12:25, everything the LORD speaks actually comes to pass.

In the New Testament, we don’t have a single place where a prophet erred.  Some accuse Agabus of error, but if you read Paul’s explanation of his arrest in Acts 28:17, you will see that he never accused Agabus of any error whatsoever.  In fact, it seems that he was connecting the dots to what had been prophesied by Agabus.  All throughout the New Testament, the message of the prophets was to be received as truth.  The idea of an errant prophet delivering an errant word doesn’t seem to align itself with the overall picture of God’s inerrant Word (Ez. 12:25; 2 Tim. 3:16-4:5).

As we consider the Word of God and the work of the prophets, it’s apparent that their work has been completed and their office is no longer a gift to the church.  Since the completed canon is now on hand and properly assembled—all such prophetic statements are no longer necessary.

While I have friends who hold to the continuationist position, I simply cannot validate the position with Scripture.  I recognize that not everyone who holds to the position of a continuationist model should be immediately dismissed as a follower of Benny Hinn as well.  Anything that challenges the sufficiency of Scripture by adding to it or providing additional information is, in my opinion, a dangerous thing.  A robust cessationist position regarding prophecy is not to diminish the work and value of the Holy Spirit.  Remember, John Calvin was known as “the theologian of the Holy Spirit.”

  1. Benjamin B. Warfield, Counterfeit Miracles (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1918), 6.
  2. Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 1039–1040.
  3. Thomas Schreiner, “Why I Am a Cessationist” (Published online: The Gospel Coalition, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-i-am-a-cessationist), [accessed: 4-25-17].
DBG Spotlight (4-26-17)

DBG Spotlight (4-26-17)

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.”

Timeline of Luther’s Life — This is a brief and helpful overview of Luther’s life.

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.”

Profanity and politics — The trend is increasing, but what is the root cause?

INC Debate Review, P&P Controversy — James White reviews the recent debate on the Trinity and more.

Google tweaks Search to help combat ‘fake news’ — As you know, the “fake news” saga continues to alter what we receive as truth, so Google responds.

Amber Mobility to launch self-driving service in the Netherlands by 2018 — The future of technology and travel’s inevitable intersection is getting closer to a reality.

Your Child Should Learn about Human Sexuality before That Special Science Class

Your Child Should Learn about Human Sexuality before That Special Science Class

God has designed sex and human reproduction for His glory.  When the marriage bed is held in honor, it brings glory to God.  However, from the very beginning the devil has attacked marriage, the family, and human sexuality.  Today’s sexual politics are fueled by the sexual revolution that comes in the wake of a long feminist movement that has changed the way we as Americans (and the world) views sex.  Therefore, it’s essential for your child to learn about sex and human reproduction from a proper lens.  That means, your child needs to learn these important lessons before arriving in that special science class.

Teaching Human Sexuality at Home

God has designed a classroom for sex education and it’s the home (Deut. 6; Prov. 6; Gen. 1-3).  Parents should properly instruct their children on these important subjects long before they arrive in a classroom at the local school.  Those who homeschool have a distinct advantage here because there will never be a deviation in the worldview that’s being taught.  Those families who have their children in the public school settings will need to work overtime to make sure that a proper worldview on human sexuality is being taught and reinforced in the home—from a biblical foundation.

In 2016, California became the first state to add the LGBT agenda into the public school curriculum. After the new law passed and the new framework was adopted into the school system, it was highly praised by the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson who called it “a big win.”  He stated the following:

This document will improve the teaching and learning of history and social science. It will give our students access to the latest historical research and help them learn about the diversity of our state and the contributions of people and groups who may not have received the appropriate recognition in the past. [1]

This change of public school teaching policy and curriculum revision means that children as early as eight years of age will be taught that some families have two moms or two dads. In the fourth grade, students will learn about Harvey Milk, “a New Yorker who was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 as California’s first openly gay public official.” In the new framework of the California public schools, Chapter 5, “People Who Make a Difference,” states:

In Standard 2.1, students develop a beginning sense of history through the study of the family, a topic that is understandable and interesting to them…Through studying the stories of a very diverse collection of families, such as immigrant families, families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender parents and their children, families of color, step- and blended families, families headed by single parents, extended families…families with disabled members, families from different religious traditions, and adoptive families, students can both locate themselves and their own families in history and learn about the lives and historical struggles of their peers. In developing these activities, teachers should not assume any particular family structure and ask questions in a way that will easily include children from diverse family backgrounds. They need be sensitive to family diversity and privacy, and to protect the wishes of students and parents who prefer not to participate. [2]

While the California public school system recognizes the fact that second grade students have a worldview that’s being shaped, it’s their agenda to shape their worldview to paint a normal understanding of LGBT marriage—on the same level as an adoptive family structure. You can be sure that all other states will follow in the footsteps of California in their public school curriculum policies in the near future.

As I was reviewing the current sex education policies in my own hometown recently, I discovered that they begin introducing the subject of homosexuality and bisexual practices as early as the 5th grade and then reinforce it in the following years.  The ancient agenda of the devil is to normalize sin and then once the society has bought the lie, the agenda increases with rapid intensity.  That happened with abortion, divorce, and now it’s happening with perversions and social experiments with human sexuality.  Parents must be faithfully teaching their children at home.

Teaching Human Sexuality in the Church

If the full counsel of God is being taught in the local church, human sexuality and reproduction will be expounded in the preaching.  From the very beginning of the Scriptures, we find the command of God to Adam and Eve to, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28).  If the pastor is not preaching through an allegorical interpretative lens, when he preaches through Song of Solomon, he will need to explain the botanical metaphor of the lily of the valley in Song of Solomon 2:1—and we can be sure that it’s not a reference to Jesus’ love for the church.

All through the Bible, we see references to sexual immorality, sexual sin, and perversion of God’s design for human sexuality (1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10; 2 Cor. 12:21; Eph. 5:3; Gal. 5:19; Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9; Matt. 5:28; Mark 7:22; 1 Thess. 4:3-5; 1 Cor. 6:13-20; Heb. 11:31; Prov. 6:20-35; Lev. 19:29; Judges 16:1; and many more).  How many times have you heard teachers skirt around the seventh commandment when teaching children about adultery?  The point is, teaching and preaching on human sexuality in the presence of children can be intimidating for a pastor, but it’s the calling of a faithful pastor to preach the truth of God’s Word.

What better place to hear about human sexuality and God’s design for reproduction than from an open Bible in the pulpit of the local church?  The moment that the science classroom transcends the pulpit, the devil wins another battle in this war on human sexuality.  The worldview of the science classroom will be different than the worldview of the pulpit of the local church—or at least it should be.

Make sure you’re actively and faithfully developing your child’s biblical worldview in the home on the subject of human sexuality.

Make sure you have your family in a faithful Bible preaching church where the subject of human sexuality will be faithfully preached on a regular basis from God’s sufficient Word.

  1. “California’s students will soon learn more LGBT history in schools” of the Los Angles Times, published on July 14<span style=”font-size: 11.6667px;”>th</span>, 2016.
  2. See the 2016 History-Social Science Framework of the State Board of Education of California adopted on July 14, 2016—Chapter 5, “People Who Make a Difference.” – http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/cf/sbedrafthssfw.asp [accessed 4-13-17].
The Great Command for the Husband

The Great Command for the Husband

Yesterday I had the privilege to preach on the role and responsibility of the husband in the marriage relationship from Ephesians 5:25.  As we continue to walk through Ephesians together as a church, we looked at the wife in our last sermon in our series and yesterday’s focus was the husband.  This particular verse, although very popular in the heated debate of marriage, is one of terrifying responsibility.  It could be titled—”The Great Command.”

The Great Command

Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

In verse 25, we see Paul issue a firm and terrifying command to the husbands in the church at Ephesus.  The word “love” is a present imperative, meaning that this is not an idea that’s up for debate, discussion, or vote.  It’s commanded that all husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.  A few things must be noted grammatically.

  1. In this one verse, we see marriage language.  It points to husbands and wives.
  2. We also see gender specific nouns being used, pointing to the complimentary roles of men and women—husbands and wives.
  3. It must also be noted that Jesus loved the church in Ephesus far differently than He loved the city of Ephesus.  In that same way husbands are called to love their wives.

From the very beginning, the devil has attacked marriage and the institution of family.  That has been one of the most common attacks in the arsenal of the devil.  From the beginning, the devil cast a shadow of doubt on the Word of God, and he thereby divided the first marriage and brought great ruin into the world with misery and death.  From that one sin, the devil successfully attacked the family.  Things have not changed today.

Today, we see divorce culture in the church at basically the same rate as it is outside of the church.  Covenants no longer mean anything to a secular culture.  That’s why the word of man has been diminished to the point that we are forced to sign a pile of papers to borrow any money from a bank.  What a person promises to do no longer is upheld to a level of believability.

The marriage language of Ephesians 5:25 rules out recreational dating, polygamy, and homosexuality.  God’s plan from the beginning of time has been marriage and family.  No matter what our secular culture tries to say or how the words “marriage” and “family” are redefined, God’s dictionary has not changed.  This new wave of family life and marriage law in America brought on by the flamboyant sexual revolution in the wake of the feminist movement from the 1960s has radically affected the institution of family in America in a short number of years.

Add to this the perpetual adolescence trends with delayed parenthood and the society as a whole is starting to feel the pains of change. Only time will tell the whole story, but such radical shifts in the way family operates and functions in a culture will bring about many other changes—and many of those changes will not be positive.

The husband is called to “love” his wife.  This was a backward command to the culture of Ephesus—a city wholly given over to pagan prostitution and false god worship.  To be committed in a very intentional love – one of self-sacrifice and covenant keeping love – was antithetical to the culture of Ephesus.  That’s why Paul wanted the church to be reminded of their responsibility to uphold Christian doctrine through their marriages.

The love mentioned here by Paul is “ἀγαπάω” — to have a warm regard for and interest in another, cherish, have affection for, love and it also means… to practice/express love, prove one’s love. [1]  In other words, this type of love was far different than the sexual love of the Greek culture or the brotherly love of the Greeks.  It was a love based on an intentionality to love rather than feelings or sexual appetite.  To think that this is commanded of all husbands – to love our wives as Christ loved the church – is a sobering thing.

I really appreciate Ray Ortlund Jr and his definition of husband in his commentary on Proverbs. He writes:

 What does the word “husband” mean? We have the related English word “husbandry,” that is, cultivation. And when the word “husband” is used as a verb, it means to cultivate. If you are a husband, here is your job: to cultivate and nurture your wife. Your lifetime impact on your wife should be that her life opens up more and more, and that she is enabled to become all that God wants her to be…Her children rise up, they stand up, and they speak respectfully to their mom. They tell her why they esteem her, whey they admire her as a woman of God. Where did the kids learn that? From dad: “…he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28)…A husband cultivates his wife by setting a high tone of praise in their home. No putdowns. No fault-finding. No insults. Not even neutral silence. But rather bright, positive, life=giving praise. [2]

The Great Example

Ephesians 5:25b – …as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

When we consider what’s stated next, it’s quite sobering. It’s like standing on the side of the Grand Canyon and being asked to jump across it. It’s like standing on the beach and being asked to swim across it. It’s like standing at the base of Mt. Everest and being asked to climb to the summit.  It’s extremely intimidating.  However, it’s not only intimidating, it’s reassuring at the same time.

From the beginning, we know that we are incapable of fulfilling the “marriage law” of love.  However, we also know that our dependence is on God’s ability to give us strength, wisdom, and a cultivating love for our wives in such a way that honors Him.  We ask for Him to strengthen us in this great task and then look to Christ as our great example.  Just as we come to the sobering and humbling knowledge that we are incapable of living the Christian life on our own, we likewise come to the reality that we are incapable of loving our brides in the same way as Christ loved the church—His bride.

It is our duty to exemplify the gospel through marriage and family.  Headship for men is important, but it cannot be detached from a self-sacrificing, covenant keeping love.  We have different roles as husbands and wives, but each role compliments the other in such a way that honors God’s intention from the beginning.  We must cultivate our wives in a physical and spiritual leadership that honors God.  Anything less demonstrates a low view of Jesus, a love view of salvation, and a low view of Jesus’ relationship with the church.

  1. William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 6.
  2. Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Proverbs—Wisdom that Works, ed. Kent Hughes, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 150-51.
DBG Weekend Spotlight (4-21-17)

DBG Weekend Spotlight (4-21-17)

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.'”

Do Paul and James Disagree on Justification by Faith Alone? — Dr. Tom Schreiner writes, “In the beauty and completeness of God’s Word, Paul and James teach complementary, not contradictory, truths.”

Does the Bible Prescribe Alcohol to the Depressed? — Some good wisdom from John Piper.

John Bunyan And The Hidden Perils Of Preaching — This is a really helpful read, especially if you’re a pastor or and elder who is regularly preaching in your local church.

Ten Questions for Pastors and Polemics — For the pastor who engages in the work of polemics, Kevin DeYoung provides some necessary wisdom.

You can’t legislate morality — You will find that Adam Ford’s cartoons contain more than a laugh.

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

Worship:  proskynéō.

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. [1]

  1. Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 948–949.