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Posted on December 20th, 2013 by David Burnette
Over at Ligionier, Al Mohler answers the question, “Must Christians Believe in the Virgin Birth?” Here’s two brief excerpts along with a link to the full article:
Must one believe in the virgin birth to be a Christian? It is conceivable that someone might come to Christ and trust Christ as Savior without yet learning the Bible teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin. A new believer is not yet aware of the full structure of Christian truth. The real question is this: Can a Christian, once aware of the Bible’s teaching, reject the virgin birth? The answer must be no.
…If Jesus was not born of a virgin, who was His father? There is no answer that will leave the Gospel intact. The virgin birth explains how Christ could be both God and man, how He was without sin, and that the entire work of salvation is God’s gracious act. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, He had a human father. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, the Bible teaches a lie.
You can read the rest of the article here.
Posted on October 31st, 2013 by David Burnette
Who better to quote on Reformation Day than the quotable Martin Luther?
Below are seven quotes from Luther, beginning with a description of the German Reformer taken from an eyewitness to his famous trial (the Diet of Worms):
“Martin is of middle height, emaciated from care and study, so that you can almost count his bones through his skin. He is in the vigor of manhood and has a clear, penetrating voice. He is learned and has the Scripture at his fingers’ ends. He knows Greek and Hebrew sufficiently to judge of the interpretations. A perfect forest of words and ideas stands at his command. He is affable and friendly, in no sense dour or arrogant. He is equal to anything. In company he is vivacious, jocose, always cheerful and gay no matter how hard his adversaries press him.” (Bainton, 99)
1. Luther’s reply at the Diet of Worms:
“Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simply reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of peoples and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.” (Bainton, 180)
2. Luther on the exchange of our sin with Christ’s righteousness:
“Who then can fully appreciate what this royal marriage means? Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace? Here this rich and divine bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all his goodness. Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by him. And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, “If I have sinner, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his…” (Luther, “The Freedom of a Christian,” 287)
3. Luther on how the Reformation came about:
“I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept…the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing. The Word did it all.” (George, 53)
4. Luther on the paradox of sinners being declared righteous:
“We are in truth and totally sinners, with regard to ourselves and our first birth. Contrariwise, in so far as Christ has been given for us, we are holy and just totally. Hence from different aspects we are said to be just and sinners at the same time.” (George, 71)
5. Luther on the battle for the truth of the gospel:
“Our warfare is not with flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places, against the world rulers of this darkness. Let us then stand firm and heed the trumpet of the Lord. Satan is fighting, not against us, but against Christ in us. We fight the battles of the Lord. Be strong therefore. If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Bainton, 140)
6. Luther on those who identified with him and followed his teachings:
“The first thing I ask is that people should not make use of my name, and should not call themselves Lutherans but Christians. What is Luther? The teaching ins not mine. Nor was I crucified for anyone…How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name?” (George, 53)
7. Luther on looking to Christ for our righteousness:
This is wonderful news to believe that salvation lies outside ourselves. I am justified and acceptable to God, although there are in me sin, unrighteousness, and horror of death. Yet I must look elsewhere and see no sin. This is wonderful, not to see what I see, not to feel what I feel.” (Bainton, 228)
The quotes above are taken from:
Roland Bainton, Here I Stand:A Life of Martin Luther
Timothy George, The Theology of the Reformers
Luther’s “The Freedom of a Christian” in Three Treatises.
Posted on October 31st, 2013 by David Burnette
You may not be aware that today is Reformation Day. If you’re not familiar with why you should be grateful for such a day, Robert Rothwell has a good summary over at Ligonier.
Tomorrow, much of the culture will be focused on candy and things that go bump in the night. Protestants, however, have something far more significant to celebrate on October 31. Tomorrow is Reformation day, which commemorates what was perhaps the greatest move of God’s Spirit since the days of the Apostles. But what is the significance of Reformation Day, and how should we consider the events it commemorates?
At the time, few would have suspected that the sound of a hammer striking the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, would soon be heard around the world and lead ultimately to the greatest transformation of Western society since the apostles first preached the Gospel throughout the Roman empire. Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to the church door on October 31, 1517, provoked a debate that culminated finally in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.
You can read the rest here.
(HT: Luke Stamps)
Posted on October 8th, 2013 by Jonathan
Truth is sometimes found in unexpected places… like on TBS’s Conan from comedian Louis C.K. This combination would seem to more naturally lend itself to inappropriate comments or over-the-top jokes. And in a recent interview there, those certainly were not wanting. But in the midst of the comedy, C.K. offered a serious warning against the dangers of technology, specifically smart phones.
The thing is, you need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away – the ability to just sit there like this. That’s being a person, right?
You have to check… you know, underneath everything in your life, there’s that thing, that “empty” – forever empty. You know what I’m talking about? The knowledge that it’s all for nothing and you’re alone. You know, it’s down there. Sometimes when things clear away, you’re in your car, and you go, “Oh no, here it comes, that ‘I’m alone.’” Like, it starts to visit on you, just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad just by being in it. And so you’re driving, and you go, “Oh…” that’s why we text and drive. I look around, and pretty much 100% of people driving are texting. And they’re killing. Everybody’s murdering each other with their cars. But people risk ruining their own life and taking a life because they don’t want to be alone for a second.
A minute or two later, C.K. offered his simple, human solution to this profoundly human problem: let the sadness come. He exhorted people not to fill the void of loneliness with constant, superficial, smart phone chatter, but to feel the weight of the real emotion within, albeit sad. According to C.K., worthwhile feelings of happiness follow this sad catharsis.
The Christian solution to this profoundly human problem is, in one way, similar: don’t take the Novocain of the smart phone (or social media, T.V., and the like) as a remedy for sadness or loneliness. This kind of shallow distraction is dangerously blinding, and as time passes and habits are formed, it becomes scarily subconscious and natural. It is, to us, the easy way out. But this is not reality. In fact, reality – relational, spiritual, eternal reality – tells us quite clearly that this kind of narcissistic entertainment is no way out at all. Yes, narcissistic, because we are, after all, watching YouTube on our iPhones. It is this self-obsession that deceives us into thinking that if we depict ourselves in a favorable-enough light to get a couple dozen “likes,” a few flattering comments, and maybe an occasional retweet, we’re good. And if we aren’t soothed through Facebook or Twitter, then we satisfy our deepest hunger for solid food with the cotton candy of web-surfing time-wasters – an endless succession that is endlessly void of true substance. So put down the smart phone. It will not fill the emptiness and only blinds us to what is real, however bleak it may feel.
But here, the Christian solution to the problem of emptiness and loneliness diverges from C.K.’s, entirely different. While man’s deepest hunger is not satisfied by the self-gratification and self-glorification that is sought through smart phones, no matter how smart they get, neither is it satisfied by a wave of happy feelings, just as fleeting as the good cry that preceded it; the emptiness lingers after the emotions subside. Lasting satisfaction escapes.
Instead of finding the solution within, the Christian finds it without… in the God of the universe who loved his sad and lonely creation enough to cure their depression and reconcile them to himself. Though we run from God to Apple products and viral internet phenomena and emotional ecstasy, he runs to us in the incarnation. Sidestepping our shallow, human, and misguided wants, he gives us what we need – himself. Immanuel, God with us. In contrast to the temporal gratification that we seek with our smart phones, Jesus is the bread of life and spring of living water in whom we “shall not hunger” and in whom we “shall never thirst” (Jn 6:35). To stop looking at self and to start looking at Jesus is to never be empty or alone again. Beautifully, he seeks and saves the lost, and more beautifully still, he continues on in pursuit of his “found,” knocking at the doors of their hearts and jarring them awake from the onsetting numbness of the world, that he might dine with them and provide the only and ultimate remedy for their sickness… communion with their Creator.
Posted on September 9th, 2013 by David Burnette
This post by Matt Mason originally appeared over at TGC.
Every year that I have the privilege of serving as a worship pastor I feel like I’m learning new lessons. If I could share for only 60 seconds with worship leaders just starting out, these are some of the things I’d try to cram in.
Go deep with God. Study the Bible. Study how the gospel connects to everything in the world. Pray. Read great books. Engage in the corporate gathering. Don’t be a green-room junkie. Take notes during the sermon. Love people well. Be patient. Communicate often. Communicate personally. Be warm. Get others involved. Give private and public honor to those who are serving (not just private; not just public). Apologize when you’ve led poorly. Respond to emails as quickly and graciously as possible. Make time to encourage youth who serve in musical worship. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Make sure your list of go-to songs has a lot of gospel-charged stuff in it. Study the “nature” of songs. What do songs “get done”? Be picky about the songs you add to your congregation’s “hymnal.” Do you have a broad enough list of songs that allow people to confess sin, to learn about God’s character, to experience consolation, to be pulled from despair/melancholy, to get ready for action and mission, to die and meet Jesus and call it gain? Love your pastor. Ask for feedback. Don’t undermine the coherency of your leadership team. Don’t put off dealing with uncomfortable issues. Before you do something confrontational, get input from your pastor/pastoral team to find out if you should proceed and/or how you should proceed. Cultivate margin and a healthy family life. Lead them in worship, too. They are your little “flock.” Hug and kiss your wife and kids often. Remember Jesus Christ and never lose gospel wonder.
If I only had 60 seconds to encourage worship leaders who have been doing this for decades, I’d share the same thing.
Due to technical failures and post production problems the Follow Me Simulcast has been delayed. LifeWay was able to capture the simulcast this evening but is unable to transmit the event for streaming due to the technical failures. LifeWay will be able to broadcast this event next Wednesday, August 21. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.
We are so thankful for all of the churches and small groups who signed up for the simulcast this evening. Even though we were unable to gather worldwide this evening, we were able to come together here in the Middle East and dive into the Word with brothers and sisters to look at what it means biblically to follow Christ. We heard compelling testimonies about what God is doing here that we know will bless you and encourage you as you gather together in the days to come.
Posted on May 14th, 2013 by David Burnette
If you’ve benefited from the biblical resources produced by Crossway, not least of which is the ESV Study Bible, see the following from Lane Dennis, Crossway’s President, regarding the recent flood which significantly damaged their facilities:
Some of the priority projects affected include:
- Translation costs for the ESV Chinese Study Bible, to be published in Mainland China
- Printing costs for 60,000 copies of the Chinese-English ESV bilingual Bible, also for publication and distribution in Mainland China
- Completion and global distribution of the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible this fall
- Development of the Knowing the Bible studies, to be offered free digitally worldwide
To support Crossway or learn more, go here.
Posted on February 6th, 2013 by Jonathan
The following post was originally posted on the Secret Church blog. The Secret Church blog is a good resource for those who want continual encouragement to specifically pray for the persecuted.
As many of you now know, Pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced to eight years in prison for his faith in Christ. This could prove to be far worse than a normal eight-year sentence, though that in itself would be unjust and difficult. Evin Prison, where Pastor Saeed is supposed to serve his time, is one of the most brutal prisons in the world. According to reports from survivors, time spent in Evin is comprised of regular beatings, malnutrition, horrible living conditions, torturous interrogations, and Islamic propaganda. Full reports can be found on ACLJ andFOX News websites.
This leaves us with clear marching orders. We must pray. Pastor Saeed needs it, his family needs it, and all the other prisoners of Evin need it. And like Pastor Saeed, we ought to also be concerned about his fellow prisoners. He “made it clear he wants to be a voice for the many others who are with him in prison—suffering the same fate—imprisoned because of their religious beliefs” (ACLJ).
So let’s not exclusively relegate our prayers to Pastor Saeed’s situation. Instead, let his story remind us and drive us to pray for all of our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned for their belief in Jesus. The fact is that there are many prisoners—some in Evin with Pastor Saeed, but many others in different jails and prisons around the world—who are suffering for desiring to “live a godly life in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:12). Most of these stories don’t make the headlines.
Similarly, let’s not pray only for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Their persecutors, whether oblivious to this fact or not, are in an even worse predicament. They are enemies of the Almighty God, and they desperately need our prayers. As Pastor Saeed “suffer[s] for righteousness’ sake” (1 Pet 3:14), he is following the example of Christ, who suffered for His straying sheep (1 Pet 2:19-25). Let us pray that God would open the eyes of these poor lost sheep to see the loving pursuit of their heavenly Shepherd in the suffering of their Christian prisoners. And as they watch these Christians suffer well, may they see a faith in God that is too strong to be human.
- …the persecuted.
- …the persecutors.
- …the suffering unbeliever. This includes Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, also in Evin, who was the attorney that helped free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in the fall of last year.
- …the families of those suffering.
Posted on December 31st, 2012 by David Burnette
Of the many things you could do in 2013, it’s hard to think of anything more spiritually beneficial than reading God’s Word and being changed by it. With that goal, a Bible Reading Plan for the year can be extremely helpful to give some structure for this critical spiritual discipline.
In terms of Bible Reading Plans, it’s tough to improve on the comprehensive list provided by Justin Taylor. You can check that out here. Of the many short summaries of these excellent plans, here’s one worth highlighting:
“George Guthrie’s “Read the Bible for Life Chronological Bible Reading Plan” is takes you through the whole Bible in the basic order of events, with a reading each day. There’s also a 4 + 1 plan (similar to the others, in that you read from four different places each day plus the Psalms). But it’s a semi-chronological plan, placing the prophets and the NT letters in basic chronological order.”
For those going through the Multiply Material (or considering going through it), there’s a 24-week reading plan that accompanies the material. The Multiply Reading Plan is available here on YouVersion.
Posted on July 11th, 2012 by David Burnette
Godly advice on attaining contentment:
“We should consider, in all our wants and inclinations to discontent, the greatness of the mercies that we have, and the meanness of the things that we lack. The things we lack, if we are godly, are things of very small moment in comparison to the things we have, and the things we have are things of very great moment. For the most part, the things for the want of which people are discontented and murmur are such things as reprobates have, or may have. Why should you be troubled so much for the want of something which a man or woman may have and yet be a reprobate?”
Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646), The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, 207
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