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Category Archives: biblical theology

“Already But Not Yet” CD Release

I am overjoyed to announce that my CD “Already But Not Yet” is now available! Overjoyed by the hope that God will use these songs to encourage many people and churches. Overjoyed to contribute to the hymn-renewal movement that the Spirit is using to revive the Church. Overjoyed to exalt the true Redeemer!

“Already But Not Yet” tells a story–God’s story of Redemption through King Jesus. And each song moves the story forward from Christ’s Cross, Resurrection, and Exaltation to our life of Exile and Prayer, and finally to the celebration in the New Creation. Already redemption has been accomplished. But not yet completed. We await the Return of the King!

Song Titles

1. He is Risen (Resurrection)

2. Look! Ye Saints (Exaltation)

3. Christ is Coming (Exile)

4. Come, Lord Jesus, to Redeem Us (Prayer)

5. Upon this Mount–Isaiah 25:6-9 (New Creation)

6. There is a Fountain (Our Theme)

CDs are now available to purchase at BullMoose Music (Windham and Portland) and will soon be available for download at ITunes.

For mail orders please mail a check to Joshua Otte |973 River Rd |Windham, ME 04062. $7ea or 2 for $10. Just add $3 shipping (up to 4 CDs). Add $0.50 for additional CDs. If you have any questions email me (eucatastrophe101 at yahoo dot com) until the website is launched! Thanks!

UPDATE. Please check out my Facebook Music Page. Listen to the tracks, leave a note, tell your friends!

UPDATE. Please check out my Facebook Music Page. Listen to the tracks, leave a note, tell your friends!

 

Where the Wild Things Aren’t

I haven’t seen the movie, but I really like Russell Moore’s take on it. Here’s his conclusion.

Where the Wild Things Are isn’t going to be a classic movie the way it is a classic book. But the Christian discomfort with wildness will be with us for a while. And it’s the reason too many of our children find Maurice Sendak more realistic than Sunday school.

Too many of our Bible study curricula for children declaw the Bible, excising all the snakes and dragons and wildness. We reduce the Bible to a set of ethical guidelines and a text on how gentle and kind Jesus is. The problem is, our kids know there are monsters out there. God put that awareness in them. They’re looking for a sheep-herding dragon-slayer, the One who can put all the wild things under His feet.

Read the whole thing.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2009 in biblical theology, children, movie

 

Lead09 Audio Available Online

The audio and video for Lead09 is being uploaded this week, here. God is advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ through his Church, scattered throughout New England!

 

Lead 09 Conference: Tim Chester is coming to Maine

Free Total Church book if you register today this week!!!

My church is partnering with Atmosphere Church to host a conference October 9-10 that we hope God will use to bring about gospel renewal throughout Maine, New England and beyond. It’s called Lead ’09 and the theme is Gospel, Community and Mission.  This two-day conference is a call to each of us and our churches to take Jesus seriously–to radically reshape our lives around the gospel word so that we can truly be his gospel community on God’s mission.

Our two speakers are both God-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-dependent leaders who teach the Word of God  faithfully with passion, humility and urgency.  Tim Chester is a writer, Bible teacher and church planter in Sheffield, UK. An author of many books, Tim is also the co-author of Total Church, a biblically-rich book on what it means to BE the church. Jonathan Dodson is the lead pastor of Austin City Life in Austin, TX. His articles have often blessed our church family, especially “Fight Club” and “Anger: the image of Satan.” On a personal note, Jonathan is a treasured friend. Having served with him in both the local church and in global missions, I can tell you without hesitation that you will be blessed by his teaching.

You can find out more and register, here.

 

Is Gospel-Centeredness a Fad?

What do you think? My answer, here.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2009 in biblical theology, gospel, Pastoral, theology

 

Spurgeon Sabbatical 09

From June 22-July1 I have the uber privilege of being part of the Spurgeon Sabbatical. Here’s what I shared with my uber-supportive church as I get ready to live in Exile (aka Massachusetts) for wee bit.

Hello Church,

One of the things of love most about WBC is the passion and commitment to be generous towards the Kingdom of God, all around the world, locally and globally. Not just when it’s convenient but whenever God calls and enables us to.

Well, I want to thank you ahead of time for being generous to God’s people, specifically a group of pastors  that I will be serving at the Spurgeon Sabbatical, June 22-July 1. Your generosity in sending me to serve these pastors who come from all over the States and even around the world has been recieved with thankfulness by them in the past and I know will once again this year. They realize that it is a loving sacrifice for your pastor to serve you  “from a distance,” catching up with emails and phone calls in the afternoon and coming back just for the weekend.

This will be my 3rd time leading the gathered worship aspects of the Sabbatical–each day will begin and end with a time worshipping God together in song, Scripture reading and prayer. These times are meant to bookend our rigorous study and lively fellowship. This year’s topic is “Romans 1-5 Judgment and Justification: Keeping the Main Thing in Ministry, the Main Thing.” Our two texts will be Simon Gathercole’s Where is Boasting: Early Jewish Soteriology and Paul’s Response in Romans 1-5 and Mark Noll’s edited Where Shall My Wond’ring Soul Begin?  The Landscape of Evangelical Piety and Thought.

My time at the Spurgeon Sabbatical is more like a short-term mission trip than a vacation or simply attending or even leading a conference.  It will be exhausting. I will be away from my family. The days will be long. There will be intense soul-surgery. So…I humbly ask you to pray:

  • Pray that God would encourage Heidi in my absence.
  • Pray that I would serve with the strength that God supplies.
  • Pray that God would free me from the tempation of self-importance.
  • Pray that the 15 pastors would be personally renewed in their faith by our study of the gospel in Romans.
  • Pray that these men would return with their eyes fixed firmly on the Lord Jesus Christ as their only hope and goal for their families and ministries.
 

The Bible is not about you, it’s about Jesus

This is one of my favorite quotes by Tim Keller. In Edmond Clowney-esque fashion, Keller shows how every story of Scripture foreshadows or anticipates Jesus. Seeing Christ in all of Scripture is not merely about typology; it’s about rightly seeing how every story in Scripture fits into the larger context of the whole Story of Redemption and how that whole Story is either pointing forward to Jesus or reflecting backward to him (and then forward again to his return!)

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27

  • Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us (1 Corinthians 15).
  • Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out for our acquittal, not our condemnation (Hebrews 12:24).
  • Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void “not knowing wither he went!” to create a new people of God.
  • Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. While God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love, from me,” now we can say to God, “Now we know that you love me, because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love, from me.”
  • Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.
  • Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.
  • Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant (Hebrews 3).
  • Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.
  • Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends (Job 42).
  • Jesus is the true and better David, whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.
  • Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk losing an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.
  • Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.
  • Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb – innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He is the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the Lamb, the Light, the Bread.

The Bible is not about you — it is about him.

Tim Keller, “Preaching to the Heart”

 

We Become What We Worship, Chapter 5

Chapter 6 bridges the gap between idolatry in the Old and New Testaments. But the odd thing about the gospels is that they don’t talk about idolatry! At least not overtly. This lack of “idol talk” might lead one to believe that idolatry was no longer a problem. Perhaps the Babylonian Exile cured Israel of her idolatry?!

Beale doesn’t buy that argument. Israel was not cured of her idolatry. She simply exchanged her old idols for some new ones.

“Though words for idol or false god appear in the Gospels, this does not mean that there is no concept of idolatry there. Rather, though Israel’s reliance on idols in Jesus’ day did not take the form of bowing down to images, nevertheless, they did put their trust in something else besides  God, bringing judgment  on themselves, as it had come on earlier generations of Israel. Consequently, they were still idol worshipers in essence, though the outward form of it was expressed differently.” (p. 162)

Re-Formed Idolatry

Even though you never hear Jesus rebuking the Pharisees for bowing before a golden calf or for offering their children to Molech, he does in fact rebuke them for their re-formed idolatry. And as should be expected Beale connects the dots, showing how Jesus appeals to the foundational OT idolatry text of Isaiah 6 in nearly all of his rebukes against the religious leaders.

“There is reason to believe that Israel in Jesus’ time was, indeed, guilty of idol worship….Israel of Jesus’ day was idolatrous because it had worshiped tradition in place of God and his living Word, and this is why Jesus applies the idol text of Isaiah 6:9-10 in Matthew 13 to the Jews of his generation. New forms of idolatry were developing in Jesus’ time. Though Israel said, “We will never commit idolatry like our forefathers or like the nations,” they committed a differen and perhaps new form of idol worship….Israel’s predominant problem was replacing trust  in Jesus with worship of human-made tradition.” (p. 166)

Traditional Idolatry

In the OT Israel was described as “far from God” when they were worshiping idols and not God (Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 2:5). Jesus says the same of the Israel of his day when he calls to task for their overvaluing of tradition and their undervaluing of God’s Word (Mark 7:6-13).

“Therefore, the words which Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 29 concern the sin of idol worship in their originial Isaianic context. Mark 7:8 affirms that to neglect the “commandment of God” and hold to “the tradition of men” is to revere tradition  over God’s Word and thus to commit idolatry.” (p. 168)

What was the result of their idolatry? Blindness. Spiritual blindness. Matthew 15:14 records Jesus’ pronouncement of God’s judgment on tradition-worshiping Pharisees: “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” The blindness of the Pharisees was a continuation of Jesus’ application of Isaiah’s prophecy in 6:9-10 and 29:13–idolaters  will be blinded, incapable of seeing God’s truth as trustworthy because they are trusting in their idol instead.

Reflect True Glory

“Israel of Jesus day was becoming spiritually dead as the human-made, stale, empty tradition to which they had committed themselves” (p. 176). This is why Jesus urged the crowds and taught the disciples to build their lives on his word, on God’s Word instead of man-made, idolatrous tradition (Matthew 7:24-27). To do this is to reflect true glory, God’s glory.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works [and how they reflect your Father’s light], and glorify your Father who is in heaven [whose image you reflect].” (Matthew 5:16)

 
 

The Gospel is the Point of the Bible

What parts of the Bible talk about the gospel?

The Gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Portions of the letters of the apostles? Some of the sermons of the Prophets? A few of the “Messianic Psalms”? Unfortunately that’s the popular view. But it’s not the biblical view. The gospel of Jesus is not just part of the Bible, it is the point of the Bible. The Gospel is the overarching storyline of the entire Bible. Here’s a great summary by D.A. Carson.

The gospel is integrally tied to the Bible’s story-line. Indeed, it is incomprehensible without understanding that story-line. God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath. But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects. In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

This story-line, and its connection with the gospel, could be fleshed out in a number of ways. But the point is simply this: the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ makes sense in the context of this story-line and in no other. If, instead of this world-view, this storyline, some other is adopted, the good news of Jesus Christ no longer makes sense or is so badly distorted it is no longer the same thing. For instance, if one adopts a pantheistic world-view, then ‘sin’ takes on an entirely different configuration and there is no transcendent God to whom to be reconciled. In that case, the ‘good news’ cannot be the announcement of God’s reconciling act in the death and resurrection of his Son, by which he bore his people’s penalty. If one adopts some naturalistic world-view, something similar could be said. If one holds that history is going nowhere or in circles determined by impersonal fate, then the notion of final judgement and ultimate division between bliss and the abyss is incoherent—and so too the good news that Christ reconciles rebels to their Maker, prepares them for glory, enabling them even now to enjoy foretastes of the kingdom still to be consummated.

~ D. A. Carson,“The Biblical Gospel.” Taken from For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, eds. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London: Evangelical Alliance, 1996).

HT: The Big Picture

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2009 in biblical theology, gospel, quotes, theology

 

We Become What We Worship, Chapter 4

Chapter 4 explores “The Origin of Idolatry in the Old Testament.” And of course those origins go all the way back to The Beginning…Genesis 1-3. This chapter took me for a stroll down memory lane, during my Gordon-Conwell days with Gordon Hugenberger’s “Christ in the Old Testament” and “Theology of the Pentateuch.” Those were the days! Those were the days when I began to see the richness and beauty of biblical theology, the unity of Scripture, “tree theology”, Eden as the Garden Temple,  Adam and Eve as the vice-regent kings of God. Those were the days when I cut my teeth on Kline’s Kingdom Prologue. A very enjoyable chapter!

Beale admits right up front that Genesis 3 doesn’t explicitly portray Adam and Eve’s sin as “idolatry”, but his investigation reinforces his thesis: what we revere we resemble either to restoration or ruin. He argues that the moment Adam “stopped being committed to God and reflecting his image, he revered something else in place of God and resembled his new object of worship. Thus at the heart of Adam’s sin was turning from God and replacing reverence for God with a new object of reverence to which Adam become conformed.”

So he portrays Adam in two contrasting images, from the glorious to the un-glorious.

  1. Adam as the image and likeness of the Creator.
  2. Adam in the distorted image and likeness of the creation.

It’s no surprise that Beale spends most of his time examining the un-glorious, distorted image of Adam. Adam’s sin was bound up in his failure to guard the Garden temple from anything unclean. Rather than ruling over the unclean serpent, Adam becomes ruled by it. Rather than acting like the Creator-Judge and casting the serpent out of Eden, Adam becomes like the Snake-Accuser and finds  himself cast out of Eden. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2009 in biblical theology, idolatry, quotes, worship