Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Are you wasting your retirement? Are you planning on wasting your retirement? Maybe these short videos will help you decide what you should do with all that free time.

For more information on how not to waste your life, here is a wonderful website.

The Deadly the American Dream: A Warm Retirement

If you are an American, then you have been sold a lie. You have been told from birth that your life should be one of accumulation of personal wealth, banking on portfolios and looking forward to the blessed hope of retirement.

But he said to him, "A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.' And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.' And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' And the servant said, 'Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'"
(Luke 14:16-24)

God has blessed our country with much wealth, but we have become worse than Sodom:

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.
(Ezekiel 16:49-50)

We are devastatingly banal. We have settled for the mundane. We think that a field will fulfill. We think a new car will elevate our existence. Our socioeconomic status is our strength. We are at ease in our air-conditioned houses with space-age mattresses. We need desperately to be gripped by a reality that is bigger than a 401k.

We are so far removed from the New Testament's context of suffering that we miss the point of the hope of an eternal vision of Christ's glory. The infinite majesty that brought all things into existence has been exchanged by our society for a comfortable fifty-or-so years at the end of one's life. This is absolutely absurd. Either God satisfies or money satisfies. We are all guilty. We have bought the dream, and it has cost us our souls.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)

God may give us what we want: a warm retirement....

John Piper's Response to N.T. Wright Due Out by Nov. 1

Friday, October 19, 2007

John Piper’s response to N. T. Wright is due for release on November 1, 2007 ($5.00 + shipping if you pre-order here by Oct. 31). If you have no idea what N. T. Wright has said about justification and what all of this is about, then there are some resources available for you. First, Desiring God Ministries has a seven part Q&A with John Piper that they have been releasing on their blog. Here, Piper gives the background necessary to understand the controversy. The whole interview can be found here. However, you may want to select only those parts that you haven't heard.

On his remarkable blog, Justin Taylor has also been posting several things on the book. Included in his blogging are reviews of Piper’s book from notable theologians. I have tried to compile the resources in chronological order.

On 9Marks’ website, you can listen to an interview of John Piper conducted by Mark Dever dealing with the New Perspectives on Paul.

There are more resources out there, but this will help those who know nothing about the topic and those who want to know more. May we thank those who are concerned enough with the truth to contend for it.

If you want to understand the history of the doctrine, then I encourage you to listen to this.

For your enjoyment, here is an excerpt from a sermon, unpacking the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Anybody Want to Dance?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In honor of Reformation Day, please enjoy!

Semper Reformanda!

A Dead Man’s Bones

Monday, October 15, 2007

Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying,
“God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”

Genesis 50:25

How does our faith impact the “little” decisions of our lives? Does our attitude in seemingly inconsequential events testify to a deeply rooted faith in God? For all those who want to combat their post-modern tendencies: Do we live in such a way that the small narratives of our lives testify to the meta-narrative?

Praying for Rain?
There was a town that was suffering from a horrendous drought. The crops were suffering, and many families were in financial peril. The church decided to come together and pray for rain. The night of the prayer meeting came, and the pastor stood up and looked out over his congregation. He did not have encouraging words for his flock. Apparently they did not think God was going to answer any prayers. How did the pastor know that the congregation suffered from unbelief? No one brought an umbrella.

The Suffering Saint
It is an amazing thing to trace out the life of Joseph in Genesis. The beloved son of Jacob and a favored child of God, Joseph was thrown into a well, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and forgotten. Then Joseph ascended into a place of high political office. He protected the people against famine, and certainly saw the faithfulness of God displayed in his life even working through the sinfulness of man; this finally culminates in the statement to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20). This is a man who peered into the depths of the sovereignty of God and found solace there.

Two dreams of a great promise were given to Joseph (Genesis 37). At that time, Joseph was 17, and it was not until he was 30 years old when he rose to power in Egypt. Thirteen years of hard-knocks. Most of us would be disheartened, losing confidence in the promises of God. Unbelief would seize our hearts. We would shirk the promise. We would shun the God of that promise. How did Joseph handle it? Joseph took the time to learn the patience of waiting on God. For thirteen years, Joseph waited. Maybe sometimes God’s promise of his rise to power seemed vibrant; maybe, at times, it was a dim. Joseph saw God’s hand working through the sinfulness of man. The theme over this suffering was “God meant it for good”. In the end, God proved to be faithful to His promise to Joseph. No matter how long it took, Joseph finally saw the promise realized.

Joseph’s Umbrella
Joseph knew the promises of God to Abraham and his offspring: Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7a). What was to become of this promise? Is it as though the word of God had failed? They were not in the Promised Land. Could it be that in three generations God had faltered? Did the promise of God stumble? What can a dead man’s bones teach us about the deep things of Scripture? Joseph’s life of consistent disappointments and suffering brought him deeper in his faith in God’s promise to Abraham.

If God said something would happen, Joseph knew that God would do it. However, Joseph had learned that God would work in His time and His way. Joseph never saw the promise to Abraham fulfilled. But a lifetime of not seeing this promise realized would not stop Joseph from believing that God would be faithful. We read of Joseph at his death:

So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s house. Joseph lived 110 years. And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation. The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph's own. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. (Genesis 50:22-26).

Joseph saw the mist of the promise in Ephraim and Manasseh’s offspring. He pulled out his umbrella and said, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” He knew the sovereignty of God, and “died in faith” (Hebrews 11:13). The writer of the letter to the Hebrews uses Joseph as an example of faith: “By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones” (Hebrews 11:22).

Whatever Happened to the Bones?
We know that this man’s faith did not fall on deaf ears. Another man of faith took heed. In going out from Egypt, “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.’” (Exodus 13:19). We finally find later:

As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph. (Joshua 24:32)

Is that the end? What are we to do with Joseph’s bones now?

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18).

Joseph was looking for much more than an earthly dwelling. He yearned for a “heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16). He saw a city prepared by God. Let us do the same.

For All the Bibliophiles!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The much-anticipated release of Monergism Books' updated website has now occurred! I love this website. On more than one occasion, its related website has been found open in my browser while I study a particular topic.

The End Does Not Justify the Means

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,
to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Genesis 50:20

Many people are of the opinion that what they do is morally upright if it brings about something good. If people are benefited by an action, does that mean that the action was good? Suppose a person endeavors to satiate his own desires by an action. As a byproduct of his actions, people are aided—lives are even saved. Does this mean that the action was good? Is God pleased with the person’s actions? No, not necessarily!

As we read in this account of Joseph and his brothers, we notice that this particular paradigm is highlighted. What makes an action good is not the outcome. What makes an action morally upright is rooted in something that exists even before the action takes place: the motive. There are two wills involved within this action: Joseph’s brothers’ and God’s.

God had purposed this event to glorify Himself by the saving of His people. However, the brothers were selfish and evil, wanting to rid themselves of this favored brother, a motive that is far from glorifying God. The brothers were not aware of God’s plan when they were throwing their brother in the well or selling him into slavery. They were oblivious to the fact that God would save a people from famine by Joseph’s removal. It was not on their radar. But good things happened; doesn’t that make it okay? No, their intention was evil.

We may argue with this idea further, but let us look at one other example (but not the only one left). Jesus was an innocent man, yet He was crucified. No offense was ever present, yet He was tortured and killed unjustly. We can all agree that there were a host of people in the wrong for their actions in the death of Christ: Pilate, Judas, etc. Would we justify their actions by noticing that their actions were purposed by God to save His people? Would we dare applaud the actions of Judas? Would we thank Pilate? I doubt it.

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Act 2:22-23)

It is an awesome thing to know that God “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). He is good, and He protects His people through His acts: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

In the midst of all of this, may we praise God for His pure motive: to bring glory to His Name. We should be careful to seek that motive. Also, we should never justify our actions that have resulted from evil intentions just because God is gracious and had meant it for good. Ask this question, “How often are my motives as pure and unadulterated as God’s?” Our motives never a firmly pure. Even if you understand this, reflect on it. If you have difficulty with this, search out Scripture. A good passage to include in this study: Hebrews 4:11-4:16.


1. In fact, the unbeliever—a person without saving faith—will never do anything that pleases God. In other words, the unbeliever does nothing but sin because all things are done from an impure motive.
  • “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

  • “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b).

2. Because of remaining indwelling sin, even the believer must repent for impure motives in all things. Actions for the believer on this side of glorification (i.e. perfection) will always be mingled with faith and unbelief.

3. We should seek to have pure motives and not be quick to judge our actions as pure even when the outcome is good.