Matthew R. Perry

Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Is God Caught By Surprise? (A Perspective on Open Theism)

In Open Theism, Theology on September 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm

(I wrote this article for my church back in 2004 and thought I would post it again. Feel free to comment.)

Many of you here at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church who are reading this particular devotional have a rather strong view and belief on who God is. God is the Creator of all that is (Genesis 1:1) and that He is, as the Psalmist said, the owner of “the cattle on a thousand hills” — meaning that He owns all there is (Psalm 50:10, see also Psalm 24:1). We learn from the Scriptures that God knows all (1 John 3:20); sees all (Psalm 139:1-6); and that He will accomplish all that He sets out to accomplish (Isaiah 55:11).

Unfortunately, there are some in evangelical circles who deny these attributes of God. There is a strain of thought infiltrating our churches known as Open Theism. Matt Slick of the Christian Apologetics Research Ministries (CARM) describes this movement as follows:

It is the teaching that God has granted to humanity free will and that in order for the free will to be truly free, the future free will choices of individuals cannot be known ahead of time by God. They hold that if God knows what we are going to choose, then how can we be truly free when it is time to make those choices since a counter choice cannot then be made by us because it is already “known” what we are going to do. In other words, we would not actually be able to make a contrary choice to what God “knows” we will choose thus implying that we would not then be free.

In fact, Gregory Boyd, one of the leading proponents of this movement, states in his recent book God of the Possible:

Much of it [the future], open theists will concede, is settled ahead of time, either by God’s predestining will or by existing earthly causes, but it is not exhaustively settled ahead of time. To whatever degree the future is yet open to be decided by free agents, it is unsettled.”
To bolster this view, Open Theists quote a number of verses that, at first glance, seem to show that God has not yet made up His mind as to how history will work out and that the future is … well … open.

One verse is Genesis 6:6 where God was “sorry” that He made humanity. Another is Genesis 22:12 when Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son Isaac, God intervened and said, “Now I know that you fear God” and did not keep Isaac from Him. And probably the most frequently quoted verse from Open Theists is Exodus 32:14. Here, God hears Moses intervention concerning the wrath He was to inflict upon the rebellious Israelites and is seen as “changing his mind” (NASB), “relenting” (NIV, NKJV), or “repenting” (KJV) about the harm and punishment He would bring.

There are many verses where God is seen as regretting something He has done, where He is surprised (Isaiah 5:3-7), where He tests people to know whether they will walk in His ways (Exodus 16:4, Deuteronomy 13:1-3, Judges 2:22), and various others. Open Theists claim that if God really knows all the events of the future, then He would never regret doing anything, never change His mind, and would never wonder if people were or were not going to walk in His ways.

A Lesson on How God Relates to His People

Open Theists take these verses and run with them, but what do they do with verses such as Isaiah 55:10-11, which read:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bear forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out of my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (ESV).

Or one such as John 6:37 which reads, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” Or Acts 4:27-28 which read:

For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place (ESV).

Not to mention Romans 8:29-30, Romans 9, Ephesians 1:3-11, and many others which speak so strongly on the sovereignty of God and how all things are under His control and all things are not only known by Him but also all things are ordained and orchestrated by Him.

How are these verses reconciled with what we have seem from Open Theists?

There is a device used by God called anthropomorphism. It is a literary device used by the authors of Scripture to apply human characteristics and attribute them to God’s nature or actions. For instance, we hear in Scripture the plea for God to “shine his face on us” (Numbers 6:24-26). Well, we know that God is spirit (John 4:24) and does not have a ‘face.’ Same with the term such as the “right hand of God.” God does not have a hand or an arm, but we use these terms to convey various attributes about God. It makes it less abstract and more concrete!

God is a God who is “high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1) and one whose ways are higher than our ways and thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). Our finite minds cannot understand the greatness, grandeur and majesty of God Most High! So words are used in Scripture to help us understand them.

The Issue at Stake

What is at stake is the nature of God! If God is not one who is in control of every part of His creation, then that means He is a God who is not the “unmoved mover” of old, but as Clark Pinnock describes Him, He is the “Most Moved Mover.” He is a God who makes mistakes, who moves to “Plan B and C” when “Plan A” may not work out as He intended.

And if God is not in control of our situations, then guess who is? We are — and that, my friends, is the ultimate issue.

We hold tightly to free will. We want to be in control of our lives. But friends, if you want free will — total and unabashed free will — then you are not ready to be a follower of Christ. Why?

Our free will outside of the working of God will always lead us away from God. Adam and Eve had one command in the garden: “Don’t eat from that tree” (Genesis 2:15). Sin had not entered the world or their hearts, but they were easily swayed by Satan (“Did God really say…?”) and self (“it was pleasing to their eyes”) and their free will took them away from God.

But Jesus says in John 6:44 that “No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him.” We do not nor cannot seek after God in our own flesh (Romans 3:9-10), but God seeks after us and even has “chosen us from the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).

See, God is not locked in to time and space. He created time and space. He is over time and space. He was before time and space. We are finite, He is infinite. We have limited knowledge, but the Bible says over and over that He knows all things (see Psalm 139:1-6). Nothing flies under His radar.

God is not one who responds to creation in general and humanity specifically — He is the One who orchestrates it all.

So does God have a plan? Yes. Is God the true sovereign of the universe? Yes. Are there times when it seems to us as if God repents, changes His mind, is surprised, and stumped at our actions? Yes, it seems that way in our eyes. But God makes Himself understood by using our language and terms to communicate HIS truth and HIS nature.

I recommend you looking at the CARM site and the section that deals with Open Theism at http://www.carm.org/open.htm . If God is not in control of everything and does not have the entire plan already worked out, He is not a God worth serving. But we know better …

… don’t we?

© 2004 by Rev. Matthew Perry. Boone’s Creek Baptist Church. 185 N. Cleveland Rd., Lexington, KY 40509. (859) 263-5466.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Do Christians Have Any Rights? (Part I: What About Our Dignity?)

In Church Life, Culture, Sermons, Theology on July 21, 2008 at 9:46 pm

(This sermon was preached on Sunday, July 20, 2008, at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucky. To listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here.)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ [39] But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. [40] And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. [41] And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. [42] Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (Matt 5:38-42)

Do Christians have any rights? Ever since Jesus spoke these words almost 2,000 years ago, this question has been the subject of debate for millennia. The core of this passage is when Jesus says, “Do not resist the one who is evil.” As you can imagine, this opens up a can of worms that needs to be addressed.

Does this mean that Christians cannot serve in the military, especially in a combat situation, since they are fighting against the enemy of the state? Does this mean that Christians cannot serve as law enforcement, since they spend a good amount of time fighting crime (i.e., evil ones)? Does this mean that if a Christian sees someone who is defenseless being attacked that we do not step in?

The Scriptures repeatedly call for Christians not only to help the defenseless, but that God has also established our government and the law enforcement to help maintain order and to protect their respective citizenship! What Jesus is referring to is when some attacks you personally! How do we respond? Do we say, “I’ll get you” in an eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth attitude? If not, how do we respond?

This morning, we shall look at four areas Jesus addresses in these verses: our dignity, our security, our liberty, and our property and see where our foundation lies and where our treasure belongs.

1. Does a Christian have a right to his dignity?

In Matthew 5:39b, Jesus says, “But if anyone slaps you on the right check, turn to him the other also.” Only humans truly understand what it means to treat one another with dignity. Because each of us is an image bearer of God, he expects us to treat one another with respect. In fact, the last six of the Ten Commandments deal with respecting and honoring one another: honor your father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, steal, bear false witness against your neighbor, and do not covet. When this is violated, God makes it clear we stand under his judgment!

Yet, in this world we as followers of Christ will be persecuted for the name of Christ. Remember in Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus said,

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. [12] Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

While God may not have originally set up the order for this, the truth is that we are fallen creatures marked by the curse of sin. Therefore, these things will happen. So how are Christians to react? It must be noted that to the Jews, a slap in the face was an insult, demeaning the honor of one slapped. In 2008, the principle still exists. When we have been insulted or treated poorly by another, how do we respond?

Jesus tells us to “turn to him the other [cheek] also.” We are not to take this like the Scottish preacher who preached that when struck on the one cheek, then yes turn to him the other. But if he strikes you a third time, let him have it!

Our response is that we are not to retaliate, but to remain gentle and humble, even when our dignity is maligned by another. Again, we must keep in mind that this is dealing with our personal dignity. Keep in mind 1 Peter 2:21-23:

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. [22] He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. [23] When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

When your dignity is damaged, do you feel it is your right to retaliate and defend your honor, all the while demeaning theirs in return?

O Grace Abounding, Full and Free (An Original Hymn)

In Hymn, Theology on March 19, 2008 at 4:20 pm

O Grace Abounding, Full and Free
Based on Romans 5:12-21

O grace abounding, full and free;
The gift secured by Christ for me.
Through Adam’s sin our world was cursed,
Through Christ that curse is now reversed.

O grace abounding, right and true;
Christ offers righteousness to you!
Removing judgment, death, and strife
He justifies, and grants new life.

O grace abounding — reigning strong;
Atonement paid, the vict’ry won.
Where sin increased, grace all the more
Through Christ, abundant life’s in store.

O grace abounding, all is right
His Word brought all my sin to light;
His Spirit cleansed me, made me whole,
In heart, in strength, in mind, in soul.

Copyright (c) 2009, Matthew R. Perry. All rights reserved.

Obama Believes the Sermon on the Mount Justifies Homosexual Unions? O-K!

In 2008 Presidential Election, Barack Obama, Culture, Politics, Theology on March 4, 2008 at 10:51 pm

An excerpt:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told a crowd at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, Sunday that he believes the Sermon on the Mount justifies his support for legal recognition of same-sex unions. He also told the crowd that his position in favor of legalized abortion does not make him “less Christian.”

To read the entire article, click here.

For the record, this is a horrible example of biblical exegesis. Bringing one’s worldview into the interpretive process of reading Scripture is dangerous and foolhardy. Beside, if he wants to talk about homosexuality, why did he neglect to address this passage:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ [28] But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. [29] If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. [30] And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell (Matthew 5:27-30, ESV).

What’s the issue? Lust. Plus, Jesus addressed male-female unions (also known as marriage) in Matthew 19

[3] And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” [4] He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, [5] and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? [6] So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:3-6, ESV).

While I realize I am not voting for a theologian-in-chief, I just have to say, “Come on! Be consistent! Read all of what Jesus says and put together the pieces.” It honestly makes me wonder how he will read his own worldview into the Constitution.

Wow!

(HT: Derick Dickens)

Does the Church Replace Israel? (Azurdia)

In Church Life, Israel, Theology on March 2, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Read Arturo Azurdia’s wonderful article on a subject crucial for the church to understand.

God’s Amazing Grace (An Introduction to the Book of Romans)

In Sermons, Theology on January 17, 2008 at 3:31 pm

When we think of how amazing grace is, we cannot help avoid. It’s glorious. Philip Yancey one time noted,

As a writer, I play with words all day long. I toy with them, listen for their overtones, crack them open, and try to stuff my thoughts inside. I’ve found that words tend to spoil over the years like old meat. … I keep circling back to grace because it is one grand theological word that has not spoiled. I call it “the last best word” because every English usage I can find retains some of the glory of the original. [1]

The word ‘grace’ is used in numerous ways. Someone who maintains an air of elegance and charm is said have ‘grace.’ Yet we need to go back to “the glory of the original” for sure and see why grace is so very much amazing!

To this end, we approach Paul’s glorious epistle to the church in Rome and shall spend this Wednesday and the next six or so covering Paul’s magnum opus. Paul wrote this epistle around A.D. 57, just six or seven years prior to his death at the hands of Emperor Nero. Paul had never visited this church. In Romans 1:10-13, Paul shares his heart by telling the Roman church that they were:

…always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles (Romans 1:10-13).

Even at the end of his letter, he was longing to see them on his way to Spain — possibly using the Roman church as a base of operations as he ministered in what is now Western Europe.

The Roman church was filled with both Jewish and Gentile believers, which explains why he spends so much time showing where they both stood before God. More on this in a moment. But the question arises: “Why did Paul write Romans?” Look with me at Romans 1:16-17 to see the central theme of this entire letter:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (ESV).

This book is about the righteousness of God. Leland Ryken and Philip G. Ryken note:

“This book’s thesis statement (1:16-17) alerts us to the central place that the righteousness of God occupies in this plan — the righteousness that God both demands in our obedience and offers to us as a free gift, received by faith.”

We see this in Romans 1:5-6 as Paul presents Jesus Christ, “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:5-6, ESV). God demands our righteousness, but our sinfulness shows that we cannot be righteous, but by the faith that God gives us we are made righteous through the Gospel. The rest of this work is about the righteousness of God: why we need his righteousness, how we obtain this righteousness, how we live out this righteousness, how God maintains control over all things in displaying his righteousness, and how God’s righteousness transforms our spirits!

(Part II next week)

[1] Philip Yancey, What So Amazing About Grace? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 12.

[2] Leland Ryken & Philip G. Ryken, ESV Literary Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), 1671.

(c) 2007.

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God’s Amazing Grace (An Introduction to the Book of Romans)

In Sermons, Theology on January 17, 2008 at 3:31 pm

When we think of how amazing grace is, we cannot help avoid. It’s glorious. Philip Yancey one time noted,

As a writer, I play with words all day long. I toy with them, listen for their overtones, crack them open, and try to stuff my thoughts inside. I’ve found that words tend to spoil over the years like old meat. … I keep circling back to grace because it is one grand theological word that has not spoiled. I call it “the last best word” because every English usage I can find retains some of the glory of the original. [1]

The word ‘grace’ is used in numerous ways. Someone who maintains an air of elegance and charm is said have ‘grace.’ Yet we need to go back to “the glory of the original” for sure and see why grace is so very much amazing!

To this end, we approach Paul’s glorious epistle to the church in Rome and shall spend this Wednesday and the next six or so covering Paul’s magnum opus. Paul wrote this epistle around A.D. 57, just six or seven years prior to his death at the hands of Emperor Nero. Paul had never visited this church. In Romans 1:10-13, Paul shares his heart by telling the Roman church that they were:

…always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles (Romans 1:10-13).

Even at the end of his letter, he was longing to see them on his way to Spain — possibly using the Roman church as a base of operations as he ministered in what is now Western Europe.

The Roman church was filled with both Jewish and Gentile believers, which explains why he spends so much time showing where they both stood before God. More on this in a moment. But the question arises: “Why did Paul write Romans?” Look with me at Romans 1:16-17 to see the central theme of this entire letter:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (ESV).

This book is about the righteousness of God. Leland Ryken and Philip G. Ryken note:

“This book’s thesis statement (1:16-17) alerts us to the central place that the righteousness of God occupies in this plan — the righteousness that God both demands in our obedience and offers to us as a free gift, received by faith.”

We see this in Romans 1:5-6 as Paul presents Jesus Christ, “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:5-6, ESV). God demands our righteousness, but our sinfulness shows that we cannot be righteous, but by the faith that God gives us we are made righteous through the Gospel. The rest of this work is about the righteousness of God: why we need his righteousness, how we obtain this righteousness, how we live out this righteousness, how God maintains control over all things in displaying his righteousness, and how God’s righteousness transforms our spirits!

(Part II next week)

[1] Philip Yancey, What So Amazing About Grace? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 12.

[2] Leland Ryken & Philip G. Ryken, ESV Literary Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), 1671.

(c) 2007.

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The Church Needs Creeds and Deeds

In Apologetics, Culture, Evangelism, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Missions, News, Preaching, Religious Organizations, SBC, Theology on January 8, 2008 at 8:59 am

Recently, in response to a letter submitted to our Kentucky state Baptist paper‘s Baptist Forum section that seemed to say “No creed but the Bible,” I felt the need to respond to this mindset. Given how many Southern Baptists are straying to other cults such as Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses because of the lack of biblical depth they possess, I wrote the following.

I am saddened and stunned at the outcry of those who lament how Southern Baptists seek to clarify doctrinal issues concerning the Scriptures, God, Christ, the church, and family. And yet all of us show the same type of shock when we see that of all the denominations from which the cults steal their sheep, Southern Baptist are their primary source of growth. Why is this?

It is because we Southern Baptists define ourselves more by what we do than by what we believe. Look back over older Western Recorder editions: they spent more time teaching what the Scriptures say rather than talking about missions and church growth almost to the exclusion of doctrinal beliefs. In fact, when Southern Baptists take a stand, they are derided as uncaring, academic, and divisive.

I am all for loving Jesus, but I believe creeds are just as valuable as the deeds. Both must be present — both the content of Scripture as well as the fruit of obedience to the Scriptures. I am for loving the Jesus of the Bible who has clear attributes and had a clear mission for His people. Until Southern Baptist rigorously study who Jesus is, what He has done, what the implications are for us who claim to be Christ-followers, what he expects from His Church and its individual members, we will continue to be fodder for those who deny the faith as we will cease to grow in any significant and spiritual way. Numbers are not the only way to grow a church — we need to be sure there are enough faithful in the church already as well!

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Savoring the Majesty of Jesus

In Sermons, Theology on July 29, 2007 at 11:10 pm

(To listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. This was preached on Sunday, July 29, 2007 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. “Have You Been to the Mountain?” Mark 9:2-8.)

On the evening of April 3, 1968, a man stood up to a crowd gather at the headquarters of the Church of God in Christ in the city of Memphis, Tennessee. After a particularly difficult time of seeing black churches burned; having water hoses turned on black men, women, and children; having had marches broken up by violent Southern policemen; having had to deal with the general injustices of hiring practices by major companies in Memphis — he delivered a great speech which would turn out to be his last speech.

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Some of you may realize that just hours after that speech on the morning of April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot and killed by James Earl Ray who was convicted and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Though this excerpt that I shared with you this morning came at the end of about a 35-minute speech, the call he issued concerning his mountaintop view still resonates with all peoples, regardless of race, creed or color even today.

Here is the question: have you been to the mountain? Have you seen the glory of our Savior? Moreover, the only way that it may truly shine is for it to be lit, as Paul says, “with the light of the knowledge of the glory of our Savior” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Dr. King’s viewpoint had a bit of a different perspective. His speech called for equality among the races, a desire for all men and women to be treated like men and women. He had a dream that men “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” We as the church of Jesus Christ have a dream for all men and women to be led to the mountain where they see not equality necessarily, but authority. Where they not simply react to their travesty, but rejoice in His majesty.

We Must Savor the Majesty of God the Son

In Mark 9:2-3, we read:

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.

This account begins “after six days” — but six days from what? Six days from the time God revealed to Peter that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God;” six days since He first told them that the Son of Man must suffer and be crucified and three days later would arise; six days from the time Jesus told the disciples and the crowd what it took to follow Him — a denial of self and a taking up of the cross! Six days from the time Jesus said that if one gained the whole world and lost one’s soul, that it would not profit them in the eyes of eternity! Six days from the time Jesus told them that if they were ashamed of Him, He would be ashamed of them when He returns in glory! Six days since the time Jesus told them in Mark 9:1 that “Truly I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

What a roller coaster day that was! First, Jesus is revealed as the Christ! Then He told them He would be killed. Then He told them He would come in glory and in power! Up, then down, then up! It was with this in mind that Jesus took Peter, James, and John — the inner circle of disciples, if you will — to a mountain. All through the Scriptures, God revealed Himself in glory upon a mountain. God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush upon a mountain and later gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the children of Israel upon a mountain. He came in power when through the Spirit’s power Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal as God came from heaven and consumed the sacrifice for all to see! It was on the mountain that Christ went to pray to seek God (Mark 1:31ff); and it was on the mountain that He chose His disciples (Mark 3:13).

Mark tells us that Jesus was “transfigured.” What does it mean to be transfigured? Warren Wiersbe says that transfiguration describes a change on the outside that comes from the inside (Wiersbe, p. 141). You see, Jesus willingly veiled His glory as part of His redemptive work here on earth. In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul tells us:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8, ESV).

John 1:14 tells us that the Word which was with God and was God (John 1:1) became flesh and made His dwelling among us. John goes on to say, “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Apostle John who wrote that was the same John who was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter tells his account as well:

For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” [18] we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain (2 Peter 1:17-18).

Seeing and savoring the glory of Christ made an impression on those three didn’t it? In fact, if you read Luke’s account, you see that when the three went up on the mountain that they “were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory” (Luke 9:32). And when we see all that God did through Peter, James, and John in the early church, they moved and worked for our Savior and Lord as those who were awakened to His glory.

Friends, the church needs to awaken to the glory of Christ even now. This was a turning point in the disciple’s lives and must be a turning point in ours as well — seeing and savoring the glory that is in Christ! John 17:20-24 says:

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

You see, Jesus was not up on that mountain merely showing off for His inner circle. He was showing His nature, but also showing us the glory we may share with Him! And when we see His glory, the church will arise and awaken and, as Jesus said in John 17, be one with Him as He is with the Father — and show the world the love that God shows to His people.

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Russ Moore Tackles Blood, Gore (Al, That Is) And Global Warming

In Culture, Politics, Theology on July 12, 2007 at 10:59 am

Here’s an excerpt of his article, “Blood, Gore, and Global Warming.

Those of us who lived through the 1980s have not forgotten the rush
of “relief concerts” that followed the USA for Africa “Live-Aid”
concert for famine relief in Ethiopia. On the heels of “We Are the
World,” Willie Nelson organized “Farm Aid” to provide relief for
foreclosing family farms. Other musicians put together concerts for
various causes, from opposition to South African apartheid to third
world debt relief. The 1980s are back, but the issues are bigger than
saving the children or saving the farmers. We’re rocking to save the
whole planet.

Former Vice President Al Gore’s “Live Earth” concert this weekend
demonstrates something of how culturally popular the crusade against
global warming can be. The truth really isn’t all that inconvenient for
most Americans, because the “solution” to global warming seems so
abstract and distant that few Americans can picture how exactly fixing
the problem would change their lives at all, beyond listening to
concerts and watching Al Gore documentaries. I am hopeful, however,
about this debate, precisely because it is, at its heart, deeply
theological.

Click here to read the rest.

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