David Platt briefly summarizes how popular books on the topic of heaven are completely at odds with the teaching of Scripture.
David Platt briefly summarizes how popular books on the topic of heaven are completely at odds with the teaching of Scripture.
Matthew 26:47–50 “While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.” (ESV)
None of this surprised Jesus. He knew Judas was a fake. He knew: the betrayal, the trial & judgment, the mockery. The pain. He knew it was all coming. In fact, the night before He prayed so intently that He bled from His pores. “Oh Father! Is there another way? Can this burden be taken from me?” Yet He knew it had to be as planned so He submitted to the Father’s will. Otherwise ALL men would be damned for all eternity.
He must have felt so alone. As He prayed, His disciples couldn’t manage to stay awake and pray with Him. No one could do this for Him. Even the Father, who had been with Him for ALL of eternity past, would turn His face away from Him before this day was done.
He knew that in this coming agony & abandonment, He would be for the first time GUILTY. Not for His own actions, but guilty of every sin of every person who ever lived. Every rebellion, every lie, every abuse, every murder, were now all His. His guilt was, to say the very least, undeserved. Yet He willingly took it on anyway, because He knew the reward of eternal delight with all believers of all generations would far outweigh this time of pain and darkness.
He knew you, and He knew me, as He suffered and died for our sins. So for those of us who truly know HIM, there is coming a day when this world and all its troubles will pass away and all things will become new. There will be no more night, or pain, or suffering or sorrow ever again!
So the lingering question is this: Do you KNOW Him?
I just came across this gem written by Barrett Johnson. I don’t know anything about him or the content of the site this came from. But this post speaks for itself. It is copied in its entirety below and requires no more comment by yours truly. Enjoy and be challenged!
We end up teaching the wrong thing because we have the wrong objectives.
This sentiment was stirred in me afresh when I read an interview with Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer. He was reflecting on how the “Christian message” he was trying to teach wasn’t Christianity at all…
“I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality. . .
And that was such a huge shift for me from the American Christian ideal. We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god.”
So what is your objective?
Do you teach your kids “be good because the Bible tells you to” or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters.
I want my kids to be good. We all do. But as our kids grow up, the truth of the gospel can easily get lost somewhere between salvation (where we know we need Jesus) and living life (where we tend to say “I’ve got this”). My experience is that the vast majority of parents are encouraging moral behavior in their kids so that God will bless their (usually self-centered) pursuits. It’s the American Dream plus Jesus. And it produces good, moral pagans.
Consider the key objectives you have for your kids. Seriously, take a minute to think about what would deem you a successful parent. If your goals are focused on your kids’ behavior, their happiness, or their accomplishments (but don’t include a dependence upon Christ and a submission to His will and work), then you might want to make some adjustments.
Because the world has enough pagans. Even plenty of really nice ones. What we need is kids who fully grasp the reality that they have nothing to offer, but who intimately know a God who has everything they need.
Drop your labels from the Labels for Education into the giant Campbell’s soup can in the foyer.
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You – yes you – can help financially support our camp simply by changing your internet search habits. Goodsearch.com makes it so easy: just set up a user account with them and add Iowa Regular Baptist Camp as your chosen recipient. Any time you use Goodsearch for your internet search needs, they will donate a penny to IRBC. In fact, you can earn even more for camp by searching the “Goodshop” section of the site to find online retailers who will donate a percentage of your purchase as well. So by doing the searching and shopping you would normally do online, you can support camp at the same time!
It’s that time of year when masses of people come up with great ideas to make next year better than this year. Some will resolve to lose weight only to gain. Others will resolve to reign in their spending habits and finally make some financial headway. Whether you are one who generally succeeds in your New Year’s resolutions, or if you are one who tends to only make it a few weeks, it NEVER hurts to try!
January 1 is a great day to start reading through the Bible once more! Looking at all 66 books at once will seem daunting. But when you realize that you can make it through the entire book in one year by simply reading 4 or 5 chapters each day, all-of-the-sudden it seems a little more attainable.
There are plenty of different ways to read through the Bible in a year. Denny Burk has come up with a simple 4-5 chapter per day plan that takes you from Genesis through Revelation. (Links to both Word and PDF versions are about halfway down in his post.)
You can listen while you read using a daily Bible reading podcast. Here is one that goes through various parts of the Bible each day. Here is another one that is in chronological order. The previous two links are iTunes specific, but you can find other podcasts that do not require iTunes or an Apple device at all. Just search Google for “Daily Audio Bible Podcast.”
The plans I have mentioned so far are all “slow and steady” methods. Peter Krol makes the case for “sprinting to the end” – starting January 1 and finishing the entire Bible as fast as you can.
What ever way you start reading, I can guarantee one thing: Any distance you make through the Bible will be MORE than what you would have read had you not started! So resolve now to make 2014 your Bible-reading year!
You probably don’t know this about me, but I can recite the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Well, almost. I never sat down to try and memorize it, but one of the books I had growing up had this poem in it, and who knows how many times I read it! So even now, if for some reason part of that poem pops into my head, I can without effort go through the whole thing – almost. The place I get stuck is probably different each time, but no bother – it’s just a fun, imaginative poem. Not knowing it is not consequential.
I can also recite the Christmas story found in Luke chapter two. Just the other day my children were watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” when all of the sudden, my ears perked up. One of the characters was reciting the Christmas story! “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord…” you can finish it in your head at this point. Or at least almost.
It is said that “familiarity breeds contempt,” referring to relationships that are allowed to grow stale. When it comes to those of us who have grown up hearing the Christmas story each and every year, perhaps we could say that “familiarity breeds indifference.” Indifference is the almost that gets us to miss out on the fullest joy of Christmas.
Oh we know that Christmas isn’t about presents & pageants, or eggnog & cookies. We know it’s about God the Father sending the Son to earth. We even know the reason Jesus came was so that He could die. But if these dry facts constituted all Christmas were about, then our atheist detractors would be right in saying that God is a dastardly cosmic child-abuser. Familiarity with indifference does not mean that we “forget” the truth of Christmas, but maybe that we “fail to actively remember.”
Perhaps our almost dilutes our Christmas joy because we look for joy in family and festivities rather than in the Father. Maybe our almost robs us of our Christmas peace because we have allowed situations and circumstances to cloud our view of the Savior. Whatever your almost is, find it, fix it, and revel once again in the greatest gift ever given: a gift not wrapped in paper, but in flesh; not shining reflections from a bow, but radiating the eternal glory of God. And remember, that gift is for you!
John 1:14, 16 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently spoke at Brigham Young University. His address was entitled, “A Clear and Present Danger: Religious Liberty, Marriage, and the Family in the Late Modern Age.” So why in the world would a Baptist be invited to speak at a Mormon university? Though many of their theological stands are universes apart, when it comes to marriage and family values, both share many of the same standards and face many of the same threats in today’s society.
There is so much we could talk about in this address, which you can read in full-length here. Below I have highlighted some passages that whet your appetite to read the whole thing.
Dr. Mohler may have gone in to the belly of the Mormon beast, as it were, but he did not go in with any inkling of theological compromise or wavering. Note his “polite frankness” in the following paragraphs:
I am not here because I believe we are going to heaven together. I do not believe that. I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. I love and respect you as friends, and as friends we would speak only what we believe to be true, especially on matters of eternal significance. We inhabit separate and irreconcilable theological worlds, made clear with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity. And yet here I am, and gladly so. We will speak to one another of what we most sincerely believe to be true, precisely because we love and respect one another.
I do not believe that we are going to heaven together, but I do believe we may go to jail together. I do not mean to exaggerate, but we are living in the shadow of a great moral revolution that we commonly believe will have grave and devastating human consequences. Your faith has held high the importance of marriage and family. Your theology requires such an affirmation, and it is lovingly lived out by millions of Mormon families. That is why I and my evangelical brothers and sisters are so glad to have Mormon neighbors. We stand together for the natural family, for natural marriage, for the integrity of sexuality within marriage alone, and for the hope of human flourishing.
He then goes on to make his point that the redefinition of marriage in our country is not of contemporary ilk, but has been in a continuous state of redefinition over the past few decades.
We must note with honesty and candor that this moral revolution and the disestablishment of marriage did not begin with the demand of same-sex couples to marry. The subversion of marriage began within the context of the great intellectual shift of modernity. Marriage was redefined in terms of personal fulfillment rather than covenant obligation. Duty disappeared in the fog of demands for authenticity and the romanticized ideal of personal fulfillment. Marriage became merely a choice and then a personal expression. Companionate marriage was secularized and redefined solely in terms of erotic and romantic appeal—for so long as these might last…
The divorce revolution has not only made marriage a tentative, if not temporary, condition, it has redefined marriage as nothing more than a public celebration of an essentially and non-negotiably individual act of self-expression…
Heterosexuals did a very good job of undermining marriage before same-sex couples arrived with their demands. The marriage crisis is a moral crisis and it did not start with same-sex marriage, nor will it end there. The logic of same-sex marriage will not end with same-sex marriage. Once marriage can mean anything other than a heterosexual union, it can and must mean everything. It is just a matter of time.
As of yesterday, homosexual marriage is currently legal in 15 states plus Washington D.C. Ten years ago it was zero. (Massachusetts made it legal in November, 2003.) We did not begin losing the marriage battle in the last ten years with same-sex marriage. We lost it when we abandoned the biblical model of marriage of one man and one woman until one died.
The battle for marriage will not be won by the influence of a political party, the actions of a legislature or court, or by a groundswell of grass-roots movements. It can only happen by way of a God-sent revival that results in changed hearts and changed lives. So while we continue to fight for the one true definition of marriage, let us battle even harder for the salvation of souls and the surrender of hearts and minds to the truth of God’s Word.
Soli Deo Gloria
The Gospel Coalition has an article today talking about Pastor Henry Gerecke who led some of Hitler’s most notorious henchmen to Christ. I don’t know about you, but when I think of the horrific things that Hitler and his regime did, my natural (sinful) reaction is to take satisfaction that their eternal punishment is well-deserved.
Too bad my natural reaction isn’t a little more biblical: seeing my own sin as deserving of eternal punishment! A notable quote from the article reveals the truly scandalous nature of God’s grace:
“But the truth is that people are not condemned because they murder, or steal, or lie. They are condemned because they reject Jesus as the one who has already endured hell for them on the cross and earned a place for them in heaven. There is no one so vile that he is beyond redemption.”
When mass-murder, rape, tyranny, and terrorism aren’t the things that condemn us for eternity, we must conclude that the one thing that does condemn must be far worse than these other harrowing sins. And indeed it is. Jesus Christ had the sin of the world placed on Him as He was brutally crucified. To refuse that gift of mercy and grace is to be ultimately lost, and “…there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment…” (Hebrews 10:26-31). And that judgment has NOTHING to do with any crime committed, but ONLY to do with rejecting the Son of God.
Don’t believe me? Are you still reeling from the concept that someone who committed such atrocities could be saved by simple faith in the Son of God, while someone who has lived a nice moral life but failed to believe in Jesus would be condemned? Does that still make your blood boil a bit? Hear the words of Jesus found right after one of the Bible’s most well-known verses:
John 3:17–18 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
I am eternally glad that salvation is God’s gracious gift bestowed on us through Christ by faith alone. How about you?
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Well, school’s back in full swing, and the wonderful chaotic schedule of summer is starting to simmer down. As our students head back to class, if there is one thing I would want them to take with them, it’s this: “Love God.”
Students are prone to information overload as various teachers instruct them in various subjects, all of which will have some level of importance in order to pass the class (regardless of if it is important to real life). So under this mountain of other stuff to know, if they can take only one more thing with them, it will always be: “Love God.”
As church leaders, it would be tempting to tell our students that the most important thing is to recruit others to Sunday School, youth group, or AWANA. We might want to tell them they need know how to share their faith with others and lead them to Christ. We might tell them to do their devotions, carry their Bibles to class, or encourage them to lead Bible studies after class. ALL these things are well and good, but if we were to boil it all down to one thing, it would always be: “Love God.”
See, if we love God, we WILL recruit people to church, we WILL share the gospel, we WILL place scripture in high priority among everything we do. We can’t love God and neglect these things! Jesus himself declared the kingpin of everything contained in the Old Testament hinged on this: “Love God.”
Matthew 22:36–40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)