Mar

27

2014

Jared C. Wilson|9:33 am CT

Your Best Links Now – 3/27/14

Why Is This Issue Different? by Kevin DeYoung
Kevin wisely addresses the questions about the need to divide over the issue of homosexuality or gay marriage. What makes this issue different from, say, differences in church polity or views on baptism? I think that the question is even asked is a strong indicator of the pervasive spirit of the age in the church, but Kevin’s answers are detailed, thorough, and strong, particularly point #4: “[C]ommending homosexuality involves the core of the gospel because it urges us to celebrate a behavior of which the Bible calls us to repent.” This is exactly the point many of us were trying to make about the initial World Vision decision; calling fair what God has called foul directly compromises the integrity of one’s claim to provide distinctly Christian ministry.

Five False Perceptions About The Hobby Lobby Case by Ashley McGuire

In another hot button cultural moment, McGuire writing for The Federalist refutes some common talking points from Hobby Lobby’s critics. The misinformation (whether out of deceit or simply ignorance) is crazy rampant. For instance, did you know Hobby Lobby is not “refusing to fund birth control for female employees”?

30 Pilots and Flight Attendants Confess The Best Kept Secrets About Flying
I actually learned some interesting things from this list, which is rare for these kinds of viral filler posts. Some of it is cool. A lot of it is, well, disconcerting.

No.
Just, no.

I Lost My Dad in a Plane Crash, Too by Grant Castleberry
“As someone who served as a Marine Air Traffic Control officer and who lost a relative in a plane crash (my father’s body was never recovered in the Atlantic Ocean), I’ve been closely following the search and rescue efforts [for Malaysia flight #370]. I was deeply saddened when I heard about the initial loss of the aircraft, and have been perplexed by the strange, known movements of the aircraft that have been disclosed on the news networks. I know the family members are distraught with this new information, since they were clinging onto the hope that somehow the aircraft might have landed somewhere on the possible northern route into Asia.”

Let’s Stay Together
Ladies and gentlemen, the Reverend Al Green.

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Mar

26

2014

Jared C. Wilson|1:00 pm CT

All of Christ for All of Life

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
– John 1:16

Not a bit of Christ is held back from those who trust him. He does not mete himself out according to measures of faith but according to the veracity of it. And for those with a weak faith, if it be true, he gives enough himself for all eternity. A weak faith may hinder us, but it does not hinder him.

And true faith is itself a gift of grace from him. His fullness must fill, so hardened hearts must be softened to receive his own.

The grace keeps coming, ever-present and ever-new. We wake up to new mercies delivered to our bedside, from which we begin our days with new ideas for sin and self-sovereignty. Still Christ does not stand over us as we wake up groggy and grumpy, shaking his head and frowning and muttering, “Ugh. This guy.” He stands over us with a sparkle in his eye, returning our morning breath-filled yawn with a beaming welcome, “This guy!”

In Christ there is grace to sustain for every need, grace to empower every deed. There is the grace to forgive all of our sins and the grace to impute to us his perfect righteousness. There is the grace to absorb the wrath of God we were due and the grace to conquer the sin and death we could not escape. There is grace to live and grace to die. There is grace to crawl and grace to fly. There is grace below and grace up high (Psalm 139:8).

In Christ, there is grace to get through the stinkin’ day. And whether we do so by the skin of our teeth or bounding and leaping with joy upon joy, our souls are united to him day by day and age to age. Because his fullness does not afford a meager grace, a probationary grace, a tentative grace. For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.

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Mar

26

2014

Jared C. Wilson|10:00 am CT

What is Good News for the Poor?

M53668If Christ and his kingdom are all that matters, we find money and material possessions put in their proper place. They are not rejected as evil, of course, but they find their orbit around Christ as the true treasure. This kingdom framework helps us in understanding the challenging things Jesus says about wealth and also about caring for the poor.

In Luke’s reproduction of the Beatitudes, we learn that Jesus had alternate versions to the clause on poverty. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). Matthew’s Gospel, written primarily for a Jewish audience, focuses on a poverty of a different kind (Matthew 5:3), but Luke, writing primarily for Gentiles, wants us to know that the kingdom’s coming has real implications for the materially poor too. And yet, the gospel for the poor is still not money.

As we’ve seen, there is plenty in the Scriptures to commend the need for social justice initiatives as implications of the gospel, but almost nothing to commend them as the gospel itself. The gospel for the materially poor is not financial justice, although that is a valid implication of the kingdom’s coming to bear in the world, but instead the same gospel to the poor in spirit—eternal life in Christ Jesus. Why must we hold this distinction between gospel content and gospel entailments as it relates to poverty? Here are nine reasons:

1. The gospel is the news of the work of Christ—sinless life, sacrificial death, bodily resurrection—which is to say, the gospel is not the news of anything we’ve done or can do. The gospel is also “the kingdom” that was coming in and through Christ’s ministry, inaugurated in his life, death, and resurrection. But whether we use the gospel definition of 1 Corinthians 15 or the kingdom gospel framework of the synoptic Gospels, the gospel is still news of something that Christ has done or is doing. Therefore, anything that happens now and done by us—including, but not limited to, what we might call social justice—is not the gospel message itself, but the Christian’s living as if that gospel message is true. I maintain that the gospel’s content ends and the gospel’s implications begin when we start doing stuff.

2. Secondly, if the gospel’s content includes economic justice for the poor, it means that the gospel includes work that Christians do, and if the gospel includes work that Christians do, we end up “preaching ourselves” and stealing the glory of the gospel that is due God alone. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:5, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” We are the servants of others—including in the work of caring for the poor—but we preach as the gospel Christ only, and this distinction is held for Jesus’ glory.

3. Economic justice is a sign of the good news, but not the news itself, in the same way that Jesus’ miracles of the healing of the blind or raising of the lame were not the good news, but signs pointing to the gospel of redemption of creation. We see this delineation perhaps most starkly in John 6 when the crowds were eager to eat the signs (bread) but demurred on eating the signified (Christ’s flesh).

4. Economic justice is temporal justice. This is perhaps the most crucial point to be made. The gospel’s justice is eternal. None of us gets to take money with us. Loving our neighbor in the way of providing for the poor demonstrates that our treasure is not monetary. But to argue that social justice is gospel content, not gospel implication, is to muddle the eternal treasure of Christ with treasure that rusts and decays. The miracles were not permanent. Those who were healed still died. Those who were raised died again. Those given food and money were hungry and in need again. Even marriage, one of the most glorious and direct representations of the gospel, gives way at the consummation of the kingdom into the wedding feast of the Lamb. We won’t need marriage or sex to have happy lives when heaven takes over earth, and we certainly won’t need money or possessions or medicine for that reason either. Given all that Jesus says related to earthly treasures rusting and decaying, we do the gospel of eternal life no favors by making money and material possessions part of its announcement.

5. Related to that, interpreting “good news for the poor” as economic justice is to misdirect focus off Christ as the super-fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and make the same mistake as most of Jesus’ Jewish audience whose messianic expectation pictured him literally overthrowing the Roman occupation and establishing political kingship in Jerusalem. Now of course, Jesus did do that. He was proclaiming his Lordship—and in effect denying Caesar’s—but as we have said, the way he was doing that was not immediately literal. That Jesus is Lord has profound effects on how Christians live, including economically, but those are effects of Christ’s Lordship, not the content of his Lordship. Or, to put it another way, a poor person can have eternal life while remaining poor. Some would suggest this view merely “spiritualizes” the promises of God, and while there is a way some do that in disharmony with the Scriptures, we should at least reiterate that what the Bible calls “spiritual” is not un-real.

Further, I would not go as far to say Jesus merely spiritualized the kingdom; he was really there, he was really Lord, he really offered his tangible self to follow and trust and to die, and this incarnational reality and sacrifice and resurrection is not un-real at all. Indeed, there is nothing un-real about the promise of a risen Lord securing new bodies for us in a new heavens and new earth to come.

But if we reduce the gospel to its implications, we will have to make sense of how the gospel proclaiming “liberty to the captives” would have encouraged John the Baptist while he languished in prison, awaiting execution. And we must ask how it could encourage any believer struggling financially or materially. To force the issue gives way to the perniciousness of the prosperity gospel.

6. The “good news for the poor” Jesus preaches is not economic justice, or else his own ministry was fairly a failure, as we don’t see too many examples of the disciples providing money for the poor, and in fact they were occasionally lacking for things like food and money themselves. It also makes James and John’s gospel encounter with the blind man in Acts 3 a consolation prize. They had not silver and gold, but they had something far better.

7. “Good news for the poor” necessarily meaning “economic justice for the poor” is an eisegetic reading. Take a look at Luke 7:22 for instance:

And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.

Notice that Jesus doesn’t say “the poor receive finances.” The blind get sight back. The lame get mobility. The lepers get restored flesh. The dead get life. But the poor don’t get un-poor. They have the good news preached to them. This good news is not money, but the treasure of Christ, the satisfaction of Christ. We will always have the poor with us, in fact (Matthew 26:11).

8. Justice for the poor is in realizing that poverty is no hindrance to gaining the treasure of all-surpassing worth. This is not out of step with the larger paradigm of “the gospel of the kingdom.” It makes perfect sense of the Beatitudes, for instance, which promise “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). How does it promise the kingdom to the poor? Not in giving money, but in turning the tables on how the haves and have-nots are regarded. No, the promise to the poor is not that they will be rich monetarily but that they will receive the far greater blessing of eternal life in Christ, the approval of God, the status of co-heir with Jesus. In the world’s fallen economy, the poor are at the bottom of the barrel because they have not the power of money. But in God’s economy, money is not power, and therefore the rich, the powerful, the lords of the earth are humbled, and the humble are exalted.

If the gospel for the poor is economic parity aren’t we preaching the gospel of middle class-ness? Or a wealth gospel? The reason the gospel of the kingdom is good news for the poor is not because the Son of Man comes handing out cash and prizes but because it upturns the economic values of the world. In God’s kingdom, the rich man has his reward now and he will perish later, but the poor are elevated, saved, made “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

9. If the gospel’s content includes economic justice, it makes little sense to say we believe in this gospel with the gift of faith. I don’t need faith to believe I will receive money, but merely an open hand. The requirement of the spiritual open hand of faith for grasping of the gospel demands that the gospel promises something immaterial (as of yet).

With all that said, we must reiterate that care for the needy (whether poor or hungry or naked or ill) is a command of God binding on his people and to be obeyed as joyful gospel witness. Like all good works, seeking justice for the poor or otherwise underprivileged is a worshipful response to the gospel of Christ’s finished work; our good works are not the gospel itself. This is a supremely important point, because the danger persists among those who insist that social justice is the gospel of “seeking to justify themselves.” As we see again, Jesus really is bringing good news to the poor, but he is at the same time subverting our concept of good news. He brings the richness of himself and holds nothing of himself back, and in doing so redefines wealth for us.

(from The Storytelling God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Parables)

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Mar

26

2014

Jared C. Wilson|8:14 am CT

Your Best Links Now – 3/26/14

What Happens in Conversion from Nick Batzig
Nick drops some tasty J.E. on us, writing, “It is arguably the greatest theological explanation of regeneration in all of church history.”

Leadership is Lonely and It Should Be by Lore Ferguson
“Leadership is lonely because decreasing is lonely. The larger the Lord of your life becomes to others, the less they see you, and isn’t that what we all want? Just a bit? To be seen, known, and truly loved? To be unshackled from the collective prison of our minds and hearts, to be free to roam among other commoners, to find our place at the fire or the table, to fit in?”

Speaking of loneliness:

The Lonely Life and Mysterious Death of Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon
“Martha had sole reign of her environs for four years or so. Her fame grew, and people made her aviary a destination. The New York Zoo is said to have done all it could to get Stephans to part with his unique experiment. Protected from the violence that would have claimed her in nature, Martha’s vitality slowly ebbed . . .”

Maybe You’ve Heard That Rumor About Razor Blades at the Local Park
Turns out this ghastly urban “legend” is true. Hopefully just an isolated incident, but a sick mind.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss on Complementarianism
“God gives to men—and I think Scripture bears this out—the primary responsibility in the home and in the church, to lead and to feed the family of God. This has to do with governance and teaching. Those are the two primary responsibilities, as I study the Scripture, of New Testament pastors and elders. Therefore, as I understand the Scripture, I believe that the position of pastor or elder within the church is reserved for men . . .”

Kevin Durant Dunks from the Third Heaven
This oop came from a loooooong alley.

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Mar

25

2014

Jared C. Wilson|1:40 pm CT

Division Begins with The Departure from the Truth

Do two walk together,
unless they have agreed to meet?

– Amos 3:3

Christians who affirm the normative, traditional, historical, orthodox view of the Bible’s teaching on various sins are always accused of being divisive when in sticking to their affirmations they must disassociate with those who don’t.

It’s a disingenuous claim, however, since unity could have been preserved so long as the agreement did. But when one changes a mind on such matters the division has begun with them (1 Corinthians 1:10), not the one who says, “Ah, you’ve changed the rules; you’ve changed the agreement.” It would be like the adulterer calling after his wife as she’s walking out the door in anger and shame that she’s being divisive.

The person who objects is often told they are “singling out” this particular sin as over-important, as more important than unity! But it is not those who protest who are singling out particular sins. It is those bringing the revision, the ones asking, “Did God really say…?”, the ones who suggest it should now be normal what we previously agreed was objectionable who are singling it out, elevating it above the agreement. They are the ones making it the sticking point.

We think of the historical development of credal truth. Many of the historic creeds that so many professing Christians affirm as litmus tests for doctrinal orthodoxy began as responses to introduced heresies. As unbiblical ideas took seed in church communities, those who affirmed orthodoxy thought it best to formulate and codify what had been previously assumed. But it wasn’t the crafters of the creeds who were being divisive. It was the heterodox.

And it isn’t those who believe the Bible when it says sin is sin that are being divisive; it is those who are introducing the idea that some sins aren’t. If you push a decision on something that innovates on the Bible’s testimony, you’re creating the division. Division begins with that first departure. The first step away from the agreement is the original divide. It is simply necessary, then, for Christians to walk away from a divisive person (Titus 3:10). Perhaps they may even say, “Farewell.”

They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.
Jude 18-19

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Mar

25

2014

Jared C. Wilson|1:09 pm CT

Your Best Links Now – 3/25/14

Forgiveness Must Go Before Sanctification from Ray Ortlund
Ray excerpts J.C. Ryle, sharing, “The only way to make men holy is to teach and preach free and full forgiveness through Jesus Christ . . .”

On World Vision and the Gospel by Russell Moore
“At stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ. If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it. If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish . . .”

Updated Spurgeon Cigar Appreciation
Phil Johnson has updated the Spurgeon page devoted to the Prince of Preachers’ affection for stogies to include some recent photos from Spurgeon’s great grandson David of Charles’s cigar case and a few of his last cigars, including one he didn’t finish. Be still my smoking heart! Johnson writes that this “should put to rest the common myth that Spurgeon gave up smoking cigars before he died.” Great stuff for fans.

FCC Fines Viacom for Using that Annoying Beeping Noise
This is a test of the emergency broadcasting system. You started tuning out this eardrum-cauterizing alert a long time ago, but some media companies are in trouble with the FCC for using the distinctive sound in a trailer for a movie. It will cost them $1.9 million apparently.

Centrados: A Spanish-Language Resource Cite for All Things Gospel-Centered
Very, very cool. Like The Gospel Coalition merged with The Resurgence and Ligonier, this site called Centrados (means basically “centered ones”) looks to be a valuable resource. Already been pointing some of our mission connections this way.

Two Year-Old Trick Shot Artist Charms Hollywood Actors
And makes it rain like nobody’s bidness.

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Mar

24

2014

Jared C. Wilson|10:28 am CT

Your Best Links Now – 3/24/14

Osteenification and What it Portends by Hank Hanegraaff
“But here’s the problem. Behind Osteenian self-affirmations—I am anointed, I am prosperous, My God is a ‘supersizing God’—there lies a darker hue. Behind the smile is a robust emphasis on all that is negative.”

The Trinity in the Old Testament

Fred Sanders highlights the thinking of Geehardus Vos in tracing the presence of the Trinity in the Old Testament.

Lesbian Asks a Church to Stone Her
Church insists Jesus would stone gay people. So a gay person asks the church to stone her. “We’ll get back to you on that,” the essentially say. I say, “Good for her.” It is sad that it is just as often that churches deny the grace in the gospel as it is that gay folks deny the law that necessitates the gospel.

Codes Still Uncracked
These ciphers still confound anybody who tries to make sense of them. This article, from a site focused on research into identifying the infamous Zodiac Killer of the San Francisco area in the 70′s, highlights developments in cracking the difficult ciphers left by the murderer, only the first of which was ever translated, as well as the apparently impossible MIT Timelock Puzzle.

The Kind of Pastor I Want to Be by Matt Redmond

“If I’ve learned anything over the past few years, its the difference between ministering to people with a theology of glory instead of a theology of the cross . . .”

The Most Amazing “Wheel of Fortune” Solve in the Show’s History

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Mar

20

2014

Jared C. Wilson|5:29 pm CT

Get Abide While You Can

005271630Lifeway/Threads is moving my Bible study curriculum Abide: Practicing Kingdom Rhythms in a Consumer Culture to out of print status. This means that after the current stock of the book ($8.95) and the leader kit ($49.99) are sold out, no more will be produced. The digital downloads of the material will be available until the end of the year.

So if you’re interested in this gospel-centered study of the spiritual disciplines, specifically as applied to life in our busy, materialistic consumer culture, this is your head’s up to purchase it while you can.

(My Threads study Seven Daily Sins is still in print.)

Abide from Threads on Vimeo.

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Mar

20

2014

Jared C. Wilson|10:39 am CT

Your Best Links Now – 3/20/14

Coffee With Facepalm Jesus Calling by Fred Sanders
“Because it really is a terrible idea; all of it from Meme Jesus to Coffee With Jesus, call-in Jesus, and beyond. Whatever good can be done with these instruments is more than counterbalanced by the mental pollution of a climate in which the Jesi of various media are acting as spokesmen for their authors’ insights. And even if the ‘Jesus with new word balloons’ phenomenon springs from a heartfelt desire to hear from Jesus today (a motivation that I think should be treated tenderly, given some respect, and encouraged), the device of a talking Jesus character saying your own words is self-defeating . . .”

Reflections on the Calvinism Debate in the SBC by Tom Ascol
“Without a doubt the debate over Calvinism within the SBC has moved progressively to higher ground over the last few years. Those who are alarmed by the intensity of the current debate, or even the occasional rancor that unfortunately attends it, most likely are new to it. As someone who has served more than thirty years as a Southern Baptist pastor who is convinced of the doctrines of grace, I regard the nature of the debate today to be, for the most part, far healthier and more in keeping with the kind of polemical theology that befits true Christians than at any time in recent history . . .”

Physicists, Generals, and CEOs Agree: Ditch the PowerPoint at NPR
“The main advantage of forgoing PowerPoint is that it forces both the speaker and the listener to pay attention, says John Paul Chou, an assistant professor of physics at Rutgers University who recently presented at one of the Fermilab forums. With PowerPoint, he says, it’s ‘easier to let your mind go on autopilot, and you start to lose focus more easily’.”

The 530-Pound Exosuit That Will Help Discover Life Deep In the Sea

“Eighteen years ago, Mike Lombardi started his diving career as a high school student looking for lost wallets and keys off the coast of Rhode Island. But this July, he’s about to take a trip no other diver ever has. At a depth of 1,000 feet–hundreds of feet deeper than divers can go with conventional gear–he’ll be seeking out undiscovered species of bioluminescent animals who spend their lives in total darkness . . .”

Evangelicals Converting to Catholicism by Jonathan Fitzgerald
Especially younger evangelicals. You mean, they don’t want their church experience to be like MTV or Disney?

The Guy Who Talks About the “Garfield” Movie Too Much
And Odie is up to his old tricks.

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Mar

19

2014

Jared C. Wilson|9:49 am CT

Your Best Links Now – 3/19/14

Outrage Porn and The Christian Reader by Tim Challies
“[W]hen we are outraged about every little matter, we lose our ability to be outraged about the most important matters. When we respond with outrage to every little offense, eventually we become hardened to the things that actually matter. If everything is outrageous, nothing is outrageous.”

Whither the Prosperity Gospel? by Russell Moore
“So, the question remains, where are all the people who once thronged the Crystal Cathedral. The Charlottesville correspondent explains to the American scholars: ‘They are at home, having their self-esteem puffed up by a new breed of prosperity-Gospel preacher, including Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and T.D. Jakes’.”

Where in the United States Are You Most likely to See a UFO?
Per capita, Maine and Arizona take the interstellar cake. In terms of sheer number of sightings, California is the clear winner, but you might see 800 aliens just walking down Ventura Boulevard.

This Insane New App Will Let You Read Novels in Less Than 90 Minutes
“Other apps have offered up similar types of rapid serial visual presentation to enhance reading speed and convenience on mobile devices in the past. However, what Spritz does differently (and brilliantly) is manipulate the format of the words to more appropriately line them up with the eye’s natural motion of reading.” You can try out the effect at the link above. I can see how it works quite easily, but my question would be about how much one could retain or understand in seeking to read so quickly. I’m not so sure this app helps you read books so much as it helps you to have read books. If you know what I mean.

Should We Even Talk About Predestination? by Daniel Hyde
“[W]ithout predestination,” Hyde says, “you would have no Bible.”

Let’s Make a Fire Tornado
First step: Go to the Walmarts, because you’re going to need a lot of box fans.

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