Wednesday, January 31, 2007
1 Peter 3:15
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. Jesus will return.
Orthodoxy depends upon the Biblical fact of the return of Jesus Christ in judgment.
When is another question. Brilliant theologians have differed in their opinions of either when that judgment will take place, (or did take place in some tenuous positions) or how the specifics will be in the, in my friend John Lowe's vernacular, "time to come". Personally, I prefer the numb headed eschatological position. It consists of two principles:
1) Lotsa people die.
2) God wins.
(credit Greg Koukl, who is not a numbhead)
If my eschatology rested on what I like, I would prefer to take a pre-wrath rapture, thus avoiding the really nasty judgment. I've never held too tightly to the eschatology of the typical Southern Baptist dispensational pre-tribulation rapture position due to the effect upon the Gospel. Some pretrib holders also motivate the unbeliever to make a profession of faith to get out of hell with the least cost, what Dr. John MacArthur rightly calls "easy believism".
If you have not read Hard to Believe by Dr. John MacArthur you are missing one of the finest diagnosis of the modern day church as it misleads and still-borns "bELIEVERS'. (remember, little first letters mean the opposite of the normal definition within context in my ~writing~). To use a dispensational metaphor, the Laodicean church age is certainly producing "bELIEVERS" who are metaphorically still-born, Born Again Believers. Dead in their trespasses and sin and not regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, I thought that the cartoon was inspiring: There are two positions that I truly believe to be major distractions for human beings:
1) Christians looking for a "Beady eyed, yallow skinned, red horn, now hooo duz 'at remind yun'z ofh?" AntiChrist and are ignoring the lost in their midst, who need the Good News from the Scriptures.
2) Atheist and Agnostics who have established their Autonomy and suppress the truth in unrighteousness, suffering the penalty of judgment for their sin without the "great exchange" of The Righteousness of Jesus Christ swapped for their filthy rags of Autonomous Self Righteous Secular Humanist worldview.
Atheists: Repent and beg for the grace of God by Salvation in Jesus Christ.
Christians: Put down the Left Behind series and read your Bible.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Only if you stand before the God of the universe who righteously judges sin.
Click for a video of Me warning of DANGER!
Christians are accused of alarmism when they are perceived by atheists to behave like "chicken little" giving a false alarm. The truth of the matter is that in order to make any sense of the trials of life, the foundational understanding of the person of God and His character is the basis for making sense of perceived ills (sin and wrongness) that empiricists measure and weigh with finite minds. Righteous Judgment is a foundational characteristic of God known by the revelation of the person of God in the Scriptures. The only way to make sense of the Hitlers, Dahmlers, Susan Smiths and the abortionists of this world is with the character of God and His righteous Judgment and the Mercy he provides in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for atonement of sin.
The Christian must answer to the great commission (for atheists; the scriptures clearly delineate a commission similar to the order and funds given by a benefactor to an artist to produce a work of art, that in the end is totally attributable to the benefactor) clearly delineated in Matthew 28 in order to live consistently with the Christian Worldview.
Matthew 281Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6"He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7"Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you." 8And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.
9And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me."
11Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 3and said, "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.' 14"And if this should come to the governor's ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble." 15And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.
The Great Commission16But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Christians, when you answer the Great commission remember that the Grace of God is un-measurable by an empiricist without the Righteous Judgment in which it stands in contrast. For the unbelieving autonomous empiricist; are you honest in your observation and personal measurement of truth? Will you read the whole post, including the Scriptures and honestly measure consistently with your profession of "freethinking" with a truly open mind and be willing to permit that open mind to submit to the authority of the God of the Universe?
My PFA* friends and countrymen, I agree with the Apostle Paul concerning you as you face righteous judgment:
3For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. 30What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith;
In the end, the resolution to the problem of warning of righteous judgment of your sin is;
21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
I plead with you to truly think freely, set aside your presuppositions and weigh the balance between an autonomous, empiricistic, atheistic worldview and the only way to make sense of this world, the repentant Christian life. May God have mercy on your, my PFA friends, Souls.
*(Piedmont Freethought Association)
Family Bible Study
I've supported family Bible study for a number of years following exhortation to establish a "family altar" from a pastor friend of mine. While the principle of patriarchal spiritual leadership finds its foundation in Genesis 1 and is abdicated in Genesis 3, the Bible is clear in Deuteronomy 6 concerning the Father's responsibility to teach his children about the God of the Scriptures. (For those unfamiliar or confused, I refer to the Triune God of Orthodox Christianity)
4"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7"You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
This weekend I had the distinct pleasure to watch my terminally funny, cuter-n-uh-spotted-puppydog-under-uh-red-wagon 14 year old daughter celebrate her birthday with a few close friends. My 19 year old daughter had two friends (siblings of a friend of the birthday girl) and two other friends were tallied to give us an extended family for an overnight stay. It was a pleasure to demonstrate our family Bible study for the visitors, each from a functioning Christian home (there are people who say they are cHRISTIANS but do not live consistently with their profession, therefore I call them little "c" cHRISTIANS).
Well, the inductive Bible study methodology takes lots of effort, time and hard work, the challenges of "teaching" the inductive methodology adds to the delays that we are unaccustomed to when it is just the VanDerwerker family. Each of the girls participated and we had the normal distractions, phone calls, no pen, "what page are we on", "What color highlighter do you have" and lots of laughter. This was a great joy to me to see young women enjoying studying the Bible in a family setting. I know each of the girls laughed and learned.
The best part of the family Bible study came much later when my 19 year old sad "Dad, this was a great weekend. There was a spirit of hospitality, friendship, joy and discipleship at our home this weekend that was wonderful!" That comment was from a little girl now housed in an adult body. (She was giddy over the gift from a good friend, a "Belle" tiara from the movie "Beauty and the Beast" -- perhaps she still imagines she is Belle,...)
A few hours later I listened to a friend of mine in a conversation with some folks who proposed that Christians who teach their children the Bible are actually committing "Mental Child Abuse". While I kept quiet, I admit that I would like to have had my daughter answer that question for the participants and watch a few swallowed tongues.
It's hard work for a father to answer his responsiblities to his children and teach them about the person of God as revealed in the Scriptures. It's also hard to deal with the truth. I am glad that God has granted repentance to me, renewed my mind and provides the will and ability to do so. With the words of a familiar hymn, "To God be the glory for the things He has done,.." I agree with the author.
God bless each of those young women, your friendship means a great deal to my daughters, and you are a pleasure to me.
ps: The image is not our family, that man weighs 60lbs less than I do and is 20 years younger ;-)
Tomorrow Shepherd's Fellowship of Greensboro continues the outreach to the Piedmont Freethought Association who meet at the Unitarian Universalist church on Hilltop Road at 4PM Sunday afternoon. We will take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the PFA Members, expressing the grace of God to sinners. May God be pleased to save some as the autonomous secular humanist worldview is challenged by the truth of the Word of God, the foundation for the Christian Worldview.
The question for the atheist is:
"Have you considered the Truth of the Scriptures and with understanding, chosen your position as a superior measure of truth? If so, upon what foundation do you make such a decision and is it consistent with reality? Do you know the Scriptures well enough to pass the following test?"
ALL Questions are TRUE or FALSE. Once I post the answers; "Will you deem them correct or incorrect based upon your autonomy?"
Doctrine of God and Christology
1. Jesus was fully God, but only appeared to be human
2. Jesus was created by God before all things
3. Jesus was part man and part God
4. In the Old Testament, God was known as the Father, in the New Testament as the Son, and after Pentecost as the Holy Spirit
5. Jesus only died spiritually on the cross 6. God exists in 3 separate persons, who are only one in purpose
Doctrine of Salvation
7. Our salvation is based upon perfect obedience to the Ten Commandments
8. For we know that we are saved by grace after all that we can do
9. I am saved because of my decision to accept Christ
10. People who have never heard the gospel are innocent and go the heaven
11. The Bible teaches that there is an age of accountability, that children who die before this age go to heaven because they are innocent
12. If I die with unconfessed sin, I will go to hell
13. There are certain sins that I can commit which will cause me to lose my salvation
14. The Holy Spirit living inside me enables me to live a victorious life so that I am acceptable to God
15. Justification is the process by which a person, through faith in Christ and sorrow for his sins, receives the gift of the Holy Spirit and so becomes a child of God
If you would like your answers graded, email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is my desire that God will be pleased tohave mercy on your soul and regenerate you, resulting in the acknowledgement of your state as a sinner begging for mercy.
Courtesy of the White Horse Inn website-
1Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of
4Joseph also went up from
6While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12"This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
15When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to
19But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
20The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. 21And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. 22And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD"), 24and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, "A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS." 25And there was a man in
29"Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
31Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Your people
33And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed-- 35and a sword will pierce even your own soul--to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
36And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to
40The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
The Proper Commemoration of the Incarnation
INTRODUCTION (Read Luke 2:1-20)
In today’s modern world, the materialistic hype and spin of our culture surrounds us and constantly tries to squeeze us into its mold, especially during what has been traditionally known as the “Christmas” season. Many people, especially professing Christians, use this season of the year as an excuse to become willingly ensnared by the idol of materialism (Matt. 6:24). However, this is the time of year when many Christians genuinely celebrate the incarnation and first advent of the Messiah who is known as Immanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23). Many faithful believers the world over take this time of year to meditate on the wonder and greatness of our God, Who before the universe was created, decreed to send His Son into this sin-cursed world, to save sinners by bringing them under the care of the Great Shepherd, who would die for sinners (John 10:10, 15; Rom. 5:8).
Historically, what we now call “Christmas” was originally known as the “Christ-mass”, a celebration that was developed within the early Roman Catholic Church and was designed to counter the rival pagan festivals that were held at the end of each year. Many have heard about the ancient pagan festivals of Saturnalia which occurred at the end of December of each year and some have even said that the birth of the pagan god Mithra was on December 25th. Either way, the term “Christmas” as we understand it today, does have many pagan elements, but not necessarily because it developed as a rival celebration in opposition to the pagan gods that were prevalent within the
Thus, my purpose today will not be to rail against all the ancient and medieval pagan elements that may have crept into the modern form of what is known as “Christmas” simply because neither you nor I have any personal and absolute connection to neither ancient nor medieval pagan practices. More importantly, I want to discuss the problem of the trading of the commemoration of the advent of Christ with the materialistic blasphemy and selfishness that has taken place and offer a biblical solution for this problem.
Christ’s first advent is supposed to be a message to the world that Christians can celebrate and experience joy not through false gods and materialism, but through the fact that God the Son was incarnated as a man (John 1:14). However, the advent celebration of the birth of the Savior has veered far into materialistic idolatry for several reasons, one of which is a lack of seriousness about God, Christ, and the Bible. Listen to what Evangelical Greek Scholar, Daniel Wallace states regarding the marginalization of Christ and the watering down of the gospel in the contemporary evangelical church,
Even with the proliferation of Bibles today, Christians are reading their Bibles less and less. I believe the evangelical church has only 50 years of life left. 50 years left of evangelicalism because of marginalization of the Word of God. We need another Reformation! The enemy of the gospel now is not religious hierarchy but moral anarchy, not tradition but entertainment. The enemy of the gospel is Protestantism run amock; it is an anti-intellectual, anti-knowledge, feel-good faith that has no content and no convictions. Part of the communal repentance that is needed is a repentance about the text [“the text” = the text of Scripture – DSS]. And even more importantly, there must be a repentance with regard to Christ our Lord. Just as the Bible has been marginalized, Jesus Christ has been ‘buddy-ized.’ His transcendence and majesty are only winked at, as we turn him into the genie in the bottle, beseeching God for more conveniences, more luxury, less hassle, and a life without worries or lack of comfort. He no longer wears the face that the apostles recognized. Or, as Erasmus remarked, “When you read the Greek New Testament, you can see the face of Jesus more clearly than if you were one of his disciples”! A bit of hyperbole, but the point is worth underscoring: The God we worship today no longer resembles the God of the Bible. Unless we return to him through a reading and digesting of the scriptures—through a commitment to the text, the evangelical church will become irrelevant, useless, dead.
These are strong words that should issue words of warning to lazy Christians. When you fully grasp what Dr. Wallace is saying about today’s contemporary evangelical church, you do indeed get the idea that God is “warm and fuzzy,” and almost acts like a “genie in a bottle” that is here to minister to our “felt-needs.” When you speak with modern evangelicals, you sometimes get the idea that they often view Jesus as a limp-wristed, pale-faced teacher of love and peace who came to help everyone get along and look over their differences. You get the idea that Jesus is like a slot machine where you can put a prayer in the slot and out pops your wish. In today’s shallow world of Christianity, where marketing the gospel seems to be more important than actually preaching it, where does a true, Biblical commemoration of Christ’s birth fit in? In light of this materialistic type of attitude, is it any wonder that the modern-day church has failed to impact the culture with the message of the Biblical Jesus?
As a man who loves the Lord Jesus Christ and this local flock, I am so much against what the world does during that time of year because it does absolutely nothing to give God the glory for the Incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ. In light of the fact that the world doesn’t give glory and praise to God for the birth of His Son, I want to take the time this morning to commemorate the incarnation and first advent of the One who died to make sinners clean. This opportunity should not happen just once a year, but should be done every day, and particularly any time the Lord's people gather together. When we celebrate the first advent of Christ, we must remember that one of the most significant events in human history is this: God became flesh! Today we will discuss this significant historical event and the importance of giving glory to God in our commemoration of it and we will do so under four main points:
- The Shepherd’s Had Proper Reverence and Fear of God (vv. 8-9)
- The Angels Gave Proper and Due Glory to God (vv. 13-14).
- Those Who Heard Wondered and Pondered the Glory of God (vv. 18-19)
- The Shepherd’s Rejoiced because of the Truth of God (v. 20).
EXPOSITION AND APPLICATION
In this narrative, probably set sometime around 4 B.C., we have the birth of Christ Jesus provided for us by Doctor Luke in detail. We see in verses 1-2 that there was a formal decree sent out by Octavius Caesar that all the inhabited land should be registered. This census (a decree…to register all the empire) is one of the more disputed historical remarks in Luke and has created much cause for non-believers to question the integrity the Lukan account. The alleged problem is that Quirinius did not become governor until @ 7 A.D. according to Josephus, while Christ was born before Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. However, renowned archaeologist Sir William Ramsay concluded from various coin inscriptions that Quirinius ruled Syria on two separate occasions. Also, another possible explanation offered by Greek language scholars is that verse 2 could actually be more accurately translated, “This census took place before Quirinius was governing
Successfully carrying out a census like this would have been a massive undertaking for the Roman Empire and the travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem would have certainly taxed Mary and Joseph physically as she was near to giving birth. The text tells us in verse 6 “the days were completed for her to give birth” meaning, that the time was fulfilled for Christ to come into the world scene just as God had predetermined (Gal. 4:4). Indeed the world scene was ripe for the Messiah. The Pax Romana had been successfully established by Emperor Octavius, which allowed for the reasonably safe travel that Mary and Joseph experienced. The over 500 year old prophecy of
Now, it was customary for newborn Jewish infants to be securely and warmly wrapped in strips of cloth as we see of Jesus in verse 7. However, the feeding trough, or manger (as is commonly called) that Jesus was laid in was not a common sight. Given the census that was being taken by the Romans,
- The Shepherds Had Proper Reverence and Fear of God (vv. 8-9)
Luke 2:8-9 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
The words “terribly frightened” in verse 9 can literally be translated “they were made very fearful.” In the visible light of the glory of the Lord these Shepherds had the proper response to the divine message. They were fearful at the presence of the angel because they were sinners and were accustomed to the teaching from the OT that angels were often messengers of God’s coming judgment. We also see this same fearful response exude from God-lovers in the OT period when they were confronted with the glory and power of God. We especially see this same attitude of fear in Zechariah in
1. Among the various occupations that were held by Jews at the time of Christ, being a shepherd was one of the most lowly. Shepherds were generally considered untrustworthy and their work made them ceremonially unclean according to the Law of Moses. Therefore, we see that God didn’t choose to first reveal the good news of the newly born Divine Messiah to Kings, Priests, and Prelates, but instead he chose to reveal the first proclamation of the gospel to the social outcasts of the day. Paul confirms that this is often the way God does things in
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.
Shepherds were looked down upon by the general Jewish community as a whole, and they were considered so untrustworthy that they weren’t even allowed to give testimony in a court of law. So, we talk about the goodness, grandeur, and glory of God yet we fail to realize that God chose to first tell His good news to people who were basically our modern equivalent of those who are referred to as “trailer trash”.
2. In both the Old and New Testaments, shepherds symbolize those who care for God’s people, including the Lord Himself (cf. Ps. 23:1; Isa. 40:11; Jer. 23:1-4; Heb. 13:20;
Again, verse 9 shows that the shepherds were absolutely terrified by the visible manifestation of the glory of God, something that neither Zechariah in
And so, an angel, brilliant and strong stands “suddenly” before them (v. 9) and the manifestation of God’s presence and power flashed about them and so they were properly “terrified.” These weren’t the cute little chubby angels with pretty little pink cheeks that you see gracing your local Christian bookstores. No, this was a representative of God’s heavenly army, one who stood in the strength and power of Yahweh, and so they were absolutely terrified! They were terrified as sinners; which explains why the angel has to say literally as it reads in the original language, “Stop being fearful!” (15]) So, the angel then proclaims wonderfully in verse 10, “I bring you good news” meaning – “I am bringing you the announcement of the gospel for the first time!” Oh brethren, how wonderful that God the Father, through the mediation of a heavenly angel first announces the gospel to what would be the equivalent of lowly, 1st century “trailer trash”!
And so the announcement of the birth of the promised Divine Savior is given in verse 11 (for today in the city of
- The Angels Gave Proper and Due Glory to God (vv. 13-14).
And so the lone angel, standing and giving the first proclamation of the gospel to lowly shepherds is suddenly joined by “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (vv. 13-14). This is the grand climax of this narrative, where the lowly, trailer-trash shepherds are exposed to the glorious splendor of not just one angel, but now an army of angels giving glory to the God of heaven for the birth of Messiah Jesus! How truly awesome that event must have been for them! These angels, having known and experienced Christ’s pre-incarnate glory, were all too familiar with His riches and majesty (cf. Isaiah 6:1-4; John 12:41). They also knew that man was fallen sinner, desperately in need of salvation from sin. And so, they knew of God’s provision of salvation for mankind in Jesus and they wanted to give all glory, praise, and honor to God for this unmerited gift bestowed upon sinful man! How wonderful that those who are not direct recipients of Christ’s salvation should give honor and glory to the God of heaven for it! Was it not the apostle Paul who, when thinking about God’s love shown in Christ said, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 8:9; 9:15) And was not this love very probably included among “the things which angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12) but very probably cannot? Nevertheless, they gave glory to God for this gift to sinful man!
Now, it is important to point out that the
“The meaning seems to be, not that divine peace can be bestowed only where human good will is already present, but that at the birth of the Saviour God’s peace rests on those whom he has chosen in accord with his good pleasure.” It is also interesting to note that several similar expressions have been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls such as “the sons of his [God’s] good pleasure,” and “the elect of his [God’s] good pleasure.”
So, this proclamation of the angels: that God’s true peace is bestowed on those whom He has sovereignly chosen for salvation; was proclaimed in the first presentation of the gospel to sinful men! Oh Christians, how we would do well to follow after the practice of these angels and preach the gospel of God’s sovereign grace to sinners. We should really do nothing else as we wait for Christ’s second advent, for this is part of the good news that these angels glorified God and blessed man with at Jesus’ first advent!
And so the shepherds, filled with excitement after receiving the gospel directly from God through the angels, went to
- Those Who Heard Wondered and Pondered the Glory of God (vv. 18-19)
It should be no surprise to us that there was wonder and amazement at the things that the shepherds said. Think about it: an imperial decree, angelic messages, divine signs to tell you who and where to look, a virgin-born child in
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see:
Hail th’Incarnate Deity.
And of course, wonder and amazement is to be expected with the Jews, but something more is seen in Jesus’ mother Mary. Verse 19 states, “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Notice that verse 19 says that “Mary treasured these things . . .” This sentence is literally translated “But Mary treasured up all these words . . .” meaning that she was putting it all together and mulling over it in her mind. She had been told by her betrothed husband about the divine dreams he had been given (Matt. 1:20ff), she remembered what she was told by the angel Gabriel (Lk. 1:26ff), she thought about all the contingencies that lead to her having to be in Bethlehem to give birth to her promised Son (Mic. 5:2); and what the shepherds told her about the announcement of the angels (Lk. 2:17). Yes, she was treasuring all these sayings up and “pondering them in her heart.” She stops to consider the meaning of it all. She did this later in Jesus’ life after they found Him in the temple as a young boy questioning the religious leaders of the day (1:51), and eventually, we see Jesus’ own mother worshipping the very One to whom she gave human birth (Acts 1:14). Her prayerful “pondering” of all those things God had been doing and was going to do through her Divine Son produced in her a steadfast faith that had been foreordained from all eternity! We also have a fantastic end of the story for those lowly shepherds too!
- The Shepherd’s Rejoiced because of the Truth of God (v. 20).
These lowly shepherds had mingled with the lowly Joseph and Mary to see “a Savior, Christ the Lord.” They glorified God that what had been told them by the angel was true and that God’s promised divine Messiah had finally arrived on the world scene. They were like the 72 disciples that Jesus sent out on a preaching mission, whom upon returning (10:17) were “glorifying and praising God” for all the wonderful things that they had seen. And it is this attitude of giving glory to God in the midst of a humble, lowly situation that was characteristic of the first Advent of Christ!
Brothers and sisters, have you given due honor, praise, and glory to God for the greatest gift the world has ever known or have you become ensnared by the idols of materialism and selfishness that are so prevalent during the Advent season? Have you continually sought to give glory to God by faithfully proclaiming as well as living out the truth of God’s sovereign grace in your lives? Have you, like Mary sought to carefully meditate and consider God’s active hand in your life or have you become dull, insensitive, and ignorant of God’s dealings in your life? Do you rejoice at the giving of the greatest Gift the world has ever known or will know, or have traded the beauty of the Divine Savior for a mess of materialistic pottage? Oh brothers and sisters, I admonish you to repent and turn from your dependence on material things, for they will rust and corrupt, they can be stolen by thieves, they can be repossessed by the empires of this world. But the greatest gift the world has ever known, “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (v. 11) can never be taken away from you, for He is the giver of all things, and in Him we find the greatest display of God’s love for your sorry soul.
 Walter L. Liefeld, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, Luke, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 845. It is important also to note that Liefeld points out that by setting up a rival celebration, another pagan celebration called “Sol Invictus” or the
“Unconquerable Sun” was indeed conquered by the celebration of the nativity.
 I have found it very difficult to see why events and practices from someone else, in a far distant past, unknown (or at least not taken seriously one way or another) by myself and all my 'pagan' acquaintances (cf.
implements of the celebration of the Advent season (i.e., Christmas trees) should enslave me.
 I.e: “The Purpose Driven” this and that type philosophy which has run rampant in such as books with the titles, “The Purpose Driven Life, The Purpose Driven Church, etc.”
 This decree would’ve been sent via the Roman Senate because the phrase "from the emperor” indicates that . Octavian was Caesar from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14. He was known for his administrative prowess. The passive infinitive verb (apographesthai) translated “should be registered” (so
 Josephus (Ant. 18.1.1 [18.1–2]) only mentions a census in A.D. 6, which is obviously way too late for this setting. Such a census would have been a massive undertaking; it could have started under one ruler and emerged under another, to whose name it became attached. This is one possibility to explain the data. Another is that Quirinius, who became governor in
 Aramaic paraphrases of the OT originating in the last few centuries BC, and committed to writing about AD 500. See F.F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments, Fleming H. Revell Co., Westwood, p. 133, Rev. Ed. 1963; Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan,
 Nigel Turner, Grammatical Insights into the New Testament (
 W. Ramsay, Bearing of Recent Discoveries on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, Baker,
 Ex. 14:31; 1 Sam. 12:18; 1 Kings 18:3; 1 Chron. 16:25; Psa. 47:2; 76:11; 96:4; Jon. 1:16; Mal. 1:14, 3:16.
 Strack and Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch., Vol. II, 113.
 I am in no way disparaging those who live in mobile homes with this observation. I am simply pointing to the fact that just as people are stereotypically mislabeled today by the conditions they live and work by other sinful people who think they are better off materially, so it was with the field shepherds in 1st century
 William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary on Luke, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978), 149.
 fobei/sqe is the present middle imperative 2nd person plural (deponent) verb from
 This phrase in verse 14, “Glory to God in the highest” is what has been traditionally known as the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, translated from the old Latin Vulgate Bible. See footnote at
 Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, (Stuttgart, Germany: German Bible Society, 1994), 111.
 Hendriksen, 156.
 Ibid., 158.
 Walter L. Liefeld, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, Luke, 847.
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Japanese researcher discovers charter captain to have evolved!
"In this photograph, Tsunemi Kubodera, chief of Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the National Science Museum of Japan, sits behind his charter boat captain, who has fallen to macro evolution. Kong-chi Hwakawa was setting anchor when his wristwatch caught in a 725 meter anchor line. When Tsunemi recovered the sailor, the pressure and time triggered a primordial event in which Kong-chi transmogrified to the form of a Giant Squid.
This history making Darwinian event occurred during a research junket on a boat off Ogasawara Islands, Japan, on December 4, 2006 while searching for data relating to plankton migration and ocean temperature change following the tsunami season in the pacific. The sailor who previously measured 1.16 meters in height, when winched aboard was about 3.5 metres (11.5 feet) long and about 50 kg (110 lbs). Tsuenemi says Kong-chi was caught by the clasp on his Rolex Submariner in the anchor line at a depth of 650 metres (2132.5 feet) while taking on samples for research just off the continental shelf near the Islands." (National Science Museum of Japan/Handout/Reuters)
This greeting to believers in Jesus Christ, saved by the Grace of God through Faith is an appropriate alternative for the common 'hello'. During this advent season, use this greeting to encourage others to look to Jesus Christ, his holiness and the reconciliation for the elect via his penal substitutionary atonement. The birth is nothing without the death, burial, resurrection and ascension and subsequent return of King Jesus!
Many of you are aware of our interaction with the Piedmont Freethought Association (PFA) in Guilford county. Personally, I have enjoyed the opportunity to get to know at least four of the members. They are regular attenders, and have been kind-of-reluctantly-kind to me. I could be considered an alien, rightfully so as my Christian Worldview is in opposition to the atheistic autonomous worldview that each have adopted. I've recently decided to invite Pastor Dustin S. Segers and a few others to visit, if they have interest and prayerful concern for lost people in our area. They've been interested to see the questions and interactions between this group, and have appreciated the conversation.
While not for the faint of mind, this is a great place to interact with the community for incurable God-Lovers.
Tonight's issue was paradox. How do atheists and agnostics deal with paradox?
Christians have little problem reducing paradox to a decision that the Scriptures do not answer. One proposed today was that of murder and suicide; the murderer taking their own life before the actual death of the victim. The paradox that is proposed to the atheist is two fold, (although we only got to the first fold tonight,..)
1) Abortion is murder
2) Killing the disabled is murder
These paradox-es are notably difficult for the atheist as they must identify a human being, regardless of its
Size, level of development; environment or degree of dependency. The problem is not one for the Christian as life and humanity is NOT discerned by lesser or greater degrees of any of those categories. God plans and knows the individual before time and temporal life begins at conception, Biblically;
One perspective atheists use is the determination of sentience or consciousness. This characteristic begs the same question. It also provides a paradox, the perception of the consciousness, and unconsciousness. Take Terry Schiavo for example. How about the disabled, maimed, mentally ill. Can the atheist draw the consciousness line clearly? Impersonally? OBJECTIVELY? And if so, by what standard.
Gospel of Luke 1:39-44
Should this fighter not be provided medical assistance as he is no longer human because he's KO'd?
There's the problem of autonomy. Selfishness and mistakes have temporal consequences, to say nothing of the violation of the IMAGE OF GOD IN EVERY CREATED MAN AND WOMAN.
The difficulty of the atheist standards are impossible to answer this paradox, which is no paradox at all when the God of the Scriptures is the authority. Always ask the question: What is it? God answers the life questions clearly, and perfectly.
May God be honored by the apologetic to the God hating community, and may He save some by His Grace, through Faith, not of works, lest any man boast.