I just wanted to update you about a new blogger, Tory Giddens. I know Tory personally and expect for this to be a thoughtful and helpful internet stop. Enjoy.
Archives For March 2007
You may have noticed, the tag-line to this blog has recently changed.
When I originally set out to establish this blog, there were a few factors at play in the choice of its name. This name would provide a kind of umbrella for everything that would be discussed. This name would serve as a kind of control, a theme, a central organizing principle around which all the content would revolve. Due to the nature of what I expected this blog to be about, it would need to be broad. I am a Christian and it is my aim to think Christianly about all of life, history, culture, the future, salvation, family, work, politics, etc.
Of course, as a Christian, the Bible should dictate every thought about, feeling toward and interpretation of anything and everything in life. What, then, is the Bible’s highest message, its greatest point?
In Psalm 138:2, the Psalmist says to God, “you have exalted above all things your name and your word.” I liked this, in part, because it gave me three words that express the very heart of God in all he does and a catchy phrase with which to frame the blog, Above All Things. Do a word search on “above all” at www.esv.org and you will discover that an entire systematic theology could be written on the verses that employ this adjectival phrase.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. – Psalm 79:9
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9
He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. – John 3:31
He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. – Ephesians 4:10
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. – 2 Timothy 4:13
…that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. - Ephesians 1:21-23
Psalm 138:2 is a great verse. But Psalm 138:2, on its own, lacks a Bible-wide angle on its meaning. As it stands, without interpretation, a Muslim would agree with it! God exalts his name because his name represents his glory. His word, too, is an expression and representation of his infinite worth. But one simply cannot properly exalt God’s name or His word without respect to Jesus Christ, God’s divine Son. To be sure, God has exalted above all things his name in the Word, Jesus Christ! The way God does Psalm 138:2 is by sending His Son Jesus to redeem a people for himself and then exalting him to his right hand!
So, upon launching this blog, I clarified the relationship of God’s exaltation of Jesus Christ to God’s exaltation of his name and his word at the “About this Site” page. The only problem with this, is that while I may have said it clearly on the “About this Site” page, I am not saying it to the person who stops by for a quick read.
But if the central message of the Bible and meaning of the universe is found in Christ, how can I leave him to a sidebar? If Jesus Christ truly is the center of the Scriptures and the center of history, the Word made flesh who bears the very name of God, then this blog simply must have his name in its header!
So, since Jesus Christ is exalted above all things, his name now occupies its rightful place in relation to everything else that appears on this blog. After some fiddling around with word order, for now, I am committed to the tag-line, “Exalting Jesus Christ by Exulting in God’s Word.”
Thanks for reading,
At the beginning of the twentieth century, in his work, The Faith of Modernism, Shailer Matthews represents the prevailing attitude of his time. Christianity must take on a new mold! Out with doctrine, with hell, with miracles, for, “new human needs, new phases of civilization have demanded satisfaction.” Critical of traditional Christian orthodoxy as irrelevant, Shailer Matthews writes, “[The world] needs a means of composing class strive, and is told to believe in the substitutionary atonement.”
In, Christianity and Liberalism, J. Greshen Machen argues for the centrality of the cross event to the heart of true Christianity.
Here is a marvelous quote from this time-defining book,
When we come to see that it was no mere man who suffered on Calvary but the Lord of Glory, then we shall be willing to say that one drop of the precious blood of Jesus is of more value, for our own salvation and for the hope of society, than all the rivers of blood that have flowed upon the battlefields of history.
In his book, Future Grace, John Piper defines faith as “satisfaction in all that God is for us in Jesus.” During his recent visit to Southern Seminary, Piper preached from 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4, speaking to the gospel ministers calling to seek the pleasure of his people in all that God is for them in Jesus Christ (Click here for this sermon and here for the follow up)! One of Pipers great contributions to this generation of Christian pastors and thinkers is the fresh language that he is giving us with which to describe God, the nature of salvation, faith, etc. He has a way of saying the same things well in many, many different ways. In this way, he is a model of good preaching. Preaching is very much the task of saying one thing clearly with every text of the Bible – Christ is supreme!
This YouTube clip, from Piper’s recent visit to Southern is an example of how John Piper talks about the nature of faith. This time, in the form of an exhortation to future ministers of the gospel to love their flock in loving them toward joy in Christ, which is the essence of faith.
But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.
For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
Today John Piper visited Southern Seminary and delivered a message from 2 Corinthians 2:23-3:4. From that text, Piper expounded the end for which the Apostle Paul lived and died – the glory of God in the joy of his people. In Paul’s pattern, the gospel minister delivers a message that can cost people their lives – a message of joy so lavish as to make our cars, our houses, our prestigious jobs and our retirement plans as nothing when compared with the brightness of the light that is the glory God in the face of Jesus Christ. When living is Christ, dying is gain!
In the course of delivering his sermon, Piper took a moment to provide a pointed warning, tailor made for students at Southern Seminary. This warning concerned the danger the unusual comfort we enjoy at such a beautiful place as Southern Seminary – “This place is so posh.” This exhortation mirrored, very closely, a similar to the student body back in 1999 (see here). There is a reason why Jesus said that it’s hard for a rich man to get into heaven – the human heart fixes itself on earthy things, and money has a way of clamping us down to them.
The prayer of the Psalmist is most helpful in striking a God centered balance,
Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God (30:7-9).
As it regards posh chairs (a posh chair was featured in this video), I should mention that I have long been irritated with the kitchen chair that graces my desk at home. In truth, I did not notice its uncomfortability until I sat in a Herman Miller Aeron chair at a hotel in Chicago back in August. This was an amazing experience – eight hundred dollars of amazing, as a little internet research taught me! There are greater investments that $800 can do for the comfort of eternity than in that chair for one hundred years. At the same time, nice chairs are not evil chairs. There is something of the glory of God reflected in creatures that long for comfort and, with all their faculties, think up, design, engineer, produce and sell these wonderful chairs! But Christian’s know to whom that desire for comfort points.
So, in careful application of John Piper’s warning, I thought it fitting to reflect, briefly, on how best to glorify God when sitting in a posh chair…even though I don’t have one.
How to sit in a posh chair:
1) Sit and consider that monkey’s do not design or build posh chairs.
Humans, uniquely among God’s creation, are aesthetic creatures, made to enjoy the Glory of God and to take pleasure in reflecting the glory of his creativity in such things as nice looking chairs.
2) Sit and remember that we often sit because we have to.
We are fallen creatures whose bodies need rest, whose bodies break down over time. As for our Maker, he never grows weary or tired and any strength that we possess in ourselves, we possess as a gift from him. Sitting to rest reminds us of this essential dependence.
3) Sit, but not in exchange for the glory of God.
Fallen humans are disposed from birth to worship created things such as nice chairs and the comfort they supply. If a chair causes you to sin, throw it in the trash.
4) Sit and think about how small the chair is
Chairs are held to the ground by the gravity of a planet Earth. Remember that Jesus sits on a throne in heaven, at the right hand of the Father.
5) Sit and think about Christ.
Remember that the reason Jesus sits is because the final sacrifice for the purification of our sins is complete.
6) Sit and enjoy the chair.
Every good thing we have in this life is from God and such things as chairs are a gift from him to be enjoyed. A posh chair is likely to sit well. Enjoy it. Don’t worship it.
7) Sit and read the Scriptures.
Even reading God’s Word is hard to do standing up. But remember that God’s word is still the fountain of the river of God’s delights when you read it in a dark cell in a prison in China.
8) Sit and enjoy a conversation.
Like reading Scripture, the “one another” commands are easier done sitting down. Talking is easy over food and sitting is best when we eat. Talking is easy over coffee and that, too, is best done in a seat. So, sit down and get to know someone!
9) Sit and hold a child.
Sitting on a nice chair glorifies God when you are investing in your children and in your family.
10) Sit and enjoy, but don’t get too comfortable.
Remember that you are called to “go into all the nations” and preach the gospel. There is much to do for Christ in a sitting posture, but there is more to do on our feet. God’s glory is seen in the desire of mankind to be comfortable in his chair while he lives on earth. But the desire that expresses itself in this way points to their need for the comfort that only Christ can supply.
HT: Thanks Timmy Brister for the photos.