Pre-Incarnate Christ: Paul Washer on Saturday Theovideo

My favorite spiritual mentor Paul Washer talks about the gospel by discussing the pre-incarnate Son of God in glory with the Father.

Who was it in the manger in Bethlehem?

Who was it on the Roman death cross 33 years later?

Who is He?

Watch at least the first few minutes, and see if it’s even possible to turn it off afterward. This is the steak and potatoes of Christianity.

With butter and sour cream.

Thanks for watching,

-Justin

Matt Chandler – The Explicit Gospel: Saturday Theovideo

Matt Chandler, Pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, Texas, is a gospel-centered and passionate preacher of the Word of God. While I have been seriously disappointed in some of the associations in the Evangelical world that Matt has chosen to keep, his gospel preaching has remained strong. This video is his topical presentation for the release of his book The Explicit Gospel, Crossway 2012.

This is the raw rebuke of American Evangelicalism that is needed. The gospel of Christ is being forgotten and buried under a mound of moralism, self-righteousness, and even post-modern autonomy. Pastor Chandler does a great job of engaging his listeners, and relating to the young adult crowd who has mostly left the Christian church in America. I would take issue with certain terms that Matt uses, but overall he always hits the bullseye. Check this out, and share with a friend.

Grace to you,

-Justin

A Grand Piece of Spiritual Yum – Gregory Nazianzen

You’ll want a fork, knife, and napkin for this one. From Gregory Naziazen, a fourth-century theologian from Cappadocia. In defending the deity and ministry of the blessed Lamb of God against the heresies of the Arians, he wrote:

Gregory-Naziazen

He was born—but He had been begotten:  He was born of a woman—but she was a Virgin.  The first is human, the second Divine.  In His Human nature He had no Father, but also in His Divine Nature no Mother.  Both these belong to Godhead.  He dwelt in the womb—but He was recognized by the Prophet, himself still in the womb, leaping before the Word, for Whose sake He came into being.  He was wrapped in swaddling clothes—but He took off the swathing bands of the grave by His rising again.  He was laid in a manger—but He was glorified by Angels, and proclaimed by a star, and worshiped by the Magi.

. . . He was driven into exile into Egypt—but He drove away the Egyptian idols.  He had no form nor comeliness in the eyes of the Jews—but to David He is fairer than the children of men.  And on the Mountain He was bright as the lightning, and became more luminous than the sun, initiating us into the mystery of the future.

He was baptized as Man—but He remitted sins as God—not because He needed purificatory rites Himself, but that He might sanctify the element of water.  He was tempted as Man, but He conquered as God; yea, He bids us be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world.  He hungered—but He fed thousands; yea, He is the Bread that giveth life, and That is of heaven.  He thirsted—but He cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.

Yea, He promised that fountains should flow from them that believe.  He was wearied, but He is the Rest of them that are weary and heavy laden. He was heavy with sleep, but He walked lightly over the sea. He rebuked the winds, He made Peter light as he began to sink. He pays tribute, but it is out of a fish; yea, He is the King of those who demanded it.  He is called a Samaritan and a demoniac;—but He saves him that came down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves; the demons acknowledge Him, and He drives out demons and sinks in the sea legions of foul spirits, and sees the Prince of the demons falling like lightning.

He is stoned, but is not taken.  He prays, but He hears prayer.  He weeps, but He causes tears to cease.  He asks where Lazarus was laid, for He was Man; but He raises Lazarus, for He was God. He is sold, and very cheap, for it is only for thirty pieces of silver; but He redeems the world, and that at a great price, for the Price was His own blood.  As a sheep He is led to the slaughter, but He is the Shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also.  As a Lamb He is silent, yet He is the Word, and is proclaimed by the Voice of one crying in the wilderness.  He is bruised and wounded, but He healeth every disease and every infirmity.

He is lifted up and nailed to the Tree, but by the Tree of Life He restoreth us; yea, He saveth even the Robber crucified with Him; yea, He wrapped the visible world in darkness.  He is given vinegar to drink mingled with gall.  Who?  He who turned the water into wine, who is the destroyer of the bitter taste, who is Sweetness and altogether desire.  He lays down His life, but He has power to take it again; and the veil is rent, for the mysterious doors of Heaven are opened; the rocks are cleft, the dead arise.  He dies, but He gives life, and by His death destroys death.  He is buried, but He rises again; He goes down into Hell, but He brings up the souls; He ascends to Heaven, and shall come again to judge the quick and the dead…

Catch your breath, and worship our Lord.

Thanks for reading,

-Adam

Gregory Nazianzen, The Third Theological Oration: On the Son, NPNF2-7, sec. 19-20, http://www.ccel.org.

Christ on the Cross was God Crucified: Tuesdays with Uncle Athanasius

AthanasiusAthanasius (c.297-373), my favorite early church father, fought heretics with all of his soul. I am brought to tears reading his glorious writings. Please indulge with me each Tuesday as we sit at the feet of our forefather in the faith – a warrior for Christ who relentlessly pursued truth in all the churches.

Uncle Ath?

Yes, kids?

Was it wise of the Father to let His Son Jesus be publicly humiliated and crucified? Did it really prove anything?

Well,

All these things the Savior thought fit to do, so that, recognizing His bodily acts as works of God, men who were blind to His presence in creation might regain knowledge of the Father. For, as I said before, who that saw His authority over evil spirits and their response to it could doubt that He was, indeed, the Son, the Wisdom and the Power of God? Even the very creation broke silence at His behest and, marvelous to relate, confessed with one voice before the cross, that monument of victory, that He Who suffered thereon in the body was not man only, but Son of God and Savior of all.

The sun veiled his face, the earth quaked, the mountains were rent asunder, all men were stricken with awe. These things showed that Christ on the cross was God, and that all creation was His slave and was bearing witness by its fear to the presence of its Master.

Thus, then, God the Word revealed Himself to men through His works. We must . . . consider the end of His earthly life and the nature of His bodily death. This is, indeed, the very center of our faith, and everywhere you hear men speak of it; by it, too, no less than by His other acts, Christ is revealed as God and Son of God.

My favorite uncle…

1,700 years later, the crucified Man who is God is still the very center of our faith – timeless, objective, and powerful. Be sure to meditate on these things without ceasing, my friends.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Athanasius, On the Incarnation, chap. 4, sec. 19, http://www.ccel.org.

Consecration and Worship: Valley of Vision Prayer

Sometimes I have trouble praying as I ought – but often I turn to the Valley of Vision for help in getting my engine started. One of Christianity’s greatest books from the past 2,000 years, VoV would be my second book choice if stranded on a desert island, right after the Bible, and right before The Existence and Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock. Oh, those Puritans.

Valley of Vision

Take a moment and pray this prayer with me and with the millions of saints who have prayed it before us. A prayer from a heart full of desire to love and worship God, a prayer of lament over sin.

My God, I feel it is heaven to please Thee, and to be what Thou wouldst have me be. O that I were holy as Thou art holy, pure as Christ is pure, perfect as Thy Spirit is perfect! These, I feel, are the best commands in Thy Book, and shall I break them? must I break them? am I under such a necessity as long as I live here?

Woe, woe is me that I am a sinner, that I grieve this blessed God, who is infinite in goodness and grace! O if He would punish me for my sins, it would not [wound] my heart so deep to offend Him; But though I sin continually, He continually repeats His kindness to me.

At times I feel I could bear any suffering, but how can I dishonour this glorious God? What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings? O that I could consecrate my soul and body to His service, without restraint, for ever! O that I could give myself up to Him, so as never more to attempt to be my own! or have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to His will and His love! But, alas, I cannot live and not sin.

O may angels glorify Him incessantly, and, if possible, prostrate themselves lower before the blessed King of heaven! I long to bear a part with them in ceaseless praise; but when I have done all I can to eternity I shall not be able to offer more than a small fraction of the homage that the glorious God deserves. Give me a heart full of divine, heavenly love. [1]

Thanks for praying with me,

-Justin

[1] The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, ed. Arthur Bennett (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), 128.

RW Glenn – The Doctrine of Propitiation: Saturday Theovideo

A word that may be too obscure and technical for people to remember anymore. Propitiation. Whoa. Paul wrote the most central text in the entire Bible when he said

God set forth [Jesus] as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:25-26 NKJV).

RW GlennRW Glenn, pastor of Redeemer Bible Church in Minnetonka, Minnesota, gives us a brief blast of theology centered on propitiation, set to kinetic typing. Soak this in, believer, it is life and health for our souls.

Grace in Christ,

-Justin

Prophesy Fridays: The God of Israel will be Pierced

I am pretty sure the internet is devoid of commentary on prophecy, so I’d better throw in a dash of red-hot, mind-blowing prophetic power to scald the demons.

habanero peppers

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…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10

Let’s strengthen our mutual faith together, brothers and sisters. Foresight and clarity of Bible prophecy is one of (if not the) greatest means of growing in our faith in the true God. Zechariah wrote his book of prophecy about 450 years before the crucifixion of Jesus, but when Yahweh, the God of Israel speaks His Word to Zechariah, you might think old Zech was time-traveling to be at the foot of the cross almost five centuries later.

Messianic Jams and Hebrew Lunches

Six years ago I had an internship with the New York State Department of Education in their Child Nutrition office. I worked in Albany, and on any given day of the week, was called upon to go out into the field to visit the locations that participated in our summer food program for kids. We had to show up unannounced (just like government thugs like to do 😉 ), and count the number of kids eating the summer lunches we funded, as an accountability for how much the locations were being compensated.

Anyhow, the great Jewish city of Brooklyn, New York empties out in the summer, and every tassled, bearded, kosher man takes his family north into the Catskill Mountains. There are Hasidic Jewish summer camps everywhere through those hills, and they just happen to be big time participants in the summer lunch program… so there I went throughout the summer to count kosher kiddies.

We would show up and shout Surprise! and then do a little dance with the Rabbi, and play the fiddle while singing about tradition. Oh wait… no, that was another thing. Actually, we would show up and sometimes sit around for a while as the staff at the camp was getting all the children together so we could count them and check their meals for program standards.

At one particular camp, we State workers had some time to mill around in the cafeteria before the kids showed up for lunch, and so I began to look around and explore. At the time I was getting pretty good at reading Hebrew, so I found myself reading a wall chart instruction guide on hand-washing. Two young Jews spotted me reading the Hebrew-only chart, and approached from behind. They were very curious if I were a Jew as well.

“No,” I replied, noticing they were about my age, “but I do try and read Hebrew.” We talked some about the language, and then I felt a bubble of confidence (or maybe it was just gas), but either way I asked them if I could run a Hebrew sentence by them, and they could “critique” my pronunciation… if you know what I mean 😉

Over the couple years before that I had been really digging Lamb (a messianic music group from the 70’s and 80’s). My favorite song from Lamb (which everyone who knew me was sick of to the point of death I think) is called V’sha Fac’ti – the first words of Zechariah 12:10. Now, Lamb sang it all in Hebrew to a very catchy, banjo-strumming beat – so I had the entire passage memorized in Hebrew.

As I began to recite the passage (song) to my new Jewish friends, one of them particularly seemed to cue in on my words. His eyes locked on mine, and as I spoke out the glorious picture of Jesus, he confirmed my Hebrew by translating into English:

Me: V’sha fac’ti al beit David 

Him: And I will pour out on the house of David

v’al yoshev Yerushalayim

And on the inhabitants of Jerusalem

ruach chen v’ta’a’cha’nu’nim

The Spirit of grace and of prayer

v’hi’bitu eli et asher

And they will look upon Me

dakaru

Whom they have pierced.

Alarm bells went off in his friend’s head. He chuckled at our little translation session. “I know what you’re doing.”

“What?” I asked, feeling outed.

He turned to his friend who had just recited Zechariah 12:10 with me, the gentile State worker.

“He’s going to convert you to Christianity,” he said, smiling knowingly. They both looked at me with humor in their eyes.

“We’re talking about your Bible” I replied.

Yahweh, Eternal God – Pierced and Mourned

And we were. And there He was – Jesus, doing what He always does: standing tall on the pages of His Old Testament. I didn’t win any Jewish converts that day in the Catskills, but without having to say anything about the meaning of the passage, they knew who we were talking about. Yahweh God of Israel, uncreated and supreme above all – speaking in the first person in Zechariah 12, states clearly that it is He who they will look upon when He is pierced.

Wow. Pierced. Where was God ever “pierced”? In the Person of His Son, on the Roman death cross, 400+ years after Zechariah wrote those words, and all for you and me. Jesus took on flesh, having been alive and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, and He humbled Himself to the point of death, even the desperately ugly, criminal’s death on the torture cross.

It’s no wonder this shows up in the Old Testament: it was the pinnacle of all cosmic history. The glorious, worthy Son of God bows His head to be murdered by His own creatures. Stop your internet schedule for a moment and ponder that. He did that to pay your sin debt. He loves you. Ponder it.

Decades after Jesus had risen from the grave and returned to His Father, the Apostle John saw a vision of God’s glory and Word, and introduced the book of Revelation with this in 1:7

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (NKJV)

John quoted Zechariah’s prophecy, and saw in it the future fulfillment when Jesus returns to His earth in glory. Those who remain enemies of Jesus will look upon Him and mourn – mourning for their own doom and imminent destruction… but it does not have to be so for you, friend. Today is the day to look upon Him who was pierced for your transgressions, who suffered the death of an eternal separation from the Father in His holy wrath against sinners. I urge you, place all your eggs in this basket: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, and He did it in fulfillment of powerful, clear prophetic words which described how it would happen, even centuries before He was born. Oh, and pray for our Jewish friends; that they might see Him and yet not mourn any longer…

What a glorious Savior. Praise Him!

Thanks for reading,

-Justin