Friday, April 29, 2011

Fundamental Friday's--The Fallacies of Higher Criticism Part VIII

In the early 1900's. a twelve volume work on theology titled The Fundamentals was published. This massive work, in my most humble of opinions, is just as relevant today if not more so with the ever increasing attacks on the faith of Christians--and that's just from folks inside the church. I wanted to publish some excerpts from this work that I think will be greatly encouraging to you.

Another case of forgery is found in the origin of the priestly legislation, if we are to believe the higher critics. This legislation is contained in a large number of passages scattered through Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. It has to do chiefly with the tabernacle and its worship, with the duties of the priests and Levites, and with the relations of the people to the institutions of religion. It is attributed to Moses in scores of places. It has a strong coloring of the Mosaic age and of the wilderness life. It affirms the existence of the tabernacle, with an orderly administration of the ritual services. But this is all imagined, for the legislation is a late production. Before the exile there were temple services and a priesthood, with certain regulations concerning them, either oral or written, and use was made of this tradition; but as a whole the legislation was enacted by such men as Ezekiel and Ezra during and immediately after the exile, or about 444 B. C. The name of Moses, the fiction of a tabernacle, and the general coloring of the Mosaic age, were given it in order to render it authoritative and to secure the ready obedience of the nation. But now:

1. The moral objection here is insuperable. The supposition of forgery, and of forgery so cunning, so elaborate, and so minute, is abhorrent. If the forgery had been invented and executed by wicked men to promote some scheme of selfishness, it would have been less odious. But when it is presented to us as the expedient of holy men, for the advancement of the religion of the God of righteousness, which afterwards blossomed out into Christianity, we must revolt.

2. The theory gives us a portraiture of such men as Ezekiel and Ezra which is utterly alien from all that we know of them. The expedient might be worthy of the prophets of Baal or of Chemosh; it was certainly not worthy of the prophets of Jehovah, and we dishonor them when we attribute it to them and place them upon a low plane of craft and cunning of which the records concerning them are utterly ignorant.

3. The people who returned from the exile were among the most intelligent and enterprising of the nation, else they would not have returned, and they would not have been deceived by the sudden appearance of Mosaic laws forged for the occasion and never before heard of.

4. Many of the regulations of this legislation are drastic. It subjected the priests and Levites to a rule which must have been irksome in the extreme, and it would not have been lightly accepted. We may be certain that if it had been a new thing fraudulently ascribed to Moses, these men would have detected the deceit, and would have refused to be bound by it. But we do not hear of any revolt, or even of any criticism.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Matthew 9:10-13 A Pair of Skewed Perspectives—The Pharisees Part II

The Pharisees, as we examined the last time we looked at this passage, looked down on Jesus because He, in their minds, was not righteous because He was associating with those known to be unrighteous. In their way of thinking, the sinfulness of the people with whom He was eating made them unfit for Jesus or any respectable person to be around. As much as you and I might chide the Pharisees for this attitude, how often are we like that? I’d say more often than we admit. As my pastor pointed out in his sermon Sunday, picture two couples in your mind: one couple comes in, cleanly dressed, hair neatly combed, a man and a woman in their mid 30’s with two children who don’t make a peep the entire service. The other couple is a fairly haggard looking with greasy, matted hair, the man has tattoos on his neck that look like they extend beneath his shirt. The woman is carrying a baby that is screaming loudly and wearing a diaper and a t-shirt that has what looks to be dried squash, peas, and maybe ketchup. Now, which couple would be more readily welcomed into our churches? Which couple needs the gospel more, would you assume?

Hold on to both of those questions for a little bit while we examine how Jesus responded to these people who criticized Him for the company He kept.

First of all, notice that Christ had a different perspective on the condition of the people with whom He ate as well as a different perspective on the Pharisees’ condition than they themselves had. The Pharisees thought they were righteous. As far as people measured righteousness, they were righteous. They kept the letter of the law in the eyes of people and were considered experts in knowing how to live rightly before God. Jesus, in Matthew 9:12, reminded these men who proclaimed themselves righteous that “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” Now, Jesus was not talking about physical sickness. Rather, He was referring to the spiritual cancer of sin that was in the heart of those with whom He was eating.

However, it wasn’t just the publicans who had a problem with sin. In fact, the Pharisees should have known that better than anyone because they knew, or should have known, what God’s word said in the Psalms. Psalms 14:2-3 says “The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.” In other words, while the Pharisees might have heard Jesus’ reply and assumed they were the “healthy” ones that He was talking about, the fact is there are no people who could be called “healthy” in the example Jesus gave. We are all sick—sick with the disease of sin and it is terminal. Only Jesus, the Great Physician, has the ability to cure that disease and save us. Therefore, Jesus had a different perspective on the people He ate with and He had a different perspective on the Pharisees than they themselves had. They saw themselves as whole. He saw them, as He sees all sinners, as diseased.

Next time, we will return and examine how Christ’s perspective on the responsibility of the Pharisees to the publicans and sinners was different than that of the Pharisees. However, as we close out, based on what we’ve read now, which couple from our hypothetical situation above needs to hear the gospel more? Most people in church would probably act as though couple number 2 needed the gospel more, but in fact we often times would be more welcoming to couple number 1. Let these verses we have studied remind us that Christ sees everyone as spiritually sick and needing the services of the Great Physician who died on the cross to suffer God’s wrath in their place.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Psalm 2:4-6 The Lords Response to Rebellion

I normally am very easy to get along with at work. In fact, on more than one evaluation, that I get along very well with the auditee and am able to ask them questions that might be hard or direct without becoming abrasive. There’s a simple reason why I am able to do this—I know my position. I know that the people that we audit are legally required to answer our questions and provide us with the information we request. One time, however, I had to become a bit, how you say, forceful with someone. I asked for some information. She told me “No one has ever asked for that before. WHY do you want to know?” I responded casually “That’s a great question. Thank you for asking.” She said “You didn’t answer my question.” I told her “I don’t intend to.” She asked who my supervisor was. I am sure in her mind she thought “I don’t know who this dude thinks he is, but I’m going to get him in a real pickle.” I laughed at her and told her the woman’s name and asked “You want her phone number?” I know that, in the end, the folks in the office had my back. I was in the position of authority and she had to do what she was told. As we read this scripture, we see God, who is the highest authority, having a similar reaction to the rebellion we read about in Psalm 2:1-3.

When we left this scripture the last time, the kings of the earth were conspiring together in a plot to rebel against God. They planned to “tear their fetters” and “cast away their cords”. They had had enough, dagnabit, and they wanted to be free of His authority. We read in verse 4 God’s reaction to their sinful plans. He has a good ol’ belly laugh. They are the butt of His jokes. I can see him turning to Michael the archangel “You know what these creatures think they’re going to do? Snicker…they’re planning on rebelling.” Michael tries to hold back a guffaw because, after all, he realizes the doom of anyone who rebels against the sovereign Lord of the Universe—remember Satan? He can’t help himself though. The joke is just too good. If you close your eyes, you can hear the booming, thunderous laughter resounding through the throne room in heaven.

Those who rebel against God have sealed their fate. The Bible is replete with warnings of God’s wrath (II Peter 3:7, Revelation 19:11-15). As we read in verse 5 of this Psalm, God will “speak to them in His anger”. His wrath may be restrained for the moment, but ultimately, those who reject the gospel and live in sinful rebellion against God will feel His “fury” in judgments.

You see, they may believe that they can pull themselves out from under the authority of God—that they can live as they want without His burdensome word ruining their fun. But what they don’t know is that the real punchline has already been written. The story is already over—God wins and they don’t even realize it. You see, while they were planning their rebellion, they didn’t realize and mankind has constantly tried to ignore one simple truth. God tells us in verse 6 “I have installed my King”. It is done and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, you can do about it. God has already declared victory because it has already happened. God has anointed Christ as the One to whom every knee will bow. The forthcoming judgment and punishment with the wicked is perfunctory really. The end for them is closer than they realized and their fiery, eternal punishment is right at the door.

With this in mind, how have you responded to the gospel? Have you repented and trusted Christ alone to save you based on His substitutionary death on the cross? If you haven’t, why not take this verse today as a cautionary tale that God’s judgment is real and it’s coming, but you can avoid it through faith in Christ.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Matthew 9:10-12 A Pair of Skewed Perspectives-The Pharisees Part I

It’s difficult to make an informed decision when you don’t have all the facts. Several times in my career as an auditor, I have had moments where I thought I had found something that was a problem—a “gotcha” moment. I don’t want to oversell how excited I get, but I’ve been known to stand up at my desk and do the “Joey-Patch” and then practice my Ricky Ricardo imitation—“Auditee, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.” More often than not, the issue has not been nearly as interesting as I had thought because, due to a lack of information, I had a wrong perspective. In like manner, the two groups that raise objections to Christ in this chapter of scripture (the Pharisees and John the Baptist’s disciples) had a skewed perspective due to a lack of insight into the truth.

Let’s take the Pharisees, for instance. In Matthew 9:10, we read that Christ is eating at a dinner that Mark and Luke tell us was held in Matthew’s home (Luke 5:29). Since most of the people Matthew knew, due to his station as a social outcast as a result of his former occupation, were tax collectors and assorted irreligious folk, we find Jesus surrounded by just such a crowd. The text does not explicitly say so, but it’s not too far of a stretch to imagine that Matthew used this occasion for evangelism. He was so thankful that Christ had called him from his life of sin (Matthew 9:9) that he wanted to share the same opportunity with his friends. After all, if Christ could save a thieving tax collector, surely He could save anyone.

So, with the stage set as Christ ate with this motley crew, the Pharisees come along and see Jesus keeping company with people that they themselves would view as undesirable. Cowardly as they are, they don’t directly present their accusations to Jesus but go to His disciples and ask “Why is your teacher eating with tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 9:11). The obvious implication being that Christ was defiling Himself by associating with such sinful people. Frankly, their question might appear biblical if you didn’t think too hard about it. After all, we read in Haggai 2:13 that uncleanness is contagious while holiness is not. And we are exhorted in other scriptures to avoid immorality (1 Thessalonians 5:22, for instance). Therefore, if we are to imitate Christ, how does this fit into the mold which we are called to imitate?

I would suggest, first of all, that we should observe the setting Christ is in. He has not gone down to a brothel or the temple of some Roman god where sinful activity was going on. He was in a home, an invited guest, eating supper. He was not participating or encouraging immoral behavior, rather He was going about His business—the business of His Father God. I’ve heard of people saying “Yeah, I went down with ol’ Joe to the Grub and Pup last night and shot some tequila with him so I could have a chance to share the gospel.” Friends, we’re not supposed to follow the world into immorality but rather we’re supposed to point them to the Light. As we go though our lives at school, at work, in the store, or wherever we are, we will have opportunities to do as Christ did and interact with people who have not heard the gospel or have not yet repented and trusted Christ to save them. So, just as He did, we need to take those opportunities to be found “eating with tax collectors and sinners”—not engaged in sin with them but living our lives among them.

Christ did not call us out of the world but He called us to live here and share the gospel with those we meet. Rather than isolating ourselves from contact with “sinners” like the Pharisees did, we need to have the perspective of Christ and take the opportunities we have as we live our lives to share the life changing gospel of Christ with a world that desperately needs it. We will look more specifically next time as to Christ’s response to their object and what He taught them, and us, about a proper perspective on evangelism.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Perry Noble Is Still An Idiot

I wrote a post some time ago titled Perry Noble is An Idiot in response to something he posted on his blog where he opined that the reason people don’t accept the gospel is because Christians are so doggone mean, bigoted, and narrow-minded. In other words, the gospel has no power to save, it must be packaged correctly. Poppycock!!

Well, Perry Noble has proven once again that he is a dimwit in his latest post on the Rob Bell brouhaha. He writes that, again, all those who are criticizing Rob Bell are just so mean. Why, Bell’s wife and kids might have to read the stuff written about him. Further, he says that Bell’s only error in the book is that he denies the existence of hell as revealed in scripture.

Let’s take the second observation first. I’m actually very surprised to read Perry Noble say that Rob Bell is wrong about his view of hell. I didn’t think Noble was that orthodox. However, he claims that Bell is a sincere follower of Christ and a nice guy. He gushes like a school girl numerous times how Bell has preached sermons that helped him grow in his faith so he obviously believes that Bell is an orthodox Christian pastor who is wrong on this one issue. The fact is, though, that he’s not just wrong on this one issue but in fact denies the gospel as revealed in scripture. Bell says on page 154 of his book, Love Wins, that “[Jesus] doesn‟t say is how, or when, or in what manner the mechanism functions that gets people to God through him. He doesn‟t even state that those coming to the Father through him will even know that they are coming exclusively through him”. Boys and girls, this is a theological heresy called “Inclusivism” which means that people from other religions will get to heaven through Christ without knowing that it was Christ who saved them. For instance, a muslim will get to heaven and say “Huh? This whole time I was praying to Allah but it was God who saved me…through Jesus Christ?? Seriously?? Wow, never saw that one coming.” Bell makes perfectly clear that he believes in inclusivism one page over (155) when he says “There is inclusivity. The kind that is open to all religions, the kind that trusts that good people will get in, that there is only one mountain, but it has many paths. This inclusivity assumes that as long as your heart is fine or your actions measure up, you‟ll be okay”. This is heresy and the fact that Perry Noble doesn’t call this out should be a HUGE red flag.

Rob Bell is a false teacher??  No way!!
Now, as to his second assertion that Christians have been so mean in attacking Bell proving, in Noble’s words, we are an army that shoots our own wounded (thereby including Bell in the army which means he affirms Bell as a Christian rather than a false teacher). I have read reviews of the book by Denny Burk, Kevin DeYoung, and others. I have read blog posts about the book and the press before and after. After reading that material, I can say, pretty confidently, that the writers were direct, firm, and pointed in what they wrote critiquing Bell. However, to call them mean-spirited and un-Christlike is patently absurd. Sorry, Perry, but if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, well don’t sit there like Macaley Caulken with your hands on either side of you cheeks acting all shocked when people call it a duck. And if people close to Bell don’t want to see him called out for being a false teacher, maybe he should think about repenting, trusting Christ to save him, and renouncing his false teaching.

So, in short, Perry Noble once again demonstrates that he is an idiot.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Psalm 2:1-3 Rebellious Humanity

You’ve probably heard the old saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. Truthfully, if we really pay attention, we see that proverb lived out all the time. We experience the same ills as a society as societies from centuries ago—we just experience them faster. This is because at its heart, mankind is desperately wicked. The theological phrase many use to describe the human condition is “total depravity”. From the top of our heads to the soles of our feet, there is not one single part of our mind, will, or heart that is not tainted by sin. This sin is both a result of nature (we are born sinners) and choice (we choose to sin). Things were not much different in the time of King David. As we begin to study this psalm, we will see mankind’s wicked heart fully displayed in attitudes and actions.

Notice with me the fact that David describes the world as being in chaos. He inquires in verse one “Why are the nations in an uproar?” Truth is, mankind has been in an uproar since the rebellion in the Garden of Eden. Human life is chaotic as a result of our sinfulness. In the United States today, we see that sort of uproar as people argue over politics, morality, financial policies, and national borders. Rather than turning to God and the Bible to learn how to order our lives, human beings have always had a “do it ourselves” attitude. In short, the nations rage at the suggestion that God has authority over us and has revealed Himself in His inerrant word.

Because the idea of God having authority over us is so repugnant to unregenerate men and women, we seek ways to enthrone ourselves and dethrone God. While David doesn’t explicitly say this, it’s a pretty obvious conclusion to draw given the context. After all, what other “vain thing” (v 2) would these people who are trying to rebel against the authority of the Lord be “devising”? Mankind wants freedom to sin—to pursue earthly pleasures with no thought of consequences. As a result, men and women will do anything to try to free themselves from the authority of God and His word. They will make choices that harm them, they will believe lies, and they will mock the truth. However, it’s all in vain. There’s really nothing they can do to ultimately rebel against the authority of a holy, omnipotent God. Their rebellion is all in vain.

The futility of the task doesn’t stop them from trying, however. In fact, the world over there is one thing that the unregenerate agree about whether they’re left wingers, right wingers, rich, poor, middle class, English speaking, socialist, or capitalist. The whole world is united in rebellion against God and His word. You can’t get Iraq and the United States to agree on much of anything. Israel and Egypt don’t have much of a middle to “meet in” and getting Middle Eastern countries to sit down and discuss their differences is an arduous task. However, notice how David points out “the kings” and “the rulers” come together to strategize against common foes—“the Lord and…His Anointed”. They rage against God, shaking their fists at heaven as if to say “We will not have this God to be ruler over us”. But it’s not just God that is the object of their ire. Christ, the One who was God in human flesh, the Lamb who took away the sins of the world, is also an object of their scorn. They reject the Father, they reject the Son, and in doing so they condemn themselves.

However, even in their doom they persist in prideful arrogance. Observe their estimation of God’s authority. They see His authority as simply being “fetters” and “cords”. Just trivial little wisps that they can “tear” and “toss away”. Oh really?? You think you’re strong enough to do that. Quite obviously, they have (and humanity still has) a severe problem of perspective—they don’t see God rightly and they don’t see themselves rightly. Apparently they have forgotten who is the Creator and who is the creature. They see this rebellion as a foregone conclusion. Notice, they’re not saying “Let us try” or “We should see if we can”. Their arrogant defiance is preposterous. “We have had enough of this God and His Christ. Let’s stand up to them. It’s time for us to be men and stand up to the bullies who wish to rule us.”

Oh, friends, let’s not make their mistake. As we reflect on these verses, let’s make sure we remain mindful of the fact that God is God---and more importantly, we are not.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Matthew 9:9 God’s Mercy and Forgiveness

I was in a training seminar for auditors and accountants today. Yes, 350 auditors and accountants in the same room. I’m surprised we were able to walk out of there under our own power. It’s a wonder any of us were not brain dead.

Actually it was pretty interesting. One of the presentations was on ethics for accountants. The presenter showed a chart from a study someone had done ranking various professions based on how much integrity you’d expect someone in that profession to have. For instance, nurses ranked the highest—everybody trusts nurses. Auditors and accountants, well, we didn’t fare as well. We were the second lowest right above lawyers.

Things were not that different in Christ’s day. I mean, sure, they had not invented double entry bookkeeping but they had men who collected money for the government. Matthew, the author of this gospel was one such man. We read about his call in this single verse of his gospel but as we read this verse, we need to remember some things, bearing in mind that he was a tax collector.

His people hated him—the Jews that is. Tax collectors worked for the Romans and there are no words for how badly the Jews hated being under Roman occupation. The Romans would sell the rights to collect taxes to people, like Matthew. So, the tax collectors were seen as sell outs. They were ranked right down there with harlots, so Matthew and I have something in common since I’m in a profession that is ranked right above lawyers (Harlots/lawyers, is there a real difference there?). He was a societal outcast. They hated him for another reason as well—tax collectors were crooks. They were given an amount that they had to collect in taxes but they were not told what the maximum they could collect was. Therefore, standard practice was for them to collect “a little something extra” for themselves. So, they sold out their people by helping the Romans and they were crooks who stole from their countrymen by collecting more than was required in taxes. In short, most people liked them about as much as they do any auditor.

Matthew, therefore, was probably not part of religious life in his community. Likely as not, he didn’t have friends who were not engaged in his occupation. The very idea that this governmental accountant could be called into the service of Christ would have been laughable to anyone from “polite society”. He wasn’t just from the wrong side of the tracks—he wasn’t even on the same continent. He had made his choice and there is nothing he could do that would make him clean. He was a sinner, hopeless, helpless, and completely doomed.

And then Jesus enters the picture. I have to imagine as Matthew wrote this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that he had a tear in his eye. There’s no tricky Greek verb tenses going on here. No difficult vocabulary to wrestle with. Here was Jesus, soverignly reaching out to Matthew for no reason other than it pleased Him to do so. He knew who Matthew was. He knew what he had done. In spite of all that, He extended the call “Follow me”. And Matthew did so.

As we reflect on this verse and Matthew’s call, let us remember our own call. I remember how God, when I was in 7th grade on a Thursday afternoon in September, convicted me of my sin by the Holy Spirit and called me to Himself. I remember when I was in 8th grade, a little snot nosed punk, I heard His call and wasn’t sure what He was calling me to do. I remember Him calling me back to repentance after I had spent all of my college, no, wasted all of my time in college living as though I didn’t know Him. I remember him allowing me to serve as a minister of music and a pastor. He called me in spite of everything I am knowing full well exactly what I was. Remembering our call should cause us to burst out in praise to our kind, gracious heavenly Father who loved us in spite of our sin. Praise His holy name.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

II Peter 3:18 Four Imperatives of a Forward Looking Faith Part IV

Scripture tells us that we, who have trusted Christ to save us, are new creatures (II Corinthians 5:17). In fact, Ephesians 2:1 tells us prior to our conversion we were dead. So, not only are we new creatures, we’re new creatures who went from being stone cold dead to being alive. Now, living things have certain characteristics in common. One of those characteristics is growth. Living things grow. My children, a flower, a colony of bacteria, and a puppy dog will all grow during their lifetimes. Therefore, it’s no surprise that one of the four final imperatives that Peter leaves with his audience is the command that they should grow.

Notice, that the command he gives is a present imperative. In other words, he is calling them to a lifestyle—this should be a pattern of life for a believer. Living things grow and if they’re not growing, they’re dead. Because we have gone from being dead in our sins spiritually to being made alive with Christ spiritually, we should grow spiritually. However, observe with me that this is a command. We’re told to do this. Now, the question becomes then “How?”

The key, I think, is in the next phrase we read. Peter says we are to grow “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” As we read that, we might still question “Ok, how?” If we remember, though, Peter’s opening address in the first chapter of this book, where he told us in verse 4 that “by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature”. His precious and magnificent promises are recorded in the word of God. Therefore, we can conclude from what Peter has told us that the answer to the question “How” that we have asked is the word of God. Brothers and sisters, it has the power to change lives. A Christian simply cannot study the Bible and remain unchanged. When we encounter the truth of scripture, we are hearing God speak to us through that truth. Consequently, for us to grow in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord” we must meditate and study the deep, rich truths of scripture and apply that truth to our lives as we seek to live out the faith that we profess.

And by doing so, we glorify God. And make no mistake about it, friend, Jesus is God. Jesus was God incarnate—fully God and fully man. As we ponder all the wonderful things Peter has taught us in this epistle, we need to remember these are that Peter was an orthodox Jew who was raised to worship only God. Therefore, for him to leave his boat and follow Jesus was surprising. For him to stand up and preach on the day of Pentecost, though, was earth shattering. He was able to write this epistle, extolling the word of God and raking false teachers over the proverbial coals, for one simple reason. He recognized that Jesus was not just a great teacher or some moral guru. Rather, he came to realize that Jesus was God. Therefore, he could say, and we should join with him, that to Jesus belongs “the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”


Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Review: What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile

In the last 30 or so years, church shopping has become something of a national pastime. People feel like if they’re not getting their “needs” met, they can and should look around for a bigger, better deal. The idea of discipleship in a local church is almost an oddity in the church today—the exception rather than the rule. With that in mind, I would like to commend to you a wonderful book by Thabiti Anyabwile (thah-bee-tee ahn-ya-bweel-ay is about the closest I can phonetically spell it) called What is a Healthy Church Member (Crossway, 2008). The book is an examination of church membership with emphasis on what scripture says about how a Christian should relate to the body of Christ. In short, the author examines how a healthy church member should view scripture, how they should respond to the gospel, and how they should relate to the body of Christ.

First of all, in chapters 1 and 2, Mr. Anyabwile examines how a healthy church member should view scripture. The first chapter, titled “A Healthy Church member is an Expositional Listener”. The Christian, he posits, should be listening to the sermon (and this rightly assumes the sermon is scriptural) to hear what the author of that scripture intended to say rather than listening “…for practical how to advice…” or for “messages that bolster our self esteem” (page 19). Rather, the healthy church member will listen to hear what God has to say and seek ways to apply that truth to their life. Further, in chapter two, Anyabwile explains that a healthy church member is a biblical theologian. In other words, a Christian should be a student of scripture—all of scripture. They should study not only the New Testament but also the Old Testament. A healthy church member recognizes that “knowledge of God comes only from drinking deeply from the message of the Bible with all of its rich themes” (pg 36).

Secondly, in chapters 3-5, Anyabwile examines how a healthy church member responds to the gospel. In chapter 3, he describes such a member as being “gospel saturated”. Rather than viewing the gospel as something that happens to you and then you move on from there, he exhorts readers to constantly meditate on the truth of the gospel and what it means in their lives. With that in mind, he also describes a healthy church member as genuinely converted (chapter 4). If a person has not responded to the gospel in repentance from sin and faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, one can hardly be a healthy church member. The logical outgrowth of these implications of the gospel is, as he notes in chapter 5, a healthy church member is a biblical evangelist. When a healthy church member shares the gospel, it is the true gospel revealed by Christ and taught by His apostles. Furthermore, a healthy church member will seek to order his or her life around the gospel and seek opportunities to share that gospel with those they encounter.

Finally, in chapters 6-10, Anyabwile shares how members ought to relate to the body of Christ. They should be committed (chapter 6) rather than nominally involved. They should seek discipline (formative and corrective) and be available to discipline others (chapter 7). A healthy church member will also experience spiritual growth and humbly support their leadership prayerfully as they follow them (chapters 8 and 9). Lastly, a healthy church member’s spiritual life involves a continual attitude of prayer (chapter 10).

The book is fairly short and you could likely read a chapter a day without great difficulty. The book would make a great devotional and worked really well in our church’s small group study this past fall. Thabiti’s book would be a welcome addition to the library of any Christian.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Happy Belated Blogiversary to me!!!

I have a confession to make.  As is obvious, my posting has been way, way off for several months now.  In the fall, I started something related to church and continuing education that I couldn't finish.  I was stressed beyond belief.  I was very, very close to cracking up.  It was the second darkest time in my life that I'd ever been through and I decided I couldn't live like that for 3 years.  So I dropped.  But, and I know I'm being vague here-sorry about that, by dropping I also gave up on something that I've always wanted to do. 

In short, I have experienced a crisis of faith.  Maybe I'm still experiencing it.  In any case, it has been difficult to motivate myself to get to work.  It all seems so pointless.  To be perfectly honest, I'm still wrestling with it.

I'm going to break protocol here--I'd like to ask you for a Blogiversary present.  I'd like you to take a moment and pray for me.  Particularly:

1)  Pray that I will remain faithful to what God has called me to do where I am--specifically, being a good husband and father.

2)  Pray that I will remain devoted to blogging.  I still believe it is a great avenue for proclaiming biblical truth.

3)  Pray that I will not feel as discouraged and defeated as I have.  Pray that God will give me the strength to reach out to those I need to reach out to for help.

Thank you.  I'll be back on my game next week.  Here's to another 4 years!!!!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Shack Turned Into A Movie!!!

What?  I bet it'd be at least as good as Kazzam.