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Holy Complaint

Holy Complaint

There is a sort of holy complaint to God (Ps. 142:1-2). In fact, God calls us to complain; to plead our cause. Not all complaining is created equal. But there is a kind of complaint that is both defiant and dangerous. Complaint can be defiant when we treat God like a magic genie. But God does not exist for our needs, we exist to satisfy His will (I Thes. 4:3). He does not promise to take away our problems nor console us in our unrepentance.
But there is a complaint that is also dangerous because God is a consuming fire which is why for a complaining people having God close is dangerous business. Holy complaint desires the warmth of God’s fire, “Lord, hear my plea.” Ungodly complaint tests the Lord of the fire, “Lord, can’t we have better manna tomorrow!” And when the latter happens continually, the world can no longer distinguish between light and darkness.

We Need a Resurrected Messiah!

The practice of Easter is where our Christian faith shines the most. Contrary to popular teachers, the Christian faith does not eliminate your problems, it gives you the wisdom to deal with them. This wisdom is found in a glorified Messiah. You and I need a resurrected Christ to help us; a dead Christ can’t see us through pain and suffering. We need a Lord and King who looks at us straight in the eyes and not through a veil; a Christ who says, “You need to eat, here’s bread; you need to live, here’s my Word.” Easter gives that to you. Christ is risen!

Where is the fear of God?

Where is the fear of God?

R.C. Sproul’s greatest contributions in my estimation are his works on worship. I’ve encouraged many people to read through his excellent little book, A Taste of Heaven. He observes the disjointed view people have when they separate God’s demand for reverence in the Old and his demand in the New:

One aspect of the modern church that most saddens and concerns me is that believers are no longer encouraged to have a healthy fear of God. We seem to assume that the fear of the Lord is something that belonged to the Old Testament period and is not to be a part of the life of the Christian. But fear of God involves not simply a trembling before His wrath, but a sense of reverence and awe because of His glorious holiness.

The Regulative Principle and Strange Fire

The Regulative Principle and Strange Fire

The Regulative Principle of worship in its strictest form–“whatever is not commanded is forbidden”–has been argued by Puritans from texts like Leviticus 10. But does the Nadab and Abihu incident actually make the case for the RPW? Peter Leithart argues persuasively for a more wisdom principle of the RPW:

The sin of Nadab and Abihu was offering “strange” or “unauthorized” fire on the altar. But there is no command anywhere about what fire was to be used for burning incense. Yet, the priests had to make some determination of what fire to bring, and from the experience of Nadab and Abihu it’s clear that they could make the WRONG decision.

In the absence of specific commandments about the fire, how were they to know? They should have reasoned from the structures of the sanctuary system. The distinction between holy and profane runs the length of the system: There is holy food and common food, holy people and common people, holy things and common things, holy incense and common incense, a holy God and strange gods. With that distinction being hammered again and again, they should have concluded that there is also holy fire and strange fire. With regard to the regulative principle, the important point is that they were supposed to make a liturgical decision NOT merely be searching for an explicit command, but by reasoning from the existing commands and patterns to draw conclusions concerning liturgical actions that were not dealt with explicitly.

Van Til Quoted in the New York Times

Van Til Quoted in the New York Times

Owen Strachan responds to Molly Worthen’s piece at the New York Times. Here is Strachan’s conclusion:

No, it is not Cornelius Van Til who is to blame for our modern breakup. It is not Carl Henry. It is not Francis Schaeffer. It is not Chuck Colson. It is not Al Mohler (mocked in a prior profile by Worthen). These are the men, with many others, who have both strengthened the church and driven it to act in love toward the world—a world that despises them, that rejects their views, and that even dares to blame them for the dissolution of modernity.

Worthen is surely right about one thing: Western civilization is imperiled. But she sadly fails to see that the figures she identifies as the problem are the ones who point to our only real hope: a crucified and risen man who preached exclusive truth, was the exclusive truth, and invited all to come and taste his boundless goodness and grace.

James Jordan on Calvin’s Weekly Observance of the Sacraments

James Jordan summarizes the consequences of weekly communion:

Calvin desired greatly that the rite of the Lord’s Supper be present each week in worship, and that the thankfulness highlighted in worship be extended into all labor. In this way, the principles of the Kingdom would flow from worship into the highways and byways of all of life. For this reason also, Calvin produced liturgies that involved the people greatly in the performance of worship, for the performance of public worship was training for the performance of work.a

 

  1. Christian Piety: Deformed and Reformed  (back)

Is Easter Over?

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Is Easter over?

Theologically, we know that the earthquake of Easter will reverberate until the Second Coming of Messiah. And liturgically, Easter is in no way over. In fact, Easter has just begun. The joy of Easter carries on until June 3rd, which means we still have 49 days of Eastertide. Easter is far from over and there is much more rejoicing to do in the next seven weeks.

The difficulty for many of us is keeping this Easter enthusiasm for such a lengthy period. The reason many evangelicals are ready to get to the next thing is because they lack a sense of liturgical rhythm. Lent took us through a 40-day journey, but the Easter joy takes us through a 50-day journey. Easter is superior to Lent not only in length of days but also in the quality of its mood. Lent prepares us to a journey towards Calvary, while Easter takes us through a victory march. Through Easter, we are reminded to put away our sadness and embrace the heavenly trumpet sound to all the corners of the earth. “He is risen!, He is risen!, He is risen!” The devil trembles, the enemies fear, the forces of evil shake, the sound of sin is silenced when death was defeated.

What does this mean? It means we must be busy in the business of celebrating. For dads and moms, young and old, we have much to do to preserve and pervade this season with jubilance. I want to offer ten ways we can do that in the remaining 49 days of Easter. a More

  1. I unashamedly used some of the options from this great resource  (back)

Easter Meditation for the Lord’s Supper

The Resurrection of Jesus created this newly gathered body, called the Church. Of course, the Church had existed since the Garden but never has the Church possessed such glory, such overflowing joy, and such unity than when she was bathed in the Resurrection waters. The Old Church needed a thorough cleansing, and from the empty tomb flowed these rivers of life that begin this washing and cleansing of Christ’s Bride. Christ was raised for the sake of His Bride and World.

This meal is a continual celebration of the empty tomb. This is why this is a table of joy. The last Supper is now replaced with a new Supper each time we meet. And because this is a new meal it never becomes bitter to our taste. His mercies are new each time we gather as Resurrected people. Come and eat.

What is Maundy Thursday?

“Maundy” comes from the Latin Mandatum. The word comes from Jesus’ command on the Last Supper to love one another just as He loved them (Jn. 13). The message of love is central to the Gospel message. Some Evangelicals are all too quick to set the topic of love aside because it draws our attention away from the more important doctrinal disputes and discussions. Yet Paul and our blessed Lord keep bringing us back to this theme of love. God is love. No, love is not God, but it is very much a foundational aspect of all His actions toward us in Christ Jesus.

Maundy Thursday then becomes a special historical reminder that we are called to be a people of love. In I Corinthians 13, Paul said that if love is absent, our actions become like clanging cymbals. The very core of Paul’s exhortation to love occurred in the midst of a dying Church, namely the Corinthian Church. Paul’s application then is an ecclesiastical command. In the same manner, our blessed Lord on the night in which he was betrayed– by that unclean man called Judas– called us to a greater love ethic as a people. It was not an ethic foreign to our Lord. What Jesus commands is first and foremost something he has experienced and displayed already. To a greater extent, our Lord proves that love in a cross of hate. By sacrificing Himself on that cruel tree He turned the symbol of hate into one of the most beloved symbols in the Christian life.

It is then very appropriate that our Lord would command us to love as a response to the Last Supper. This is the case because in the Supper we are being re-oriented in our affections for one another. The Supper is a meal of love and Jesus would transform that meal in His resurrection. He would glorify love for His new disciples. He would become Himself the manna from heaven that would bring joy to this newly created community.

Love is most clearly displayed and obeyed in this new fellowship of disciples we call the Church. This is why Maundy Thursday was a significant historical event. It was not just a didactic lesson for the disciples, it was also a meal that sealed the theme of love for this new community that would emerge from the darkness of the tomb.

N.T. Wright on Palm Sunday

If we try to follow Jesus in faith and hope and love on his journey to the cross, we will find that the hurricane of love which we tremblingly call God will sweep in from a fresh angle, fulfilling our dreams by first shattering them, bringing something new out of the dangerous combination of personal hopes and cultural pressures. We mustn’t be surprised if in this process there are moments when it feels as though we are being sucked down to the depths, five hundred miles from shore amid hundred-foot waves, weeping for the dream that has had to die, for the kingdom that isn’t coming the way we wanted. That is what it’s like when we are caught up in Jesus’s perfect storm. But be sure, when that happens, when you say with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “We had hoped … but now it’s all gone wrong,” that you are on the verge of hearing the fresh word – the word that comes when the storm is stilled, and in the new great calm we see a way forward we had never imagined. “Foolish ones,” said Jesus, “and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and so enter into his glory?” Who knows what might happen if each of us were to approach Holy Week and Good Friday praying humbly for the powerful fresh wind of God to blow into that combination of cultural pressure and personal aspiration, so that we each might share in the sufferings of the Messiah and come through into the new life he longs to give us.