good sale at Eisenbrauns

on hendrickson books.  there are lots of good deals I’d consider but now just isn’t a good time.  I hope the sale will be around til we get out tax return back, then maybe, maybe the wifey will let me get Gorman’s book on Exegesis and the UBS Reader’s edition of the GNT.  ah well – you all should take up some of the deals.

on preaching hell

Trevin Wax posted a segment of a talk by D.A. Carson in which he was discussing the question:

How do you perform deeds of mercy and keep a strong emphasis on proclaiming the gospel?

He goes on to talk about one person involved in the Gospel Coalition who insisted the best way to do this is to “Preach Hell.” 

At one point Carson says:

I will not soon forget a Gospel Coalition member who said, “I’ll tell you how to fix the problem. Preach hell.”

We looked at him. This particular chap is known for his bluntness. We wondered: How does that answer the question? How do you preserve gospel faithfulness while doing deeds of social mercy? We knew this chap. He is into racial integration in his church. He is very concerned about these things. How do you keep those things from swamping the whole direction of the church?

“Preach hell!”

The men listening to him were puzzeled and asked him to explain.  He did and you’ll have to read Trevin’s post to see the responses.   But I’ll give one part of the response:

[Preaching Hell shows] ….. that you are interested in the relief of suffering both in time and eternity.  You start fudging on that corner and you lose that eternal dimension.”  

(emphasis and brackets mine).  I can understand this unnamed person’s points and find them valid.  At the same time, however, I think I would prefer to take a somewhat different tack (and this may be along the lines of what Carson suggested in the posted segment where is suggests preaching the gospel.

I would suggest the way to urge performing deeds of mercy and keeping emphasis on the gospel would be to take the same tack Paul did with the Corinthians:

1 Cor 2:2 “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

As I see it, this is the best and preferred approach to dealing with the tension of promoting social action and gospel proclamation.  Preach Christ and him crucified.   In this context you can easily warn people of the coming judgement of God and its potential consequences, which for some may very well be eternal separation from God and his presence, also known as hell.  Again, this is an important doctrine and it does need to be preached and people really need to be warned about it.  Yet, I think it needs to be integrated into preaching Jesus Christ and him crucified and risen from the dead.  Most importantly, however, I want to argue that preaching Christ and him crucified an risen from the dead, helps keep the focus where it needs to be: on Christ

2 Corinthains 12:9-10

 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 in the TNIV reads:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

——————

I’ll admit, while we can all exegete this passage and we can try to explain it, few of us actually know, in terms of experience, what this means.  I don’t really know what true weakness is or how it plays out in my life.  Have I really ever been so weak such that God is then able to be strong in me?  I’ll also admit I don’t typically “delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.”  I usually try to avoid them.  These things aren’t any fun – they are hard to go through and they hurt. 

I won’t go into the details but in many ways, our family has really been through the fire here at the Grand Canyon National Park, I mean we’ve really been through it, financially, emotionally, relationally, even spiritually.   Yet, my guess is it’s nothing compared to what Paul is talking about here, nothing.

What about you?

1 Peter 5 and suffering

I am doing a set of posts reflecting on observations of 1 Peter 5.  My last post was on what Peter had to say to Pastor/leaders in the congregation.   For this post, I want to see what Peter has to say about the role of suffering in the Christian life.

First we see that Christ suffered (v.1).  Basically we know from the gospels that most of Jesus’ ministry involved suffering be it opposition from Jewish leadership, misunderstandings of his family, to working with inept disciples, to the temptations he dealt with from the Devil, to the intense times of fasting and prayer that he endured – let alone his trial and treatment before Herod, Pilate and the Roman guards.  Then who can imagine going through the process of death by crucifixion?

Next we see that the brethren suffered (v.9)(all Christians).  This is not hard to imagine as living for the Lord in the first century brought on much opposition and persecutions ranging from beatings, expulsions, and death.  The list could go on and on and on whether it was being thrown to the animals in the coliseum, burned on the stake, boiled in oil, beheadings, crucifixions, and on and on and on.  All for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of the one who saved them from their sins and gave them new life!

Thirdly, Peter tells his readers “after you have suffered…” (v.10)  So, in essence you will suffer in one fashion or another.   For us modern day Christians in the US how this is applied is quite different than for others around the world who give their very  lives.  But the point is suffering can and does happen – be it being ostracized from family, friends and or co-workers; enduring the constant joking and put downs of Christians and or Christianity.  I think another area of suffering not often mentioned might be the simple fact of living the Christian life.  Living as God has called us to live involves self-sacrifice, the constant denial of the self in the service of God and others.  This isn’t easy work so I think faithful discipleship to Jesus is its own form of suffering.

So how does one get through suffering? 1 Peter 5:10 tells us:

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of  all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

We will get through the suffering because the God of all grace will himself:

  1. perfect
  2. confirm
  3. strengthen
  4. and establish

those who suffer!  God himself will be with us in and through our suffering.  Through the suffering he perfects us and makes us more like Jesus.  In the suffering he confirms that we are his and that he will be with us.  He strengthens and establishes us through his presence in our hears and through the Holy Spirit.

Amazing.

Congrats to Dr. Chris Tilling

for successfully defending his PhD thesis.

from his facebook page he writes:

Has recently successfully defended his PhD thesis, and will now become Dr Chris Tilling … I trust all you plebs out there will finally start treating me with a bit of awe and respect 🙂

—–

certainly sir, now that you are officially a somebody!  🙂

I agree…

Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

meekness is not weakness.

We can certainly talk of weakness in relation to the theology of Saint Paul in that when we are weak then we are strong because God is strong in us and through us, but make no mistake: Jesus was not weak (at least not in the modern sense, e.g., he’s so weak) rather, he was meek. But don’t continue to be confused: meekness is not weakness.

Meekness has to do with humility and vulnerability, and being humble and vulnerable are not characteristics of a weak person – they are characteristics of strength and integrity along with a sense of being resolute or determined.  When the Bible says that Jesus resolutely set his face toward Jerusalem, I hardly thing that was a sign of weakness (Luke 9:51)!  Meekness also has to do with patience and long suffering.   It takes a strong person of integrity to live a life that puts God and others ahead of him or herself.  To be patient with others and go the distance with them.  Only the truly weak try to put themselves first and so aren’t able to value others above themselves nor are they able to be fully submitted to God, probably because they have low self value/worth (a kind of false humility), and with low self value, it’s hard to value others or God, let alone be humble.

So, yeah, meekness is not weakness.

HT: Nick.

Pastor/leaders and 1 Peter 5

I’ve been meditating on and really been impacted by reading 1 Peter 5 lately. It began when I noted in another blog post about Inductive Bible study methods where I linked to an example on the Precept Ministries website.

I’ll be making several posts about what I see going on in this chapter of 1 Peter.  For this post I want to note some observations about the role of pastors in the church based on this chapter.

In 1 Peter 5:2-4, we see how Peter sees the role of pastors and or leaders in the congregation.  First, Peter calls pastors in the congregation: “Shepherds of the flock of God.”   We know he probably gets this from the conversation he had with Jesus at the end of John when he was restored to the Apostolic circle, where Jesus admonished Peter, “Feed my sheep.”  Then, in succession he lists how shepherds should interact with their congregation (among the flock).

They are to exercise oversight (provide leadership):

  1. not under compulsion
  2. but voluntarily
  3. according to the will of God
  4. nor for selfish (sordid) gain
  5. but eagerly
  6. not lording it over them
  7. but being examples to them

And when the Chief Shepherd appears these undershepherds will receive an unfading crown of glory.

My guess is the unfading crown of glory a reference to eternal life, not necessarily a literal crown.  So it seems that when pastors shepherd the flock entrusted to them, they are to do so voluntarily, in accordance with the will of God, eagerly and not in a bosy way, but as examples to them, probably as servants.

One thing is for sure, more of us pastors need to listen to Peter about how to be shepherds of the flock of God.

What say you?