May 21

Essential Theological Video and Audio

Audio and Video

Video:

C. J. Mahaney -Sustained in Suffering by the Saga of Job

Dave Jenkins – Hearing and Doing the Word of God (John 8:37-47)

Audio:

Mike Leake – Am I Too Broken? (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

May 26

Joel Estes – Calling on the Name of the Lord: The Meaning and Significance of ἐπικαλέω in Romans 10:13

Joel Estes

Romans 10:13 is one of the most familiar verses in all the Bible: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Featured in countless sermons, and the capstone of many a gospel tract, this verse has, however, rarely been the subject of sustained scholarly inquiry and in the commentaries often receives surprisingly short shrift. One notable exception is an insightful essay by C. Kavin Rowe, which explores the meaning of the “name of the Lord” in the second half of 10:13 and demonstrates convincingly that Paul’s application of OT language for God to the person of Jesus serves to identify the one with the other. However, even this article spends little time plumbing the significance of the first half of 10:13 and the question that it begs: What does it mean to call on (ἐπικαλέω) the name of the Lord?

The immediate context of Romans 10:13 reveals that this question is not inconsequential. In Romans 10:12–14, Paul uses the verb ἐπικαλέω three times to articulate the proper human response to God/Jesus. In 10:12, Paul argues that the same Lord who is over both Jews and Greeks richly blesses all who call upon him (ἐπικαλέω). To support this claim he quotes Joel 3:5 LXX (2:32 ET): “All who call upon (ἐπικαλέω) the name of the Lord will be saved.” The same verb then serves as a linguistic springboard in v. 14a to introduce the chain–like sequence (sorites) in vv. 14–15 that leads to one calling upon the Lord. The three–fold repetition of ἐπικαλέω in vv. 12–14, and its location at the head (or the end result) of the chain in vv. 14–15 (preceding even πιστεύω) indicates its prime importance for Paul. It is vital, therefore, to consider carefully what this term conveys.

That is precisely the goal of this paper, and here is its central claim: In Rom 10:13, to “call on the name of the Lord” (ἐπικαλεῖν τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου) means more than to invoke the Lord, but expresses a prayer for deliverance with cultic connotations, that is, “to worship Jesus as Lord.” In particular, Paul’s usage of ἐπικαλέω in this passage resonates with strong liturgical overtones, it draws on a long OT tradition of employing such language in cultic settings, it parallels closely other NT texts that are cultic in orientation, and it coheres with our earliest evidence about the worship practices of the early church. Finally, the observation that ἐπικαλέω carries the nuance of worship is significant, since it suggests a tighter thematic relationship between this chapter and Paul’s description of humanity’s fundamental predicament as false worship in chapter 1, his exhortation for renewed spiritual worship in chapter 12, and his vision for unified Jew/Gentile worship in chapter 15.

These interrelated claims forecast the four stages of my argument. In section one I examine Rom 10:13 within its immediate context. In section two I consider the linguistic background of ἐπικαλέω in Greek literature and trace its usage in the LXX. In section three I explore the relationship between the cultic language of Rom 10 and other NT passages. Finally, in section four I show how listening for the liturgical overtones in Rom 10:13 can tune our ears to hear more clearly the theme of worship that reverberates throughout the letter and that constitutes one of its central (yet oft–neglected) theological motifs.

Continue Reading

May 26

D. A. Carson – When Did the Church Begin?

rp_Clarus-Carson-300x200.jpg

When Did the Church Begin? This question is not uncommon, especially among theological students. Sometimes people ask it because they have been exposed to dispensational teaching. In that case, the answer one gives becomes a kind of litmus test to a nest of other questions that dispensationalists pose. People from a dispensational heritage emphasize discontinuity between the covenants, and therefore commonly argue that the church begins at Pentecost; people from a covenant-theology heritage emphasize the continuity of the covenant of grace, think in terms of fulfillment of what was promised, and therefore argue that the “assembly” of the people of God is one, and that therefore it is a mistake to argue that the church begins at Pentecost. Others ask the question in our title because for them the answer is a way of distinguishing between Reformed Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists. Still others ask the question without a theological agenda, but for no other reason than that it deserves to be asked precisely because the answer seems ambiguous in the biblical texts.

It may be helpful to organize the relevant material in several steps.

(1) As for the terminology, although “church” is commonly a NT expression, both the word and the idea surface in the OT too. For example, a not atypical passage pictures God instructing Moses, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children” (Deut 4:10): the verb is קהל in Hebrew and ἐκκλησιάζειν (cognate with ἐκκλησία, “church” or “assembly”) in the Septuagint. Not less important is the fact that NT writers can refer to the OT people of God as the “church”: Stephen speaks of the gathered Israelites in the wilderness as “the assembly [ἐκκλησία] in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38). The writer to the Hebrews uses OT language to depict Jesus saying that he will sing praise to God: “in the assembly [ἐκκλησία] I will sing your praise” (2:12, citing Ps 22:22). When Christians gather together, the language the writer to the Hebrews uses to describe their assembly bursts with fulfilled typological references to the OT: the writer tells them, “[Y]ou have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church [ἐκκλησία] of the firstborn … to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (12:22–24). The reference to Abel inevitably reminds the reader that Christians are “surrounded by … a great cloud of witnesses” (12:1)—namely, the faithful heroes from Abel through Enoch, Abraham, Sarah, Gideon, David, and all the rest of the OT figures (ch. 11). One cannot help but see some kind of profound continuity in the people of God.

(2) The issue is broader than merely terminological. When Jesus declares, in a thoroughly Jewish context, that he will build his church (ἐκκλησία, Matt 16:18), what he has in mind, according to this Gospel, includes Gentiles too (28:18–20). His instructions on how to exercise church [ἐκκλησία] discipline (18:15–20) show how he is willing to blur distinctions we tend to make: the local church (which must be in view in ch. 18) is the outcropping of the entire church (ch. 16), and clearly includes both Jews and Gentiles. They constitute Messiah’s assembly, Messiah’s church. Nowhere is the one-ness of Messiah’s people, Messiah’s church, more powerfully worked out than in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Jewish believers and Gentile believers have been made “one” by Jesus, who is our peace (Eph 2:14). At one time the Gentiles were alienated from God, “excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise” (2:12), but now the two groups constitute “one new humanity” (2:15). Gentiles are “no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” (2:19). This is the church (ἐκκλησία) that Christ loved and for which he died (5:25). One recalls that in the olive tree metaphor (Romans 11), there is but one vine, with branches being broken off from that vine or grafted onto it.

Continue Reading

May 25

Christina Fox – How the Psalms Speak to our Emotions

Christina Fox

It’s strange, isn’t it, how something that is not physical can feel so physical? I experienced several losses last year and each one somehow hurt deep within my bones. My heart ached. I felt weak and worn. I could relate to the psalmist, “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief (Psalm 6:6-7).

If you’ve been a believer for any length of time, you too have probably found solace in the Psalms when the heartaches of life have overwhelmed you. Perhaps you’ve written down a Psalm or two to give you comfort during a trial. Maybe you’ve found great hope in the fact that the psalmist felt the same levels of despair, fear, or abandonment that you felt.

John Calvin wrote that the Psalms are “an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.” I think that is an appropriate description. Every emotion that we experience in this life is reflected in those 150 poems. From joy and gratitude to grief and sadness; from horrifying fear to the pit of despair; from confession over sin to crying out for help; the Psalms cover it all.

But the Psalms do more than just mirror our own heartaches. They aren’t simply there to provide catharsis or help us know that we aren’t the only ones who have suffered.

In fact, there is much more that we can learn from the Psalms, especially the Psalms of Lament, those dark, sad, and emotion laden Psalms many of us turn to when life is hard and the future seems dark and bleak.

1. We learn how to be honest with God.

The Psalms were the songbook for God’s people. They sang the Psalms during worship to God. All of them. Even the dark and sorrow-filled songs. These songs are prayers poured out to God. In reading the Laments, we learn that we need to be honest and real with our Heavenly Father. The psalmist describes in vivid detail exactly what he is experiencing, feeling, thinking, and hoping. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast” (Psalm 22:14).

Continue Reading

May 25

Sarah Walton – Three Truths to Fight the Temptation to Glorify Self

glorify-self

One thing that I long for in my eternal dwelling with Christ is to be set free from the endless battles with my flesh. Oh to be free from the desire to please others, the subtle trap of idolizing things in this world, the attempts to take control of what is not mine, and the temptation to steal God’s glory!

Even in moments when I feel I am genuinely pursuing Christ, striving to walk in his truth, and desiring to bring him glory, I would only be deceiving myself if I didn’t admit that even my most God-glorifying moments are riddled with sin. The enemy is always hard at work to convince me in the most subtle ways that I deserve more, and that the praise and affections of those around me will satisfy me, that being known and loved by others is of more value than being deeply loved and accepted by Christ.

Bowing our knee and submitting our lives to God alone goes against everything that is natural within us. Our culture tells us to follow our hearts if we want to find our way, to self-promote if we want any success in life, and to take the reins if we want to control the course of our days. The world says, “Glorify yourself, and you will be satisfied and happy!”

Even as believers, this deception is always lurking on our doorstep. Not only is the temptation to glorify ourselves all around us, but the desire for it lies within our hearts. If we don’t recognize and fight this battle of the flesh with truth, we will easily slip into this subtle, but powerful, pull of self-exaltation.

Here are three truths that we can remind ourselves of when we battle the temptations of seeking our own happiness and glory, pleasing man, making more of ourselves than Christ, and stealing God’s glory.

Continue Reading

May 24

John Piper – Psalm 67: God Blesses You to Bless the World

Why does God love and bless his undeserving children like he does? These seven verses unlock several reasons, including one that should shape the direction and purpose of your life. In this lab, John Piper highlights what God wants from the world, as well as his plan to use us to spread his blessing all over the earth.

May 24

Douglas Wilson – Surveying the Text: James

Douglas Wilson

Introduction:

This short letter is famous for its instructions on “the tongue,” as well as for its emphasis on practical religion, visiting widow and orphans. There are a number of practical instruction on showing no partiality between rich and poor, as well as a stern warning against envy. What many don’t realize is that these are all actually aspects of the same subject.

The Text:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (Jas. 4:7–10Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).

Can’t Tell the Players Without a Scorecard:

The epistle of James is actually from a man identified in the original as Jacob. For some reason we Anglicize some names and transliterate others. This letter finally won general acceptance for its canonicity in the 4th century A.D. The writer claims to be from “James,” a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Part of the difficult was that the early church knew that James the apostle had likely died too early to write the letter.

James, the son of Zebedee, was the brother of the apostle John and was one of the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). He was one of the twelve, and was mentioned apart from the other disciples at the healing of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)), and on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). He was one of those rebuked by Jesus for impetuous zeal when he wanted fire from heaven to destroy a Samaritan town (Luke 9:54Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). His mother wanted special places of honor for him and for John, which distressed the other disciples. He was told that he would drink the same cup that his Lord would drink (Mark 10:39Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)), a prophecy that came to pass around 44 A.D. when he was killed with the sword at the command of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:2Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). It is possible that he wrote this letter.

Continue Reading

May 23

Michael Boling – Is It Wrong to Have an Opinion?

quotescover-JPG-65

“I have my own opinions about things in the Bible.”

This was a statement my daughter noted to me in a recent chat. At first this took me a bit by surprise. What did she mean by having her own opinion? Doesn’t she believe what the Bible says is true? Or is she perhaps merely stating that she is delving into the study of Scripture and forming an opinion based on her studies? At this stage in her life, I believe the answer is a bit of both as she is contemplating, as many of us have at one point in our life, the ramifications to all of life regarding the full and absolute acceptance of God’s Word as the source of truth.

The statement of having my own opinion about the Bible led me to ponder if having an opinion is necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps it is vital to first provide the definition of the word opinion. Webster’s defines an opinion as “a belief, judgment, or way of thinking about something; what someone thinks about a particular thing.” Thus, by its very definition, if we have an opinion, it is based on a set of beliefs. This means that an opinion cannot be just a passing fancy or a fleeting thought. Opinions are rooted in a belief system.

If someone declares they have an opinion about something, in particular matters of theology, the first point of discussion is defining the belief system upon which that opinion is founded. Each and every person has a belief system regardless of how well defined and developed it may be at the time a particular opinion or set of opinions has been formed. The belief system then informs the opinions that are made.

Is it wrong to have an opinion? Absolutely not. In my conversation with my daughter, I informed her I was quite pleased to see she was developing an opinion about Scripture. If anything, it demonstrated she is actively thinking through some important topics. As her father, it is of course an important duty of mine to help her understand the importance of constantly testing her opinions or the opinions of those she comes in contact with such as friends, family, and yes even the youth pastor and youth leaders against the rock solid foundation of truth found in Scripture.

If we stop having opinions about issues, in my humble opinion, we have moved into a lazy and somewhat dangerous place in our life. To some degree, if we stop forming opinions, we in essence have stopped caring with the result, in particular when it comes to matters of theology, we have ceased to grow in the faith as we have achieved a place of stagnation. With that said, opinions are like rear ends as they say meaning everyone has one. Opinions must be tested against the truth of Scripture. Those opinions that stand that test can be held onto while those that do not pass muster should be jettisoned or reformed based on what Scripture demands.

I think it is a great thing my daughter is forming some opinions and as a parent, I do not want to squash this important point in her life as she explores, assesses, and processes the facts of life as she begins to move into her teenage years. This is a formative time in her life. I want her to think logically, clearly, and fully about everything she hears, reads, or sees. The important issue as I have noted is to ensure as a parent, I am helping her understand where to look for the ultimate source of truth. Man has plenty of opinions about absolutely everything. God is the source of truth and it is the facts He provides in His Word that ultimately matter.

Do not stop forming opinions. There is nothing wrong with having a belief about something. Having an opinion ventures into shaky territory when we allow man’s finite opinions to trump the truth of Scripture. Always root your opinions and beliefs in the firm foundation of Scripture making sure to avoid the shifting sands of man’s opinions.

Opinions – we all have them and we should have them. It is what we do with them and the belief system they are founded upon which is of the utmost importance.

May 23

John Calvin – Sermon on 1 Timothy 1:18-19

rp_john-calvin.png

Now to the king of worlds, immortal and invisible, to God only wise, be honor and glory forever. Amen. 18 Son Timothy, I commend this commandment to thee, that according to the prophesies which were before (made) of thee, thou fight by them a good battle. 19 Having faith and a good conscience, which some men have cast away, and are perished from the faith. (1 Tim. 1:18-19)

We must well remember and bear in mind that verse which was expounded before, how Saint Paul gives us to understand by his own example that when we know ourselves to be sinners, we should in no wise doubt but that the Son of God is at hand to receive us to mercy. For why was he sent into the world but to save that which was lost? And although we are of our own nature bent to distrust, yet must we be resolved in this point, that the son of God will not cast us off, so that we come to him to be partakers of the salvation which he offers generally to all sinners. But we must take this with us, that we cannot come to salvation in Jesus Christ, but only by faith, which betokens as much as this, that we be truly drawn unto him, and that with an upright affection, being angry and sorry with ourselves for our sins. For he that will cherish and nuzzle up himself in wickedness, is not worthy of that remedy which the son of God brings us. And because we are subject to doubt, especially regarding the matter of putting our trust in God, St. Paul confirms this doctrine, saying that it is a sure word, worthy to be received; as God has promised in other passages, in order to keep us from doubting his goodness. He is not content to tell us that he will be as good to us as his promise, but he adds an oath. Therefore we are so much the more to be blamed for distrust if we cannot settle our minds upon such promises, when God helps us in our distrust and in our weaknesses.

Now St. Paul adds a thanksgiving, and one that is rather strong, crying out, “Honor and glory be to God for ever to him (he says) that is King everlasting, who is immortal, who is invisible, who alone is wise.” By this he shows that he was, as it were, ravished to glorify God’s name, feeling the grace that he had received. And indeed if we consider how St. Paul was turned, and in what condition God found him, it was the strangest miracle that could be to have a wolf become a sheep, a man so raging and mad to shed the blood of martyrs, to be directly turned into a shepherd, and to have so gentle and mild a spirit; and a man full of pride to be so humbled; a man that was before drunk with the honors of the world, to submit himself to all rebukes and slanders; for him who resisted God, to take the yoke upon himself and to desire nothing but to be a servant of Jesus Christ, against whom he had been fighting. Mark, I say, such a wonderful changing, that it is not without cause that St. Paul cries, Honor and glory be given to God.

Continue Reading

May 23

James Montgomery Boice – On Sola Scriptura & Solus Christus

Older posts «