Dave Jenkins – The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up (John 12:27-34)
Tim Challies – Why Are We So Distracted?
Tony Reinke – Smartphone Smart
We rarely use the word glory in any knowledgeable sense in our culture. Sometimes we employ it in its adjectival form (i.e. glorious) when speaking of a sunset or some particularly unique accomplishment (usually that which is instrumental, athletic or theatric in nature). It’s my assumption that most of us use the word glory and its derivations for emphasis without being cognizant of what the word it actually means. Significantly, the concept of glory is the greatest of concepts in this world, as it is the emanating of the perfections of the infinite and eternal God–both in creation and new creation. In an entry in his Miscellanies, Jonathan Edwards defined the word glory in the following way:
“Glory is a shining forth, an effulgence; so the glory of God is the shining forth or effulgence of His perfections, or the communication of his perfections, for effulgence is the communication of light.”
To whatever we may ascribe the concept of glory, of this much we must be settled–glory is inherent in God and something that He has chosen to share with His image bearers. However, glory is also something that we lost in the fall and is the chief thing that God has promised to restore in Christ by virtue of His work of redemption.
We have often loved what we’ve learned about God more than God himself.
The Bible warns us about the dangers that come with our knowledge of God, especially for the theologically refined and convinced. “You cannot serve both God and theology.” Good theology is a means to enjoying and worshiping God, or it is useless.
Has your theology turned into idolatry? Has your knowledge of God ironically and tragically drawn you away from him, not nearer to him? Here are nine questions that might help you diagnose theology idolatry in your own heart and mind.
1. Does your theology draw you to God?
Does greater knowledge of God lead you deeper into prayer? Maybe the surest test of our theology is whether it produces greater intimacy with God. No one needed to tell Jesus anything about God, yet that didn’t in any way dilute or diminish his need to pray. Instead, it deepened and enlivened his commitment to meet his heavenly Father in prayer (Mark 1:35).
“Let us make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4).
This is my confession. I’ve dabbled and stumbled into the sin of self-importance, ego, vain glory, and tooting my own rusty horn. I’ve wished for a platform — not a soapbox on my corner of the web. Who doesn’t want to be noticed? Who doesn’t want their peers to think you’re a go-to kinda person, a savant who’s able to smash words and ideas together — tastefully — like a veteran Marble Slab manager?
So, who? Well, off the top of my head: John the Baptist. He’s such a rascal isn’t he? He really gets under the skin, irritating what our flesh wants. We must decrease. Christ must increase.
BABEL VERSUS THE BAPTIST
Babel and the Baptist are at odds. Let’s make a name for ourselves. Let’s not. Let’s increase our following. Let’s decrease, dwindle to peanuts, and baton everything toward Christ. How can we increase our social media buzz? How can people see more of Christ by what I do?
There’s a fuzzy tension here. It’s possible to want to help others think biblically, to look to Christ, to learn God’s word, and also “market” or strategize or share online. Martin Luther and George Whitefield utilized the technology of their day to spread the gospel and God blessed their ingenuity. It is possible.
Jesus thinks reading is a big deal. After all, he wrote a book. And Jesus thinks reading his book is a big deal, because, well, he is. For a blog post on the sufficiency of Scripture and biblical scholarship this may seem overly simplistic. Aren’t scholars supposed to talk about really complicated things that impress others with their erudition and expansive vocabulary? While it is possible for most scholars to do such things, it is also true that erudition and expansive vocabularies ought to result in scholars helping people see the simplicity in matters marked by complexity. Believe it or not, it is likely safe to say that many scholarly debates turn on someone’s misreading of a particular text or a particular author. Given the cultural factors that hold in America today, as well as the sinful corruption of every human soul, there is a powerfully toxic blend of factors that undermine faithfully accurate reading in general, and of Scripture particularly, even by people who memorize the latter, write a lot about it, and have declared intentions in helping others understand it.
Reading has always been at the core of human scholarly pursuits. Indeed, the ancient and long-standing view of a scholar has been one who has the ability to read (not necessarily speak) in multiple languages and synthesize this reading accurately. On more than one occasion Jesus criticized the official and unofficial leaders of God’s people for being poor readers (Mt. 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:31). Jesus was confronting them with their sin. The texts to which Jesus referred were certainly ones with which the leaders were very familiar. In one sense they had read them, but in another sense they had not. As it turns out, moral deficiencies corrupt intellectual analyses and conclusions that have practical results in every aspect of life. According to Jesus, their failure to rightly interpret the text meant they really had not read it.
The Gospels record an incident when the Sadducees challenged Yeshua with what they thought would be a very difficult question. They were hoping to trap Him when they asked about marriage during the time of the resurrection.
“The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: ‘Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.’”
– Matthew 22:23-28
As usual, Yeshua’s response silenced the opposition, causing them to leave without the satisfaction they had hoped for.
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.’ And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.”
– Matthew 22:29-33
Ever had someone tell you, ‘You’re missing the whole point! The purpose of Genesis is to teach that God is our Creator. We should not be divisive over the small details. Genesis teaches the theological truth of “Who?” and “Why?” not about the “How?” and “When?”’ Or else they say that the Bible is a book for faith and morality, not history.
An obvious answer is, why should we trust Genesis when it says God created if we can’t trust it on the details? After all, Jesus told Nicodemus, ‘I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?’ (John 3:12). So if Genesis can’t be trusted on an earthly thing, such as Earth’s age, the sequence of creative acts upon it, or the Flood that covered it, then why trust it on a heavenly thing such as who the Creator was? Also, if Genesis 1 were merely meant to tell us that God is creator, then why simply not stop at verse 1, all that’s necessary to state this?
However, the critic has overlooked something even more important—Genesis is written as real history. This is why the rest of the Bible treats the events, people and time sequences as real history, not parables, poetry or allegory.
What does the rest of Scripture say?
The age and unique creation of Adam and Eve mattered to Jesus
When teaching about marriage, Jesus said:
‘But at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female. … For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one’ (Mark 10:6–8).
Here, Jesus quoted Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24 about a real first man and first woman who became the first couple, and this was the basis for marriage between one man and one woman today. Not a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, or more than two people. Evolution teaches instead that a whole population of humans evolved from a population of ape-like creatures.
In the first volume of his history of World War II, Winston Churchill looked back at the storm clouds that gathered in the 1930s portending war and the loss of human freedom. Churchill wisely and presciently warned Britain of the tragedy that would ensue if Hitler were not stopped. His actions were courageous and the world was shaped by his convictional leadership. We are not facing the same gathering storm, but we are now facing a battle that will determine the destiny of priceless freedoms and the very foundation of human rights and human dignity.
Speaking thirty years ago, Attorney General Meese warned that “there are ideas which have gained influence in some parts of our society, particularly in some important and sophisticated areas that are opposed to religious freedom and freedom in general. In some areas there are some people that have espoused a hostility to religion that must be recognized for what it is, and expressly countered.”
Those were prophetic words, prescient in their clarity and foresight. The ideas of which Mr. Meese warned have only gained ground in the last thirty years, and now with astounding velocity. A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom.
Religious liberty is under direct threat. During oral arguments in the Obergefell case, the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.
1. THE SUBJECT AND NATURE OF THE EXALTATION. As already indicated in the preceding, there is a difference of opinion between Lutheran and Reformed theology on the subject of the states of Christ. The former deny that the Logos, and assert that the human nature of Christ, is the subject of the states of humiliation and exaltation. Hence they exclude the incarnation from the humiliation of Christ, and maintain that the state of humiliation consists in this, “that Christ for a time renounced (truly and really, yet freely) the plenary exercise of the divine majesty, which His human nature had acquired in the personal union, and, as a lowly man, endured what was far beneath the divine majesty (that He might suffer and die for the love of the world).”[Baier, quoted by Schmid, Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, p. 383.] They hold that the state of exaltation became manifest first of all to the lower world in the descent into hades, and further to this world in the resurrection and ascension, reaching its completion in the session at the right hand of God. The exaltation, then, consists in this that the human nature assumed the plenary exercise of the divine attributes that were communicated to it at the incarnation, but were used only occasionally or secretly. Reformed theology, on the other hand, regards the person of the Mediator, that is, the God-man, as the subject of the exaltation, but stresses the fact that it was, of course, the human nature in which the exaltation took place. The divine nature is not capable of humiliation or exaltation. In the exaltation the God-man, Jesus Christ, (a) passed from under the law in its federal and penal aspects, and consequently from under the burden of the law as the condition of the covenant of works, and from under the curse of the law; (b) exchanged the penal for the righteous relation to the law, and as Mediator entered into possession of the blessings of salvation which He merited for sinners; and (c) was crowned with a corresponding honor and glory. It had to appear also in His condition that the curse of sin was lifted. His exaltation was also His glorification.