Monday, December 31, 2007

Mary’s Magnificat and the Book of Isaiah

These past two Sundays, in my adult SS class, I taught from Luke 1:46-55 on Mary’s Magnificat. I had just finished my series on Guarding the Gospel and these lessons were designed to be a short Christmas SS series, filling the gap until I could start my next series on the Book of Isaiah in January. Remarkably, it dawned on me (literally, as I was waking last Sunday) how closely the Magnificat parallels the general structure of Isaiah.

Isaiah begins in chapters 1-12 detailing the sin-sick condition of God’s people and ends up with several chapters regarding the promised Messiah. Chapters 13-39 present God conquering all the surrounding nations, showing God’s trustworthiness to His people. Chapters 40-66 show Israel’s ultimate salvation through the work of God’s servant. That is just a very rough 3-part outline but it matches up surprisingly well with Mary’s Magnificat:

Isaiah 1-12: Lowly condition of the people and the promised Messiah
Luke 1:46-49: Mary’s lowly condition and the great blessing of giving birth to the Messiah

Isaiah 13-39: God conquering all the surrounding nations
Luke 1:50-53: God’s mighty acts of mercy and judgment

Isaiah 40-66: Salvation through the work of God’s Servant
Luke 1:54-55: God helps His servant Israel in remembrance of His promises

This was a real blessing to me because for the longest time I didn’t know what I was supposed to teach on in January. I finally came to think that God was leading me to start back up with a series in Isaiah that I began shortly after our church first started. When I had a couple weeks to fill before I commenced with Isaiah, the Lord led me to the Magnificat and low and behold it provides the perfect introduction to our longer study in Isaiah.

It is just amazing how the Lord works these things sometimes.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

A Fundamentalist answers the Touchstone questions

Don Johnson asks how a fundamentalist would answer the questions asked to evangelical leaders in a recent Touchstone article. Here are my answers:

1.How do you define “Fundamentalist” in a way that distinguishes Fundamentalists from other believing Christians? And has this definition changed over the last several years?

I would say that both Fundamentalists and Evangelicals agree on the core doctrines of Christianity. However, Fundamentalists distinguish themselves by their consistent, Biblical response to (1) liberalism and other expressions of false gospels and unbelief; (2) persistently disobedient brethren; and (3) worldliness, defined briefly as the influence of Satan, our flesh, and world’s apart-from-God wisdom upon our lives. Ultimately, that Biblical response often involves separation, always following the right steps, implementing it at the right time, and to the proper degree.

2.Has Fundamentalism matured since the 1950s, and if so in what ways?

Primarily, I think we have understood that militancy means that we must engage the battle when necessary, much like when Nehemiah would blow the trumpet to gather the workers to the particular point of attack, but that it is the Lord’s battle and so we must use spiritual means to fight it, not fleshly ones. I think we have out-grown the carnal mind set that said pugnaciousness is a virtue.

Secondly, I think we have also grown in our handling of the Word, emphasizing expository preaching through of the whole counsel of God, rather than riding limited hobby horses.

Thirdly, I think we have shed some of the Finnyism that has plagued much of our movement’s history.

Of course, not every wing of fundamentalism has matured in these areas, unfortunately.

3.Has Fundamentalism lost anything in the process of maturing (if it did)?

I think Fundamentalism has become more worldly. Because of past abuses, overemphasis on externals, and the lack of true Biblical training in this area, churches today are very hesitant to deal with personal holiness issues. Legalism is the major taboo today.

4.Are there any fundamental differences within the Fundamentalist movement today, and do you think they will deepen into permanent divisions, or even have already? How might they be healed?

One major divide exists over KJVonlyism. I see this issue going away as more and more churches deal decisively with the issue, leaving only the fringe-wing of Fundamentalism (if we can still call it that) embracing that position.

I think another area in which we may see a divide within traditional Fundamental circles is in the area of music. From my standpoint, I see a distressing amount of accommodation to and acceptance of groups like Casting Crowns and MercyMe and the whole CCM genre. It may be that those of us who cannot abide this development will find it harder and harder to find a local church they can fully embrace.

5.What does your movement, speaking generally, fail to see that it ought to see?

I think we fail to see the compromises to the gospel that occur within our own movement. Easy-believism, no-repentance gospels, shoddy expositional preaching, KJVonlyism, and increasing worldliness all compromise the gospel to some degree or another.

6.What would you say to a Fundamentalist tempted to become Catholic or Orthodox?

I would say read the book of Hebrews. “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall way from the living God.” (Heb. 3:12)

7.What has Fundamentalist to offer the wider world that it will find nowhere else?

Fundamentalism is simply obedient Christianity. It is following a Biblical philosophy of Christian living, guarding the gospel in faith and practice. That is why I am a Fundamentalist – because I believe that it is a life that most glorifies God. We should be offering the world what the church displays to the heavenly angels – the manifold wisdom of God.

8.What else would you like to say?

I’ve probably said too much already. :)


Sunday, December 16, 2007

GBC Christmas Concert

This past Saturday and Sunday our church put on its annual Christmas concert. Daphne put in many hours practicing for the accompaniment. I’ve uploaded three of the songs on YouTube. My camera is not doing so well right now but at least you can get a flavor of the program.

Ding Dong Merrily On High

Once in Royal David's City

O Come Little Children

Monday, December 10, 2007

Whooping Cough at BJU

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Book Review: Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament

G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Eds. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.

I have long been interested in the New Testament’s use of Old Testament texts and prophecies. I believe that each use is both legitimate and instructive, even if it is not always clear how or why a NT author alludes to or quotes the OT text. I enjoy studying Messianic references in the OT and seeing how the NT authors treat those prophecies and their related texts. This present volume, edited by Drs Beale and Carson is a virtual goldmine for those of us interested in studying this subject and especially individual passages.

This work actually claims to be exhaustive in that it goes from Matthew through Revelation and provides comments on every quotation and allusion to the Old Testament. Obviously, there is some subjectivity involved because not every allusion is universally recognized as such but the intent is to cover everything. You can think of this book as a one-volume commentary on the New Testament with the unique feature that it only comments on verses or passages that are based on OT Scripture. It turns out that there are a very large number of OT allusions in the NT and it really goes to show how critical it is to understand the OT if we are to properly understand the New.

The actual commentary for each NT book is supplied by one of seventeen or so authors, most of whom have written whole commentaries on their particular book. We have, for example, Craig Bloomberg on Matthew, Andreas Kostenberger on John, Moises Silva on Galatians and Philippians, Philip Towner on the Pastoral Epistles, George Guthrie on Hebrews, D. A. Carson on the General Epistles, and G.K. Beale on Revelation. These guys are generally conservative but not always as conservative as I would like. Bloomberg, for example, does not take Isaiah 7:14 as referring exclusively to a virgin birth (although he does note that some “very conservative” scholars do). I have not had the time to do anything but briefly skim through their comments but my familiarity with many of the individual contributors leads me to expect much helpful content.

Indexes do not normally get me very excited but in this case the index for this volume is of immense value. The index of OT verses provides a near exhaustive list of which OT passages show up in NT Scripture. You can even see at a glance which OT passages get the most “play” over in the NT. These passages would seem to be very important for understanding NT doctrine and the passage at hand. Conversely, when you get to the index of NT verses, you can tell immediately which passages depend most heavily on OT authority. I found it fascinating just browsing through the index and looking up the occasional, oft-used verse.

I look forward to using this reference book as I study and prepare lessons in the future.

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