Monthly Archives: August 2005

25 Observations on Luke 24:25-27

1. Ignorance of the Scriptures produces a confused picture of Jesus Christ. (The men were saddened because of the death of Christ when they should have been praising God that the Messiah had come and been raised from the dead!)
2. Sincerity does not take the place of truth. (These men seemed to be sincere in their love for Jesus, but they are rebuked as fools because they were unable to perceive Christ in the Old Testament.)
3. We should see Christ when we read and preach the Prophets. (Jesus interprets the prophets to be ultimately about Him…why should our sermons from this genre of Scripture be any different?)
4. From the Old Testament we see that it was necessary for Christ to suffer and die…this suffering is to precede His glorification. (Jesus says that it was necessary for this suffering to happen; as if these men should have been expecting it. The only way they could have know would have been to perceive it from the Scriptures…Isaiah 52,53)
5. We should preach the whole counsel of God. (This means that we are not limited to preaching from the New Testament or Paul’s Epistles. We can preach the Gospel from Obadiah, Jeremiah and Leviticus. After all Jesus showed them the things concerning Him in all of the Scriptures…We must preach all of God’s Word to God’s people).
6. The death of Christ was not a surprise in God’s redemptive plan…it was and is necessary. (The emphasis here is different from 4 because I am pointing out the necessity of Christ’s death on the cross in order to be the true Messiah; as opposed to the lack of knowledge on the part of the two men).
7. According to Jesus, there is a right way and a wrong way to understand the Old Testament. (He had to interpret the Old Testament correctly for these two men; this speaks to Biblical interpretation today…)
8. Jesus must indeed be bodily resurrected to be walking (7 miles) and talking with these men. (Those against the bodily resurrection would try to explain this as a vision by the two men…seems far-fetched to me.)
9. Explanation of Scripture is vital to our understanding of Scripture. (This should happen in every sermon…we should take seriously the interpretation of the Bible).
10. Even amidst the recent events (death, burial and resurrection of Christ) these men were unbelieving. (How much more are we immersed in a society of unbelief thousands of years removed from these events? We must give ourselves to God’s revelation: His Word)
11. Jesus not only accuses the men of ignorance of the Scriptures, but a lack of belief in what Moses and the prophets have spoken. (Knowledge does not necessarily produce belief…the men were lacking in faith).
12. There are no “obscure” or “insignificant” portions of Scripture. (We should speak about hard texts as those that are yet to be made clear to us; but we must never communicate unimportance, as some today have because Christ says that “all of the Scriptures are concerning Him”).
13. Logically, if we want to know Christ more, we should be involved in a church with a preaching ministry that “explains the things concerning Him in all the Scriptures.” (Christians are not gifted with the knowledge of Christ in all Scripture at salvation. We must sit under expositional preaching year after year and pray that the Holy Spirit would revel Christ to us.)
14. If we are called to teach God’s people, we should teach them “the things concerning Him in all the Scriptures.” (i.e. Regular, faithful, expositional preaching as opposed to the latest fads, what happened to us that week, clever stories that make others think or our own ideas of how life should work…)
15. Jesus expects those who read the Scriptures to know the things of God. (We are not merely reading so that we don’t feel guilty; we are reading to learn about the things of God. Therefore we should not “check off” Bible reading each day, but meditate on the text until we see Christ).
16. We should see Christ when we read and preach the Pentateuch. (Jesus shows these men Himself in the writings of Moses! This puts a whole new light on Leviticus and Numbers…we are searching for Christ in the pages of the Pentateuch).
17. Experiences do not produce a lasting faith. We must interpret the experiences that we have through the lenses of Scripture. (The men totally misunderstood the concept of Jesus’ coming UNTIL their minds were open to the Scriptures. They had the experience of the events in Jerusalem at the time…but not the knowledge that comes from the Scriptures…through the grace of Jesus Himself.)
18. The ultimate purpose of all Scripture is to clearly and effectively point to Christ. (When we use Scripture for other reasons we deviate from its fundamental purpose.)
19. Jesus points the men to Scripture before revealing Himself. (Jesus could have solved the whole issue by simply revealing who He was at the beginning of this walk. He does not…verse 16 tells us that their eyes were prevented from seeing Him. In other words, we do not need to be on the road to Emmaus to have Jesus revealed to us…He can be found in our Bibles).
20. Without divine intervention, we cannot understand the Scriptures. (No, we don’t all need to walk with Jesus down the block to be saved, but we do need Jesus to open our minds to the Word of God. Without divine intervention, we will come away from the Bible empty handed.)
21. The heart is a more significant weapon than the mind in Biblical Hermeneutics. (Jesus does call the men foolish, but he exposes their heart’s slowness of belief as a reason for confusion. We must come to the Bible and say “I’m going to believe every word…and I’m going to pray to see Christ in every word”…if we don’t we will be fools as well.)
22. God has revealed Himself through a book. (We cannot know God unless we know the book. He does not seem to have sympathy with ignorance. He expects His people to be saturated with His written revelation. There is no way to get around reading the Bible to know God more. Therefore, reading should be upheld as one of the greatest gifts to have been bestowed upon human beings. God revealed Himself in a manner in which we can understand and even communicate with Him!)
23. Jesus has mercy on foolish and unbelieving people. (Jesus was not obligated to walk with these men and open their minds. He obviously was not limited to roads for travel…he could walk through walls and appear and disappear at will. He showed unparalleled mercy to these men, instead of leaving them in their confusion. This should be our prayer…that Christ would not leave us in confusion, but illuminate our minds to His Word.)
24. We cannot claim to know Christ if we are ignorant of His Word. (These two men are in fact talking to Jesus and they don’t even know it. People who claim to be Christians that cannot articulate the gospel or the things of Christ found in the Scriptures are foolish. Jesus could walk right by them on the road home and they might not even know it.)
25. If Jesus Himself says that the Old Testament is Messianic, we too should view it and read it as a Messianic Document. (We must never sever the links between the O.T. and Messiah Jesus. To do so, is to take God away from the Old Testament…)

Advertisements

God is Sovereign Therefore We MUST Pray!

The Bible is so different in describing God’s ways than we have come to think of Him. If you have a healthy view of God’s sovereignty in all things, then you may have struggled with the purpose of prayer. After all, if God is ultimately ruling over everything from sparrows falling to tsunami’s crashing and killing, why should we pray? I often get similar questions in response to evangelism and missions as well when talking to people who have yet to see this God who decrees ALL things that come to pass (1 Chronicles 29:11-15).

I believe that the Bible upholds the sovereignty of God in all things alongside the responsibility of man. There are many texts to illustrate this beautiful tension that was described by Spurgeon as a train (the sovereignty of God) running on its tracks (the responsibility of man). Daniel chapter 9 not only sets this truth forth most plainly, but it also models for us how to pray in light of God’s ruling and decreeing all things from the foundations of the world (Acts 4:27-28).

Jeremiah had prophesied desolations to reek havoc upon Jerusalem (Jer. 25:11, 12, 29:10) for seventy years. Daniel was reading in “the books” and discovered this truth. Apparently he realized that the seventy years was coming to an end (interpreters differ on the date of the 70 years). The reaction of Daniel seems to point to a realization of the imminent fulfillment of God’s promise.

Daniel’s response is absolutely AMAZING! I imagine my own response after seeing a human hand (without arm or body) write on a wall (chapter 5) and being delivered from the mouth of hungry lions (chapter 6). “Hey, God is in control; He has made a promise; He will fulfill it; I’m just going to watch Sportscenter.” Daniel’s reaction was somewhat different. Verse 3: “Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.”

Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 shows many of us our faults in our own prayers. He confesses his sins and the sins of his people (“we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules; we have not listened to your servants and prophets, open shame belongs to us because of the treachery we have committed towards you; we have sinned against you.”)

Notice that Daniel does not question God’s providence or become angry with this calamity and suffering brought upon his people. He boldly proclaims that they are being justly punished (verse 11) and the reason for the punishment is their own rebellion. And in the midst of the calamity, the people did not entreat the Lord (verse 13). Because of this lack of faith, the Lord has “kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us. (verse 14)” Who does Daniel attribute this calamity to? He does not say that this is a normal part of life. He directly attributes credit to God. He is not corrected or rebuked in any way for this (nor was Job) bold statement. Perhaps you read that and say “well, that was in the Old Testament, or God had a good reason.” We must stop trying to rescue God from bad decision making! He is infinitely wise in all that He does. Daniel understood this…”According to all your righteous acts.” He has just finished talking about severe calamity brought about by God and now He calls that calamity a righteous act!

So, it is safe to say that Daniel is praying in a God-Centered way. However, he does not simply proclaim the promises of God, he now prays that those promises would come to pass! “O Lord…let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem…Now therefore, O God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord. (verse16,17)” This is an amazing statement for many reasons. Daniel knows that God’s promises are decreed to be fulfilled and yet he still prays for them to come to pass. Daniel also, like Moses appeals to God’s name as a huge motivation for the answering of these prayers.

Daniel is pleading with the Lord for mercy, not on account of his righteousness (verse 18) but because of the MERCY of God! Daniel realized that God was not obligated to answer prayers, so he centered His prayers around God’s passion for His own Name! “O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name” (verse 19, emphasis mine). In other words the real power in Daniel’s prayer was rooted in God’s power!

Thus, God answers Daniel through a visit from the angel Gabriel. Gabriel says that “at the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell you that you are greatly loved”(verse 22). It seems that God’s pre-ordained providences for Jerusalem were set into motion by Daniels prayers! We must never think that prayer is insignificant. We must pray as if people’s eternal souls hung in the balance (they do!). God is sovereign, we are responsible to pray.

Much more could be said about why we should pray. In the coming blogs, I will be discussing some of these reasons.

May God give us the faith to pray in such a powerful way.

*This blog was inspired by a message preached by Ligon Duncan at the 2005 Ligonier National Conference. You can purchase all the conference messages at www.ligonier.org

Book Recommendation: Polity, Mark Dever


Before you close your eyes and click to another website, let me ask you a question. Why do we get so excited about what the Bible has to say about women in ministry, homosexuality, adultery, divorce, and yet when we begin to speak of church government and church life, pragmatism takes precedent over the Scriptures? Why do we claim that clear teachings of church discipline are outdated and untransferable to church life today? Historically Baptists not only practiced these things, but considered churches that did not to be in sin. What happened to get us to this point? Why do our church roles boast of people that we have never seen nor heard from in years?

Perhaps one way for you to answer some of these questions would to be to read Polity, Biblical Arguments on How to Conduct Church Life, edited by Mark Dever (senior pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C.). Another suggestion I have for you is to research the history of the church. Jim Hamilton has written a web-log entitled Elders in Baptist Churches that provides some interesting historical data that points to the use of Elders in Baptist Churches (access his blog on my links section). However, the best advice I can give you is to search the Scriptures. A jumping off place for this search can be the pastoral epistles.

The first three chapters are introductory essays by Mark Dever, Greg Wills and Al Mohler. The remainder of the book contains copies of historical Baptist documents that clearly show Baptists were committed to the following: (only a sampling)

  1. Church Discipline
  2. Meaningful Church Membership
  3. The Use of Church Covenants and Confessions
  4. The ordinances of the Church (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper)
  5. The High Role of the Pastor as preacher, teacher and shepherd.
  6. The officers of the Church–pastors (elders) and deacons

These documents help you see how pastors dealt with particular discipline issues in their churches. If you are confused about the polity of your church, this book is a good one. May we trust God to make His bride holy and without spot or wrinkle.

Blogging Because of Grace

Let me first say that it is great to be back from vacation. My family and I had a wonderful time, and God was and is astonishingly faithful. I want to talk about what I learned on vacation (from my boy Augustine) but first I need to speak to an issue dealing with my heart. This is the warning that God has placed in my heart: Matthew 6:1– “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

So, I think there is a fine line for me to walk in the remaining time I spend on this blog. Let me state a few things about how I’m dealing with this verse…First, I want you to know that I have probably NEVER had an original thought. Everything that I have learned about Theology, ecclesiology, and life in general has been revealed to be by God the Holy Spirit. I have also stood on the shoulders of great men like Spurgeon, Edwards, Burrows, Packer, Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, Mahaney, Dever, Grudem, Lewis, Augustine, Stott and many others. I don’t want to deceive you into thinking that I have somehow come up with these things on my own. I do have a prideful tendency to want things to have my name on them…so that I can get credit…I have learned from books written by people smarter than I, articles by people who really know what they are doing…all of which has been “spoon-fed” to me by God Himself. So, how can I boast?

Next, but not in juxtaposition, I am a pastor. That means that I care for and watch over the souls of people. I do not have a “job.” I do not “work” at a church. Therefore, my life is now and will always be transparent before my people. How can I Shepherd the flock of God and not take care of my own family? As you may know, transparency is scary…Because I have many faults as a father and husband. Therefore, the thing that I am modeling for people is not necessarily “how to do family worship” or “how to love my wife and kids” or “how to approach parenting as a preparation for judgment day for my children.” (I do model all those things and practice them and you should too) foremost, however I must model a broken, helpless, needy, fallen, man who is utterly dependent upon God for every breath that I take. I am to model someone who is “happy” in Jesus. Someone who delights in God’s law and meditates on it day and night. I am also to model a motivation of joy and not duty. A getting from God and not giving to Him. What can we possibly give to the God of the universe? We give Him glory by needing, wanting, desiring and taking pleasure in Him.

So, maybe that explains (in part) my inadequacy and the reason that I am blogging and pastoring. So, let me say that I do have a tendency to brag about these righteous acts in my life. Basically pride can be defined as contending for the Supremacy of God. I do that! I do it every day, to my shame. If it were not for the prayers of Jesus and the perservering work of God in my life, I would have committed apostasy long ago! Praise be to God that I am a believer today!

In closing, I want to remind myself and everyone reading that if we do “acts of righteousness” in front of people, we are in danger of sucking away God’s glory. And we will get a reward, but it will be short-lived and forever punished. My goal in this blog, in my ministry is to point people to Jesus, not to Travis. My goal is to remind all of us that if we are breathing today it is because Jesus told our hearts to beat! Swim in mercy, do not drown yourself in the prideful waters of self-reliance and boastful religious contests. I’m going to close now with the words from a hymn that my church sang on Sunday: May God bless you with the knowledge of your utter dependence upon Him; and then the hope of more grace to sustain us until He comes!

Grace Greater than Our Sin
Text: Julia H. Johnston
Music: Daniel B. Towner
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt;
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured, There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt
Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold, Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes grace untold, Points to the refuge, the mighty cross
Dark is the stain that we cannot hide–What can a Vail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide; Whiter than snow you may be today.
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face, Will you this moment His grace receive?
Refrain: Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse within!
Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin!