Category Archives: Theology and Culture

The Book of Revelation is Exactly What We Need

I was blessed to be in the seats at Baptist Church of the Redeemer for the six months or so that Jim Hamilton preached through the book of Revelation. I was new to the church and fairly new in pastoral ministry. I remember thinking: “I can’t believe he’s preaching on this!” Don’t get me wrong, I believed that all of the Bible was true and profitable for the body of Christ. But, admittedly my interaction with friends and other pastors on Revelation had always produced more fear and confusion for me than edification.

But, I was struck by how clear and powerful the sermon series proved to be. Jim did not overwhelm us with theories, positions or charts. He simply explained, with passion and gravity, this very important book of the Bible. I remember coming away from those sermons and being more impressed with the beauty, strength and majesty of Jesus than ever before. The “crucified, risen, ascended, reigning and returning” Lord seemed to peer directly at us from the pages of John’s letter on those Sundays. There was expectation for the future, yes but not the kind that leads to speculation and calculation. It was the kind that made obedience in the present all the more attractive and logical. Jesus was real and was coming again. We were confronted with His power and the futility of resisting it.

I’m so thankful that Crossway has seen the blessing and value that these sermons and Jim’s careful study offer for the wider Church. So, I couldn’t be more excited to now hold Revelation, The Spirit Speaks to the Churches in my hands. Pastors, if you’re not familiar with the Preaching the Word commentary series, edited by R. Kent Hughes, you should quickly familiarize yourself. This series has been helpful to me in my preparation through the book of Acts and the gospel of Mark. I know that this latest edition to this reliable series will serve you very well, both as an encouragement to preach on Revelation and as a resource as you go about explaining this glorious book to your congregations.

When Jim stood up to begin the series on Revelation, I admit to having doubts about how applicable this apocalyptic work would be to our church full of normal people with normal needs, too many to mention. Then, near the beginning of his first sermon, he said something like this:

“We have been lulled to sleep by the ordinariness of our lives. Our senses have been dulled by the humdrum of one day after another. We need to see God as he is. We need to be convinced that Jesus is reigning as the risen King. We need to have him speak to the situation in our churches. We need to know that God is right now on his throne, in control in Heaven, worshiped by myriads upon myriads of the heavenly host. We need to see the way that God will pulverize wickedness, obliterate those who oppose him, and set up his kingdom. The book of Revelation has exactly what we need.” –Pg. 18

The book of revelation is exactly what we need. I hope that you will benefit greatly from this new volume and that through it, our confidence in and worship of our reigning and returning King will soar!


Are You a Calvinist? Here’s What I Believe. . .

John Piper has a great post on the question that I answer at least once per month, if not more. . .

The premise: Instead of saying “yes,” and allowing the generality of the term to linger, tell them what you believe! Here’s the jist:

If they say, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .”

I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 3:1–4; Romans 8:7).

I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)

I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)

When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life. (Ephesians 2:4–5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 2:29; Ephesians 2:8–9; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:7; Philippians 3:9)

I am eternally secure not mainly because of anything I did in the past, but decisively because God is faithful to complete the work he began—to sustain my faith, and to keep me from apostasy, and to hold me back from sin that leads to death. (1 Corinthians 1:8–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:25; John 10:28–29; 1 John 5:16)


Read the whole thing here.

(HT: DG)

What I Didn’t Say About Satan and Demons on Sunday

The past Sunday, I made a decision (mid-sermon) NOT to include the following notes/observations about demons and the demonic influences that we’ve been observing in our study of the Gospel of Mark. So, I said that I would post those thoughts here for people to glance at.

*Most of my outline for this came from Wayne Grudem’s (helpful) chapter on Satan, Angels and Demons in his Systematic Theology.

Warning: don’t fall into the ditch on either side of the road—the ditches are over or under emphasis of Satan and Demons. Some might completely over emphasize the demonic and spiritual warfare to the point that EVERYTHING evil or sinful in their lives is directly attributed to a demonic attack or influence. Actually, the lion’s share of material in the NT pertaining to sin and evil flows from sin as a root cause, not the demonic. Relatively little material is devoted to Satan’s influence. However, the other ditch is just as devastating–demons are not real (you’re hokey if you think they do!) and we should grow up and live in a world that reality = what you see, hear, feel, taste and touch. That makes Satan’s day! Satan and demons are real and they are active today. We need to know this and know our Bibles so we know how to deal with them.

The Demonic Game Plan: Satan and demons seek to oppose and try to destroy every work of God. Satan tempted Eve to sin against God in the garden, tried to get Jesus to sin in the wilderness. Their tactics are lies, deception murder, and every their kind of destructive activity to cause people to turn away from God and destroy themselves. They even blind people to the gospel. 2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Part of defeating and battling this enemy is to understand their plan of attack. . . and how to overcome it.

Demons are limited by God’s control and have limited power–(See the story of Job!) Demons cannot read our minds or know our thoughts, or know the future. Only Almighty God is omniscient. Demons can observe what goes on and study our lives and tempt and attack accordingly. (Occult, fortune tellers etc.)

Demons are active in the world today—If we believe that the Bible accurately gives an account of the world as it is (it does!), then we need to understand that demonic activity (perhaps to a lesser extent) is part of that reality. Our society is unwilling to admit the existence of demons (except maybe in primitive societies), but that is mainly due to a false sense of reality.

What About Demon Possession? What we see here in Mark, especially in chapter 5 (Gerasene Demoniac) seems to be an extreme case, but absolutely possible. In most cases, we should probably think about demonic attacks in terms of someone being demonized, or tormented by a demon. We would rule out this kind of thing happening to a believer, (no sin shall have dominion over us. . . the Holy Spirit indwells us), but there can be differing degrees of demonic attack or influence in the lives of believers. After all, Jesus was tempted by the Devil! Paul writes of a messenger of Satan given to him:

2 Corinthians 12:7 So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations,1 a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.

James encourages us:
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

How can you recognize demonic influence? Wayne Grudem gives a few biblical markers:

*Bizarre and often violent actions (Gerasene Demoniac in Mark 5)

*Opposition to the gospel and preaching of the gospel (demons opposed to Jesus’ preaching)

Example: The boy in Mark 9—the spirit would seize him and dash him down, foam from the mouth, grind his teeth, threw him into the fire and water to destroy him. He violently convulsed when he came in contact with Jesus.

*Blatantly false doctrine claiming to be by the Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit…

*A Subjective Sense of the Demonic [Make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened!] This would be the ability to subjectively/objectively sense demonic activity . . . Paul writes of this gift:

1 Corinthians 12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits . . . .

GOOD NEWS: Jesus gives all believers authority to rebuke demons and command them to leave—see Mark 3:15.

Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”

Luke 10:19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.

Acts 8:6-7 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.

2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
The basis for our authority over demons is found in the power of Christ on the cross. Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

[Our authority over demons is rooted in Christ and the Cross]

Colossians 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities1 and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

*You can listen to this sermon, “Who is Jesus, The Head of the Church,” in it’s entirety HERE.

Family Camp Theme: Union with Christ

Our theme for Family Camp this summer will be our unity with Christ: “Union with Christ”—How Are We United with the Savior? The big ideas to be covered will be “We are in Christ,” “Christ is in us,” “We are like Christ,” and “We are with Christ.”

Please pray that this would be a life-giving weekend spent in the Word and with the family of God! More details to come. . .

Jim Hamilton Interviewed by King’s Evangelical Divinity School

Check out this recent interview by Andy Cheung (King’s Evangelical Divinity School) of Dr. Jim Hamilton regarding his forthcoming book.

Has Science Buried God?

Dr. Andy Davis gives his answer below. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a retreat after T4G this year. I found this on Thabiti’s blog and this is what he says about Dr. Davis:

I don’t know of anyone better qualified to address this issue for us. Not only is Andy a faithful expositor of God’s word, he’s also an MIT graduate. He’s quite capable of thinking both about the merits of science’s claims as well as the queen of the sciences, theology.

(HT: Thabiti)

What Does Greek Have to do With the Gospel?

Bill Mounce is a hoss. He is a stud. He is the man. He knows Greek–he writes text books that I read in seminary and that I still look at often when I’m puzzled over a word. But his study is not purely academic. His desire is not to encourage Bible geeks, but to feed our understanding of God and the gospel. Studly.

Every Monday, you can visit this blog for a series called Monday’s with Mounce. Here he takes something that he’s learning and shares it with a growing audience of readers. . . Here’s his take on the series, which I highly recommend you subscribe to:

HT: Koinonia

It’s Been A While…

It has been a little while since I have consistently posted at Mercy Swimming. So let me update you on what’s been rattling around in my heart and mind over the past few weeks:

Things I’m Excited About…I’m excited about a lot, so I’d better list…

New Preaching Series–It’s been three weeks since I finished a (year and a half long) series through the book of Acts, called “The Church Unstoppable.” You can listen to those sermons here. Two weeks ago we began a journey through the book of Hosea entitled, “Love Defined.” So far it’s been a joy for me to see this amazing picture of redemption, forgiveness, judgement and love. Join us on Sundays or listen here. May God prosper His word among us!

Upcoming Conferences/Events–Yes, I am excited about Together for the Gospel 2010, April 13-15th. If you have not already visited their website you should…and you ought to take the time to watch the video tours of several of the main speaker’s personal libraries. It will make you want more books, so guard yourself from temptation.

I’m also very excited about the annual gathering of Southern Baptists in Orlando this summer. Why? That brings me to my next point…

The Great Commission Resurgence–There’s something happening in the SBC. Last summer, the gathered assembly commissioned the President to appoint a committee (Great Commission Task Force) to evaluate and present ways in which the SBC can more effectively fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus. Their initial report is now available here. Pray for the SBC, and the decisions to by made and affirmed this June.

By the way, the SBC Pastor’s Conference has an amazing line up! Can’t wait to sit under these great brothers as they minister the Word to us this summer.

Danny Akin; Francis Chan; Matt Chandler;
Tony Evans; Steve Gaines; David Landrith;
CJ Mahaney; Al Mohler; Russell Moore;
David Platt; Andy Stanley; David Uth;
Ken Whitten; Ravi Zacharias;

A New, Much Anticipated Biblical Theology–Dr. Jim Hamilton’s Biblical Theology is due out this October! You can visit this blog to see a preview including the beautiful cover! Can’t wait to get my hands on this baby (probably both hands at 480 pages!).

A New President at Wheaton–I am so excited to hear the Dr. Phillip Ryken will be the next President at Wheaton College. I feel deeply for his church, however. You can see the deep emotion and sadness when a pastor has to leave his flock in his address here. All the info about this exciting news can be found here.

Pick the Next Redeemer Institutes–Finally, I’m excited about the upcoming Redeemer Institutes, that YOU CAN PICK!! That’s right, you can give three to five suggestions for our upcoming Institutes this Spring and Fall. All the information is here. If you’re not a facebook user, you can leave your suggestions on my blog and I’ll consider them for sure.

I apologize if you feel like you’ve just taken a gulp form the fire hydrant. Hopefully I’ll be a more consistent blogger in the future so I can do this in smaller chunks. Thanks for reading and swimming in mercy with me!

How Do I Know God Exists?

A very thoughtful and provoking response below by Dr. D.A. Carson:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "How Do I Know God Exists? ", posted with vodpod

(HT: Mike G. Smith via facebook)


An Evening of Eschatology

Storms, Hamilton, Piper and Wilson on Eschatology…

Need I say more? Check out the video here.

May the Lord give us understanding!!