Work as Worship

Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of his presence.” —Rick Warren

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Christ is the Hermeneutical Key

nail-it-to-the-cross_t_noverse1Perhaps to some this goes without saying, but I’m confident that most Bible readers don’t get this: they may have heard it, read it, or even preached it, but until it sinks in, really sinks in–this fact of Christ as the hermeneutical key has eluded them.

It certainly eluded me.

I’ve been preaching since age 19.  I have degrees in biblical and theological studies.  I’ve read a number of books on preaching, including Bryan Chapell’s noteworthy Christ-centered Preaching.

But I cannot honestly say that I truly got it (Christ is the hermeneutical key), or rather, been a consistent practitioner.

Lately, however, ala Charles Spurgeon, “Prince of Preachers,” I’m beginning to notice how all roads lead to Christ, while all along paying attention to the ditches, potholes, etc. (how the first listeners and readers heard and read the text).

Until we see Christ as the hermeneutical key in all of Scripture, I don’t believe we are being faithful and true to Scripture.  And our preaching and teaching will only be moralistic (self-help-ish) and never truly redemptive (pointing to Christ and his works).

It’s the implications of Luke 24:44.

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Quote of the Day: Bertrand Russell

“Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”  —Bertrand Russell, Atheist

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Pope Francis: The Tweetable Pope

Recently I read that Pope Francis is something of a rock star, drawing crowds numbering in the thousands.

He’s a compelling figure, for sure.TweetablePope

And now he’s in a historic visit of the US: visiting the White House, celebrating a Roman Catholic mass, addressing Congress, and even canonizing a saint, while at it.

HarperOne has sent me a copy of Boston Globe journalist and Catholic commentator Michael O’Loughlin The Tweetable Pope: A Spiritual Revolution in 140 Characters, which examines the pope’s extensive and revelatory use of social media and was published to coincide with the pontiff’s visit to the United States in September 2015.

According to O’Loughlin, “Pope Francis’s social media output reveals the secret to his popularity and provides a window into his priorities, passions, and exciting and revolutionary vision for the Church…. by following these 140-character sermons, we not only better understand the pope’s revolutionary agenda but can also be inspired to be better Christians. ”

It’s an interesting read thus far.

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Tim Keller defines Expository Preaching

Tim-KellerEvery now and then, I find myself working through a book on preaching.  This time around I’m working through Tim Keller’s Preaching: Communication Faith in an Age of Skepticism.  Keller is one of those pastor-authors that I enjoy reading: experience, clarity, and thoughfulness.

Here’s how Keller defines expository preaching,

Expository preaching grounds the message in the text so that all the sermon’s points are points in the text, and it majors in the text’s major ideas.  It aligns the interpretation of the text with the doctrinal truths of the rest of the Bible (being sensitive to systematic theology).  And it always situates the passage within the Bible’s narrative, showing how Christ is the final fulfillment of the text’s theme (being sensitive to biblical theology).

This is a definition I fully endorse: context, context, context–(1) immediate, (2) wider, and (3) ultimately, Christ–the culmination of all of Scripture.

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N.T. Wright’s Problem with the Ancient Creeds

NTWIn his book How God Became King, the prolific N.T. Wright takes on the ancient and great creeds of the church.

The great creeds, when they refer to Jesus, pass directly from his virgin birth to his suffering and death.  The four gospels don’t.  Or, to put it the other way around, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all seem to  think it’s hugely important that they tell us a great deal about what Jesus did between the time of his birth and the time of his death.  In particular, they tell us about what we might call his kingdom-inauguratng work: the deeds and words that declared that God’s kingdom was coming then and there, in some sense or other, on earth as in heaven.  They tell us a great deal about that; but the great creeds don’t.

Is Wright asking too much of these great creeds of the church?  How and why did they come about?  Wright’s chief objection with the creeds is what he terms the “missing middle”: Why did Jesus live?

Furthermore, Wright believes that this “missing middle” is “one major part of the reason why Christians to this day find it so hard to grasp what the gospels are really trying to say.”

On the one hand, I do admire and appreciate Wright’s mission to get the Western church to grasp what the gospels are really trying to say.  But on the other, I believe Wright has missed it here.  First, I really do believe Wright is forcing his modus operandi on these creeds.  Second, a great number of Christians don’t even recite these ancient creeds, so the “missing middle” charge does not apply.

At any rate, while acknowledging that the creeds have been controversial from time to time, Wright recognizes their functionality as “a sign and symbol of Christian faith and life.”

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What’s New About the New Covenant?

Over the weekend, I was once again drawn to discussions (debates)baptism-2-image-200x150 regarding infant baptism (paedobaptism) vs believer’s baptism (credobaptism): James White (Reformed Baptist) vs Bill Shishko (Orthodox Presbyterian Church) and then Tom Schreiner (Southern Baptist) vs David VanDrunen (Orthodox Presbyterian Church).

Perhaps the following is biased, given that I’m a Baptist, but I found that both the Presbyterian debaters were weak on Jeremiah 31:31-34 (cf. Hebrews 8:7-13).

Rather than taking “new” to mean “new,” the Presbyterians take it to mean expansion and something talk of over-realized eschatology on the part of Baptists, who find support for believer’s baptism only, from Jeremiah 31:31-34.

The ancient prophet Jeremiah says it’s “new” and not like the old.  He then goes on to outline what’s different about the “new covenant” (vv. 33-34): while members of the old covenant were made up of ethnic Israel (according to Paul, not all who descended from Israel are Israel; there’s a remnant, Romans 9:6ff), “new covenant” members would all be regenerate and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (see Ezekiel 36:24-28).

So much more may be said, but you get the gist here.

Posted in Baptism, Baptists, Believer's Baptism, Credobaptism, Infant Baptism, Paedobaptism, Presbyterian, Reformed Baptist, Southern Baptist, Thomas R. Schreiner | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments