Galatians 4:12-20 & Become as I, for I as You

The morning was crisp and cool. I leashed up Fro and Sam. They were insanely excited at the prospect of a walk in cool weather. I placed the iconic white ear buds in my ears and commenced listening to James Harleman talk about Christianity and culture. He talked about how he loved watching movies after his conversion and seeing the gospel in them. He spoke to another pastor about the matrix and all the gospel implications involved and the other pastor said “What? I just watched it as entertainment, for a distraction?”

So we go to movies, and entertainment for our Sabbath?

Harleman then attacks the idea of entertainment ever being “safe”. Culture is never safe. We are never safe in this world. He then clarifies that he does not condemn Christians watching a movie just for entertainment, but we should pray and hope that all of life, including entertainment becomes a godly engagement.

For example I watched Gladiator again this weekend. Now I often approach movies looking for illustrations, conversations starters, etc. but I had grown lax. Also I often looked at snippets rather than the whole picture. For example I have used Maximus’ line “what we do in life echoes in eternity” numerous times. But notice the contrast between the rightful heir Maximus, and the rejected heir Commodus. Maximus is humble, brave, sacrificial, serving, and seeks to honor Marcus and the people of Rome by returning rule to the senate. Commodus is selfish, prideful, and makes much of the people only so that the people will make much or him. Maximus overcomes the tyranny of Commodus and opens the eyes of Rome not as a conquering general, but as a lowly gladiator. In his weakness he overthrows the highest ruler in the world. Sound familiar?

Let me wrap this up. Three options when dealing with culture:

1) Be a sectarian. Completely pull apart from culture and create a Christian bubble. Never let anyone in this bubble that might pollute it and never go outside the bubble where you might be infected. After all it is truly not safe outside of the bubble.

2) Be a syncretist. become a “mutual admiration society in which people pat each other on the back for having a social conscience and nod in agreement through sermons that sound like sappy greeting cards strung together to make us feel like we just got a divine back rub while doing some aromatherapy, drinking herbal tea, and listening to taped sounds of running water (Mark Driscoll in the Radical Reformission).”

3) Receive from culture what is good. Reject what is unbiblical. And redeem what has been marred. We are not anti-cultural. We are pro Jesus, and Jesus came to buy a people from every tribe tongue, and nation. Heaven will be multicultural.

With renewed eyes look at the culture all around you, and engage it with Christ. Use music, movies, television, and fads as a means to evangelize your peers.

Galatians 4:1-7 & Season Premier

08:59:58…boop

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09:00:00…boop

So TV season is starting back up. Survivor on the 20th, heroes on the 24th, house on the 25th, lost on the ???, and 24… next year! The suspense is dreadful. But that is what 24 is about, suspense, it’s the reason why you hate and love the show.

Commercial: I stole much of this from a lecture by Mark Driscoll on scripture. You can check the lecture either on iTunes (Mars Hill Church sermon podcast) or at the Mars Hill website. If I say something profound or cool, chances are I stole it. I am highly unoriginal.

Malachi does this (the last book of the bible, and the last book of the Old Testament written). It talks about the messenger coming to prepare a way for the Messiah. Then…

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For four hundred years. And then the fullness of time came (Galatians 4:4). God the master story teller slowly revealed his plan over thousands of years, leaves his people with the ultimate cliffhanger for 400 years and then – the climax – Jesus in humble splendor, servant glory, and lowly power.

And now we live in suspense waiting for the finale. You must understand the climax to get the finale.

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The Centrality of the Cross

Here are the quotes I used sunday night reguarding the centralirty of the cross:

The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is not inadequate technique, insufficient organization, or antiquated music, and those who want to squander the church’s resources bandaging these scratches will do nothing to stanch the flow of blood that is spilling from its true wounds. The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests too inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, his grace is too ordinary, his judgment is too benign, his gospel is too easy, and his Christ is too common. – David Wells in God in the Wasteland

Superficial views of the Work of Christ produce superficial human lives. – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in The Cross

If our meditation on the cross be meager, can our love for the savior be great? – Frederick Leahy in The Cross He Bore

The cross was the centerpiece of Paul’s theology. It wasn’t merely one of Paul’s messages; it was the message. He taught about other things as well, but whatever he taught was always derived from, and related to, the foundational reality that Jesus Christ died so that sinners would be reconciled to God and forgiven by God. – C.J. Mahaney in The Cross Centered Life

He cannot talk long about Christian joy, or Christian ethics, or Christian fellowship, or the Christian doctrine of God, or anything else, without finally tying it to the cross. Paul is gospel centered; he is cross centered. – D.A. Carson in The Cross and Christian Ministry

During these twenty-six years in my Westminster pulpit there have been times when in my utter folly I have wondered, or the devil has suggested to me that there is nothing more for me to say, that I have preached it all. I thank God that I can now say that I feel I am only at the beginning of it. There is no end to this glorious message of the cross, for there is always something new and fresh and entrancing and moving and uplifting that one has never seen before. – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in The Cross

(Commenting on Romans 16:25) The heart of the gospel is that Jesus Christ, the righteous one, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation, but everlasting joy, for those who trust him. You never, never, never outgrow your need for this gospel. You don’t begin the Christian life with this and then leave it behind and get stronger with something else. God strengthens us with the gospel to the day we die. – John Piper in God Strengthens Us by the Gospel

Galatians 3:15-29 & The Gaurdian

Last week I found this cool bit about Jason Bourne and the gospel.

This weekend Bethany and I watched The Guardian (the coast guards version of Top Gun). Good movie. Certainly better than I thought it would be. It begins and ends with these words:

There is a legend of a man who lives beneath the sea. He’s a fisher of men. A last hope of all those who have been left behind. He is known as the Guardian.

I knew early on that Costner was going to die. I did not tell Bethany this because she would instantly hate the movie. However she was the first one to connect the opening lines with his death. Costner is the legendary guardian that will not let go until help comes.

Galatians 3:24 says:

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

The guardian (Costner) did not save the drowning victims. Rather he was there until salvation came. The law never saves. Unlike Costner though it drowns us, shows us our sin, makes us to cry out to God for a righteousness not our own.

Some translations translate this word schoolmaster or tutor. The idea being that the law taught us our need for Christ. But the guardian was normally a slave who was to discipline the children and keep them from moral evils. They were entrusted to this guardian from about 6 to puberty. The guardian was to make sure they got to school and helped with their schoolwork and manners. The guardian is temporary. The guardian takes us to the teacher, it is not the teacher. The guardian is good, but it does not make us good, rather its goodness shows us our badness.

We must be wounded with the law before the gospel can heal. We must realize we are drowning before we cry out. The drowning and sorrow of the law is a blessed sorrow if it leads to repentance and faith.

Love and Not-so-Nermal

I started reading this book by D.A. Carson titled The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. People today see nothing difficult about the love of God. God loves everybody. And that is just the problem. The love of God shocks no one. The love of God is normal.

We are like Nermals, the kitten on Garfield that constantly proclaims how cute he is (I know, I always thought he was a she too, consult the ‘W‘). How could God not love us, we are so cute. Sure there are some despicable people in the world, but most of us are ok, and our faults, they’re cute – right?

We often sacrifice God’s attributes, His holiness, His righteousness, His sovereignty, His justice at the expense of His love. God is never divided in His attributes. His love never works against His righteousness, never undermines His holiness, and never negates His justice. This is why there is no love extended toward mankind outside of the cross.

This is why many hate the cross or want to reduce it to a simple display of affection. If the cross is vicarious penal substitutionary atonement; propitiating God’s wrath, reconciling us to an alien Deity, redeeming us from bondage to sin, and justifying us before a righteous Judge whom we have infinitely offended, then we are infinitely far from cute!

This is why God’s love should shock us! His love did not constrain Him to make atonement for our sins. God is not obligated to love us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.   More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  – Romans 5:6-11

His love is His sovereign choice to love the very not-so-Nermal.

Galatians 3:10-14 & Cursed

What’s your curse?

I have this hex on me, that every time a waiter comes by the table to ask me something I have taken a massive bite of food that seems to take five minutes to chew while they impatiently stare at me. It is impossible to enjoy food while being the subject of someone’s gaze.

I also have this curse of forgetting everything. Like forgetting a pot of boiling water. I have recently twice forgotten about leaving the watering hose for about four hours. This has recently become more annoying since we have stairs. I ask myself “why did I come up here?” only to remember after having given up and journeyed back downstairs.

So what is your curse? Body odor? Stinky feet? Hairy toes? Public flatulence? Protruding nasal hair? The curse of the black pearl? Zits on picture days? Always forgetting to pack a toothbrush and secretly borrowing one?

What is the true nature of a curse? What does it mean that Christ became a curse? Why did He have to become a curse?

Isn’t it funny that we think we are accursed when we get a flat, a zit, a ‘d’, an insufficient funds notice, etc? Jesus shows us the true nature of a curse. What he suffered is the curse we all deserve. I’ve recently noticed how little the gospels speak of Christ’s physical sufferings. All of the gospels spend the majority of their time recording this event, but little detail is given regarding HIS physical suffering. There is much more that reveals the agony of His soul as He drank from the bitter cup of His Father’s wrath.

So bring on the waiters, the zits, and the flats I am blessed. My sins have been atoned for. The Father has been propitiated. Christ became my curse so that I may approach the throne in boldness.

Rejoice in this… but still I am absolutely curious,

What is your “curse”?

Galatians 3:7-9 & The Kind My Daddy Likes

Perhaps I was six, I can’t remember.

I was staying with my aunt Brenda. Like most human children I was inclined to rapidly burn calories and soon require nourishment. Upon questioning me regarding my need to consume sustenance they discovered that I liked pizza.

“Do you know what kind of pizza you like?”

“Yes!”

And so we ventured to the hut of pizza.

A menu was then set before me, beverages were served, the order was soon to be taken:

“So what kind of pizza do you like?”

“The kind my daddy eats!”

“What kind is that?”

“I don’t know.”

And so began a series of pointing to pictures and explaining various toppings. I then discovered that it was hamburger pizza which I and my daddy enjoyed (I have since come to find that pepperoni is far superior to all varieties of pizza).

The Judaiziers were all about being “Jewy”. They didn’t want to part with the law and be like gentile sinners (2:15, 17). But in trying to be so “Jewy” they became less so. Their daddy came to God simply on faith. The law came after and was an addendum to Abraham. Faith preceded law. This has always been the gospel.

Ours is a vintage faith. The faith of our fathers. It is an old faith. It has not changed. It’s what our Father likes. And we like it too.

I left hamburger to discover other pizzas. They were much more delicious. I have found nothing sweeter than this ancient faith. New is not always better.