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On a preacher’s authority

August 28, 2012 Leave a comment

From Enthroned on Our Praise:An Old Testament Theology of Worship by Timothy M. Pierce:

The call is important for authority, but there is a distinction between the prophet and the preacher that must be recognized–the source of his authority to say what he says. Whereas the prophet spoke the words of God through inspiration, preachers expound on the word of God through illumination. The distinction is important because when a prophet brought judgment on a challenger, he was doing so because the person was challenging not only him, but God. Too often preachers use such texts and arrogantly suppose that the preacher too is above being questioned. But a preacher’s authority to say what he says is only present to the degree to which he has faithfully exegetes the Scriptures. (209 n. 159)

Thoughts? The comment board is open to discussion!

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Late August Update

August 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Today was my first day back to The University of Alabama, and this morning felt very “fall-ish,” which tells me that fall football (both high school and collegiate) will be starting in less than two weeks! So as this new season of life/the year begins, I thought I’d give y’all a personal update and a preview of the blogs posts to come in upcoming weeks.

Personal Update

My wonderful wife, Abigail, is 21 weeks pregnant, which means that our daughter, Hadassah Joy Atkinson, will be coming into this world in a mere four months! We’re over halfway there, and it’s amazing. We’ve seen so many ultrasound pictures of Hadassah, and they impress both the reality and the beauty of Psalm 139:13-16 upon me:

For you formed my inward parts;
_____you knited me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
_____my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
_____intricately woven in the detphs of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
_____the days that were formed for me,
_____when as yet there was none of them.

Not only has seeing Hadassah via ultrasound on computer monitors impressed the awesomeness of God’s glory in creation upon me, but also in the past days feeling Hadassah kick around has just really overwhelmed me with God’s amazing power and abundant steadfast love.

Upcoming book reviews

As far as the blog goes, upcoming book reviews will include reviews of Enthroned on Our Praise by Timothy M. Pierce, Tremper Longman III’s commentary on Job, Effective Bible Teaching (2nd Ed) by Leland Ryken and James C. Wilhoit, and Trent Butler’s Exploring the Unexplained.

Enthroned on Our Praise by Timothy Pierce will be the first book I feature my thoughts on in the future. I’m about halfway done and hope to have it done by the end of next week. Look for a blog about it in the next couple of weeks.

I was SO excited to receive free copies of Tremper Longman III’s commentary on Job and Effective Bible Teaching from Baker Academic Publishing in the mail yesterday. Those will be the books I review next. Look for my thoughts on Longman’s Job commentary sometime in September. My thoughts on Effective Bible Teaching should be posted by mid-October.

Butler’s Exploring the Unexplained is a dictionary of “peculiar” people, places, things, and events in the Bible. I should have a post about it up by the end of September.

Other upcoming blog posts

Christianity plays a role in Latin American history, Renaissance history, and U. S. colonial history, all of which I’m taking classes about this semester. Look for occasional posts inspired by what I learn about these periods of history and how Christianity and the Bible relate to them.

Also, I have two posts or so left in my blog series on Philippians.

In my personal Bible reading, I’m reading through the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament right now. Look for posts about these books of the Bible in the coming weeks.

Conclusion

Fall is going to be a wonderful time. I’m looking forward to the changes this season brings (more furniture in Hadassah’s nursery!), and I pray that God will help us “set our minds on things that are above” as we go through this season together.

Two New Sermons from 1 Timothy

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday I had the privilege to preach two sermons from 1 Timothy.

In the morning, I preached on 1 Timothy 6:1-2. In that text, Paul commands Christian slaves to honor their masters both by attitude and by action. Modern American Christians, none of whom are slaves, can apply this text to their lives with the truth of Colossians 3:23: “whatever we do,” we should “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” because although we are not physical slaves, we are spiritual slaves of Christ in God (Rom. 6:22).

That afternoon, I preached on 1 Timothy 5:17-25. Whereas in my first sermon from this text I had focused primarily on 1 Timothy 5:17, yesterday I put 5:17 in its wider context of 5:17-25 in which Paul explains not only to which elders (pastors) we should show double honor (v. 17) but also how we are to show them double honor (vv. 18-25): by financially supporting them (v. 18), by rightly handling charges against them (vv. 19-21), and by rightly appointing other men to serve as elders with them (vv. 22-25).

You can listen to my sermon on 1 Timothy 6:1-2 here.

You can listen to my sermon on 1 Timothy 5:17-25 here.

Both sermons are permanently linked to along with my other sermons from 1 Timothy here.

Have a blessed rest of the day, and may these sermons help you to “set your minds on things that are above”!

Eat Mor Chikin!

August 1, 2012 Leave a comment

For the past two weeks, I’ve told myself over and over again: don’t write a blog post about the current Chick-fil-a controversy. You can be relevant in other ways. Don’t post a blog about Chick-fil-a. But a couple of days ago, my mind wavered. Yes, I was tired of the situation being blown out of proportion. Yes, I was tired about hearing it on the radio every day to and from my office (and I have a 45-minute commute one-way!). But I began to become even more tired of the reaction of some Christians to this whole controversy. When Mike Huckabee originally encouraged others to participate in a national “Support Chick-fil-a Day,” I was sad that it was scheduled for Wednesday, August 1. I’m at church for my office hours today from 9-5, and the youth Bible study is at 6. Abi and I won’t be home before 9. I knew in my heart that I support Chick-fil-a regularly (not just for their Christian values but also because their chicken nuggests, waffle fries, and sweet tea are just plain-old GOOD!), so I didn’t feel too bad that today wouldn’t be the most convenient day for me personally to support Chick-fil-a.

But after nearly a week of hearing Christians adopt what amounts to, what seems to me, a “stick-your-head-in-the-sand” attitude about the issue of the wrongness of homosexuality, Abi and I are going to Chick-fil-a tonight after church on our way home, no matter how late it is! (As long as it’s not after 10:05, of course, at which time Chick-fil-a would be closed.) I’m going to get a cookies and cream milkshake. Why? Because I’m a Christian who lives in America, the greatest nation in the world (and because I happen to LOVE Chil-fil-A milkshakes!). Because I live in America, I’m free to eat at any establishment I choose, and tonight I’m going to get a late-night snack from Chick-fil-A. Just like other Americans are free to boycott Chick-fil-a, I’m free to eat at Chick-fil-a.

I couldn’t disagree more with Barnabas Piper’s article for WORLD magazine (online) yesterday. By going to Chick-fil-A tonight, I’m not participating in “a collective action easily seen as a shaking of the fist or a wagging of the finger.” I’m “affirm[ing my] appreciation for a company run by Christian principles by showing up,” to put it in Mike Huckabee’s words. By indulging in a few hundred extra calories that I really don’t need I am in no way delivering the message of “us versus you” to homosexuals, as Barnabas Piper said. I am simply enjoying a milkshake with my wife, and at the same time putting my five dollars into the hands of a company who has been taking a lot of heat lately for simply agreeing with the Biblical definition of marriage. I am making no statement to any homosexuals. I am not declaring war on them. I’m enjoying a milkshake!

Furthermore, for Mr. Piper to say that the divisions caused by biblical convictions are “inevitable, but not desirable” is to go against the attitude of Scripture and of the Christ to whom Scripture points us. Before his death, Jesus told his disciples (and us by extension), “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). And did Jesus not elsewhere say, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” to this earth (Matt. 10:34)? And Jesus followed himself up by saying that “a person’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matt. 10:36). It’s interesting that Jesus should say that, because in the online discussions of many Christians who are downing other Christians for noticeably standing up for Chick-fil-A, it seems to me that one of their main arguments is, “I have homosexual friends and relatives whom I don’t want to offend and thus lose the opportunity to witness to them.” Is it a witness to homosexuals to (perhaps unknowingly) condone their behavior as right (or even morally irrelevant) by not standing up for those who call homosexuality what it is: a sin? Edmund Burke is absolutely right: “evil prevails when good men do nothing.” Sins of omission are just as much sins as sins of commission. Not doing the right thing is just as bad as doing the bad thing.

As I have written in a prior blog post:

The issue of homosexuality matters because it is a grievous sin. And unless people come to a knowledge of their sin, and realize their need of Christ as their Savior, they cannot and will not believe on Him for eternal life. Nothing short of eternity is at stake!

We certainly must not add further stumbling blocks and follies to the already offensive (offensive to the natural mind, anyway) gospel, but we Christians must realize and affirm that homosexuality is a dangerous sin that further erodes the already suffering view of marriage. We must realize that since marriage is a picture of “Christ and the church,” if we call homosexuality anything less than a sin (or worse yet, to condone it openly!), we betray and water down and adulterate the gospel itself.

And as I have written at another time, we Christians should “respond biblically” to homosexuals by offering them the hope of forgiveness in Christ after lovingly pointing out their sin nature (which manifests itself, in part, in their homosexuality) to them. I will elaborate this earlier point here in this post: Jesus tells us that loving our neighbors, which include all unbelievers, as ourselves is the second greatest commandment (Matt. 22:39). But how are we to love homosexuals, or any unbeliever for that matter? The highest act of love we can show toward a homosexual or any unbeliever is to share with them the gospel: that although they are sinners, Creator God sent his Son Jesus Christ to this earth. Jesus Christ lived a life of perfect obedience, and because of his perfect obedience, his death on the cross fully satisfied God’s wrath on all those who would ever come to faith in him. And God proved his satisfaction by raising Jesus from the dead on the third day. We receive forgiveness for sin and eternal life through Jesus Christ only when we trust him to save us by what he has done, turning to him in repentance, away from our sin.

Accusing other Christians for making the “bold mistake” of supporting “the leadership” of Chick-fil-A in its “view on this issue” of homosexuality is not loving, toward believers or unbelievers. Sticking our heads in the sand and hiding in the basement and refusing to address homosexuals’ sin is not loving; it’s damning. If we maintain close friendships (“good relationships”) with homosexuals without showing them their sin and need for a Savior, are we diligently sharing the gospel (the whole gospel) with them? To ignore their unrepentant sin is just as bad as withholding the good news of Jesus (for indeed, they won’t be saved if they do not see their need of the Savior and repent of their sin!). Barnabas Piper is wrong. My going to Chick-fil-A tonight is about me supporting a company whose values I agree with. Tonight as I pay for my large cookies and cream milkshake, I’m not bashing gays; I’m hoping that Dan Cathy and his company will continue to prosper as they speak biblical values into a lost world, and that unbelievers of all kinds, both homosexual and heterosexual, will come to faith in Jesus Christ and be saved.

As for you? Go to Chick-fil-A. Or don’t go to Chick-fil-A. This is America, and you have the freedom to choose. So make your choice. Just make it for the right reasons. Don’t worry that supporting Chick-fil-A will “result in greater contention and fewer softened hearts. On both sides.” (By the way, Christians should not soften their hearts regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality. Sin is sin. We should be loving toward homosexuals, but again, that means pointing out their sin and the only hope in Christ, NOT ignoring their sin altogether.) Don’t worry that you’ll lose any hope you have for witnessing to homosexuals. Don’t worry that other Christians will condemn you for being unloving. If you don’t want to eat Chick-fil-A (today or any day), don’t. If you want to, do. Love Christ. Love others. And don’t be afraid to point out an unbeliever’s sin before sharing the forgiveness available in Jesus Christ. Even if they are homosexual. Because sin is sin, and we sin when we ignore unbelievers, whether homosexual or heterosexual, in their hell-bound state.

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