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Love that isn’t Lame-love

April 6, 2014

Elect exiles living the hope22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24for”All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.  1 Peter 1:22-25 ESV

  • A “theology” (more properly, anti-theology) of lame-love (examples): Lame preaching about love, lame hymns and songs about love, cliches and catch phrases.
  • The Vertical Perspective: Why a lame-love view of God is false and dangerous (Matthew 18:6; 2 Peter 2):
      • The Horizontal Perspective: Why is a lame-love view toward others false and dangerous (2 Timothy 4:3-4)?


Living the Hope … with Fear

March 22, 2014

Elect exiles living the hope17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:17-21 ESV

Examples of a too-small god? 

From the JB Philips classic, Your God is Too Small (1952):

  • Resident Policeman
  • Parental Hangover
  • Grand Old Man
  • Meek-and-Mild
  • Absolute Perfection
  • Heavenly Bosom
  • God-in-a-Box
  • Managing Director
  • Second-hand God
  • Perennial Grievance
  • Pale Galilean

What does it mean to “Conduct yourself in (or with) fear” (1 Peter 1:17 ESV)?

  • If you pray to a Father who judges men by their actions without the slightest favouritism, then you should spend the time of your stay here on earth with reverent fear. PHILLIPS
  • And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear. KJV
  • Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. NIV
  • If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth. NASB

Four Key Words (1 Peter 1:13-21)

  • Sober: nēphō [G3525] sober in spirit, temperate, dispassionate, circumspect
  • Holy: hagios [G40] Set apart; pure; properly revered as having been set apart
  • Fear: phobos [G5401] fear, terror, and also, respect/respectfulness
  • Ransomed: lytroō [G3084] Redeemed by payment; liberated

Compare and match these words to: both Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27

  • Heart
  • Soul/Spirit
  • Mind
  • Strength

Of these four, which is the most challenging? Which spiritual disciplines (prayer, confession, Bible study, fellowship with other Christians, worship, etc.) address most closely each of the these?

  • Heart
  • Soul/Spirit
  • Mind
  • Strength

Re-evangelizing ourselves:Re-evangelizing Ourselves


February 15, 2014

ee_Living_the_hope1 PeterLesson 11: Hope-fully

preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set
your hope fully on the grace that will
be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As
obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions
of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called
you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since
it is
written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17And
if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according
to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout
the time of your exile,
         1 Peter

1.        Last Week: Gearing Up (Exodus 12:11; Proverbs 31:17; Ephesians 6:14)

2.        Being sober-minded (“keep sober in spirit”): G3525, nēphō

           a.        1 Peter 4:7, 5:8                                                                                                                         

           b.        Luke 21:34-35                                                                                                                         

           c.        Romans 12:2                                                                                                                            

           d.        Romans 13:13                                                                                                                         

           e.        1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 

           f.        Matthew 6:33                                                                                                                           

           g.        2 Timothy 2:3-5                                                                                                                       

           h.        2 Timothy 4:5                                                                                                                          

           i.        Hebrews 12:1                                                                                                                           

           j.        Colossians 3:2-4                                                                                                                      

3.        The opposite of sober-minded (1 Peter 4:3-4)                                                                                    

4.        Summing up “preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded”                                        

5.        Applying “preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded”                                             

6.        Holiness versus Obedience

           a.        Are all believers obedient children?                                                                                        

           b.        Is being holy in our conduct different than being obedient?                                                   

           c.        What, then, is “holiness”?                                                                                                        

7.        Saved from and to

           a.        Saved from:                                                                                                                             

           b.        Saved to:                                                                                                                                  

8.        The object of our hope

           a.        Defined: 1 Peter 1:9-10                                                                                                           

           b.        Timed: 1 Peter 1:5, 7, 13                                                                                                         

           c.        Explained: Titus 2:11-14                                                                                                         

           d.        Quantified: “Fully” G5049, teleiōs                                                                                          

 Christ with me, Christ
before me, Christ behind me,

 Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

 Christ on my
right, Christ on my left,

 Christ when I lie

 Christ when I sit

 Christ when I
 Christ in the heart of
every man who thinks of me,

 Christ in the mouth of
every one who speaks of me,

 Christ in the eye of
every one who sees me,

 Christ in every ear
that hears me.

from: St. Patrick’s Shield

9.        Next Three Commands

           a.        v. 14 do not                                                                                                                              

           b.        v. 15, 16 you also, you shall                                                                                                    

           c.        v. 17 Conduct                                                                                                                         

10.      Conclusion


May 10, 2013

awelessby a.d.spalding,jr

The king passes in front of the soldiers.
They stand strong and silent.
The people strain to see.
Power excites and enthralls and enchants.

I walked on the sidewalk in front of the cathedral.
I looked up at the giant ornate doors.
I stepped backwards and tried to see the full length of the tallest decorative spire.
I noticed the cell phone antennae.

What motivates the design and building of a cathedral?
What sort of awe quickens the heart and brightens the imagination?

Am I going through life without the Big Deal?
Have I missed my chance to be truly inspired, truly overcome by awe?
Where are my fellow worshipers, who can join me in designing our cathedral?
When do we come together to fall on our knees and chant, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”

Yahweh passes in front of us.
We avoid stepping on the old chewing gum on the sidewalk.
We check our cell phone.

introduction to meaninglessness

April 1, 2012

The “punch line” of Ecclesiastes is contained in the last two verses of the book:  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.  (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV)

only God matters …

The entire Old Testament is summarized in those last two verses: (a) The law (“keep His commandments”); the prophets (“bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil”); and wisdom (“Fear God,” which according to Proverbs 9:10 is the beginning of all wisdom).

The last two verses of the book also point to the New Testament. As a precondition to becoming a follower of Christ, it is necessary that a person have a large, even fearful, understanding of God-the-all-knowing-all-seeing-Judge. Only then does it make sense for that person to realize that he or she cannot possibly rise to God’s standard of perfect holiness, and only then does our desperate need for a Savior become clear. On the other hand, a follower of Christ, that is, one who loves Jesus Christ and relies upon Him, expresses and acts out his or her love for Jesus Christ be keeping His commandments (John 14:18-21).

… or else life is just a meaningless mist

The theme of the book of Ecclesiastes is that life without God is hebel [H1892], that is, a transient, meaningless vapor or breath or mist. Life for humans, from this perspective, is hardly different than that of a goldfish swimming in a bowl.

life in a meaningless world

We are hardwired to find meaning in life somehow and somewhere. People who do not find their meaning and identity in God, often try to find it somewhere else: status, work, career, family, reputation, contribution to history, timeline on, pleasure, etc.

This is frustrating, because it does not work. When we try to find meaning in these ways, we become exhausted and disappointed. Worse, the more adept we feel we have become on our own (“under the sun,” that is, without God), the more sinful and corrupt we tend to become. Indeed, the Bible describes atheism as both foolish and corrupting (see Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1).

Which is why denial of God, or separation from God, is itself a form of hell (see Matthew 27:45-46).

Audio MP3 Discussion of this post is available here.

Tempus Fugit

March 25, 2012

The Text

Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! (Psalm 39:5b and Psalm 39:11b ESV)

Some Observations about the Text

Life is Short: So What? Wisdom literature, from Hippocrates, to Confucius, to any number of other thinkers and authors, often includes warnings about the shortness of life. Psychologists consider an orientation to short-term pleasure-seeking to be counter-productive in the quest for happiness. Many old clocks include the words Tempus Fugit on their faces.

However, the “So What?” question is seldom asked and almost never answered. (Hopefully the So What question is not fully answered by Caribou Coffee‘s marketing slogan, “Life is short. Stay awake for it”).

Biblical Warnings about the Brevity of Life. When the Bible address the matter of life’s transience, it usually does so in specific contexts. In other words, the “So What?” question is answered. You can see this by doing a word study of hebel, translated two out of three times in Psalm 39 as “breath” and once as “nothing” [ESV]. Blow some bubbles and watch them pop … hebel describes the resulting “nothingness” of a disappearing breath.

Here are some examples of contexts in which the Bible points to the transience of life:

  • Life is short … so consider the sovereignty and eternal existence of our Creator. Psalm 90.
  • Life is short … so call out to God, who is enthroned forever and who is remembered throughout all generations. Psalm 120.
  • Life is short … so pay careful attention to God’s Word, which stands forever. Isaiah 40 (also quoted in 1 Peter 1:22-25).
  • Life is short … so don’t bother boasting about your future plans. James 4.
  • Life is short … so focus on laying up treasures according to God’s riches not earthly riches. Luke 12:13-21.

The Brevity of Life and Suffering. There are a couple of ways to think about the brevity of life as it relates to suffering. One way is fatalistic: life is short, so the suffering that we endure in life is, in the larger picture of things, short. Of course, no matter how long we life, if much of our life is spent in suffering, we can end up with a frustrating and negative view of life. Or we can adopt the view favored by some Eastern religions, that is, that karmic fatalism ought to simply be accepted and not questioned.

Another way to think about the brevity of life as it relates to suffering, is to focus on the reduction of pain and the maximization of comfort and pleasure. Life is short; make the best of it and leave it at that. This hedonistic view of life does not provide any understanding of or engagement with suffering; it simply seeks to avoid it. There is no meaning or purpose in life except to seek pleasure and avoid pain.

If you think that suffering and evil are human experiences that lead you to ask questions about God and the possibility of creation, you are right. They should. Especially in view of the brevity and transience of life.

The problem that people often have when they consider suffering and evil in light of the possibility of God-as-Creator, is that they superimpose their own rational matrix, their own set of naturalist presuppositions, over the question. They tend to define suffering as evil, for example, when suffering is not necessarily evil (ask any athlete in training). And they tend to define evil by their own terms as well … often without giving due consideration to how the “evil” question could possibly look from an enlarged perspective of time (as in, eternity past and future) and space (as in, the relative size of this tiny dot in the universe call earth). In other words, they attempt to resolve the question of evil-in-view-of-God, from a human/humanist view that does not and cannot take into account God-as-Creator. They loop themselves into a syllogistic lasso that makes it impossible for a rational, reasonable or even intelligible answer to emerge.

Gospel Apologetics

Eternal Life and Not-Suffering. The words of Jesus Christ, and indeed, the words and ideas found throughout the Bible, make sense, in part because they are not time-limited. They presume time and space beyond this earth. If God is, and if God is Creator, the universe itself would not contain God (2 Chronicles 6:18). And yet only a God who created all of heaven and earth, could fill heaven and earth … so much so that we could never actually hide from Him (Jeremiah 23:24). The “natural” phenomena of time and space only make sense if we understand that they have a super-natural origin, that is, a spiritual origin. Otherwise known as God (John 4:24).

The Bible also recognizes that we have “eternal” yearnings. The brief, transient human life expectancy leaves us wanting and frustrated. The Bible observes that we are actually wired for this frustration. God — the Creator of time itself — put eternity in the hearts of humans for a reason (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This frustration points us toward God, which is why the great majority of all people who have ever lived, and the great majority of all people who are alive today, gravitate toward some religious or spiritual expression or endeavor. We even hire specialists, called priests in most religions, to work on the project of connecting humans to God.

But there’s only one specialist, one priest, who lives forever. That priest is Jesus Christ, who has a permanent priesthood (Hebrews 7:24). He is the living One who was dead and is alive, and holds the keys to heaven and hell (Revelation 1:18). Having been raised from the dead, Jesus Christ dies no more (Romans 6:9). And He invites us to participate in His eternal life (1 John 5:11-12) by turning to Him in faith (Galatians 3:26-27).

Listen to an Audio MP3 Discussion of this post here.


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