Building on the Deity of Christ found in the Prologue of John, the Apostle writes about the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world as proclaimed by John the Baptist. This section of Scripture has some of the most beautiful truths in all of God’s Word.
In the first part of chapter one, we saw the Word became flesh. Here, we see the Word as the perfect lamb of God, without sin and spot, that would be sacrificed on our behalf. The imagery and foreshadow of what Christ’s purpose was is unmistakable. Christ came to be a sacrifice for our sins. He would be a sacrifice for all people, not just the Jews.
In the second section of the first chapter, we see the first run-in with the Pharisees. These men had an agenda. They wanted to keep power. They were looking to root out false messiahs and, in doing so, they missed the real Messiah. How tragic!
They questioned John the Baptist and his authority. What authority did he have if he were not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor a prophet? The answer is that he had authority from God. He was the fulfillment of prophecy. He was the voice preparing the way for Christ because Christ had come into the world.
That voice in the desert would serve as the forerunner to Christ. But that forerunner understood that he was below Christ. He said that he was not even worthy enough to tie the strap of Christ’s sandal. Why do we not have that kind of reverence for Christ today?
There is much to learn from the second part of John 1. Let us learn about the true Lamb of God.
I have been meaning to write about this for quite some time and just have not gotten around to it. But it was widelyreported back in November 2019, that Southern Baptist Convention President, JD Greear, has called for the use of Gender-Neutral Pronouns to be more hospitable to those who call themselves transgender.
When I first read this I assumed it must be some sort of joke or satire. But it was not. It was published on Greear’s website as well. So I decided to look more into what Greear actually has said and what he is advocating for.
First, he does state that gender is determined by DNA:
The real answer is genetics: However things look on the outside, sex (male/female) is hardwired into our DNA.
However, Greear qualifies this by going into modern-day qualifiers that muddy the waters. He then goes on to describe intersex individuals, which is a known anomaly but definitely not the normal course of events in human DNA and makeup.
And finally, he gets to Gender Pronouns. What are we to do with pronouns for people who refuse to acknowledge, or are confused about, the sex that they have been given by God? Here is what Greear says:“When we apply Paul’s linguistic approach to the pronouns we use about transgender people, I believe we arrive at a posture of pronoun hospitality: a willingness to accommodate the pronouns of our transgender neighbors regardless of our own views about the Christian ethics of gender identity” (11.10).
Based off of Acts 17
J. D. Greear
So Greear goes the “hospitable” route on gender pronouns. But why? Why should we do this?
In this position, Greear misses the mark of biblical fidelity. If we allow people to use preferred pronouns, as opposed to the pronouns that actually describe their gender, we are allowing them legitimacy in their sin. People who support this viewpoint can say that is not the case but it is. Why would you let someone continue in the lie that they portray every time they say they are something that they are not? There is simply no justification for it other than to say you have sold out to the culture.
In the past week we have heard many reports about the instability in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Iran. We hear about wars and rumors of wars. We hear about the politics. We hear about imminent attacks. The 24/7 news cycle puts us in a state of fear, anxiousness and worry.
But in these troubled times we need to remind ourselves what Paul said to the Philippian church. Be anxious for nothing (Phil. 4:6-7).
So what are we to do? The answer is simple. Pray. We are to pray and read the Word of God. We are to rest in His arms knowing that He is the one who makes the decisions. He decides our futures. He decides what will or will not happen to us. Our lives do not rest in the arms (or weapons) of men but of God.
What did Jesus say?
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:26–34 (ESV)
We do not need to worry about what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow will take care of itself. All we need to concern ourselves with is that we are right with God and that we are spreading His Gospel to a weary land.
Starting a new series on Sunday Nights on the Gospel of John, David Taylor preaches on the Word became flesh.
The Gospel of John shows the majesty of the deity of Christ. This is found no better than in the opening prologue of the Gospel. Jesus is the Word, the Word is God. That Word, Jesus, is the Light of the world. However, the Word was rejected by most unless they were granted to Him by the Father.
David goes verse by verse through this glorious section of Scripture to bring out the truths of who Christ is, and what our relation is to Him.
Thoughts on the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation
By now most people have heard about the proposal coming from leaders in the United Methodist Church regarding the separation of the denomination over issues of homosexuality. It is being called the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation. It is being heralded as a great compromise for an impossible situation. But I wanted to give a few thoughts on it.
First, why is it that those who are staying true to the teaching of Scripture and the United Methodist Church, which still holds homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, are the ones who are being forced out? Why should those who do not want to follow Scripture and defy the church the ones that get to keep the church? I’ve read articles about this very thing and none of them hold any logic that falls within the realm of reality.
Second, why are we earmarking so much money for social justice issues in this proposal? I have a real problem with the idea of reparations and that is exactly what this proposal includes, to the tune of $39 million dollars. This money is to support communities “historically marginalized by racism.”
Third, for churches who just want out of anything to do with United Methodist this plan is a non-starter. Yes there is a traditionalist denomination that would be started. But for those who have issues other than just human sexuality with the church this does not help us. If we wanted to join a different denomination, or just be independent altogether, we must go through the same exit plan that there is now and must obtain the approval of our annual conference. This, as every other plan, leaves the local church virtually powerless.
On the other hand, the plan is not finalized. It will be debated, discussed, and amended. So there is hope that the plan can be improved to help “the little church” that just wants a clear-cut exit. Only time will tell.
As I am writing this we are just 24 hours away from the start of a new year. Much has happened this year. We have seen another denomination battle it out over LGBT in the United Methodist Church. We have seen a mother try to force her little boy to be chemically castrated and “transitioned” to a “girl.” And we have seen the impeachment of another U.S. President.
The year has shown that humanity is declining further into sin. Biblical literacy is falling among evangelicals. Times are perilous.
As I reflect on 2019 I continue to see the need to call for a new reformation. We need to take a stand as Christians for the truth of Scripture. Scripture needs to return to prominence as our final authority. We need to stand against leaders in the church who would take us away from what Scripture says to find another way in this world. We need to boldly proclaim the Gospel.
In 2020, let us take our stand. Let us lift the name of Jesus with the truths of Scripture. Let us not bow down to the culture and surrender. Let us be ready for the fight. Let us proclaim truth. Let us not be afraid to offend because the truth is offensive as darkness hates the light. Let us not worry about being politically correct. Let us worry about the Truth and let us proclaim it with bold authority.
It is hard to believe that we have arrived at another Christmas Eve. There is much going on in the world. The U.S. President is under impeachment. War still rages in the Middle East. There is still the atrocities of terrorism. There is disease and famine. It is not a peaceful time by man’s standards.
However, today we look back 2,000 years to remember a night of great joy. A night when the angels appeared to the shepherds to say, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill, toward men.”
What if we, the church, recapture that spirit, that moment? Can you imagine the shepherds in that field that night? They were terrified according to Luke 2. Who wouldn’t be? But at the same time, they were awestruck by what they saw. Again, who wouldn’t be?
But what did the shepherds do? They listened. They followed the instructions of the Lord’s message and went to see this amazing baby. They went to see the Savior.
Christmas reminds us that God came in the flesh (John 1:14) to live here among us. He came to live as we did, to experience what we experience, to know what we know and feel what we feel. And, most importantly, He came to take our place on the cross. He was the perfect sacrifice. He was the substitute for our condemnation. He died in our place.
That is what Christmas is truly about. It was the start of a 33-year story. A story that is the greatest story ever told. A story that shows how God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but he will have eternal life.
Merry Christmas and, in the words of that famous character, Tiny Tim, May God bless us, everyone.
Book Review: Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible
Today I decided to do something I have not done in a while, read a whole book in a day. For a while, I have wanted to read Mark Ward’s Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible. Today, I finally sat down and accomplished this task.
The debates surrounding the King James Bible vs. other English translations have been raging for decades. There are very heated and passionate discussions on the topic. Some of these discussions are rational and biblical but many are not. So in a very real sense, Dr. Ward is brave for tackling this topic head-on. But he is also to be commended in the very sincere, rational, biblical, and respectful way that he has approached the debate.
First, the book is easy to understand. It is written in plain language and not bogged down with tons of Greek and Hebrew. In fact, I honestly don’t remember reading much, if any, Greek and Hebrew in the book itself. That’s not the focus of the book. The focus is whether or not the King James Bible is still the best translation to use for the modern English reader.
Without giving away too much information, you should really buy the book, Dr. Ward takes the approach of looking at the English language itself. For example, he explores dead words that are used in the KJV. He is fair in stating that yes, we can look these words up in dictionaries, but points out that you need special dictionaries that include these words to begin with.
But the bigger issue Ward points out is what he calls “false friends.” False friends are words that we do not understand but do not realize we do not understand them. What is meant by this is that the words meant something significantly different in 1611 than what they mean today. He goes through quite a few examples of these in the book making a compelling argument for needing a fresh translation.
Dr. Ward also examines ten common objections to using translations other than the KJV. He explores these in detail and breaks down the argument and gives logical rebuttals to each of these arguments. These are arguments such as the new translations use corrupt manuscripts, they dumb down the English language, or the problem isn’t really that big.
All in all, Ward does a superb job of explaining why we should not ditch the KJV but also should not expect it to be the primary English translation used in every day study. This book should be required reading for people looking for a good English translation and I give Authorized a five star rating!
Gavin Ortlund’s new book, Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals, seeks to give us instruction on why we need to look to church history for answers in today’s age of advancement and millennial thinking.
Ortland argues that Evangelicals have lost touch with the history of the Christian Church. Much of this is for fear of becoming too close to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. And, as he explains, those are valid fears. But the fears should not keep us from exploring the rich heritage of Christianity and to explore the scenarios and events that have helped shaped the theology of the church between the first century and the church today. After all, was there nothing good that came out of the church in its first 1500 years of existence?
Ortland points out an alarming trend of people leaving Protestantism for Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism. He highlights a prominent Christian Celebrity, Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man, to illustrate this point explaining that Hanegraaff left Protestantism for Eastern Orthodoxy a couple of years ago. He demonstrates that this has been happening at an alarming rate. And why is this happening?
So what is causing this trend? Obviously, every person’s story is unique, and we must leave room for a wide array of different kinds of factors in each case. However, one of these recurring themes among these denominational migrations is related to how Dreher interpreted Hanegraff’s conversion: the desire for historical depth.
Gary Ortland – Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals Chapter 2
Historical depth is the problem according to Ortland as well as others. So the solution, according to Ortland, is Theological Retrieval.
Theological Retrieval is the process of studying church history. But not just the history of the church, the writings of the early church. Ortland shows a process of rediscovering the early writings of the Early Church Father’s and filtering how we ended up with the doctrines that we hold so dear today.
The second half of the book shows practical methods for engaging in theological retrieval. He explores topics such as God (Theology Proper), the atonement, and art.
In each of these cases, he takes the theological concept, puts the current thinking on the topic in light, then looks to see what the church has written about the topic historically. He admits that to be a good systematic theologian, you must respect historical theology as a discipline. In this book, he meshes those two disciplines together.
Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals is not an easy read. There were times when reading that I had to force myself to get into the text or just put it down and come back later. However, the truth contained within and the methods examined and displayed are valuable and to be encouraged.
Because of this, I give Theological Retrieval for Evangelical three out of five stars. However, I do recommend it as a read for those who are seeking to know the history of their faith and how their Evangelical Protestantism fits into the elaborate history of the Christian Church.
I was given a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I am excited to announce that I will be teaching John’s Gospel verse by verse starting in January.
John’s Gospel is one of the most theologically rich, if not the most theologically rich, books on the person of Jesus Christ. In John, we find the explicit declarations that Jesus is God. He is Lord over all of creation. He took on the establishment of religion in Judaism and turned it upside down. He challenged false teachers in the Pharisees head on.
In John’s Gospel, we see Jesus as Creator, Redeemer, and Friend. In John, we have the “I am” statements of Christ. We have the sign miracles that show his power over creation, over the Sabbath, over sin, over mankind. In John, we see the disciples struggle to understand and grapple with their Master’s teachings. We see the work on the cross.
In John, we see the glorious doctrines of grace. We see how God orchestrates our salvation. We see how God chooses His elect. We see the definite atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross as our substitute. We see the effectual calling of God to those He has chosen to be given to the Son. And finally, we see the preserving grace of the Father that none who are given to the Son will be lost.
But most importantly, we see “The Word became flesh.” What a great truth and comfort to know that Jesus Christ, God, came to this earth to dwell among us. He knows what we go through, he knows how we live, because he was with us for 33 years on this earth.
I have often said that if I could only have two books of the Bible to read and study it would be John’s Gospel and Paul’s letter to the Romans. The amount of theology in these two books alone is enough to study for a lifetime. So I am greatly excited about teaching through this book.
I have been asked how long this study will take. The honest answer is, “I have no idea.” I will be in this book until we are finished. Looking forward to it. The study will also be recorded and posted as a podcast. Details coming soon!