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No Flyover Country

Steinberg New Yorker

Politicians have a way of disrespecting much of the American voting public. They sometimes refer to everything outside of the New York-Washington, D.C.-Boston-Los Angeles bubble as “flyover country.” In other words, the parts of the country you fly over when you’re going to the “important” places. They don’t realize what they’re missing.

As bad as that is, those of us who love God’s Word can do the same thing by the way we treat books of the Bible. If we’re not paying attention, we can look at the very beginning of a number of books – the greeting – as flyover country. We skip it in order to get to “the good stuff.” If we do that, though, we miss out on some very important truths.

Philippians 1:1-2 should not be ignored or rushed over in our haste. Paul writes, “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Much could be written about these two verses, but I’ll limit myself to a thought from verse 1. Paul says that as Christians, we are simultaneously “in Christ Jesus” and “in Philippi.” 

Through faith in Christ alone for our salvation, we are united with Christ. We are in Him and He is in us. By God’s grace and mercy, we’ve been brought into a living and legal relationship with Jesus and we share in the redemption He accomplished and all of His blessings. Union with Christ is the basis from which our election, calling, regeneration, repentance, faith, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification take place. We are “tied” to Christ in such a way that we’ll never be untied.

At the same time, we are in the world – “in Philippi,” so to speak. God didn’t remove us from this world the moment we repented and believed the gospel, did He? If He did, you wouldn’t be reading this and I wouldn’t be writing it, either! We’re “in Christ,” but we’re not yet in heaven. God has given us a job to do as long as we’re living in this world – to glorify Him and to enjoy Him forever (1 Cor. 10:31 and Question and Answer #1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism). We’ve been called to make Him visible, put Him on display, and reflect Him wherever He’s placed us. He has set us apart (the meaning of “saint”) to serve Him.

The Lord determines who we are (united with Christ), where we live (our particular place in this world), and what we’re supposed to do (glorify Him in all things). It was true for the Christians in Philippi and it’s true for us, too.

There is no “flyover country.” If only we, and the politicians, would realize it. We don’t know what we’re missing!

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Sermon in a Sentence

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga of Southwest Hills Baptist Church preach on John 17:13-19. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Jesus prayed that we – His people – would be safe, sanctified, and sent by His Word.

Well-Driven Nails

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“The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.” (Ecclesiastes 12:11)

Another installment of some of the best articles and ideas I’ve come across in the past little while.

The idea of “finding Christ in every passage” has swept through the ranks of evangelical preachers in the last decade like wildfire. I understand the attraction based on the sheer number of sermons I’ve heard (and preached) that are more moralistic than anything else (“Do this.” “Don’t do that.”), with very little gospel in them. However, is this method of interpretation actually biblical? Does it accurately handle the Word of truth? Eric Davis has written a two-part article that gives the positives and negatives of the approach. Here’s part one.  Here’s part two. Read them both.

Brett McCracken sheds some light on “Calvinist”, a movie made by Les Lanphere. It explains the recent popularity of Calvinism (a good thing in my opinion).

A teacher in the UK is facing disciplinary action for “misgendering” a student, according to the BBC. If you think it can’t, or won’t, happen here, you’re mistaken. We live in an upside down world.

A new movie called On Wings of Eagles picks up the Eric Liddell story where Chariots of Fire left off. Laura Finch wites this short review in WORLD magazine.

“10 Things to Pray Before Church” is really, really good. We all ought to read it and do it.

 

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Apologetics is the art and science of defending the faith – defending the truth of Christianity – Voddie Baucham shows how that can be done in the process of preaching and teaching God’s Word in his book Expository Apologetics: Answering Objections with the Power of the Word. Part of Baucham’s preaching style is to anticipate the objections of skeptics (and other non-believers), and then answer them using the text of Scripture being explained. In addition to explaining how the faith can be defended, he also demonstrates by providing a transcript of one of his sermons.

Expository Apologetics is a layman’s introduction to presuppositional apologetics, which is connected frequently with Cornelius Van Til in the early 20th century. Baucham makes the concepts of the system understandable and applicable. His treatment of Romans 1 – what everyone knows and is answerable for – is excellent.

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are commanded to “set apart Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within you, with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Expository Apologetics by Voddie Baucham will help you obey that command. Tolls lege! Take up and read!

 

Sermon in a Sentnece

john-17-prayer

I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga of Southwest Hills Baptist Church preach on John 17:1-5. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: The focus of Jesus’ entire life was to bring glory to God His Father and ours should be the same.

The Most Important Verse?

Got a minute?

Genesis 1:1 is the first verse in the Bible and it may be the most important. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” If you believe that God created everything – visible and invisible – out of nothing and by the power of His word alone, then the rest of the miracles, and for that matter the non-miraculous, recorded in the Bible shouldn’t be hard to accept. If you can’t accept Genesis 1:1, the rest of the Bible doesn’t make much sense. The Bible starts with God in its very first verse. It shows that He is the sovereign, wise, powerful, and majestic Creator – for His glory and our good!

Happy Reformation Day!

Happy-Reformation-Day-October-31-1517

Today is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the greatest revival in church history.  The great truths of the Scriptures were rediscovered and applied to every area of life beginning with the church itself.

Like a dusty artifact in a dark, dank basement, the Reformers found life-changing truth: Scripture alone reveals that we are justified by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone, with all of the glory going to God alone.

Those simple, yet profound truths reformed the church (and changed the world), and are still reforming the church today. Even after five hundred years, the work is far from done. We’ve made a good beginning! May God raise up more Reformers for His glory and our good.

Happy Reformation Day!