Piper: God is Just to Forgive

“Even though we have sinned and desecrate the glory of God, Jesus has been bruised to repair the injury we have done to God’s glory. The iniquity of us all has been laid on him. This means that when we take refuge in him, we appeal for salvation not on the basis of our track record, which has fallen so short of God’s glory, but on the basis of Jesus’ vindication of the Father’s glory. In this way, even though we are sinners who have dishonored God’s glory, the glory of God becomes the foundation of our appeal—for we are hiding in the one who lived and died and rose again to glorify the passion of God for his name and the mercy of God to save.

This is what the little word just means in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This text says God would be unjust (not merely unmerciful) not to forgive us if we confess our sins.

Why is that? Why is forgiveness now a matter of justice and not merely a matter of mercy?

The answer is that Jesus has shed his blood (1 John 1:7) to make a just recompense for all who confess their sins and take refuge in him. Thus God would be unjust not to forgive them, not because they have honored him by their sinless lives, but because they take refuge in the name of Jesus.

The death of Jesus so honored the Father and so vindicated the glory of his name that God is bound by his justice, not just his mercy, to forgive all who stake their lives on the worth of Jesus. “Your sins are forgiven for the sake of his name,” (1 John 2:12).

Christ’s name, and therefore God’s name and God’s honor, is at stake whenever we fly to Jesus for refuge and bank on his worth instead of our own. This is why there is no contradiction in saying that God loves his name above all things, and yet is committed with all his heart to the good of his people—the people who hope in Jesus. He will not turn away from doing good to them. He rejoices in doing this good for them. And—for all who can believe it—he exalts over us with loud singing.”

-John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, 182-183.

Five Characteristics of Seraphic Worship

If you stop by a Christian bookstore today, you will notice stacks of firsthand accounts of heaven. Tourism to the New Jerusalem seems to be on the upswing. Everyone seems obsessed with getting the heavenly inside scoop. Some of these books may be entertaining, but the Bible gives a more reliable record.

Isaiah 6:1-7 HCSB

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth.

The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

Then I said:

Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said:

Now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed and your sin is atoned for.

A Heavenly Worship Service

In Isaiah 6 we get to witness the prophet Isaiah as he participates in a heavenly worship service. This service is his commissioning service; Isaiah witnesses God’s glory, is horrified by his own sinfulness, is cleansed through divine action and is commissioned as a messenger of Yahweh. Here we meet the Seraphim. God has surrounded himself with these angels and appointed them to worship Him. Since this worship service was designed by God, let’s see what we can learn from how the Seraphim worship God.

Clues from the Seraphim

Read Isaiah 6:2-3 and pay special attention to any details about the Seraphim. Look to see what they may be teaching about how God desires to be worshipped. What did you discover? Here are five things we can learn from the worship of the Seraphim:

1. God should be served. These seraphim stand and fly before God. This doesn’t mean that the Seraphim have ADHD and can’t keep still. Instead we see that they are actively waiting on God. Like servants waiting around a king’s throne, they attend God. These angels aren’t chilin’ on a sofa or checking Pinterest, their focus in on serving God. Lesson: Worship requires serving God, not ourselves.

2. God should be approached with modesty.

The angels approach God with humility and reverence. They cover their eyes because God is too holy to gaze upon and they cover their bodies because they are unworthy for God to look upon them. Even these holy angels are aware that before the Almighty they are naked and must cover up. Lesson: When you approach God, recognize your lowliness before Him. Also, don’t wear a swimsuit to church!

3. God should be praised with voice.

These angels speak audibly and use words understandable to Isaiah. Lesson: God wants to be worshipped out loud with normal language.

4. God should be praised in community.

While these angels are praising God, they speak to each other. The worship of God is not just a solo activity, it is essentially communal. Lesson: Go to church! You can’t just worship by yourself.

5. God should be worshipped with truth.

First, the angels speak of God’s holiness (His uniqueness and purity). Secondly, they declare that God has revealed Himself. The heavens declare the glory of God, the Bible discloses God, and Jesus physically filled the earth as the incarnate God-man (John 1:14). God’s glory is ultimately displayed on earth in Jesus. Lesson: Praise God for who He is and What He has done. Remember the supreme revelation of God is Jesus.


Christ is Superior – Part 2

by Kevin DeYoung “God has spoken by his Son, and this Son is superior to all persons, heavenly beings, institutions, rituals, and previous means of revelation and redemption. That’s the big idea in Hebrews 1:1–4 and throughout the book. Christ is superior: To Angels (chs. 1-2) To Moses (ch. 3) To Joshua (chs. 3-4) To Aaron (ch. 5) To Abraham (ch. 6) To Melchizedek (ch. 7) To the old covenant (ch. 8) To the tabernacle (ch. 9) To the high priest (ch. 10) To the treasures of this world (ch. 11) To Mount Sinai (ch. 12) To the city we have here on earth (ch. 13). The Son is our Great Superlative, surpassing all others because in him we have the fullness and finality of God’s redemption and revelation.”   -Kevin DeYoung, Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2014), 49.

Christ is Superior – Part 1

by Kevin DeYoung

“Christ is the superior and final agent of God’s redemption and revelation. The writer of Hebrews, drawing form Psalms 2 and 110, makes seven affirmations to this end:

1. The Son is the heir of all things (Heb. 1:2b). Everything culminates in Christ. The mission work of this age is to bring Christ what rightfully belongs to him.

2. The Son is the creator of all things (v. 2c). Though the second person of the Trinity is not mentioned by name in the creation account, we see in Genesis that God created by the action of his divine speech. This word spoken is to be identified with the Word who later became incarnate.

3. The Son is the sustainer of all things (v. 3a). Every proton, electron, every compound, every particle and planet, every star and galaxy is upheld by his powerful word.

4. The Son is the revelation of God (v. 3a). He is the manifestation of God’s presence, not merely a reflection of the divine glory but the radiance of it. He is the exact imprint of God, same in essence and nature. Christ shows us God as he truly is.

5. The Son made purification for our sins (v. 3b). He took away the stain and guilt of sin, not just as a shadow of greater things to come (like the former sacrifices) but as the substance of all that has been prefigured.

6. The Son sat down (v. 3b). Just as a mother sits down at the end of the day because the kids are finally in bed and the kitchen is clean, so Christ sat down at the right hand of God because his work had been accomplished. The enthronement was complete (Ps. 110:1) and the priestly task completed once for all (Heb. 9:25-26).

7. The Son, therefore, has become much superior to angels (v. 4). He is superior to these heavenly messengers because God’s final word has been spoken through him. None will come after him. Our great salvation has come–confirmed by signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Spirit–and it shall never be surpassed (2:1-4).”

-Kevin DeYoung, Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2014), 47-48.


APRIL 3, AD 33 – Why We Believe We Can Know the Exact Date Jesus Died

By Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor

“In our new book, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, we assume but do not argue for a precise date of Jesus’s crucifixion. Virtually all scholars believe, for various reasons, that Jesus was crucified in the spring of either a.d. 30 or a.d. 33, with the majority opting for the former. (The evidence from astronomy narrows the possibilities to a.d. 27, 30, 33, or 34). However, we want to set forth our case for the date of Friday, April 3, a.d. 33 as the exact day that Christ died for our sins.

To be clear, the Bible does not explicitly specify the precise date of Jesus’s crucifixion and it is not an essential salvation truth. But that does not make it unknowable or unimportant. Because Christianity is a historical religion and the events of Christ’s life did take place in human history alongside other known events, it is helpful to locate Jesus’s death—as precisely as the available evidence allows—within the larger context of human history”

Beginning of Tiberius’s reign a.d. 14
Fifteenth year of Tiberius’s reign: Beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry (Luke 3:1) a.d. 28
A few months later: Beginning of Jesus’s ministry a.d. 29
Minimum three-year duration of Jesus’ ministry: Most likely date of Jesus’s crucifixion a.d. 33 (April 3)

John’s Gospel mentions that Jesus attended at least three Passovers (possibly four), which took place once a year in the spring:

•There was a Passover in Jerusalem at the start of his public ministry (John 2:13, 23).

•There was a Passover in Galilee midway through his public ministry (John 6:4).

•There was a final Passover in Jerusalem at the end of his public ministry, that is, the time of his crucifixion (John 11:55; 12:1).

•And Jesus may have attended one more Passover not recorded in John but perhaps in one or several of the Synoptic Gospels (i.e., Matthew, Mark, and Luke).

Nisan 14 a.d. 30 John 2:13
Nisan 14 a.d. 31 either the unnamed feast in John 5:1 or else a Passover that John does not mention (but that may be implied in the Synoptics)
Nisan 14 a.d. 32 John 6:4
Nisan 14 a.d. 33 John 11:55, the Passover at which Jesus was crucified

For more details, read the rest of the article: http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/04/april-3-ad-33

Escaping Satan’s Deception 2:4

How do we withstand Satan’s attempts to paint sin with virtue’s colors? What can we do to be free of this deception? How do we see behind sin’s mask to behold its true corruption?

Our brother Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) gives us a helpful remedy:

“Seriously…consider, That even those very sins that Satan paints, and puts new names and colors upon, cost the best blood, the noblest blood, the life-blood, the heart-blood of the Lord Jesus.

That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of His Father to a region of sorrow and death; that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature; that he that was clothed with glory should be wrapped with rags of flesh; that he that filled heaven and earth with his glory should be cradled in a manger;

that the power of God should fly from weak man, the God of Israel into Egypt; that the God of the law should be subject to the law, the God of the circumcision circumcised, the God that made the heavens working at Joseph’s homely trade;

that he that binds the devils in chains should be tempted; that he, whose is the world, and the fullness thereof, should hunger and thirst; that the God of strength should be weary, the Judge of all flesh condemned, the God if life put to death; that he that is one with his Father should cry out of misery, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Matt. 27:46);

that he that had the keys of hell and death at his girdle should lie imprisoned in the sepulcher of another, having in his lifetime nowhere to lay his head, nor after death to lay his body;

that the head, before which the angels do cast down their crowns, should be crowned with thorns, and those eyes, purer than the sun, put out by the darkness of death; those ears, which hear nothing but hallelujahs of saints and angels, to hear the blasphemies of the multitude;

that the face, that was fairer than the sons of man, to be spit on by those beastly wretched [men]; that mouth and tongue, that spake as never man spake, accursed for blasphemy; those hands, that freely swayed the scepter of heaven, nailed to the cross, those feet, ‘like unto fine brass,’ nailed to the cross for man’s sins;

each sense annoyed: his feeling or his touching, with a spear and nails; his smell, with stinking flavor, being crucified about Golgotha, the place of skulls; his taste, with vinegar and gall; his hearing, with reproaches, and sight of his mother and disciples bemoaning him; his soul, comfortless and forsaken; and all this for those very sins that Satan paints and puts fine colors upon!

Oh! How should the consideration of this stir up the soul against it, and work the soul to fly from it, and to use all holy means whereby sin may be subdued and destroyed!”

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, first published in 1652, (Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), 36-37.


Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

“While all things change here below, the precious Jesus our Friend is ‘The same yesterday, and today, and forever’. What He was millions of years ago, He is now. What He was when He walked through Judea, Samaria and Galilee, He is now – His heart full of tenderness, of pity, of compassion.

Though you be the greatest, the oldest, the most hardened sinner, though you have sinned again and again against light and knowledge, if you now trust in Christ, you will for His sake be forgiven, for there is power in the blood of Christ to take away the greatest sins.

Learning itself gives no happiness – no real, true happiness. Christ, and Christ alone, gives real, true happiness. I know seven languages, and with all this I should have gone to hell if it had not been that I knew Christ, Christ, Christ. Oh! The blessedness of being a disciple of the Lord Jesus!

I am a happy old man; yes, indeed, I am a happy old man! I walk about my room, and I say, ‘Lord Jesus, I am not alone, for You are with me. I have buried my wives and my children, but You are left. I am never lonely or desolate with You and with Your smile, which is better than life itself!!’”

-George Müller, as recorded in Delighted in God by Roger Steer (Christian Focus Publications, 1997), 227-228.

This is Awesome…

“The greatest pursuit of the Hebrews was light. Everything was idealized by light: “The Lord is my light and my salvation…” “This is the light that lighteth every man that comes into the world…” “The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light…” For the Hebrews the ideal was light.

For the Romans the ideal was glory. The glory of the Roman empire, the glory of Caesars, the city to which all roads led, the city that wasn’t built in a day. Rome symbolized glory. The Hebrews symbolized light as their ideal.

The Greeks pursued knowledge. The ideal of the academy, the ideal of the sophists, the ideal of wisdom, and the ideal of knowledge. Let me retrace it: The Hebrews pursued light as an ideal, the Greeks pursued knowledge as the ideal, and the Romans pursued glory.

Here is the apostle Paul, a Hebrew by birth, a citizen of Rome in a Greek city. He says in 2 Corinthians 4: “God, who caused the light to shine out of darkness, has caused His light to shine in our hearts, to give to us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord.”

-from Ravi Zacharias in “Who Are You God?” part 2 of 4 atwww.rzim.org

Thanks to Dan, http://www.facebook.com/danielsonline/posts/566887761820


What is really behind the boycott of Chick-fil-A

by Trevin Wax

If you’re like me, you’re weary of the excessive politicization of nearly everything in American culture.

Can’t we just enjoy Oreo cookies without making a statement about gay rights? Or savor a chicken sandwich without fear of being labeled a hater or homophobe?

Though I’m weary of our culture’s tendency to politicize everything, I believe this Chick-fil-A boycott has revealed some fault lines in our culture that will lead to increasing pressure upon Christians who uphold the sexual ethic described in the New Testament. Furthermore, in listening to the mayors of Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, it’s clear to me that – political posturing aside – this discussion may not be about the alleged homophobia of Chick-fil-A’s president but the actual Christophobia of the leaders of the cultural elite.

Christophobia? Isn’t that a strong word? Yes, it is. So let’s define our terms.

First, let’s define homophobia. According to the Anti-Defamation League, homophobia is “the hatred or fear of homosexuals – that is, lesbians and gay men – sometimes leading to acts of violence and expressions of hostility.”

Consider the comments made by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy that triggered this escapade:

“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

That’s it. Cathy said, basically, “We believe in the traditional family.” In context, it appears he was speaking primarily about divorce. (What’s next? A sit-in protest led by divorcees?) But this was enough to bring down the wrath of gay-rights advocates upon Cathy and the company.

Though Chick-fil-A hires homosexuals and serves homosexuals (“with pleasure,” no doubt), the company and its president were suddenly labeled “homophobic” and “anti-gay” for articulating the traditional vision for marriage that has been the norm for thousands of years. If the word homophobic has any meaning, then we should reserve it for egregious offenses against homosexuals – not throw the label on anyone who has a conviction about what marriage is.

Now let’s define Christophobia. It is “anti-Christian sentiment expressed as opposition to Christians, the Christian religion, or the practice of Christianity.” When the mayors of prominent U.S. cities in the north and west told Chick-fil-A they would not be welcome there, they were making a statement that goes beyond one’s position on gay rights. These remarks were an example of social ostracism – not just toward those who hold to traditional views on marriage but especially Christians who hold these views and seek to practice their religion accordingly.

Why do I think they were singling out Christians? Why would this be an example of Christophobia?

Consider a different scenario. What if Dan Cathy were a Muslim? What if he had been a Muslim speaking to an Islamic news organization when he said something about marriage and family? Would there have been an outcry against his organization? It’s doubtful. I can’t imagine Rahm Emanuel taking on a prominent, well-respected Muslim businessman, no matter what he would say about marriage and sexuality. (Perhaps that’s why Emanuel has no problem partnering with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan – an outspoken critic of gay marriage – in a crime-reducing initiative.)

And therein lies the discrimination. Do you see the double standard? Those who are problematic, those who must be shut down and made to feel unwelcome, are not really the people who believe in traditional marriage but conservative Christians who seek to practice the tenets of their faith in the public sphere.

What we are seeing today is a massive cultural shift that permits leaders to label Christians as intolerant and bigoted simply for expressing their views about how society should function. But strangely enough, the same social ostracism and cultural condescension are not extended to Muslims and faithful adherents to other religions. No, the prejudice appears to be directed toward Christians who dare to speak publicly about their deeply held religious convictions.

That’s why, at the end of the day, this conversation isn’t really about marriage, gay rights, or restaurant permits. It’s not about the cultural divide between north and south, liberal and conservative.

It’s about Jesus. It’s about the radical sexual ethic He put forth in His teaching – a moral zealousness that hits our current culture’s sexual permissiveness head-on. And it’s about His forgiveness offered to all sexual sinners, so long as we agree with Jesus about our sin and embrace Him instead.

As weary as we may be of the culture wars, the Chick-fil-A controversy is a harbinger of further ostracism to come. In the United States, the words of Jesus are coming to pass for those who hold tightly to His vision of sexuality: You will be hated because of Me. 

So how should we respond? We’ve got to go beyond boycotts and political statements and feigned offense at perceived persecution. We’re called to love those who ostracize us, not boycott back. So let’s trumpet the message that Jesus is for all kinds of sinners, from the self-righteous deacon to the promiscuous transsexual, no matter what kind of vitriol comes our way.

The world tells homosexuals, “It gets better.” The church tells homosexuals, “Jesus is better.”

And that is why this boycott is really about Him.”

-Trevin Wax,  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2012/08/01/why-the-chick-fil-a-boycott-is-really-about-jesus/

Jesus and the Bible

by Kevin DeYoung

“On Sunday I finished an eight week sermon series on the doctrine of Scripture. In this last sermon I encouraged the church to have the same doctrine of Scripture that Jesus did. If he his our Lord and our Master—even if he were only a great teacher—surely we want his view of the Bible to be our view of the Bible.

After working through four main texts (John 10:35Matthew 5:17-1912:38-4219:4-5) I provided a summary of Jesus’ doctrine of Scripture.

1. Jesus held Scripture in the highest possible esteem. He knew his Bible intimately and loved it deeply. He often spoke with language of Scripture. He easily alluded to Scripture. And in his moments of greatest trial and weakness—like being tempted by the devil or being killed on a cross—he quoted Scripture.

2. His mission was to fulfill Scripture, and his teaching always upheld Scripture.

3. He never disrespected, never disregarded, never disagreed with a single text of Scripture.

4. He affirmed every bit of law, prophecy, narrative, and poetry. He shuddered to think of anyone anywhere violating, ignoring, or rejecting Scripture.

5. Jesus believed in the inspiration of Scripture, down  to the sentences, to the phrases, to the words, to the smallest letter, to the tiniest mark.

6. He accepted the chronology, the miracles, and the authorial ascriptions as giving the straightforward facts of history.

7. He believed in keeping the spirit of the law without ever minimizing the letter of the law. He affirmed the human authorship of Scripture while at the same time bearing witness to the ultimate divine authorship of the Scriptures.

8. He treated the Bible as a necessary word, a sufficient word, a clear word, and the final word.

9. It was never acceptable in his mind to contradict Scripture or stand above Scripture.

10. He believed the Bible was all true, all edifying, all important, and all about him. He believed absolutely that the Bible was from God and was absolutely free from error. What Scripture says God says, and what God said was recorded infallibly in Scripture.

11. Jesus submitted his will to the Scriptures, committed his brain to study the Scriptures, and humbled his heart to obey the Scriptures.

In summary, it is impossible to revere the Scriptures more deeply or affirm them more completely than Jesus did. The Lord Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior, believed his Bible was the word of God down to the tiniest speck and that nothing in all those specks and in all those books in his Bible could ever be broken.

For the exegetical, theological, and logical work that leads to that conclusion, you’ll have to check out the whole sermon.”

-Kevin DeYoung, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/07/11/jesus-doctrine-of-scripture/