13 April 2011

Give God Glory - Psalm 119 Partial Recap Part 2

Well, I promised to continue my recap of the Psalm 119 conference, so here comes Part 2. By now most of you know that I tend to be more verbose than necessary so, let's face it, this won't be the last post about Psalm 119. Hey, if you had just attended it yourself, this wouldn't be necessary!

Todd Friel spoke again on Saturday and opened with an often unrecognized truth: we have forgotten who does the regenerating. It's true, isn't it? So much of evangelicalism is built around what we need to do to get ourselves saved, which completely loses sight of reality...that God is the One who does the saving! Churches and pastors are consumed with making church the "in" thing with racy sermon series and sports cars as props, as if the Gospel needs help to be cool and popular and interesting. Truth is, the Gospel is not cool or popular, and it is only interesting and beautiful to those whom it has saved.

"God's Gospel doesn't change and we don't get to change it." Wow, is that the truth! God is immutable. He doesn't change. He never has changed and He never will change.
"Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end." (Psalm 102:25-27)
Neither does Jesus Christ change.
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)
Everything that God does is perfect and blameless and true. Better still, God is the standard of truth. And all of this is part of the awesome glory of God. What is God's glory? It is who God is, what makes God, well...God! Glory is also the honor that is due God, and glory is what God gets every time someone gets saved. But God is robbed of His glory every time a method is used in so-called evangelism that points people to something other than Him. Does the sermon teach that you should "choose" Jesus because God is up in Heaven wringing His hands, just waiting and hoping against hope that you will decide He's "the one"? Then that sermon is pointing to you and let me tell you, you are a far lesser thing than God! We give God glory by pointing people to Him. In everything, not just on Sunday mornings. Yes, this was an important reminder for me. I can, like many of us, allow myself to get lost in the immediate situation and, in my response, fail to point people to Christ. By responding out of my flesh, God is robbed of His glory. Oh, may He continue to grow me so that I may point people to Christ in all circumstances!

James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries also spoke twice this past weekend, except he preached using the Greek text. Yeah, he's that super smart guy! My one semester of Biblical Greek in college allowed me to follow along a little bit, but eventually I swallowed my pride and turned back to my ESV! I can pick out an ἐγώ εἰμι ("I AM"), but to actually coherently read an entire sentence takes me awhile! Working his way through John 8, especially beginning at verse 12, Dr. White reminded us that Jesus knew His words would be offensive to most who were hearing them, but He preached the truth anyway. In fact, Dr. White said that "Jesus founded the church shrinkage movement," because people did not like it when He told them that only faith in Him would save them and that, unless they believe, they would indeed die in their sins!

When we present only half of the Gospel to someone, and don't reveal to them that they are in bondage to sin and need to be freed from those chains, then we leave that person deceived. One cannot "accept" a Savior if they haven't been shown that they need to be saved! That's why all this talk of "love" is driving me crazy. It's half the Gospel and it's robbing God of His glory and it's sending people to Hell. Dr. White also pointed out that the harshest words Jesus spoke were aimed directly at the religious hypocrites, not those outside of the religious system.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:23-28)
Why, then, are Christians so tentative about calling a wolf a wolf? This whole Rob Bell debacle is a perfect example. Many have come along and are systematically analyzing his book but in the end, they fall short of calling Rob Bell what he is--a false teacher. If we are going to be discerning, let's make it count. Name names when appropriate but above all, do not hesitate to speak the true Gospel in its entirety, especially when it is being misrepresented. Unsaved people are not going to Heaven; they will be in for quite a surprise on Judgment Day...tell them that! Of course, when we witness, we do so with kindness, but we nevertheless ensure that the entire Gospel--even the unpleasant part about sin and judgment--is conveyed. Otherwise we do the Gospel a great injustice and we are allowing that person to remain in the dark about the Truth.

I'll briefly summarize Dr. White's second session. What stood out most to me was when he said that "the true believer will love the attributes of God that are most reprehensible to natural man." Whoa, think about that one for awhile! Jesus does deal out retribution and His Gospel is a command. The command to repent isn't just for those who decide to follow Jesus, but then those who opt for Gaia or Buddha or Allah are off the hook. No, the call to repent is a command spoken directly by our sovereign King!
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14; 15)
Finally, I really appreciated White's explanation of Isaiah 6:1. In fact, I was wishing I had heard this teaching last Fall before I had to teach this passage to junior high students, because what White mentioned here was so interesting! Where my ESV translation reads, "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple," the Septuagint (LXX) apparently reads that his glory filled the temple. I didn't realize this and I love that picture of God's glory being so great that it fills the temple! It's much better than the analogy used by my Bible study leader at the time, which was something to the effect of, "Remember when Princess Diana was married and how full and long and beautiful her train was?" Yeah, something about comparing God Almighty to Princess Diana just doesn't appeal to me.

Dr. White then tied this passage in Isaiah back to John 12:41 where it says that Isaiah "saw His glory and spoke of Him." This passage clearly demonstrates that Jesus is YHWH of the Old Testament. Wow, don't you love the Bible?!
Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:2-3)
Our God is holy. His character demands holiness and justice. The Gospel is a command...repentance is a command given directly by our Lord and King and Savior, Jesus Christ. Holiness, justice--these are not characteristics that are amenable to the fallen, depraved, unsaved man. These repulse us in our fallen state because they illuminate our incredible sinfulness and our inability to ever overcome that state on our own. The most magnificent attributes of God are reprehensible to a sinner without a Savior. And yet, it is  because of these attributes that we may be saved. Jesus Christ was holy and God, in His justice, poured out His wrath on His holy and perfect Son so that we, who can never attain such spotlessness, may still be saved and reconciled to our God, and that He may be glorified in the process. Wow. If you pause and really ponder that, it kind of blows your mind doesn't it? Even those of us who have been surrounded by this truth all our lives can and should be absolutely blown away by God's gospel of grace.

I know that my thoughts are kind of rambling and disjointed in these posts, and I apologize. I suppose it reflects my sermon notes because I was trying to get down all of these wonderful truths that were being taught! Unfortunately, I know that I am doing a great injustice to all of these men because I am in no way conveying all of the great stuff that they taught! Stay tuned for the next recap...I still have R.W. Glenn, Milton Vincent and Phil Johnson to cover!

Psalm 119 Conference - Partial Recap
I Met Phil Johnson

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