Mark Dever – Liberty University Convocation – What the Bible and Jesus teach about human government

Mark Dever

Mark Dever – Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. speaking at Liberty University.

Mark 12:13-17

Paying Taxes to Caesar

13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances,[a] but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius[b] and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Too many people admire Jesus rhetorical dexterity here and miss what He is actually teachingThis is more than simply a clever answer. In this short answer, Jesus picked up a biblical theology of government  and He applied it to the new phase in the history of God’s people that Jesus Himself was commencing. And while it’s going to far to say that, here, Jesus’s statement established a wall of separation between Church and State, or made the state secular, I think, Jesus’s affirmation of paying taxes to the Roman government does show that a pagan state may be legitimate. Jesus looked at His followers and, speaking of Rome, He said, „Pay for it.”

I remember once being asked by a friend who is president of the Libertarian society at Cambridge University where I was studying in England, 20 years ago. He was asking me to give a Christian view on ‘does society need a state’? And so, I spent time and as I studied for that, I was impressed by what a deeply biblical thing human government is. Human government is not legitimate, fundamentally, because it controls the army and the police, kind of like ‘might makes right’. Human government is not legitimate, fundamentally, because it makes a social contract somewhere back in the mystical myth of time. Human government is not legitimate, fundamentally, because of an election. You know, vox populi, vox dei – The voice of the people is the voice of God. Human government is not legitimate, fundamentally, because of a marxist idea of inevitability or merely for economic necessity. Or some psychological need that we all need to be controlled.

Now, let’s think  for a moment what the Bible teaches about human government and put Jesus’s teaching here, in the larger context of what God has revealed. The story of government begins as soon as human history does, in the first chapter of the Bible. What we find there is that human government reflects God’s initial charge to fill the earth and subdue it… (Transcript from the first seven minutes, with aprox 35 min remaining from this message.

VIDEO by Liberty University

Mark Dever: Conversion

We find many people who join the church who are not believers. Instead of focusing on the need for conversion though, many become tolerant to the hypocrisy. In this message, Mark Dever provides biblical thoughts on conversion and looks at the steps to conversion, and explains how biblical conversion fits within our churches. He ends with a question and answer session with R.C. Sproul.

This message is from the 2010 Pastors Conference, Peace, Purity, and Unity in the Church: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=…

VIDEO by Ligonier Ministries

Mark Dever: Here We Stand

In the early church and during the time of the Reformation, many of our forefathers in the faith were persecuted, tortured, and sometimes martyred because of their steadfast refusal to compromise the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. Ours, on the other hand, is an age of doctrinal timidity and compromise. In this lecture, Dr. Mark Dever explain the need for doctrinal purity, calling this generation to stand firm for the essentials of the gospel.

This message is from our 2010 Pastors Conference, Peace, Purity, and Unity in the Church: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=

VIDEO by Ligonier Ministries

The Inerrancy Summit 2015 – Carl Trueman, Ian Hamilton, Mark Dever

The Inerrancy Summit Session 07 Carl Trueman

VIDEO by AgapeMedia

The Inerrancy Summit Session 08 Ian Hamilton

The Inerrancy Summit Session 09 Mark Dever

Sinners in the hands of an angry God by Jonathan Edwards (American Puritan Theologian)

Photo credit en.wikipedia.org

Where there is talk about preaching and hell, Jonathan Edwards’s name is never far behind. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is the most famous sermon in American history. And undoubtedly Edwards is the most caricatured preacher because of it.

You can read the whole sermon online, or listen to someone like Mark Dever read it.

But few people know that Edwards often preached on heaven, too. And his sermons on heaven are as beautiful as his sermons on hell are sobering.

For a wonderful introduction to Edwards on heaven, I’d encourage you to listen to Sam Storms’s talk on “Joy’s Eternal Increase: Edwards on the Beauty of Heaven.” But first you might want to read the text of Edwards’s sermon, “Heaven, A World of Love.

We’ve all heard the line about the danger of “being so heavenly-minded that we’re no earthly good.” But surely C. S. Lewis was right: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. . . . It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this” (Mere Christianity, chapter 10).

Read it here –

– Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

 

 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones Panel at the 2014 Together for The Gospel (Mark Dever, John MacArthur, Iain Murray and Jonathan Catherwood)

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Credit Wikipedia

VIDEO by MLJTrust – Mark Dever (moderator) hosts a panel that includes Iain Murray (biographer of Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Co-Founder of Banner of Truth), John MacArthur (Pastor-Teacher of Grace Community Church), and Jonathan Catherwood, President of the MLJ Trust, and one of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s six grandchildren.

I have taken down notes from the first 25 minutes of the panel discussion. There are about another 20 minutes of great conversation on Dr. Lloyd-Jones in the video below.

John MacArthur on Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ influence:

I did not know him, but at the kind invitation of the Lloyd-Jones Trust, Grace To You partnered with you (speaking to Jonathan Catherwood, President of the MLJ Trust, and one of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s six grandchildren) all that time, and you didn’t know it at the time, what the Doctor meant to me. There are probably two things I would say: Nr. 1 is reading the 2 volume biography and finding out what a kindred spirit he was to me. And I could break that down into categories-

1) He had the same view of preaching that I’ve had, and I needed to find a hero that I could follow. And that was that exposition had to be relentlessly doctrinal. And you (Iain Murrary- Martyn Lloyd-Jones biographer) have a statement that Lloyd-Jones, during his time as an expositor with a doctrinal emphasis was alone in the UK. Well, that would have been true here, but I was convinced that the whole point of Bible exposition was so that the doctrine would emerge. And all preaching had to be doctrinal. That was a huge influence to me

2) Unscheduled exposition  influenced me – that he didn’t know how many sermons there would be in Ephesians 1, until he finished. And then, there were 38. He didn’t know. He took it as it came. That was a model for me to  preach Sunday by Sunday, by Sunday, and see what you get when you finished. Lloyd-Jones said, „The failure of preaching is not because preachers don’t know enough about man and his problems. The failure is they don’t know enough about the Word and the Holy Spirit.

3) Consecutive exposition –

4) Content – He was focused on the sovereignty of God and the glory of God in all of his preaching.

5) Another thing his ministry did for me was to show me the path of maintaining biblical authority  in epic confrontations. And that really came at the fore, not only in the Anglican confrontation, but it was exacerbated in the Billy Graham years form 1954 to 1966. And he would not equivocate on biblical authority. He would not sit on a platform with men who denied biblical authority. He wouldn’t be a part of cooperative evangelism. In fact, you  [Iain Murrau] write about the fact that he, I think it was sometime in 1966, for that Berlin event, when the [Billy] Graham organization asked him to be the chair of that event and he said, „I’ll do it on 2 grounds: 1- you remove all people from prominent positions, who are not faithful to the authority of Scripture and 2- you take out the invitation with the decisionism.” And there was no deal.

Credit amazon.com

6) One other immense influence on me was  his book on the Sermon on the Mount.  He, rather effectively, took shots at the old traditional dispensationalism in which I was raised.  When I started into the ministry, I had been taught that the Sermon on the Mount belonged in the millennium, and had nothing to do with the church age, which I didn’t understand or believe. And systematically, page by page by page, the Lord used Lloyd-Jones to dismantle that notion. And by the time I got done preaching through chapters 5-7, people on the dispensational side thought I’d abandoned the faith. I hadn’t, but I think I had come to a correct understanding of that greatest of New Testament sermons.

When as a medical doctor he was invited to speak to the Welsh people, he went in and decried the degraded state of Welsh preachingHe told them that the decline of the country was from the decline of the church and the decline of the church was related to the decline in preaching.  Iain Murray: Yes, it was the tradition of preaching that had become traditional and professional. And it wasn’t doctrinal, and people were easily made church members. MacArthur: When he said that, at the time, he was still a layman. Iain Murray: He spoke in South Wales and the newspapers caught up on what he was saying and they thought this was very arrogant, I suppose.

Iain Murray:

on hearing Lloyd-Jones preach a couple hundred times at Westminster: With all good preaching, if it is good preaching, in the biblical sense , you very quickly forget the man who is preaching. And that’s what happened with Lloyd Jones. God was speaking to you, and I think that is the mark of real preaching. you forget about the man himself. The great deficiency that we suffer from is that way back in the 1950’s nobody thought of gatherings like this, and the result is, as far as I know, we don’t have a single recording of a full service at Westminster Chapel. And that is a real loss, because the service led to the sermon. And they were united; and he led the whole service, and you didn’t notice him doing it. I believe it was the work of the Holy Spirit, as with Spurgeon. People didn’t say, when he was preaching, „Why doesn’t he let other people do things?” When the Holy Spirit is speaking, the man himself is in the background. But, that is a real loss that we don’t have a recording of a full service.

[MacArthur asks: So, tell us what a typical Sunday would be like.] Murray: He would come quietly into the pulpit, bow his head for a moment at the desk, then, the doxology would be sung without intimation. And then he would lead in a brief prayer. And then, the first hymn, which he would announce  and it would be a hymn leading into worship, and perhaps, especially for the Lord’s Day. And then the evening service would always include one madrigal song, there would be full sermons, the long prayer, the pastoral prayer, and brief notices by the church secretary, who had been at princeton since 1906, and in the 1950’s he was still attired as if at Princeton 1906. Then a hymn before the sermon and then the sermon. But by the time the sermon came, generally, you were gripped. There’s no question of the preacher having to get the attention of the people, and tell them a little story to interest them.

John MacArthur on Lloyd-Jones, the preacher:

He’s always been so compelling to me. Just one little illustration of that is he believed in law work, evangelism. You had to preach the law, confront sin. He not only believed you needed to tell the sinner he was a sinner, but you needed to prove it to him. And so, there was all of this argument that was going on. This logical argument. He was pinning the sinner down, and that’s what you get with Lloyd-Jones when you listen to him preach. You’re swept up and you can’t see the skeleton. This thing is fleshed out.

Iain Murray: Thank you for saying that, John. That’s so important.

He meant to disturb people. People complained, „This man talks to us as if we’re sinners.” And when Lloyd-Jones heard that, he was encouraged. And sometimes, people left Westminster Chapel, vowing to never come here again, but they did. They did come again. So, he did speak very plainly to people. And again, it was the sense that it wasn’t simply Lloyd-Jones speaking to them, there was something more happening, conviction.

John MacArthur:

That’s true even with things he said to Christians, in his series on Romans 11- the Benediction. You’re so overwhelmed with the flow of thought and the grasp that he has and the intensity, the energy and the strength of his argument, his unpacking, that you really are… the Lord is speaking through this instrument.

Lloyd-Jones books recommended (during the panel discussion):

  • Sermon on the Mount
  • Knowing the Times
  • The Plight of Man and the Power of God (addresses he gave in Edinburgh in 1939-1940)
  • Authority (Authority of Scripture, authority of God)

Audio sermons recommended

  • Book of Romans – the very first sermon „A Man Called Paul”. A full throated defense of the apostle Paul, and his whole approach to king expositional series
  • Ephesians 2 – a sermon called „But God” having described the problem with man and the state of sin  and the utter hopelessness that we find ourselves in. (A very powerful sermon).

The following is a 40 minute panel discussion at last month’s Together for The Gospel conference in Kentucky on the life and ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

Credit amazon.com

The discussion might be particularly interesting to those who are relatively new to the Lloyd-Jones sermons, as it provides some context for his ministry, and a perspective on his ministry and life by those who either knew him or are church leaders today.

The panel was chaired by Mark Dever, Senior Pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC, and it panelists were Iain Murray, who was once an assistant to Dr. Lloyd-Jones and wrote the definitive two-volume biography on his life; John MacArthur, Pastor-Teacher at Grace Community Church in California, and yours truly, participating as one of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s six grandchildren, and representing the MLJ Trust.

Did God really say? VIDEO with full transcript

An essential, highly interesting affirmation by the panel of the belief on biblical inerrancy from the Together for the Gospel Conference 2012, led by Mark Dever, Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. Besides the great panel discussion, there are also a few book recommendations (linked to Amazon, just click on title or photo) and lots of links to search peripheral issues as they relate to the inerrancy debate. This page will be added to the (permanent) apologetics page.

photo from T4G website – http://t4g.org/resources/photos/

  1. We affirm that the sole (final) authority for the Church is the Bible, verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible and totally sufficient and trustworthy. We deny that the Bible is a mere witness to the divine revelation or that any portion of Scripture is marked by error or by effects of human sinfulness. 
  2. We affirm that the authority and the sufficiently of Scripture extends to the entire Bible and that therefore the Bible is our final authority for all doctrine and practice. We deny that any portion of the Bible should be used in an effort to deny the truthfulness or trustworthiness of any other portion. We further deny any effort to identify a canon within the canon or for example to set the words of Jesus against the words of Paul. 
  3. We affirm that truth ever remains a central issue for the Church and that the Church must resist the allure of pragmatism and post modern conceptions of truths as substitutes for obedience to the comprehensive truth claims of Scripture. We deny that truth is merely a product of social construction or that the truth of the Gospel can be expressed or grounded in anything less than total confidence in the veracity of the Bible, the historicity of the biblical events and the ability of language to convey understandable truth in sentence form. We further deny that the church can establish its ministry on a foundation of pragmatism, current marketing techniques or contemporary cultural fashions.

Is inerrancy something new? Short answer „NO!”

Minute 4 – Dever addresses the charge that „inerrancy” is a „new thing” or just a „reformation doctrine?”.

  • John Piper responds:.In 1971 Fuller Theological Seminary  took the Word out.  I read what was happening in Germany. It blew me away. I did not see it coming. So it may have been there, but the teachers that I loved and had influenced me most didn’t talk that way and didn’t give me indication that it would be going that way. I was never able to make any sense out of the distinctions between infallible and inerrant. 
  • Dr Simon Gathercole – teaches New Testament at Cambridge, in England. One of the clearest figures to express a doctrine of inerrancy was St. Augustine and it came up for him in conversation with the Manichaeans where he made it very clear that there were no contradictions in Scripture , that if you do find what looks like a mistake in Scripture, it is either a result of a problem with the translation, a problem in the text, a particular manuscript or scribal error or that you have misunderstood it. So Augustine is an example of someone who was very clear on inerrancy.
  • Ligon Duncan – there is a consistent witness across Christian history to the Bible’s sole, final authority and its inspiration and inerrancy.
  • Peter Williams – (undergraduate studies at Cambridge) „I believe it is fully authoritative, inerrant, inspired by God’ I think I’d want to add more words, I want to say: It’s basically clear, it’s sufficient, it’s historical. People can take a word like „inerrant” and leech it (by saying) – „I agree with the notion that Scripture is entirely true, but then they try and weaken it in other ways and I think that’s happening particularly because a lot of people, at least in this country are signing an inerrancy statement for their paycheck (which sometimes happens; they redefine inerrancy). There are many reasons to believe in inerrancy, but I think when you believe in verbal inspiration (i.e.) that God gave words and you believe in God’s trustworthiness, that He has a true character and you want to have a relationship with God, then it is inescapable logically to come to a view of Scriptural inerrancy. If you believe that God has given words, I don’t see how you can break that and say, „Well, He gives words and they are sometimes full of errors”, without actually questioning God’s trustworthiness Himself.

The 3 roots/trajectories on how inerrancy is denied

  • Al Mohler (11 min mark) Why wouldn’t anyone believe in this? (This question) leads to a principle of interpreting church history, which often surprises people when you first hear it, and that is that „heresy precedes orthodoxy„. That doesn’t mean that the false precedes the true. It does mean that the codification, or confession of the faith is often in the face of, is a response to heresy or that which is sub biblical or sub orthodox. So, in 325  AD you have a statement made by the Council of Nicaea, that wasn’t necessary until Arius denied that the father and the Son are of the same substance. And when it comes to inerrancy, the first thing is that this is God’s word, God is totally true, so all the attributes of Scripture seem to come, and yet Augustine has to respond to the Manichaeans and we have to respond to contemporary denials of the total truthfulness of Scripture. I think there are 3 roots, or 3 trajectories in which that comes:
  1. The first is ideological and this is basically the external critique of biblical inerrancy. It comes from new atheists, of course if you don’t believe in God, you don’t believe there could possibly be a word of God; if you don’t believe in supernatural revelation as a possibility, or even recently, if you don’t believe in words as units of meaning; that are capable of conveying truth, there are various rules of philosophy and literary interpretation that have lost all confidence in words. They have to use words to explain how little confidence they have in them any longer; it’s part of the whole conundrum, but nevertheless, it is an ideological assault and so a good bit of what you will read simply says: „Inerrancy is an impossibility” and it will move on. But, it is not the major issue of our concern, there are two other trajectories.
  2. Another trajectory is apologetic. This is where you have evangelicals who say: This is an embarrassment. To claim inerrancy is to over claim the text, it is an impediment to our intellectual credibility and so you have people who would pose to be within the evangelical movement who will say, as Kenton Sparks in a recent book said, „This is the intellectual doom,” to paraphrase him, because it makes us continually defend the truthfulness of every passage in a text and that is leading modern people to have huge intellectual obstacles to receiving the main message in the text, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So you have various forms of this kind of apologetic argument; it’s the same argument as people who come along and say you can’t talk about the Bible’s teaching on sexuality; that’s presenting too much of an obstacle for contemporary people to come to Christ. Ot, you can’t deny the theory of evolution, it’s metanarrative because that creates too much of an impediment for people to come to Christ. And so, you have websites today and people arguing that inerrancy is just an obstacle, it’s a theological construct that’s doing more damage than good.
  3. The third trajectory, or the third root you can look at this is moral, in which case you have people say that if we’re committed to total truthfulness of Scripture, then we’re committed to text which reveal God as acting in immoral ways; God’s people sanctioning immoral acts, and what you have is people who will say, „Look, we have the capacity as human beings to judge God, and thus we’re gonna go to the conquest of Canaan or we’re gonna go to the way God deals with any individual in either Testament of the canon and say that that’s immoral. If you’re gonna try and impose a human standard of morality, like the late atheist, Christopher Hitchens, if you read the Bible honestly you’re gonna find texts that are gonna cause you all kinds of  difficulty and by the way, one of the things Christopher Hitchens did very well for us was to say, „He can understand theists who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and he can understand atheists who don’t believe it’s possible, what he didn’t understand were people who tried to pose in the middle.
  • Dr Simon Gathercole – The central plank for me in the doctrine of inerrancy, and that is that it was Jesus’ view of Scripture and I think the 2 other points that were mentioned are really significant. The sort of dogmatic logic of what Scripture says, God says and therefore because of the character of God, Scripture is without error. Also, it’s the continuous testimony of the Church. I would recommend everyone read John Woodbridge’s book  Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal even though the debate is now different, but there’s a lot to learn there. But, if you just look at the way Jesus treats Scripture, what He says about Scripture, „Your word is truth”, „Scripture cannot be broken”, the way He refers to Adam, the way He refers to Elijah and Elisha, all the figures of the Old Testament, the way He responds to Satan: „It’s written, and every word is proceeding from the mouth of God.” That has to be the real cornerstone for our doctrine of inerrancy and it means that it’s an imperative of discipleship for us, that it’s a matter of following Jesus. (Also recommends Christ and the Bible” by John Wenham)
  • Peter Williams – If heresy precedes orthodoxy then I think that apologetics precedes heresy, as in most heresy begins as apologetics movement. And, I say that as someone who is involved in apologetics and likes it. Liberal theology is an attempt to rescue Christianity from deep embarrassment and that’s how a lot of these things begin and  those of us that are involved in apologetics need to be quite careful about that, because it can lead to error. The way people get seduced sometime into abandoning Scriptural authority is when they become persuaded that, that thing which adheres most to their dreams and their aspirations and start to believe „that more people will come to Christ if I just water this down somewhat”. Sometime people become persuaded in theological education that they are being more faithful to the text if they read it in a way that is contrary to another text. When people are being brought up in a Chirstian context, to value the authority of the Bible, it appeals and they become persuaded that the most honest reading of the text is to read it so it contradicts to another one.
  • Al Mohler –   Liberal theology is a succession of rescue attempts for the reputation of Christianity and to just give an example of what Peter is talking about: You have Rudolph Bultmann, who in one of his books says people who use electric lights don’t believe in a supernatural universe. So, in other words, if you’re gonna reach modern people we’re gonna have to bring christianity into intellectual credibility with the modern world. A lot of the things you see being claimed right now are as old as the heretics that the church fathers faced and certainly in terms of protestant liberalism and what the church has faced in over 100 years.
  • Ligon Duncan –  Another example in modern liberalism is Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher. Schleiermacher  was offended by the doctrine of the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ and the uniqueness of Christ. And he looked out at Germany and he said: German intellectuals are rejecting Christianity in droves, they’re impacted by the enlightenment and the message of Christianity must change if we are going to be able to capture this generation for christianity. It wasn’t as if he was sitting around inventing to destroy christianity, but in fact he did that with apologetic missionary motives in reaching his culture and so liberalism’s fundamental premise is that the message must change if christianity is going to survive and effectively engage the culture.
  • Peter Williams -It’s going right back to Marcion in the second century. Marcion is deeply embarrassed by the Old Testament, by the Jewishness of Jesus. He, as an apologist thinks that he can commend christianity far better by ditching those things. So, that’s why becoming an apologist, led straight to the heresy.
  • John Piper (minute 20 mark) Mark Dever asks why JP concluded that inerrancy was true: There are layers to that like- My momma told me it was true. That’s one layer. „..remember those from whom you’ve learned the faith” (2 Timothy 3:14), that’s an argument in the Bible. Second layer would be: God made me see it. That’s the deepest layer and I do believe I couldn’t believe the Bible is untrue, if I tried because I am just taken by Him, for it. I believe that’s the deepest reason. You can’t persuade anybody with that and so, up above those layers are the layers of experience, of encounter with the text and I think that at one level the Bible, as C.S.Lewis said: „You believe in it as you believe in the sun, not only because you see it, but you see everything else by it”. I asked my professor in Germany one time, „Why do you believe the Bible? And he said: Because it makes sense out of the world for me. Year after year, after year you live in the book and you deal with the world and it brings coherence to evil and good and sorrow and loss. And there’s one other level I would mention: Liar, lunatic, Lord argument in the Gospels works for me in Paul: Liar, lunatic or faithful apostle because I think I know Paul better than I know anybody in the Bible. Luke wrote most quantitatively, but he’s writing narrative. But with Paul, if you read these 13 letters hundreds of times, you know this man. Either he’s stupid, I mean insane, or liar, or a very wise, deep, credible, thoughtful person. So, when I put Paul against any liberal scholar in any German university  that I ever met, they don’t even come close. So, I have never, frankly, been tested very much by the devil or whoever to say, „This wise, liberal, offering his arguments…” I read Paul and I say, „I don’t think so”. This man is extraordinary, he’s smart, he’s rational. He’s been in the 3rd, 7th heaven and he is careful about what he is saying. So, that whole argument „Liar, lunatic, Lord – works for me with Jesus and it works powerfully for me for Paul and moreover once you’ve got Paul speaking, self authenticating, irresistible, world view shaping truth, then as you move out from Jesus and Paul, the others just start to shine with confirming evidences. Just a few ayers, there are others. Dever prompts John to give one more. JP: Why are you married after 43 years? How do you endure losses? really, where does your strength come from? You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Free from pornography and free from divorce, free from depressions that just undo you. How do you find your way into marriage over and over and out of depression and away form the internet? How does that happen? It happens by the power of this incredible book. Dever: For people who haven’t had time to accumulate all those layers, anything you would tell them to read? Piper: Back when the inerrancy council was red hot „Scripture and truth” edited by Grudem and
  • Mark Dever recommends J. I. Packer’s „Fundamentalism and the Word of God”.
  • Al Mohler – The problem is how few of our confessional statements are clear on this in the first place. So one of our evangelical liabilities is that too much has been assumed under an article of Scripture without specifying language, with inerrancy being one of those necessary  attributes of Scripture confirmed. You do find people today, some lamentably who are trying to claim that  you can still use the word, while basically eviscerating it, emptying it of meaning. So you have historical denials, in particular, you have someone who says that a text… and „The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy” makes it very clear, our affirmations and denials are actually patterned after the International Council of Biblical Inerrancy, which was itself patterned after previous statements in which there were not only affirmations, but clear denials. So, when you look to that statement, you’ll see that there’s the version of what inerrancy means and that means „This is not true”. So, you have clear denials. One of the affirmations is: Scripture has different forms of literature, but the denial is that you can legitimately dehistoricize an historical text. So, in other words, everything in Scripture reveals, including every historical claim is true. You find some people saying: „Well, you can affirm the truthfulness of the text without the historicity of the text. You can’t do that. You have people who are now using genre criticism, various forms to say: This is a type of literature. My favorite of these lamentable arguments is the one that says: This is the kind of text to which the issue of inerrancy does not apply. In other words: I don’t like it. But, what they mean is: I am not making a truth claim. If I am not making a truth claim… that’s ridiculous, but you find these kinds of nuances going on. You also find very clear, points of friction. So, let’s give an example of points of friction: Do we have to believe in the historicity of the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis? What Pete said about apologetics, that puts us over, against a dominant, intellectual system that establishes what is called credibility in the secular academy. Those evangelicals who feel intellectually accountable to that, are trying to say, „There has to be some other way then,  of dealing with Genesis 1 through 11 and that’s where you have now the ultimate friction point, with coming, for instance, the historical Adam and an historical fall and now you’re finding people who are trying to say, „Okay, there is no historical claim in Genesis 1 through 3, but I still believe in an historical Adam because I am just going to pull him out of the air and pop him down and say, „I still believe in an historical Adam (but) I am not going to root it in the historical nature of the text, but I need him because Paul believed in him. And then, you have people who have websites today, someone like Peter Enns, who used to teach at an institution which required inerrancy, but no longer teaches there, who says, „Clearly, Paul did believe in inerrancy, but, Paul was wrong”. And so, now you not only have the denial of inerrancy of the historicity of Genesis 1 through 3, you have Paul now, in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 being said, „Well now, inerrancy for him means ‘he was speaking truthfully, as inspired by God, but limited to the world view that was accessible and available to him at the time’. That is not what Jesus believed about Scripture. That is not what the church must believe about Scripture. I never came close to not believing in the inerrancy of Scripture. I came close to believing that there could be other legitimate ways of describing the total authority and truthfulness of the text and especially in context of fierce denominational controversy, I thought there must be room for finding it somewhere else and some people even mentioned here were correctives. For example J.I. Packer’s Fundamentals of God, was the bomb that landed in the playground. That little experiment just doesn’t happen; you take that out, it simply won’t work. At about the time that you (Mark Dever) and I really became friends, we were looking at how you came from an evangelical background where those issues have been discussed for 20 years before they did explode in the Southern Baptist Convention. My denomination had to learn this lesson a little bit late and at great cost.
  • Mark Dever– leaving the denominational stuff aside, you (Mohler) as a Christian, you found an intuitive, like John is talking about, an intuitive faith in Scripture.
  • Al Mohler– Well, it was intuitive, but I also had intellectual guardrails. My earliest, explicit theological formation was when apologetics hit me as a crisis as a teenager and I was led directly into the influence of Francis Schaeffer. And the book that most influenced me as a  teenager in high school, holding on to the faith as against a very secular environment was his book based on  lectures at Wheaton „He is there and He is not silent”, and I would point to that as the 5 or 10 books that most shaped my thinking, because Schaeffer’s logic in his lectures is really clear: „If there is a God, who doesn’t exist, we’re doomed. If there’s a God who does exist, but doesn’t speak, we’re just as doomed. If there is a God who does exist and He does speak, then salvation is in the speech. And so that was one of the guard rails in my life and being raised in a Gospel church that preached the word of God and just assumed that when you say „It’s the word of God”, it means all this.
  • Ligon Duncan – I didn’t have faith challenges as a teenager that Al did, but I was reading a lot of that apologetic literature and this was being talked about by evangelicals and the Ligonier statement on Scripture had come out in 1973, the ICBI Chicago Statement came out in 1978. Those are my teenage years. This is a conversation in the conservative corner of evangelicalism, in which I was reared. I had a good pastor that was happy to have me ask him questions about this when I was troubled with something I could ask him, he was on the board at Westminster Theological Seminary. When I went to Edinburgh (Scotland for PhD) I already had a solid education in the doctrine of Scripture at Covenant Seminary. But when I went to Edinburgh , James Barr’s book „Fundamentalism”  had just come out and I read it. I have more writings in the margins of the text in this book. I was arguing with him relentlessly in this book.
  • Mark Dever – This was an attack on J.I. Packer’s book and other kinds of statements of faith and Scripture.
  • Ligon Duncan – At that point I thought this would be some kind of hot topic. I had read some Barr in seminary, mostly semantics of biblical language and other things like that, in which, hopefully he is going after some bad stuff, but, I decided that when that book came out that I needed to read everything that Barr had ever written because of the potential influence on scholars. I was doing patristics at Edinburgh and so this wasn’t something that was part of my reading for work, it was just something I needed to do on the side and so I did. It was the most soul killing 6 months that I have ever spent. It was very disturbing. And several things helped me: One is a professor who had already thought through all of these issues. I went to another professor, and as we sat down he said, „You need to know, I have walked through all of these issues long ago and I’m happy to walk with you through them now. That was an enormous intellectual and theological resource to me. But then, it was the reality of Christ and the Gospel and the lives of believers that didn’t even know that they were ministering to me because that person could not be the way he or she is if there wasn’t a Holy Spirit indwelling Christ in us. I was also reading Ned Stonehouse’s biography of J Gresham Machen, who went through the same thing when he went to Marburg to study and he came into contact with Hermann and the german liberals of those days, and his correspondence with his mother was very significant in keeping him with just losing his mind.
  • Al Mohler – One other thing that was very informative to me was listening to people preach and seeing the distinction in the midst of a huge controversy with some people saying, „I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and other people saying, „I believe almost the same thing, I just think the words aren’t necessary, etc., etc.” When one got up and said, „This is the word of God”, read the text and preached the text and the other read the text and said, „Let’s find what’s good in here”. And they didn’t necessarily put it that way, but you could tell that is what they were doing homiletically. Here is an accountability to every word of the text. The text speaks because when the text speaks, God speaks. And on the other hand, people saying, „You know, there’s good stuff here, let’s go find it”.
  • Peter Williams – I went through a time of significant doubt when I was around 21 , 22. Mark (Dever) was in town at the time, in Cambridge, a great help and the Lord brought me through those, having to work through a lot of that. I certainly looked at liberalism and secular approaches to the Bible, from the inside, within my heart and really, there is nothing there, there’s nothing that has the explanatory power, the comprehensive work that the Gospel, the work in your life and even, also, I think on a historical  level there are some amazing things about the Bible. If I can just mention one: Historical level: Go back 400 years to someone like James Ussher (or 350) calculating the dates of Kings of ancient Israel, or Kings of Assyria. That was before archaeology had begun, before the language of the Assyrians had even been deciphered (that’s been in the last 200 years) and he gets the dates of Tiglas Pileser within one year of what now people believe it to be, based on the Bible and he’s not got Hebrew manuscripts any earlier than 11th century AD. and he’s getting reliable information from 1800 years earlier. You can document that. It’s not widely appreciated, but he gets the year 728 and we think it’s 727. It’s pretty remarkable, that sort of level of agreement. It is one of the most amazing stories to me, of historical accurate information being transmitted.
  • John Piper – ends with prayer that faith would increase in this generation.

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Mark Dever – Centrality of the Church in Disciple Making from the Desiring God Conference 2013 – Session 1 – The Disciple Making Pastor

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Mark Dever from  http://www.desiringGod.org from February 4, 2013 TEXT – Matthew 28:18-20

 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

1. Preach God’s Word

  • Don’t think that making disciples is something that merely happens in sort of one on one meetings. The most fundamental way you make disciples in your local church is by preaching.
  • There is only one thing that is biblically necessary for building the church and that’s the word of God.
  • The Gospel is God’s way of giving life to dead sinners and to dead churches.
  • God’s word is His supernatural power for accomplishing His supernatural work. That’s why our eloquence, our innovations, our programs are so much less important than we think. That’s why we, as pastors have to give ourselves to preaching, not programs.

2. Pray

  • Devote so much time to prayer that nominal Christians are bored by talking to a God they only claim to know.
  • Diligently call upon God by prayer for the true understanding of His word.

3. Make Personal Disciple Relationships
4. Have Patience
(see notes below video)

Centrality of the Church in Disciple-Making from Desiring God

What does it mean for us to make disciples?

In (this) Session 1 I want to talk about the disciple making pastor. And, in
Session II I want to talk about the disciple making church (coming soon)
We’re going to be looking at similar things, same goal, but, slightly different perspectives.

The disciple making pastor. What is Gospel ministry about? If it’s not about making disciples. If someone were to look at your ministry and ask you, „How do you see the Lord, using your ministry to make disciples?” How would you answer that? What do you see?

1 Peter 5:1-4 – So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Many of you read this passage, no doubt. We understand and see the weight of it. Now, the subject of the ministry should interest any Christian. Anything that gives us examples of how to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, and Pastors we see are supposed to be examples. Anything helps us if we’re Christians. And, if we’re really Christians, we want to follow Christ. And, we’re anxious to get anything that will help us do that. Even though, more than merely Christians, I think this topic is one that is especially interesting to church members.

Normally, we can assume that Christians know that they should be church members and they are. And, for church members, few topics can be more significant than what those who lead them are commanded by God’s word to do, for God’s glory and for their own good.

If we are the one who normally preaches at our church, we need to understand, we need to have unique opportunities as we teach the word from week to week. What a privilege, what a special burden the Lord gives us. I love those weekends where I don’t preach. And, I love those weekends where I preach. I want us to, at this time, consider some practical faithfulnesses that you, brother Pastor are especially called to pastor your church. But, before we do that, let’s make sure we notice these few verses in 1 Peter 5. I think it’s clearly there in verse 4, where Peter writes about Jesus Christ as chief shepherd. He is the senior pastor. He is the Chief shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd. You can tell, because good leaders, the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep, as we read in John 10. So, brothers, if you’ve come to this conference weary, take hope from verse 4. „when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. That will never fade away.

The ancient Greeks saw pelicans beating it’s breast with its beak and they thought that the pelican was plucking its breast to feed its young with its own blood. The early Christians adopted this as a picture of what Christ has done for Christians. That He has fed us and given us life, by giving us His own blood, by giving us Himself, for us. This is what a good leader, a good shepherd, a good pastor does. He lays down His life for the sheep. We’ve read of pastors doing this, we have biographies in the book store. We’ve heard of pastors doing this. We’ve seen pastors doing this, in imitation of Christ. But, brothers, these are the years, the days, and your church is the place where you must do this. I want to share with you some reflections on 4 crucial aspects of the ministry of the disciple making pastor. (12:32)

4 crucial aspects of the ministry of the disciple making pastor

1. Preaching God’s Word

preacherDon’t think that making disciples is something that merely happens in sort of one on one meetings. The most fundamental way you make disciples in your local church is by preaching. That is the most fundamental ministry God has entrusted to you: giving God’s word to God’s people. There is only one thing that is biblically necessary for building the church and that’s the word of God. Others, can do pretty much everything else, but, I was set aside by the congregation for the teaching of God’s word. The word of God would be the fountain of our spiritual life, both as individuals and as a congregation. God’s word has always been His chosen instrument to create, and convict, and convert, and conform His people. God uses His word to create faith. As we go through the New testament, we see this.

~~1 Thessalonians 2:13 – when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. So, the word performs God’s word in the believer. Or,
~~Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. God’s word gives us new birth. James advises in
~~James 1:21 –  and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. The word saves us. Peter, also claims regenerating power for God’s word-
~~1 Peter 1:23 – since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 1:25 And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

So, there is creating, conforming, life giving power in God’s word. The Gospel is God’s way of giving life to dead sinners and to dead churches. Friends, many of us are called to go to a church that is orthodox on paper, and dead in practice. There is no other way. This is what God does. He creates His people by His word. If you want to work for renewed life, and health, and holiness for your church, then you must work according to God’s revealed mode of operation. Otherwise, you risk running in vain. God’s word is His supernatural power for accomplishing His supernatural work. That’s why our eloquence, our innovations, our programs are so much less important than we think. That’s why we, as pastors have to give ourselves to preaching, not programs. That’s why we need to be teaching our congregations to value God’s word over programs.

Preaching the content and intent is what God used to call His people and build His church in the past. It is what God uses today to build His church. So, preaching His word, His Gospel is primary. Practically, one thing that means for Pastors is – if you want to know what the heart of your public ministry is- it’s your private study. The heart of your pastoral ministry is when you are giving yourself to God’s word in private. To poring over it, studying it, praying for God’s Spirit to give you eyes to see. Praying for the people He has called you to preach His word to. You must give yourself to the study of God’s word.  What did Paul say to Timothy? 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. We must teach our congregations that this is our job description. (19:00)

2. Prayer

man prayingThe second aspect of a disciple making ministry is prayer. In your personal life, pray. In your homes, pray. In your meetings with others, pray. In your public services, devote so much time to prayer that nominal Christians are bored by talking to a God they only claim to know. Don’t worry about them. Don’t try to pitch your times together so nominal Christians will like, you will kill your church. You want to be a disciple making pastor? Pray to God, unashamedly, publicly. Lead your people into praying to God. Show them how to pray to God, by your own example of praying. You want to attract real Christians and hungry non Christians.

Diligently call upon God by prayer for the true understanding of His word. So that you may be able to teach and exhort by the Scriptures with wholesome doctrine and to withstand and convince those who oppose the truth. Prayer shows our dependance on God. It honors Him as the source of all blessing. It reminds us that ultimately converting individuals and churches is His work, not ours. Jesus reassures us that if we abide in Him, and if His words abide in us, that we can ask anything, according to His will and know that He will give it to us.  What a promise! Are you seeing that in your church? (22:00)

Okay, what then shall we pray for, if that’s the case?

  1. What more appropriate prayer could a pastor pray for the church he serves than the prayer of Paul for the churches that Paul planted? Just look through the New Testament: Ephesians 1, 3 Philippians 1, Colossians 1, 2 Thessalonians 1. Allow these prayers to be a starting point for praying Scriptures more consistently. Instruct your church members that one of their most effective ministries is praying for you. 
  2. Pray that your preaching the Gospel would be faithful and accurate and clear.
  3. Pray for the increasing maturity of the congregation, that your local church would grow in corporate love and holiness and sound doctrine, such that the testimony of the church in the community would be distinctively pure and attractive to unbelievers.
  4. Pray for sinners to be converted, and the church built up through the preaching of the Gospel.
  5. Pray for opportunities for yourself and your church members to do personal evangelism. Model that yourself. Pray about such matters publicly in your services.

Pray personally. Model for your congregation faithfulness, in praying for your people. Your prayers don’t have to be long, just biblical. You want to give yourself to prayer. If you want to make disciples, as a pastor, preach God’s word, pray, and

3. Personal Disciple Relationships

bible study groupOne of the most biblical and valuable uses of your time as a pastor, and I realize that a pastor’s time is limited, but have personal disciple relationships in which you meet with a few people one on one to do them good spiritually. If you’re in the kind of church that’s given to gossip about the pastor having friends, you need to confront that head on. Call it carnal, jealous, ungodly, satanic. Tell them you’re a human being, you can have friends or they can fire you. I’m not joking. I really think we are responsible to teach our congregations that that is a good and Godly thing, and will be for their own benefit, even if they’re not the immediate ones that you have time to befriend. Because what will happen through your discipling relationships, your church will be built up and your whole congregation will be blessed through the mature leadership. Pray against the tendency you see to jealousy, or to gossip in this. Teach and encourage your fellow workers to join in with you in this ministry.

So, initiate personal care and concern for others, and pray God would use you to establish a culture of that in your church. Not merely a program that you can implement, a staff member responsible for it and think you’ve taken care of that. This practice of personal discipling is helpful on a number of fronts. It obviously is a good thing for the person being discipled, because they’re getting biblical encouragement and advice from someone a little further along in terms of the life stages or their walk with the Lord. In this way, I think discipling can help to function through another channel in which the word can flow into the hearts of the members and get worked out in the context of personal fellowship.

It’s good for the one who disciples as well, because it encourages you to think of discipling not as something that super christians do, but it’s something that, if you’ve been a christian for 2 weeks, you’ve got something to say to someone who just came to Christ yesterday. It’s part and parcel of your own discipleship to help other people follow Christ. Members need to know that spiritual maturity is not only about their own private quiet times, but about their love for other believers and their quiet expression about that love. It promotes this culture of growing a distinctively christian community in which people are loving one another, not simply as the world loves, but as followers of Christ, who are together trying to understand and live out the implications of what Jesus commanded His disciples, there in Matthew 28- that we are to live our lives in love for God and others. These kinds of relationships help both spiritual and numerical growth of a church.

Another healthy byproduct of your own personal discipling is that other members of your church- you will find that it helps dissolve resistance to your pastoral leadership, as you are there with individuals, trying to help them. Developing these kinds of relationships establishes personal knowledge of yourself, which is so helpful in nurturing personal trust of your character and your motive, and growing an appropriate level of your leadership among the congregation. Brother Pastor, pray for sheep who want shepherds, who want to be pastored and loved, and cared for.

4. Patience

Brothers, run at a pace the congregation can keep.

  1. patienceHave a biblical perspective on time. You’re there for the long haul.
  2. Have a biblical perspective on eternity. As Pastors, we will one day be held accountable by God for the way we’ve led and fed His lambs. All our ways are before Him. He will know if we’ve used the congregation simply to build a career for ourselves. He will know if we’ve led them, or left them prematurely for our own convenience and benefit. He will know if we drove the sheep too hard. Shepherd the flock in a way that you won’t be ashamed of on the day of the Lord. Colossians 3 „Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”
  3. Have a biblical perspective on success. Brothers be careful. If you define success in terms of size, and your desire for numerical growth will probably outrun your patience with the congregation, and perhaps even your fidelity to biblical methods. Either your ministry among your people will be cut short- I mean, you’ll be fired- or you’ll resort to methods to draw a crowd without preaching the true gospel. You will trip over the hurdle of your own ambitions. But, if you define success in terms of faithfulness, then you’re in a position to persevere, because you’re released from the demand of immediately observable results  are freeing you for faithfulness in Gospel ministry, to whatever the message would call us to, leaving the numbers to the Lord. It seems ironic at first, but, trading in size for faithfulness as the yardstick for success is often the yardstick for legitimate numerical growth.

God is happiest, it seems, to entrust His flock to those who shepherd in that way. Confidence to christian ministry does not  come from personal competence or charm or charisma, or experience. Nor does it come from having the right programs in place, or jumping on the band wagon  of the latest ministry fad. It doesn’t even come from getting a degree from seminary. Much like Joshua, our confidence is to be in the presence and the power and the promises of God.

More specifically, confidence for becoming and being a pastor comes from depending on the power of the Holy Spirit to make us adequate through the equipping ministry of God’s word. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. And, how does the Spirit make us adequate? What instrument does He use? God’s word. 2 Timothy 3;16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, The one thing necessary is the power of God’s word. That’s why preaching and prayer will always be paramount, no matter what fads top the charts. Stake your ministry on the power of the Gospel. Success is faithfulness in these matters.

Summary

Preach, and pray. Love, and stay. One day, before the American Revolution, there was a day of remarkable gloom and darkness. There was an eclipse over the New England states., known for years afterwards, simply as ‘the dark day’. A day when the light of the sun was slowly extinguished. The legislature of Connecticut was in session, and as its members saw the unexpected and unaccountable darkness coming on, they shared in a general awe and terror. It was supposed by many that this was the last day, that the day of judgment had come. And someone, in consternation, moved and adjournment. And then, there arose an old Puritan legislator, a Mr. Davenport of Stanford, and said that if the last day had come, he desired to be found in his place, doing his duty. And, therefore moved that candles should be brought in, so that the house could proceed with its duty. I think there was a quietness in that man’s mind. The quietness of heavenly wisdom, an inflexible wisdom to obey present duty. Pastor friend, you and I should do our duty, in all things, like this old Puritan. We can’t do more. We should never wish to do less. The ministry has private discouragements, and public discouragements aplenty. And God’s kindness to it, often has compensating blessings in this life.

One day, these clouds will be rolled back like a scroll. Live and minister in light of that day.

David Platt – Song of Solomon

photo via allposters.com

Watch the message-video farther down, at the middle of post.

Wisdom books, such as Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes are given to us to show us how obedience to God, the glory of God are carried out and made known in the day to day routine of our lives. Think about the competitors to Christianity in our culture:

  • Egotism: The idolatry of self – is addressed in the Book of Proverbs.
  • Materialism: The idolatry of stuff – is addressed in the Book of Ecclesiastes
  • Today we will look at (what some say is) the fiercest competitor to Christianity, in our culture, and that’s- Eroticism: The idolatry of sex – This is addressed in the Song of Solomon.

There is no question, over the last century in our culture, we have undergone a sexual revolution. Mark Dever writes: The most important revolution over the last century has been the sexual revolution. Contraception replaced conception. Pleasure was separated from responsibility. It was as if a license was given out, legitimizing the bending of every part of our lives to serving ourselves. Since that time, divorce, remarriage, abortion, premarital sex, and extramarital sex, as well as homosexuality have been accepted by increasing percentages of the public. Pornography is huge business, and this is not just a problem with society, out there. Many churches have found their members plagued by failed marriages and illicit affairs. The so called private sins, that turn into public disgraces, some of which are known, some of which are not yet known.

We see the effects of the sexual revolution every single time we turn on the TV, or every single time you go to a movie. Or, every single time you stand at a checkout line at the grocery store and you’re surrounded by magazines. Every time you hear someone make a joke about sexuality. We see the effects. In political discussions, it’s all across the board. Among, other good reasons, it is really a good thing that we have the Song of Solomon. Because, if you think about it, it would really make no sense if we didn’t have this book. God has created us as sexual beings. It is really an integral part of who we are, and how He has created us to relate to one another. It would make no sense, if we had no account of Scripture where God addresses it.

And so, what we have is the Song of Solomon, that says: Yes, you have physical longing and craving, and desires and urges, and you have them because God gave them to you. And He gave them to you for your good, and for His glory. And so, how can sexual love be experienced for our good and for God’s glory? Song of Solomon gives us the answer.

Now, there’s a lot of questions from the Song of Solomon, from the history of the church. One commentator said this is the most debated, most difficult, most mysterious book in the entire Bible. It’s a complicated book, difficult to understand. A lot of the language, lot of the words contained here are not found anywhere else. Scripture makes a lot of these words unique, difficult to interpret. And, you get images in this book that are unfamiliar to us, there are all kinds of animals, and spices, and perfumes, and unfamiliar places. And then, the metaphors don’t always translate so naturally into our context.

If you look at the history of the church, you will see all kinds of interpretation. People have asked:

  1. SongOfSongsIs it allegorical? So people throughout history have said it is a story that points us to God’s relationship with His people. And, as a result preachers have come up with all kinds of fanciful interpretations.
  2. Is it typological? A type is like a shadow that points to an object. It reflects something else, or it points to something even greater. And, usually, this book is used as a type of Christ and the church. All that we’re seeing here, for example, in the man points to Christ, and all that we’re seeing here in the woman points to the church.
  3. Is it literal? Is it, just naturally a story about a man and a woman that love one another, and are being loved by one another? But, even among those who say it’s literal, there’s debate. Is it a story, or is it just songs. Is it giving us a step by step narrative?
  4. Is this book written to Solomon, by Solomon, or about Solomon? In the beginning of the book it says „The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s”. It literally can be translated into any one of those ways. (10:00)

MUSICAL – The finest of all songs! We’re going to look at an overview of this book and see what is pretty clear, and at the base, understanding this book- it is clearly musical. In other words, it is a song, it’s a poem. This is love poetry. When it says „The Song of Songs”, it literally means that it is the „finest of all songs”. That’s the title: The finest of all songs!  The claim is and it’s backed up, that this song is unmatched in its beauty, and its arrangement, its poetry. Just think about this: divinely inspired love poetry. Now, you can’t get any better than that. God breathed romance. God breathed poems about love, inspired by His Spirit. This is unmatched by anything else in all history.

Showing us a celebration of sexual love. One commentator said, „The Song of Songs is primarily an unabashed celebration of the pleasure of sexual intimacy.” And, pleasure is the right word there. Because, you will notice, in 8 chapters, you don’t see kids mentioned anywhere. Think about this with me, clearly, sex is not just for procreation. Sex is given by God for pleasure. Sex is not just given so we would multiply. Sex is given so that we would enjoy. That’s the picture we’ve got her. It’s a celebration of sexual love.

Cautions about sexual love. At the same time, this book is reminding us about cautions about sexual love. This is where I want to show you one phrase, mentioned 3 different times. This is huge. 3 times in this book, this author reminds us that sexual love is good only  at the timing, which God has set.  Chapter 2:7 „I adjure you, oh daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles, or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love, until it pleases.” Look over at chapter 3:5 and chapter 8:4 the same phrase is repeated. This is so different form the world. The world says: Anytime, any place, any person. And what Song of Solomon is going to show us is that this only happens like this in God’s time, in the place that God has ordained, with the person God has given to you. This is very different from what our culture would say.

This is where I want to pause, because I know there are many brothers and sisters in our faith family who are not married. Maybe you’re students, maybe you’re adults who are single. Maybe divorced, widowed, a variety of different circumstances all across this room. And, what I want to say to you is, if you are not married, this book and this sermon are not just for married people. They are for single people as well. Here’s why. Clearly this book is for married people; it’s an encouragement and an exhortation to remember and enjoy the beauty of sexual love. And, it is an exhortation and an encouragement, for all who are single in this room, to make sure, not to try and steal away the beauty and enjoyment of sexual love of its context and end up missing the whole point. You’ll miss it, when what we’re seeing about sexual love in Songs is ripped away from the context of marriage.

Usually, when it comes to us preaching to students and singles, the message coming from us is: „Sex is bad. So, don’t do it. Okay, now, go and have a nice life.” Like that is what we say. What I want to say to you today, is in some sense the exact opposite. I want you to see that sex is really good. It is good, it is valuable, it is grand, it is majestic and wonderful, in the context God has put it in. Take it out of that (context) and we rip it all apart. And so, I want you to value it, so highly, I don’t want you to see it as bad. I want you to see it as wonderful enough, to make sure to keep it in its proper context. And to avoid every impulse in your sinful nature, and in the culture which surrounds you, to pull it out of that context. Cause, once it’s ripped form that context, it’s obliterated in its beauty. So, guard it.

Read the rest of the transcript below video.

A King and His Bride – The Song of Solomon

Five facets of this relationship between the King and his bride. Facets that are repeated through out Song of Solomon over and over again.

1. Exclusive devotion – They sought out only each other. Married couples in this room, do not let another woman distract you, for a second. Don’t even look, and do not let a magazine substitute for your wife. Do not let the internet substitute for your wife. Ladies, do not flirt for a second. Run from any thought of it. Why would you settle for garbage in another man, when you have gladness in the husband, that God has ordained for you? Men, why would you settle for trash? And, that’s what any other woman is to you in this way. Trash, when you have treasure in your wife. Or, your future wife, or your future husband. Don’t settle for less, don’t have weak desires. Have strong desires for that which is best. And, it is in this garden, that is walled off to everybody else, that things get really, really good. (27:00)

2. Heated anticipation – the anticipation that builds between the man and the woman in Song of Solomon. (A) First, they began with tender words. You see them just complimenting and affirming one another throughout this book. It’s love poetry. See chap. 5:10 and 6:4. She is affirming him, and he is affirming her. Don’t miss this: Pleasure with one another is grounded in praise for one another. It is good to build up one another. That’s where it starts. Notice chapter 1:1 doesn’t just start with: „Well, here’s the picture of sex in the Bible”. Instead, we see it built up to, surrounded on all sides, tender words that (B) Lead to tantalizing work. Now, this right here is the climax of the book. Chap. 4:1, it is in the middle of the book, and it is where the King looks at his bride and begins to basically mentally, if not physically undress her. Evidence that this is appropriate and good, in the context that God has put it, evidence of the goodness of God and the grace of God. (34:00)

Here David Platt quotes Daniel Akin (President of Southeastern Seminary) who wrote a commentary on Song of Solomon called „God and Sex”. He wrote this, „Note, that there is nothing even remotely pornographic about this imagery here. „Porneia” clearly refers to evil sexual desire. And, an entire industry is built on exploiting this simple passion. But, the point here is that the man’s desire for his wife is holy. His pleasure and erotic desire for her is holy.” To deny this is to deny one of God’s good gifts.

3. Leads into Intimate Consummation. They gave over their bodies to one another. She calls on the wind to let free what has been encapsulated and let it flow to her husband now. And she says, „Let my beloved come to his garden. Not, let my beloved come to my garden. I am my beloved and he is mine. That is the picture here. United together, and this is based on the climax of the book.

4. It is pure satisfaction. Don’t miss it, this is pure satisfaction on every level. Emotional satisfaction. There is joy and desire and intimacy, and honor here. This is so much more than the joining of two bodies here. It’s the joining of two personalities. All the more reason to guard this. When we toy with our sexuality, we’re toying with that which is deepest about who we are. That’s why, when we see a man and a woman coming together, we see the language- they knew one another. This is the deepest, most intimate knowledge of one another. This is more than what is happening between two bodies. There is this emotional connection and union that is brought together by God’s design.

Which leads to the second: Spiritual satisfaction. It is evident. When you take this book and compare it with Genesis 2, esp. vv. 24-25, the man and woman, talking about Adam and Eve, were together, they were naked together and they felt no shame. Then, it says they came together as one flesh. This is a virtual commentary on that, on what God has designed for man and woman to experience. And, do you remember when they sinned in Genesis 3? What is the first effect, that we see, of their sin? They noticed they were naked and they clothed themselves. And the intimacy that they had once shared in a sinless world was ripped apart. The Song of Solomon is obviously not saying this is a man and a woman who were sinless, But, here’s the picture. God redeems this. And what He does in sexual love is He takes His original design and He makes it available for His people. He says, „This is what you were created for, the kind of union that is happening: a one flesh, vulnerable, open, union with one another.

Intellectual satisfaction. Emotional satisfaction, spiritual satisfaction, intellectual satisfaction. We’ve seen the man and the woman targeting the most important sex organ we have – our minds. They’ve built up one another and encouraged one another. They’ve mentally and verbally acknowledged one another’s beauty. And, don’t miss it here, don’t get the wrong idea, nowhere in this model do we see that this couple is the modern Hollywood couple. We don’t get any details of what they look like. Instead, we see, the only glimpses we see of this man and this woman are through the eyes of each other. And they see the beauty that God has uniquely designed  for them, in a way that is not for anyone else to share. That God has designed us in our marriages to experience a satisfaction on these levels, that can only be experienced between wife and husband. That is the picture here.

Physical satisfaction. All of it, leading of course, to physical satisfaction. I love how chapter 4 ends and goes into chapter 5, because it doesn’t give us all the details. It doesn’t give us the whole picture of this whole scene. Instead it uses imagery. Akins said, „We cannot be certain of what all the imagery means by „coming to the garden, tasting the choice fruits”, but, it is not difficult to imagine all sorts of stuff. This is the picture God has designed: pure satisfaction on every level.

Song of Solomon 8:14, the very last verse, where the book ends. What you’ve got is this enraptured romance on every single verse, every single page. And then, you get to verse 14. She says to him, „Make haste, my beloved. and be like a gazelle, or a young stag on the mountain of spices.” This is the beauty of sexual love. It perseveres, it lasts again, and again.

Foster health in this area of your marriage. Promote, nourish, this area of your marriage. And, for every person that is not married, no matter what the situation is, I pray that you will see the beauty of sexual love in this context, and guard it, and not take that which God has created as beautiful here and rip it apart, outside of the context for which He has ordained it in any way, mentally, emotionally, physically. And God is gracious. He has created us in this way and He is gracious to sustain us in that. You see, everything in this canon of Scripture is pointing us in a sense to something greater, pointing us to redemptive history. This is where I want us to think about: Where does a book about sex – the Song of Solomon, fit into redemptive history?

We’re not going to go typological here and say: This means CHrist, this means church, but, turn over to Ephesians 5:22. We’ve already looked back at Genesis chapter 2, and seen God created man and woman for one another, to be joined together as one flesh. And, Song of Solomon is a reflection on that. A commentary on what that means. So, I want us to look at what the New Testament teaches about this one flesh union, that we’ve just read in the Song of Solomon. Ephesians 5:22- „Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is HImself the Savior. Now, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything yo their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word. So that He might present her in splendor, without spot, wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives, as their own bodies. He who loves his wife, loves himself. For, no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.  Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother, and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respect her husband. In verse 31, Paul quoted form Genesis 2:24-25- A man shall leave his father and his mother and the 2 shall become one flesh. And Paul says, „Here’s what that means: This mystery is profound, and I’m saying that it refers to Christ ad the church.

Don’t miss this. What Paul is saying, is that when God designed marriage, and this union, the sexual union in Genesis 2, He did it with a bigger picture in mind. He designed marriage this way, to point one day, to the love of Christ for His people. And so, what we realize, what God has designed, what we see pictured here in the Song of Solomon, we realize that this picture between man and woman in love is a picture of Christ and his church. And, just as a man gives his body over to his wife, so Christ has done this for His church. And, just as man and woman delight in one another, find satisfaction in one another, so Christ and His church find deeper satisfaction in relationship to each other. Photo below from share faith.com

A King and his bride in Ephesians.So, Ephesians is pointing us here between the relationship of a king and his bride. In humble devotion, King Jesus has sought after you, like a husband seeking a bride, and in a much greater way.

Historic Anticipation. What the Old Testament longed for- Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s word. All these pictures, and all of these promises we’re seeing in the Old Testament are pointing us to a redeemer. Christ is flawless in all His works. He gave over His body for us. This perfect Son of God, in perfect consummation gave ip His body for us. That’s what Ephesians 5:25 said, Total satisfaction – so that you and me, in him may be reconciled to God, and experience total satisfaction. That we might find  our greatest delight. So we may love Him with all of our heart. Loving Him with all our soul. Loving Him with all our mind (intellectual satisfaction). Delight is found in knowing God and loving Him with all our strength.

A merciful invitation. Coming together, and all made possible by a simple invitation to trust in Christ as Savior and King, and He will forgive your sin and present you as his bride, holy and without blemish. That is the Gospel right there. The Holy God of the universe has sought you out, sent His Son, to bear His wrath to our sin on the cross. To show His power over sin in the resurrection of Christ, so that everyone in this room who trusts in Christ as Savior and King may be reconciled to God in relationship with Him forever. That is glorious news. And, it is what marriage is intended to point us to. And, it raises the Song of Solomon to a whole new level.

Husbands, why do you need to have exclusive devotion for your wives? We need to do this because we are showing the world how Christ treats His church. And, if Christ gives up on His church, then maybe it would be okay for us to give up on our wives. But, Christ will never give up on His church, and we can never give up on our wives. And, just as we, as a church are intended to find our delight in our Savior, so wives, I implore you to encourage to love. Husbands, it’s the way Ephesians 5 says, so that we would show Christ is indeed delightful, to the world around us.

A King and His bride in Revelation. That’s the Gospel here. And it points to an even greater picture. Earthly marriage is a foretaste of something greater in heaven, of heavenly marriage. Where we, as God’s people are depicted as the bride of Christ. And, our glorification in heaven is actually pictured as a wedding day. Revelation 19:6- „Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” And Revelation 21- „ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He willdwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Glorious consummation. This is the beauty of marriage in heaven, which marriage on earth is intended to point us. To point us to the reality of a relationship  marked by continual devotion. Brothers and sisters, the King who sought you on the cross will never stop seeking you. Your king will pursue you as His beloved.. until that day. It doesn’t mean it will always be easy. It wasn’t easy for these suffering borthers and sisters in Revelation facing persecution. But, what he says- in hopeful anticipation, cling to God’s word.

Eternal satisfaction. Trust in His word. The King is coming for you. Commit to God’s word. One day, our bodies will be made complete with Him. Together, we will experience in its fullness eternal satisfaction, eternal delight in our husband Christ. He will heal our hearts. For everyone that Song of Solomon has opened up difficult wounds, from broken marriages, or damaged relationships, or lost loved ones, I want to remind you that you have a husband in heaven, who will one day heal your heart completely. We will wear His righteousness. For every person in this room, Song of Solomon has convicted you of sexual sin =, maybe in your past, maybe in your present, and you feel stained. His forgiveness is complete, and His righteousness is yours to wear. The righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself. We will see His face. And we will feast at His table and enjoy His presence for all of eternity. 

The ultimate invitation: Will you surrender to the love of this King?

 

Mark Dever – False Conversions: The Suicide of the Church (Transcribed)

I have finally gotten around to transcribing this particular message from Together for the Gospel 2012 (T4G) Conference.

Here are the notes from Mark Dever’s message:

Tonight’s talk is a prequel: How did I get to be like that? Why should you, as a pastor care about those kind of, maybe, apparently arcane issues? Why should you as a pastor be concerned about your local church, more than in just the obvious ways you would in your day to day life? What’s going on? I want to talk to you tonight about a topic….

To you, tonight, I want to bring a topical message on this topic: False conversions, the suicide of the local church. My text for this evening is 1 Timothy 4:16 , a passage we frequently of to, those of us in the ministry. We may preach on it when we have a young person go into ministry or an installation service:

Watch your life and doctrine closely, persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

My fellow pastors, could it be that many of our hearers each week aren’t saved? Even many of our members? In his autobiography, mid century poet and novelist, Langston Hughes recounted a crucial teenage experience. Let me give it to you in his own words:

I was saved from sin when I was going on 13, but, not really saved. It happened like this. There was a big revival at my auntie Reed’s church. Every night, for weeks there had been much preaching and singing, praying and shouting. Finally, all the young people had gone to the altar and were saved, but one boy and me. He was named Wesley. Wesley and I were surrounded by sisters and deacons who were praying. It was very hot in the church and it was getting late now. Finally, Wesley said to me in a whisper, „I’m tired of sitting here, let’s get up and be saved!” So, he got up and was saved. Then I was left all alone on the mourner’s bench. My aunt came and knelt at my knees and cried while prayer and songs swirled all around me in the little church. The whole congregation prayed for me alone, a mighty wail of moans. God had not struck Wesley dead for taking His name in vain or for lying in the temple, so I decided that, maybe to save further trouble I’d better lie too- to say that Jesus had come and get up and be saved. So, I got up. Suddenly the whole room broke into a sea of shouting as they saw me rise. I couldn’t bear to tell my aunt that I had lied, that I had deceived everybody in the church, that I hadn’t seen Jesus and then, now, I didn’t believe there was a Jesus anymore.

Langston Hughes became and remained, to the best of my knowledge, a committed and persuasive atheist. Some might ask, „What’s the problem with false conversions? I mean, as long as people at the same time as being converted, aren’t the Gospels full of images to prevent us from over worrying about this?” I mean, I think Al mentioned earlier the ‘parable of the sower’. There are different responses to the seed that is sown. „You know, a fear of false conversions might lead us to a kind of too cautious, extra carefulness which is a fruit inspecting, grace suspiciousness that is ironically a seabed of all kind of self righteousness and legalism. Why not, just promiscuously preach the Gospel to all in any way? Wasn’t it D.L.Moody that famously quipped to those that criticized his evangelistic methods: I like my way of doing evangelism better than doing it for way of not doing evangelism.”

Well, the Bible tells us that there’s both opposition to the truth, that there will be false converts, so why give time to try to fix a problem that the Bible tells us is simply an inevitable part of the Gospel ministry in a fallen world? Well, the experience of Langston Hughes is but one example of what I fear must be thousands and thousands of people, if not millions and millions, merely in the United States, that have been taken into our churches unconverted.

I want to address you tonight as interested Christians and especially as brother pastors, to help us understand that this is in fact a problem, and a serious problem, and what we might do about it. In order to help us to do that, I want us to look first to the plan, then at the problem, and then at the source of the problem. And, I’ll conclude with a few practical suggestions.

 

False Conversions: The Suicide of the Church from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

I pray that as we consider this topic tonight, that God may make our churches more faithful conduits of the good news of Jesus Christ, both to those inside and outside of that number. I pray further that He will help us to see what we might do in our particular, local church to be a better heralder of the Gospel and a better stewart of His name. And, I want to begin- number 1- with God’s plan:

1. God’s Plan

God has an overarching purpose to get glory to Himself through a people. So when God called Abram, He called him as an idol worshipping pagan, and as you remember back in Genesis 12, He gives him that great progress, that through him all the peoples on earth would be blessed. Now God is infinitely glorious and He rightly wants the creatures made in His image to know Him as such. So, David commanded in 2 Chronicles 16: „Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all people”, and the Psalms are full of this. Just one example, in Psalm 22-  „All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord and all the families of the nation will bow down before Him„. I am sure you know that famous verse in Psalm 46- „Be still and know that I am God„. But, do you know the rest of it? „I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

This is God’s plan: to make Himself known and make His name exalted among the nations. In the 86th Psalm there’s a little preview of Revelation. Psalm 86:8- „Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. 10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.”  As the Lord says in Maleachi 1:11 „My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun,  and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.” 

Okay, this is what God said He would do and what He is doing and what He will do. Now, the question: How has He? How is He? How will He bring this about?  Well, if you were to go back to Genesis you have Abram at the beginning there in chapter 12, you go on to chapter 49, you get Jacob giving the blessings of his son, before Jacob dies. When it comes to Judah, you remember he gives his famous prophecy in Genesis 49:10- „The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Of course this ruler is the Lion of Judah: Jesus Christ. That’s how God would do this, through Jesus Christ.

And we know that this lion is also the lamb, as we see in the Book of Revelation. This is gloriously fulfilled in Revelation 5:9, where the four living creatures and the 24 elders fall down and sing a new song to the Lamb- ” And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation”. And, in that great multitude appears 2 chapters later  in Rev. 7:9, where John describes it as a great multitude that no one could count form every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.

And, what of these purchased people? You remember when Peter confessed Jesus the Messiah, the Christ? Jesus promised that He would build His church, His people, His assembly on Peter and on that confession that he had made. That’s in Matthew 16 and then in Matthew 18 He gives His own authority to this assembly, this church. And what does He promise His disciples at the end of Matthew in chap. 28? That He, who had all authority in heaven and on earth- That’s Jesus- will be with them always, to the very end of the age and that they were to go and make disciples of all nations.

So, how would God accomplish His plan to bring Himself glory among all peoples? Through Christ and specifically through the church of Jesus Christ. So then we’re not surprised when we move from the Gospels into Acts. We find that this is what those first Christians did. It’s not merely a story of evangelizing the lost, but, of congregating the converted. That’s what they did. They planted churches. This shouldn’t surprise us. This pattern of God working with a people; it is the pattern that we already saw in the Old Testament. This is the way that God works; He’s done it from Adam and Eve. He did it with Abram and we keep going on through. In Leviticus 20 we read- The Lord said ti His people in the wilderness through Moses, „I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations. You are to be holy to Me, as I the Lord am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own”. 

So, you see, Israel’s obedience was to lead the nations to blessings and to glorying in the true God. His people were the means to bring Him glory. That’s been God’s plan from Genesis to Revelation to have His name be brought glory by His people. So, as it was in the Old, so it is in the New. Our lives individually, yes, but, also together uniquely in the local church were meant to be and are the means of bringing God glory throughout the nations. So, brother-pastor I hope you are encouraged that what you are about is maybe even bigger than what you were thinking about when you came in tonight. What you are about is something at the very center of God’s plan for existence. This is how He intends to do this. But that then brings me to point 2: (12 min video mark here)

2. The particular problem

The problem is simply that God’s people, in the Old Testament were unfaithful. They had His name on them, God had set them in the midst of the nations, indeed their fame spread among the nations because of what God had given them, but, instead of honoring God’s name and bringing glory to God among the nations they (Psalm 106) mingled with the nations and adopted their customs.  They worshipped their idols. When the people of Judah were in exile in Babylon, God explained to them again and again that He does all He does for the sake of His own name. That’s why He called Abram, and put His name on the descendants of Jacob. Again and again, we find the Lord saying in Ezekiel like this, „For the sake of My Holy name, which you have profaned among the nations. My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned  among them.

So, in Romans 2:24 Paul quotes the prophet, „God’s blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you”. That’s why God exiled His Old Testament people, so that the nations would see His disapproval of their unholiness of their misrepresentation of Him. Old Testament Israel brought shame on God’s name instead of being what they were called to be: a light to the nations. Whatever God did for His people, whether it was to bless them and set them apart, or to give them over in His wrath. Whatever He did, it was always for the honor of His name, that the nations would know that the Lord is God.

If you’ve never read through the book of Ezekiel looking at that, notice that particularly. Read through the book of Ezekiel and write down all the things the Lord is going to do for the sake of His name or so that He will be known as being the Lord. This is what God does. God does everything He does for the glory of His own name. And just a side note on this: non christians hate that message. They hate it. Christians love it. You preach that from your pulpit and you’ll get a very quick test of what’s going on in your church spiritually. But this is what God is about. It’s been His plan throughout the ages.

If God seemed hard on Israel and their sins it’s because He set His name on them so that their holiness was specially attached to His reputation and glory. Can you hear then the echoes of this teaching in the New Testament? So, when Jesus teaches this sermon to the disciples in the sermon on the mount, „Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.” Christian actions reflect on God. What the result of our lives with good deeds, praise (goes) to us? No, not ultimately. Ultimately, they’re to bring glory to God, to bring praise to Him. They’re to reveal His character to His creation and so bring Him glory. That’s why Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:12 „Live such good lives among the pagans, that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may glorify God on the day He visits us”.

So, this is where we come to the significance of the members of our church who live carnal, worldly lives. Just consider the man in 1 Corinthians 5. dear brother pastor, the problem I am pointing to is not just of the occasional hypocrite, lost in their own unrepentant sin. But, I’m talking about systems which seem to produce false converts so much, that it’s not just one man lie that situation in Corinth, but whole congregations, that like Israel of old are typified and characterized not by holiness, but by worldliness. You see something of the dimension of the problem. Let me mention briefly

4 dimensions of this problem:

  1.  It’s a problem for the individuals who are deceived. They’re deceived by their own state before the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 5:5, Paul gives one reason for urging the church to put this man out of their fellowship. He says, „So that his spirit may be saved from the day of the Lord. It’s just not right or loving for a congregation to leave men and women, made in the image of God with the impression that they’re reconciled to God when the truth is that there is no evidence whatsoever that they are reconciled to God. That is not a loving thing to do, for them.
  2. It’s also a problem for the church’s internal love, because the church’s internal love is tender. What I mean, the very nature of the congregation is affected by this. When a person is left in the membership, as Paul was talking about ‘the yeast working it’s way through a whole batch of dough’. What are the implications of not just one, but in a church where there are many such persons, in fact some congregations where there are hundreds of them? How does that change our life together? Does it make it less loving? Less forgiving? Less joyful, less hopeful? And just a side note again: What toll does it take on its leaders? Friends, think about this. Hebrews 13:17 says that we should make the task of the leaders a joy and not a burden. A pastor’s used to dealing with sins, we have our own sins, we understand that. Most of us are married, we have families to shepherd. We have churches that are composed exclusively of sinners, so all of our time is spent dealing with sinners. But, congregations are to be composed of born again repenting sinners. There’s a certain subset of sinners that christian churches are to be filled with and made up of. When a conjugation is filled up of many people whose lives resemble more ‘the works of the flesh’ than the ‘fruit of the Spirit’, the experience of following Christ together, of love and encouragement, of spurring on, of mutual edification and accountability- all of this is eroded and cooled and diminished. The church becomes more like the world.
  3. Third problem created, the people of Israel so ominously foreshadowed- The church’s witness to the nations is subverted. We become so much like the world they have no questions to ask us. It appears that we have no hope that’s any better than theirs. We have no hope that’s more of a better, a more humane, a more God honoring life to hold out to them. When the world is in the church the church begins to disappear from the world. We’re to be the light shining in the dark place, but if our words aren’t true, or if they are, but our lives don’t back them up, then the very group meant by God to be beacons of hope and life, that very group is dimmed. The way that God seems to disappear, hope vanishes.
  4. Worst of all, God’s name is defamed. Ultimately, the reason God sets apart a people for Himself is for His own glory. But now, what was designed to be for His praise, actually ends up, as He said in Ezekiel- being grounds for His name to be profaned or blasphemed. I’ve always been struck by how the Corinthian church, in their disunity and divisiveness, do you notice how in chapter 1 he deals with them? He asks this penetrating theological question. I don’t know about you, but as a pastor, if I’ve got divisions in the church, I kind of immediately wanna know, „Ok, who is it? What’s going on?” I start thinking, sort of practically, pragmatically, politically. Paul just goes right through theology. He hears this divisiveness is characterizing the Corinthian church and he asks, „Is Christ divided?” Chapter 1:13. You see, the theological assumption behind and underneath that is that the local church is to reflect the truth about God. How can this Corinthian church reflect the church about Christ, when it is unlike Christ- divided? He goes on and pursues this church about whether its holiness is reflecting God’s holiness. Whether its love is reflecting God’s love.Because our churches are to reflect the character of God, so that He will be brought glory among the nations. That’s His plan. This has always been His plan. This is what He has done, and this is what He is doing and this is what He will do. But we work against Him when we build churches that camouflage His character, that seem to hide it, rather than display it. Our lives in the congregation together is not to slander the character of God, but to reflect it, and to bring praise and glory to God. False conversion obscure God’s plan.

We see initially, „Well, the individual’s deceived”. And that’s bad. But, more than that, the life of the whole congregation’s affected. But, even more than that, if you think of the third problem, even looking out at the nations, all of a sudden the witness that we’re supposed to give, possibly is subverted. And then you find the biggest, most basic problem of all in this is (that) God’s name is defamed. All of that is going on when we have churches that are increasingly characterized  not by members that are truly converted, but by people whose lives are indistinguishable from the world. (ends at 24 min. mark)

3. What’s the source of the problem?

Why are there so many churches, where it would appear that the dominant number of people don’t evidence the fruit of the spirit, don’t seem to be born again. How does this happen? What do we do that we help to create such false conversions? We have to begin by looking at ourselves.

(I) Teachers

 The role of the pastor, the teacher, the leader in the church in the New Testament is so crucial. Have you noticed how many warnings are in the New Testament about false teachers? It’s all over the place. Paul told us this would happen, and it’s not just Paul. Peter warned the christians that he was writing to and so did John. Brother pastors, we see why our role is so important. We see why God has this great plan that He’s about, that He’s undertaken for the ages and if His people are such a crucial part in that plan, maybe as an individual, by ourselves is not sufficient to make shown everything that needs to be shown of the character of God, no matter how sanctified we get, cause there’s something with a bunch of us, related together in a committed way that displays His character, that’s unique to that. How many fruit of the Spirit can you show on a desert island? Maybe a couple of them. But, most of them are going to come up in difficult members meeting that starts not to go well. That’s where you really see if you’ve got the fruit of the Spirit or just merely carnal, convenient civility going on in your church. Is the fruit of the Holy Spirit evidenced in your church? The teachers have a particular responsibility and accountability for that. That’s why he says in James 1 „Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers. Because you know if you teach you will be judged more strictly”. We know that we must give an account to God. 1 Timothy 4:16 „Watch your life and doctrine closely, persevere in them because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers”

Life & Doctrine– In order to prepare for this I had walked through the New Testament for what the writers are saying- shows that someone is a christian. What seems to bless the church. On the other hand, what seems to subvert it. And as I sort of made it into categories, I saw some of them were about behaviors that were going on and others are about what teachings are given. So, I just want to divide it into these 2 headings: Life and Doctrine. (at 27 min. mark)

(II) Doctrine

1 Timothy 4:16- We need to know we can teach the wrong things with disastrous results. We know from Romans 10 that saving faith comes only by the hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What happens if there’s another message? What will false teaching do? Will it be completely ignored? NO, evidently not. No, false teaching will bring converts. But false converts. As, I looked through the New Testament I could see this again and again. Five truths which I know were distorted then, and are still distorted today, that I think if we are to preserve God’s word today, which has been established, we pastors want to be especially guarding these always attacked, closely related truths.

5 truths you should be especially clear on and preach in your teaching

  1. God’s judgment is coming. 2 Peter 3 First of all you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desired. They will say, „Where is this coming He promised? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” Friends, if we deny or even ignore God’s role as creator and king and judge of the world, then people will, as it says here, follow their own evil desires. You realize you can easily fill a church with people who will follow their own evil desires, that’s not hard to do. But, beware this temptation. Avoiding the doctrine of hell is one step from denying it altogether. But when you get his right, when you begin to teach clearly and regularly that there is a judgment, then there’s the appropriately care and humility that characterizes your congregation’s life together. As we realize the brevity of life in its seriousness and the certainty of its judgment, we feel ourselves to be more objects of mercy, than judges. More pilgrims than settlers. More stewarts than owners.
  2. We should be judged by God. We are lost, depraved under the good, right, fearful and certain judgment of God. We don’t just merely teach then that there is a judgment out there for someone, but we need to know and feel our own helplessness. We have to be clear, not just simply that judgment exists, but that that because God is good and we are not, we deserve God’s judgment. If God is as good as He says He is, He SHOULD judge us. That’s the moral imperative. We need to be clear about that in our teaching. This is what Paul argues in Romans 1-3. One side note to pastors: we need to appreciate our natural state spiritually. We must understand from the Bible and teach clearly that part of our lostness means that all people have a natural indisposition to believing our message. People naturally do not believe our message. Men love darkness rather than light. By knowing and teaching this, we preserve ourselves from the mistake of thinking that if we just keep fiddling with things, we’ll get the right combination and then everybody responds. And until we get everybody responding we must not be doing quite the right thing. Be very careful with that reasoning brother pastor. That can land you up, far, far away from the Biblical Gospel that is so unpopular. Meditate on Ezekiel 3 and the call God gave to Ezekiel. How many churches seem to downplay or right out deny natural human depravity  and lostness? John tells us that those who are from the world will not accept the Gospel. And any Gospel they would accept is only because there’s been a change- not of them, but in the Gospel that we preach. But when we get this right, when we teach that we deserve God’s judgment, then you protect the church against those converts who are offended by the idea that they have done anything wrong, let alone anything so wrong that God should judge them. Consider how our general sense of God’s grace then gives us a keen sense of God’s mercy that we ourselves have never deserved, but that someone else deserved it for us.
  3. Our only hope is in Christ. We are to trust not in who we are and what we have done, but in who Jesus Christ is and what Jesus Christ has done in His substitutionary death in His justifying resurrection as the incarnate Son of God, become a substitute in our place and the first fruits of the final resurrection. So any idea that some preachers would teach that some people are converted through our own works must be rejected. We must be clear, not only in the person of Christ, but also in His work. 1 John „This is how we know what love is , Jesus Christ laid down His life for us”. We need to be clear over on the theological liberalism that any denial of the bodily resurrection is, according to the Bible, a denial of Christ Himself.Without this, you can make converts to fatalism, or converts to an ethical society as so many protestant churches have become.But you truly cannot have a true christian church without this message about Jesus Christ clearly in your preaching and teaching. The self righteous and the wrongly self confident are offended at such talk of a Savior. But those that know themselves to be sinners in need of a Savior, hear the news and they rejoice that there’s such a Savior to be found. Only true converts finally respond to the truth about Jesus Christ.
  4. We don’t see the fulness of our salvation in this life. Christ’s death and resurrection secured for us forgiveness and reconciliation with God, ultimately  and His sustaining presence until then. But it is an error to teach that following Jesus is  for this present life benefits. That’s not true. Read Hebrews 11 and preach through that. Any authentic version of christianity includes waiting. Our basic posture in a fallen world, as believers of the Bible is waiting. We wait for our Lord to return. That’s the blessed hope that we have: The glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ! Even the carnally minded person  the desire to better their own life. Vast crowds can be assembled who want meaning & purpose in their life.But that is not the same thing as repenting towards God for your sins. Brother pastors when you get this right, in your life and in your teaching, you prepare the ground to live fearing God more than the ing’s anger. Accepting disgrace for the sake of Christ. Seeing Him worth more than all earthly treasure. Trusting all of God’s commands even when they seem to jeopardize your hopes in this life.
  5. We can deceive ourselves and others about our relationship with God. It is counter intuitive in our culture, but it is clear in the BibleIf we would prevent our churches from being characterized by unconverted worldliness, then we must be clear in our teaching that we can deceive ourselves. Today, we think we are the world experts on us. But 2 Corinthians 13:5 ” Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” Friend, if I wee to come to your church on Sunday and  were to just read those words from Scripture, what would your congregation understand them to mean? Friends, when we get this right there is a humble joy and a sharpness of God’s grace and a childlike reliance on Him that can increasingly mark our congregation with an open handed joy.

If we aren’t offering these things it will result in false converts, because false teachers create false converts. And false converts hire false teachers. Don’t ever, ever, ever take refuge in the sovereignty of God and think, „Oh, you know what, I’ll go ahead and just not worry about that, because the elect are gonna get saved anyway and why does it matter otherwise?” Wow, that’s off on so many levels. One practical thing: Think of what it does to the future of our congregation. There’s this symbiotic relationship between false converts and false teachers. Brother pastor, if you wanna make sure that your successor doesn’t preach the Gospel, just admit lots of people in the membership who aren’t truly converted.

(III) Life

1 Timothy 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. If our churches are characterized by wrong living, that can be just as damning as wrong teaching. Those who listen to the Gospel also watch how we live. Let me share 3 common errors, that as I looked through the New Testament, I saw were there, that jeopardized the spiritual health of these congregations that the first churches were plagued with, that I think we are today too.

  1. It’s an error to present a church without holiness. Unholiness may thrive n some churches as pastors ignorantly avoid teaching on sin, fearing that it will undermine grace. Unholiness can thrive in churches with no accountability, churches that are built to cater to our culture’s individualism and commitment to privacy. But in the New Testament it is clear that the christian life is presented as being motivated by love of God that is contrary to the love of this world. Preach through 1 John on this point, it’s very helpful. Or Hebrews 12:14 „Without holiness no one will see the Lord”. Friends, how tempting it is for us to do something else. But that’s why the Lord has left us things like in Galatians 5- the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit, to take these up and examine our own lives and consider teaching our people what it means to live as a christian and that’s ultimately why we have a local church. To wake us up from self deception when we would be confused. When our spirit would slumber when left to ourselves would be our undoing forever. How tempting it is to present the church as affirming and tolerating all sins, even those that people don’t repent of. But the truth is, there is a wonderful beauty and health and freedom in holiness. As God gives us the new birth, His Spirit helps us begin to live lives  that we were literally made to live. Now imagine a whole community in which we begin to reflect God’s character more and more and are changed more into His likeness. Do you see the powerful witness that is for Him? The powerful encouragement in our own lives?
  2. It is an error to present a church with no suffering. This is a temptation for all of us. Left to ourselves, we would all avoid poverty and sickness and in one sense, avoiding poverty and avoiding sickness are fine goals for our lives and our work. But, not as ultimate goals. Such goals are far too small for Biblical christianity. And if we espouse those as our goal and that’s what we teach and shepherd in our churches, then we will mislead others about what Christ saves us from. He saves us from ultimate bankruptcy and death. That is true, but not necessarily from suffering in this world. Indeed, true christianity will call us to suffering. You realize health and wealth preachers are false teachers.  We also need to ask ourselves: Do we do mild versions of the same thing in the way we present things? Do we think a healthy church is one of constant triumphalism? In everything form our smiles to our music suffuses the whole atmosphere of our gatherings? Have you preached through 1 Peter lately? In chapter 2 it says, „Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example”, that you should follow in His steps. In chapter 3 we’re told, „It’s better, it’s God’s will to suffer for doing good than for doing evil”. Chapter 4 „If you suffer as a christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. So then those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. Will it be God’s will for all of us to suffer? Well, if you wanna get a lot of fake christians in your church, just tell them that there’s this free gift that entails no self sacrifice and that trouble and cross bearing is only for those super saints who choose extra large when they order their spiritual meal. The truth, however, is no cross, no crown. Jesus taught us that in this world you will have trouble. He told those who were considering following Him, „If anyone would come after Me, he should deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me”.
  3. It’s an error to present a church without love. Let’s say you got a hold of holiness. You wanna behave differently than the world, in an apparently Godly way and you’re all okay with the suffering thing. So, you’re doctrinally sound, you’re orthodox, you have a grim willingness to suffer, but if love does not mark the church, then it may attract spiritual hobbyists, it may attract theological accountants who like to play at religious ideas  and theology, but not inconvenience themselves in love for others. Without love, there’s not a life faith that typifies unregenerate. There’s not the love  that’s the mark of the one that’s truly known themselves to be objects of God’s loving mercies. 1 John teaches us that if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another. That’s why he writes, „Anyone who claims to be in the light, but hates his brother is still in the darkness”. 1 John 3 we find that even the distinguishing mark of those that are truly converted- „We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death”. „Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God  is love”.

Friends, have you experienced life in a christian congregation which is suffused with love? Where care is initiated and grief is empathized with and meals cooked, rides given and offenses overlooked, and appropriate affection expressed, and help offered, and forgiveness extended, and joy shared freely? I pray that is the experience of everyone here. Imperfectly? Yes, but really in our local church.

One of the most striking needs our world has is churches full of true christians who are truly giving themselves away to each other and others in love. The world imitates cheap imitations and partial renditions of that love. Experiencing the real love, with authority and kindness and ability to correct and self sacrifice, and wisdom. Experiencing that kind of love is bracing, even shocking.  True, many are repelled. But, it’s also true that by God’s grace, many will be attracted by this message of the self giving love of God in Christ.

How can you prevent this problem of false conversions from happening?

  1. Always be evangelizing– steadily and well (Spurgeon). Remember our Savior’s words, „Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind, 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.” Spurgeon continues, „Do not count your fishes before they are broiled, nor count your converts before they are tested. This process may make your work somewhat slow, but then, brethren it will be sure.
  2. Always be shepherding sheep– Recenter your thoughts as a pastor on the individuals to be shepherded. Remember that to every person you’re taking into church membership, you’re telling them that they’re giving good evidence that they are born again and eternally fine. And that is a wonderful role to have, what great news to announce.
  3. Always remember the account you are to give to God. Our great accountability to God makes sense when we know how it started. This great plan that God has, what He’s about is something huge and wonderful and you see the crucial role the church has to play in that plan.

On spontaneous baptisms

An 11 minute discussion with Mark Dever, Matt Chandler and Darrin Patrick:

 

Should Baptism Be Spontaneous? from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

From the SBC Convention – Daniel Akin, Al Mohler and Mark Dever

An interesting, edifying conversation on various topics (you may have to bear through the first 8 minutes where the discussion is about holding the SBC Convention every 2 years instead of yearly. Afterwards, it is a great and fruitful discussion. Dr. Daniel Akin is President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world and Mark Dever serves as the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC.

Video by  on vimeo – Dr. Akin sits down with Mark Dever and Al Mohler on Tuesday night of the SBC Annual Meeting to talk about the motion for a bi-annual meeting, the debate over Calvinism, and the election of Fred Luter as the first African-American president of the SBC.

IX Marks at 9 – 2012 SBC Annual Meeting – Tuesday Night from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.

T4G – Inerrancy: Did God Really Say…? Mark Dever, John Piper, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Dr Simon Gathercole (Cambridge, England), Peter Williams (Warden at Tyndale House)

An essential, highly interesting affirmation by the panel of the belief on biblical inerrancy from the Together for the Gospel Conference 2012, led by Mark Dever, Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. Besides the great panel discussion, there are also a few book recommendations (linked to Amazon, just click on title or photo) and lots of links to search peripheral issues as they relate to the inerrancy debate. This page will be added to the (permanent) apologetics page.

photo from T4G website – http://t4g.org/resources/photos/

  1. We affirm that the sole (final) authority for the Church is the Bible, verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible and totally sufficient and trustworthy. We deny that the Bible is a mere witness to the divine revelation or that any portion of Scripture is marked by error or by effects of human sinfulness. 
  2. We affirm that the authority and the sufficiently of Scripture extends to the entire Bible and that therefore the Bible is our final authority for all doctrine and practice. We deny that any portion of the Bible should be used in an effort to deny the truthfulness or trustworthiness of any other portion. We further deny any effort to identify a canon within the canon or for example to set the words of Jesus against the words of Paul. 
  3. We affirm that truth ever remains a central issue for the Church and that the Church must resist the allure of pragmatism and post modern conceptions of truths as substitutes for obedience to the comprehensive truth claims of Scripture. We deny that truth is merely a product of social construction or that the truth of the Gospel can be expressed or grounded in anything less than total confidence in the veracity of the Bible, the historicity of the biblical events and the ability of language to convey understandable truth in sentence form. We further deny that the church can establish its ministry on a foundation of pragmatism, current marketing techniques or contemporary cultural fashions.

Is inerrancy something new? Short answer „NO!”

Minute 4 – Dever addresses the charge that „inerrancy” is a „new thing” or just a „reformation doctrine?”.

  • John Piper responds:.In 1971 Fuller Theological Seminary  took the Word out.  I read what was happening in Germany. It blew me away. I did not see it coming. So it may have been there, but the teachers that I loved and had influenced me most didn’t talk that way and didn’t give me indication that it would be going that way. I was never able to make any sense out of the distinctions between infallible and inerrant. 
  • Dr Simon Gathercole – teaches New Testament at Cambridge, in England. One of the clearest figures to express a doctrine of inerrancy was St. Augustine and it came up for him in conversation with the Manichaeans where he made it very clear that there were no contradictions in Scripture , that if you do find what looks like a mistake in Scripture, it is either a result of a problem with the translation, a problem in the text, a particular manuscript or scribal error or that you have misunderstood it. So Augustine is an example of someone who was very clear on inerrancy.
  • Ligon Duncan – there is a consistent witness across Christian history to the Bible’s sole, final authority and its inspiration and inerrancy.
  • Peter Williams – (undergraduate studies at Cambridge) „I believe it is fully authoritative, inerrant, inspired by God’ I think I’d want to add more words, I want to say: It’s basically clear, it’s sufficient, it’s historical. People can take a word like „inerrant” and leech it (by saying) – „I agree with the notion that Scripture is entirely true, but then they try and weaken it in other ways and I think that’s happening particularly because a lot of people, at least in this country are signing an inerrancy statement for their paycheck (which sometimes happens; they redefine inerrancy). There are many reasons to believe in inerrancy, but I think when you believe in verbal inspiration (i.e.) that God gave words and you believe in God’s trustworthiness, that He has a true character and you want to have a relationship with God, then it is inescapable logically to come to a view of Scriptural inerrancy. If you believe that God has given words, I don’t see how you can break that and say, „Well, He gives words and they are sometimes full of errors”, without actually questioning God’s trustworthiness Himself.

The 3 roots/trajectories on how inerrancy is denied

  • Al Mohler (11 min mark) Why wouldn’t anyone believe in this? (This question) leads to a principle of interpreting church history, which often surprises people when you first hear it, and that is that „heresy precedes orthodoxy„. That doesn’t mean that the false precedes the true. It does mean that the codification, or confession of the faith is often in the face of, is a response to heresy or that which is sub biblical or sub orthodox. So, in 325  AD you have a statement made by the Council of Nicaea, that wasn’t necessary until Arius denied that the father and the Son are of the same substance. And when it comes to inerrancy, the first thing is that this is God’s word, God is totally true, so all the attributes of Scripture seem to come, and yet Augustine has to respond to the Manichaeans and we have to respond to contemporary denials of the total truthfulness of Scripture. I think there are 3 roots, or 3 trajectories in which that comes:
  1. The first is ideological and this is basically the external critique of biblical inerrancy. It comes from new atheists, of course if you don’t believe in God, you don’t believe there could possibly be a word of God; if you don’t believe in supernatural revelation as a possibility, or even recently, if you don’t believe in words as units of meaning; that are capable of conveying truth, there are various rules of philosophy and literary interpretation that have lost all confidence in words. They have to use words to explain how little confidence they have in them any longer; it’s part of the whole conundrum, but nevertheless, it is an ideological assault and so a good bit of what you will read simply says: „Inerrancy is an impossibility” and it will move on. But, it is not the major issue of our concern, there are two other trajectories.
  2. Another trajectory is apologetic. This is where you have evangelicals who say: This is an embarrassment. To claim inerrancy is to over claim the text, it is an impediment to our intellectual credibility and so you have people who would pose to be within the evangelical movement who will say, as Kenton Sparks in a recent book said, „This is the intellectual doom,” to paraphrase him, because it makes us continually defend the truthfulness of every passage in a text and that is leading modern people to have huge intellectual obstacles to receiving the main message in the text, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So you have various forms of this kind of apologetic argument; it’s the same argument as people who come along and say you can’t talk about the Bible’s teaching on sexuality; that’s presenting too much of an obstacle for contemporary people to come to Christ. Ot, you can’t deny the theory of evolution, it’s metanarrative because that creates too much of an impediment for people to come to Christ. And so, you have websites today and people arguing that inerrancy is just an obstacle, it’s a theological construct that’s doing more damage than good.
  3. The third trajectory, or the third root you can look at this is moral, in which case you have people say that if we’re committed to total truthfulness of Scripture, then we’re committed to text which reveal God as acting in immoral ways; God’s people sanctioning immoral acts, and what you have is people who will say, „Look, we have the capacity as human beings to judge God, and thus we’re gonna go to the conquest of Canaan or we’re gonna go to the way God deals with any individual in either Testament of the canon and say that that’s immoral. If you’re gonna try and impose a human standard of morality, like the late atheist, Christopher Hitchens, if you read the Bible honestly you’re gonna find texts that are gonna cause you all kinds of  difficulty and by the way, one of the things Christopher Hitchens did very well for us was to say, „He can understand theists who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and he can understand atheists who don’t believe it’s possible, what he didn’t understand were people who tried to pose in the middle.
  • Dr Simon Gathercole – The central plank for me in the doctrine of inerrancy, and that is that it was Jesus’ view of Scripture and I think the 2 other points that were mentioned are really significant. The sort of dogmatic logic of what Scripture says, God says and therefore because of the character of God, Scripture is without error. Also, it’s the continuous testimony of the Church. I would recommend everyone read John Woodbridge’s book  Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal even though the debate is now different, but there’s a lot to learn there. But, if you just look at the way Jesus treats Scripture, what He says about Scripture, „Your word is truth”, „Scripture cannot be broken”, the way He refers to Adam, the way He refers to Elijah and Elisha, all the figures of the Old Testament, the way He responds to Satan: „It’s written, and every word is proceeding from the mouth of God.” That has to be the real cornerstone for our doctrine of inerrancy and it means that it’s an imperative of discipleship for us, that it’s a matter of following Jesus. (Also recommends Christ and the Bible” by John Wenham)
  • Peter Williams – If heresy precedes orthodoxy then I think that apologetics precedes heresy, as in most heresy begins as apologetics movement. And, I say that as someone who is involved in apologetics and likes it. Liberal theology is an attempt to rescue Christianity from deep embarrassment and that’s how a lot of these things begin and  those of us that are involved in apologetics need to be quite careful about that, because it can lead to error. The way people get seduced sometime into abandoning Scriptural authority is when they become persuaded that, that thing which adheres most to their dreams and their aspirations and start to believe „that more people will come to Christ if I just water this down somewhat”. Sometime people become persuaded in theological education that they are being more faithful to the text if they read it in a way that is contrary to another text. When people are being brought up in a Chirstian context, to value the authority of the Bible, it appeals and they become persuaded that the most honest reading of the text is to read it so it contradicts to another one.
  • Al Mohler –   Liberal theology is a succession of rescue attempts for the reputation of Christianity and to just give an example of what Peter is talking about: You have Rudolph Bultmann, who in one of his books says people who use electric lights don’t believe in a supernatural universe. So, in other words, if you’re gonna reach modern people we’re gonna have to bring christianity into intellectual credibility with the modern world. A lot of the things you see being claimed right now are as old as the heretics that the church fathers faced and certainly in terms of protestant liberalism and what the church has faced in over 100 years.
  • Ligon Duncan –  Another example in modern liberalism is Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher. Schleiermacher  was offended by the doctrine of the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ and the uniqueness of Christ. And he looked out at Germany and he said: German intellectuals are rejecting Christianity in droves, they’re impacted by the enlightenment and the message of Christianity must change if we are going to be able to capture this generation for christianity. It wasn’t as if he was sitting around inventing to destroy christianity, but in fact he did that with apologetic missionary motives in reaching his culture and so liberalism’s fundamental premise is that the message must change if christianity is going to survive and effectively engage the culture.
  • Peter Williams -It’s going right back to Marcion in the second century. Marcion is deeply embarrassed by the Old Testament, by the Jewishness of Jesus. He, as an apologist thinks that he can commend christianity far better by ditching those things. So, that’s why becoming an apologist, led straight to the heresy.
  • John Piper (minute 20 mark) Mark Dever asks why JP concluded that inerrancy was true: There are layers to that like- My momma told me it was true. That’s one layer. „..remember those from whom you’ve learned the faith” (2 Timothy 3:14), that’s an argument in the Bible. Second layer would be: God made me see it. That’s the deepest layer and I do believe I couldn’t believe the Bible is untrue, if I tried because I am just taken by Him, for it. I believe that’s the deepest reason. You can’t persuade anybody with that and so, up above those layers are the layers of experience, of encounter with the text and I think that at one level the Bible, as C.S.Lewis said: „You believe in it as you believe in the sun, not only because you see it, but you see everything else by it”. I asked my professor in Germany one time, „Why do you believe the Bible? And he said: Because it makes sense out of the world for me. Year after year, after year you live in the book and you deal with the world and it brings coherence to evil and good and sorrow and loss. And there’s one other level I would mention: Liar, lunatic, Lord argument in the Gospels works for me in Paul: Liar, lunatic or faithful apostle because I think I know Paul better than I know anybody in the Bible. Luke wrote most quantitatively, but he’s writing narrative. But with Paul, if you read these 13 letters hundreds of times, you know this man. Either he’s stupid, I mean insane, or liar, or a very wise, deep, credible, thoughtful person. So, when I put Paul against any liberal scholar in any German university  that I ever met, they don’t even come close. So, I have never, frankly, been tested very much by the devil or whoever to say, „This wise, liberal, offering his arguments…” I read Paul and I say, „I don’t think so”. This man is extraordinary, he’s smart, he’s rational. He’s been in the 3rd, 7th heaven and he is careful about what he is saying. So, that whole argument „Liar, lunatic, Lord – works for me with Jesus and it works powerfully for me for Paul and moreover once you’ve got Paul speaking, self authenticating, irresistible, world view shaping truth, then as you move out from Jesus and Paul, the others just start to shine with confirming evidences. Just a few ayers, there are others. Dever prompts John to give one more. JP: Why are you married after 43 years? How do you endure losses? really, where does your strength come from? You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Free from pornography and free from divorce, free from depressions that just undo you. How do you find your way into marriage over and over and out of depression and away form the internet? How does that happen? It happens by the power of this incredible book. Dever: For people who haven’t had time to accumulate all those layers, anything you would tell them to read? Piper: Back when the inerrancy council was red hot „Scripture and truth” edited by Grudem and
  • Mark Dever recommends J. I. Packer’s „Fundamentalism and the Word of God”.
  • Al Mohler – The problem is how few of our confessional statements are clear on this in the first place. So one of our evangelical liabilities is that too much has been assumed under an article of Scripture without specifying language, with inerrancy being one of those necessary  attributes of Scripture confirmed. You do find people today, some lamentably who are trying to claim that  you can still use the word, while basically eviscerating it, emptying it of meaning. So you have historical denials, in particular, you have someone who says that a text… and „The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy” makes it very clear, our affirmations and denials are actually patterned after the International Council of Biblical Inerrancy, which was itself patterned after previous statements in which there were not only affirmations, but clear denials. So, when you look to that statement, you’ll see that there’s the version of what inerrancy means and that means „This is not true”. So, you have clear denials. One of the affirmations is: Scripture has different forms of literature, but the denial is that you can legitimately dehistoricize an historical text. So, in other words, everything in Scripture reveals, including every historical claim is true. You find some people saying: „Well, you can affirm the truthfulness of the text without the historicity of the text. You can’t do that. You have people who are now using genre criticism, various forms to say: This is a type of literature. My favorite of these lamentable arguments is the one that says: This is the kind of text to which the issue of inerrancy does not apply. In other words: I don’t like it. But, what they mean is: I am not making a truth claim. If I am not making a truth claim… that’s ridiculous, but you find these kinds of nuances going on. You also find very clear, points of friction. So, let’s give an example of points of friction: Do we have to believe in the historicity of the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis? What Pete said about apologetics, that puts us over, against a dominant, intellectual system that establishes what is called credibility in the secular academy. Those evangelicals who feel intellectually accountable to that, are trying to say, „There has to be some other way then,  of dealing with Genesis 1 through 11 and that’s where you have now the ultimate friction point, with coming, for instance, the historical Adam and an historical fall and now you’re finding people who are trying to say, „Okay, there is no historical claim in Genesis 1 through 3, but I still believe in an historical Adam because I am just going to pull him out of the air and pop him down and say, „I still believe in an historical Adam (but) I am not going to root it in the historical nature of the text, but I need him because Paul believed in him. And then, you have people who have websites today, someone like Peter Enns, who used to teach at an institution which required inerrancy, but no longer teaches there, who says, „Clearly, Paul did believe in inerrancy, but, Paul was wrong”. And so, now you not only have the denial of inerrancy of the historicity of Genesis 1 through 3, you have Paul now, in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 being said, „Well now, inerrancy for him means ‘he was speaking truthfully, as inspired by God, but limited to the world view that was accessible and available to him at the time’. That is not what Jesus believed about Scripture. That is not what the church must believe about Scripture. I never came close to not believing in the inerrancy of Scripture. I came close to believing that there could be other legitimate ways of describing the total authority and truthfulness of the text and especially in context of fierce denominational controversy, I thought there must be room for finding it somewhere else and some people even mentioned here were correctives. For example J.I. Packer’s Fundamentals of God, was the bomb that landed in the playground. That little experiment just doesn’t happen; you take that out, it simply won’t work. At about the time that you (Mark Dever) and I really became friends, we were looking at how you came from an evangelical background where those issues have been discussed for 20 years before they did explode in the Southern Baptist Convention. My denomination had to learn this lesson a little bit late and at great cost.
  • Mark Dever– leaving the denominational stuff aside, you (Mohler) as a Christian, you found an intuitive, like John is talking about, an intuitive faith in Scripture.
  • Al Mohler– Well, it was intuitive, but I also had intellectual guardrails. My earliest, explicit theological formation was when apologetics hit me as a crisis as a teenager and I was led directly into the influence of Francis Schaeffer. And the book that most influenced me as a  teenager in high school, holding on to the faith as against a very secular environment was his book based on  lectures at Wheaton „He is there and He is not silent”, and I would point to that as the 5 or 10 books that most shaped my thinking, because Schaeffer’s logic in his lectures is really clear: „If there is a God, who doesn’t exist, we’re doomed. If there’s a God who does exist, but doesn’t speak, we’re just as doomed. If there is a God who does exist and He does speak, then salvation is in the speech. And so that was one of the guard rails in my life and being raised in a Gospel church that preached the word of God and just assumed that when you say „It’s the word of God”, it means all this.
  • Ligon Duncan – I didn’t have faith challenges as a teenager that Al did, but I was reading a lot of that apologetic literature and this was being talked about by evangelicals and the Ligonier statement on Scripture had come out in 1973, the ICBI Chicago Statement came out in 1978. Those are my teenage years. This is a conversation in the conservative corner of evangelicalism, in which I was reared. I had a good pastor that was happy to have me ask him questions about this when I was troubled with something I could ask him, he was on the board at Westminster Theological Seminary. When I went to Edinburgh (Scotland for PhD) I already had a solid education in the doctrine of Scripture at Covenant Seminary. But when I went to Edinburgh , James Barr’s book „Fundamentalism”  had just come out and I read it. I have more writings in the margins of the text in this book. I was arguing with him relentlessly in this book.
  • Mark Dever – This was an attack on J.I. Packer’s book and other kinds of statements of faith and Scripture.
  • Ligon Duncan – At that point I thought this would be some kind of hot topic. I had read some Barr in seminary, mostly semantics of biblical language and other things like that, in which, hopefully he is going after some bad stuff, but, I decided that when that book came out that I needed to read everything that Barr had ever written because of the potential influence on scholars. I was doing patristics at Edinburgh and so this wasn’t something that was part of my reading for work, it was just something I needed to do on the side and so I did. It was the most soul killing 6 months that I have ever spent. It was very disturbing. And several things helped me: One is a professor who had already thought through all of these issues. I went to another professor, and as we sat down he said, „You need to know, I have walked through all of these issues long ago and I’m happy to walk with you through them now. That was an enormous intellectual and theological resource to me. But then, it was the reality of Christ and the Gospel and the lives of believers that didn’t even know that they were ministering to me because that person could not be the way he or she is if there wasn’t a Holy Spirit indwelling Christ in us. I was also reading Ned Stonehouse’s biography of J Gresham Machen, who went through the same thing when he went to Marburg to study and he came into contact with Hermann and the german liberals of those days, and his correspondence with his mother was very significant in keeping him with just losing his mind.
  • Al Mohler – One other thing that was very informative to me was listening to people preach and seeing the distinction in the midst of a huge controversy with some people saying, „I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and other people saying, „I believe almost the same thing, I just think the words aren’t necessary, etc., etc.” When one got up and said, „This is the word of God”, read the text and preached the text and the other read the text and said, „Let’s find what’s good in here”. And they didn’t necessarily put it that way, but you could tell that is what they were doing homiletically. Here is an accountability to every word of the text. The text speaks because when the text speaks, God speaks. And on the other hand, people saying, „You know, there’s good stuff here, let’s go find it”.
  • Peter Williams – I went through a time of significant doubt when I was around 21 , 22. Mark (Dever) was in town at the time, in Cambridge, a great help and the Lord brought me through those, having to work through a lot of that. I certainly looked at liberalism and secular approaches to the Bible, from the inside, within my heart and really, there is nothing there, there’s nothing that has the explanatory power, the comprehensive work that the Gospel, the work in your life and even, also, I think on a historical  level there are some amazing things about the Bible. If I can just mention one: Historical level: Go back 400 years to someone like James Ussher (or 350) calculating the dates of Kings of ancient Israel, or Kings of Assyria. That was before archaeology had begun, before the language of the Assyrians had even been deciphered (that’s been in the last 200 years) and he gets the dates of Tiglas Pileser within one year of what now people believe it to be, based on the Bible and he’s not got Hebrew manuscripts any earlier than 11th century AD. and he’s getting reliable information from 1800 years earlier. You can document that. It’s not widely appreciated, but he gets the year 728 and we think it’s 727. It’s pretty remarkable, that sort of level of agreement. It is one of the most amazing stories to me, of historical accurate information being transmitted.
  • John Piper – ends with prayer that faith would increase in this generation.

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Panel Participants: Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, John Piper, Simon Gathercole, Peter Williams

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