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The Arena of Christ’s Kingdom

The Philadelphia Eagles knocked off the New England Patriots this month in what was “one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played.”

But nearly as stunning as the big game was the host stadium.

Shaped like a Viking ship (since it’s the home field of the Minnesota Vikings), U.S. Bank Stadium has 200,000-square-feet of windows that reveal the sky and the skyline, and seats for as many as 73,000 screaming fans—some of which sit just 40 feet from the sidelines.

This stadium not only made the game possible. It made it better.

The same is true for the arena of Christ’s kingdom. Our human society is the host stadium for the drama of redemptive history. Christ uses it to make that drama possible—and make it better.

Imagine if the Super Bowl were played in a broken-down stadium, on a dusty field pitted with dangerous craters, rocks and jagged pieces of metal fallen from the rafters. Would the players play nearly as well in such conditions? Would they play at all? And would anyone bother to watch?

Yet that’s a pretty good description of the arena in which Christ’s church operates. Christians live in constant danger of injuries that can and do seriously hinder them spiritually—if not […]

The Corporate Application of Scripture

Maybe we need a Southern Bible Version (the SBV)?

Or perhaps a Pittsburgh one?

One of the regular reminders I give hermeneutic and homiletical students is that English uses the word “you” for both the singular and plural. So it can be easy to misunderstand many portions of the Bible. For an example, Paul asks the Corinthian church, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16) Is the “you” that is used three times in this verse singular or plural? When studying the Bible, it is important to note that both original languages of Hebrew in the Old Testament and Greek in the New make a distinction between the second person singular and plural. In this verse, both the Greek and the context make it clear it is plural as Paul is telling the congregation at Corinth it is God’s temple.

That’s why a Southern Bible version might clarify this issue a bit. Paul’s question would become “Do y’all not know that y’all are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in y’all?” In Pittsburgh where I work, the natives are known for using the word yinz (a shortened form of “you uns”?) like […]

Surely God is in this place

Parked automobiles lined the road in all directions! Around five hundred people packed into the Meeting House and adjoining buildings! They had assembled with love and kindness to express their sympathy and care. A grieving godly family was there to welcome and receive comfort and prayers from sorrowing friends – the pervading sense was one of calm hope, trusting peace and confident joy – at what was for all, I think, an unexpected funeral service.

After a number of tributes from close family and their young minister, a call to worship was given and the precentor stood to lead. As his arms undulated gently, and his sweet voice rebounded from rafters, a grave and glad sweet melody united loving hearts. Ministers and members stood in earnest to seek, and call on, God. A close friend, and minister, then read the Holy Scriptures, his cadences marked by affection, reverence, gravity and warmth. Again a Psalm was sung that summed up God’s servant’s life! Fruitful, full, well-planted, full of sap: all the self-evident outcome in God’s oaks rooted in His House by grace.

The ministers stood in the midst! Surrounding the man of God was a sea of solemn worshipers – here hearts were […]

Browse Worthy: Abuse in the Church

The Apostle Peter said, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17) As our culture awakens to the problem of sexual abuse, surely the church will be held to even greater account by her Lord. Signs of his judgment have already been seen, as recent years have shown one evangelical leader after another falling because of these sins. As you read the following articles, pray that the Lord would purify and revive His church.

 

My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral. But There’s More to the Gospel Than Forgiveness. | Morgan Lee Interview of Rachael Denhollander

After her powerful, Christ-honoring testimony in a courtroom (you can see it here) regarding the sexual abuse she endured as a gymnast by doctor Larry Nassar, who was accused and convicted of abusing scores of girls and women, Rachael Denhollander spoke to Christianity Today of the problem of abuse and its cover-up in the church. Clearly as a lawyer, advocate for the hurting, and lover of Christ and His church, Rachael is determined to see the church exercise justice as well as mercy […]

3GT Episode 68: Cyber Church Lite

No, we are not encouraging Kyle to start a multisite internet church! Rather, we draw upon the digital dexterity of Aaron, who flips classrooms with ease, to hear how congregations should (and in some cases should not) use the internet for their ministry. Drawing upon his experience in teaching a seminary class on the subject, Aaron schools us on social media, webpages, blogs and the like. He explains how much emphasis such things as aesthetics and theological content should have on a webpage, and delves into many other practicalities. But not before Kyle begins trying to recruit a cyber congregation!

Join us for another lively episode of 3GT!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/3gt-episode-68.mp3

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Ecclesiology and Womanhood by Rebecca VanDoodewaard

The following article is a guest post by Rebecca VanDoodewaard, author of Uprooted: A Guide for Homesick Christians, Your Future ‘Other Half’: It Matters Whom You Marry, and Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth. 

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I love your Kingdom, Lord! The house of your abode; the Church our blest Redeemer saved with his own precious blood! For her my tears shall fall; for her my prayers ascend; for her my cares and toils be given ‘till toils and cares shall end.

Our culture tells women that we are to pursue our dreams, our goals, our careers. In the church, that’s more sanctified: we pursue our ministries, our spiritual vision, our goals.

But Scripture tells us something else. Individualism is antithetical to Christian living. And in the many discussions about biblical womanhood, I think that one essential principle is missing: Christian women are to be devoted to the Body of Christ. Because Jesus loved the Church and was willing to die for her, Christlikeness means a similar, sacrificial commitment to the church visible, particularly the local expression of which we are a part. Jesus was incarnated, lived a perfect life, paid the full penalty of sin, and died in service to the church. […]

Very Able Servants in the Church?

There are hundreds of names in the Books of Chronicles, hundreds of those who served the Lord and were a part of the godly heritage making up what we call the church. In the midst of those hundreds of names, there is a short comment from the chronicler making note of one family’s abilities in the service of God.

First Chronicles 9:13 records that this family included “…very able men for the work of the service of the house of God.” That’s an interesting phrase: “very able men.” Hopefully all of us would desire to be found “very able” under the blessing of God. But clearly this was not very common in the service of God. Not all are very able.

This is the only list in both books of the Chronicles that are designated with this description. Out of hundreds of church-working families—only this one was seen as very able. What does that tell us about the work that each of us have to do in the life of the church? The fact that the Word of God reminds us that this one was able leads us to conclude that there are those who are NOT very able in the service […]

Jesus, Teach Us to Pray (Specific Presbyterian Prayers)

Last week, I had the distinct honor of participating in the organizing of another congregation here in the greater Los Angeles area. Rev. Hsing Tang was ordained to pastor a Mandarin speaking congregation in Irvine, California, about 50 minutes south of LA.

As the organizing duties were being divided out among the presbyters, I was asked to pray what is called “the prayer of constitution.”

Sounds fancy.

Our Directory for Church Government says: “An elder shall offer prayer constituting the congregation in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King and Head of the Church. The moderator shall then declare the congregation officially organized.” (page, D-5)

But what’s that look like? Can I have an example of that prayer? I wondered to myself what that prayer sounded like. What words would a prayer of constitution include? Jesus, teach us to pray–that seems to be the perpetual prayer of our Lord’s disciples. Teach us to pray specific prayers–specific presbyterian prayers!

“Jesus, teach me to pray!”

I had participated in the organizing of a church in Las Vegas earlier in the year, but I guess since I was not asked to pray this particular prayer at that organization service, maybe I didn’t pay too much […]

Refuge in the Redeemer

Storm Shelters

It’s stormy in the mountains! A tornado’s headed this way! The town is under siege! Life hangs in the balance! Danger is all around! In such situations, we all need a place to turn to, a safe house to which we can run, a refuge where we can hide, or a location far from threat and beyond the reach of harm.

David’s Dangers

That’s what the son of Jesse learnt during his rise to power. He was pursued like a fox, chased down by many assailants, either ducking under Saul’s javelin or outwitting royal militia manoeuvres. David was subject to slander, surrounded by envious liars, and often took recourse to a hideout for escape.

Reliable Refuge

In the end, he knew however, it was God who spared his life. In Psalm 18.1-3 he recounts how the LORD had kept him safe.

“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

What is striking in this Psalm, and also Psalm 144.2, is the multiplicity of word-pictures used to convey how faithfully Yahweh kept him safe. As Derek Kidner […]

A Concise Resource on Justification by Faith Alone from Romans 4:3-5

With the confusion that is often sown regarding the doctrine of justification by faith alone, I wanted to review and clarify in my own mind my understanding of this essential doctrine. Especially in light of just celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, writing down my thoughts is a good exercise in application. Yet I wanted to be sure this clarification came from a study of Scripture, not only just from reading what others have written about it.

Thus, I returned to the crystal clear teaching of Romans 4:3-5 on this subject. How refreshing it is! This text says, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (NASB).

I thought I would share my thoughts with you. To that end, I offer below why this subject continues to need to be treated, a concise exegetical treatment on how to understand this text, a short summary statement on justification from my study, and then a guard produced […]