All posts by Dave

Where Righteousness and Peace can Kiss

Another awesome quote about the Ark of the Covenant. This one didn’t make it into the sermon but I really wanted to share it.

The deposition of [the Ten Commandments] in the ark underneath the mercy seat… testified to the fact that God’s kingdom in Israel was founded on immutable justice and righteousness (Ps. 89:15; 97:2). Even grace, in its actings, must respect law. Favour cannot be dispensed on terms which make the law “void” (Rom. 3:31). If sin is pardoned, it must be with full recognition of the law’s claims against the sinner. The ultimate end must be to “establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). Only in the Gospel have we the clear revelation of how, on these terms, mercy and truth can meet together, and righteousness and peace can kiss each other (Ps. 85:10; Rom. 3:21–27).
- H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Exodus, vol. 2, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 253.

The Claims Both of Justice & Mercy Satisfied

I’m putting the finishing touches on a sermon about the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-22) for tomorrow morning and wanted to share this tremendous quote. It’s a meditation on how only Yahweh could bring together the conflicting demands of mercy and justice perfectly:

The teaching of the ark in this respect was, primarily, that of David in the eighty-fifth psalm: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Mercy without justice is a weak sentimentality, subversive of moral order. Justice without mercy is a moral severity—theoretically without a flaw, but revolting to man’s instinctive feelings. The synthesis of the two is required. The law, enshrined in the holiest place of the sanctuary, vindicated the awful purity and perfection of God. The mercy seat, extended above the law, assigned to mercy its superior directive position. The cherubic figures showed the gaze of angels riveted in astonishment and admiration on God’s mode of uniting mercy with justice, by means of vicarious suffering, which he can accept as atonement. Finally, the Divine presence, promised as a permanent thing, gave God’s sanction to the expiatory scheme, whereby alone man can be reconciled to him, and the claims both of justice and of mercy satisfied.

H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Exodus, vol. 2, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 251.

In the Ark of the Covenant justice (the tablets of the law) and mercy (the mercy seat) come together. They point forward to the day when God the Son would bear the wrath of justice due us so we could receive the mercy he lovingly bestows.

Does Bible = Jesus?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1

If Jesus is the Word and the Bible is “the Word” does that mean the Bible is Jesus?

I’ve actually heard this taught in a Bible study and I recently had a conversation with another blogger about a similar statement so I thought I’d explain exactly why this isn’t the case.

Why you might be tempted to think Bible = Jesus

If you paid attention in math class you might remember something called the transitive property. It states:

If A = B and B = C, then A = C.

So, in mathematics, if (2+2) = 4 and 4 = (2*2), then (2+2) = (2*2).

Reading our English Bible we see in John 1:1 that Jesus = Word. We also often call the Bible the “word of God.” So it only makes sense that the two are equivalent.

Why you don’t have to worship your Bible.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to solve this dilemma. (And it is a dilemma: If this were true it would mean we would be obliged to worship our Bibles.) The Bible uses two separate words for these two concepts: Continue reading

Gospel-Centered Links June-July 2014

Top 20 Christ-Centered Expository Preaching Checklist

I’ll begin my link post with a link to a link post!

Preaching Christ From All The Scriptures Qualified

A very important article:

But as every good virtue in this fallen world has its Achilles’ heel, so this good and excellent principle has been taken too far by some. The very text we use, most often, to defend the preaching of Christ from all the Scriptures – does not, in fact, teach that every passage is necessarily about Him or His work. The misuse and abuse of the beauty of Christocentricity has (1) caused some to over-react in response and thus miss the clear testimony to Jesus from all parts of Scripture; and (2) caused some to be robbed of the “whole counsel of God” because they trample underfoot many profitable things in their zeal to pave a way to Jesus from every text and syllable.

Biblical Theology: Engine for Gospel Proclamation

If you want to read ahead a bit you’re going to see some thoughts on biblical theology coming from me over the next few months. My definition of “biblical theology” is a bit narrower than this one – I limit my own use of the term to biblical themes (#3 on this list).

When the heart is fat with the love of Jesus

This post shows one goal of Christ-centered preaching: Continue reading

Are You Reformed?

“Are you reformed?”

I get that question quite a bit as a Baptist attending a Presbyterian seminary (Westminster). It’s a tough question to answer. My answer depends on the context: What does “reformed” mean to the person asking the question?

What “Reformed” Used to Mean

“Reformed” properly refers to:

  • The theological heritage of John Calvin, the Synod of Dort, and the Westminster Confession
  • A commitment to covenant theology, including pedobaptism
  • Belief in predestination and reprobation (i.e. TULIP, commonly called Calvinism)
  • A preoccupation with the glory of God
  • A preoccupation with the sovereignty of God
  • A commitment to redemptive-historical hermeneutics (The whole focus of this website.)

As a credobaptist I can’t say that I’m in that heritage. However… that doesn’t mean I’m not reformed. It depends on the situation.

What “Reformed” Means Today

Like the term “evangelical” the meaning of “reformed” is changing. In the west today “reformed” theology has lost the implications of covenant theology, pedobaptism, and its credal heritage.

Today “reformed” has typically dropped the first two criteria and simply means: Continue reading

The Gospel In Real Life

I am enjoying the current issue of Themelios. The article Do The Work of an Evangelist by D.A. Carson is truly excellent. It ties closely to the main theme of Armchair Theology so here is an excerpt with my commentary.

For some Christians, “the gospel” (equivalently, “the evangel”) is something you preach only to unconverted people. The gospel merely tips people into the kingdom; transformation and sanctification are sustained by discipleship. Once people become Christians, then the work of life transformation begins, often buttressed by various discipleship seminars: “Biblical Leadership,” “Learning to Pray,” “What to Do with Your Money,” “Christian Marriage,” and so forth—none of which falls under “gospel,” but only under post-gospel discipleship.

One of my main goals is to see the gospel applied to all life – especially growth in holiness:

In recent years, however, many preachers and theologians have convincingly argued that “gospel”/“evangel” is the larger category under which both evangelism and discipleship fall. In the NT, gospel is not everything—it is not law, for instance—but it is a very big thing, precisely because it is the unimaginably great news about what God is doing in and through King Jesus, especially in and through his cross and resurrection. A careful reading of Scripture shows how often Christian conduct is grounded in the gospel itself.

This was a game-changer for me a few years ago. Every time we see a command in the Bible it is prefaced with the gospel message. This isn’t limited to just the New Testament. Read Ex 20:2 and see how the ten commandments are prefaced with a message of God’s saving work for his people.

For instance, the gospel is to be obeyed (e.g., 2 Thess 1:8); certain behavior conforms to the gospel, while other behavior does not (1 Tim 1:10–11). Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25)—transparently, this is a gospel appeal. In short, in the NT the gospel is preached both to unbelievers and to believers. It calls unbelievers to repentance and faith; it calls believers to ongoing faith and conformity to Jesus.

Gospel ministry is ministry that is faithful to the gospel, that announces the gospel and applies the gospel and encourages people to believe the gospel and thus live out the gospel.


Further Reading: