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More Like Falling In Love?

“More like falling in love Than something to believe in More like losing my heart Than giving my allegiance Caught up, called out Come take a look at me now It’s like I’m falling, oh It’s like I’m falling in love.”  These are some lyrics to a song that I’ve heard on different occasions while driving the car, but I can’t hold my tongue any longer.  I have to say this:

What is this guy talking about?!

When you read all the lyrics (click here), you realize he’s talking about a sterile belief versus a belief that shapes and changes your life.  I think I get what he’s saying.  I think he’s affirming what Jesus says when he said that he came to give abundant life (John 10:10).  To believe on Jesus isn’t supposed to lead someone to be able to merely recite facts.  Instead, believing on Jesus leads to delight in God and to experience life-change!  So, I get what he’s trying to say, but I hate the way he is trying to say this.

I hate the lyrics because what the songwriter does is replace biblical terminology for modern 21st century, frail, faulty terminology.  Falling in love, really?  We have people falling in and out of love all the time.  Losing my heart?  What does that even mean?

I don’t think this songwriter is planning to do this, but through his lyrics, he actually elevates 21st century terms above the Bible’s terms.  He says it has to be more like falling in love than something to believe in.  Wait a second.  The Bible calls us, over and over again, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Then this singer says that it has to be more like losing my heart than giving my allegiance.  Ok, there are a myriad of issues with that phrase, but let’s just remember that to come to Christ is to give your allegiance.  And, how can you love someone if you don’t give them your allegiance?  Psalm 2 calls us to “kiss the Son.”  This means to pay homage to Him as King.  However, I have yet to find a verse that alludes to “losing my heart.”

This singer seems to react against sterile faith by turning completely to emotions and chucking biblical words. And that is concerning to me because the words God chose are infinitely more glorious than the words we could choose. In addition, we must be careful how we speak because whenever we teach, we incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1). While I joyously affirm what the author says he intends (see articles here), I think that he pendulum swings too far to the other side with his word choice.  He goes too far because the Bible says we must grow in our knowledge of God (2 Pet. 3:18).  How can we love a God whom we do not know?  We simply cannot.  But when we know Him truly, our praise will increase (read Romans 11 for an example of theology leading to praise).  Sadly, I think this song ends up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

So, what’s the issue here? My concern is that the songwriter, instead of defining words like belief and submit, simply decided to use new terms and put them in contrast with the biblical terms. But the biblical terms are deeper than what the song suggests. Instead of an “either/or” or “more than/less than” situation, this song could have revealed that these words in the Bible mean both/and.

Yes, I get what the writer is trying to say, but I fear the song can be unhelpful at other points – leading us to misunderstand the depth of the biblical terms.

The truth is that whether I feel in love today or strong or weak, I have a Savior who died for me, rose again and reigns today.  I have a God who will not allow anyone to pluck me out of His hands.  I have the Bible which says of God in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  This is a Savior that I will joyously submit to, depend on and praise forever!  Does it have to be more like falling in love?  No, not according to the general understanding of that phrase.  Instead, it has to be more like His love opening my eyes to look to Him for grace to believe on Him, love Him, obey Him, seek Him, submit to Him and glory in Him.

It has to be more of Him.

Halting the Blog

To those of you who have subscribed via RSS/e-mail or to those who simply visit this site, I am writing this post to inform you that I am currently unable to update this blog as I had originally hoped that I would.  For a couple of months I was able to stay active in regularly updating this site; however, as I’m learning more and more, there are various other opportunities that I must focus on.

I am not going to officially close this blog or the comments.  People can still communicate with one another if they would like; however, I will not be visiting this blog myself given the numerous other tasks that I need to prioritize.

Thank you for “following” this blog.

Are You Dating Anyone?

Just one of the differences between men and women.

Christ in Psalms – 8

David sings praise to God because of His creative work and His interaction with His creatures – specifically human beings.  David reveals who He is praising.  He is praising the LORD, Yahweh, the God who redeems people.  The Redeemer is majestic.  Then he calls God, “our Lord.”  You’ll notice in your Bibles that this word, “Lord” is not all capitalized.  That is because it is a different word in the Hebrew text.  It is the word, “Adonai.”  Adonai is more of a title meaning “Master.”  This means that this powerful Creator is the Redeemer and the Master!  Notice that David does not just say, “Oh LORD, Lord, how majestic.”  David says, “our Lord.”  When those two Hebrew words are put together, it’s a formal address to the King.  Therefore, David is saying that the Redeemer is also the King.  In addition, David calls Yahweh majestic.  The term majestic is a royal attribute that means mighty.  Majestic seems to have connotations of awe in association to one’s revealed strength.  God truly defines the word majestic.  His strength made the stars, the galaxies, the earth.  And, His glory (i.e. – “name”) is majestic all over the earth.  Because of these truths, David desires to praise the Lord.

The second half of verse one further expands on the truth of God’s kingship.  David says that God has set his glory above the heavens and also revealed in all of creation.  What a beautiful picture that is!  If people saw perfectly, their eyes of faith would constantly be pointed upwards to the majestic God.

In a somewhat similar fashion to the original creation story, David moves from the broad creation to the pinnacle of creation – human beings.  Over the last several weeks, we’ve been learning about the fallenness of human beings and the difficulty that even the Psalmist has faced, and in this Psalm David directs his focus to the intent of God to silence the enemy.  Sin was not a part of garden of Eden to begin with.  Since God is still involved in this world, He is very gracious with it, and His goal is to silence the enemy.  This is going to happen someday.  We’ve read the previous Psalms which point to that glorious return of Jesus when wickedness will be wiped away.  And that is a glorious thought for the believer, but what about today?  How can we be confident today that God will wipe away sin?  Obviously God has promised it; therefore, it will happen.  But, God has displayed the glory of this promise by revealing it on this earth.  Let’s look at verse 2: “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.”[1]  What does David see as a sign of God’s faithfulness to put an end to wickedness?  Answer: The strength of future generations.  This word for “strength” has the sense of being a bulwark and also carries with it connotations of praise.  Instead of God wiping the earth completely clean, God continues to bring children into this world – revealing to us that He is working to complete His plan.

In the amazing rule and plan of God, we see the enormous and very small objects that God cares for.  David again meditates on this amazing rule of God in the heavens and declares that the heavens are the work of God’s fingers.  These huge stars in space are merely the work of His fingers – indicating the vastness of God.  It is no wonder that David quickly moves to say, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him” (v. 4).

Even the wording in verse four is very important.  David uses two phrases to describe humanity.  He says “man” and then “son of man.”  Remember, David has been meditating on the fallenness of humanity.  Psalm 8 is redirecting back to Psalm 1 and the intent of humanity.  The word “man” is a poetic word for human beings in their frail existence (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 140).  The phrase “son of man” is a special phrase that refers to man’s relationship to God Himself.  As one commentator put it, “Humans are by nature ‘earthlings,’ and yet they are the particular objects of God’s attention” (TEBC, p. 140).  If we go back to the beginning of God’s creation, before Adam and Eve sinned, why would God pay so close attention to them?  He did not need them.  He enjoyed perfect community within Himself in the Trinity for all eternity.  God’s relationship to humans provide a unique privilege.  Yet, as we’ll see in future psalms, the word “man” and “son of man” are used to display that humans have become corrupt, failing in following through on God’s mandates towards them (11:5, 14:3); however, God, in His abundant grace, is still mindful – meaning that he remembers humans.  He thinks on humans.  He “visits” or “cares for” us.  Instead of visiting Adam and Eve with judgment.  He visited them by clothing them.  Instead of visiting the human race with only wrath, He visited humanity on this earth and absorbed the wrath of God in our place.  He is continually concerned for humanity – even sinful humanity!

While human beings are broken, they still displayed a semblance of the image of God.  That image has been granted to them by God and verses 5-8 reveal this truth.  Sadly, humans tend to go to one of two extremes.  I remember reading a theology book that talked about human beings natural tendency to either think too highly or too low of themselves.  This verse makes two things clear.

  1. We are not God.  This verse says that humans have been set a little lower than “the heavenly beings.”  This could be an accurate translation of the Hebrew; however, the Hebrew word is “Elohim.”  This is also the word for “God.”  This word is used of God at the beginning of Genesis and I think in the context of this Psalm, “God” might be a better translation of this word.  We are a “little lower” than God.  This phrase “little lower” actually means to be deprived of something.  It’s not simply that we’re just a little bit under God, but it’s that we lack divinity!  That’s significant.
  2. This psalm also teaches us that we are also not animals.  All animals are under our domain.  We are not called to be violent for violence sake.  We are to use animals in such a way that displays God’s glory.  Animals help us with farming, food, companionship, and many other things.  Yet, we are over the animals.

This psalm sets things straight.  God has crowned mankind with glory and honor.  To crown is to set apart and elevate something.  The King of Creation has crowned humanity to be His Ambassadors, and we need to recognize that human beings even in their fallen state (not seeking His glory) are still crowned with some semblance of glory and honor.  They are fallen image bearers, but they are image bearers nonetheless, and they are tasked by God to fulfill the qualifications of one who is crowned by God.

What does all of this have to do with Jesus?

We’ve seen that God’s blueprint for humanity is being torn to shreds by human beings – including our own selves.  As I mentioned a moment ago, Jesus entered into the human scene.  He became a human being to visit this earth in order to fulfill and be the representative for human beings.  In order to get a fuller understanding of this psalm, let’s look at how the New Testament authors quote this psalm.

15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?”

And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read,

‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants

You have perfected praise’?

17 Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there. [2]

The Word of God was being fulfilled when Jesus was walking into Jerusalem in triumph.  Jesus’ enemies were indignant at what was taking place and yet Jesus says that the children are right in praising Him.  The children, the weak and the vulnerable, are ones who are rejoicing in the culmination of Yahweh’s rescue plan.  The chief priests and scribes, on the other hand, are proving themselves to be the enemy.  When we see these verses from a saving perspective we see all the more clearly that those who are dependent like children on the Lord find a sure refuge (Matt. 18:3).  When God’s children call out on the Lord, it also shames the enemy.

One more passage in the New Testament we must mention:

5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6 But one testified in a certain place, saying:

“What is man that You are mindful of him,

        Or the son of man that You take care of him?

7      You have made him a little lower than the angels;

        You have crowned him with glory and honor,

        And set him over the works of Your hands.

8      You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”

For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. [3]

While Psalm 8 is a passage for us as humans, telling us how we ought to be and act, we know we’ve failed.  Hebrews 2 reveals to us that Jesus stepped into the cesspool of humanity and became the representative of humanity.  Philippians 2 says that Jesus humbled himself and became a human being.  And, God the Father was very mindful of Jesus.  Jesus, the Son of Man, was taken care of by God.  Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for a time, and according to verse 9 he was crowned with glory and honor because of his suffering death.  Upon His resurrection, Jesus was vindicated as the Messiah and He rules and reigns today as the Risen Lord of all – everything being subjected to Him.  He, tasting death for everyone, provides life to all who come to Him in faith.  Therefore, God is not only majestic in creation, but He is majestic in salvation!

Jesus fulfills the blueprint of humanity.  And, He is the representative of all who call out to Him!  Won’t you call out to Him?  He’s ruling over all, revealing His glory.  Jesus has appeared.  He is the perfect Mediator!  He relates to the human race and is God!  Meditate on His glorious splendor.


[1] The New King James Version. 1982 (Ps 8:2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] The New King James Version. 1982 (Mt 21:15–17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] The New King James Version. 1982 (Heb 2:5–9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Just because you know your books of the Bible. . . .

Watch all the way to the end.  Pretty humorous!

The Next Step: Disciple a Few

What does discipleship look like?

Here’s the guidance David Platt has for us in his book Radical:

I am concerned about a general vagueness that has existed in contemporary Christianity regarding the next step. We have seen that God blesses us so that his glory might be made known in all nations. But an all-important questions remains. How do we make God’s glory known in all nations? If God has given us his grace so that we might take his gospel to the ends of the earth, then how do we do that? Do we walk out into the streets and just start proclaiming the glory of God somehow? Should we all go to other nations? If we go, what do we do when we get there? What does all this look like in our day-to-day lives?

Jesus has much to teach us here. If we were left to ourselves with the task of taking the gospel to the world, we would immediately begin planning innovative strategies and plotting elaborate schemes. We would organize conventions, develop programs, and create foundations. We would get the biggest names to draw the biggest crowds to the biggest events. We would start megachurches and host megaconferences. We would do . . . well, we would do what we are doing today.

But Jesus is so different from us. With the task of taking the gospel to the world, he wandered through the streets and byways of Israel looking for a few men. Don’t misunderstand me — Jesus was anything but casual about his mission. He was initiating a revolution, but his revolution would not revolve around the masses or the multitudes. Instead it would revolve around a few men. It would not revolving around garnering a certain position. Instead it would revolve around choosing a few people. He would intentionally shun titles, labels, plaudits, and popularity in his plan to turn the course of history upside down. All he wanted was a few men who would think as he did, love as he did, see as he did, teach as he did, and serve as he did. All he needed was to revolutionize the hearts of a few, and they would impact the world.”

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, [Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2010], 87-88)

Quoted from the following blog: The Next Step: Disciple a Few.

That Kind of Faith

In James 2:18-26, we enter into one of the most controversial texts in the entire Bible.  In verse 1 of this chapter, James discusses the importance of holding the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He then talks about how that faith in Jesus must result in actions.  In verse 17, James states his thesis for his readers: “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”  The phrase “by itself” could also be translated “in itself.”  In other words, people who simply trust in their faith, not in the One to whom that faith is pointing, really have a dead faith.  James is clear that “that faith” (or, that kind of faith) does not experience salvation.

Now we enter more controversy.  Verse 21 starts off by saying, “Was not our father Abraham justified by works.”  Anyone who has been in the school of Christianity for pretty much any length of time probably sees an apparent problem in this text.  It seems as though James is saying that we are made righteous by works.  Hence, we come into a right relationship with God based on the good works we do.  When we read verse verse 24, we have an even greater contrast with the Apostle Paul’s writings.

James 2:24 – “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

Romans 3:28 – “We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law;”

Look at the similar construct of the passage.  What are James and Paul saying?  Are they saying totally contradictory things?  And, if so, can the Bible be trusted?  Or, should James or Paul be out of the Scriptures because one of them is lying?  Thankfully we can glean a few things from this passage, but let me say this first: just because people use the same word, that does not mean they are saying the same thing.  For example, in chapter one, we studied about trial and temptation.  In the Greek language, trial and temptation are the same word.  Based on the context, this word can either mean something that is good for us or it can mean something that is dangerous if not fought against.  It’s the same Greek word for lust and desire.  Based on the context, it can mean something bad or it can mean something good.

If we look at the context of James’ letter, I believe James makes his point very plain.  James is correcting people’s understanding of the mantra “Faith Alone.”  Some people’s tendency is to say, “We can continue in sin that grace may abound” (an idea that even Paul is against).  James is seeming to show irony by saying, “You’re faith alone is really a faith that’s all alone (a faith in itself).  Therefore it is dead.”  He’s not denying the importance and value of faith alone as declaring us righteous before God (as we’ll see in a moment), but he is denying that you can have faith and no works proceeding from that faith.  There are a couple of reasons why works are necessary, according to James: 1) God promised to make us a firstfruit offering (Jas. 1:18) and 2) There is going to be a judgment and God’s mercy is going to triumph on His children’s behalf in granting forgiveness and, by implication, obedience (Jas. 2:12-13).

In order for James to drive his point home, he moves on with an illustration about Abraham offering up Isaac to be an offering to God.  This story tells us that God commanded that Abraham take his son to an altar and sacrifice him there.  While Abraham had the knife in the air to kill his own son, God stopped him and said, “Now I know that you fear God.”  James says the following of this scenario: “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;  and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God” (vv. 22-23).

James says that this scenario happened for two reasons.

  1. Verse 22 states that this scenario with Abraham happened as a necessary of true faith’s goal of completion.  Faith desires to be whole; therefore, Christians cannot make excuses for sin in their life (Jas. 1:4).  Instead, they must fight (Jas. 1:12-15)!  James is clear that faith comes first, and true faith has an objective of overseeing the process of having good works.  Faith cannot grow apart from these godly actions.
  2. Verse 23 gives another answer as to why Abraham went through this scenario: so that the Scripture might be fulfilled that Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.  In other words, James again is saying that God declares people righteous when they believe and that righteousness must be lived out.  God does not save someone without giving them the promise that they’ll live out that salvation.  What’s interesting is that between the time that Abraham believed to the time that Abraham offered Isaac, there was sin that took place.  And, there was unbelief.  But, Abraham’s belief grew through testing and finally came to this great test of faith in God.  Instead of questioning God, he did what God commanded even though he did not fully understand what God was going to do.

This situation can also relate to the Jewish Christians in their trials of being dispersed and persecuted (Jas. 1:1).  They’re going through a significant test.  Are they going to continue to sin and declare that they had a fake faith or are they going to prove that they have had a true faith?  James says to them, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (v. 24).  This word for justify is different from Paul’s primary usage.  It is probably the same sense that Jesus gives it in the book of Matthew in chapter 11:19, where it says, “Wisdom is proved right by her actions.”  “Proved right” is the word “justify.”  Therefore, we could say that a person is “proved right” by works and not a faith that is alone.  Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness.  God said he was righteous, and that righteousness manifested itself in growing works – not perfection, but a growing obedience to God which leads to maturity (aka – perfection).

This truth is the same for believers today.  God has made a promise to us.  He is merciful towards you.  Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, and obey by the grace God has given you!