Haddon Robinson on Romans 4:5

In my tribute to Haddon Robinson, I mentioned a very memorable chapel message Dr. Robinson delivered my first year of seminary. My copy of that sermon is now lost, and I’ve tried to find it online before but with no success. But I decided to try again.

Interestingly, I discovered that Gordon-Conwell has created a collection of chapel messages from the years I attended (2003-2006), but for some reason, that particular message is not included in the collection.

Nevertheless, I did manage to find the same basic sermon on Romans 4:5 at DiscovertheWord.org, but from a different occasion.

Here it is for you. I hope it will be an encouragement.

More Than Gospel Rudiments

William Still (2010) challenges us to push further into the Gospel and all that it means:

In evangelical circles the danger that the Gospel may be equated with the mere rudiments of the Word of God has become almost a disaster, for these rudiments are only the beginning of the Good News. There are profounder things by far in the Bible than what is called ‘the simple Gospel,’ although they issue from it. Indeed, in a sense, those who proclaim almost exclusively forgiveness of sins and justification, only make known the preliminaries to the best Good News, which is not that our sins are put away and that we are justified in God’s sight, wonderful though that is, but that God wants us for Himself and to that end brings us to the birth in Christ. After all, the death of Jesus, for all its wonder, is a means to an end, which is not merely that we may be right and clean but that we may be His, which involves personal relationship in love.” (p. 62)

Would you agree with his assessment?

Still, W. (2010). The Work of the Pastor.

Did Jesus Really Think He Was God?

This is a question many folks ask. And the main pushback comes from the fact that, at first glance, nowhere in the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) does Jesus make the exact statement “I am God.”

But there is more than one way to claim divinity, and Jesus makes many direct and indirect claims about being divine.

One of the best summaries of these claims I have seen comes from Tim Keller (2016):1

There were all his indirect but deliberate claims. Jesus assumed authority to forgive all sins (Mark 2:7-10). Since we can forgive only sins that are against us, Jesus’s premise is that all sins are against him, and therefore that he is God, whose laws are broken and whose love is offended in every violation. Jesus also claimed that he alone could give eternal life (John 6:39-40), though God alone has the right to give or take life. More than that, Jesus claimed to have a power that could actually eliminate death, and he claimed not just to have or bring a power to raise the dead but to be the Power that can destroy death (John 11:25-26). Jesus claimed to have the truth as no one else ever has. All prophets said, “Thus saith the Lord,” but Jesus taught with “But I say unto you” out of his own authority (Mark 1:22; Luke 4:32). And more than that, he claimed not just to have or bring truth but to be the Truth itself, the source and locus of all truth (John 14:6).

Jesus assumed the authority to judge the world (Mark 14:62). Since God alone has both the infinite knowledge and the right (as creator and owner) to evaluate every person, Jesus’s premise is that he has both divine attributes. More than that, Jesus claimed that we will be judge in the end primarily on our attitude toward him (Matthew 10:32-33; John 3:18). Jesus assumed the right to receive worship (John 5:23, 9:38, 20:28-29; Luke 5:8), which neither great persons nor even angels would accept (Revelation 22:8-9; Acts 14:11-15). Even his offhand statements and actions continually assume that he has divine status. He comes to the temple and says all the rules about observing the Sabbath are off now because the inventor of the Sabbath is now here (mark 2:23-28). He puts his own knowledge on a par with God the Father’s (Matthew 11:27). He claimed to be perfectly sinless (John 8:46). He says that the greatest person in the history of the world was John the Baptist but that the weakest follower of Christ is greater than he (Matthew 11:11). This list could be stretched out indefinitely.

But then there are his direct claims, which are just as staggering. To know him is to know God (John 8:19), to see him was to see God (John 12:45), to receive him is to receive God (Mark 9:37). Only through him can anyone know or come to God (Matthew 11:27; John 14:6). Even when Jesus called himself “the Son of God” he was claiming equality with the Father, because in ancient times an only son inherited all the father’s wealth and position and was thus equal with him. the listeners knew that every time Jesus called him self “the Son,” he was naming himself as fully God (John 5:18). Finally, Jesus actually takes upon himself the divine name “I am” (John 8:58, Exodus 3:14, 6:3), claiming to be “Yahweh,” who appeared to Moses in the burning bush.” (pp. 238-239).

I hope this catalog is helpful.

  1. Keller, T. (2016). Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical

Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament

I love these insights on Jesus as the true and better answer to every Old Testament precursor.

I wonder if the talk on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27) went something like this:

True & Better from Peter Artemenko on Vimeo.

[Can’t see the video? Click HERE]

Here is the text from the video:1

Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you – it’s about him.

(HT:For typed text)

  1. From this talk – https://vimeo.com/115986929 

Bible Reading Goals for 2016

It is that time of year again. Time to set some goals for reading the Bible in the New Year!

Bible reading

I know some folks greet New Years resolutions with crossed arms and a smirk, but I like making resolutions. I need a target, something for which to shoot. I like goals and the sense of accomplishment that comes when they are completed. So let’s talk reading goals.

The last couple of months I have been mulling over a bible reading plan for 2016. Last year I began the One Year Bible, a reading plan I have done and enjoyed in the past. But somewhere along the way, I got behind and abandoned ship. I have since been wandering about the Bible from passage to passage, topic to topic, and plan to plan (e.g., HeReadsTruth.com). I did like the freedom, but after several months of this, I must admit I need more structure.

To that end, I have decided to again embrace a one-year plan. My goal this year is to be diligent but not obsessive. This will be no easy balance. 

The problem with the one year plans (and perhaps, my personality) is that they tend to invite an all-or-nothing mindset. If you miss a few days, you are tempted to think, “What’s the use?” and quit. Obviously, this outcome is not helpful. But on the flip-side, in trying to execute every reading, you can become so militant about the plan that you march through it like a soldier determined to take the hill, but you never actually meditate on the word; you just trample over the flowers in pursuit of the goal. The reading plan is no longer for you; it is you for the reading plan. So, this year my goal involves both the plan itself and how I approach the plan.

Okay, so let’s talk about the plan.

I have decided to try the M’Cheyne reading plan. Why? Because I have heard about it for over tens years from various pastors and writers I follow, but I have never tried it myself. Why else? Because this plan is well-supported, which is a key part to keeping up with any plan. You need a plan that can be accessed from a number of places and in a number of ways. This plan is included on the ESV App. It has a pdf printout if you prefer using your own Bible, or you may also purchase a Bible set up with all the readings laid out already. And finally (and this feature is the kicker), this plan is also available as a podcast. You can have the scriptures read aloud to you!

Now, I am not sure why, but people often feel that a podcast is somehow cheating. Well, it is not. I would actually argue listening can be better than reading for a number of reasons. First, if you’re worried about the biblical precedent, you must remember that for centuries, Christians had no personal copies of the Bible. So, the public reading of scripture was an important part of the service. We see the public reading of scripture practiced in the Old Testament (Nehemiah 8) and commended in the New Testament (1 Timothy 4:13). Second, many folks have pointed out that hearing the Bible, because of the slower pace, actually surfaces different facets of the text that you may have otherwise missed if you were reading it quickly in your head. Not to mention that the various texts of the Bible were written to be read aloud. So, you could argue that the author wrote it, imagining that you would be listening to his words read aloud, which shapes the way the text was written and should be received. Third and finally, a podcast is very practical. Many days you can and should linger long over the text with a cup of coffee in one hand and a pen in the other. But other days, you can and should listen to the Bible while you walk around the neighborhood for exercise…yes, multitasking!

Regardless, the point is to be in the word everyday. For then we grow like well-watered evergreens (Psalm 1:1-3).

So, that is my plan. What is your plan for the new year?