Archive for the Sermon Follow-Up Category
In Sunday’s sermon, “Wandering,” Ryan showed us how James writes to warn his readers about wandering from the faith. This isn’t always the word that James uses, but a careful read of James’ letter will turn up this warning time and a gain.
Ryan took us through fifteen occasions when James shows us where and how Christians can go astray.
Here they are:
- Trials (1:2-12)
- Temptations (1:13-16)
- Being hearers of the word but not doers (1:22-25)
- Empty religion (1:26-27)
- Partiality (2:1-13)
- Faith without works is dead (2:14-26)
- The tongue (3:3-12)
- Worldly wisdom (3:13-18)
- Covetousness and quarrels (4:1-12)
- Judging brothers and sisters sinfully (4:11-12)
- Presumptuous plans (4:13-17)
- Rich oppressors are addressed and rebuked (5:1-6)
- Those oppressed and suffering (5:1-11)
- Oaths (5:12)
- Sickness and sin (5:13-16)
With the fullness of James’ multi-dimensional warning in mind, consider again his closing words in James 5:19–20, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
As Christians, we have a dual citizenship. We belong to heaven, and yet we also belong here. This dual citizenship puts us in a kind of awkward position. Our ultimate allegiance is to our King, who is Christ. And yet Christ commands of us a certain allegiance to imperfect human authorities. For example, just this Sunday in Ron Giese’s sermon, “Engaging the World,” we heard from Titus 3:1, where Paul exhorts us to “be submissive to rulers and authorities.”
So, what does Christian citizenship look like under a government with rulers who promote and protect the taking of life and not life itself?
John Piper has been a steady guide on questions like this. In his recent post, “How Pro-Life Christians Honor a Pro-Choice President,” Piper gives us eight answers to our question. Here they are:
1. Humble ourselves.
2. Acknowledge God’s image, wherever we find it.
3. Acknowledge the institutions God has established.
4. Honor laws not conflicting with Christ’s lordship.
5. Resist withdrawing into isolation.
6. Oppose injustice and unrighteousness with non-violence.
7. Expect straightforward answers from leaders.
8. Trust the sovereign, loving purpose of God.
Click here to read his explanation of each answer.
There are over 400 quotations or illusions to the book of Isaiah in the New Testament. For that reason alone, Isaiah is a good book to get to know. But there are a variety of reasons that Isaiah can be intimidating: it’s 66 chapters long, its organization can be difficult to grasp, and its ancient context can be a bit obscure to us.
There’s no substitute for simply reading and rereading Isaiah. The more you do the more its message will become clear, and the more you’ll hear its echoes as you read the New Testament. That said, there are a number of excellent resources published for a variety of purposes and in a variety of formats.
To help you walk through the text, two resources are worth mentioning. First, Drew Hunter’s, Isaiah: A 12 Week Study, will walk you through the book with questions and provide instruction along the way. Then, in Isaiah by the Day: A New Devotional Translation, Alec Motyer provides his own translation of Isaiah (he’s an Isaiah scholar, so he can do that) and concisely explains the heart of each section as it relates to the whole.
Motyer also has a full readers commentary, titled, Isaiah, in Tyndale’s Old Testament Commentary Series. If you had one commentary on Isaiah, this should be it. If you’re going to be teaching Isaiah or if you’re a university student dealing with challenges to Isaiah’s unity, Motyer’s more technical work is for you: The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary. Finally, for a compilation of sermons edited for publication by a faithful pastor, Ray Ortlund Jr.’s, Isaiah: God Saves Sinners is excellent.
God hates pride. Pride in the heart of any person insists, however subtly, that God should scoot over so we can take a seat as king. Whether by ignoring him or outright rejecting his rule, we are all born our own bosses.
In Isaiah 13:11, God writes this about Babylon: “I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.” In last Sunday’s sermon, “The God of the World and History,” we pondered the danger of pride together. Babylon, in Scripture, is famous for her pride and symbolic of the pride at the heart of every human.
To help you examine your own life for pride, Desiring God recently published a helpful piece, “Seven Subtle Symptoms of Pride.” Here’s how it starts:
Pride will kill you. Forever. Pride is the sin most likely to keep you from crying out for a Savior. Those who think they are well will not look for a doctor.
As seriously dangerous as pride is, it’s equally hard to spot. When it comes to diagnosing our hearts, those of us who have the disease of pride have a challenging time identifying our sickness. Pride infects our eyesight, causing us to view ourselves through a lens that colors and distorts reality. Pride will paint even our ugliness in sin as beautiful and commendable.
We can’t conclude that we don’t struggle with pride because we don’t see pride in our hearts. The comfortable moments when I pat myself on the back for how well I am doing are the moments that should alarm me the most. I need to reach for the glasses of Christ-like humility, remembering that nothing good dwells in my flesh, and search my heart for secret pride and its symptoms.
In his essay on undetected pride, Jonathan Edwards points out seven sneaky symptoms of the infection of pride.
Then, with Jonathan Edwards as a guide, the piece unpacks seven symptoms: fault-finding, a harsh spirit, superficiality, defensiveness, presumption before God, desperation for attention, and neglecting others.
We all need to hear this. Click here for the full article.
In Ryan’s sermon from Sunday, June 7, “He’s Coming Again,” we heard God’s Word from Mark 13:24-27 and Mark 13:32-37, concerning the return of Jesus Christ. In the course of this sermon, we also heard a list verses about his return from around the New Testament. An important part of the Christian life, as we found out, can be summed up in the word, “waiting.”
To help you wait more faithfully, here’s a list of verses on Christ’s return that expands on what Ryan read for us during that sermon.
Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Acts 3:19-21 “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”
Acts 17:31 “. . . because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
1 Corinthians 1:7 . . . so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ . . .
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
1 Corinthians 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 15:23-24 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
Philippians 1:10 . . . so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ . . .
Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ . . .
Colossians 3:4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
1 Thessalonians 3:13 . . . so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 . . . since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
1 Timothy 6:13-16 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
2 Timothy 4:1-2 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Titus 2:12-14 . . . training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Hebrews 9:28 . . . so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Hebrews 10:25 . . . not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;
James 5:7-9 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
2 Peter 3:3 . . . knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.
2 Peter 3:8-10 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
Jude 14-15 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Jude 21 . . . keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne . . .
Revelation 1:7-8 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”
Revelation 22:12-13 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
On Easter Sunday, Ryan preached a sermon on Jesus’ resurrection that took us to the end of the Book of Mark. As some of you might remember, Ryan’s sermon ended with Mark 16:8, twelve verses short of the end of the book as it appears in many of our printed Bibles.
Ryan explained why Mark’s gospel account really ended in verse 8 and not later. And this is why some translations put these verses in a footnote, or preface them, as the ESV does, with these words: “Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20.” As Ryan pointed out, no manuscripts before 800 A.D. include this portion of Mark.
This may present some hearers with a problem: are we taking away from God’s Word?
We certainly wouldn’t want to do that. The short answer is, no, we’re not. Mark 16:9-20 wasn’t God’s Word. The is the general consensus of Bible commentators, translators, scholars, students of theology, and pastors. So, no need to be alarmed.
If you’re interested in understanding the background to this conclusion, there’s a very clear answer at the site, gotquestions.org, in the article, “Should Mark 16:9-20 be in the Bible?.” I don’t know much about this site, and perhaps it’s not the place to go for anything you might like to know. But in this case it does a good job of answering this question.
Question: “Should Mark 16:9-20 be in the Bible?”
Answer: Although the vast majority of later Greek manuscripts contain Mark 16:9-20, the Gospel of Mark ends at verse 8 in two of the oldest and most respected manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. As the oldest manuscripts are known to be the most accurate because there were fewer generations of copies from the original autographs (i.e., they are much closer in time to the originals), and the oldest manuscripts do not contain vv. 9-20, we can conclude that these verses were added later by scribes. The King James Version of the Bible, as well as the New King James, contains vv. 9-20 because the King James used medieval manuscripts as the basis of its translation. Since 1611, however, older and more accurate manuscripts have been discovered and they affirm that vv. 9-20 were not in the original Gospel of Mark.
In addition, the fourth-century church fathers Eusebius and Jerome noted that almost all Greek manuscripts available to them lacked vv. 9–20, although they doubtless knew those other endings existed. In the second century, Justin Martyr and Tatian knew about other endings. Irenaeus, also, in A.D. 150 to 200, must have known about this long ending because he quotes verse 19 from it. So, the early church fathers knew of the added verses, but even by the fourth century, Eusebius said the Greek manuscripts did not include these endings in the originals.
The internal evidence from this passage also casts doubt on Mark as the author. For one thing, the transition between verses 8 and 9 is abrupt and awkward. The Greek word translated “now” that begins v. 9 should link it to what follows, as the use of the word “now” does in the other synoptic Gospels. However, what follows doesn’t continue the story of the women referred to in v. 8, describing instead Jesus’ appearing to Mary Magdalene. There’s no transition there, but rather an abrupt and bizarre change, lacking the continuity typical of Mark’s narrative. The author should be continuing the story of the women based on the word “now,” not jumping to the appearance to Mary Magdalene. Further, for Mark to introduce Mary Magdalene here as though for the very first time (v. 9) is odd because she had already been introduced in Mark’s narrative (Mark 15:40, 47, 16:1), another evidence that this section was not written by Mark.
Furthermore, the vocabulary is not consistent with Mark’s Gospel. These last verses don’t read like Mark’s. There are eighteen words here that are never used anywhere by Mark, and the structure is very different from the familiar structure of his writing. The title “Lord Jesus,” used in verse 19, is never used anywhere else by Mark. Also, the reference to signs in vv. 17-18 doesn’t appear in any of the four Gospels. In no account, post-resurrection of Jesus, is there any discussion of signs like picking up serpents, speaking with tongues, casting out demons, drinking poison, or laying hands on the sick. So, both internally and externally, this is foreign to Mark.
While the added ending offers no new information, nor does it contradict previously revealed events and/or doctrine, both the external and internal evidence make it quite certain that Mark did not write it. In reality, ending his Gospel in verse 8 with the description of the amazement of the women at the tomb is entirely consistent with the rest of the narrative. Amazement at the Lord Jesus seems to be a theme with Mark. “They were amazed at his teaching” (Mark 1:22); “They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves” (Mark 1:27); “He healed the paralytic, and they were all amazed and were glorifying God saying, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this’” (Mark 2:12). Astonishment at the work of Jesus is revealed throughout Mark’s narrative (Mark 4:41; 5:15, 33, 42; 6:51; 9:6, 15, 32; 10:24, 32; 11:18; 12:17; 16:5). Some, or even one, of the early scribes, however, apparently missed the thematic evidence and felt the need to add a more conventional ending.
For more reading on the subject of the reliability of our New Testament documents, see the article in the ESV Study Bible, titled, “The Reliability of New Testament Manuscripts.” For a helpful commentary on Mark, check out Mark in Zondervan’s Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series, or Mark in the NIV Application Commentary series. Ryan has found both helpful for understanding Mark as a whole.
As Christians, we believe that God’s Word is not only true but good. We also believe that what is good for us individually has social consequences. We do, after all, live together. Careful Christian reflection on the meaning and consequences of such things as marriage is a means of loving our neighbors.
In Sunday’s sermon, “The Heart of Marriage and Divorce,” Ryan pointed to the social consequences of divorce for people, especially women and children. This is a sensitive topic and you should listen to the sermon if you weren’t able to join us. On the subject of divorce and its social consequences, this was especially true in the first century, but it is true today as well. This is evident from our own experience with divorce, even if there are obvious exceptions, but it is also evident in studies that have been conducted.
In his article, “The Social Costs of Abandoning the Meaning of Marriage,” Ryan Anderson writes:
[Marriage is] a personal relationship that serves a public purpose. According to the best available sociological evidence, children fare best on virtually every examined indicator when reared by their wedded biological parents. Studies that control for other factors, including poverty and even genetics, suggest that children reared in intact homes do best in terms of educational achievement, emotional health, familial and sexual development, and delinquency and incarceration.
The breakdown of marriage most hurts the least well-off. A leading indicator of whether someone will know poverty or prosperity is whether, growing up, he or she knew the love and security of having a married mother and father. Marriage reduces the probability of child poverty by 80 percent.
Anderson linked to two studies that ground this claim.
First, in, “Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles,” the Witherspoon Institute offers these ten principles with a bundle of social science research to substantiate them:
- Marriage is a personal union, intended for the whole of life, of husband and wife.
- Marriage is a profound human good, elevating and perfecting our social and sexual nature.
- Ordinarily, both men and women who marry are better off as a result.
- Marriage protects and promotes the well-being of children.
- Marriage sustains civil society and promotes the common good.
- Marriage is a wealth-creating institution, increasing human and social capital.
- When marriage weakens, the equality gap widens, as children suffer from the disadvantages of growing up in homes without committed mothers and fathers.
- A functioning marriage culture serves to protect political liberty and foster limited government.
- The laws that govern marriage matter significantly.
- “Civil marriage” and “religious marriage” cannot be rigidly or completely divorced from one another.
Then, at the Heritage Foundation, Robert Rector’s study, “Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty,” offers this abstract of the substance and application of his findings:
Child poverty is an ongoing national concern, but few are aware that its principal cause is the absence of married fathers in the home. Marriage remains America’s strongest anti-poverty weapon, yet it continues to decline. As husbands disappear from the home, poverty and welfare dependence will increase, and children and parents will suffer as a result. Since marital decline drives up child poverty and welfare dependence, and since the poor aspire to healthy marriage but lack the norms, understanding, and skills to achieve it, it is reasonable for government to take active steps to strengthen marriage. Just as government discourages youth from dropping out of school, it should provide information that will help people to form and maintain healthy marriages and delay childbearing until they are married and economically stable. In particular, clarifying the severe shortcomings of the “child first, marriage later” philosophy to potential parents in lower-income communities should be a priority.
God’s Word is true, and it also works. For the Christian, while our interest in marriage does not stop with our own individual marriages, our own individual homes are the most important place for the application of God’s Word to life. Not only has God given marriage to us for our good, which is demonstrably true, but he has given it to us that we might have the honor of living out a picture of his love for us in Christ (Eph. 5:22-33).
If you missed Sunday’s sermon, we would commend it to you. Listen here.