Archive for July, 2015
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.
Rosaria Butterfield has a neat story. Perhaps you’ve heard of her book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into the Christian Faith. Butterfield was a practicing lesbian engaged in the rigorous intellectual defense of that lifestyle and identity. The Lord saved her and this book is her story.
She has a new book that’s worth checking out, Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ. The Gospel Coalition has done us the favor of pulling together 20 quotes from this new title. Here they are:
“Why is sexual sin so hard to deal with? Because often sexual sin becomes a sin of identity.” (4)
“I honed the hospitality gifts that I use today as a pastor’s wife in my queer community.” (15)
“If God is the creator of all things, and if the Bible has his seal of truth and power, then the Bible has the right to interrogate my life and culture, and not the other way around.” (17)
“The internal mission of the Bible is to transform the nature of humanity. That is why unbelievers know it is a dangerous text.” (18)
“Adam’s fall rendered my deep and primal feelings untrustworthy and untrue.” (21)
“We never know the treacherous path that others take to arrive in the pew that we share Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day.” (22)
“The image of me and everyone I love suffering in hell crashed over me like shark-infested waves of a raging sea. Suffering in hell not because we were gay, but because we were proud. We wanted to be autonomous. . . . I counted the costs and I did not like the math.” (23)
“This was the first of my many betrayals against the LGBT community: whose dictionary did I trust? The one used by the community that I helped create or the one that reflected the God who created me?” (25)
“I still felt like a lesbian in my body and heart. That was, I felt, my real identity. But what is my true identity? The Bible makes clear that the real and the true have a troubled relationship on this side of eternity.” (25)
“Repentance is not just a conversion exercise. It is the posture of the Christian. . . . Repentance is the threshold to God.” (27)
“Jesus met sinners at the table, but he did not join them in their choice sins. He sat with them, but he did not sin with them. And we ought not expect Jesus to sin with us today.” (31)
“I want you to know from what country I emigrated, and in which country my citizenship permanently and eternally resides. I’m not a native speaker of this country. No real convert is. I will always speak in broken godliness, as new paradigms reread old feelings.” (37)
“There is another term, though, that competes for my allegiance. It is sola experiencia—my personal experience shaping and selecting those parts of the Bible I judge relevant for me.” (44)
“My new affection was not heterosexuality, but Jesus. . . . I was converted not out of homosexuality, but out of unbelief.” (50)
“You can’t bypass repentance to get to grace. Christ is manifest in our humility, not in our disobedience.” (61)
“Jesus sweated blood. He withstood the test. He ran the whole race. We cannot make such claims. We have not been tested that hard, or humiliated that comprehensively. We are in the ABCs of the kindergarten of the school of temptation. By not falling into temptation, Jesus ran the whole race, while I collapsed in the first mile.” (82)
“If you are in Christ, temptation is not about some essential truth or inherent wisdom about us—and therefore should not become a term of selfhood, self-representation, or identity. It is about warfare.” (82)
“How do we make an identity out of temptation? By collapsing what you desire with who you are. By collapsing what tempts you or what trips you up with who you will become. . . . God’s revealed purpose for my identity always nails me to his cross.” (83)
“God is calling us to so greatly love others that we do not desire for them anything that might separate them from God.” (87)
“Loyal fellowship of believers is not an ‘add on’ to good doctrine. Fellowship of believers is often the vein through which the Savior’s blood pumps us whole and well.” (90)
“Christians are called ‘saints’ in the Bible. We who bear Christ’s spilled blood are a royal priesthood. Any category of personhood that reduces a saint to the sum total of his or her fallen sexual behavior is not a friend of Christ. . . . Making an identity out of sin patterns is itself a sin.” (114, 123)
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.
This Sunday we will begin a five-week sermon series through the Book of Isaiah, titled, A Vision of Two Cities. In Isaiah’s vision he sees Jerusalem as it is, in ruins. And he sees, come the end of the book, a new Jerusalem. The question is: how does Jerusalem get that way? Across 66 chapters a portrait of the Messiah emerges.
Come on Sundays with expectation for how God will use his Word among us this July. This book is quoted more than all of the other prophets combined. In getting to know Isaiah’s prophecy we will get to know our Bibles better, and in getting to know our Bibles better we’ll get to know Christ better.
Here’s the series outline so you can read ahead each week:
- July 5: “The God of Unapproachable Holiness” (1-12)
- July 12: “The God of The World and History” (13-27)
- July 19: “The God of Absolute Strength” (28-39)
- July 26: “The God of Redemption through Suffering” (40-55)
- August 2: “The God of A New World and a New Name” (56-66)
What happened to our series through Mark? Each Summer Ryan takes a sabbatical from preaching for a number of weeks, so we’re hitting pause on Mark for now. When Ryan returns on August 9 he pick up where we left off.
Then, once we wrap up Mark, in mid-September we will continue our series through 1 and 2 Samuel, In Search of a King.