Dannah Gresh: Two-ism & Sexuality #ThinkTank

Dannah Gresh, a best-selling author and sought-after speaker. Her best-selling titles include And the Bride Wore White and 2010’s best-selling CBA youth book, Lies Young Women Believe co-authored with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She says the most important book she has or will ever write is What Are You Waiting For: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex, which traces the Hebrew language of sexuality from Genesis to Revelation answering every question a heart could ask. She has long been at the forefront of the movement to encourage tweens and teens to be modest and to pursue purity and is the founder of Secret Keeper Girl a live tour event for tween girls and their moms.

Everything from our sexual ethic to our view of male and female is really messed up. Katy Perry… she’s ours. She’s our fruit. I don’t want to talk a lot about the sensationalism that’s out there, but I want to talk about what One-ism looks like in the church.

Here’s how I think One-ism affects our daughters. One-ism invites us to worship celebrities. This celebrity culture destroyed Marilyn Monroe and I believe it will destroy our daughters, as well. Marilyn was 30 when she was at the top of her popularity and she appealed to the 20 year olds. But marketers decided to broaden their audience and their bottom line and so in the 1980s we had Brooke Shields (“Nothing gets between me and my Calvins”). And today, we have the Tween market, something that didn’t exist a few years ago. Today, they’re marketing to seven year olds. We have Miley Cyrus—also raised in a Christian home—and products from Abercrombie & Fitch designed to sexualize girls ages seven to fourteen.

The American Psychological Association went on a rampage a few years ago, talking about dolls looking sexy and street smart. The Bratz dolls (fishnets, etc);Barbie’s gone a little bit crazy lately (the “Black Canary” comic book character Barbie). Playing with dolls creates self-control in little girls. So when they play seduce the boy, they’re just being set up for future behavior. Today, the top rated show among 8-12 year olds is Desperate Housewives, where in the 1980s it was the Care Bears. The APA says about this that when they want to buy the products, practicing seduce the boy, they’re most at risk for eating disorders, early sexual debuts, etc. By the time they’re married, they’re so broken by unhealthy body images and behaviors that they cannot function in healthy sexual relationships.

As for the boys, One-ism feeds our self-centeredness. Have you noticed that our boys are not called to be leaders—and what we have now are boys who are growing up into “adultescents,” they’re not maturing, they’re not taking responsibility.

The average age of exposure to pornography is age 11. Androgyny doesn’t just look like boys being put into Girl Scouts; it might be through emasculation, through belittling them.

So maybe in the church we need to stop focusing on counterfeits and need to focus on the truth—and I don’t think we have a great understanding of the truth in the Church. The counterfeits are everywhere and we’re not talking about the real thing. One of the worst kept secrets in the church is God’s language about sexuality, and I want to introduce you to the language of sexuality that God uses, which is found in Genesis. Reading Genesis 4, I read, “Adam knew with his wife and she became pregnant” and the Hebrew word there is yada. It means to know, to be known, to be deeply respected. Not one mention of the physical. It moves past the physical and perhaps into the spiritual. And this word shows us the two deepest needs of men and women. It shows the woman’s need, her desire, to be known. Men need to study their wives—know them, study them, understand them. Men need to be respected. And God forbid we should teach true sexuality and not live it.

There’s another word used in Scripture: Sakab—to exchange body fluids. It’s purely physical. This is what the world sells every day. Why is a different partner every night not satisfying, why is pornography not satisfying?

This is what I believe about yada and Two-ism: this word gives us a biblical foundation for what sexuality is meant to be and a grounding for the church to explain it. This word is used many times to describe the intimacy between husband and wife, but it’s used more to describe the relationship—the nearness—between God and man. (Psalm 46:10)

Yada declares God to be distinct and unknown by us, but it also draws us up to be known by him. Piper: The ultimate reason we are sexual is to make God more deeply knowable.

What’s wrong with having “friends with benefits”?

“Friends with benefits” seeks to scratch an itch without the emotional benefits. Sex releases dopamine—and what its purpose is to drive you back to the source of pleasure. “Friends with benefits” is oxymoronic. You cannot have sex with someone without it getting emotional, and when it ends, you get hurt. Oxytocin is also released during climax is sex—the purpose of oxytocin is a bonding chemical. A chemical bond is created, telling us, “You are one.”

“The desire to connect is not just an emotional feeling. Bonding is real and almost like the adhesive effect of glue—a powerful connection that cannot be undone without great emotional pain.”

Gen. 2:25; Eph. 5:13; 1 Cor. 6:16: “The two will become one flesh”

Is homosexuality a sin?

Bypassing the inflammatory passages, we need to really turn back to Genesis. One-ism declares that there is no difference between men and women, the result is androgyny. We need to get back to the image of God, helping those who struggle with same sex attraction to see that they are made a little like him.

What’s so wrong with porn?

You cannot know or be known by the pixels on a computer screen. And when the chemicals of sexual released during climax, they were bonding with their screens. When researchers asked men in NYC to fast from porn for a while to see what would happen, the result was they had sexual desire for their wives. The same happened with women.

When the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1941, those who were entrusted to protect it did nothing, assuming that it was taken out to be photographed. The greatest picture of the gospel is one man and one woman, where the husband tells his wife that she’s electrifying and she remembers to stop nagging and start respecting him. How many pictures like that do you see in your church? I’m not saying we’re not doing anything, but we seem to be asleep. Find the [girls with views like Rachel Held Evans] in your church and don’t condemn her, but love her. Build an emotional bank account in her heart so that one day she might ask you what submission looks like in your heart. Teach your daughters about what it means to be made in the image of God and turn her away from celebrity culture. Teach your sons to turn off Call of Duty on the Xbox and take up their call of duty in the Kingdom of God. That’s what we need to do. What we do in our private lives really matters.

David Fandey: Two-ism and the Missional Life #ThinkTank

David Fandey is the founding pastor of The Fields, an Acts 29 church plant in Carlsbad, CA. Before planting The Fields, David served 9 years at Riverview Church located in North County, San Diego. He has been serving as an adjunct professor at Biola University for over ten years. David is also the Australia area director for Acts29 International. David and his wife Wilma have been married 19 years have six children.

When we talk about the missional life, we are going to have to udnerstand that mission is always cross cultural. All of us have a culture that we come from. Culture is not inherently amoral. Every culture has elements that are inherently bad and all have elements that are altogether good. But no culture is amoral. Mission is cross cultural by its very nature. Missional living means understanding the horizontal implications of the gospel in the context of the culture we’re trying to reach. To use Dr. Jones’ language, we’re bringing a Two-ist gospel and applying it into a One-ist culture.

We need to figure out what it means to live missionally in the culture in which God has placed us. To be on mission, we need to understand the culture. Sometimes we call this process exegeting the culture, attempting to understand what drives the locals—people’s priorities, motivations, the idols of their hearts… We need to ask these things and we’ll find that there are some things that we absolutely cannot stand. But we need to understand what drives the locals if we are to reach them.

We also need to examine our own culture. Are we carrying a biblical message across these bridges of culture or are we carrying an unbiblical one? As we learn to be more and more on mission, we’ll find more areas about which we need to repent and our views will be stretched. So early on in our church plant, I kept hearing “God is not a Republican!”—but I grew up thinking that he was. And so I want to shout back, “He’s not a Democrat either!” Because God’s above all that. What’s important is not [necessarily] a political position, but the gospel. I hope we can take this beautiful gospel message to this one-ist world and will begin to see the beauty of the two-ist worldview.

One of the things that I’ve so appreciated about this conference is the call to stand upon the Word of God—to allow the Word of God to be in authority over all of our cultural ideas. In John 4:1-45, we read of Jesus doing this very thing.

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria.

Now Jesus didn’t have to pass through Samaria, there were other ways to get through. The Samaritans were despised people, “half-breeds” and “quarter breeds” because of the Syrian conquest, and although they traced their origins back to Joseph through Ephraim, the Jews rejected them. But Jesus did have to pass through—as though he had a divine appointment.

So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”

This is a huge deal—a huge cultural no-no. He was breaking a huge cultural norm in asking her for a drink. But he not only asks her for a drink—a Samaritan and a woman—that was defilement. It’s huge that he says any of these, crossing any barrier possible to engage her with the gospel. And this is a question that we have to ask—what barriers are we willing to cross in order to engage with the One-ist culture for the purposes of sharing the gospel.

The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

The woman knows this is completely outside of the norm and she’s intrigued. After all, he has no container; so she responds from within her culture. She appeals to Jacob—but Jesus responds by going beyond the culture. Jesus says “everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again”—the water of One-ism will only leave them thirsty. The things of this life with which we attempt to satisfy our thirsty souls always fail us. They never work.

And this woman gets this, and she responds, “Sir, give me this water.” She wants it, she knows that what she’s after will fail to satisfy. The only thing that will bring life—eternal life—is the “water” Jesus offers our thirsty souls. Then Jesus goes on a zig-zag:

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

This just comes out of nowhere; but Jesus knows everything you’ve ever done—everything any of us have done. And so she hides, she knows what she’s done and wants to escape condemnation. But Jesus responds, stating the fact, but he doesn’t condemn. She knows she’s already condemned. And part of what we have to do is not condemn the world, but to help the world see that they’re already condemned—so they can process through the implications, like the woman:

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Basically, it doesn’t matter where, the point is worshipping in spirit and truth. People have exchanged the truth for a lie, but God is seeking people who will worship in truth.

And the woman starts jumping and says, “I know that Messiah is coming… When he comes, he will tell us all things.”

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.

Her witness is incredible—the woman takes off and goes to the people of her town and said, “Come see a man who told me all I ever did.”

Then there’s this conversation that’s going on in verses 31-38; the disciples are asking God what’s going on. Jesus tells them that he has had food they do not know about. And they’re like what? And Jesus says that his food is to do the will of “him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” This is our work as well—we are here to live on mission for God’s glory; that is the will of the Father. Look at what Jesus says:

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

I want to close with a few points of application:

1. We must engage the culture and not retreat from it. Missional living is necessarily cross-cultural living. As Christians, we are living in a culture that is different from the biblical worldview. As Christians we live in the biblical worldview of Two-ism. But that is not the view of the surrounding culture. We must be humble, walk circumspectly about our own cultural biases, showing love and compassion.

2. We are to love and not hate. The culture does not like us. In fact, the culture hates us. They would like to eradicate my “tribe.” When I hear what the surrounding culture says about us, I want to fight back; it bums my spirit when I see One-ism make in-roads. But I have to ask myself [when this happens], am I upset because of my love for people or because my team isn’t winning? A really good question to ask ourselves is do we really love the unsaved or do they just annoy the heck out of us?

3. Hold to the truth. We decided early on in our church that we would not pull any punches—we’d say what the Bible says.

4. It will necessarily cost us to live missionally. It takes time, it will drain us emotionally because lives are so messy. It will cost us because we will have to interact with sinners in order to see them saved. And if you choose to live missionally, you’ll be hit from both sides. The sinners will hate you because you’re telling them to repent and the religious will hate you because you’re a friend of sinners.

5. It will take time to see the results. In my cultural context, it’s the long-haul. It’s the long-haul view.

6. We need to live authentically. The people out there need the gospel, but I need it too.

7. Be in prayer. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2)

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

People are perishing. They need the gospel—will we repent where we need to? Will we reach out with love and truth?

Ardel Caneday: Two-ism and the Doctrine of Scripture #ThinkTank

Ardel Caneday (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is Professor of New Testament Studies and Biblical Studies at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has served churches in various pastoral roles, including senior pastor. He has authored numerous journal articles, many essays in books, and has co-authored with Thomas Schreiner the book The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance (Inter-Varsity, 2001).

It is entirely fitting that we should ponder the beauty of two and the doctrine of Scripture after Dr. Jones’ presentation on the doctrine of God and Dr. Johnson’s presentation on the incarnation. The preincarnate Word spoke the word that brought the world into existence. The Word spoke the word that gave form to the formless. Thus the Word, Jesus, is the original. Romans shows us that God reveals himself not only in creation but to creation.

Belief in the incarnate Word of God is ours only as we believe the testimony of the Word concerning him. In their published effort to diminish the lofty view of Scripture that we evangelicals have received from the church fathers and reformers, replacing Sola Scriptura with Sola Experientia. As we probe the Creator/creation distinction that presupposes the formation of all Christian doctrine, we have to see how the Creator condescends to make himself known:

1. The Creator’s condescension to reveal himself. He does this by taking on our likeness by taking on our form, our likeness and our emotions—when in fact, we bear his likeness, his image. Because the entire universe is his creation, it is also the canvas of his entire revelation. (Psalm 19). Grand as the expanse of God’s creation is, more foundation to our understanding is that God formed Adam in his own likeness. The image is the nexus, the link, that gives humans inherent knowledge of God. He implanted in us an inherent awareness of the existence of God and our need for a deity. This is why Calvin says, “Without knowledge of ourselves, we have no knowledge of God and without knowledge of God we have no true knowledge of ourselves.” If we are going to be faithful to the Creator/creation distinction, we have to be aware that we are like God but also not like God. We gravely compromise the distinction when we advocate his similarity at the expense of his dissimilarity and likewise when we advocate his dissimilarity at the expense of his similarity.
Rom. 1:18-20.

Paul paints all people as being equally condemned, substituting created things for the image of God. Since the time of the so-called Enlightenment with its devotion to “rationalism,” we have come to think that humans have come to think that we have the ability to know God by our own intellectual powers. Philosophers and theologians have come to despise the image of God taking the form of a potter to shape the first man. They despise the image of God stooping to breathe life into the man’s lungs… But because God has made humans analogous to himself, he exploits this analogy to reveal himself to us. Consequently our knowledge of God and our covenantal relationship with God are derived from the fact that God has made us in his image. Consequently, we must never unduly degrade humanity as being evolved from a lower being. Equally, we must never unduly degrade humanity by confusing the Creator and creation.

2. The Creator’s condescension to give his word through human writers. The distinction between creator and creation is a foundational presupposition of our confidence in the inerrancy of the Scripture. Kant’s relegating God’s revelation to matters of religion, theologians and Christians today believe Scripture’s claims about religious beliefs as inerrant, but on matters of nature to be errant. Further, Kenton Sparks argues that because Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, he must have made errors in estimating and not done everything perfectly.

Sparks: “If Jesus as a finite human being erred from time to time, there is no reason at all to suppose that Moses, Paul, [and/or] John wrote Scripture without error.”

Sparks and those following him thus diminish the distinction between Creator and creation… leading to a view that we cannot truly know God. But Calvin says that we can truly know God, even if we cannot fully and exhaustively know him.

What Calvin affirms is that the church fathers proclaimed long ago. These church fathers understood the Creator/creation distinction that allows us to understand the inerrancy of Scripture. We are wrong to follow Sparks and those like him into believing that God has spoken only authoritatively in certain realms. They fall into the same error as that of open theism. But God’s word is condescending, it’s accommodating, analogical. Even though God makes himself known analogically, his Word is not errant, but pure and true and trustworthy.

3. Creation’s condescension to incarnate his eternal Word as the fullness of divine revelation to humanity. Because of the gulf between creator and creation, the Creator condescended to send the incarnate Word. Far more glorious [than even the glories shown to the OT prophets] is the revelation of Christ, who is the exact image of God, the exact imprint of his nature. The Lord’s self-revelation in anthropomorphisms through the pages of the Old Testament now reveals himself in the flesh in Christ. “The one who looks upon me, looks upon the one who sent me,” says Jesus. To see him is to see as much of the invisible God as the pure in heart are able to see. He has made himself visible in the incarnate Son in whom the fullness of God is pleased to dwell. Concerning the Son, the Apostle John assures us that, “” (1 John 5:20).

Many evangelicals think they are above Nicodemus, in thinking they are above earthly things. Because Scripture does not fill their ears with lofty words, they try to improve on God’s revelation. As Calvin says [commenting on John 3:2]:

Many hold the Gospel in less estimation because they do not find in it highsounding words to fill their ears, and on this account do not deign to bestow their attention on a doctrine so low and mean. But it shows an extraordinary degree of wickedness that we yield less reverence to God speaking to us, because he condescends to our ignorance; and, therefore, when God prattles to us in Scripture in a rough and popular style, let us know that this is done on account of the love which he bears to us.

Dennis Johnson: Two-ism and the Incarnation #ThinkTank

Dennis E. Johnson (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of practical theology at Westminster Seminary California and associate pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church. He is also the author of numerous books, including Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1,3,14)

Three simple sentences, verses 1,3 and 14 from the opening of John’s Gospel. Together they make some of the most extraordinary truth claims in all of history. Peter Jones wrote that the incarnation is a profound mystery and a stupendous miracle—this is the only place where the Creator and creation are joined in a way without confusion…

On page after page, God’s word demands that we must never confuse God with his creation. The bible is unmistakably Two-ist—always distinguishing God from his finite creation. So the incarnation should slap us awake. But it doesn’t cause much reaction for the One-ist; it’s merely the way that all things work at all times.

Strauss: “Incarnation, good idea, but not scandalous… after all, aren’t we all God incarnate?”

To grasp the claim that John 1:14 makes in all of its full force about one specific human being, about Jesus of Nazareth, we have to hear those claims against the backdrop of Scripture that the God who speaks and acts in creation is distinct from his creation. That’s what makes the incarnation so transcendentally beautiful.

The Infinite Divide of the Creator from His Creation

We want to think about five aspects of that divide:

1. He is infinitely immutable and unchangeable where all that he has created is subject to time and change. Psalm 102—“…they will perish, but you will remain.” Earth and the heavens seem pretty permanent in comparison to roses and trees and humans and even civilizations. But the psalmist says

2. Infinite in his energy where creatures are finite in theirs. “To whom will you liken God—or what likeness will you compare?” The Lord is the everlasting God; he does not grow faint or weary. Young men get tired and stumble but not the Lord.

3. His irresistible power over the powers of nature. Psalm 107:23-30;

4. The only source of salvation for his vulnerable creatures. “I, I am the Lord… and besides me, there is no other.” Isa. 45, God summons the pagan nations and orders them to testify that their idols have ever done anything for them. The Lord then offers an open infinite invitation for salvation—“Turn to me . . . To me, every knee will bow…” Only the Lord can save. And just as foolish as turning to idols is turning to finite human beings. (Psalm 136) Only the Creator can save—“Salvation belongs to the Lord,” said Jonah.

5. Only the Creator is worthy of worship. Worship is our response to whatever or whomever we ascribe the most value and honor. This is the point that Moses made in preparing the people as they prepared to enter the land. And in the New Testament, in Rev. 4:4-5, we see an expanding choir extolling God because He is holy and almighty and sovereign and the Savior of all things. Full of Worship of the true and living God. By contrast we see the dragon and the serpent demanding that people worship them. Then there’s that them toward the end of Revelation where you see the appropriate humility of God’s messengers. John falls down at the feet of God’s messengers—and both times the angels sharply rebuke him, telling him you must not do that.

So that’s the backdrop, do not confuse the Creator with his Creation.

The Scandal of the Incarnation

We confess Jesus’ incarnation so much that we fail to empathize with those who struggled with Jesus’ claims about himself as seen in the New Testament. The incarnation was scandalous because Jesus was so obviously human—he had a birthday. He grew physically but also mentally. He grew in wisdom and stature. He did not know everything; he got so exhausted that he fell asleep during a storm at sea. Jesus was so elegantly human that he wept and was angered by sin and death. He needed strength. Finally, he bled and he died.

Obviously human, plainly human—and yet he plainly claimed to be God. Calling God his Father, his hearers drew the right conclusions, and this is why they sought to kill him all the more. In John 8, they wanted to stone Jesus not because he claimed to have seen Abraham, but because he did it in a way that called to mind the language of God’s appearance to Moses in the burning bush. Jesus’ listeners were troubled by his claim to be impossibly old, but moreso because of his use of the term “I AM.”

In John 10, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” And the Jews picked up stones to kill him for blasphemy. And what we see in all of these accounts is that Jesus doesn’t correct people, he doesn’t back peddle and say, “Oh, no no, no, you misunderstand…” He knew they grasped his daring claim, even if they couldn’t accept it.

Jesus took the authority of God in forgiving sins, something that only God can do. But Jesus also took authority in other actions as well, such as stilling the storm. Jesus acted as God in commissioning his own witnesses as well (Acts 1), calling back to Isaiah’s proclaiming that God would send his Spirit and he would send out his witnesses. Witnesses to what? If we fill in the blanks from Isaiah, to the identity of Jesus. By the fourth chapter of Acts, we find Peter standing in front of the leaders who condemned Jesus to death, proclaiming that there is salvation in no one else. And so it’s no wonder that other NT books draw the conclusion that Jesus who was so eminently human is also God.

The book of Hebrews connects Jesus to the Lord in Psalm 102 and Revelation, which boldly proclaims that the Lord alone is to be worshipped, openly, joyfully gives that worship to Jesus. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain…”

The NT presents to us the man who was Jesus, who was born and ate and slept and wept and grew up and died—who claimed to be God.

The Mystery of the Incarnation

How can we wrap our minds around this mystery? We want explanations, we want to understand how this can be. One of the great challenges of the early church was answering the question, “who is this man?” Finally, in 451 at Chalcedon, the Church affirmed the following definition which has stood the test of time:

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable (rational) soul and body; consubstantial (coessential) with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather of the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God, the Word the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning (have declared) concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

This complicated sentence shows Jesus to be human, as the NT shows him to be. And it shows him to be God, which the NT shows him to be. It doesn’t dispel the mystery.

It’s actually a good thing that we cannot dispel the mystery of how because they NT is far more concerned with declaring the why of the incarnation.

The Beautiful Purposes of the Incarnation

Anselm wrote one of the classic benchmarks of theology, “Why the God-man?” And I see two answers in the Bible—revelation and redemption. Remember John 1—“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw…” “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” Through Jesus, we see the Father—he is the exclusive gateway to knowledge of the Father. It makes perfect sense for the author to the Hebrews to focus our attention on God’s speech:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Heb 1-3)

In his little book, J.B. Phillips, dismantles the stereotypes that we have surrounding God and then begins to construct the idea that perhaps God is far more bigger than we can imagine, who wills to be known by his creation.

But Anselm’s answer to the question that knowing our Creator intimately and personally would not be a good thing without redemption—without the cleansing and purifying from sins.

Hebrews, even in the prologue, brings that purpose. In verse three, we’re plunged into the messiness of the human problem and the rest of the epistle explains what Christ had to do to accomplish redemption. On the issue of the identity of Jesus of Nazareth rests nothing less than the fate of the human race, the redemption of human beings from all nations in all times.

Peter Jones: Two-ism and the Doctrine of God #ThinkTank

Dr. Peter Jones is the founder of truthXchange, a ministry that equips the Christian community in general and its leaders in particular to recognize and effectively respond to the rising tide of neopaganism. Dr. Jones is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and  serves on the executive committee of the World Reformed Fellowship.

My subject is two-ism and the doctrine of God and I’ll have much to say, but I want to put our subject in the larger context. Why this conference on the subject of the beauty of two?

The message of one-ism and two-ism, a simple and some say simplistic, is an attempt to understand Romans 1:25, which gives you two possibilities, either you worship the Creator or you worship creation. But at the same time as we’re trying to talk this way, some on a “progressive” track are also using this language of one and two, but in the exact opposite way.

They talk about the hermeneutic of one—this brilliant way of thinking that solves all our problems if all is one. On the other hand, two is a false doctrine that must be deconstructed—we must get to this unity of one-ism. So we have this face-off, using the same language, that are totally opposed—one calls white black, and black white—using the same terminology. IF those who are opposing Christianity are using this terminology in the totally opposite way, then I believe we are absolutely right to use this language in a correct manner.

Our subject this week is totally subversive to our culture. We’re not engaged in a culture ware, we’re involved in a spiritual war… and I believe not since the days of the early church when the believers had to hide in the catacombs has Two-ism been under so great an attack. At all levels of human existence, this idea of the binary is under attack. There’s a great commitment to the destruction of the binary. Philip Goldberg’s book, American Veda, seeks to prove that America has become Hindu. He compares the change in the way we think about spirituality and calls it the latest great awakening—comparable to the great awakening of the 18th century. The spirituality of the day is that of Advaita—”not two.” You see this in much of the spirituality of the day, including the spirituality in some of Christianity. We (the church) try not to understand the culture not through this understanding of one-ism and two-ism, but seeing the culture as a positive; the one-ist culture for some is giving the agenda to the church. But this is totally confused—you’re either with Jesus or against him. You either worship the Creator or the creation.

As I’ve been writing on this idea of One-ism and Two-ism, and seeing how this language is being picked up by those opposing us, it seems that what we’re doing this week is really important.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1-9)

That Psalm in repeating that structure at the beginning and the end leaves little to the imagination. If you want a simple way of understanding how to carry the doctrine of God with you, remember these two simple prepositions—”in” and “above”. If you can capture that, you have the biblical doctrine of God. In those two prepositions, you see that God’s name is written into the creation and the history of his people and yet his glory is above all the heavens.

This notion of above is absolutely essential to our understanding of God’s nature—what can we say about God who is above, and what can we say about the God who is in?

1. I take above to mean radical transcendence. God is transcendent above the heavens as Creator. Genesis 1:1 presents God as before all, so that everything that exists after is created. It’s such a wonderfully satisfying truth to understand that our understanding of God makes so much sense when we talk about God in that transcendent way. This notion of God tells us that there are two very different kinds of being and it will always be that way. So this notion that we will become gods doesn’t work–it depends on not having a beginning. We won’t discover that we are divine beings, because we continue to be created. We won’t be slapping ourselves on the back and congratulating you for all that you do. God is the transcendent Creator.

We need to recapture this way of talking about God among ourselves; in our desire to be cool we’ve reduced God to our level. And we’ve lost the majesty of the God who is transcendentally other than what we are and like whom we can never be. Doesn’t this view of God take your breath away? The God who is so above all matter? This statement about God reveals a God who is life-giving. It makes us realize that from him alone comes life.

In the phrase, “God above,” God is revealed as unique. Pantheism and polytheism could not create the coherent work of the cosmos. They say the camel is a horse produced by a committee. The idea that these many gods could produce the created order boggles the mind. Thus the Lord presents himself as unique. “I am the Lord and there is none other.” If God is unique, God is unique relative to all others—that’s why we’re obliged to speak about God’s incommunicable attributes. And all this means is that there are some things about God you don’t have—and you can’t have because you’re not God.

In speaking of this idea of transcendence, we have to speak of Islam, which appears to present a radical transcendence. But I believe in spite of the appearances, that this is a false transcendence, which draws Islam toward pagan one-ism. Of course, in the classic pagan one-ism of Hinduism, there is no transcendence. In One-ist paganism, there is no need for a transcendent creator because we are all creators. But this is a constant theme that there is no transcendence. But this is not the biblical view. The biblical view is radical distinction—that God created ex nihilo (from nothing).

2. Psalm 8 also has us think about God not simply as transcendent, but also immanent. He has revealed his glory, his name is majestic IN all the earth. So we have to see God as both transcendent and immanent. And that’s the amazing thing about the biblical doctrine of God that you won’t find in any other religion; it’s not one or the other, it’s both. And as humans, we need both. We need a God who is above and beyond us, but we also need one who is not far from us. We see the glory of God in the things that have been made—including human beings made in his image. God reveals himself in the things he’s made. His name tag on creation reveals his wonder.

We know that it’s not good for man to be alone , but it’s also not good for God to be alone. And this is the problem that Islam faces—where God is seen as a singularity. This is where the doctrine of the Trinity is so important. The problem in Islam is that there is no point of contact between God and man. How do you know God if there’s no point of contact? Allah cannot be known in any meaningful way… I’m not a great scholar of Islam, but it seems to me that the doctrine of God creates massive problems. In the Hadith Kuzi, which Muslims declare to be the word of God, he essentially admits to needing humans. Islam is trapped between deism and pantheism. Sufis realize the problem and have denied that the creation has any true existence and any sense of transcendence is lost.

Finally, because this God’s name is “in” this creation, we can describe him as “love.” This is again where the doctrine of the Trinity is important. An impersonal, solitary God cannot love. If God is dependent upon his creatures to love, then he is not God. But love is about the Trinity first. This is not just theory. All evangelicals are Trinitarian because they’ve put their faith in the gospel and (citing Fred Sanders’ The Deep Things of God) “the Trinity is at the heart of the gospel.”

This biblical message is a jewel worth dying for. There’s nothing like it in history. Not culture war, but spirit war. Proclaiming, honoring the truth of the Trinitarian transcendent Lord—that is what I challenge you with. We find a new way of speaking in an old way of this jewel that we find nowhere else in history. In closing, let us declare together and echo the words of the psalmist: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.”

For another take, see Chris Poblete’s notes on this session at truthXchange.com

D.A. Carson: Getting Excited about Melchizedek #TGC11

In the final plenary session of The Gospel Coalition’s 2011 National Conference, D.A. Carson expounds on Psalm 110, the psalm most quoted in all the New Testament.

The audio is available for download here. Video footage can be viewed below:


My notes follow:

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter.

Rule in the midst of your enemies!

Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.

He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses, he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth.

He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head. (Psalm 110 ESV)

Most of the controlling themes in the Bible don’t resonate well with the dominate culture in the west. Think of the categories:

Covenant. Priests. Sacrifice. Blood Offering. King. Passover. Day of Atonement. Year of Jubilee.

King. We speak of King Jesus. When Jesus announced His coming, He did not announce the coming of the republic of God. The king of the Bible is not a constitutional monarch. King has very different references.

We’re not thinking in these terms alone.

Yet Melchizedek turns out to be one of the most instructive figures in the whole Bible for helping us put together our Bible and seeing who Jesus is. God has put things together in the Bible in this way for our good.

Melchizedek only shows up in the OT in two places, once in Genesis and once here. And he shows up only once in the NT and that’s it. Yet he is absolutely revolutionary in our understanding of the Bible.

So we begin with Psalm 110. [Read more…]

Matt Chandler: Youth #TGC11

Matt Chandler is the senior pastor of The Village Church in Highland Village, TX. He is expounding on Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8.

The audio is available for download here. Video footage can be viewed below:


My notes below:

I pastor a church where there’s a lot of young people. In nine years, I’ve done one funeral for a person over 30, but I’ve done dozens of for people under the age of 30, and many under 10.

I wanted to be faithful to the Lord and the people He’s given me to shepherd to prepare them for this suffering, and one of His great mercies on Him was that as I was preparing them, He was preparing me.

When I read this text, I feel it, because here’s what I know that you don’t:

Some of us who are here aren’t going to be here when we do this again. Nobody thinks it’s coming for them. So when I read this text, the weight of it, the pain of it, it’s honestly a beautiful thing.

Ecclesiastes 11, beginning at verse 9:

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low—they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. (Eccl 11:9-12:8)

There are a lot of imperatives in this text: [Read more…]

James MacDonald: Not According to Our Sins #TGC11

James MacDonald is the founding pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel here in Chicago. His message comes from Psalm 25.

The audio is available for download here. Video footage can be viewed below:

My notes follow.

Not sure if this was a gift or Carson throwing down the gauntlet—“let’s see you preach Christ out of this text, yo!”

Before we can preach Christ, we first need to preach. Many are not actually heralding the Word that has been given to them. We need to preach Christ from all the Word.

4 things by way of background on Psalm 25:

  1. It’s a psalm. They’re the most quoted books of the OT in the NT. They’re quoted over 400 times in the NT. The psalms are the songbook of Jesus.
  2. It’s a poem. Ancient Hebrew poetry with two main artistic structure. It’s an acrostic and the truths come in couplets, synonymous parallelism.
  3. It’s a pattern. Prayer, creed, prayer. It’s David in pursuit of total trust in God. That’s why I’ve called this message “When You Don’t Know What To Do.” Some of it’s about learning, some is about leaning, but it’s all about building trust.
  4. It’s the plea of a broken-hearted man. Don’t ever let your study cause paralysis in remembering that this is a real life. A psalm like this can only come from someone who understood what it was like to be crushed. Many debate when this took place in David’s life, but most agree that this has to do with Absalom (see 2 Sam 3-15).

Psalm 25:1-2a: Trust God. The whole theme of the psalm. The word for “soul” means the center of the desires, but can include the whole body.

Psalm 25:2b-3: No Shame. Can his prayer be anymore clear? “Let me not be put to shame.” It may look really bad today, your heart might be in the vice of some crushing reality, but it’s not over. What we have to learn is that there is no shame. Not in the end, not when God’s done. Is there ever an excuse or reason to be betrayed? Pastors, parents, children, people don’t deserve that. [Read more…]

Cultivating Private Prayer as a Pastor

On Tuesday, February 1, Dr. Joel Beeke spoke at the Desiring God 2011 Pastor’s Conference, “The Powerful Life of the Praying Pastor.” His topic: Cultivating Private Prayer as a Pastor. Though many visiting this site are not pastors, I hope you’ll find Dr. Beeke’s message beneficial to cultivating your own prayer life.


Audio: : (Download to listen later)

Below are the notes taken during Dr. Beeke’s session (courtesy of Desiring God):

It is always convicting to receive the assignment to speak on prayer to other pastors. And as I was writing the book that Dr. Piper referenced on prayer, I became increasingly convicted by the Puritans about how little I pray. So tonight, I am preaching first of all to myself. This topic is at the heart of revival of the church of Jesus Christ. My father told me when I was a teenager that the greatest problem of the church today is prayerless praying.

The sermons of the Reformers and Puritans are not that different than ours. We’re saying essentially the same thing. What was so different was their prayer lives. My aim is that we would truly pray in our prayers. So turn with me to Isaiah 64:6-9 and James 5:13-18.

True prayer is putting ourselves into our petitions, crying out to God Almighty and praying in our prayers. The problem is not that we don’t pray, but rather that seldom we truly prayerfully pray in our prayers. What is this praying? The primary exercise of faith. Private prayerful praying is the work of the triune God. It has more to do with God than with us. It is Heaven’s greatest weapon that we have at our disposal as a minister of the gospel. This kind of praying is supposed to be half of our vocation—giving ourselves to the Word and to prayer. [Read more…]

Truth and Lies: Mark Driscoll – Pastoral Care and One-ism

Mark Driscoll’s final session focused on how One-ism and idolatry’s effect on pastoral care. In this session, Driscoll offered five steps to pastoral care.

1. Uncover the Enslaving Idol

“Traditional counseling starts and stops at the level of behavior. [It’s] behavior modification instead of transformation,” says Driscoll.

Under all sin is idolatry, according to 2 Pet. 2:19. There is no freedom in sin. “Sin is simply choosing you master, but it’s not freedom.”

Addiction is the secular language for the biblical language of slavery. Those who commit adultery worship and are slaves to sex. Sluggards worship and are enslaved to comfort. Those who are proud worship and are enslaved to themselves. Gamblers worship and are enslaved to luck, which is the name of an ancient Greek god…

“We worship our way into idolatry and must worship our way out,” says Driscoll. “Martin Luther said, ‘If your heart cleaves to anything else… you have another God.’ You can have ‘a state of God’ rather than a real God. And when you face adversity, it’s where you go.”

2. Find the Demonic Lie

Jesus says that Satan is a liar and he is the father of lies. “Idols promise good, but they deceive,” says Driscoll.

[Your job says] ‘If you worship me, I’ll make you successful.’ So you worship your job. [Your hobbies and shopping say] ‘If you worship me I’ll make you happy.’ So you pour yourself into the recreational activity, buy the shoes, buy the car.

The lie says it will bring you closer to God. “If you sing these songs; go to this school; go to this church; read these books…  All these can become false saviors.”

Another is, “You need to be true to yourself.”  Driscoll comments, “While we should be authentic, sometimes we need to repent of being true to ourselves and be true to Jesus.”

You need to love yourself is another lie. But this, says Driscoll, is simply the cult of self-esteem. [Read more…]

Truth and Lies: Mark Driscoll – One-ism in Culture

In his first lecture, Mark Driscoll addressed how we are created to reflect, mirror and image God, but through our sin, we have a proclivity to, rather than reflect God, fall into one of two idolatrous options.

The first is that we worship ourselves. “This is, perhaps best evidenced by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In his hierarchy, Maslow says that our greatest need is self-actualization,” says Driscoll.

Our second option is to we worship other people. This accounts for rise of celebrity culture.

Radio personality Dr. Drew Pinsky has come across this condition that people are suffering from the effects of mirroring other people. We no longer have role models, we have celebrities.

What we need, Driscoll argues, are role models. People would live an exemplary life, a model life, and we would imitate them (cf. Hebrews 13). You don’t worship them, but you learn from them how to be a better mirror. (As an aside, Driscoll is impressed that in God’s common grace and general revelation, the non-Christian radio host can identify the same problem that Scripture reveals, even if his solutions are different.)

“Today we have celebrities. They’re not role models. They’re infamous for bad behavior. But they haven’t done anything,” says Driscoll. “‘The only way to become a celebrity is to do something extreme,’ says Dr. Drew in The Mirror Effect. There’s a cultural appetite for more extreme examples.” [Read more…]

Truth and Lies: Mark Driscoll – One-ism vs Two-ism

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church is borderline infamous. His blunt and sometimes brash style of expository preaching has made his sermon feeds one of the top of the iTunes charts—and made him the internet’s piñata.

As the co-host of The Exchange, Driscoll covered the topic of one-ism vs. two-ism, primarily focusing on the realm of popular culture over two sessions, with his third session devoted how one-ism affects pastoral care. This post relates the big ideas of the first session (although I unfortunately missed the first half of session one due to a meeting).

Driscoll focused primarily on what it means to be a worshipper, and simply that we are all worshippers all the time. It’s what we’re created for—and also what we were created as.

We were created to reflect, mirror, image God in creation, says Driscoll. However, through sin, we have a proclivity to worship created things rather than our Creator God.

This is most apparent today in our “sacred culture,” the marks of which are:

  1. The myths that define life
  2. Community
  3. Sacred ritual

These aspects show up in most every area of our lives.

Music. We follow our favorite bands; we sing their songs, we buy all their records. When they make a bad one, we’re in music hell. Concerts are worship events.

Sports. We worship teams, dress up like our favorite athletes by wearing the same jersey and number. Our worship activities start up a few blocks away as we walk to the stadium and talk about what’s going to happen. “People won’t even drive to your church, but they’ll walk to the ball park,” says Driscoll. There are sacred spaces, such as “the hallowed ground of old Yankee Stadium.” If your team is winning, you’re in heaven. If it’s losing, you’re in hell. [Read more…]

"My Goal is to be a Faithful Minister of Jesus Christ until He Calls Me Home" – Matt Chandler at Together for the Gospel 2010

Matt Chandler was a special guest at Together for the Gospel 2010, sharing about how his experience with cancer has impacted him and his theology:

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“My goal is to be a faithful minister of Jesus Christ until he calls me home,” says Chandler.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’ve got that kind of faith. But I want it.

When we suffer, will we suffer well? Will we look at our circumstances with despair or will we join Paul in saying,

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

Philippians 1:21-24

HT: Matt Robbins

"Did Jesus Preach the Gospel of Evangelicalism?" – John Piper at Together for the Gospel

The aim of my title is not to criticize the gospel of evangelicalism but to assume that it is biblical and true, and then to ask whether Jesus preached it. If I had it to do over again, I would use the title “Did Jesus Preach Paul’s Gospel?”—the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, on the basis of Christ’s blood and righteousness alone, for the glory of God alone.

This week at Together for the Gospel, John Piper shared a message that many considered the highlight of the conference: 

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more about “Video from Together for the Gospel ::…“, posted with vodpod

The full manuscript is available at Desiring God, but here are a couple of highlights: 

Did Paul Get Jesus Right?

So the problem I am wrestling with is not whether evangelicalism gets Paul’s gospel right, but whether Paul got Jesus’ gospel right. Because I have a sense that among the reasons that some are losing a grip on the gospel today is not only the suspicion that we are forcing it into traditional doctrinal categories rather than biblical ones, but also that in our default to Pauline categories we are selling Jesus short. In other words, for some—perhaps many—there is the suspicion (or even conviction) that justification by faith alone is part of Paul’s gospel, but not part of Jesus’ gospel. And in feeling that way, our commitment to the doctrine is weakened, and we are thus less passionate to preach it and defend it as essential to the gospel. And we may even think that Jesus’ call to sacrificial kingdom obedience is more radical and more transforming than the gospel of justification by faith alone. 

Only One Thing Missing

[W]hen it comes to justification, it doesn’t matter whether the rich ruler is right when he says, “All these I have kept from my youth.” What matters is what he is depending on. What he is trusting in. So Jesus says to him in Luke 18:22, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” [. . .] [Read more…]