The Incarnation: Did a Person Become God?

Continuing to look at some clips relating to an essential doctrine of the Christian faith, from Mark Driscoll’s latest sermon series, Luke’s Gospel: Investigating the Man Who is God:

The Incarnation of Jesus.

Enjoy the teaching above and share some of your thoughts on this subject in the comments.

Edited transcript follows:

Some will ask, so with Jesus, did a person become God? That’s a very common question. The answer is no. There’s a difference between a person becoming God and God becoming a human being. In fact, a great difference.

Now, the first lie that was told to our first parents in Genesis was that they could be God. And so any religion that teaches you you can be God-Mormonism teaches you that. Hinduism and many Eastern religions say that through karma and cosmic progress you can pay off your karmic debt so that you are one with the divine. That is another way of saying that you become one with that which is divine. You’re in effect divine. You’re godlike. [Read more…]

The Incarnation: The What Now?

I’ve been really enjoying Mark Driscoll’s latest sermon series, Luke’s Gospel: Investigating the Man Who is God. It’s been a very challenging series thus far—and very beneficial as well. So, I thought it’d be fun over the next couple weeks or so to go through some clips relating to an essential doctrine of the Christian faith:

The Incarnation of Jesus.

What is it? Is it important? What difference does it make?

These are really important questions to answer and worthy of serious consideration.

Enjoy the teaching above and share some of your thoughts on this subject in the comments.

Edited transcript follows: [Read more…]

Around the Interweb (02/07)

Preacher-Idolatry and the Promise of “All Things”

From David Murray, Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan:

What do you do if people start idolizing you or your preaching? “I wouldn’t mind some of that!” you retort. Well, okay, maybe it won’t happen to many of us on a large scale. And most of us have the opposite problem. But, if even one person starts to “follow” you or your sermons excessively (and that can happen in the smallest of congregations), how should you respond?

The Apostle Paul’s answer to preacher-idolatry was, “All things are yours” (1 Cor. 3:21). I was first stunned by this verse 17 years ago when Don Carson lectured on 1 Corinthians 1-3 at the Free Church College in Edinburgh. It began a revolution in my worldview that continues to expand and develop to this day. All things are mine! It’s almost unbelievable, isn’t it? I think Paul knew that too. That’s why in the next verse he expands and underlines it. “Whether Paul or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours.” No wriggle room there is there. He covers everything. But why does Paul introduce this huge truth here? He is primarily addressing the Corinthian problem of idolizing preachers…

Read the whole article.

In other news

This month’s free book at Religions Saves by Mark Driscoll. Use the download code FEB2010 when purchasing.

Albert Mohler: Hijacking the Brain — How Pornography Works

Tim Challies: On Endorsements

A video update from Matt Chandler on his ongoing battle with brain cancer

An update from Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, on his cancer battle. Michael’s income ran out in January and his health insurance runs out this month. If you feel led to help with his ongoing medical expenses, you can donate here.

In case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts

A review of Angels by David Jeremiah

No Gospel, No Purpose – A review of The Gospel-Driven Life by Michael Horton

On Suffering Well and the Wasted Life

Fear the Boom and Bust

Charles Spurgeon on the wretchedness of pride

If I'm the Hope, That's Not Good News

This is a great clip featuring Mark Driscoll from his sermon, Christ the Lord (transcript follows):

Which leads us to Christianity. Why I tell you this is I don’t want you to interject Jesus into a false ideology. See, some people are so familiar with this birth story of Jesus and the nativity set on the mantel over the fireplace of their home, that they have this prevailing worldview that they just stick Jesus in. And he’s Christ the Lord, like the angel said. And Christianity is this- and this is where Christianity is different.

Christianity is not a world religion. It’s the truth. It’s about Jesus.

And the story is that God is Creator. He’s eternally existing. He is a spirit being, that he is the Creator who made the physical world. The heavens and the earth, all that is. And God made us male and female in his image and likeness, with dignity, value, and worth. And God spoke to us in relationship and he gave us moral commands to obey so that we might enjoy life. And instead, we chose death. We chose to follow Satan rather than God, to choose death over life, lies over truth. And traded intimacy with God, for hiding from God. And because of our sin, creation was affected. And everything is stained and marred by sin. [Read more…]

"Who Will Help the Church?" Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald in Haiti

When I first heard about Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald hopping a plane to Haiti, honestly, I had mixed feelings. I greatly respect both men and love the fact that they want to help the church… but I found myself asking, “Aren’t other organizations doing this?”

As I’ve been thinking about it and (inconsistently) praying, I suspect the answer is… not exactly.


Churches Helping Churches was created to address the immediate and long-term needs of churches when disaster befalls a country, region, city, or people in the spirit of Galatians 6:10—“…let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Our help complements the initial waves of humanitarian aid that pour into a country in the wake of a disaster. Many countries have relied on networks of local churches to be a primary conduit for the flow of health care, humanitarian aid, and even education. Rebuilding churches is a means of restoring infrastructure in a country through which aid can flow into local communities which so desperately need it.

Both throughout history and following specific tragedies it is often the local church that cares for widows, orphans, and the poor. It is the church who performs the funerals, grief counseling and spiritual follow up with families of victims. Rebuilding local churches helps address the practical and spiritual needs of a country, one person, one neighborhood, and one community at a time.

When the magnitude of a catastrophe can be described as “biblical,” it is the local church that reminds people that another biblical concept is even more powerful: hope in Jesus Christ.

Looking at their mission is really encouraging. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel in terms of aid. There are other organizations that do a brilliant job of that.

They’re not trying to do community development. There are other organizations that are fantastic at it.

They’re not trying to do people development. Again, there are others who already do it well.

Their goal is to love the Church so that the Church can be a blessing to the nations.

That’s a pretty great mission.

I’m interested in seeing how this develops.

How about you?

Moralizing: How to Destroy Scripture and Cultivate Pride

I really appreciated this clip from Mark Driscoll’s sermon, The Birth of John the Baptizer, and felt it would be valuable to share today:

What could tend to happen when we do character studies of the Bible is we pick someone in the Bible and we look at their life and we say, “Okay, what are the good things they did? What are the bad things they did? Okay, I don’t want to do the bad things, I want to do the good things,” and the result is something called moralizing.

Moralizing absolutely destroys Scripture. You don’t even need to be a Christian to moralize Scripture. You can have any religion, ideology, philosophy or theology, and moralize Scripture.

It’s one of the great errors of Bible teachers and that is, “Don’t do the bad things, do the good things, now go.” The way that John was able to become the greatest man who ever lived was not by moralizing, but by the Holy Spirit. You see that? As we study John from here and you look at this man’s amazing life, and the legacy that he has, and the fruit of his ministry, it’s not, “Well, I need to do what John did.” No, you need to be filled by the Holy Spirit like John was.

You need to be empowered and transformed by the Holy Spirit like John was.

Through faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in you so that you can live a life under the control and power of the Holy Spirit like John did. Otherwise, it’s just nothing but a list of dos and don’ts. If you think you did well, you’re proud, and if not, you’re despairing. On neither account does moralizing lead to humble joy.

John was filled with the Holy Spirit, that’s how he did it.

There is no secret.

God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

God’s power enables us to be who we cannot be and do what we cannot do because it’s God power.

Looking Ahead: Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2010

Looking at the books I enjoyed most over 2009 made me think about the ones I’m really looking forward to in 2010. Here are a few:

Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe
by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

This book, a 464 page systematic theology based on Driscoll’s preaching series in 2008 is bound to leave an impression. About the book:

Doctrine is the word Christians use to define the truth-claims revealed in Holy Scripture. Of course there is a multitude of churches, church networks, and denominations, each with their own doctrinal statement with many points of disagreement. But while Christians disagree on a number of doctrines, there are key elements that cannot be denied by anyone claiming to be a follower of Jesus. In Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, Driscoll and Breshears teach thirteen of these key elements. This meaty yet readable overview of basic doctrine will help Christians clarify and articulate their beliefs in accordance with the Bible.

3D.DugDownDeep%20copy.jpgDug Down Deep
by Joshua Harris

Joshua Harris’ latest book focuses on the practical importance of theology in the life of every believer as it shares Harris’ journey to having an informed knowledge of God as the foundation of his spiritual life. From the book:

The irony of my story—and I suppose it often works this way—is that the very things I needed, even longed for in my relationship with God, were wrapped up in the very things I was so sure could do me no good. I didn’t understand that such seemingly worn-out words as theology, doctrine, and orthodoxy were the pathway to the mysterious, awe-filled experience of truly knowing the living Jesus Christ.

They told the story of the Person I longed to know.

Dug Down Deep will be released on January 19th (and my ARC arrived on Tuesday!)

Read a review of the first chapterRead a review of the rest of the bookOrder [Read more…]

Looking Back: My Favorite Books of 2009, part two

Continuing from yesterday’s post, here are the second five books I’ve found to be the most helpful, meaningful and enjoyable, in no particular order (probably):

Agape Leadership
by Robert L. Peterson and Alexander Strauch

R.C. Chapman is relatively unknown today but a man all believers would do well to see a role model in our pursuit of holiness. In Agape Leadership: Lessons in Spiritual Leadership from the Life of R.C. Chapman, authors Robert L. Peterson and Alexander Strauch introduce us to Chapman and his commitment to not only preaching Christ, but living Christ. And live Christ he did. This short and convicting read is a must for all who wish to grow in Christlike leadership.

Read the review | Order a copy

“Fundamentalism” and the Word of God
by J.I. Packer

“Fundamentalism” and the Word of God was first published 51 years in the midst of the British ”Fundamentalism” controversy of the 1950s—a controversy centering around the authority of Scripture. In this work, Packer offers rebuttal and sharp rebuke to those who would unwisely seek to sit in judgement of Scripture, who have fallen prey to perennial error of subjectivism, and reminds readers that as Christians, we are not to stop thinking, but to stop thinking sinfully.

Read the review | Order a copy

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment
by Tim Challies

We live in a culture where “anything goes” is the epitome of all wisdom, even in the church. That’s why author and blogger Tim Challies wrote The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment—a book for those who look at all that is said and done and ask the hard question, “how can this be right?”; for all who (rightly) believe it is “the duty of every Christian to think biblically about all areas of life so that they might act biblically in all areas of life.”

Read the review | Order a copy

Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions
by Mark Driscoll

Inspired by 1 Corinthians, Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church in Seattle began the “Ask Anything” campaign on their website. 893 questions and 343,203 votes later, the top nine questions were selected for the sermon series, Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions, which was then reformatted and expanded into this book. Driscoll handles an extremely diverse and difficult series of subjects, including dating, sexual sin, grace, predestination, the emerging church and humor, all the while trying to point readers to the risen, exalted Christ. The result is a book that ended up being his most mature to date and one that I believe most anyone would benefit from.

Read the review in five parts: intro, parts one, twothree, and conclusion| Order a copy

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor
by D.A. Carson

I first read Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor in February, 2009, and I was amazed by the story of this “ordinary” pastor who is truly anything but. Learning about this man who, ultimately, never realized how far his influence reached (and I suspect wouldn’t really care)… He is a true hero of mine. Without question, this book is my favorite of 2009 and I’m grateful that D.A. Carson chose to honor his father with this memoir.

Read the review | Order a copy

And that wraps up my top ten of 2009 and there were other books that might have made the list if I did it again. Heck, I’ll probably think of one or two that should switch out tomorrow.

But what about you? What were your favorite reads of this past year?

DVD Review: Vintage Jesus DVD Curriculum

Vintage Jesus is a twelve-part DVD curriculum featuring Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA.

Based on Driscoll’s 12-part sermon series from the fall of 2006, and the book of the same name published in 2008, Vintage Jesus answers 12 of the most important questions about the person and work of Jesus Christ.

If you’ve read the book or watched the sermon series, you’re not going to find anything new in terms of content, but it’s no less compelling. Truly, Vintage Jesus is Vintage Driscoll.

What’s Good

Driscoll’s presents with passion and authority a Jesus who demands to be worshipped—A biblical Jesus. And it’s a breath of fresh air. He shows participants not only Christ as our incarnate example, but also our great and exalted King. Covering the whole of Scripture, he gives us an understanding of how the Bible is all about Jesus and addresses some of the more common critiques related to Christ and Scripture.

Particularly compelling is Driscoll’s (correct) assertion of Scripture’s inerrancy. A case in point: When addressing the issue of the virgin birth, Driscoll comments briefly on a popular author who wrote that if we found out that Jesus wasn’t really born of a virgin, we wouldn’t really lose anything. Driscoll illustrates that this is anything but the case: If you lose the virgin birth, you actually lose everything. If Scripture lies about Jesus, you lose Jesus and you lose Scripture. This is a hard, but necessary, correction.

What’s Great

What you will find less of is Driscoll’s often ribald humor. [Read more…]

Sunday Shorts (10/18)

Mark Driscoll: No ‘Best Case’ Way to Present God, but Many False Ways

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle joins the Washington Post’s On Faith Panelist blog. The subject of his first post? Jesus.

Q: What makes the best ‘case for God’ to a skeptic or non-believer, an open-minded seeker, and to a person of faith and Why?


Christianity is not first and foremost about a sacred place to pilgrimage to, a philosophical system to ponder, a moral code to live, a religious tradition to honor, or an impersonal god to experience. Rather, Christianity is about a person who claimed to be the only God and said he would prove his unprecedented claim by living without sin, dying for sinners, and conquering death through resurrection.

So, as Christians, our aim is not to convince people of some god in general, but to introduce them to Jesus in particular. And since he created us with the ability to communicate, think, love, and experience, Christians have always valued using every means by which the truth and love of Jesus can be revealed.

The entire article is well worth reading. The comments section on the other hand…

How God Called John Piper to Become a Pastor

October 14, 2009 marked the 30th anniversary of John Piper’s call to become a pastor. Justin Taylor, associate publisher at Crossway Books, blogger at Between Two Worlds, and longtime colleague of Piper’s, recounts the events leading up to his decision:

But during his sabbatical a new desire was emerging: “to see the word of God applied across a broader range of problems in people’s lives and a broader range of ages.” In other words, he increasing longed “to address a flock week after week and try to draw them in . . . to an experience of God that gives them more joy in him than they have in anything else and thus magnifies Christ.” And he found that in studying the majestic, free, and sovereign God of Romans 9 day after day his “analysis merged into worship.”

The decisive night of wrestling was on Monday, October 14, 1979—30 years ago today. His wife and two young sons were asleep. But Piper was up past midnight, writing in his journal, recording the direction God was irresistibly drawing him to.

The journal entry for that evening begins in this way:

I am closer tonight to actually deciding to resign at Bethel and take a pastorate than I have ever been. . . .

The urge is almost overwhelming. It takes this form: I am enthralled by the reality of God and the power of his Word to create authentic people.

In effect the Lord was saying to him:

I will not simply be analyzed; I will be adored.

I will not simply be pondered; I will be proclaimed.

My sovereignty is not simply to be scrutinized; it is to be heralded.

It is not grist for the mill of controversy; it is gospel for sinners who know that their only hope is the sovereign triumph of God’s grace over their rebellious will.

The calling to preach and pastor had become irresistible.

I, like many others, am grateful to God for how He’s used Piper to powerfully affect many thousands of men and women the world over. Thanks to Justin for this wonderful article.

In case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen, a review of Mark Tabb’s book on the question of suffering

D.A. Carson on the Kingdom of God, a video clip in which Carson addresses a biblical view of the Kingdom

Experiencing a Miracle, some thoughts on the miracle of salvation and regeneration

Sunday Shorts (10/11)

Mark Driscoll on ABC Nightline: Do Not Worship Idols

This week, Mark Driscoll once again made the news—this time for preaching against idols. Here’s ABC Nightline’s story:

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.3620524&w=425&h=350&fv=]

more about “Ten Commandments: Pastor Preaches Not…“, posted with vodpod

You can also find a transcript of the piece by following the link. It’s a surprisingly positive spot, I have to say.

Write to Understand

Justin Taylor offers up the wisdom of John Calvin, John Piper and Arthur Krystal on the relationship between writing and learning:

Calvin, citing Augustine: “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”

John Piper: “Writing became the lever of my thinking and the outlet of my feelings. If I didn’t pull the lever, the wheel of thinking did not turn. It jerked and squeaked and halted. But once a pen was in hand, or a keyboard, the fog began to clear and the wheel of thought began to spin with clarity and insight.

Arthur Krystal: “Like most writers, I seem to be smarter in print than in person. In fact, I am smarter when I’m writing. I don’t claim this merely because there is usually no one around to observe the false starts and groan-inducing sentences that make a mockery of my presumed intelligence, but because when the work is going well, I’m expressing opinions that I’ve never uttered in conversation and that otherwise might never occur to me. Nor am I the first to have this thought, which, naturally, occurred to me while composing. According to Edgar Allan Poe, writing in Graham’s Magazine, ‘Some Frenchman—possibly Montaigne—says: ‘People talk about thinking, but for my part I never think except when I sit down to write.’ I can’t find these words in my copy of Montaigne, but I agree with the thought, whoever might have formed it. And it’s not because writing helps me to organize my ideas or reveals how I feel about something, but because it actually creates thought or, at least supplies a Petri dish for its genesis.”


Kevin DeYoung: Thinking about the Kingdom

Kevin DeYoung offers some helpful thoughts on what the Kingdom is, and a few cautions for all of us with regard to it. One point in particular that stood out to me:

Don’t think we build the kingdom. The kingdom is something brought by the King, not something we build. The verbs related to the kingdom in the New Testament aren’t verbs like “build” or “expand,” but verbs like “receive,” “inherit,” and “enter.” The kingdom is a gift that God gives to us, not a project that God expects us to accomplish.

Sound advice worth remembering. Kevin’s entire article is well worth your time, so go read it.

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, discovering a hero in the faith, Pastor Tom Carson

Ripe for Co-opting, because sometimes we need to laugh at ourselves

Books as Compensation, a few thoughts regarding the recent hubbub with the FTC

Religion Saves: For Your Consideration


Be sure to read parts one, two, and three of
my review of this book’s content.

After roughly 4000 words over three posts examining what I appreciated and what I found lacking in Mark Driscoll’s latest book, Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions, what have I learned?

Three positives:

  1. Overall, this book is truly the most mature of Driscoll’s books to date
  2. Driscoll has a great deal of passion for seeing men and women live a life of holiness—especially living lives of sexual purity, an issue that is particularly prevalent for the members of his church
  3. Driscoll is brilliant at making difficult theology accessible for the average person

Three negatives:

  1. Driscoll, despite his passion for holiness, tends to be a bit too flippant when talking about sexuality at times
  2. His sense of humor gets a bit tired at times
  3. He sometimes tries too hard to prove a point, which can actually distract from his point (as is the case with humor)

Religion-SavesOf the nine chapters in Religion Saves, I felt the strongest were Birth Control, Predestination, Grace and The Emerging Church. The weakest, despite still being quite profitable was Humor. There is enough valuable content in every chapter for anyone who find a great deal of benefit from reading this book. I would particularly recommend this book to any pastor, small group leader and fathers. There’s a great deal of rough terrain that is covered in the book that affects all of our churches from sexual sin and confusion in acceptable dating relationships, and especially the pervasiveness of questionable teaching and false doctrine that is increasingly present within Christian churches.

The one thing you can always be sure on with Mark Driscoll, whether you love him or loathe him, is that he’s going to try to point people to the risen, glorified, Jesus—the King of kings, and Lord of lords. His big issue is that his sense of humor gets in the way sometimes. As Michael Krahn astutely pointed out in his review of Vintage Church, “In one sense, you could say that Driscoll is trying to augment the offense of the Gospel with his own form of offensiveness.” And as Michael rightly says, the gospel requires no such assistance.

You will not find someone who sits idly as false teachers confuse our brothers and sisters in Christ, nor will you find someone who is eager to shoot people simply because he disagrees with them. You will find a man who loves God, loves the Bible and wants to see people meet Jesus.

And I believe there’s a great deal in Religion Saves that will encourage people to grow in their love for Him.

Purchase your copy at or

Religion Saves: Humor, The Emerging Church, The Regulative Principle


893 questions posted. 343,203 votes cast. Nine controversial subjects. The resulting sermons were then reformatted and expanded in the book, Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions, released in June, 2009, through Crossway and RE:Lit.

This post will be dealing with three subjects from the book: Humor, the Emerging Church and the Regulative Principle.


There are few things about Mark Driscoll more talked about than his sense of humor. He’s got a sharp wit, is quite cutting in his delivery… but sometimes he’s just downright mean. And the question that prompted this chapter is a great one:

Why do you make jokes in sermons about Mormon missionaries, homosexuals, trench coat wearers, single men, vegans, and emo kids, and then expect these groups to come know God through those sermons?

Generally speaking, I appreciate Driscoll’s humor. Most of the time he avoids the edge of completely inappropriate, although there are times when he skirts dangerously close to the edge. As he says in the opening of the chapter, “I am on a mission to both put people in heaven and put the ‘fun’ back in ‘fundamentalism'” (p. 45). This is a noble goal to be sure; we can all stand to laugh at ourselves a little bit. In my younger days, I was a pretentious, trench coat wearing, comic book reading, intellectual snob who used a lot of big words to show off (and divert people’s attention from my insecurities).  I can laugh about that and poke fun a bit. And truly, there are some things that we do that are simply ridiculous and do need to be made fun of.

That said, this chapter is by far the weakest in the book, for a number of reasons. [Read more…]

Religion Saves: Birth Control, Sexual Sin and Dating


893 questions posted. 343,203 votes cast. Nine controversial subjects. The resulting sermons were then reformatted and expanded in the book, Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions, released in June, 2009, through Crossway and RE:Lit.

This post will be dealing with three subjects from the book: Birth control, sexual sin, and dating.

Birth Control

Method or use of birth control is a subject that is almost always sure to bring up a great deal of heated discussion. For Catholics, to use any form of birth control would be unthinkable. At the risk of oversimplifying, it strikes me that many Catholics would believe that to use any method of birth control would actually be an attempt to thwart the sovereign will of God (this is certainly the impression we got from reading some Catholic literature on the subject).

For Protestants, however, there’s a great deal of debate on appropriate methods. In this chapter, Driscoll addresses five types of birth control: None, natural, non-abortive (barrier methods), potentially abortive, and abortive murder.

When reading, I was struck by how, with few exceptions, gently this subject was handled. Because there is a great deal of contention surrounding the various birth control that exist, it is one that requires delicacy. This is not something that Driscoll has historically been known for, but he did very well. [Read more…]