Month: March 2012

What kind of Jesus do you see in Idaho Falls?

Would you be seeing this?

A nice, middle-class American Jesus.  A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have.  A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationship so that he receives all our affection.  A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are.  A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether.  A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream.

But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point?  We are molding Jesus into our image.  He is beginning to look a lot like us because, after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with.  And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible.  Instead we may be worshiping ourselves.”

- Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (2010) by David Platt

The book is in the Idaho Falls Library – the number is 261.1097 PLATT.

Easter is comin’ to Idaho Falls (3)

“When Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning, he rose as the beginning of the new world that Israel’s God had always intended to make.  That is the first and perhaps the most important thing to know about the meaning of Easter. . . .

“The power that has tyrannized the old creation has been broken, defeated, overthrown.  God’s kingdom is now launched, and launched in power and glory, on earth as in heaven. . . .

“This is the real beginning of the kingdom.  Jesus’s risen person–body, mind, heart, soul–is the prototype of the new creation.  We have already seen him as the Temple in person, as the jubilee in person.  Now we see him as the new creation in person. . . .

“Here, then, is the message of Easter, or at least the beginning of that message.  The resurrection of Jesus doesn’t mean, ‘It’s all right.  We’re going to heaven now.’  No, the life of heaven has been born on this earth.  It doesn’t mean, “So there is a life after death.”  Well, there is, but Easter says much, much more than that.  It speaks of a life that is neither ghostly or unreal, but solid and definite and practical.  The Easter stories come at the end of the four gospels, but they are not about an ‘end.’  They are about a beginning.  The beginning of God’s new world.  The beginning of the kingdom.  God is now in charge, on earth as in heaven.  And God’s ‘being-in-charge’ is focused on Jesus himself being king and Lord.  The title on the cross was true after all.  The resurrection proves it.” (Simply Jesus, N.T. Wright)

The LORD

Eight of us guys looked at Zechariah 12:1-9 this morning at the Bella Vita Coffee House.

Zechariah 12:1 shares three things about the LORD:

  1. “who stretches out the heavens”
  2. “lays the foundation of the earth”
  3. “forms the spirit of man within him”

God is the Sovereign of the heavens, the earth, and man’s spirit.  Pretty clear on who is the cause and who we should worship.

The NKJV Daily Bible – today’s reading

“Thus I prostrated myself before the LORD; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the LORD had said He would destroy you.  Therefore I prayed to the LORD, and said: ‘O Lord GOD, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand” (Deut. 9:25-26).

As Moses prayed for Israel, should we get serious about praying for America?  I am grieved by the abortion issue in America.  Are there 1.2 million abortions a year?  How long will God be longsuffering over this issue?  Our God is a “consuming fire” (Deut. 9:3).

Pray for the Supreme Court justices as they consider health care law this week.  The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Baptisms for the Dead in Idaho Falls

Yesterday morning, our church family examined I Corinthians 15: 29.  If you were to google, “baptized for the dead”, you will find page after page related to the LDS Church.

In Southeastern Idaho, I wonder how many baptisms for the dead have been performed in these first three months of 2012?  Thousands?

The topic of baptisms for the dead has gone national in the past couple of weeks.  One LDS apologist,Dan Peterson, relies upon Lutheran heavyweight, Krister Stendahl, to bolster their case.

And yet others see I Corinthians 15:29 in a different light.  In my studies, here are five sources interacting with Mormonism (emphasis is mine).

1. Alan Johnson writes,

Thiselton counts no fewer than forty different explanations [on I Corinthians 15:29]; Ralph Martin suggests two hundred is closer to the truth. . . . It might be objected that if this proxy baptism was in fact the case in point, why didn’t it continue in the church (except among early Marcionites and now Mormons)?  Why doesn’t the New Testament mention it elsewhere?

2. Craig Blomberg writes,

So there remains no justification for making any of these practices prescriptive rather than descriptive, and certainly no evidence that Christians ever considered proxy baptism valid for total unbelievers.  Both of these observations, therefore, contradict historic Mormon belief and practice, despite their appeal to verse 29 for support.

3. Robert Gromacki simply notes the Mormon view,

Over thirty different interpretations have been given for this difficult verse.  The Mormons practice proxy baptism in which the living are baptized for dead ancestors who were not Mormons.

4. Gordon D. Fee explains,

On the other hand, it is difficult to imagine any circumstances under which Paul would think it permissible for living Christians to be baptized for the sake of unbelievers in general.  Such a view, adopted in part by the Mormons, lies totally outside the NT understanding both of salvation and baptism.

5. ESV Study Bible shares,

Some interpreters through the centuries have thought this referred to vicarious baptism on behalf of deceased people, probably those who had believed in Christ but had not been baptized before they died (cf. Luke 23:43).  But the interpretation is uncertain, and whatever the practice is, Paul reports it without necessarily approving it, and is clearly not commanding it.  Baptism for the dead is an important part of Mormonism, but the Bible gives no support to the idea that anyone can be saved apart from personal faith in Christ (see notes on John 3:18; 14:6).  Other interpreters argue that by “the dead” Paul means the bodies of living Christians, which are subject to death and decay: they are baptized “on behalf of their dying bodies,” showing hope that their bodies will rise again (see Rom. 8:23, I Cor. 15:42-22, 47-49, 53-54).  On this view, Paul argues here that the baptism of perishing bodies is useless if the dead are not raised.

Easter is comin’ to Idaho Falls (2)

Recently, I had an itch on the left side of my back which I thought was a bug bite.  After several days, I had my wife look at it because my skin was very sensitive, the pain even wrapping around to the front of my chest.  She told me I had a rash.  And then on Sunday after the morning service, my sister-in-law revealed to me that I probably had shingles.  The next day, Dr. Shane Machen on 17th street confirmed it.  Ouch.  All I know is that shingles is quite painful.  I compare the affliction to severe sunburns on my back and chest, intermingled with jabbing needle sensations just below my heart.  I am not looking forward to the postherpetic neuralgia.  As a 6’2’’, 179 pound, 42-year-old man, I realize that my body is wearing down.  My blood pressure is alright – 108 over 70.  My pulse is low – 65.  But despite my seeking to eat healthy, to exercise somewhat regularly by running, I am dying.  More white hair.  Less hair.   Just wait till I turn 50.  60.  And if God is gracious to me – the big three score and ten years.

If this life is all that there is, I would think that for the next 30 years I ought to suck every earthly pleasure I can out of this fleeting existence.  I should probably stop being a preacher in Idaho Falls and live for the moment.  I should latch on to the hedonist philosophy – “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we are all going to die” (I Corinthians 15:20, cf. Isa. 22:13).  Shouldn’t I just live for myself?  Protect myself?  Why sacrifice?  Why risk?

Yet we know that this life is not the end.  We know that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the grave.  He is the firstfruits of a great spiritual harvest that will take place here in the city.  The gospel has been preached steadily in this town for 130 years.  Imagine the bodily spiritual resurrection that will take place in the days ahead.  An explosion of spiritual, material glory.

Through the gracious, resurrection power of God, I will gain a spiritual body.  A celestial body.  I will be able to do some slam dunks over Christian brother, Jeremy Lin.  I will be able to ride a buckin’ bronco with Todd Pierce.  More than that, I will bear the image of the heavenly Man (I Cor. 15:49).  Hallelujah!

Easter is comin’ to Idaho Falls.

Visual Theology – The Trinity

Tim provides a visual of the Trinity.

In our neck of the woods, Jesus is taught as a lower divine being in submission to God.  In our church family’s current study of I Corinthians 15, one verse stands out particularly in regards to this issue:

Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all (I Cor. 15:28).

But this does not mean that the second person of the Trinity is not equal with the first person of the Trinity.