A New Season: NAMB, Los Angeles, Bible Reading with Church fam, and Intern Discussion

God has me and our church in a new season of life. We have a plurality of pastors and seek to merely continue sharing our lives to make God known. By God’s grace alone we have completed our church revitalization. Because of this, I’m now able to think and act as a pastor of a healthy church with no church-health-crisis. I haven’t felt like this for over 4 and a half years and it’s a little strange. But I think the transition is going well.

NAMB

I met with a brother from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) serving California in helping Southern Baptist churches plant more churches by assessing, training, coaching, and supporting church planters. I was delighted to hear that NAMB will be working directly with sending churches and that sending churches don’t have to work through the local Baptist association or state convention. This is good news for autonomous churches who are less involved or invested in the state convention or local association. This is good news for my church family. I pray that as our church disciples one another and our neighbors God would raise up some to plant and revitalize churches in Los Angeles. I pray that God would continue to develop our relationships with other likeminded LA churches to maybe even plant some churches together.

Bible Reading 1-1

I’m now trying to meet more regularly with men to read the Bible 1-1 and to check in on them and the sisters of our church. Yesterday I had the delight of reading with one brother Ephesians 5 after lunch and then Galatians 1 with two brothers just before dinner. This was my way of meditating on Scripture today since I woke up and headed straight to breakfast with the NAMB brother.

Dinner with the family

After Bible reading my hero, my wife, made dinner for our family and another church family. It was a sweet time of fellowship, thinking about God’s goodness, and spending time as families. My kids are getting so big. It is such a privilege and gift to be able to eat dinner as a whole family. The blessing is multiplied eating dinner with another church family. I’m so delighted and proud of my kids as they grow and want to savor each fleeting moment of kindness and chaos.

Intern Discussion

We had our second BBC intern discussion and it was a joy. I may be unaware that some of my joking and poking could be discouraging and deflating. I need to be careful while still being edifying, challenging, thought-provoking, fun, and free within godly constraints. I absolutely need God’s grace to serve these brothers (and through them BBC and other churches) well. Lord help me!

We discussed the nature of the church from the Reformer’s perspective; the role of the pastor, discipline, and Baptist polity; Mark Dever’s polity; the goal, ground, and gift of preaching; and some letters on conversion and assurance of salvation. I’m excited for this group and for the time God has set for us this semester.

 

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Thoughts on Ethnocentrism from the angle of unintentionality in Genesis 20.1-7

Genesis 20.1-7
1 From there Abraham traveled to the region of the Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he was staying in Gerar, 2 Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him.
3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, for she is a married woman.”
4 Now Abimelech had not approached her, so he said, “Lord, would you destroy a nation even though it is innocent? 5 Didn’t he himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ I did this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you did this with a clear conscience. I have also kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I have not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, know that you will certainly die, you and all who are yours.”
Abraham lied to Abimelech about his wife Sarah, being merely his sister. So Abimelech took Sarah to be one of his wives. God threatened Abimelech with death because he was about to sleep with a married woman. Abimelech pleaded his ignorance and a clear conscience. God affirmed that Abimelech had a clear conscience, was unaware, and that is why God kept him from sinning by sleeping with Sarah. But if after being warned and made aware Abimelech slept with her or did not return her to Abraham, he would have been guilty and justly sentenced.
A few observations:
(1) Abimelech unintentionally dishonored Abraham’s marriage by taking Sarah.
(2) Abimelech did not yet “sin” because (1) he did not know and (2) he did not sleep with her. One can sin with motives or actions. At this point Abimelech did neither.
(3) When Abimelech was made aware of the situation he was now accountable to not proceed with his actions.
How could this apply to the ethnic harmony/reconciliation conversation?
If ethnocentric structural oppression still exists today, then
(1) SJG Christians may be unaware of it.
(2) May not be sinning if they are not perpetuating it.
(3) They are being made aware of it by other voices and pastors and leaders in sermons, conferences, articles, blog posts, books, and podcasts.
(4) Those who disciple others to minimize or ignore the problem perpetuate the oppression unintentionally, which is the sin that pastors and other disciplers are guilty of in their public teaching and discipleship ministries.
The SJG statement assumes there is not a massive problem today. That assumption is a moral and ethical problem for the drafters and signers, in my view.
Now, if ethnocentric structural oppression toward African Americans does not exist today then these SJG drafters and signers are correct and I need to understand, repent, and stop putting false guilt and claiming people of sin when they are in fact not sinning.
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Kevin Vanhoozer on the 5 Solas

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Kevin Vanhoozer Videos on the Pastor-Theologian, or Pastor as Public Theologian

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Pastors Need to Connect to Groups of other Pastors

Pastors need other pastors for encouragement. There are 3 types of local pastoral groups I want to identify: household pastoral groups, big-tent pastoral groups, and tribal pastoral groups.

Household pastoral groups: If you only hang out with your church pastors and members then you may not realize you’ve been living in an echo chamber. The same goes for you only spending time with other pastors who agree with everything you think theologically and in ministry practice.

Big-tent pastoral groups: At the same time, if you spend all your precious time with other pastors who are significantly different theologically or practically from you then you end up not advancing your own practice since you have to sift through the discussion and argue for theological points you’d rather take for granted.

The blessing of a big-tent pastoral group is that you can think outside your box and help others think outside theirs. The blessing of a household pastoral group is that you can focus on application of principles.

What I need is a tribal pastoral group that’s local. A tribal pastoral group agrees on enough of what is important in theology and practice so that you don’t need to argue for them. You can focus on implementation and encouragement. But it needs to be broad enough that you have guys in different mindsets to challenge you to think outside your box. For me, my tribal pastoral group would be one that agrees on the Together for the Gospel affirmations and denials and 9 marks of a healthy church along with the autonomy of a local church and believer’s baptism. The Gospel Coalition LA is very close to this in many ways. The Los Angeles Southern Baptist is supposed to be like this but it’s too broad (rightfully) to fulfill this slot for me.

I think pastors need both big-tent pastoral groups and tribal pastoral groups that are local.

If you’re a pastor, what do you think about pastoral groups/networks? What would you be looking for in such a group or network?

 

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I have moved and now post new articles and resources at gospelize.me

I have moved and now post new articles and resources at gospelize.me

Gospelize Me Header

PJ FSBC LR

I am a Christian, I was saved in 1989.

I am a husband who is happily married since June 25, 2005.

I am a father to 1 son and 3 daughters since 2013, beginning with my son in 2006.

Currently, I’m the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Bellflower, a city in the Southeast Los Angeles County.

I’ve served on the pastoral staff of Christian Fellowship Bible Church from May 2002 to December 2007 (5 and 1/2 years), directly in charge of preaching to and overseeing the student ministry (College, high school, and jr. high ministry) and later on the leadership training of the church along with being in the regular Sunday preaching rotation.

From January to May 2008, I was a pastoral intern at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. I spent my time reading, reflecting, writing, and discussing the church (the doctrine of the church, a theology of church ministry, evaluating church polity, practice, and mentalities, etc.). I also had the privilege of being a member at the church with all the joys and responsibilities of a faithful church member, as I learned about biblical church ministry by being immersed in the life of a healthy congregation.

From 2008-2014, I was privileged to pastor CrossView Church in Los Angeles, a church that disbanded in in October 2014.

I graduated from The Master’s College with a B.A. in Biblical Studies in 2002 and The Master’s Seminary with an MDiv in 2006. I’m currently accepted at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for a DMin in Biblical Theology scheduled to start in the summer of 2015 Lord-willing.

Theologically, I am an evangelical in agreement with the Together for the Gospel Statement, The Confessional Statement of The Gospel Coalition, and The Cambridge Declaration. More importantly, Christ and the gospel are central to my thinking, joy, and purpose for life.  First Southern Baptist  Church’s statement of faith, which is the most important one in knowing what I believe, can be found at our church’s website.

To contact me you can leave a comment on this blog page or email me at pj@fsbcbellflower.org.

To pray for me check out my current prayer requests.

To support our gospel ministry, since our family still depends on outside support, give online or by check.

To know why I blog, check out this post on 6 reasons why pastors should blog.

Find me on: Facebook | Twitter | First Southern Baptist Church

Advertisement: Support this site by visiting Westminster Books. Even just clicking and visiting helps! It’s an excellent site for good Christian books.

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A Simple Question Every Professing Christian Who is not a Member of a Church Needs to Answer

Where does the Bible say I have to join a church

 

Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (CSB).

Here’s the main question with a follow up question:

Who are your “leaders” that God is commanding you to obey and submit to?

Follow up question: Have you clearly and explicitly communicated that you are under their leadership and watch in such a way that there is a mutual understanding between you and your leader(s)?

This, in effect, is a crucial component that necessitates what many call “church membership.”

What are your thoughts, comments, or questions? Let me know if you think this does or does not imply church membership.

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A Sermon on Knowing Jesus preached on 4/11/10 to CrossView Church LA

 

Who is Jesus chalkboard

How can you know that you really and truly know Jesus? Some people claim to know Jesus, others claim they don’t know him nor care. But of those who say they know him, they often say they believe in him, they trust him, and they love him. In this group of people who claim to know Jesus, some truly and really know him while others in this group don’t.

Some know of Jesus without knowing him truly, really, or intimately. Paul lived to know Jesus Christ and make him known. He said in Philippians 3:8, 10-11:

More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… 10 My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead (CSB).

Some people know Jesus the way Paul knew him. Indeed, we presume that all Christians who are members of CrossView Church know Jesus to some degree in the way Paul did, truly, really, intimately, and personally.   But it is true that there are many people out there who know of Jesus, maybe even some true things about Jesus, but they don’t know him personally, truly, really, or intimately.

Some have not been well-taught of what the Scripture says regarding Jesus. Some are so familiar with basic facts about Jesus that they can hardly describe their relationship with Jesus as deep, flourishing, and joy-giving. Others know what it’s like to know Jesus, but need to taste afresh the glories of Jesus Christ as we all do. God wants to make Christ known to us this morning. He wants us to know Jesus truly, really, intimately, and personally. But to do that we have to listen to what God is actually saying here in Mark 8.27-33.

The main point today is this: Grasp three key factors in this text to truly and really know Jesus. If you’re not a Christian, maybe today you will know Jesus truly and personally for the first time. If you’ve been a Christian, Jesus is calling you to a deeper and refreshing taste of his goodness and glory.

Let’s look at the story of this passage as a whole first and let the story shape our thoughts and hearts as we meditate on it. Jesus goes with his disciples toward Caesarea Philippi, a Gentile area. On the way he asks his disciples who others say Jesus is. They tell Jesus that some think he’s John the Baptizer, others Elijah, or another of the prophets of old. Jesus then puts the questions straight at the disciples asking them who they thought Jesus was. Peter answered, on behalf of the group I think, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus then warned them not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Then Jesus began to explain to them that he was going to suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise from the dead after three days. He talked to them about this confidently and with great assurance. Then Peter, shocked like all the other disciples, pulled Jesus aside and began to rebuke Jesus and tell him how wrong he was and why he was mistaken. Jesus then rebukes Peter saying, “Get behind me Satan, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God but on the things of man.”

So from this story there are 3 things God wants you to grasp about Jesus.

  1. Know Who Jesus Is (8.27-30)

Let’s look at verse 27: And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” While on the way to Caesarea Philippi Jesus asks the all-important question. But what’s the significance of asking it here at this place, or on the way to this place. Caesarea Philippi was a place where there was Baal worship, then where the Greek god Pan was worshiped. He was half man and half goat, worshiped as the god who controlled flocks and nature. The place was renamed Caesarea Philippi by Philip who renamed the place in honor of Caesar Augustus. Roman emperor worship was also promoted in this area. So here where Baal, the Greek god Pan, and a Roman emperor were worshiped at some point in history, Jesus will reveal his identity to his disciples who as his apostles will perpetuate the message of who Jesus is causing millions of humans to worship him without fading away, but in some ways only getting stronger and more pervasive throughout the earth.

So here Jesus asks a central question in Mark’s gospel account, and a central truth that must be articulated in every formulation of the gospel explained to others. Who is Jesus? This is a central question. It is a question of identity, not activity. It’s not, what does Jesus do? It’s not a what question, it’s a who question. And it is a polarizing question. How one answers and lives on the answer to this question literally determines their eternal destiny.

Jesus’ popularity sparked all kinds of views of who Jesus was because his works and fame forced more and more people to formulate some thought on who he was. The disciples tell him what the latest survey says (v. 28): And they told him, “John the Baptizer; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” Herod Antipas thought Jesus was John raised from the dead. Some thought Jesus was Elijah, who never physically died (2 Kings 2.11). It was prophesied that he would come again and precede the Messiah and the great day of judgment (Malachi 3.1; 4.2). Others thought Jesus was one of the other prophets that served Israel centuries ago.

Today there is no shortage of views on who Jesus is. To some Jesus is a cool, tolerant, understanding man with Christians and churches who missed what he was all about. To some Jesus is a great moral teacher who displayed love better than all else and taught it well in the golden rule. To others Jesus is a myth. Jesus.com is the website of the Metropolitan Community of Churches that say they believe in Jesus with their spin own view of Jesus accepting same sex sexual activity and partnership as not sinful.

Here are what some other popular figures have said:

  • Fidel Castro: “I never saw a contradiction between the ideas that sustain me and the ideas of that symbol, of that extraordinary figure, [Jesus Christ].”
  • Mikhail Gorbachev: “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.”
  • Malcolm X: “Christ wasn’t white. Christ was black. The poor, brainwashed Negro has been made to believe Christ was white to maneuver him into worshiping white men… A white Jesus. A white Virgin. White angels. White everything. But a black Devil, or course.”
  • Martin Luther King Jr.: “Jesus Christ was an extremist for love, truth, and goodness.”
  • Rollo May (American Existential psychologist): “Christ is the therapist for all humanity.”

To some who say their Christian Jesus is a great man of God but not fully God, not fully divine himself. To Mormons Jesus was not God but a man who became one of many gods who was a polygamist and the half-brother of Lucifer. The Jehovah Witnesses say that Jesus was Michael the archangel, a created being that became a man. Unitarian Universalists believe Jesus was not God but a nice man respected for his teaching, love, justice, and healing. New age guru Deepak Chopra thinks “Christ is a state of consciousness that we can all aspire to.” Bahais say that Jesus was a manifestation of God and a prophet but inferior to Muhammad and Bahaullah. Buddhism teaches that Jesus was an enlightened man like Buddha but not God. Hindus think Jesus maybe one of many gods, or a wise man, or an incarnation of God much like Krishna. Islam teaches Jesus is a prophet but not the most superior prophet.[1]

There is something in Jesus’ question that is polarizing. “To say that Jesus is like Elijah, John the Baptist, or a great prophet – or, as we so often hear today, that he is the greatest teacher or moral example who ever lived – may seem like an honor and compliment, but it is ultimately to deny his uniqueness and to press him into the service of old categories.”[2] If you miss Jesus’ identity and uniqueness, even with an intention and explicit statement of honoring Jesus, you actually dishonor Jesus because you “honor” him as less than what he actually is.

So who is Jesus? Well as Jesus puts the question to the disciples we get the answer (v. 29): And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” Jesus is the Messiah. “Messiah” or “Christ” means “anointed one” and referred to prophets, priests, kings, and other figures. For Jesus to be the Messiah is to fulfill his role in some way as the one anointed by God in a way that was supreme to previous anointed ones, but to what degree was unknown.

Now the Jews had a general expectation of what the Messiah was to be. It wasn’t crystal clear but they had some common ideas. They were waiting for him. Others had come claiming to be the Messiah and they failed in some serious way. The basic idea is that they saw the Messiah as a conquering king, bringing in the eschatological and promised reign to Israel as he represented Israel. They didn’t have ideas of the Messiah as the “Son of Man” like Daniel 7 or the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 53. Their ideas were more along the lines of Micah 5.1-9 and other texts:

ESV Micah 5:1 Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. 2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. 3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. 4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. 5 And he shall be their peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads in our palaces, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men; 6 they shall shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod at its entrances; and he shall deliver us from the Assyrian when he comes into our land and treads within our border. 7 Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. 8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver. 9 Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.

They expected the Messiah to do three things: (1) rebuild or cleanse the temple; (2) defeat the enemy that was oppressing God’s people; and (3) bring God’s justice, that rich, restoring, purging, healing power, to bear on both Israel and the world. There were different ways of viewing these things, but the Messiah was to bring in God’s kingdom, sorting out the mess Israel was in and putting the Gentiles in their place.[3]

So Jesus tells them to keep silent now that they know for sure he’s the Messiah (v. 30): And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. Why was Jesus telling them to keep silent? It was a combination of reasons. First, Jesus didn’t want to spark a false revolutionary fervor to attempt overthrow the Romans once again. Tied to that is the desire to guard against spurious conversions to trust and follow Christ out of political or social desires more than personally trusting, submitting to, and obeying Jesus. Thirdly, Jesus wanted to cut a different profile of what the Messiah was to be, still in line with the OT Scriptures they believed but fuller with other passages like Daniel 7 and Isaiah 53 along with what the Father was now revealing in him. Fourthly, Jesus wanted to secure the events he predicted: suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection. Fifthly, and most practically for us today, Jesus didn’t want them to spread the confusion about who they thought Jesus was before they fully comprehended who Jesus was as the Messiah of God.

So know who Jesus is. He’s not first off your best friend, role model, genie to grant your 3 wishes, a good luck charm, or a religious identity. Jesus is the Messiah (as revealed in the gospel according to Mark and the rest of the New Testament). Rejoice that the Messiah you needed as prophesied in the Old Testament was given to you by God!

 

  1. Know what Jesus did (vv. 31-32a).

8.31: And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Jesus is the Son of Man. That is a reference in part to Daniel 7.13-14. It was so disconnected in idea from the popular notion of the awaited Messiah that Jesus could use this title with clear connections to the Scriptures while being free to define his Messiahship apart from popular views. But this Son of Man, who was to receive “an everlasting dominion, glory, and a kingdom that all peoples would serve him,” must suffer first.

It was necessary for Jesus to suffer, be rejected, killed, and rise not because it was fate, deterministic destiny that he couldn’t have real choice, not because he was heroic in his determination to do the right thing (though it could partly be this), but it was because it was his Father’s will and Jesus delighted to obey his Father’s will and trusted his plan and purposes.

The cross is the key to understanding not only Jesus, but God the Father. Eduard Schweizer wrote, “Whoever understands the suffering of the Son of Man understands God. It is there, and not in heavenly splendor, that one sees the heart of God.”[4] To see this let’s look at Romans 3.24-26: [all] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

 

Jesus had to die because he would die for the sins of sinners, being the propitiation for their sins to allow God to be both righteous in punishing sin and righteous in forgiving and declaring guilty people righteous in his sight (Romans 3.24-26).

Isaiah 53.10-11 also shows the meaning of the cross with crystal clarity: 10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 

Jesus had to die because he and the Father loved sinners and wanted to save, declare righteous, and accept sinners. But the only way God could do this and keep his righteousness and holiness honored and celebrated was for the Son, the Messiah, to die for sins crushed as an offering so that many can be counted righteous and accepted. So in the cross you see the heart of God – he is holy, he is righteous, he hates sin, he loves sinners, and his love is measured by the sacrifice of his Son, the Messiah.

 

If you’re not a Christian let me talk to you directly for a second. You need Jesus Christ because you need the death he died for sins to count for your sins and the resurrection he rose for your acceptance with God. You are not acceptable to God, just like I am not acceptable to God, because of our sins. We are sinners by nature and by choice and therefore you need Jesus. And he died so that if you repent from your sins and trust in him right now you can be saved. Call out to Jesus to save you. He is Lord and summons you in his kindness to trust him, to turn from rebelling against God, to turn from religious efforts, and trust in his death and resurrection. He calls you to submit to him as Lord and follow him. If you have questions about this message of the bible called the gospel, or if you do trust in Jesus and want to follow him, please talk to me or any of the members of our church at lunch and we’d be glad to point you to Jesus and point the way forward for you.

The cross revealed the very heart and character of not only Jesus the Messiah, but God the Father. This is why the cross and resurrection must be central and explicit in Jesus’ mind, his teaching to his followers from this point on, and for Christians today. This was a shocking statement for the disciples to hear. If you don’t understand that you can’t understand the story of the disciples’ experience from Mark 1 up to this point. They hoped Jesus was the Messiah and now they’re glad they know he is. The problem is he isn’t bringing the kingdom they thought he would, he’s going to be killed instead. And this wasn’t something they thought they heard wrong. Mark tells us in 8.32a: And he said this plainly. He spoke without stuttering or lack of confidence. He was going to die and rise and he told them so. They expected a kingdom. He told them to expect a cross.

The disciples don’t really get it yet. They understand what he’s saying, but they don’t believe it. They can’t believe it. Here’s where we need to re-learn the disciples’ experience. They didn’t understand what we so easily take as basic to Christianity. It was being revealed to them over these years of Jesus’ ministry and subsequent events. We’ve had almost two thousand years to think about what was revealed slowly to them. They didn’t understand right away:

  • That Jesus is fully God and fully man
  • That Jesus is the Messiah
  • That Jesus is going to the cross to die for sins and rise from the grave
  • That Jesus is not going to bring the kingdom in its fullness immediately or in the way they think
  • That they’ll live lives primarily as messengers of a gospel message of a crucified Messiah
  • That Jesus is going to come again to bring in the fullness of God’s kingdom and the new creation

And so Jesus tells them to keep silent until they get it. There would be a time to tell others about Jesus, but for them, for now, they shouldn’t speak. I want to exhort my hearers today to not speak about Jesus if you don’t understand him. If you perpetuate that he’s primarily a miracle worker, a good guy, a prophet, a bringer of justice and the kingdom, someone who’s going to renew the earth, and you minimize, assume, or don’t see the central and necessary explicit explanation, declaration, and exultation in the cross, keep silent. Don’t speak about Jesus to others. Don’t write or blog about him. Don’t spread the confusion by emphasizing what’s secondary as primary and what’s primary as secondary. Just think and get who Jesus is and what he came to do first. Understand, meditate on, and burn in passion for, and celebrate the Messiah who came to die for sins and rise for justification and reconciliation of sinners to God (and then the universe! And gloriously so!).

CrossViewers, keep the cross and resurrection of Jesus central! Beware of substituting a different truth as the center of Jesus work or message. The gospel is the message of the cross first, foremost, and necessarily so. As a church let’s keep pointing each other to the Lord Jesus and the glories of the cross and resurrection. Don’t be “MissionView Church” or “EvangelismView Church” or “LAView Church” or “MembershipView Church.” Let’s not just be called CrossView Church but let’s keep the cross of Jesus Christ always in our view together and when God scatters us through the city.

So know who Jesus is (the Messiah), know what he came to do (die for sins and rise for our acceptance with God) and…

 

  1. Know How to Know Jesus

So Peter strongly rebukes Jesus because he just doesn’t get it (v. 32b): And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Peter just called him the Messiah and now he rebukes Jesus. So Jesus rebukes him and calls him Satan (v. 33): But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Peter is arrogant. He implies he knows more of God’s will than the Messiah himself. Peter plays God rather than follows Jesus. Jesus tells Peter that he is not setting his mind on the things of God but on the things of man. He also calls him Satan. To think in human terms is to be a disciple of Satan. Peter doesn’t see the bigger picture. Like Satan who wanted to give Jesus a kingdom without a cross, Peter follows suit. Peter is zealous for Jesus here, I think in part, but his motives for a kingdom and glory and his assured understanding of messiahship is off. Peter would not really get it until it was all done and Jesus actually died, rose, ascended, and sent the Spirit down to enlighten and empower him and the rest for gospel ministry.

He had to experience it to really get it and could not get it until then. It’s like what my son went through this week with his vaccination shots. Rock got shots on Friday. I told him clearly and plainly that the pain would be strong but quick. He understands those categories. He’s gotten shots before and done well. But this time he couldn’t grasp what I was saying. The emotions, the imagination of the pain, the fear, all gripped him and rendered him unable to grasp what he so clearly grasped after it was over: it would hurt, but then the pain would be gone, and it would be alright.

It’s easy for us to question God sometimes with our shallow perception of the situations God calls us to. That’s why we complain so quickly and thank God so slowly. We can be so sure that we see it correctly, that we get it, because we see it one way and think it’s correct while we’re actually wrong. Part of our problem is that in times like this we’re not even open to the possibility of being wrong. We need to be intentional. We need to set our minds on the things of the Spirit and not the things of the flesh (Romans 8.5-6). Be radically and stubbornly biblical. Make sure you submit to biblical teaching, not human teachers teaching the Bible (including me). Be grateful for human teachers, but check what they say always against what the bible actually says.

I was talking to a non-Christian this week who told me that I turn off my mind and just submit to Jesus by giving up without really thinking independently for myself. If you’re not a Christian you might be thinking:

“This is easy for Christians to say. Any time I disagree all they have to say is, ‘you’re not setting your mind on God’s perspective but on man’s.’ Then they can easily write me off. They want to turn me into a mindless person who’s intellectually dependent on the ideas of another, even when I find them disagreeable, incoherent, and sometimes just plain wrong.”

I can see why one would think that way. I think you should find it reasonable that God won’t fit into your views of him completely if he is really God. Furthermore you should expect God to disagree with you sometimes. If he agreed with every thought you had then your thoughts are equal or superior to God’s! If my wife always agreed with everything I said then that wouldn’t be a relationship of learning from each other, that would be enslavement. But God disagrees with us and calls us to think, trust, consider, and submit to what he’s saying thoughtfully. If you don’t trust God or believe him then don’t pretend you do. Instead, honestly say where you disagree and find out what God says and consider his thoughts and words carefully and humbly. Listen and carefully consider what God says and thinks before you say it’s dumb and you don’t need it.

 

Lastly, we need to readily and quickly receive rebuke when someone, Jesus, or his people, clearly speak the truth to us in love. That’s our job as Christians. We are truth-speakers and we are truth-hearers. And if we don’t hear when someone speak the truth against our sin, our minds, or our hearts, than we’re more Satan-like than Christ-like. We will get it wrong. We will sin. We will see things wrongly, mistakenly, and sometimes sinfully and satanically. But we must, like Peter, receive rebuke, trust in the grace of the Messiah and his cross, repent from our sin, relearn and realign our thoughts, hearts, mind, values, passions, and life on God, his glory, and his thoughts.

 

So there’s a wrong way to know Jesus and a right way to know him. If you’re going to truly know Jesus you have to know him according to the truth. That means you’ll have to learn what God reveals about Jesus in the Scriptures. And if you want to really know Jesus, you have to not just learn facts and truths about him, but you must, by his grace, set your mind on thinking your thoughts according to God’s thoughts, perspective, values, and desires. This is a lifetime of conformity and joy, but it’s a direction and pursuit that all those who really know Jesus gladly pursue and count everything else as a loss to know him. We’ll look a little closer at what that entails next week in Mark 8.34-9.1.

[1] Many of these are taken from Mark Driscoll and Gerry Bershears in Vintage Jesus, (Crossway, 2007 ),13-15. The bullet points are taken directly from Driscoll and Bershears.

[2] James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, (Eerdmans, 2002), 247-8.

[3] Tom Wright, Mark for Everyone, (SPCK and Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 108.

[4] Quoted in James R. Edwards, 253.

Posted in CrossView Church, CrossView Church LA Sermons, Jesus, My sermons, PJ's Sermons | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

God Convicted Me and Pushed Me to Expectation and Action

Studying to preach on Mark 7.24-37 yesterday, I was convicted about my lack of faith. The Syrophonecian woman had faith Jesus was willing and able to cast the demon out of her daughter. She was so convinced that she did not stop pleading. She even entered into the dialog Jesus initiated with her even embracing being called a dog.

I learned from this that the evidence of your faith is not your confession of theological concepts but the constancy and content of your prayers to God. I immediately confessed my lack of faith in Jesus’ willingness and grace by this standard. I realized I didn’t really believe God would save a lot of people through my gospel ministry. That is a tough thing for a pastor of a gospel-believing and gospel-preaching church to admit. But my prayers, or lack of prayers for God to save the lost convicted me.

Then I read an article this morning that encouraged me. The excerpt grabbed me and I had to read it. Here’s the excerpt:

Do you need a pep talk to keep you going in gospel work? Have you just heard the media totally misrepresent Christian truth yet again? Are you worried about the Bible being totally banned in public schools? Are you sick of Christians being blamed for all the evils in the world? Do you look out your window and doubt that your neighbours will ever know Christ? Have you resigned yourself to be at least faithful, but not fruitful?

I encourage you to read the whole article.

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Folly and Wisdom regarding Marriage and Divorce

Folly: “If you’re cheating on your spouse physically or emotionally, it might be time to give your spouse the respect they deserve and get a divorce so you both can find happiness.” – Joe and Cheryl Dillon (Huffington Post)

Wisdom: “If you’re cheating on your spouse physically or emotionally it is for sure time to give your spouse the respect they deserve and look to Jesus Christ’s death for sin and resurrection, repent from your sins, ask God for forgiveness, ask your spouse for forgiveness, reconcile with him/her and ask God for grace to be faithful so you both can find happiness.”

The Huffington Post advice is foolish. It’s like saying, “If you’re feeling the pain of anxiety at an upcoming surgery to take out your terminal yet treatable cancer, give your body the respect it deserves and skip the surgery so your body and mind can both find peace and happiness.” That’s stupid, right?

This is why we promise “for better, for worse.” There will be times that are worse than other times. We promise to be together through that. And we promise that until death do us part.

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