Friday, August 23, 2013

The Shepherd's Call: Election as Motivation in Evangelism

John Piper wrote a book on missions called Let the Nations Be Glad: the Supremacy of God in Missions.  In it, he says that the doctrine of election (predestination) should be a comfort to those laboring for the sake of the gospel in the mission field.  He references John 10:16 in support.  In John 10, Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd.  Like a good shepherd he guards the door of the sheep.  He protects His sheep, he cares for His sheep, and He would ultimately sacrifice himself for His sheep.  But in v. 16 Jesus says that His fold is not yet complete.  John 10:16 says, But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  Then there will be one flock, one shepherd".

The doctrine of election should be a comfort to us as we share the gospel because it assures us that our work will not be fruitless.  Many see the doctrine of election as a hindrance to evangelism.  They may ask, "If God has already chosen his sheep, then why evangelize?  What is the point?"  Jesus answers this in John 10 by saying that even though those sheep are His, they have strayed.  They need to hear his voice, the gospel. The gospel is the means by which God calls His lost sheep.  The gospel is His  voice, and His sheep recognize it.  Romans 10:14 says, "But how can they call on Him they have not believed in?  And how can they believe without hearing about Him?".  Yes, the lost are called to respond to the gospel with faith and repentance, but salvation is ultimately God's work.  He sends us on a rescue mission for His sheep.  His sheep!  So the doctrine of election should convince us of the urgency of evangelism and give us comfort as we share with the lost.  It is urgent because God has lost sheep everywhere.  It is urgent because we don't know where or who they are.  It is urgent because they must hear!  But we can take comfort that all His sheep will hear, and they will recognize His voice.

I know not all will agree with me about election, and that is fine.  It is just that I am convinced by Scripture of the validity of this doctrine.  You can disagree with me about election and still be a partner with me in evangelism.  I welcome friendly discussion and exhortation.

Occasionally I write poetry.  I don't really ever share it because it can be quite personal.  So I guess I am making myself a little vulnerable in putting this out there, but John 10 inspired the below poem.

NOTE:  The rhythm and rhyme of the poem will not make sense unless you pause after the 1st and 3rd lines of each stanza.  Lines 2 and 3 should be read without pausing.  I am not an expert in poetic rhyme, but I do my best!  :)

The Shepherd's Call

Wandering lost without a fold;
Your sheep are scattered in the world.
But because You have declared them Yours;
You command Your Church to go.

Your Word, the Light, exposes darkness;
It causes every hellish foe to flee.
Your Gospel beckons to the perishing;
Turn to You, the Shepherd of their souls

They hear Your voice and know it well.
Their Master has come to their rescue;
With joy they will call out to You;
You will redeem them from their fall.

Lord, Your fold is scattered everywhere;
Send us where they may be found.
Your Gospel is such a  beautiful sound;
To sheep in need of their Shepherd's call.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers.  Used by permission.  Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Piper, John.  Let the Nations Be Glad:  The Supremacy of God in Missions.  (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 2010)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Beauty of God Pt. 3: The New Heavens and the New Earth

This is the third and final part of my paper about my meditations on the beauty of God.

The promise of salvation is that one day we will be able to behold the beauty of God face to face.  Many in Scripture desired to see God face to face, but they could not bear to look because the brightness of His beauty and glory overwhelmed them.  In Exodus 33, Moses asked the Lord to show him His glory, but God said in verse 20, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live”.  God did reveal His glory to Moses but only his backside not his face.  Paul likewise encounter the living Christ in all his beauty and glory on the road to Damascus and was struck blind because of the brightness of His radiance. 
            The joy of heaven is that for the first time we will get to see God as He truly is.  We will get to fully experience His beauty and bask in the warmth of His glory.  Revelation 21:3 says, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them”.  What is probably my favorite promise in all of Scripture in found in Revelation 22:3-5.  It says the following regarding the New Heavens and the New Earth:
“There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.  And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.”
In heaven, the beauty of God will eternally be on display.  For the first time, we will experience completely unhindered worship of God.  We will be in awe of His beauty from the first moment, and that awe will never cease but will endure forever!


*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture was taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beauty of God Pt. 2: The Beauty of His Word

 This is part 2 of a paper I wrote for seminary in which I meditated on the attribute of the beauty of God.

The beauty of God is also on display in His word.  The Bible is God’s special revelation of Himself to us, and His attributes are on full display in it.  If God’s beauty is defined as Him having all desirable qualities, then this is also true of His word.  The psalmist declares in Psalm 119:103, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”.  Again in verse 19 he says, “I shall delight in Your statutes” and in verse 18 “open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law”.  His word is beautiful, and should be the desire of the heart of His people.  It is not the ink on the pages of a book that is beautiful, but it is the God behind the words.  The words of Scripture are God’s very words, and we could never begin to comprehend the true beauty of God if He had not revealed Himself to us in His word. 
            Further, if the word of God reveals to us the beauty of God, then Jesus, the Word incarnate, does so even more.  John 1:1 says, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.  John 1:14 goes on to state that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth”.  Hebrews 1:3 praises Jesus as “the radiance of His [God] glory and the exact representation of His nature”.  Jesus himself says in John 14:9, “He who has seen me has seen the Father”. 
            Scripture also declares that God’s beauty is displayed in those who proclaim the good news of the gospel.  Romans 10:15 says, “How will they preach unless they are sent?  Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News of Good Things”.  To proclaim the gospel is to proclaim the beauty of God and the glory of redemption in Him.  The gospel is beautiful because the Savior it heralds is infinitely beautiful.
            Jesus truly is beautiful, and He contains all the desirable qualities attributed to God because He is God incarnate.  It was beautiful when Jesus heard the cries of a leper, healed him, and declared the unclean clean.  It was beauty on display on the mount of transfiguration as Jesus revealed His beauty and glory to three unsuspecting disciples.  And it was the beauty of atonement on display as the innocent Son of Man hung on a cross bearing the wrath of God on behalf of undeserving sinners.  How beautiful is our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!


*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture was taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Beauty of God Pt. 1: Creation

I was recently given the task in one of my seminary courses to meditate on and write a brief paper about one of the many attributes of God.  As I was studying His attributes, the attribute of beauty stood out to me, so I chose that one to write on.  I wrote of the beauty of God displayed in three areas:  creation, His word, and the New Heavens and New Earth (heaven).  I figured I would publish each one of these areas as three different blog posts so that you could meditate along with me about the beauty of our great God.  So here is part 1:

God is beautiful.  That is such a simple and concise statement, but it is true and powerful.  God is the essence of beauty.  All other manifestations of beauty find the origin of their beauty in Him.  The Tennessee iris that blooms in May bears the marks of the beauty of its Creator.  The rugged Rocky Mountains that stretch out across the landscape of Colorado display the beautiful majesty of the God who formed them with His hand.  The oceans declare the mysterious beauty of the awe-inspiring God who spoke them into existence.  The beauty of God is all around us, it is praised in His word, and it will endure forever.  

God can be described as beautiful because he contains all good qualities to the fullest extent.  Psalm 19:1 states “the heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands”.  Creation exalts the beauty and glory of the One who made it.  In the beginning, God spoke, and the universe we know came into being out of nothing.  And it has not stopped bearing witness to His beauty ever since.  I love being outside.  I enjoy hiking, jogging, and, most of the time, yard work.  There is nothing like having your breath taken away while admiring creation from the top of a mountain.  There is also nothing more humbling that standing on the shore of the ocean and feeling the power of the waves crash on your feet knowing that the scene before you, water and sky as far as the eye can see, barely scratches the surface of the immense beauty of the sea.  The simple things of creation are also beautiful.  Jesus says in Luke 12:27, “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these”.
            The beauty of creation is mind-boggling.  Psalm 104 says that God established the earth, and he set limits to everything.  All of creation fulfills its purpose.  Springs flow forth in the valleys providing water for cattle.   Trees grow and provide a place of rest for the birds.  Grass springs forth so that cattle may graze.  God causes the earth to produce fruit and vegetables so that man will be filled.  The order of creation is a beautiful thing, and God created that order.  Psalm 104:24 says “O Lord, how many are your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions.” 
            As I meditated on what God’s word says about the beauty of creation, I was floored by a certain realization.  If creation, the enormity of which I can’t comprehend, is this breath-takingly beautiful, how much more so is the One who spoke it all into being?  If being in the presence of nature gives me peace, how much more peaceful is the beautiful presence of God.  If seeing an eagle in flight captivates me, how much more should I be captivated by the most beautiful One in the universe?  If I am overwhelmed by the beauty of my bride, how much more should I be overwhelmed by the beauty of the Lord?  The beauty of creation is great but greater still is the beauty of the God who made it all.


*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture was taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.