Baptism Verses

March 31, 2008

These are the verses referred to during the sermon on baptism yesterday.

Death is Dead!

March 27, 2008

On Sunday we sang the great hymn, “Crown Him with Many Crowns” by Matthew Bridges. Here is one of the verses:

Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save.
His glories now we sing,
Who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

Jesus died and now lives “that death may die.” This week I’ve meditated on that biblical theme, looking at passages throughout the history of redemption that discuss the coming of death into the world, God’s plan to overcome death, Jesus’ victory over death, and the final destruction of death. Here is a selection of key passages on that theme. Read them – and rejoice that death will die. Read more

Is Jesus’ Death Just?

March 21, 2008

Jesus is condemned to death. Jesus is condemned to death! Is this just?

Surely on a human level, this is a travesty of justice. Jesus’ trial is a sham, violating virtually every rule regarding fair trials under both Jewish and Roman law. There was no due process exercised in this trial; Jesus was innocent of any wrongdoing.

But consider Jesus’ condemnation from God’s point of view. Was Jesus’ death justified?

Listen to these words of Scripture:

· The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

· He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. (1 Peter 2:24)

· He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people. (Hebrews 9: 26-28)

These Scriptures tell us that from God’s point of view, Jesus’ death was justified. Indeed, Jesus’ death was necessary if anyone is to be saved – for without His death, God would have to punish you and me for our sins. Read more

Spitzer, McEwan and Atonement

March 13, 2008

When we sin, how do we put matters right? This question keeps coming to the forefront even in politics and popular culture.

The former governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, faced that question this week after his personal sins became public knowledge. On Monday, the New York Times quoted Spitzer as saying that he had spent the last several days with his family, “atoning for his personal failings.”

Consider also Atonement, Ian McEwan’s 2001 quintessential postmodern novel (which, in its film version, was nominated for this year’s Academy Award for best picture). The story opens with the main character, Briony, as a 13-year-old. With her mind wrapped up in the fantasies of her fictional stories, she destroys a young man’s life by falsely accusing him of a crime. The novel closes with Briony at 77, Alzheimer’s on the horizon, writing alternative realities as she still tries – unsuccessfully – to atone for that sin. She writes, Read more

The Reason for God

March 7, 2008

A review of The Reason for God by Tim Keller

Have you ever heard statements like these?

  • “How could there be just one true faith? It’s arrogant to say your religion is superior. . . . Surely all religions are equally good and valid for . . . their particular followers.”
  • “I won’t believe in a God who allows suffering.”
  • “The Christians I know don’t seem to have the freedom to think for themselves. I believe each individual must determine truth for him- or herself.”
  • “There are so many people who are not religious at all who are more kind and even more moral than many of the Christians I know.”
  • “I have . . . a problem with the doctrine of hell. The only god that is believable to me is a God of love.”
  • “My scientific training makes it difficult if not impossible to accept the teachings of Christianity.”
  • “Much of the Bible’s teaching is historically inaccurate.” “My biggest problem with the Bible is that it is culturally obsolete. Much of the Bible’s teaching (for example, about women) is socially regressive.”

How do you respond? Are there good answers to such questions? And once you’ve tried to answer such questions, how do you move the conversation away from these peripheral issues and to the Gospel itself?

Tim Keller has been a pastor in Manhattan for almost twenty years. As he reaches out to unbelievers and hosts Q and A periods after sermons, he hears such statements and questions again and again. In a new book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Keller answers these questions, and then presents Christ as compellingly beautiful and the Gospel as rationally coherent. Read more