Hear My Sermon from 01.04.09

You can listen to my sermon from last week here. (I haven’t figured out a Mac-friendly way yet, but I’ll update this if I find one. Also open to suggestions.)

UPDATE: Mac users can download a plugin that lets Quicktime play Windows Media files. Thanks, Shane. http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/wmcomponents.mspx (Regular links aren’t working for some reason.)

New Audio

Just posted yesterday’s Behold the Lamb of God Sunday School class, on Christ in the book of Proverbs, on the Audio page. And if you didn’t notice, the set list from my show with Jessica at the Czech Inn now has a couple of songs you can download.

(Yes, I’m using show in the absolute most generous sense of the word.)

Christ in the Psalms

Yesterday’s SS class is now up on the audio page. Some good questions & comments from the class in this one.

The book I reference (from which I got almost everything I said) is Richard P. Belcher’s The Messiah and the Psalms. This book by my OT professor is a great overview to the Psalms, and especially to reading the Psalms as Christian writing.

New! Audio Resources

In case anyone is interested (hi Mom!), I’ve uploaded various sermons, Sunday School lessons, and the like from my very brief and limited ministry. What I have is listed below, and I’ll let you know when I add to it.

To download any of these, just right-click and select “Save Target As”.

Sermons

Sunday School lessons
From the class Behind the Music: The History and Theology of Worship Music

From a class I’m currently teaching, Behold the Lamb of God: Christ in the Old Testament

Hopefully most of the Behold the Lamb series will be recorded, and soon I should have the recordings from the men’s retreat I did in January. Disclaimer: These aren’t cleaned up, remastered, etc, so there are occasional awkward moments, like pauses while I look for a text or questions you can’t hear, but you might find the content interesting.

Miscellenies

Sorry for the absence. Things happen, you know. I’m back.

Political stuff, feel free to skip
I didn’t watch election returns last night; I’m happy to say I hung out with real people. But this morning I was thinking “Obama probably won everything, and Clinton has probably already talked about how she’ll fight on. So I planned to come in today and write, “Seriously, the Clintons have jumped the shark. It’s over. The ship has sunk.”

Not quite. My bad, Hillary. You probably still can’t win, but carry on.

In other news, Huckabee finally dropped out. I don’t think he did himself or anybody else any favors by languishing this long. But I am glad that I won’t have to read any more AP stories about how every evangelical in the world voted for him (because we’re all so much alike). Can the next overtly Christian candidate please be a principled conservative who articulates those principles well? And can he please not say things like “I’m in the miracle business, not the math business”?

Other observations
Paul McCartney was in the Beatles. For whom he wrote the song “Hey Jude.” Then he was in Wings. What happened there?

You’re about to notice some book reviews, including several from Crossway. This is a great publisher. I don’t know how they do it, but it seems like everything they put out gets bumped to the top of my list. I think what I really like is that they put out really solid stuff that’s not just for pastors. Which, as I’ve noted before, is hard to come by.

We have Life Group tonight. This is one of my favorite things in life. This spring we’re sharing “life stories”– every time we meet somebody tells the story of their life, with emphasis on how God has moved to bring them to where they are now. These are not all rosy, but they always end with us being amazed at God’s goodness to us.

The Rich Young Ruler (2)

I made the case Monday that, contrary to what might be our first impression, Jesus is not telling the rich young man in Matthew 19 that he can be saved by selling his possessions and giving the money to the poor. What, then, is he telling him?

The young man starts by asking Jesus, “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?” What’s implied in this question is that whatever Jesus tells him to do, he’s willing to do it, and assumes that he’ll be able to do it. Jesus’ response is somewhat abrasive: “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good.” Right off the bat, this should make the man question his original assumption. If there’s only One who is good (presumably not him!), then what should make him think he can do whatever “good deed” is required for eternal life?

Jesus’ next response should also give the man pause: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” Note that he does not say “If you would enter life, try to keep the commandments.” Or “If you would enter life, keep most of the commandments.” Or even “if you would enter life, have a lifestyle that generally reflects the commandments.” No, he simply says, “Keep the commandments.” Like, all 614 of them (or whatever). All the time. Without exception. For your entire life.

This is where our hero should say something like “But I haven’t! I can’t! Now what?” But he doesn’t miss a beat. Instead, he says, “Which ones?” Give me some specific criteria, Jesus. So Jesus does: “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Notice that, with the exception of the last one, Jesus generally picks commandments that are more externally-oriented– or at least seem to be. Most of us would feel like we could look at that list and say, “Done.” That’s what the young man says. “All these I have kept.” OK, Jesus, I’ve done all that. Check. Now what?

So here’s what’s gone on so far. The man has asked Jesus what “good deed” is necessary for eternal life. Jesus has said obedience to God’s commandments is necessary, and the man responds (!) that he has done that. Obeyed God’s commands. All of them (or at least the ones Jesus listed as examples). He’s claiming his own righteousness on the basis of having fulfilled God’s law. It’s in that context we have to look at Jesus’ response: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Now, keep in mind: Jesus is the one who searches hearts, who “knew what was in a man.” He knows this kid is not about to go sell all his stuff. Sure enough, as soon as the young man hears Jesus’ words, he goes away sad, because he has so many possessions. But he said he would do whatever he needed to! What just happened here?

What just happened is that Jesus held up a mirror to the young man’s heart. If he were keeping the commandments of God, he would, among other things, “Love the Lord his God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might.” If he did that, not to mention if he “loved his neighbor as himself,” then selling a bunch of camels and giving away the money wouldn’t be any problem at all. But in reality, his heart is caught up in his riches. He does not love God with his whole heart– his affection is divided between God and his stuff. He’s an idolater. He can’t truthfully say about God’s commandments, “All these I have kept.” Jesus shows him that, and he’s unable and unwilling to turn away from his idolatry.

The story of the rich young ruler isn’t about how much we need to do to enter eternal life, as though if the man had sold his possessions Jesus would have congratulated him and said “Now you’ve done enough.” The story tells us there’s nothing we can do– we are incapable of obeying God’s law the way we would have to to earn eternal life. We are the rich young man; we share in his idolatry. Like him, we have to let go of our own efforts, abandon hope in our own righteousness, and flee to the One who alone is good.

"Anything Written by Men Must Be Flawed"

You may have heard it stated, “Why should I believe the Bible? It was written by men, and anything written by men must be flawed.” Notice two problems with this argument. First, this argument overlooks the fact that the Bible claims to have been written by men under God’s influence. Second, to believe this argument, one would be forced to disregard every historical fact one has ever read in a book. After all, humans have written every history book, every math book, every science book, and every other kind of book. Imagine a student standing up in her math class and proclaiming, “I cannot believe the Pythagorean theorem because it came from a book written by a man!”

— Voddie Baucham, The Ever-Loving Truth