On Monday we watched the Secret Church DVD with some friends. David Platt is the teacher. The theme of this session was The Cross and Suffering. At the end of the night, Platt argued the concept of the big bang supports the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. In other words, the big bang teaches that the universe emerged out of the nothing. Platt quoted the NASA astronomer Robert Jastrow. Jastrow was an agnostic, but his words were quite remarkable.
“Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
“There is a strange ring of feeling and emotion in these reactions [of scientists to evidence that the universe had a sudden beginning]. They come from the heart whereas you would expect the judgments to come from the brain. Why? I think part of the answer is that scientists cannot bear the thought of a natural phenomenon which cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money. There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the Universe. Every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause, there is no First Cause. … This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized.”
“Consider the enormity of the problem. Science has proved that the universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks: What cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter or energy into the universe? And science cannot answer these questions, because, according to the astronomers, in the first moments of its existence the Universe was compressed to an extraordinary degree, and consumed by the heat of a fire beyond human imagination. The shock of that instant must have destroyed every particle of evidence that could have yielded a clue to the cause of the great explosion.”
“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
- The Contemporary Physicists and God’s Existence (muslimanswersfiles.wordpress.com)
- Listen to the Sound of the Big Bang (tested.com)
- ‘The Big Bang Theory’: Bob Newhart Creeped Out By Sheldon (huffingtonpost.com)
I had the chance to preach this last weekend (May 5, 2013). My sermon was based on Philippians 1:12-26. You can check it out here.
The theme of the sermon was suffering and the gospel. Big Idea: The gospel gives us a totally different perspective on suffering. Suffering is not an obstacle to our happiness. Suffering is an opportunity to bring glory to Jesus.
Philippians 1:12 (NIV) “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”
This is a shocking statement, because it’s contrary to our natural expectations. We would expect Paul to say that his imprisonment actually hindered the gospel. Prison was a major obstacle to Paul’s mission as an apostle. Paul was a traveling missionary. His goal was to travel all across the world to tell others about Jesus. So, prison severely limited Paul’s mobility. It hindered his capacity to travel. Paul wanted to be out on the road telling others about Jesus. But he couldn’t. He was in prison. You would expect him to say that prison has hindered the advancement of the gospel. But he doesn’t.
He mentions two ways that prison advanced the gospel. First, it gave him new opportunities to witness.
“As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”
You can imagine a guard on duty. Comes up to Paul. Has no idea who he is.
“So what are you in here for?”
“For telling others about King Jesus. Did you know that God sent His Son to die on the cross for your sins?”
Talk about a captive audience. Those guards had to listen to him. Paul says that the “whole palace guard” knew that he was there for Jesus Christ. Prison gave him new opportunities to share with others the gospel.
Second, it inspired others to share the gospel.
Paul writes, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”
In ‘94, the Huskers were national title contenders. They had Tommie Frazier, one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. But halfway through the season, Tommie Frazier developed blood clots in his leg and had to sit out the rest of the season. His back-up was a guy named Brook Berringer. Berringer actually stepped up and finished the season for Frazier. He was tremendous that year. The team won the national title. However, if Frazier had never been hurt, Berringer would have never had the opportunity to play that season.
A similar thing is happening here. Paul is put into prison. So what happens? Other people step up to the plate. Paul’s example gave them the courage to share the gospel. They were like, “Oh, if Paul is willing to suffer for his faith, then I’m willing to suffer for my faith.” When we face suffering, others are watching, waiting to see how we respond. If we respond with courage, that might give them the courage to face suffering.
I came across this quote in my preparation for my Sunday School class this week. Our study is on the book of Philippians. DA Carson writes,
In common use “fellowship” has become somewhat debased. If you invite a pagan neighbor to your home for a cup of tea, it is friendship; if you invite a Christian neighbor, it is fellowship. If you attend a meeting at church and leave as soon as it is over, you have participated in a service; if you stay for coffee afterward, you have enjoyed some fellowship. In modern use, then, fellowship has come to mean something like warm friendship with believers.
In the first century, however, the word commonly had commercial overtones. If John and Harry buy a boat and start a fishing business, they have entered into a fellowship, a partnership. Intriguingly, even in the New Testament the word is often tied to financial matters. Thus, when the Macedonian Christians send money to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem, they are entering into fellowship with them (Rom. 15: 26). The heart of true fellowship is self-sacrificing conformity to a shared vision. Both John and Harry put their savings into the fishing boat. Now they share the vision that will put the fledgling company on its feet. Christian fellowship, then, is self-sacrificing conformity to the gospel. There may be overtones of warmth and intimacy, but the heart of the matter is this shared vision of what is of transcendent importance, a vision that calls forth our commitment. So when Paul gives thanks, with joy, because of the Philippians’ “partnership in the gospel” or “fellowship in the gospel,” he is thanking God that these brothers and sisters in Christ— from the moment of their conversion (“from the first day until now,” Paul writes)— rolled up their sleeves and got involved in the advance of the gospel.
Carson, D. A.. Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Kindle Locations 124-125). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
- ~ What Is Christian Fellowship? ~ (mustardseedgrill.org)
- Great Little Outline for the book of Philippians (fellowshiproom.org)
- Themes in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: Koinonia (cwoznicki.wordpress.com)
“With Scripture playing such an integral part of the “Left Behind” series, Jenkins was asked if the Bible brought relevance and meaning to the storyline of the film that’s being shot this spring in Baton Rouge, La., for its 2014 release?”
Please tell me this is sarcasm.
The truth is you want to be left behind. The people who are taken away are carried off to judgment. Look Luke 17:34-37. Jesus tells his disciples,
“I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”
“Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
In the Bible, Jesus’ second coming is not about an escape from this world. It’s about the king coming to reclaim the world.
“The unease we feel at such tension will not be resolved until the last day. We await the return of Jesus Christ, the arrival of the new heaven and the new earth, the dawning of the resurrection, the glory of perfection, the beauty of holiness. Until that day, we are a people in tension. On the one hand, we belong to the broader culture in which we find ourselves; on the other, we belong to the culture of the consummated kingdom of God, which has dawned among us. Our true city is the new Jerusalem, even while we still belong to Paris or Budapest or New York. And while we await the consummation, we gratefully and joyfully confess that the God of all is our God, and that we have been called to give him glory, acknowledge his reign, and bear witness to his salvation. By the proclamation of the gospel, we anticipate the conversion of men and women from every language and people and nation. And as redeemed human beings we “seek the peace and prosperity of the city” in which we find ourselves (Jeremiah 29:7), until the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven. It is written: “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it” (Revelation 21:24).
Carson, D. A. (2008-04-01). Christ and Culture Revisited (Kindle Locations 1149-1152). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. Kindle Edition.
James Dunn comments on Romans 8:23,
“The Spirit is himself the aparchē [firstfruits] not just the foreshadowing of it but the beginning of it – the beginnings of a harvest whose reaping proceeds slowly but surely until the final ingathering and rejoicing.”
Dunn, J. D. G. (2011-08-22). Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Kindle Locations 3312-3314).
- YOUCAT(38) Who is the “Holy Spirit”? (mycubao.org)
- What does it mean to “be filled with the Spirit”? (rodneyhunt.wordpress.com)
- Charles Stanley: 10 Ways to Know You’re Following the Holy Spirit (promisebook.net)
If God’s Creation Was “Very Good,” How Could Evil Arise? An interesting article by Paul Copan on the problem of evil.