Jottings – Are You Broken?

Usually when something is broken, its value declines or disappears altogether. Broken dishes, broken bottles, broken mirrors are generally scrapped. Even a crack in furniture or a tear in cloth greatly reduces its resale value.
But it isn’t that way in the spiritual realm. God puts a premium on broken things–especially on broken people. That is why we read such verses as: Psalm 34:18, Psalm 51:17, and James 4:6.

William MacDonald in True Discipleship p. 147. Amazing! God places great value on broken people. Are you broken? Am I? But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [2]

The opening sentences of the Bible are laden with meaning concerning God’s identity (see the previous post.) The first three verses in particular bring out aspects of the divine being that later Scripture develops in greater detail. As Romans 1:20 puts it: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

The 24th Psalm further asserts His creatorial ownership of planet earth, saying: “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” His omnipotence, omniscience, and spiritual nature are all revealed in Genesis’ first paragraph.

The Divine Power & Wisdom: From Microbes To Supernovae

“God created” – what profundities are contained in those two words! The complexity of both the macroscopic and microscopic worlds is contained within it. Whether one peers at cells and the subatomic realm or at the seemingly endless galaxies of magnificent celestial bodies, the power and wisdom of the Almighty are prominently displayed.

One has only to look at their own body to consider the imaginative artistry and engineering brilliance of the divine mind. The interdependent respiratory, circulatory, neurological, digestive, endocrine and other systems, not to mention miles of nerves, arteries, veins, and various types of tissue, all point to a vastly clever designer.

As “the Prince of Expositors” Alexander MacLaren once expressed it: “Every man carries in his own body reasons enough for reverent gratitude.”

The diversity of topography, abundance of animal and plant life in different ecosystems, the ubiquitous beauty that abounds from tiny flowers to august mountains, from barrenly beauteous deserts to frigidly gorgeous glaciers all testify to the existence of a God who values loveliness and artisanship.

All of these wonders came at His verbal command. He spoke, and so He created.

Deus Superius Machina

This all-knowing and all-powerful Creator is spiritual, rather than material (Genesis 1:2; cf. John 4:24.) He is not a created being, nor is He an outgrowth of His world. He is not co-extensive with the universe but exceeds it as being entirely other – He is truly unique, or holy, as the Scriptures so often say (Isaiah 43:3.) Here we have the embryonic roots of the doctrine of the trinity; later revelation in the Bible reveals with greater clarity God’s triune being (e.g. Psalm 110:1; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 14:16.) Yet, as seen in verse 2, this immaterial Lord is intimately involved in the creation, maintenance, and destiny of His world.

Earth’s present form is a pale reflection of the pristine, unfallen glory of Genesis 1; nonetheless, the vestiges of that “very good” creation are still evident everywhere in the universe (Genesis 1:31.) As a classic hymn says: “Thy Almighty power and wisdom all creation’s works proclaim, Heaven and earth alike confess Thee, As the ever great I AM.” Thankfully, one day the Lord will supersede this creation with new heavens and a new earth, which will be liberated from the tyranny and debilitating effects of sin (Romans 8:18-30.)

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Read the next installment of Entry Level Theological Truth click here.

Jump back to the first article in this series

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Who Hacked My Facebook?

FacebookThe All Facebook blog has a fascinating post today that carries an implied warning for digital sojourners.

Everyday there are 600,000 unauthorized Facebook logins. Simply amazing. This translates in to one compromised Facebook account every 140 milliseconds. Yikes!

You can read the entire post here.

This raises a very important issue for digital sojourners: online security.

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Podcast: Long Vo Talks Accountability

Digital Sojourner recently featured a guest post written by my friend Long Vo. In the post, Long made a call for Christian leaders to “establish structures and relationships that hold them accountable.” For such structures to be successful, Long went on to explain, they must be voluntarily sought out and established.

Recently I sat down with Long to discuss how someone can establish accountability in their lives through an accountability group.

You can listen in here:

Have you established a godly accountability structure in your life? Let us know about it in the comments & reply section below.

As mentioned in the podcast, you can find additional information regarding accountability groups here.

 

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God’s Good News: Lesson 4 Part 2

But do the rest of the Scriptures teach righteousness by faith? Yes! (Romans 4:1-25)

Was Abraham justified by faith? Did God declare him to be righteous based on faith? If Abraham was justified by his works, he could boast to God about what he did. But no one will boast before God! But the Scriptures plainly say that “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Righteousness was charged to his account.

So Abraham did not get a righteous position by works, but by faith. If it was by works, God owed him something. But it was by faith, so it was based on grace – God giving him something he did not deserve. Though he was ungodly, God counted him righteous because he believed. David says the same thing when he writes about God not putting his sins on his account.

And remember when Abraham was called righteous! He had not yet been given the religious symbol of circumcision. So his righteousness was not through a religious ritual. He was declared righteous simply by faith. We too can be righteous before God by faith alone!

Abraham believed God could do what Abraham could not do. He believed that God would be faithful to His promise. So his faith gave glory to God, because he was saying that God could be trusted.

When we believe in Christ, we are also saying God can be trusted. Like Abraham we believe God can do what we can not do. We believe God is faithful to His promise to save those who believe in Jesus. And God raised Jesus from the dead as a seal that He is satisfied with what Christ did! Our salvation is sure!

Continued in Lesson 5 Part 1

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Jottings – The Bible and Science in Harmony

We think that, since God is the author of his Word the Bible and of the universe, there must ultimately be harmony between correct interpretation of the biblical data and correct interpretation of the scientific data.

Dr. John C. Lennox in Seven Days that Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science, p. 13. The first eleven chapters of Genesis is under attack. To believe what is recorded in those 11 chapters… to believe the simple and plain meaning of those words… and to publicly declare that belief, is to open up yourself to public ridicule. Ridicule, not only in schools, universities, and the workplace, but also in many churches today. Yet as Dr. Lennox rightfully points out… if God actually wrote the Bible AND created the universe the two must be in perfect harmony.

As for me, I believe that God created the universe and wrote the Bible. God’s Word never changes, yet scientific theories come and go. I’ll stick with the simple and plain meaning of God’s Word, and wait for the scientific theories to catch up.

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The Hunt For The Perfect Bible: The Need

The Hunt

Back in the day, I had received what I thought was The Perfect Bible. Black leather. King James Version. Red Letter. References on the side columns. Revised Scofield notes along the bottom. Concordance in the back. This was no award Bible: this was the real, no joke, deal.

Then I found myself having a problem textually following Spanish speakers in our bilingual church. My Perfect Bible had failed me!

Each subsequent year I faced variations of the same problem. After acquiring a bilingual version, I wanted something that I didn’t have to spend my time translating English to English—I got the NKJV but people around me were using the KJV. I was studying the original languages so I wanted something that followed the structure of those languages—I got the NASB but people around me were now using the NKJV and the KJV. I needed something to read aloud that got the point of the passage across—I got the NIV but all my notes were in my NASB.

And so on and so on and so on.

The publishing industry is structured in such a way that there is a Bible for every need. You have your versions, you have your amplified versions, you have your original language versions, you have your side by side versions and you have your versions with multiple versions. We in the West are found without excuse when it comes to the text!

But this all winds up being problematic when you want a single go-to Bible without worrying about copying all the notes into a new updated binding Bible.

And believe me, I tried. One year I went about printing my NASB with NET footers and my notes and references on side columns. I wound up with two tremendous binders filled with a couple reams of paper and only two books of the bible: Genesis and Romans. Sure the thing was detail rich but it was much too heavy to carry and would fail me if anyone was reading from any book other than those two.

What I needed was an actual Perfect Bible: something that allowed multiple languages, multiple versions, allowed access to my notes, allowed access to other’s notes and could be carried around.

Thank God for the Digital Age. Now, with the wide access we have to texts and technology we might be a step closer to the Perfect Bible. Maybe you’re in the same boat, like me, looking for that Perfect Bible—maybe not. Either way, I want to spend some time going over what I think you should be looking for and maybe even some pointers on what to pick up.

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To read the next installment in this series click here.

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God’s Good News: Lesson 4 Part 1

1. READ THESE VERSES IN YOUR BIBLE: Romans 3:21-4:25

2. READ TEACHING ABOUT THE VERSES

So we all need the righteousness that God has provided by faith! (Romans 3:21-31)

Here is good news to a guilty person in danger of judgment! God made a way to save us! If I am convicted of my sins, then I will want God’s salvation! What good news that I can be right before God based on believing, rather than based on what I do! God has made known a way for men to avoid judgment for their sins. God can call us righteous!

This righteousness is not by us trying to do something. That would not work, because all have fallen short of God’s perfect standard. We have “sinned” – we “missed the mark” of God’s perfect standard. Once I do one thing wrong, I am unrighteous. Even if all the other things I did were perfect, they would not fix the one thing I did wrong. There is no “extra-credit” righteousness.

This gospel is for everyone, because all people need it and because it is based on faith! Christ died on the cross for everyone’s sins. He was perfect, but he took the judgment we deserved. So now anyone can be declared righteous (justified) by God if they will just trust in Christ. God is satisfied with Christ’s blood.

God offers you a righteous position before Him. It is free. There is no way you could pay for it. Christ paid it all as a Redeemer. You just need to admit you are unrighteous, and tell God you believe that Christ died for your sins. Do you believe you needed Christ to die for you?

God’s gospel offers salvation through Christ’s blood. It shows that God is righteous. God would be wrong if He knew you did wrong but ignored it. But He has not ignored our sins. God gave the right penalty for sins: death. Yet God provided a substitute, so we do not have to take the penalty. Christ died for our sins! So we see God is still righteous. He can be just and still justify one who believes in Jesus!

Christ is a “mercyseat.” Before Jesus, God had told the Jews to build a place so He could dwell among them. He would meet with them in the “holy of holies” above the “mercyseat.” This was a cover over a box that had the ten commandments inside. These tell us about the righteousness that God expects. No one has kept these rules, so God could not meet with unrighteous men there! But on the mercyseat, they put blood of a substitute animal. This was a picture of what Christ would do. He gave up his blood as a perfect sacrifice. This way God can be righteous, but not have to punish us for our unrighteousness. Have you told God you need Christ’s blood?

Being justified is only by faith. It is not by works of law. No one can earn righteousness. So no one can boast. Anyone who is in heaven will only be there because they believed that Christ died for them. Have you trusted Christ as your Savior from sins’ penalty?

Continued in Lesson 4 Part 2

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Jottings – Preaching Christ

If you are preaching Christ, you are preaching grace.

Bob Upton speaking at the 2011 Workers & Elders Conference in Raleigh, NC

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Jottings – The Great Shepherd Became a Lamb

The Great Shepherd became a lamb.

Bob Upton speaking at the 2011 Workers & Elders Conference in Raleigh, NC

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