Thursday, 29 January 2009

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ in the Wisdom Literature

By Edmund Clowney

Three divisions made in the OT: counsel, law, prophecy- Ezek 7:26, Jer 18:18

Wisdom: man through YHWH must use knowledge to solve lifes problems
The wise man is the knowledgeable man

Proverbs is the documentation of instruction against folly

1 Kings 4 helps us to understand the view of wisdom in Israel.

Meditation on the law brings:
1) Praise
Rejoicing in God’s revelation

2) Wisdom
Reflection on how the teaching of scripture applies to life

Wisdom is concerned firstly with knowing the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the knowledge of God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding.
Paul’s prayer is for a Spirit and revelation in the knowledge of Him (Eph 1:17). Wisdom is the key to understanding the wisdom of the Lord in Paul’s theology.

The gift of wisdom enables us to analyse scripture and apply it properly to a situation.

Most parallels in the Psalms and wisdom literature are not to be equated.

Older men need to disciple younger men in wisdom.

The theology of wisdom in the OT
1) Objective: understanding
God’s wisdom: Prov 9:10. Wisdom is the understanding of God and the companion of God. Prov 8:22 talks about the attribute of God personified. God’s wisdom is the source of all creation.

2) Subjective: The fear of the Lord
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Worship puts things in perspective.

Christ is the Lord of Wisdom
Wisdom points to the promise in the unresolved issues it points us too.
Wisdom is a Christological testimony: wisdom tells us that there must be something better.
Job was searching for wisdom (Job 29). The search ends in Jesus Christ. He is for us wisdom from God.
Wisdom is the commitment of faith. Peter’s faith is the wisdom on which the church is founded.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ in the Psalms

By Edmund Clowney

The Psalms are the praises of the redeemed centred on Christ.

A song is a covenant witness. In Deut 31:19 God gives to His people the songs they are to sing. Songs are not simply a response to God but a God-given ordination. The people were to memorise them.

Jesus is presented as the living Christ singing in the midst of the congregation (Hebrews 2 quoting Psalm 22:22). We sing with Jesus our singing saviour.

Structure of Psalm 22
1-2 the cry of lamentation
3-5 the confession of trust
6-8 another lamentation
9-11 another confession of trust
12-18 another lamentation
19-21 cry for deliverance
22-24 confession of deliverance
25-31 praise for deliverance

The suffering servant signs from the depths to the heights
In Psalms 2 and 24 the royal King sings.
The song of Christ is seen as the song among the Gentiles (Rom 15:9). Jesus signs a missionary song among the nations (Psalm 96).

The NT authors gained their theology from the OT. They were people absorbed in OT doctrine.

We need to practise doxological evangelism: witnessing Christ with a heart of worship.

We sing with Christ because He is a signing saviour and we sing to Him because He is worthy.
Psalm 96 the Lord is our maker, ruler and saviour. The song of Moses becomes the song of the lamb. All songs are fulfilled in Christ.
We sing because of His acts and person.

Psalm 90 = the praise of Jesus Christ is delighting in the beauty of God.
1) The beauty of majesty = the overpower beauty of God.
2) The beauty of design in the tabernacle
3) The beauty of delighting in what is enjoyable

Jesus Christ comes to be made almost inhuman through his sufferings in order that we might become beautiful to God.

102 out of the 150 Psalms are alluded to in the NT.

In Psalm 51 David confesses with agony his sin. David pleads for forgiveness based on God’s covenant promises. God’s justice (by which He promises to show mercy to Israel) is David’s real hope. Christ is the Lord of the covenant in the OT as well as the NT.

1 Peter 3:15- ‘sanctify the Lord as Christ in your hearts’. How do you do this? By declaring His holiness and exalting Him in the eyes of others.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Adoring Christ: Getting Inside their World Part Two

By Tim Keller

How do you argue for the authority of the Bible?
Traditional way: Look at fulfilled prophecy of the OT.
Better contemporary way:
1) Do you want a personal relationship with God?
2) You can’t have a personal with God unless you accept the authority of the Bible
3) Why? Because having a personal relationship with being outraged sometimes. You must expect the Bible to offend. Unless you accept the complete authority of the Bible God can’t contradict you or differ with you.

The strategy used is presupposition apologetics. Affirm what they affirm and then show them that

How do you argue for the reality Hell?
Post-modernist: I don’t believe God would send anyone to Hell.

Christian: What did it cost your God to love us and embrace us? It cost my God pain, agony and torment to bring me near to Him. In your effort to make God more loving you’ve actually made God less loving by removing Hell from your worldview. If punishment doesn’t exist as a result of God’s justice then when Christ died on the cross it wasn’t really that bad and therefore Christ isn’t really that loving. If you want a God who is willing to suffer and die for you, you must have a God of justice and Hell.

We need to know the people well enough to know what the people’s commitments are. We need to understand their perspective.

How do you argue for the uniqueness of Christ?
Post-modernist: How can you say Jesus is the only way? I believe that we need to treat religions as roads to the top of the same hill.

Christian: If that’s true you’re claiming to be at the top of the hill seeing the whole truth. Your position assumes greater spiritual knowledge than all the religions of the world including Christianity. You’re saying ‘my spiritual understanding of all religions is right and enables me to evaluate the validity of all religions.’ You’re actually as exclusive as me.

Preaching Matthew 26:61 -“This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”
The main charge against Christ is found in Matt 26:21. Christ is being crucified for his claim over the temple.

1) What is a temple?
2) What did Jesus mean when He said He was a temple?
3) What does that mean for us today?

1) What is a temple?
A temple was a cross roads between heaven and earth. It was a place where you could bridge the gap between you and God. Temples are places where

Why is it that modern society doesn’t know this concept? The enlightenment.
The enlightenment said: everything has a natural cause; we can see through everything, we can solve all our problems. If this is true then we don’t need God. As science progresses and is applied problems will disappear.

But today lots of new religions are attracting attention. Why is this? Because people are realising that there is something behind the visible because science is not solving our problems.
The pragmatic problem: if everything is a problem of natural causes then every problem should be solved by scientific endeavour. But it’s not. Everything is getting better except our problems, which are getting worse.

‘All truth claims are really just really power grabs.’ Nietzsche
‘All views of God are psychological projections to deal with your guilt and insecurity.’ Freud
If the two statements above are true we needn’t pay attention to them because all our explanations can be explained away. To see through everything is not to see. People are starting to see that we need mediation.

Now we can see why Christ got killed for what He said.

2) What did Jesus mean when He said He was a temple?
By saying He is the temple Christ is claiming to be the God on the other side of the gap.

2 Chronicles 7:1-5- The Jews understood that the raw power of God is held in the temple.

The temple is where you meet with the divine and where the divine is mediated to you. We don’t just need God we need a temple. We can’t approach this holy God without a mediator. Christ is claiming to be the temple to end all temples.

3) What does that mean for us today?
If you’re a searcher for God you have to build a relationship with Him on grace. You can’t be a good person to know God. If you do that you are turning the house of God into a market place to buy your way into God.

If you’re a Christian you need to know that the temple is a person not a place. And when you’re united to this person you are united to His people. His people are His dwelling place.

Preaching Genesis 29:15-35
Traditional cultures suggest that family is what life is about.

A) Background of the story
1) Jacob came from a family chosen by grace
At every generation of Jacob’s family one person will bear the messianic seed.

2) Jacob came from a family mark by brokenness
Isaac wife’s Rebekah when having twins were told that the older shall serve the younger. In other words the messianic seed would come through the older. The younger one is the one. Isaac ignored it and favoured Easu. Jacob became a manipulator.

B) The substance of the story
1) Laben’s plot
Laben realises that he became wealthy if Jacob works for him for a low price.
Laben realises that Jacob will do anything to get Rachel. Rachel’s sister Leah had ugly eyes while Rachel was beautiful. Jacob thinks he makes a deal with Laben. Laben doesn’t agree with Jacob’s agreement. Jacob marries Leah and then gets him to work another seven years for Rachel.

2) Leah’s Lot
Leah is married to someone who is madly in love with her sister.
Leah fights for the love of Jacob by having kids with. She realises that she can praise YHWH- have the love of YHWH without fighting for it.

C) The meaning of the story
1) Do not make family your ultimate hope
Making family equal to happiness destroy family. Christianity is the first religion to say that being single is a valid way to live. Singleness can be a happy lifestyle.

2) Don’t make anything on earth your ultimate hope
If you make anything your ultimate hope other than God you go to bed thinking you have Rachel but then wake up and find its Leah!

3) Make the ultimate family and the ultimate bridegroom your ultimate hope
When Gods saw that Leah was not loved He opened Her womb. God chooses the weak things of the world to shame the wise. God is attracted to unattractive beautiful. Leah becomes the mother of our Lord. She bears Judah.

God is gracious to the broken.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Applying Christ: Getting inside their world part one

By Tim Keller

Methods for writing application
1) Discipline who you spend time with
The application of a sermon should change in style depending on the people who are hearing the sermon.

You tend to preach to the people who are most on your heart. Some evangelical leaders preach sermons for other evangelical preachers because they are immersed in the thinking of the culture of evangelical leaders. Deliberately diversify your people context. Speak to non-Christians. Understand how they think, in what categories? Address the needs of the culture in sermons. Entice Christians to bring non-Christians by preaching to non-Christians using their language and culture. Preach to people who aren’t in the room.

Preach like this ‘God is wrathful God who is angry at sin. I know some of you find that hard to understand but consider this….’

The easiest way to think about the concerns of non-Christians is to read content written by people who disagree with you. The best way to do this is by reading magazines. Read articles that reflect the viewpoints of people who are on the street.
Make sure you spend time with a variety of non-Christians and Christians who disagree with you.

2) Think in lists of people
What does this text say to: mature Christians, non- Christians, backsliding, sceptics etc

If you put application at the end of a sermon you can lose peoples attention. Collect application near the end whilst applying the txt throughout the sermon.

3) Create an inter-sermon dialogue
Ask direct questions that you answer in your own sermons.
Don’t say ‘many people twist truth to look good’, say: ‘How many of you know this past week that you’ve twisted the truth to look good?’. Turning statements into questions helps people to engage.

4) Anticipate objections
This comes from spending time with people who don’t agree with you.

5) Don’t pass by the pliable moment
Sometimes when preaching you realise that you have the audience’s attention.

6) Let the text control you rather than your temperament
If you’re a naturally affection person you’ll love to speak about God’s love. If you are a hard person you’ll tend to speak about God’s authority and truth. Reach for have forceful affection.

If you’re always encouraging and not warning you’re people will eventually stop growing. The reverse is also true.

Don’t always keep the same tone; change your tone with the text.

How to enter and change a worldview
You need to sprinkle apologetics into your sermon. Practise presupposition apologetics in preaching. This takes a person view of the world, enters it and then challenges it. Drill a deep hole into the worldview and plant the dynamite!

1) Gaining plausibility with language
People are not going to listen unless you learn to speak their language. If you make people work too hard on deciphering your language people get exhausted and tune out.

2) Gaining plausibility with non-verbal communication
The sing-song ministerial voice of Scotland and Wales works fine there but not in England. Britt’s like the conversational style. English people don’t like a rhetorical grand style. Don’t sound like a politician or a salesman.

3) Enter the worldview
To enter a worldview means to know it, to show sympathy for it, and to identify with the parts that you can as a Christian.

a) Know the culture
Prove to the people that you know their worldview well, use illustrations that are relevant, quote their lyrics, watch there TV shows, read their papers, speak to the people.

b) Sympathise with the culture
Don’t just say ‘this is just the way it is’. Show people that their worldview is destructive and wrong bring spiritual death. Show sensitivity.

c) Move from the right known thing to the right un-known thing
The post-modern person loves grace and forgiveness (maybe not the concepts but certainly the words!). By common grace right spiritual culture overlaps post-modern culture. Find the truths that they affirm. Start by entering the world-view (drilling the hole).

Eg talking to secular kids about sex. ‘The Bible is pro-sex and love. God is for good sex.’ Then start speaking about the culture perversion of sexuality.

Show the incompatibility of the worldview. Should how justice must exist along side grace. Show that forgiveness can only happen when sin is

Provide a new view of God while explaining the cost and reward of changing.

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ: Christ and the Law

By Edmund Clowney

We want to preach the law in a gospel context. Galatians and Romans do this.

We need to recognise:
1) The condemnation of the law-Gal 3:13-14
The promise has been fulfilled, it goes out to the Gentiles, and is achieved by faith. Why the law (v19)? It was added because of transgressions until the seed comes. The law bars the way of life because it condemns us because of our sin. The law is not the final revelation of God.

2) We can’t keep the law
The law shoes us that we can’t do it and even increases our trespasses (Rom 5:20). The law stirs the rebellion of sin (Rom 7:7-8). Sin works through the commandment to produce sin. The law brings damnation and the knowledge of sin.

3) The law drives us to Christ- Gal 3:24
The law acts as a tutor to Christ so that we can be justified by faith.

4) The law is renewed in Christ
Christ provides for us the righteousness of God, the complete fulfilment of the law. Christ fulfils the law and renews it by expanding it.

Luke 20:20-26
High priest’s and scholars are in Jesus’ presence trying to trap Him with a question.

The question: Should a person pay taxes to Caesar?

The solutions:
Don’t pay and suffer
Don’t pay and resist
Pay and protest

Jesus’ answer: Give to Caesar what is Caesars; give to God what is God’s.
Pay taxes to Caesar because the coin has image and name on it. Christ was in the name and image of God giving Himself to God on the cross as a sweet-smelling sacrifice.