canon sense

"every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Month: April, 2013

clever marketing

I stumbled upon a new restaurant in PDX called Church.  Their tag line is surprisingly very clever and biblical, though they probably were not intending to be and thought they were being cute .

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On Facebook, they write, “the aim is to create an interactive experience born of communion, making Church much more than your local watering hole.”  I have not tasted their food or drink yet, but their unintended theology seems very good.

I can’t help but think this is what the Lord’s Supper calls us to each week, echoing Psalm 34 and John 6. Eat. Drink. Taste the Lord’s goodness and know the food that gives life. Repent. Put down and turn from the food that doesn’t nourish.

delighting in the law, surprised by grace

Ps. 19 and Ps. 119—two psalms that celebrate God’s law—give us a picture of what an Israelite would and should delight in. The same can be said for the Christian.

The Reformers redemptive-historical hermeneutic rightly discerned three uses of the law.  The third use in particular, not only aligns the Christian’s character to God’s character (the ontological) but provides a way of understanding how justice and shalom (i.e., Dutch Reformed tradition) in this world can mirror the world to come (the eschatological).  Matthew 5-7—life in the kingdom of God — is about the law of God.  It is about how God’s law is loving and good for humanity.

Yet while the Reformers strived to embody the law of God in this world, ultimately we cannot get past the Lutheran insistence on the continual need for grace and renewal, especially the Lutheran assertion that our default motive is often to justify ourselves apart from grace. Lutherans are spiritual realist, for they tell us that our piety is often nothing more than an effort at self-justification.  Hence why Lutherans emphasize a theology of the cross.

In the end, Ps. 19 and Ps. 119 sit the Reformed and Lutheran at the same table, as they both end with a confession of sin.  Together they show us that even in our striving to embody the law, we must come back to grace to know how to use the law.  Together they show us that delighting in the law and being surprised by grace are both good for the Christian.

Covenant Worship and Psalm 15

As a hymn that celebrates the ideal worshipper, Ps. 15 can be read as a liturgical call and response.

Leader:

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?

Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

All:

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right

and speaks truth in his heart;

who does not slander with his tongue

and does no evil to his neighbor,

nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

in whose eyes a vile person is despised,

but who honors those who fear the Lord;

who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

who does not put out his money at interest

and does not take a bribe against the innocent.

Leader:

He who does these things shall never be moved.

As the psalmist celebrates the ideal worshipper, we see that the psalmists interrogation is comprehensive. From his relational life, to his moral life, to his economic life, the worshipper is praised for being blameless.  The reward for such blamelessness is being able to stand before the Lord.

This worshipper is the true Israelite who has been faithful to the covenant; loving God and loving neighbor.

When we come to corporate worship as the church, we must undergo the same interrogation, but we do so in a way that is mediated and participatory.  The church must stand before her God and be judged, but if she is truly the church, she need not fear.

Through the Spirit, the church participates in Jesus’ blamelessness.

In Truth, the church’s worship is mediated by the true Israelite, Jesus.

For churches to worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, this is what it means.  Churches that expect their members to offer the Father perfect worship on their own, remove the heart of worship, which is Jesus. To worship rightly, is to worship the Father in Christ by the Spirit.  For, “He who does these things shall never be moved.”

Mike Reeves on Union with Christ

Possibly the richest passage in all of the Scriptures is Galatians 4:4-7.  From redemptive-history, to the revelation of the Trinity, to union with Christ, to Sonship, these few verses say it all and it is worth memorizing and knowing inside and out.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

In January, Mike Reeves recently unpacked the meaning of our union with Christ and traced the idea of our sonship from Genesis 12 to Galatians 4.  I wish everyone would listen to these.

HT: Justin Taylor

New song from The National “Demons”

Hands down one of my favorite bands.

Justification by Resurrection

Michael Bird writes,

Once upon a time I believed that our salvation and justification was something achieved principally by the cross (i.e. justified by his blood, Rom. 5.9). The resurrection, then, was really just the proof that God accepted Christ’s atoning death and proof of life after death. However, after I read through the Pauline letters more carefully, I came to see that God’s justifying verdict was more intimately bound up with the resurrection of Christ. Passages such as Rom. 4.25; 1 Cor. 15.17 and 1 Tim. 3.16 (obliquely Rom. 5.18-21; 8.10-11) show that God’s saving action is executed in Jesus’ death andresurrection. For in the cross, we see God’s verdict against sin, our sin, meted out in the flesh of the Son of God, the condemnation of our evil is given its due. But then, the resurrection transposes that verdict from condemnation to justification, taking us from death to new life, from guilt to acquittal. Moreover, Jesus himself is justified in his resurrection, he is vindicated as the Son of God, and because we share in his death and resurrection, his justification becomes ours as well. In other words, we are justified because we participate in Jesus’ own justification!

The cross without resurrection is merely matyrdom; the resurrection without the cross is just a supernatural freak show. But together they constitute the fulcrum of the divine saving action to rescue, redeem, justify, and transform a whole new humanity; a humanity that has passed through death into new life, from condemnation to justification, and begun experiencing the power of the new creation.