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Live Forever

This verse:

“Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground and paid homage to the king and said, “May my lord King David live forever!””

1 Kings 1:31

This song:

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The Responsibility of Christian Communion

The Lord’s Supper is a necessary means of grace for the Christian believer and is to be observed frequently on the Lord’s Day together with the preaching of the Word of God. We see the pattern for this in Paul’s letters and Luke’s writings (Cf. 1 Corinthians 11; Acts 20). To not observe communion when offered by your church is to excommunicate yourself (literally speaking). It is not a godly thing to do, but actually a proud thing to do.

This is because the body of Christ in a particular locality has been entrusted with the judgment to affirm or deny membership to persons, not the autonomous individual. So, when one individual refuses the Lord’s table it is that individual making a corporate judgment upon themselves that the body has yet to decide. Certainly there are cases with pastoral counsel where it may be advisable for a time to refrain from communion, but these are exceptions and a far cry from just making an autonomous self-reflective decision.

The point I am making is that the Lord’ Supper is a church ordinance to be observed by every member except in rare circumstances where you may need to seek counsel from your pastor. But generally speaking the leaving off of communion is not a decision we make as covenant members of the church.

Why is this important? Because it contributes to our growth, having to come to the table with examining our lives and repenting of sin, lest we eat and drink judgment on ourselves. It presses the body to accountability in a healthy way. When we regularly observe communion we are saying that God knows best; howbeit we do not take communion without serious reflection and commitment. God forbid that we would make decisions for ourselves that we have been commanded to perform except in rare cases where we seek counsel from the spiritual leadership of the body.

To be a member of a church is to be a communicant. That is, to be a member means we are in covenant with each other to participate in the church’s means of grace, including morning and evening worship (if the church has it) and the sacraments of communion and believer’s baptism.

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The Absence of Inquiry

Many professed Christians in America have the absence of inquiry. What I mean is that they have decided in their independent spirit to go about ministry the way of their republic, namely to go independently. Fortunately, the church doesn’t work that way. Autonomy of self in a local church is antithetical to the gospel and the good of all people. A healthy sign of a Christian is when they actually inquire as to where they should serve. This comes to mind as I study 1 Kings. Ryken writes,

“What Adonijah did not do—as the Bible is careful to show—was to let God decide what he was called to do, when and where he was called to do it. This is why Adonijah did not consult with the prophet (Nathan) or the priest (Zadok) that God had anointed over Israel (see 1 Kings 1:8), and why he very conspicuously left his brother Solomon off the guest list for his coronation party (1 Kings 1:10). It also explains why he never asked what his father David wanted him to do, even though his father was the true king of Israel. Consider the audacity of what Adonijah had done: he had named himself the royal heir without having even one word with the king himself!”

Phillip Ryken in Reformed Expository Commentary

The healthy Christian would then seek the Lord as to what he was called to do, seek the counsel of their pastor whom the Lord has put in place, and seek the counsel of the King of kings.

An autonomous spirit of doing things in Christian congregations is nothing other than a spirit of the evil one who wants himself to be king and not the Lord. Church is not checkers! The member is never given the right to say “king me!” No, individual members of the church work together to say “King Jesus!”

The absence of inquiry is a possible sign of different kingdoms. If inquiring of the Lord God, his pastors, and of the King of kings is absent from your life, it’s time to live much better, because Christ’s way is better.

I want to add a special note about those going into ministry. The Lord calls the minister, but the congregation affirms him. It should be clear enough to the congregation and yourself that you are called; clear to your family especially. No one is called into ministry that does not have to do the business of inquiring. And perhaps the greatest fault lays on ministers who have not practiced it. No wander many congregations are not seeking where God wants them and what God wants for them—It is perhaps because the self-called ministers are not seeking the very same things. God help us to practice the discipline of inquiry.

Living in a nation that celebrates independence doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It has its place to celebrate as a nation independence from previous tyranny. However, God is no tyrant and deserves to be sought; and the Christian is no revolutionary who does not desire to be taught. The words of Jeremiah are applicable,

They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them

Jeremiah 15:19

Be thus, an inquiring people, for the good of others, and for the glory of God.

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Man Versus God

In Numbers 13:33 Moses writes:

“And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.””

Numbers 13:33

And then in Isaiah 40:22 God is described by Isaiah as follows:

“It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;”

Isaiah 40:22

So, what was happening at the wilderness wanderings was that of making man into God-like status and size. The problem was not so much viewing themselves as “grasshoppers” but in their viewing the inhabitants of Canaan as God.

We need to be reminded that no human being or group of human beings is to be viewed as indomitable against God’s people when God’s promises are so clear.

Isaiah goes on stating the point:

“Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

(Isaiah 40:21–23, 28–31)
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What I’m Reading

A few books I just picked up are: Created to Draw Near by Edward T. Welch, Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on 1 Kings, and Going Deeper with New Testament Greek by Köstenberger, Merkle, and Plummer.

Created to Draw Near is off to a good start. The matter of priesthood of the believer is a topic that Baptist especially treasure. I don’t think Welch is a Baptist, but he perhaps should be if not! Nonetheless, I enjoy his writing and this one is sure to deliver.

A second book I picked up was Wiersbe’s commentary on 1 Kings. I saw it a very good price on kindle today $2.99 and added since I don’t have the set. It’s great for ideas, outlining, and theological reflection in sermon prep.

Going Deeper was recommended to me by a pastor friend especially for studying what is called the “aspect” in Greek grammar. I’m in a Greek study group that is challenging me to keep up my Greek!

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The Real Reason for the United Methodist Split

Today’s World & Everything In It podcast gets right to the point about the split between the conservative and liberal UMC:

REICHARD: The main issue cited for the split ithe denomination isame-sex marriage. But are there other issues odisagreement between the conservative and liberal factions? TOOLEY: There are many, many, many issues odisagreement within the United Methodist Church—sexuality ionly the superficial reason for the impending division othe denomination. But iI had tsummarize what divides the two omore sides ithat the traditional side sees the church ahaving a chiefly transformative role—evangelizing, winning new disciples tChrist, new birth, a changed heart, a changed mind, personal holiness and sanctification. The liberal side would see the church’s role aaffirming people where they are, creating ainclusive community, and working for social justice.

https://worldandeverything.org/2020/01/dividing-the-united-methodist-church/ (special character formatting from Reeder bionic reading mode)

Thus the reason stated is not the symptom; these must be differentiated. The real reason according to Tooley is the view of the church.

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The Drawing Near of Calvinism

It’s happened throughout my ministry, someone has come to me and either asked if I am a calvinist or if calvinism is as bad as they have heard. Unfortunate misrepresentations of calvinism are the usual problem that sets the stage. However in my experience, when given opportunity a good conversation on calvinism has led to closer relationships not divides.

This does not come without some cost. There is time to be expended and many misunderstandings to be worked through. Nevertheless, for all intents and purposes this post is meant to convey some things that I have learned over the years, at least initially, in speaking about calvinism in a way that draws people near and not away.

We could very well get into the history of calvinism and talk in depth about how calvinism was the orthodox doctrine that was opposed by the liberals, but that would be quite difficult to understand at first when someone has had a very negative experience with what they believe to be calvinism.

Most who have a negative experience with calvinism narrow it down to three things: election, predestination, and an assault on John 3:16.

I don’t find the need to debate over John 3:16 when it is mentioned as an affront to calvinism. It is a poor assumption that biblical election and predestination would ever oppose another portion of scripture.

I have been hesitant at times to go in and simply state the facts because I do care very much about relationships, and understand people have been hurt deeply by something that entirely misrepresents calvinism. Nonetheless, that is the very reason we need to define terms and set the record straight.

Biblical election is irrefutable. Ephesians 1:4 says that God “chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world.” This election is not the same as the election of the nation of Israel. When the apostle Paul speaks of “the called” in 1 Corinthians, he speaks of those who are most certainly saved. However, when Moses speaks of the chosen or called in relation to Israel, they are not necessarily saved. Many of them God was not pleased with at all (1 Cor. 10). Many of them rejected all that God told them and perished. But “the called” in the New Testament are those who believe the truth of the Cross and are saved.

There is both a general call and a particular one. The general call is for everyone to come to the Lord. God does not prevent anyone from coming to the Lord. People are certainly able to come to the Lord. The problem is not in ability, for God is not far from any one of us. The problem is in desire.

Before you became a Christian you didn’t desire the things of God. But when you became a Christian you fell in love with God and the things of God. Jonathan Edwards described the human condition as a man inside a prison cell with the door wide open, but the prisoner doesn’t want to come out. So, every sinner is in the same condition. The door is wide open for every person to come out of death and into life, but the problem is that fallen spiritual dead humanity does not “want” to come out, and therefore will not.

The human will is not free, but in bondage to human sin. Therefore, when you came to Jesus Christ, you came because God changed your heart.

Why is all of this important? Why even discuss it? It is because God is concerned about His glory. He will not share it with anyone. The reason at the end of the day as to why anyone is a Christian is that God saved them.

We agree on this on our knees, but when we stand to our feet it seems that our heads get swimmy and forget the truth. Yes, a choice needs to be made. Calvinism does not deny that. But man is spiritually dead, following after the world, and serving Satan until God interrupts their downward plight to hell (cf. Eph 2). Man will always be making the wrong choices until their hearts are changed. And we all pray that God will change the hearts of people because sooner or later we will realize that we can’t change human hearts.

On our knees we all agree. We all are calvinists there. Unfortunately, due to misrepresentations of calvinism as some heretical teaching that removes human choice, free will, and makes God into a tyrant, people begin to pin the truth of election and predestination against what they term as the gospel.

I don’t think it is far from what Spurgeon is attributed to have said, namely, calvinism is simply the Christian gospel. I would simply say that calvinism is a formulation of Christian truth similar to the formulation of what we call “trinity.” Theological terms are important, they stick, and they do at times divide. However, if given a chance, I have not found calvinism to divide, but to actually draw people near.

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Movie Review: Aeronauts

I was looking for a good family fun night movie this past week and came across Aeronauts. The trailer and the reviews looked quite thrilling, but not too over the top for a family flick. For the most part it delivered.

The movie historical-fiction with a stretch. The stretch is adding the character Amelia (to bring press to women aeronauts and aviation explorers at the time in history like Amelia Earhart). Originally it was another scientists who went up with the main character Eddie Redmayne (played by James Glaisher; Amelia played by Felicity Jones).

Nonetheless, the story really brings to light the great risk (and worthy one at that) of explorer meteorology to be able to predict the weather. Think about all of the benefits we have today because such exploration took place! That’s really what I walk away with after the movie.

There is one scene of sacrifice that is on the verge of suicide in the movie, but it is manageable through some discussion. The other parts of the movie are thrilling and funny at times. It’s action packed and beautiful. The sights of the clouds and the butterflies at unimaginable heights is simply astounding. Much of the film captured real scenes all over the world. You can certainly read more up on that on your own. But for my purposes, I’d recommend the movie as giving famlies a great work of art to behold and discuss. I would caution very young children from watching (it does hold a pg-13 rating for a reason).

Enjoy the arts, and remember who makes things truly beautiful and gives man the mind to discover. Blessings !

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Sermon: A Remedy for the Worn Out

A Remedy for the Worn Out

Last week I preached an opening sermon on 1 Kings called “A Remedy for the Worn Out.” I learned a lot in preparing this sermon, and what came forth was the confidence that God’s promises don’t wear out! They don’t wear out with old age, poor health, or weak passion. David could have hope of his kingdom continuing because of God’s promises! What great implications for believers concerned about when they leave this world, or when they despair at midlife, or otherwise! God’s remedy for the worn out, of course is not the worldly attempt to warm the king with a beautiful woman, but to be warmed at one’s depths by the promises of God!

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Sermon: No Place for Tyranny

No Place for Tyranny, A Sermon on 1 Kings 1:5–10 by Brian Mann

Today I preached from 1 Kings 1:5–10 and called the message “No Place for Tyranny.” The book of 1 Kings opens with King David on his death bed and his eldest surviving son Adonijah acting as a prototypical adversary against the kingdom, seeking to take the position of king not by call but by cunning. The question is: Is there any hope for God’s kingdom. The answer is: Absolutely. God will root out the undiluted pride, the unexamined profession, and the unbecoming behavior of this adversarial king, and see to it that his chosen and loved king is installed in Zion. He has ultimately done this through Jesus Christ, and cast Satan out, declaring the victory of Christ through the resurrection and ascension. The Christian church can have hope against all tyranny whether in politics, church, home, and workplace because of God’s promise in Christ that “it will not be so among you!” (cf. Mark 10:42–45)