The Lord has been working in my heart this last year or so to think more clearly about what it means to be missional, why it’s important to plant churches, and what a culture of multiplication looks like. These two videos are good places to start.
I started preaching through Exodus a few months ago and just recently finished three sermons on Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush. One of the major points I made over the last three weeks is that the miracle of the burning bush is not so much that a bush is on fire and not consumed, but that God reveals himself.
1.) God reveals his holiness in Exodus 3:1-10.
2.) God reveals his name in Exodus 3:11-22.
3.) God reveals his signs and says he will be with Moses’ mouth in Exodus 4:1-17.
God does all of this for Moses despite his disobedience. This is God’s grace towards Moses. Now in Jesus, God’s grace has come. In Jesus, God has revealed his holiness, his name, his signs, and his words. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s revelation in the burning bush.
Jesus is the Holy One
Mark 1:24: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God.”
Acts 2:27: For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.
Revelation 3:7: And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.”
Jesus is the name of God, and Jesus and the Father are one
John 8:58: Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
John 5:17-18: But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
John 10:27-30: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Jesus is the sign of God and Jesus is the mouth of God
Luke 2:12: And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.
Luke 2:34-35: And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Matthew 12:39-40: But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
John 8:28: So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.”
John 12:49: For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment–what to say and what to speak.
John 14:10: Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
As humans, our minds work by using analysis and synthesis in tandem. The same is true in biblical exegesis and theological construction. We create understandings of the whole by dissecting and studying its parts, and conversely we understand the parts in the light of the whole. As we go back and forth between analysis and synthesis, we refine our understandings of both the parts and the whole.
Our reviewers seem to think that for us everything reduces to typology. Horton says, “the main argument of the authors is that dispensationalism and covenant theology both fail to read the Bible in a sufficiently typological way (pointing to Christ), though at different points.” More accurately, we would say: DT and CT fail to think through how the plan of God unfolds through the progress of the covenants and how the biblical covenants find their fulfillment in Christ, which includes within it typological structures.
A seminary friend, Eric Schumacher, turned me onto a series he did at his church where he asked the congregation to submit questions they had about the Bible. I thought this was a good idea because it helps me understand some of the theological and practical issues the people are wrestling with and it offers me an opportunity to address questions before the whole congregation. For a month we ran an insert in our bulletin asking people to submit their questions. We had about 25 questions turned in. I took the most frequently asked questions and turned them into a 4 week sermon series. The four questions I answered were these:
- Why Then the Law (Gal 3:15:29)?
- Is Assurance of Salvation Possible (Selected Scriptures from 1 John)?
- What Does the Holy Spirit Do (John 16:4-15)?
- What is Heaven Like (Revelation 21:1-22:5)?
If you decide to do something like this in your church, let me offer you three suggestions:
1.) While the questions submitted varied in scope, I wanted to answer questions that the Bible itself asks. I think it is important as Christians that we ask the questions the Bible asks and give the answers the Bible gives. Frankly, the Bible doesn’t answer some of our questions, because that’s not what it was written for. By answering questions the Bible asks you teach people to think more biblically.
2.) Unless you plan to preach multiple weeks on a topic there is just no way to cover everything. You have to be selective. It was a challenge to blend and synthesize the biblical material each week into one sermon. I could have easily preached 2 hours (even 2-3 weeks) on each of these topics. My suggestion would be to ground the sermon in one text, teach from it, and then bring in other relevant Scriptures. What I told the church is that these sermons would be topical-but-expositional in nature.
3.) Even though the sermons were based in one text or book, I found myself spending more time in study than I usually do when I preach through a book. Honestly, this series reminded me again why expository preaching is a benefit for a pastor and congregation. Each week you know what you’re going to preach and you have the ability to build each sermon on the previous week. Topical preaching done right is much more challenging than I thought.
Overall, I found myself really blessed by going through this series. Preaching this series firmed up some beliefs I already had and opened up new insights I hadn’t thought about before.
Two of the best essays I have read on typology are by Jim Hamilton. His essays on Joseph and David as types of Christ demonstrate exegetical how Jesus fulfills in his life what these two men did. You can access the essays below and to read the whole post click here.
How should Christians think about capitalism?
Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century the two great superpowers of the world, the USSR and the US, represented the opposing ideologies of communism and capitalism respectively. For many Christians it was unquestioningly assumed that communism was the great enemy of the church. Given its openly atheistic philosophy, it clearly opposed what Christians believed. However, in resisting communism Christians may have been deceived into thinking that capitalism is the church’s ally. Yet, if we want to identify the greatest enemy of the Christian faith, we must look closely at Babylon and observe its obsession with consumerism. There is nothing that stands more effectively as a barrier to people knowing God than the desire for wealth that comes through capitalism.
T. Desmond Alexander, From Eden to the New Jerusalem, p. 183.