The Idol-Crushing King

Under the reign of King Hezekiah, “the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and brought out all the debris that they found in the temple of the Lord … and carried it to the Brook Kidron … and they took away all the incense altars and cast them into the Brook Kidron” (2 Chronicles 29:16; 30:14). While these kings are remembered for destroying idols from the land of Israel, none of them could purge the hearts of the people. The righteous kings of Israel may have temporarily purged the land of idols, but King Jesus removes them from our hearts forever. As He made His way to Calvary, Jesus crossed over the Brook Kidron (John 18:1) to symbolize everything He had come to do. He was burnt, crushed, and ground by the wrath of God on the cross.

Jesus is the cure for our idolatry. God the Son took to Himself flesh and blood, so that He might bear the penalty for our idolatry in His own body on the tree. Then He rose bodily from the dead. The Father now commands us to worship a man — even the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

France’s foremost preacher of the nineteenth century, Adolphe Monod, explained the mystery of this truth in a most profound way: “I strive to live in the communion of Jesus Christ — praying to Him, waiting for Him, speaking to Him, hearing Him, and, in a word, constantly bearing witness to Him day and night; all which would be idolatry if He were not God, and God in the highest sense of the word, the highest that the human mind is capable of giving to that sublime name.”

What idols are you harboring in your heart? Are you giving affections and labors to created things? How are we to keep ourselves from idols? The remedy is only to be found in the person and finished work of Christ. He has destroyed the idols of His people, once and for all, by His death on the cross. Our sins have been washed away in His blood. He has “cast them into the depths of the sea,” even as the righteous kings cast the crushed idols into the Brook Kidron. Praise God for His righteous King and His righteous rule in our hearts!

—Nicholas Batzig
Ligonier Ministries

What Does ‘Amen’ Mean?

The term amen was used in the corporate worship of ancient Israel in two distinct ways. It served first as a response to praise given to God and second as a response to prayer. Those same usages of the term are still in vogue among Christians. The term itself is rooted in a Semitic word that means “truth,” and the utterance of “amen” is an acknowledgment that the word that has been heard, whether a word of praise, a word of prayer, or a sermonic exhortation, is valid, that is, sure and binding. Even in antiquity, the word amen was used in order to express a pledge to fulfill the terms of a vow. So, this little word is one that is centered on the idea of the truth of God.

The truth of God is such a remarkable element of Christian faith that it cannot be overlooked. There are those who think that truth is negotiable or, even worse, divisive, and it therefore should not be a matter of passionate concern among believers. But if we are not concerned about truth, then we have no reason to have Bibles in our homes. The Bible is God’s Word, and God’s Word is true. It is not just true but is truth itself. This is the assessment made of it by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (John 17:17).

Therefore, when we sing a hymn that reflects biblical truth and end it with the sung word amen, we are giving our approbation of the content of the praise in the hymn. When we have a choral “amen” at the end of the pastoral prayer, again we are emphasizing our agreement with the validity and surety of the content of the prayer itself.

Worship in biblical terms is a corporate matter. The corporate body is made up of individuals, and when an individual sounds the “amen,” the individual is connecting to the corporate expression of worship and praise. However, we are told in the Scriptures that the truths of God are “yea” and “amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20), which simply means that the Word of God is valid, it is certain, and it is binding. Therefore, the expression “amen” is not simply an acknowledgment of personal agreement with what has been stated; it is an expression of willingness to submit to the implications of that word, to indeed be bound by it, as if the Word of God would put ropes around us not to strangle or retard us but to hold us firmly in place.

There is, perhaps, no more remarkable use of the term amen in the New Testament than on the lips of Jesus. Older translations render statements of our Lord with the preparatory words, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” Later translations update that to “Truly, truly, I say unto you.” In such passages, the Greek word that is translated as “verily” or “truly” is the word amen. Jesus does not wait for the disciples to nod their agreement or submission to His teaching at the end of His saying; rather, He begins by saying, “Amen, amen, I say unto you.” What is the significance of this? Namely, that Jesus never uttered a desultory word; every word that came from His lips was true and important. Each word was, as “amen” suggests, valid, sure, and binding.

Furthermore, even in His own pedagogy, Jesus took the opportunity on occasion to call strict attention to something He was about to say by giving it tremendous emphasis. His practice was somewhat akin to the sounding of a whistle and an announcement over a loudspeaker on a ship: “Now hear this, this is the captain speaking.” When that announcement is made on a ship, everyone listens, realizing that when the captain speaks to the entire crew, what he is saying is of the utmost importance and urgency. However, the authority of Jesus far transcends that of a captain of a seagoing vessel. Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth by the Father. So when He gives a preface to a teaching and says, “Amen, amen, I say unto you,” our listening ears should be fine-tuned to take note instantly of what our Lord is going to say following the preface, for it is of the utmost importance.

We also notice that Jesus uses the Hebrew technique of repetition by saying not merely, “Amen, I say unto you,” but “Amen, amen.” This form of repetition underlines the importance of the words that are to follow. Whenever we read in the text of Scripture our Lord giving a statement that is prefaced by the double “amen,” it is a time to pay close attention and be ready to give our response with a double amen to it. He says “amen” to indicate truth; we say it to receive that truth and to submit to it.

—R.C. Sproul
Ligonier Ministries

Salvation Through Judgment

This is the good news that is the power of God unto salvation. God’s power is communicated in the revelation of his righteousness in the gospel, and it is a power that condemns the sinner so that the sinner might recognize his need for a Savior, trust the Savior, and be saved by faith. In this gospel God’s righteousness is revealed by faith from start to finish (Romans 1:17), and this good news is a message of salvation through judgment for God’s glory.

—Jim Hamilton
God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment

Via: Of First Importance

This Is My Father’s World

So glad we sang this beautiful hymn today during the worship service at Kenwood Baptist Church – it is one of my favorites.

This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
he shines in all that’s fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

—Words by Maltbie D. Babcock and music adapted by Franklin L. Sheppard

Death Is Not Final

When Jesus appeared in a vision to the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, He identified Himself with these words: “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forever-more. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:17–18).

Jesus holds the keys to death, and Satan cannot snatch those keys out of His hand. Christ’s grip is firm. He holds the keys because He owns the keys. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. That includes all authority over life and death. The angel of death is at His beck and call.

World history has witnessed the emergence of many forms of religious dualism. Dualism affirms the existence of two equal and opposite forces. These forces are variously called good and evil, God and Satan, Yin and Yang. The two forces are locked in eternal combat. Since they are equal as well as opposite, the conflict goes on forever, with neither side ever gaining the upper hand. The world is doomed to serve as the eternal battleground between these hostile forces. We are the victims of their struggle, the pawns in their eternal chess game.

Dualism is on a collision course with Christianity. The Christian faith has no stock in dualism. Satan may be opposed to God, but he is by no means equal to God. Satan is a creature; God is the Creator. Satan is potent; God is omnipotent. Satan is knowledgeable and crafty; God is omniscient. Satan is localized in his presence; God is omnipresent. Satan is finite; God is infinite. The list could go on. But it is clear from Scripture that Satan is not an ultimate force in any sense.

We are not doomed to an ultimate conflict with no hope of resolution. The message of Scripture is one of victory—full, final, and ultimate victory. It is not our doom that is certain, but Satan’s. His head has been crushed by the heel of Christ, who is the Alpha and Omega.

Above all suffering and death stands the crucified and risen Lord. He has defeated the ultimate enemy of life. He has vanquished the power of death. He calls us to die, a call to obedience in the final transition of life. Because of Christ, death is not final. It is a passage from one world to the next.

—Dr. R.C. Sproul
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

Via: Ligonier Ministries

Look at the Book

This September, John Piper will be launching an initiative inspired by the legacy he wants to leave. Look at the Book is a new online method of teaching the Bible. It’s an ongoing series of 5–10 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher. You will hear Dr. Piper’s voice and watch his pen underline, circle, make connections, and scribble notes — all to help you learn to read God’s word for yourself. His goal is to help you not only see what he sees, but where he sees it and how he found it.

Here is a video introduction of the Look at the Book series.

The Holy Love of God

Our most fundamental inclination as fallen human creatures is to exchange the truth that God reveals about Himself for a lie, and to serve and worship the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:18-32). We commit idolatry every time we substitute a lesser concept for His glory, whether that substitution takes the crass form of stone gods or the more sophisticated form of redefining God’s character to suit our tastes. A god stripped of justice, of holiness, of sovereignty, and the rest is as much an idol as a statue of wood or stone. We must be careful not to substitute for the biblical God a god who is exhausted in his character by the one attribute of love, especially as popular culture defines it.

As Christians we believe in a God who is simple and not made up of parts. God is not one part sovereign, one part just, one part immutable, one part omniscient, one part eternal, and one part loving. Rather, He is all of His attributes at all times. To understand any single attribute, we must understand it in relation to all His other attributes. The love of God is eternal and sovereign. The love of God is immutable and holy. We treat all of His other attributes in the same way. God’s justice is loving and eternal. His holiness is loving and omniscient. Our concept of the love of God will stay on track only as we understand His love in relationship to His other attributes.

Whatever else God’s love is, it is holy. His love is therefore characterized by the qualities that define holiness—transcendence and purity. First, God’s love is transcendent. It is set apart and different from everything we experience in creation. Second, God’s love is pure. His love is absolutely flawless, having no selfishness, wickedness, or sin mixed in with it. God’s love is not ordinary or profane. It is a majestic, sacred love that goes far beyond anything creatures can manifest. No shadow of evil covers the brightness of the pure glory of the love of God.

The love of God is in a class by itself. It transcends our experience. Nevertheless, it is a love that He shares in part with us and expects us to manifest to each other. He grants to His people—insofar as is possible given the Creator-creature distinction—His holy love (Romans 5:5).

—R.C. Sproul
TableTalk Magazine

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never.
I nothing lack if I am his,
and he is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow,
my ransomed soul he leadeth;
and where the verdant pastures grow,
with food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,
but yet in love he sought me;
and on his shoulder gently laid,
and home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill,
with thee, dear Lord, beside me;
thy rod and staff my comfort still,
thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spreadst a table in my sight;
thy unction grace bestoweth;
and oh, what transport of delight
from thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days,
thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
within thy house forever.

—Henry W. Baker, 1868