Distinctives Part IX – The River from the Temple

March 9, 2008 in

Ezekiel’s vision of the eschatological temple enables us to understand the importance of our labor. Why worship faithfully each Lord’s Day? Why come to the Supper and be fed each Lord’s Day? Why sing the psalms & hymns together? Why be devoted to Trinitarian community? Why restore our marriages? What we will find is that Ezekiel’s vision encourages us to look beyond immediate considerations – who wouldn’t want a good marriage, after all? – and to look outward to what God will use this type of personal transformation to accomplish. Our Lord promises that as we love one another, as we give glory to one another, men will know that we are His disciples; and Paul remarks in 1 Corinthians that faithful and reverent worship oriented around the word faithfully preached will cause unbelievers to fall down on their faces, worship God, and report that God is truly among us. God’s intention is to use the Church as the primary agent through which He will transform the world, bring others to a knowledge of salvation, and fill the earth with the knowledge of His name. He promises that the Kingdom will grow over time and bring cleansing and healing to the nations.

Distinctives Part VIII – Giving, Giving, Giving

March 2, 2008 in

The Triune God is a God of giving, giving, giving. For all eternity the three Persons of the Godhead have been giving to One Another – the Father glorifying the Son & the Spirit, the Son glorifying the Father & the Spirit, the Spirit glorifying the Father & the Son. This inter-trinitarian fellowship is the foundation for both creation and redemption. For when God created and when He acted to redeem us through Christ, He did so not out of any deficiency but out of His great super-sufficiency. “Of his fullness we have all received and grace upon grace.” This giving reflects itself in Christ’s conduct toward the Church. The Father glorified the Son by making him head/authority over all things – and Jesus exercises this headship for the benefit of the Church. This Gospel headship of giving is the foundation for the marriage covenant. Just as God gave Christ to be head over all things for the Church, He has given husbands to be heads over their homes for their wives. The implications of this reality are far reaching.

Distinctives Part VII – Paradise Restored

February 24, 2008 in

Part of the imagery associated with redemption pictures it as a return to paradise. God is in the business of redeeming His people to be what He created them to be. What did He create us to be? As we examine the creation account, we find that God created Adam and Eve as His viceroys to rule the earth and as His priests to offer up their labor in worship. God made us to be Kings and Priests on earth – and this is the very thing the New Testament calls us as His redeemed people. What implications does this identity have for our calling as the people of God?

Distinctives Part VI – Orchestrated, Accomplished, Applied

February 17, 2008 in

Given that paradise was lost when we rebelled against God, that we became spiritually dead and enslaved to our sin, unwilling to serve God and, what’s more serious, unable to change our condition, is there any hope? The biblical answer is that in man there is no hope but in God there is much hope. For as the story of the Bible unfolds, God reveals the astounding grandeur of His plan from the very beginning. By redemption God reclaims the original vision. God is in the business of redeeming people to be what He created them to be. This is the story of redemption; this is the story we read; and it is astounding. This is the story of the sermon today.

Distinctives Part V – Paradise Lost

February 10, 2008 in

The Temple was not only a model of the heavenly Holy Place, it was also a model of paradise. In order to understand our identity, therefore, it is important to realize that not only are we as the Temple of God a picture of the new heavens, we are also a picture of the new earth. Before we can fully appreciate the significance of this identity, however, we must understand what we lost when we rebelled against God. In short we lost vita et libertas – life and liberty – and replaced them with mors et servitudo – death and servitude.

Distinctives Part IV – With Reverence and Awe

February 3, 2008 in

How does the correlation between the Temple of God and the Church help us to understand what does happen and what should happen in worship each Lord’s Day? If we truly understand the correlation, then we will be astounded at the mystery of worship and we will enter the Lord’s Presence with reverence and awe and in a way that reflects our identity as the Temple of God.

Distinctives Part III – To Worship in His Temple

January 27, 2008 in

Ezekiel’s eschatological vision of the Temple helps us understand not only the centrality of the Triune God but also our own place in God’s plan. Jesus is the Temple of God and all renewal proceeds forth from His throne. Because of this all those in Him, whether individual believers or, more pervasively in the NT, the Church, are also called the Temple. Since the Church is the Temple of God, Ezekiels helps us understand that God has chosen to link the spread of His Word and Spirit with the labors of the Church and also that the primary responsibility of the Church, like the Temple, is to worship the Living God.

Distinctives Part II – Water from the Throne

January 20, 2008 in

The Triune God is the center of everything. Consequently, our attitude toward Him should be one of reverent anticipation – listening to hear His voice. And because God is Triune, because in the eternal fellowship of the Godhead the Father, Son and Holy Spirit speak and communicate with one another – it makes sense that God would communicate to us in words as His image bearers. And so our correct response is to be people of the book – the book which through the power of the Spirit remakes the world.

Distinctives Part I – For Whom Do We Live?

January 13, 2008 in

In order to answer the questions, “Who are we? What are/should we be doing? Why is what we are doing important?”, it is critical to understand who lies at the center of all we are and do. The Triune God is He who created us and redeemed us – and, therefore, all our labors are to be devoted to giving Him glory and honor. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.