Statement of Belief: Providence

I’m continuing the series on my statement of belief I turned in for the internship at Clifton Baptist Church. In my first post, I discussed God as sovereign creator, who is perfectly holy in each of his attributes. In his sovereignty he sustains the universe and brings about his perfect will. In my second post on the Trinity, I talked about God’s nature: one eternal essence, three eternally distinct persons. These two both are important precursers to my next statement on God’s providence:

God’s providence is his meticulous care over all of creation. He “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3) and “in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). When God spoke the universe into existence, his sovereign decree included all things that would take place in time, including his own actions. God’s providence means that nothing can happen to any of his creatures that is not known and ordained by him, thus he can promise that “all things work together for good unto those who love him and are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). God’s providence not only includes every aspect of our lives, but everything in creation as well. The winds and the seas obey him (Matt. 8:27). He sends the rains, winds, snow, and sunlight. Thus, God guides all things, creatures and creation, unto his pre-appointed purposes, for the good of his people and for his eternal glory.

Something I left out (thanks to my small group leader, Josh Stephens, for pointing this out to me) was how I understand evil and tragedy to mesh with God’s providence. I could spend a lot of time on this issue, but I’ll save that for its own post. But I will say this: nothing that takes place in time is outside of God’s eternal decree and providential control. At the same time, however, human beings are wholly responsible for their actions. God is not the author of sin, we who sin bare the blame. How do these truths fit together? I suppose part of the answer has to do with the relationship between time and eternity. God, in eternity passed decreed all things when he spoke into existence the very fabric of time itself. He did so in such a way as to uphold his meticulous sovereignty, as well as his impeccable holiness and thus human responsibility for sin.  I’ll give two texts which make my point, thought there are countless others:

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[a]should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:19-20)

Here note that while the brothers’ intentions were clearly evil, and they are responsible for them; God’s intentions in the same act were for a good purpose. Did God or Joseph’s brothers send Joseph into Egypt? The answer is “yes!” One more text, a bit longer:

When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (Acts 4:23-28)

In this prayer, notice that the disciples clearly hold those involved in Jesus Christ’s death responsible for such a sinful action, yet all involved did “whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” Who killed Jesus? Was it Herod, Pilot, the Romans and the Jews? or Did God kill Jesus? The answer is “Yes!” God’s hand and plan had predestined all that these sinful people did to Jesus. He is sovereign, yet they are responsible for the intentions of their hearts. Is your mind spinning? Mine too…yet the Word of God is clear, and it does no good to fashion a God in our own likeness. I’ll end with a quote from Charles Spurgeon which I think demonstrates how we should respond to what God has revealed in his Word, even if we cannot fully grasp it:

If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge, but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring. – C.H. Spurgeon

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Sam Storms website/blog active again!

Cover of "Chosen for Life: The Case for D...

Cover via Amazon

I have frequented Sam Storms website over the past couple years, ever since I read his “Chosen for Life” book. It has been a wealth of information and helpful Biblical insight. Though I don’t always agree with his conclusions, I greatly appreciate his careful study of God’s word. Therefore, I am extremely happy to find his website recently updated coupled with his stated intention to blog daily. I highly recommend adding this to your blogroll. You will not be disappointed. Here is his first post:

Enjoying God: Oklahoma City, OK > Welcome to the new and improved Enjoying God website!

It has been a few years since I last blogged with any degree of regularity and I’m thrilled to be at it again. I hope you find the blogposts, articles, and sermons here to be helpful, encouraging, challenging, and edifying. They might even be a bit controversial at times (“all” the time?)! Here are my designs for this website.

First, my intention is to blog every day, Monday through Friday. I’ll probably take off on Saturday and Sunday. On occasion there will be two or three blogposts per day, although in rare instances I might miss a day here and there.

Second, the content of the blog will be a mixture of biblical studies, meditations on particular passages, wrestling with difficult texts and topics, book reviews, updates on theological issues facing the church today, developments in the broader culture that impact the church, sports, movies, and my own musings on topics that I hope are relevant and noteworthy.

Third, my policy regarding blog comments is that I will read all of them but probably only respond infrequently. I simply don’t have the time to devote a lot of work to formulating responses to every comment posted. My request is that your comments be brief and to the point, that you avoid uncharitable language, and that you don’t get angry at me when I choose not to respond. Anger will only intensify my resolve to say nothing!

Fourth, I encourage you to let others know that the website is up and running. Your support in that regard would be greatly appreciated.

Fifth, the website will no longer be selling or processing books, CD’s, or DVD’s directly; however, all my publications are listed on the Bookstore page, and you may purchase them through Amazon at greatly reduced prices.

Sixth, we have hundreds of articles and sermons available on this site as well, and I hope you find the material to be enlightening and encouraging.

Finally, I want to express my profound appreciation to Church Plant Media who are responsible for the re-launch of the Enjoying God Ministries website. If you need help in this regard, click on the icon to the right. They are a great company and ministry and I can’t recommend them too highly.

Well, that’s enough for a start. Come back on Tuesday, March 12th, for the inaugural posts.

Sam Storms

Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision

Bridgeway Church

Oklahoma City, OK

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Interacting with “The End”, Part 3: Snapshots of Revelation

A Review of Craig Groeschel’s “the End”: Part 3

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In the past month or so I have reviewed two of Craig Groeschel’s in his 3 part series titled “The End.” In the spirit of completeness I’d like to take a look at his final message “Snapshots of Revelation.” As the title indicates, in this message Groeschel takes 40 minutes and gives his audience a jet tour of the book of Revelation. This is actually a very difficult thing to do, and personally I would not attempt it unless I was doing a series on the entire book and wanted to begin with a brief overview. Revelation is the type of book that requires a lot of introduction to give people an idea of the type of literature being dealt with. Having said that, Groeschel does a good job of summarizing it and getting at the heart of the message, which I agree with him on. Still, there are some differences in the details and so lets take a look at his message and see where we might differ.

After a brief introduction, Groeschel divides his message into 5 sections and themes:

1) Jesus is the Alpha and Omega (Chapters 1-3): Jesus is coming soon

2) Jesus is the Lamb of God (Chapters 4-5): He is worthy to open the scroll

3) Jesus is the Righteous Judge (Chapters 6-18): Jesus righteously judges the earth

4) Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Chapter 19): Jesus returns with his church

5) Jesus is the Bridegroom and we are the Bride (Chapter 21): Jesus takes us, the church, to the heavenly city

There are many ways to divide up the book of Revelation, and this broad outline does a good job of hitting some of the main themes of the book. So, lets move through the outline.

First, Groeschel makes some introductory comments about Revelation. He talks about how it is “really creepy and scary” and so people avoid it. Actually, however, he then correctly asserts that this book will “build your faith…and if you’re a follower of Jesus you should get excited about what God is showing you through the book of Revelation.” The problem is that people “don’t know how to read it.” This is exactly right! Revelation does have some images and symbols we simply are not used to. It is a type of literature called “apocalyptic” that was common in that day, but is foreign to what we are familiar with today. Groeschel rightly states that when it comes down to it, Revelation is about Jesus Christ, and as we read it we should always be asking the question, “what does this say about Jesus?” Groeschel does this in each of his sections, and thus gets the main theme of each right.

1) Jesus is the Alpha and Omega (Chapters 1-3): Jesus is coming soon

Here Groeschel points us to Revelation 1:7:

But then he goes on to say that “this is not the first return of Jesus when he comes back like a thief…the first time he comes for his church, this time he comes with his church…” My question is, why is this not the same coming as described in 2 Thessalonians 4? Let’s compare the two texts:

So, if we look at both of these texts, it would seem they are speaking of the same event. It is the Lord Jesus who is coming in both. 2 Thessalonians describes a cry of command, the voice of an archangel, the trumpet of God. Also, each speak of the Lord coming on the clouds. In 1 Thessalonians believers are caught up in the clouds to meet him, while in Revelation 1 he is coming on the clouds. Should we, therefore, take these as two separate comings, or as discussed in a previous post, see these events as describing the same coming, with 1 Thessalonians focusing on the perspective of the believer and Revelation describing the perspective from heaven. It seems that at that final trumpet, we will meet the Lord in the clouds and return with him to judge the nations. Every eye will see him, every ear will hear and all who have rebelled against him will mourn. It is much more likely that this is the case, and no reason from either of these two texts to take them as separate events.

But what about the language of a thief? 1 Thessalonians goes on to say:

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers,[b] you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children[c] of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.

So what does Paul intend to say when he uses the metaphor of a thief? The text tells us: “When people are saying ‘there is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman.” It is the suddenness of Christ’s coming that make it like a thief, not its secretness. It is sudden destruction that will come upon the ungodly like a their. It is as the labor pains that suddenly come upon a pregnant woman (Is 66:7; Jer 6:24; 22:23; 50:43; Mic 4:9). But it will not surprise believers, for they are prepared because they have trusted in Christ. It will not be a time of destruction for them, but a time of blessing. Paul makes this very point in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-9

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from[b] the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because ourtestimony to you was believed.

Therefore, it is unlikely that 1Thessalonians 4 and Revelation 1 represent two separate comings of Christ, but rather two perspectives on his final coming.

2) Jesus is the Lamb of God (Chapters 4-5): He is worthy to open the scroll

Pastor Craig does a good job summarizing section two, and I agree with him for the most part. Jesus Christ is the slain lamb of God, who alone is worthy to open the scroll which symbolizes God’s purposes for humanity as revealed in the remainder of the Revelation. We press on.

3) Jesus is the Righteous Judge (Chapters 6-18): Jesus righteously judges the earth

Again, Groeschel’s main point here I can agree with. Jesus always judges rightly, and on the day of judgment no one will be able to say, “that’s not fair.” However, it is with Groeschel’s “bonus thoughts” that we depart ways. Basically, he interprets chapter 6-18 as entirely future, prophesying things that have not yet happened even in our time, things we are perhaps seeing right now. His thoughts are in bold, and my responses follow:

Temple Rebuilt (Rev. 11.1-2) – Groeschel takes the mention of the temple in Revelation 11:1-2 to prove that the temple will one day be rebuilt. The passage says:

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 

I won’t spend a lot of time defending a particular interpretation of each of these issues, but rather I want to simply show that there are other interpretations which fit better what I believe these passages to mean; however, the question that should be asked, according to Pastor Craig’s own advice when it comes to the symbolic nature of Revelation, is could not Revelation mention a temple symbolically that did not actually exist literally? Of course, and that seems to be the case here. The question then that should be asked is, ‘what does this symbol mean?’ Just as in chapter 1, we are told that the seven golden lampstands represent the seven churches, so here we must decide what the temple represents. My answer, without a lengthy defense, is that the part of the temple that is measured is the true church, those who have trusted in Christ. The measuring indicates that they are protected from God’s wrath to be poured out in judgment. The ‘court of the Gentiles’ or outer section which is not measured, represents they heathen who have not trusted Christ. No such protection will be provided for them. They will be trampled.


Anti-Christ (Rev. 13 and 14-16)

Mark of the Beast

Anti-Christ killed and raised to life (13.3-4)

The anti-Christ is actually not named in Revelation, rather it is the beast from the sea. Again, I would simply ask what this beast would represent to John’s readers? And what would his mark represent? And what would it meant to John’s readers that he suffered what seemed to be a mortal wound (13:3-4)? All of these images would be utterly meaningless to John’s readers if this person were yet future, and if his mark was a microchip. A much more likely reading is that the beast represents none other than the pagan city of Rome and its emperor, who commanded worship as a god and who was responsible for the persecution John’s readers were enduring. By extension any nation and world leader who would set itself up against God could l be called the beast of Revelation. John himself said that he was “partner” with his readers in “the tribulation.” Surely the suffering talked about throughout the book refers to this same tribulation John and his readers were enduring.


Two Witnesses (Rev. 11)

Killed and raised to life

Shut up the heavens

issue any plague they want

Fire from mouth (“really cool trick”); “don’t mess with two witnesses”

Groeschel then discusses the two witnesses. He takes them literally, and all their powers literally as well. Again, we should ask similar questions. Why should all of these things be taken literally in a very symbolic book? In fact, later Pastor Craig will talk about the sword coming from the mouth of God as a symbolic representation of the word of God. I believe the symbolism here represents the same as that of the measured temple. The two witnesses, i.e. God’s true church, will be protected during the time of God’s wrath.


 Anti Christ raised up to assassinate world leaders; one world government (Rev 17.12-13; Dan. 7.24)

The Anti Christ is defeated at the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16.16-19)

Again, I would just advice a careful reading of the text to see if there is anything about a future one world government in Revelation 17. The beast is indeed defeated at the final battle, as are all nations and peoples who have opposed Christ. These are a few of the issues in Groeschel’s interpretation of Revelation that don’t seem to fit the context or overall point of the book.

4) Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Chapter 19): Jesus returns with his church

“He is not a candidate who we elect in and out of office. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords and when you read Revelation and see who Jesus is, it will build your faith.” Amen, Pastor Groeschel!

5) Jesus is the Bridegroom and we are the Bride (Chapter 21): Jesus takes us, the church, to the heavenly city

Pastor Groeschel ends very well. I say again, most of what he says I agree with and we can partner in the cause of the gospel because we hold these gospel truths. Christ is coming soon and this is a cause of joy and hope for all believers. These other issues we can debate and discuss, but praise God we need and should not divide over them.

Still, I believe that as Christians we must strive each day to be faithful to all of God’s word, including the unfamiliar texts of Revelation. These issues are not unimportant and they may well affect how we read Scripture and understand the gospel of the kingdom.

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Pop Goes Egalitarianism | Denny Burk

Three thoughts (see link to video below):

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1. I thought being Catholic meant and end to disunity? That’s what most Catholic apologists I’ve heard seem to indicate.

2. “Don’t listen to St. Paul” doesn’t exactly warm my heart to their message! Unless, by St. Paul they mean Pope John Paul, in which case, see No. 3.

3.  Why do they still want to be called Catholic? We have here an example of politically correct “progressivism” still clinging to the idea of traditionalism.

Pop Goes Egalitarianism | Denny Burk.

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Great Article by Dr. Moore: Let’s Rethink Our Holly-Jolly Christmas Songs

Let’s Rethink Our Holly-Jolly Christmas Songs
— TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18TH, 2012 —

Sometimes I learn a lot from conversations I was never intended to hear. This happened the other day as I was stopping by my local community bookstore. It’s a small store, and a quiet store so it was impossible not to eavesdrop as I heard a young man tell his friend how much he hated Christmas. And, you know what, the more he talked, the more I understood his point.

This man wasn’t talking about the hustle and bustle of the holidays, or about the stresses of family meals or all the things people tend to complain about. What he hated was the music.

This guy started by lampooning Sting’s Christmas album, and I found myself smiling as I browsed because he is so right; it’s awful. But then he went on to say that he hated Christmas music across the board. That’s when I started to feel as though I might be in the presence of the Grinch. You know, when every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing; they’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Who’s would start singing. The sour old green villain didn’t like that.

But then this man explained why he found the music so bad. It wasn’t just that it was cloying. It’s that it was boring.

“Christmas is boring because there’s no narrative tension,” he said. “It’s like reading a book with no conflict.”

Now he had my attention.

I’m sure this man had thought this for a long time, but maybe he felt freer to say it because we were only hours out from hearing the horrifying news of a massacre of innocent children in Connecticut. For him, the tranquil lyrics of our Christmas songs couldn’t encompass such terror. Maybe we should think about that.

Of course, some of the blame is on our sentimentalized Christmas of the American civil religion. Simeon the prophet never wished anyone a “holly-jolly Christmas” or envisioned anything about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. But there’s our songs too, the songs of the church. We ought to make sure that what we sing measures up with the, as this fellow would put it, “narrative tension” of the Christmas story.

The first Christmas carol, after all, was a war hymn. Mary of Nazareth sings of God’s defeat of his enemies, about how in Christ he had demonstrated his power and “has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Lk. 1:52). There are some villains in mind there.

Simeon’s song, likewise, speaks of the “fall and rising of many in Israel” and of a sword that would pierce the heart of Mary herself. Even the “light of the Gentiles” he speaks about is in the context of warfare. After all, the light, the Bible tells us, overcomes the darkness (Jn. 1:5), and frees us from the grip of the devil (2 Cor. 4).

In a time of obvious tragedy, the unbearable lightness of Christmas seems absurd to the watching world. But, even in the best of times, we all know that we live in a groaning universe, a world of divorce courts and cancer cells and concentration camps. Just as we sing with joy about the coming of the Promised One, we ought also to sing with groaning that he is not back yet (Rom. 8:23), sometimes with groanings too deep for lyrics.

The man in the bookstore knew that reality is complicated. There’s grit, and there’s tension. Without it, Christmas didn’t seem real to life. It’s hard to get more tense than being born under a king’s death sentence (Matt. 2:16), and with an ancient dragon crouching at the birth canal to devour you (Rev. 12:4). But this man didn’t hear any of that in Christmas. I’m glad I overheard him.

We have a rich and complicated and often appropriately dark Christmas hymnody. We can sing of blessings flowing “far as the curse is found,” of the one who came to “free us all from Satan’s power.”

Let’s sing that, every now and then, where we can be overheard.

 

 

Moore to the Point – Let’s Rethink Our Holly-Jolly Christmas Songs.

 

Devote Yourselves to Prayer: A Brief Theology of Prayer

” Devote yourselves to prayer” – Col. 4:2

Jesus in Pray

There are many difficult questions when it comes to prayer. How do I pray? When do I pray? If God is sovereign, what does prayer accomplish? Does prayer actually change things? These are all questions that can and should be answered, however, I want to consider what is said most often in the New Testament regarding prayer, that we should devote ourselves to it. We find this specific command in several places, as well as examples of this in many others. Jesus often prayed for extended periods of time (Luke 6:12). The early church “devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts 2:42). The apostles saw devotion to prayer as one of their primary responsibilities as leaders of the church (Acts 6:4). It was Cornelius’ continued prayers that brought Peter to his house (Acts 10:4). God responded to the earnest prayers of the church when he broke Peter’s prison chains (Acts 12:4-7). Paul prayed continually for his churches, and exhorted them to do the same (Rom 1:10; 12:12; 15:30; 1 Cor 7:5; Eph 1:16; 6:18; Phil 4:6; Col 4:2, 12; 1 Th 1:2; 1 Tim 2:1; 5:5; Philem 1:4, 22).  In light of Scriptures clear command regarding prayer, we should ask three questions.

1)  What is Prayer?

John Calvin summarized prayer as when “we call upon Him to manifest Himself to us in all His perfections.” This definition captures three essential aspects of prayer. First, it is creatures communicating with their creator. We call upon him. It is thus for our benefit, and not his. When we call upon our creator, we enter into intimate communion with him, recognizing our utter dependance upon his provision. When we communicate to and listen to our heavenly Father, we grow in his grace and in his knowledge, becoming more sensitive to and more aware of his constant presence and protection in our lives. Second, it is plea for God to reveal himself to us. It is a means by which we call upon our creator to rule over our lives. We recognize that all things are of him, that all good gifts come from him. We realize that he is powerful and able to enter into our circumstances, and by his sovereign power to work all things together for our good, as we love him and as we trust him. When we pray we are acknowledging God’s rule over our lives, his ability to work in our lives, and his goodness in the midst of any circumstances he allows to enter into our lives. Prayer is then a demonstration of absolute trust and dependance on our Father’s perfect provision. Finally, prayer recognizes God’s perfections. If God were not powerful, able to do what he pleases on earth, why should we pray? If God were not good, working all things together for the good of his people, why should we pray? If God were not everywhere present, able to attend to the needs of ALL of his children all at once, they why should we pray? Our prayers acknowledge our finite helplessness, and God’s infinite wisdom and provision.

2)  Why Do We Pray?

First and foremost, we pray because it is commanded in Scripture, and it is the example given us by Jesus and the apostles. Jesus assumed that his followers would pray when he said, “when you pray, pray in this way…” And Paul is not short on exhortations to pray either: “pray for me”, “pray without ceasing”, “present your requests to God”, “devote yourselves to prayer”, “persevere in prayer”, etc. Second, as already discussed, prayer draws us into a more intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. We pray not to change him, but to change us. Third, prayer is effective. God his sovereign, and in his sovereign will prayer is one of the means by which he works in the world. He responds to prayer. There are so many unknowns in this world; so many doubts and fears. We pray because we know that God answers prayer, and his answer is always right and good. It gives us a greater sense of God’s purpose in all things, and we can trust his perfect wisdom as we pour our fears and needs before the feet of our God in heaven. As John Piper has said,

Prayer for God’s help is one way that God preserves and manifests the dependence of his people on his grace and power. The necessity of prayer is a constant reminder and display of our dependence on God for everything, so that he gets the glory when we get the help.”

 

3)  How Do We Pray?

Thankfully, this question was asked directly of Jesus, and he gave a direct answer when he said,

¶ “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:5–13 ESV)

First, Jesus tells us how not to pray. We should not pray to be seen by others, nor should we pray as though our words themselves have something to do with the effectiveness of our prayers. Both of these negatives have to do with having a prideful heart. Prayer is first and foremost an act of humble submission before a holy God, thus we pray not to receive the accolades of men, but to commune with our heavenly Father. Jesus then tells us how to pray. It is not as though we should repeat this prayer every time we pray, and then our prayer life will be complete. Rather, this is an example of the proper type of prayer. We acknowledge God as our Father in heaven. He is our Father, and thus desires to give good gifts to his children (Matt. 7:11), and he is in heaven, and thus has the authority to do so (2 Chr 20:6; Psa 115:3). We are to worship our Father every time we pray. He is holy, and we should recognize it. We should also pray that his perfect will be done as he brings his kingdom into this world. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven” is not a denial that Jesus has brought God’s kingdom into the world, but it is rather a request that his kingdom would come in its fulness, so that earth and heaven would of one accord do all things to the praise of his glorious grace.. “Give us this day our daily bread” is a recognition that only God can provide our daily needs. It is also a demonstration of trust, that we don’t worry about tomorrow, but trust that God will provide for our needs one day at a time (Luke 12:27-31). We also pray for forgiveness, and that we would forgive others. We don’t deserve forgiveness, yet our father forgives us when we confess our sins. So also, we must forgive, for we have been much forgiven. Finally, we pray for victory over Satan and his temptations, recognizing that Christ has already defeated the powers of the evil one (Col. 2:15), and thus has provided victory over temptation day to day (1Cor. 10:13). Prayer comes in many different forms, but the prayer of Jesus succinctly includes every aspect of what a healthy prayer looks like: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (ACTS). 

As believers, let us not neglect this essential spiritual discipline. Jesus Christ modeled it and the scriptures command it. It is our only way to commune with a holy God, and it is a humble recognition of his sovereign goodness and of his gracious provision.

 

 

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Must Read in 2013: Tom Schreiner’s Biblical Theology

If you’ve read any of Tom Schreiner’s books, particularly his New Testament Theology, then you don’t need me to tell you to get this next one…but I will anyway!

The King in His Beauty

I have had the privilege of having Dr. Tom Schreiner as a professor, as a pastor and as a doctoral supervisor. I have witnessed his passion and sincerity in preaching God’s word, as well as his life lived devoted to Christ and the word of God. That’s why I highly recommend this upcoming book by him. It will not simply be an academic exercise, but a work of devotion which has been the product of years of faithfulness and integrity toward God’s word, and a life which reflects that. It will be well worth your time and mine.

King in His Beauty, The: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Thomas R. Schreiner

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