Monthly Archives: April 2013

Doctrine and Morals – Worship and Worldview

According to Scripture, Christian worship and Christian worldview are pop riveted together by the Holy Spirit. “But the hour cometh and now is when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

Lex orandi est lex credenda et agenda. (The rule of prayer is the rule of belief and of action.) Worldview (i.e., beliefs, morals, actions, etc.) flows from worship. Worship determines worldview. This means you cannot have Christian morals (truth) without Christian worship (Spirit-led-doctrine-and-practices). A society that attempts to separate the two is doomed.

Consider this lengthy excerpt by John Piper (quoting William Wilberforce) on the relationship between Christian doctrine (worship) and Christian morals.


“William Wilberforce is famous for his lifelong, and finally successful, battle against the African slave trade. It stunned me, when I recently read his one major book, A Practical View of Christianity, that his diagnosis of the moral weakness of Britain was doctrinal.

The fatal habit of considering Christian morals as distinct from Christian doctrines insensibly gained strength. Thus the peculiar doctrines of Christianity went more and more out of sight, and as might naturally have been expected, the moral system itself also began to wither and decay, being robbed of that which should have supplied it with life and nutriment (A Practical View of Christianity, ed. Kevin Charles Belmonte (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), p. 198).

“Even more stunning was the fact that Wilberforce made the doctrine of justification the linchpin in his plea for moral reform in the nation …

RESULT FROM THE MISTAKEN CONCEPTION ENTERTAINED OF THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIANITY. They consider not that Christianity is a scheme “for justifying the ungodly” [Romans 4:5], by Christ’s dying for them “when yet sinners” [Romans 5:6-8], a scheme “for reconciling us to God–when enemies” [Romans 5:10]; and for making the fruits of holiness the effects, not the cause, of our being justified and reconciled (Ibid., p. 64. The SMALL CAPS is his emphasis.).

“… Many public people say that changing society requires changing people, but few show the depth of understanding Wilberforce does concerning how that comes about. For him the right grasp of the central doctrine of justification and its relation to sanctification–an emerging Christlikeness in private and public–were essential for the reformation of the morals of England” (John Piper, Counted Righteous in Christ, 24-26).


Prayer: Effectual Fervent Prayer That Avails Much

“But, after all, the intention and close application of the mind, the lively exercises of Faith and Love, and the outgoings of holy desire towards God, are so essentially necessary to Prayer, that without these in sincerity, the best and most proper language is but a lifeless image. If we had the tongue of men and angels, and have not the heart of humble serious Christians in Prayer, we are but as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. It is only the effectual fervent prayer, the inwrought inlaid prayer that avails much. Thus therefore we ought to approve ourselves to God, in the integrity of our hearts, whether we pray by, or without a pre-composed Form” (Matthew Henry, A Method for Prayer, vii).

Feed the Sheep: Simple – Saved by Faith

From 1 Peter 5:1-5,

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

This was the text from the first pastoral exhortation and lecture for ministerial training, given by Pastor Nate Harlan of Trinity Pastors College in January, 2010. Those pastoral exhortations were similar to Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students, “colloquial, familiar, full of anecdote, and often humorous.” In that first lecture, however, Pastor Harlan implored with sobriety that I desire and learn to “Feed the sheep with simplicity.” (Not because the Saints are simplistic or simpletons and dull-witted, but because the Gospel is simple — it is gift, it is grace.)

Since that first charge was delivered a deep conviction has solidified: to “feed the sheep in simplicity” is best accomplished when the Saints are taught that “the glory of Christ is the most precious reality in the universe” (John Piper, Counted Righteous in Christ, 14). But what is the glory of Christ? In the Gospel of John, there is a pun/world-play used when Christ is raised on the cross: Christ was raised up on the cross: Christ was raised, meaning “lifted-up”, and Christ was raised up, meaning “glorified”, on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” This is the glory of Jesus Christ: he laid down his life as a penal substitute for the atonement of the sins of those given to him by the Father. The glory of Christ is that no human being has ever contributed to their justification. He accomplished everything; he deserves all the credit for what he accomplished.

Feeding the sheep in simplicity means this: declaring that Salvation is based solely on the merits of Jesus Christ, and is solely the result of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the Believer. The Saints contribute nothing to their salvation. It is Christ who has accomplished everything.

The message is simple. Salvation is a gift that the just receive by faith. Only those clothed with humility will receive the simple grace of Salvation. So, “Feed the sheep with simplicity.”

Drama: Pentecost

From A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship: commenting on on the portion of Peter’s sermon recorded in Acts 2:37-39, Michael Horton exclaims,

Now that’s drama! At Pentecost the Holy Spirit descends to empower the proclamation of his Word and to bring about the acceptance of it by sinners who were otherwise hostile to it. Then he sweeps them into that pentecostal reality through baptism into Christ and the plot that connects us to those who played their parts before us and who now cheer us on from the stands (14-15).

Prayer: Drawing Near to God, Everywhere and Always

“The scripture describes prayer to be our drawing near to God, lifting up our souls to him, pouring out our hearts before him….A golden thread of heart prayer must run through the web of the whole Christian life; we must be frequently addressing ourselves to God in short and sudden ejaculations, by which we must keep up our communion with him in providences and common actions, as well as in ordinances and religious services” (Matthew Henry, A Method for Prayer, iv).

Tradition: Burying Shoes

Before Julie and I had children we started a family tradition: we would bury shoes in the yard of our rental before we relocated to the next rental. (We moved during the winter once, the ground was too hard to dig with a spade so we threw shoes up in to a tree to hang.)

We have been in our current rental for over three years, so today was our first chance to bury shoes with our children. They loved it. As they say in Fiddler on the Roof, “Tradition!!!”


The shoes are in the ground. Goodbye, Indiana.
Now, we are ready to move to Montana. 

Hermeneutical Thoughts

Four important qualities of Hermeneutics (Biblical interpretation).

1) Hermeneutics requires humility — Biblical interpretation requires humility. God is the one telling the story. Sacred Scripture is God’s story-telling of history via a divine-historical text. We don’t own the story. It is a gift. This means we should handle the divine-story-text with humility and gratitude.

2) Hermeneutics is quasi-scientific  — Scripture is not an accident. God decided that men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit would write down in the format of a divine-historical-text the history which is the “external medium of God’s redemptive plan” (William DiPuccio, The Interior Sense of Scripture: The Sacred Hermeneutic of John W. Nevin, p. 91). This included semantics and syntax and grammar and words and people and narratives and historical settings and types and figures: the men inspired by the Holy Spirit that wrote down the divine-historical-text used those things as the raw materials for the divine revelation of Sacred Scripture, and Biblical interpretation aims to understand those raw materials. Understanding is not accidental, it takes effort, skill, and serious study, but that is not all that it takes — it takes much more. Since interpretation is also an art (see next point), Hermeneutics is quasi-scientific.

3) Hermeneutics is an art — Scripture was written by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, the Father and the Son’s breath-voice-spirit-singer. Accordingly, Scripture is a “musical” book that is rich in symbols and imagery, rhythm and repetition. Therefore, interpreting the Bible is also an art. Why? Because it isn’t enough to know all the words to the song, you also have to know the tune. And Scripture has a tune.

4) Hermeneutics is Spirit-led — Sacred Scripture is a Spirit-book. Scripture was written by the Holy Spirit. And only those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, those that have been given eyes to see and ears to hear the written God-song of God’s divine-story-text know the “tune” of Scripture. (They know the “tune” because they’ve been regenerated, they have a new Father who teaches them songs of their ancestors — the “tune” sang by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.) The Bride of Christ is the Church: together her members sing the “tune” of Sacred Scripture, which was taught to her by the beautiful Holy Spirit.