Bin Laden's Death in a Different Light

As one might expect, the blogosphere is alive and well about someone who isn’t. I refer, of course, to the death of Osama bin Laden.

The flurry of activity on this score, some of it excellent (see Justin Taylor for example), gave me pause about piling on to the discussion.

Obviously, I gave in. Blame it in part on yesterday’s message in John 12:34-36, The Parting Plea of the Public Christ.

Two billion inhabitants of the planet earth have never heard the blessed gospel of the glorious God, the good news of Jesus Christ, the light of the world, come to live a perfect life and die a substitutionary death on behalf of undeserving sinners, so that they might know forgiveness, have credited to their spiritual account the 100% righteousness of Christ, and receive the gift of eternal life.

I don’t know for sure, but I suspect Osama bin Laden was one of them. More than likely he never even had a chance to walk in the light that the darkness might not overtake him, as it most surely did given the acts of evil he perpetrated.

Oh how grateful I am, who except for the grace of God may well have gone the way of bin Laden, for the mercies of God which opened my eyes to my rebellious heart, and brought me out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14). If He hadn’t shown me such mercy, how easily the same darkness, to one degree or another, could have overtaken me.

Can we see this poor, evil, got-what-we-all-deserve man in this light? Have we in the west, with so much greater access to the gospel of Jesus, heard His plea to walk in the light while we have the light? Spurgeon warned:

I put before you this serious consideration, that you are at present favored with the Light of God, but you are only favored with it for a certain term. Do not reckon upon always having it, for the Light may be removed from you. My dear Hearer, the day may come when you will have to go away from this country and be found far off in the bush of Australia, or the backwoods of America. Or you may even, in this country, be located where you will not be able to hear the Gospel, for what you will hear will not be the Gospel, and you will be obliged to confess that it is not! Therefore, while you have the Light of God, remember that it is a favorable season for your decision for Christ. The day may come, as I said before, when the voice that has thrilled you, again and again, and that wakes the echoes of your soul’s most secret chambers, shall be silent in death. The time may come when, although your minister and you, yourself, are still left in the same place, yet, so far as you are concerned, the Holy Spirit will be gone, and so the Light will have departed from you. Take heed, I beseech you, lest it really be so, and use the Light while you have it.

Can we who by virtue of our union with Christ gained the privileged and responsible identity of sons of light see this man’s death in yet another light? Does it not call us to double and triple our efforts to shine like stars (Philippians 2:14-16) in bringing the good news to those near and far with gospel works and words?

Lord, shine your light in our hearts regarding this state of affairs and more that we might look beyond the obvious, the superficial, the carnal, the political, that we might see with the spiritually discerning eyes of the gospel.

The Gospel's Most Passionate Plea

Today’s sermon from Romans 12:1-13 is now on the web. You can listen to it here.

Here’s how I summarized and applied the text:

A life lived in the grip of the gospel bears the stamp of God’s glory on every aspect of that life. With respect to God, decisive commitment. With respect to self, continual change. With respect to others, intimate connection. The applications are plain, are they not? One, decide today, if you have not yet done so,  based on the massive mercies of God to you in Christ, saving you from sin and judgment, to climb, the whole of you, onto the altar of sacrifice and dedicate your life to Him as a holy and pleasing one of worship. Two, identify the ways you have succumbed to the worlds way of thinking, like perhaps individualism, letting it squeeze you into its mold, and battle back by daily reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on the word of God so that you might discern what pleases Him and live out His will in your life. Three, join a growth group this year. Determine to put yourself in a place that the mercies of God in the gospel flowing into your life will in turn flow out of your life to and with others in the intimate fellowship of a small group.

Let us live our lives this week in light of the gospel’s passionate plea for lives stamped with God’s glory in every respect.

Headed for T4G

T4G stands for Together for the Gospel, a bi-annual conference that encourages pastors to take their stand together for the gospel.

I attended back in ’06 but missed two years ago. The image above shows the speakers at that conference in ’08.

This time around I felt strongly led to return. I don’t know of any other event of its kind that draws together like-minded reformed pastors and church leaders from a variety of traditions for the purpose of promoting modern reformation and fidelity to the gospel in the pulpit. I just couldn’t see how I could afford to miss another opportunity like this on my watch at OGC.

The theme of this year’s conference is The (Unadjusted) Gospel. Click below for a look at the brief promo video.

I leave early tomorrow morning and arrive home late Thursday night.

Would you please pray for me that I hear the Lord’s voice these next three days? Also, pray for my time with various folks I know who go to school there as well as other pastors with which I will be sharing fellowship. Pray that I might be refreshing to them like Onesiphorus of old (2 Tim. 1:16).

I am asking the Lord to make me a better pastor by the investment of resources required for attending such an event. I covet your prayers for the same.

I do hope to post on our blog from Louisville while I am there, Lord willing and time permitting!

Where Did This Jesus of Christmas Come From & Where Did He Go?

In this morning’s message I made much of the fact that the same words of Jesus get repeated verbatim in a very short span of verses in the text of John 7:34-36. 

34 You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?” 

You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come. 

That’s one of the few places in the gospels where this phenomenon happens and for good reason. He uses such a literary device for emphasis given the importance of his purpose. Not to get this, not to understand the answer to the questions where did He come from – the Father in heaven who sent him, and where did He go – back to the Father in heaven – not to get that, not to embrace it, believe it, that He came to die for you and take the punishment of your sins on His head is to consign you to death and everlasting punishment in hell for those sins. Do not be overly hasty in the conclusions you draw in answer to these all-important questions, was the gist of my exhortation. 

I also drew attention to the way the people speculated about the answer to the second question they raised in v. 35. Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? That’s more of John’s irony. The dispersion was the term for the Jews who didn’t settle in Palestine, but went throughout the empire among the Greeks, the Gentiles, the non-Jews. In one sense that, as we saw, is not what He meant, but in another way it points to the future. They unwittingly prophesied here that Jesus was, to use the words of Luke 2:32 – a light of revelation to the Gentiles. 

Upon His resurrection and commission to His disciples and His ascension to the Father’s right hand He would send His Holy Spirit upon the apostles and they would go into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and even the uttermost parts of the earth with the answers to the questions where did he come from and where did He go? He came from God and went back to God. Repent, believe these things, and live.