Monday, March 31, 2014

Who were the Nephilim?

Since the question is back on the table with this weekend's release of the Noah flop film, here is an answer deep from the archives.

As it turns out, the Nephilim have everything to do with Christian boys who lust after the Emma Watsons of the world and nothing to do with fantastic CGI rock giants or prurient alien angel-demons.

An exegetical study of Genesis 6.


According to the O and NT’s, Moses was the author of the Torah[1].  His audience was a post-Exodus, pre-conquest Israel.  His main spiritual concerns would have been: 
A. education – Israelite [and Canaanite] history and that of the land she was to inhabit; 
B. Faith in God through hardship and uncertainty [grumbling vs perseverance - especially while traveling; trusting God as He works in time and processes; being subverted by the temptations of food, idolatry, and compromise with powerful empire-builders]; 
and C. Purity through separation [ethical and marital; being subverted by women].  

All three of these themes are nearly omnipresent subtexts undergirding every portion of Genesis.  They explain the content and emphasis of nearly everything contained therein. 

To answer the question at hand, I would like to key in on the third concern – spiritual purity and marriage.  At the risk of overstating my case, if Genesis were written today as a sensational political paperback, it would be called something like: “Setting the Record Straight: The true history of the Israelite Nation: how women, paganism, and faithless compromise almost destroyed God’s people, why Canaan is rightfully theirs and why the bloodthirsty, idolaters must be driven from it.” 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sing My Tongue the Glorious Battle: A Lenten Hymn

You'd be hard pressed to find a contemporary song with a tenth the doctrinal substance or devotional force or sacred passion of this Ancient Christian Hymn.  It was written by Venantius Fortunatis in the years prior to A.D. 600 and set to an ancient Plainsong tune.

1. Sing; my tongue, the glorious battle,
sing the winning of the fray;
o're the cross the Victor's trophy,
sound the loud triumphant lay:
tell how Christ, the world's Redeemer,
as the victim won the day.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lewis's Other Trilemma

"This is the conclusion of the whole matter. God gives what he has, not what he has not: He gives the happiness that there is, not the happiness that is not.  To be God or to be like God and share his goodness in response to his blessings or to be miserable; these are the only three alternatives. If we will not learn to eat the only food that the universe grows- the only food that any possible universe ever can grow- then we must starve eternally... 

Law said “If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead.” Those are hard words to take. Will it really make no difference whether it was women or patriotism, cocaine or art, whisky or a seat in the Cabinet, money or science? Well, surely no difference that matters. We shall have missed the end for which we are formed and rejected the only thing that satisfies. Does it matter to a man dying in a desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?" 

- C S Lewis

from The Problem of Pain and A Slip of the Tongue

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cheap Imitations of Grace

"All the pleasures money can buy are but cheap imitations of grace."

-Jamie Soles

Song Title: Anything in Life, Album: River

Saturday, March 8, 2014

White Lent

Thanks to Dr Jim Jordan for introducing us to it and the Clerk of Oxford for posting a great recording of the French Carol and Lenten Hymn: White Lent.

1. Now quit your care
And anxious fear and worry;
For schemes are vain
And fretting brings no gain.
To prayer, to prayer!
Bells call and clash and hurry,
In Lent the bells do cry
'Come buy, come buy,
Come buy with love the love most high!'

2. Lent comes in the spring,
And spring is pied with brightness;
The sweetest flowers,
Keen winds, and sun, and showers,
Their health do bring
To make Lent's chastened whiteness;
For life to men brings light
And might, and might,
And might to those whose hearts are right.

3. To bow the head
In sackcloth and in ashes,
Or rend the soul,
Such grief is not Lent's goal;
But to be led
To where God's glory flashes,
His beauty to come nigh,
To fly, to fly,
To fly where truth and light do lie.

4. For is not this
The fast that I have chosen? -
The prophet spoke -
To shatter every yoke,
Of wickedness
The grievous bands to loosen,
Oppression put to flight,
To fight, to fight,
To fight till every wrong's set right.

5. For righteousness
And peace will show their faces
To those who feed
The hungry in their need, 
And wrongs redress,
Who build the old waste places,
And in the darkness shine. 
Divine, divine,
Divine it is when all combine!

6. Then shall your light
Break forth as doth the morning;
Your health shall spring,
The friends you make shall bring 
God's glory bright,
Your way through life adorning
And love shall be the prize.
Arise, arise,
Arise! and make a paradise!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Leithart on Lenten Fasting

Paul insisted that Christians had the right to eat meat that had been prepared in sacrificial rituals to idols.  But he also knew that some Christians disagreed.  Some believed it was compromise with idolatry.  Paul thought they were wrong, but he didn’t simply write off his brothers.

 Instead, whenever he talks about food, he emphasizes that love and deference for brothers take priority over his own convictions and preferences.  “Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died,” he writes to the Romans, and to the Corinthians he adds, “if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.”

Paul doesn’t address fasting in the same way, but he would, and he would want us to.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Memorizing the 7 Deadly Sins - A Lenten Preparation

The 7 deadly sins historically listed can be memorized using the acrostic WASP LEG -


Lists of "deadly" sins appear at several points in the New Testament [Mk 7; Rom 1; 1 Cor 6; Gal 5; Eph 5; Col 3; 1 Tim 1; Rev 21 & 22] but the primary Scriptural list of 7 is found in Proverbs [6]:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pastoral Love

The fundamental principle of our ministry is that we must love our people.  That's more important than anything else.  Without love our ministry will be empty.  In the gospel there is no such reality as truth without love.  And so it is very important for those of us who have a real passion for preaching to understand that what is going to oil the wheels of our preaching is that the people to whom we preach know we actually love them...
John Newton once wrote: "My [congregation] know that I love them and have loved them over the years and now I believe they would take absolutely anything from me."  One of the mistakes you can make when you're a young minister is to read what someone else does or says and assume that because you're also a gospel minister that you can do it or say it.  And you've not noticed the bond of love in which these things have been said.
Jesus loved His disciples.  He says to them - a 3-year embryonic church - "I have many things still to teach you, but you are not able to bear them."  And there's a real lesson in how love functions in ministry. It understand the dimness of people - the slowness of people - and is prepared to be patient with people.
Preparing sermons can be very painful, but love is going to be much more painful.

-Sinclair Ferguson, Lessons from a Lifetime of Pastoring