27 June 2007

Day 2 Session 3 (evening)

by Frank Turk

Let me say that I'm proud of all of you for enduring my lousy liveblogging. Pheh upon me for being such a lousy formatter and note-taker. I hope these notes do someone some good.

As expected, David Wells is presenting this evening. We're leading off by singing And Can It Be. For the record, this has been a regular "favorite hymn" week for me personally. The singing has been at least as edifying as the preaching, so kudos to the Founders guys for their spiritual insight and willingness.

Amazing Love! How can it be that Thou my God shouldst die for me?

It's also pretty incredible to hear a congregation of pastors and their wives singing the great hymns of the faith. We should be praying that all our congregations will "get it" the way this body of about 300 "got it" this week.

Don Whitney is the moderator tonight – Phil introduced us to him earlier today, and he's a great, humble fellow.

There's a plea here for founders-friendly churches and donors to support Founders Ministries directly through pledged support. It's a good idea – go to Founders.org to do something about that.

Next hymn: A Mighty Fortress is our God. The choir also provided worship in song this evening. They have a huge choir for a church this size, which is good on them.

Tonight's message: Preaching the truth of the Cross for the Modern Age

2 Cor 5:11-21 is the text for foundation this evening.

He starts by citing Jesus Christ Superstar – Judas' lyrics.

Every time I look at you
I don't understand
Why you let the things you did
Get so out of hand
You'd have managed better
If you'd had it planned
Now why'd you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land?
Why did God let things end the way he did? This is the question for Pomos to understand. Somehow the world is uncontrolled, Jesus was snuffed out by accident rather than God's place was worked out in the evil act of the cross.

The natural man does not accept the truth of God seems apparent. But this spiritual blindness is being given cultural confirmation today – this makes the blindness more resistant to the Gospel.

Consider Eph 2: the spirit of disobedience is in the children of wrath, those who are in fallen culture. We need to be redeemed from sin and from walking in the course of the world. This double redemption is freedom from bondage of both nature and culture.

Paul engages the culture of his time (cf. books of Acts, Acts 13, Acts 14, Acts 17; contrast the preaching to the Jews, to natural revelation, to what occurs at Mars Hill). In the main points, Paul was engaging the world view, deconstructing it, and puttinga Christian worldview in its place. Moral, nature, meaning, ourselves, God: all are given in Christian terms before he points at what is wrong in mankind, and then to the coming judgment and the resurrection.

This is what Dr. Wells is going to try to do tonight. Why do Pomos find the death of Christ incomprehensible?

[1] The disintegration of the moral world

4 Major signposts out of the moral world of the west
1. virtue v. values
a. virtues are aspects of the "good" which is right for all people at all times and places
i. The Bible speaks of the moral excellency of God, which never changes
ii. Surely it is better for a society if people have virtue rather than vice; morality is better than immorality
iii. Applies to all men
b. The word "values" does not exist prior to 1928
i. Personal rather than public
ii. Competence matters far more than character today; it is more profitable
iii. Non-transferrable; non-judgmental
2. character v. personality
a. Character is the internalizing of virtues
b. Morality, manners, duty, honor, "full day's work for a full day's pay"
c. Personality is the way we come off to other people; how we present ourselves as a character – not who we are measured by some external standard
d. God may judge the heart, but we think the appearance is more important
e. The appearance of success is everything (Frank adds: note this in your view of your church)
i. People then engage in selling themselves.
1. Likable
2. Believable
3. "sincere"
ii. Lying becomes the tender of exchange; the truth has no value
f. This is a symptom, not the disease
g. The "old world" value is sacrifice and restraint; the "new" value is self-promotion and self-satisfaction
3. nature v. self
a. Human nature, some kind of meta-anthropology
i. This is what distinguishes us from animals
ii. A common possession in the whole human type
iii. More basic than the surface characteristics of gender, race, age, standing, economic status
b. This idea is under attack.
i. Nature is called an insult because it assaults the uniqueness of self
ii. The self is my interior world where my personal story and achievements come together to make my feelings and perceptions which are unique to me: my Self.
1. Thus: Self Esteem
2. Private values and meaning
3. Liberty to express self, or else "tragedy"
a. Racism
b. Violence
c. Poor grades
d. Etc.
iii. Establishes the therapeutic world view
4. guilt v. shame
a. Guilt is what lines up our actions vertically in relation to God
b. Shame is what lines up our action to someone who is not above us
i. About getting caught, not about doing wrong
ii. Shame must be removed
iii. Shamelessness = freedom
c. Eliminating shame is the exit door from the moral world

When people follow these signposts, they exit the moral world philosophically. Without the moral world, the cross becomes incomprehensible

Our conscience still bears witness against us because God is still God. We are caught in God's moral universe, and we cannot escape from it.

Harold Wilson story: a morally-earnest man who was somewhat unprincipled in fact. In one debate, one of his foes said that he was always wrestling with his conscience, and winning.

We remain moral beings even when we are sinning. But this is the context in which we find ourselves.

[2] The way the NT presents the Cross

When you look at what is said about the cross in the NT, you can put them into one of two categories:
A. The statement of the fact of Christ dying
-- died for us, laid down his life, etc.
-- e .g. - Mark 10:45, John 10:15, John 15:13-14, Rom 5, 1Thes 5, 1Pet 3:18
-- He did something is death which He did not do even in his life
-- restoring our relationship with God
B. The explanations of that death
-- Died for sin, to deliver or spare us, etc.
-- Mat 26, Rom 4:25, 1 Cor 15:3, Gal 1:4, Eph 1:7, 1 Pet 2:24, 1 John 2:2
There is no Gospel except that God forgives us because Christ died for us; God forgives our sins because He bore them in our place; His death was –necessary- to pay the price of sin; the Father and the Son united to save sinners.

Wells condemns the "Cosmic Child Abuse" slogan.

Christ paid our debt. Cf. Luther on Galatians 3; we were absolved by all sins … through him. When Christ carried away these monsters, he was doing the work that no mere mortal could do. This is the work … of almighty God.

We have lost our capacity for wonder today. Our world is saturated with artificiality. We know that we are superficial; we are seeking the hidden agendas; we are suspicious and cynical. We are also quite jaded – our expectations are completely out of line.

This is true especially in the church in our loss of wonder in creation, God's goodness, the great providences of God. Is it not a wonder that God remembers out sin no more in the death of Christ? Should we not stand in awe of the cross and how huge and incomprehensible that is – even before a cynical generation?

[3] How they work together

We must tell people who no longer understand sin, who have no categories for sin, who think they are not sinful and do not inhabit a moral universe about a Christ who died for things they cannot and do not understand.

The Bible does not begin with John 3:16 but Genesis 1:1. What occurs between is the patience of God as He lays the foundation and an edifice of understanding that corresponds to what is there – a worldview. And when the prep is complete – at the right time – God sent his son to die under the Law.

The Gospel is the message of His substitution of Him for us. It is not a formula or a product. This is a message which is anchored in truths which is a message for all of life and reality. God's enduring character of holiness who created a moral world is established before we get to John 3:16. He will sustain that difference, the distinctions of what is right and what is not. We have learned who and what Christ is, as both God and man. We know ourselves, both in God's image and fallen and corrupted with no sight and willfully disobedient.

When we come to John 3:16, this message connects to the other things – the whole story – without which the cross is incomprehensible.

Our message is: which of these points do you not understand? What can you not accept? Why? Our job is –remedial- work, not a quick sale.

God's preparation was a long time; Jesus came at the right time. Why can we not do what God did, and prepare people as he did, and establish his categories, and show men what they do not know. What we would get would be disciples and not merely converts.


Stefan Ewing said...

Cent, keep up the good work. You're doing fine.

GeneMBridges said...

There's a plea here for founders-friendly churches and donors to support Founders Ministries directly through pledged support. It's a good idea – go to Founders.org to do something about that.

And please, go to the Founders website (www.founders.org) to the "friends" link on the right. Add your church to the list of churches if you can, and, regardless of whether or not you feel you can list your church, add your name to the list of individuals. By the way, neither you nor your church has to be in the SBC itself.

There are people out there looking for churches and/or to fellowship with other like minded believers. I get emails from time to time from them asking my help in locating them. I get the particularly from good Baptist folks who are feeling alienated in their home churches. Some would rather find a church that is friendlier; others would just like a "safe space" in their communities, some friends with whom to fellowship where they don't feel like strangers or soldiers when theology comes up. Keeping these directories up-to-date helps them out.

donsands said...

Well done, Nice pic of you on the laptop.

"This is a message which is anchored in truths which is a message for all of life and reality."

What a quote this is.

Seth Fuller said...

This is a bit off topic, but since Don Whitney was mentioned, I can't help but encourage anyone who hasn't read his books on spiritual disciplines to do so. They are simple yet profound; challenging yet easy to understand. As far as I'm concerned, they may be the best contemporary books on spiritual disciplines available today.

Theological Satire

bloggernaut said...

I can see a tie-in with the fake 20 blog in a previous post. Shame on the world for wanting God on its own terms instead of His. However, many times Christians want the world to want God on OUR terms. They have to agree with our political leanings. They have to walk and talk like us. They have to listen to Christian music on the radio now. It's about time we took to heart Dr. Wells' suggestion that we develop God's patience in showing others to Jesus.

That was a session chock full of content, Frank. I think you did a fine job of trying to capture it all in one shot.

Matt Brown said...

It doesn't like look too many people are sitting by you. Are you in the front pew, somewhere in the middle, or back?

Ben N said...

matt, I think he needs a shower :)

centurion, how long was this sermon? Looking at the notes, my guess will be 48 minutes.

DJP said...

Good work, Frank. Wells certainly delivers a lot in his low-key way.

Douglas said...

Amazing Love! How can it be that Thou my God shouldst die for me? Amen?"

"The Bible indicates several things that God cannot do. He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). He cannot die. He cannot be eternal and created. He cannot act against His nature. He cannot be God and not be God at the same time and in the same respect. ~ R. C. Sproul page 39 "Essential Truths of the Christian Faith"

Did God die or not?

FX Turk said...


Is Jesus God? At some place, you have to find in that Sproul book (which is a great book, btw) a section on Jesus of Nazareth, the Son who proceeds eternally from the Father.

At which point, I am sure Dr. Sproul can disabuse you of your mistakes.

If he cannot, please come back here with your questions.

DJP said...

And then there's Acts 20:28.

Douglas said...

"At which point, I am sure Dr. Sproul can disabuse you of your mistakes."

What are my mistakes? That I don't believe God died? Is it mistakes to believe that God did not die and that God cannot die?

"We must distinguish between the two natures of Jesus without separating them. When Jesus hungers, for example, we see that as a manifestation of the human nature, not the divine. What is said of the divine nature or of the human nature may be affirmed of the person. On the cross for example, Christ, the God-man, died. This, however, is not to say that God perished on the cross. Though the two natures remain united after Christ’s ascension, we must still distinguish the natures regarding the mode of His presence with us. Concerning His human nature, Christ is no longer present with us. However, in His divine nature, Christ is never absent from us." ~ pages 81-82 "Essential Truths of the Christian Faith" by R. C. Sproul

perish vb: decay, moulder, shrivel, waste, wither; decease, die, expire, vanish. English Thesaurus.

Did God die or not? Did the divine nature of the LORD Jesus Christ die?

Luke 23:46Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last. 47Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, "Certainly this man was innocent!"

GeneMBridges said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GeneMBridges said...



That song was not written by an Arian or a modalist.

The same Sproul that you quote to nitpick this song is the same Sproul that doesn't seem to have a big problem with Cyril's Christology of "Theotokos" when understood within particular boundaries.

Was Mary the Mother of God? No. God has no mother. But there is a sense in which she is the mother of God, for Christ is the God-man.

You're overanalyzing the song.

Did God die, no. God cannot die, but the hypostatic union binds the humanity and divinity of Christ into one Person. The communication of attributes means that there is a sense in which God (the Son) experienced death, not physical death, but the absorption of the infinite wrath of the Father. Unless you separate the two natures, ala Nestorianism, you can't deny this.

Sproul comes at theology from the classical Scholastic tradition. He understands these concepts, including the question of predication. Can death be predicated of God? No. Can it be predicated of man? Yes. Is Christ the God-man? Yes. Can death be predicated of the Person of Christ? Yes. Does the divinity of Christ in some sense share in that which is predicated of the Person? Yes, but not in the same sense. That is, the divinity does not experience death the same way as the humanity.

Another example: Is God omnipresent? Yes. Is Christ omnipresent? Yes and No.

In Lutheranism the answer is almost always "Yes" because the communication of attributes takes place at the level of the natures. In Reformed theology, the answer is "No," if by this you mean is His humanity present everywhere, because we place the communication at the level of the person. If you mean His divinity, the answer is yes. This is at the heart of the Lutheran and Reformed argument over the Real Presence in the Lord's Supper.

The Reformed do not deny that Person of Christ is present in the Supper. His humanity is present in some way, but not because omnipresence is transferred to his human nature; rather, because the divine and human are joined in the One Person, and the Person of Christ is somehow present. We deny that his humanity as his humanity is present "in, with, and under," (Lutheranism) the elements or in the Host and wine (Catholicism).