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Recap of the gospel of Matthew

Matthew: God’s Kingdom Is On The Move

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1st Corinthians intro:

https://transformingpeople.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/introduction-to-1st-corinthians-cosmopolitan-crossroads/

2nd Corinthians intro:

https://transformingpeople.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/introduction-to-2nd-corinthians-costly-ministries/

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In other news, if you’re labouring under the impression that D.A. Carson is just a stuffy bible scholar, maybe you would be tickled to hear him rapping. Yes, that’s right. Rapping.

 

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(sorry, this is a day late again! mea culpa)

Jude, another half-brother of Jesus writes to a church under his care. His intention is, like that of most pastors, to encourage and rebuke, teach and warn.

Why would there be enemies of Jesus infiltrating the church? This idea seems a little strange, like learning one of your colleagues intends to bring the whole company down, or someone on your sports  team wants your arch-rivals to win. Why would they be in church in the first place, if they didn’t like Christianity? Aren’t we taking it all a bit too seriously, like crazy conspiracy theorists? Isn’t this letter itself divisive?  Is it possible that the church leaders are propagating this idea in order to spread a little uncertainty in the ranks, and prevent anyone usurping their power?

It’s hard to think, looking around your congregation, that anyone sitting there might secretly be an agent of satan, plotting mischief. So is Jude’s alarming letter nothing more than alarmist?

A few reflections:

1. People who are false teachers don’t necessarily realise they are wrong (they can be blind guides).

2. Human beings are prone to self-deception.

3. Leaders with the wrong priorities, no matter how high their ideals, will end up shipwrecked.

4. The church is an attractive environment for people who are power-hungry and egotistical because the flock are (on the whole) humble, patient and accommodating. It is a ready-made tribe, and if a person’s deepest desire is to be worshipped, he will be excited by the prospect of becoming, at least partly, the object of worship in that environment. Think about how easy this is with fallen human beings!

5. There is a great deal at stake in the church. The church is central in God’s plan for self-disclosure to the world. Thus, the church is of eternal importance. Satan’s attention is focussed on making life difficult for God’s church, and he will do everything he can to disrupt and destroy it. We are not part of an unimportant social club of little consequence. If it feels like we are, then something is definitely wrong!

These ought to be disturbing thoughts.The good news is that Jude helps us to identify people who are acting in this way, that we might be wary of them, rebuke and resist them.  He reminds us clearly of the judgement that is scheduled for those who do not repent from this kind of behaviour, to remind us of the enormity of the situation.

He also tells us how we are to avoid falling into the same errors.

“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

The solution involves returning to the gospel and depending on God, submitting ourselves to Him once more. The root of the problem is pride, and a desire to see ourselves exalted over others, and to deny God his rights over us. The solution is to remember who we are before God, and what Christ has done for us. Thus, we will learn who we are before others as well, and will have no cause for pride. We can only do this with the help of God’s spirit: so your prayers must ask God’s spirit to move you.

Our discernment is rooted in the gospel: the gospel is the mark against which we measure all teaching, all action, all motives. It is the very thing which satan cannot appropriate for his purposes, because he does not understand it.

Jude recognises that the Christians reading this letter would have been worried that they themselves would slip and shipwreck their own faith, or be led astray. He finishes with this encouraging doxology:

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy…”

God is the one who is able to save us both eternally and from the worst consequences of our immediate predicaments. The gospel proves that God is willing and glad to do it, if we would only turn to him.

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Don’t know if you noticed but the blog feed of For the Love of God (on the right hand side of this page) is stuck on June 4th. I will look into that and try and fix it. If anyone has an idea why that is, let me know! If you click the top of the feed link it still takes you to the most recent comments.

EDIT: NOW FIXED

P.S. If you’re reading from the Carson blog as your regular method, you might find it easier to remain one day behind: because of timezones and stuff, the Carson blog isn’t always updated when you want to read today’s reading… Just a thought.

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How should we view Deuteronomy? What importance does it have in scripture?

Well, it is typically viewed as the fifth book of Moses, and in Hebrews 10.28 the words of Deuteronomy 17.6 are quoted asthe law of Moses.” When Satan tempted Jesus during his desert fast, Jesus’ response to his lures were all from Deuteronomy (8.3; 6.16; 6.13). When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he quoted Deuteronomy 6.4-5: ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.When quizzed by the Pharisees so as to entrap him on the topic of divorce, Jesus appeals to Deuteronomy 24.1. Jesus’ frequent use of Deuteronomy heightens its importance to us, as if we required any extra motivation for lesser known parts of scripture. In fact there are 30 direct Deuteronomic quotes in the New Testament plus 80 allusions to its teachings.

There are 3 phases or discourses that make up Deuteronomy and so give it its structure. It will be helpful to note the distinct tone changes and textures in the following as you read and study:

1. This phase is mainly an historical review of all that has taken place in the life of Israel from Mount Horeb or Sinai to their arrival in the land of Moab (1.6 – 4.43)

2. The second phase is the main phase of the book (chapters 5-28). This discourse begins by revisiting the Ten Commandments and it develops the first commandment with loads more detail, which is of great importance (chapters 5-11). Ceremonial (12.1–16.17), civil (16.18–18.22), criminal (19.1-21.9) and miscellaneous (21.10-25.19) laws are then unpacked at great length. This is all really important stuff. God spares no detail in helping them to consider what sort of people they should be. Each request by God is given so that Israel should live distinctively and uniquely amidst the nations they’ll encounter, so don’t dismiss these seemingly bizarre laws out of hand. (If you’re a keen bean, a good commentary on Deuteronomy will help you see the relevance of each of these bizarre commands – i.e. not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk [14.21] is something the Canaanites did to increase the fertility of their goat flocks in accordance with their religion. This is why Israel was not to do this. Israel was to trust the one true God for good flocks by following his covenant). Chapters 26-27 provide the practical application of all these laws. Chapter 28 then outlines the blessings and curses that will come Israel’s way depending on the decisions they make regarding them. If they obey and follow God, things will go well with them. If they do not follow God’s pattern for them, things will definitely go against them.

3. The third and final phase (chapters 29-30) is a plug to the Israelites to take this covenant with God on-board. It’s like a final rallying call to convince Israel of following God’s way of the covenant. Like with the main phase, this admonition seeks to make crystal clear that things will go very badly for Israel if they choose not to go God’s way. Conversely, life will be full and meaningful if they do. Choose life!

(Stuart Weir)

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MEMBER FEEDBACK (#1)

1. How has your bible reading been going?
I haven’t found it difficult to keep going, even when away on holiday, but I recognise that as a retired person my situation isn’t typical of the rest of the group.

2. Which readings have you found particularly useful/difficult?
I find Carson particularly helpful in suggesting ways in which what I read in Scripture can relate to our contemporary life. Otherwise I would, I’m sure, tend to immerse myself in the linguistic and anthropological background to the text. Important though scholarship is, it isn’t the same as “listening for God”.

3. Do you have any advice or encouragement for others in the B2Y group?
The most important question. My advice would be to maintain the discipline of daily reading. Even if you can only manage a couple of minutes, do it prayerfully. There are so many ways nowadays to make it easy: small format bibles you can slip into your pocket, mp3 audio readings and, of course, any amount of help as well as the biblical text itself on the web and therefore accessible from your iPhone/Touch/Pad. Few people can (or should) be too busy to manage any of these things. On holiday in Marseille I noticed the attendant in the left luggage room had a Bible open on his desk. Clearly, he was “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5.16, Colossians, 4.5). In the midst of stress, frustration and annoyance even the act of opening the Book and starting to read is making space for God to calm us down and put us right.

I look forward to reading the experience of others.

Malcolm

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I found this post very useful as it relates to the disciplines (such as study of God’s word) which we are called to. Again and again we are called to give up those things which battle with Christ for our affections, because where that battle rages, we can have no peace.

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C.S. Lewis’s short essay, “Three Kinds of Men,” from his collection of essays, Present Concerns (pp. 9-10):

There are three kinds of people in the world.

The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them.

In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them—the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society—and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a schoolboy’s life, into time “on parade” and “off parade,” “in school” and “out of school.”

But the third class is of those who can say like St Paul that for them “to live is Christ.” These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old egoistic will has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.

And because there are three classes, any merely twofold division of the world into good and bad is disastrous. It overlooks the fact that the members of the second class (to which most of us belong) are always and necessarily unhappy. The tax which moral conscience levies on our desires does not in fact leave us enough to live on. As long as we are in this class we must either feel guilt because we have not paid the tax or penury because we have. The Christian doctrine that there is no “salvation” by works done to the moral law is a fact of daily experience. Back or on we must go. But there is no going on simply by our own efforts. If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically.

The price of Christ is something, in a way, much easier than moral effort—it is to want Him. It is true that the wanting itself would be beyond our power but for one fact. The world is so built that, to help us desert our own satisfactions, they desert us. War and trouble and finally old age take from us one by one all those things that the natural Self hoped for at its setting out. Begging is our only wisdom, and want in the end makes it easier for us to be beggars. Even on those terms the Mercy will receive us.

[HT: Tim Keller; Dane Ortlund Justin Taylor ]

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