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Preaching Christ From the Ten Commandments

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By Dr. John Frame

If all Scripture testifies of Christ, the law of God surely cannot be an exception. As we study the law in a seminary context, then, nothing can be more important than to study its witness to Christ. Ministers of the gospel need to learn how to preach Christ from the law.

In fact, the law bears witness to Christ in a number of ways, some of which I shall discuss in the following points.

1. The Decalogue presents the righteousness of Christ. When we say that Christ was the perfect lamb of God and the perfect example for the Christian life, we are saying that he perfectly obeyed God’s law. He never put any god before his Father. He never worshipped idols or took God’s name in vain. The Pharisees arguments to the contrary notwithstanding, he never violated the Sabbath command. So, the Decalogue tells us what Jesus was like. It shows us his perfect character.

2. The Decalogue shows our need of Christ. God’s law convicts us of sin and drives us to Jesus. It shows us who we are apart from Christ. We are idolaters, blasphemers, Sabbath-breakers, and so on.

3. The Decalogue shows the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. In him we are holy. God sees us, in Christ, as law-keepers.

4. The Decalogue shows us how God wants us to give thanks for Christ. In the Decalogue, obedience follows redemption. God tells his people that he has brought them out of Egypt. The law is not something they must keep to merit redemption. God has> redeemed them. Keeping the law is the way they thank God for salvation freely given. So the Heidelberg Confession expounds the law under the category of gratefulness.

5. Christ is the substance of the law. This point is related to the first, but it is not quite the same. Here I wish to say that Jesus is not only a perfect law-keeper (according to his humanity), but that according to his deity he is the one we honor and worship when we keep the law:

(a) The first commandment teaches us to worship Jesus as the one and only Lord, Savior, and mediator (Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5).

(b) In the second commandment, Jesus is the one perfect image of God (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). Our devotion to him precludes worship of any other image.

(c) In the third commandment, Jesus is the name of God, that name to which every knee shall bow (Phil. 2:10-11; cf. Is. 45:23).

(d) In the fourth commandment, Jesus is our Sabbath rest. In his presence, we cease our daily duties and hear his voice (Luke 10:38-42).

(e) In the fifth commandment, we honor Jesus who has brought us as his “sons” (Heb. 2:10) to glory.

(f) In the sixth commandment, we honor him as the life (John 10:10; 14:6; Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:4), Lord of life (Acts 3:15), the one who gave his life that we might live (Mk. 10:45).

(g) In the seventh commandment, we honor him as our bridegroom who gave himself to cleanse us, to make us his pure, spotless bride (Eph. 5:22-33). We love him as no other.

(h) In the eighth commandment, we honor Jesus as our inheritance (Eph. 1:11) and as the one who provides all the needs for his people in this world and beyond.

(i) In the ninth commandment, we honor him as God’s truth (John 1:17; 14:6), in whom all the promises of God are Yea and Amen (2 Cor. 1:20).

(j) In the tenth commandment, we honor him as our complete sufficiency (2 Cor. 3:5; 12:9) to meet both our external needs and the renewed desires of our hearts.

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Book Review: Thinking, Loving, Doing edited by John Piper & David Mathis

Theological and Practical Help For Balancing the Mind, Heart, and Hands

This book is a compilation of several outstanding pastoral addresses from experienced Christian leaders from a recent Desiring God Conference on the theme of balancing the mind, the heart (emotions), and the hands. I will seek to summarize what each chapter/leader addresses in their specific topic of choice and what I benefited from in my reading of each chapter:

The Introduction is written by David Mathis (an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis). He makes a helpful distinction between churches that focus on being pure and those that focus on unity and encourages those who lean one way or the other to learn from the other side. He then proceeds to use Dr. John Frames helpful distinctions of tri-perspectivalism, whereby some churches emphasis The Kingly role, some the Priestly role, and others the Prophetic role of Christ. He then sets up the following chapters in the book and shows how each contributes to bring balance to how we can love Christ with our minds, hearts, and hands.

I personally really enjoyed this chapter as it caused me to reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses in my personal and corporate involvement in the body of Christ and what I have to offer others and what I can learn from others in becoming more Christ-like in balancing the tri-perspectivalism as described in the chapter via John Frames helpful schema.

Chapter Two is entitled “The Battle for Your Mind” by Rick Warren (everyone knows who he is – if you are on planet Earth). He does a topical study from the Scriptures on the pitfalls we wrestle with in the battle between our ears, and then proceeds to give four principles on thinking; five levels of learning; and five things to remember when we are teaching others.

As usual, Warren is very practical, and gives some good acronyms whereby one can remember easily his various points. What I liked about this chapter is that it was very thorough and broad and it is a chapter I will go back to again and again in my teaching others, and being reminded myself how to win the battle for the mind utilizing distinct principles in taking every thought captive for Christ.

Chapter Three is the most intellectually demanding chapter written by Albert Mohler – the President of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. He gives a very thought provoking analysis of our present state of thinking in light of Romans 1:18-32 and postmodernism. He gives 14 insightful noetic effects on the mind due to the fall; five precepts of the modern mind, 12 features of the natural mind, and three practical ways to combat the blind spots that we all have due to the fall.

Dr. Mohler has an amazing mind and what this chapter did for me primarily is to help me think more theologically about how thinking must be reformed and renewed by the Scriptures and the amazing effects of the fall upon our minds. It really motivated me to study the Scriptures and Culture more thouroughly then I typically do, so that I give more thought to how to declare the gospel the “natural” mind, and well as to the “spiritual” mind of those I seek to reach and grow in the gospel.

My favorite modern theologian – Dr. RC Sproul – founder of Ligonier Ministries writes about how Paul addresses the secular mind from Acts 17 and what we can learn from what he did, in our own approach to skeptics today.

Dr. Sproul makes the case for how we can never find “an explanation for being, for life, or for motion if we try to find it outside the being and character of God.” I was encouraged by this reminder of how amazing it is to have the perspective of God in my worldview, when so many have suppressed this, and are thus in great need of modern “Paul’s” to address the issues of the day from a Theo and Christo-centric perspective.

In Chapter Four Thabiti Anyabwile (Pastor in the Cayman Islands) addresses how we may encounter Islam by using the mind of Christ as opposed to being driven by fear where he rightly says, “where fear takes control, thinking does not.”

Pastor Anyabwile (a former Muslim who converted to Christianity as a young adult) does a fantastic job of giving an overview of pluralism, Islam, and how we should respond to Muslims. His chapter helped me to fear Islam less, and gave me a bigger heart to share the good news with the many Muslims who live in my community.

In Chapter Five, Francis Chan (Pastor and Writer in San Francisco) addresses how to think hard, combat pride and stay humble based on an exposition of 1 Corinthians 8. In this chapter Chan really does a great job showing how we can love more like Jesus by thinking more like him.

The Concluding chapter is by John Piper (Preaching Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church) and addresses how love flows out of us when we love God with all of our minds. He gives 8 points that he hopes this book will prevent in Christians, and then what he hopes that this book will awaken and increase: ‘Thinking for the sake of loving.”

I really enjoyed this book because it was deep theologically, and gave helpful applications from the Scriptures in how to love God and others with our minds, emotions, and actions. I highly recommend it and give it 5 stars because it’s a book I will come to again and again for my own personal walk with the Lord, and because it will help me to be more balanced in my own teaching, and coaching ministries.

*Note: I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to give a favorable review.

 

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