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Christ in All of Scripture – Nehemiah 9

 

Nehemiah 9

“Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, ‘Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. You are the LORD, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.’”


Nehemiah chapter 9 is the longest recorded prayer in the Bible. It confesses before a faithful God the history of a faithless people.

As Christ’s followers we are grafted into this family (Gal. 3:7–9), and we can share in this prayer for mercy from our covenant-keeping God. The prayer unfolds history as God’s acts of grace and mercy—from creation (Neh. 9:6), to the Abrahamic covenant (Neh. 9:7–8), to the deliverance from Egypt (Neh. 9:9–11), to God’s wilderness provisions (including the law [Neh. 9:12–15]), to a kingdom in a rich land (Neh. 9:22–25). This outpouring of God’s faithfulness is interrupted by two sections which confess the people’s rebellion against him (Neh. 9:16–21, 26–31). But there are repeated appeals to a merciful God, “abounding in steadfast love” (Neh. 9:17; see also Ex. 34:6; Deut. 7:9). The focus is on God’s “covenant and steadfast love” (Neh. 9:32), ever the basis on which his people approach him.

Praise God. We can know and name the Christ in whom all the promises of God are “yes” and “Amen” (2 Cor. 1:20). The Old Testament people of God knew that God was full of grace and truth. We today see grace and truth itself embodied in Jesus Christ (John 1:14–18).


This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.

 

August 25, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Gospel Transformation Bible,The Christian Life | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:32 am | 0 Comments »

Relativism: A Moral Morass

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In this series of posts, the late James Montgomery Boice helps us avoid being “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2) by unpacking the 5 major “isms” that dominate the modern world.


A Common Way of Thinking

Relativism means that there is no God and therefore no absolutes in any area of life. Everything is up for grabs.

On the first page of The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom writes, “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” (1)

What that book set out to prove is that education is impossible in such a climate. People can learn skills, of course. The student can learn to drive a truck, work a computer, handle financial transactions, and manage scores of other difficult things. But genuine education, which involves learning to sift through error to discover what is true rather than false, good rather than evil, and beautiful rather than ugly, is impossible, because the goals of real education—truth, goodness, and beauty—do not exist according to relativism.

Besides, even if truth, goodness, and beauty did exist in some far-off metaphysical never-never-land, it would be impossible to find them, because even the process of discovering absolutes requires a belief in absolutes—it requires belief in such absolutes as the laws of logic, for example.

A Hopeless Foundation

The solution Bloom offers in this otherwise excellent book is inadequate. He offers a return to Platonism, the classical Greek quest for absolutes, without acknowledging the need for a starting point in God and revelation. Nevertheless, Bloom is entirely right about what relativism does. It makes true education impossible and undermines even a quest for what is excellent.

Is it any wonder that, with such an underlying destructive philosophy as relativism, not to mention secularism and humanism, America is experiencing what Time magazine called “a moral morass” and “a values vacuum.” (2)

Notes

(1) Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 25.
(2) Time (May 25, 1987), 14.

This excerpt was adapted from Whatever Happened to The Gospel of Grace?: Rediscovering the Doctrines That Shook the World by James Montgomery Boice.


James Montgomery Boice was senior minister of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for thirty years and a leading spokesman for the Reformed faith until his death in 2000.

Why I Love George Whitefield

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This is a guest post by Lee Gatiss, editor of The Sermons of George Whitefield.


This year it’s the 300th birthday of the great 18th century evangelist, George Whitefield. He’s less famous than his contemporary, John Wesley, because he didn’t really write hymns and didn’t start his own denomination.

So what’s to love about George Whitefield?

1. He was confessional.

Whitefield was loyal to the Church of England’s Reformed foundations. He had subscribed to the Thirty-nine Articles, and the Book of Common Prayer, and he did so without equivocation or double-speak. “Would we restore the church to its primitive dignity,” he once said, “the only way is to live and preach the doctrine of Christ and the Articles to which we have subscribed. Then we shall find the number of dissenters will daily decrease and the Church of England become the joy of the whole earth.”

He thought it was hypocrisy worthy of hell to claim officially that such Articles were one’s inspiration and guidance for ministry (in order to be ordained) but not actually to believe and teach their confessional content.

The education he provided for the children at the orphanage he supported in Georgia was a confessional education: all students were to learn the Thirty-nine Articles, and they were also to read “publicly, distinctly, frequently, and carefully” the set Anglican Homilies throughout the year. Whitefield was not a novel preacher: he believed and proclaimed the Reformed and evangelical faith on which the Church of England had taken its stand since the Reformation.

2. He was a cavalryman.

Augustus Toplady narrates how his hero Whitefield once tried to persuade him to become an itinerant preacher. He encouraged the younger man with promises of greater fruitfulness should he leave his parish and travel more. Yet as Toplady told Lady Huntingdon, “I consider the true ministers of God as providentially divided into two bands: viz., the regulars and the irregulars.” Some such as Whitefield were akin to cavalry and others, like Toplady, were more like sentinels or guardsmen watching over a more circumscribed district.

Whitefield was never the ordinary vicar of an ordinary parish. But he thrived on the edges of the establishment, taking the gospel to people who might otherwise never hear it. He was banned from using some Anglican pulpits, by bishops who were nervous about his youthful over-exuberance or by vicars wary of his overly dramatic and sometimes condemnatory attitude (sometimes rightly!). Undaunted, he took to the fields and preached to massive crowds.

An ordinary parochial ministry within the structures of an ordered denomination is of immense value and usefulness. But there is also space in God’s army of evangelists for cavalrymen like Whitefield (provided, of course, that they don’t undermine or undervalue the ministry of local churches).

3. He was convincing.

Finally, Whitefield was a convincing, convictional preacher. He didn’t preach to encourage people to join discussion groups. He didn’t ask people to go away and think about Jesus. He urged people, passionately, to come to Jesus and be saved.

“But alas! I shall return home with a heavy heart, unless some of you will arise and come to my Jesus. I desire to preach him and not myself. Rest not in hearing and following me. Behold, believe on and follow the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world.”

His preaching was strong and clear. He preached from the heart, to the heart: “O, my brethren, my heart is enlarged towards you! Tears, while I am speaking, are ready to gush out. But they are tears of love and joy.” Yet, “if any here do expect fine preaching from me this day,” he once preached, “they will, in all probability, go away disappointed. For I came not here to shoot over people’s heads but, if the Lord shall be pleased to bless me, to reach their hearts.”

The Reverend George Whitefield is not as famous today or as well regarded as he might be. But he will have a reward in heaven, because he pointed people to the only man who truly deserves to be celebrated.


Lee Gatiss (PhD, Cambridge University) is director of Church Society (ChurchSociety.org) and the editor of the two volume set, The Sermons of George Whitefield. He and his wife, Kerry, have three children.

August 22, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Church History,Life / Doctrine | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:30 am | 1 Comment »

ESV Women’s Devotional Bible Giveaway

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The ESV Women’s Devotional Bible is now available and we’re celebrating with a giveaway!

With contributions from more than 50 women and men who have been faithfully leading and serving the church, the ESV Women’s Devotional Bible will help women understand and apply God’s Word in their everyday lives.

Our prayer is that the Women’s Devotional Bible will nurture women in their relationship with God by guiding them in daily, prayerful reading of the Bible and by deepening their understanding of the Bible through theologically rich devotional content.

Watch a Video:

Learn More:

Download a free PDF sampler
Download the complete list of contributors
Read what leaders are saying about the Women’s Devotional Bible
Read about the vision behind the Women’s Devotional Bible 

Enter the Giveaway:

Update: The giveaway is closed and winners have been selected and notified.

Complete this brief survey and be automatically entered to win one of five copies of the Women’s Devotional BibleThe giveaway begins today, August 21, and winners will be selected and notified on Monday, August 25.

August 21, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,News | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:32 am | (3) Comments »

Video: Churches Partnering Together

In the video below, Matt Dirks sits down with Justin Taylor to discuss his new book (with Chris Bruno), Churches Partnering Together: Biblical Strategies for Fellowship, Evangelism, and Compassion.


Matt Dirks on Churches Partnering Together from Crossway on Vimeo.

  • 00:10 – Where do you serve?
  • 00:39 – What was the one thing that Paul dedicated much of his life to?
  • 02:16 – How do you bridge the gap between the first century and the twenty-first century in terms of church partnerships?
  • 03:37 – What is a “kingdom church partnership”?
  • 06:03 – Can you share a few concrete examples of church partnerships from your own ministry?
  • 07:33 – Why can’t this vision be handled by a denomination or parachurch ministry?
  • 09:54 – If a small church pastor picks up your book, he will get ______.

Learn more about the book and download an excerpt.

| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News,Video | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:15 am | 0 Comments »