"Worship isn't about performance. He just wants you there."

“Worship isn’t about performance. He just wants you there.”

“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17 (ESV)

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1 (ESV)

Seeing this got me thinking about worship… “Worship isn’t about performance. He just wants you there,” is such an amazing truth about worship that we so often overlook and take for granted. So I thought I would write down some of my recent meditations on the subject.

David was God’s chosen and anointed leader in Israel, unlike any before him. When Samuel took the horn of oil, “… the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David,” but unlike any other figure in the Old Testament, it remained with him “from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13b). We read later that, David’s sin with Bathsheba “displeased God”, which arguably is one of, if not the biggest, understatements of entire the bible when read in context with David’s rule as Israel’s king and as God’s specially anointed. It was with great displeasure that God sent Nathan to rebuke David, and to pronounce judgment upon him. But even with God’s great displeasure, God’s spirit was still with David. We see that not only in David’s repentance but also in the Psalm that David wrote which followed this confrontation, Psalm 51(cf. 2 Sam 12:13).

Psalm 51, illustrates for us a model for our own repentance. David shows us in this profound Psalm that our sins are not inclusive to the ones we hurt or ourselves, but ultimately they are rooted in our rebellion against God; “against you, you only have I sinned” (v.4). What does this have to do with worship? Everything.

The laws and tabernacle service for Israel were how God had prescribed worship to be conducted. These acts involving sacrifices of animals and grain that prefigured Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross, were how Israel performed temporary sacrifices to mediate, that is to make reconciliation, with God, just as Christ has done and continues to do for us. Here though David tells us that God doesn’t delight in those sacrifices, and takes no pleasure with those offerings (v.16). David tells us that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,” and in doing so shows us what is required to offer sacrifices that God will not “despise” (cf. v. 17).

Our situation today may seem very different from David’s. We no longer have a tabernacle, and we have a greater connection and a greater mediator with God the Father, than the tabernacle could have ever provided. We have God the Son, our Lord, very God of very God, Jesus Christ who is our perfect Prophet, King, and High Priest. Paul tells us that in light of the Gospel we our to present our bodies as “living sacrifices” and that is our spiritual act of worship (Rom. 12:1). We are urged then to present ourselves as sacrifices but what we are faced with the challenge of how to, in our self-sacrifice and in serving God, do we present ourselves “holy and acceptable” to Him? This condition then, truly is not met based on your performance, but on the position of your heart. It is with a “broken and contrite heart,” that you sacrifice to God (Ps. 51:17).

Truly my friend, God wants not performance; He won’t accept bulls or burnt offerings, He doesn’t want your dollar bills, He doesn’t accept praise from the arrogant or the proud but it is in humility, in weeping, and in solemn lament over sin that God wants you to come and worship him. He wants YOU, as broken as you are to come and rejoice (cf. Luke 18:9-14).

God is not interested in your performance driven worship; he wants you “there” as you truly are, to see your sin and in brokenness and come before His throne. Then will he “delight” in your sacrifices and in your “offerings”, for “a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:19, 17b).

We have such a tremendous advantage over David. The Spirit that dwells in us, the Mediator we have, the King we serve is far greater than what David had. How much more then should our brokenness bring us to sing praise to our God? Do we come to worship to, sing songs and praises to him, feeling good about ourselves?

“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!”
-Ps. 51:1 (ESV)

Worship isn’t about your performance, because then that’s all it is, a “performance” and “act”. He just wants you “there”; as you truly are, with a “broken and contrite heart”. #everyday #everynight

Much love to all my CHMC brothers and sisters, I miss you Joe, I miss you all…
Love seeing God’s people in the front bowing in worship. What an amazing God we come before in prayer and praise, for the throne that judges and reveals the sin in us, the Prophet who like Nathan convicts us of our sin, and sovereignly judges over us, has turned that seat of perfect judgment in the throne of perfect grace (cf. Heb. 4:16, Heb. 7).

Hallelujah what Savior!


Is War Hell?

War Is Hell?

A post I saw on a friend’s news feed, where someone commented, “He’s got a point. No innocent bystanders in Hell.”

I ordinarily don’t go to such lengths to clarify doctrinal or philosophical issues, I stopped trying to discuss things I find on facebook or other social media (tumblr… *sigh* tumblr). All to often any meaningful dialectic discussion that could be gained divulges quickly into name calling, baseless accusations and hatred. But, here goes…

I agree that war is ‘hell’ (in a sense) and the existence of bystanders who are innocent of aggression in battle are tragically lost needlessly. I hold sympathy for the soldiers whose desire and want in life is to live peaceably yet are forced into battle by conscription, by circumstances, or coercion by men behind desks in offices caring more about recruiting quotas than ensuring good healthy, and able soldiers to fight for the needs of a nation (a lot could be said about this)… My issue however, is with the so-called theology existent here in this post; and this being the “Lord’s day” I thought I’d explain my thoughts; feel free to publicly lynch me afterwards.

as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 NASB)

Innocent people don’t go to hell, because their is no such thing as an innocent person, in the eternal biblical sense. Because, “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV). The idea that you can earn your way into heaven, by your seeming lack of guilt, is the most preposterous lie ever put forth by nearly all religious society; especially within the Roman Catholic Church… (The history of indulgences, and I’m still looking for that bible verse on purgatory; BUT TO BE CLEAR THEY ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES GUILTY OF THIS).

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6 ESV)

The things you do, to feel good about yourself, to do good are like “polluted garments”. Contextually speaking, the garments in question here in this verse are those used for women’s menstruation. The good works we have done, whatever our motivation, even if our aim is for them to appease or please God, to ascribe to him glory and honor, they are like used tampons before our Most Holy God (apart from Christ — and this is a whole different discussion altogether). Logically even, assuming you are the product of an eternal being, who is infinite in all manner of scope, what could you a finite thing, ever bring to the table to “appease” and satiate the wrath of immutable, eternal, and infinite God. God isn’t going to be impressed with your stellar good deeds, your charitable giving, or even your church attendance. Don’t get me wrong, those are important things that benefit your walk and service to God but they are incapable of saving your eternal soul from “Hell”.

What saves you from Hell? The Cross! Spurgeon is far more eloquent on the subject, but the truth rests in following and seeking after Christ…

It is unfortunate that we have swallowed this lie about our existence and believe that we burden no guilt for the wickedness we all see and acknowledge…

If you trust in yourself, in your self-defeating works of righteousness, in your supposed lack of involvement in evil acts (“I’m not a saint but I’m no Hitler!”), you are going to fall short. If you fail to earnestly seek after God, you may here on that day “Depart from Me, I never knew you”


That’s another post… Comment if you want more on Total Depravity.

Or checkout Monergism.com for some solid theological teaching!

In response to the comment made, I wrote:
“I don’t want to cause “waves of discontent” or animosity… But it being Sunday… Everybody is a sinner.
(along with a verse of Scripture)

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” -1 John 1:8 (ESV)

Along with a link to this post… If you are here because of that comment, feel free to burn an effigy of my likeness; but I would rather you repent and belief in the Gospel; “… for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes… ” -Romans 1:16 (ESV)

This post is not a diatribe against preaching the law. This post is a diatribe against the abuse of the law.

Nearly all Christians have encountered legalism in one form or another. We can be charged with or we are condemned by it falling victim to it. Charges are brought up against us or within our spheres of influence, whether from an active church-goer, a deacon, evangelists. or even pastors. Those who preach the necessity for legal fulfillment of the law without reaching the truth. They in turn, raise others to be immature in faith, and help them to create fallacious presuppositions about what the Good News really is.

We can address these people as “legal preachers” those who leave out the “Good News” of the Gospel.

Our legal preacher doesn’t know the law from the gospel, the good news from bad news. To him all of Scripture is law and all of it is gospel. There just two sides of the same coin. There’s no real difference between them. The gospel is that God is sovereign and that he has sovereignly decreed his will for his people.

Biblical Preaching & Teaching is described as such:

“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ”. -Col 1.28

Legalism is the crutch of spiritually insecure, fainting, lost man who hasn’t found grace. Legalism destroys Christian faith, and attempts to put yourself on the cross.


Why the ESV?

I have been busy, reading, and hoping to get ahead on the next semester of college. In my busyness I haven’t had a chance to write anything for a while. I did however come across this in my daily musings, and hope that it is helpful to those considering what translation to consider when reading or studying the bible.

R.C. Sproul is one of my favorite authors, and he presents the pitfalls and drawbacks of literal and dynamic equivalent interpretation methods when translating the bible.

I hope to write a blog regarding some of these issues in the future; perhaps by reading this article you may be prompted with your own questions about your translation, giving me something to address in a future post.

Components of Exegesis / Illustrated by Example: Ezk. 40:1-4

Implementing a hermeneutically controlled exegesis is key to proper interpretation of the Bible. Involving rigorous study and attention to detail, interpretation relies crucially on not only knowledge of Scripture but also reliance upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and instruction.

In order to begin properly interpreting the bible, the interpreter must examine himself in the light of Scripture. This means that the interpreter must be continually in prayer, placing himself under the authority of Scripture, repenting of sin, and seeking to be taught, in other words, having the right attitude before God. The interpreter must also examine the presuppositions he brings to the text and those he holds about the text. These presuppositions may involve examining his thoughts behind original authorship, or presuppositions regarding its purpose to reveal something about Christ; cf. Lk. 24:44-47. Interpreters must also examine their goals in interpretation. That is, what do they hope to reach through study? In this process the interpreter must seek to determine the end goal of his study, asking, “What is the passage about?” and “What is God saying to us?” Lastly the interpreter must pray expectantly, hoping, and believing God will reveal, something for him and for His people.

Once the interpreter has prepared himself and examined his presuppositions he is able to move to the text and begin searching for meaning within the passage. This process begins with looking into the Grammatical-Historical (GH) features of a text. GH exegesis involves examining language, literary features, and the historical background of a text. It involves establishing a literary context in which concentric circles of context can be drawn, from a unit of scripture to the entire book and onto the complete canon of scripture. Looking at the passage one also needs to examine the genre in which it appears. Upon reading Ezekiel 40:1-4 one sees that it is a historical narration of a prophetic vision that Ezekiel recorded, the beginning of Ezekiel’s vision of the new temple. As such, he should be observant of literary features that may be present in the text, which would fit the genre, namely “prophetic narration” which would include prophetic “forthtelling” and “foretelling” along with heavy use of symbolism and use of non-literal speech such as allegory. One should also be able to determine through common sense the purpose of the writing, which in this instance is explicit in verse four, that it would be “declared to the house of Israel.”

The interpreter should, based on an understanding of the literary themes and after a reading of the chapter and the entire book, be able to fill in any historical and cultural background pertaining to the passage. The purpose of this should be to establish the original intended meaning for this passage and for observing any distanciation or “cultural gaps” that may be present in establishing the passage’s historical meaning. The first verse opens recording the date in which Ezekiel received his vision, being “In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken”. The interpreter might ask, “What is the significance of recording this for Ezekiel’s intended audience?” “Are there any culturally significant practices that would occur on the tenth of the month at the beginning of the year?”

The interpreter should also ask questions regarding any symbolic meaning that may exist in words and phrases used in the passage. He should, with the understanding that the semantic choices of the author may or may not be of significance ask, “What is the significance of being brought to a ‘high mountain’ (Ezk. 40:2)?” “What is the significance of the man’s appearance of bronze and his measuring rod (Ezk. 40:3)?”

After thoroughly reading the text in multiple translations the interpreter should look into reliable scholarly aides to help find connections outside of the passage itself. Biblical dictionaries are helpful in investigating various meanings of phrases like “high mountain” or a “measuring rod” (Ezk. 40:2, 3). Exhaustive concordances are useful in finding connections within the text to other passages; cf. Ezk. 40:2; Isa. 2:2-3; Mic. 4:1; Rev. 21:10. Use of commentaries also help in establishing connections to themes, some even providing a synopsis of how the passage in question has been interpreted throughout history. While helpful the interpreter must know to be critical of not only his presuppositions and conclusions in this process but also of the aides themselves.

The interpreter should also seek to go beyond the GH interpretation and into theological interpretation. Knowing that “scripture interprets scripture” the interpreter should seek to know how the passage contributes to God’s word and fulfills God’s ultimate divine intentions. The interpreter must examine any typological symbolism that would point to Christ and to the Church by asking questions like, “Is the man with the appearance of bronze pointing to Christ (Ezk. 40:3)?” “Could the declaration of the vision to Israel also be for the Church (Ezk. 40:4)?” It is from here the interpreter can begin to look into the “fuller sense” of a passage.

With some connections it is the responsibility of the interpreter to be critical of his own conclusions. Genuine theological findings will always agree with the GH use by the author. Theological findings should also fit into the story of God’s establishing of Redemptive History (RH). The interpreter must ask, “How is this finding RH?” “Does it point forward to God’s ultimate fulfillment?” Once organic connections are made to GH and RH the interpreter can begin applying what he has learned by asking, “What is the passage telling us?” “What am I being asked to do now with this knowledge?”

In summary, while this description is by no means comprehensive, from it we have begun to see how establishing a hermeneutically controlled process for interpretation is rooted in scholarly academic practice along with seeking the prayerful leading of God in the revealing of His word.

15 Things Jesus Did Say

In response to many friends and colleagues, I felt it pertinent to explain that while Jesus didn’t say certain things it wouldn’t follow from, “what he didn’t say,” that we should interpret on that basis in order to establish theological principals.

Jesus said things, and we should interpret what he said about us, about His Kingdom, and who God is, from those things and from the revealed word of God (the Bible). What the bible actually teaches is far more important in developing ideas than what it doesn’t teach.

From Jim Palmer’s blog:

  • “For God was so disgusted with the world and you that he gave his one and only Son.” (in reference to John 3:16)

This is the goto verse for many evangelists, and Christians who proclaim that God is only, “Love”. While I don’t disagree with the statement that “God is love” (cf. 1 John 4:8) I am troubled by this because, prevalent within many Christian circles is the idea that Love is God. We can’t elevate God’s love beyond and above God’s other communicable attributes. We know that God is love, but that God is also, Holy, Righteous, Just, etc.

This is best seen in Exodus 34 where God reveals His attributes (including Love) to Moses as He passes before him in response to Moses’ request to “show me now your ways” (Exodus 33:7).

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Exodus 34:6-7 (ESV)

Their firstly God states that He is merciful. Mercy is not the same as love. The statement precludes that God will not allow His wrath to consume the nation of Israel. God demonstrates His perfect love in His mercy. Mercy which is only possible to give if He is not also perfectly holy and righteous. In each of God’s attributes (love being one of them), we see the completeness of God’s other revealed attributes; God’s perfect love is also perfectly holy and righteous.

This is seen if you choose to read John 3:16 in it’s context also.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:16-21 (ESV)

For his audience, Nicodemus, the idea of the Messianic arrival (Jesus) was that of judgement, and the establishment of a new kingdom in the form of a new earthly Israel. What the New Testament teaches is this principal but not established in the ways many Jews believed it would be established. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him”. Saved from what? From judgement! God’s holiness demands judgment be satisfied. He then proclaims what is the judgment; that people would come to “the light” (Jesus), not coming to the light (confession and repentance in Christ) leaves us exposed in condemnation before the holiness of God.

  • “I have come to bring you a new religion.” (I am unclear on the direct reference [Jim Palmer provides none] but I am assuming it is Matthew 5:17)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17 (ESV)

Jesus came in order to fulfill the requirement of holiness before God. His holiness demands judgment of all that is sinful before Him, judgment which was satisfied at the cross. The cross the perfect completion of God’s holiness, sovereignty, judgment, mercy and love.

  • “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have correct theology.” (ref. John 13:35)

This troubles me only because it attempts to vilify sound teaching and doctrine; theology. The idea is that absent from theology is “love”. But it is precisely through sound teaching and doctrine that we are able to love. I explain this in detail in my previous post on the importance of sound teaching and doctrine as explained by Paul in 1 Timothy (http://wp.me/p3s7oJ-d). Without the truth in us, we are unable to love others as God loved us. Love is never absent of the truth, it is essential to it. If any would lie, to a brother or sister to spare them the truth, then the love of God doesn’t abide in them; cf. 1 John 4.

Those who stress the importance of doctrine, at the expense of love, don’t know God. But loving as Christ loved is to know the truth of who God is, and what the Bible teaches us; cf. 1 Corinthians, esp. 10-13, et al.

  • “If anyone would come after me, let him disparage all other religions and their followers.” (ref. Luke 9:23)

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. – Luke 9:23 ESV

Palmer implies that Christianity teaches that people who believe differently are of little worth, and that we forsake them as people because of their beliefs. The implication is that those who teach that Jesus is the only way for man to be reconciled to God, hate others outside of the Christian faith. I don’t believe that what the Bible teaches believers to hate. Telling someone that Christ is necessary for their salvation is loving them; proclaiming the truth in love is loving them as Christ did. Jesus in this verse (Luke 9:23) says that in order to follow him they must deny themselves, taking up their cross continually (aorist active imperative), and follow Him, not other Gods, not another “truth” but the truth of the Gospel. Jesus also spoke about this in very un-obfuscated terms in John 14:6

While, plenty more can be said about Palmer’s erroneous conclusions I think the point is clear; we should focus on what Christ taught not on what He didn’t teach. Only when we know, we study, we hold onto God’s word will we be able to to know with certainty what is true and what is false. It helps no one to explain what Jesus didn’t teach without teaching what Jesus actually did teach.

I understand Palmer’s dilemma. Many so often in the process of teaching and preaching God’s Word impose their own view upon scripture, but that doesn’t mean we should reject scripture. I can’t say I know Palmer’s intentions fully, but what I can say is that God has instructed man to proclaim God’s truth, not to proclaim what isn’t God’s truth; cf. Deuteronomy 31:11-12, et al.

More of what Jesus said:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus is telling the disciples to teach everyone what He commanded them, and to practice and observe what He taught and proclaimed.

Dear Jim Palmer,

How can we proclaim truth without proclaiming truth?


What if?

While, I have not addressed 15 separate things that Jesus actually said, I hope that this has demonstrated that what we should teach is what Christ actually did say, in it’s complete entirety, not 15 points or a few select verses. Jesus said to teach “all” of what He commanded, not some and not what He didn’t command.

Letter To An Open Theist

The only thing you contributed to your salvation was your sin.

Bond, with a great case for God’s sovereignty.

Bond The Baptist

During my last semester of my undergrad (which I just graduation from, PTL!) I took a class entitled, Doctrine of God.  In this class, we focused on the character of God and his attributes and looking at the opposing views of the Reformed, or biblical, view.

For our last exam, we were assigned a take-home final in which we had to write a letter to a friend who was being persuaded by open theism. In fact, I do know a friend who has been persuaded by open theism. Here is the letter (exam) answering hypothetical questions that open theists believe and questions they ask.

Dear Friend,

            I am really thankful that you have been willing to have an open conversation in regards to your change of beliefs. I have seen that you have doubted the Reformed view on the doctrine of God, more specifically God’s providence and sovereignty. In this letter, I hope…

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