The Cross Makes True Joy Possible

The fight for joy is a fight to grasp and marvel at what happened in the death of Christ -- and what it reveals about our suffering Savior. If it were not for the death of Jesus in our place, the only possible joy would be the joy of delusion -- like the joy on the Titanic just before it hit the iceberg. Without the cross, joy could be sustained only by denying (consciously or subconsciously) the inevitability of divine judgment. In fact, that's the kind of joy that drives most of the world -- a joy that preserves the power of its pleasures by being oblivious to the peril just ahead. If the passengers were suddenly made aware that in a matter of hours most of them would drown in the icy ocean, all their merrymaking would cease. Their joy depends on their ignorance (John Piper, When I Don't Desire God, 71).

Preaching from the Fourth Gospel

In the introductory material of his commentary on The Gospel According to John, D.A. Carson includes a helpful section on preaching from the fourth Gospel. Carson reminds preachers and Bible teachers that John's Gospel is about Jesus; his person and work and "his place in the sweep of redemptive history". He then remarks,

“…John’s stated purpose in composing the Fourth Gospel is not that his readers might believe, but that his readers might believe that the Christ, the Son of God, is Jesus, and that in believing they might have life in his name. To hammer away at the urgency of belief without pausing to think through what it is John wants his readers to believe and whom it is he wants them to trust is to betray the Gospel of John. Preaching from the Gospels is above all an exercise in the exposition and application of Christology (102, emphasis in the original).

The Lord's Supper: Our Gift to God or God's Gift to Us

I would like to pose a question. In the observance of the Lord's Supper are we offering something to God or is God offering something to us? Do we give to God or do we receive from Him? Do you think this is an important nuance to make conclusions about?

What exegetical and theological arguments would you use to support your position? Please share your thoughts.

When You Can't Sing With Conviction

This past Sunday at our church's internship meeting we discussed various worship related issues. One of the questions that came up was what to do when you feel like you can't sing the lyrics of a hymn/song during the corporate worship service.

Jim Newheiser, who was leading the meeting, helpfully suggested that you first ask whether your issue with the song is one of preference or doctrine. There's a difference between simply not liking a hymn or worship song because of its tune, for example, and not liking the song because you believe it doesn't teach sound doctrine. Jim encouraged us to put aside preferences when necessary. However, if we believe the song isn't teaching correct doctrine then we must not violate our conscience.

What do you do when the lyrics of a hymn or song are so vague or unclear (but not clearly false) that you can't sing with conviction? There are a few songs (though not many) we sing at our worship services that contain lyrics I can't sing with conviction because I'm not sure what the words are communicating.

For example, do you think the following line is a proper/true description of Jesus Christ?

"You are the love song we'll sing forever".

I'm not asking whether that line makes you think of other things that are true of Christ, but whether the statement that Jesus is a "love song" is true on its own.

I've tried hard not to be a stick in the mud over this line, but I simply can't bring myself to sing it. It's not clear to me what it means for Jesus to be a love song and I haven't come across anything in Scripture that would shed some light. I haven't scoured the entire Bible over this lyric though so please let me know if I'm missing something!

What songs/lyrics do you have a hard time singing and why (keep it civil)?