Monthly Archives: April 2011

Habakkuk Overview (Outline)

Wordle: Habakkuk

TRUSTING GOD IN TROUBLESOME TIMES

Habakkuk’s Message of Hope

I. Take Your Perplexities to God (1:1-2:1)

A. with alarm over unchecked sin (1:1-4) (Our prayers suffer when we are unconcerned.)

1. in our country

2. in our church

3. in our selves

B. with amazement at God’s sovereignty (1:5-11) (Our prayers suffer when we are unimpressed with God.)

C. with awareness of God’s character (1:12-17)  (Our prayers suffer when we are not gripped by God’s character.)

D. with anticipation for God’s answer (2:1)  (Our prayers suffer when we are proud, stubborn, and impatient concerning God’s answer.)

II. Think Upon the Payday of God (2:2-20)

A. Consider the vision God reveals (2:2-3)

1. Its transmission – written and plain

2. Its trustworthiness (cf. Hebrews 10:37-38)

B. Consider the verdict God renders (2:4)

1. On those who trust in themselves

2. On those who trust in God (cf. Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38)

C. Consider the vengeance God repays (2:5-20)

1. Description of the wicked (2:5)

2. Declaration against the wicked:  five woes – catalog of wrongs & corresponding retribution (2:6-20)

a. First set of woes

i. Plunder (2:6-8)

ii. Self-exaltation (2:9-11)

iii. Oppression (2:12-14)

b. But God’s glory will cover the earth (2:14)

c. Second set of woes

iv. Exploitation (2:15-17)

v. Idolatry (2:18-20)

d. But God is in His holy temple – let all be silent (2:20)

III. Triumph in the Person of God (3:1-19)

A. Plead with God in supplication (3:1-2)

1. Pray for revival

2. Pray for mercy

B. Praise God for His supremacy (3:3-15)

1. Remember His sovereignty over nature and nations

2. Remember His salvation for His people

C. Pursue God for satisfaction (3:16-19)

1. Recognize that circumstances are not guaranteed

2. Rejoice in the character of God

a. Rejoice in His salvation

b. Rejoice in His strength

Interested in Summer Classes in Clintwood, Virginia?

We are praying and talking with a pastor in Clintwood, Virginia about possibly offering CAPS classes in that area (probably this summer). Please click here to contact us if you are interested or know someone who may be interested. We will then be in touch with you about more specifics. At this point, we are likely going to offer the hermeneutics class first, and then the homiletics class.

Introducing the Spiritual Disciplines

“…Exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7)

WHAT ARE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES?

 Definition of Spiritual Disciplines The word “exercise” in 1 Timothy 4:7 KJV (can also be translated as “discipline”) comes from the Greek word from which we derive gymnasium and gymnastics.  In the ancient world, those who “exercised” in this way removed even their clothing to focus on working out and training without any hindrance.The apostle Paul, in this context, is warning Timothy of false teachers and worthless teachings.  He tells Timothy to “refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7 KJV).

Just as Timothy was to shun what was unhelpful and harmful, we too must say no to that which is unprofitable and actively exercise ourselves for the purpose of growing in godliness.  We need to practice specific disciplines, or exercises, taught in the Word of God if we are to become more holy and Christlike.

Spiritual disciplines, then, are exercises designed to strengthen one’s spirit and grow one in godliness – things we must actively engage in to see progress.

Biblical spiritual disciplines are exercises designed to strengthen one’s spirit and grow one in godliness that are taught by command or example in the Bible.

Spiritual disciplines

Biblical

Spiritual Disciplines

Bible reading

Yes

Yes

Prayer

Yes

Yes

Fasting

Yes

Yes

Journaling                 Yes

Yes

Labyrinth walking

Yes

Not Biblical

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  that the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

TYPES OF SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES

Spiritual disciplines can be broken down into two further categories:  personal and inter-personalPersonal spiritual disciplines are those we can practice as individuals (individual Bible reading, prayer, fasting, etc.).  Inter-personal spiritual disciplines are those practiced with others (corporate worship, etc.).

 WHY ARE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES IMPORTANT?

I.             They are a means to an end – godliness.

We are to exercise or discipline ourselves “unto” or for the purpose of growing in godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).  The disciplines are not ends in themselves, any more than going to the gym, using an exercise machine, or practicing musical scales are ends in themselves – they are a means to a greater goal.

  • “…Exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7).
  • [The ultimate destiny for believers is] “to be conformed to the image of His [God’s] Son” (Romans 8:29).
  • “…with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
  • “Follow [pursue] peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

II.           God expects them to be a part of our lives.

God commands them.  The word “exercise” or “discipline” in 1 Timothy 4:7 is a present active imperative verb, where we are commanded to keep on exercising or disciplining ourselves.

  • “Thou shalt meditate therein” (Joshua 1:8)
  • “Watch and pray” (Mark 13:33).

God assumes them.  Some of God’s commands speak to how to practice the disciplines with the assumption that we are practicing them.

  • “When ye pray…” (Mark 11:24); “When ye fast…” (Matt. 6:16)

III.         Spiritual disciplines have been modeled for us.

Scripture provides authoritative examples.

  • Jesus
    • “…He went up…to pray…” (Matthew 14:23)
    • “…when He had fasted…” (Matthew 4:2) 
  • Paul
    • “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do…” (Phil. 4:9)
    • “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you… making request with joy… and this I pray…” (Phil. 1:3-4, 9)

Church history provides encouraging examples.  Through journals and eyewitness testimony, we may learn of many believers blessed by God through their pursuit of Him through the spiritual disciplines.  Examples include:

  • The Puritans
  • Jonathan Edwards
  • George Muller

 IV.         We neglect them to our harm. 

  • spiritual weakness (Mark 14:38)
  • fruitlessness
  • deception?

 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (2 Peter 1:5-9)

 V.           We benefit greatly when we practice them rightly. 

  • Godliness – we become more like Christ
  • Joy – as we become more like God, we will enjoy communing with Him and serving Him more and more.
  • Usefulness – as we grow in godliness, we are more useful in ministry
  • Freedom – to quote Scripture; to pray spontaneously, etc.

Freedom and discipline have come to be regarded as mutually exclusive, when in fact freedom is not at all the opposite, but the final reward, of discipline. (Elisabeth Elliot)

Spiritual disciplines are a means to an end – getting to know God.  Not about performance, but about pursuing a relationship with Christ.

It is easy to get so distracted with things of no profit (1 Timothy 4:7) but we need to pursue God through the spiritual disciplines for the purpose of godliness!

For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.  (1 Timothy 4:8)

HOW ARE WE TO APPROACH THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES?

The right approach to the spiritual disciplines sees them as a means to grow in God’s grace, NOT as a basis for acceptance with God.

I must take care above all that I cultivate communion with Christ, for though that can never be the basis of my peace – mark that – yet it will be the channel of it. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Let us see the spiritual disciplines as training exercises that will help us become stronger spiritually and more Christlike.  Let us head to the spiritual gym and devote ourselves to the workouts taught in the Bible – to exercise ourselves unto godliness.

Recommended book:  Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

Resources for Preaching Isaiah 53

If there is any one passage in the Old Testament which seems to
the Christian heart to be a prophecy of the redeeming work of Christ, it is that matchless fifty-third chapter of Isaiah.  We read it today, often even in preference to New Testament passages, as setting forth the atonement which our Lord made for the sins of others upon the cross.  Never, says the simple Christian, was there a prophecy made more gloriously plain.”

– J. Gresham Machen (quoted in E. J. Young, Isaiah Fifty-Three: a Devotional and Expository Study)

I am presently in the middle of a series, preaching through Isaiah 52:13-53:12 – the fourth of four “Servant Songs/Psalms” in Isaiah, this being the one about Jesus the Messiah as the suffering Servant.  This is a glorious passage, well worth our time to study and share.  The heart of the gospel is revealed here, even in the Old Testament, as we read the passage in the context of God’s plan of redemption, unfolded in the Bible.  [UPDATE: I finished preaching this series today — although I certainly did not exhaust the passage; I hope to return to it someday.  Click here if you would like to view sermon notes and listen to or download audio mp3 files from the series.]

Due to the limited nature of my present study, I have not attempted to access very many works concerning that text.  However, I would like to compile a list of helpful resources for the benefit of others and possibly for my own benefit (I would love to study and preach this passage again sometime!).  Below are some resources I have found useful in this study.  If you have studied this passage and found useful helps, please share them by leaving a comment.

These resources are in alphabetical order by author/speaker:

  • Mark Dever, Sermon: “Crushed for Our Iniquities” (this link takes you to a page where you can download the free mp3 audio file) – click here to view or download Dever’s sermon manuscript (complete with his handwritten modifications)
  • Peter Gentry, “The Atonement in Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)” – scholarly article by noted Old Testament & Hebrew scholar
  • Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey & Andrew Sach. Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007) Pages 52-67 contain an excellent discussion of this passage, and extremely helpful book on the subject of substitutionary atonement.  Highly recommended.
  • F. Duane Lindsey, The Servant Songs: a Study in Isaiah (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985) (compilation of articles originally published in theological journal Bibliotheca Sacra – you can access much of this content by searching at http://faculty.gordon.edu/search/search.cfm) Click here to access the relevant material on Isaiah 52:13-53:12 in a pdf file or click here to view it as a webpage.
  • John MacArthur, The Murder of Jesus (Nashville: Word, 2000) – while not properly a commentary on Isaiah 53 (it covers materials from the gospels), it provides good illustrations of the extremities of pain suffered by Jesus (that Isaiah prophesied about), as well explanations of the kangaroo court that fulfilled the text
  • Arthur B. Walton, Portraits of Christ in Isaiah (Schaumburg, Illinois: Regular Baptist Press, 1995) – Adult Student Book – a remarkably meaty Sunday school curriculum with some great illustrations and explanation of the text
  • Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992) (Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is covered in volume 2 of this 3 volume set) Very helpful commentary on Isaiah.  If one was only going to consult one of his works on this passage, the next recommendation would suffice.  But I hope to preach from other portions of Isaiah (maybe the whole book someday) and definitely plan to consult this commentary.  (Some audio of class lecture here.)
  • Edward J. Young, Isaiah Fifty-Three: a Devotional and Expository Study (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952).  A superb and helpful book.  (I found a pdf posted online, but not sure it’s there legally.  I have a hardcover copy.)

Any resources you have used and would recommend?