Meditations for Holy Week

Sure & Steadfast

As Holy Week, or the 8 days starting with Palm Sunday and ending with Easter Sunday, comes year by year, we must be careful to honor the Lord by reflecting on the events that took place which led to the crucifixion and then culminated in the resurrection. It is easy for us to go on with work or vacation and think little about Easter past decorating or finding colorful eggs. May we not distort Easter to be such, rather a time we glorify God as we recall the praise, teachings, betrayal, sufferings, death, and life of our Lord Jesus, the Christ. Below are a few resources that will help you in this effort.

 

The Events

Crossway published an immensely helpful book called The Final Days of Jesus. Crossway paired the book’s release with this blog. The blog contains 8 (one for each day) 3-5 minute videos providing historical, cultural, and theological background of the story, so that the details from Christ’s Triumphal Entry to Resurrection can be vividly remembered.

The Gospel Coalition (TGC) posted an article based on the aforementioned book. Russ Ramsey, in the article, summarizes each of the chapters into two paragraphs with the Scripture references. The article is designed to serve as a devotional guide for Holy Week, reading particular passages with some insightful commentary.

 

In Preparation for Maundy Thursday

At Together for the Gospel (T4G) 2008, RC Sproul drew upon the imagery of the Old Testament to teach the implications of what Jesus suffered on the cross and what He saved us from. Listen to this hour-long sermon from Galatians 3:10-14 to grasp the weight of the curse, which Jesus became, so that we would not stand accursed before the Father, rather righteous in Him.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a favorite preacher of many, was certainly a man of great wisdom and biblical understanding. TGC collected multiple quotes from Spurgeon on the Lord’s Supper and compiled them here. We must know that studying the things of God requires deep, concentrated thinking, and the article is the fruit of that and requires the reader to studiously ponder what is said.

 

Resurrection

The founding pastor of Parkwood, Dr. M.O. Owens Jr., preached our Sunrise Service on March 23, 2008. He was 94, currently 103, when he exposited Romans 4:13, 18-5:2. His sermon explores God’s character and nature, as it relates primarily to Christ’s Lordship solidified at the resurrection. Read his sermon to know God better and to better know the importance and implications of our salvation upon Christ’s resurrection.

While Easter is a big deal to us at Parkwood, we celebrate the news of Jesus’ death and resurrection weekly. Consider Easter the pinnacle of this celebratory news and every other week we trek through the implications of the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, dwelling in us, who were once dead.

 

7 Frameworks to See Christ in Genesis

the-gospel-in-genesis-1360x277As we begin to study the Gospel in Genesis, it is important to approach the Bible’s first book appropriately. It is easy to run into several dangers when studying through this book. We must realize the Old Testament, while Jewish literature, is a part of the Christian Bible. Right interpretation (hermeneutics) takes the entire Old Testament in light of the other, as we know we miss major theological and redemptive understandings when we isolate the New Testament from the Old. We must also treat Genesis as a Hero story, not hero stories. While Abraham has tremendous faith and Joseph vigilantly honors God before the Pharaoh, the subject of Genesis is God. God is the center of Genesis, and Genesis attests throughout the different stories of the Patriarchs that God is the Good News in each account. As I preach, and I pray as you study Genesis, we will use these 7 frameworks to see Christ from the beginning.

  1. Redemptive-Historical Progression. God’s redeeming work of mankind is all throughout the Bible. All of redemptive history centers on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is currently reigning from heaven until He comes again. The Bible begins with God creating the world. From there, the Bible documents God’s redemptive acts in Israel. The New Testament Gospel accounts answer the redemptive longing of the Old Testament prophets: Christ came to redeem. From the ascension of Christ until His return we see God’s redemptive acts in church and world history. We long for Christ’s return as that will bring about the New Creation. Understanding this storyline enhances our view of Genesis, as from the beginning it faces the Christian reader towards Christ.
  2. Promise-Fulfillment. When Genesis contains a promise of the coming Messiah (Genesis has many!), our minds ought to race to the New Testament to show the ultimate fulfillment of that promise in Jesus Christ. It is important hear to not isolate verses from context. An example of properly identifying this would be Genesis 3:15. When the Lord God says to the serpent his head will be crushed, we look to the cross. Christ’s heel was bruised (think poetically) while Satan’s head was crushed by the power of the ultimate sacrifice.
  3. Typology. A third road from an Old Testament text to Christ is typology. Typology is distinct from prophecy in that prophetic announcements are just that: announcements or words from the Lord. Typology points us to The great Antitype, the person and/or work of Jesus Christ, just the same as prophecy, but through Old Testament redemptive events, persons, or institutions can function as types which foreshadow the great Antitype, the person and/or work of Jesus Christ. Finding the type in the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac is seeing the Lord provide the ram. The type is not necessarily that Isaac bore the wood for the sacrifice on the way in a similar manner that Christ bore the cross to Golgotha.

  4. Analogy. Using analogy exposes parallels between what God taught Israel and what Christ teaches the church; what God promised Israel and what Christ promises the church; what God promised Israel and what Christ promises the church; what God demanded of Israel (the law) and what Christ demands of his church. Examples of Genesis analogies are God telling Abram to leave his country and family to where He would lead. This sort of obedience–following God where He leads–is expected of all followers of Christ. We read God “will show [Abram]” where to go. We then draw the connection to God’s promise to His commissioned followers: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

  5. Longitudinal Themes. While this way will often overlap with first, redemptive-historical progression, it is distinct in focusing on the development of theological ideas rather than development in redemptive history. This is a technical term in the discipline of Biblical Theology. For examples, we connect themes such as God’s coming kingdom, God’s covenant, and God’s grace from the beginnings of Genesis to teachings and realizations from Jesus’ life.

  6. New Testament References. Sometimes the New Testament alludes to or quotes specific texts and links it to Christ. If your Bible contains cross references (which is a great feature to look for in your next Bible purchase) this way might be the easiest for a first-time reader or Bible Scholar to connect a Genesis passage to Christ or to connect a passage in the New Testament to Genesis. Based on the intentional use of “In the beginning” in John 1:1, we use the surrounding text to take us to Genesis 1:1.These references are found throughout the Epistles and even Revelation.

  7. Contrast. A final road from the Old Testament to Christ is the way of contrast. Because of the coming of Christ the text’s message for the contemporary church may be quite different from the original message for Israel. Let’s be careful to know the distinction in contrast (showing differences) and contradict (showing opposition). To see this, let’s consider circumcision and baptism. Circumcision is the outward, physical sign of being God’s people for the Israelites. When Christ came, He set a new precedent in which the early church fervently followed: baptism. The way the church shows outward, physical belonging to Christ is baptism.

Among these 7 ways of seeing Christ in Genesis is why we will cross reference passages throughout the Old and New Testaments in Growth Group material and supporting sermon texts. I pray, through this series, you would come to see more and more of the cohesive story of redemption and the unity of God’s Word. We need not look further than Genesis 1 to see the power of God’s words, but we praise Him because He has given us His Word of truth. May we see and faithfully proclaim the Gospel in Genesis.

 

*The 7 frameworks were published by Sidney Greidanus in his work Preaching Christ From Genesis (2007).

Why We Do 180 Weekend

180

For many years, right around Super Bowl weekend, Parkwood has lead in a student gathering for churches across greater Gaston County to bring their youth groups, large and small, to hear the Gospel presented, to worship the Lord, and to make lasting friendships with their peers and discipling relationships with their small group leaders.

This year, over 30 different local churches will come to the main sessions at two locations; Parkwood and Bethlehem. Parkwood will have over 100 volunteers to serve the 200 students affiliated with Parkwood and the thousand affiliated with other churches. We see this as a great way to galvanize with other youth and student workers out of obedience to God. Jesus prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11). Paul wrote, “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:2). Coming together for the gospel is a must, as that furthers His glory among the world.

Titus 2:1 says, “Teach what accords with sound doctrine.” Paul tells the Ephesians in Acts 20:27, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” The truth of God’s Word will be proclaimed in 3 different settings throughout the weekend: large group at Parkwood, small groups in homes (Acts 20:20), and throughout the day (Deuteronomy 6:7). Parkwood hosts 3 large group gatherings that are structured like our Sunday morning services. From what is faithfully taught there, the small groups then return to their host homes to discuss the Bible deeper with their leaders. The third way the Bible is taught is through one-on-one conversations. Small group leaders are trained to leverage regular conversations into gospel conversations. [Read more…]

5 Issues the Sanctity of Life Affects

Sanctity of Life

January 22, 2017 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Every year we specifically remind one another life is God-given and God-made. As we remind one another of this, we are sobered in that many disagree with this. We can easily sobered knowing such a biblically-based belief is so counter cultural. Below are 5 articles or messages that will help your understanding of the importance and effects Sanctity of Life has on life as a Christian, American, and citizen of the world.

Understand the Sanctity of Life and ethics. Carrie Earll and Focus on the Family explain the value of life is unquantifiable, and the baseline reason is found in that humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Human dignity and distinction are derived from this, and this is what drives our conviction.

Understand the Sanctity of Life in the face of abortion. John Piper, in this resource of 3 transcribed sermons, articulates abortion factually, exhorts us to consider Lordship, and the call to follow Jesus despite all else in the world. The last sentence is a gracious summation we need regular reminder of: “Jesus Christ can forgive all sins, and will give all who trusts him the help they need to do everything that life requires.”

Understand the Sanctity of Life and the American tax dollar. Joe Carter of the ERLC provides a credible exposé on the federally-funded Planned Parenthood, the nation’s most used women’s health organization and the largest provider of abortions in America.

Understand the Sanctity of Life Sunday and why we ought to pray it become unnecessary. Russell Moore, through anecdotes and cultural insight, reminds us that this Sunday is not meant to remain with the church for the rest of our history, unlike Christmas or Easter. A good prayer to pray is that this Sunday emphasis would be removed by the Lord orchestrating orphans to be adopted and abortions to be removed from the face of the earth.

Understand the Sanctity of Life as it relates to the world. David Platt helps us see that the issue does not exist in America, alone. The issue of devaluing human life is worldwide, and the answer is “make disciples of all nations, by 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” (Matthew 28:19-20).

While the fight and disagreement about this issue transpires outside of the church and in the public square, we must have our minds set that when we gather, we gather not to argue about this issue, but to celebrate God and honor Him by strengthening one another and believing His Word.