Who Is Like Yahweh? Encountering God in the Songs of Moses

The first song recorded in Scripture is the Song of Moses in Exodus 15, written after the crossing of the Red Sea by the people of Israel. Moses also wrote a second song—this one dictated by God himself—just before the crossing of the Jordan into the promised land. These songs give fascinating insight into the character and attributes of God, and have an enduring relevance to the people of God. So enduring, in fact, that Revelation 15 depicts the redeemed singing the Song of Moses in heaven!

I chose these songs as the topic of a paper for my Old Testament survey class. I realize that posting seminary papers is a little out-of-the-ordinary for a blog, but I enjoyed writing this one and thought it might benefit others who have a similar interest in Old Testament worship. If you’d like to check it out, here it is: Who Is Like Yahweh? The God of the Old and New Testaments Revealed in the Songs of Moses. No word yet on what my grade is…

Three of the books I referenced in the paper are particularly excellent, so if you’re interested in learning more about the Old Testament in general or Old Testament songs in particular, these are a great place to start:

Now that this paper (and the rest of my homework for this semester’s classes) is out of the way, I should finally be able to get back to blogging consistently… at least until my next round of classes starts up in June!

Polity and the Doctrine of Man

From Mark Dever’s book The Message of the Old Testament:

“It is interesting to notice how our church polity reflects our doctrine of man. If you have a higher or stronger view of the fallenness of man, you will want to see authority diffused. You will not trust a polity that concentrates authority in the hands of a sinner, regardless of how rich or educated he is or who his parents are. On the other hand, if you have a lower or weaker view of depravity, and you believe that the Fall did not affect humankind so badly or is even a myth, and that people are basically good, then you will tend to feel more comfortable with a polity that concentrates power in fewer hands. This applies in politics, and this applies in churches.”

God’s Choice and Man’s Choice

I’ve been reading through The Message of the Old Testament by Mark Dever for my Intro to OT class. The book consists of  transcripts of Dever’s sermons from his preaching series giving an overview of every book in the Bible (the New Testament sermons are in a book called, not surprisingly, The Message of the New Testament). Yesterday I read through the sermon from the book of Deuteronomy, and it has kept coming to my mind all day today.

The thesis for this excellent sermon (which you can listen to here) is that the book of Deuteronomy can be summarized by two short statements: (1) God chooses his people; (2) God’s people must choose him. It’s one of the best explanations of the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility that I’ve heard from the pulpit. Here is the excerpt that has stuck with me the most:

If you want to understand the Bible better, let me caution you against two mistakes. First, do not turn down the volume on God’s sovereignty. Don’t say, “Oh, I don’t understand these ideas of predestination, election, or God’s choosing us.” You do not need to understand it to your complete satisfaction. Read it in Scripture and believe.

Second, do not turn down the volume on what we are called to do. Don’t say, “Oh, it’s all about grace. Don’t talk to me about imperatives. That’s legalism.” The imperatives are here in Scripture. God’s people are called to live a certain way, and we get to live a certain way. God, by his Holy Spirit, breaks into our lives and changes us so that we can live in a manner that brings glory and praise to him. What a privilege! God chooses his people, yes, but we must choose God. You cannot get around this when you read through the Bible and this book of Deuteronomy.

Again, I highly encourage you to listen to this sermon, or, better yet, get the book!

Combing the Net – 7/24/2012

Mounting Cars on Rocks — This new art form (called “tahjir”) seems pretty bizarre to me, but is drawing crowds in Saudi Arabia! (HT: 22Words)

The Dickensian Aspects of The Dark Knight Rises — I haven’t seen the movie yet, but this makes me want to more than anything else has. This article reveals the ways in which Christopher and Jonathan Nolan were influenced by A Tale of Two Cities as they wrote and directed the latest Batman movie.

Parents, Why Are You Pushing Your Kids? — This is a great article about the importance of play for our kids. While I do think it is important for parents to help their children identify and foster their gifts, many parents go too far. I see this at the School of Performing Arts with kids who are over-involved; they become mediocre at many things and never learn to be excellent at anything. We need a better definition of “success”.

Why Should a Pastor Preach Through Whole Books of the Bible? — While expository preaching isn’t the only way for a pastor to faithfully preach the Word (see next article), I firmly believe that it is the best way, and it is certainly my personal preference. I’m very thankful that our new pastor preaches this way. His first sermon series at Stevens Street will be on the book of Jonah, and it begins this Sunday!

3 Faithful Ways to Preach Jesus — Given what I just said, I also believe (as does the author of the previous article) that there is an appropriate place for occasional textual and topical sermons. Here Mark Driscoll weighs the advantages of each type of preaching.

Should Baptism Be Spontaneous? — While there is precedent in Scripture for folks being baptized immediately upon conversion, that practice can be problematic when viewed as normative for all circumstances. In this video, three Baptist pastors (Mark Dever, Matt Chandler, and Darrin Patrick) discuss the question of when to baptize converts, as well as the issue of false converts:

Combing the Net – 6/19/2012

The Libraries, Studies, and Writing Rooms of 15 Famous Men — Trying to reign in my covetousness…

What the Bible Says About the Heaven Books — Tim Challies’ follow-up post to the one he wrote about the new genre of “I went to Heaven” books, which I linked to yesterday.

So what did Don Piper and these other authors experience? And what about the many people who can attest that they experienced something while they were clinically dead or otherwise near death? I don’t know. Some are liars, some are sincere, I am sure. Some have had a Near Death Experience, whatever a Near Death Experience is. We need to be very cautious because the fact is that Satan is capable of manufacturing experiences; I’m sure it is well within his power to convince people of an experience, to give them a kind of assurance that what they have experienced is real. The more variance there is between a person’s experience and God’s Word, the more we are obligated to doubt that experience.

What Is Wrong with Performance-Enhancing Drugs? A Thought Experiment with Robots and Baseball — A thoughtful article by Justin Barnard, who spoke recently in Cookeville at the Humanitas Forum.

God Desires All to Be Saved, and Grants Repentance to Some — John Piper writes an excellent short study on reconciling two difficult texts, which can go a long way to helping us understand the current debate going on within the Southern Baptist Convention about “God’s Plan of Salvation”.

How to create a culture of reading in your church — This is excellent stuff from Mark Dever! (HT: Matthias Media)

T4G 2012 – Book Giveaways

This will be the last of my T4G posts, and then it will be back to business as usual. I have completed a few more posts in the political series I began in March, and hope to wrap up the entire series soon. I also have some backlogged book reviews to publish… and, as you’ll see from this post, there will probably be a great many more to come!

One of my favorite parts of the T4G conference is the emphasis on equipping attendees for ministry by providing great resources. This year, this was accomplished via a “Zero Dollar Bookstore”, which is just about the best idea I’ve ever heard. Everyone who attended was given a pass to this bookstore… it was like Trick-or-Treating, only instead of cavities we get soul edification.

There were 18 books given away at T4G, along with another 17 at the “Band of Bloggers” lunch. In addition, many of the vendors with booths set up in the exhibit hall were giving away books, and the conference bookstore had GREAT prices on over 1800 books. I set myself a budget this year, and so came home with fewer total books than in 2010, but it was still quite a haul! Here’s the big list, which includes all the books I was given as well as the ones I purchased. As well as I can remember, I’ve listed whether I purchased them, or where they came from if I got them for free. For lack of a better system, they are ordered by subject:

Bible Study

The Church / Missions

The Gospel

Church History

Living as a Christian

Music / Worship

Prayer

Preaching

Theology

And that’s not all! I also received several assorted CD’s, including worship songs from Sovereign Grace Music and sermons from the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Audio Library. I also received several free issues of Tabletalk and Modern Reformation magazines, and the Galatians Study Kit from White Horse Inn. For a conference that costs less than $300, this would be incredible even without all the spectacular preaching I got to hear all week! I hope many more of you will join us for the next Together for the Gospel conference in two years. I’m already looking forward to it!

T4G 2012 – Day 1

Yesterday was a great day! We heard our first three plenary speakers, as well as two great moderated panel discussions. Luckily for those of you following along at home, the logistics and Internet folks at T4G are on top of things, and have already got the audio from each of these sessions online. I recommend you check them out when you have time!

Plenary Session 1 — The Sustaining Power of the Gospel (C.J. Mahaney)

This message, based on 2 Corinthians 4, was one of the most encouraging sermons I’ve heard. Mahaney spoke about the trials faced by those in ministry, particularly the temptation to lose heart. He exhorted us to cast on the Lord “the burdens of today, the sins of yesterday, and the fear of the future.”

Here’s the audio, and a more extensive write-up by Justin Taylor.

Plenary Session 2 — The Power of the Articulated Gospel (Al Mohler)

More of an academic lecture than a sermon, this was still a powerful message from the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Based on Romans 10:15-17, Mohler spoke of our culture’s emphasis on images instead of words, and on the desire of many evangelicals to “show” the gospel rather than “speak” the gospel. But the gospel is a message that must be articulated and demonstrated; no one can be saved apart from the proclamation of a very specific — and offensive — gospel.

Here is the audio, and Taylor’s write-up.

Panel Discussion 1 — Complementarianism (Ligon Duncan, Russell Moore, Greg Gilbert, John Piper)

Why is the issue of gender roles so vitally important to our understanding of the gospel? This was a great discussion, particularly in light of the fact that the college Sunday School class where my wife and I serve is currently studying the issue of complementarianism vs. egalitarianism. Piper was one of the men who invented the term “complementarian”, so it was good to hear him reflect on more than three decades of debating the issue. Russell Moore is the president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Greg Gilbert is a young pastor with a young congregation who has seen much of what he calls “functional egalitarianism”.

Audio is not available for this one yet, but here is Taylor’s write-up.

Plenary Session 3 — False Conversions: The Suicide of the Church (Mark Dever)

Dever has long been one of my favorite preachers, and this message was right in his wheelhouse. While it was strange to hear Dever (of all people) deliver a topical sermon, this is something which desperately needed to be addressed. Our churches are filled with those who have never been converted to faith. This is dangerous on many levels, and unloving toward those who have a false sense of security. If you only listen to one message from today, make it this one!

Here’s the audio, and Taylor’s write-up.

Panel Discussion 2 — Preaching: Is There a Plan B? (Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, CJ Mahaney, Al Mohler)

The short answer? No. The biggest takeaway from this session was the fact that preaching is not separate from worship (as many say), but the central part of our corporate worship. We must learn to view preaching as something that requires active listening, not passive observation.

Here is Taylor’s write-up.

Looking forward to another full day of great preaching today!