SBTS chapel live blog: Tom Nettles – 1 John 2:18-29

Preacher: Tom Nettles, professor of historical theology at Southern Seminary

Text/title: 1 John 2:18-29 - "The Antichrist and the Peril of the Unanointed."

John is writing to teach his audience about the Christian life. He is writing to tell them that those who are Christians have certain changes in their life. Changes that result in a conduct that reflects a knowledge of God, an awareness of God and leads to living unto God.

This book is like a tapestry: it starts and presents several ideas and then returns to those ideas as it goes along, winding them tighter and tighter, until you get to the end and see things that will characterize every believer to some degree. Those who are characterized by these things are born of God.

It is a gracious act of God to remind us of these things, simple things, that we are son prone to forget. The greatest of all knowledge is that we are children of God who know God. Have you woken up in the morning and thought, "I know God?" This is the greatest knowledge: nothing else matters.

Certainty of the success of the anointing

The distinguishing factor between those who are antichrist and those who are not is the anointing. John makes this very clear. We may have flashes of motivation for altruism, for love of neighbor, but eventually we would all return to selfishness, were it not for the anointing.

Jesus is the one who brings all the blessings of God to us. There were some who were denying that Jesus was the Christ, John writes, and those who denied Christ, did not have the Father. John is describing those who are, in some sense, antichrist. And he describes them in this way: there is something definitive in the life of those people that marks them as a group that does not know God.

If this group had been of those who know God, then they would not have gone out from the people of God. As it is, they went out, which made it clear that they did not know God. There is a certainty that those who deny the truth of Jesus Christ will remain with God's people: those who went out were not of us. If they had been of us, they would not have gone out.

In contrast, those who know God have been anointed by the Holy One.

The reason people know the truth is because they have the anointing from the Holy One. Truth and lies cannot exist together. The Holy Spirit is the one who anoints people. The Holy Spirit always works in concert with the Father and with the Son. The Holy Spirit subjectively applies the anointing to people.

Usually, we think of anointing as something we don't want any part of. We associate it with being pushed over, forced to the ground, things that we question the validity of. But John assumes that all of us have the anointing. The Spirit coming to us and anointing us insures that everything Christ has done for us will come to us.

By the power of the Spirit, Jesus Himself loved righteousness and hated wickedness. From His conception to His resurrection and ascension, everything that Jesus did, He did by the anointing of the Holy Spirit and all of that has been given to you.

The anointing that we have from the Holy Spirit teaches us everything.

  • The Holy Spirit shows us our need for Christ.

The Holy Spirit awakens our mind, showing us our need for Christ and we respond by running to Christ.

  • The Holy Spirit gives us a right view of sin.

We have a right understanding of our sin and need for Christ.

  • The Holy Spirit gives us a right view of obedience.

We know that those who know God should keep His commandments.

  • The Holy Spirit gives us a right view of love.

We see a flowering of the new covenant: we are now able to love our brother from our heart. We have been born again by the living and abiding Word of God. We have a new understanding of what it means to love.

  • The Holy Spirit gives us a right view of righteousness.

Anyone who is born of God knows that he is righteous. We know that we have an Advocate before the Father. We develop an increasing distaste for the things of the world. He who has been born of God overcomes the world.

These are things you know. These things that cannot be learned in seminary and cannot be impressed upon you by any preacher. These are things that are impressed upon your heart by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

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Orphan Sunday live webcast at SBTS

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will feature a live webcast of the Orphan Sunday service in Nashville, Tenn., from 5-7 p.m., Nov. 8 in Heritage Hall. The event features speakers Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, and Dennis Rainey, president and cofounder of FamilyLife, as well as special music by Steven Curtis Chapman.

The event is designed to give a voice to the cries of millions of orphans around the world through music and speakers, according to the Orphan Sunday website.

"Orphan Sunday isn't about charity; it's about the mission of Christ," said Russell D. Moore, senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at Southern. "I pray that every Gospel-transformed congregation will observe Orphan Sunday, calling all Christians to our mandate to image Christ by caring for his little brothers and sisters, the fatherless of the world."

The event is sponsored by the Cry of the Orphan. The 2009 Cry of the Orphan Awareness Campaign marks the fourth annual unified campaign to heighten awareness of the plight of the millions of orphans around the world, according to the Orphan Sunday website.

The Cry of the Orphan campaign is sponsored by Hope for Orphans (a ministry of FamilyLife), Show Hope and Focus on the Family. The Cry of the Orphan and the Christian Alliance for Orphans partner together in the nationwide Orphan Sunday movement.

Other speakers at the event include Jedd Medefind (Christian Alliance for Orphans) and Sharen Ford (Colorado Division of Child Welfare Services). Geoff Moore and the Children of the World Choir will provide additional special music.

For more information, visit www.orphansunday.org.

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Discounted tickets for Screwtape Letters starring Max McLean; 2 ticket giveaway at LifeWay Campus Store

A discount special of $10 off the purchase of two tickets to the production of C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters" at Brown Theatre, Nov. 6 and 7, is now being offered as well as a limited number of $20 student tickets for Southern Seminary students.

The $10 discount offer of two tickets is available by calling the Brown Theatre box office at 502-584-7777 and mentioning the code: EKLB.1 This offer is subject to availability and is not valid on previously purchased tickets. To obtain the $20 student tickets, students must present a valid student ID at the Brown Theatre box office. The "Screwtape Letters" performances are at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 6 and 4 and 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7.

McLean to be at LifeWay Campus Store at Southern

The LifeWay Campus Store at Southern welcomes Max McLean at 6 p.m, Thursday, Nov. 5. LifeWay will be giving away two free tickets to McLean's performance of "Screwtape Letters" on Friday night.

McLean is a well-known actor and the narrator of several Audio Bibles, including the "ESV Study Bible" and the audio edition of "The Valley of Vision." McLean will be reading from the Bible, discussing his new book on reading the Bible in public and signing his book.

"The Screwtape Letters"

When first published in 1942, "The Screwtape Letters" brought immediate fame to a little known Oxford don whose field of study was medieval English literature. Over the past 60 years its wit and wisdom have made it one of C. S. Lewis' most widely read and influential works.

The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, a junior tempter named Wormwood, so as to advise him on methods of securing the damnation of a British man, known only as "the Patient."

Lewis provides a series of lessons in the importance of taking a deliberate role in living out Christian faith by portraying a typical human life, with all its temptations and failings, as seen from the demon/devil's viewpoint. Wormwood and Screwtape live in a peculiarly morally reversed world, where individual benefit and greed are seen as the greatest good, and neither demon is capable of comprehending or acknowledging true human virtue when he sees it.2

Fellowship for the Performing Arts has adapted and produced this best selling classic into a thoroughly engaging and entertaining theatrical production. This funny adaptation, which stars McLean as Screwtape was critically acclaimed in New York; had standing room only crowds at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C.; and was called the "most successful show in the history of Chicago's Mercury Theater" by the Chicago Tribune. Brown Theatre is located at 315 W. Broadway in downtown Louisville. For more information, visit www.ScrewtapeOnStage.com.

1This offer is subject to availability and is not valid on previously purchased tickets.

2Summary from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Screwtape_Letters.

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SBJT examines Christ’s parables in Matthew

How should the parables of Jesus be interpreted? Are they allegories in which each of the details represent a deeper spiritual reality? Are they folksy tales that Jesus used to communicate truth in a simple fashion? Or should they be interpreted literally as a story in which our Lord communicates one main point?

Several evangelical scholars, including three from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, answer questions such as these about the parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew in the Fall 2009 edition of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.

Journal editor Stephen J. Wellum argues in his editorial that the parables of Christ serve dual functions: they enlighten some to the truths about Christ, but harden others to them.

Wellum serves as professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary.

The new edition of the journal serves as a companion to the winter Bible study published by LifeWay Christian Resources.

"Parables are used to accomplish what God's Word does every time it is preached and taught: to give light and life to those who receive Christ and to harden and judge those who reject him," Wellum writes.

"In this way, the parables spoken to the crowds do not simply convey information, nor mask it, but they challenge the hearers (and us!) with the claims of Christ himself as he comes as Lord, inaugurating his Kingdom, and calling all people to follow him in repentance, faith, and obedience."

Robert L. Plummer examines the history of interpretation of the parables and provides guidelines as to how they should be interpreted. Plummer, who serves as associate professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern, argues that the proper starting point with the parables is to determine the main point or points. It is equally important not to press the details, he writes.

"There is some debate among evangelical scholars as to whether each parable teaches only one main point (e.g., Robert Stein) or whether a parable may have several main points (e.g. Craig Blomberg)," Plummer writes. "In reality, these two perspectives are not as varied as they may appear ... It is important to realize also that not all details in a parable have significance."

Jonathan Pennington, assistant professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern, examines Matthew 13 - the Parable of the Sower - in close detail. The parable includes three parts and is not given merely to show Jesus as a gifted and compelling teacher, he concludes. The parable is inspired, like the rest of Scripture, to change fallen human hearts, Pennington argues.

"I think the message to us comes off the page quite straightforwardly," he writes. "First, regarding the Sower and the sowing: This word of the kingdom, the ‘gospel of the kingdom' as Jesus calls it, is still going forth through us today as Jesus' disciples. To be a disciple of Jesus means to do the same things he did, to live a life of self-sacrifice, serving others, to minister grace to broken lives, to turn the other cheek when wrongly accused, to be poor in spirit, to forgive others, and crucially, to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom."

The journal also includes essays by Dan Doriani, A.B. Caneday and a sermon on the Parable of the Sower by Kirk Wellum. Doriani serves as pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Mo, Caneday is professor of New Testament studies and biblical theology at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn. Wellum serves as principal and professor of biblical studies, pastoral and systematic theology at Toronto Baptist Seminary.

To subscribe to the journal or for more information, email journaloffice@sbts.edu.

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3 questions with Danny Akin

Danny Akin serves as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

1. Why is fervent delivery of expositionally-sound sermons important? How can men grow in developing fervent delivery?

Akin: Fervent delivery is important because though what we say is more important than how we say it, how we say it has never been more important. We live in an age where effective communication skills are essential. Furthermore, we are proclaiming a beautiful Gospel. I find it unconsciousable that we would not proclaim a beautiful Gospel in a beautiful way.

No one has given more attention to this than Southern Seminary's Hershael York. He has thrown down the gauntlet to men who proclaim the Gospel that there does not need to be a dichotomy between content and delivery. In other words, we should glorify God in both what we say and how we say it. Men can grow in developing a passionate and effective delivery by studying the art of communication and listening to great preachers. Again, Dr. York has written extensively on this and I commend his work very highly.

2. What would you say to Southern Baptist pastors and/or students who affirm the tenets of the GCR, but don't involve themselves in convention life?

Akin: I would say get off your backsides and get involved! The fact of the matter is, if they want to be agents of change they have to get involved. I would also say to be critical and negative and sit on the sidelines is hypocritical. If you are not going to get involved in helping change the SBC, then you ought to remain silent. You have forfeited the right to speak if you are not going to be involved in helping make changes. I would strongly encourage our pastors and students to be in Orlando next year. I believe it will be one of the most historic conventions in the history of our denomination.

3. What role can seminary students at Southern Baptist seminaries play in the GCR and SBC life?

Akin: First, they can get involved in convention life on the associational, state and national level. Again, I would strongly urge out students to attend the convention in Orlando next year.

Second, they can be very intentional in communicating with leaders at all levels of Southern Baptist life their concerns, dreams and aspirations. In other words, they need to let leaders know what they are thinking and what they hope the future will be. This takes effort and energy, but I believe it is worth it. The Southern Baptist Convention is like a giant aircraft carrier and it will move and turn slowly. However, if there are many hands on deck trying to turn this big ship, I believe good change can happen more quickly and more effectively.

The other thing I would say is listen and learn, a lot! Most of our seminary students are young, and therefore though they have a lot of passion and zeal, they are not yet blessed with great experience and wisdom that comes from a long life. The Bible speaks very clearly to this. So, get involved, but honor those men who have gone before you who have earned the right to lead and to be heard. Hopefully, they will listen back.

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The future of the Southern Baptist Convention

Future of the SBC is hopeful if Great Commission remains central and key questions are addressed, SBC leaders say at Union University conference

Southern Baptists today have much to be thankful for and build upon from their forebears, but must consider structural changes to the Southern Baptist Convention and embrace methodological diversity within the denomination, speakers said at Union University's Southern Baptists, Evangelicals, and the Future of Denominationalism conference, Oct. 6-9. The conference was held in recognition of the 400th anniversary of the Baptist movement.

Southern Baptists must address "hard questions," Akin says

Danny Akin said he is not optimistic about the future of the nation's largest Protestant denomination but he is "hopeful" - if Southern Baptists will fully commit themselves to the Lordship of Christ and His Great Commission.

But if Southern Baptists are not moved to a complete commitment to missions, "We don't deserve a future," Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in his Oct. 8 address on the future of the SBC.

Citing the promise of Rev. 7:9-10 in which heaven will be populated by vast multitude of all peoples, Akin said, "The question that stares Southern Baptists in the face is this: will we join hands with our great God in seeing this awesome day come to pass or will we find ourselves sitting on the sidelines watching?"

To remain viable as a Great Commission-advancing denomination, Southern Baptists must answer several hard questions, said Akin, who previously served as dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Such questions to consider include changing the name of the SBC, overlap and duplication in SBC structure and programs, and the mechanisms for church planting, Akin said.

"I want to challenge us to do simple convention," he said. "We must streamline our structure, clarify our identity and maximize our resources."

Akin believes the SBC's Cooperative Program (CP) remains a useful tool, so long as Southern Baptists remain open studying the CP and "making improvements if possible."

As Southern Baptists address these hard questions, they should maintain the commendable advancements of their forebears and hold the ground gained during the SBC's Conservative Resurgence, Akin said.

Praising Southern Baptist leaders like Paige Patterson, Adrian Rogers and Jerry Vines who led the Conservative Resurgence during the 1980s and ‘90s to oppose the "poison of liberalism" in the SBC, Akin said these "heroes of the faith" should be honored and not forgotten - and newer generations of Southern Baptists need to be told of their sacrifices.

Southern Baptists must stand upon Lordship of Jesus Christ, the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, a commitment to expository preaching and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as a healthy and sufficient guide for cooperation, Akin said.

The question "What is the best way to reach with the Gospel the people I live amongst?" should shape the ministry of Southern Baptist churches and the SBC, Akin said, which will require methodological diversity.

"It is foolish to gripe about organs, choirs and choir robes, guitars, drums, coats and ties," he said. "It is also a waste of time. It is time to move on with the real issue of the Great Commission."

Mohler: next generation will shape the future of the SBC

The rise of secularism and the fall of cultural Christianity in the deep South over the past two decades have conspired to make the 20-something generation crucial for defining the mission of the SBC over the next 10-20 years, R. Albert Mohler Jr., told students Oct. 9 at Union University.

Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, said the younger generation of Southern Baptists will shape the future of the denomination, a stewardship it must not take lightly.

"I'm thankful it's not the inerrancy crisis that we lived through in the 1970s and 1980s, your generation is a generation of beneficiaries of that controversy," he said. "But you must be a part of forging a new identity for the Southern Baptist Convention. It is going to be yours and you are going to decide what to do with it.

"It (a new identity) is not something we can create with a new slogan, for new slogan will not save us. There is a need for a resurgence of Great Commission passion, vision, commitment and energy in our denomination."

A refocusing on the Great Commission is going to be costly, Mohler said, because it will require asking questions that have not been asked within the SBC for several generations and dealing with issues not previously considered.

"We were not called simply to receive what has been handed to us in terms of structures and continue it because of brand loyalty," he said. "We've been called to be a church on mission.

"The vision before us is not the perpetuation of the Southern Baptist Convention, but the call of the nations to exult in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Dockery and Stetzer: Right kinds of denominations still have a place

Though church denominations are in decline, Union University President David S. Dockery said he is still convinced of the benefits they provide, such as structure, connections, coherence and accountability, especially for groups like the SBC.

"I believe (denominations) do matter, and they will continue to matter," Dockery said. "But if, and only if, they remain connected to Scripture and to the orthodox tradition. Even with all of the advancements of our technological society, we still need some kind of structure to connect and carry forth the Christian faith. We need conviction and boundaries, but we also will need a spirit of cooperation to build bridges."

While the idea of denominations is negative for many people, Dockery said denominations have been important throughout Christian history "to carry forward the work of those who come together around shared beliefs and shared practices."

Ed Stetzer kicked off the conference by addressing the question, "Denominationalism: Is There a Future?" Stetzer answered in the affirmative, so long as denominations are serving local churches and not assuming a place of pre-eminence in the ministry of believers.

Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research and LifeWay's Missiologist in Residence, said churches that belong to denominations have a confessional standard that holds them accountable to orthodoxy. In addition, Stetzer said denominational networking and cooperation is inevitable for churches that are missions-focused.

"Like-minded people will always find ways to associate with one another. One positive reason for this is missional cooperation," he said. "The vast majority of world missions, church planting and many other forms of ministry are done through denominational partnerships.

"When it comes to global missions, denominations tend to be the tools used by local churches to get the global work done. Some level of cooperation between like-minded local churches is both unavoidable and beneficial for those who want to make an impact in a lost world."

Stetzer said as we proceed in the 21st century, one key characteristic of healthy denominations is methodological diversity. While denominations must maintain confessional uniformity, methodological diversity must also be allowed for the sake of cooperation in advancing the Gospel.

Southern Baptists can learn something from ‘doctrine-friendly' Emerging churches, Devine says

While some Emerging churches do not uphold basic Christian doctrines, others are doctrine-friendly and theologically-sound and from these Southern Baptists can learn and benefit, Mark DeVine said.

DeVine, associate professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School and a Ph.D. graduate from Southern Seminary, examined the role doctrine-friendly Emerging churches can play in the SBC.

DeVine said that perhaps the biggest potential contribution of doctrine-friendly Emerging churches to not only Southern Baptists, but all of North American Christianity, is their engagement with the multiple cultural sub-cultures that now make up the continent.

"No longer can Christian believers and would-be evangelists expect to encounter unbelievers with whom they share a deep, wide and rich cultural heritage across great swaths of geography," he said. "The cultural diversification occurring in North America matters for those who would see the Gospel advance. Culture profoundly affects the conveyance of meaning and the Gospel is a message with a meaning that must be conveyed in order to be believed."

DeVine said a failure to understand the culture in which we minister will result in a failure to communicate the Gospel. With the changing cultural landscape in America, he said Southern Baptists must view our own land as a mission field. And doctrine-friendly Emerging churches can help Southern Baptists reach this mission field.

"Where strong and deep theological affinity avails, let us be slow to view those with a jaundiced eye," DeVine said. "Let's do shared theology do its work and let's be patient with these men."

Wheaton president: SBC must become "less insular"

Duane Litfin, president of Wheaton College made three observations "as an outsider" looking in at the SBC regarding its future. First, he said Baptist polity is well positioned for the decline of denominationalism. Because Baptist ecclesiology prizes local church autonomy, the churches of the SBC are in a good position to maintain the strengths of their cooperation and leave behind areas of weakness.

Second, Litfin said shifts in denominationalism should force the SBC to become less insular. While the SBC has long been able to be insular, possessing its own colleges and universities, source of curriculum, retirement and investment agency and seminaries, shifts in denominationalism may require that the SBC work more with those outside the convention.

"I would encourage you to partner with whomever you can where you can without compromising the truth," Litfin said. "You can learn from others by hanging out with them and equally you can have a good influence by becoming a part of a broader conversation. Sitting in a catbird seat at Wheaton, I would say we need you. The broader evangelical world needs the voice of those in the SBC."

Third, Litfin said the SBC should not depend on evangelicalism as a movement. While he has not written off evangelicalism, Litfin recognizes that the movement may not be a viable option for conservative theologians in future years. Litfin exhorted Southern Baptists and all evangelicals to remain Word-centered.

"As an evangelical, I want to keep us anchored in the truth," he said. "Terms come and go and movements come and go. Stay Word-centered, Christ-centered, Gospel-centered. This is what will keep you useful to the Lord."

With reporting by Jeff Robinson, director of news and information at Southern Seminary; James A. Smith Sr., executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness; and Tim Ellsworth, director of news and media relations at Union University.

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SBTS chapel live blog: David Prince – 1 Peter 2:4-10

Preacher: David Prince, pastor of preaching and vision of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky.

Text/title: 1 Peter 2:4-10 - "Crying Stones or Whining Rocks? The Living Stone and the living stones."

Prince began by sharing the story of a middle school athlete. This athlete worked hard in practice, very hard, but never got to play in games. This student's mother sent a message to David Prince on Facebook: "Is it worth it for him play? He never gets to play: Is it worth it?"

Prince's answer: Team sports exist because everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

What is the goal? To win the game within the confines of the rules. And everyone has a unique role on the team trying to win the game within the confines of the rules. Thus: it is okay to sit the bench; so long as you are doing everything you can to maximize your ability.

Most of us are role players. Most of us are not in the spotlight. It is okay to be a role player if you are part of something bigger than yourself.

Setting of 1 Peter: Adopt a telescope view of suffering

Peter is writing to those undergoing suffering and persecution. It is not physical persecution yet, but they can feel it coming. They are known as traitors, as oddballs and they can sense that this thing is headed toward physical persecution. They are discouraged, confused, mocked, scorned and passed over. Many of them have lost their jobs. Many of them have families who have turned their backs on them. They are living lives of suffering and persecution scattered throughout Asia Minor.

Peter writes to these people, to these elect exiles, in the midst of this situation. Peter wants his audience to take a telescope and look at their lives and locate it in the midst of God's plan of redemption in the world.

In chapter 1, Peter speaks of sovereign grace. Peter speaks of an unfading inheritance. Peter reminds his audience that their suffering fits into the purposes of God. The prophets of God longed to experience the day you are experiencing, Peter said. Peter reminds them that their lives are attached to the Word of the Gospel.

Then Peter comes to chapter 2, and he reminds his audience that all of these blessings take place in the context of the believing community, of the church. You are part of something bigger than yourself.

Living stones (2:4-5)

Peter is picking up stone language (Is. 28:16, other texts) and applying it to Jesus. Peter does something interesting, calling Jesus a living stone. A stone in and of itself is cold, hard and of little value. The reference to a living stone, should remind us of 1 Peter 1:3, which speaks of a living hope. We have a living hope because Jesus has risen from the dead. Jesus is a living stone because He is resurrected from the dead.

As the Living Stone, Jesus was rejected. He was mocked, spat upon, ridiculed, rejected by men and killed. But He rose from the dead, bodily, because He was chosen by God, the Precious One, the Treasured One. He was the Living Stone that was promised of old.

This picture is painted for this purpose in v. 5: you yourselves, like living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.

Believers will undergo the same type of suffering that Jesus experienced. We are chosen and precious in Christ. We are not rejected by God, but precious to God. There is corporate imagery: we are living stones, not individual stones. You have to dismiss your idea of rugged individuality.

Notice also that Peter uses different imagery, different pictures (spiritual house, holy priesthood, living stones). Why does he do this? Because Christ fulfills all these realities and we are being built up into Christlikeness. Temple, priesthood, sacrificial system. God is doing all kinds of things into the world in Christ and you are connected to Him. You are connected to the sweep of redemptive history. Don't you dare think that God has forsaken you. He has connected you to redemptive history from beginning to end.

As I look out, I see a group of people who are going to be scattered throughout the whole world. And I wonder where you are going to get your sense of identity? You must find your identity in the unfolding plan and purposes of God or you will be swept away and destroyed. We must find our identity in the plan, privileges and purposes of God to be sustained.

You may not be applauded by men, but as long as you are obeying the Lord Jesus Christ, you can be a role player wherever He places you.

The Cornerstone (2:6-8)

Peter reminds his audience that they only way they will be safe is if they are protected by the Cornerstone, if they stand on the Cornerstone.

Peter will not relent in reminding his audience of the sovereignty of God. There is one verse in the Bible that tries to comfort people in light of the weakness of God. God is in control. He is unfolding His redemptive plan in history in the world. Everything ultimately is about Jesus Christ. Everything is in line or out of line in relation to Jesus Christ. Everything in the world and everything in the church.

Ministry is all about our lives and ministries lining up with the Cornerstone. We are not just those out doing good deeds, we are those who are out aligning our lives with the Cornerstone. And when we do that, there is an element of invincibility to our ministry.

Crying stones (2:10-11)

We are stones who cry out, proclaiming the greatness and mercies of God. We are stones who are God's own people, chosen by God, who proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

These are people who are suffering. They are outcasts. How does Peter counsel them? He tells them to look at their privileges and cry out in praise to God. He calls them, exhorts them, to consider what they are a part of.

The danger is that when we are out there serving and we do not get the church we want, or do not get our way on a particular issue in the church, we say, "This just isn't worth it anymore." When we do that, we turn our lives and ministries into something that is no bigger than us. We don't take into account the vast ministry of God in the cosmos through Christ. And when we do that we are less mature than the middle school football player who wants to stay on the team even though he doesn't get to play.

Whining, grumbling and complaining is not a bad habit, it is evil and satanic. It is anti-gospel. It is a repudiation of the privileges of the Gospel. When you grumble and complain, you are saying, "The Gospel isn't a privilege when I don't get my way." We are living stones, crying stones, not whining rocks.

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Oct. 26 Towers: SBC future conference at Union University; 3 questions with Danny Akin

The Oct. 26, 2009, issue of Towers (accessible online or via pdf) features coverage from Union University's Southern Baptists, Evangelicals and the Future of Denominationalism conference.

  • Southern Baptists must address "hard questions" Danny Akin says.
  • Next generation will shape the future of the Southern Baptist Convention, R. Albert Mohler Jr. says.
  • David Dockery and Ed Stetzer agree that the right kind of denomination will still have a place in the 21st century.
  • Danny Akin challenges Southern Baptist seminary students and pastors who might remain on the fringes to get involved in convention life in the 3 questions feature.

Russell D. Moore's inaugural article at the new Evangel blog at the First Things website is also featured as well as Southern Seminary graduate Owen Strachan's editorial: "You might be a bad dad, if..."

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SBTS chapel live blog: James Hamilton – 2 Samuel 11

Preacher: James Hamilton, associate professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary.

Text/title: 2 Samuel 11 - The wife of Uriah.

Hamilton prayed that no one in the room would fall to sexual immorality and adultery by the grace of God.

Our culture is awash in sexual immorality and adultery. Our culture celebrates these sins as though they are the path to the good life. But they are the path to destruction. We are weak, but God can deliver us. Owen wrote that even the best saints left to themselves will appear to be nothing. All of our strength is weakness and all of our wisdom is folly. The only way we can stand is by relying on God.

The temptations we face are more powerful than we are.

To overcome them, only the power of God through the Spirit applying the Word to us is sufficient to enable us to overcome temptation. We must know God as more pleasing than the temptations than we face to overcome them.

David, Bathsheba and Uriah

Hamilton said he could focus on many things in this text, including the redemptive plan of God with Bathsheba being in the line of Christ or God's great mercy, but today he wants to focus on David's response to Nathan and what we can learn as we fight temptation.

In 2 Samuel 7, God gives David astonishing promises. In 2 Samuel 8-10, David is seeking to cover the land with the glory of the Lord as the dry land covers the sin. Then comes David's sin with Bathsheba and Uriah in 2 Samuel 11. From there on out 2 Samuel is filled with sadness.

2 Samuel 11 tells us that in the spring, when kings go to battle, David did not go to battle. Instead, he sent Joab and David stayed at Jerusalem. Then David went up on the rooftop and at this point the battle was lost. David was perhaps coasting spiritually; He was not meditating on the text of Scripture. And he went up to the rooftop and Bathsheba happened to be there and David happened to see her.

Had David known about the devastating effects his sin with Bathsheba would have, he would not have done it. Our sinful desires make us stupid. This is not going to be a pleasant little fling David can have and then move on. This is going to wreck his life.

We should ask God to seal to our heart: our sins will find us out. We must not be deceived by the delay of God's justice. It will find us out.

Sins like this in the life of David are like going over the edge of the Grand Canyon. It is a rush when you go over, but then comes a devastating crash.

How are you doing with the edges in your life? Are you flirting with the edges? We need to not even go near the edge. We need to not say, "I wonder what is on TV?" We need to not get ourselves near the edges. We need to guard our lives and only go to places and only do things that promote godliness. I don't think most of us would have done any better than David did, once he saw Bathsheba bathing. The battle is won or lost before that moment.

We need to be wise, we need to be strategic, we need to think on these consequences before the moment comes, we need to think on the fact that we are free from bondage of sin in our life. We must rely on the power of God in our life by the Holy Spirit and know Him to be more pleasing to us. We need to see the consequences, the results, of meditating on the words in the text and the consequences of looking on Bathsheba bathing.

David has disregarded the law and gone over two precipices: adultery and murder.

If you feel like someone is pestering you about your Covenant Eyes report, about multiple conversations you are having with someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse, consider: maybe the Lord is working in your life through them.

Nathan fears God more than he fears David's reaction. Are there people in your lives who are willing to say to you: "You are the man?" You need people in your life like that.

One strategy the biblical author gives us for fighting temptation is rehearsing in our lives often the good works of God in our lives. We must rely on God by the power of His Spirit and believe God's promises. Believe statements like God saying He will meet all of our desires.

The weeds of lust don't thrive in the soil of thankful, worshipping, believing hearts.

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Mohler: Pray for GCR Task Force Meeting in Dallas/Ft. Worth

This article first appeared at www.conventionalthinking.org, which is the location for R. Albert Mohler Jr.'s articles on the Southern Baptist Convention.

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The Great Commission Task Force is gathering in Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex for important meetings as we continue the work assigned to us by the Southern Baptist Convention.  Please pray for the Task Force to be granted wisdom as we seek to discern what will help Southern Baptists to be more faithful in obeying the Great Commission.

On Tuesday we will be meeting with the majority of the Executive Directors of the state conventions for a very important session. Please pray that we will all hear each other, speak honestly to each other, and hold each other accountable to a Great Commission vision that will require the very best and the very most from all of us.

We face hard questions. Questions of finance and structure are secondary to the missional questions of reaching North America and the world beyond. We are living in a denominational house built long before the revolutions in transportation, communications, and geopolitics that have simultaneously made the world smaller and larger than ever before.

We are privileged to be able to ask these questions — and even to ask what questions we must ask. We are drowning in data.  Please pray that we will be led to the insights, judgments, and proposals that will best serve Southern Baptists as we face the future together.

I’ll report back as we make progress.

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