Posted by: Tim | April 18, 2011

Preaching the Cross

This past Sunday I preached a message giving 10 reasons why the Cross of Christ is the center of Christianity.  My voice was hurting, and it was by God’s grace that I made it through both services.

Here is the text of the sermon below. Click here for the mp3 sermon audio and here for the PDF sermon notes. As always, your feedback is welcome!

Introduction:   The Cross of Christ is the center of your faith

This week, we celebrate the week that changed the world. Starting with Jesus’ triumphant ride into Jerusalem, with the crowds praising His name, this week would be momentous in many ways.

It would contain some of Jesus’ greatest acts, including the washing of the disciple’s feet the cleansing of the temple, and the Last Supper.

It would contain some of Jesus’ greatest teachings, including that there is no way to God except through Him, that we are the branches that rely on Him as the vine for our provision, and His great High priestly prayer for His disciples. All of these took place in this great week that we are remembering, this Holy Week, leading up to Easter.

And while all of these events and teachings are great, and have had a lasting impact on human history, the greatest event of that week focuses on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Today we are looking at the cross of Jesus, and next week we will look at the resurrection of Jesus.

The Cross is very familiar to Christians, so well known, in fact, that it can be sometimes treated casually, as if it is something that we only remember once each year. Yet the cross is central to our faith. Without the cross, there is no Christianity. Jesus death for our sins is central to Christianity, central to all that the Bible teaches.

In fact, the cross is so central to our faith, that the Apostle Paul was able to say,

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:10 (see also 1 Cor 1:23)


 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.       Galatians 6:14

He said that he knew nothing when He preached in Corinth, “except Jesus Christ and him crucified”, and his only boast was “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Today we want to investigate why Paul said it was the heart of the Christian message, and why it was his only boast. We are going to look at ten reasons the Cross is the center of Christianity.

I want to start with the crucifixion account from Matthew’s gospel.

Matthew 27:33-54 (ESV) 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. 45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Let’s pray.

1. The Cross is the place where God shows His love for you

            Key Word: Love

The first reason that the cross is the center of the Christian faith is that the cross is the place where God shows His love for you. The key word here is love. Though you do not deserve God’s love, He gives it to you.

Romans 5:8 says,

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

By nature you are a sinner, someone who has rebelled against God. You are not deserving of God’s love; you are deserving of God’s wrath.

And yet instead of wrath, God shows love by sending His own Son to die for our sins.

But God does not show His love to you by cancelling His wrath, for sin still must be punished. God is loving, so He makes a way to save you, but He is also just, and He must punish sin.

2.The Cross is the place where God punishes Christ for your sins

Key Word: Substitionary Atonement – God sheds Jesus’ blood instead of yours

Key Word: Propitiation – God’s wrath is satisfied through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross

That reality leads us to the next reason why the cross is at the center of Christianity.

The Cross is the place where God punishes Christ for your sins. Let me say that again: God punishes Christ for your sins.

The key phrase here is substitutionary atonement. It means that God sheds Jesus blood instead of yours. Jesus is your substitute who pays the penalty for your sins.

Galatians 3:13 puts it this way:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”                Galatians 3:13

As a sinner you stand accursed under the law of God, for you are a law breaker, as is every person who has ever lived. But on the cross, Jesus Christ becomes accursed for you – He becomes ‘a curse for us’, the Scripture says.

Think of how terrible and awesome this is. The perfect Son of God, who had committed no sin, received the full force of the curse of God, because of your sin, because of my sin.

It is radically unfair, yet it shows the lengths that Jesus went to save us from our sins.

Another key word here is propitiation. Propitiation is theological term. It means that God’s wrath is satisfied through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. So God loves you enough to send Jesus, and He is just enough to fully satisfy His wrath for your sins. It is amazing grace that God would bring His love and wrath together like this at the cross. The prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus and He spoke of you in Isaiah 53:5 when He said,

…he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;    Isaiah 53:5

Jesus was crushed for our iniquities. Now listen to Romans 3:23-25

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Romans 3:23-25a

3. The Cross is the place where you are Identified with Christ

            Key Word: Identification

These verses bring us to the third reason why the cross is the center of Christianity.

The Cross is the place where you are identified with Christ. Not only is Christ a substitute for you, but you are actually identified with Him in His death, so that His death becomes your death, and His life becomes your life.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.    Galatians 2:20

 When a person becomes a Christian, there is a transformation of identity that takes place.  You are crucified with Christ. His death becomes your death. His life becomes your life.

 This identification with Christ is powerfully symbolized in the waters of baptism. When you go under the waters you die with Christ, you are buried with Christ, and then you are raised to new life with Christ.

 4. The Cross is the place where you are Redeemed

            Key Word: Redemption

The fourth reason that the cross is the center of Christianity is that it is the place where you are redeemed.  The key word here is redemption.

We have already talked about Christ’s death as our substitute, but now we focus on His death as a payment for your sins. He pays the price to buy you back for Himself, and the price is steep, it is His own blood.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us,                                                                                                                                  Ephesians 1:7-8a

Some of the great songs of the faith are about being redeemed. One such song is Fanny J. Crosby’s hymn, “Redeemed”

Redeemed how I love to proclaim it

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb

Redeemed through His infinite mercy

His child and forever I am

Do you sing enough about your redemption? It should produce a joy in your heart that makes you want to sing.

5. The Cross is the place where you are Reconciled to God and to one another

          Key Word: Reconciliation

The fifth reason the cross is the center of Christianity is because it is the place where you are reconciled to God and to one another. The key word here is reconciliation.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.                                                   Colossians 1:19-20

Your sin destroys your relationship with God, but Christ’s work on the cross restores that relationship, and so you can say that you are reconciled to God through Jesus’ blood. This reconciliation with God allows us to have reconciliation with one another as well.

So many people today are seeking peace on earth without seeking peace with God. And it doesn’t work. The only way to peace on earth is to have peace with God, which is made available through Jesus’ work on the cross.

6. The Cross is the Place where you are Justified

            Key Word: Justification

The sixth reason the cross is the center of Christianity is because the cross is the place where you are justified. The key word is justification.

Because Jesus has paid the penalty for your sins, because God has fully poured His wrath on Jesus, because you are identified with Christ on the cross, God can now justify you. That means that He declares you to be righteous in His sight. That is why you can be reconciled to Him, because He has declared you to be righteous. You can now have fellowship with Him, because of the righteousness of Jesus being identified with you.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:1

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.    Romans 5:9

We are justified by faith, by the blood of Jesus, and we are able to have peace with God.

So many people are running around today trying to justify themselves, instead of running to Jesus, who can justify a person by faith, as they trust in Him to save them from their sins. Maybe that describes you, seeking to justify yourself by your own good works, rather than trusting in Jesus to justify you by His perfect life and sacrificial death on your behalf. You can stop the running by trusting in Jesus and His work on the cross to justify you, by His shed blood.

7. The Cross is the place of your weakness and humility, but it points to your place of power and glory in Christ

            Key Words: Humility and Exaltation

The next reason why the cross is the center of Christianity presents a paradox.

The cross is the place of your weakness and humility, but it points to your place of power and glory in Christ.

The cross is a picture of weakness and humility, or as a famous old hymn said, the cross is “the emblem of suffering and shame” (The Old Rugged Cross). 

In a world filled with pride and self-promotion, the cross is a radical symbol, that speaks of being laid as low as low can be. Yet that is what Christ did, though He was the highest of all, He made Himself the lowest of all, that God might exalt Him again to His rightful place. Paul describes Jesus this way in Philippians 2:8-9

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,     Philippians 2:8-9

It was bad enough that the Son of God would be humiliated in death, but how much more so that He would be humiliated by death on a cross, a cruel form of capital punishment used on common criminals, and a form of punishment described in the Old Testament as a curse, with Jesus being hung on that tree.

And yet it was through that humiliation that God exalted Jesus, to sit at His right hand, to be the name exalted above every other name, the name at which every knee will bow and every tongue confess. That is why the key words are humility and exaltation.

There is a lesson here for you.

The reason many people do not come to the cross is because they would have to humble themselves, admit they are a sinner, and trust in Jesus instead of in themselves. That act of humility stands in opposition to their pride. That show of weakness stands in opposition to their personal need to show strength.

A number of years ago I heard Stuart Briscoe speak in Toronto at The Peoples Church. My memory is fading of the event, but I seem to remember Briscoe quoting the dramatic words of Donald Grey Barnhouse, which I think he said were spoken at a Keswick Conference decades ago. Whether the details are all still correct in my memory I can’t be certain, but I do remember the essence of the quote: “The way to UP…is DOWN!” The cross is the picture of this truth, that the way to up is indeed down.

It is true for Jesus and it is true for you:

For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.   2 Corinthians 13:4

Your strength is most seen in your weakness. Your glory is most seen in your shame. The way to up is down.

8. The Cross is the Place of your Triumph in Christ

            Key Word: Victory

This leads us to the eighth reason why the cross is the center of Christianity. The cross is the place of your triumph in Christ. The key work here is victory.

One of the best things about being a Christian is that you win. I don’t know many people who like being on the losing team (OK except for Oilers and Leaf fans), but with Christ, you win. The cross is the place of triumph.

 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.            Colossians 2:13-14

That is why we sing the old hymn, Victory in Jesus (E.M. Bartlett)

Victory in Jesus

My Saviour Forever

He sought me and bought me

With His redeeming blood

He loved me ‘ere I knew Him

            And all my love is due Him

            He plunged me to victory

Beneath the cleansing flood.

The cross is the place of victory and it should make you want to sing!

9. The Cross is the Place of your Salvation

            Key Word: Salvation

The ninth reason why the cross is the center of Christianity is because the cross is the place of your salvation. The key word here is salvation.

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.   Romans 5:9-11

Your salvation is in Jesus Christ – all the things we have talked about today, love, substitutionary atonement, propitiation, identification, redemption, reconciliation, justification, humility and exaltation, victory – all of these things point to your salvation.

Jesus’ death on the cross makes a way for you to be saved and live forever with Jesus in Heaven. It makes a way for you to have spiritual life here and now.

And if you are trusting in Jesus Christ as your Saviour, that is cause for great rejoicing. But if you have never trusted in Jesus, then today is your day to come to the cross, ‘the emblem of suffering and shame,’ the place where God’s love is shown for sinners, the place where Jesus can save you.

You come to the cross in humility, asking God to forgive your sins and save you. When you come to Him in faith like that, He will save you, and you will be identified with Him. He will forgive your sins and declare you righteous in His sight.

You can trust in Jesus today by praying and asking Him to save you. I am inviting you to do that today.  [Note: If you are reading this on my blog, you can email me to talk more about trusting Christ, through the email tims (@) look (.) ca – (remove the brackets from my email address, I included them to avoiding the spam-bots) ]

10. The Cross is the Place of your Obedience by Faith

            Key Phrase: The Cross-Centered Life

There is one more reason why the cross is the center of Christianity. The cross is the place of your obedience by faith.  Perhaps some of you today are thinking that this message has been a ‘nice reminder’ about the cross.

It is far more than a nice reminder. It is your call to walk in light of the cross.

Jesus said,

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  Luke 9:23


Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.    Luke 14:27

Sometimes I think that Christians see the cross only as a starting point for the Christian life. But it is more than a starting point, for you must continue to live in light of the cross, in light of God’s great mercy in saving you, and giving you new life in Him. God is continuing to work in us and grow us to more like Jesus, and we are able to obey through faith in Jesus who gives us the strength to live the Christian life.

Pastor C.J. Manahey has written a book called The Cross-Centered Life, and in it he challenges Christians to live with the cross in mind every day.

Let me ask you, do you think about the cross everyday?

Mahaney suggests five practical steps to help you (they are written on the back page of your sermon notes, question #3)

1. Memorize the gospel – recite some of the great verses about the cross each day (you can start with verses in today’s sermon notes!)

2. Pray the gospel – Talk to God about the gospel and thank Him for His amazing grace in saving you from your sins through Christ’s death on the cross.

3. Sing the gospel – Have music in your life that centers on the gospel and praise God through it – whether it is your own music or a great worship CD (some are better than others!)

4. Review how the gospel has changed you – Recall regularly how you once were in your sin, (like Paul does in Scripture – ‘chief of sinners’) and rejoice in what you now are, in Christ through the cross

5. Study the gospel – Read and re-read Galatians and Romans. Read good books about the gospel (such as C.J. Mahaney’s The Cross Centered Life, L.E. Maxwell’s Born Crucified (aka Embraced by the Cross) )

(Source: Mahaney, C.J., The Cross Centered Life, Multnomah, Colorado Springs, 2002, pp56-69.)

I doubt you can think about the cross enough, for the Cross of Christ is indeed the center of Christianity. This Easter, make sure you are living the cross-centered life.

© Tim Strickland, 2011 – All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

To learn more about the ESV, please visit

Posted by: Tim | March 26, 2011

Future Things Reading List

During the past few months I have been preaching an End Times Series called “Future Things”. I put together a list of book titles that I have found helpful in my studies. Here are some recommended books with some brief comments.


The Dictionary of Pre-Millennial Theology by Mal Couch – This is a dispensational/pre-trib book that gives a good understanding of the rapture from this perspective.

A Case for Historic Pre-Millennialism by Craig Blomberg and Sung Wook Chan – This book was produced out of a conference at Denver Seminary and has contributions from faculty. It contains some good essays providing a counterbalance to the dispensational pre-mill perspective.

The Blessed Hope by George Eldon Ladd – Ladd’s book is a classic defense of the post-tribulation rapture and points out flaws in the pre-tribulation position.

Three Views of the Rapture by Archer, Feinberg and Moo – The scholars in this book are top drawer and provide excellent essays and counterpoints in the standard format of this genre of books. The introductory historical essay is especially helpful. As I recall, all three scholars are from the Evangelical Free Church whose statement of faith includes (or at least it used to include) the word ‘imminent’ to describe Jesus’ return – makes for an interesting discussion. The picture of the empty shoes on the front cover is also a nice touch!

The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthal – Rosenthal opens the book by telling the story of how he lost his position as head of Friends of Israel over his rapture position change – a very interesting story! – and then makes a compelling, almost-convincing case for the pre-wrath rapture position. Through informal conversation I have found that there are people out there who quietly find this position worth a look.

The Millennium

A Case for Amillennialism by Kim Riddlebarger – This book is a solid presentation of the Amillennial position. You can read my full review here.

Systematic Theology chapter 55, by Wayne Grudem – Grudem provides a helpful overview of the millennial positions and argues for historic pre-millennialism. Grudem is also helpful on the Rapture, Judgment, Heaven and Hell.

“Wonders of the Millennium” by Oswald J. Smith. This is an old sermon preached by this great missionary statesman around 1973. It has an interesting prophetic note in predicting the return of Russian Jews to Israel, many years before it happened.

Heaven and Hell

Heaven by Randy Alcorn – A lot of people have been blessed by this book, and I would add myself to that list!

Hell Under Fire by Christopher Morgan –  This book contains a collection of essays dealing with the Biblical doctrine of Hell. It addresses universalism and annihilationism. Contributors include J.I. Packer and Al Mohler. I read portions of it, including an excellent essay by the editor, Christopher Morgan

Four Views on Hell by Walvoord, Hayes and Pinnock – This book follows the format of this genre of books – essay and brief responses from other essay writers. I only scanned and read a bit of it, but it was helpful to understand the different viewpoints.



Grant Osborne’s commentary in the Baker Exegetical Series

Robert Thomas’ Two Volume commentary

Steve Gregg’s four parallel views commentary –  It provides an interesting read as it shows futurist, historic, spiritual and preterist views in parallel columns. Gregg was a charismatic dispensationalist who seems to have changed his mind!

Robert Mounce’s commentary in the NICNT seriesMatthew

D.A. Carson’s commentary in the Expositor’s Commentary Series is helpful, like everything else he writes!


Finally, while all these resources help, they won’t get you far unless you become familiar with the important prophetic texts of the Bible:


1-2 Thessalonians (esp 1 Thess 4-5, 2 Thess 1-2)

Matthew 24-25

Daniel (esp 7-12)

2 Peter 3

Zechariah 14

Various passages in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel

1 Corinthians 3 on Judgment

1 Corinthians 15 on rapture and resurrection

Many individual passages throughout the Bible (I know that isn’t too helpful but I’m out of time for now and if you follow the cross references on the passages listed above you’ll find some more!)



Posted by: Tim | November 15, 2010

“Contradictions” in the Bible

Click here for an excellent article by Matt Perman on alleged contradictions in the Bible.

(h/t Tim Challies)

I wrote an article about the same subject about a year ago. I’ve pasted an excerpt below, and you can read the whole thing by clicking here.


In my own reading and study of the Bible, I have had questions and come across things that initially appeared to be contradictions. Sometimes I have been able to find a solution through further Bible study, prayer, and common sense. At other times I have used the work of scholars who have researched the question or alleged contradiction in detail.  Time after time, my confidence in the Bible has been justified as I have found good answers that give reasonable explanations.

Maybe you have questions about the Bible, or concerns about alleged contradictions. I encourage you to investigate your concerns, and if you would like some help finding answers, I welcome your questions. I think you will find that there are good answers, and that the Bible is indeed reliable. You may also discover the transforming power of God’s Word, and your life may never be the same.

At the beginning of 2010 I preached a 17 part expository series through the book of Exodus, focusing on spiritual life lessons from the life of Moses. I am posting the sermon mp3’s and notes along with a brief description of each message, as I did with the Judges series in a post a few months back. I hope it will be a blessing to you!

1. Exodus 1-2 The Birth of Moses mp3 audio & pdf notes.  This is the introductory sermon that introduces the series and sets up the story, showing Israel in slavery, the birth of Moses, the attempt by Moses to save Israel and the retreat to Midian. It ends with a note of hope, with God knowing Israel’s suffering, and preparing to act.

2. Exodus 3:1-9 The Burning Bush mp3 audio & pdf notes. I had intended to preach the whole of chapter 3 but had to stop after the first 9 verses, with so much to say about Moses’ first encounter with God at the burning bush.

3. Exodus 3:10-24 Who am I? and Who are you? mp3 audio & pdf notes.  This message ended up being one of the most significant in the series for me. I have preached all or part of it three or four times now, and will probably preach it again as it hits a central spiritual truth for anyone who wants to see God work in his life.

4. Exodus 4:1-17 Please Send Someone Else mp3 audio & pdf notes. We see ourselves in the mirror as Moses tries to get out of God’s commission.

5. Exodus 4:18-31 The Obedience of Faith mp3 audio & pdf notes. Moses finally leaves Midian for Egypt. Along the way, a strange event happens.

6. Exodus 5-6 Let My People Go! mp3 audio & pdf notes. Moses finally appears before Pharaoh, who speaks what I think is the central question of the book of Exodus: “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice…?”

7. Exodus 7:1-8:19 This is the Finger of God mp3 audio & pdf notes. This message focuses on the first three plagues.

8. Exodus 8:20-10:29 The Awesome Power of God mp3 audio & pdf notes. This message looks at plagues six through nine. It is interesting to see how the plagues made utter mockery of the gods of Egypt.

9. Exodus 11:1-13:16 The Passover mp3 audio & pdf notes. It worked out that I was able to preach the message on the Passover on Easter Sunday.

10.  Exodus 13:17-15:21 Crossing the Red Sea mp3 audio & pdf notes. Pharoah just won’t quit, to the point of his own demise at the hand of God, in this message about one of the most famous miracles of the Bible.

11. Exodus 15:22-17:7 Manna and Water mp3 audio & pdf notes. After the great salvation at the Red Sea, Israel experiences a time of testing. Note the parallels with John 6 (Feeding of the Five Thousand and the Jesus as the Bread of Life).

12. Exodus 18:1-27 Sharing the LORD and Sharing the Load mp3 audio & pdf notes.   Moses’ father-in-law Jethro comes to visit the camp of Israel. He makes a public declaration of allegiance to the LORD and then offers some practical wisdom to Moses.

13. Exodus 19:1-25 At the Mountain of God mp3 audio & pdf notes. Israel meets with the LORD, who is awesome and terrifying,  at the base of Mount Sinai. As New Testament believers, we live at Mount Zion, not Mount Sinai. You’ll have to check out the message to find out what that means!

14. Exodus 20:1-17 The Ten Commandments mp3 audio & pdf notes. The LORD gives Israel the Ten Commandments. This is a sermon that talks about law and grace, in its overview of the Ten Commandments.

15. Exodus 25-31, 35-40 The Tabernacle mp3 audio & pdf notes. The LORD gives Moses the pattern for building the Tabernacle, in great detail. This sermon deals with the spiritual significance of the Tabernacle and how it foreshadows the work of Christ.

16. Exodus 32:1-35 The Golden Calf mp3 audio & pdf notes. Moses comes down from the mountain to find Israel worshiping a golden calf. Moses intercedes before the LORD on behalf of Israel. There is a powerful picture of the need for atonement, and Moses’ well meaning offer to make atonement for the people.

17. Exodus 33-34, 40:33-40 Show me Your Glory mp3 audio & pdf notes. This is the final message in the Moses series. It reaches one of the high points of the whole Bible in Exodus 34:6-8 where the LORD shows Moses His glory, which is comprised of His Name and His character. This passage is vital for understanding the nature of the LORD who we worship, for it tells us what He is like.

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Posted by: Tim | September 20, 2010

Tough Questions for Christianity

Just click the title to go directly to the article, and feel free to leave comments:

#1 Isn’t it arrogant for someone to say they have the absolute truth about God?

#2 How can a thinking person believe in God?

#3 Why would a good God allow suffering?

#4 Don’t all religions basically say the same thing?

#5 Isn’t the Bible a human book full of contradictions and errors?

#6 Did the miracles of the Bible really happen?

#7 Is it reasonable to believe in the resurrection?

#8 Is Creation Consistent with Science?

#9 Was Jesus Really God?

#10 Why Become a Christian when so many are Hypocrites?

In the fall of 2009 I wrote a series of articles in the Three Hills Capital addressing tough questions for Christianity. I think these questions are as relevant as ever and I have created this blog entry to provide a central link to all of the articles.

Posted by: Tim | September 12, 2010

Study Bible Survey

One of the most useful Bible study tools is a good study Bible. I have owned several of them in my lifetime and will give a brief survey below.

1) ESV Study Bible: I think this is the best one. period. Filled with colour maps, pictures, great book introductions and great notes, this study Bible is the one to get right now if you are in the market for one.  The ESV is an excellent translation and the team who produced the study Bible notes is first rate.  It even comes with free access to the online ESV Study Bible. I have asked and received permission from Crossway (the publisher) to use the pictures on the screen in sermons, which has been very helpful at times. You simply will not go wrong with this one. If there is one possible complaint – this Bible is thick and heavy!

2) Reformation Study Bible: This is my current preaching Bible and before the ESV Study Bible was released, it would have been my top recommendation. The notes are just excellent – how many times I am reading the Bible and some obscure ancient town or country is mentioned, and sure enough, the Ref. Study Bible has a note explaining it. It is published by Ligonier Ministries (R.C. Sproul & co), and has a group of contributors which includes one of my former profs from Tyndale Seminary, the late Don Leggett. Just one theological note: you don’t have to be a strongly reformed as R.C Sproul to appreciate the notes, but there is definitely a strong reformed bent in the notes. My Ref. Study Bible is in the ESV.

3) MacArthur Study Bible: If you want to know what John MacArthur has to say about a passage of the Bible, then this is the study Bible for you. I have found it helpful when I want some commentary on a book of the Bible that I don’t have a full length commentary on. It helps to know MacArthur’s theological bent – calvinist, dispensational, pre-tribulationist, conservative, baptist – when you are reading it, but it is still very solid. I don’t currently own a copy of this study Bible and I have not read enough of it to make more comments, but my general impression is good and I plan to get a copy of the latest ESV edition. It also comes in the NASB, and I think the NKJV translations.

4) NET Bible: The NET Bible is dynamic equivalent translation (something like the NIV, less literal than ESV, more literal than NLT) that is filled with translator’s notes as its major feature. The scholarship is first rate, and the translation is good, even if you prefer a more or less literal translation. This is a great study Bible for pastors and scholars, or someone with some Bible training. You can get a hard copy (I own a Beta version of the NET Bible) but it is also available for free online at I mainly use the copy that comes with Bibleworks.

5) NIV Application Study Bible: A lot of people own this study Bible, but I did not find it to be the best. It has been a long time since I used it, but my impression was that the notes are more opinionated than informative, though like I say, it’s been a while and this is just my impression from years ago.

6) NIV Study Bible: I don’t use this study Bible very much but my past impression was that it was solid, but just doesn’t compare with the ESV Study Bible or Reformation Study Bible.

7) NIV Thompson Chain Reference Bible: This one isn’t really a study Bible, but a Bible with a collection of chain references on many Biblical topics. It was my first high quality Bible and it has a special place in my heart! It is useful for finding verses on a specific topic, but I would tend to use the electronic version in Bibleworks before the physical copy. There were some really interesting notes (I remember the archaeological notes and pictures) in the back that kept me company in boring situations when I was younger.

So there you have it. These are the Study Bibles I have owned. What about you? What study Bibles have you owned and what are your favourites?

Posted by: Tim | September 11, 2010

Bad Arguments

Kevin DeYoung has a great post today about bad arguments that we hear all too often. You can read it by clicking here.

DeYoung is a pastor and author – I have read three (2 1/2 to be precise) of his books. All are worth reading. Here’s a brief overview:

Why We’re Not Emergent by two guys who should be, coauthored by Ted Kluck – a great book looking at the problems with the emergent church movement (which seems to have fizzled).

Just Do Something This book is about ‘finding God’s will for your life’, and as the title suggests, he doesn’t recommend a passive approach! It’s a relatively short book and I highly recommend it for anyone who has questions about God’s will.

Why We Love the Church – This is the one I’ve 1/2 read – sooner or later I hope to finish it. But what I have read is good – it is a response to a recent stream of books that take shots at the church. It is again co-authored with Ted Kluck, and while they don’t pretend the church is perfect, they make a great case not giving up on her.

I’m sure you can find these books at Kevin’s blog, and probably by looking on or as well.

H/T to Darryl Dash for the link to the Bad Arguments post. Darryl has a weekly feature called Saturday links, and I find that there is always something good to read in them.

Posted by: Tim | September 1, 2010

Book Review: A Case for Historic Premillennialism

If you’ve watched the old Spiderman cartoons, you know that he talks to himself a lot. Often some supervillain will gas him or poison him or somehow make him dizzy, and he then says something like this: “Losing…consciousness….must….keep…going”…at this point he either makes it out or collapses (to somehow make it out later).

For most people, a blog post titled “Book Review: A Case for Historic Premillennialism” (CfHPM, edited by Craig Blomberg and Sung Wook Chung), produces that same numbing response as supervillian gas, so if you’ve read this far and you’re still conscious, you might as well keep reading. But unlike the supervillain poisin, CfHPM is actually a very good book on an important area of Biblical eschatology (end times). It is a collection of essays by instructors at Denver Seminary about, you guessed it, Historic Premillennialism. I picked up at the seminary bookstore when I was down in Denver in July, and read it in just a few days, as it is well written, insightful, and held my attention.

Historic Premillennialism (HPM) is a view of the future that understands the Bible to teach that Christ will return and usher in a 1000 year age of peace, called the millennium (I think that one of the end scenes of Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, where Aragorn is crowned king in the White City, gives an interesting picture of how I could imagine the beginning of the millennium, with Christ (not Aragorn!) being crowned king in Jerusalem (not Minas Tirith) ). HPM is to be distinguished from Dispensational Premillennialism, which usually holds that the church will be raptured at the beginning of the seven year tribulation (though it should be noted that some people hold to mid- or post-tribulational timing for the rapture, but are still dispensational), and then Christ will return to set up the millennial kingdom at the end of the tribulation.

CfHPM starts with an interesting essay by Tim Weber looking at the development of historic and dispensational premillennial thought.  As an aside, I appreciated his mention of post-tribulationalist Oswald J. Smith, founder of The Peoples Church, Toronto, the church I grew up in. I would have assumed Dr. OJ Smith was a dispensational post tribulationalist, not HPM, but maybe I’m wrong. I have an old OJ Smith sermon mp3 somewhere about the wonders of the millennium – I think it is the kind of popular level treatment that premillennialism needs as it is so rarely talked about in church.

I also really appreciated Donald Fairbairn’s essay studying the history of eschatological thought in the first centuries of the church. Fairbairn makes a strong case that the early church assumed the HPM position (this is why the term “historic” is attached to the HPM view).

Essays by Craig Blomberg and Sung Wook Chung (who are the co-editors of the book) also stood out to me as highlights, particularly Chung’s argument that Reformed Theology fits well with HPM.

There were two main weaknesses that I observed. The first was the overemphasis on responding to “Left Behind” eschatology (the popularized version of Dispensational Pre-Millennialism).  It seemed to me that much of the engagement was with popular level dispensational eschatology, rather than with some of the Dispensational Pre-Mill scholars. It is my opinion that “Left Behind” is just too easy a target for scholars of the calibre represented in CfHPM.

The second weakness was the lack of significant discussion about the relationship between Israel and the church in HPM. It seems to me that a person could hold to HPM and still see a distinct future for Israel.

Overall this book is a helpful, up-to-date contribution to the millennial debate. While it would have needed to be at least double the size to make a more complete case for HPM, it does a good job of presenting some solid scholarship and fresh thinking on the subject.

In fact it’s good enough to get your spider-sense tingling…

Recommended, but only if you have some background in eschatology – this is not a popular level introduction to HPM.

Of related interest: I reviewed Kim Riddlebarger’s “A Case for Amillennialism” here.

Blomberg, Craig, Chung, Sung Wook, A Case for Historic Premillennialism, Baker, Grand Rapids, 2009, 184 pages.

Posted by: Tim | August 23, 2010

I’m (finally) on Facebook

Well, I finally took the plunge and joined Facebook today. Carol’s been at it for a while but I’ve resisted signing up, until now.

So far it’s been fun! I’ve reconnected with some old friends and saw some old pictures that made me smile.

I’ve also linked this blog to my facebook page and now the posts will show up there as well as here.

And I’ve also figured out why everyone is so ‘busy’ these days. Everyone is on facebook all night posting pictures and playing Farmville. I guess if they buy some sheep and goats it could be spiritually educational?!

And I wonder if they have a ‘Churchville’ game….Better go check my facebook and find out.

I haven’t been much into social media sites, unless you count my relatively infrequent posts on this blog. I don’t have a Facebook account, I don’t really know why anyone would care what I am tweeting (“Im @ the mall” “Im @ the dentist”, “I 8 breakfast” etc…) and I don’t know much about all the other social media sites out there.

But the other day, I was talking to my brother Scott, and he told me about Empire Avenue, a new social media site (based out of Edmonton, interestingly enough). I think it has potential to be the next big thing.

Empire Avenue blurs the lines between a game and reality (to quote Bono “where fact is fiction, and MTV reality”). It is a virtual stock market, but the commodity being traded is you. As I understand it, your stock value rises and falls based on your social media influence. For example if you have a popular blog, a lot of facebook friends, and lots of people subscribing to your tweets, you could have a high value stock on Empire Avenue. People on the site can buy and sell your stock based on how they perceive the value of your influence.

It has the effect of putting a value on your online influence. In short, it democratizes the ability to earn income based on personal influence. In the past, you had to be a celebrity or have some critical mass of influence in order for someone to pay you to promote their product. Think of any commercial with a celebrity being paid big bucks to shill for them, and now think of how much they would pay you to do it – of course they just wouldn’t, because most people are not known beyond their limited circle of family and friends. But now, anyone with a following in some niche market can have a value placed on their influence, and thus be paid to advertise based on the value of their influence.

I think this concept is incredibly powerful, and a potential game changer.

Click here to take a look at Empire Avenue.

Click here to read my brother Scott’s article on Empire Avenue at his blog.

What do you think of the concept of Empire Avenue?

How do you think it could be used for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

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