This Sunday is sometimes called “Christ the King Sunday.” It commemorates especially the kingdom of God and the kingship of Christ. Originally it was meant to emphasize the unique nature of Christ’s kingdom. That kingdom is not of this world, and thus it transcends racial, ethnic, and national boundaries. All Christians have a shared citizenship, the citizenship which is in heaven. But this can be and has been misunderstood over the years. What does it mean for Christ to be our king? Does it mean that we cannot have any other earthly kings? What does it mean for our citizenship to be in heaven? We will turn our attention to this question with our text this morning, and we will see that the apostle Paul connects our heavenly citizenship with the future resurrection of the body and glorification of all things.
Our Citizenship is in Heaven
The Apostle Paul says that the Christian has an alternative citizenship to that of this world. This alternative citizenship is in the kingdom of heaven. “For our citizenship is in heaven” (3:20). Earlier in Philippians he had also said, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27). The English expression “let your conduct be” is a translation of a Greek variation of the term πολιτευμα which means citizenship. He is thus telling us to live like a citizen of the gospel, like a citizen of heaven. Continue reading →
Today we come to one of those passages which all respectable pastors try their best to avoid. The biblical teachings on matters relating to the end times are tricky enough on their own, but these days bible teachers have to overcome the sensationalism of Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye, and, believe it or not, Nicholas Cage. It would be so much easier (and better for my ego) to just not talk about this kind of thing.
But alas, if one commits to preaching through the Bible and not simply skipping the verses he doesn’t like, then he is going to have to talk about these sorts of things from time to time. Now, contrary to many folks’ assumptions today, the Bible does not say all that much about “the antichrist.” The word itself only appears 4 times, always in John’s writings, and while the concept is a little broader, it only occurs a handful of times. It is certainly not a major theme. Still, it does appear, and our sermon text happens to bring us to one such instance. John says that he is writing in “the last hour,” and just as his audience has heard that the Antichrist will come, he is telling them that many antichrists have already come. Continue reading →
Today we’re going to cover what is perhaps the most popular carol, “Joy to the World.” But did you know that it actually isn’t a Christmas carol at all? Written by Isaac Watts, “Joy to the World” originally appeared in his 1719 The Psalms of David, and it was Watts’s unique take on Psalm 98. The full title of Watts’s song book is The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship, which sounds like a noble effort, but in reality most of the words bear only a slight resemblance to the Biblical text. Watts began his project in a time when many Puritans only allowed for the use of the Psalms in worship music (no other songs of any kind), and his title makes it clear that the goal was to “Christianize” the psalms, making the person of the Savior explicit. In retrospect, Watts actually managed to supplant the use of Psalms in worship altogether, as most of his hymns are paraphrases at best and their popularity cleared the way for even less-textually based worship songs in the future. As an extended result, there aren’t many psalm-singing churches left at all, not even among the Presbyterians. But that is another conversation for a less happy occasion. Today we’ll stick to the fun stuff. Continue reading →
Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Joseph died in Egypt, prior to arriving in the land to which he and his fathers had been promised. He did not view his death as the end, however, but rather commanded that his body been transported to the Promised Land. The Israelites did this in Exodus 13:19, and when read in light of the argument of Hebrews 11, the idea is clear: Joseph’s body was to be placed in the new earth. The Israelites, carrying a body, long deceased, with them for forty years would have had much time to consider the implications of this act. Continue reading →
Saying “postmillennialism is the gospel” strikes many as an exaggerated rhetorical statement. And on some levels it may be. However, the basic sentiment that goes by the term “postmillennialism” today is that all of the nations of the world will be made holy prior to the consummation of the current time-space situation ie. before Jesus comes back.
This is what Abraham was called to believe in, and it is what the apostles preached all throughout the book of Acts. What the New Perspective on Paul has sometimes failed to do is connect the Jew and Gentile relations in Pauline literature with the larger Old Testament promises.
It was always God’s plan to have a glorified creation. This is, after all, why he created Eve. The fact that God did not abandon his creation is testified to in the incarnation, and the fact that He will not discard his creation and start anew is testified to in the resurrection of Jesus.
And so away with invisible remnant religions! Away with anti-cultural quietists! Away with forensomonism!