Sunday, April 30, 2006

Together for the Gospel Part 1

The epic conference was really good. I really enjoyed being with 2,000 of my fellow brothers in Christ, who are so committed for the gospel of Christ. Here’s a belief summary of what I learned from each of the speakers:

Mark Dever – “The Pastor’s Understanding of His Own Role”

Using 1 Corinthians 4, Dever taught that a real minister has 3 marks: 1) a person with a cross-center message 2) a person with a cross-centered life 3) a person who has a cross-centered followers

Dever’s message reminds me that my ministry is a gift from God, who is my master and judge.

Ligon Duncan – “Preaching from the Old Testament”

Duncan taught us the importance of understanding and teaching the OT Testament and he gives 8 points on how to do it:

  1. Preach the OT has a Christian book
  2. Preach expository
  3. Preach Christ
  4. Preach that there is one plan of redemptive history
  5. Preach grace
  6. Preach Character of God
  7. Preach Experientially
  8. Preach for the Christian life (moral law/3 rd use of the law)

Al Mohler – “Preaching with the Culture in View”

Mohler reminds us that culture isn’t irrelevant, but as teachers of God’s word, we shouldn’t be too embedded in it. Mohler also reminds the audience that we should engage in the culture always with the mind and mission to make known the gospel of Christ.

Mohler also describes our culture as: 1) seeking self-fulfillment 2) being self-sufficient 3) self-defined 4) self-absorbed 5) self-transcendent 6) self-enhanced and 7) self-secured.

R.C. Sproul – “The Center of Christian Preaching: Justification by Faith”

Dr. Sproul gave a passionate and heart-felt plea to church leaders to remain firm and faithful to the doctrine of justification. Dr. Sproul reinforces the need to hold on to the doctrine of justification (faith alone) by reminding and analyzing for us theCatholic’s view of justification (faith + works).

John Piper – “Why Expositional Preaching is Particularly Glorifying to God”

Dr. Piper talk was awesome. I’ll write a full article about it later.

C.J. Mahaney – “Watch Your Life and Doctrine”

I thanked God that C.J. was at the conference. He really made the conference fun and exciting with all his clever and funny comments. (You really had to be there to understand why he made the conference so special).

CJ spoke about how church leaders need to watch their life and doctrine, reminding them with 1Timothy 4, that the consequence of this, is salvation for the minister and his congregation (there is an eternal consequence).

John MacArthur – “40 Years of Gospel Ministry”

Dr. MacArthur spoke from his heart about his experiences at Grace Community Church. I loved it when he shared about how bad his preaching was during his early years in ministry, it was so bad that one of his professor, who MacArthur truly admired, wrote “YOU MISSED THE WHOLE POINT” on a piece paper given to him after his sermon. These and other stories really gave me a better perspective on this godly man. If you’re a MacArthur fan, you need to get a copy of his talk.

Monday, April 24, 2006

"God Creates the Universe": Reflection on Heb. 11:1-3

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. - Heb. 11:1-3

God Creates the Universe

In verse 3, the writer of Hebrews states that when Christians see the universe they understand that it was created by God.

Difference in Belief

So how come a Christian can see that the universe was created by the God of the Bible, but most non-Christians can't?

Here are some reasons why:

1. God has revealed this truth in His authoritative Word (the Bible)

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him (Col. 1:15-16)

2. God has opened the Christian's eye and heart to see and love the truth about the world through the Bible and the Holy Spirit

14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16"For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. ( 2 Corinthians 2:14-15)

3. Nonbelievers are still enslaved by their sins, thus they suppress the truth about God

19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, (Romans 1:19-22)

Blind Faith?

If this is so, is the Christian faith one that is "blind", that is, is a Christian irrational for believing in biblical truths about the world, like intelligent design?

I don't think so, because there is nothing irrationally for a person to trust in a God, who is invisible (1), all-knowing and all-powerful (Romans 11), who has made himself know through Jesus Christ (Heb. 1), who died on a cross and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15) and has been changing the hearts of people in the past and the present through the Holy Spirit (Heb.11).

But in fact, to take a set of facts and observations from the world, and draw from them a conclusion( 2) of the nonexistence of God is a greater leap of "faith" than a Christian that trusts in a God, who has revealed himself in history, the world, and in the Bible.


(1) "The conviction of the unseen" in verse 1, isn't saying that the Christian faith excludes all visible evidences, but that their ultimate trust in the unseen future is in a living God, who is personally invisible, but his works have been and are being seen through history, the world, and the Bible.

(2) All conclusions from observing facts and evidences are opinions, that is, there is a subjective component to all human deductions, therefore an atheistic scientist can not say they are being "objective" and a Christian is being "subjective" but both are subjective in that the Christian has adopted a Christian worldview through the Bible and Holy Spirit (See Point #2) and the nonbeliever is still subjected to his/her "fleshly" worldvew (See Point #3).

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Together for the Gospel

Every year, 4 sporting events get me really excited; 1. Opening Day of NBA 2. NBA All-Star Weekend 3. NCAA March Madness 4. NBA Playoffs.

Next Wednesday to Friday, I will be attending an event that has gotten me as excited as all these basketball events and maybe even a little bit more, that is, I am going to “ Together for the Gospels Conference” in Louisville, Kentucky.

The event has an All Star line-up with, CJ Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, and PIPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPERRRRRR.

For more info. see:

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Christian Activism?

Should the church be engaged in social activism?

1. Michael Horton is against social activism for the church.


2. John Frame responds to Michael Horton's article, with an appeal for social activism.

What do you guys think?


taken from Vanessa's and Alan's blog:

Book Recommendations

The Church (Contours of Christian Theology) by Edmund Clowney

Dr. Clowney's book is a great book on the biblical definition of the church and it's mission. This book also deals with some controversial topics such as the charismatic movement and the role of women in the church. I would highly recommend this easy-to-read and comprehensive book of the church for all church leaders

Speaking Truth in Love by David Powlison

Dr. Powlison states early in his book, that the gospel is the heart of biblical counseling (an action all Christian should be doing regardless of one's church position), and not just something Christians accept during their conversion. Then Dr. Powlison unpacks how Christians should counsel through the gospel as individuals (Part 1) and as a corporate body (Part 2) by examining scripture, giving personal models, and sharing his godly wisdom. So, if you want to learn how to counsel or love people through the gospel and how the church should pursue counseling formally and informally, this book is perfect for you.

Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000 by Iain Murray

This book is a historic analysis (between the periods of 1950 to 2000) of how generally, evangelicals have lost their identity of standing firm for the gospel for the sake of ecumenicalism (church unity) and intellectually credibility. I thought this book was very helpful in understanding how good evangelicals (Billy Graham, J.I.Packer, and Marty Lloyd Jones) from the past, have dealt with unity among liberals and to see their successes and sadly their many failures, thus giving us the privilege of learning immensely from them. I also thought this was an important book for me, especially in regards to the current issues surrounding the PCUSA

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Thoughts on Redemption

"Redeemed man must not internalize his salvation so that he thinks narrowly in terms of a "soul-saving" deliverance. To the contrary, redemption involves his total life-style as a social, cultural creature. Rather than withdrawing narrowly into a restricted form of "spiritual" existence, redeemed man must move out with a total-and-life perspective."
- pg. 110 of The Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmser Robertson.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Should Churches Leave PCUSA?

A Classical Prebyterian's blog has posted a blog article entitled "Schism Never?Ever? . Within that article, he as a link to David Teague's (from article, which tries to make a case that evangelicals should not separate from the PC(USA).

I think the article is pretty good, but his case is ultimately not convincing, because in my opinion, he has wrongly equated the denomination with the church.

John Frame writes:

It is fairly obvious that Novatian and Donatus should not have left the one, true church to start their own churches. They were, in truth, "schismatic." Sometimes today, one believer will call another one "schismatic" when he leaves one denomination to join another. Is that fair?

I do believe that it is possible to commit the sin of schism today. Most of the time, when people start new denominations, adding to the divisions in the body of Christ, I do not hesitate to call them schismatic. I also consider them schismatic when they switch denominations for the same reasons that motivated Novatian and Donatus: pride, unwillingness to submit to legitimate discipline, desire for autonomy.
2 But in many, perhaps most, situations where people make such transfers, there is no schismatic behavior at all. The true church is scattered among many denominations today. Often transfer is simply a matter of wanting to go from one part of the church to another, to share the gifts of Christians in a different group. Let us become clear about this: leaving the church is one thing; leaving a denomination quite another. The former is a very serious matter, the latter much less so.

This is the sort of practical case in which it is very dangerous for us to identify the New Testament church with some modern denomination. That confusion can lead to unfair judgments against one another. We should rather seek to make the right distinctions, to judge wisely. The church is found in the denominations; but the denominations are not the church.

Take from:

To see John Frame's full argument, read his book "Evangelical Reunion", which can be found here:

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Who Is Wise? Reflections on James 3:13-18

13Who is wise and understanding among you? c. 14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. - James 3:13-18

Who is wise?

13Who is wise and understanding among you?

1. James states that godly wisdom (v.17) is shown and known through one's good conduct (v. 13).

By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.

2. People have ungodly wisdom if they have jealous and selfish hearts (v.14)

14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth (wisdom).

3. Ungodly wisdom is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. (v.15)

15This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

4. Ungodly wisdom produces chaotic and evil effects (v.16)

16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

5. Godly wisdom is and produces peace, kindness, open-mindedness, and love (v.17)

17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

6. Godly wisdom, which is and produces peace, cultivates righteousness (v.18)

18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace

From these verses, I think there are at least two principles that determine if we have godly wisdom. The first principle to determine if we have godly wisdom is our motivation. (See v.13-14). Are we seeking to show our wisdom mainly to prove someone is wrong or to increase our pride, or are we using our wisdom for the other person’s well being and for God’s glory. Secondly, to know if we have godly wisdom, we need to examine the effects of our wisdom (See v. 16-18), that is, does it produce peace, kindness, and love, or does it produce disorder and hatred for people.

May God give us godly wisdom,


1st Annual Crab Day Pictures

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Part 5

The Church’s Challenge

1. Battle against Neo-Gnosticism

Wright states “Neo-Gnosticism is the philosophy that invites you to search deep inside yourself and discover some exciting things by which you must then live. It is the philosophy which declares that the only real moral imperative is that you should then be true to what you find when you engage in that deep inward search. But this is not a religion of redemption. It is not at all a Jewish vision of the covenant God who sets free the helpless slaves. It appeals, on the contrary, to the pride that says “I’m really quite an exciting person, deep down, whatever I may look like outwardly” — the theme of half the cheap movies and novels in today’s world. It appeals to the stimulus of that ever-deeper navel-gazing (“finding out who I really am”) which is the subject of a million self-help books, and the home-made validation of a thousand ethical confusions. It corresponds, in other words, to what a great many people in our world want to believe and want to do, rather than to the hard and bracing challenge of the very Jewish gospel of Jesus. It appears to legitimate precisely that sort of religion which a large swathe of America and a fair chunk of Europe yearns for: a free-for-all, do-it-yourself spirituality, with a strong though ineffective agenda of social protest against the powers that be, and an I'm-OK-you're-OK attitude on all matters religious and ethical. At least, with one exception: You can have any sort of spirituality you like (Zen, labyrinths, Tai Chi) as long as it isn’t orthodox Christianity.”

2. The Challenge of Jesus

Wright states “By contrast, the challenge of Jesus, in the 21st century as in the first, is that we should look away from ourselves and get on board with the project the one true God launched at creation and re-launched with Jesus himself. The authentic Christian gospel, which is good news about something that has happened as a result of which the world is a different place — this gospel demands that we submit to Jesus as Lord and allow all other allegiances, loves and self-discoveries to be realigned in that light. God’s project, and God’s gospel, are rooted in solid history as opposed to Gnostic fantasy and its modern equivalents. Genuine Christianity is to be expressed in self-giving love and radical holiness, not self-cosseting self-discovery. And it lives by, and looks for the completion of, the new world in which God will put all things to rights and wipe away all tears from all eyes; in which all knees will bow at the name of Jesus, not because he had a secret love-child, not because he was a teacher of recondite wisdom, not because he showed us how we could get in touch with the hidden feminine, but because he died as the fulfillment of the Scriptural story of God’s people and rose as the fulfillment of the world-redeeming purposes of the same creator God; and because, in that death and resurrection, we discover him to be the one at whose name every knee shall indeed bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, confessing Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Great Minds Think A Like

The Da Vinci Code Part 4

Answers to the 5 Myths

1. Canonical Gospels was derived earlier than the Nag Hammadi books

Wright states “The Nag Hammadi books include the now well known so-called “Gospel of Thomas,” and other similar collections of sayings such as the “Gospel of Philip.” Despite the current fashion for preferring and even privileging them as giving us access to Jesus himself, I believe they are (a) demonstrably late (late second century at the earliest), though they may contain traces of earlier material; (b) demonstrably derived from the earlier, and now canonical, material…”

2. Canonical Gospels, which were written earlier than the Nag Hammadi books, present Jesus as divine.

Wright states “More especially, the divinity of Jesus is already firmly established by Paul, within 20 or 30 years of Jesus’ death. John and Hebrews — and indeed Luke and Matthew, who are almost as explicit — are written by [A.D.] 90 or so at the latest, quite possibly much earlier”

3. The Nag Hammadi books present a different theology than one from a Jewish context and the gospels.

1. Platonic viewpoint

Wright states “First, they involve a massive step away from the Jewish context of Jesus’ ministry and towards some kind of Platonic viewpoint. Jesus’ idea of the Kingdom of God coming on earth as in heaven is transformed into a kingdom-teaching which is all about a private and detached spirituality

2. Missing Narrative

Wright states “Second, the Nag Hammadi codices have taken a large step away from a narrative world and into detached aphorisms and isolated teachings. There is no attempt to tell the story of Jesus or even stories about him, or to see that story and those stories within the context of the larger story of God and the world, of God and Israel.”

3. Simply a Teacher

Wright states “In particular, third, they have seen Jesus not as the one who, climactically and decisively, died on the cross and rose again, but simply as a teacher. This is the heart of it all”

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Part 3

5 Myths Expressed by the Book

1. There are older texts (found in Nag Hammadi) that states that Jesus is human and not divine

Wright writes “First, there were dozens if not hundreds of other documents about Jesus. Some of these have now come to light, not least in the books discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt 60 years ago. These focus on Jesus more as a human being, a great religious teacher, than as a divine being. And it is these books which give us the real truth about Jesus.”

2. The 4 Gospels were later products of the church

Wright states “Second, the four Gospels in the New Testament were later products aimed at divinizing Jesus and claiming power and prestige for the church. They were selected, for these reasons, at the time of Constantine in the fourth century, and the multiple alternative voices were ruthlessly suppressed.”

3. The 4 Gospels doesn’t reveal the truth Jesus

Wright states “Third, therefore, Jesus himself wasn’t at all like the four canonical Gospels describe him. He didn’t think he was God’s son, or that we would die for the sins of the world; he didn’t come to found a new religion. He was a human being pure and simple, who gave some wonderful moral and spiritual teaching, that’s all. Oh, and he may well have been married, perhaps even with a child on the way, when his career was cut short by death.”

4. Christianity is based on a mistake

Wright states “Fourth, therefore: Christianity as we know it is based on a mistake. Mainstream Christianity is sexist, especially anti-women and anti-sex itself. It has aimed at, and in some places achieved, considerable social power and prestige, enabling it to be politically quietist and conformist. This, I find, goes down especially well with those who are escaping from either fundamentalism or certain types of Roman Catholicism.”

5. It’s time to give up on the Church’s view of Christ

Wright states “Fifth, the real pay-off: It is time to give up, as historically unwarranted, theologically unjustified, and spiritually and socially damaging, the picture of Jesus and Christian origins which the church has put about for so long, and to return to the supposedly original vision of Jesus himself, not least in terms of getting in touch with a different form of spirituality based on metaphor rather than literal truth, of feeling rather than structure, of discovering whatever faith you find you can believe in. This will revive the truth for which Jesus lived, and perhaps for which he died.”

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Part 2

1. “Facts” from “The Da Vinci Code”

Wright writes” I only know well one of the buildings which features in the book, namely Westminster Abbey. All right, Brown knows where the Isaac Newton monument is. But he still makes gaffe after gaffe which could have been corrected by 10 minutes of walking around with his eyes open. The Abbey has towers, not spires. You cannot see Parliament from St James’s Park. College Garden is an extremely private place, not “a very public place” outside the Abbey’s walls (527). You cannot look out into it from the Chapter House; nor is there a “long hallway” leading to the latter, with a “heavy wooden door” at the end (529 ff.). Ten minutes’ observation by a junior research assistant could have put all this right. If Brown is so careless, and carelessly inventive, in details as easy to check as those, why should we trust him in anything else?”

2. The Priory of Sion

The Da Vinci Code states under “FACT” states: “The Prior of Sion- a European secret society founded in 1099-is a real organization. In 1975 Paris’s Bioliotheque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci.”

Wright states “And when it comes, second, to the Priory of Sion, the documents which Brown, following Baigent and Leigh, cite as evidence were forgeries cooked up by three zany Frenchmen in the 1950s. They cheerfully confessed to this in a devastating television program shown on British television in February this year”

3. Secret Symbols in Da Vinci's paintings?

Wright states “And as for Brown’s theory about Da Vinci’s "Last Supper," according to which the Beloved Disciple next to Jesus is actually a woman, that he/she and Jesus are joined at the hip, that they are sitting in such a way as to display the letter V, apparently a sign of femininity, and also the letter M, for Mary, or Magdalene, or marriage, or something else, this is pure fantasy. You can take any great painting and play this kind of game with it. That’s not to say that some painters may not have implanted coded messages in their work. It would be surprising if they didn’t. But you won’t find too many serious art critics giving Brown’s reading of the painting more than a passing smile

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Picture Update! :)

A few pictures from our wedding shower and Amy/Gordan Yang's Wedding. :)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Part 1

Outside of theology books, I don't read very much, in fact, I can't remember the last time I read a novel (I tried reading "The Pilgrim Progress", a year ago but I never finished- I know I am an embarrassment to all who declares to be called "Reformed"). So after 3 weeks, I finally finished my first novel since college, and the book happened to be "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown, which I read in order to prepare FPC with the challenges that will come from the movie, premiering in May.

Well first of all, I did find the book to be riveting and exciting, as I followed the two main characters (Robert and Sophie) on the quest for the Holy Grail, and with it all the secrets of "who Jesus Christ really is". But as the book began to unfold its idea of Jesus (according to Dan Brown), it became clear to me, that this book is and will be very dangerous to the Christian faith because it creates so much suspicion toward the historic Christ, revealed in the Bible

In these series of post, I want to cite some of the book's challenges towards orthodox Christianity, and then supply an answer to them by quoting Bishop (Tom) Wright's, a renowned New Testament scholar, article, "Decoding The Da Vinci Code".*


Friday, April 07, 2006

Gospel of Judas

Well yesterday, some scholars revealed the Gospel of Judas and with it the controversial new perspective on Judas. USA Today writes "With a plot twist worthy of The Da Vinci Code, the gospel - 13 papyrus sheets bound in leather and found in a cave in Egypt - purports to relate the last days of Jesus' life, from the viewpoint of Judas, one of Jesus' first followers. Christians teach that Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, but in this gospel, he is the hero, Jesus' most senior and trusted disciple and the only one who knows Jesus' true identity as the son of God. ".

How should FPC react and how we should respond? I don't have the time to address all the issues right now, but this weekend (hopefully), I'll post some answers and resources on how we should think and respond to the "The Da Vinci Code" and all of it's assertion and susipion it creates toward to orthodox view of Christ, which will also help us deal with the Gospel of Judas and other Gnostic Gospels.

For now check out Al Mohler's view of the Gospel of Judas: