Monday, September 20, 2010

License Plate Evangelism

Last week I was leaving a hospital parking garage when a West Virginia license plate caught my attention. The tag read "PSALM 51". It got my mind whirring. It's a penitential psalm where King David confesses the sin of his adultery with Bathsheba before God. If you remember your Bible history then you'll know that David committed adultery with the beautiful—married—woman and she became pregnant. To cover his sin David conspired in the murder of her husband, Uriah, a faithful soldier in Israel's army. In punishment God killed David's son born of adultery (see 2 Samuel 11-12.23)
Psalms 51:1-19 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
(2) Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
(3) For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
(4) Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
(5) Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
(6) Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
(7) Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(8) Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
(9) Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
(10) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
(11) Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
(12) Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(13) Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
(14) Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
(15) O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
(16) For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
(17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(18) Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem;
(19) then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
The question, of course, is what did the driver mean to convey? was he:
1. Announcing to the world that he had been forgiven (scandalous?) grave sin?
2. Announcing to the world that they, too, can be forgiven of grave sin?
3. All of the above?
Whatever the original meaning behind paying the fee for the vanity license plate I do wonder how many people instantly got the gist of his witness...or went home and looked up Psalm 51 to see what he was saying?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Restoring the Covenant Name of Yahweh

Recently I have begun restoring the covenant Name of God in my sermons/lessons in the Old Testament. Let me explain. Whenever you see LORD or GOD (all caps) in your printed version of the Old Testament it is a (mis)translation of the Hebrew, Yahweh, יהוה, or Yah, a shortened form of the name. It dates back to an old Jewish custom. Because Jews didn't want to blaspheme whenever they came across the covenant Name of God in Scripture they pronounced the word Adonai instead, the Hebrew word for "Lord." I believe Christianity should discontinue this practice. While noble it wasn't a Hebrew practice from the beginning; it developed later in Jewish history.

God's covenant Name is important to him and it is used extensively in the Old Testament. In Hebrew thought a person's name reveals his character, his essence. God revealed himself as YHWH, the Hebrew name for the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It comes to us from the Old Testament and means, "He Is"—that is, God's presence is with his people and, thus, all his blessings that come with him. (cf. Exodus 3:15).

Written Hebrew didn't provide vowels, simply consonants (Y H W H, sometimes called The Tetragrammaton, The Four Letters), so there is uncertainty in how it should be pronounced. The American Standard Version (1901) is admirable in its attempt to restore God's Name but it used Jehovah to do so. (The "J" is to be pronounced as "Y".) Modern scholarship is generally agreed on Yahweh (pronounced as yau'whay) but, of course, we have no audio recordings from ancient times to substantiate the view.

I believe we should honor the name God of great covenants with people and substitute LORD from the Old Testament versions with Yahweh. If some are sensitive about getting Yahweh wrong—as the ASV got Jehovah wrong—then the printed Bibles could spell it YHWH or YaHWeH.

Restore God's covenant Name to the pages of the Old Testament!

One warning—don't treat the name Yahweh as magical. Years ago I came across a guy on the Internet. As memory serves he quoted Psalms 81. 14b, "I will protect him, because he knows my name" (ESV). The man treated Yahweh like a magical incantation, a verbal talisman or charm which, if you use it, God provides special blessings that he wouldn't give others who don't. I strongly reject such thinking. The Religion of Yahweh—the covenants governing their times—is not Magick. Jewish exorcists of old were sought after because it was believed they knew how to pronounce Yahweh properly. Such superstition and Occult dealings have no place in the worship of Yahweh.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this post I became aware of the New Heart English Bible (YHWH Edition), a public domain translation, that has restored Yahweh in the place of LORD.  You can download it for free here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Upcoming Revival at Middle Grave Creek Church of God


I am excited about an upcoming revival I will be holding at Middle Grave Creek Church of God in Moundsville, WV. The pastor is Dave Sessums, a college buddy. Pray that the Holy Spirit falls upon us in power!

Friday, September 24 at 7 P.M.
Saturday, September 25 at 7 P.M.
Sunday, September 26 at 11 A.M.

Directions:

GPS coordinates: N39. 53.580' W080. 42.101'

Come 3 miles east out of Moundsville on Fourth Street ( Middle Grave Creek Road ).
The Church will be on the right.

RD 3 Box 309A
Moundsville, West Virginia 26041

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The 1970 Asbury Revival



Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
(1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV)

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Intolerance of Tolerance



One of my favorite New Testament scholars, D. A. Carson, explains how the definition of "tolerance" has changed with the shifting of the philosophical viewpoint of modernism to postmodernism. It foretells bad things for biblical Christianity which proclaims that there is such thing as absolute Truth, and that such Truth is knowable.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why I Am Pro-Life


For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalms 139:13-16 ESV)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Propitiation

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10 ESV)
The English word propitiation is a funny-sounding one but it is rich in theological content. It is from the Greek, ἱλασμός (hilasmos), and it means an expiation, an appeasement. Noah Webster defines expiation in part as
The act of atoning for a crime; the act of making satisfaction for an offense,by which the guilt is done away, and the obligation of the offended person to punish the crime is canceled; atonement; satisfaction.
It is similar to another word rendered propitiation from the Greek:

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

Here propitiation comes from ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion), which Thayer defines as:
1) relating to an appeasing or expiating, having placating or expiating force, expiatory; a means of appeasing or expiating, a propitiation
1a) used of the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement (this rite signifying that the life of the people, the loss of which they had merited by their sins, was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God by this ceremony was appeased and their sins expiated); hence the lid of expiation, the propitiatory
1b) an expiatory sacrifice
1c) a expiatory victim
Pulling the terms together, one finds in the New Testament that Christ is the sacrificial victim slain to appease (to turn aside) the wrath of a holy and just God offended at sin. In other words, Christ satisfied the Divine Judgment by taking the wrath of God against sin by dying on the cross and, in this way, a human sinner can go unpunished and be forgiven. We who trust in Christ do not receive the punishment our sins deserve because Christ stood in our stead and bore the wrath that God's justice demands. A Christian cannot be punished for that which has been forgiven through the atonement of Christ!

Praise God!