In Him we are precious, valued, chosen not because we are choice but because of His grace. We are enfolded into Christ’s church not to be admired as we might admire the beauty of the great cathedrals of Europe, but to serve. Peter identifies us as a holy priesthood, tasked with the responsibility and joy of offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.
Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious (1 Peter 2:4, NKJV)
As Paul uses the analogy of believers being the material of which the temple is built and in which God dwells (Eph. 2:19-22), so Peter describes us as living stones being built into a spiritual house.
We are reminded that the church is not a building but a people, a people united to the Living Stone, Jesus Christ. He was rejected by men, a Man of Sorrows, but precious in the sight of God. This Stone was prophesied of old. “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame” (1 Pet, 2:6; cf. Isa. 28:16).
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By Kevin DeYoung — 3 months ago
God didn’t create another man, he created a woman—and yet she’s taken from the man. So there is a likeness and yet a fundamental difference and distinction. And everything about God’s design in this world must keep in mind this sexual differentiation between men and women, which is not an accident of creation, but from the very beginning, was God’s good, glorious plan.
We all recognize, if we have our eyes open or pull up the internet on our phones, that we live in a day where there is great confusion about men and women—confusion down to the very foundations. Is there such a thing as a man and a woman? And you’ve probably seen the clips that get passed around. High ranking, very intelligent people don’t know how—or at least they pretend not to know how—to answer the question, “What is a woman?” And as Christians, we have the Bible and we have what the world needs to hear, whether it wants to hear it or not. And we, of course, want to present it in a way that is most robust in truth, and also so that people can hear and can listen. But it’s really important that we’re clear about “What are men and women?”
What are Men and Women?
I mean, the etymology actually helps us in English. And in Hebrew, it’s ishah, for she comes out of ish. Even there in the Hebrew, the two words are connected. And it’s like that in English: A “womb man,” that a woman, biologically, is the person of God’s design in creation who—if all of the the plumbing, shall we say, is working correctly—gives birth to human life. That’s the latent possibility. Of course, we know that some people are are called to singleness and sometimes our bodies, because of the fall, don’t work in the ways that we would like. But there are those latent possibilities, that a woman is that person whom God has designed to incubate, to nurture, to nourish, and to give birth to life.
By Henry Anderson — 8 months ago
What matters most to God is what fuels our obedience, and it should be love. When we come before the Lord in song, it’s not enough to merely be engaged with the words intellectually, it’s not even enough to follow through on what we sing, we must be a people that love God in these realities. That’s what the Lord desires.
Over the past few decades, there has been a tremendous emphasis placed upon exposition in the church. The benefits of this are too many to count. A revival has taken place where a number of churches have moved away from a surface level study of God’s word (like skipping a rock on the ocean), to an in-depth comprehensive study of the text––exposition (like dropping an anchor down to the ocean floor).
After all, if God’s word is breathed by Him and therefore sourced in Him, then it is incumbent upon us as His people to draw the last drops of sweet nectar that we can from every single word. Paul tells Timothy
All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be equipped, having been thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Tim 3:16–17
Since the Scriptures are profitable to equip us for every single good work prepared for us, we should not just know a little bit of them, we must live in them (cf. Matt 4:4; Eph 2:10).
To that end, many pastors have written books on the topic of expository preaching. That is, preaching that seeks to understand a text within its larger context and draw out the God-laden meaning from the words and grammar that has been used by the Biblical writers. G. Campbell Morgan put it this way, “The sermon is the text repeated more fully.” That’s the idea.
In a related but slightly different direction, in 2010, Ken Ramey wrote a book entitled, Expository Listening. His work is a primer on how God’s people should approach listening to an expository sermon. It is based on passages like Jas 1:22, “But become doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” Building off of the momentum, in 2017, Josh Neimi released the book entitled, Expository Parenting. The book aims to show parents that they must expose and lay bare the pure milk of the Scriptures to their children.
With that being said, you opened this article expecting to learn about a different type of exposition. At this point, I do want to speak about expository singing.
Now, there are two ways that we might approach this topic. The first would be more for worship leaders. Expository singing could mean the way that writing hymns and spiritual songs should be done, based on the exposition or explanation of the meaning of the Scriptures. That’s one way, but that’s not what I intend with this article.
The second approach is seen in thinking about expository singing, not from the approach of creating content, but rather based on how we approach the songs that we sing to the Lord each Sunday (or throughout the week). Well-written hymns and spiritual songs are expository in nature. The Scriptures are the light unto our path, and good praise songs will emphasize the light of the Lord through His word and bring us near to Him (Ps 119:105).
With that in mind, there are four principles that I want to deliver to you that should cause you to enjoy God more through song when rightly appropriated. In finding your enjoyment in God, you bring honor to Him in fulfilling your created purpose… the exaltation of His name (Ps 34:3).
Here is a question for you, what makes a good Christian song? Is it the date in which it was written (a pre-1900 hymn with preferably some old English mixed in)? Is it the melody that the song has or its tempo, upbeat or slow? What about the instruments used or lack thereof (drums, guitars, cymbals, harps, a cappella)? How about the number of times the chorus is sung? Here’s the answer. None of those make a good Christian song, inherently.
What makes a good praise song is the words. It’s the content. After Jesus’ ostensible disciples depart from Him, there’s this precious interaction between Jesus and his disciples…
So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”
Where else can we go, but you Lord? We sing songs that make much of the God of our salvation.
But here’s the rub, how many of those words do you actually think about when you sing them on Sunday morning (or ideally throughout the week)? It is so ingrained in our culture and in our world to value songs that have catchy beats and rifts and then to mindlessly puppet the words the artist sings. That has no place in Christianity. This is the first principle of expository singing, we must be engaged singers.
We Must be Engaged Singers
There are two quotes that I use often but have never been able to find (if you can identify them please let me know). The first is from Charles Spurgeon (at least I think) concerning sanctification, “we must move, but He must move us.” I love that quote, but I can’t find it anywhere. The second pertains to our topic. Paul Washer once said (at least I think) that “we never lie more than in our singing of songs of praise.” Why would Paul Washer say that?
It’s all too common for people to sing glorious lyrics on Sunday morning but not truly mean them. If I told you, “I like your outfit,” but I didn’t mean it, what would you call me? You’d call me a liar. But doesn’t that happen with how we approach God through song? Yes, I said “we,” I am guilty of this too. Here are some relatively well-known lyrics… through introspection, answer as to whether or not you meant them fully when you last sang them.
“My soul finds rest in God alone; All glory, laud, and honor to Thee, Redeemer, King; I will tell the wondrous story how, my lost estate to save, in His boundless love and mercy He the ransom freely gave; When morning gilds the skies, My heart awaking cries, May Jesus Christ be praised; I will not boast in anything, No gifts, no pow’r, no wisdom.”
By Megan Hill — 8 months ago
The reason we must be patient with other Christians, according to Paul, is love. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, he grounds his command to long-suffering in the terms of family affection, identifying the believers as “brothers and sisters.” In the church, we are not mere acquaintances, or even fellow members of the same club; we are family. In the church, Christ’s love for us compels us to love one another (John 13:34).
One by one, each of my children learned a catechism question that asks, “Have you a soul as well as a body?” And the answer, as it slowly and deliberately arose from tiny toddler lips, always tugged at my heart: “Yes, and my soul will never die.”
Though designed for children, this question and answer trained me as a parent. Whatever frustrations the child had caused me that day — spilled milk, broken toys, incessant questions, delayed naps — couldn’t continue to annoy me when I stopped to remember that the small person in front of me possessed an undying soul.
We become impatient with others when we fail to see that they have significant and lasting value. When they interrupt us, dawdle over their own responsibilities, or require more time and energy than we had planned to allow them, we start to consider them inconveniences. We become so focused on their behaviors in the moment that we don’t consider their value in eternity.
And when we fail to recognize other people as eternally important, we will not love them well. In Paul’s famous love chapter, he begins his list of love’s qualities with this simple declaration: “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4). In order to love someone, we must value that person’s undying soul more than we value our own temporary convenience.
God Is Patient
This, of course, is how God loves. In his second epistle, Peter writes,
Beloved . . . the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:8–9)
It seems that some of the members of the first-century church were becoming impatient — with God. Why hadn’t Jesus returned? Why weren’t their persecutors being judged? Why weren’t God’s promises fulfilled immediately? Why was God being so slow? Because, Peter explained, God cares about souls. God knows, much more than we do, the horrors of hell. He knows the dreadful extent of his own wrath. And he wants people to be saved.
God, who could justly destroy the earth at any moment, has chosen to wait. He is “the Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). He is not bothered by the passing of time — by the minutes and years and millennia that are ticking away — if it means that people will be eternally saved.
In his saving purposes for his elect people, God doesn’t measure time the way we do: “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Unlike us, God isn’t focused on the clock.