Posts Tagged ‘PC(USA)’

Sermon 02-22-15: “The Meaning of Christ’s Death”

March 3, 2015


In today’s scripture, Jesus sheds light on the meaning of his death when he says he came not to serve, but to serve and to “give his life as a ransom for many.” What does it mean that Christ was our ransom for sin? The answer gets to the heart of what we mean when we talk about atonement: how the cross reconciles us to God. My prayer is that this sermon will help us fall in love with Jesus all over again.

Sermon Text: Mark 10:32-45

The following is my original sermon manuscript with footnotes.

Tonight is Oscar night, which means all the biggest stars of Hollywood will turn out to walk the red carpet, and one of them will surely be actor Will Smith, one of the most successful leading men of all time. In an interview this month, Smith was talking about his biggest box office flop, a 2013 science fiction film called After Earth. No, I didn’t see it, either. The weekend after it opened—and he got word how disappointing the box office returns were—he was crushed. He had never failed like that before. But, after a 90-minute workout on his treadmill, he said he had an epiphany: He realized that he was trying to fill a hole in his life with worldly success. He said that for years he had strived to be a bigger star than anyone, and if he achieved that, then and only then would he would have the love his heart yearned for. But after this movie flopped, he realized how shallow this goal was.


So he realized something. He said, “Only love is going to fill that hole. You can’t win enough, you can’t have enough money, you can’t succeed enough. There is not enough. The only thing that will ever satiate that existential thirst is love.” On that day, he said, “I made the shift from wanting to be a winner to wanting to have the most powerful, deep, and beautiful relationships I could possibly have.”

In today’s scripture, James and John aren’t so different from Will Smith. They want glory and power and worldly success. They want to be on top. They want to be winners. And they thought that once Jesus became king—which they knew would happen soon—he could give them all that! Read the rest of this entry »

God’s love implies wrath

August 1, 2013

Imagine a group of Calvinists not wanting to sing about the wrath of God!

But—oh yeah—this is the rapidly declining mainline group of Calvinists known as the PC(USA). Of course their hymnal committee wanted to modify this unfashionable couplet from Keith Getty/Stuart Townend contemporary hymn “In Christ Alone”: “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied.”

They wanted to replace it with the following, instead: “…as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified.”

Getty and Townend refused the change. Therefore, the new Presbyterian hymnal will not include the popular hymn—which is a shame because it’s theologically rich, not to mention orthodox.

As Timothy George correctly observes, many modern-day Christians feel squeamish about God’s wrath because they mistakenly believe that it stands in opposition to his love and grace.

[I]n his brilliant essay, “The Wrath of God as an Aspect of the Love of God,” British scholar Tony Lane explains that “the love of God implies his wrath. Without his wrath God simply does not love in the sense that the Bible portrays his love.” God’s love is not sentimental; it is holy. It is tender, but not squishy.  It involves not only compassion, kindness, and mercy beyond measure (what the New Testament calls grace) but also indignation against injustice and unremitting opposition to all that is evil.

I wonder if both theological conservatives and liberals often accept the same premise: that God’s wrath is something other than a manifestation of God’s love. Southern Baptist theologian Denny Burk, for example, doesn’t mention love in his blog post about the Presbyterian dust-up.

I wish someone would say the following: on the cross, where Jesus died, two things happened at once: the wrath of God was satisfied and the love of God was magnified. Both are equally true.