Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why Did Christ Die at Passover?

If, as I believe the scriptures teach, Christ died to atone for our sins, why did He die at Passover instead of the Day of Atonement?

The Day of Atonement is the one day of the year when the priest could enter the Most Holy Place (where the glory of God appeared over the Ark of the Covenant) and make sacrifices for his sins and sins of the people of Israel.

Passover commemorates the tenth plague of the Exodus and God's protection of Israel from it and their subsequent rescue from slavery in Egypt.

The former is natural day for Christ's sacrifice, right?

But that's not how it happened. I think the reason can be illuminated by considering what took place in that first Passover.

God did at least three things on that day:
1) He called a people out for Himself.
2) He freed His people from slavery.
3) He rescued His people from the wrath that He was going to show His enemies — in this case, Egypt.

In Christ's death, God did all of those things again.

Christ's blood "purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Rev 5:9) "by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace" (Eph 2:15). Now we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1Pet 2:9).

"We were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, ... to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. ... So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir" (Gal 4:3-7).

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men" (Rom 1:18) but "God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Thes 5:9).

The forgiveness of our sins, achieved by the shedding of that precious blood, is the vehicle by which the purposes of God are achieved. And so it was totally appropriate that Christ should atone for our sins on the day God rescued His people.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Recently I got something in the mail I'd never seen before.

Last year I donated some money to a local crisis pregnancy center. They sent me a letter saying that last year they saw
170 lives saved
80 souls saved
I call that a good return on my investment.

If there are any crisis pregnancy centers in your area, I hope you'll support them. Not just because we don't want to be people who only say "no" to abortion (though I hope that is always true) but because real lives are affected when we reach out to those in need.

If we can give a cup of cold water, a sonogram, medical care, a few hundred diapers, a few gallons of formula, a baby bed, and some clothes to a frightened young woman, she can know that we care about her and her baby and that someone will be there to hold her hand along the way.

And if you can volunteer, at some point you'll probably get to hold the baby :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Question on Christ & Passover

I've got a question for you. But first I need to set it up.

Though it clearly isn't the whole story, the major reason Christ died was as a sacrifice, atoning for our sins:
"The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

"Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people" (Heb 9:28).

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses" (Eph 1:7).
So why did Jesus die at Passover instead of the Day of Atonement?

Or to put it another way, what is the significance of Christ's dying at Passover rather than the Day of Atonement?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Truth and Parenting

"That's not true."

Almost every day my six-year-old comes home from Kindergarten and shares a little tidbit of wisdom she got from a teacher. It's usually something profound like "green means go, red means stop" or "sugar causes cavities" (which didn't seem to impress her when I told her that).

The other day she told me, "Water is healthy; tea is not."

What could I say? "That's not true." (With caveats like "if that's what he really said.")

I was briefly concerned about undermining her teachers, and I certainly don't want her going to school and challenging one, but I decided she should learn early that everyone is fallable, even her teachers. (She already knows that about me.) And given the state of public schools, it can't hurt to start her off early with the knowledge that a teacher that contradicts Mom and Dad can be wrong.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Some Recommended Reading

Essentials and Non-Essentials: How to Choose Your Battles Carefully
"I often tell people that there are some things that I believe that I would die for; there are some things that I believe that I would lose an arm for; there are some things that I believe that I would lose a finger for; and then there are some things that I believe that I would not even get a manicure for."
Includes a handy chart.

Related: A Practical 9-Step Guide to Studying any Theological Issue

It's Not the Church's Job
"The church cannot ensure that all goes well with you. Most of life is your responsibility."

Look Who's Talking Now, or Thoughts on Leviticus
"Is Leviticus dry? Unless you enjoy reading blueprints and law textbooks, yes. Is it boring? When you remember that God is doing most of the speaking, it becomes much less boring."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hate the Sin...

It's impossible to "hate the sin and love the sinner."

At least that's what I've been told. Repeatedly.

Let's be honest: Not everyone who hates the sin loves the sinner. And sometimes the love is buried very, very deep.

But it's not impossible. Everybody does it all the time. Especially parents.

Yes, the best example of hating the sin and loving the sinner is child rearing. We hate certain behaviors. We want better than that from our children because we want better than that for our children. Parents ground, spank, and occasionally even kick out their children because they love them, because their deepest fear is that the child will not become the man or woman they could be.

And we can oppose — even strongly oppose — behavior in other people because we want better than that for them.

Of course, one reason people don't believe in this is that too often we only appear to hate sexual sins. Sexual sin in destructive to the sinner. So are gluttony, greed, pride, and gossip. If we love our friends and family, we won't turn a blind eye to those sins either.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How Much Depth?

How deep do our worship songs need to be?

On one end of the spectrum are songs that are pretty but have no theological content whatsoever — they may not be about God, they may not even be true. Example: Breathe.

On the other end are songs where every phrase is packed with meaning, that are nearly a theological treatise. Example: Amazing Grace.

There are a whole lot of songs in the middle.

Some people really don't care. Some think every song sung in church needs to be on the deep end.

Of the latter, one said his church sings "music that is rich in theology, melody and lyric. As a result, most of our music consists of hymns written in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries."

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. I'm asking if it's necessary.

Actually, I'm saying it's not. Take this beautiful song:
Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
This short and to-the-point song praises God without going into any real theological detail. It just magnifies God. Is there anything wrong with that?

If you didn't recognize it, that song is Psalm 150.

Now for a more modern song:
Lord of all creation
Of water earth and sky
The heavens are your Tabernacle
Glory to the Lord on high

God of wonders beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy
The universe declares your Majesty
And you are holy, holy
This song doesn't have a lot of theological depth. But it magnifies God for who He is. I'm cool with that.

I love deep songs. But I don't think every song has to be one. As long as it's true, well-written, and preferably God-focused, I can live with some theologically shallow music in church.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


The world will end on December 21, 2012, according to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar. It shouldn't surprise us that some in our society have grabbed onto that to preach the end of the world.

It should surprise us when Christians do it. Yes, I've heard some do it.

When will the world end? Jesus said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

And the Mayans.

Really? Why are we even having this conversation?

We don't know when the end will come. Maybe it will be a thousand years from now. Maybe it will be today. Plan like it's the former; live like it's the latter.

And maybe we should stop listening to people who want to predict the end.