The Benefits of A Deep Sleep

I’m working through the Abraham toledot in our Lord’s Day morning sermon series “The Gospel According to Abraham,” and recently was looking at Genesis 15:12, “As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram…”

The word tardemah translates the “deep sleep” that Abram experienced, and nearly every time it is used it takes some special significance.

Genesis 2:21
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep (tardemah) to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.

1 Samuel 26:12
So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep (tardemah) from the LORD had fallen upon them. Continue reading

Women’s Fellowship Annual Address 2011 Part 2

Last time, we looked at how Christ’s ministry is the foundation for the Church’s ministry. You can read part 1 here. We continue with how, but considering Christ’s emphasis for the church, how that may shape our own Women’s ministry.

So then what might Christ’s ministry say to our Women’s Fellowship here at Zion? Broadly, it first gives us some emphases to keep in mind in all our ministry:

Women’s Ministry Themes
Attractional vs. Missional
Attractional approaches to ministry are those which basically take the “if we build it, they will come” direction. These churches are typically known for their varied resources often including rock walls, coffee shops, gyms, sports leagues, etc. The idea that drives this approach is that if you can just get the people in the doors, you can keep them there.

We prefer to view things not from an attractional, but a missional perspective. Instead of ministering on the basis of people coming to us, our approach is to take the ministry to the people. Like the Son of God condescending to leave His heavenly home and dwell among those whom He loved, we want to be known for our willingness to take the gospel from within the walls of our building to affect the lives of those we come into contact.

Width vs. Depth
In polling various churches, the vast majority cite numeric growth as their driving evidence of success. Success is measured by quantifiable numbers of weekly attendance, small group attendance, Sunday school attendance, etc. Achievement is determined by the number of people with whom the message is shared. We want our primary purpose of the local church to be making disciples. Not mere attendees or even converts, but disciples – mature followers of Jesus Christ. In the end, the “Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be [Christ’s] disciples” (John 15:8). As we go deeper in Christ, we will pull others along with us.

Marketing vs. Gospel
Some churches emphasize a certain “draw.” Perhaps they are the church with good music, or a great drama team or a really excellent children’s ministry. Like the attractional approach, the hope is to market the church to bring people in. The problem that we see with this approach is that it is generally true that “what you win them with is what you keep them with.” If you win people with lights and smoke, then next year you need more lights and more smoke. You are always forced to better your resources and marketing of those resources to distinguish yourself. The challenge is that the culture is always changing and when you market a specific segment or ministry, then you inevitably teach that your church is not for everyone.

At Zion we hope to win people by the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we can do this, then all we have to do to keep them is continue to preach the gospel — what we should be doing anyway. We hope to accomplish this through challenging our people to have a missional perspective as they live a gospel-centered life. So, the church will experience growth because of mission rather than marketing.

Entitlement vs. Sacrifice
A deep and pervasive sense of entitlement exists in much of the evangelical community. Those who have such an attitude, though they might not articulate it, assume that the church exists merely to
meet one’s own felt needs. Therefore, the church that caters to such an ideology is forced to create thousands of different programs to meet those ever-changing desires.

The Bible teaches not that the church exists to meet your needs, but rather that you exist to meet the needs of others. A heart of humility does not say “meet my needs,” but instead “do not cater to me. I am here to serve.” In the end, the greatest need, felt or not, is for the gospel. If we spend our time meeting peripheral issues, all we have done is dealt with symptoms without addressing the disease. Certainly we recognize the legitimacy of needs and are here to serve those in need, but an attitude of entitlement and true service are at odds.[2] Continue reading

John Murray on Creation as Analogical Days

From his Principles of Conduct, Murray discusses the importance of Sabbath principles. In his discussion, Murray’s language struck my ears (eyes?) as sounding similar to the language often employed when defending the analogical day view of Creation. He says:

The seventh day referred to here [Gen 2:2-BJL] is unquestionably the seventh day in sequence with the six days of creative activity, the seventh day in the sphere of God’s action, not the seventh day in our weekly cycle. In the realm of God’s activity in creating the heavens and the earth there were six days of creative action and one day of rest. There is the strongest presumption in favour of the interpretation that this seventh day is not one that terminated at a certain point in history, but that the whole period of time subsequent to the end of the sixth day is the sabbath of rest alluded to in Genesis 2:2 …. God’s week, if we may use that term, is not a cycle, it is a once-for-all accomplishment… Does this [Gen 2:3-BJL] refer simply to God’s sabbath, or does it refer to a weekly day of rest in the cycle and sequences of our time?… Even in Exodus 20:11 it is difficult to ascertain whether the sabbath referred to is expressly the seventh day in the realm of God’s activity or the seventh day in man’s weekly cycle. But the significant feature of this verse is that, whichever interpretation we adopt, the sabbath of God’s rest is the reason given for the sabbath of man’s rest, the recurring seventh day of the week. And this would carry with it the inevitable inference that God blessed and sanctified the seventh day of our week precisely because he sanctified the seventh day in the realm of his own creative activity… In the transcendent realm of God’s opera ad extra, on the grand plane of his creative action, he rested on the seventh day. God’s mode of operation is the exemplar on the basis of which the sequence for man is patterned… there is strong presumption in favour of the view that it refers specifically and directly to the sabbath instituted for man.
(emphasis original) pp. 30-32 

Now, I don’t claim to know which position Murray maintained when it comes to the Creation debate. (A quick glance at his Collected Works and Principles didn’t turn up any answers. Does anybody know? Which groups generally claim him? I was assuming he would be fairly “vanilla” on this subject.) And I’m not saying that his language here necessitates that Murray held to an Analogical Day view. But differentiating between “the sphere of God’s action” and “our weekly cycle,” and “God’s week” being a once-for-all accomplishment as opposed to the cyclical nature of “our time” does seem to put Murray as holding that the Creation Week was archetypal and our weeks are antitypical. He acknowledges the difficulty of discerning between “the realm of God’s activity” and “man’s weekly cycle” in the 4th Commandment, which would imply that the Creation Week is on another register from creaturely experience.

Again, I’m sure this language doesn’t pigeonhole Murray. In fact, he may be purposefully distancing himself from an Analogical view when he concludes that the blessed sabbath of Gen 2:3 is in fact the sabbath that humans participate in.

Is Murray a supporter of the Analogical Days view? What other position might his language support? If you find another reference, be sure to leave work and page number in the comments below!