Monthly Archives: August 2011

Matt Chandler- Horrified


This video amazes me. From an excerpt from the sermon, “The Knowability of God” Preached at the Village Church  in 2004.

The Story of Indelible Grace Music and the RUF Hymns

Denny Burke has a great post about Indelible Grace Music, which is a group that I love. They specializie in putting modern arrangements to old hymns, and I think that everyone should buy their music! You can watch the trailer and also read up more about them Here. Highly Recommended.

rethink: the good samaritan story [don't be so hard on the priest]

Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. [Luke 10:30-33]

I’ve heard many pastors preach on these texts. What often tends to happen is that they let loose on the Priest and the Levite, blasting them for their coldness and cruelty and lack of compassion. There is a tendency to  pretty much excoriated these two men in this parable and cast them as unfeeling, heartless, soulless, unredeemed, and without an ounce of empathy in their bones. I don’t think that’s a fair characterization whatsoever. Let me explain.

Jesus replied, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho,…”” This is an actual road. It’s about seventeen miles long, and the road literally drops about 3,000 feet along that seventeen mile stretch. So when it says he’s going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, it really does go down. As it were though, this road wasn’t particularly safe. While these roads would have been patrolled by roman soldiers, they couldn’t be everywhere at once, and we see this play out by the fact that robbers set upon the man and strip him of his clothes and beat him to the point of death. And I think the state he was left in was significant. People’s nationality and background and even profession are identified by clothing and by dialect. It’s how we have historically identified our neighbours and kinsmen, and have been able to tell different people and groups apart. But this man has no clothes, and is unconscious and cannot speak, and therefore he cannot be readily identified, which will come into play pretty quickly.

Now to the crux of the matter. “Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.” I think the knee-jerk reaction is to be very hard on the priest, but I would argue that we need to be far more merciful to this guy than most have been historically. Let’s set the scene.

The priest is not walking by. As he would have been in upper level in regards to socioeconomic status, it’s almost certain that he would have been riding by on a horse or a mule. The priest is on his way back from his two week stint at the temple, and if he gets even within 4 cubits [6 feet] of this guy, he is ritualistically unclean. So he can’t even get close to this guy to see if he is okay according to religious law. If he gets within 6 feet of him or touches him, he will be deemed by the law ritualistically unclean and he will have to go back to Jerusalem and begin the rights of purification, which are going to require him to purchase a red heifer and turn that thing into ash. It will take at least seven days. He will then have to stand at the Eastern Gate with everyone else who has sinned against God until another priest who, along the same lines as him, purified him. So he would be filled with shame, filled with guilt, out a whole bunch of money, unable to take the tithes and offerings and food. Which means not only will he suffer, but his family will suffer if he helps this man. This is not an easy predicament to be in, and so we ought to be very careful not to judge the priest too harshly, or disregard the laws and the culture in place.

We can all sit back here and call this priest out on this, and talk about how we would surely never do such a thing, and that if we were in the same situation, we wouldn’t even think twice about it. But I’m telling you- it’s not a case where this man has nothing better to do and has time to kill and can call 911 and then be on his way. No. If the priest helps this man, he is an outcast, and it’s possible that he is unable to take care of his family for a few weeks. He’s going to have to purchase cattle, slaughter it, to through the ritualistic rites and probably be taken out of the priestly rotation for a season. It’s an unbelievably costly thing for him to engage this man, especially considering that violence and death were not that uncommon. I mean that. Seeing a man laying dead in a ditch, the victim of some form of barbarous act, would not have been completely out of the ordinary. It was a violent time, with Roman occupation and insurrection and thieves who descend upon a man, kill him and rob him, and disappear without a trace. It was a different time back then, and with no way of knowing who this naked man was, [if he was a fellow Priest or a hated Samaritan or a Gentile or a Roman] or if he was even alive- it at least makes sense that his religion and the burdens of such an action would keep him from engaging. So he sees him and goes along side of him and won’t help.

So let’s look at the next person to come along. “So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.” A Levite is like a junior varsity priest, except he’s never getting bumped to varsity. The Levites assisted the priests in the temple but were in no way economically near what the priests made. So the Levite was a much more humble person in regards to what they made. The Levite is absolutely walking. And the thing about a road that goes for seventeen miles straight down is you could be 3-4 miles ahead and still see. So the Levite who serves the priest, who doesn’t have a lot of money, who is all by himself, passes by the man, bound by the same ritualistic law, already saw the priest pass by [this is a reasonable speculation] and I think must have thought, “If the priest wouldn’t touch him, I most certainly shouldn’t. Besides, where am I going to get the ability to help this guy?” He doesn’t have the kind of money and space that a priest would, and he probably would have had his own family to feed and take care for. So the Levite rushes past by also.

And here’s where the story would have turned scandalous. Up until that point no one would have been outraged or shocked by the actions of these two men, because they understood it.They get what’s going on. “But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.” It’s real important that you see that that’s the driving force behind this, because let’s talk about the Samaritans. The Samaritans were halfbreeds: half Jews and half Samarians. When Israel was in captivity, they were men or women who married their captors and had children. In this century, the Jews believed that if you had anything to do with a Samaritan…well…let’s just say it’s in the Mishnah that if you ate the bread of a Samaritan is equal to eating the flesh of a swine. There were actually prayers in the synagogue during this period that asked God not to give forgiveness or grace to the Samaritans. That’s a pretty strong level of hatred, isn’t it? So you can see that there’s not a lot of love between these two ethnic groups. But the Samaritan is not a gentile! As such, he is bound by the same ritualistic laws as the Levite and the priest. In this though, the Samaritan is moved with compassion. “He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’” and he does the right thing.

I’m not going to take time to carefully exegete these passages, or offer my own interpretation, or talk about whether I am the good Samaritan and the beaten man that I am to help is my neighbor, or if the good Samaritan is Jesus, and the beaten, helpless man that needs saving is me. That’s not my concern. All I wanted to do, was hopefully make the case that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the Priest and the Levite. It’s not so cut and dry to suggest that these were heartless and uncaring men who had no concern for anyone but themselves. It’s not right or fair or even contextually accurate to rip into them like some pastors do. There’s a lot more at play here, and while I believe that ultimately the Priest and the Levite were wrong not to stop, and that they should have had compassion and done the right, hard thing, It’s not as simple or as uncomplicated a thing to do as some would suggest.

Geerhardus Vos Quote

“Beauty, irreligiously esteemed, infringes upon the glory of Jehovah.” -Geerhardus Johannes Vos  [1862 -1949]

Website is back up and ready to rock!

Hey all. So the website is back up and here to stay. Seeing as I’m unable to get the domain for three more months, I’ve decided to mod it to This will be the new permanent domain name on an on-going basis, so make sure you change all your links. Thanks for your patience, and now lets go back to the good stuff!

Website will be somewhat “down” over the next two weeks

Hey all. I’m in the process of working on the website a bit, mostly which involves working on cloaking, hosting and URL mapping. The goal is that instead of being redirected from to, [which is a little confusing], the whole site will be under the banner of

I’ll still be posting regularly, and so until this gets taken care of and I wait for that domain name to expire sometime in early September, the site can still be accessed at, but you won’t be able to get there through the regular channels.


And the winner is…………………!

I want to thank everyone who entered and shared your thoughts with me about the scriptures and the wonderful hymns that I love and treasure. Ryan, you can send me an email at [email protected] [or facebook me] with your address and I’ll have it out sometime Wednesday afternoon.

To those who didn’t win, cheer up! I’m doing another contest in a month or so. September’s giveaway will more than likely be a bible leaf from the Book of Acts,  from the 1531 Latin Biblica Sacra, so you have that to look forward to.

Thanks everyone and God Bless!

Paperthin Hymn. Christ is Risen. Matt Maher

Christ is Risen

Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
But fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love
And bled for us
Freely You’ve bled for us

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, Come awake
Come and rise up from the grave
Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with him again
Come awake, Come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

Beneath the weight of all our sin
You bowed to none but heaven’s wil
No Scheme of hell, no scoffer’s crown
No burden great can hold you down
In strength you reign
Forever let your church proclaim

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
The glory of God has defeated the night

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead
He’s alive! He’s alive!


What a great song! I had never head of it  until we sung it at the Fellowship Baptist Church this past Sunday, and I was immediately struck by a certain portion of the lyrics.

Christ is risen from the dead

Trampling over death by death

Come awake, Come awake

Come and rise up from the grave

That is a unique phraseology that is familiar to me, as I remember reading about it in a commentary on John Chrystosom’s famous Pashal homily of the early 5th century. It is taken from a line from the Pashal troparion [ie, an ancient Easter hymn that very short and typically chanted] which is well known in most Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox Church traditions, the sum of which is

Christ is risen from the dead,

Trampling down death by death,

And upon those in the tombs

Bestowing life!”

Not just that, but I thought I heard that phrase a bit earlier than the 5th century in some obscure setting. I checked my library, and I found it. There was a man in the late 2nd century named Theodotus the Shoemaker, who was an early Christian writer from Byzantium. Though denounced as a heretic by one of the early Popes, [with good reason, I would argue]  he too used the phrase “death by death” in referring to baptism in some of his gnostic/Valentinian writings.

So while I love that lyric, I’m also somewhat aware that it is not so much the act of death that conquered death, as it was Jesus rising from the death. Seeing as how that statement is linked in the first line, its fair to make the latter statement without being theologically imprecise. All in all though a very good song, and one I heartily enjoy and recommend. Oh, and the last part is clearly a riff on 1 Corinthians 15.

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.  O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;  but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 54-57.

Mistaking gratification for God

There is a fundamental error in the typical North American, seeker-sensitive/ mainline protestant/ non-denomination denomination/mainstream evangelical Church.. It is the assumption  that unbelievers outside the Church are desperately seeking for God- that they’ve a God-shaped hole they’re desperately trying to fill. People will look at their neighbours, coworkers, acquaintances and say “Well what about this guy I know? He’s seeking after God.”

No. You don’t see that. Instead what they see all around are people that are searching for peace of mind, happiness, release from guilt, satisfaction, intellectual and emotional fulfillment,  meaning, significance and purpose in their lives.

Well meaning Christians watch their friends and neighbors searching desperately for these things and they conclude “Well, the only thing that can give them that is Christ”. And so they assume that since they’re searching for that which only God can give them- the benefits of God and his grace, that they therefore must be seeking after him.

That is a step too far, and yet this confusion and is the foundation of their beliefs, and is reflected in their methodology, ecclesiology, soteriology, and everything else in between. The church factory and seeker sensitive approach to baiting and then herding goats has, in this manner, failed on almost every level.  It doesn’t work, because the dirty little secret is that people don’t seek after God.

The biblical testimony makes this clear enough, that mankind is dead in their trespasses and sins and that no one seeks after him. In their selfishness and sin they seek after temporal common graces- poorly- in the hope that they might find some respite from those very effects of their selfishness and sin. There is no God-shaped hole, only a mass of  pride and sin that suppresses the knowledge of God in unrighteousness. There are no seekers, only rebels.

Instead what we find in the ordo solutis is that it God who gives people the faith to believe. God inclines peoples hearts towards him [ this idea of libertarian free will be damned] and only then will they have the ability to repent and believe. Christ in his glory and mercy saves some- the ones that God has given him- and these people will never be snatched from his hand.

A man will be saved not because he found who he was seeking for, but rather because God decreed that who He was looking for would be found.


First Ever Paperthin Hymn Giveaway!

So this is the first ever giveaway for the website. I thought that seeing as how one of the axes I like to grind is the importance of being precise concerning the scriptures, that I would offer up a piece of biblical history. The giveaway therefore is a framed bible leaf from the Geneva Bible, circa 1605, complete with a a legit certificate of authenticity.  Originally printed in 1560, the Geneva Bible was the primary Bible used in the 16th century by the reformers, and was the go-to bible until the King James Version of 1611.

Seeing as how I only have a few readers, I would imagine the odds of winning are extremely good. In order to be entered, all you have to do is post a comment in the comment section of this post, telling me in one sentence each what is your favorite portion of scripture, your favorite hymn, and why. I’ll put them in a hat and pick one at random [I stress, your odds of winning are really, really good]

The winner will be announced in a separate post Tuesday the 23rd.

Have fun, and God bless!

*note, i am giving away a complete bible leaf, not just a fragment of a page. i included that corner closeup so you could see the old school “s’ “, which look like “f’s”


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