The Gettysburg Address

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the 272 word Gettysburg Address at the dedication ceremony of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

—Abraham Lincoln

The following audio file contains a reading of the Gettysburg Address by Mr. Sam Waterston as it was broadcast on NPR’s Morning Edition on November 19, 2003.

Christianity and Islam

In October of 2006, the White Horse Inn broadcast a short two-part series of interviews between Dr. Michael Horton and former Muslim and professor of Shari’ah Law, Sam Solomon. The series was titled “Christianity Confronts Islam” and the discussions centered on the true nature of Islam, the confrontation between Islamic and Western cultures, and the theological convictions at the root of the conflict.

The free podcast versions of the original episodes are no longer available for download as the broadcast archive only extends back about three months. However, they are presented here for those who are interested in this important topic.

Christianity Confronts Islam – Part 1

Christianity Confronts Islam – Part 2

If you are interested in learning more about the White Horse Inn please visit their website and sign up to receive the free podcast version of the broadcast.

Audio: R.C. Sproul on the Atonement

As a follow-up to the previous post on Yom Kippur I want to present the audio from a portion of Dr. R.C. Sproul’s presentation at Together for the Gospel 2008. The title of his presentation was “The Curse Motif of the Atonement” and it was one of the finest messages I’ve ever had the privilege to hear. FYI – this audio selection is a little over 13 minutes in length.

You can view the entire presentation at Ligonier’s website or download the audio at the T4G website.

What is the Gospel?

I really enjoyed the Together for the Gospel conference this week and was greatly encouraged by all the speakers. Today I’ve been thinking about my role and purpose in Christ’s kingdom and how to take what I learned at this conference and put it into action. The theme of this year’s conference was “The (Unadjusted) Gospel” and while reflecting on the messages it occured to me that there is so much manipulation and distortion of the true Gospel message that perhaps a clear biblical explanation of “the Gospel” is in order.

This three minute audio clip from Dr. R.C. Sproul contains one of the best explanations of the Gospel that I have found.

Here is a transcript of that recording:

There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the Gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the Gospel to you when they tell you, “you can have a purpose to your life”, or that “you can have meaning to your life”, or that “you can have a personal relationship with Jesus”. All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the Gospel.

The Gospel is called the “good news” because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness – or lack of it – or the righteousness of another. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the Gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith – and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him – and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.

— Dr. R.C. Sproul
Ligonier Ministries

I can’t think of a better way to end this post than with the closing line from Dr. Sproul’s message at T4G 2008: “If you believe that, you will stop adding to the Gospel and start preaching it with clarity and boldness, because, dear friends, it is the only hope we have, and it is hope enough.”

Audio: R.C. Sproul at T4G 2010

As far as I know the audio version of Dr. Sproul’s presentation at Together for the Gospel 2010 is not yet available for download. However, I took a few moments this morning to extract the audio layer from the video presentation and want to make it available.

The title of the message is “The Defense and Confirmation of the Gospel — What I Have Learned in 50 years.” It’s about an hour long but is definitely worth the investment of time.

Risen Indeed

I love the internet. After bouncing from site to site following a series of hyperlinks I stumbled upon this beautiful Easter hymn written and performed by Andrew Peterson, one of my favorite artists. If you have a few minutes to spare do yourself a favor and listen to this recording of Andrew performing this song live.

As with most songs written by Andrew Peterson, the beautiful melody and lyrics combine to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This is indeed a “feast for the soul” and poetic expression of praise at its finest.

And so the winter dies with a blast of icy wind
Like a mournful cry—it’s giving up the ghost again
Another sheet of snow melts away to gold and green
Just look at Peter go, he’s racing to the tomb to see

Where has my Jesus gone?
He is not dead; he is risen, risen indeed

And now the flowers bloom like a song of freedom
Behold the earth is new, if only for the season
And so the seed that died for you becomes a seedling
Just put your hand into the wound that bought your healing

And let your heart believe
He is not dead; he is risen, risen indeed

And the rain will fall on the furrow
It immerses the earth in sorrow
Mary, the sun will rise again
Mary, the sun will rise again
Daughter, listen, listen
Daughter, listen
He speaks your name

Father Abraham could not have dreamed of this
Could never understand the end of all those promises
How all the pieces fit, every star and grain of sand
Is safely hid in Jesus’ hand

Let every tongue confess
He is not dead; he is risen, risen indeed

Mary, the sun will rise again
Daughter, listen, listen
Daughter, listen, he speaks your name.

—Andrew Peterson
Risen Indeed

Let every tongue confess “He is not dead; he is risen, risen indeed!”

Via: The Rabbit Room

The Sovereignty of God and Suffering

I originally posted the audio from this NPR interview with Dr. John Piper on August 7, 2008, but I thought it was especially timely in relation to the recent disaster in Haiti and wanted to make it available again. This is a thoughtful, biblical response to people that question the sovereignty of God in the face of tragic events, in this case the subject of the interview was the 2005 Tsunami. The interview is about 30 minutes long but well worth the investment of time.

Related: You can download or listen to the interview at Desiring God.

Does God Hate Haiti?

Update: You can listen to Dr. Mohler read this article:

Dr. Mohler posted a helpful article today regarding the recent disaster in Haiti. You can read the original article here.

The images streaming in from Haiti look like scenes from Dante’s Inferno. The scale of the calamity is unprecedented. In many ways, Haiti has almost ceased to exist.

The earthquake that will forever change that nation came as subterranean plates shifted about six miles under the surface of the earth, along a fault line that had threatened trouble for centuries. But no one saw a quake of this magnitude coming. The 7.0 quake came like a nightmare, with the city of Port-au-Prince crumbling, entire villages collapsing, bodies flying in the air and crushed under mountains of debris. Orphanages, churches, markets, homes, and government buildings all collapsed. Civil government has virtually ceased to function. Without power, communication has been cut off and rescue efforts are seriously hampered. Bodies are piling up, hope is running out, and help, though on the way, will not arrive in time for many victims.

Even as boots are finally hitting the ground and relief efforts are reaching the island, estimates of the death toll range as high as 500,000. Given the mountainous terrain and dense villages that had been hanging along the fault line, entire villages may have disappeared. The Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished nation has experienced a catastrophe that appears almost apocalyptic.

In truth, it is hard not to describe the earthquake as a disaster of biblical proportions. It certainly looks as if the wrath of God has fallen upon the Caribbean nation. Add to this the fact that Haiti is well known for its history of religious syncretism — mixing elements of various faiths, including occult practices. The nation is known for voodoo, sorcery, and a Catholic tradition that has been greatly influenced by the occult.

Haiti’s history is a catalog of political disasters, one after the other. In one account of the nation’s fight for independence from the French in the late 18th century, representatives of the nation are said to have made a pact with the Devil to throw off the French. According to this account, the Haitians considered the French as Catholics and wanted to side with whomever would oppose the French. Thus, some would use that tradition to explain all that has marked the tragedy of Haitian history — including now the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God’s direct and observable judgment.

God does judge the nations — all of them — and God will judge the nations. His judgment is perfect and his justice is sure. He rules over all the nations and his sovereign will is demonstrated in the rising and falling of nations and empires and peoples. Every molecule of matter obeys his command, and the earthquakes reveal his reign — as do the tides of relief and assistance flowing into Haiti right now.

A faithful Christian cannot accept the claim that God is a bystander in world events. The Bible clearly claims the sovereign rule of God over all his creation, all of the time. We have no right to claim that God was surprised by the earthquake in Haiti, or to allow that God could not have prevented it from happening.

God’s rule over creation involves both direct and indirect acts, but his rule is constant. The universe, even after the consequences of the Fall, still demonstrates the character of God in all its dimensions, objects, and occurrences. And yet, we have no right to claim that we know why a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti happened at just that place and at just that moment.

The arrogance of human presumption is a real and present danger. We can trace the effects of a drunk driver to a car accident, but we cannot trace the effects of voodoo to an earthquake — at least not so directly. Will God judge Haiti for its spiritual darkness? Of course. Is the judgment of God something we can claim to understand in this sense — in the present? No, we are not given that knowledge. Jesus himself warned his disciples against this kind of presumption.

Why did no earthquake shake Nazi Germany? Why did no tsunami swallow up the killing fields of Cambodia? Why did Hurricane Katrina destroy far more evangelical churches than casinos? Why do so many murderous dictators live to old age while many missionaries die young?

Does God hate Haiti? God hates sin, and will punish both individual sinners and nations. But that means that every individual and every nation will be found guilty when measured by the standard of God’s perfect righteousness. God does hate sin, but if God merely hated Haiti, there would be no missionaries there; there would be no aid streaming to the nation; there would be no rescue efforts — there would be no hope.

The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point in the globe. The entire cosmos is awaiting the revelation of the glory of the coming Lord. Creation cries out the hope of New Creation.

In other words, the earthquake reminds us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only real message of hope. The cross of Christ declares that Jesus loves Haiti — and the Haitian people are the objects of his love. Christ would have us show the Haitian nation his love, and share his Gospel. In the midst of this unspeakable tragedy, Christ would have us rush to aid the suffering people of Haiti, and rush to tell the Haitian people of his love, his cross, and salvation in his name alone.

Everything about the tragedy in Haiti points to our need for redemption. This tragedy may lead to a new openness to the Gospel among the Haitian people. That will be to the glory of God. In the meantime, Christ’s people must do everything we can to alleviate the suffering, bind up the wounded, and comfort the grieving. If Christ’s people are called to do this, how can we say that God hates Haiti?

If you have any doubts about this, take your Bible and turn to John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. That is God’s message to Haiti.

—Dr. Albert Mohler

Via: Albert Mohler