D.A. Carson in the ‘Burg

I had the privilege to hear from D.A. Carson (and meet!) the past two days (twice at Heritage Baptist Church and once at Liberty University; the morning session for Liberty was cancelled due to snow). He became progressively better over the weekend and truly challenged me in a way that not many can. He is the prefect blend of scholar and pastor. There are not many who can *melt my face off* with biblical truth like him. I took down as many notes as I could throughout each session and will be posting them below. I have also listed the links were you can find his talks (some may not be up yet). Note that I had cool indentation type things for each sub point, but they dont show up on here… sorry!

Luke 10:25-37

– Made up of two Dialogues
– In both cases the lawyer (theologian – he studies the law [the Pentateuch]) poses a question and Jesus responds with a question back. Then the lawyer answers and only then does Jesus give an answer.
– The parable of the good Samaritan is only a set up to Jesus’ question.

– In ancient times, students would stand up when they desired to present a question. The lawyer stood up to *test* Jesus. i.e. he stood up to fake respect. He was asking a question just to show how smart he was.
– He quotes Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19 in his response.
c.f. Mark 12:28-34
– The context of the answer controls everything!
– Why does Jesus in Mark answer with both Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19? Remember that during this time the world was polytheistic. The wisdom in his answer here is monotheism. Jesus did not cite this to show you how to get saved!
– What makes sin so bad is it is sin against God (c.f. Psalm 51)
– What if God and then others were the center of my thinking? From waking up to sleep?
– This lawyer cites these (Deut and Lev) in a different context than Jesus did. He cites them to say in essence that obedience is the key to salvation.
– Jesus responds with a terrific sense of humor. Ex. “well done chap. go ahead and try that.”

– The lawyer responds slightly embarrassed and needs to justify himself.
– So much of our sin is bound up with self-justification (This is a minor theme of Luke)
– In Jesus’ day, society was highly structured (could tell one’s class by speech, clothing, etc.)
– They stripped the man, thus there was no way to identify who he was or to what class he belonged.
– The Samaritans were DEEPLY hated. It is hard to capture the dislike.
– An attempt at illustrating the gravity of the parable – A fundamental conservative baptist preacher and a well known Presbyterian minister pass by the man… and then the Muslim stops to help.
– In the 2nd century B.C. the Jews attacked the Samaritans and destroyed their temple.
– 2 denarii covers around two weeks. He also promises to cover future expenses.
– In the ancient world there was no credit. If you owed someone money, you paid back by selling yourself or your family into slavery.
– Not only did the Samaritan save the man from death but he saved him from slavery!
– The notion of a crucified Messiah was completely alien to the Jews (including the disciples). Dont Messiah’s win?!
– Everything from Luke 9:51 on is under the shadow of the cross – “heading to Jerusalem.”

What do we learn from this?

1) Eternal life really is inherited – it cant be earned.
2) The narrative as a whole (Luke’s point) is that Jesus is the ultimate good Samaritan. (He was despised, an outcast… yet saves us from death and slavery).
3) Jesus expects his followers to behave like him (The Gospel transforms).
– Dont ask questions, like the lawyer, to make excuses. Just serve!

Luke 16:19-31

– The beginning of idolatry is the de-goding of God.
– Look back to 16:13, 16:11, 16:14-15.
– Not all idols are intrinsically wicked.
– An intrinsically good thing becomes a bad thing when it becomes a God thing.
– God does not detest what we highly value because he is egotistical and cant handle the competition but rather because he knows that idolatry destroys…
– Money, self-justification, and idolatry.
– Look back at the context – Luke 15 – The Prodigal WASTES the fathers possessions. Luke 16 – The Manager WASTES the rich mans possessions. Luke 16 – The Rich man WASTES his own possessions. The theme of wasting what God has given is big here.
– 2 Parts: The Narrative of two different men (v19-23) and the Dialogue (v24-31).

– Rich Man – Note:
– Wearing purple = rich. Only two ways to get purple clothing then. Thus if you have it, it is for purely wealth and flaunting purposes.
– Fine linen = even his underwear is first class.
– feasting everyday = gourmet! waiters! rich!
– Has a gate! Not just a big house.
– Has dogs – in the ancient world dogs were not pets. they were either wild or guard dogs. he had guard dogs!
– Not to be given a name in a story means you are a minor character (in the Ancient world).
– Lazarus – His name means, “the one who God helps” Dont judge too quickly on if God has helped him.

– Abraham’s side = Being at the 1 Patriarchs right hand! (Think last supper with John and Jesus).
– What the rich man sees sets off three cycles of conversation.

Cycle 1 – verses 24-26
– The rich man doesnt address Lazarus! He didnt stoop to speaking to him in life or death!
– He demands services from Lazarus when he didnt even give him dog food!
– Even in Hell the rich man cannot imagine giving up his self-importance!

Cycle 2 – verses 27-29
– Still there is no sign of repentance! No apologizing! Still doesnt address Lazarus!
– If he cant be a table waiter (Lazarus), maybe an errand boy!

Cycle 3 – verses 30-31
– Luke knows where this book is going… Jesus rises from the dead and many dont believe in him.
– Even the most spectacular of miracles will not guarantee Christian faith.

Lessons for us:

1) There is a sphere of rejoicing to pursue and sphere of torment to flee.
– Many complain and warn of people being so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. But if you really are prepared for heaven, your life will be changed now. Being heavenly minded is much better than being earthly minded.
2) Hell is NOT made up of a lot of people who are sorry for what they did, want to leave, and want to repent of their wrong doing. It is made up of people who for all eternity still cherish their own sin.
– These people still want to be the center.
– These people want relief over repentance.
3) The things in which we take so much pride may make us blind to our need of grace.
– Everything (our good works, etc.) flows from our reconciliation to God. You cant have the social change without the Gospel. All that does is create moralism and hypocrisy.
– Lust for ANYTHING is highly corrosive.
4) We must listen to the witness of Scripture or we are damned.
– Nurture peoples love for Scripture!

Link to Heritage Sermons

John 3:1-21 *This message was by far his best and quite possibly the best message I have ever personally heard. I missed so much in my own notes. I would recommend you watch the whole thing. I will insert a few of my friends notes were I feel like they were clearer than my own. Also note that some of my notes will be a little paraphrastic because there was so much info to take down. I will also add words at points to clarify what he was saying.*

– What is the gospel? News. But what about?
– The essence of news is announcing. That is what you do. Many say of the gospel, “preach the gospel, if necessary, use words.” This is like telling the 11 o clock news caster to deliver the news and if necessary use words. We must declare it!
– The Gospel is what God has done in Christ supremely in Christ’s cross and resurrection to reconcile rebels to himself.
– You must know the bad before you can know the good.
– It is not just how we become just but how we are transformed. [My friend James quoted him as saying, “The Gospel isn’t just about how one becomes JUST before God but also how He TRANSFORMS us”]
– We are transformed by the power of God to live differently.
– There is also a relational component to what God does. An indirect effect of the Gospel: reconciling people to each other.
– Eschatological component.

John 3:1-21 – 1 component of the Gospel

(1) v1-10 – What Jesus said about being born again

– Nicodemus – apart of the Jewish ruling council (which rules most of the nation – legislatively and all), not an average Pharisee; a brilliant biblical scholar and expert.
– If there is nothing to suggest it in the text, dont push it!
– “come at night” – John loves using facts in symbol laden ways. He is approaching Jesus out of utter (spiritual) darkness.
– A.D. 200 – Rabbi title only for those who went through school, but not here… by Nicodemus calling him Rabbi he is attaching a certain amount of respect to him.
– Nicodemus is claiming to see something in Jesus; something important. Jesus responds by saying he actually sees nothing.
– You might see the miracle but not the kingdom!
– There was no way Nicodemus was so stupid as to think that Jesus was talking about a legitimate re-birth.
– Jesus was explaining that to really see the kingdom you have to start all over again! Nicodemus then responds by saying that you can start all over again! (how be born again?).
– Born of water and spirit = born again (parallel statements).
– We must think… where did Nicodemus have knowledge that Jesus could appeal to?
– In the domain of your expertise, what does spirit and water mean?
– Look to Ezekiel 36. The coming of the new covenant.
– All Jesus added was the metaphor of new birth itself.
– The teach of Israel is supposed to know this! He has the entire Old Testament memorized… in Hebrew!
– People are cleaned up and transformed.
– Even if you cant explain the mechanics of spirit transformation you can always see the effects!
– Do you really think the Spirit of God is so weak that it produces no effect?

(2) v11-13 – Why Jesus could speak so authoritatively about being born again

– Why does Jesus choose to say “we?” Sarcastic response back to Nicodemus for using “we” earlier.
– You are finding it hard to understand the stuff here on earth… how are you going to understand the throne room of God?! Tell you what… I have been there!
– Jesus can speak so authoritatively because he has come from the right hand of God!
– The gospel brings men and women to God! Not reason, not mysticism.

(3) v14-15 – How Jesus brings about this new birth

– Numbers 21:4ff (Nicodemus would have them memorized! All Jesus needs to do is allude to it)
– Do you know how often whining in the Bible is viewed as idolatry? Whining is idolatry!
– If you want to understand the fundamental basis – Look to Numbers 21.
– We are a sinful, idolatrous brood, due for judgment, under God’s curse and wrath.
– How do we escape? Not a snake on a pole. The son of man on a pole.
– “lifted up” on the cross. To escape THIS death we must look to him.
– Belief = trusting. Abandoning self. Bowing the knee.

(4) v16-21 – Why Jesus was sent to bring about this new birth

– It was all grounded in the love of God! He didnt owe salvation to anyone!
– Eternal life is the fruit of the new birth.
– When God loves the world – It is NOT like our love (you will have to watch the full thing to capture the fantastic illustration he used for this).
– John’s gospel – the world is a damned place. A world of darkness, under condemnation. There is nothing lovable about it. (we often think God finds us irresistible and he cant live without us – wrong!)… it is a terrible place … BUT God loves us anyway because he is that kind of God!
– God loves us not because of who we are but DESPITE who we are!
– Unless you learn to wallow in the limitlessness of the love of God you cannot be mature! [once again, my friend James quoted him a little differently, saying, “You cannot be genuinely mature as a Christian unless you learn to wallow in the limitless dimensions of God’s love for you”]

Q+A Session

— How are we to use repentance in the Gospel (specifically with reference to the unbeliever)?
– Most unbelievers have no idea what this word means.
– Remember, its not the use of a particular word that matters! Just get the non-negotiable across. Turning from old lifestyle and frame of reference.
– If it is genuine belief it necessarily means turning away from all that Christ isnt.
— John 3 – Is it born again or born from above?
– The word’s root makes it seem to be “from above” but word meanings arent always from the etymology! Think of a butterfly. HOW the word is used is more important.
– John probably meant both. But I stick with the translation I am using [when I am speaking].
— What is the greatest threat to a proper understanding of the gospel?
– SIN!
– Depends on what part of the world you are in!
– Hedonism can undercut the gospel without changing any doctrine. The new tolerance threatens. consumerism threatens.
— Are invitations a hindrance to the Gospel?
– [Quotes a story of D.L. Moody] I’d rather have people making lots of mistakes than not doing anything!
– With a poor presentation we are in danger of “healing my people slightly” without understanding the real issues.
– [Most invitations today ask if we want the “abundant life.” What idiot doesnt want that?] But we dont hear what those in the 1st century heard with John 10:10 abundance. This was in the context of a story about sheep.
– We must explain the categories!
– How faithful is the presentation? THAT is the big question!
— What is the balance between law and gospel?
– Law presents the fundamental need of God
– 600+ times the Bible says God stands over us with wrath
– The grace of God without the problem becomes cheap grace
– You cant get the gospel right until you see what the problem is
– [Quotes a story on John Wesley and the law] Tim Keller says: Dont begin with the law. Begin with idolatry. Idolatry portrays the same thing but in a relational way.
– This generation gets betrayal better than trespassing.
— Your points about being transformed and living differently sound like works based salvation?
– The inevitable result of genuine salvation is change in your life. By their fruits you will know them. This does not mean we are perfect or grow at the same rate…
– Holiness becomes attractive over something we must put up with
— Scott McKnight says Christology over soteriology?
– He is right in what he affirms but wrong in what he denies.
– It is not either/or it is both/and. Why pit these two things against each other?
– Dont correct an error bu asking for a pendulum swing.
– How biblically ought they to be intertwined?
— Should disagreements on such topics as dispensationalism and covenant theology be worthy of breaking fellowship over?
– Local church? sure. but you can still share and be kind.
– Some say “anything that doesnt directly effect salvation is irrelevant.” That is dumb! They are essentially asking the question, “what is the least I can believe and get away with it?”
– The right approach is, “how can I understand more correctly so I can think God’s thoughts?”
– If God didnt think it was important, why did he give it?
– We are advocating the debasing of the knowledge of God – that is idolatry!
– We can disagree and be civil
– The constant panting over lowest common denominator theology leaves us with nothing to think about… nothing to glory in, nothing to pant over.
– HATE lowest common denominator theology!
– you cannot become a faithful expositor if you have already adopted a least common denominator theology
– Stay civil and humble.
— How do we best preach the full gospel in light of our busy culture?
– Dont duck the truth!
– We arent THAT busy. Not like the industrial revolution.
– In every culture there are problems to face.
– When you get up in the morning do you check your email or read your Bible? It is a choice.
– You never drift into self-discipline.
– Stop making excuses about how busy you are.
– It is not how busy you are, but what you do with it.
– Dont let the world squeeze you into its mold.

Link for Liberty Sessions


One thought on “D.A. Carson in the ‘Burg

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