Jojo Agot

Theology that Makes the Heart Sing

Like Balm for the Soul

In the book “Encouragement for Today’s Pastors: Help from the Puritans, Terry Slachter and Joel Beeke’s words are like balm for the pastor’s soul. It is amazing how we sometimes feel like we are the only ones facing ministry problems. The Puritans have been there and they offer wise words for us who do ministry in the 21st century.

A minister is never more effective for Christ than when he faithfully perseveres in the midst of great personal brokenness. For in this brokenness, as Sibbes said, you offer people a moving example, stir their minds to ask what keeps you faithful, provide public confirmation of the worthiness of Christ’s cause, and demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit in you. In short, you encourage all who have the same Spirit.

So do not let weakness and suffering bring you down. Your effectiveness has never depended on your own strength, so depend upon God to use you for His glory. The Lord loves His ministers. He decided from eternity past exactly how to work through us, even though we are often blind to how He is working in our circumstances. We can only be faithful to His Word.

The Gospel for Weddings and Funerals

Before the Apostle John wrote about the miraculous healing of the nobleman’s son in John 4:46-54, he made a quick reference to the first miracle of Jesus when he turned the water into wine at Cana in Galilee. Why did he do that? The Bible is known for its economy of words —only what is absolutely necessary must be included. Why the reference? James Montgomery Boice gave us a very good answer: because these two miracles are meant to be read together.

The two stories have similarities. Both miracles were performed using words, not touch; both miracles came with a rebuke to the person who requested; and both miracles were performed low-key. The difference between the two is interesting: the first miracle happened in the midst of a wedding celebration; the second occurred in the midst of sorrow and desperation. John draws our attention to the connection between these two miracles so that we will know that Jesus is more than equal to deal with the highs and lows of our lives. He is present in our celebrations and he never turns his back on us when we are in the throes of desperation.

The combined application of both miracles teaches us that the gospel of Christ is not just for the good times; it is for all the seasons and changes of our lives. There is nothing in our human experience that is outside the reach of his care, whether it is living or dying or birthing or suffering or rejoicing or celebrating. Jesus is Lord over our weddings and funerals. He is Lord over our graduations and hospitalizations, vacations and desperations, birthdays and breakup days. He encompasses all of life.

Weakness is the Way

For some reason God always chooses to display his power against the backdrop of human weakness. His remarkable works in the Bible and in history are performed using weak human vessels. I believe he does this on purpose so that we would know that the work of the Lord, the ministries and jobs he gave us, are meant to be accomplished using his power, not ours.  J.I. Packer is right. Weakness is the way.

Paul said the same thing in 2 Corinthians 4:7-9. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…”

How comforting.

Wives, Submit. Husbands, Die!

Few sentences in the Bible generated as much controversy in our day as Ephesians 5:22. In it, Paul commanded Christian wives to submit to their husbands. Some writers say this verse was so controversial that it helped launch the women’s liberation movement of the 60’s. Never mind that the verse has more words attached to it. Never mind that there is a wider context to Paul’s words. Never mind that Paul actually had more to say to husbands. The word “submit” was just too much for many people. In their minds, the word is synonymous to oppression, subjugation, or dominance.

Assuming we can at least have a break from our shock and rage, today might be a good time to continue reading the rest of the chapter. No, I will not try to pacify you with Greek root words and different shades of meaning of the word “submit.” I just want to draw your attention to Paul’s command to husbands. In Ephesians 5:25 Paul commanded the husbands to love their wives to the point of death.

Shocking, I know.

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As Christ Loves the Church

Ephesians 5:22-33. Paul tied the love-relationship between husbands and wives to the greater theology of Christ’s relationship with the church. You can’t attack the institution of marriage without attacking the theology of the universal church of Christ. And you can’t claim to be a growing disciple of Christ in the church if your marriage do not bear the resemblance of the relationship between Christ and the church.

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