Saturday, December 6, 2008
Anybody else heard of this? I sure haven't. We sang it in chapel yesterday, and I couldn't believe what we were singing. I LOVE this song! I've heard it said that in a short verse or two of a poem or a good song you can say a volume's worth. This song does just that. It is definitely in line with the Charles Wesley tradition. And since I might as well continue with the musical recommendations, take a peek at these lyrics (and here's the music):
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
Friday, December 5, 2008
This song has moved me to tears by putting me right into the shoes of the ones undergoing the persecution. This might not be as edifying for some as it will be for others because it has been written in the vernacular of the lyricists. Before I say anything more, though, take a look:
written by j. watson, c. njoroge, b. davis, s. linne, m. stokes
The Time: 20th Century
The Place: China
The Martyr: A young girl
“Yeah they went ahead of us, now the path is straight
And died so that we could have life past the grave”
-Da T.R.U.T.H from Our World from The Faith
We would gather so Pastor could season us Christians
We were pleased just to hear the reading of Scripture
Because here in Asia, we can’t worship like the States
Because servants of grace might be murdered for their faith
So we give Christ the praises secretly, we ain’t treated equally
Even on today our bible study’s held illegally
As Pastor opened to read from the first sentence
Communist soldiers kicked the door straight off the hinges
I knew this could happen for accepting His precious gift
They threaten to kill us with guns clutched within their fist
I’m shaken and scared even though Jesus is my everything
I don’t know if I’m prepared to die at the age of seventeen
The leading official turned to my pastor and looked
Put a gun to his face and told him “Hand over the book!”
He reluctantly handed over the text that he so adored
They laughed as he grabbed it and it was smashed to the floor
I was truly grieved as I looked in his eyes
He said, “Any of you can leave if you spit on this book of lies!”
A man walked up, cried as he fell to the floor
“Father forgive me”- “Leave! Now you can go!”
I trembled with fear my mind started to think about death
Hair leaking with sweat I thought my heart would beat through my chest
A woman that walked up next spit on the Bible and left
The official shot in the air of the air continued yelling out threats
I was tempted to do it- I just wanted to leave
The moment I thought this, I felt overwhelmingly grieved
I gritted my teeth, tears began to stream down my face
I needed some faith I just started to think on His grace
In my head I said “forget it” as I walked toward the text
Kneeled to the floor, wiped the spit off the Bible with my dress
To live is Christ, to die is gain ain’t a popular song
I said, “Father forgive them as I was shot in the dome
The Time: 1536
The Place: Outside of Brussels
The Martyr: William Tyndale
I refuse to look to John Huss whose goose was cooked
Lord, I wanna put your truth in books
Now concerning my faith no turning away
I know eternity awaits even if I’m burned at the stake
Like avoiding their attacks of me would profit me
Great Whore that could be properly the papacy and prophecy
They say the Pope’s the holiest
Only if these people could see its phoniness and Scripturally erroneous
The Pope of men fail to respect- they wanna seek death
of William Tyndale so then I inhale a deep breath
Two doors- my hands push
As I stride inside I was grabbed by men hiding- it’s an ambush!
I was sabotaged- he was disguised and camouflaged
As a friend of me- I didn’t know he was the enemy
Now through discerning, I see this group is yearning
With ill will to kill bill like Uma Thurman
It’s a chaotic frenzy as they plot against me
Hey if God defends me or ends me- He’ll soon determine
Now I plead for these people (forgive ‘em!) they grieve Your cathedral
I don’t wanna repay evil for evil
When I’m weak I’m made strong- got my brave face on
We’re sheep for the slaughter being killed all the day long
I’ll never be a man-pleaser
No matter how tight the grip of the hand squeezer
I can’t breathe- I’ll stand with Jesus
Even if plans are grievous as they try to put me to sleep like anesthesia
Now I’m gagging and gasping- I’m sold out for You
No doubt this noose won’t choke out the truth
And leave a lasting legacy- cats who would never read
your Word after the death of me cats can cleverly
get pass the heresy and grab for this weaponry
Your sword- now Lord I pass to the heavenlies
The Time: Approximately 100 A.D.
The Place: Rome
The Martyr: Anonymous
My wrists bleed from the shackles, as I get dragged in the gravel
My ribs hurt, was arrested and tackled.
Snatched up, I was preaching, pulled in a packed road
beat for the God that I stand for
A young man, I’m a Roman, version of Daniel
But yo I got to be an example
Seized by decree of the emperor’s panel
to kill Christians in all of the land so
Yo now they got me, tied up, tugged, getting trampled
Hauled to my death while they chant yo
“NO GOSPEL, CHRIST IS A SCANDAL!”
The mob screams as I’m violently handled
But I am a sample of grace that is ample
to save though the pain isn’t cancelled
Strained as I’m maimed by the rage of the grapple
Each swing hurting me, more than the last blow
Kicked by their sandals, struck by their rods
Cracked from the whips in the hands of the guards
Mocked by the people they bask in their evil
Storing up wrath in the path of my God!
But AH! “What a relief it is to be in Jesus!”
Even beaten if Christ is the reason
Pulled to the center of Rome- a crowd’s meeting
They chant for my death and indict me with treason
I get tied to a pole by a soldier, shaped like an ogre
Rope ‘round my legs and rope ‘round my shoulders
He signals his boys and he yells out,
“Yo ya’ll bring the torch over!”
So now I’m facing the blaze, facing the pain
By grace putting faith in His name
He says, “Last call for a recant”, I say “we can’t!”
So he ignites me in flames
The Time: Approximately 62 A.D.
The Place: Jerusalem
The Martyr: James, the brother of Jesus
Sovereign Lord, You’re so holy, you know me
I’m nothing but dust and I trust in You only
I see the faces in the crowd below me
I’m standing on the rooftop of the temple and they’re about to throw me
Off because I’ve been causing a major fuss
They call me James the Just- Jesus the name I trust
In the days of His flesh, He was my brother in the physical
I thought that He was crazy- enough that I would ridicule
But since His resurrection, I see He meticulously rules
And next to His perfections, I’m ridiculously minuscule
Astounding, I’m taking a pounding and bruised for Him
I look around and see the mountains surrounding Jerusalem
Suddenly I get calm
Reminded of God’s promise in verse 2 of the 125th Psalm
I hear their obscene chatter- for me no tears or screams scattered
Or fears of getting my spleen splattered
Christ is supreme, so extreme is the theme of His redeemed team
My no means is my dream shattered
Embracing what is after as I’m facing this disaster
I have to because no slave is greater than his master
They told me (to) deny Jesus and not be an Apostle
My response- “Repent and believe in the gospel!”
They threw me off the roof for that last phrase spoken
I hit the ground alive with both of my legs broken
They’re acting so wickedly with no sympathy
My blood flowed vividly, I felt stones hitting me
Yo, inwardly Jesus gave me peace like Steve and them
I reached up to heaven and began to intercede for them
“Father forgive them, though their sin’s great and enormous”
One of their own said, “Brothers, wait! He’s praying for us”
One cat had so much hate in his heart for Jesus
His blunt instrument crushed my skull into pieces
The Time: Modern Day
The Place: The Streets of New York
The Martyr: A street evangelist
In the beginning, before throw backs and fitteds
I grew up in a world where no truth was in it
No hopes, no dreams, no future in it
Only crack heads with some state troopers in it
I grew up with a mother, brother, sister- no pops
Fam that’s locked up, DTs and crooked cops
Dope dealers and thugs on street corners and blocks
Dudes that push weight, catch seals and get knocked
That was my life before I married the Christ
So now I rep hard on the block the day and the night
2 A.M. in the morning, it’s my third week in
So far seventeen souls walked away from their sins
It’s a struggle on the block in the heart of the pits
Where the fiends look like zombies as they search for a fix
Fourteen, across the street, and she’s licking her lips
Asking Poppy for a date while she’s grinding her hips
I can’t believe what I’m seeing but thank God for the mission
Because He touches hearts and opens up the mind for the vision
And people saying I should make the right decision
Because the Devil’s steady lurking but I’m moving with precision
I can’t be scared- I’m a soldier for the kingdom
Armored up and I gotta rep hard ‘til I meet Him
And tell the world that it’s crucial they receive Him
Because He’s coming back- nobody knows the A.M. or the P.M.
And on the block I could see it was beef
The Spirit told me they was coming I refused to retreat
The leader stepped to my face saying he was the man
And ain’t no God in earth or heaven gonna ruin his plan
I looked him in the eyes and told him this ain’t have to be the end
The Lord loved him irregardless as to what he done or did
Satan filled his heart so he ain’t really care what I said
Cocked back the nine and bust three shots to my head
Now go listen to a clip at this link:
And when you're done sampling, buy it. ...aww, heck, buy the whole album, it's only $8.99!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
I think that if any of us were to be talking to, say, a Roman Catholic, at some point in the conversation we’d be tempted just to read this passage to them slowly and say, “SEE?!” Well, I sometimes find myself feeling the same way when I’m talking to some people about Romans 9:1-8 or some other passages, so I decided to just paste one of those passages up here and emphasize certain words that I’d like everyone to consider (I mean really think through instead of just brushing them aside because it doesn’t fit with your theological structure) by making the words bold or underlining them or putting them in all caps.
So that’s what I’m gonna do now. And I’m taking for granted that everyone knows the context of this particular book of the Bible (the old, shadowy, typological realities being replaced by the fullness of the prophesied blessings and inheritances), and I’m just taking one text and putting it out there for everyone’s consideration.
And without further ado…
For you (that means YOU as a believer) have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned." Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear." But you HAVE COME (...pause...) to Mount Zion AND to the city of the living God, THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly (ie. the CHURCH) of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect (the perfected saints in heaven), and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken--that is, things that have been made--in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for RECEIVING a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
(Heb 12:18-29 ESV)
I like to read the things that I've put emphasis on right after "But you have come to..." (you have come to Mt. Zion; you have come to the heavenly Jerusalem; etc.) I just get so excited when I read passages like these, even when they're not as clear to my brothers who don't see the fullness of the blessings with which we've been blessed.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
(Rom 1:24-32 ESV)
You could see this passage being realized on the TVs tonight as the final results came back from California and Obama was declared to be the new president of the United States. This certainly was no surprise, and I hope that all of us, as believers, are not in the least worried about the days ahead. Of course, many of us are mourning the wrath that God is evidently bringing upon this nation, but in the midst of all this let's make sure to give God all the glory, pray that HE holds up His people, and brings revival to the church in America today.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Anyways, I could probably babble for a bit about the joys we have today in serving God freely because of His intervention in the life of good ol' Marty, but I just want to post a great little theme song of the reformation instead. I know that many people have already posted it here or there, but I wanna have it here so's I can locate it quickly in the future. So, for those of you who have no idea what I'm referring to, check this out:
The Reformation Polka
by Robert Gebel
[Sung to the tune of "Supercalifragilistic-expialidocious"]
When I was just ein junger Mann I studied canon law;
While Erfurt was a challenge, it was just to please my Pa.
Then came the storm, the lightning struck, I called upon Saint Anne,
I shaved my head, I took my vows, an Augustinian! Oh...
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!
When Tetzel came near Wittenberg, St. Peter's profits soared,
I wrote a little notice for the All Saints' Bull'tin board:
"You cannot purchase merits, for we're justified by grace!
Here's 95 more reasons, Brother Tetzel, in your face!" Oh...
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!
They loved my tracts, adored my wit, all were exempleror;
The Pope, however, hauled me up before the Emperor.
"Are these your books? Do you recant?" King Charles did demand,
"I will not change my Diet, Sir, God help me here I stand!" Oh...
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation -
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!
Duke Frederick took the Wise approach, responding to my words,
By knighting "George" as hostage in the Kingdom of the Birds.
Use Brother Martin's model if the languages you seek,
Stay locked inside a castle with your Hebrew and your Greek! Oh...
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation -
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!
Let's raise our steins and Concord Books while gathered in this place,
And spread the word that 'catholic' is spelled with lower case;
The Word remains unfettered when the Spirit gets his chance,
So come on, Katy, drop your lute, and join us in our dance! Oh...
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation -
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!
Happy Reformation Day everybody!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Keep in mind that the men who wrote this confession didn't have the privilege that we in America have to take part in the process by which our leaders are appointed. They also had much more to lose than we do if the wrong person came to power; they had to worry about their lives while we worry about much more self centered things. This being said, they still had a Biblical attitude and outlook on the situation no matter who got in the office.
My questions when sharing this are:
1. Do we have the same attitude?
2. Do we believe that God is totally sovereign in the whole process?
3. Will we be content with whatever God brings about in this election?
4. Do we trust God with the outcome?
5. Will we submit to the authority (when it doesn't compromise our obedience to our God)?
6. Will we pray for the salvation of our leaders and our safety when they get there?
Well, here's the section of the confession that inspired me to write this. I really pray that we can have the same mind that they did on Wednesday morning no matter what God gives us...
That a civil Magistracy is an ordinance of God set up by God for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well; and that in all lawful things commanded by them, subjection ought to be given by us in the Lord: and that we are to make supplication and prayer for Kings, and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a peaceable and quiet life in all godliness and honesty.
The supreme Magistracy of this Kingdom we believe to be the King and Parliament freely chosen by the Kingdom, and that in all those civil Laws which have been acted by them, or for the present is or shall be ordained, we are bound to yield subjection and obedience unto in the Lord, as conceiving ourselves bound to defend both the persons of those thus chosen, and all civil Laws made by them, with our persons, liberties, and estates, with all that is called ours, although we should suffer never so much from them in not actively submitting to some Ecclesiastical Laws, which might be conceived by them to be their duties to establish which we for the present could not see, nor our consciences could submit unto; yet are we bound to yield our persons to their pleasures.
And if God should provide such a mercy for us, as to incline the Magistrates' hearts so far to tender our consciences, as that we might be protected by them from wrong, injury, oppression and molestation, which long we formerly have groaned under by the tyranny and oppression of the Prelatical Hierarchy, which God through mercy hath made this present King and Parliament wonderful honorable, as an instrument in his hand, to throw down; and we thereby have had some breathing time, we shall, we hope, look at it as a mercy beyond our expectation, and conceive ourselves further engaged forever to bless God for it.
But if God withhold the Magistrates' allowance and furtherance herein; yet we must notwithstanding proceed together in Christian communion, not daring to give place to suspend our practice, but to walk in obedience to Christ in the profession and holding forth this faith before mentioned, even in the midst of all trials and afflictions, not accounting our goods, lands, wives, children, fathers, mothers, brethren, sisters, yea, and our own lives dear unto us, so we may finish our course with joy: remembering always we ought to obey God rather than men, and grounding upon the commandment, commission and promise of our Lord and master Jesus Christ, who as he hath all power in heaven and earth, so also hath promised, if we keep his commandments which he hath given us, to be with us to the end of the world: and when we have finished our course, and kept the faith, to give us the crown of righteousness, which is laid up for all that love his appearing, and to whom we must give an account of all our actions, no man being able to discharge us of the same.
And likewise unto all men is to be given whatsoever is their due; tributes, customs, and all such lawful duties, ought willingly to be by us paid and performed, our lands, goods, and bodies, to submit to the Magistrate in the Lord and the Magistrate every way to be acknowledged, reverenced, and obeyed, according to godliness; not because of wrath only but for conscience sake. And finally, all men so to be esteemed and regarded, as is due and meet for their place, age, estate and condition.
And thus we desire to give unto God that which is God's, and to Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to all men that which belongeth unto them, endeavoring ourselves to have always a clear conscience void of offence towards God, and towards man.
...and thanks to Phil Johnson for having this confession readily available on his blessing of a website, http://www.spurgeon.org/. Go check it out!
Friday, October 10, 2008
Ya know, I'm not sure why I haven't mentioned it before, but while I was perusing through The Forgotten Trinity by James White I noticed that he had written about the fact that Jesus was shown to be Jehovah Almighty in John 12 long before I had come across this and pointed it out to the JDubs or written it on my blog. This caused me to wonder why I haven't recommended James White's resources already.
I have benefited from James White's ministry since before I got saved, and I think that I should at least recommend all his stuff to you all. I do mean all his stuff, by the way. Whether you will be in contact with Mormons or JDubs or Roman Catholics or Muslims you can learn much more about them and how to answer their false claims by checking out Dr. White's blog, mp3s, books, or whatever else he has to offer. Believe me, I'm not the only one that thinks so. I bought 3 books from his website, and I loaned The King James Only Controversy to someone and never got it back, and I have been asked to lend The Potter's Freedom out to someone, but I let my dad borrow that one first.
Anyways, I know that many of you that take the time to look at my blog are planning to go into some type of full time vocational ministry, so you're gonna need to not only be able to teach sound doctrine but also rebuke those who contradict it (Tit. 1:9). You can be sharpened in each of these areas by Dr. White's resources, and since we all would agree that we want to have the best resources for our itty bitty bankrolls we should add his stuff to our libraries.
And, by the way, Dr. White has some important debates planned for the next year that involves traveling around the US and overseas, and he is in need of support from those who do benefit from his ministry. I say this because I know the desire to get the best deals for your books by going to Amazon or some place else online, but consider supporting Alpha and Omega Ministries (Dr. White's ministry) in their continued efforts to equip the body by buying the books and mp3s (which I have the most of) directly from his website. It really doesn't help the cause of Christ or a relatively small ministry for us to buy these things from a large un-Christian company like Amazon, so consider going through AOMin.org. As a matter of fact, get on over there right now by clicking HERE!
Not Peer-Review, Pre-review. It could in no way be a peer review since I am in no way man enough to be considered a peer of the one to be reviewed. On the other hand, I want to give a review of a book that I haven't finished reading yet. As a matter of fact, I'm not completely finished with the introduction. The reason that I felt the need to give a review now is because of the quality of the book thus far and the importance of the material being presented in the book. I'm actually reading the first volume of three in the set, and after reading the first few pages I'm quite anxious to get to the rest of the material. If it weren't for this stupid schoolwork!.
The Set is called Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, and I've been desiring this set for quite some time now. Just recently, the Lord used someone who I had not previously been acquainted with to supply me with this treasure. This person shall remain nameless due to the fact that I want to keep him safe from someone else attempting to mooch. Even still, thank you very much, sir, for your generosity. I pray that the Lord will produce fruit in and through me as a result of the knowledge that I gain from your (and your co-author's) contribution AND that he will continue to use you to bless others as you have been a blessing to me.
Now, let me bless you readers with a tidbit from the first volume…
From the start, the author (David King) shares a quote from a man who was a Protestant who converted to Roman Catholicism and back to Protestantism that was edifying. This quote had some insightful observations that I'm surprised others who are close to Roman Catholic (RC) teaching haven't been able to admit. It just goes to show you that the light must come from God. This man basically said that the RC Church had such a history of contradiction that anyone would have to be crazy to trust them as an authority for truth. He contrasted the absurdity of Rome with the unshakable reliability of the Scriptures. Can I get a Amen?!
Well, I only want to share one last thing to entice you to add this one to your library. The introduction recounts a tale of when John Calvin was attending a debate that his friends were having with some RC officials. His friend urged him to get involved, but Calvin declined because he knew that his friends had the other guys handled. Calvin apparently changed his mind when one of the RCs accused the reformers of mishandling the Church Fathers, and he quickly stood up and put them in their place by rightfully turning the accusation back at the rightful offenders. The most edifying quote from one of the accusing RC friars follows:
"It seems to me that the sin against the Spirit which the Scriptures speak of is the stubbornness which rebels against manifest truth. In accordance with that which I have heard, I confess to be guilty, because of ignorance I have lived in error and I have spread the wrong teaching. I ask God's pardon for everything I have said and done against His honor; and ask the pardon of all you people for the offenses which I gave with my preaching up until now. I defrock myself henceforth to follow Christ and His pure doctrine alone…"
I wrote in the margin next to this quote "!!!God is A-mazing!" I think that this one is a no-brainer for the personal library, and the best price I've found is for the whole set on James White's website. Here's the link: Click me! Go buy it now and thank me later.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The reason I entitled this post thusly is because I was dialoguing with a Roman Catholic following my first post on Roman Catholicism, and he mentioned a text that I cover in this post. I hope that he reads this; and I hope to have some good interaction on this; and I hope this is helpful and edifying to those who can be delighted by it. And so I continue…
Some point out the warning passages as evidence that someone can actually walk away from the faith and ultimately end up in hell, but this is simply not so. An examination of the contexts of these passages will once again vindicate my claim. The only thing that you can gather from the warning passages is that if someone walks away from the faith then they were never actually saved to begin with.
Take I John 2:19: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us."
The warning passages were written to those whom the authors were actually quite hopeful about. They were warning their recipients, but they were sure that those reading were not of the sort who would "fall away." The writer to the Hebrews made sure to mention the fact that he didn't expect his readers to "fall away." He said, "Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things--things that belong to salvation. (Heb. 6:9)" So, the writer apparently didn't believe that "falling away" was something that "belonged to salvation." In other words, if you had true salvation that was brought about by God, you wouldn't "fall away."
Another passage that is frequently twisted by Roman Catholics is Philippians chapter 2, verse 12:
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," (Php 2:12 ESV)
A Roman Catholic will attempt to utilize this verse in teaching to have a fear of losing your salvation, but by simply reading and contemplating the very next verse, this erroneous perspective falls apart:
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
(Php 2:13 ESV)
I actually commented on this passage once before elsewhere, so I'll just post it here instead of writing it all over again:
"Paul tells believers to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Why? According to the RC understanding, it is because we need to be worried about maintaining our standing in God's favor. This seems like a feasible understanding of the text, too. Never mind if Paul informs believers in verses such as Romans 5:1 or Philippians 1:6 that we are at peace with God and that He will bring us through this life in a good standing with Him. That is, it seems feasible unless Paul indicates another meaning behind it.
So what does Paul say within the context of Philippians 2:12? Well, how bout we read it with the next verse?
Php 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, (13) for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
So, it seems as if Paul is telling believers to "work out [their] salvation" in this way "FOR (or because, or for this reason) it is GOD" doing these things in them-- not themselves. God forbid we should get the false assumption that we have anything to do with our salvation. GOD has done, is doing, and WILL DO all of it. We are simply recipients of His grace who have the privilege of being used by Him to bring Himself glory and praise. How sweet the sound of that grace!"
And here's something for further reflection: Paul points out the fact that God gives the will AND the work in verse 13. First of all, what do you think this means? It seems to me that Paul is saying that God is actually performing the works through us that bring Him pleasure. In other words, believers are instruments in God's hands that are used to accomplish the things that He likes to see. I realize that others have a slightly different understanding of this, but I think that this is the most legitimate reading. The main point, though, is that if God is the one performing the actual works that believers do, how can we fall short of the promised reward? This is the point of Paul's warning; if we don't have the desire or the works, we should be very afraid to the point of following the exhortation in II Corinthians 13:5--Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
Each of us should reflect upon both of these passages and respond to the Spirit's leading, whether that means falling on our faces before God in humble repentance or singing to God the praise in our hearts for the great work of salvation He has, is and will perform in us. He is worthy of all our praise!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Lately, I've been struggling with finding enjoyment in my relationship with God. I honestly have not been able to experience the enjoyment in my prayer life and daily fellowship with God as I once had. I'm not really sure why (though I have a few clues), but I have been content to endure through this valley until my Savior will refresh me in His perfect time.
Well, I realized as I was listening to the message at church last Sunday that this is a preposterous way of handling the situation. I don't remember what exactly the Lord used to bring this to my attention, but an illustration I heard when listening to Desiring God shined a whole new light on the situation. The illustration basically says that a man's wife would not be honored by her husband bringing her a dozen long-stemmed roses if, when she expressed her gratitude, her husband says, "Don't mention it; it's my duty." This illustration, I'm ashamed to say, sums up my recent relationship with the God Who plucked me out of my sinfully destructive lifestyle and placed me into His heavenly family. He has saved me from eternal torment and given me not only eternal life, but He has given me abundant life on this earth; and I should be fighting to experience that joyfully abundant life. Me not doing this is nothing less than sin.
Lately, though, I have been reading and listening to some more devotional material such as Desiring God, Pursuit of God and Augustine's Confessions; and God has been pleased to reveal Himself in a deeper way to me through the insights of these much appreciated saints. I have been encouraged to not seek to enjoy God by saying, "Boy, these sure are great gifts that God has given," but rather by saying, "God is my most valued treasure, and I have nothing that I desire but You, oh Lord!" These, by far, are what I most need to recognize and to strive after.
The only problem I've had with these encouragements has been the fact that I have nothing tangible to focus my attention on because God is Spirit. How do you focus you praise and adoration on an abstract being? Many people that have gone before me have made this same error; and this, of course, is a sure way to lead to idolatrous worship. Though, by God's grace, I've been enabled to grasp one aspect of this beholding of and worshiping of God for Him rather than His gifts…
Lately, I have been pondering certain things about the nature of God and how Christ upholds the universe. In Colossians 1:17 Paul informs us that all things are held together in Christ. How does this work? Does Jesus consciously direct each and every blood vessel and muscle fiber in my body, or has He simply determined the laws by which those things operate, set them in motion and then hold those laws within a certain parameter? Adding to my curiosity is Ephesians 1:11 which says that God "works ALL things according to the counsel of his will." Really? All things? For some, this topic might not hold any appeal; for me, though, the topic has consumed much of my thinking lately.
But the real significance of this train of thought is the fact that as I was pondering this the other day, I began to wonder what it will be like when I sit in the presence of God Himself. Will He reveal these things to me? I'm sure that He will reveal more than what I now know. I can picture myself sitting, listening as Jesus explains the complexities of all of history. Why did he allow those gruesome acts to take place? After all, God not only knows what has happened in history, but He knows why it happened. He determined that it would happen. And I will one day sit in His presence. The mere fact that He may enlighten my understanding of the past is not good enough, though. The mere fact that I will be in His presence is the thing that brings me joy. I will one day be in the presence of God, and anything I can imagine that experience to be will not do it justice.
Actually, I am in God's presence now. He Who is everywhere and nowhere at once. He is right here with me now. He sees all that I do. He causes my heart to groan after Him. I love Him for all these things. I pray that I will realize these things more frequently and that I will be aware of anything that will take this awareness and joy away before I allow myself to plunge into unnecessary misery again.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Well, I got my new issue of TIME magazine today, and guess whose mug is plastered across the front of it? None other than Rick Warren. Apparently, "America's most powerful religious leader," as TIME titles him, is doing some incredibly charitable acts in nearly every corner of the globe. It seems that he has a good start, as well; but he has also encountered some roadblocks. TIME has the complete story (what they've covered of it, anyhow) here: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1830147,00.html.
As I skeptically began reading this article, I expected to find more ecumenically condemning snippets than I did, but I must say that I have finished more disappointed than anything. The disappointment, maybe to your surprise, is not what you may have guessed. The article relates Warren's plans of setting up (Purpose Driven) churches in every country in order to meet the needs of the…needy. I heard previously that Warren was teaming with many different non-Christian religious leaders in order to accomplish this aspiration of his, but I didn't hear much about that in this article. Rather, Warren seems to be gaining popularity with political leaders.
Athough Warren is rubbing elbows with the likes of Barack Obama and the president of some African country, he maintains his allegiance to his pastoral role. On the other hand, Warren has invited America's two presidential candidates to discuss the issues at hand on August 16th in his church. I really don't see anything wrong with this; as a matter of fact, this is normal historically. The topics are what concerns me: according to TIME, Warren plans to shy away from "'sin issues'—like abortion and gay marriage" in order to focus on "questions that he feels are 'uniting,' such as 'poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and human rights…'"
To sum up, the reason why I have come away from this article in disappointment is not because Warren is accomplishing these kind acts for mankind all over the world. I do, however, believe that he is being rather political in his approach in order to be successful, and he probably is enlisting the aid of non-Christians to accomplish his goal. I just don't condone this unification with unbelievers from someone who calls himself a preacher of the Gospel. But the disappointment I feel is that someone like Warren has initiated this movement to reach the world in order to meet their physical needs when someone who would be more likely to have a focus on meeting their spiritual needs is not.
All in all, I think it's nice that someone is taking the initiative to gets these things done, and I pray that—no matter how flawed Warren's methods—God will use those associated with this movement to reach those others for whom Christ died. Brings to mind the thought of God raising up rocks to bring Him glory...
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Enjoyment is something that we all seek. If we're seeking it in something other than God, we are denying God the rightful place in our lives.
This paragraph is from one of CS. Lewis's sermons entitled "The Weight of Gory." I came across it when listening to the first chapter of Desiring God. I believe that it's an accurate assessment of most people's flawed understanding of what our motives ought to be when seeking to serve God and others. Take a look, and lemme know what you think...
"If you asked twenty good men today what they thought highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order to follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half- hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
Now, before you deny this as being applicable to you, seriously consider your true motives when seeking to serve others...do you simply deny yourself something and take pleasure in your own piety? Do you exalt yourself in your own mind? Do you rob yourself of your heavenly reward? There is a fine line between seeking joy in serving others and seeking self satisfaction in your own pride. This is truly something to think about. Please prayerfully consider these things, and aim (as I have been seeking to do) toward the pure goal of satisfaction and joy in bringing joy to others and glorifying God in the process.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Lately, the topic of security in Christ has come up in more than one conversation. I am alarmed when I hear of this, but I’m not quite as bothered by it as when some believe that they are “once saved, always saved” because many times this position is without proper Biblical backing. The alert over the doubting of some is why, in this post, I hope to give a summary of some Biblical texts that teach the true meaning of security in Christ. This will cover some texts that are twisted by some religious groups to keep their followers from ever truly trusting in Christ, and I hope will quell the doubts of whomever might read this while struggling with this issue.
The thing of first importance in this, I believe, is a correct theology of salvation. This begins by realizing that everyone is born a dead sinner who is blind and deaf to spiritual things. If this is realized, one huge hindrance in the process of complete trust in Christ is subdued. I don’t desire to make this a book-length blog post, so I won’t delve into many of the supporting texts concerning this truth. I will, however, cite one that teaches both the inadequacy of man to respond to spiritual things and the sufficiency of Christ to keep those who do respond. So, this theology of salvation will be taken mainly from John 6:37-39 & 44.
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (44) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (Joh 6:37-39, 44 ESV)
Notice that Jesus points out the fact that “All” those given to Him by the Father “will” come. We know from the context that not everyone is given to Jesus because no one can come without being drawn (v. 44), and whoever is drawn WILL come (v. 37). This is imperative because it means that God is the one accomplishing the action—not man. Therefore, if God has performed this action we can be confident that it WILL be accomplished (Phil. 1:6).
Notice also that Jesus says that everyone who is drawn not only WILL come, but they will be raised up at the last day. Jesus points this out in verses 39 and 44. My question to the one struggling with security in salvation is, “Can Jesus fail?” Even if you were to say that you walking away is what keeps you from being raised up, doesn’t this ultimately mean that Jesus kept you from persevering? It would necessarily mean that Jesus actually DID lose some of the ones that He was not supposed to lose. Though, if it’s the will of the Father for Jesus to keep all who come to Him, He must accomplish His task or fail. I submit that He will NEVER fail in this mission. On the contrary, He CANNOT lose any of them—He’s God for cryin out loud!
I know it was short, but for this time, I’ll quit here. I think that the obvious truth of this passage is…well, obvious! I pray that anyone reading this is able to see the fact that if it was God’s intention to save you in spite of your insurmountable shortcomings, then He’ll most certainly not change His mind and let you walk away from Him afterwards. Though I was short, I pray that anyone who is unsure of this truth will take the time to read this section in John 6; and if you have any objections, I’m happy to spend some time interacting on this topic. In the meantime, keep an open eye for my next post on this same topic…
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Now that I’ve heard many Piper sermons and have even seen him speak at the 2008 T4G conference, I have really grown to appreciate this man’s ministry. I have been excited by him to behold the glory of God. I have actually heard Dr. Piper speak and read some things he has written, and even when I start out disagreeing with him I normally have to concede to his point by the time I finish. He is an exegete, and I cannot find many of his things I disagree with when I consider carefully. And he always accomplishes the goal of giving God much glory as far as I’ve seen. His whole ministry is focused on this and directing others to take joy in God and to make Christ their treasure.
I recently heard this quote by Dr. Piper: “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your treasure?” I think this sums it all up. I heard this quote when I was listening to my new favorite book in audio form—Desiring God. I cannot more highly recommend this book. This book is about making much of God and making the pursuit of your life to seek joy in God in everything you do. I think this is a high calling that every child of the King should be adopting.
We should most definitely seek to achieve the highest form of pleasure in this life, and this pleasure is to be found nowhere but in God. If we seek pleasure in anything else, we are disobeying many of God's commands. This also extends to serving others and is stated very well in Desiring God like this: “Love is the overflow of joy in God gladly meeting the needs of others.”
I realize that many people do not care for John Piper, and I have a friend who seemed to have some helpful insight into why this might be. He said that they are either (1) Jealous of the following that Piper has, (2) Are not saved, or (3) They have simply not experienced this enjoyment in God. I’m not really sure how you can separate the last two, but when I realized as I was listening to this book that I was not enjoying God as I once was I was overcome with grief. I had to plead with God to forgive me and to recreate in me this passion for Him to overflow into every area of my life. So, if John Piper exudes a joy in God that spreads to others then I think that he’s not as bad as some would make him out to be.
I must say in closing that I would not commend a man like this in most cases, but John Piper is not one who seems to be out to promote himself. If there ever was a man who pointed away from himself and to God it’s him. He certainly does carry himself well (I thought he was about 6 feet tall, but he’s about 4’10”!) and speak captivatingly, but all of these gifts are being used to point others to Christ over any miniscule pleasure this world has to offer. So, I will gladly commend John Piper to anyone in the hopes that they will catch a passion for the glory of God in all things and join the ranks of the Christian Hedonists who are provoking others to do the same.
Thank God for John Piper! And thank God I’m a Christian Hedonist too!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
"Would you be satisfied to go to Heaven, have everybody there in your family that you want there, have all the health and restoration of your prime and everything you disliked about yourself fixed, have every recreation you've ever dreamed available to you and have infinite resources of money to spend? Would you be satisfied?...if God weren't there?"
So as I'm honestly thinking through this question I ponder what my speculations about Heaven entail, and I wonder what is it that I am looking forward to in Heaven. I suppose that I assumed that God's children would be forever before His throne praising Him. I believe that that would be most satisfying, but I am not convinced that that will be our only task.
I've been doing a bit of studying in eschatology (I posted my position paper from my Systematic Theology class a few months ago), and I can't help but consider the idea that when God creates the new Heavens and new Earth that He will place His people into those perfect environments. I got to thinking that when we are in our resurrection bodies, not suffering from any sinful thoughts or temptations which would normally take our minds off of our God, walking through the fields and up the paths which God has given us that we will enjoy it and every gift that God has given us for exactly what it is--God's gift to us! We will no longer take a breathe without glorifying God with our gratitude for that breath. We will no longer eat a meal without glorifying God by enjoying it and recognizing who gave us that enjoyment. We will no longer gaze upon the beauty of the creation that God has placed us into without a perfect realization of what we are enjoying and how we have come to be able to partake in it. We will no longer sin in these things or in any other way!
I don't know about you, but I suffer from temptation and sinful lapses daily, and to be able to have God at the forefront of all of my thoughts without Him slipping to the back of my mind would be the most satisfying thing for me. And to not only know what is being enjoyed and Who has given it, but to also be able to communicate with Him personally. I mean IN PERSON!
Well, I bring all this up to hopefully encourage anyone reading this who is in Christ with the hope of Heaven having been laid before you. And if these things are any kind of possibility for our future, then we should be striving in our prayers and in our daily actions to think this way. Everything in your life is a gift from God. I don't care if it's something as seemingly insignificant as the bowl of cereal that you had for breakfast to something all encompassing as a serious injury that keeps you out of work for a year. We, as children of our heavenly Father, should be reminding ourselves and our siblings in Christ that our Father loves us and is accomplishing all of the events in our lives for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory and that we ought to be grateful for every little detail.
Read Romans 8 regularly. As a matter of fact, read Romans 7-8 when you struggle with or fall into sin. Also read I Peter regularly. Remember when reading this book that God has plucked you out of your sinful, hopeless lifestyle, and given you a sure hope in Heaven with Him. He has not only chosen you for that blessing but for the blessings of hardships in order for you to fully realize your dependence on Him and to love Him that much more.
Oh, to have our minds transformed in this way! Let's work on it and pray for God's assistance, without which we will never persevere. And may God be glorified in our enjoyment of Him!
Friday, June 27, 2008
------------------------------------>If you’re anything like me, you would be very disappointed/enraged/distraught/saddened by this spectacle. You would probably share the same sense of provokedness in your spirit as Paul did when he was walking through Athens amidst all of the idols that were being worshiped.
This picture, by the way, was taken of the side of someone's house.
I have been involved in quite a bit of study and interaction with Roman Catholics (RC’s) in the last 5 years or so and I have had quite a burden for them mainly due to the fact that my in-laws are RC’s. I have learned much about the way in which RC’s understand the Gospel (or misunderstand), and I have spent a lot of time on discussion forums discussing this and other issues with them.
Lately, I haven’t given much time or thought to the subject, but when I see disappointing examples like the one in this picture I have to ask myself why I’ve not been taking the time to evangelize these lost and deceived people. I have spent much time in a priest by the name of Sean’s house attempting to reason with him, but when he realized that the reason I was attempting to convince him of the truth of substitutionary atonement was because I didn’t believe him to be a Christian he told me not to come back. This greatly disturbed me, but it’s in the Lord’s hands, not mine. In the future, I hope to have some more interaction with him, and I pray that the Lord will reveal to him that I deeply care for him and am concerned for his soul. Nevertheless, I would like to spend some time on some future posts to explore the topic of Roman Catholicism and how to approach those infected by the false teaching contained therein.
Without getting into any specific issues in this post, I would just like to lay out some guidelines that I think to be helpful when approaching RC’s with the Gospel:
- Do NOT attempt to argue with them about Mary, purgatory, the papacy, or any other absurdity that will appear absurd to them upon a realization of the true Gospel and the finished work of Christ.
- If they attempt to cite any particular Bible verses as a proof text for their position and you have the luxury of looking at that text with them, do it. Without fail, an examination of the context will reveal the fallacy of their understanding of that verse. If you have a prior knowledge of the context of the verse in question and no time to look at it, remind them of it and invite them (humbly) to take a look at it.
- Ask them if they think that they are a good person, and follow the steps in The Way of the Master evangelistic approach (see the link in the left column that asks if you are a good person). This approach is a good technique for showing someone the weight of their sin in God’s eyes and why they need the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Well, I hope to add to this soon, and I hope to cover as many areas as possible by the time I’m finished. Until then, find a Roman Catholic and tell ‘em about the Jesus Who saves AND keeps to the very end (John 6:39).
Monday, June 2, 2008
With that being said, I wanted to ask for some input from some more well rounded readers. While witnessing to the JW's at the Kingdom Hall last week, my focus was to understand what they believed and to approach them in the wisest possible way with the Gospel. I found that they would answer correctly when I asked what it takes to become a part of Jehovah's family and to take part in the life to come (more or less). I decided to approach them by pointing out that they can have a real, solid faith in this one whom they call Jesus Christ, but that if their faith was in the wrong Jesus Christ (they believe that Jesus is the alter-ego of Michael the archangel) they were lost in their sins. I attempted to inform them that for them to say that they believed in a Jesus Christ who is actually Michael the archangel then they are about as well off as I would be if I said my faith was in a Jesus who, in my mind, was actually John Fieck (my friend who just happened to be standing there at the moment).
I know that it's pretty evident by my previous posts that I'm not the most tactful fellow, so I wonder if anyone can contribute a suggestion as to how I can most tactfully inform them of this massive detail. I would like to be able to approach them with these facts without being offensive because the Gospel is offensive enough without my foot-in-mouth syndrome getting in the way of the perfectly pure, Spirit-designed offense. So, would anyone like to inform me of my flawed ways and how you would correct them?
Sunday, June 1, 2008
The reason for my visit (on which I was accompanied by my two friends: John and Enric) was because I have been visited a couple of times by JW's, and the last time (last Tuesday) one of them told me where he attended. My goal was to be an open witness because I was told that it was a question and answer time. It wasn't, though. We had to endure the whole "service" before we were able to interact with the people. By God's grace, we had the opportunity to witness to several people.
I have noticed in my more recent dealings with these folks that they are apt to use Proverbs 8 as evidence for Christ's lack of eternality. They assert that Christ is who is being referred to as wisdom in this passage. They say that since this wisdom speaks of herself (wisdom refers to herself in the feminine) as being "produced" (v. 23 New World Translation=NWT) and "brought forth as with labor pains" (v. 24 NWT), then Christ was a merely a creation of God who was "beside" God (v. 30) during the creation of everything else.
There are a couple problems with this theory of theirs. First, there is no other place in Scripture, to my knowledge, which lends support for this view. I appreciate typology in the OT referring to Christ, but I think that since there are no explicit explanations of this passage as referring to Christ then we should be careful how far we take this. Second (and adding to the first), wisdom is said to "dwell with prudence" (v. 12 NWT). Does this mean that Jesus has a sister named Prudence? Wisdom is also referred to as a she in this passage. I know that that isn't the strongest argument, but no one is going to agree to the idea that Christ is a feminine being no matter how much our post-modern culture tries.
I think that Proverbs 8 needs to be stretched pretty far in order to apply it fully to Christ. Sure, wisdom could be some kind of picture of Christ as the ultimate example of wisdom displayed in history, but in order to fully apply a passage as a type we need more Scriptural interpretation than what is asserted by the JW's. For example, in Isaiah 6 we are told that Isaiah "got to see Jehovah" (v. 1 NWT). We are also told in John 1:18, "No man has seen God (notice the big G) at any time..." but "...the only begotten god (and the little g)..." If this is true, who did Isaiah see. The text says that he saw JEHOVAH. Well, in John 12:41 we are told by the inspired writer of Scripture that Isaiah was speaking of Christ. So if Isaiah said that He saw Jehovah and John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said that Isaiah was speaking of Christ, then we are safe in concluding that Christ is Jehovah. That is a safe way of interpreting unclear passages in the OT. Look to a confirmation of your theory by a NT writer.
If your JW friend has a problem seeing the connection between John 12 and Isaiah 6, tell him to take a look at the cross reference at verse 41 in John 12. It references Isaiah 6:1.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I won't ask how many times Scott passed out during the ordeal, but I'm sure it's safe to say that they are both relieved to have it over and done with. I've been there. Come this time next year, you might even be doing it again. HAHA!
Thanks to God for answered prayer in the form of health for the baby and survival for the parents! We'll keep praying that Bryce will follow the Lord along with all of my kids...
And since I didn't have a picture of the boy to post on my blog I pasted a picture/link to Scott's website. We'll work on adding a picture of the newbie soon.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
The thing that has been most on my mind lately is the health of the church today. This has been overwhelming me to the point that I have made that passion supersede the practical outworkings that I’ve been so disappointed not to see in the Church today. Since I’ve been made aware of this problem, I’ve decided to attempt to share some of the things that I think necessary for us in the Church to be aware of in order for us to have a more effective witness with those around us. So I’ll be sharing some of the things that I’ve gleaned from my studies and the experiences that I’ve had with members of false religions in my future posts along with the issues that I believe are important in the Church today.
When I got saved, I was pretty anxious to tell people about Jesus, and I’m sure that this was the case with most upon their conversion as well. I, however, had the urge not only to tell others whom I knew didn’t know Christ, but I was also very interested in telling others from false religions. I began arguing with Roman Catholics and their priests before I got saved, but after I came to know the Lord I began to notice the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s) leaving for their Saturday morning rounds as I was delivering newspapers. This introduced me to a unique evangelistic opportunity.
The first few encounters I had with JW’s were slightly confusing. I once had the opportunity to meet with two JW’s at the local Kingdom Hall to discuss their beliefs. I was hoping that it would be a good witnessing opportunity, but one of the two guys was overzealous and my head was spinning dizzily by the time we were through. Since this time, I’ve had encounters with JW’s in discussion forums (an incredible place to learn) and on my front door step. I have been blessed to listen to and read informative resources on JW’s and put that learning into practice. Now I feel quite comfortable speaking to them and find myself hoping to get a knock on my door on Saturday mornings but they have decided not to grace me with their presence anymore.
I’d like to encourage all born again believers to never avoid an opportunity to speak with a JW who shows up on your doorstep. This is a straight to your doorstep delivery of a potential convert. We should be anxious for these opportunities, right? And if a JW or two shows up at your door, consider these tips:
- Whichever text he attempts to persuade you with, take the time to read through the immediate context with him. This is something that he will most likely not appreciate because the context generally will cause his argument to crumble.
- Do not allow him to move to another verse to attempt to back up his claims. Make sure that he concedes to the fact that the passage he is hoping to use to prove his position does not in fact teach what he’d like you to think it means.
- Inform him of the fact that Jesus is God and that he is commanded to repent of his sinful denial of Jesus’ position and his attempts to achieve and maintain a right standing before God by knocking on peoples’ doors to tell them about his religion. Inform him that God has commanded that he trust in Christ alone for his salvation. He will inform you that he believes that Christ is the savior, but he must also conced to the fact that he is hoping to maintain his “salvation” by his works.
I just wanted to add some initial encouragements and pointers, but I plan to add more as time goes on. One text I would encourage you to take your JW friend to is Philippians 2:1-11 focusing mainly on verses 5-7:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Php 2:5-7 ESV)Point out to your friend the fact that Paul is encouraging the Philippian church to have a humble attitude in the first 4 verses, and then he uses Christ as an example. The example that Christ gave them (and us) was in humbling Himself by not grasping the position that He had “in the form of God.” Then ask your friend if an angel (which is who they think Christ to be) would be considered humble by not attempting to usurp the position of equality with God. It doesn’t seem as if that would be considered as humble; it would rather be something to be expected, right? The only way for this passage to make sense is if Christ was actually humbling Himself by stepping down from a position of “equality with God” that He had the right to have in the first place
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I think he's on to something. I've done some meditating on God's wrath and righteousness and my relationship to that aspect of Who He is, and it is humbling and glorious.
I especially agree with one of Dr. Carson's headings:
“Rightly integrated into Christian theology, the wrath of God enhances our grasp of God’s love.”
This is such a worthwhile topic for meditation. Consider what you as a degenerate sinner were headed for before God touched your life and brought you up out the pit. You who hated him in all of your self gratifying actions previous to Him graciously bringing you to spiritual life and allowing you to serve Him. Consider how His love was demonstrated by His wrath being transferred to Christ on your behalf. The wrath that you deserved every bit of was poured out on Christ. May this come to mind as you neglect to consider Him in all of your thoughts and actions. Consider this demonstration of His love toward you each day, and give Him praise for sending Christ to absorb the wrath that should have your name on it.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Thanks. Here’s the link:
The question is not whether Dr. Bauder has arrived at logical conclusions. The question is whether he has started with logical premises, and I would argue that he hasn’t.
For example, Dr. Bauder begins with the premise that Christ died to provide salvation not merely for the elect of the Father, but for each and every person without exception. This, I believe is a definitely faulty premise.
First of all, let’s consider how a man is saved: Paul, speaking to believers in the book of Ephesians, says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…” Now, the question is whether someone can be saved without having been given grace and faith. Considering the passage before us, we have to ask the question, “What does the word ‘this’ refer to in the phrase ‘And this is not your own doing’?” Without getting into the Greek behind it, I think that we can safely say that it is referring to all three things mentioned previously. Grace is definitely not something that we can conjure up on our own; we are definitely not saved by our own doing; and (I assume Dr. Bauder would agree with me on this one) we, in our depraved, separated, spiritually dead condition, certainly did not spontaneously generate the necessary faith towards God. For the moment, I will consider this last point something that we agree on; but if anyone would like to investigate further, go check out Philippians 1:29 and II Tim. 2:24-26.
Next, we must ask ourselves whether it is legitimate to assert that Christ has actually provided salvation for all those who have, do, and will end up in hell. Can we truly affirm this if they never have saving faith? If in order to be saved, a man must exercise faith in Christ as his all sufficient Savior, and the unbelieving multitudes who are suffering in hell because they never expressed this gift of faith, has Christ truly provided for their salvation? If He didn’t provide for this required faith, did He really provide for their salvation? Was it Christ’s intention to provide faith for the non-elect? I won’t even consider that to be true or that anyone would agree to that because of the potentially blasphemous conclusions that we would have to arrive at if it were. So, if we agree that Christ didn’t intend to provide faith for the non-elect then we must conclude that Christ never actually intended to purchase them fully; He never intended to provide salvation for them because a full provision would include the gift of saving faith that cannot be separated from the gift of salvation.
I will consider one more thing. I’m assuming that the other option would be that Christ never intended to die in the place of anyone in particular (which denies Penal Substitution), and that the purpose of His death was merely to provide a way for God to justify sinners by providing a general sacrifice which is meritorious enough for God to apply it to particular sinners’ accounts whenever He decides to do so. Well, I don’t think this works either because that would negate the teachings of Christ in passages such as John 6, 10 and 17.
In John 6, Jesus, when explaining why the unbelieving Jews are not believing explains that they do not and CANNOT believe unless drawn by the Father, and that all that the Father draws (based on His predetermination) WILL COME. So, if the Father has sent the true Bread down from heaven in order to give life to the world (vv. 32-33) and this life that He gives is eternal life (vv. 50-51, 54, 58), was Christ sent to provide this eternal life for each and every individual in the world without exception? No. We can all agree on that, so we must conclude that the eternal life which He intended to provide was specifically intended for the ones whom the Father had chosen to draw.
In John 10, Jesus is illustrating His relationship to His sheep as the Good Shepherd. He demonstrates the closeness of the Shepherd for His sheep, which is something that His audience would have understood clearly. I’m , quite honestly, not all that studied in the historical relationships between shepherd and their sheep; but the illustrations Jesus gave concerning the way that shepherds must’ve felt for their sheep gives me the idea that they were very close to them and were not willing to neglect them in any way. I doubt the same could be said for the other shepherd’s sheep that they knew, let alone the relationship Jesus would have had with the Devil’s sheep. The bottom line in this passage is that Jesus lays down His life for His sheep (vv. 11, 14, 17-18) and He gives them eternal life (v. 28). He also says that the Jews don’t believe because they’re not His sheep (vv.25-26), which reminds me of the things I mentioned earlier about the gift of faith.
Some have argued that the conclusion that I come to concerning Jesus not laying down His life for the Jews because He says that He laid down His life for His sheep is merely a logical conclusion based on ambiguous premises. My intention here, however, is simply to provide evidence for a substitutionary atonement. On the other hand, since the people who have argued from the perspective that Jesus may have meant that He lays down His life for everyone else and that His sheep were the only ones He was mentioning in this particular instance, I would have to ask if He also gives everyone else eternal life since He also mentions this as something that He does in behalf of His sheep. I think that my conclusion is valid, but I’m open to critique.
I won’t say much about John 17 right now because I need to get to my homework and study, but Jesus was pretty clear about His relationship to His people again by saying things like, “…you [the Father] have given him [Christ] authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him,” and “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world BUT for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” (all emphases mine)Finally, he prays for the Church in this present time: "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…” Notice that He is very specific in His prayer, making it very clear that He is considering all that the Father had previously chosen, not the “whole world.”
I have one last objection. Dr. Bauder says:
“Prior to their conversion, even the elect are dead in trespasses and sins. Until they believe they remain children of wrath.”
This issue was raised to me not too long ago. I would affirm the first sentence; but it seems as though the second sentence is taken from Ephesians 2:3, and I would have to disagree with its usage in Dr. Bauder’s article.
I think that from the perspective of the elect sinner, we were dead in sin and had no desire for God whatsoever. We, according to this passage in Ephesians 2, were totally depraved in our nature. Paul’s goal in this passage (vv. 1-3) is to remind us of who we were, and how our minds and desires operated “…like the rest of mankind.” He points this out in order to point our attention back to the fact that God “raised us up” in order that we may see the things which God has done for us. And by pointing this out, he is pointing to the fact that God did this for us as an undeserving bunch of degenerate sinners. In short, the context indicates that Paul is speaking of our condition from our perspective, not God’s. This passage, therefore, is not a good support for the idea that the atonement wasn’t actually applied at the cross.
In summary, I believe that Limited Atonement is not only true, but it is a magnificent way in which God in Christ has decided to glorify Himself. And, as Shai Linne has put it: this is not controversy for the sake of controversy or theological nitpicking. Salvation is of the Lord, and Christ’s particular role in the bringing about of the salvation of the select persons that the Father has chosen and that the Spirit brings to spiritual life is every bit as important and meaningful and purposeful as the other two persons of the Godhead. This means that it is worth defending.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Friday, May 2, 2008
I didn't have to write many papers this semester, but I did just finish with one. It's my eschatology position paper for my systematic theology class. I am unsure in a couple of areas; but as you read this, please lend me some advice as to where I may look to increase my understanding of what God's Word teaches concerning this subject. Well, without further ado, here's the goods:
I. Second Coming of Christ
I affirm that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Head of the Church, will one day return to this earth in order to judge the unbelievers of the past, now present and then future. This will happen at a time unknown to anyone but God Himself. At the time when Christ returns, He will gather His people (living and dead) to Himself before He unleashes His fury on the world.
Jesus, when asked by His disciples what the time was that He would return (Matt. 24 and Mk. 13), says that there will be numerous signs to look for before He actually returns.
i. Wars/rumors of wars (Matt. 24:6; Mk. 13:7)
ii. Famines (Matt. 24:7; Mk. 13:8)
iii. Earthquakes (Matt. 24:7; Mk. 13:8)
iv. Tribulation (Matt.24:9-29; Mk.13: 9-25
v. The Gospel will be preached to all nations (Matt. 24:14;13:10)
We can see the signs, and have been able to see them throughout the history of the Church. We cannot deny the fact that many wars have been fought between many nations, and famines and earthquakes have been common occurrences as well. Tribulations in areas where Jesus’ followers have been in the minority have been frequent, and in areas where they are considered to be the largest religious group they are receiving increasing levels of persecution. This has been accompanied by an increased desire by many people in the world to be able to do whatever they want to do without having consequences from the government, and part of that includes being given benefits exclusive to married couples without getting married. These two things display a desire for and pursuit of lawlessness and a loss of love for one another in that they don’t want to commit to a monogamous relationship. The last sign that we have to look for is the Gospel having been preached to all nations/people groups. It seems, at this point in history, that we are very near to this goal; therefore, we must be very near to the time which Christ will return.
When looking to the same passages as a guideline, we notice that Jesus told His disciples that there would be false Christs and wars and many of the other signs appearing which He calls “the beginning of the birth pains” (Matt. 24:8; Mk. 13:8 ESV). Directly following this statement in Matthew, He says “then.” This would indicate a chronological sequence directing us to find out what happens next by reading the next statement. So, the next thing He says is that there will be tribulation, and He gives many examples of how things will play out during this time including one very significant sign that I mentioned before: “The Gospel will be preached to all nations.” Then He seems to digress a bit in order to elaborate on the details of the tribulation period. He formerly mentioned that many will fall away, hate each other, and be led astray by false prophets. In elaborating on this, He mentions the abomination of desolation and the fact that the time will be a great tribulation in which many will be led astray. Finally, Jesus tells us that “Immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29 ESV; “after that tribulation” Mk. 13:24) they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds and sending out His angels with a loud trumpet call to gather in His elect.
At this point, I would say that Christ would most likely be wiping out those who are disobedient to the Gospel. The reason I would say this is because He uses the scenario with Noah as an illustration to describe what it will be like when He comes (Matt. 24:37-39).
I believe that Christ will return to gather in His people “immediately after the tribulation” and before the final wrath which He will pour out upon the disobedient, unbelieving remainder of the human race. This doctrine, I believe, is taught in I Thessalonians 4:13-17 where Paul assures believers that the Lord will return for His people; and from this point we will forever be with Him.
I do not believe that this will happen until all of the previously mentioned signs are manifested, and the Antichrist (Man of Lawlessness) is revealed. It seems to me that Paul is correcting a mistaken view that the Thessalonian believers had by letting them know that this would be the order of things. In chapter 3 of II Thessalonians Paul corrects some who were under the impression that they didn’t need to be working. I’ve heard it said that those lazy ones seemed to be under the impression that they were going to be raptured out soon (imminently), and this seems to be plausible to me. If that is the case, Paul didn’t simply tell them to get to work until that happens; rather, he added a significant sign for them to look for before they would be gathered together to the Lord. He told them in II Thessalonians 2:1-4 that they would not be gathered together (raptured) to the Lord until the Man of Lawlessness came.
I understand that some people in the past history of the Church have believed that many political or religious leaders have been this Man of Lawlessness, but it seems more likely that he will be recognizable enough to all if Paul is pointing to him as the sign to look for to know that the Lord would be there soon.
When the returns to inflict His wrath upon the earth and everyone left in it, He will destroy everything that’s left as the flood destroyed everything in Noah’s day. This time, though, He will destroy everything with fire (II Pet. 3:7).
a. I honestly have not been able to determine my position on this one. I can say that I need to do much more study in the area of the last times, including the tribulation; but I believe that the Scriptural evidence is clear enough for me to point to the time which Christ will return in relation to the tribulation period. I cannot say the same thing for the millennium, though. I see passages like Revelation 20 that speak of a thousand year period, and I read passages that point to the New Covenant as being something very similar to what’s going on now with Jesus reigning in the world among His people. I have studied too little on this subject to this point to make any solid claims based on passages that seem to have so much symbolism surrounding them, but I assure you that I will keep studying.
III. The Eternal State
Without a doubt, those who deny the Son will end up in a literal place of separation from God and torment for eternity. “This is the second death” as the book of Revelation calls it (Rev. 20:14; 21:8). The passages in Revelation can be substantiated by the words of Jesus (Matt. 13:40-42; Lk. 16:19-31), so I think that there is something more to them than some vivid illustration of a time in the future when unbelievers will simply be annihilated or kept from the presence of God alone. No, this seems to me to be a literal place of torment inflicted upon those who spent their entire lives rebelling against their Creator and choosing themselves at every opportunity.
b. The New Heavens and New Earth
The renewing of God’s creation seems to be an inevitable event. When God created all things, He pronounced the good, and I believe that He is working all things together for the purpose of bringing it all back to a perfect existence again. I read passages like Romans 8:19-23 and Revelation 21:1-7 which seem to teach that the earth and the heavens (the whole creation) will be renewed upon the passing away of the corrupted creation. These two passages also indicate that the redeemed of the Lord will be the inhabitants of this renewed creation.
These final things, I believe are the culmination of the whole of history, and we will all see (believers and unbelievers alike) the magnificently intricate details that went into this timeline that we were a part of. These things will bring all things to an ultimate head wherein Christ will receive recognition as Lord before all, and God will get the most possible glory as He graciously escorts His people into an age of peace and joy while justly condemning those who rejected Him. These who He sends into condemnation will recognize the position that they have chosen as the one that they deserve, and God’s redeemed will glorify Him and humbly enjoy the gift that our Lord has bestowed upon us undeservedly for the rest of eternity.