Friday, November 20, 2009
I've been walking around with a song running through my head for well over a week now, and I'd like to share it with you. I'm teaching it to my kids, and my oldest daughter was singing it the grandparents earlier. I love it! And I just found an amazing version of the song on the internet that actually includes yours truly. As a matter of fact, it includes the whole cast of this blog here, and I think you'll be blessed as you listen. First, here's the lyrics:
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!
Great lyrics, huh? Now go listen to this powerful presentation of it:
The mediatorial righteousness of Christ will answer to all the fears, doubts, and objections of your souls.
How shall I look up to God? The answer is—In the righteousness of Christ. How shall I have any communion with a holy God in this world? The answer is—In the righteousness of Christ. How shall I find acceptance with God? The answer is—In the righteousness of Christ. How shall I die? The answer is—In the righteousness of Christ. How shall I stand before the judgment seat? The answer is—In the righteousness of Christ.
Your sure and only way under all temptations, fears, conflicts, doubts, and disputes, is by faith to remember Christ, and the sufferings of Christ, as your mediator and surety, and say, ‘O Christ! you are my sin—in being made sin for me; and you are my curse—in being made a curse for me. Or rather, I am your sin—and you are my righteousness; I am your curse—and you are my blessing; I am your death—and you are my life; I am the wrath of God to you—and you are the love of God to me; I am your hell—and you are my heaven.’
- Thomas Brooks, A Cabinet of Choice Jewels
“It is only when I see what God is doing with the world through Christ, and for the glory of Christ, that I am able to see where I fit in the big storyline of the universe or in the little storyline of my own life.
The Apostle Paul’s words to the Romans are familiar passages of comfort for believers. ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose’ (Rom 8:28). This verse does not mean, however, simply a cheery ‘What doesn’t kill you’ll make you stronger; hang in there.’ Instead, Paul says that the believer’s little story ultimately is a glorious one because it is part of a larger story, that I may be ‘conformed to the image of His Son, that He may be the firstborn among many brothers’ (Rom 8:29).
How do I know that my story ends happily? I only know this if I am found in Christ. But, if I am, then like all my forefathers and foremothers before me, I am free from condemnation, liberated from the curse, triumphant over death, the heir of the universe, the child of God in whom He is well pleased.”
“God the Father entered into an eternal covenant with God the Son; he made Christ the head, the representative of the elect, as Adam was the head, the representative of all his seed. For these the Lord Jesus Christ undertook to fulfill the covenant of works. For these Jesus Christ died a painful, cursed, ignominious death; and by his obedience, and by his death, wrought out an everlasting righteousness for them.”
- George Whitefield, quoted by Steve Jeffery, et al. in Pierced for Our Transgressions (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway Books, 2007), 193.
More to follow...
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Dr. White also links to the original article on his page, and I recommend reading that article too.
I have to say, this just seems downright ridiculous. How on earth can a group who is blatantly rebelling against Christianity and its long historical beliefs decide that it wants to storm the doors of these churches in order to have them bless something that they absolutely cannot even accept as valid? Why would this activist group even care what these churches think about their relationships? I would think that they would want to stay away from the churches rather than go to them.
On the other hand, the Bible says that those who reject God's rule over them will be judged in this way. And the judgment is their perverted sexual desires ruling them and causing them to bring more judgment on their own heads. And for those who think I'm merely spouting off bigoted slander, here's the passage in question:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, BECAUSE they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. [NOW WATCH THIS] For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
(Rom 1:18-32 ESV)
So, the Bible affirms this behavior as being the rebellion of creatures against their creator, and the extended vigor with which they pursue this rebellion is God's judgment upon them.
All this behavior coming from the extreme, radical gay activists is similar to the behavior I see from my children. Unless checked, my children will stomp their feet and deliberately disobey my commands just to spite me. They are naturally rebels. This is why it is so important to keep track of their actions and shepherd them in order that they don't end up rebelling against God and ending up eternally regretting it.
I see some gay people who are so extremely and overtly flamboyant and I wonder why they are so concerned with advertising. What I hope, though, is that we as Christ's ambassadors, who possess the only message of healing and reconciliation (II Cor. 5:20) will be willing to overlook these sinners' rebellion and attempt to befriend them in the hope that we will be given the opportunity to be used of God to pull them out of the fire and introduce them to their Savior. After all, we were all likewise rebellious sinners in need of this soul saving message, and we would be to blame and have blood on our hands if we neglected in any way to hold out this message of reconciliation for any reason--even if the sin we confront in the process makes us feel queasy.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
One friend is busy on the mission field, and the other is knee deep (shoulder deep maybe) in schoolwork; BUT I sure would like to get some contributions from them. Maybe we could get an update from the mission field with some testimony to God's awesomeness. Maybe we could get some updates and insight into a budding theologian's schoolwork and projects. Maybe these two fellows are hoarding the blessings and have no intention of sharing these things with us (one or two people who actually erad the blog).
Only time will tell...
Friday, November 13, 2009
He gave His life as a ransom, I’m hyped and I’m dancing
When reciting my anthems of Christ, the Righteous Lamb who lights my lantern
Who else but the Lord of the nations
Can hype a heathen drunkard to write without even one word of self-glorification?
My feeble words- inadequate indeed to describe the Immaculate Seed
Destined to do miraculous deeds
At the age of twelve, he had the old heads amazed at His insights
Obeyed His parents, even though He created their wind pipes
A true Anomaly- and who can ponder the
Servant fighting the serpent in the desert with verses from Deuteronomy
Satan threw every obstacle at Him, but couldn’t fathom
The brilliant stratagems of the eschatological Adam
The uniqueness of His meekness is too deep to speak
And if you think meekness is weakness, try being meek for a week
Perfect humanity- yet bubbling with divinity
Fulfilling the eternal covenant within the Trinity
Excruciating suffering, infinite agony
Divine abandonment for the Inventor of gravity
No sin in His Majesty, He was a substitute
The fruit of His love was enough to scoop sin up from the root
The third day rose victorious- meaning history is
A play that God’s directing to make Jesus look glorious
We spit holy speech over beats to turn up the temperature
And no retreat though we seek the return of the Emperor!
"Obeyed His parents, even though He created their wind pipes?!" Every time I hear that line, I smile and consider the profundity of it! I love it! And how often do I reflect on thoughts like these? Not enough. Of course He created His parents' windpipes--He created their whole being! So why don't I take more time to reflect on little details of my Lord like this? I must not want to experience the blessing and joy that comes along with doing it. So, I guess that means that I'm stupid.
Well, I better work on that...
How about "Divine abandonment for the Inventor of gravity?" This is another classic line. Wow! God thought up all the minute details that we take for granted every day! Some might think this is a worthless, time wasting activity, but how worthy of our time and effort are the details of our Lord's life on this earth and His preexistence and transcendence and every other detail we can take the time to ponder over! These are worthy tasks that we should all consider taking the time to ponder over more often.
Of course, maybe I'm the only slacker on this area...
I love the fact that Shai Linne's songs are so well thought through. And I encourage everyone who is able to get online and purchase one or all of his albums because his songs are full of lines that are deep and so obvious at the same time. Many times I have listened and remarked, "Wow! Of course Jesus is _______! Why hasn't that affected me before?" Sometimes you just need to be reminded of His greatness, I guess. Well, at least I do. And if you'd like to be blessed by this lyrical theology, go check out his blog HERE to read some of his song lyrics, and get over HERE or HERE to pick up single songs or whole albums.
Oh, and consider one more thought from this song:
"The uniqueness of His meekness is too deep to speak
And if you think meekness is weakness, try being meek for a week"
Go on, try it. If you do, you'll appreciate even more deeply the task that He accomplished and hopefully be forced to worship Him often for the perfection that He achieved on your behalf. And it's a good thing, too!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
This post, however, is not meant to be a review.
I wanted to share a paragraph cited in the book from another book written by A.W. Pink. This is from Mark Dever's chapter entitled "Do the Work of an Evangelist" on page 163. Apparently, Pink was writing on a subject that is depressingly still relevant that was going on in Australia (his home?) in the 1920s. Allow me to share:
General religious conditions here are very similar to those which obtain in the USA. The vast majority of the churches are in a sorry state. Those that are out-and-out worldly are at their wits' end to invent new devices for drawing a crowd. Others which still preserve an outward form of godliness provide nothing substantial for the soul; there is little ministering of Christ to the heart and little preaching of "sound doctrine," without which souls cannot be built up and established in the faith. The great majority of the "pastors" summon to their aid some professional "evangelist," who, for two to four weeks, puts on a high-pressure campaign and secures sufficient new "converts" to take the place of those who have "lapsed" since he was last with them. What a farce it all is! What an acknowledgement of their own failure! Imagine C. H. Spurgeon needing some evangelist to preach the Gospel for him for a month each year! Why do not these well-paid "pastors" heed 2 Timothy 4:5 and themselves "do the work of an evangelist," and thus "make full proof of their ministry"?
That's quite a question. I thought nothing of the significance or the error behind the position of a full time evangelist who travels to many churches in order to preach revivals and what not until I was in Bible college. I noticed then that there really is no such office in the NT expressed in the way it is now, and I wondered about the validity of it.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who has pondered this, and I think that Pink may have been on to something.
I wonder what makes pastors think that they need to call on some professional "evangelist" when the pastor is to be the one doing the work of an evangelist and training his people to carry on that responsibility into their own lives (Eph 4:11-12). I know that the text in Ephesians names evangelists too, but not in the way that it is now expressed. Maybe it's due to the fact that it's been done for so long. Maybe it's because there are men training for this office and they need somebody to give em some work. I'm not really sure how it has come about, but I (and some godly men too) would like to know why.
I wonder if men leading churches today even care enough to start allowing God's Spirit to work through the faithful preaching of the word and attend to the responsibility of evangelizing people themselves. After all, it's not the visible results that your looking for--it's the faithful obedience that counts (or is it?).
Monday, November 9, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Suppose a rich man knew another extremely poor man who needed a series of surgeries in order to keep himself from dying from an otherwise terminal illness. The surgeries would cost the poor man a total of 10,000,000 dollars over time, but there would be no possibility of that ever happening for him. The rich man, being the benevolent man that he was, decided to offer the poor man the money needed for his surgery to be paid in full and applied at the right time in order to make the future surgeries a guarantee. The poor man realizes his need for the money and ecstatically accepts the money and is made well.
Now, suppose that the rich man not only offered the money to the one poor man in need, but he also offered the money to another poor man in the same financial situation, with the same disease. The only difference in this story is that while the first poor man accepts the gift from the benevolent rich man the second poor man declines the offer. Of course we know that the rich man is not lacking in any benevolence, but what can we say of the second poor man? What is the difference from the one to the other? They both need the money in order to survive, but only one recognizes that need while the other one doesn't. What is wrong with this picture? Is one completely stupid? Is he in denial? What makes the first poor man accept the offer over the other poor man? Is the first poor man smarter than the second? They're in the exact same situation with no advantage over the other, so what gives?
What do you suppose would be the answer?
Monday, October 19, 2009
I think I should be more precise...
There have been many times in which I have been speaking to friends about theological topics when they express some pious attitude about how they don't think they'll ever know the truth about some particular aspect of who God is or what He's done in this world and among His people. They claim that something is a "paradox" if it seems as though there is some tension between one thing that the Bible says and another thing. If these people are being sincere, then I understand their hesitation, but I would still encourage them not to give up there. If they call something a paradox because they don't want to be in disagreement with someone over something that has been disagreed on for a really long time, they are guilty of letting someone's feelings about them get in the way of their knowledge of God. They are allowing someone to get in the way of their eternal life. There are many explanations of why those apparent contradictions appear to be at odds with one another, and it doesn't have to mean that there is no resolution beside calling it a paradox.
I have an example:
Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
Now, any orthodox Christian would say that Jesus Christ is God, and that God is a triune being. Though this is true, how does this verse fit with that belief? I've had Jehovah's Witnesses confront me with this verse, and it would not do to simply say, "Well, that's what Christians have always believed." No, this, in their minds, is a contradiction to your belief in the Trinity. Is this verse merely a paradoxical one that we just have to accept on the authority of tradition, or is this a verse that fits harmoniously together with those other verses that affirm the fact that Christ is indeed God in the flesh and that demonstrate His preexistence to all creation? We need to be able to affirm things like these, not on the basis of tradition, but on the authority that we believe that the Scriptures have as the authority to equip us for every good work (II Tim. 3:16-17).
Supposing we don't let the doctrine of the Trinity rest on mere tradition, have we satisfied ourselves with a surface level understanding of this truth about God based on a few verses that seem to fit this together for us? Hopefully, we've spent time reading the Bible and putting these things together in a way that truly satisfies our understanding of God because we love Him because of who He is and what He's done in our lives. Hopefully, we've done these things because we value the relationship that we've been given with Him and are pursuing this eternal life.
I have an illustration...
Imagine Tony, a 17 year old boy who sees Tanya, a girl of the same age walking to school every day past his house. Tony likes what Tanya has to offer him in the looks department, so he goes to talk to her, asks her out on a date, and they begin to get more deeply involved with one another. Eventually, their relationship leads to marriage, and they begin their life together.
Do you suppose Tony knows nothing about his wife? Does he know that she looks great, takes great care of the house, and treats him really nice; but he has no idea what her interests or goals are? Doesn't it makes sense that Tony would know the most intimate details about who Tanya is and what makes Tanya Tanya? And why would he know these things? Or why would he have even cared enough to do the hard work it sometimes takes to find these things out? It's because he loves her and he values his relationship with her.
Do you suppose that anyone would believe Tony's claim of loving his wife if he didn't desire to really KNOW his wife (and I'm not talking about King James "know")? Would you believe anyone who said that they loved their wife while not knowing anything about the woman? "Yeah, she looks great and don't bother me too much." Do you think that's love? No one would.
The point I'm trying to make is: if eternal life is knowing God, how much do we value this eternal life that we've been given? If we truly value the privilege of knowing God, can we really be content saying, "I don't want to worry about all those details, I just want to tell people about Him so they can be saved." Why? Why would they want to be saved? So they don't have to go to hell? Is that the real reason they should want to be saved? Is that the end all be all? Why do you want to tell them about Him? What is so great about Him anyways? Is it the fact that He can do this great thing for you? So, it's about what you can get from Him instead of getting HIM?
Somebody help me out here! I know I'm rambling, and I think rightly so! I'm frustrated! How can we call ourselves Christians while neglecting to spend time getting to know this Lover of our souls as we would some beautiful young woman or good-looking young man (if you're a woman)? How insulting to the One who loved us enough to crush and slay His Son in order to bring us close to Him! We would do this with no shame for "the one," so what keeps us from some discomfort in plumbing the depths of the word and discussing these truths and reading things outside of the Bible in order to fully understand (as far as possible in this life) the magnificence of our God?!
As I write this, I can't deny that I fall short in this. I know fully the fact that I should be spending more time in the word desperately seeking to know Him more than I did yesterday. This is something none of us can escape. We need more of God, and we ALL need to take time to understand who He is as far as His word will take us. And we need to do all that we can to understand how He saved us and what He has done in the world and why and every other detail that He has revealed to us in His word; and we should try and try until we have been fully convinced from His word that He has finally answered, "This far and no farther." Don't give up and don't give in. This is the greatest treasure that we have in this life--to know GOD!
Don't end up like the adopted son who gives people a bad impression of his dad. Get to know your Dad in order to represent Him accurately and becomingly. If we work harder at knowing God more fully, we can make an impact in pushing back the tide of error that has marked American Christianity for so many years. We can truly inform people of His love that can be experienced and relished for the rest of this life and on into eternity.
Little does this adopted son realize, but his new father is more interested in doing business according to a particular method. His father has decided that he wants the best possible parts to be used by people that have been trained to do things according to the specific method that he has developed. The young man's father has arranged things in this way so that he will be regarded with honor and respect as the trustworthy architect of an upright business establishment.
However, the newly adopted son has realized the goodness of his gracious father and has decided to try to bring much more honor to his name by getting as many of his cars on the road as possible--no matter how shoddy the work ends up being in the process. Unfortunately, the son has missed the goal and the method of the father, and he has therefore allowed unworthy representative automobiles onto the road that have actually damaged his father's reputation...
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Ya know, it simply just never dawned on me that I can share the really great things I come across with you all who read my blog. And for those of you who read my blog, you've had very little to do lately, I know--sorry. Anyways, I just LOVE audiobooks, and I'm on a list over at christianaudio.com to receive all their free offers in my email. Every month they offer something new, and occasionally they'll offer something spontaneously. That spontaneity is why I post today. Go over and complete this short survey, and you get some free Francis Schaeffer. Yeah, that's right. Francis Schaeffer, baby! *****Enjoy*****!
Friday, August 28, 2009
BUT I'm reading the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, and I'd like to at least log some thoughts on my reading. I hope someone else may benefit from these thoughts sometime in the future if/when they are dug up from a time capsule or somethin.
This letter is pretty much an exhortation to the Corinthians from what seems to be the elders at the church in Rome that these Corinthians would repent of some bad decisions and follow the path of righteousness. The half that I've read so far is not much more than a regurgitation of Scripture. Seriously, the bulk of the letter so far is one quotation after another, and this seems to me to be a great method of exhortation.
The few lines that gave rise to my posting of this comes from a paragraph focused on encouraging the Corinthians to make a sincere turn around and to let it show by the outward actions of their lives. Now, here's a few lines:
"Let us reflect how near He [God] is, and that none of the thoughts or reasonings in which we engage are hid from Him. It is right, therefore, that we should not leave the post which His will has assigned us. Let us rather offend those men who are foolish, and inconsiderate, and lifted up, and who glory in the pride of their speech, than [offend] God."
I think this is a useful thought to meditate on. To "reflect" on the fact that God is as good as standing right next to us as we reason through our sinful thoughts (and can hear every one of them as though we were speaking them out loud) is a reality that would hopefully keep us from committing these heinous acts. How often would we actually sin if we could see Jesus standing next to us with His eyes fixed on us as they were on Peter just after He denied his Lord? The sad reality is that we might just do those things anyways. Though we may consider these things, would we act as one who actively holds down his knowledge of his creator?
But the quotation also gives a practical and relevant exhortation to be prepared to offend those unbelievers (or practical atheist who call themselves believers) instead of chancing an offense toward God. This is a very relevant exhortation in our time because we are faced with this just about every day. We are most likely faced with the temptation every day when we consider ourselves as the ones who are "foolish," "inconsiderate," and prideful. We cannot be caterers to those around us who have no concern for our relationship with God. We absolutely MUST fight the spiritual battle against ourselves and others as we are tempted to do those things that are displeasing to God.
And with all that being said, I think that the closing words of the paragraph are the most fitting ones for the close of this post:
For He is a Searcher of the thoughts and desires [of the heart]: His breath is in us; and when He pleases, He will take it away.
[all quotations are from chapter xxi of The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians--just in case you want to look them up...]
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I realize that if you're reading my blog that you probably have some interest in this contest, and I decided to share it with you all. I actually get entered into a contest to win a free new Bible if I post this on my blog, so I guess I have a bit of a selfish motive included here--but I love you all just the same. Anyways, here's the information that they would like for me to share with you all:
Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at Bible.Logos.com and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.
You'll also notice that I have a Bible search bar on the side of the blog, courtesy of logos.com, and I plan to keep that there for your convenience. Now get over to the logos blog and enter!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Please, enjoy it for yourself: CLICK ME!!!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Now that you've gotten that out of the way, you can read my response. Before you do, though, I just wanted to let it be known that someone gave me this article to read as a possible refutation of Calvinism, and I felt as though I should go ahead and read it. When I got into it, I decided that I should point out some flaws that have been made since they are common flaws made by many Arminians with the hope that others will see these decoys coming the next time they come across them.
And without further ado:
Page 5 (error #1): To be condescending enough to ask why one would, as a Baptist, want to be associated with John Calvin since John Calvin wasn’t a Baptist.
First of all, the system known as “Calvinism” is not believed by so many Baptists because they follow John Calvin. They believe it because they hold it to be the most accurate assessment of what the Scriptures teach. It seems that this article is starting off right away, not with Scriptural argumentation and support, but rather with irrelevant arguments against things that have no bearing on why Calvinists (such as myself) believe the Bible’s teaching on soteriology and other major doctrines to be summed up in these 5 points.
Page 5 (error #2): To go along with the argument that Calvinists are merely followers of John Calvin is an ad-hominem attack (very UN-Christian) against Calvin.
How on earth could it even be relevant that Servetus was burned in Geneva? Calvin did not have the final say in this matter, and he actually pled with Servetus to recant of his heresy. Heresy, by the way, was a capital offense in Geneva at that time, so Servetus’ lack of belief in God as the Trinity was a high crime. He actually believed that God was everything, from what I understand. I don’t condone his burning, but it was the normal thing back then for the church and the state to be intertwined as a result of the influence Rome had had on them in the younger years of the Reformation. Bottom line, Calvin wasn’t the only one involved, and he certainly didn’t have the power to overturn the decision; therefore, a man is engaging in slander against Calvin who attempts to besmirch his name with this crime.
Page 5 (error #3): “Be careful of some five pointers, with an intolerant DNA just like their forefathers.”
This blatant ad hominem, emotionally driven attack is not appropriate for something that calls itself a scholarly article. This really gives me an even lower opinion of the representatives of Liberty.
Based on the last paragraph on page 5, I’d say that I believe that I would probably be classified as one of these “flag waving 5-pointers” who “attack…other churches or other believers,” but from my experience, I have been willing to discuss this issue calmly and rationally and have been met with high emotions and irrationality based on the preconceived notions of what I believe.
Oh, and check out the footnotes at #10. This is filled with so many presuppositions and mere assertions that it would take a few pages to point out and refute. This paper was obviously meant to argue to a non-Calvinist audience that is already bent on hating this teaching.
Page 6 (error #4): Actually, he points out here what true, historic HYPER-Calvinism is.
Yes, HYPER-Calvinism is certainly a diversion against the Great Commission. I hope I don’t have to defend myself against this fallacious assertion since I witness every time I am not being disobedient based on whatever sinful apprehension takes hold of me at the time. I do, as regularly as I have opportunity, try to witness to unbelievers around me, and I also ask for prayer for those people to whom I witness. And I am not an anomaly either. This shouldn’t even have to be argued. Any idea what William Carey’s or George Whitfield’s or Charles Spurgeon’s theological convictions were? You guessed it—5-point Calvinism!
I will say, however, that I think that altar calls are regularly abused. About 100 verses of “Just as I Am” being sung while continuing to call to people to make a trip to the altar? Do we not believe that the Holy Spirit will do His job unless we drag the service out for an extra hour? We certainly pray like we believe He can bring sinners to repentance—Calvinists and Arminians alike. Why are the Calvinists the only ones who put their supposed beliefs into practice? Can you call it a true belief if it’s not acted out in real life?
Really, how many people who make a profession in a Southern Baptist church that conducts these extensive invitations are seen back again? Is the important thing to get people to make a momentary decision in order to chalk up some more numbers, or is it to clearly preach the message and thereby glorify God (whether by His grace in saving them by means of the Gospel or in His just judgment upon them because of their rejection of it)?
Page 6 (error #5): Spurgeon was a model of evangelistic Calvinism who didn’t preach within the tenets of five point Calvinism?
Calvinism IS evangelistic! I preach the Gospel because God’s elect are out there, and I don’t need to try to convince rebellious unbelievers to do something that the Scriptures plainly say that they cannot do (Rom 8:6-8; Heb 11:6)! I am the instrument in God’s hands who preaches the Gospel because that is the means by which God has determined to save those who believe (I Cor. 1:21). Therefore, I want to have the same mindset that Paul did when he said that he will “endure everything for the sake of the elect…” (II Tim 2:10a) And what’s so significant about this motivation is the fact that he says that his endurance is so that the elect “may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”(II Tim 2:10b) So, Paul is going out into the world to preach the Gospel to unbelievers with the hope that there may be some of God’s elect in the audience who will obtain the salvation to be had through faith in the message that he had been entrusted with.
Of course, Spurgeon was fully in line with Scripture when he preached “whosoever will, may come” just as I am when I say that. The thing is, no one will WILL to come unless given spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear the Gospel and respond to it.
Page 6 (error #6): The last sentence of the page uses a false distinction.
To say that a distinction was not made “between five point Calvinists and the generic Calvinist[s]” is not valid. This obviously shows a lack of concern for historic definitions. Calvinist is descriptive of those who hold to the 5 points. Therefore, the one who does not hold to the 5 points is NOT a Calvinist. This is a document that first outlines the 5 points in response to the disturbing Arminian teaching that arose: CLICK ME!
Page 6 (error #7): Footnote #11 makes another false claim
Whenever I preach the Gospel to unbelievers, I am certainly extending to them a message of hope. They have every reason to have hope and extreme joy IF they believe in the Gospel as their hope. If they believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and rely on that fact, then they have much to hope for. And regardless of whether or not hope is the greatest motivation to “seek after God,” the fact of the matter is that no sinner will ever truly seek after God without receiving His grace that will ultimately lead to repentance and faith. We cannot make the mistake of believing that some people are seeking after God because they are acting curious. Hopefully this would be an evidence of God’s grace working in them, but we don’t know for sure. There have been many times when someone is looking for some self satisfaction that they think they can find in Christianity, but they are not looking to humble themselves in submission to their Creator. It is selfishly driven and not beneficial for their salvation.
Page 7 (error #8): The first paragraph asks whether all Calvinistic churches teach Calvinism and classifies those who don’t as “generic Calvinists.”
This is really disappointing because he is not only inventing a new understanding of what an acceptable Calvinist is based on his own opinions, but he is also saying that someone who is a historic Calvinist and is convinced of the truth of these things shouldn’t be imposing this belief on others. Question: How is this any different than radical atheist groups like the ACLU demanding that Christians not try to teach others what they believe about God? It isn’t. This statement reminds me of the way that radical homosexuals act against anyone who would try to inform them of the dangers of their lifestyle and disagree with it. It just isn’t based on a consistent standard. I’m certain that Dr. Towns wouldn’t appreciate someone disagreeing with him in the way that he is disagreeing with historic Calvinists. He is misrepresenting the position that he is disagreeing with, and he really doesn’t seem to have any problem with it, though no one appreciates someone doing this to them.
Page 7 (an agreement): He says that it is anachronistic to call Calvin a Calvinist.
Agreed. Though the reason the 5 points came into existence was not just because of the Remonstrance. They were merely systematized because of the rise of them.
Page 7 (possible error): The quotation from the Institutes may not be rightly cited.
Just because Calvin was using this type of language doesn’t mean that he wasn’t still making a distinction. He says things like “the goodness of God is offered unto all men without distinction” and that God “holds out the propitiation to the whole world” at the same time that he says “Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world.” While this could mean that Calvin renounced his former understanding of predestination as Dr. Towns claims, he certainly could have been more clear if that’s really what he did. Nevertheless, this is still a continuation of an irrelevant argument since no one I know is a Calvinist because of anything to do with John Calvin (though some may have been influenced by him in some way).
Pages 8-9 (confusion): The first question in the first paragraph under the “QUESTION THREE” heading.
Dr. Towns asks if 5 point Calvinism (a redundancy) is a new intolerance. I immediately thought to myself, “Seems more like the Calvinist hating Arminians who don’t want to call themselves Arminians are the intolerant ones,” but he then goes on to talk about the intolerant unbelievers and ecumenicals in the world and the intolerance that they hypocritically express. This confused me because I’m not sure why he would ask the question about Calvinists who stand up and defend the exclusivity of Christ and then talk about people who wouldn’t allow that sort of thing. Any help?
Page 9 (chronic inconsistency): He imposes the same false standard on Calvinist churches that he wouldn’t allow someone else to impose upon himself.
Again Dr. Towns is acting like an intolerant unbeliever in his attempt to brush Calvinist teaching to the side and say that it’s ok as long as they don’t really practice what they teach. This is preposterous.
Page 9 (error #9): He tries to belittle Calvinist teaching by saying that it focuses on one thing and ignores the rest.
I realize that Dr. Towns grew up in a Calvinist church, but so did Peter Kreeft who is now a philosophy professor at Boston College. Neither gentlemen seemed to have had very good experiences in their respective churches, and it may be for good reason. Maybe Dr. Towns had a pastor who was stuck on one subject and neglected the rest. Even if this is the case, it would not be appropriate for him to paint all Calvinists with this broad brush. It hasn’t been my experience. As a matter of fact, when I was totally stuck on the 5 points (some would say that I still am) I wondered why these Calvinist preachers weren’t spending enough time on the five points. This is simply a short-sighted assertion.
Page 10 (somewhat of an agreement): His assessment of “cage stage” Calvinists.
Although I don’t approve of Dr. Towns’ insulting illustration of Calvinists as dandelions (weeds that destroy lawns) as opposed to tulips (fragrant and enjoyable), I think I understand why he has such a harsh opinion of them. Yes, young Calvinists can be overzealous and undereducated (as was I—and may still be), but this tendency to broad brush everybody is not very comely of a man who has such a high position and expects others to be teachable.
I agree totally that arriving at a true, Biblical theology cannot be done by focusing on one or two words or doctrines or attributes of God. Still, this seems insulting because it assumes that he is the only one (well, he and anyone who is NOT a Calvinist) who has done the work of sorting through the Bible to find the TRUE teaching instead of getting hung up on predestination and ignoring everything else. You’d think that he’s never heard of John Owen or Charles Hodge or any other Reformed scholar who has written systematic theologies and multiple volumes on practical theology.
Pages 10-12 (assessment): Dr. Towns seems to be attempting to shut down discussion on the matter and call for a cease fire of sorts.
So, Dr. Towns says that Calvinist churches shouldn’t try to discuss these issues with non-Calvinists. Why? From the earliest days of the church, there have been discussions to sort through such issues. As a matter of fact, this very issue was being discussed all the way back in the 4th and 5th centuries by Augustine and Pelagius. Whitefield and Wesley also discussed it very rigorously a few hundred years ago, and when Wesley died, Whitefield had great things to say about him. This goes to show you that the topic can be discussed seriously and yet civilly. These issues probably should be discussed because they are not going away; and every time I read a non-Calvinist write against Calvinism they misrepresent it, so this must mean that that we are not taking the time to listen respectfully as we should be (we are Christians, after all).
Dr. Towns also seems to think that Southern Baptists ought to vote the Calvinists out of the SBC. He claims that a belief in Reformed Theology inevitably ends up in paedo-baptism and other such nonsense. This is certainly not a valid assertion because there have been plenty of Reformed Baptists for hundreds of years who would have no part in such things. So, apparently, Dr. Towns sees a seemingly logical conclusion that countless Baptists have not been snagged by.
He also seems to think that there is no need to attempt to correct other churches that you are associated with, but Christians are definitely called to look out for their spiritual siblings with the goal of restoring them and seeing them on the right track. Dr. Towns says that a church is ok as long as it “believes and teaches the fundamentals of the faith and commits itself to the Baptist Faith and Message,” so I’m confused as to why he is attacking Calvinists who affirm the fundamentals of the faith while the SBC is chock full of all out heretics. Rather, he is attacking people like Al Mohler and Mark Dever who are working hard to keep churches on track and clean up the SBC.
Page 11 (error #10): Dr. Towns continues to assume that Reformed Baptists are taken in by the errors of the not yet fully reformed churches of the Presbyterian persuasion. He also makes inappropriate comments about non-Calvinist churches not being influenced by the intricacies of the more difficult teachings of Scripture and about them merely “search[ing] out lost people, tak[ing] the Word of God at face value, and carry[ing] out the commands of the New Testament” as if becoming mature in the teachings of the Scriptures is not implicitly commanded as well.
It seems to me that a big part of the problem with the church in America today is the fact that we have not been diligent to teach our people about the Scriptures in order for them to have a solid foundation in the faith and a means by which they can continue to study for themselves. For all too long, pastors have been satisfied to give their people a weekly motivational speech and a surface level coverage of a particular topic rather than just opening the word to the people and letting God speak. This has resulted in churches full of people who couldn’t give an answer of the hope that lies within them to their co-workers and neighbors and family members. Instead, they can only say that the pastor told them so and invite those people to church. This is not following the Ephesians 4:11-12 model. The first paragraph on the 11th page is a prime example of the attitude that cultivates an unhealthy church.
It should be obvious to anyone who regularly reads their Bible that the leaders in the church are not to encourage a stick your head in the sand attitude. They are actually called to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. In this era, that will definitely include teaching a congregation the more in-depth teachings of the Bible. Both Paul and the writer to the Hebrews had this in mind for the people to whom they were writing when they pointed out the fact that they should have been able to write to them with a more in-depth teaching but couldn’t due to their lack of maturity (I Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12-13). And the responsibility for their maturity lied firstly in the hands of the pastors (Heb. 13:17). The pastors had (and still have) the responsibility to teach their people more than just some surface level understanding of any individual Biblical doctrine.
As for the error of blurring the lines between Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians, Dr. Towns has no excuse. He is a professor with a respected position at a prominent seminary, and there is simply no excuse for his lack of care in distinguishing between the two groups. This shows a complete lack of respect and arrogance. No Reformed Baptist sees baptism as a continuation of circumcision to be passed on to their young children by means of an unbiblical method of baptism, and no Reformed Baptist practices confirmation rather than calling their children to repentance and faith in Christ. On the other hand, no Reformed Baptist I’m aware of will put too much emphasis on an alter call since Baptists are concerned with a truly regenerate church membership and emotionally driven altar calls result in an abundance of false conversions. All these things give evidences of the concern of Reformed Baptists to continue in the historical Baptist traditions based on Biblical convictions and not in any conscious way to give tradition OR pragmatism the trump in the decision making process.
Page 11-12 (disappointment): Dr. Towns prefers to look the other way if a church has “wandered off into five point Calvinism.” He says that one church should not seek to correct another church, but that they should simply seek to vote them out of fellowship.
What?! In my understanding of Jesus’ teaching in Matt 18:15-20 (which is not totally applicable in these cases), the reason for the confrontation of erring brothers is for their restoration to the true path of righteousness. If the attitude is not to lovingly confront others, but to shun them instead, does this not demonstrate a lack of concern for another for whom Christ died (fruit of the Spirit--love)?
I think that it has been proven well enough, in this article as well as in other responses to Reformed Theology, that the non-Calvinists are not capable of refuting Calvinism—let alone defending their own position Biblically in contrast to the Reformed faith. These attempted responses have done nothing more than try to throw sand in the air and preach to their own choirs. As refreshing as it would be to hear from an Arminian willing to attempt to refute the 5 points from the Bible and plain reason while demonstrating the superiority of his position Biblically, it just doesn’t seem to have been attempted as of yet.
I may not be as widely read on the subject as some would criticize me of being, but I have heard and read many attempted refutations that have always fallen short. So, I would like to issue a call to any Arminian who would be willing to defend his position in a way that doesn’t appeal to emotion and tradition, but rather to the Biblical evidence that he is convinced that he has. And since I ‘m not someone of notoriety and will probably not be heard in my challenge, would someone please refer me to any article or book that has been written that does attempt to meet this challenge? Until then, I will read whatever I come across and have the time to put in to.
Friday, April 10, 2009
I challenge anyone reading this now to take 20 minutes (or less, depending on how fast you read) and read through this article. If you do, don't waste that time by merely blowing off the arguments made; rather, take the time to think through the challenges given, and think through how you would seriously answer these claims if you disagree with them. Then, do me a favor and take the time to write a short (or long) response to it in the comment box below.
Here's the goods: CLICK ME!
Monday, April 6, 2009
The reason why I was motivated to look for these posts is because, as I was sitting and reading through this passage again, I realized something that seemed profound and obvious all at the same time. That profoundly obvious detail was the very next verse:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Eph 2:10 ESV)
So, as I was reading this I realized more specifically what Paul was saying in this passage that makes it even more obvious as to what he means. He points out the fact that we as God's children have been gifted by God's grace this salvation through faith and that all three of these things are a gift that we cannot boast about.
And here's the main reason that we cannot boast...
For (or "Because") we are the work of His hands! We are the new creatures that He has created! And we were created anew by Him for the purpose that we would perform good works that make men glorify God in Heaven!
The funny thing about this is that I have been listening to a series by James White, and I just happened to be listening to a particular lecture in which he mentioned this very same topic and had pretty much the same things to say about this verse that I had decided to post about today. Only he used an illustration having to do with music being played freestyle, and I was going to mention the Scriptural illustration of a potter and the clay. Go figure.
Anyways, I decided that I'd share that because I thought I might not be the only one who's overlooked this detail, and I thought that it might even get somebody else excited like it did me. So, how do I close a post like this anyways? Well, that's easy...
Soli Deo Gloria!
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I closed my previous post by suggesting that it is appropriate to refer to all stages of salvaton history as dispensations. But, the question is raised, what are those stages?
My answer is this: it's not so important to develop a set of dispensations as it is to read Scripture dispensationally. You see, God plays His story out progressively, both in the revelation He gives to humanity and in the way He interacts with humanity. Some of the progressions He makes are major turning points in salvation history (such as the death of Christ), some are expansions of promises (such as the Abrahamic covenant), some are tweaks in the way humans interact with each other (such as capitol punishment after the flood), etc.
If we viewed any stage as a dispensation which is distinguishable from what was before it, we'd see dispensations everywhere! If we limited the dispensations to those stages which are also distinguishable from what comes after them (in the sense that something is detracted from them), we might see very few dispensations.
So, it seems to me that we ought to view salvation history as a progressive continuum. At some places along that continuum, a promise or stipulation is added. At some places, a covenant arrangement is detracted (the fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant, etc.). The important thing is that we view any given portion of Scripture in its preceding salvation-historical context. So, when reading our Bibles, we ask, "what was revealed by this point?" or, "what stipulations were given by this point?" etc. You see, this is not so much developing a set of dispensations as it is reading Scripture dispensationally.
But what is the relationship between dispensations and covenants? Well, that's a tough question to answer because because we're dealing with both little-d dispensations and capitol-D Dispensations, and because we're dealing with both little-c covenants and capitol-C Covenants. Consider the period between the flood and the Abrahamic covenant. People could now eat meat, and capitol punishment could now be practiced. This wasn't a major turning point in salvation history in the same sense that the giving of Mosaic Law was. But, it was distinguishable from what came before it. Depending on how broadly you want to define “dispensation” and “covenant,” you could apply both terms to this. Of course, a big-D Dispensation and big-C Covenant would be more like the Mosaic era.
Either way, we might say that a covenant is the arrangement communicatively, and a dispensation is the arrangement practically.
So, what is the best way to structure salvation history? I tend to think that there is no right or wrong answer. Dispensationalists recognize the importance of covenants, and covenantalists acknowledge the existence of dispensations. Moreover, there would be nothing inherently inconsistent about the inclusion of overarching “theological covenants” into dispensationalism.
In my opinion, there is value to “overlaying” multiple perspectives on salvation history. We could take a really wide angle snap-shot, and see salvation history in terms of the covenants of Works and Grace. Or, we could zoom in closer and see salvation history in terms of progressive covenants, dispensations, or promises. The best structuring of salvation history is multi-perspectival and includes all of these.
Yes, I acknowledge the existence and importance of dispensations (just as most covenantalists do).
"Dispensation" comes from the Latin dispensatio, which was used to translate oikonomia from the Greek. An oikonomos was the servant in charge of a household: an estate manager, or steward.
Sometimes, Paul refers to particular stages in salvation history as oikonomia's, or dispensations.
In Eph. 3:9 (see v.4ff) Paul refers to our current stage as the "dispensation of the mystery of Christ." Of course, his contrast with the previous stage implies that it was a dispensation too.
In Gal. 4, Paul is arguing that we are not under the Law like a child is under an oikonomos (see esp. v.1-2). This seems to be an intentional application of "dispensation" terminology to the Mosaic Covenant.
In Eph. 1:9-10, Paul refers to a dispensation during which all things are summed up in Christ. In context, this probably refers to our current dispensation; but, Paul's concept of "inaugurated eschatology" leads me to believe that he also had the future Millennium in mind when he said this.
So, Paul seems to use the word "dispensation" (stewardship, arrangement, administration, management) to refer to three different stages in salvation history. It seems appropriate to apply this terminology to all stages of salvation history.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Recognizing the importance of this, we must ask, what is a covenant? The word is used over 300 times in Scripture, yet it is used in such a multiplicity of ways that we have a difficult time nailing down a definition. That notwithstanding, there is only one Hebrew word (berith) and one Greek word (diatheke) translated “covenant.”
As we survey the multifaceted uses of covenant in Scripture, it quickly becomes apparent that we must boil “covenant” down to a common denominator, and “arrangement” is a good place to start. “Arrangement” is a broad enough term to include every use; indeed our own use of the word can be legal-contractual, relational, promissory, imposed or volitional, etc. Along similar lines, Blaising says, “the word covenant...is used in the Bible to refer to a variety of formal or legal agreements.”
A covenant-arrangement is usually promissory, although “promise” may capture the meaning of one arrangement better than the next. A strait-forward promise is a kind of arrangement, but not every arrangement is a strait-forward promise. Some arrangements are promissory only in the sense that each parties' intent to “keep his end” is implicit.
In the ancient world, covenants could be of either the “grant” variety or the “suzerain-vassal" (Lit. “king-subject”) variety. The former was unilateral, involving an unconditional promise; the latter was bilateral, involving a conditional promise.
Some covenant-arrangements are not really promissory at all. For instance, Jerimiah 34:8-10 demonstrates that the range of meaning for “covenant” is broad enough to include a law or command.
Covenants are sometimes relational. Of course, they are always relational in the sense that any arrangement creates some kind of relationship (political, legal, etc.). But I mean more than this: sometimes, covenants create intimate, familial relationships (Jer. 31:32).
A covenant-arrangement involves stipulations; but, again, “stipulation” may communicate the way one arrangement works better than the next. For instance, in Genesis 17, God imposes a stipulation (circumcision) on the other party; but, some other arrangements have stipulations only in the sense that one party places a “stipulation” on himself by promising to do something.
Covenants are binding impositions—sometimes imposed on one party by a greater, sometimes imposed on one party by himself—but either way, they are never portrayed an anything less than a binding imposition.
Just how binding are covenants? The answer is that they are made “in blood,” which is to say that they are made “to the death.” Berith is popularly thought to be a derivative of the verb “to cut,” bara. Indeed, the word translated “make” in the phrase “make a covenant” is always this word for cut, so that the phrase literally reads “cut a covenant.” This almost certainly refers to the customary cutting of an animal in the making of a covenant, which symbolically communicated, “may this be done to any party that breaks this covenant.”
One final note is that, apparently, a covenant does not need to be named as such in order to be one: Hosea 6:7 refers to God's works-arrangement with Adam (obey and live, disobey and die) as a covenant.
So, having approached “covenant” both inductive-contextually and lexically, I conclude that a covenant is a “binding arrangement.” Adding to this definition may exclude some Scriptural uses of the word. However, one's understanding of this definition should be filled out by everything discussed above.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I recently posted my status on Facebook as me being ecstatic about being in the world rather than secluded from it in The Middle of Nowhere, WI. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be than in the city, working 2 jobs with a bunch of complete unbelievers and a Jehovah's Witness (whom I just got through witnessing to). I have had so many opportunities to witness to just about everyone that I work with, and the ones I haven't been able to witness to have heard me talking to others. God is bringing the Good News to my Jerusalem through me.
I just wanted to take the time to praise God publicly while at the same time adding to my blog since it's been suffering since I've been working. And while I'm here, I want to ask for prayer for those to whom I've been able to share my faith with. Please take a second right now to pray that God will save Jacob, Leonard, Brad, Carla, Rashaun, Doug, Dennis, and Steven. Also pray that I will be able to speak specifically with Steven since I haven't yet been able to directly. Pray, as Paul asked, "that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel...that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak." (Eph. 6:19-20).
To God alone be the glory!
Friday, March 13, 2009
This friend's name is Scott Cline, and maybe someone remembers a post that I put up on here when he first became a daddy. If you don't, this is the one: HERE! Scott and I may not share the same views on every little detail of theology; and that will be evident as he comments on my posts with the intention of rebuking me for my lack of sense (haha, just kidding--i think). No, but we will have some good discussion to start off some posts and here and there some Amens for good measure.
So, look for Scott's first post. I'm not sure when exactly that will be because he's still in school, but he is still a productive writer whom I don't expect to see a shortage of posts from...
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I know that we, as Christians, have a tendency to look at the behavior of the unbelievers around us and wonder what in the world could be going through their heads. My friend and I were talking earlier, and he mentioned the fact that the thinking of the world is, in fact, backwards. He actually gave a list of the ways in which the people of the world have demonstrated this, but I don’t really think it needs repeating. It is obvious. Romans 1 gives a clear presentation of the way that unbelievers look at the world and how they love the sin that they are so saturated in. Paul even goes so far as to say that they applaud one another in their wickedness.
Well, the reason for my writing this is because of the thought that unbelievers should be expected to act or think in any way other than the way that they do. You cannot expect them to reverence God in the least. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be offended by their irreverence. I actually think that it’s a good thing to be zealous for God’s glory to the point that hearing His name profaned stirs up a righteous anger in you. The thing is, we shouldn’t expect anything from them but this kind of behavior and worse.
The more specific reason I decided to post this thought was because I was thinking on this verse:
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
(1Co 1:30 ESV)
If you consider the fact that it had nothing to do with you, you should really appreciate the fact that they are not to be held in contempt for not seeing things your way. They absolutely WILL NOT see things your way (I’m assuming that your way is the way of thinking God’s thoughts after Him) until God acts by changing their hearts. They will not see things the way that you might be tempted to argue with them about until God sovereignly gives them the gifts of faith (Phil. 1:29; Eph. 2:8) and repentance (Acts 11:18; II Tim. 2:25). And I say all that to say this: you can be patient and persistent with the unbelievers you are trying to reach for Christ because you are merely the instrument in the hands of the one who will give that person the understanding necessary in His perfect timing if it be His will.
Friday, March 6, 2009
I plan to bring a message to some people in a nursing home later this month that includes a section at the end on this subject, and I pray to God that He brings the full weight of the reality of the situation to bear on each and every person in that room.
Does your Gospel presentation include this essential element?
One day, after the Lord comes back to gather in His own, He'll perfect us all. When that happens, we'll all be living with people from every tribe, tongue, people and nation as brothers and sisters with nothing keeping us from enjoying one another's company as we praise God together for all of eternity. We won't have any impure motives for gathering together and dancing to God's glory. We won't be trying to show off for the camera or dance seductively in order to draw attention to ourselves. No, we'll just be dancing as one body of Christ, perfected, and enjoying every moment that we can praise our God.
That's what I think of when I watch this video. I hope you like it too.
Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I would always read Ephesians 2:8 (For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,(Eph 2:8 ESV))as teaching that salvation is not by works and use it as an argument against those who incorporate works into their understanding of how to be saved. This is certainly valid, but there is so much more here to be understood. The thing that set me into a deeper study of the verse was my college English class. I was learning about demonstrative pronouns (this/these, that/those), and I learned that when these are used they usually refer to the word that immediately precede them. Taking our passage as an example, this would mean that faith is the word that this (or that, depending on your translation) is referring to.
This initial thought is what set me off into a study that included checking commentaries and the Greek that (notice the usage?) I had also been learning. I recall the pastor in this video saying something like "I don't know Greek, but I know how to listen to people who do." Well, I do know some Greek, and I can vouch for his presentation.
I figure that I couldn't possibly have been the only person to stumble upon this reality, but I don't think that many people let themselves take it for what it means. I think that many people probably do what I did and shrug off the sneaking suspicion that faith itself is indeed a gift (which inevitably leads to further complications in one's set of theological presuppositions). And if you are like I was, I'd say that the only reason you haven't let yourself take God's word at face value has everything to do with a concept that you thought didn't affect you...tradition. I'd like to write more, but I don't think I need to detract any more from the video. Enjoy!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
This is taken from this book, but it is an actual quotation from a book by Richard Hanson and Reginald Fuller called The Church of Rome: A Dissuasive. You can check out the first link and buy the book(s) to get the rest of the info. Here's the goods:
"Indeed Roman Catholics often grossly overstate the incoherence and obscurity of the Bible, and even of the New Testament. The Bible can stand as a tradition by itself, as far as coherence and consistency of thought are concerned. The Church in no sense completes the Bible. It is indeed a stupid insult to the memory of the four evangelists and of St. Paul and the other apostolic writers to suggest that they failed in the first aim of their writings, which was to convey the meaning of the Christian Gospel to their hearers. We cannot imagine that the Christians at Corinth to whom Paul wrote, or that the Christians in Rome whom Mark probably had in view when he wrote his Gospel, were not expected to understand what was written for them until the writings were re-interpreted or explained to them by the Church. And if the Church were to undertake to complete the Bible, there is no source of doctrine from which it could legitimately do so except--the Bible." [bolnesses mine]
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Ask yourself as you watch the beginning of this video whether you think that most liberals would get bent outta shape and give a hearty AMEN! to this girl's video if she were talking about an Islamic family in Afghanistan who had no idea that a missile was heading their way. I'm not saying that bombing families in other countries is any better, but I simply say that to point out an inconsistency. I doubt very much that they would be consistent. I actually think that if a liberal stumbled across this video unknowingly that they might get all worked up thinking that it was a slam against George Bush and then feel pretty stupid when she revealed what she was actually talking about.
Sorry for rambling. Here's the video:
"The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil."
(Joh 7:7 ESV)
Jesus is talking to His unbelieving brothers when they told Him to go prove the fact that He was really who He claimed to be at the festival in Judea. Since they are of the world (unbelieving), they get along just fine with the world, but He is from God which means that the world hates Him.
I find this funny because many people who call themselves Christians or who think that they can decide who Jesus is think that He is just fine with the sins that they commit daily. They think that they can do the exact opposite of what the Bible (God's word) says while God sits back and smiles approvingly. NO!!!
This is a most distorted view of who Jesus is. And mine is not some minority interpretation of Jesus' words in a single area of Scripture either. Notice also, that Jesus prays in John 17 for His disciples and "also for those who will believe in [Him] through their word." (verse 20)(By the way, this includes me and you Christian) And He also makes sure to point out the fact that He is "not praying for the world but for those whom [God has] given [Him]." (verse 9) So, if Jesus is specifically NOT praying for the world, then what is the warrant for believing that He is ok with you who have not obeyed Him by repenting and putting your trust in Him as your Savior and supreme desire?
This also gives us Christians a good perspective when witnessing to unbelievers. We most certainly should not coddle anyone's sinful lifestyle. If we are not clear about the way Jesus feels about sin and what He plans to do to those who commit it in complete disregard for His Gospel we are doing them no favors.
I think that this is something that we should all consider when sharing our faith. As a matter of fact, we need to be very clear that Jesus died to take the place of all who would repent and trust Him, but we should also be very clear that they have no part in that saving sacrifice if they don't obey the Gospel (John 3:36). After all, would He specifically not pray for them but then turn around and take their place on the cross?
This video is of Paul Washer, and he has some nice things to say about those who have have been titled "reformed rappers". I don't expect everyone to watch the whole thing, but you can get the gist of his opinion of the type of music I've been defending in the first few minutes. Like I said, Paul Washer is not one who doesn't consider the actions of believers to be important. He has preached whole sermons rebuking those who call themselves Christians who live like all the unbelieving people in America, so keep that in mind while watching this:
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Like I said, if you're a Christian you'll really appreciate it, and if you think about it you'll really be edified by the fact that it was written long before the actual reformation. Check it out:
There was of old a direction for the visitation of the sick, composed, as they say, by Anselm, which expresses a better sense of these things than some seem to be convinced of:— [I have edited out the long Latin quotation here. You don't have to thank me.] — that is, “Dost thou believe that thou canst not be saved but by the death of Christ? The sick man answers, ‘Yes;’ then let it be said unto him, Go to, then, and whilst thy soul abideth in thee, put all thy confidence in this death alone, place thy trust in no other thing; commit thyself wholly to this death, cover thyself wholly with this alone, cast thyself wholly on this death, wrap thyself wholly in this death. And if God would judge thee, say, ‘Lord, I place the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between me and thy judgment; and otherwise I will not contend or enter into judgment with thee.’ And if he shall say unto thee that thou art a sinner, say, ‘I place the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between me and my sins.’ If he shall say unto thee that thou hast deserved damnation, say, ‘Lord, I put the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between thee and all my sins; and I offer his merits for my own, which I should have, and have not.’ If he say that he is angry with thee, say, ‘Lord, I place the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between me and thy anger.’ ”