Thursday, December 31, 2009

A UNC Christmas

Here are a couple of items I received this Christmas. One is an autographed jersey signed by the 2009 National Championship Team (thanks Deacons). The other is an autographed basketball signed by the 2005 National Championship Team (given by an anonymous person-they will be rewarded greatly in Heaven). I wonder what Dook fans give each other? Ha Ha!

Who Killed Jesus?

The murder of Jesus was a vast conspiracy involving Rome, Herod, the Gentiles, the Jewish Sanhedrin, and the people of Israel--diverse groups who were seldom fully in accord with one another. In fact, it is significant that the crucifixion of Christ is the only historical event where all those factions worked together to achieve a common goal. All were culpable. All bear the guilt together. The Jews as a race were no more or less blameworthy than the Gentiles.

This is very plainly stated in Acts 4:27, a corporate prayer offered in an assembly of the very earliest believers: "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together." So there is no justification whatsoever for trying to fix the blame for Jesus' death on any one people group. This was, in essence, a corporate act of sinful humanity against God. All are guilty together.

And yet even that does not exhaust the full truth about who killed Jesus. Scripture emphasizes from cover to cover that the death of Christ was ordained and appointed by God Himself. One of the key Old Testament prophecies about the crucifixion is Isaiah 53. Isaiah prophetically describes the torture of the Messiah at the hands of a scoffing mob, and then adds, "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief" (Isaiah 53:10).

God put his own Son to death?
That is precisely what Scripture teaches. Why? According to Isaiah 53:10 , it was to "make His soul an offering for sin." God had a redemptive purpose.

The designs of those who killed Christ were entirely murderous. They are by no means exonerated from their evil, just because God's purposes are good. It was still the act of "lawless hands" (Acts 2:23). It was, as far as the human perpetrators were concerned, an act of pure evil. The wickedness of the crucifixion is in no sense mitigated by the fact that God sovereignly ordained it for good. The truth that it was His sovereign plan makes the deed itself no less a diabolical act of murder.

And yet this was clearly God's holy and sovereign plan from before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). Look again at that prayer from Acts 4, this time in its full context:

Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: "Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ." For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done (Acts 4:24-28), emphasis added).

Acts 2:23 echoes the same thought: "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death" (emphasis added).

God ordained the murder of Jesus. Or to put it starkly in the words of Isaiah 53:10, it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.

In what sense was God pleased by the death of his Son?

He was pleased by the redemption that was accomplished. He was pleased that His eternal plan of salvation was thus fulfilled. He was pleased with the sacrifice of his Son, who died so that others might have eternal life. He was pleased to display his righteous anger against sin in such a graphic way. He was pleased to demonstrate His love for sinners through such a majestic sacrifice.

For all the evil in the crucifixion, it brought about an infinite good. In fact, here was the most evil act ever perpetrated by sinful hearts: The sinless Son of God--holy God Himself in human flesh--was unjustly killed after being subjected to the most horrific tortures that could be devised by wicked minds. It was the evil of all evils, the worst deed human depravity could ever devise, and the most vile evil that has ever been committed. And yet from it came the greatest good of all time--the redemption of unnumbered souls.

The cross is therefore the ultimate proof of the utter sovereignty of God. His purposes are always fulfilled in spite of the evil intentions of sinners. God even works His righteousness through the evil acts of unrighteous agents. Far from making Him culpable for their evil, this demonstrates how all He does is good, and how He is able to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28)--even the most wicked deed the powers of evil have ever conspired to carry out.
(HT:Grace to You)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Doug Wilson on Bitterness

Douglas Wilson offers some wisdom on the effect of resentment: If you are bitter, you are siding against yourself with the person you're offended at. Wilson writes:

What this means is that someone came into your home and smashed your precious things. And let us say that you are not imagining it—he really did this. And so what does bitterness do? Bitterness goes to the workroom in the basement, finds a hammer, and goes through the house, smashing any of the remaining precious things that the other may have missed. At the basic heart level, this means that bitterness agrees with the vandal. For all the appearance of conflict, it is a false conflict.

Aggressive belligerence says that you should be hurt. And bitterness responds by saying, "No, I need to be hurt and damaged more than that. Leave me now—I can do the rest by myself."

Greatest Miracle in the Bible?

The incarnation is the greatest miracle that ever took place.

The incarnation was when Jesus, though God Himself, was born as a baby in Bethlehem. God became humanity without in any way ceasing to be deity.

According to theologian Wayne Grudem,

“[The incarnation] is by far the most amazing miracle of the entire Bible – - far more amazing than the resurrection and more amazing even than the creation of the universe. The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe (Grudem, 563).”

Paraphrasing John Murray, “The incarnation means that God who never began to be . . . as God, began to be what he eternally was not (Murray, Vol. 2, 132). It is the most amazing, the most incredible miracle that will ever happen.

And, the reason Christ became humanity was that He might win the victory and deliver His people from sin.

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. . . Amazing.

(HT: A brick in the valley)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Worst pee sermon ever!

This KJV Only preacher makes his point about peeing standing up. God help us!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry X-mas?

Why is X Used when it Replaces Christ in Christmas?
from R.C. Sproul

The simple answer to your question is that the X in Christmas is used like the R in R.C. My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to be too scandalized by that.

X can mean so many things. For example, when we want to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. It can refer to an obscene level of films, something that is X-rated. People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ's name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, "Put Christ back into Christmas" as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

We don't see people protesting the use of the Greek letter theta, which is an O with a line across the middle. We use that as a shorthand abbreviation for God because it is the first letter of the word Theos, the Greek word for God.

The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That's how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There's a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

C.S. Lewis on Foreknowledge

Reflecting on why God put Abraham’s faith to the test by commanding him to offer his son, Lewis says,

“If God then is omniscient, he must have known what Abraham would do, without any experiment. Why then this needless torture?” But as St. Augustine points out, whatever God knew, Abraham at any rate did not know that his obedience would endure such a command until the event taught him: and the obedience which he did not know that he would choose, he cannot be said to have chosen. The reality of Abraham’s obedience was the act itself; and what God knew in knowing that Abraham “would obey” was Abraham’s actual obedience on that mountain top a that moment. To say that God “need not have tried the experiment” is to say that because God knows, the thing known by God need not to exist. (The Problem of Pain, 101)


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Spurgeon on Inability

"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him."--John 6:44.

The text says, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." Wherein does this inability lie?

First, it does not lie in any physical defect. If in coming to Christ, moving the body or walking with the feet should be of any assistance, certainly man has all physical power to come to Christ in that sense. I remember to have heard a very foolish Antinomian declare, that he did not believe any man had the power to walk to the house of God unless the Father drew him. Now the man was plainly foolish, because he must have seen that as long as a man was alive and had legs, it was as easy for him to walk to the house of God as to the house of Satan. If coming to Christ includes the utterance of a prayer, man has no physical defect in that respect, if he be not dumb, he can say a prayer as easily as he can utter blasphemy. It is as easy for a man to sing one of the songs of Zion as to sing a profane and libidinous song. There is no lack of physical power in coming to Christ. All that can be wanted with regard to the bodily strength man most assuredly has, and any part of salvation which consists in that is totally and entirely in the power of man without any assistance from the Spirit of God.

Nor, again, does this inability lie in any mental lack. I can believe this Bible to be true just as easily as I can believe any other book to be true. So far as believing on Christ is an act of the mind, I am just as able to believe on Christ as I am able to believe on anybody else. Let his statement be but true, it is idle to tell me I cannot believe it. I can believe the statement that Christ makes as well as I can believe the statement of any other person. There is no deficiency of faculty in the mind: it is as capable of appreciating as a mere mental act the guilt of sin, as it is of appreciating the guilt of assassination. It is just as possible for me to exercise the mental idea of seeking God, as it is to exercise the thought of ambition. I have all the mental strength and power that can possibly be needed, so far as mental power is needed in salvation at all. Nay, there is not any man so ignorant that he can plead a lack of intellect as an excuse for rejecting the gospel. The defect, then, does not lie either in the body, or, what we are bound to call, speaking theologically, the mind. It is not any lack or deficiency there, although it is the vitiation of the mind, the corruption or the ruin of it, which, after all, is the very essence of man's inability.

Permit me to show you wherein this inability of man really does lie. It lies deep in his nature. Through the fall, and through our own sin, the nature of man has become so debased, and depraved, and corrupt, that it is impossible for him to come to Christ without the assistance of God the Holy Spirit. Now, in trying to exhibit how the nature of man thus renders him unable to come to Christ, you must allow me just to take this figure. You see a sheep; how willingly it feeds upon the herbage! You never knew a sheep sigh after carrion; it could not live on lion's food. Now bring me a wolf; and you ask me whether a wolf cannot eat grass, whether it cannot be just as docile and as domesticated as the sheep. I answer, no; because its nature is contrary thereunto. You say, "Well, it has ears and legs; can it not hear the shepherd's voice, and follow him whithersoever he leadeth it?" I answer, certainly; there is no physical cause why it cannot do so, but its nature forbids, and therefore I say it cannot do so. Can it not be tamed? Cannot its ferocity be removed? Probably it may so far be subdued that it may become apparently tame; but there will always be a marked distinction between it and the sheep, because there is a distinction in nature. Now, the reason why man cannot come to Christ, is not because he cannot come, so far as his body or his mere power of mind is concerned, but because his nature is so corrupt that he has neither the will nor the power to come to Christ unless drawn by the Spirit.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

C. Michael on Ministry and Marriage

C. Michael Patton:

Friends (and especially young zealous husbands or soon to be husbands), don’t make the mistake of having your passion for ministry end your marriage. Your first ministry is your marriage. If you don’t get that, you are not qualified for ministry. In the spirit of Priscilla: Do you not think that God is powerful enough to call you both into ministry or do you think he only has enough power to call one of you? If so, then he is not a God worth your time anyway. In short, if God does not call your wife, he is not calling you. Period.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Here’s Tiger’s announcement on his website about his decision:

I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I’ve done, but I want to do my best to try.

I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What’s most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.

After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.

Again, I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during this difficult period.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

MacArthur on the Virgin Birth

Dr. Walvoord, president of Dallas Theological Seminary, says, "The incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ is the central fact of Christianity. Upon it the whole superstructure of Christian theology depends." The whole essence of Christianity is predicated on the fact that Jesus is God in human flesh, something that is made clear at the very birth of Christ. The virgin birth is an essential doctrine, for if Jesus had a human father, then the Bible is untrustworthy, because the Bible claims He did not have one. And if Jesus was born simply of human parents, there is no way to describe the reason for His supernatural life. His virgin birth, His substitutionary death, His bodily resurrection, and His Second Coming are a package of deity. You cannot isolate those truths, accepting only one and leaving the rest, or accepting them all but one. You must either believe all of those realities that are the manifestation of His deity or you are guilty of being inconsistent, because those truths are inseparably interrelated. And so we must face the question that Jesus posed to the Pharisees again: Whose Son is He? The son of David in humanity, and the Son of God in deity. Both of those are essential to a proper understanding of the incarnation. Jesus is God in a human body. Humanly through the lineage of David He gains the right to rule the world, and from the standpoint of deity He gains the very essence of the nature of God by having been born without a human father through the agency of the Spirit of God Himself.

So Matthew, in writing his Gospel, squarely faces his Jewish readers and the readers of all the ages as he gives them the answer in chapter 1. The genealogy of Jesus tells you that Jesus is David's son, and the birth of Jesus tells you that He is God's Son. Now if the genealogy were all that could be said with reference to His identity, then Christ would have had the legal right to be the King, but He could have never redeemed men. He could have never conquered death, sin, and Satan in hell. To accomplish that, He had to be God, and such became Jesus, the God-Man -- lOO% deity and lOO% humanity.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rob Bell on the Virgin Birth.

Rob Bell's take on the virgin birth. Sounds like he is trying to figure a way out of it. Sad isn't it.

Rob Bell On the Virgin Birth:

“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?

But what if, as you study the origin of the word “virgin” you discover that the word “virgin” in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word “virgin” could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being “born of a virgin” also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?” (Velvet Elvis p26)

Football player with Down syndrome scores touchdown | Charlotte News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | High School

Football player with Down syndrome scores touchdown | Charlotte News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | High School

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do you pray to or worship Mary?!?

(HT:John Piper)

The veneration given to Mary in the Roman Catholic church is beyond what is warranted by the New Testament. In fact, it is astonishing how little we see of Mary in the New Testament. Let us honor her unique motherhood. Let us count her blessed as the mother of our incarnate Lord. But let us not put her on a pedestal that neither she nor Jesus would have approved of.

After she turns up with the disciples praying in the upper room in Acts 1:14, she is never mentioned again in the New Testament. This is astonishing to anyone who thinks that the veneration of Mary was an essential part of early church life. It was not important enough to be mentioned in any of the New Testament books after Acts.

In fact, in the one place where Paul comes close to mentioning Mary, he chooses not to, and simply speaks of generic “woman”: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Galatians 4:4).

And when she is mentioned in Acts 1:14, she is “Mary the mother of Jesus” and listed alongside “his brothers.” This inclusion of the brothers has the effect of minimizing any emerging elevation of Mary as having significance only in being the mother of Jesus, rather than the mother of his brothers as well.

Mary is unique among all women in being a virgin when she gave birth to her firstborn son. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son” (Matthew 1:23). When she asked the angel how this can be, he answered: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

Yet amazingly this fact—the virgin birth of Jesus by Mary—is never mentioned again in the New Testament. That doesn’t mean it is untrue or unimportant. It simply means that it was not prominent in the life of the church. Celebrating it was not an essential part of the worship of the New Testament church. Otherwise, it would have been mentioned somewhere in the letters to those churches.

When Mary is referred to during the adult life of Jesus in the Gospels, she is not treated in a way that sets her apart in any unusual way. At the cross, for example, Matthew refers to her without even mentioning that she is Jesus’ mother: “There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee” (Matthew 27:55-56).

Calling Jesus’ mother “the mother of James and Joseph” is striking. We know that this is Jesus’ mother because of Matthew 13:55, “Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?” “James and Joseph” are the sons in both Matthew 27:56 and 13:55. So Matthew refers to Mary without calling her the mother of Jesus, and a few verses later, he simply refers to her as “the other Mary” (27:61).

Most striking of all is the way Jesus intentionally deflects a certain kind of honor from his mother. Once a woman in the crowd “raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!’” But Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28). Jesus ranks obedience to the word of God above the special veneration of his mother.

Similarly Jesus was once told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But Jesus answered, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:20-21). Again Jesus ranks obedience above the standing of his mother.

Mary was a magnificent person.
Therefore, remember her. Admire her. Bless her. Be inspired by her. But do not go beyond what the New Testament portrays. Our calling is to be the mother of Jesus more than to venerate her (Luke 8:21).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jake Olson- watch this!!!!!

I watched this Saturday (during my sickness). It will be well worth your time. Way to go USC, Way to go Jake.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trust the Word

"There’s a story in the biography of George Whitefield about a man named Thorpe, who was a bitter opponent of everything that is holy. He and a group of his friends—all of them young, rebellious thugs—conspired together to mock and oppose George Whitefield’s evangelistic ministry while Whitefield was preaching in Bristol, England.

George Whitefield had severely crossed eyes, if you have ever seen a realistic likeness of him. And these guys used to refer to him as “Dr. Squintum.” They called their little gang “The Hell-Fire Club,” and they disrupted meetings, mocked Whitefield on the streets and in public places, and generally tried to make his ministry a reproach in their community. Whitefield’s preaching had already made a deep and lasting impact in Bristol, and these young ruffians hated him for it. So this guy Thorpe got one of Whitefield’s published sermons and took it to the local pub, where the “Hell-Fire Club” was gathered to drink together while they make a burlesque of Whitefield.

Thorpe was apparently pretty good at doing impressions, and he had all Whitefield’s mannerisms and gestures down pat. So he stood in the center of this pub and crossed his eyes and began to deliver a derisive rendition of Whitefield’s sermon. But in the middle of the sermon, the Word of God pierced his heart, and he suddenly stopped and sat down, trembling and broken-hearted. Right then and there, he confessed the truth of the gospel and gave his heart to Christ. His aim was to taunt and ridicule, but he accidentally converted himself! Or rather, the power of the Word of God penetrated his soul and cut him to the heart. He became a preacher himself and quite an effective evangelist, because he knew so well the power of the Word of God to penetrate hardened hearts.

Notice that the Word of God pierces to the very depths, “even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It probes to the deepest recesses of the heart, no matter how hardened or how closed the heart might be. In fact, only Scripture can do that."

(HT: Steven Camp)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What About Those Who have Never Heard the Gospel?

Fide-O Answers ... Do you agree or disagree and why?

Will the innocent native in Africa who has never heard the Gospel go to Heaven or Hell?

Often people ask, “What happens to the poor innocent native in Africa who has never heard the gospel? When he dies will he go to heaven or hell?”

My answer: The innocent native in Africa who has never heard the Gospel will go straight to Heaven when he dies.

But I follow that answer with this question: How many innocent natives are in Africa (or in any other continent in the world)?

The answer: None.

The Apostle Paul says in Romans 1:18 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!

Notice in this passage of Scripture that the judgment of God is against all people, and it is so because they have suppressed the truth about God that God has shown to all mankind. In fact, the passage teaches that the truth about God has been clearly perceived by all men through creation and science so that nobody has no excuse to not worship the Creator God of the Bible.

Therefore even people who have never heard a preacher or has never read the Bible will still be held accountable for being sinners. Why? Because all people have chosen to reject God and worship themselves.

The Apostle Paul in chapter one of Romans proves that Natural Revelation produces Natural Theology in the heart of every person on earth. And this Natural Tehology is the basis for universal guilt of all mankind. This is why true, biblical apologetics is “presuppositional apologetics.” The Bible proves that all people know God. That means that all people are predesposed to the knowledge of God but have rejected God. Therefore, trying to prove God to a sinner is unnecessary. And if a sinner is claiming to be atheistic then it is only proof that he is determined in his rejection of Natural Theology — he is hardening his heart. Atheists are often reached by the gospel, but they are reached not by Evidential Apologists who are trying to do a better job of proving God than God already has. Rather they are reached by Presuppositional Apologists who preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and call all people to repentance.

(HT: Fide-O)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

John Calvin on John 3:16

John wrote concerning John 3:16: "He has used a general term ["whosoever"], both to invite indiscriminately all to share in life and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such also is the significance of the term 'world' which he had used before. For although there is nothing in the world deserving of God's favour, He nevertheless shows He is favorable to the whole world when he calls all without exception to the faith of Christ, which is indeed an entry into life."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spurgeon on Preacher's Clothes

“Except a duck in pattens, no creature looks more stupid than a Dissenting preacher in a gown which is of no manner of use to him. I could laugh till I held my sides when I see our doctors in gowns and bands, puffed out with their silks, and touched up with their little bibs, for they put me so much in mind of our old turkey-cock when his temper is up, and he swells to his biggest. They must be weak folks indeed who want a man to dress like a woman before they can enjoy his sermon, and he who cannot preach without such milliner’s trumpery may be a man among geese, but he is a goose among men.”

—C.H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Practical Wisdom

(HT:Shepherd Scrapbook)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mark Marshall is Tattoo

What has Mark been doing during his week of vacation? Looking for planes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spurgeon: Repentance

We are to preach the motives of repentance, that men may not repent from mere fear of hell, but they must repent of sin itself. Every thief is sorry when he has to go to prison; every murderer is sorry when the noose is about his neck. The sinner must repent, not because of punishment of sin, but because his sin is sin against a pardoning God, sin against a bleeding Savior, sin against a holy law, sin against a tender Gospel. The true penitent repents of sin against God, and he would do so even if there were no punishment.
We are to tell of the source of repentance, namely, that the Lord Jesus Christ is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins. Repentance is a plant that never grows on nature’s dunghill: the nature must be changed, and repentance must be implanted by the Holy Spirit or it will never flourish in our hearts. We preach repentance as a fruit of the Spirit, or else we greatly err.

- Charles Spurgeon

(Truth Matters)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

So you think you can Preach!

By: Spurgeon

“Everybody thinks himself a judge of a sermon, but nine out of ten might as well pretend to weigh the moon. I believe that, at bottom, most people think it an uncommonly easy thing to preach, and that they could do it amazingly well themselves. Every donkey thinks itself worthy to stand with the king’s horses.”

—C.H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Practical Wisdom: Or Plain Advice for Plain People (Banner of Truth, 2009) p. 15.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Phoney Repentance

(by Roger Ellswort]
One of the major problems of the church today is ‘phoney repentance’. Multitudes have walked down the aisle, mouthed the right words, and joined the church only to become what is delicately called ‘inactive members’. All kinds of explanations have been offered for this sad state of affairs. Some attribute the problem to ineptness in ‘follow up’. They argue that these inactive members came to church really wanting to serve the Lord, but no one told them how to go about it and they became discouraged and dropped out. Others say the problem is due to failing to teach new converts about a second level of Christian living. Often, we are told, we simply tell people to accept Jesus as Saviour and we fail to tell them they must also accept him as Lord. Many, therefore, have settled down in something of a halfway house. They are not lost, but neither are they living for the Lord. They are, the argument goes, ‘carnal Christians’ — saved, but living as unbelievers live.

The common assumption in both of these explanations is that those who have made a profession of faith are genuinely saved. Very few seem willing to allow the possibility that many of our ‘inactive members’ have simply never truly come to know God at all; that their repentance was superficial and incomplete; and that, therefore, they remain in their sins.

The reluctance to talk about phoney conversions is surprising, because Scripture has so much to say on the subject. There are, for instance, the teachings of Jesus: in the Sermon on the Mount, he explicitly warned about the danger of being deceived on our standing with God (Matt. 7:21-23); in his parable of the sower, he spoke about the ‘stony ground’ hearer who receives the word with joy but in whom the word does not take root (Matt. 13:20-21). In addition, we have clear warnings from Paul (2 Cor. 13:5), Peter (2 Pet. 1:10-11), John (1 John 2:18-19; 5:13), and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (6:4-6; 10:26-39) on the danger of being deceived about being converted.

We also have several notable examples of spurious conversions. The names of Esau (Heb. 12:16-17), Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:16-20), Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-24), and Demas (2 Tim. 4:10) are all inextricably linked to ‘phoney repentance’.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Charles Stanley: Repentance

“Lord, I’m really sorry I got caught.”

“God, I really regret that sin. I sure hope I can do better next time.”

Does either of these statements indicate genuine repentance? I don’t think so. Both are prompted out of guilt or embarrassment, not a heartfelt sense of remorse over the fact that the Father has been grieved. Usually, these people have no intention of changing. They just want God off of their backs.

Genuine repentance involves several things. First of all, confession. Not just, “Lord, I’m sorry for my mistake,” but “Lord, I have sinned against you.” Confession acknowledges guilt. Second, repentance involves recognizing that the sin was against God. Although David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed, he realized that his sin was primarily against the Lord (Ps. 51:4).

All of us need to recognize that our sin is primarily against God. Other people may be hurt as well. However, when we hold our sin up to the love of the Father expressed through the Cross, we see that is where sin is darkest.

Repentance also includes taking full responsibility for our sin. David didn’t blame Bathsheba or make any excuses for himself. He said, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (Ps. 51:3).

Whenever we catch ourselves blaming someone else for our sin, our repentance is incomplete. We should take full responsibility for our offense, no matter what happened or who was involved. Regardless of the temptation, we are ultimately the ones who chose to sin.

Last, repentance is not complete without honesty. I believe God is looking for us to be honest about our weaknesses, our failures, and our frustrations. Honesty promotes fellowship. As long as we are open and honest with the Lord, He can continue to work with us, even after we have sinned.

We get into trouble when we start to cover things up: “Now, Lord, I know I made a mistake. But after all, everybody makes mistakes. Nobody’s perfect.” Responding this way avoids the real issue and is therefore dishonest. As long as we approach God in that fashion, there is not much He can do with us.

Repentance for the Unbeliever

Repentance for those outside of Christ means a change of mind. The unbeliever is to change his mind about what he believes concerning Jesus. He moves from unbelief to belief that Christ paid the penalty for his sin. An unsaved person admits that she cannot save herself. She trusts Jesus, instead of her goodness, for eternal life. She changes her mind about God and His payment for our sin.

It is important to understand that repentance for the unbeliever is not referring to cleaning up his life. If he can earn forgiveness of sin and a home in heaven by changing his life through self-effort, there is no need for the Cross.

Repentance and belief are so intertwined that they are almost synonymous. You can not have one without the other. They are two sides of the same coin. Jesus used repentance as synonymous with belief when He said, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47).

After you receive Jesus, you will continue to repent as you grow in Christian faith and character. This repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change in behavior.

What happens when we delay our repentance? The Bible teaches that God disciplines those who are disobedient. When we perpetuate our sin with no intention of stopping, we won’t escape the disciplining hand of the Father. However, it is my conviction that if you and I deal with our sin genuinely, openly and immediately, God can lessen the severity of our discipline. We are wise to repent quickly.

Greg Laurie: Repentance

"Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones."
— Luke 3:8

What do you think of when you hear the word "repent"? Maybe you think of someone wearing a sandwich board with flames on it who is yelling, "Repent!" It's a word we don't hear very much today.

You might be surprised to know that the first word to fall from the lips of Jesus Christ after He began His public ministry was "repent" (see Matthew 4:17).

The word "repent" means more than mere regret or sorrow. You can be sorry for something and not be repentant. You can feel sorry about a certain sin, especially if you reap the consequences of it. The person who gets caught in a lie is sorry. The criminal who gets caught is sorry. But the question is whether that sorrow leads to change. It might not. The liar might just be more careful. The criminal may plot his next crime with more foresight. There are people who are sorry for reaping the consequences of what they have done, but they have never made any changes in their lives.

Real sorrow, according to the Bible, will lead to repentance. It will lead to change. John the Baptist preached to the multitudes, "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance . . . " (Luke 3:8). Many people have never really repented of their sins. They have never really brought forth fruit in keeping with repentance. But this is absolutely necessary if you want to be forgiven of your sin. Recognition of personal sin is always the first step in receiving forgiveness.

However, you can recognize that you need to repent and still not do it. You can recognize your personal sin and not necessarily take action. The two need to come together.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rob Bell: Repentance

Bell is no theologian. I wonder if he really understands "Biblical" repentance.

James MacDonald: Repentance

Repentance is the first step toward revival.

Repentance is the funnel through which all revival flows.
2 Corinthians 7:8–11
Paul rebukes the Corinthians for their sexual sin and rebellious spirit.
It's a good thing to be grieved over sin; sometimes you have to get to a bad place before you can get to a good place.
Repentance was the message of every Old Testament prophet.
Repentance is a key theme in the New Testament.
- Matthew 3:2; Mark 6:12; Luke 15:7; Acts 3:19; Acts 17:30
The definition of repentance is a change in me and my behavior.

MacAuthur: Repentance and Salvation

What is repentance and how does it relate to salvation?

The meaning of the word repentance has been twisted in recent years to the point that its biblical meaning is now obscured in the minds of many. The idea that genuine repentance could result in anything but a change of life is completely foreign to Scripture.

What does the Bible teach about the relationship between salvation and repentance? First, it teaches that repentance is essential to salvation. One cannot truly believe unless he repents, and one cannot truly repent unless he believes. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin (but they are not synonymous terms). Acts 11:18 and 2 Peter 3:9 are two of the many verses that teach that repentance is necessary for salvation. Perhaps 2 Timothy 2:25 best sums up the relationship between repentance and saving faith when it speaks of "repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (see also Acts 20:21).

Second, the Greek word for repentance, "metanoia," while it means "to have another mind," cannot properly be defined to exclude a sense of hatred of and penitence for sin. The biblical concept of repentance involves far more than merely a casual change of thinking. Biblically, a person who repents does not continue willfully in sin. Repentance is a turning from sin, and it always results in changed behavior (Luke 3:8). While sorrow from sin is not equivalent to repentance, it is certainly an element of scriptural repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Finally, despite what is being widely taught today, affirming that repentance and acknowledgement of Jesus' lordship are necessary to salvation does not "add" anything to the requirement of faith for salvation. It is not "faith plus repentance" that saves, but rather a repentant faith. The notion that salvation is possible apart from a genuine, heartfelt repentance, which includes a deep hatred of sin, is a relatively new one, neither believed nor taught by the people of God until the twentieth century.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Steve Camp on the Gospel

Satan doesn't want to fight the church; he wants to join it and infiltrate with a different gospel of his own invention.

He will always scheme in the amphitheater of the crucial, never in the arena of the trivial. He attacks the character and nature of God; the person and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ (His Virgin birth, sinless life, once for sacrifice on the cross as a propitiation for our sins, His bodily resurrection from the dead, etc.); the gospel of sola fide; and he counterfeits the ongoing work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you
in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you
and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven
should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you,
let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again:
If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received,
let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:6-9

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Science Can't Do

This is from many years ago but William Lane Craig gives a good response.

Monday, October 26, 2009

J.I. Packer on Election

For [God] says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. ROMANS 9:15-16

The verb elect means “to select, or choose out.” The biblical doctrine of election is that before Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen, those whom he would redeem, bring to faith, justify, and glorify in and through Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28-39; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter for endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us; and doubly so when his choice involved the giving of his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect (Rom. 8:32).

The doctrine of election, like every truth about God, involves mystery and sometimes stirs controversy. But in Scripture it is a pastoral doctrine, brought in to help Christians see how great is the grace that saves them, and to move them to humility, confidence, joy, praise, faithfulness, and holiness in response. It is the family secret of the children of God. We do not know who else he has chosen among those who do not yet believe, nor why it was his good pleasure to choose us in particular. What we do know is, first, that had we not been chosen for life we would not be believers now (for only the elect are brought to faith), and, second, that as elect believers we may rely on God to finish in us the good work that he started (1 Cor. 1:8-9; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 2 Tim. 1:12; 4:18). Knowledge of one’s election thus brings comfort and joy.

Peter tells us we should be “eager to make [our] calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10)—that is, certain to us. Election is known by its fruits. Paul knew the election of the Thessalonians from their faith, hope, and love, the inward and outward transformation of their lives that the gospel had brought about (1 Thess. 1:3-6). The more that the qualities to which Peter has been exhorting his readers appear in our lives (goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love: 2 Pet. 1:5-7), the surer of our own election we are entitled to be.

The elect are, from one standpoint, the Father’s gift to the Son (John 6:39; 10:29; 17:2, 24). Jesus testifies that he came into this world specifically to save them (John 6:37-40; 10:14-16, 26-29; 15:16; 17:6-26; Eph. 5:25-27), and any account of his mission must emphasize this.

(Agree or Disagree)

Ginyard spills the beans about Dook

Tar Heels' senior guard Marcus Ginyard, coming off an injury-filled season that caused him to redshirt during last year's national championship run, recently sat down with Athlon magazine for a question-and-answer session.
When asked about the rivalry with Duke, Ginyard went off the script that UNC players usually follow and offered some real feelings about the school just a few miles to the east.
“I have a strong dislike for Duke and the way they play,” was Ginyard's opening salvo. “Overall, as a general statement, I just don't like Duke and their program and the way they play.
“There are some players that I don't mind, that I feel like are good, tough players. But I feel like there are a lot of their players who are kind of shady and not quite such great players.
“They kind of – I mean, they walk the line. A lot of their players walk the line between a good, tough player and like a little shady, dirty…I have a strong dislike for most of the players who play at Duke. There are a few players who play at Duke who I respect as straight-up, tough, talented basketball players.
“There's no doubt those guys play hard. I just think there's certain things you shouldn't do. I just think sportsmanship should always be up there on the list and just respect for the game and for the other team.
“I think you play hard, you can play physical and you can play tough without being dirty, without flopping and making it - I mean, I just think that makes for a dangerous game sometimes when you're not playing respectfully and with sportsmanship.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Preach the Word

John Wycliffe once wrote, as recalled by J,C, Ryle, concerning our duty to the Word of God:

"The true Christian was intended by Christ to prove all things by the Word of God, all churches, all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices. These are His marching orders. Prove all by the Word of God; measure all by the measure of the Bible; compare all with the standard of the Bible; weigh all in the balances of the Bible; examine all by the light of the Bible; test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which can abide the fire of the Bible, receive hold, believe, and obey. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away. This is the flag which He nailed to the mast. May it never be lowered!

A church which does not honor the Bible is as useless as a body without life, or a steam engine without fire. A minister who does not honor the Bible is as useless as a soldier without arms, a builder without tools, a pilot without compass, or a messenger without tidings. Stand fast on old principles. Do not forsake the old paths. Let nothing tempt you to believe that multiplication of forms and ceremonies, constant reading of liturgical services, or frequent communions, will ever do so much good to souls as the powerful, fiery, fervent preaching of God's Word. If men want to do good to the multitude, if they want to reach their hearts and consciences, they must attack them through their ears; they must blow the trumpet of the everlasting Gospel loud and long; they must preach the Word."

Preacher Burning Bibles?

IF IT IS NOT KJV IT IS NOT FOR ME according to this preacher:

A North Carolina pastor plans to host a Halloween event at his church to burn heretical books. At the top of the list — the Bible.

Pastor Marc Grizzard claims the King James version of the Bible is the only true word of God, and that all other versions are "satanic" and "perversions" of God's word.

On Halloween night, Grizzard and the 14 members of the Amazing Grace Baptist Church will set fire to other versions of the scripture, as well as music and books by Christian authors.

“We are burning books that we believe to be Satanic,” Pastor Grizzard said.

“I believe the King James version is God’s preserved, inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God… for English-speaking people."

All other religious or Christian texts are sacreligious, the pastor insists. The list of books being burned will include works written by "a lot of different authors who we consider heretics, such as Billy Graham, Rick Warren… the list goes on and on,” Pastor Grizzard said.

Also on the pastor's list of heretical authors — Mother Teresa, according to a full list that was previously available at the Amazing Grace Baptist Church's Web site. The Church's Web site — which is no longer available — calls the event 'Burning Perversions of God's Word,' and urges parishioners to "come celebrate Halloween by burning Satan's bibles." Calls to the Amazing Grace Church were not returned Thursday.

Some in the pastor's community support the event.

"In my opinion, the King James Version is the only version," Sissy Messer said.

But not all residents of Canton, N.C. agree with the bonfire of the profanities.

“I think some of the newer versions make it easier for people to understand,” said resident Judy Kirby.

The book-burning is being promoted as a social event with a barbecue dinner. The event will run from "7 p.m.- Till," according to the announcement previously posted on the Web site.


Is God in Control?

According to the Bible He is:

"It is not merely that God has the power and right to govern all things but that He does so always and without exception." - John Piper

God is sovereign over the entire universe: Ps 103:19; Rom 8:28; Eph 1:11
God is sovereign over all of nature: Ps 135:6-7; Mt 5:45; 6:25-30
God is sovereign over angels & Satan: Ps 103:20-21; Job 1:12
God is sovereign over nations: Ps 47:7-9; Dan 2:20-21; 4:34-35
God is sovereign over human beings: 1 Sam 2:6-7; Gal 1:15-16
God is sovereign over animals: Ps 104:21-30; 1 Ki 17:4-6
God is sovereign over "accidents": Pr 16:33; Jon 1:7; Mt 10:29
God is sovereign over free acts of men: Ex 3:21; 12:25-36; Ez 7:27
God is sovereign over sinful acts of men and Satan: 2 Sam 24:1; 1 Chr 21:1; Gen 45:5; 50:20

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Great Article on Worship Wars

1. Rally around Truth, Not a Truce

In the same prayer Jesus prayed that His church would be one (John 17:21-22), He prayed that they would be sanctified by the truth of God's word (John 17:17).

When we come at the worship discussion we have to back up a bit and adopt a good theological framework for our conversations, because the church too often leaps to the assumption that "music = worship." Or perhaps we frame it a bit more broadly and think in terms of a "worship service." But the truth is that worship occurs in the whole of life. We are never not worshiping; our affections are always oriented somewhere or to someone. Minimizing worship to a one hour experience on Sunday monrings, or further down to merely the time of music in that experience, means many of us only dedicate thirty minutes of each week to worship of Christ. When we practice this minimization, it means that the rest of the time we're worshiping someone else (usually ourselves).

It is a harsh accusation to make, but as our music and production skills have increased, our worship has suffered because we have engaged in them as the outpouring of self-worship. So we must remember that worship is for every hour of every day of every week. Our lives are to be oriented to the worship of God. And the chances are, if we thought of worship that way, we would not put so much personal stake in hearing our favorite style of music on Sunday mornings. The entirety of our worship would not be loaded into that slice of time.

Holding personal preferences loosely allows for greater unity in the body and advancement of God's mission. The truth God seeks is that we rally to the cause of His glory among the nations rather than deciding is we will have two hymns and three choruses or three hymns and two choruses this Sunday.

2. Acknowledge that Preferences are Personal

I have witnessed the angst around worship music firsthand. I think that in some churches, a pastor could get away with preaching heresy so long as he's cool, funny, and has a good video clip. But if a pastor tries to alter the worship style, it is time to start looking for a new job.

This works both ways, for the favorers of so-called "contemporary praise" and the adherents to more traditional worship music. Neither appears willing to give up ground, and they have planted their flags in either Relevance (for the contemporary folks) or Reverence (for the traditionalists). (Hence, the name of the dialog in the video at the top of this post.)

In many churches where a worship war is brewing or is in outright conflict, one group perceives themselves to be pushing forward toward the next generation (relevance) while another is trying to pull back to a once-honored method (reverence). One group thinks contemporary music or a more casual style will suit the modern generation and appeal more to the lost. Meanwhile the other group thinks all of that is just worldly compromise and, furthermore, arrogant to casually dismiss the styles that have served the church well, in some cases, for hundreds of years.

When either of these scenarios occurs it is usually because we have elevated our preferences to the level of principles. We are "taking a stand" for something important: our own comfort, convenience, and concerns. And all the while we're trying to give God his due or the lost people in the pew it turns out we're really just making worship about us.

3. Realize that Relevance and Reverence Are Not at War with Each Other

What those who push forward should realize is that relevance is not a goal; it is a tool. It is not the end, but one (of many) means to the end. Relevance for relevance's sake never helped anybody. Playing a shocking song at the front of your Easter service may get headlines and upset religious people, but that's about all it does. Having rock music fans think you're a cool church is not the "win" you're really looking for. A smart church will be culturally discerning, but always biblically-driven first.

On the other hand, the traditionalists' placement of reverence on external styles is also wrongheaded. Reverence is not first and foremost an outward expression. It is a quality of the heart. Of course, it results in outward expressions, but take the story of David dancing before the Ark, for example. His free mode of worship was a scandal to Saul's daughter Michal, who was watching from afar. David's heart was turned reverently to the Lord, and this provoked a physical celebration from him. It sure looked irreverent to another. Many times today shouting, clapping, and dancing are seen as disorderly or irreverent or self-indulgent, but all three of those modes of worship are seen in Scripture though curiously absent from "reverent" worship services.

At the heart of many of our worship wars is, sad to say, idolatry. Our worship of things other than God drives the way we contend for ways to worship God. When reverence is equated with austerity, it can reveal an idolization of familiarity and comfort and control. When relevance is equated with a production carte blanche or "freedom of expression," it can reveal an idolization of trendiness and self and showmanship. Both relevance and reverence can cloak idolatry of cultural forms and expressions.

In both cases, what is revealed is an idolatry of music. And music is just... well, music. As my colleague Mike Harland, president of LifeWay Worship has said, "You will never achieve spiritual goals with a musical means." We see music as important in Scripture but never a particular form or function as necessary for discipleship. And never does God dictate a particular style, rhyme pattern, or lyrical format.

4. Embrace Humility

The evangelical church needs a ceasefire on fighting over cultural forms. A focus on biblical meanings will add a healthy dose of humility to our churches.

When I was young in the ministry, I was charged with ministry to both youth and seniors (go figure). One day I was going to lead worship at a nursing home. So, I took my guitar. I'll never forget this 92 year old woman, Miss Langley, who put her hand on my arm and said "Don't worry about the guitar, young man, we're just gonna sing and you can sing with us." I was bringing a relevance they didn't need, and I had to be mature enough to see the hindrance I was about to become.

Imagine would what happen if worship warriors actually took on the attitude of Jesus (per Phillipians 2) and did not regard their agendas as something to be grasped but instead took on the posture of servanthood. What if we (per Romans 12:10) actually tried to outdo one another showing honor? Humility is a "win" for every worshiper.

5. Cultivate Consensus, Not Compromise

We have to be mature enough to worship in different ways, even in someone else's ways. The so-called "blended service" has a typical formula of two songs for me and two songs for you and one song for that other guy. I think it is a sign of carnality and a lack of community in worship. Many times the blended worship service doesn't please anybody but maybe the pastor who has given up trying to cultivate consensus. The blended service is an equal opportunity to anger everyone. It can be a sad compromise.

I also believe we need to be careful about multiple services with specialized genres. What is the motivation? Is the division a compromise? We need to be cautious about pandering to the consumeristic side of Western Christianity. We need to ask ourselves what our motivation is, and be honest with our answer. If we're being mission-focused, that's a good and worthy goal. But if we're market-focused (and Christians are the market), we are off track.

If you go the blended or alternative service route, please do so not because you made a truce, but because you stuffed your egos and decided to glorify God for the sake of reaching your community in a language they understand; Spanish, biker, redneck, liturgical, or whatever.

Do the traditionalists appreciate the contemporary songs? Do the relevantists appreciate the hymns? Do they love each other? Do they see these differing forms as acceptable forms of worship?

Pastored well, a healthy congregation will seek consensus on the positives of God's glory and mission rather than settle for compromise on the negatives of personal preferences and styles. A church in consensus would rather have Jesus than the hymn "I'd Rather Have Jesus." A church in consensus will sing of God's greatness rather than need "How Great is Our God" as their anthem. Music will not bring unity in of itself. Worship brings unity. So long as it is the worship of Jesus.

He Does Whatever He Pleases

"He does whatever He pleases!" - Job 23:13

Ah, my reader, the God of Scripture is no make - believe monarch, no mere imaginary sovereign; but King of kings, and Lord of lords! To countless thousands, even among those professing to be Christians, the God of the Scriptures is quite unknown.

The god of this twentieth century no more resembles the Supreme Sovereign of Holy Writ, than does the dim flickering of a candle, the glory of the midday sun! The god who is now talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible conferences, is the figment of human imagination, an invention of mushy sentimentality!

The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form gods out of wood and stone; while the millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a god out of their own carnal mind! In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. A god whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity; and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nothing but contempt!" - Arthur Pink

"Our God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases." - Psalm 115:3

"I know that You can do anything, and no plan of Yours can be thwarted." - Job 42:2

"The Lord does whatever He pleases in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths." -Psalm 135:6

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!" - Revelation 19:6

(HT: Truthmatters)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Piper on Election

Taken from his sermon titled "God Has Chosen Us in Him Before the Foundation of the Earth"

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:3-4

God's Choice of Individuals for Salvation

So that is my first message: God's purpose in the salvation of his people is invincible—it cannot fail—because it is based first not on our choosing God but on God's choosing us. Verse 4: "He [God] chose us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world."

Your salvation did not begin with your choice to believe in Christ—a choice which was real and necessary. Your salvation began before the creation of the universe when God planned the history of redemption, ordained the death and the resurrection of his Son, and chose you to be his own through Christ. This is a great objective ground for assurance. And we should consider it deeply.

Many Deny That God Elects Individuals

There are many, many people who do not believe this. They do not believe that God chose who will be saved and who will be passed over and left to unbelief and rebellion. They insist that this text only teaches that God chose Christ and an undefined number of those who choose to be in Christ by faith. They say that Ephesians 1:4 is not an election or choosing of individuals, but an election of Christ and the church; but what individuals are part of the church, God does not decide. It's like the Super Bowl. The national officials don't choose a specific team of men to go to the Super Bowl; they choose that the winners of the playoffs go, whoever they are. God does not choose who will be in Christ and who will be saved. That lies ultimately in the power of man's autonomous will, which God does not rule.

"Chose Us in Him"

They say that the wording of verse 4 proves this interpretation: "God chose us in him." But this wording will not settle the issue. If anything the wording points the other way: it says he chose us. Not an undefined mass of people, but us, you and me personally. He chose us. The word means select from a larger group. And the way he did it was in relation to Christ. Christ was not an afterthought to election. God chose us to come to salvation in Christ, not apart from Christ. But it was us that he chose. These words are not strained at all in carrying this meaning that God chose particular people to be his children through their union with Christ.

But I say the words of verse 4 alone will probably not settle this issue. But if we look at what Paul says elsewhere about this, we can be sure about what he means, namely, that God chose his people individually and personally before the foundation of the world to be saved; and he chose them to be saved through union with Christ.

First notice what the point of God's choosing is in 1 Corinthians 1:27–30.

27 God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

What this text says very clearly is that God chose particular kinds of people to be in the church. He did not just choose the church and leave its composition to man. He chose foolish individuals and called them into Christ. He chose some weak individuals and called them into Christ. He chose some low and despised individuals and called them into Christ. So that no one might boast in anyone but the Lord.

And then to make this crystal clear he said in verse 30 (literally): "From him [God] you are in Christ Jesus." Or as the NASB says, "By his doing you are in Christ Jesus." Or the NIV: "It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus." In other words, it is just as though Paul knew that someone would come along some day and say that God does not choose who is in Christ, but only chooses Christ and any who put themselves in Christ. So he says, in verses 27–29, that God chose the individuals who would make up the church in Christ. And he says in verse 30 that it is by God's doing that they are put in Christ.

The glorious, unshakable, objective foundation of your being a Christian is that God chose you to be one. God put you in Christ. So I say with Paul (in verse 26) "Consider your calling!" Consider how you came to be in Christ! Think about it. It will take all boasting off of man and put it all on God. So verse 31 ends the section: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." This is the boast of assurance. This is the exultation of considering our calling and our election, and seeing that it's all of God, and feeling a tremendous peace and confidence and courage and strength and love well up inside to keep us going in the face any opposition. Because "who can bring any charge against God's elect!" (Romans 8:33).

Closing Confession of Faith
So I come back to Ephesians 1:4, "God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world." And I close with my own personal confession of faith in this great biblical truth of election.

Before the creation of the universe God thought of me. He fixed his gaze on me and chose me for himself. He did not choose me because I was already in Christ of my own doing, but that I might be in Christ. He did not choose me because he saw me as a believer, but so that I might become a believer. He did not choose me because I chose him, but so that I might choose him. He did not choose me because I was holy or good but so that I might become holy and good.

Everything I am and all I hope to be is rooted in God's freely choosing me. My faith, my hope, my work are not the ground of electing grace but only its effect. And so there is no ground for boasting except in God. And in the face of fear and loss of assurance and all my own defect, I speak this word of trust: "Who shall bring any charge against the Lord's elect!" (Romans 8:33).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Pictures of Jesus Are a Bad Idea

(HT: Pure Church)

Here's how J.I. Packer commented in Knowing God (pp. 45-46) on the use of images:

The likeness of things in heaven (sun, moon, stars), and in earth (people, animals, birds, insects), and in the sea (fish, mammals, crustaceans), is precisely not a likeness of their Creator. "A true image of God," wrote Calvin, "is not to be found in all the world; and hence... His glory is defiled, and His truth corrupted by the lie, whenever He is set before our eyes in a visible form.... Therefore, to devise any image of God is itself impious; because by this corruption His majesty is adulterated, and He is figured to be other than He is."

The point here is not just that an image represents God as having a body and parts, whereas in reality he has neither. If this were the only ground of objection to images, representations of Christ would be blameless. But the point really goes much deeper. The heart of the objection to pictures and images is that they inevitably conceal most, if not all, of the truth about the personal nature and character of the divine Being whom they represent.

To illustrate: Aaron made a golden calf (that is, a bull-image). It was meant as a visible symbol of Jehovah, the mighty God who had brought Israel out of Egypt. No doubt the image was thought to honor him, as being a fitting symbol of his great strength. But it is not hard to see that such a symbol in fact insults him, for what idea of his moral character, his righteousness, goodness and patience could one gather from looking at a statue of him as a bull? Thus Aaron's image hid Jehovah's glory.

In a similar way, the pathos of the crucifix obscures the glory of Christ, for it hides the fact of his deity, his victory on the cross, and his present kingdom. It displays his human weakness, but it conceals his divine strength; it depicts the reality of his pain, but keeps out of our sight the reality of his joy and his power. In both these cases, the symbol is unworthy of most of all because of what it fails to display. And so are all other visible representations of deity.

Whatever we may think of religious art from a cultural standpoint, we should not look to pictures of God to show us his glory and move us to worship; for his glory is precisely what such pictures can never show us. And this is why God added to the second commandment a reference to himself as "jealous" to avenge himself on those who disobey him: for God's "jealousy" in the Bible is his zeal to maintain his own glory, which is jeopardized when images are used in worship.

In Isaiah 40:18, after vividly declaring God's immeasurable greatness, the Scripture asks us: "To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare to him?" The question does not expect an answer, only a chastened silence. Its purpose is to remind us that it is as absurd as it is impious to think that an image modeled, as images must be, upon some creature could be an acceptable likeness of the Creator.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tony Evans on Election

"One problem with the Bible's teaching on election is that it flies in the face of what we think is fair and right from our perspective. For example, how is it fair that God has elected some sinners to salvation while passing over others? And how is it fair that these non-elect sinners are held accountable for not being saved? If God so loves the world, how can He choose some sinners and not others?

The Bible says that God chose or elected us in Christ "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4). Thus, before anyone was born, the Trinity in council with each other elected some to salvaiton. In other words, election is based on God's eternal purposes and His perogative to choose, not on our behavior.

Paul confirmed this in Romans 9 as he discussed God's choice of Jacob in relation to Esau. "Though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER." Romans 9:11-12.

Some people think the fact that election is not based on human behavior or response to God is a problem, since it appears to make His choice arbitrary. But in reality, locating the motive for election in God's eternal, unchanging plan rather than in man's temporal, changing actions removes it from the category of arbitrary. Remember too that all have sinned and are deserving of God's wrath, so that fact that HE chose to rescue some is an act of Grace in the first place.

Now some may argue, "The unfair thing about election and God condemning the lost is that the non-elect don't really have the capacity to believe." That's not what Jesus said, in John 3: "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil." THe unsaved are judged because they see the light of Christ yet fail to believe in Him but choose instead to follow their evil hearts.

We could sum it all up in these statements. God elects some to salvation for His own sovereign purposes and because He is gracious. The invitation to salvation is generously open for all, and "whoever will" still may come. All people are responsible for their response to Jesus Christ, and yet those who come can never take the glory for their salvation. We as believers are responsible to go and share the gospel with the world so that lost sinners will hear the good news and turn to Christ for forgiveness from their sin.

(taken from Tony's book Totally Saved)

Friday, September 25, 2009

James Boice on Election

Michael Horton puts like this, “We cannot find God for the same reason that a thief can't find a police officer.” Sinful man cannot find God because he doesn't want God. R.C. Sproul explains, “Fallen man has the natural ability to make choices but lacks the moral ability to make godly choices.” From conception onward, humanity is spiritually dead, hostile to God, and unable to incline its heart toward God. Free will profits man nothing, for the will is in bondage to sin, leaving human beings helpless.

When we were dead in sins, when we unknowingly followed Satan, when we were enslaved to our sinful desires, when we were by our very natures objects of wrath, God did something. We were unable to do anything. We were unable to believe. We were unable to incline our hearts toward God. We didn’t want to! But when we could do nothing, God alone took action. We were dead. (We were not terminally ill; nor were we were going down for the count—we were stone cold spiritual corpses.) Yet God made us alive. God gave us new birth (regeneration). We were born again. Before we could even believe, God gave us new birth. On a technical level, we were not born again because we believed. We were born again and believe as a result. When Nicodemus couldn't understand who Jesus was, Jesus taught him that man could not even see the kingdom of heaven, let alone enter it, until he was first born again (John 3:3). Even faith itself is a gift given by God to those who otherwise wouldn't want it. The new birth came first. The new birth caused the faith to be present. Regeneration precedes faith.

Our conversion to Christ was not a joint venture between us and God, but a unilateral move on God’s part to raise us from spiritual death to spiritual life, changing our hearts so that we believed and repented. Salvation is by grace alone—sola gratia, to use the Reformation slogan. Even our willingness to cooperate with the Holy Spirit was given to us by God. Yet this brings us to a sober realization—God does not give this kind of grace to everyone. Not everyone is given faith.

Is this unfair? No. Unequal, yes—but not unfair. We are sinners and all of us deserve God’s justice—punishment for our sins. No one deserves mercy. If mercy were deserved, it would not be mercy—it would be justice! God is not unjust to anyone—no one gets less than he deserves. Some of us have received mercy; others will receive justice. God is not an equal opportunity Savior. Indeed, from Abraham on, God has always shown more mercy to one people than to another. God chose Abraham in a way he did not choose Abraham’s next-door neighbor. God revealed himself to Paul in a way he didn’t show himself to Nicodemus. God is sovereign in his exercise of mercy.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jerry Vines on Calvinism

Here is Jerry Vines take on Calvinism from his sermon "Calvinism: A Baptist and His Election."

On divine sovereignty: God is in control of all things. That is very clear in the Bible! But now, it is possible to push this matter of the sovereingty of God, that God is in control of all things to extremes. Philosphers call it determinism; hard determinism and soft determinism.

On total depravity: Man is born with a sinful nature; every facet of our being stained by sin.
Calvinists go a step further than that and say that your will is dead and you are totally unable to respond. Ephesians 2:1, man is spiritually dead, therefore, Calvinists say, how can a dead man repent and have faith, so he has to be regenerated before he can have faith; in the calvinist system regeneration precedes faith.

"That brings up some interesting questions: if you're born again before faith, what does faith accomplish? Which means then that if you are born again before faith that means that, by grace are you saved through faith, that means then, if you're born again then you're born again before you're saved. Did I miss something there? I know I'm just from the country but, did that make sense to you?" The calvinistic view pushes the biblical analogy too far. Dead men can't believe. But it is equally true that dead men can't sin.

"It also raises questions about the character of God. Because, listen, in Acts 17 verse 30 it says that God commands all men, all men everywhere to repent. But now wait a minute. If they can't repent until they're born again and yet God is commanding them to do something which they are not able to do, what does that say about the character of God?"

On unconditional election: Is election unconditional? From the standpoint of God the giver, yes; but from the standpoint of the receiver it is conditioned by faith. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says you believe the truth of the gospel and you are one of the elect.

On limited atonement: After citing many verses that use universal language in relation to the atonement (including 1 John 2:2) Vines addresses this question, If Jesus died for the sins of the whole world and the whole world is not saved, then did his death fail? He answers by giving an analogy. If a man offers to pay for the meals of 20 people and only 15 take him up on the offer, then his provision has not failed, it simply has not been accepted.