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.”
(www.citizen-times.com)

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.

(Foxnews.com)

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

EdStetzer.com

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.