Saturday, May 31, 2008

you just might be a calvinist ...

From the wonderful people at TBNN ...

You Might Be A Calvinist

Atlanta, Georgia -- Note: TBNN is pleased to have Jeff Foxworthy as Saturday Morning's guest writer.

Jeff: I'm happy to fill in to today for Brother Slawson.

You know, between Lakewood and Lynchburg, there's over 30 million people who I'd call "my people." Many of these folks are Calvinists, they just don't know it. I've designed for today a few little test questions to help you determine if there is a large likelihood that you are a Calvinist. So, if sitting in a tub full of scissors sounds more appealing to you than listening to a Sunday School class share their personal gut feelings about a Bible verse, you are a good candidate.

If you have a Martin Luther Jell-O mold, you just might be a Calvinist.

If your child’s first word was “Westminster”, you just might be a Calvinist.

Or, if you send your mother tulips on Mother’s Day,

… you might be a Calvinist.

If you still remember the 8 speakers in order from the recent T4G conference, or

If a free Bible has ever arrived in the mail to you from John McArthur, or

If you have ever purchased 100 or more copies of the same John Piper book to hand out to random people you meet,

…you just might be a Calvinist.

If you purchased an MP3 player with the sole purpose of downloading sermons, or

If you were shocked to just discover that some people download MP3 files that are not sermons, or

If you have adjusted the default passage setting at from “NIV” to “ESV”

… you might be a Calvinist.

If your preacher says to turn to Obadiah and you do not use the index, or

If you think a 50-minute sermon is too short, or

If you’ve ever heard a wave of groans sweep through Sunday School when you refer to Romans 9,

…you just might be a Calvinist.

If you find yourself talking to the Lord Jesus more than to your family, and

If you find yourself wanting to read your Bible instead of watching television, and

If quotes from Pink, Spurgeon, Luther, Piper, and McArthur pop into your head at random times during the day

…you might be a Calvinist.

If you are confused when someone uses the term “my Bible” as if they only have one, and

If your Bibles must be replaced in less than a year due to pages separating from the spine, and

If you smile, nod and hold your tongue with your teeth after a lively church service when someone says, “God showed up today”

…you might be a Calvinist.

If you’ve ever shouted “YES!” when the pastor says to turn to 1st Thessalonians, and

If you see 6:37 on a digital clock and think of the Lord Jesus’ words in John, and

If you’ve muted a Thanksgiving football game because it’s interfering with your family discussion of Ephesians 1

…you might be a Calvinist.

If you have bookmarked three or more preachers’ scripture index webpages, and

If you’ve ever been banned from a Sunday School class for quoting scripture, and

If you have ever purposefully sung a different word in a hymn to conform to scripture,

… you might be a Calvinist.

If your kids own more Bibles than televisions, and

If your children never ask you “Where are we going?” on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, and

If you’ve ever read parts of “The Bondage of the Will” to children under ten and prayed that it would change their lives

…you just might be a Calvinist.

If your child received detention at his Christian school after shouting, “But I am a Hedonist Pyromaniac!” or

If your children argue and you require them to listen to a Piper Sermon as punishment, or

If you visit pyromaniacs, tominthebox,,, and, more than once a day, yes…

You just might…. I say you just might…. Yes… you just might be a Calvinist

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the cross

Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is here, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size. ~ John Stott, The Message of Galatians (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1968), 179.


Friday, May 30, 2008

the secret to church growth

Some of you spotted him right away as a heretic and now here's the proof ... Rick Warren on the secret to church growth.

Ok - yes, I thought that was funny. And while I'm no fan of Warren, I cannot follow the logic that because he promotes ecumenicalism and/or is Arminian he is therefore a heretic destined for eternity apart from God. So throw whatever rocks you will, I still find this humorous.

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dispensationalist road crossing

Michael Patton's blog is hot these days with "why did the X cross/not-cross the road?" humor. Today's offering is TOP TEN REASONS THE DISPENSATIONALIST DID NOT CROSS THE ROAD.

10. Thought he would be raptured before he got there anyway.

9. Thought that the other side was for the ‘Israel’, and this side was for the ‘church’.

8. Charles Ryrie was still on this side of the road, why cross?

7. Thought it was pointless since Jesus was just going to bring him back after 7 years.

6. Like the OT prophets and the church age, he was unable to see the other side.

5. He was afraid that if he went, there would be nothing to restrain the man of lawlessness.

4. He was not a part of the dispensation of ‘crossing’.

3. Dallas Theological Seminary hadn’t yet published anything telling him how to do it.

2. Thought there was a two thousand foot gap between the 69th and 70th step.

1. By taking a consistently literal approach, he thought that ‘cross the road’ meant something about the crucifixion.

That was great. And you all thought I was not wear bells of equal opportunity.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

reformed theologian road crossing

Michael Patton posted yesterday Top Ten Reasons Why the Emerger Didn't Cross the Road. It was kind of funny but I really like today's Top Ten Reasons the Reformed Theologian Did Not Cross the Road. Perhaps I related more to the latter. Who knows. Very funny stuff either way.

Top ten reasons why the Reformed Theologian did not cross the road:

10. A woman already crossed, and he would be in sin if he followed

9. The road is not safe if it wasn’t built between 1500-1700 AD

8. He believes that “road crossing” has ceased

7. The crossing guard was only helping people cross from one side, so he suspiciously thought he was denying double pre-destination

6. Romans 9 says nothing about crossing roads

5. The “Walk” sign was gender neutral

4. The road was called Tiber Ave

3. John Wesley said that God’s prevenient grace would pave the way, but he had to take the steps himself

2. He wasn’t elected to cross before the foundation of the road

1. Piper said that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied where we are

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

the power of the gospel

James White's closing statement against George Bryson is EXCELLENT! The Gospel from the Doctrine of Election perspective.

PS - Note that the debate took place at one of the early bastions of heresy, the Anaheim Vineyard [heavy sarcasm here].

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what to call it?

The answer to what to call this thing often referred to as baptism in the Spirit is "being filled with the Spirit”. Not only is this phrase found in Scripture, but it is frequently used in contexts that speak of Christian growth and ministry. Wayne Grudem explains as follows:
Paul tells the Ephesians, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). He uses a present tense imperative verb that could more explicitly be translated, “Be continually being filled with the Holy Spirit,” thus implying that this is something that should repeatedly be happening to Christians. Such fullness of the Holy Spirit will result in renewed worship and thanksgiving (Eph. 5:19–20), and in renewed relationships to others, especially those in authority over us or those under our authority (Eph. 5:21–6:9). In addition, since the Holy Spirit is the Spirit who sanctifies us, such a filling will often result in increased sanctification. Furthermore, since the Holy Spirit is the one who empowers us for Christian service and gives us spiritual gifts, such filling will often result in increased power for ministry and increased effectiveness and perhaps diversity in the use of spiritual gifts.

We see examples of repeated filling with the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. In Acts 2:4, the disciples and those with them were “all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Later, when Peter was standing before the Sanhedrin, we read, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to them...” (Acts 4:8). But a little later, when Peter and the other apostles had returned to the church to tell what had happened (Acts 4:23) they joined together in prayer. After they had prayed they were again filled with the Holy Spirit, a sequence of events that Luke makes clear: “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31 NIV). Even though Peter had been filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:4) and had later been filled with the Holy Spirit before speaking to the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:8), he was once again filled with the Holy Spirit after the group of Christians he was meeting with had prayed.

Filling with the Holy Spirit is not a one-time event but is an event that can occur over and over again in a Christian’s life. It may involve a momentary empowering for a specific ministry (Acts 4:8; 7:55) or it may refer to a long-term characteristic of a person’s life (Acts 6:3; 11:24). Stephen serves as an example of both. He was a man “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3, 5), yet when he was being stoned he received a fresh new filling of the Holy Spirit in great power (Acts 7:55).

on the cross ...

God the Father entered into an eternal covenant with God the Son; he made Christ the head, the representative of the elect, as Adam was the head, the representative of all his seed. For these the Lord Jesus Christ undertook to fulfill the covenant of works. For these Jesus Christ died a painful, cursed, ignominious death; and by his obedience, and by his death, wrought out an everlasting righteousness for them. ~ George Whitefield, quoted by Steve Jeffery, et al. in Pierced for Our Transgressions (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway Books, 2007), 193.



This just in, the theological word of the day ...


A summary of teachings that are attributed to 17th century Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius. Arminian theology took issue with the teachings of John Calvin on 5 points, articulated in the Five articles of Remonstrance of 1610. The doctrines can be summarized as universal (prevenient) grace, conditional election, unlimited atonement, resistable grace, and uncertainty of perseverance. This eventually let to the Synod of Dort of 1618-1619, which resulted in the State church upholding what later became the 5 Points of Calvinism, while condemning Arminianism. Arminian theology later received official toleration by the State and has since continued in various forms within Protestantism.

For more on Arminianism, click here.

Nope - I ain't one ...

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

baptism in the spirit - what to make of it?

Our god is alive and well! He is active in the world today. What should we make of those that call His activity in their lives "the baptism in/of the Holy Spirit"?

Wayne Grudem uses the below diagram to help us understand. The horizontal axis is time and it is expected that we mature as we move through time. While this maturity should be progressive, it may increase at different rates through our lives and it is even possible probable that we will have set-backs.

Relative to "baptism in the Spirit", it is commonly taught the "receiver" should confess all known sins, repent of any remaining sin in their lives, trust Christ to forgive those sins, commit every area of their lives to the Lord’s service, yield themselves fully to him, and believe that Christ is going to empower them in a new way and equip them with new gifts for ministry. Then after that preparation, they are encouraged to ask Jesus in prayer to baptize them in the Holy Spirit.

How can that ever be a bad thing? What does this preparation do? Grudem rightly puts it this way:
It is a guaranteed prescription for significant growth in the Christian life! Such confession, repentance, renewed commitment, and heightened faith and expectation, if they are genuine, can only bring positive results in a person’s life. If any Christian is sincere in these steps of preparation to receive baptism in the Holy Spirit, there will certainly be growth in sanctification and deeper fellowship with God. In addition to that, we may expect that at many of these times the Holy Spirit will graciously bring a measure of the additional fullness and empowering that sincere Christians are seeking, even though their theological understanding and vocabulary may be imperfect in the asking. If this happens, they may well realize increased power for ministry and growth in spiritual gifts as well.

Therefore, using the diagram below, it could be said that a person has moved from point A to point B and has made one very large step forward in the Christian life. That's a good thing. Prayer and Bible study and worship begin to seem more meaningful. Fruitfulness in evangelism and other kinds of ministry increases.

2529270394 Fd2468C0C3
The key point however is that this person that moves from A to B is not now in a separate category of Christians called those who have been “baptized in the Holy Spirit”.

As an example, Grudem explains that there may be other Christians in the same community who has never had such a large step of growth but who has nonetheless been making steady progress for the last forty years of his or her Christian life and has come to point C on the chart above. Though that person has never had a single experience that Pentecostals would call a “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” he or she is still much farther along the path of Christian growth than the younger Christian who has recently been “baptized in the Holy Spirit” (according to Pentecostal terminology) and moved from point A to point B. Although the Christian who moved from point A to point B is not farther along in the Christian life than another person who is at point C, the person who moved to point B is certainly farther along than he or she was before and this is certainly a positive result in his or her life. Thus, with this understanding of the Christian life, we have no divisions of Christians into two categories.

All of this however still leaves me with the dilemma of what to call that thing referred to as "the baptism of the Spirit". I see that the use of this term implies a two-category Christianity, and worse for this to be seen as a common experience that can and indeed should happen to Christians at one point in time, and, once it has happened, does not need to be repeated.

So far I have opted to continue to use the phrase. What help can you offer me? Especially to describe this step-change in maturity when accompanied by a powerful, intimate encounter with God?

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Monday, May 26, 2008

the glory of the gospel

From John Fonville quoting Martin Lloyd-Jones:

The glory of the gospel is that it is primarily an announcement of what God does, and has done, in the Person of Jesus Christ.

That was the essence of Paul’s gospel…That was the gospel which was preached by all the apostles. They preached Jesus as the Christ. They made a proclamation, an announcement. Primarily, they called upon people to listen to what they called ‘good news’.

They did not in the first instance outline a programme for life and living…They preached, not a programme but a Person. They said that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God come from Heaven to earth. They said that He manifested and demonstrated His unique deity by living a perfect, spotless, sinless life of complete obedience to God, and by performing miracles. His death on the Cross was not merely the end of His life but the result of His rejection by His own countrymen, it had a deeper and more eternal significance…

The glory of the gospel is that it is primarily an announcement of what God does, and has done, in the Person of Jesus Christ.

‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself’ and making ‘him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). But that was not all. He had risen from the grave, had manifested Himself unto certain chosen witnesses, and then ascended into Heaven. From Heaven He has sent the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the early Church, and He had brought unto them…new life and power. Their lives had been entirely changed, and they now had life which was life indeed.

They did not in the first instance outline a programme for life and living…They preached, not a programme but a Person.

That was the message. Its entire emphasis was upon what God had done. Its content was God’s way of salvation and of making men righteous. Man had but to accept it and submit to it.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Plight of Man and the Power of God, pp. 82-83

Thursday, May 22, 2008

speaking of sovereignty

I just noticed that Peter Cockrell posted the same piece as I regarding John Piper's thoughts on God-centerness. Cockrell went a step further by adding this excellent post by Justin Childers.

God’s sovereignty carries at least 2 ideas:
1. God is independent of any outside influences.
-God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, when He pleases, and always as He pleases.
2. God is in complete control of everything that takes place.
-Everything that happens is ordained and orchestrated by God.

CH Spurgeon: “I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche. He who believes in God must believe this truth. There is no standing point between this and Atheism. There is no halfway between an Almighty God, who works all things according to the good pleasure of his will, and no God at all!”

Jonathan Edwards: “Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God. God’s sovereignty has ever appeared to me, a great part of his glory. It has often been my delight to approach God, and adore him as a sovereign God.”

Seven Aspects of God’s Sovereignty:
God’s sovereignty over all.
· Isa. 46:9-11; Psalm 115:3; 135:5-6; Ephesians 1:11
God’s sovereignty over man.
· Prov. 16:9; 21:1; Gen. 20:6; Deut. 2:30; Gen. 50:20
God’s sovereignty over small details.
· Prov. 16:33; James 4:13-16; Jonah 1:4; 1:17; 2:10; 4:6-8
God’s sovereignty over Satan.
· Job 1:12; 2:4-6; Mark 1:23-27; Luke 22:31-32; Revelation 20:10
God’s sovereignty over nature and weather.
· Psalm 135:7; Jeremiah 10:12-13
God’s sovereignty over salvation.
· Rom. 9:18; John 5:21; 6:44
God’s sovereignty over the cross.
· Isaiah 53:10; Acts 4:27-28; John 10:18

How should God’s Sovereignty impact our lives?
1) God’s sovereignty should give us a sense of deep reverence and thankful joy in Him.

2) God’s sovereignty should help us obey certain commands. Three commands that cannot be obeyed unless you believe in God’s absolute sovereignty:
  • Be joyful always (having joy in all circumstances implies that you believe God is in control and has a purpose for whatever comes to pass).
  • Do not fear (if God is in control there is nothing to fear; if God is not in control there is a lot to fear).
  • Do not complain (not complaining will only happen when we believe that the things worth complaining about are ordered by God).
3) God’s sovereignty should give us radical boldness as we lean on His promises.

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I've had some really good exchange with my friend Jonathan Brink (a good man who loves God) regarding God's sovereignty as compared/contrasted to His love. From my perspective, God is sovereign and He is love but these two 'attributes' do not have the same meaning.

Here John Piper expounds on what God-centered means.

The psalmist describes the motivation of God in saving sinners like this:

Both we and our fathers have sinned... Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power. (Psalms 106:6, 8)

God was motivated to rescue them and us from our sin and its penalty “for his name’s sake.” What does “for his name’s sake” mean? It means “that he might make known his mighty power.”

What we mean when we say God is “God-centered” is that he acts like that. He saves for the sake of his name. He saves to make known his own power.

And what we mean when we say we are God-centered (or desire to be) is that we like to have it that way. It satisfies us to have God save us for God’s sake. We are happy that this is the way it is. We get pleasure in seeing it and savoring it.

We like to talk about God doing it that way.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

worshipping the trinity

All three Persons of the Godhead are to be acknowledged, honoured and intimately encountered in worship activities that aim to please God. We can have fellowship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all three and enjoy their manifest Presence among us ... When we encounter one, we encounter all three - God above us, God beside us, God inside us. ~ Greg Haslam - "God in Three Persons" - Newfrontiers Magazine - April - June 2008 - Volume 3 - Issue 7 - (p34).


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I've used the word before ... so now here's the definition.


(Greek orthos, “right, true” + praxy, “action”)

The corollary of orthodoxy, its emphasis is on the performance of correct doctrine as it pertains to the Bible. That is, it corresponds to the action or response to right thinking or teaching. Much is considered with respect to what actions are considered the correct ones. Historical definitions on Christian orthopraxy maintain church attendance, sacraments such as prayer and the Lord’s supper, even fasting. In the end, the fundamental explanation of orthopraxy is acting in a manner worthy of the call of God as it pertains to being conformed to the image of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:1, Rom. 8:29).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

proper authority

Authority must arise out of freedom and is only bounded by love. Our freedom is in Christ and no authority should press us otherwise. Even though Paul feels a need to "punish", it is not his preference - nor ours.

Authority is for building up - not for tearing down. Real authority is not simply attaining conformity to some set of rules. Truth must be seen and happily embraced. Nominal obedience alone does not lead to real growth.

Robert Banks outlines this well.

1) all authority stems from God the Father as revealed in his Son Jesus Christ and is mediated by their Spirit;

2) in the prophetic history of Israel, as recorded in the OT scriptures, and in the apostolic development of the church, this authority was decisively present, but the person and the work of Jesus Christ and the message about him enshrined in the apostolic writings are the definite expression of God's will and are normative for all that precedes and follows;

3) through the Spirit God continues to speak and work authoritatively, not through coercion of people's personalities but by convincing their minds of the truth and warming their hearts with love so that they freely embrace it;

4) authority is exercised through the service of others in word and deed, not through their domination, and Jesus is the example par excellence of the way this takes place, since "though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant ..." (Phil 2.6-7);

5) authority is conveyed in this way primarily through the apostles, who still live in their writings, and in differing measure through all Christians, who are instruments of Christ's authority when they manifest Christ to one another according to the ministries given them by the Spirit.

led by the spirit

I happened to read the below verses today. They caused me to wonder why some insist that those who claim to be led by the Spirit must comply to some OT standard for prophets. It seems Paul had no such notion in mind as he pondered what to do with the unmarried and widowed He clearly sees himself as being led by the Spirit but he states it is not a command from the Lord.

1 Cor 7.25 - Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy.

1 Cor 7:40 - Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.


“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” ~ Jeremiah 15:16 (ESV)

What did you have for lunch today?

Monday, May 19, 2008

it's only logical

Well it happened, this is what you get when it is no longer "between a man and a woman" ... the logical conclusion ...

California Narcissist Plans to Marry Himself

"I'm still speechless," Potter told TBNN. "I've been wanting to marry myself for years now. This new decision to not limit marriage to just between a man and a woman finally opens up the door for me to plan that big day that I've waited for so long."

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how we learn

51Nbbtr12Jl. Sl500 Aa240 In Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices, Brian McLaren speaks on learning via community and tradition.

One of my mentors contrasts deciding and trying with training. Deciding is necessary, he says. Nobody finds out they've accidentally trained for a marathon for six months without intending to. But deciding isn't enough, as all of us who have decided to lose weight know. I could even add to my deciding a healthy dose of trying: Sincerely! Passionately! With great commitment and resolution! But unless I put between my decision and the starting line sufficient training of the right sort, it will be 'Marathon- 26.5, Brian- 0'

That same mentor defines training like this: employing appropriate actions within our power by which we become capable of doing things currently beyond our power, and by which we become people we are currently incapable of being. Those "appropriate actions" we could further define as practices. And the community of people who teach us the practices we could define as a community of practice that carries on the tradition...

Most of the truly important skills we learn in life come through training, practice, and tradition or community. For example, we didn't learn to speak our native tongue by deciding or trying, but by training. We didn't even realize we were in training, and our parents (who were the community of practice, carrying on the tradition of English or Chinese or Zulu or whatever) probably didn't even realize that they were training us most of the time... Similarly, when they withheld something from us until we said 'please' and 'thank you,' they were the community training us in the tradition of community, and we were practicing so that courtesy would become natural to us.

It took a couple of years of practice, but in the process, largely without realizing it, we became fluent speakers of our native tongue, and maybe courteous people, to boot. Without the community, without the tradition, and without the practice neither possibility would have been actualized.


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Sunday, May 18, 2008

revelation song

Karl Jobe singing Revelation Song.

Revelation 5
Worthy is the, Lamb who was slain
Holy, Holy, is He
Sing a new song, to him who sits on
Heaven's mercy seat

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You

Clothed in rainbows, of living color
Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be
to You the only wise King

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You

Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder
At the mention of your name
Jesus your name is power
Breath, and living water
Such a marvelous mystery

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come, yeah
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You

calvinist dancing?

DancingkuyperI love this piece entitled Teaching a Calvinist to Dance by James Smith in Christianity Today. Smith does a fine job of journaling his personal experience to demonstrate that the two 'doctrines' do not stand in antithesis of each other but rather compliment one another.

The heart and soul of that Pentecostal spirituality is not the manifestations, but rather the courage and openness to see God in those unexpected manifestations, and to say, "This is what the Spirit promised." ... I long for a kind of "Pentecostalized" Reformed spirituality that expects the sovereign Lord to show up in ways that might surprise us. If we take our Reformed convictions about God's sovereignty seriously, then we can, with Peter, be boldly open to the Spirit's surprise.

Friday, May 16, 2008

tough break

Sometimes life is tough.

love v. sovereignty

Jonathan Brink has asked some excellent questions via comments to various posts on this blog. I think these quotes of John Piper recently posted by Peter Cockrell provide clearer answers than I have.

In a paragraph:

“The most terrifying news in the world is that we have fallen under the condemnation of our Creator and that he is bound by his own righteous character to preserve the worth of his glory by pouring out his wrath on the sin of our ingratitude. But there is a fourth great truth that no one can ever learn from nature or from their own consciences, a truth which has to be told to neighbors and preached in churches and carried by missionaries: namely, the good news that God has decreed a way to satisfy the demands of his righteousness without condemning the whole human race. He has taken it upon himself apart from any merit in us to accomplish our salvation. The wisdom of God has ordained a way for the love of God to deliver us from the wrath of God without compromising the righteousness of God. And what is this wisdom?”

In a sentence:

“Jesus Christ, the Son of God crucified, is the Wisdom of God, by which the love of God can save sinners from the wrath of God, and all the while uphold and demonstrate the righteousness of God.”

against heresy

Martin Downes nails this one. Here are his conclusions regarding how we are to deal with (or not) heresies.

1. Ministers must be polemical in their public teaching when they need to be, but not otherwise. In the course of expounding passages dealing with these matters, and when there is real threat. In their private study there is of course need to be aware of men and movements that are dangerous. This is not an appeal for ignorance or dropping our guard.

2. Congregations should be spared from hearing about the specific details of false teaching unless it is absolutely necessary. There are winds of doctrine in the evangelical world, but are they affecting us? Should we not concentrate on things that are? If false teaching is unprofitable and worthless what good can come from considering it? Should we not look at our own sins and situations and address those issues instead?

3. Concentrate on the positive upbuilding of the church. There is work enough here. The rest of 1 Timothy expands on this. Buchanan says that truth is one, more is gained by the positive exposition of the truth than by detailing the forms of error which are multiple. Don't waste time on matters that are not a threat to your situation. The time is short. Is that not how Nehemiah treated his opponents? Put good things before the church and have nothing to do with silly, irreverent myths (4:6-7).

4. Guard your heart and your ministry. As Francis Schaeffer once wrote, reflecting on the battle for the gospel in the 1930s, “be careful what habits you pick up in controversy”. Dr. Lloyd-Jones made the same point in his discussion with T. T. Shields. A polemical ministry is necessary, we must contend for the faith, but we must guard against a contentious spirit. Preoccupation with error is not good for the minister or the church. This is Paul's charge to Titus. The gospel of salvation is excellent for people, the root of faith promotes the fruit of good works. This is profitable. But these other teachings are unprofitable and useless. Avoid them, they thrive in an atmosphere of contention (Titus 3:9-11).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

the path to maturity

I found this EXCELLENT summary by Dan Phillips on the Christian's growth from pre- to maturity:
  1. We start out wrong about everything important. We have an innate sense of God, but we suppress and pervert it (Romans 1:1-32). We're dead and blind (Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-19). In this condition, even if we hear the Word of God, nothing savingly significant happens (Matthew 13:4-7, 18-22).
  2. God sovereignly gives us life (Ephesians 2:5), causes His word to be life to us (1 Peter 1:23-25), enables us to see what we had been unable to see (2 Corinthians 4:3-6), and saves us by grace through faith as a gift (Ephesians 2:8-10).
  3. Thus awakened and made alive, we respond to God's word in faith (Romans 10:17), yoke ourselves to Christ in repentant faith (Matthew 11:28-30; Acts 11:18; 17:31), in witness to which we are baptized (Acts 2:38) and committed to a lifelong process of learning His word (Matthew 28:18-20; John 8:31-32).
  4. Our goal then becomes to grow to maturity in and unto Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16; 2 Peter 3:18).
  5. Specifically, what this maturity looks like involves (among other things) a grounded stability in God's revealed truth that is resistant to the gusty winds of fad and fashion (Ephesians 4:13-14), and a well-practiced adeptness in the Word of God that enables us to assess, discern, and judge right from wrong, good from evil, and truth from falsehood (Hebrews 4:12; 5:14).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

do not quickly judge

Some video to remind us not to judge too quickly.

john 3.16 bible

This just in at TBNN - CBD introduces the John 3:16 Bible.

CBD announced this week the exciting arrival of its newest product, the "John 3:16 Bible."

CBD Chairman Bill Moss, told TBNN, "This is usually a down time of year for our overall sales, so we are thrilled to be launching this new product at this time. During the summer months, with people so busy traveling, they don't have much time to read. Also, there are no holidays for giving gifts. CBD needs this new bible now to boost our stock offerings."

The "John 3:16 Bible" offers its buyers a quick and easy source for the only bible verse they usually know. It's easy to carry around because it only has twenty pages. Each page provides a different translation of the special verse. For example, page one has the Greek, page two the KJV, page three the NKJV, page four the NIV, page five the ESV, etc.

On the final page (20), you will find The Message version of John 3:16. Since The Message is the most popular bible version, it will be easy to find - just inside the back cover.

Below is a sampling of what the new bible looks like on the inside:

Page 2: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." KJV

Page 4: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." NIV

Page 6: "For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." HCSB

Page 10: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." NRSV

Page 15: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." NLT

Page 20: "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life." The Message

United Methodist Pastor Jim Ulmer, after trying out the "John 3:16 Bible," said, "This is a gift I have been waiting for. What a relief. I find myself constantly turning to this verse. In fact, it is what I preach from just about every week. I have frequently wanted an easier way to get to John 3:16, and now I have it!"

Duke Divinity School President Dr. Mark Little is also excited. "Our students frequently engage in debates with those of the Calvinistic persuasion. The strategy we employ is simple. No matter what the Calvinist says, no matter what bible passage he brings up, no matter what historical document he references, no matter what he says about biblical context, we simply quote John 3:16. For us, that answers the question and wins the debate. We don't even have to put much thought or effort into it. We just quote John 3:16. This new bible will further enhance our debate skills."

CBD informed TBNN that if the "John 3:16 Bible" is a big seller, then next year they may release a sequel - the "II Peter 3:9 Bible."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

cj on condemnation

Because of the gospel’s power, you can be completely free of all condemnation.

Not mostly free; completely free.

Don’t buy the lie that cultivating condemnation and wallowing in your shame is somehow pleasing to God, or that a constant, low-grade guilt will somehow promote holiness and spiritual maturity.

It’s just the opposite! God is glorified when we believe with all our hearts that those who trust in Christ can never be condemned. It’s only when we receive his free gift of grace and live in the good of total forgiveness that we’re able to turn from old, sinful ways of living and walk in grace-motivated obedience.

~ C.J. Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life, 39, 40


ok - i guess i am one

The theological word of the day is "Calvinism". Since I didn't know much about Calvin I want to tell people I am not a Calvinist but since people like to link you to someone I say I am a Calvinist. With this definition of Calvinist, I guess "I be one" although I much prefer the more comprehensive phrase "Reformed theology" - but that's harder to use in a sentence and our culture likes to link people to others to facilitate guilt by association.

Anyway, here's the definition offered ...

Also, “Reformed theology,” “the Reformed faith,” or “the Reformed tradition.”

A theological framework based on the teachings of 16th century French Protestant reformer John Calvin. The emphasis of this system is on the sovereignty of God over all things, with specific reference to soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). Though the distinctives of Calvinist theology may be stated in numerous ways, the best known summary is contained in the “Five points of Calvinism.” These points are: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the Saints.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

it was destined to come

Today's theological word of the day is a natural follow-on from yesterday's.

(Latin infra, “after” + Latin lapsus, “fall” = “After the fall”)
Also, “sublapsarianism.”

A system of belief among certain Calvinists believing in a theoretical plan of God that occurred before creation concerning his decree to save mankind. In the “infra” scheme, God first decreed creation, second he decreed to allow the fall, third he decreed to elect some to salvation while passing over others, and fourth he decreed the atonement as a means of salvation for the elect. In this order one can surmise that the damnation of the reprobate came as a result of the self-determined fall of mankind, not God’s active reprobation (double predestination).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

paradise regained

“The story of paradise lost becoming paradise regained is the story of God’s grace bringing us from alienation from him to membership in his family. God’s grace restores us to what Adam lost for us - sonship to the God who made us, loves us, and provides for us in every detail in life.” ~ Sinclair Ferguson, Children of the Living God (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1989), 6.


what's love got to do with it

I caused some confusion some days ago. I sometimes send messages that indicate that I think love has nothing to do with God saving us. That's not what I think. Sometimes, because I'm a Calvinist, even when I don't imply that people still hear it. Oh well, I'm doing the best I can. Here's a love quote I like which may help clarify at least a little.

“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.” ~ Timothy Keller, The Reason For God, New York, NY: Dutton, 2008, p. 181.


a mouth full

I can't say this word but it's our theological vocabulary word of the day ...

Lat. “before the fall”
also antelapsarianism

A system of belief among certain Calvinists believing in a theoretical plan of God that occurred before creation concerning his decree to save mankind. In the supra scheme, God first decreed who the elect and reprobate (non-elect) were, second he created both the elect and reprobate, third he decreed the fall as a means of damnation for the non-elect, and forth he decreed the atonement as a means of salvation for the elect. In this order one can surmise that the damnation of the reprobate primarily came as a result of God’s reprobating (non-electing), and only secondarily through the fall. This is to be distinguished from other more moderate forms of Calvinism such as infralapsarianism and sublapsarianism. Supralapsarianism is held by most proponents of double predestination.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

jesus at 12 years old

When Jesus was 12, his family accidently left Him behind in Jerusalem. When they found him three days later, He said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" They did not understand. Why?

(1) Jesus referred to Yahweh in a possessive way, i.e., "My Father", thereby shattering the old way of relating to God. Now He is personal and knowable by all.

(2) Jesus never doubted who He was.

(3) Jesus knew what mattered - being with His Father and being about His Father's business.

(careful, this has the "poopy" word in it more than once)

As Christians, the one thing is intimacy with God. All that matters in life flows from that - intimacy with God. When He was older, Jesus repeated the message (recorded in Lk 10.38-42) - only one thing is necessary.

Micah 6.6-8 ~ With what shall I come before the Lord,and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Ecclesiastes 12.13-14 ~ The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

so what is justification

Ok - I know that I get redundant but remember - this blog is for me, if you benefit from it as well, cool, if not, you got what you paid for.

That aside, a few weeks ago I began leading my small group through Search for Significance (well not actually the book but using the key Scriptures outlined in the book for discussion). Yes I also know that some think this book is heresy but what can I say, find me something that hasn't been accused on the internet of heresy and I will be amazed. I plan to take a 4-5 week break to cover some other stuff but I want to post some stuff on what we already reviewed.

The first lie: I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself. That is the Performance Trap, i.e., the fear of failure. God's truth in this regard is justification. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, in which he pardons all our sins, accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

From the Westminster Confession of Faith, XI.1
Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

Justification comes from the law court, where “to justify” is a declarative verb. In its theological sense, justification is the legal declaration of my righteousness before God. This is not on the basis of our own merit, but only on the merit of Jesus Christ. God declared that the righteousness of Christ belongs to the one who has faith in Christ.

My group responded to this concept just as so many before them. Before we come to Christ, Satan works to convince us that we are good enough. Afterward he works to convince us that we are not. The group struggled with (1) that we could really be considered righteous and (2) that their works had no place in that.

To help I used the old "base layer" on a painting analogy. That is that Biblical principles are like a painting. There are some foundational truths that need to be settled and allowed to dry before the rest of the painting can be done. If they aren't there, the picture is incomplete. If they aren't allowed to dry, the picture is blurry. Works is an important element of the Christian life but if I try to paint that in before justification by faith is dried, I have a mess. Many Christians live in that mess.

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it's not cool

Christianity, according to Jesus, is not cool. There, I said it. ~ Tullian Tchividjian

Barry Simmons has the rest of this "cool" quote.

gotta love that justification

If there is one thing I love in life, it is the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This is the biblical truth that liberates me from the crushing burden of ever having to stand before God on my own merit, but covers me instead with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. ~ Philip Graham Ryken

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it's free

We believe that Christ, by his obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified. By his sacrifice, he bore in our stead the punishment due us for our sins, making a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice on our behalf. By his perfect obedience he satisfied the just demands of God on our behalf, since by faith alone that perfect obedience is credited to all who trust in Christ alone for their acceptance with God. Inasmuch as Christ was given by the Father for us, and his obedience and punishment were accepted in place of our own, freely and not for anything in us, this justification is solely of free grace, in order that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. We believe that a zeal for personal and public obedience flows from this free justification. ~ The Gospel Coalition, Foundational Documents, Confessional Statement, Article 8


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Saturday, May 03, 2008

TULIP and the "L-word"

All things seem to cycle on the internet and these past days there seems to be renewed energy regarding the Calvinist-Arminian debate. By now you know I'm a Calvinist - well not really, I hold to Reformed Theology which includes the Doctrine of Election (I really don't know much about Calvin himself). I find value in the conversation but I'm amazed at the venom spewed from both sides of this ... and I also find many not engaging in the ugliness but equally wrong not allowing themselves to hear what the other side is saying because it sounds "hateful", "ugly", etc.. Sadly it is too often hateful or ugly but I know many who attribute those characteristics to anyone on the "other side" regardless of how gracious the other attempts to be.

Ok - that aside, here's today's dump ... first Jacob Hantla posts this great quote from Iain Murray's The Cross: The Pulpit of God's Love.
It is necessary for believers to understand the special nature of God's love for them. 'The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me' (Gal 2:20), is not a statement that gives security to all. To deny the special love of God, and to believe that Christ loves all men equally, is to suppose that Christ has done no more for those the Father has given to him than for mankind at large. But if Christians are no more loved than those who will finally be lost, the decisive factor in salvation becomes, not God's grace and love, but something in them, and their perseverance becomes dependent upon themselves. To widen the atonement, and to speak of it only in terms of general love, is to take away its saving power. The believer in Christ needs to know that the love which embraces him is eternal, almighty, and immutable. It does not hang upon his faith for it went before faith.

Then John Piper hits the blogsphere with these videos:
And then John Owen:

To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

when god ran

I stumbled across Benny Hester's When God Ran while cruisin' youtube today. I haven't heard this song for years. It made me cry today just as it did when I first heard it.

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dead orthodoxy

"It is an appalling thought but it is nevertheless true, that there is such a thing as dead orthodoxy". ~ Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones - Revival


i love the trinity

I love the Trinity and I love worship God! Having a knowledge of the true nature of God increase my sense of awe and response of worship. This article by Bert Waggoner on Leading Trinitarian Worship was helpful. Waggoner recommends the doctrine of perichoresis. Here are his words on the topic.

The term means mutual indwelling or, better, mutual interpenetration and refers to the understanding of both the Trinity and Christology. In the divine perichoresis, each person has “being in each other without coalescence” (John of Damascus ca. 650). The roots of this doctrine are long and deep. Recent Evangelicals that have worked at clearly defining the model include such notables as Millard Erickson, Royce Gordon Gruenler, Gilbert Bilezikian and Miraslav Volf. It is seen most clearly in the passages in John where Jesus speaks of his relationship with the Father:

“But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." (John 10:38);

“Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. (John 14:9-11);

“...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:21)

In no other place in the teachings of Jesus are we provided with such a clear window into the divine relationships. The picture Jesus gives us here is that of an eternal community (of two persons at this stage), totally dwelling in one another, totally interpenetrating each other so much so that when one speaks it can be said that both speak. The Son totally dwells in the Father, and the Father totally dwells in the Son. We do not have a human analogy to divine perichoresis because one human cannot indwell another. The closest we can come to this reality is human empathy.

The dynamic quality of the perichoritic Trinity is symbolically captured in the vision given to the prophet Ezekiel (1:3-28) which pictures a tri-personal being who is full of energy, life, and love. It speaks of mutuality and relationship, of love that is eternal. It has been called the divine dance, the polyphony. It presents the three persons, in perfect harmony, giving without reservation to one another, interdependent, bound together in love, all involved in a celebration of life, love, peace and joy.

Joining the Divine Dance

I have given only a brief introduction to an idea that has captured my heart. I do not have time to develop it further, but I would like to share some implications for worship and worship leaders that I have drawn from my study of the perichoresis. This is not meaningless theological minutia. If it is true, it has tremendous implications for all of life and especially for worship.

1. The perichoresis is already happening when we begin to worship. Worship leaders lead the community of faith into what has always been happening in the divine perichoresis. Worship leaders simply help God’s people join the eternal dance.

2. The perichoresis reminds us that we are not the worship leaders. God is the worship leader. The Son is the one that leads us into worship of the Father. He is the mediator of all worship (see T.F. Torrance, Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace). But within the divine perichoresis any one of the persons might lead us in glorifying the others (John 17:5).

3. The perichoresis makes clear the distinctness and diversity of persons in the Triune God. Each person who abides in the other, remains uniquely what he is. The Father does not become the Son, the Son not the Father etc. Each has a unique role to play in redemption and should be praised for his unique work. To lead the church in worship, the worship leader must join with the persons of the Triune God in praising them according to their unique glory and work.

4. The perichoresis informs the worship leader that worship is always a corporate activity. True worship is never singular. We do not come to Jesus alone. We come to the Father who is in the Son and to the Son who is in the Father. The object of worship is a divine community.

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oh nooooo ...

Obama is emergent. Just kidding but he does represent the ever present portion of the population who feel free to redefine and distort words and in doing so demonstrate the radical nature of the Fall.

“He was never my spiritual adviser, he was never my spiritual mentor ... he was my pastor.” ~ Barach Obama on his pastor Jeremiah Wright

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a sad state of affairs

As if the US economy doesn't have enough issues, now people are not only forced into foreclosure but some are simply choosing to walk away from mortgages simply because "it doesn't make financial sense". Unbelievable! This will only hurt others not to mention what about personal integrity. We live in a broken world.

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focus on your strength

Another church moves towards its logical conclusion ...

Church Transforms Into Coffee Chain

DENVER — Connection Metro Church, which used its foyer coffee bars to attract visitors to its eight satellite churches in the Denver area, has decided to abandon ministry altogether to focus on coffee.

"People liked the coffee a lot better than the ministry, according to congregational surveys, so we’re practicing what we preached and focusing on our strengths," says former teaching pastor and now chief marketing officer, Peter Brown.

the rest of the story

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

the gift of worship

I love this song ... and the video is cool ... and the point is right on ...


concepts to challenge your mind

I've had this filed away for some time now but I thought that in light of my last post, it may be appropriate to drag it out. I perceive Brian McLaren (and many others) struggle with some of this specifically and moreover, with the problem of trying to rewrite God's intent to fit our human capacity to understand. I may be wrong on that but I like this list by John Piper regardless.

According to Piper, these are a examples of biblical truths that most fallen minds have no conceptual categories for conceiving.

1. All persons are accountable for their choices, and all their choices are infallibly and decisively ordained by God.
  • [He] works all things according to the counsel of his will. (Ephesians 1:11)
  • On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. (Matthew 12:36)
2. It is not sin in God to will that there be sin
  • “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it [the evil acts of Joseph’s brothers] for good. (Genesis 50:20)
3. What God decrees will come to pass is not always the same as what he commands that we do, and may indeed be the opposite.
  • For example, he may command, “Thou shalt not kill,” and decree that his Son be killed: “It was the will of the Lord to crush him” (Isaiah 53:10).
4. God’s ultimate goal is the exaltation and display of his own glory, and this is at the heart of what it means for him to love us.
  • And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:5)
  • Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory.” (John 17:24)
5. Sin is not primarily what hurts man but what belittles God by expressing unbelief or indifference to his superior worth.
  • My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)
6. God is perfectly just and orders the complete destruction of the inhabitants of Canaan.
  • Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? (Genesis 18:25)
  • But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes. (Deuteronomy 20:16)
7. The key to the Christian life is learning the secret of acting in such a way that our acts are done as the acts of Another.
  • Walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)
  • Put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit. (Romans 8:13)
8. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh.
  • And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
9. “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” (Matthew 1:23)

10. “Before Abraham was I am.” (John 8:58)

why does this bother me ...

My friend Randy Noblog prompted me to read David Roach's Baptist Press report on Brian McLaren's comments at Willow Creek last month and in Everything Must Change. I don't know how accurately Roach reflects McLaren's views but this seems consistent with what I've seen elsewhere and among those that read McLaren more than I do ... and it bothers me. It just doesn't seem "Biblical". It seems more pragmatic ... i.e., almost as if McLaren is trying to reason out a way for God to accomplish His goals rather than going with what Scripture seems to say.

My problem is that it has been a long, long time since I studied eschatology and even then I was more than a little unsure of my position. However, I don't remember concluding anything like McLaren seems to be saying and I certainly do not agree with the implications of some of his "accusations".

Roach understands McLaren as arguing that people who believe in hell may be inclined to dominate and take advantage of other people, rather than help them. This comes from the following statement by McLaren:
Many of us have been increasingly critical in recent years of popular American eschatology in general, and conventional views of hell in particular," he wrote. "Simply put, if we believe that God will ultimately enforce his will by forceful domination, and will eternally torture all who resist that domination, then torture and domination become not only permissible but in some way godly.

I don't see McLaren's leap. And even if it were true, I'm not clear how that gives him license to rewrite God's plan. Roach quotes him again:

This eschatological understanding of a violent second coming leads us to believe (as we've said before) that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion; no one should be surprised when those shaped by this theology behave accordingly.

Hmmm ... same point. I don't see it and I don't follow the rewrite which leads to this faulty and what appears to be humanistic conclusion.

The book of Revelation does not actually teach that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, he wrote, but that a new way of living is possible within this universe if humans will follow Jesus' example.

By going to the cross, McLaren argued in his book, Jesus committed an act similar to the Chinese student at Tiananmen Square in the late 1980s -- he placed himself in harm's way to demonstrate the injustice of a society that would harm a peaceful and godly man.

I find this all very sad. While I violently disagree with McLaren on this, he tangles the above with the truth that repentance is not for some future goal but also a change of life today - that the Kingdom of God is at hand and that we are to have a new way of living now. Many of my Evangelical friends miss this great truth because they lump it with the other teaching/thinking from folks like McLaren.

That aside, Roach does a nice job in his subsequent article refuting McLaren's specific errors.
  • “The apostle Paul tells us not to avenge ourselves. Why? Because, he writes, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’ (Romans 12:18-20).
  • “As for domination, the Bible tells us not to dominate one another, precisely because ‘we will all stand before the judgment seat of God’ (Romans 12:10).”
  • Even though McLaren claims to want world peace, his own view is actually the one that leads to violence, Moore said.
  • “When a Christian understands that he does not fight for his own honor, but that justice will be done by God, either through union with Christ and His cross or at the judgment itself, the Christian is freed then to trust God, not his sword or his gun or his fists or his tongue,” he said. “It is McLaren’s vision of a life that consists only of the justice achieved in this era that leads to violence and Darwinian struggle to see that a pound of flesh is exacted.”

it's business time

Flight of the Conchords hit number 3. To celebrate the success of my favorite Kiwi band, here is one of their classics.

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staying humble

"Be more amazed that you're saved than that they're lost". ~ John Piper, How Do You Remain Humble? - "Ask Pastor John" - Desiring God Ministries Podcast - April 30, 2008


spam blog

Just in case you are wondering, I have been identified as a spam blog. The documentation seems to indicate it may have to do with frequency of post or something like that. I think it is due to the quality (or lack thereof) of the comments I get.

That combined with my work travel schedule is why there are blocks of time where there are no posts ... that may be good or bad news ... you can decide. But that's my story and I'm sticking with it.