Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Loaves and Fishes’ Miracle Reported in Egypt
Bible teacher and evangelist Marilyn Hickey’s recent 10-day trip to Cairo, Egypt—described by organizers afterward as the largest gathering of Christians to ever assemble in the ancient city— included a report of something more astounding than the several hundred who claimed healing and salvation: 2,400 meals from Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) apparently appeared out of thin air.
The rest of the story ...
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
From my friends at common errors in the English usage ...
There are five distinct words here. When “affect” is accented on the final syllable (a-FECT), it is usually a verb meaning “have an influence on”: “The million-dollar donation from the industrialist did not affect my vote against the Clean Air Act.”
Occasionally a pretentious person is said to affect an artificial air of sophistication. Speaking with a borrowed French accent or ostentatiously wearing a large diamond ear stud might be an affectation. In this sort of context, “affect” means “to make a display of or deliberately cultivate.”
Another unusual meaning is indicated when the word is accented on the first syllable (AFF-ect), meaning “emotion.” In this case the word is used mostly by psychiatrists and social scientists— people who normally know how to spell it.
The real problem arises when people confuse the first spelling with the second: “effect.” This too can be two different words. The more common one is a noun: “When I left the stove on, the effect was that the house filled with smoke.” When you affect a situation, you have an effect on it.
The less common is a verb meaning “to create”: “I’m trying to effect a change in the way we purchase widgets.” No wonder people are confused. Note especially that the proper expression is not “take affect” but “take effect”—become effective. Hey, nobody ever said English was logical: just memorize it and get on with your life.
The stuff in your purse? Your personal effects.
Monday, July 28, 2008
"Behold, all authority is given to you in heaven and on earth, go therefore into all the world and beat the living snot out of people in my name, kicking old ladies in the face, tackling Filipinos until their teeth pop out, and kneeing people in the stomach, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Shaka-laka-bam!" - The Gospel According to Bentley 23:4
See TBNN for the full story.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Jesus Christ, in the power and authority of His Spirit-anointed humanity, stilled the waves, quieted the winds, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, exercised complete authority over demons and raised the dead. He did all the miraculous things He was moved to do among men not as God, which would not have been miraculous at all, but as a Spirit-anointed man. Remarkable! ~ A.W. Tozer, Jesus, Our Man In GloryThis, according to Acts 10.38 was because “God was with Him.” So, is God with you?
The new liberals, as those before them, often get confused with why we as believers, both individually and corporately, remain here “on earth”. I love A.W. Tozer’s voice on what is the problem with man.
Go to God’s Word and you will find that sin is the most pressing, the most compelling, the most imperative problem in human life and society. The most pressing problem is not sickness. It is not war. It is not poverty. Sin is the basic problem because sin has to do with a person’s soul. Sin does not relate merely to a person’s short years on this earth. It involves that person’s eternal future and the world to come.
No one has ever overstated the seriousness of the sin question. It is a question that continues age after age. It comes to every human being: “What am I going to do about sin?” That question takes precedence over all other questions that we are called upon to answer. Whether we are world famous or an unnamed member of the human race, we must make confession concerning our relationship with sin.
As believers, our role is to live life as one who properly makes that confession and to bring others to the realization of the need for the same. We are not called to repair the environment, solve food shortages, nor address injustice. Those are the things we doing once we’ve made that proper confession … but they never become the most important problem.
Tozer’s emphasis here is that what we are saved to is much more important than what we were saved from.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The only people who get better are people who know that, if they never get better, God will love them anyway. ~ Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom
Technorati Tags: justification
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
This is obviously a delicate and important balance for us to maintain. On the one hand, we should not dismiss or diminish the importance of the supernatural and revelatory encounters that God provides for certain of his saints. On the other hand, neither should we elevate them to supreme importance or treat them as if they alone, more so than character and conduct, authenticate the legitimacy of one's calling and ministry from God.
It simply isn't possible to read Peter and Paul and fail to notice that they believed revelatory gifts and other miraculous phenomena were of great benefit in edifying the body of Christ. It's true, of course, that Paul didn't speak often of his supernatural experiences. However, we should always be careful in drawing unwarranted conclusions about the normative character of an event based on the frequency with which it is mentioned. There is only one occasion where Paul mentions that he himself speaks in tongues (1 Cor. 14:18), yet he obviously spoke in tongues regularly, perhaps on a daily basis in his private devotions (1 Cor. 14:19). In other words, "lack of frequent reference does not necessarily mean lack of frequent experience". ~ Sam Storms, Of Visions and Revelations
Technorati Tags: Signs & Wonders
Drop by his blog and read his take on this.
We’ve seen our own failure and we’ve seen the imperatives to holiness and we’ve lost sight of the great indicatives of the gospel that sustain those imperatives. Woven into the warp and woof of the New Testament’s exposition of what it means for us to be holy is the great groundwork that the self-existent, thrice holy, triune God has — in Himself, by Himself and for Himself — committed Himself and all three Persons of His being to bringing about the holiness of His own people. This is the Father’s purpose, the Son’s purchase and the Spirit’s ministry. ~ Sinclair Ferguson, message from the 2007 Banner of Truth Conference, Our Holiness: The Father’s Purpose and the Son’s Purchase.
I love how Don Williams puts it ... "In true Kingdom preaching, the imperative always follows the indicative."
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Gospel Reading: Matthew 12:38-42
An evil and unfaithful age is eager for a sign! v. 39
Are we "gift- oriented"? Are we "sign-seekers?" Many get excited about healings and prophecies and apparitions in other lands. But often, as soon as the excitement wears off, faith wanes and their lives return to old secular ways.
SIGNS & WONDERS ARE A WITNESS
Jesus recognized that miracles and signs give witness to God’s power, although he said with some exasperation, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you do not believe." And yet Luke affirmed in Acts that Jesus was, "a man whom God sent to you with miracles, wonders, and signs as his credentials." Signs also accompanied the apostles and the early church: "A reverent fear overtook them all, for many wonders and signs were performed by the apostles." Jesus himself promised, "Signs like these will accompany those who have professed their faith." So these and other scriptures tell us that signs and wonders are given by God to establish and strengthen saving faith!
UNDERSTANDING THE INCONSISTENCY
The story of Thomas helps us understand this apparent inconsistency. In order to strengthen Thomas' faith in his resurrection, Jesus appeared to him and said, "Take your finger and examine my hands. Put your hand into my side. Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe!" Then he said, "You became a believer because you saw me. Blest are they who have not seen and have believed." So we see that Jesus gives us signs and wonders because he knows we are weak. He loves us, so he meets us where we are. Yet he highly commends those who believe without seeing.
MATURE FAITH LOOKS BEYOND THE GIFT
Do we have such faith? Do we seek the gifts or the Giver of the gifts? Is it enough to simply remember the powerful salvation God has repeatedly brought into our life, or must we be constantly reminded? An adult remembers and calmly goes forward; a child must be constantly reminded and prodded to keep on going. Let us have the faith of a mature Christian. Let us be children no longer. As Paul wrote, "Let us, then, go beyond the initial teaching about Christ and advance to maturity."
Technorati Tags: charismata
Smoker who has 10 cigars a day celebrates his 100th birthday
A man after my own heart ... "I love my cigars. I wouldn't be without them. I don't care about the brand - a cigar is a cigar. But I'm not a fan of the small ones. The bigger, the better."
With that, I love this quote from A.W. Tozer.
The church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. This she has done not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge; and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic. This low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.
With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence. Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, 'Be still, and know that I am God,' mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshiper in this middle period of the twentieth century.
This loss of the concept of majesty has come just when the forces of religion are making dramatic gains and the churches are more prosperous than at any time within the past several hundred years. But the alarming thing is that our gains are mostly external and our losses wholly internal; and since it is the quality of our religion that is affected by internal conditions, it may be that our supposed gains are but losses spread over a wider field. ~ A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy
On Christ’s glory I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world. It will become to me like something dead and putrid, impossible for me to enjoy. ~ John Owen
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Wait a minute ... I thought only us fundamentalists and evangelicals had a problem with homosexuality? While there is room for discussion/confrontation regarding some of the message (and methodology) pictured above, the Bible is clear, homosexuality is sin.
While I think what I see above is wrong at several levels, I'm bothered that some of my "christian brethren" use scenes as the above as impetuous to rewrite Biblical truth.
Praise God for how He allows us to participate in what He is doing among the poor.
But that aside, here are some extracts from Wayne Grudem's Systematic theology : An introduction to biblical doctrine. There may be better sources but this was easiest for me. As I noted before, my thinking of eschatology is shifting but even with that in mind, no solid doctrine leads me to the wholesale dismissal of eternal suffering as some seem anxious to do. I say that to say that while you may pick at the edges of the below (and I will not defend it), I cannot see how one can eliminate the bottom-line. Turn to God through Christ Jesus; if not, it's gonna be bad. Anyway, here's Grudem ...
Hell is a place of eternal conscious punishment for the wicked. Scripture teaches in several passages that there is such a place. At the end of the parable of the talents, the master says, “Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth” (Matt. 25:30). This is one among several indications that there will be consciousness of punishment after the final judgment. Similarly, at the judgment the king will say to some, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41), and Jesus says that those thus condemned “will go away into eternal punishment but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46). In this text, the parallel between “eternal life” and “eternal punishment” indicates that both states will be without end.
Jesus refers to hell as “the unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43), and says that hell is a place “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). The story of the rich man and Lazarus also indicates a horrible consciousness of punishment:
The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom, and he called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.” (Luke 16:22–24)
He then begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house, “for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:28).
When we turn to Revelation, the descriptions of this eternal punishment are also very explicit:
If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also shall drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image and whoever receives the mark of its name. (Rev. 14:9–11)
This passage very clearly affirms the idea of eternal conscious punishment of unbelievers.
With respect to the judgment on the wicked city of Babylon, a large multitude in heaven cries, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever” (Rev. 19:3). After the final rebellion of Satan is crushed, we read, “The devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). This passage is also significant in connection with Matthew 25:41, in which unbelievers are sent “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” These verses should make us realize the immensity of the evil that is found in sin and rebellion against God, and the magnitude of the holiness and the justice of God that calls forth this kind of punishment.
The idea that there will be eternal conscious punishment of unbelievers has been denied recently even by some evangelical theologians. It has previously been denied by the Seventh Day Adventist Church and by various individuals throughout church history. Those who deny eternal conscious punishment often advocate “annihilationism,” a teaching that, after the wicked have suffered the penalty of God’s wrath for a time, God will “annihilate” them so that they no longer exist. Many who believe in annihilationism also hold to the reality of final judgment and punishment for sin, but they argue that after sinners have suffered for a certain period of time, bearing the wrath of God against their sin, they will finally cease to exist. The punishment will therefore be “conscious” but it will not be “eternal.”
Arguments advanced in favor of annihilationism are: (1) the biblical references to the destruction of the wicked, which, some say, implies that they will no longer exist after they are destroyed (Phil. 3:19; 1 Thess. 5:3; 2 Thess. 1:9; 2 Peter 3:7; et al.); (2) the apparent inconsistency of eternal conscious punishment with the love of God; (3) the apparent injustice involved in the disproportion between sins committed in time and punishment that is eternal; and (4) the fact that the continuing presence of evil creatures in God’s universe will eternally mar the perfection of a universe that God created to reflect his glory.
In response, it must be said that the passages which speak of destruction (such as Phil. 3:19; 1 Thess. 5:3; 2 Thess. 1:9; and 2 Peter 3:7) do not necessarily imply the cessation of existence, for in these passages the terms used for “destruction” do not necessarily imply a ceasing to exist or some kind of annihilation, but can simply be ways of referring to the harmful and destructive effects of final judgment on unbelievers.
With respect to the argument from the love of God, the same difficulty in reconciling God’s love with eternal punishment would seem to be present in reconciling God’s love with the idea of divine punishment at all, and, conversely, if (as Scripture abundantly testifies) it is consistent for God to punish the wicked for a certain length of time after the last judgment, then there seems to be no necessary reason why it would be inconsistent of God to inflict the same punishment for an unending period of time.
This kind of reasoning may lead some people to adopt another kind of annihilationism, one in which there is no conscious suffering at all, not even for a brief time, and the only punishment is that unbelievers cease to exist after they die. But, in response, it may be wondered whether this kind of immediate annihilation can really be called a punishment, since there would be no consciousness of pain. In fact, the guarantee that there would be a cessation of existence would seem to many people, especially those who are suffering and in difficulty in this life, to be in some ways a desirable alternative. And if there was no punishment of unbelievers at all, even people like Hitler and Stalin would have nothing coming to them, and there would be no ultimate justice in the universe. Then people would have great incentive to be as wicked as possible in this life.
The argument that eternal punishment is unfair (because there is a disproportion between temporary sin and eternal punishment) wrongly assumes that we know the extent of the evil done when sinners rebel against God. David Kingdon observes that “sin against the Creator is heinous to a degree utterly beyond our sin-warped imaginations’ [ability] to conceive of....Who would have the temerity to suggest to God what the punishment...should be?”14 He also responds to this objection by suggesting that unbelievers in hell may go on sinning and receiving punishment for their sin, but never repenting, and notes that Revelation 22:11 points in this direction: “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy.”
At this point, moreover, an argument based on God’s justice may be brought against annihilationism. Does the short time of punishment envisaged by the annihilationist actually pay for all of the unbeliever’s sin and satisfy God’s justice? If it does not, then God’s justice has not been satisfied and the unbeliever should not be annihilated. But if it does, then the unbeliever should be allowed to go to heaven, and he or she should not be annihilated. In either case, annihilationism is not necessary or right.
Regarding the fourth argument, while evil that remains unpunished does detract from God’s glory in the universe, we also must realize that when God punishes evil and triumphs over it, the glory of his justice, righteousness, and power to triumph over all opposition will be seen (see Rom. 9:17, 22–24). The depth of the riches of God’s mercy will also then be revealed, for all redeemed sinners will recognize that they too deserve such punishment from God and have avoided it only by God’s grace through Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 9:23–24).
Yet after all this has been said, we have to admit that the ultimate resolution of the depths of this question lies far beyond our ability to understand, and remains hidden in the counsels of God. Were it not for the scriptural passages cited above which so clearly affirm eternal conscious punishment, annihilationism might seem to us to be an attractive option. Though annihilationism can be countered by theological arguments, it is ultimately the clarity and forcefulness of the passages themselves that convince us that annihilationism is incorrect and that Scripture does indeed teach the eternal conscious punishment of the wicked.
What are we to think of this doctrine? It is hard—and it should be hard—for us to think of this doctrine today. If our hearts are never moved with deep sorrow when we contemplate this doctrine, then there is a serious deficiency in our spiritual and emotional sensibilities. When Paul thinks of the lostness of his kinsmen the Jews, he says, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” (Rom. 9:2). This is consistent with what God tells us of his own sorrow at the death of the wicked: “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11). And Jesus’ agony is evident as he cries out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate” (Matt. 23:37–38; cf. Luke 19:41–42).
The reason it is hard for us to think of the doctrine of hell is because God has put in our hearts a portion of his own love for people created in his image, even his love for sinners who rebel against him. As long as we are in this life, and as long as we see and think about others who need to hear the gospel and trust in Christ for salvation, it should cause us great distress and agony of spirit to think about eternal punishment. Yet we must also realize that whatever God in his wisdom has ordained and taught in Scripture is right. Therefore we must be careful that we do not hate this doctrine or rebel against it, but rather we should seek, insofar as we are able, to come to the point where we acknowledge that eternal punishment is good and right, because in God there is no unrighteousness at all.
It may help us to realize that if God were not to execute eternal punishment, then, apparently, his justice would not be satisfied and his glory would not be furthered in the way he deems wise. And it will perhaps also help us to realize that from the perspective of the world to come there is a much greater recognition of the necessity and rightness of eternal punishment. Martyred believers in heaven are heard by John to cry out, “O sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” (Rev. 6:10). Moreover, at the final destruction of Babylon, the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven cries out with praise to God for the rightness of his judgment as they finally see the heinous nature of evil for what it really is:
Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; he has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants....Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.” (Rev. 19:1–3)
As soon as this happened, “the 24 elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”’ (Rev. 19:4). We cannot say that this great multitude of the redeemed and the living creatures in heaven have wrong moral judgment when they praise God for executing justice on evil, for they are all free from sin and their moral judgments are pleasing to God.
In this present age, however, we should only approach such a celebration of the justice of God in the punishment of evil when we meditate on the eternal punishment given to Satan and his demons. When we think of them we do not instinctively love them, though they too were created by God. But now they are fully devoted to evil and beyond the potential of redemption. So we cannot long for their salvation as we long for the redemption of all humanity. We must believe that eternal punishment is true and just, yet we should also long that even those people who most severely persecute the church should come to faith in Christ and thus escape eternal condemnation.
Technorati Tags: eschatology
Rich Wagnor is currently on a bike tour in relation to the book. Here's one blurb on the book.
As a Christian man, how do you prioritize between what you are driven to do at work and church with what you are responsible for at home? Rich Wagner debunks the myth of a “balanced life” and shares a biblical model of becoming a hands-on leader of his family.
If you happen to read it before I do, let me know what you think.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
1) It Exalts the True Christ, based on 1 John 4:2-3.
When a ministry raises people’s esteem of the one true Jesus Christ, who was born of a virgin and was crucified — if it confirms and establishes their minds in the truth that He is the Son of God and the Savior of men — then it is a sure sign that it is from the Spirit of God. If the spirit at work among a people convinces them of Christ and leads them to Him; if it confirms their minds in the belief of the history of Christ as He appeared in the flesh; if it teaches them that He is the Son of God to save sinners; if it reveals that He is the only Savior, and that they stand in great need of Him; and if it begets in them higher and more honorable thoughts of Christ than they used to have; if it inclines their affections more to Him — that is a sure sign that it is the true and right Spirit. This is true even though we are ultimately incapable of determining whether anyone’s conviction or affections reflect real saving faith.
The words of the apostle are remarkable. The person to whom the Spirit testifies must be that Jesus who appeared in the flesh — not another “christ” in His stead. It cannot be some mystical, fantastical “christ,” such as the “inner light” extolled by the Quakers. This imaginary christ diminishes their esteem of and dependence on Jesus as He came in the flesh. The true Spirit of God gives testimony for that Jesus alone.
The devil has a fierce hatred against Christ, especially in His office as the Savior of men. Satan mortally hates the story and doctrine of redemption; he never would go about to stress these truths. The Spirit that inclines men’s hearts to the Seed of the woman is not the spirit of the serpent that has such an irreconcilable enmity against Him.
2) It Opposes Satan’s Interests, based on 1 John 4.4-5.
When the spirit that is at work operates against the interests of Satan’s kingdom, against sin, and against worldly lusts — this is a sure sign that it is a true, and not a false spirit.
Here is a plain antithesis. The apostle is comparing those who are influenced by two opposite spirits, the true and the false. The difference is plain: the one is of God, and overcomes the spirit of the world; the other is of the world, and is obsessed with the things of the world. The devil is called “he who is in the world.”
What the apostle means by “the world,” or “the things that are in the world,” we learn by his own words: “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (2:15-16). So by “the world” the apostle evidently means everything that pertains to the interest of sin. The term also comprehends all the corruptions and lusts of men, as well as all those acts and objects by which they are gratified.
We may also safely determine from what the apostle says that whatever lessons people’s esteem of the pleasures, profits, and honors of the world; whatever turns their hearts from an eager pursuit after these things; whatever engages them in a due concern about eternity and causes them earnestly to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness; whatever convinces them of the dreadfulness of sin, the guilt it brings, and the misery to which it exposes — must be the Spirit of God.
It is not to be supposed that Satan would convince men of sin or awaken the conscience. It can no way serve his end to make that candle of the Lord shine the brighter. It is for his interest, whatever he does, to lull conscience asleep and keep it quite. To have that with its eyes and mouth open in the soul would tend to clog and hinder all his designs of darkness. The awakened conscience would evermore disturb his affairs, cross his interests, and disquiet him. Would the devil, when he is about to establish people in sin, take such a course? Would he make them more careful, inquisitive, and watchful to discern what is sinful, and to avoid future sins, and to be more wary of the devil’s temptations?
The man who has an awakened conscience is the least likely to be deceived of any man in the world; it is the drowsy, insensible, stupid conscience that is most easily blinded. The Spirit that operates thus cannot be the spirit of the devil; Satan will not cast out Satan (Matt. 12:25-26). Therefore if we see persons made sensible of the dreadful nature of sin and the displeasure of God against it, we may conclude that this concern is from the Spirit of God.
3) It Points People to the Scriptures, based on 1 John 4.6.
The spirit that causes people to have a greater regard for the Holy Scriptures and establishes them more in the truth and divinity of God’s Word is certainly the Spirit of God.
The devil never would attempt to beget in persons a regard to the divine Word. A spirit of delusion will not incline persons to seek direction at the mouth of God. “To the law and to the testimony!” (Isa. 8:20) is never the cry of evil spirits who have no light in them. On the contrary, it is God’s own direction to discover their delusions.
Would the spirit of error, in order to deceive men, beget in them a high opinion of the infallible Word? Would the prince of darkness, in order to promote his kingdom of darkness, lead men to the sun? The devil has always shown a mortal spite and hatred towards that holy book, the Bible. He has done all in his power to extinguish that light, or else draw men off from it. He knows it to be that light by which his kingdom of darkness is to be overthrown. He has long experienced its power to defeat his purposes and baffle his designs. It is his constant plague. It is the sword of the Spirit that pierces him and conquers him.
It is that sharp sword that we read of in Revelation 19:15, which proceeds out of the mouth of Him that sat on the horse, with which He smites His enemies. Every text is a dart to torment the old serpent. He has felt the stinging smart thousands of times.
Therefore the devil is engaged against the Bible and hates every word in it. We may be sure that he never will attempt to raise anyone’s esteem of it.
4) It Elevates Truth, based on 1 John 4.6
Another rule by which to judge spirits is that whatever operates as a spirit of truth, leading people to truth, convincing them of those things that are true — we may safely determine that it is a right and true spirit.
For instance, if the spirit at work makes men more aware than they used to be of the central gospel truths: that there is a God; that He is a great and sin-hating God; that life is short and very uncertain; that there is another world; that they have immortal souls; that they must give account of themselves to God; that they are exceeding sinful by nature and practice; that they are helpless in themselves — then that spirit operates as a spirit of truth. He represents things as they truly are. He brings men to the light.
On the other hand, the spirit of darkness will not uncover and make manifest the truth. Christ tells us that Satan is a liar, and the father of lies. His kingdom is a kingdom of darkness. It is upheld and promoted only by darkness and error. Satan has all his power and dominion by darkness. Whatever spirit removes our darkness and brings us to the light undeceives us. If I am brought to the truth and am made aware of things as they really are, my duty is immediately to thank God for it without inquiring by what means I have such a benefit.
5) It Results in Love for God and Others, based on 1 John 4.8.
If the spirit that is at work among a people operates as a spirit of love to God and man, it is a sure sign that it is the Spirit of God. This last mark which the apostle gives of the true Sprit, he seems to speak of as the most eminent. ...
When the spirit that is at work among the people brings many of them to high and exalting thoughts of the Divine Being and His glorious perfections; when it works in them an admiring, delightful sense of the excellency of Jesus Christ, representing Him as the chief among ten thousand and altogether lovely; when it makes Him precious to the soul, winning and drawing the heart with those motives and incitements to free love of God and the wonderful dying love of Christ — it must be the Spirit of God.
“We love, because He first loved us,” verse 19 says. The spirit that makes the soul long after God and Christ must be the Spirit of God. When we desire the presence and communion of the Savior, acquaintance with Him, conformity to Him, a life that pleases and honors Him, we must be under the influence of His Spirit.
Moreover, the spirit that quells contentions among men gives a spirit of peace and good-will, excites to acts of outward kindness, earnestly desires the salvation of souls, and arouses love for all the children of God and followers of Christ; I say that when a spirit operates after this manner, there is the highest kind of evidence that this is the Holy Spirit.
Indeed, there is a counterfeit love that often appears among those who are led by a spirit of delusion. There is commonly in the wildest enthusiasts a kind of union and affection arising from self-love. It is occasioned by their agreeing on issues where they greatly differ from all others and for which they are objects of ridicule from the rest of mankind. That naturally will cause them so much the more to prize those peculiarities that make them the objects of others’ contempt. (Thus the ancient Gnostics and the wild fanatics that appeared at the beginning of the Reformation boasted of their great love to one another — one sect of them in particular calling themselves “the family of love.”) But this is quite another thing than that Christian love I have just described.
There is enough said in this passage of the nature of a truly Christian love to distinguish it from all such counterfeits. It is love that arises from apprehension of the wonderful riches of the free grace and sovereignty of God’s love to us in Jesus Christ. It is attended with a sense of our own utter unworthiness (see vv. 9-11, 19). The surest character of true, divine, supernatural love– distinguishing it from counterfeits that arise from a natural self-love — is that the Christian virtue of humility shines in it. It is a love which above all others renounces, abases, and annihilates what we term self. Christ’s love is a humble love (1 Cor. 13:4-5).
When, therefore, we see a love attended with a sense of one’s own littleness, vileness, weakness, and utter insufficiency; when it is united with self-diffidence, self-emptiness, self-renunciation, and poverty of spirit — those are the manifest tokens of the Spirit of God.
He that thus dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.
These marks that the apostle has given us are sufficient to stand alone and support themselves. They plainly show the finger of God and are sufficient to outweigh a thousand such little objections as many make from oddities, irregularities, errors in conduct, and the delusions and scandals of some professors. But here some may object. After all, the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, “Such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
To which I answer that this can be no objection against the sufficiency of these marks to distinguish the true from the false spirit in those false apostles and prophets — even when the devil is transformed into an angel of light. After all, the very reason the apostle John gave these marks was so that we could test the spirits. Therefore try the spirits by these rules and you will be able to distinguish the true spirit from the false — even under such a crafty disguise.
In case we confuse life in the 'burbs with following Jesus:
- Suburbs = leveraging everything in order to experience safety, security, and comfort
- Christianity = leveraging everything in order to experience the love of Christ, who is our safety, security and comfort
Friday, July 18, 2008
When reading ask onself:
1. Could I spend this time no better?
2. Are there better books/blogs that would edify me more?
3. Are the lovers of such a book/blog as this the greatest lovers of the Book of God and of a holy life?
4. Does this book/blog increase my love to the Word of God, kill my sin, and prepare me for the life to come?
I have to say that I have been seriously considering these principles more and more lately.
A few months ago I made a wholesale deletion from my reading list the blogs of those I would characterize as "watchdogs" and/or "watchdogs of the watchdogs". While there was some truth in what they reported and some of that benefited me, it became nearly impossible to read through their venom and nonsensical arguments with becoming "tainted". I have to say I feel much cleaner these days.
Now I have begun deleting some pretty good blogs from my rss reader because they simply push the envelop too much and while they may not be heretical, they are borderline and certainly pointing the less wary in that direction. As I get older I find myself with less energy to deal with those bent on inventing new truth.
Oh well, that's what's up with me ...
For what else but his righteousness could have covered our sins? In whom was it possible for us, the lawless and ungodly, to be justified, except in the Son of God alone?
O the sweet exchange, O the incomprehensible work of God, O the unexpected blessings, that the sinfulness of many should be hidden in one righteous man, while the righteousness of one should justify many sinners!
—Anonymous, “The Epistle to Diognetus” in The Apostolic Fathers, ed. Michael W. Holmes
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The doctrine of final judgment has several positive moral influences in our lives.
1. The Doctrine of Final Judgment Satisfies Our Inward Sense of a Need for Justice in the World. The fact that there will be a final judgment assures us that ultimately God’s universe is fair for God is in control, and he keeps accurate records and renders just judgment. When Paul tells slaves to be submissive to their masters, he reassures them, “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality” (Col 3:25). When the picture of a final judgment mentions the fact that “books were opened” (Rev. 20:12; compare Mal. 3:16), it reminds us (whether the books are literal or symbolic) that a permanent and accurate record of all our deeds has been kept by God, and ultimately all accounts will be settled and all will be made right.
2. The Doctrine of Final Judgment Enables Us to Forgive Others Freely. We realize that it is not up to us to take revenge on others who have wronged us, or even to want to do so, because God has reserved that right for himself. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”’ (Rom. 12:19). In this way whenever we have been wronged, we can give into God’s hands any desire to harm or pay back the person who has wronged us, knowing that every wrong in the universe will ultimately be paid for—either it will turn out to have been paid for by Christ when he died on the cross (if the wrongdoer becomes a Christian), or it will be paid for at the final judgment (for those who do not trust in Christ for salvation). But in either case we can give the situation into God’s hands, and then pray that the wrongdoer will trust Christ for salvation and thereby receive forgiveness of his or her sins. This thought should keep us from harboring bitterness or resentment in our hearts for injustices we have suffered that have not been made right: God is just, and we can leave these situations in his hands, knowing that he will someday right all wrongs and give absolutely fair rewards and punishments. In this way we are following in the example of Christ, who “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22–23). He also prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34; compare Acts 7:60, where Stephen followed Jesus’ example in praying for those who put him to death).
3. The Doctrine of the Final Judgment Provides a Motive for Righteous Living. For believers, the final judgment is an incentive to faithfulness and good works, not as a means of earning forgiveness of sins, but as a means of gaining greater eternal reward.7 This is a healthy and good motive for us—Jesus tells us, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:20)—though it runs counter to the popular views of our secular culture, a culture that does not really believe in heaven or eternal rewards at all.
For unbelievers, the doctrine of final judgment still provides some moral restraint on their lives. If in a society there is a widespread general acknowledgment that all will someday give account to the Creator of the universe for their lives, some “fear of God” will characterize many people’s lives. By contrast, those who have no deep consciousness of final judgment give themselves up to greater and greater evil, demonstrating that “there is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:18). Those who deny the final judgment, Peter says, will be “scoffers” who “will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?”’ (2 Peter 3:3–4). He also declares that evildoers who “are surprised that you do not now join them in the same wild profligacy,” and “who abuse you” will nonetheless “give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:4–5). An awareness of final judgment is both a comfort to believers and a warning to unbelievers not to continue in their evil ways.
4. The Doctrine of Final Judgment Provides a Great Motive for Evangelism. The decisions made by people in this life will affect their destiny for all eternity, and it is right that our hearts feel and our mouths echo the sentiment of the appeal of God through Ezekiel, “Turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11). In fact, Peter indicates that the delay of the Lord’s return is due to the fact that God “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Technorati Tags: eschatology
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Technorati Tags: Calvinism
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
- For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
- The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
- An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
- Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Technorati Tags: ecclesiology
In our world are dozens of different kinds of Christianities. Certainly many of them do not seem to be busy and joyful in proclaiming the unique glories of Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God. Some brands of Christianity will tell you very quickly that they are just trying to do a little bit of good on behalf of neglected people and neglected causes. Others will affirm that we can do more good by joining in the "contemporary dialogue" than by proclaiming the "old, old story of the cross."
But we stand with the early Christian apostles. We believe that every Christian proclamation should be to the glory and the praise of the One whom God raised up after He had loosed the pains of death. I am happy to be identified with Peter and his message at Pentecost:
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. ~ Acts 2.22-24
Peter considered it important to affirm that the risen Christ is now exalted at the right hand of God. He said that fact was the reason for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Frankly, I am too busy serving Jesus to spend my time and energy engaging in contemporary dialogue.
WITNESS BY THE SPIRIT
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:16-23
You must be clever as snakes and innocent as doves ... The Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you. vv. 16, 20
Peter wrote, "Should anyone ask you ... be ever ready to reply." Our gospel reading tells us we must be both clever and innocent when we reply. But what does that mean and how do we do it?
TEACH BUT DO NOT ARGUE
Paul told Timothy to teach but not to argue: "I charge you to preach the word, to stay with this task whether convenient or inconvenient - correcting, reproving, appealing ~ constantly teaching and never losing patience." He also said, "Have nothing to do with senseless, ignorant disputations. As you well know, they only breed quarrels, and the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome but must be kindly toward all. He must be an apt teacher, patiently and gently correcting those who contradict him." Teach? Yes. Argue? No. Clever? Yes. Theological speculation? No.
Rely on the power of the Spirit when you give witness and simply state how Jesus has made your life different. If your life does not demonstrate your words, the words will be meaningless. If your life has changed, your words will be charged with power. As Jesus taught the apostles, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be my witnesses." At Pentecost the outpouring of the Spirit caused the empowered believers to make bold proclamations as the Spirit prompted them. Suddenly a handful of uneducated, working-class fishermen became eloquent preachers!
GOD WANTS TO USE YOU
Do we try to speak by our own power or by the power of the Spirit? Do we devise long speculative arguments to defend our doctrine? Remember that, right or wrong, no theology will be powerfully defended without the Spirit! If we seek the power of the Spirit, then our words become instruments of testimony before the small as well as the great. Twelve simple men were used as instruments of God to permanently change the world. God is willing to use you in the same way today!
Preaching is not the proclamation of a theory, or the discussion of a doubt. A man has a perfect right to proclaim a theory of any sort, or to discuss his doubts. But that is not preaching. 'Give me the benefit of your convictions, if you have any. Keep your doubts to yourself; I have enough of my own,' said Goethe. We are never preaching when we are hazarding speculations. Of course we do so. We are bound to speculate sometimes. I sometimes say: 'I am speculating; stop taking notes.' Speculation is not preaching. Neither is the declaration of negations preaching. Preaching is the proclamation of the Word, the truth as the truth has been revealed. ~ G. Campbell Morgan
Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Technorati Tags: preaching
Friday, July 11, 2008
Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because Christians are talking where they should be listening. But [the one] who can no longer listen to his brother [or sister] will soon be no longer listening to God either... This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words. ~ Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
"Did you really have to die for me?"
I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all ends up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
to give and die
To turn away and not become
Another nail to pierce the skin of one who loves
more deeply than the oceans,
more abundant than the tears
Of a world embracing every heartache
Can I be the one to sacrifice
Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow
To love you - take my world apart
To need you - I am on my knees
To love you - take my world apart
To need you - broken on my knees
All said and done I stand alone
Amongst remains of a life I should not own
It takes all I am to believe
In the mercy that covers me
Did you really have to die for me?
All I am for all you are
Because what I need and what I believe are worlds apart
I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
and wipe away the crimson stains
"dull the nails that still remain"
More and more I need you now,
I owe you more each passing hour
the battle between grace and pride
I gave up not so long ago
So steal my heart and take the pain
and wash the feet and cleanse my pride
take the selfish, take the weak,
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
the sin-soaked heart and make it yours
take my world all apart
take it now, take it now
and serve the ones that I despise
speak the words I can't deny
watch the world I used to love
fall to dust and thrown away
I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
so wipe away the crimson stains
"dull the nails that still remains"
so steal my heart and take the pain
take the selfish, take the weak
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
take my world apart, take my world apart
I pray, I pray, I pray
take my world apart
Belief among many conservative Christians that the Bible does not contain any errors, historical, scientific, or otherwise. Although the term was not employed much until the twentieth-century, upon the rise of biblical criticism, inerrantists would argue that this designation became a necessary line of demarcation between liberals and conservative Christians. Many difficulties arise when defining inerrancy as one’s hermeneutic (method of interpreting the Scripture) becomes an issue. Some would hold to a more literal hermeneutic and define inerrancy accordingly. Others would opt for a less definite hermeneutic and describe themselves as “reasoned inerrantists,” believing that the Bible is true in whatever it is attempting to communicate, but believing that what the Bible intends to communicate is often difficult to understand.
See here for articles on “reasoned inerrancy.”
Technorati Tags: Scripture
This statement does not apply to all but I can say that more often than not I have the same sense as Williams in regard to my interactions with those that call themselves emergent. Of course liberalism has its fingers in nearly all "movements" within Christianity. It's just that it seemed to take hold fast (or was even the base) for many wearing the label emergent.
I say this not to point out emergents, I say it to suggest that all of us need to guard ourselves against this subtle yet pervasive worldview.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Christ is not only head of those who recognize Him as such and submit to Him. He is Lord of all...The world is still God's world. He is not only interested in the saved but also in the unsaved. He has put bounds to sin and government is one of the ways in which He does it. There is common grace as well as special grace...We must be concerned about the world and not only about salvation...The difference between the Christian and the non-Christian in these things is that the Christian will never pin his faith on them as a means to bring ultimate and complete salvation to the race... (Iaian Murray's biography, volume 2)
The glorious sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice is a golden theme woven by God throughout the New Testament. The list of passages rejoicing in this sufficiency—and warning us not to forget it—is a lengthy list. A small sampling of my favorite passages would include Gal. 1:6-9, 2:16, 21, 5:2-4, 6:14, 1 Cor. 2:1-2, Col. 2:5-19, 3:1-4, Heb. 7:11, 10:1-14, Rev. 5:1-14.
Rather than some optional, ornate fixture hung on Christianity, understanding of the sufficiency of Christ’s work is very central to saving faith. At the most fundamental level “there is salvation in no one else” (Acts 4:12). Not Abraham, not angels, not the Mosaic Law, not the blood of bulls and goats, not the merits of Mary, nowhere but in Christ do we find hope of justification before our holy Father and freedom from the clutches of death.
Read more ...
Three gunmen stormed a guard post near the main entrance of the high-walled compound, reportedly shooting a Turkish police officer in the head.
Read more ...
Osama Bin Laden's son calls for Britain to be wiped out on terror web film
The son of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden has appeared on a terrorist film on the internet calling for Britain and its allies to be wiped out.
Read more ...
Technorati Tags: current events
A special meeting about Dallas County traffic tickets turned tense and bizarre this afternoon.
County commissioners were discussing problems with the central collections office that is used to process traffic ticket payments and handle other paperwork normally done by the JP Courts.
Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, who is white, said it seemed that central collections "has become a black hole" because paperwork reportedly has become lost in the office.
Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is black, interrupted him with a loud "Excuse me!" He then corrected his colleague, saying the office has become a "white hole."
That prompted Judge Thomas Jones, who is black, to demand an apology from Mayfield for his racially insensitive analogy.
Mayfield shot back that it was a figure of speech and a science term. A black hole, according to Webster's, is perhaps "the invisible remains of a collapsed star, with an intense gravitational field from which neither light nor matter can escape."
Other county officials quickly interceded to break it up and get the meeting back on track. TV news cameras were rolling, after all.
I hate racism but come on ...
Technorati Tags: current events
Problems with Charismatics
- Sometimes charismatics focus on the wrong person
- Sometimes charismatics focus on the wrong event
- Some who love the Spirit have been corrupted by the view that it is all about prosperity
- Sometimes charismatics focus on the wrong person as the definition of what it is to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led
- Sometimes charismatics are insufficiently missional
Roles of the Holy Spirit
- The Spirit fills people
- Spirit-filled ministry includes miracles
- Spirit-filled ministry includes prayer
- Spirit-filled ministry includes prophecy
- One of the ministries of Jesus is to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire for mission
- The Spirit leads us sometimes into hardship, testing, and temptation
- Spirit-anointed ministry includes preaching
- Spirit-anointed ministry includes justice for the poor
- Spirit-filled ministry includes joy in God
- The Spirit is given to us by the Father
- The Spirit teaches us what to say
- Spirit-filled ministry results in repentance
- Spirit-filled ministry brings conversion
- Spirit-filled ministry brings devotion to one another and awe towards God
Technorati Tags: charismata