Saturday, February 28, 2009

a lot of truth

There's a lot of truth in this ...


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pelagianism

If got frustrated when it became evident that a good number of those in the emergent worldview moved to universalism by redefining God in their image of love (which I find ironic given their rejection of predestination). Now it seems some are giving Pelagianism the full embrace. Yes a full on frontal hug - not that semi-Pelagianism stuff.

Tony Jones declares, "I have come to reject the notion of Original Sin. I consider it neither biblically, philosophically, nor scientifically tenable."

Jones then gives a credence to the following contradictions by a guy named Brian.

Pelagius brought up good points that are often ignored. First, he argued that humanity has salvation through God's "original grace." This prevenient grace is God's free gift to humanity. Second, Pelagius suggested that humanity has a "grace of revelation" whereby God gives us divine guidance to follow, if we so choose to follow it. Scripture and Christ both point the way we are to follow. Third, he affirmed that God gives the "grace of pardon" to those who freely change their lives and attempt to live faithfully. So we have a morally neutral human condition that is faced with the decision of choosing between faith and sin, good and bad.

For Pelagius, our human condition isn't defined by original sin, yet he still understands that our lives are impacted by sin. He says, "By force of habit, sin attains a power akin to that of nature - sin becomes as it were 'second nature'." Therefore, he takes the reality of sin seriously. But he also thinks that we have the power and responsibility to overcome this "force of habit" through God's grace and guidance. And that is where Augustine departs from Pelagius. Augustine relinquishes human responsibility.

I'm not sure I'll finish reading the series ... he has lost me. I guess I don't have enough prevenient grace. But Jones doesn't stand alone, he is in the ranks of other questionable theologians - McLaren, Chalke, Tomlinson, and Pagitt. Personally, the conversation as failed.

Rom. 3:10, 23; Jer. 17:9; Eph. 2:1; Titus 3:3; Psalm 51:5; Isa. 53:6; 64:6; Eph. 2:3; Rom. 7:18-19; 5:12-20

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Friday, February 27, 2009

tithing

This settles it ... I'm tithing ...



HT:TR

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shedlock to obama

Michael Shedlock writes to President Obama ...

Dear Mr. President, I read your New Era $3.6 Trillion Budget Proposal. I also listened to your speech Tuesday night. You made a great campaign speech. However, the campaign is over. You won. And the reason you won is you offered hope as well as a promise of change.

With all due respect Mr. President, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke are offering the same policies as President Bush and Secretary Paulson. Those policies are to bail out banks regardless of cost to taxpayers. Mr. President, it's hard enough to overlook Geithner's tax indiscretions. Mr. President, it is harder still. if not impossible, to ignore the fact that neither Geithner nor Bernanke saw this coming. Yet amazingly they are both cock sure of the solution. Even more amazing is the fact that solution changes every day.

With all due respect Mr. President, Geithner and Bernanke are a huge part of the problem, and no part of the solution and the sooner you realize that the better off this nation will be.

With all due respect Mr. President, your budget proposal is the same big government spending as we saw under President Bush. The only difference is you promised more spending and bigger government, while President Bush promised less government and less spending and failed to deliver on either count.

With all due respect Mr. President, it is impossible to spend one's way out of a problem, when the problem is reckless spending.

With all due respect Mr. President, you and Congress want to force banks to lend when banks (by not lending) are acting responsibly for the first time in a decade. Mr, President can you please tell us who banks are supposed to lend to? Do we need any more Home Depots? Pizza Huts? Strip malls? Nail salons? Auto dealerships? What Mr. President? What? And why should banks be lending when unemployment is rising and lending risks right along with it?

With all due respect Mr. President, we were hoping your administration would not carry on the war mongering policies of your predecessor. Instead we see amazingly that you Seek $75.5 Billion More for Wars in 2009. Mr. President, do we really need another $75 billion for wars? Was there nothing in the military budget that could be cut?

With all due respect Mr. President, The United States spends more on its military budget than the next 45 highest spending countries in the world combined; The United States accounts for 48 percent of the world's total military spending; The United States spends on its military 5.8 times more than China, 10.2 times more than Russia, and 98.6 times more than Iran. Isn't that enough Mr. President?

With all due respect Mr. President, the downfall of every great nation in history has been unsustainable military expansion. Mr. President, the US can no longer afford to be the world's policeman. You act as if we can. Mr. President, can you please tell us how we can afford this spending?

With all due respect Mr. President, Fannie Mae Reported A Fourth Quarter Loss Of $25.2 Billion. Can you please tell us where you draw the line on taxpayer bailouts of Fannie Mae? Freddie Mac? AIG? Mr. President is there a line anywhere, on anything? If there is, we would appreciate knowing where it is.

With all due respect Mr. President, how can you talk about reducing the budget deficit while proposing the biggest budget in history?

With all due respect Mr. President, how is it possible to talk about reducing health care costs while proposing to increase the health care budget?

With all due respect Mr. President, you have talked about "hard choices". Can you please tell us what hard choices you have made other than to throw money at every problem? Sure a few programs have changed but Bush orchestrated the biggest Medicaid/Medicare package in history and you upped it. You upped military spending. You criticized McCain for cutting programs that amount to peanuts, and all you can find to cut out of the budget is peanuts.

With all due respect Mr. President, your "Era of New Responsibility" is nothing more than a continuation of the Bush administration Era of Irresponsibility. Mr. President, we hoped for more and deserved more. Yet, behind the charade of campaign messages of hope and change, we essentially see the same fiscal irresponsibility and misguided policies as before. Oh sure Mr. President, your budget priorities have shifted a bit, sadly the irresponsible spending did not.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

free bible

Yep - this is my shameful attempt to get something for free ... ok, actually, I'm not ashamed, just trying to get something for free. And you can do the same also. The folks at A Boomer in the Pew are giving away a calfskin version of the ESV Study Bible. All I (and you) have to do is post something, link to them, and comment on their blog. It doesn't get easier than that.

the redeemed

It is of paramount concern for the Christian and for the interests of his sanctification that he should know that sin does not have the dominion over him, that the forces of redeeming, regenerative, and sanctifying grace have been brought to bear upon him in that which is central in his moral and spiritual being, that he is the habitation of God through the Spirit, and that Christ has been formed in him the hope of glory. ~ John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied

HT:Bart

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

perichoresis

Today's theological word of the day is a good one (not that there are bad ones) ...

Perichoresis
[pehr’-ih-koe-ree‘-sis]

(Greek peri, “around” + Greek choreio, “dance”)

Refers to the mutual indwelling and relationship of the members of the Trinity. This concept is emphasized more by Eastern Christianity, but is affirmed by all orthodox branches of Trinitarian Christianity. St John of Damascus defines it such: “The subsistences [i.e., the three Persons] dwell and are established firmly in one another. For they are inseparable and cannot part from one another, but keep to their separate courses within one another, without coalescing or mingling, but cleaving to each other. For the Son is in the Father and the Spirit: and the Spirit in the Father and the Son: and the Father in the Son and the Spirit, but there is no coalescence or commingling or confusion. And there is one and the same motion: for there is one impulse and one motion of the three subsistences, which is not to be observed in any created nature” (The Orthodox Faith, 1.14).

So what does that mean to me?

Monday, February 23, 2009

it's about sinners

‘If I knew I were one of God’s elect, I would come to Christ; but I fear I am not.’ To you I answer: nobody ever came to Christ because he knew himself to be one of the elect. It is quite true that God has of His mere good pleasure elected some to everlasting life, but they never knew it until they believed in Christ. Christ nowhere commands the elect to come to him. He commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. The question for you is not, ‘Am I one of the elect?’ but ‘Am I a sinner?’ Christ came to save sinners. ~ Robert Murray M’Cheyne

HT:JH

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

unconditional love

I love God and I love His love. I hate how so many around me are redefining love and in that light creating a God to their liking rather than the God of the Bible. I also hate my inability to discuss this with them without it coming out like God is god of hate, wrath, etc.. - He is not. Thankfully there are those like John Piper who are better at communicating.

There is such a thing as unconditional love in God, but it’s not what most people mean by it.

- It’s not a saving love that he has for everybody. Else everybody would be saved, since they would not have to meet any conditions, not even faith. But Jesus said everybody is not saved (Matthew 25:46).
- It’s not the love that justifies sinners since the Bible says we are justified by faith, and faith is a condition (Romans 5:1).
- It’s not the love of working all things together for our good because Paul says that happens “to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).
- It’s not the love of the most intimate fellowship with the Father because Jesus said, “He who loves me will be loved by my Father” (John 14:21). And James said, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
- It’s not the love that will admit us into heaven when we die because John says, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). And faithfulness is a condition.

How then does God love unconditionally? Two ways (at least):

1) He loves us with electing love unconditionally. “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world . . . for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

He does not base this election on foreseeing our faith. On the contrary, our faith is the result of being chosen and appointed to believe, as Acts 13:48 says, “As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

2) He loves us with regenerating love before we meet any condition. The new birth is not God’s response to our meeting the condition of faith. On the contrary, the new birth enables us to believe.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been [already!] born of God,” (1John 5:1). “[We] were born, not . . . of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).


Let us pray that thousands of people who speak of the unconditional love of God would discover the biblical meaning of what they say. If that happened many would find their feet on solid ground.

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joined to christ

If we be joined to Christ, our hearts will be no longer left under the power of sinful inclinations, or in a mere indifferency of inclination to good or evil; but they will be powerfully endowed with a power, bent, and propensity to the practice of holiness, by the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, and inclining us to mind spiritual things and to lust against the flesh. ~ Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification

HT:OFI

Same point Driscoll was making, just the adult version.

discernment

Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right. ~ Charles Spurgeon

HT:Philip

Thursday, February 19, 2009

the lord's work

Justin Taylor quotes the timeless Francis Schaeffer's from No Little People. The thesis is that "The Lord's work in the Lord's way is the Lord's work in the power of the Holy Spirit and not in the power of the flesh." Schaeffer argues that "the central problem of our age" is that "the church of the Lord Jesus Chris, individually or corporately, tending to do do the Lord's work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them" (p. 66).

Let us not think that waiting on the Lord will mean getting less done. The truth is that by doing the Lord's work in the Lord's way we will accomplish more, not less. You need not fear that if you wait for God's Spirit you will not get as much done as if you charge ahead in the flesh. After all, who can do the most, you or the God of Heaven and earth?

Nor should we think that our role will be passive. The moving of the Holy Spirit should not be contrasted with either proper self-fulfillment or tiredness. To the contrary, both the Scriptures and the history of the church teach that if the Holy Spirit is working, the whole man will be involved and there will be much cost to the Christian. The more the Holy Spirit works, the more Christians will be used in battle, and the more they are used, the more there will be personal cost and tiredness. It is quite the opposite of what we might first think. People often cry out for the work of the Holy Spirit and yet forget that when the Holy Spirit works, there is always tremendous cost to the people of God--weariness and tears and battles. (p. 73).

why you shouldn't show off

No comment needed ...

driscoll on regeneration

Mark Driscoll uses a corny (but illustrative) analogy to explain regeneration in 1 Pet 1.23; 2.2-3.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

when i say i am reformed ...

"When I say I am Reformed I mean that God is the center of the universe and I am not. I mean that I am a worse sinner than I imagine and God is a greater Savior than I ever thought possible. I mean that Lord is my righteousness and the Lord alone is my boast. By Reformed I mean all this and most of all that my only comfort in life and in death is that I am not my own but belong, in body and in soul, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever, amen."

Read the rest here for what Kevin DeYoung means when he says he is reformed.

spiritual pride

Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others, but a humble saint is most jealous of himself. He is as suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart. The spiritually proud person is apt to find fault with other saints . . . and to be quick to notice their deficiencies. But the eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home, and sees so much evil in his own heart, and is so concerned about it, that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts. . . . Pure Christian humility disposes a person to take notice of everything that is good in others, and to make the most of it, and to diminish their failings, but to give his eye chiefly on those things that are bad in himself. ~ Jonathan Edwards, "Thoughts on the Revival," in Works, I:399-400.

HT:RO

chirs lizotte

What a great way to start the day - thanking God for a "Brighter Day" from Chris Lizotte's Signal Hill Revival.


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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

loving jesus

Mark Heath posts this excellent piece on the love languages of Jesus. Based on John 12-17, Heath finds two "love languages" not listed in the famous "five love languages". This is what loving Jesus looks like.

Obedience

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15 ESV)

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. (John 14:21a ESV)

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word," (John 14:23a ESV)

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, (John 15:10a ESV)

The main way that Jesus asked his disciples to express their love for him was through obedience. This is not legalism, it is the outworking of love. Jesus has told us plainly that his love language is obedience, and if we love him, we will demonstrate it by keeping his commandments.

Jesus himself demonstrated his own love for the Father in exactly the same way:

… I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. … (John 14:31 ESV)

Sacrifice

Obviously, Jesus did not express his love for his disciples through obedience to them. He certainly gave them quality time, and performed acts of service for them. He promised that he would show his love by “making his home” with his disciples through the indwelling of the Spirit (John 14:23). But the ultimate way that Jesus expresses his love for us is through sacrifice.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (John 13:1 ESV)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 ESV)

Jesus’ willingness to lay down his life demonstrated the extent of his love both for his Father, that he would obey even in this, and for us, that he would willingly die to save us.

Concluding thoughts

I guess I would sum up these verses about love in John with two observations:

- Claiming to love Jesus is hollow if we are not willing to obey him.
- We can’t love like Jesus loved, if we are not willing to sacrifice on behalf of others.

first care

The first care of every Christian ought to be, to lay aside all reliance on works, and strengthen his faith alone more and more, and by it grow in the knowledge, not of works, but of Christ Jesus, who has suffered and risen again for him. ~ Martin Luther, Christian Liberty

HT:OFI

Monday, February 16, 2009

nothing new under the sun

If Kevin DeYoung is accurately reporting history, we once again have a generation who believes they are onto something revolutionary but are instead simply recycling yesterday's rebellion (it is important here that I admit to being guilty of the same). In Marcionism and the New Mood DeYoung tackles the issue that seems to be hitting me on all sides these days, that is this heresy of christian universalism and the rejection of the full nature of God as He is re-imaged into some romanticized definition of love.

DeYoung captures this weltgeist accurately with this.

The New Mood is squeamish about hell and uncomfortable with God's wrath. The New Mood envisions a Christianity where the attribute of God's love eclipses all other attributes, especially God's justice and power. The New Mood tells the Christian story not first of all (or at all) as good news about a Substitute who saves us from the wrath of God, but as a message which means to inspire us to live a life of sacrifice and shalom.

He follows that with a brief description of Marcion and then a quote from Angela Tilby in Heresies and How to Avoid Them: Why it Matters What Christians Believe that paints a clear picture of what went on then and now.

For him, there was a fundamental contradiction between law and love, righteousness and grace. Marcion thought that true Christianity was flawed by the incompatibilities at the heart of its teaching. His solution was radical. Nothing less than a restatement of faith would do, and for Marcion that restatement had to focus on what for him was the essential gospel: the love, mercy and compassion displayed in the life and teachings of Jesus. This, for him, was all that was necessary, it was the blueprint for a new and pure humanity. There was no other truly Christian foundation for belief or morality.

What Marcion couldn't bear was the note of judgment that went along with the preaching of the Christian message, the warnings that came with the teaching of the law, the call to obedience and the threat of hell. For Marcion, the picture of God given in [Exodus 20:18-20], a God whose presence is manifest in thunder and lightning and smoke on the mountain, was simply unbelievable. A God who makes his people tremble with fear, a God with whom they are afraid to communicate, could not be the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, passages like this seemed to him to cast doubt on the central claim of the gospel. As he saw it, the Christianity of his day needed purging so that the pure gospel could be received in all its radical simplicity and appeal to the heart (75).

Sound familiar?

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wedding vows

I had mixed emotions as I watched this ... sadly it seems far too true. On the other hand it also seems completely unnecessary.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

pleasant attraction

God does not drive you along with whips and terrors, or by the rod of the schoolmaster, the law. Rather, he leads you and draws you to walk in his ways by pleasant attractions (Hosea 11:3-4). The love of Christ…is the greatest and most pleasant attraction to encourage you to godly living (2 Cor. 5:15; Rom. 12:1). ~ Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification

HT:JF

Saturday, February 14, 2009

insulting gospel

The gospel, by telling us Jesus died for us, is also really insulting. It tells us that we are so wicked that only the death of the Son of God could save us. This offends the modern cult of self-expression and the popular belief in the innate goodness of humanity. ~ Timothy Keller, The Message of Romans

Clearing the "insult" isn't the only message of the gospel but if your definition doesn't include this, then you may want to re-look at Scripture.

Friday, February 13, 2009

driscoll on cnn

If you missed it, here is Mark Driscoll on CNN. A lot of people didn't like him. I thought he did a fair job in the few minutes of impromptu discussion he was alloted.

the real problem

Thanks to Ray Ortlund for this timely reminder from Francis Schaeffer.

The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us [nor, I would add today, postmodernism or materialistic consumerism or visceral sensualism or whatever]. All these are dangerous but not the primary threat. The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them. ~ Francis A. Schaeffer, No Little People, page 64

limited atonement

Dealing with limited atonement is treacherous territory. Adrian Warnock posts the following comments regarding Jonathan Edwards statement in The Miscellanies.

There is none of the five points of calvinism that are associated with more confusion than the one commonly called Limited Atonment or particular atonement. The problem comes because we do not tend to understand exactly what Calvinists have historically meant by this point, nor do we understand the alternatives on either side. Logic can be very treacherous when it comes to doctrinal understanding. So, in the following quote from Edwards we will find him steering a middle ground between two sets of rocks which are both in my view errors caused by overuse of what seems like reasonable logic.

The one error is really that of the hypercalvinist, who claims that this doctrine necessarily means that God predestines some men to hell in exactly the same way as he predestines others to heaven. It makes God the author of sin, and it means that the gospel is not a genuine offer of salvation.

The opposite error, is to say that Jesus died in the same sense "for" everyone. This alternative view to Limited Atonement is rightly called "Universal Atonement" and of course is intimately linked with Universalism, which argues that all will eventually be saved. This quote from probably the greatest theologican of America, explains it well.

Universal redemption must be denied in the very sense of Calvinists themselves, whether predestination is acknowledged or no, if we acknowledge that Christ knows all things. For if Christ certainly knows all things to come, he certainly knew, when he died, that there were such and such men that would never be the better for his death. And therefore, it was impossible that he should die with an intent to make them (particular persons) happy. For it is a right-down contradiction [to say that] he died with an intent to make them happy, when at the same time he knew they would not be happy-Predestination or no predestination, it is all one for that. This is all that Calvinists mean when they say that Christ did not die for all, that he did not die intending and designing that such and such particular persons should be the better for it; and that is evident to a demonstration. Now Arminians, when [they] say that Christ died for all, cannot mean, with any sense, that he died for all any otherwise than to give all an opportunity to be saved; and that, Calvinists themselves never denied. He did die for all in this sense; 'tis past all contradiction. -Jonathan Edwards [1722], The "Miscellanies": (Entry Nos. a–z, aa–zz, 1–500) (WJE Online Vol. 13) , Ed. Harry S. Stout, page 1 74

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

"for" or "to"?

Mark Waltz makes a nice delineation between being responsible to people rather than for them. Being responsible to them is much more freeing (for you and them). Waltz notes:

  • When I’m responsible to people, I understand they have choices. When I’m responsible for people, I think I should decide for them.
  • When I’m responsible to people, I know they must figure out their next steps. When I’m responsible for people, I try to tell them what their next steps are.
  • When I’m responsible to people, I know they must bear the consequences of their own chosen actions. When I’m responsible for people, I assume the guilt – or worse, the shame – for them.
  • When I’m responsible to people, I share their journeys, offering encouragement and teaching. When I’m responsible for people, I try to direct their journeys, never allowing them to wrestle, mess up, or make a wrong turn.
  • When I’m responsible to people, I talk to God a lot on their behalf. When I’m responsible for people, I talk to people a lot on God’s behalf.
More on the topic here.

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darwin was right

Today, the fact that “man” descended from apes is beyond dispute. The evidence is all around us. ~ Steve Addison on Darwin's 150th theory anniversary.

bad news

Mark Roberts alerted me to this very serious situation.

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hated doctrine

There are things about AW Pink that I find hard (don't ask me what - that's just what I remember after reading some of of his stuff). Anyway, I found the following to be quite strong and a bit antagonistic but I agree with what he is saying. Thanks to Philip for the quote.

I am going to speak tonight on one of the most hated doctrines of the Bible, namely that of God's sovereign election,

God's sovereign election is the truth most loathed and reviled by the majority of those claiming to be believers. Let it be plainly announced that salvation originated not in the will of man but in the will of God that were it not so none would or could be saved. For as the result of the Fall man has lost all desire and will unto that which is good and that even the elect themselves have to be made willing and loud will be the cries of indignation against such teaching.

Merit‑mongers will not allow the supremacy of the divine will and the impotency of the human will. Consequently they who are the most bitter in denouncing election by the sovereign pleasure of God are the warmest in crying up the free will of fallen man,

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what matters

If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen— nothing else matters. ~ Among the last words of Jaroslav Pelikan

HT:OFI

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

redemption

"I want to love people" ... Amen! Thank God for His redeeming power.

Here, former racist, Elwin Wilson's apologizes to Representative John Lewis.

how faith speaks

The man who has faith is the man who is no longer looking at himself, and no longer looking to himself. He no longer looks at anything he once was. He does not look at what he is now. He does not [even] look at what he hopes to be as the result of his own efforts. He looks entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, and he rests on that alone. He has ceased to say, ‘Ah yes, I have committed terrible sins but I have done this and that…’ He stops saying that. If he goes on saying that, he has not got faith… Faith speaks in an entirely different manner and makes a man say, ‘Yes, I have sinned grievously, I have lived a life of sin… yet I know that I am a child of God because I am not resting on any righteousness of my own; my righteousness is in Jesus Christ, and God has put that to my account.’~ D. M. Lloyd-Jones, quoted by Timothy Keller in The Message of Romans

HT:OFI

palatability and determine

"Coincidently" Michael Patton writes the following.

"The palatability of a doctrine does not determine its veracity.” I believe this is true. There are two key words here: “palatability” and “determine.” Palatability refers to appeal, tastefulness, and emotional response to something. “Determine” according to the dictionary means, “to settle or decide (a dispute, question, etc.) by an authoritative or conclusive decision.” This does not mean that palatability has no say whatsoever, but it is not determinative by any means.

And then makes some jabs at some of the "hot buttons" these days.

“God’s love? Oh yes, give me two helpings of that. No, pass on God’s wrath, not enough room and it does not sound good. God’s grace will be great, but I will have to skip the atonement—too bloody and odd. Predestination? Sovereign election? No way! Won’t work. That tastes terrible. I vote no. Next.

And then Patton rightly points out that just because something is inpalatable does not make it right either. Palatability alone cannot be used to determine. On the other hand, if all things are equal, go with what is palatable. I like his thinking. For the palatable doctrines, enjoy. For the inpalatable, don't throw them out on that basis alone but continue to wrestle with them. In the right time the Holy Spirit will reveal His Truth.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

nt wright on several things

I cannot tell what my good friend Marlin is saying about these but I thank him for bringing them to my attention. Here are some shorts from the ever interesting NT Wright.






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morally evil or scientifically ignorant

I've had the pleasure over the years to meet some interesting characters. Some of these have been helpful in my life and others not. One of the helpful personalities believes man-induced Global Warming. In conversation with him he is convinced that the science is overwhelming. I am not. The point of this post is to not belabor that. The point I'd like to make is that all of us believe as we do because of prejudice - those preconceived ideas that shape our worldview and affect who we trust and who we do not trust.

My friend, not an expert in this field, is opting to believe "scientists he respects". I, also not an expert, opt to believe the opinions of people I respect which in turn leads me to which scientific data/explanation I believe. I cannot help but wonder if my friend is doing the same. How does one come to respect a body of scientists without prejudice by the opinions of politicians, media, etc.? I suspect it is not possible unless you are intimate with a given scientific field.

Now to my real point, at the national prayer breakfast last week, President Obama said: “There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.” I find that interesting because in the case of human life, I think there is scientific consensus that life begins at conception. But based on his pre-election comments at the Rick Warren interview, Obama does not believe there is enough evidence to support that.

So let me get this straight, Obama finds enough scientific evidence to believe in man-induced Global Warming but not enough to determine when human life begins. He believes/disbelieves the "data" so much that he will invest millions in dealing with GW (not clearly mandated by God) and yet he'll risk rebelling against God's clear command to protect the innocent.

Now I'm not saying all of those buying into the GW idea are abortionists - far from it, many I know are not. But the majority of world leaders and media buying that particular scientific data are. Conversely, many leaders who affirm the sanctity of human life for some reason find the opposite scientific data to be more credible. So given that most of us are not scientists, I'm curious what is causing many Christians to not see how they are influenced by questionable people with questionable motives to believe questionable data. I'm not asking that they say they're wrong or even change their opinion. I'm just shocked that they are amazed that someone can believe data contrary to their position. It seems their eyes are closed and therefore I question whether they are really looking at the data or have they been blinded by this weltgeist.

how to beat your wife

I don't think I'll bother to comment on this.

two principles

Two principles should shape church life: gospel and community. When it comes to the poor, too often conservatives do gospel without community, while liberals do community without gospel. We need to both love the poor and call them to repentance. They are often victims, but they are also always sinners in need of the atoning work of the cross. ~ Tim Chester

Monday, February 09, 2009

missions

Everything has to be mission. There is a heaven and there is a hell. ~ Dan Kimball

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help for the crusty

Kevin DeYoung thinks Christians should be a "kind of inverse tootsie roll pop--a soft, sweet exterior surrounding a strong, solid interior." These are the questions he asks that may help us attain this goal (or at least keep some of our "crustiness" in check).

1. Do we actually care about evangelism? The plight of the lost should break our hearts and the opportunity to share the gospel should be a delight.

2. Do we wear smallness as a badge of honor? "Successful" ministries are not always sell-outs and small churches are sometimes just not very healthy.

3. Are our passions in the right proportion? It's fine to be passionate about our view on baptism, as long as this passion does not outshine our passion for the cross, the Trinity, and the glory of Christ.

4. Do we (or our pastors) preach with personal, passionate, pleading? The truths we believe are not for dissecting as much as for heralding with joy and humble intercession.

5. Do we know ourselves? We need to understand our gifts, our personalities, our strengths and weaknesses. We need to be ok with who we are and not try to be Driscoll, Piper, Keller, or anyone else. A sense of humor also helps. The Lord probably laughs at us on occasion so we should be able to laugh at ourselves.

6. Are we fighting the battles that matter most in our context? Don't spend gobs of time preaching on the emergent church if no one in your church has heard of it. Don't waste a lot of time defending the Pauline authorship of Ephesians if no one around you has ever thought anything different. Understand the issues of worldliness and disobedience that most affect your friends, church, and family.

7. Are we bringing everything up all the way to the glory of God? This is is one of the things I appreciate most about John Piper. Instead of just arguing for justification by faith alone or God's all-controlling sovereignty, he shows how these precious truths bring glory to God. If we don't bring everything up to the level of God, our churches will have factions of book people, youth people, social justice people, evangelism people, etc. We need to see how our unique interests and callings relate to God.

8. Are we experts in Scripture first? It's quite possible to be well-versed in Van Til's apologetics, Calvin's third use of the law, and David Well's critiques of evangelicalism without knowing well the verses of the Bible. We need to know the Bible better than any other book, memorize it, pray it, and teach it (not just a catechism) to our children.

9. Are we theological snobs? If many of my readers are Calvinists, then many of my readers have gone through a crusty Calvinist stage. Some, sadly, never leave it. Certainly, we need to be discerning and help our people grow in their understanding of truth and appetite for meat. But beware the “I’m hipper than thou” attitude that looks down on everyone interested in Left Behind or Facing the Giants are benighted fools. The truly wise learn to benefit from those who don't get everything right.

10. Can we accept that there are Romans 14 issues? The tricky question (the trickiest question in my opinion) is which issues are Romans 14 issues. But for starters, we should at least affirm in principle that sometimes we will agree to disagree. We will say at times, "Let each person be convinced in his own mind." This doesn't mean the issue is pointless or unimportant. It means we recognize that the Scripture is not abundantly clear on every issues and we must allow for differences.

11. Are we resounding gongs and clanging cymbals? If we have convictions and disagree with others, some people will call us loveless. But, that doesn't mean we have to live up to the charges. We need to love our friends, love the church, and love our enemies. We should not be scared to love and talk about love just because liberals have hijacked the word.

12. Do we possess deep and pervasive piety? I know that pietism is a bad word in some circles. It conjures up notions of anti-intellectual sentimentality. But we got pietism because Protestant scholasticism had gotten dry (or at least many of the churches of the time had). If we want to be more than intellectual people who happen to be into theology, we need to cultivate deep affections and deeper sanctification. As Reformed Christians (assuming many of you are), let's lead the way, not only in theological integrity, but also in meditation, Scripture memory, intercession, and earnest worship. What our families, friends, and churches need most from us is our own personal holiness.

evidence of new birth

Here's a great list by John Piper of 11 evidences of new birth found in 1 John:

Those who are born of God…

1. Keep his commandments (2:3-4; 3:24)
2. Walk as Christ walked (2:5-6)
3. Don’t hate others but love them (2:9; 3:14; 4:7-8; 4:20)
4. Don’t love the world (2:15)
5. Confess the Son and receive (have) him (2:23; 4:15; 5:12)
6. Practice righteousness (2:29)
7. Don’t make a practice of sinning (3:6; 3:9-10; 5:18 )
8. Possess the Spirit of God (3:24; 4:13)
9. Listen submissively to the apostolic Word (4:6)
10. Believe that Jesus is the Christ (5:1)
11. Overcome the world (5:4)

HT:PC

Can you find these in your life? Can you find an overabundance of things not consistent with this in your life?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

an angry god?

My good friend Geoff has asked some excellent questions in the comment section to this post. I will not try to answer all of his questions, e.g., "how [do] you reconcile a God who hates sinners with your Calvinist position on predestination. God hates people for doing what he pre-destined them to do?" simply because (1) the space required is too big, (2) I'm just not that good at written communication, and (3) that's about Calvinism v. Arminianism and both need to wrestle with this so I think it would be distracting (although I did post a small bit here and here in the past).

But other aspects of his questions can fit nicely in a blog so here is my attempt to respond. I'd love to hear others weigh in on this. In short, I recommend reading John MacArthur's The Love of God and DA Carson's The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. Here is a quick list of some excellent and some not so excellent quotes.

Now first let me clarify. God is love. God is not wrath and God is not hate. These are not His "nature". He is holy and righteous and just and these combined with His love lead to mercy for some and wrath for others. I should add that I'm frustrated with the discussion because clearly this is not our emphasis. I really don't want to begin spending a lot of time pressing this because it is not our call. I only post on it from time to time because so many these days either are unaware or wrongly dismiss the truth of this "emotion"/"behavior" of God's and they are wrong.

Regarding His wrath, from Tyndale Bible Dictionary:

A term for God’s displeasure with human beings and their sinful actions. The word “wrath” is a concept represented by many different words and idioms in the original languages of the Bible, all of which express the notion of justifiable anger for unjust actions.

In the Old Testament In the OT God is said to be angry with nations, sinners, and even with his covenant people. God’s anger is first expressed toward the covenant community of Israel for having refused to believe his word about entering into the Promised Land. After they had been rescued from Egypt, had received the Ten Commandments and the covenant, and had seen his glory (Nm 11:10; 12:9; 22:22; 32:10–14), they still disbelieved. Consequently, God in his wrath condemned the Israelites to wander in the wilderness until they died. The major reason for the Lord’s anger in the OT was that his own people constantly broke the covenant. They provoked him by their idolatry (Dt 2:15; 4:25; 9:7–8, 19; Jdg 2:14; 1 Kgs 11:9; 14:9, 15; 2 Kgs 17:18), by their mixing paganism with the worship of the Lord (Isa 1:10–17; Jer 6:20; Hos 6:6; Am 5:21–27); by their wanton rebellion (1 Kgs 8:46), their unbelief (Nm 11:33; 14:11, 33; Ps 95:10–11), and their disregard for his concern for love, justice, righteousness, and holiness (Ex 22:22–24; Isa 1:15–17; Am 5:7–12; Mic 3:1).

The wrath of God also extends to all humanity (Na 1:2). The concept of the Day of the Lord was developed by the prophets to warn Israel and the nations that no one can escape the righteous expression of God’s wrath (Am 5:18–20). The Day of the Lord is the day of his wrath (Zep 1:15).

The OT presents the concept of the wrath of God in balance with three other doctrines: his forbearance, his love, and his readiness to forgive. First, God is patient. The Hebrew word for “patient” is related to the word for “wrath” and means “length of wrath”; that is, God does not quickly become angry. He is longsuffering (Ex 34:6). Second, God is full of compassion and fidelity (Ex 34:6). Even when his children sin against him, he is like a father who is full of compassion and love. He is always faithful to his children. Third, he is ready to forgive those who sin against him when they atone for and are cleansed from their sins (Ex 34:6). The pleasure of his love is so much greater than his wrath (Ps 30:5). Micah prayed that the Lord may soon forgive and restore his people on the ground that he cannot be angry forever (7:18; cf. Ps 89:46; Jer 3:5). In Psalm 103:8–13, the psalmist likens God’s love and forgiveness to that of a father who does not harbor his anger continually, nor does he vex his children with discipline, so great is his love for those who fear him.

The purpose of God’s wrath is not to destroy humanity (Hos 11:9). His wrath is neither a vindictive, emotional overreaction, nor is it unpredictable. In his wrath he sovereignly imposes limits on nations (Babylon, Assyria) and disciplines his own people with the desired end that they return to him (Jl 2:13–14). The OT presentation of the Day of the Lord doesn’t end with God’s anger; it concludes with the restoration of the earth, when the whole earth will be filled with knowledge of God (Is 11:9; Hb 2:14) and wickedness will be no more (Is 65:25).

In the New Testament The NT also teaches the wrath of God side by side with the doctrine of his grace, love, and forbearance (Mt 3:7; Lk 21:23; Jn 3:36; Rom 1:18; Eph 5:6; Rev 14:10). Those who do not profess faith in the risen Christ remain in their sins and will be subject to God’s wrath, whereas those who believe in him are delivered from God’s wrath (Eph 2:3; 1 Thes 1:10). The good news of the NT is that Jesus has come to deliver us from the wrath of God (Rom 5:9). Those who have been delivered are reconciled with God (v 10) because they no longer are under condemnation (8:1).

Now regarding hate, I've already posted about that recently. Here's an excerpt:

God's love is true (and amazing!) but today over emphasized by those who focus on man's brokenness over his rebellion. To fully return to the Father we must realize both. Perhaps it is in reaction to an over-emphasis of God's judgement but as I listen to and read many today they seem to be in denial of God's wrath toward evil-doers (Psa 5.5; 11.4-5; Hos 9.15; Mal 1.2-3; Rom 9.13; Jn 3.36; Eph 5.6; Col 3.6; 1 Thess 1.9-10).

I think Justin Taylor does a fine job of fleshing this paradox out in this post. John MacArthur also makes some great points of clarification which deal with Geoff's question regarding Rom 5.8 and Jn 3.16.

Romans, chapter 9, God says, "Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated." It doesn't say He hated Jacob, as the question indicates, but He says, "I love Jacob and I hate Esau." Now the question is, "Does God hate the person or does He hate what the person does?" Well, what does John 3:16 say, "For God so loved the whole world." So we know that everyone falls under the general category of the love of God, but there are a number of times in Scripture when God is expressed as "hating." I was thinking of Psalm 5:5 where it says, "The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes; Thou dost hate all who do iniquity." Then over in Psalm 11:5, "The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates." Then over in Psalm 26:5, "I hate the assembly of evildoers." In Proverbs, an even more extensive statement is made in that familiar text of chapter six, verse sixteen, "There are six things which the Lord hates, seven are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers." And then, of course, in Proverbs 8:13, you probably have something which makes it very clear. It says, "The fear of the Lord (or true worship of God) is to hate evil; pride, arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth I hate."

Now in all of these cases you can see clearly that what it is that God hates is not the individual but--what? The sin. He even lists the sins that He hates. When a person persists in those sins, it is the sin in the sinner persisted that God hates. Even God says, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." The New Testament says that "The Lord does not desire that any should perish." And so it is the sin that He hates. In Jeremiah, I was just thinking of chapter 44, verse 4, it says, "I sent all my servants the prophets again, and again, saying 'Oh, do not this abominable thing which I hate.'" It is the deed of the sinner that the Lord hates. It is the act of sin that the Lord hates. But, it is also true that the sinner who does not repent, who continues in the sin will feel the fury of God's hatred. In Malachi 1:4, it says that, "The Lord," towards people who sin, "is indignant forever."

So God hates the sin, but if the sinner persists in the sin, then the sinner feels the hatred of God. With regard to Esau, I might just say as a footnote, nowhere in Genesis does it say that God hated Esau--it doesn't say anywhere that He hated Esau. It was only after Esau had chosen sin and abandoned God for many, many years--over a thousand years before God would look back and say, "Esau have I hated." By that time it was clear to all where Esau stood. So once the sinner is inexorably and finally identified with the sin, then the sinner feels the hatred of God.

The fact that some sinners are not elected to salvation is no proof that God’s attitude toward them is utterly devoid of sincere love. We know from Scripture that God is compassionate, kind, generous, and good even to the most stubborn sinners. Who can deny that these mercies flow out of God’s boundless love? Yet it is evident that they are showered even on unrepentant sinners.

I want to acknowledge, however, that explaining God’s love toward the reprobate is not as simple as most modern evangelicals want to make it. Clearly there is a sense in which the psalmist’s expression, “I hate the assembly of evildoers” (Ps. 26:5) is a reflection of the mind of God. “Do I not hate those who hate Thee, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against Thee? I hate them with the utmost hatred; they have become my enemies” (Ps. 139:21-22). Such hatred as the psalmist expressed is a virtue, and we have every reason to conclude that it is a hatred God Himself shares. After all, He did say, “I have hated Esau” (Mal. 1:3; Rom. 9:13). The context reveals God was speaking of a whole race of wicked people. So there is a true and real sense in which Scripture teaches that God hates the wicked.

So an important distinction must be made. God loves believers with a particular love. It is a family love, the ultimate love of an eternal Father for His children. It is the consummate love of a Bridegroom for His bride. It is an eternal love that guarantees their salvation from sin and its ghastly penalty. That special love is reserved for believers alone.

However, limiting this saving, everlasting love to His chosen ones does not render God’s compassion, mercy, goodness, and love for the rest of mankind insincere or meaningless. When God invites sinners to repent and receive forgiveness (Isa. 1:18; Matt. 11:28-30), His pleading is from a sincere heart of genuine love. “‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezek. 33:11). Clearly God does love even those who spurn His tender mercy, but it is a different quality of love, and different in degree from His love for His own.

Now many may disagree with this but I have yet to hear a better explanation. Worse, too many have dealt with this by simply sweeping away huge portions of Scripture to fabricate a god of their own design. This is abhorrent and it is because of those that I bother to spend any time on this.

mcdonald's people v. starbucks people

Kevin DeYoung notes that, "Jesus came to save Grimace and Hamburglar too."



Read his post here ...

the blood

The blood of Christ stands not simply for the sting of sin on God but the scourge of God on sin, not simply for God’s sorrow over sin but for God’s wrath on sin. ~ PT Forsyth, The Cruciality of the Cross

Friday, February 06, 2009

vintage church

Warning warning ... gratuitous plug to try to win a free book ...

Bible Study Magazine and Mars Hill are giving away 20 copies of Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church. Not only that, but they are also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Mark Driscoll page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!

effects of the spirit

John Piper highlights four effects of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

1. The Holy Spirit gives new life.

John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life.” How? By causing the new birth. “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . . That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:3, 6). The first great saving effect of being baptized in the Holy Spirit is to be born again.

2. The Holy Spirit makes us not just life-getters, but also life-givers.

John 7:38-39: ““Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit.” The Spirit not only makes us alive; he makes us life-giving. He flows out of you like a brimming spring.

3. The Holy Spirit witnesses to Jesus.

John 15:26: “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” We will have much to say about this glorious internal witness of the Spirit to Jesus Christ, but suffice it say for now, that if any of you sees Christ as compellingly worthy and true, it is because of the work of the Spirit in your life. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.”

4. The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus.

John 16:14: “When the Spirit of truth comes . . . He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” The all-integrating work of the Holy Spirit is to cause us to see Jesus as magnificent.

HT:AW

driving humor

I needed some humor after that last video ...



HT:JR

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changed lives

The power of the cross - awesome. This quote is from Octavius Winslow in The Foot of the Cross.

One moment’s believing, close contact with the cross will do more to break the heart for sin, deepen the conviction of its exceeding sinfulness, and disenthrall the soul from all its bondage and its fears, bringing it into a sense of pardon and acceptance and assured hope, than a lifetime of the most rigid legal duties that ever riveted their iron chain upon the soul.

HT:OFI

Then Randy Alcorn posts 1 Cor 6.9-11 with this video to further remind us that this is more than theory. I think I started crying before one minute.

religion



HT:BH

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surrender

Christian health is not defined by how happy we are, how prosperous or healthy we are, or even by how many people we have led to the Lord in the past year. Christian health is ultimately defined by how sincerely we wave our flag of surrender. ~ Gary Thomas, Seeking the Face of God

HT:TC

Thursday, February 05, 2009

change?

During the election process I said I was disappointed with both candidates. While both promised change, neither ran a campaign that appeared any different than those came before them.

This video is not to pick on Obama, it's a reflection of my perception of politics in general.



HT:iggy

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related to rules

I posted some thoughts regarding where I thought some folks were getting off-track with rules and where I thought some folks were getting off-track without rules. Barry Simmon's just posted this great quote from Kevin DeYoung's Why We Are Not Emergent. I haven't read the book but I like the point below. Doctrine alone is dead and useless. Life lived out through the power of the Spirit and built-up on the Word of Truth is an awesome force.

If we are to be fruitful and godly Christians we need to have a theological core without being theologically crusty.

In desiring a theological core I don’t mean that all Christians must be bookish and given to intellectual contemplation. I mean that every Christian must be shaped from the inside out by a set of convictions about who God is and what he has accomplished in Jesus Christ. As Christians we should be animated (given life) and motivated (compelled to action) by a core of doctrinal truths–truths like God is loving, sovereign, and holy; God created the world and created it good; as a result of Adam’s sin humans are bent toward evil; Jesus Christ was God’s Son, begotten not created; Jesus suffered and died on the cross for sins and rose again on the third day; the Holy Spirit is God and fills us with power, enables us to believe, equips us with gifts, and bears fruit in our lives; the Bible is God’s word; Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead, and justification is by faith alone.

These truths need to be more than a set of beliefs we assume. They should be the lens through which we look at ourselves and the world. There are many Christians and churches that don’t deny any cardinal doctrine of Christian faith, but they still don’t have a theological core. They have, instead, a musty statement of faith they barely understand and hardly believe and wouldn’t dare preach. They are animated and motivated by politics, church growth, relational concerns and the like, but the gospel is merely assumed. “Yes, yes–of course we believe in the Virgin Birth, and the atonement, and the resurrection, and heaven and hell,” they say. But its all periphery, not core. It’s all assumed, not all-consuming. Theologically hollow congregations and pastors may like to think they will bequeath a gospel legacy to the next generation, but the truth is we only pass on what is our passion. New converts and new kids won’t think and live and love like mature Christians, let alone be able to articulate the Christian story, if our beliefs rest in a pamphlet and not in our hearts.

sin and sinners

The cliché, God hates the sin but love the sinner, is false on the face of it and should be abandoned. Fourteen times in the first fifty Psalms alone, we are told that God hates the sinner, His wrath is on the liar, and so forth. In the Bible, the wrath of God rests both on the sin (Romans 1:18ff) and on the sinner (John 3:36). ~ D.A. Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God

HT:Philip

I completely agree. I'm not sure why people are so quick to embrace this thought. While I completely agree that we too often fail to the other extreme (David Haywards point), we err if we do not grasp that we cannot separate sin from the person and God's response toward both.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

failed bush policy

I'm not a George Bush fan. There's a lot he's done wrong. But not he did was wrong and some of what he did had good outcome.

Because this will not be known by many, I feel somewhat obligated to pass it along.

Something didn't happen in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, today. Once the most violent and most dangerous places on earth, no suicide vest bomber detonated killing dozens of voters. No suicide truck bomber drove into a polling place collapsing the building and killing and injuring over 100. No Marine was in a firefight engaging an Al Qaida terrorist trying to disrupt democracy.

What did happen was Anbar Sunnis came out in their tens of thousands to vote in the first free election of their lives.

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rules, rules, and more rules

Emergents are pretty happy with LeRon Shults' response to why emergents don't have and should not want a statement of faith.

Jesus did not have a "statement of faith." He called others into faithful relation to God through life in the Spirit. As with the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, he was not concerned primarily with whether individuals gave cognitive assent to abstract propositions but with calling persons into trustworthy community through embodied and concrete acts of faithfulness. The writers of the New Testament were not obsessed with finding a final set of propositions the assent to which marks off true believers. Paul, Luke and John all talked much more about the mission to which we should commit ourselves than they did about the propositions to which we should assent. The very idea of a "statement of faith" is mired in modernist assumptions and driven by modernist anxieties.

In one sense I agree. I've always enjoyed the adage, "constitutions and by-laws are written to prepare the church for the Holy Spirit's absence." I think Shults and other emergents are rightly rejecting the legalism that so easily ensnares those well meaning believers that set up these sorts of things.

On the other hand, the opposite can be argued. The Bible as a whole is in one sense a "statement of faith". To claim Paul, Luke and John didn't document right living and right belief is ludicrous. Of course they did. Certainly Jesus spoke while others documented right faith. To use word pictures to describe right belief and action is quite Biblical.

Our problem is that in an effort to be concise, we omit. In an effort to be clear, we shape to our own thinking. In an effort to convey thoughts we press others into bondage. All of that is wrong but I am of the opinion that Shults intended as much as he said and if so, then he was just as wrong.

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a game of hope

A story of Gainesville State School and Faith Christian School.

"For the first time in a long time, someone was in their corner ..."

"I'm a victim of so much love ..."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

content gospel proclamation

Peter Rollins admits that he denies the resurrection and I like how he puts it.

Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think…

I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.

However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.

I like what he is saying here. Too many verbally proclaim the gospel but fail to live it moment by moment.

Earlier today I posted why we must proclaim the gospel by Mark Dever. Now I see Desiring God has posted another piece by Dever elaborating on things that aren't evangelism. And while I like what Rollins has to say, just as he is reacting to an imbalance, I see many embracing his words who live in number 3 of Dever's list and fail at truly affirming the resurrection in what they do. We must have right belief and right motives and these must lead to right demonstration as well as right proclamation. Omitting any of this undercuts the others and I'm amazed at how many around me just don't get that.

1) Imposition

We mistakenly take evangelism to be manipulation. But that's what the world says. In truth, we're not trying to impose our beliefs on anybody. Biblically, we can't impose our beliefs on anybody. Force and coercion cannot finally bring about the change that God demands. You can't expand Christianity by the sword. Evangelism is not some sort of intellectual imposition.

To believe that something is true and to share that with others is not coercion. We don't impose when we evangelize. We freely offer it to all and do not, cannot, force it on anybody.

2) Personal Testimony

A personal testimony is a wonderful thing. The Bible is full of examples of it, and we should testify to the wonderful experience of receiving God's mercy.

But consider John 9 and the man born blind. He gives his testimony but doesn't even know who Jesus is. His words glorify God, but they don't present the gospel. This is not evangelism.

Unless you're explicit about Jesus Christ and the cross then it is not the gospel.

3) Social Action / Public Involvement

Mercy ministries display God's kindness, and they are good and appropriate for the Christian to do. But such actions are not evangelism. They may commend the gospel to others, but only if someone has told them the gospel. They need to have the gospel added to them. Helping others or doing our jobs well, whatever they are, in and of themselves are not evangelism.

4) Apologetics

Apologetics are valuable, but they have their own set of dangers. You can get bogged down in talking about purely intellectual or peripheral matters and never get to the gospel.

It's fine for us to talk with unbelieving friends about questions that they have, but our attempts to try and answer them without setting the gospel as the foundation does no good. Jesus must set the agenda for evangelism.

5) The Results of Evangelism

2 Corinthians 2:15 - "For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?"

Note that the same ministry has two different effects. It's like the parable of the soil: same seed, different results.

We cannot finally judge the correctness of what we do by the immediate response that we get. The need for numbers puts an unnecessary stress on pastors and misunderstands the way that God saves.

We must practice our ministries realizing that some of us will be like Adoniram Judson or William Carey, who had no converts until after seven years of faithful gospel ministry. It's a fact that most people don't believe the gospel the first time they hear it.

Don't let the gospel that you preach be molded by what it is that gets an immediate response. Preach the gospel, trying to persuade--pleading for your hearers to believe--but knowing that you cannot convert a person. And then let God do with it what he will. He alone can call the dead to life. The gospel is powerful, and God is committed to using us to spread this good news.

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proclaim the gospel

I'm often asked why, as a Calvinist, would I proclaim (and demonstrate) the Gospel. Here are three great reasons from Mark Dever.

1. A Desire to Be Obedient to God's Commands

Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. That is exactly what the early disciples did. Paul spoke of a compulsion to share the gospel. To evangelize is to obey.

In Acts 8:4, we see that those who had been scattered preached the gospel wherever they went. One of the clearest examples of evangelism being commanded is in 1 Peter 3, where Peter commands believers to "always be…prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you."

Our silence is not a matter of neutrality. You need to tell yourself that. Our silence is a matter of guilt and sin. Obedience is definitely a biblical reason to evangelize.

2. A Love for the Lost

Preachers, we have got to stop avoiding the topic of lostness—hell. Jesus spoke of God's wrath remaining on those who don't believe on him. God will cause terror in us if we appear before him apart from Christ.

Apart from God's grace, the sinner will never stop sinning. God's judgment will never end. Their rejection of God never ends. God will inflict extreme and unnatural pain on them forever.

As preachers of the gospel, we have no business making God seem more humane to sinners who are in rebellion against him. Think about if hell were unleashed on you forever and tell unbelievers how horrible it is.

Christians are motivated by a love to others. Hudson Taylor said he would have never thought of going to China if he didn't know that they were lost. It's people who are this lost, who have this fate awaiting them, that we are aiming to convert.

We can confidently tell people the basic message of the gospel and trust that God's Spirit will faithfully pick up our message and use it to save people.

3. A Love for God.

We want to see God glorified. We want to see the truth about him told in creation. The desire to see God glorified was the motivation for all Jesus' actions.

Everything exists for God's glory (Romans 11:36). Our salvation is "to the praise of his glorious grace" (Ephesians 1:6). God does everything he does for his own glory, and we should do all we do for the glory of God.

To tell the truth about some people is not to honor them, but to tell the truth about God is to honor him. God is glorified in the gospel.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

vital spot

Mike Wittmer recently raised the question of the validity of the "centered set" paradigm as opposed to the "bounded set" paradigm. In a previous post I highlighted the key differences and even agree with folks like Brian McLaren in terms of too many in the church today are focused on who is in and who is out.

Coincidently, my friend Marlin Watling just posted two easy to follow videos by Dave Schmelzer on the concept of the centered set. Here's one. I like point that the issue is which way you are turning rather than where exactly or you in position relative to others. Schmelzer is right on when he states that our purpose is to create encounters with Jesus that are meaningful enough such that others would want more of that.



Thoughts?

tithing rap

If your a regular reader of this blog you know that I'm not a fan of the "tithe" as taught at most "churches". I think this video punctuates just how bad it can get.



HT:TR

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