Saturday, October 31, 2009

the cycle continues ...

In dealing with the liberalism of his day (1923), J. Gresham Machen and fellow conservatives declared five fundamental doctrines:
  • The inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture (against liberalism’s attempt to reduce the Bible to a work of men)
  • The virgin birth and deity of Jesus Christ (against the liberal view that Jesus was only human, and not God)
  • Christ’s substitutionary atonement (against the liberal position that Jesus saves by supplying a moral example)
  • The literal, physical resurrection of Jesus (against the liberal position that dismisses the supernatural events in Scripture as mere symbols of a spiritual truth)
  • The literal, physical return of Jesus (against the liberal position that dismisses it as a reality)
Interestingly liberals today (postmodern innovators) fail at that same points and now, as then, think they are onto something new. And as those that went before them, default to the same worn our strategies to avoid truth, "doctrine divides, love unites."

Worse, now, as then, this angers conservatives who fall into the trap of doctrinal interrogations that actually become divisive and make them appear to pick on "the peace-loving liberals".

There's nothing new under the sun ...

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words can express

God is more than His words can express but not less.

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slavery to sin

From Josh Harris:

I’m reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring to my two older kids. Last night we read the passage in which Gandalf explains the history of the pathetic Gollum as well as story of the One Ring to Frodo. I thought the following description of Gollum’s wretched state as a slave to the ring was an apt description of what it’s like to be a slave to sin:

“All the ‘great secrets’ under the mountains had turned out to be just empty night: there was nothing more to find out, nothing worth doing, only nasty furtive eating and resentful remembering. He was altogether wretched. He hated the dark, and he hated light more: he hated everything ,and the Ring most of all.

“What do you mean?” said Frodo. “Surely the Ring was his precious and the only thing he cared for? But if he hated it, why didn’t he get rid of it, or go away and leave it?”

“You ought to begin to understand, Frodo, after all you have heard,” said Gandalf. “He hated it and loved it, as he hated and loved himself. He could not get rid of it. He had no will left in the matter.” (page 54)


Isn’t that what it’s like when you’re ruled by your sinful desires? (Eph. 2:1) All the promises of sin and illicit pleasure turn out to be “empty night” and the very things you once thought would satisfy you learn to despise. And yet you can’t turn away. You have a desire to be free, a desire to do what’s right, but lack “the ability to carry it out” (Rom. 7:18).

Without Jesus I am Gollum–calling what is killing me “my precious” and all the while hating myself. Praise be to God that Jesus Christ came to redeem sinners like me. He gave up his life on the cross so that I could be forgiven and freed to know and serve God forever.

HT:PC

Friday, October 30, 2009

self-authenticating

John Calvin wrote, "[Scripture] carries with itself its own credibility in order to be received without contradiction, and is not to be submitted to proofs or arguments. ... Scripture exhibits fully as clear evidence of its own truth as white and black things do of their color, or sweet and bitter things do of their taste. ... For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men's hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded."

Now, as always, men reject the truth of God as they reject the Spirit of God.

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bearing or keeping

The new way of obedience is fruit-bearing, not law-keeping. "You have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we my bear fruit for God" (Rom 7.4).

temptation

I love this encouragement by Ray Ortlund ...

A voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17

"There are many other voices speaking -- loudly: "Prove you're worth something." "Prove you have any contribution to make." "Do something relevant." . . . These are the voices Jesus heard right after he heard, "You are my beloved." Another voice said, "Prove you are the beloved. Do something. Change these stones into bread. Be sure you're famous. Jump from the temple, and you will be known. Grab some power so you have real influence." . . . Jesus said, "No, I don't have to prove anything. I am already the beloved."

Henri Nouwen, Leadership Magazine, Spring 1995.

There is more than one way to be strong. We can be strong with the dark energy of anxiety, because we need approval, or we can be strong with the bright energy of assurance, because we are already approved.

We have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. 1 Thessalonians 2:4

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1

Thursday, October 29, 2009

color blind

Colour+BlindAside from spelling 'colour' wrong (yes I know), Martin Downes posts this timeless quote by J.C. Ryle in 1884. It seems the Church has always endured heresy. The Emergent Church, among others, is not a new phenomenon. The attack against truth is not new and we shouldn't be surprised.

... one of the "pressing dangers" facing the Church [includes] the rise and progress of a spirit of indifference to all doctrines and opinions in religion. A wave of colour-blindness about theology appears to be passing over the land. The minds of many seem utterly incapable of discerning any difference between faith and faith, creed and creed, tenet and tenet, opinion and opinion, thought and thought, however diverse, heterogeneous, contrariant and mutally destructive they may be.

Everything...is true and nothing is false, everything is right and nothing is wrong, everything is good and nothing is bad, if it approaches under the garb and name of religion. You are not allowed to ask, What is God's truth? but What is liberal, and generous, and kind?

credentials

As picked up on FaceBook today ...

"As an American I am not so shocked that Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize without any accomplishments to his name, but that America gave him the White House based on the same credentials." - - Newt Gingrich

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none should perish

I was chatting with my son regarding 2 Peter 3.9 and referenced RC Sproul on the matter ...

DOESN’T THE BIBLE SAY THAT GOD IS NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH?

The Apostle Peter clearly states that God is not willing that any should perish. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" ( 2 Peter 3:9 ).

How can we square this verse with predestination? If it is not the will of God to elect everyone unto salvation, how can the Bible then say that God is not willing that any should perish?

In the first place we must understand that the Bible speaks of the will of God in more than one way. For example, the Bible speaks of what we call God’s sovereign efficacious will. The sovereign will of God is that will by which God brings things to pass with absolute certainty. Nothing can resist the will of God in this sense. By his sovereign will he created the world. The light could not have refused to shine.

The second way in which the Bible speaks of the will of God is with respect to what we call his preceptive will. God’s preceptive will refers to his commands, his laws. It is God’s will that we do the things he mandates. We are capable of disobeying this will. We do in fact break his commandments. We cannot do it with impunity. We do it without his permission or sanction. Yet we do it. We sin.

A third way the Bible speaks of the will of God has reference to God’s disposition, to what is pleasing to him. God does not take delight in the death of the wicked. There is a sense in which the punishment of the wicked does not bring joy to God. He chooses to do it because it is good to punish evil. He delights in the righteousness of his judgment but is “sad” that such righteous judgment must be carried out. It is something like a judge sitting on a bench and sentencing his own son to prison.

Let us apply these three possible definitions to the passage in 2 Peter. If we take the blanket statement, “God is not willing that any should perish,” and apply the sovereign efficacious will to it, the conclusion is obvious. No one will perish. If God sovereignly decrees that no one should perish, and God is God, then certainly no one will ever perish. This would then be a proof text not for Arminianism but for universalism. The text would then prove too much for Arminians.

Suppose we apply the definition of the preceptive will of God to this passage? Then the passage would mean that God does not allow anyone to perish. That is, he forbids the perishing of people. It is against his law. If people then went ahead and perished, God would have to punish them for perishing. His punishment for perishing would be more perishing. But how does one engage in more perishing than perishing? This definition will not work in this passage. It makes no sense.

The third alternative is that God takes no delight in the perishing of people. This squares with what the Bible says elsewhere about God’s disposition toward the lost. This definition could fit this passage. Peter may simply be saying here that God takes no delight in the perishing of anyone.

Though the third definition is a possible and attractive one to use in resolving this passage with what the Bible teaches about predestination, there is yet another factor to be considered. The text says more than simply that God is not willing that any should perish. The whole clause is important: “but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

What is the antecedent of any? It is clearly us. Does us refer to all of us humans? Or does it refer to us Christians, the people of God? Peter is fond of speaking of the elect as a special group of people. I think what he is saying here is that God does not will that any of us (the elect) perish. If that is his meaning, then the text would demand the first definition and would be one more strong passage in favor of predestination.

In two different ways the text may easily be harmonized with predestination. In no way does it support Arminianism. Its only other possible meaning would be universalism, which would then bring it into conflict with everything else the Bible says against universalism.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

worship basics

In case you are struggling with your moves at church ...


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the other side of gw

Of course, with ads like this, I can see why many buy into man made global warming ...

global warming smoke

Senator Inhofe apparently doesn't realize that facts aren't an important factor to the global warming zealots. The ironic part is that while the zealots accuse those not with them in their over-reaction of doing nothing, they fail to do some simple steps that all would agree are good for the environment.



Text here ...

questions

NakedPastor posts this today.

Questioneverything
He notes that it is preferred over a previous version.
Question-Exclamation

His comment is that the former is more what his blog is about. I respect that and I'm ok with it ... in regard to his blog. But unfortunately many think the former is what Christianity is about. I think Christianity is the first followed by the second. All of our preconceived notions are drawn into question when confronted with Christ but then they are shattered as He provides the answers. We do not remain unsure but rather we can finally know real truth in Him.

The New Bible Dictionary on Knowledge:

All men ought to respond to the revelation in Christ which has made possible a full knowledge of God, no more intellectual apprehension but an obedience to his revealed purpose, an acceptance of his revealed love, and a fellowship with himself (cf.Jn. 17:3; Acts 2:36; 1 Cor. 2:8; Phil. 3:10). This knowledge of God is possible only because God in his love has called men to it (Gal. 4:9; 1 Cor. 13:12; 2 Tim. 2:19). The whole process of enlightenment and acceptance may be called coming to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7; Tit. 1:1; cf. Jn. 8:32).

Both Paul and John write at times in conscious contrast with and opposition to the systems of alleged esoteric knowledge purveyed by the mystery cults and syncretistic ‘philosophy’ of their day (cf. 1 Tim. 6:20; Col. 2:8). To these knowledge was the result of an initiation or illumination which put the initiate in possession of spiritual discernment beyond mere reason or faith. Against them Paul (particularly in 1 Cor. and Col.) and all the Johannine writings stress that knowledge of God springs from committal to the historic Christ; it is not opposed to faith but forms its completion. We need no revelation other than that in Christ.

Wayne Grudem writes in regard to knowledge through Scripture:

It will be argued below that all people ever born have some knowledge of God’s will through their consciences. But this knowledge is often indistinct and cannot give certainty. In fact, if there were no written Word of God, we could not gain certainty about God’s will through other means such as conscience, advice from others, an internal witness of the Holy Spirit, changed circumstances, and the use of sanctified reasoning and common sense. These all might give an approximation of God’s will in more or less reliable ways, but from these means alone no certainty about God’s will could ever be attained, at least in a fallen world where sin distorts our perception of right and wrong, brings faulty reasoning into our thinking processes, and causes us to suppress from time to time the testimony of our consciences (cf. Jer. 17:9; Rom. 2:14–15; 1 Cor. 8:10; Heb. 5:14; 10:22; also 1 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:15).

In the Bible, however, we have clear and definite statements about God’s will. God has not revealed all things to us, but he has revealed enough for us to know his will: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29). As it was in the time of Moses, so it is now with us: God has revealed his words to us that we might obey his laws and thereby do his will. To be “blameless” in God’s sight is to “walk in the law of the Lord” (Ps. 119:1). The “blessed” man is one who does not follow the will of wicked people (Ps. 1:1), but delights “in the law of the Lord,” and meditates on God’s law “day and night” (Ps. 1:2). To love God (and thereby to act in a way that is pleasing to him) is to “keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3). If we are to have a certain knowledge of God’s will, then, we must attain it through the study of Scripture.

In fact, in one sense it can be argued that the Bible is necessary for certain knowledge about anything. A philosopher might argue as follows: The fact that we do not know everything requires us to be uncertain about everything we do claim to know. This is because some fact unknown to us may yet turn out to prove that what we thought to be true was actually false. For example, we think we know our date of birth, our name, our age, and so forth. But we must admit that it is possible that some day we could find that our parents had given us false information and our “certain” knowledge would then turn out to be incorrect. Regarding events that we personally have experienced, we all realize how it is possible for us to “remember” words or events incorrectly and find ourselves later corrected by more accurate information. We can usually be more certain about the events of our present experience, so long as it remains present (but even that, someone might argue, could be a dream, and we will only discover this fact when we wake up!). At any rate, it is difficult to answer the philosopher’s question: If we do not know all the facts in the universe, past, present, and future, how can we ever attain certainty that we have correct information about any one fact?

Ultimately, there are only two possible solutions to this problem: (1) We must learn all the facts of the universe in order to be sure that no subsequently discovered fact will prove our present ideas to be false; or (2) someone who does know all the facts in the universe, and who never lies, could tell us some true facts that we can then be sure will never be contradicted.

This second solution is in fact what we have when we have God’s words in Scripture. God knows all facts that ever have been or ever will be. And this God who is omniscient (all-knowing) has absolutely certain knowledge: there can never be any fact that he does not already know; thus, there can never be any fact that would prove that something God thinks is actually false. Now it is from this infinite storehouse of certain knowledge that God, who never lies, has spoken to us in Scripture, in which he has told us many true things about himself, about ourselves, and about the universe that he has made. No fact can ever turn up to contradict the truth spoken by this one who is omniscient.

Thus, it is appropriate for us to be more certain about the truths we read in Scripture than about any other knowledge we have. If we are to talk about degrees of certainty of knowledge we have, then the knowledge we attain from Scripture would have the highest degree of certainty: if the word “certain” can be applied to any kind of human knowledge, it can be applied to this knowledge.

This concept of the certainty of knowledge that we attain from Scripture then gives us a reasonable basis for affirming the correctness of much of the other knowledge that we have. We read Scripture and find that its view of the world around us, of human nature, and of ourselves corresponds closely to the information we have gained from our own sense-experiences of the world around us. Thus we are encouraged to trust our sense-experiences of the world around us: our observations correspond with the absolute truth of Scripture; therefore, our observations are also true and, by and large, reliable. Such confidence in the general reliability of observations made with our eyes and ears is further confirmed by the fact that it is God who has made these faculties and who in Scripture frequently encourages us to use them (compare also Prov. 20:12: “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both”).

In this way the Christian who takes the Bible as God’s Word escapes from philosophical skepticism about the possibility of attaining certain knowledge with our finite minds. In this sense, then, it is correct to say that for people who are not omniscient, the Bible is necessary for certain knowledge about anything.

This fact is important for the following discussion, where we affirm that unbelievers can know something about God from the general revelation that is seen in the world around them. Although this is true, we must recognize that in a fallen world knowledge gained by observation of the world is always imperfect and always liable to error or misinterpretation. Therefore the knowledge of God and creation gained from Scripture must be used to interpret correctly the creation around us. Using the theological terms that we will define below, we can say that we need special revelation to interpret general revelation rightly.

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unconditional grace

“To preach the Gospel of the unconditional grace of God in that unconditional way is to set before people the astonishingly good news of what God has freely provided for us in the vicarious humanity of Jesus. To repent and believe in Jesus Christ and commit myself to him on that basis means that I do not need to look over my shoulder all the time to see whether I have really given myself personally to him, whether I really believe and trust him, whether my faith is at all adequate, for in faith it is not upon my faith, my believing or my personal commitment that I rely, but solely upon what Jesus Christ has done for me, in my place and on my behalf, and what he is and always will be as he stands in for me before the face of the Father. That means that I am completely liberated from all ulterior motives in believing or following Jesus Christ, for on the ground of his vicarious human response for me, I am free for spontaneous joyful response and worship and service as I could not otherwise be.” - TF Torrance
HT:
JH

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

hate sin

Do you hate sin? I do. And it is excellent that I just read Jude 17-23.

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Over the past weeks I've been bombarded by emails, FaceBook, discussions, and blogs involving those in the Emergent Church and their passion for sin disguised as compassion for sinners ... well, they cannot even say sinners, they say "the broken". They not only sin themselves but build-up those that do. My default position is to want to call them out but that is unfruitful and stems from my desire to control.

I love Jude's words, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passion." If that doesn't describe what I see in the emergent movement I don't know what does. But rather than be angry these words build me up. We are living in the last times. These days are drawing to an end. I'm encouraged to see how God will work all of this for His glory. My role is to love and to sow seeds of truth, not to get angry or embroiled in fruitless bickering.

Yes these folks are "devoid of the Spirit" but praise God, my desire is to keep myself in the love of God, edifying His holy Church, the Bride for whom He returns. Rather than rebuke and fight with them, I'm to "have mercy on those who doubt." Perhaps the same Spirit that rescued me from darkness will do the same for them.

The beauty of this life in the Spirit is that it can be lived as one showing both mercy yet hating sin, i.e., "the garment stained by the flesh." This is a concept those without the Spirit cannot grasp. Thank God for His unmerited favor.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

warrant for truth

Michael Wittmer writes the following based on Alvin Plantinga's Warrant and Proper Function:

If we have good reason to believe that our minds and sensory equipment are functioning properly and that we are in a suitable environment for them to detect truth, then we may justifiably believe whatever we perceive in the world. And what reason do we have to believe this? Our belief in God. Only if we believe that there is a God who made us to flourish in this world do we have warrant to trust that what our eyes and ears report is going on around us. According to Plantinga, those who do not believe in God cannot claim to know anything at all.

we died

John Piper, Reason #30 Why Jesus Came to Die ... That we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Strange as it may sound, Christ’s dying in our place and for our sins means that we died. You would think that having a substitute die in your place would mean that you escape death. And, of course, we do escape death—the eternal death of endless misery and separation from God. Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish” (John 10:28). “Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:26). The death of Jesus does indeed mean that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

But there is another sense in which we die precisely because Christ died in our place and for our sins. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die . . .” (1 Peter 2:24). He died that we might live; and he died that we might die. When Christ died, I, as a believer in Christ, died with him. The Bible is clear: “We have been united with him in a death like his” (Romans 6:5). “One has died for all, therefore all have died” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Faith is the evidence of being united to Christ in this profound way. Believers “have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). ...

The fact that I died with Christ is linked directly to his dying for my sin. "He himself bore our sins ... that we might die." This means that when I embrace Jesus as my Savior, I embrace my death as a sinner. My sin brought Jesus to the grave and brought me there with him. Faith sees sin as murderous. It killed Jesus, and it killed me.

Therefore, becoming a Christian means death to sin. The old self that loved sin died with Jesus. Sin is like a prostitute that no longer looks beautiful. She is the murderer of my King and myself. Therefore, the believer is dead to sin, no longer dominated by her attractions. Sin, the prostitute who killed my friend, has no appeal. She has become an enemy.

My new life is now swayed by righteousness. "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might ... live to righteousness" (1 Pet 2.24). The beauty of Christ, who loved me and gave himself for me, is the desire of my soul. And his beauty is perfect righteousness. The command that I now love to obey is this ... "Present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness" (Rom 6.13).

christus victor

Postmoderns today are trying to force a false dichotomy. There is a separation of living in the Kingdom here and now from life eternal. Some of this is an over-reaction to poor communication by modern evangelicals. I think most of it however stems from a wrong understanding of Christus Victor. Here is Martin Downes' excellent post on Christus Victor and Penal Substitution.

The first question of the Heidelberg Catechism views the atoning work of Christ as dealing with the satisfaction made for all our sins (penal substitution) and his redeeming us from all the power of the devil (Christus Victor).

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.


Thus the Catechism holds together what ought never to be separated. Here we have the Godward dimension of the atonement (satisfaction) and the polemic dimension (conquest). The latter, however, is dependent on the former.

When Scripture explicates how Christ conquers the devil, the reality of which is anticipated in the proto-evangelium (Gen. 3:15), it views the power of the devil as the power of deception and accusation. Our legal position before God, in view of Adam's breaking of the covenant of works (Gen. 2:15-17), and our own sins, has rendered us guilty, cursed, and under the sentence of death (Rom. 6:23).

How does Christ redeem us from the power of the devil?

By dying for us (1 Peter 3:18). By taking our curse and punishment (Gal. 3:13). By enduring the wrath of God (Rom. 3:25-26). By taking the full penalty of the law (Gal. 3:10).

The legal accusations of Satan are silenced by the blood of the Lamb that has brought us forgiveness for all our sins (Col. 2:13-15; Eph. 1:7; Rev. 12:10-11; Rom. 8:1, 33-34!).

How has Christ conquered Satan?

By his active and passive obedience, by making atonement and justification. And now without God's law to condemn us, Satan has no power to accuse us (1 Cor. 15:56). What truth then will he seek to overthrow with all his might? The truth that the blood of the Lamb saves, the doctrine of penal substitution.

The Lamb slain saves us. The Lamb slain silences Satan's accusations. It is seeing this connection that will stop the pendulum from swinging from penal substitution to Christus Victor. As Henri Blocher argued, in a much neglected essay, these doctrines are seen in the biblical proportions and glory together. It is really Agnus Victor, not what is commonly understood as Christus Victor, that best explains the conquering of Satan.

facebook users

Ok - I get where Gary Rohrmayer is coming from but this eliminates everyone ... maybe that's the point?

1. The Let-Me-Tell-You-Every-Detail-of-My-Day Bore."I'm waking up." "I had Wheaties for breakfast." "I'm bored at work." "I'm stuck in traffic." You're kidding! How fascinating! No moment is too mundane for some people to broadcast unsolicited to the world. Just because you have 432 Facebook friends doesn't mean we all want to know when you're waiting for the bus.
2. The Self-Promoter.OK, so we've probably all posted at least once about some achievement. And sure, maybe your friends really do want to read the fascinating article you wrote about beet farming. But when almost EVERY update is a link to your blog, your poetry reading, your 10k results or your art show, you sound like a bragger or a self-centered careerist.
3. The Friend-Padder.The average Facebook user has 120 friends on the site. Schmoozers and social butterflies -- you know, the ones who make lifelong pals on the subway -- might reasonably have 300 or 400. But 1,000 "friends?" Unless you're George Clooney or just won the lottery, no one has that many. That's just showing off.
4. The Town Crier."Michael Jackson is dead!!!" You heard it from me first! Me, and the 213,000 other people who all saw it on TMZ. These Matt Drudge wannabes are the reason many of us learn of breaking news not from TV or news sites but from online social networks. In their rush to trumpet the news, these people also spread rumors, half-truths and innuendo. No, Jeff Goldblum did not plunge to his death from a New Zealand cliff.
5. The TMIer."Brad is heading to Walgreens to buy something for these pesky hemorrhoids." Boundaries of privacy and decorum don't seem to exist for these too-much-information updaters, who unabashedly offer up details about their sex lives, marital troubles and bodily functions. Thanks for sharing.
6. The Bad Grammarian."So sad about Fara Fauset but Im so gladd its friday yippe". Yes, I know the punctuation rules are different in the digital world. And, no, no one likes a spelling-Nazi schoolmarm. But you sound like a moron.
7. The Sympathy-Baiter. "Barbara is feeling sad today." "Man, am I glad that's over." "Jim could really use some good news about now." Like anglers hunting for fish, these sad sacks cast out their hooks -- baited with vague tales of woe -- in the hopes of landing concerned responses. Genuine bad news is one thing, but these manipulative posts are just pleas for attention.
8. The Lurker.The Peeping Toms of Facebook, these voyeurs are too cautious, or maybe too lazy, to update their status or write on your wall. But once in a while, you'll be talking to them and they'll mention something you posted, so you know they're on your page, hiding in the shadows. It's just a little creepy.
9. The Crank. These curmudgeons, like the trolls who spew hate in blog comments, never met something they couldn't complain about. "Carl isn't really that impressed with idiots who don't realize how idiotic they are." [Actual status update.] Keep spreading the love.
10. The Paparazzo.Ever visit your Facebook page and discover that someone's posted a photo of you from last weekend's party -- a photo you didn't authorize and haven't even seen? You'd really rather not have to explain to your mom why you were leering like a drunken hyena and French-kissing a bottle of Jagermeister.
11. The Maddening Obscurist. "If not now then when?" "You'll see..." "Grist for the mill." "John is, small world." "Dave thought he was immune, but no. No, he is not." [Actual status updates, all.] Sorry, but you're not being mysterious -- just nonsensical.
12. The Chronic Inviter. "Support my cause. Sign my petition. Play Mafia Wars with me. Which 'Star Trek' character are you? Here are the 'Top 5 cars I have personally owned.' Here are '25 Things About Me.' Here's a drink. What drink are you? We're related! I took the 'What President Are You?' quiz and found out I'm Millard Fillmore! What president are you?"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

church with christ as center

"To put it candidly, you will never have an authentic experience of the body of Christ unless your foundation is blindly and singularly Jesus Christ. Authentic church life is born when a group of people are intoxicated with a glorious unveiling of their Lord.The chief task of a Christian leader, therefore, is to present a Christ to God’s people that they have never known, dreamed, or imagined. A breathtaking Christ whom they can know intimately and love passionately. The calling of every Christian servant is to build the ekklesia upon an overmastering revelation of the Son of God. A revelation that burns in the fiber of their being and leaves God’s people breathless, overwhelmed, and awash in the glories of Jesus."

Frank Viola, From Eternity to Here

freedom from sin

John Piper in Why Jesus Came to Die. Reason 29; To Free Us From the Slavery of Sin:

Our sin ruins us in two ways. It makes us guilty before God, so that we are under his just condemnation; and it makes us ugly in our behavior, so that we disfigure the image of God we were meant to display. It damns us with guilt, and it enslaves us to lovelessness.

The blood of Jesus frees us from both miseries. It satisfies God’s righteousness so that our sins can be justly forgiven. And it defeats the power of sin to make us slaves to lovelessness.

While Jesus was a powerful example, and we are commanded to imitate him (John 13.34), he was more. He first rescued us from the guilt of sin and the wrath of God. Then He rescued us from the power of sin. That is we were first justified and then sanctified (Rev 1.5-6; Heb 13.12).

This is liberating. By His power we who were once slaves to lovelessness are now made slaves to righteousness and loveliness (Rom 6.18; Gal 5.22-23). Sin no longer has dominion over us (Rom 6.14). Instead we are under grace. We still 'work' but it is initiated and completed by grace (1 Cor 15.10).

Thanks be to God!

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

relevant missions

Culturally Relevant Mission
By Bert Waggoner, National Director Vineyard USA, Senior Pastor, Sugar Land TX

The church is called to culturally relevant mission. Mission is the objective; cultural relevancy is the process. The purpose of the church is not to be cool, cute, popular, or any other adjective that would indicate we are “in.” When the church makes cultural relevance its priority rather than a way of doing mission, it becomes syncretistic and thus, sells her soul on the altar of cultural relevance. This syncretistic harlotry makes the church what she most fears – irrelevant, because the church is relevant only as she is on mission as salt and light in a spoiling and dark world.

So when The Vineyard places “Culturally Relevant Mission” as one of our core values, the primary term is mission. This is what we are called to. This is what we exist for. Missions is primary; cultural relevancy is secondary.

This is not a new distinctive for the church or missions. The Nicene Creed identifies four “marks” of the church. “Marks” are the things that are essential to the church. You cannot have the church without them. The marks are: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. I won’t go through each of these marks although eachis very important to our understanding of the church. The one that I will highlight is “apostolic.” An apostle is a person sent by God. An apostolic church is a church that is sent out into the world with the good news of the Kingdom of God. Thus, the true church is a people on mission – sent ones. That is what “apostolic” meansand that is what the church must be.

The church does not just have a mission, it exists only in mission. Some would even say it is mission. As one noted theologian said, “Mission is to the church as fire is to burning.” You can be a group of people - a large group of people whoworship, fellowship, and even share the Word and spiritual experiences and yet not be a church in the New Testament sense. The creative word that creates a church is, “Go.” “Go into all the world.” (Matthew 28:19) The church exists as a sent people – a people on mission.

What is this mission? The mission of the church is to join with God in what He is doing in the world. God is a missionary God who is seeking a people who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23). That is the ultimate purpose – a people worshipping the Triune God. This mission involves the transformation of individuallives, building a community of faith (the body of Christ), bringing justice and freedom to the oppressed, initiating a new creation, and ultimately restoring all things to wholeness and life or as the apostle Paul says, “reconciling all things in heaven and earth to himself” (Colossians 1:20).

The church is designed to be God’s agent to accomplish His mission in the world. The church is the one entity in the world that does not exist for its members. It exists for those on the outside.

This leads me to the “culturally relevant” aspect of our Core Vineyard Value. To be culturally relevant is simply to follow the model for mission that is provided for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. How does God accomplish his mission? Through incarnation! God becomes a man, a Jew in Israel, two thousand years ago. Jesus as the revelation of God was relevant by virtue of the fact that though He was God He was as the Creed says, “very man of very man.” God in the flesh thrust into a specific culture at a specific time. That is God’s method in his mission. He comes towhere we are in our humanity, in our culture and in our individual lives. He comes to us and embodies his message in terms by which we have learned to understand the world.

This is what we mean by “culturally relevant mission.” The church must be incarnational in its mission. She must understand the culture and the people in thatculture. She must use the symbols of meaning in the culture she is in to communicate the message of the gospel without losing the prophetic role of speaking intothe culture. She must not, in her attempt to be culturally relevant, allow the desire for relevancy to supplant either the priority of her mission, nor the privilege of her message. But she must also understand that to cease to be relevant is to cease to be missional.

Our call to cultural relevance does not address the issue of whether culture is good or bad. That is another question. Richard Niebuhr wrote a book in 1951 entitled Christ and Culture. Niebuhr identified five options: Christ against culture, Christ of culture, Christ above culture, Christ and culture in paradox, and Christ the transformer of culture. Though I would agree with the last option, this option is not a necessary prerequisite for calling the church to culturally relevant mission. Regardless of how we conceive of the relationship between Christ (or the church) andculture, we must do as our Lord did in His mission. We must live in and understand our culture and frame the Gospel message in sensitivity to that culture so that the message can be understood and thus, be relevant to those in our culture.

Cultural relevancy does not necessarily mean that our message will be received with joy. No one in human history was more culturally relevant than Jesus, but it was this relevancy that got Him crucified. Modern culture has no problem with us as longas our message is anemic and fits their little scheme of things. They will even invite us to be their chaplains to give nice little anemic prayers at their events as long as we relent to do it without doing so in the name of Jesus. They even cheer us on when our message is psycho babble and our only message is self help.The problem they have with us is when we clearly say that the only way to the good life is through the cross and that the cross is the power of human transformation. So don’t think that popularity in the world necessarily equates with biblical success, or that when you are culturally relevant you will necessarily be loved by all.

On the other hand, only those who are culturally relevant will see people coming to know Jesus Christ. The New Testament church was relevant and saw five thousand people added to the church in one day. Peter stood at Pentecost and gave a relevant message to first century Jews in Jerusalem. “This is that,” he saidin reference to the promise of Joel’s prophecy and what was happening in Jerusalem on Pentecost. He brought the hope of the Jews into direct contact with the Gospel and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Could there have been a more culturally relevantmessage? So, if you want to be effective in your message, you must be culturally relevant with your message.

This call to cultural relevance is not new. It has long been a matter of central concern to missionaries. What we are saying by making cultural relevance in mission a core value of the Vineyard is that the church is a missionary people and that all of the followers of Jesus Christ must become missionaries wherever God hasplaced us and in whatever we do.

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tactics

Rob Craig reminded me of one of the tactics of the Enemy ...

good news in confronting sin

Christ, who became our high priest by His sacrifice on the Cross (Heb 9.26), was tempted in every way as we were (Heb 4.15). I'd argue because He never sinned (Heb 4.15; 1 Pet 2.22-23) that His temptation to do so was even stronger than ours. When we give in to temptation, it never reaches its fullest and longest. Jesus, because He never gave in, endured all temptation known to mankind until the very end.

This my friend is good news.

Many today cannot bring themselves to call sin sin. For some it is a simple rejection of God's truth. For many however it is born out of false compassion and a mistrust that sin can actually be confronted and this lead to life. They see any effort to confront sin as overzealous and Pharisaism. As for me, I can stand with Paul stating clearly that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6.9). I can shout "DO NOT BE DECEIVED", these things are sin, "sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, thievery, greed, drunkenness, reviling, swindling, etc..." (1 Cor 6.9-10). And I can do it in love because I know that I was counted among them. But I am no longer defined by that. I am now washed, sanctified, and justified by Jesus Christ and by His Spirit (1 Cor 6.11). I don't live in shame. I don't have a need to "get right" first. I don't run from God. But instead I run to God, confessing my sin and repenting thereby receiving His forgiveness and power to live a holy and righteous life (1 John 1.9). I understand that to not confront sin is actually the opposite of love (1 Cor 13.6).

I am particularly bothered these days because of our President's attempt to redefine normal in regard to sexuality and the family.

“While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It’s about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.” — Barack Obama

"You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman..." — Barack Obama

Some postmodern innovators are right there with him confusing sexual sin with caring for those suffering injustice. They somehow confuse their speaking for sin as analogous to those speaking against sin. They think their social action is parallel with great men of faith who stood up for injustice - speaking out against sin. When God speaks of the cancerous nature of sin in how it brings deception throughout the body, it is clearly to seen in these postmoderns as they make positive references to articles like this and this or eagerly await the of the end of Sola Scriptura so that gay rights can be promoted.

What is sad is that in a wrong minded effort to 'help' they are actually the ones condemning. Any one caught in any kind of sin can be set free. That freedom is only found in Christ through repentance. Not granting permission does not have to equal shame. Not granting permission can result in life. In fact, it is the only way. I encourage those confused by sin to not try to justify their rebellion but rather to repent and find freedom and forgiveness in the arms in a loving father.

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dialogue

I read this today and will attempt to live it a bit more ...

a gracious answer + knowledge of the issue at hand + common ground questions – pointed questions will often = fruitful dialogue

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Friday, October 23, 2009

perfect husband

We need to be so careful ...


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james 2.1-13

Our small group looked at James 2.1-13 last night. When we have these discussions I'm amazed at how we can so easily read at a high, almost superficial, level. The Word of God is rich and deep.

"In the divine Scriptures, there are shallows and there are deeps; shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim." ~ John Owen

As I reread the text last night, here is my take ... beyond the traditional caring for the poor ...

  • Rich men will come among you. The paradigm is that they are blessed by God for being righteous (Deut 7.6-15). Interestingly I think that in today's society we typically do not look upon the rich in a positive light ... but that's another issue.
  • We, who by the Spirit, ought to see into the hearts of man often assess by outward appearances.
  • Worse, our motives to do so are 'evil', i.e., personal gain, recognition, etc...
  • But God has chosen the poor to be rich. That's ironic right? Well that's because he is speaking in a way that only those who have ears can hear. Before, under the Law of Works, one does good and one is reward physically. Here we are speaking of the Law of Grace. He is not referring to the financially poor, he is speaking to the spiritually bankrupt (which by the way we are all were) and God has made those rich. Clearly the financially poor are not made rich, right? He is reinforcing that when we realize we are dead in sin, only then can we be made alive in Christ and that is by the Spirit, not by works.
  • The point the he is not speaking of financial poor and rich is reinforced with 'heirs of the kingdom' and 'promised to those who love him'.
  • More irony comes however as James turns his attention back to our treatment of the rich. The rich it seems oppress us and drag us into court. They blaspheme the name of God. What does that mean? Well they forgot by what means they became rich. They confused their efforts with God's grace. They thought, based on the Law of Works, that they really earned wealth. And now they intend to continue to benefit by their own means. How many of us lose sight that we first became bankrupt, then by grace were saved, and now for some reason think we have to be good to earn favor ... forgetting that the way on is the same as the way in, i.e., by grace.
  • So they blaspheme God because they fail to recognize Him as their source and they oppress those he loves. They neither honor God in themselves by reflecting His true image nor do they honor God by seeing Him in others.
  • We who are spiritual do the same when we interact with mankind based on external measures rather than by the Spirit peering deep into the heart.
Ok ... 'nough of that ...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

christ is still the way

“Most preachers approach the text with only one question in mind: What does this text instruct me to tell my people to do? But if we only tell people what to do without leading them to understand their dependence on the Savior to obey, then they will either be led to despair (I cannot do this) or false pride (If I work hard enough, I can do this). No one can serve God apart from Christ. A message full of imperatives (e.g., Be like…a commendable Bible character; Be good…by adopting these moral behaviors; Be disciplined…by diligence in these practices) but devoid of grace is antithetical to the gospel. These “be messages” are not wrong in themselves, but by themselves they are spiritually deadly because they imply that our path to God is made by our works.”

Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching

HT:PC

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Monday, October 19, 2009

global warming redux

I'm just not smart enough to know the truth on this but I am absolutely astonished when I hear what seem like intelligent people say all of the data is in and man-made global warming is a scientific fact that demands extreme response. I've noted some issues before, most recently here. Now there's questioning of some NASA data. Then there's this movie coming out. I don't know that it proves anything but again, it would seem that those on the 'other side' would be a little less indignant.



And while I cannot say that all of Christopher Monckton's concerns are valid, I can certainly say I share a number of them.


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are you a pharisee

Derick Dickens posts a pretty decent short list of questions to identify if you are a Pharisee. For me, the answer was far too often yes.

Through the years I have been called both a Pharisee and Libertine (how can I be both?). Some have condemned me for being too conservative and others too liberal. So, in an attempt to learn to be more Biblical, I have developed some tests to keep from being a pharisee. Do you think you can add more?

Here is my list:

1) What is my heart attitude towards those who disagree with me? The heart is deceitful and often I have an attitude that I am better because of some issue or knowledge. Yet, my goal should be first and foremost love but still never compromising on the truth.
2) Am I seeking to rebuke or reason? I have never successfully rebuked anyone, only the Lord has accomplished that task through His Holy Spirit. I, though, have laid out God’s Word clearly so that the Spirit could use that Word to rebuke. Yet, my job is to reason from Scripture and the Spirit’s job is to rebuke. Keep it in that order.
3) Would my attitude be taken by a 5 year old as soft and gentle? Being a father, I have said things in a manner to my children which wounded their heart. I have learned that when talking to my children I needed to lovingly convey my disagreement in a soft and gentle manner. If a child would take my words as wounding, I would believe an adult could too.
4) Is my attitude one of superiority or am I rightly reflecting the idea that I am a recipient of God’s grace? The truth I hold is not one I discovered because I am brilliant but this truth is what God chose to open my eyes to see even though I was blind. Even in the secular world, there are greater minds than my own. The difference is God’s Grace.
5) Am I more condemning of others in their lifestyle, actions, and doctrine or more condemning of myself? When I see others’ sins as more grievous than my own then I have faltered somewhere. My first response to God’s Word should be “Woe is me” not “Woe is them.”
6) Truth is Truth and I cannot waiver from it, but how certain am I that this is God’s Truth? Is this, historically, an issue in the Christian realm places a priority? Is this an issue in the Bible with such priorities?
7) During major issues, do I weep for their soul or do I resort in mere condemnation? A semi-famous Pastor found out another friend left Christianity for a heresy. My friend’s reaction? He wept over the soul, responded in a passionately loving display, and a pleading for the rejection of this heresy.
8) Is my spiritual exercises mostly private or mostly public? Religion is both public and private, but we should first focus on the private which will make the public more beautiful.

So, how do you know if you are a Pharisee? I am a guilty pharisee as my heart has failed in many ways. You, too, are probably a pharisee as I believe most of us are Pharisaical in some manner. May the Lord rid us of this Pharisaical attitude and may the Lord continue to sanctify us from this atrocity.

passionate commitment to the truth

Ok - I'm queasy about the positive reference to non-Christian religions and lack of linkage to Christianity but I could easily extrapolate what was said to be ok. That aside, a lot of very good insight here by Jonathan Haidt regarding the real difference between liberals and conservatives. I would love for more to be able to grasp this message ... and subsequently realize that their sound bites on FaceBook, blogs, even the media will only deepen the divide. We need to develop a greater passion for truth and we need to find better ways to properly use that to influence the world around us.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

the law and the gospel

From John Bunyan ...

Run, John, run, the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands,
Far better news the gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings.

free will

I would have said man does not have free will but with the definition of free offered by Sproul I can align ... the difficult task is to now answer, "What does a man want?" and "Where does that desire come from?"

Does man have a free will? This question is one of the most frequently asked questions of theology. At times, it is not voiced as a question but as an objection to the whole idea of a sovereign God.

At the heart of the problem is the definition of free will. What are we saying when we assert that man has a free will? Stated briefly, free will simply means that man has the ability to choose what he wants. Such ability requires the presence of a mind, a will, and a desire. If these faculties are present and functioning in a man, that man has a free will.

Free will does not mean that man can choose to do anything he pleases and necessarily succeed. We may choose to fly without the aid of mechanical devices. We can fall through the air by ourselves, but we cannot fly through it. We lack the necessary natural equipment (in this case, wings) to fly. This does not mean, however, that we are not free. It does mean that our "freedom" is limited by our natural physical limitations. My will may be outvoted by the will of a majority or by some higher power. Such conflicting power does not eliminate my freedom but may surely impose limits on it.

One of the most important limits on my freedom is myself. If we examine the workings of the will closely we run into a point of irony that is often overlooked in discussions about free will. The point is this: Not only may I choose what I want, I must choose what I want if my choice is really to be free. Choice is made according to desire. Without desire there could be no free choice--certainly no moral choice.

Coram Deo: God gave you a free will to choose. You choose according to your desires. Will your present desires lead to wise choices for the future?

Deuteronomy 30:19: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live."

Joshua 24:15: "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Psalm 25:12: "Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses."

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Friday, October 16, 2009

children see



Children see ... and more important, so does God ...

more climate change

Geoff Matheson is pretty sharp for his youthfulness. While I disagree with his take on man-made global warming, I like his personal, practical, and right-minded concern for the environment. These seem right to do whether you agree man-made global warming is an issue or like me, you do not.

Speaking of the latter, here are two articles I read yesterday. I'm still unclear how some can say the discussion is over.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

beyond perfection

“Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection.”

- John Calvin, Commentary on John

HT:OFI

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

wooden spoon trick

Why did I think of how we treat each other at church when I saw this?


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Monday, October 12, 2009

how dinosaurs became extinct

I thought these first two were the best theories but here's a third ...

4006209354 8D3D3D2408

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no limits

“Christ turned his back, voluntarily, deliberately, and decisively, upon all that belonged to personal glory, and all that conduced to personal gain. He recognized no limit to the extent to which His obedience to God in self-humbling must go. Whatever he found in himself to be expendable, he spent. While anything was left which could be poured forth, he poured it forth. Nothing was too small to give, or too great. This is the mind and the life which is commended to us by the example of Christ and approved by signal acts of God.”

- Alec Motyer, The Message of Philippians

HT:OFI

Sunday, October 11, 2009

right thinking

In a time when postmodern innovators are having success convincing the faithful that right thinking is unimportant, it is refreshing to hear John Piper, a 'right thinker', clearly articulate the truth. The position he articulates "is biblical" - a phrase some postmodern innovators don't like and are working to tear down. And the result of right thinking is a greater love for an almighty God - a position some postmodern innovators don't want to accept that men like Piper can have because their self-made image of god has no room for truth as found in what's biblical.

That aside, here's the post on right thinking ...

Right thinking about God exists for the sake of right feeling for God. This was the main point of John Piper’s Friday night message, “Think Christ,” at the Hirten Konferenz in Bonn, Germany.

Expanding upon Thursday night’s message, “Feel Christ,” Piper said that being satisfied in God will not glorify God if our satisfaction in God is not based on right thinking.

Piper gave 10 arguments for the indispensable role of right thinking and right knowing in the life of the Christian:

1. It is possible to have strong feelings and be lost if the feelings are not based on knowledge (Romans 10:1-2).
2. God has planned that thinking about the Bible is the means he uses to give understanding (2 Timothy 2:7).
3. Paul is given as an example of reasoning with the Bible (Acts 17:2-3).
4. Jesus assumes and requires that we will use logic in understanding both what is natural and what is spiritual (Luke 12:54-57).
5. Jesus refuses to deal with people who use their reason to conceal truth (Matthew 21:23-27).
6. Thirteen times in Paul’s letters, he asks the question, “Do you not know?” Paul assumes that if his readers knew something, they would see things differently, feel differently, and act differently.
7. The Bible tells us that Christ has given pastors and teachers to the church and tells us that they should be apt to teach—because God intends that the Bible be explained to ordinary folks who don’t have the time or ability to go as deep as God wants them to go. Christ would not have given teachers to the church if he thought they were not needed.
8. The Bible declares that we should proclaim the whole council of God (Acts 20:27). That implies that there is a coherent unified whole, a body of doctrine, that should be given to the church. It is not easy to find this whole council in a book with 1,500 pages! It’s mainly mental labor. Finding the unified biblical theology that the people need to know takes hard thinking.
9. The Bible is a book, which means that it must be read.
10. An example of how thinking and valuing and acting relate to each other is Matthew 7:7-12.

On the final point, John Piper said that thinking is necessary to get meaning from a text and to then present it to others. In particular he pointed to the first word in verse 12.

I read Matthew 7:12 for 25 years before I asked how it relates to the previous verse. Why does verse 12 begin with "so"? Because confidence that God will meet our needs is what frees us to take radical risks in loving other people. "Do unto others . . ." because you know God is going to answer your prayers and take care of you.

God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him. But that satisfaction in God does not glorify him unless it is based on right thinking and right knowing. God is all-satisfying because he’s a Father who gives us everything we truly need. And that kind of deep unshakeable satisfaction in our Father causes us to value things differently than the world. Therefore, we will love our neighbors. Right thinking with right feeling changes our behavior.

out of the mire

Interestingly some of the silliness (for lack of a better word) between postmodern innovators and some evangelicals - and I say silliness because then both sides get to stereotype the other based on concepts that aren't true - is the idea that evangelicals are about "getting to heaven". While this post by R.C. Sproul doesn't deal with that directly, I think it's a good reflection of the heart of a true evangelical in regard to humility, God's work in us, freedom and holiness in Christ, the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit, etc... which confronts the notion of self-reliance, a formula, a ticket to heaven, etc... The self-reliance being an error I sometimes see in postmodern innovators, the formula an error I sometimes see in both camps, and a ticket to heaven the focus some postmoderns wrongly superimpose on all evangelicals.

Our souls cannot climb out of the mire of sin because they are dead. Salvation comes not to those who cry out, "Show me the way to heaven," but to those who cry, "Take me there for I cannot."

Lest we see the sinner's prayer as mere technique, we must remember that Christ raises the dead that they might walk. We do not mumble the magic words and then wait to die. Christianity is about spiritual growth as well. It is about work, the hard work of sanctification. Regeneration is monergistic, God's work alone. Sanctification, the process by which we are made holy, is synergistic, God's work with us.

God's part is easy for Him. He needs no shortcuts because He never tires. We, though, must ever fight the temptation to seek the shortcut. No technique will make us holy. No technique of the Devil's, though, can stop the process of Christ making us into His image. Those whom He calls He sanctifies.

Our sanctification requires the Spirit of God and, because He has so ordered His world, sanctification requires the disciplined and repeated use of the means of grace. Five minutes a day of Bible study smells like technique. Arid, it is sure to fail. We must immerse ourselves in the Word of God. Then, as Jesus promised, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. Then we will be His disciples (John 8:31-32).

Coram Deo: Remember, God is at work in you. He never tires. Give thanks for the process that is underway.

John 8:31-32: "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'"

John 8:36: "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Psalm 40:2: "He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

just barely enough

Wow - this one made me think ... Francis Chan speaking on Prov 30.7-9 ...



HT:PC

reason #22

John Piper, reason #22 in Why Jesus Came to Die: To Bring Us to God (emphasis mine).

When all is said and done, God is the gospel. Gospel means “good news.” Christianity is not first theology, but news. It is like prisoners of war hearing by hidden radio that the allies have landed and rescue is only a matter of time. The guards wonder why all the rejoicing.

But what is the ultimate good in the good news? It all ends in one thing: God himself. All the words of the gospel lead to him, or they are not gospel. For example, salvation is not good news if it only saves from hell and not for God. Forgiveness is not good news if it only gives relief from guilt and doesn’t open the way to God. Justification is not good news if it only makes us legally acceptable to God but doesn’t bring fellowship with God. Redemption is not good news if it only liberates us from bondage but doesn’t bring us to God. Adoption is not good news if it only puts us in the Father’s family but not in his arms.

This is crucial. Many people seem to embrace the good news without embracing God. There is no sure evidence that we have a new heart just because we want to escape hell. That’s a perfectly natural desire, not a supernatural one. It doesn’t take a new heart to want the psychological relief of forgiveness, or the removal of God’s wrath, or the inheritance of God’s world. All these things are understandable without any spiritual change. You don’t need to be born again to want these things. But the evidence that we have been changed is that we want these things because they bring us to the enjoyment of God. This is the greatest thing Christ died for. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

Why is this the essence of the good news? Because we were made to experience full and lasting happiness from seeing and savoring the glory of God. If our best joy comes from something less, we are idolaters and God is dishonored. He created us in such a way that his glory is displayed through our joy in it. The gospel of Christ is the good news that at the cost of his Son’s life, God has done everything necessary to enthrall us with what will make us eternally and ever-increasingly happy, namely, himself.

Long before Christ came, God revealed himself as the source of full and lasting pleasure. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Then he sent Christ to suffer “that he might bring us to God.” This means he sent Christ to bring us to the deepest, longest joy a human can have. Hear then the invitation: Turn from “the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25) and come to “pleasures forevermore.” Come to Christ.

repost: jesus at 12 years old

In preparation for the service project this morning I read this old post and thought it was repost worthy ...

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

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

(2) Jesus never doubted who He was.

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


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

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

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

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

amillennialism

What's the deal with Amillennialism? I had been a Christian for nearly 30 years having only heard the word a couple of times and never gave it a second thought. Now, in the span of roughly a year, I've moved into that 'camp' and what's weird, now suddenly there's an overwhelming amount of information out on it ... and by people I've read and respected for years.

But first, my homeboy Iggy posts this video ...



With that out of the way, Kevin DeYoung tries to make sense of the Millennium. In part 1, he asks and answers, when does the Millennium occur? The simple answer, "The millenium occurs before Christ’s second coming, before Christ’s second coming." He then asks and answers, what is the the meaning of Satan being bound for 1000 years? The simple answer is that there are two truths held in tension.

Satan is the one who leads the whole world astray, and yet Satan is bound so that he may no longer deceive the nations. Not the same thing. The world is according to John the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, fleshliness, its corruption. Satan leads the world astray. But he’s bound such that the nations, people groups, countries, missions can be successful. So, he is a deceiver. He is leading astray. But the nations are also coming to Christ.

In part 2, DeYoung deals with "They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev 20.4)? The short answer, "This is a picture of believers who upon death come to life as disembodied souls and reign with Christ."

So now, with DeYoung's 'primer', you can enjoy this 2 hour video, "An Evening of Eschatology," a conversation about the end times with John Piper, Doug Wilson, Sam Storms, and Jim Hamilton.
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Friday, October 09, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

proper preaching

“I am increasingly convinced that so much in the state of the Christian church today is to be explained chiefly by the fact that for nearly a hundred years the church has been preaching morality and ethics, and not the Christian faith. It is this preaching of the ‘good life’, or being ‘a good little gentleman’, and of viewing religion as ‘morality touched by emotion’, as Matthew Arnold put it, that has been the curse. Such men have shed the doctrines; they dislike any idea of atonement, they dismiss the whole notion of the miraculous and the supernatural, and ridicule talk about re-birth. Christianity to them is that which teaches a man to live a good life (Life in the Spirit, 19).”

HT:PC

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Monday, October 05, 2009

our identity

“At the root of the human condition is a struggle for righteousness and identity. We long for a sense of acceptance, approval, security, and significance — because we were designed by God to find these things in him. But sin has separated us from God and created in us a deep sense of alienation. Speaking of the Jewish people in his own day, Paul writes, ‘[T]hey did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own’ (Rom. 10:3). We do the same thing. Theologically speaking, pretending and performing are just two sophisticated ways of establishing our own righteousness. When we pretend, we make ourselves out to be better than we are. When we perform, we are trying to please God by what we do. Pretending and performing reflect our sinful attempts to secure our own righteousness and identity apart from Jesus.

To really experience the deep transformation God promises us in the gospel, we must continually repent of these sinful patterns. Our souls must become deeply rooted in the truth of the gospel so that we anchor our righteousness and identity in Jesus and not in our selves. Specifically, the gospel promises of passive righteousness and adoption must become central to our thinking and living.”

- Bob Thune and Will Walker, The Gospel-Centered Life (World Harvest Mission, 2009), 19.

HT:OFI

the nature of sin

Home run David Wayne, home run!

This is the quote/explanation I have been looking for! In trying to explain the concept of sin to people I've looked for a short explanation which best sums up the nature of sin. I've never been quite happy with the standard explanations of the nature of sin because they usually somehow make their way to the idea that sin is something you do.

In my overeagerness to counter that I have sometimes thought that sin is something you are, not that you do, but that's not right either. We "are" not sin - we are image bearers. So the definition of sin falls somewhere in between or outside of those two things and I think Oswald Chambers nails it here - this is from the October 5 reading in "My Utmost for His Highest."

"The disposition of sin is not immorality and wrong-doing, but the disposition of self realization—I am my own god (italics mine). This disposition may work out in decorous morality or in indecorous immorality, but it has the one basis, my claim to my right to myself. When Our Lord faced men with all the forces of evil in them, and men who were clean living and moral and upright, He did not pay any attention to the moral degradation of.the one or to the moral attainment of the other; He looked at something we do not see, viz., the disposition."

Interestingly, in the rest of the reading for the day I think he is pretty weak on the concept of original sin, but I think he is right on in these words. I've always thought that one of the best bible verses for explaining the concept of sin is Luke 19:14; But his citizens​ hated​​ him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man​​ to be king​​ over us!’

In that light I think Chambers nails it.

Friday, October 02, 2009

perilous times

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O Lord, grant me the skill to sing your praise, for the bustle of this world is perilous.

- Anonymous, Early Welsh

HT:BR

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