Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

wax on inerrancy

Trevin Wax speaks on Inerrancy and Baggage.
Dumping the term while upholding the content may appear sophisticated and nuanced, but I believe it breeds more confusion than clarity. So, I’ll continue to affirm inerrancy. I”ll continue to teach it, to properly qualify it, and to reclaim it. To my friends who still don’t like the label, your baggage looks heavier to me.
I agree with him. While some do seem to be proponents of errancy, I think most are not. They simply don't like the baggage that has been attached to inerrancy. I get that. But in an effort to deal with it in what I've read, they have done damage to the truth of Scripture. I think we can hold to inerrancy and deal better with the baggage.

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paraprosdokians

I posted a series of these to Twitter and Facebook ... here is my source.

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to re-frame or re-interpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists.
  1. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
  2. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
  3. I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
  4. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  5. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.
  6. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  7. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
  8. We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.
  9. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
  10. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  11. Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.
  12. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
  13. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
  14. How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
  15. Some people are like Slinkies ... not really good for anything, but you can't help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.
  16. Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.
  17. I didn't say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.
  18. Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars but check when you say the paint is wet?
  19. Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?
  20. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
  21. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  22. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  23. The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!
  24. Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.
  25. A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.
  26. Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.
  27. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
  28. Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.
  29. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.
  30. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
  31. You're never too old to learn something stupid.
  32. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  33. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
  34. Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.
  35. A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.
  36. If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?
  37. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

strive ... he is returning

"Strive to live a courageous life. Confess Christ before men. Whatever station you occupy, in that station confess Christ. ... Strive to live a joyful life. Live like men who look for that blessed hope - the second coming of Jesus Christ." ~ J.C. Ryle, Holiness

truth time regarding homosexuality

I love the following issued by Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality:
  1. Homosexual practice is always wrong. To advocate for this lifestyle, including homosexual relationships, is also wrong. Advocacy of a sin is itself a sin.
  2. It is immoral to “mainstream” homosexuality to children in schools in the guise of teaching tolerance and diversity.
  3. No sincere Christian supports violence or hatred directed at homosexuals. In fact, Christians want homosexuals to accept Christ, repent of their sin and be forgiven — and change their lifestyle, as countless former “gays” have. Violence and abuse toward homosexuals is the work of people who reject Christian love and compassion.
  4. “Bullying” in any form is wrong and must be stopped. But it can be addressed without promoting acceptance of homosexuality. “Anti-bullying” measures must not become a Trojan Horse to advance the pro-“gay” agenda.
  5. Many homosexual activists are anti-religious bigots, stemming from their hatred of the Church for opposing homosexuality as a sin. Often these militants claim that religious people who oppose homosexuality are on a par with racists – a spurious and hateful analogy.
  6. Homosexuality has nothing to do with race. Skin color cannot be changed. In contrast, thousands of ex-lesbians and ex-gay men testify to the reality that homosexuality can be overcome.
  7. Driven by their hatred of moral opponents, homosexual activists like Human Rights Campaign are shamelessly exploiting the suicides of homosexual youth and violent attacks against homosexuals to demand that religious bodies stop speaking against homosexuality. Their aim is to silence all opposition.
  8. The liberal media – which is now practically an arm of the homosexual movement – is also promoting the false linkage between speech critical of homosexuality and gay suicides and violence against homosexuals. This must stop. The media must return to its proper role of reporting both sides on homosexuality – which starts by acknowledging that there is another side to this debate.
  9. Christians who believe that the proper response to anti-homosexual hatred in our society is to downplay biblical truth are na├»ve and misguided. Now more than ever, young people and all Americans need to hear the truth: that homosexuality is wrong, unnatural and often unhealthy (one in five “men who have sex with men” has HIV: CDC) – but that it can be overcome through Christ.

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clarifying missional

Kevin DeYoung provides some clarifying thoughts regarding missional. I want to highlight a few:

Let me say something at this point about the relatively new term “missional.” I do not have a problem with people putting “al” at the end of “mission.” More and more the word simply means “being involved in mission.” Or it is shorthand for “get out of your holy huddle and go engage your community with the gospel.” And I’m all for that. Every Christian should be. So I am not on a crusade to make people stop using the word missional, nor do I want you to be suspicious of everyone who does.
Amen! And then he outlines some more specifics:

(1) I am concerned that good behaviors are sometimes commended using the wrong categories. For example, many good deeds are promoted under the term “social justice” when I think “love your neighbor” is often a better category. Or, folks will talk about transforming the world, when I think being “a faithful presence in the world” is a better way to describe what we are trying to do and actually can do. Or, sometimes well meaning Christians talk about “building the kingdom” when actually the verbs associated with the kingdom are almost always passive (enter, receive, inherit). We’d do better to speak of living as citizens of the kingdom, rather than telling our people they build the kingdom.

(2) I am concerned that in our new found missional zeal we sometimes put hard “oughts” on Christians where there should be inviting “cans.” You ought to do something about human trafficking. You ought to do something about AIDS. You ought to do something about lack of good public education. When you say “ought” you imply that if the church does not tackle these problems we are being disobedient. It would be better to invite individual Christians in keeping with their gifts and calling to try to solve these problems rather than indicting the church for “not caring.”

(3) I am concerned that in all our passion for renewing the city or tackling social problems we run the risk of marginalizing the one thing that makes Christian mission Christian: namely, making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Now, having raised those concerns, I need to make sure you know what I am not saying. I do not want:

- Christians to be indifferent toward the suffering around them and around the world.
- Christians to think evangelism is the only thing in life that really counts or that helping the poor really only matters if it results in conversions.
- Christians to stop dreaming of creative, courageous ways to love their neighbors and impact their cities.

But here’s some of what I do want:

- I want the gospel—the good news of Christ’s death for sin and subsequent resurrection—to be of first importance in our churches.
- I want Christians freed from false guilt, freed from thinking the church is either responsible for most of problems in the world or responsible to fix all of these problems.
- I want the utterly unique task of the church—making disciples of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit to the glory of God the Father—put front and center, not lost in a flurry of humanitarian good deeds or environmental concerns.
Then, as if that isn't enough, DeYoung closes with these powerful points.

I affirm that faith without works is dead. I agree that the gospel should be adorned with good works. I agree that those saved by the gospel will live lives of compassion, justice, and love. I applaud and pray for more churches that do orphan care, address hunger issues, and tackle community problems with the aim of meeting human need and “putting in a good word for Jesus.”

So what is the mission of the church? The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus Christ now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father. In other words, the mission of the church is not equal to everything God is doing in the world, nor is it everything we do in obedience to Christ. The mission of the church is the Great Commission. As Kostenberger says, “the church ought to be focused in the understanding of its mission. Its activities should be constrained by what helps others to come to believe that the Messiah, the Son of God, is Jesus.”

But to say disciple-making is the “central” aim or our “priority,” or our “focus” is not to say that everything else is suspect. Galatians 6:10 says, “Do good to all people, especially to the household of faith.” I should also add that the language of “priority” does not mean evangelism or discipleship must happen temporally prior to any other kind of ministry. “Priority” doesn’t mean you do items 1-10 on your list and then you can tackle 11-15.

It does mean, however, that priorities ought to take, well, priority. We live in a world of finite time, finite people, and finite resources. Therefore, the church cannot do everything noble there is to do. If our mission is discipleship this will mean something for the church’s allocation of time, talents, and treasure. What that something looks like depends on the wisdom of the leadership of the local church. I don’t have a formula for what keeps disciple-making properly in the focus. Except to say this: if the church as a body tackles few community problems, but it is making disciples, and those disciples are individually living as disciples, the church is being faithful. Conversely, if we do everything else—serve, bless, renew the city, create culture, transform our schools—but do not make disciples, we are failing in our mission.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

another proper response to homosexuality

Again, I'm late and simply reposting what many of you have already read - but I wanted some of the emotional dust to settle.

It is very sad that Tyler Clementi took his own life. It is sad when anyone does. But it is also sad when people try to make more of this than what it is and worse, to promote lies and sin that will further the pain of the real issue.

I'm not interested in a debate about bullying or not. I'm not interested in speculating in regard to Clementi. I simply want to add a hearty amen to the words of Al Mohler in response to the claim by some that, "If the stigma attached to homosexuality were to disappear, persons who are convinced that they are homosexual in sexual orientation, along with those who are confused, would be free from bullying, the threat of exposure, and injury to their parents and loved ones."

Of course, Christians committed to biblical truth will recognize this as a demand to lie to sinners about their sin. The church cannot change its understanding of the sinfulness of homosexual acts unless it willfully disobeys the Scripture and rejects the authority of the Bible to reveal the truth about sin and sinfulness.

In other words, the believing church cannot surrender to the demand that we disobey and reject biblical truth. That much is clear. We cannot lie to persons about the sinfulness of their sin, nor comfort them with falsehood about their moral accountability before God. The rush of the liberal churches and denominations to normalize homosexuality is now a hallmark of their disobedience to the Bible.

But this is not the end of the matter, and we know it. When gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are wrong. Our concern about the sinfulness of homosexuality is not rooted in fear, but in faithfulness to the Bible — and faithfulness means telling the truth.

Yet, when gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are also right. Much of our response to homosexuality is rooted in ignorance and fear. We speak of homosexuals as a particular class of especially depraved sinners and we lie about how homosexuals experience their own struggle. Far too many evangelical pastors talk about sexual orientation with a crude dismissal or with glib assurances that gay persons simply choose to be gay. While most evangelicals know that the Bible condemns homosexuality, far too many find comfort in their own moralism, consigning homosexuals to a theological or moral category all their own.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

accepted?

I posted the following on Facebook yesterday:
I read this, "Jesus [came] to show the Father accepts you!" Yet I don't find it in Scripture in the context that it is meant. Can anyone offer support for this? Right now, it seems to be a popular liberal/postmodern/emerg* error. But I'd be interested in texts that state otherwise.
There are two common false notions; that God accepts us as we are and that Jesus came to demonstrate that acceptance. Neither could be further from the truth. God loves us and hates our rebellion. He wants us to repent. Jesus came to provide a way for us to die to ourselves and live through Him by paying the penalty of our rebellion. We are accepted only "in" Him.

The following posted at Of First Importance is from Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust), 47.

“The gospel remits the severity of the moral law. Wherein our personal obedience comes short, God will be pleased to accept us in our Surety. ‘He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.’ Eph. 1:6. Though our obedience be imperfect, yet, through Christ our Surety, God looks upon it as perfect.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

how to glorify god

"Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." — Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 1.

Kevin DeYoung presents twenty biblical ways to do that.
  • Give God verbal declarations of praise (Rev. 4:8-9).
  • Live a life of noticeable piety (Matt. 5:16; James 1:27; 1 Peter 2:12).
  • Ask God for things in Jesus’ name (John 14:13).
  • Bear fruit and show yourself to be a disciple of Jesus (John 15:8).
  • Declare the truth about Jesus (John 16:14).
  • Love your life less than God (John 21:19; 1 Peter 1:7; 4:16).
  • Worship God as God (Rom. 1:21).
  • Live a life of sexual purity (1 Cor. 6:20).
  • Live a life of generosity (2 Cor. 9:13).
  • Rejoice in God’s glory displayed in creation (Psalm 19:1).
  • Do the works of faith (2 Thess. 1:12).
  • Use your gifts in God’s strength (1 Peter 4:11).
  • Make sure everyone knows you’re not God (Acts 12:23).
  • Live a life of gratitude (Psalm 50:23; 2 Cor. 4:15).
  • In matters of liberty, seek the good of others (1 Cor 10:31).
  • Extend grace to sinners (2 Cor. 8:19).
  • Be a part of a local church (2 Cor. 8:23; Eph. 3:20-21).
  • Tell God you are wrong and he is right (Josh. 7:19; Jer. 13:16; Rev. 16:9).
  • Obey God (Lev. 10:3; Mal. 2:2).
  • Go from a Christ-despiser to a Christ-worshiper (Gal. 1:24).

approval

“The gospel brings me explosive news: my search for approval is over. In Christ I already have all the approval I need.”

- Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway, 2010), 56.

HT:FE

a new kingdom

As you prepare to vote, consider the following from R.C. Sproul ...

Evangelical Christians love America. Some see in her the last hope of creating a Christian nation. But it is not a Christian nation. It is pagan to the core. It is in danger of becoming, if it is not already, the new “Evil Empire.” The Mayflower Compact is a museum piece, a relic of a forgotten era. “In God We Trust” is now a lie.

Yes, we must always work for social reform. Yes, we must be “profane’ in Martin Luther’s sense of going out of the temple and into the world. We do not despise the country of our birth. But in what do we invest our hope? The state is not God. The nation is not the Promised Land. The president is not our King. The Congress is not our Savior. Our welfare can never be found in the city of man. The federal government is not sovereign. We live—in every age and in every generation—by the rivers of Babylon. We need to understand that clearly. We must learn how to sing the Lord’s song in a strange and foreign land.

America will fall. The United States will inevitably disintegrate. The Stars and Stripes will bleed. The White House will turn to rubble. That is certain. We stand like Augustine before the sea. We pray that God will spare our nation. If He chooses not to, we ask for the grace to accept its demise. In either case, we look to Him who is our King and to heaven, which is our home. We await the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.

Coram Deo: Are you looking to your King and to your eternal destiny, despite the circumstances around you? Keep your focus on the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.

1 Corinthians 15:50: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”

John 3:5: “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’”

2 Peter 1:11: “An entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

calvin on inerrancy

From the blog of Kevin DeYoung ... "did [John Calvin] believe the Bible was true only in matter of faith and practice or did he believe the Scriptures to be completely without error in all they affirm? In short, was Calvin an inerrantist?"

The answer, in a word, is yes. For Calvin, we “will be safe from the danger of erring” so long as we “inquire from the Scriptures what is right and true” (Calvin’s Comm., Matthew 22:29). Indeed, it is our wisdom to embrace “without finding fault, whatever is taught in Sacred Scripture” (Inst. I.xviii.4). The biblical writers were, according to Calvin, “organs of the Holy Spirit” uttering only what they were commissioned to declare (Calvin’s Comm., 2 Timothy 3:16). The Holy Spirit is “the Author of Scriptures” (Inst. I.ix.2). Consequently, “we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it” (Calvin’s Comm., 2 Tim. 3:16). For Calvin, Scripture is so well-ordered, so unified, so beautiful and perfect that it “savor[s] of nothing earthly” (Inst. I.viii.1).

It is not hard to find quotations like these throughout Calvin’s writings. For example, according to the Genevan reformer, the apostles were “sure and genuine scribes of the Holy Spirit” (Inst. IV.viii.9). God so controlled the process of inspiration that Calvin can speak of the Spirit “in a certain measure dictating the words” of Scripture (Inst. IV.viii.8). By this Calvin does not mean the human authors were passive copyists who simply wrote down what they heard from heaven. He means that the process of inspiration was so complete and total as to yield the same result as if the Bible were nothing but dictation. God put into the minds of the men who wrote Scripture what should be written (Inst. I.vi.2) and even directed their pens (Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Argument).

Calvin was not naive about the apparent discrepancies in Scripture, nor did he expect biblical numbers to be exact. He accepted that Scripture uses phenomenological language and figures of speech. He often probed the difficult issues stemming from mistakes in translation and transmission. All that to say, he made the same sort of distinctions careful modern-day inerrantists make.

More to the point, however, he held to the same view of verbal, plenary inspiration. Calvin never rejected the truthfulness of any Scriptural affirmation. He believed the Bible to be the Word of God and without error. He argued on many occasions that to disagree with the Bible was to disagree with God himself. Conversely, those submissive to God, he maintained, would submit themselves to the Scriptures. They would never be led by the Spirit away from the Bible, for the Bible is the Spirit’s book.

In conclusion, let me humbly and confidently suggest that those wishing to stand downstream from Calvin ought to be standing in the tradition of Hodge, Machen, and Boice . Like those inerrantists, not to mention the vast majority of Christians throughout history traveling down the wide river of mere Christianity, Calvin understood that “we owe to Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God.”

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Friday, October 15, 2010

hyatt on sex

Bob Hyatt provides the following excellent summary from his sermon on the theology of sex (pt 1 & pt 2):

When sex takes the form of a search for something, “are you the one? Will you give me what I need?” the search for love and unconditional acceptance, or even just the search for release, it breaks us even further. But when sex comes as an expression of something that’s been found, as a living expression of the unconditional, never-ending acceptance that a husband and wife have promised one another, then it can become very much a part of putting us back together again…

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caring for sinners



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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

hell

It's good to be reminded (1) what we've been redeemed to and (2) what we have been redeemed from. My friend Geoff Hill posts a timely reminder on the latter.

He concludes, "we are called to preach as His representatives: with biblical balance, with a Christocentric focus, with the humanity of those who realize their own need of grace before the judgment seat of Christ, with a willingness to suffer in the light of the coming glory, with love and compassion in our hearts, and in a way that commends and adorns the doctrine of God our Savior."

kingdom of god graphic

For what it's worth, here's a graphic depicting the Kingdom of God. Not great but not bad ...



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the story

“The kingdom of God is the new and final age that began with the coming of Jesus. His kingdom is not part of the present age — an age where the flesh reigns; where people are divided, relationships are broken, and suspicion and competition dominate; where money, sex, and power are abused; where leaders are first and servants are last; where behavior is controlled by laws, and identity is defined by race, gender, or social standing; and where gifts and resources are used for the advancement of oneself.

Rather, the kingdom of God is the new age. It is the age of the Spirit (Matt 12:28). It is the age of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). The kingdom of God is about the renewal, restoration, and reconciliation of all things, and God has made us a part of this great story of salvation.”

- Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation (Jenkintown, Pa.; World Harvest Mission, 2006), iii.

HT:FE


At the same time, the Kingdom has always existed and has been manifest, but an inauguration of sorts happened with the first coming of Christ and it will be completed with the second coming.

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a daughter needs a dad

I haven't read the book Why A Daughter Needs A Dad: 100 Reasons but Justin Holcomb recommends it a provides the following points - I love this!!!

A daughter needs a dad...
  • to show her that true love is unconditional
  • to teach her that her value as a person is more than the way she looks
  • to teach her that family is more important than work
  • to show her that a man can be trustworthy
  • to be the safe spot she can always turn to
  • to teach her that a man’s strength is not the force of his hands or his voice, but the kindness of his heart
  • to be the standard against which she will judge all men
  • to help her take risks that will build her confidence
  • to hold her when she cries
  • to teach her she is important by stopping what he is doing to watch her

Sunday, October 10, 2010

the best news

Yes! Amen! I have a new identity!

“The gospel is the best news we could ever hear. The gospel is about Jesus Christ and his power to transform our lives and relationships, communities, and ultimately, the nations. Through this gospel, we are freely given a new identity — an identity not based on race, social class, gender, a theological system, or a system of rules and regulations. Rather it is a new and perfect identity based solely on faith in Jesus — an identity that defines every aspect of our lives. We are now forgiven, righteous, adopted, accepted, free, and heirs to everything that belongs to Christ. So even our sin, weakness, and failures do not define who we are. Because of this good news, we no longer have to hide from our sin and pretend that we have it all together, for God knows and loves us as we are, not as we pretend to be.”

- Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation, 2nd ed. (Jenkintown, Pa.; World Harvest Mission, 2006), i.

HT:FE

what is your god

Ray Ortlund challenges us with the following ...

“What is it to have a god? What is God? Answer: A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need. To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe him with our whole heart. As I have often said, the trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true God. On the other hand, if your trust is false and wrong, then you have not the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God. That to which your heart clings and entrusts itself is, I say, really your God.”

Martin Luther, The Large Catechism (Philadelphia, 1959), page 9.

It follows that one can worship a false god, with destructive impact, without intending to or even realizing it. Converting to Christ introduces us not only to him but also to ourselves and the false trusts/gods that lurk in our self-evident thoughts and natural feelings, especially our religious feelings.

resurgence bible reading

Dave Dorr reminds of how not to read the Bible over at Resurgence.

Two opposite errors exist in approaching the Bible. One is not to read it. The other is to know it so well that you miss Jesus. Jesus pointed out this error: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

Are you surprised to believe this error exists? We constantly talk about reading and studying the Bible as an unqualified good. But clearly, the way we read the Bible is just as important as reading it.

Missing Jesus

So how can you know if you might be reading the Bible, looking for life, but missing Jesus completely? Here are a few clues:

- You read the Bible to reinforce what you believe, not challenge what you believe.
- You imagine yourself as the type of person who believes the things you read about.
- You think the things you read are especially applicable for people you know, but not for you.
- You imagine yourself as the hero of the story, not the person or people who are unbelieving. You frequently ask in your heart, “How could these people be so unbelieving?” For instance, when you read the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert you might say, “How could those Israelites grumble about food and drink when they just saw God part the Red Sea?” But you are completely blind to how you grumble at work or home when you’re afraid of losing something.
- You love the attention garnered from your knowledge of the Bible, but give little thought to how you have applied what you have read.

Maybe the Bible should come with a warning label: “Beware: reading this book incorrectly will make you twice as fit for hell as when you began.”

Don’t miss Jesus. Go to him and find life.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

what's needed

For my taste, I prefer Michael Wittmer's simple chart explaining what Christians believe. It provides a simple delineation between what should we believe, what we must not reject, and what we must believe.

Dsb,+What+Christians+Believe
In contrast, Michael Patton's chart, true to his nature, has gotten more complex ... but it's still helpful.

essentials-non-essentials-l
Patton then describes what is essential for salvation:

These are the most essential doctrines of all essentials. This includes what every Christian should always be willing to die for. In essence, if someone does not believe the doctrines that are “essential for salvation,” they are not saved.

- Belief in God (there is no such thing as an atheistic Christian)

Issues pertaining to the person and work of Christ:

- Belief in Christ’s deity and humanity (1 John 4:2-3; Rom. 10:9)
- Belief that you are a sinner in need of God’s mercy (1 John 1:10)
- Belief that Christ died on the cross and rose bodily from the grave (1 Cor 15:3-4)
- Belief that faith in Christ is necessary (John 3:16)

As with all of them, I am sure that there are some ancillary matters that could be included, but this gives you the key doctrines. Without these, you simply don’t have any sense of what it means to be a Christian present.

Then he discusses what is essential for historic Christian orthodoxy:

These include beliefs “essential for salvation” but are broader in that they express what has been believed by the historic Christian church for the last two thousand years, no matter what tradition. This is expressed by the Vincentian Canon (434 A.D.): “that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all.” The exception of fringe movements has never been valid for this canon. It is simply asking, “What have all Christians everywhere always believed?”

- The doctrine of the Trinity as expressed at Nicea
- The doctrine of the Hypostatic Union (Christ is fully man and fully God) as expressed at Chalcedon
- The belief in the future second coming of Christ
- A belief in the inspiration and authority of Scripture
- A belief in eternal punishment for the wicked
- A belief in God’s timeless existence
- Belief that Christ is the only way to the Father

Then comes what is essential for traditional orthodoxy:

Again, these will necessarily include all of those from the two previous categories, but add some distinctives of their own. Essentials here will include all of those that are foundational to one of the three main Christian traditions: Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Roman Catholicism. These are beliefs that distinguish one tradition from the next, but are not absolutely essential from the broader Christian worldview expressed above.

Some Protestant distinctives would include:

- General belief in the major pronouncements of the first seven ecumenical councils (325-787 AD)
- Belief in the necessity for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
- Belief that justification is through faith alone on the basis of Christ alone
- Belief that Scripture alone has ultimate authority on all matters of faith and practice
- The canon of Scripture made up of 66 books (excluding the Deuterocanonical books)

Some Roman Catholic distinctives that would include:

- Belief in transubstantiation (the bread and wine turn into the actual body and blood of Christ)
- Belief that justification is through faith and works
- Belief that both Scripture and unwritten tradition have ultimate authority as they are interpreted by the Magisterium
- Belief in the authority of twenty-one ecumenical councils
- Belief that the Pope is the infallible vicar of Christ
- Belief in the Marian dogmas
- Belief that the canon includes the Deuterocanonical books

Some Eastern Orthodox distinctives that would include:

- Belief in the infallibility of the first seven ecumenical councils (325-787 AD)
- Belief that the liturgy of the Church is part of the Gospel
- Rejection of substitutionary atonement and the imputation of Adam’s sin
- Salvation by grace through faith as God works these out through our unification with Him (theosis)
- Traditional inclusion of the Deuterocanonical book (although there is some debate about this)

Then essential for denominational orthodoxy and so on ...

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

his death is our life

“Christ’s death is the Christian’s life. Christ’s cross is the Christian’s title to heaven. Christ ‘lifted up’ and put to shame on Calvary is the ladder by which Christians ‘enter into the holiest,’ and are at length landed in glory.

It is true that we are sinners–but Christ has suffered for us. It is true that we deserve death–but Christ has died for us. It is true that we are guilty debtors–but Christ has paid our debts with His own blood. This is the real Gospel! This is the good news! On this let us lean while we live. To this let us cling when we die. Christ has been ‘lifted up’ on the cross, and has thrown open the gates of heaven to all believers.”

- J. C. Ryle

HT:OFI

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

don't water it down

In Why We Love The Church, Kevin DeYoung addresses the well-meaning postmodern innovator who would claim that they don’t want “a hijacked Jesus who is an openhearted, never-offending, good moral teacher.” To be sure, and DeYoung acknowledges this, not all liberals set off to water down or sell out the Gospel. At the same time DeYoung points out that this is in fact the untended consequence of many statements employed to reach the nonChristian.

An example he offers of this is to describe Jesus as a “transcendent yet personal God who loves and accepts you perfectly, who wants to shape you and give your life deep meaning and purpose. This is the Jesus I want to describe, even if the actions and attitudes of Christ followers have not always represented this to you.”

What’s wrong with that? DeYoung rightly points out that this idea of God has “shaved off the sharp edges of the Gospel. No one will be offended” by this presentation. And not that we want to offend for the purpose of offending, but this is not the Jesus the apostles preached. While it is true that Jesus is transcendent and personal, it is also true that “He warned of judgment and demanded repentance. He spoke freely of sin, salvation, and the necessity of new birth. The apostles preached Christ dead, buried, and raised for our justification. They preached Christ and Him alone. They told of all that God had accomplished in Christ for miserable sinners. That was there message and the world hated them for it.”

My friends, the liberal message, under any umbrella, emerg*, postmodern, etc… is off track with the message of the Gospel. They have reinvented God and love and what it means to represent Him and live is His Kingdom in their own image. This we must not accept. This is not a message of salvation but one of damnation. We must present the true Gospel and the living Christ.

DeYoung continues with this warning and encoragement:

It would be wrong to wear unpopularity as a sure marker of our faithfulness. But by the same token, we should not assume we failed just because outsiders dislike us.

He then adds this from Andy Crouch:

I’m not eager for us to manage perceptions of Christians, Christianity, or Christ. Jesus, thankfully, doesn’t need our spin control.

Jesus asks us to represent Him in truth. To live by the Spirit, bearing fruit of the Spirit. And thereby being His ambassadors to those who need Him and the life that comes only through Him.

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Monday, October 04, 2010

nothing new

David Smith reminded us this past Sunday of our Lord's words from Revelation 2.

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’


Amazingly, the liberal, or in today's vernacular, the emerg* or postmodern, pride themselves on "not judging" or "loving/accepting" all. Of course, to do so they have redefined love (and even God) away from the love/God of the Bible. Interestingly, Jesus clearly states that He hates the works of these. Jesus even commends the church of Ephesus for testing what teachers bring them for consistency with the truth they have been taught and for not bearing with those who are evil. Yet two thousand years later many who claim to be part of the church brag about their openness and accepting of those who embrace a life of sin.

On the other hand, a word to us, we cannot get so caught in the fight against those who rail against truth that in doing so we lose sight of our first love, Christ Jesus Himself. Kevin DeYoung recently quoted J.I. Packer's warning from the New Dictionary of Theology warning of what inerrancy can mistakenly entail.

Some evangelicals who affirm that Scripture is infallible, never misinforming or misleading us, will not call it inerrant because they think that word tainted by association. They see it as committing its users to: 1. rationalistic apologetics that seek to base trust in the Bible on proof of its truth rather than on divine testimony to it; 2. a docetic view of Scripture that obscures its humanity; 3. unscholarly exegesis that lacks semantic soundness and historical precision; 4. unplausible harmonizing, and unscientific guesswork about textual corruption where inconsistencies seem to appear; 5. a theology preoccupied with peripheral details and thus distracted from Christ, who is the Bible’s focal centre. (338)

Let's take care. Scripture is inerrant and infallible. We can us it as a standard by which to live and to judge (2 tim 3.16-17) and while we can love it as God-breathed, it is really not the object of our love. Jesus the Christ is the one who should occupy our affections. Let us set our hearts on Him and use His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit to live rightly and thereby not be guilty of the failing of the church of Ephesus nor the sin of the Nicolaitans of today.

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