Monday, January 31, 2011

church invite

Trevin Wax pointed out this great video by Grace Community Church of San Antonio. It's a "before we tell you who we are, we want to tell you who we were." It's excellent. And it's timely.

I've recently engaged in conversation with those who do not believe homosexuality is sin. What became evident in the conversations is that most of those on "the other side" really wrestled with the entire concept of sin and redemption and how once redeemed, we interact with those in need of redemption. They continued to defend their position that homosexuality is not sin based on a "I am what I am" or "it's hateful to call X sin" or etc... They simply could not accept that it was appropriate to confront sin, to not identify a person with the sin/temptation they wrestled with, etc...

Anyway, enjoy this wonderful depiction of God's amazing grace.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

rights or sin

In the discussion regarding whether or not homosexuality is sin and whether or not it is ok for a Christian address sin as sin, David Hayward finally states in his defense of thinking, "What it comes down to is rights." I think this is a good summary, for Hayward and others, this is the crux of it. For me, it's what has God told us and how is He glorified.

The gap is larger than an interpretation of a single issue.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Some great quotes this morning from on-line friends Barry Simmons and Robert Spencer:

The measure of our new self in Christ—the renewed mind—is the degree to which we look away from ourselves to Christ as our treasure. If Christ is more to you, you are more. If Christ is less to you, you are less. Your measure rises and falls with your measure of him. Your valuing him is the value that you have. Your esteeming him is the esteem that you have. Your treasuring him is the treasure that you are. ~ John Piper "Assessing Ourselves with Our God-Assigned Measure of Faith, Part 2"

In reality there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history. For, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility. ~ Ben Franklin

Inflated views of ourselves are very dangerous to our soul. In America we believe the opposite, especially advertising agencies. Exalting the self is not perilous; it is profitable. On the billboard behind our church on 6th Street you can read a McDonalds ad: “Me, myself and my salad.” Advertisers, educators, counselors, human resource managers, coaches, politicians, and pastors will give an account some day for how they exploited the suicidal tendency of the human mind toward pride.

Paul does the opposite. He does what love demands. He warns against it in verse 3: “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” In other words, Paul makes the first task of the renewed Christian mind the obliteration of pride and the cultivation of humility. What’s new about the renewed mind? Pride is put to death; humility begins to grow. ~ John Piper "Assessing Ourselves with Our God-Assigned Measure of Faith, Part 2"

the low view

OsteenPastors and other leaders within the AVC have always been charged with hosting those who advocate sin within their churches. To some degree that may have always been true but I perceive it to be more so today. And I I think it goes further. Some AVC pastors promote these sins themselves. Under the guise of grace or enlightenment, these leaders have adopted a low view of Scripture.

I recently wrote to my pastor expressing my concern on this topic. In that, I referenced Phyllis Tickle, who while not in the AVC, has been embraced by some within the denomination and whose words, while illogical, ring true in observation.
Phyllis Tickle, like most emerg* (and potentially one I'd list as heretic), has a poor grasp of truth yet she bears listening to for the purpose of triggering some introspection. In the Great Emergence (2008), she wrote that the erosion of the authority of sola scriptura will have been in 4 stages: the end of slavery as a biblically justified practice, the acknowledgement of the reality of divorce and that those who suffer it might find total restitution in the eyes of God, the ascendancy of woman to ministry, and finally (and as yet incomplete), an acceptance of homosexuals into the Church. Added to this she includes the Pentecostal and Charismatic renewals (the Vineyard movement getting special mention) in which the Holy Spirit played an increased role in questions of Authority.
Today I read a former Vineyard pastor who typifies those who have adopted this false notion of love and truth. David Hayward wrote a post regarding Al Mohler's response to the recent Piers Morgan CNN interview with Joel and Victoria Osteen on the topic of homosexuality. In his post, Hayward noted Mohler's praise of Osteen's tenacious stand for the Scriptural truth that homosexuality is a sin. Mohler wrote:
To his credit, Osteen did answer his question, and by staking his position on the Bible’s teaching that homosexual acts are sinful, he took the only road available to anyone with any substantial commitment to the truthfulness of the Bible.
Hayward then cites N.T. Wright's position regarding the sinful nature of homosexuality:
Interviewer: So a Christian morality faithful to scripture cannot approve of homosexual conduct?
Wright: Correct. That is consonant with what I’ve said and written elsewhere.
Hayward adds, "It is obvious by now that endless exegetical analysis of the scriptures will only take us so far." I agree because endless exegetical analysis is not what we are called to. We called to subsequently live the life we find in Truth. Sadly, that's not what Hayward means by these true words. He really means that at some point our reason must override what we find in Scripture. Hayward continues:
So many things besides what the text itself is saying, such as the culture, time, the ad hoc nature of the documents, the human aspect of the texts, etc., must be taken into account. We now realize that the biggest problem is our hermeneutic… our own biases, blind-spots, prejudices and ignorance as we approach the texts.
Interestingly, a current Vineyard pastor, Frank Emanuel, weighs in here (as he does elsewhere), expressing his opinion based on a low view of Scripture, that homosexuality is not sin, "we need to rethink homosexuality, because what we have today is not at all represented in any Biblical texts."

That's code for, "where one agrees with the text, it is truth and where one does not, we need to employ our faulty reason."

Hayward then employs a common scare tactic citing the death of a gay activist in Uganda and says, "American evangelicals visiting Uganda insist that a strictly biblical attitude be taken towards homosexuals. This is the result. How strictly biblical do we want to be?"

First, Hayward who would rightly confront others using scare tactics somehow links calling homosexuality sin to causing murder. He later (in the comments) tries to cover his blunder by saying he was only asking the question. Regardless, he makes an irresponsible and unsubstantiated link. And worse, he clouds the truth.

My answer to his question - I was to be strictly fully biblical! The clarification is fully. Hayward would have us call Scripture and those who stand by it into question by appealing to who images of those who have failed to live the whole of Scripture. He doesn't consider the redemption found in the whole. He instead finds fault in the part and then calls the whole into question. His is the path of destruction. He dresses his position as loving but it is nothing of the sort. True love exposes sin but then offers redemption, mercy, and grace. I thank God that we can be strictly and fully biblical and we don't have to settle for less.

Finally, what about Piers Morgan and that interview? Morgan notes several times that people would be angry at Osteen while implying that Osteen is that one that is angry. Morgan implies that Osteen should not set himself up as judge. His basis for accusing Osteen of this is (1) Osteen saying something is wrong and (2) the influence Osteen has over a large audience. Interestingly Morgan is accusing Osteen on his international talk show ...

Additionally, Morgan tells us he doesn't see God as a God of redemption. He implies that people get well through their shear effort and that homosexuality isn't as "easy" as other addictions - huh? He even suggests that people other than homosexuals choose their addictions - wow! And it goes on and on ... yet few seem to notice the failed logic and the utter depravity of fallen mind. Morgan is applauded because he reflects the worldview of our fallen creation.

I understand why (and expect) the world doesn't question him and mindlessly accepts his reasoning against Osteen. My frustration however is with those claiming to represent Christ buying into the same lies. Renew your minds.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

how to get friends to church

Pew Haul - missioning made easy ...

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seed planting

John Wimber once said, "Proclamation of a faulty gospel will produce faulty at best, weak Christians. All too often, instead of a call to the Lordship of Christ and His Kingdom, people hear a Gospel that emphasizes more about self: Come to Jesus & get this or that. This is not the costly Kingdom that Jesus proclaims, "If you want to save your life, you first must lose it."

My friend Barry Middleton added to that with the following words of wisdom.
You can plant a seed to grow a tree, once the tree grows, you can cut off its limbs, its branches, and it will still be a strong tree.

If you plant a seed that has been broken, cracked, or is deformed in any way, the tree that comes forth with be a complete deformity and will not have a strong root system..

Most of the so called gospel that is being preached (sewn) today, is deformed ... thus the problems in the church.

revelation in one sentence

From Josh Harris:
In his free online commentary on Revelation Vern Poythress writes, "You can summarize its message in one sentence: God rules history and will bring it to its consummation in Christ."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

object of faith

"If the object of your faith is a particular outcome for your situation, your faith will be as weak as your wisdom. But if the source and object of your faith is Almighty God, even if it is the weak mustard-seed variety, your faith will be enough for whatever God allows into your life." - Nancy Guthrie


obama corrupts language

From Peter Wehner, On Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Obama Corrupts Political Language.
On the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s pro-choice decision in Roe v. Wade, President Obama said in a statement that Roe “affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.”

To which one might ask: since when is lethal violence used on the defenseless and the most vulnerable members of our society considered an intrusion on “private family matters”?

This line of argument is absurd. Would the president argue that our laws should be silent on matters of spousal and child abuse? After all, based on the Obama Criterion, those, too, might qualify as “private family matters.”

The president’s statement that abortion on demand affirms a “fundamental principle” is evidence of a man who is willing to corrupt the English language in order to advance an ideological agenda — and in this instance, a particularly vicious and brutal agenda.

In his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell wrote, “In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible.” He spoke about “the decadence of our language” and how “language can also corrupt thought.” And he alerted his readers to the fact that “Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Pure wind is not solid — and taking the life of the innocent unborn is neither a “fundamental principle” nor a “private family matter.”

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The New Bible Dictionary on Mt 5.5 ...
In the NT meekness (prautēs and adjective praus) refers to an inward attitude, whereas *gentleness is expressed rather in outward action. It is part of the fruit of Christlike character produced only by the Spirit (Gal. 5:23, av). The meek do not resent adversity because they accept everything as being the effect of God’s wise and loving purpose for them, so that they accept injuries from men also (as Moses above), knowing that these are permitted by God for their ultimate good (cf. 2 Sa. 16:11). The meekness and gentleness of Christ was the source of Paul’s own plea to the disloyal Corinthians (2 Cor. 10:1). He enjoined meekness as the spirit in which to rebuke an erring brother (2 Tim. 2:25, av), and when bearing with one another (Eph. 4:2). Similarly, Peter exhorted that the inquiring or arguing heathen should be answered in meekness (1 Pet. 3:15, av). Supremely meekness is revealed in the character of Jesus (Mt. 11:29, av; 21:5, av), demonstrated in superlative degree when he stood before his unjust accusers without a word of retort or self-justification.

starbucks trenta

The Starbucks Trenta - excessive?


the cross is humbling

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

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Not every word uttered in agony or despair requires reproof (Job 6.26).

ordo salutis

From Credo House's Theological Word of the Day, Ordo Salutus:

(Latin, “order of salvation”)

Refers to the successive order of events in the process or event of salvation. This order includes necessities such as predestination, regeneration, faith, justification, repentance, atonement, and glorification. Depending on one”s particular stance on theological issues having to do with salvation, he or she would place these events in a different sequence. For example, the Calvinist would normally place regeneration before faith in their ordo, while the Arminian would see regeneration as a result of faith. The Roman Catholic would see justification as an event and a process that takes place throughout the Christian”s life, while Protestants would see justification as a definite event resulting from faith. Therefore, the Roman Catholic and Protestant ordo would differ from one another.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

i belong to him

"I belong to Him simply because He deliberately chose to create me as the object of His own affection." ~ Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

god works to show his glory in us

God, the one who helps us, never sleeps (Psa 121.2-3). In fact, He goes "to and fro" to show his might on behalf of those of us that trust Him (2 Chron 16.9).

pregnancycare of cincinnati

I love the purpose of PregnancyCare of Cincinnati.
  • to share god's truth about the sanctity of human life
  • to show parents the value of choosing life for their unborn child
  • to demonstrate Christ's love and mercy in hopes of guiding people to his saving grace
  • to support and encourage couples who are trying to follow God's plan for sexuality, marriage, and parenting
While intending to save babies, they have managed to not become "cause-centered" but to remain Gospel and Christ-centered.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

spurgeon on calvinism and the gospel

"I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor." ~ Charles Spurgeon, A Defense of Calvinism


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Thursday, January 20, 2011

are you a calvinist?

Here's John Piper's advice on how to respond when asked, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .”
I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 3:1–4; Romans 8:7).

I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)

I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)

When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life. (Ephesians 2:4–5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 2:29; Ephesians 2:8–9; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:7; Philippians 3:9)

I am eternally secure not mainly because of anything I did in the past, but decisively because God is faithful to complete the work he began—to sustain my faith, and to keep me from apostasy, and to hold me back from sin that leads to death. (1 Corinthians 1:8–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:25; John 10:28–29; 1 John 5:16)

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the spirit is essential

"The Father has elected, and the Son has redeemed; but until the Spirit (who is the last cause) has wrought his part also, we cannot be saved. For he comes in the Father’s and in the Son’s name and authority, to put the last hand to the work of our salvation, by bringing all the fruits of election and redemption home to our souls in this work at effectual vocation." — John Flavel, quoted by Fred Sanders in The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything


gospel-centered life

In his excellent post on Gospel-Centered, Joe Thorn writes (emphasis mine):
... the gospel-centered life is a life where a Christian experiences a growing personal reliance on the gospel that protects him from depending on his own religious performance and being seduced and overwhelmed by idols. The gospel centered life produces ...

grudem on 1 Cor 13.10

Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology (buy it!) ... starting at page 1032 ... I've added some emphasis ...

Does 1 Corinthians 13:8–13 Tell Us When Miraculous Gifts Will Cease? Paul says:

Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:8–13)

This passage is important to the discussion because in it Paul mentions the gift of prophecy as something that is “imperfect,” and then says that what is “imperfect” will “pass away” (1 Cor. 13:10). He even says when this will happen: “when the perfect comes.” But when is that? And even if we can determine when it is, does that mean that Paul had in mind something that would answer this “cessation” question for the church today? Can the gift of prophecy in this passage be representative of miraculous gifts in general in the church age?

a. The Purpose of 1 Corinthians 13:8–13: Paul interrupts his discussion of spiritual gifts with chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians, in which he intends to put the entire discussion of gifts in proper perspective. It is not enough simply to “seek the greater gifts” (12:31a, author’s translation). One must also “seek after love” (14:1, author’s translation), thus coupling proper goals with proper motives. Without love, the gifts are without value (13:1–3). In fact, Paul argues, love is superior to all the gifts and therefore it is more important to act in love than to have any of the gifts.

In order to show the superiority of love, Paul argues that it lasts forever, whereas the gifts are all temporary (13:8). Verses 9–12 further explain why the gifts are temporary. Our present knowledge and prophesying are partial and imperfect (v. 9), but someday something perfect will come to replace them (v. 10). This is explained by the analogy of a child who gives up childish thought and speech for the thought and speech of an adult (v. 11). Paul then elaborates further on verses 9–10 by explaining that our present perception and knowledge are indirect and imperfect, but that someday they will be direct and perfect (v. 12).

In this argument Paul connects the function of prophecy with the time of its cessation. It fills a certain need now, but does so only imperfectly. When “the perfect” comes, that function will be better fulfilled by something else, and prophecy will cease because it will be made obsolete or useless (this is the probable nuance of the Greek term used here, καταργέω (G2934) “pass away” in vv. 8, 10). So the overall function of 1 Corinthians 13:8–13 is to show that love is superior to gifts like prophecy because those gifts will pass away but love will not pass away.

b. 1 Corinthians 13:10: The Cessation of Prophecy When Christ Returns: Paul writes in verse 10, “But when the perfect comes the imperfect will pass away.” The phrase “the imperfect” (Gk. ἐκ μέρους “partial, imperfect”) refers most clearly to knowing and prophesying, the two activities that are said to be done “partially, imperfectly” in verse 9 (also using in both cases the same Greek phrase, ἐκ μέρους). To bring out this connection, we could translate,

Love never fails. Whether there be prophecies, they will pass away; whether there be tongues, they will cease; whether there be knowledge, it will pass away. This is because we know imperfectly and we prophesy imperfectly—but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.

Thus, the strong links between the statements are made clear by the repetition of two key terms, “pass away” and “imperfect.”

No doubt Paul also intended tongues to be included in the sense of verse 9 as among those activities that are “imperfect,” but omitted overly pedantic repetition for stylistic reasons. Yet tongues must be understood as part of the sense of verse 9, for verse 9 is the reason for verse 8, as the word “for” (Gk. γάρ, G1142) shows. Thus verse 9 must give the reason why tongues, as well as knowledge and prophecy, will cease. In fact, the repeated “if … if … if” in verse 8 suggests that Paul could have listed more gifts here (wisdom, healing, interpretation?) if he had wished.

So 1 Corinthians 13:10 could be paraphrased, “When the perfect is come, prophecy and tongues and other imperfect gifts will pass away.” The only remaining problem is to determine what time is meant by the word “when.” Several factors in the context argue that the time of the Lord’s return is what Paul has in mind.

(1) First, the meaning of verse 12 seems to require that verse 10 is talking about the time of the Lord’s return. The word “then” (Gk. τότε, G5538) in verse 12 refers to the time “when the perfect comes” in verse 10. This is evident from looking at verse 12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know even as I have been known” (author’s translation).

When shall we see “face to face”? When shall we know “even as we have been known”? These events can only happen when the Lord returns.

The phrase “see face to face” is several times used in the Old Testament to refer to seeing God personally—not fully or exhaustively, for no finite creature can ever do that, but personally and truly nonetheless. So when Paul says, “but then face to face” he clearly means, “but then we shall see God face to face.” Indeed, that will be the greatest blessing of heaven and our greatest joy for all eternity (Rev. 22:4: “They shall see his face”).

The second half of verse 12 says, “Now I know in part; then I shall know even as I have been known.” The second and third word for “know—the one used for “Then I shall know even as I have been known”—is a somewhat stronger word for knowing (Gk. ἐπιγινώσκω, G2105), but certainly does not imply infinite knowledge or omniscience. Paul does not expect to know all things, and he does not say, “Then I shall know all things,” which would have been easy to say in Greek. Rather, he means that when the Lord returns Paul expects to be freed from the misconceptions and inabilities to understand (especially to understand God and his work) which are part of this present life. His knowledge will resemble God’s present knowledge of him because it will contain no false impressions and will not be limited to what is able to be perceived in this age. But such knowledge will only occur when the Lord returns.

Now what is the word “then” in verse 12 referring to? Paul says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I have been known” (author’s translation). His word “then” has to refer back to something in the previous verses that he has been explaining. We look first to verse 11, but see that nothing in verse 11 can be a future time Paul refers to as “then”: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” All of this refers to the past, not the future. It speaks of past events in Paul’s life by way of providing a natural human illustration of what he has said in verse 10. But nothing in the verse speaks of a future time when something will happen.

So we look back to verse 10: “but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.” Here is a statement about the future. At some point in the future, Paul says that “the perfect” will come, and “the imperfect” will pass away, will be “made useless.” When will this happen? This is what is explained by verse 12. Then at the time the perfect comes, we shall see “face to face” and know “even as we are known.”

This means that the time when “the perfect” comes must be the time of Christ’s return. Therefore, we can paraphrase verse 10: “But when Christ returns the imperfect will pass away.” Or, to use our conclusion above that “the imperfect” included prophecy and tongues, we can paraphrase, “But when Christ returns, prophecy and tongues (and other imperfect gifts) will pass away.” Thus we have in 1 Corinthians 13:10 a definite statement about the time of the cessation of imperfect gifts like prophecy: they will “be made useless” or “pass away” when Christ returns. And this would imply that they will continue to exist and be useful for the church, throughout the church age, including today, and right up to the day when Christ returns.

(2) Another reason why the time when “the perfect” comes is the time when Christ returns is also evident from the purpose of the passage: Paul is attempting to emphasize the greatness of love, and in so doing he wants to establish that “Love never ends” (1 Cor. 13:8). To prove his point he argues that it will last beyond the time when the Lord returns, unlike present spiritual gifts. This makes a convincing argument: love is so fundamental to God’s plans for the universe that it will last beyond the transition from this age to the age to come at Christ’s return—it will continue for eternity.

(3) A third reason why this passage refers to the time of the Lord’s return can be found in a more general statement from Paul about the purpose of spiritual gifts in the New Testament age. In 1 Corinthians 1:7 Paul ties the possession of spiritual gifts (Gk. χαρίσματα, from χάρισμα, G5922) to the activity of waiting for the Lord’s return: “you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This suggests that Paul saw the gifts as a temporary provision made to equip believers for ministry until the Lord returned. So this verse provides a close parallel to the thought of 1 Corinthians 13:8–13, where prophecy and knowledge (and no doubt tongues) are seen, similarly, as useful until Christ’s return but unnecessary beyond that time.

1 Corinthians 13:10, therefore, refers to the time of Christ’s return and says that these spiritual gifts will last among believers until that time. This means that we have a clear biblical statement that Paul expected these gifts to continue through the entire church age and to function for the benefit of the church until the Lord returns.

c. Objections: Various objections to this conclusion have been raised, usually by those who hold that these gifts have ceased in the church and should no longer be used.

(1) This Passage Does Not Specify When the Gifts Will Cease

The first objection to our conclusion above comes from Richard Gaffin’s thoughtful study, Perspectives on Pentecost. While Dr. Gaffin agrees that “when the perfect comes” refers to the time of Christ’s return, he does not think that this verse specifies the time of the cessation of certain gifts. He thinks, rather, that Paul is just viewing “the entire period until Christ’s return, without regard to whether or not discontinuities may intervene during the course of this period.”

In fact, Gaffin argues, Paul’s overall purpose is to emphasize the enduring qualities of faith, hope, and love, especially love, and not to specify the time in which certain gifts will cease. He says:

"Paul is not intending to specify the time when any particular mode will cease. What he does affirm is the termination of the believer’s present, fragmentary knowledge … when 'the perfect' comes. The time of the cessation of prophecy and tongues is an open question so far as this passage is concerned and will have to be decided on the basis of other passages and considerations."

He also says that, in addition to prophecy, tongues, and knowledge, Paul might just as well have added “inscripturation,” too—and if he had done this, the list would then have included an element that ceased long before Christ’s return. (Inscripturation is the process of writing Scripture.) So, Gaffin concludes, it might be true of some of the others in the list as well.

In response to this objection it must be said that it does not do justice to the actual words of the text. Evangelicals have rightly insisted (and I know that Dr. Gaffin agrees with this) that passages of Scripture are true not only in the main point of each passage, but also in the minor details that are affirmed as well. The main point of the passage may well be that love lasts forever, but another point, and certainly an important one as well, is that verse 10 affirms not just that these imperfect gifts will cease sometime, but that they will cease “when the perfect comes.” Paul specifies a certain time: “When the perfect comes the imperfect will pass away.” But Dr. Gaffin seems to claim that Paul is not actually saying this. Yet the force of the words cannot be avoided by affirming that overall theme of the larger context is something else.
In addition, Dr. Gaffin’s suggestion does not seem to fit with the logic of the passage. Paul’s argument is that it is specifically the coming of “the perfect,” which does away with prophecy, tongues, and knowledge, because then there is a new, far-superior way of learning and knowing things “even as I have been known.” But until that time, the new and superior way of knowing has not come, and therefore these imperfect gifts are still valid and useful. Finally, it is precarious to put much weight on something we think Paul might have said but in fact did not say. To say that Paul might have included “inscripturation” in this list means that Paul might have written, “When Christ returns, inscripturation will cease.” But I cannot believe at all that Paul could have written such a statement, for it would have been false—indeed, a “false prophecy” in the words of Scripture. For “inscripturation” ceased long ago, when the book of Revelation was written by the apostle John.

So Dr. Gaffin’s objections do not seem to overturn our conclusions on 1 Corinthians 13:10. If “the perfect” refers to the time of Christ’s return, then Paul says that gifts such as prophecy and tongues will cease at that time, and implies therefore that they continue through the church age.

(2) “When the Perfect Comes” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 Refers to a Time Earlier Than the Time of the Lord’s Return

Those who make this second objection argue that “when the perfect comes” means one of several different things, such as “when the church is mature” or “when Scripture is complete” or “when the Gentiles are included in the church.” Probably the most careful statement of this view is found in the book by Robert L. Reymond, What About Continuing Revelations and Miracles in the Presbyterian Church Today? but another clear statement of a similar position is found in Walter Chantry’s book, Signs of the Apostles.

Chantry’s argument depends on the fact that elsewhere in 1 Corinthians the word here translated “perfect” (Gk. τέλειος, G5455) is used to refer to human maturity (1 Cor. 14:20, “in thinking be mature”) or to maturity in the Christian life (as in 1 Cor. 2:6). Yet here again we must note that a word does not have to be used to refer to the same thing every time it is used in Scripture—in some cases τέλειος may refer to “mature” or “perfect” manhood, in other cases some other kind of “completeness” or “perfection.” The word τέλειος is used in Hebrews 9:11, for example, to refer to the “more perfect tent”—yet we would not therefore conclude that “perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 must refer to a perfect tent. The precise referent of the word must be determined by the individual context, and there, as we have seen, the context indicates that “when the perfect comes” refers to the time of Christ’s return.

Dr. Reymond’s argument is somewhat different. He reasons as follows (p. 34):

(a) “The imperfect” things mentioned in verses 9–10—prophecy, tongues, and knowledge—are incomplete means of revelation, “all relating to God’s making his will known to his church.”
(b) “The perfect” in this context must refer to something in the same category as the “imperfect” things.
(c) Therefore “the perfect” in this context must refer to a means of revelation, but a completed one. And this completed means of God’s making his will known to his church is Scripture.
(d) Conclusion: “When the perfect comes” refers to the time when the canon of Scripture will be complete.

Reymond notes that he is not saying that “the perfect” refers exactly to the canon of Scripture, but rather to “the completed revelatory process” that resulted in Scripture (p. 32). And in response to the objection that “then we shall see face to face” in verse 12 refers to seeing God face to face, he answers that it may not mean this, but may simply mean seeing “plainly” as opposed to “obscurely” (p. 32).
In response, it may be said that this argument, while careful and consistent in itself, still depends on one prior assumption which is really the point at issue in this whole discussion: the authority of New Testament prophecy and related gifts. Once Reymond assumes that prophecy (and tongues and the kind of “knowledge” mentioned here) are Scripture-quality revelation, the whole argument falls into place. The argument could be recast as follows:

(a) Prophecy and tongues are Scripture-quality revelation.
(b) Therefore this whole passage is about Scripture-quality revelation.
(c) Therefore “the perfect” refers to the perfection or completion of Scripture-quality revelation, or the completion of Scripture.

In such an argument the initial assumption determines the conclusion. However, before this assumption can be made, it needs to be demonstrated from an inductive analysis of the New Testament texts on prophecy. Yet, to my knowledge, no such inductive demonstration of the Scripture-quality authority of New Testament congregational prophecy has been made.

Moreover, there are some other factors in the text of 1 Corinthians 13:8–13 that are hard to reconcile with Reymond’s position. The regular Old Testament usage of seeing “face to face” as an expression not just for seeing clearly but for personally seeing God (see above) remains unexplained. And the fact that Paul includes himself in the expressions “Then we shall see face to face” and “Then I shall know even as I have been known” make it difficult to view these as references to the time of the completion of Scripture. Does Paul really think that when the other apostles finally finish their contributions to the New Testament he will suddenly gain such a remarkable change in his knowledge that he will know as he has been known, and will go from seeing in a mirror dimly to seeing face to face?

In addition to the views of Reymond and Chantry, there have been other attempts to see “when the perfect comes” as some time before Christ’s return, but we will not treat them in detail here. Such views all break down at verse 12, where Paul implies that believers will see God “face to face” “when the perfect comes.” This cannot be been said about the time suggested in any of these other proposals.

The proposal about the completion of the canon of New Testament Scripture (the group of writings that came to be included in the New Testament) also fails to fit Paul’s purpose in the context. If we take a.d. 90 as the approximate date of the writing of Revelation, the last New Testament book written, then the end of the writing of Scripture came about thirty-five years after Paul wrote 1 Corinthians (about a.d. 55). But would it be persuasive to argue as follows: “We can be sure that love will never end, for we know that it will last more than thirty-five years”? This would hardly be a convincing argument. The context requires rather that Paul be contrasting this age with the age to come, and saying that love will endure into eternity. In fact, we see a similar procedure elsewhere in 1 Corinthians. When Paul wants to demonstrate the eternal value of something, he does this by arguing that it will last beyond the day of the Lord’s return (cf, 1 Cor. 3:13–15; 15:51–58). By contrast, prophecy and other gifts will not last beyond that day.

Finally, these proposals fail to find any support in the immediate context. Whereas Christ’s return is mentioned clearly in verse 12, no verse in this section mentions anything about the completion of Scripture or a collection of the books of the New Testament or the inclusion of the Gentiles in the church or the “maturity” of the church (whatever that means—is the church really mature even today?). All of these suggestions bring in new elements not found in the context to replace the one element—Christ’s return—which clearly is right there in the context already. In fact, Richard Gaffin, who himself holds that the gift of prophecy is not valid for today, nevertheless says that the “perfect” in verse 10 and the “then” in verse 12 “no doubt refer to the time of Christ’s return. The view that they describe the point at which the New Testament canon is completed cannot be made credible exegetically.”

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones observes that the view that makes “when the perfect comes” equal the time of the completion of the New Testament encounters another difficulty:

"It means that you and I, who have the Scriptures open before us, know much more than the apostle Paul of God’s truth … It means that we are altogether superior … even to the apostles themselves, including the apostle Paul! It means that we are now in a position in which … “we know, even as also we are known” by God … indeed, there is only one word to describe such a view, it is nonsense."

John Calvin, referring to 1 Corinthians 13:8–13, says, “It is stupid of people to make the whole of this discussion apply to the intervening time.”

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

jesus loves me

Billy Pollard playing Jesus Loves Me on the musical saw ... a classic.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Isn't our "faith" similar in that it is "stronger" dependent on the circumstances?


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no other way

"When you realize just how dependent you are on Jesus for your salvation — his death for your sin, his life for your righteousness — you understand why the Bible is so insistent that salvation comes only through faith in him. There is no other way, no other savior, nothing and no one else in the world on which we can rely for salvation, including our own efforts."

— Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel?


Monday, January 17, 2011

mark of the beast

I saw this today and got real scared ...

So to fight my fear, I went with humor ...

We all know the Number of the Beast is 666, but did you know....
  • 660 - approximate Number of the Beast
  • DCLXVI - Roman numeral of the Beast
  • 666.0000 - High Precision Beast
  • 0.666 - Number of the Millibeast
  • / 666 - Beast common denominator
  • 666^(-1) - Imaginary Number of the Beast
  • 1010011010 - Binary Number of the Beast
  • 6, oh what was that number again? - Number of the Blonde Beast
  • 1-666 - Area code of the Beast
  • 00666 - Zip code of the Beast
  • 1-900-666-0666 - Live Beasts! One-on-one pacts! Call Now! Only $6.66/min. Over 18 please.
  • $665.95 - Retail price of the Beast
  • $699.25 - Price of the Beast plus 5% state sales tax
  • $769.95 - Price of the Beast with all accessories (replacement set)
  • $656.66 - Walmart price of the Beast
  • $646.66 - Next week's Walmart price of the Beast
  • Phillips 666 - Gasoline of the Beast
  • Route 666 - Way of the Beast
  • 666 F - Oven temperature for roast Beast
  • 666k - Retirement plan of the Beast
  • 666 mg - Recommended Minimum Daily Requirement of Beast
  • 6.66% - 5 year CD interest rate of First Beast of Hell National Bank, $666 minimum deposit
  • Lotus 6-6-6 - Spreadsheet of the Beast
  • Word 6.66 - Word processor of the Beast
  • Á66686 - CPU of the Beast
  • 666i - BMW of the Beast
  • DSM-666 (revised) - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Beast
  • 668 - Neighbor of the Beast
  • ddd - The Beast in a mirror
  • 999 - The Beast upside-down
  • 1999 - The year the Beast is revealed while upside-down
  • 333 - The Beast as a toddler
  • -666 - Negative number of the Beast
  • 6-6-6 - Fertilizer of the Beast
  • 666lb cap - Weight limit of the Beast
  • 900-666-666 - Dial-A-Beast
  • 666-66-6666 - Social security number of the Beast
  • WD-666 - Spray Lubricant of the Beast
  • 66.6 MHz - FM radio station of the Beast
  • 666 kHz - AM Radio station of the Beast

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

love of scripture

"I am a creature of a day. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God. I want to know one thing: the way to heaven. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. He has written it down in a book. Oh, give me that book! At any price give me the book of God. Let me be a man of one book." ~ John Wesley

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whom have i

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

~ A Psalm of Asaph (Psa 73.25-26)

John Piper writes of John 6.35:
The glory of bread is that it satisfies. The glory of living water is that it quenches thirst. We do not honor the refreshing, self-replenishing, pure water of a mountain spring by lugging buckets of water up the path to make our contributions from the ponds below. We honor the spring by feeling thirsty, getting down on our knees, and drinking with joy. Then we say, “Ahhhh!” (that’s worship!), and we go on our journey in the strength of the fountain (that’s service). The mountain spring is glorified most when we are most satisfied with its water.

... Being satisfied in God is not an optional add-on to the real stuff of Christian duty. It is the most basic demand of all. “Delight yourself in the LORD” (Psalm 37:4) is not a suggestion, but a command. So are: “Serve the LORD with gladness” (Psalm 100:2), and, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).
Psalm 16.2, "You are my Lord; I have no good besides you."
This is the essence of what it means to love God—to be satisfied in him. In him! Loving God may include obeying all his commands; it may include believing all his Word; it may include thanking him for all his gifts; but the essence of loving God is enjoying all he is. It is this enjoyment of God that glorifies his worth most fully, especially when all around our soul gives way.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

universal salvation?

Geoff Hill sent me the notes from the ESV Study Bible on 1 Timothy 2:4.

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Evangelistic prayer for all people is rooted in the fact that God desires all people to be saved. It appears that Paul is countering an exclusivist tendency in the false teachers or at least their downplaying of the importance of evangelizing the Gentiles (along with their emphasis on the Jewish law). This statement figures prominently in theological disagreements over the extent of the atonement. It cannot be read as suggesting that everyone will be saved (universalism) because the rest of the letter makes it clear that some will not be saved (1 Tim 4:1; 5:24; 6:10; cf. Matt. 25:30, 41, 46; Rev. 14:9–11). Does that mean God desires something (all people being saved) that he cannot fulfill? Both Arminian and Calvinist theologians respond that God “desires” something more than universal salvation. Arminians hold that God's greater desire is to preserve genuine human freedom (which is necessary for genuine love) and therefore he must allow that some may choose to reject his offer of salvation. Calvinists hold that God's greater desire is to display the full range of his glory (Rom. 9:22–23), which results in election depending upon the freedom of his mercy and not upon human choice (Rom. 9:15–18). However one understands the extent of the atonement, this passage clearly teaches the free and universal offer of the gospel to every single human being; “desires” shows that this offer is a bona fide expression of God's good will. Come to the knowledge of the truth highlights the cognitive aspect of conversion, i.e., individuals must come to understand key truths in order to be converted. “The truth” occurs often in the Pastorals as a synonym for the gospel (cf. 1 Tim. 3:15; 4:3; 2 Tim. 2:15, 18, 25; 3:7, 8; 4:4; Titus 1:1, 14).

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

gunmen, assassins, and extremists

The below is excellent thinking by Tony Reinke to help us focus on the real issue:

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Arizona, there is a lot of finger-pointing: the left is pointing a finger at the right, the right is pointing back, those who are less politically inclined point to psychological abnormalities. In his letter on the pervasive wickedness of the natural heart, John Newton points the finger at himself. Newton writes (Works, 1:368–370):

"The vilest and most profligate individuals cannot sin beyond the powers and limits of that nature which they possess in common with the more mild and moderate. Though there may be a difference in the fruitfulness of the trees, yet the production of one apple decides the nature of the tree upon which is grew, as certainly as if it had produced a thousand: so in the present case, should it be allowed that these enormities [the wicked displays of the natural heart] cannot be found in all persons, it would be a sufficient confirmation of what I have advanced, if they can be found in any; unless it could be likewise proved, that those who appeared more wicked than others, were of a different species from the rest."

This is precisely why few things are more horrifying to watch than the nightly news; there we see into the depths of evil that our species is capable of reaching.

"The histories of Aaron, David, Solomon, and Peter, are left on record, to teach us what evil is latent in the hearts of the best men, and what they are capable of doing if left but a little to themselves. …

How wonderful is the love of God in giving his Son to die for such wretches!"

Yes, that is wonderful love! We appreciate this amazing grace when we connect the dots and see that we share the same sinful nature with the most profligate individuals. Apart from the gospel that liberates us from sin, what hope would remain?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

does god exalt himself

I love this post by John Piper; Is God a Megalomaniac? Right Answer. Wrong Reason.
I have spent 40 years seeking to understand and explain why God’s relentless self-exaltation in all that he does (for example, Isaiah 48:9–11) is the most loving way for him to be, and is not megalomania.

Some have tried to argue that the problem of God’s self-exaltation is solved by his intra-Trinitarian other-orientedness. That is, God the Father and God the Son do not seek their own individual glory, but the glory of the other, and in that sense God seeks his own glory.

It is true that the Father and the Son do seek the glory of the other (John 14:13; 17:1). But this is not a solution to the problem of divine self-exaltation. The reason it’s not is that in the Bible the Father does exalt his own glory.

For example, Paul prays to the Father in Philippians 1:9–11,

It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more . . . so that you might be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Consider: Paul is praying to the Father. He is asking the Father to do something, namely, to fill the Philippians with the fruit of righteousness “that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

So it is clear that Paul expects God the Father to be motivated to bring about his own praise. The Son makes it possible by working righteousness in the saints. But the one Paul is asking to work for his own glory is the Father.

This is no surprise, if we remember the first petition of the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). Jesus tells us to ask the Father to make much of his own name.

There are other examples that could be given (like Philippians 2:9–11), but let this suffice. It is true that the persons of the Trinity love to make much of each other. But this is not the solution to the problem of God’s self-exaltation.

That solution, as far as I have been able to see through my dark glass, is this: God must uphold his own glory as the supreme value of the universe because 1) he is true, and it would be false to hold up any other glory as supreme; and 2) he is loving, and it would be unloving to offer us as supremely satisfying anything less than what is infinitely and eternally satisfying—namely, himself.

pro life

I think the approach of presenting the life within them is an excellent idea to helping women understand we are dealing with human life. I like it.

I also love the attention toward caring for the women in addition to the baby.

My wife does a lot of volunteer with PregnancyCare of Cincinnati and I'm so proud of her. Rather than screaming and yelling at women in difficult situations (with many on the brink of committing the sin of abortion), she strives to present them with real, practical help along with the Gospel and power of God to affect change in their lives.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

division is inevitable

Mark Driscoll on With Jesus, Division is Inevitable.


coffin preaching

"Good night. I'm doing great." - Steve Munsey

There are a number of reasons I couldn't do this. I'd likely fall asleep in the thing. I doubt I could find two people who would let me out. I'd be concerned the collapsable rolling table would collapse. And so on ...

Here's Steve Munsey and Malachi preaching from a coffin ...

I'll file this under "perplexed" ...

the missionary question

Ok - I'm copying Peter a lot this morning but this is good stuff ...

Lost from HistoryMaker on Vimeo.

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the greatest snare

I'm not sure it's the greatest snare but it sure is a common and deadly one. Here is the Good Doctor, Martin Lloyd-Jones, on the greatest snare in the Christian life.
If your knowledge of the Scriptures and of the doctrines of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ has not brought you to this knowledge of the love of Christ, you should be profoundly dissatisfied and disturbed. All biblical doctrine is about this blessed Person; and there is no greater snare in the Christian life than to forget the Person Himself and to live simply on truths concerning Him. . . .
HT:AW via DO via PC

Friday, January 07, 2011

to be clear regarding the poor

To be clear, God is concerned for the poor, and he expects us to be as well. This is found throughout Scripture, e.g., Lev 25.35, Deut 15.7-10; 24.14-15, Jas 2.1-6 ...

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

obama as senator

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day ... and President Obama was right at least once. As Senator in 2006, he crossed party lines and voted with Republicans to not raise debt limits ...

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can't pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

More on the point here.

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is this ...

Is this your Jesus?

["The world] hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil." ~ Jesus, John 7.7

keller on doubt

"The only way to doubt Christianity rightly and fairly is to discern the alternate belief under each of your doubts and then ask yourself what reasons you have for believing it. How do you know your belief is true? It would be inconsistent to require more justification for Christian belief than you do for your own, but that is frequently what happens. In fairness you must doubt your doubts. My thesis is that if you come to recognize the beliefs on which your doubts about Christianity are based, and if you seek as much proof for those beliefs as you seek from Christians for theirs – you will discover that your doubts are not as solid as they first appeared."

- Tim Keller, The Reason for God

uninterrupted progress

‎"There will be 'uninterrupted progress' in the spread of His kingdom 'until he appears a second time for our salvation.'" - John Calvin

HT:GH via FB

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trouble to our souls

“It is Christ’s manner to trouble our souls first, and then to come with healing in his wings.” — Richard Sibbes, The Soul's Conflict With Itself


I think I agree with this. Any thoughts on if this is really true or not?

Monday, January 03, 2011

quarrels and corrections

Below is a well written short piece by Mark Priestap:

2 Timothy 2:22-26—

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

God’s word warns us that some controversies are foolish and ignorant. They breed quarrels. We have been freed from sin and death—we ought not to be quarrelsome but kind to everyone. Instead of looking for a fight we ought to flee these sorts of vain disputations.

Does this mean that we should not correct our opponents?

To the contrary, in the same passage where Paul warns against foolish controversies he also commands Timothy (and us) to correct his opponents with gentleness. Correction of false doctrine is commanded, and so is gentleness.

It isn’t arrogant to correct our opponents, gently. God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth and escape the snare of the Devil. Without correcting them, this would not happen. The implication is that it must be done gently for God to grant it to them. Note that God is sovereign in this transaction—he “grants” repentance. We are called to trust that God blesses his own means of grace.

What happens if we do not correct gently?

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)

If we do not correct gently, it is probably because of pride and a lack of long-suffering. We leave ourselves wide open for temptation. Instead of running toward temptation, we ought to flee it and pray for protection from it (Matthew 6:13).

We need to return our eyes again to the cross, remembering that we were once enemies of Christ, dead in our sins. Our pride and short-suffering wranglings are not in keeping with the gospel . . . what do we have that we have not been given (1 Corinthians 4:7)? We might be correct in our argument, but if sin motivates our hearts rather than “faith working through love," it is worthless (Galatians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 13:3).

So let us flee foolish controversies. But when we must correct an opponent, let us do it gently, “by faith working through love,” in order that God might grant repentance.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

the l-word

It takes him awhile to get there (about 7 minutes in) but here's James White on the L-Word (or rather the L-phrase) ... Limited Atonement.


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