Archive for the ‘General’ category

O’Reilly on Calvinism

November 19, 2009

It seems whatever the forum or topic, John Calvin gets a bad rap. Listen starting around 2:00, but particularly at about 2:45.

O’Reilly says he’s coming from a Roman Catholic perspective here, but I’m thinking he sounds like a Baptist.

Seriously, though, it seems he only muddies the waters here. Man’s will is free only to the extent that it is compatible with his nature. This is biblical and logical, as is the fact that God is sovereign over all things that come to pass, no matter how good or bad they are esteemed in our perspective. These truths need not lead to fatalism, but rather, as with so many who have embraced them throughout history, glad obedience to Him, as they understood that He has ordained the means as well as the ends.

Puritan Praise

November 17, 2009

From a Puritan prayer, included in the collection The Valley of Vision, linked here to  The Banner of Truth Trust.

Thanks also to the brothers at Reformed Praise  for this reminder.

Glorious God,
I bless thee that I know thee.
I once lived in the world, but was ignorant of its creator,
was partaker of thy providences, but knew not the provider,
was blind while enjoying the sunlight,
was deaf to all things spiritual, with voices all around me,
understood many things, but had no knowledge of thy ways,
saw the world, but did not see Jesus only.

O happy day, when in thy love’s sovereignty
thou didst look on me, and call me by grace.
Then did the dead heart begin to beat,
the darkened eye glimmer with light,
the dull ear catch thy echo,
and I turned to thee and found thee,
a God ready to hear, willing to save.

Then did I find my heart at enmity to thee, vexing thy Spirit;
Then did I fall at thy feet and hear thee thunder,
‘The soul that sins, it must die’,
But when grace made me to know thee,
and admire a God who hated sin,
thy terrible justice held my will submissive.
My thoughts were then as knives cutting my head.

Then didst thou come to me in silken robes of love,
and I saw thy Son dying that I might live,
and in that death I found my all.
My soul doth sing at the remembrance of that peace;
The gospel cornet brought a sound unknown to me before
that reached my hear – and I lived -
never to lose my hold on Christ or his hold on me.

Grant that I may always weep to the praise of mercy found,
and tell to others as long as I live,
that thou are a sin-pardoning God,
taking up the blasphemer and the ungodly,
and washing them from their deepest stain.

Nathan White Quoted in USA Today Article

August 30, 2008

Nathan White, a former SBF blogger and friend of this site, was recently quoted in an article of USA Today. Nathan was opposing unbiblical means of drawing people into church gatherings [particularly, in this article, giving away gas cards to attendees]. Nathan said:

They are appealing to the natural corruptions in unbelieving people …. The Bible warns very explicitly about the dangers of greed, the love of money being the root of all evil… Appealing to the selfish motives of people is not Christianity.

Read the entire article HERE.

Jim Elliff on Altar Calls

August 19, 2008

This past August 8th, Chris Arnzen interviewed Jim Elliff of Christian Communicators Worldwide on the subject of altar calls on the radio broadcast Iron Sharpens Iron. For any reader who may be unfamiliar, an “altar call” is a ritual appended to the end of a Christian worship service in which sinners are urged to come to the front of the meeting place as a gesture that they are interested in coming to Christ. Usually, the individuals who respond to the altar call are then led to repeat a scripted prayer not found in the Bible. Often, the individuals who pray this prayer are then offered assurance of their salvation on the basis of their sincerity in praying. Jim Elliff mentioned two major reasons that cause him to object to the altar call system: 1. Such a practice is not found in the Bible; 2. Altar calls are notorious for leading to high numbers of “spurious converts”– those who claim to be Christians, but whose lifestyles demonstrate no evidence that they actually follow Christ. Elliff is careful to distinguish between an altar call and an invitation. Every Christian sermon should contain an invitation in which sinners are urged to confess their sins to God, repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ– these things are commanded in Scripture of everyone. A change in geographic location within a building at a given time (i.e., coming to the front of a gathering at the end of a specific worship service) has absolutely nothing to do with such a biblical invitation and such a practice is never commanded in Scripture. The altar call is indeed “strange fire” that has been implemented within Baptist circles all too often. Readers are encouraged to listen to the entire Iron Sharpens Iron interview HERE.

Thinking about the Most Important Things

August 11, 2008

It is no secret that I’m a busy man. I love to stay busy through doing the Lord’s work. This work includes ministry to my family, my church, and when time is left over; to my community. In the midst of the daily busyness, I was reminded today of just how precious time is. It is fleeting. It is here now, and gone now. Those two seconds it took to type the last sentence are gone . . . forever. What a sobering thought.

What that means is this: we need to be using our time wisely. We also need to think carefully about how to use the time the Lord has given us because we have only one earthly life to be useful tools in the hands of the Holy Spirit for spreading the good news of His Kingdom.

I was reminded of how fleeting time is by watching the following video. This video is a summary about what true heaven-sent Holy Spirit revival is like. My heart burned within me and I had tears streaming down my face when watching certain portions of this video; especially when I heard Duncan Campbell speak about how God moved on the Isle of Lewis in the Hebride Islands in the early 1950s. As tears streamed down my face, I was immediately humbled by the thought of just how inadequate I am for doing God’s work. I also felt ashamed at the times I tried to do in my own strength what only God could do by the power of His Spirit alone. My thoughts were turned to my wife, my children, the sheep I oversee in our local church, and my community. I thought how beautiful it would be to see a revival like that burn like fire through our local community. I cried because I realized how much I have waxed eloquent about the great men of the past in comparison to how little I have prayed for true, heaven-sent revival.

DefCon’s Desert Pastor says about this video: “This is a very sobering video! Places like Lakeland, Toronto, and Brownsville are NO revivals such as the Bible describes. Watch this video and let us cry out to our God for mercy that He would show such a revival to us in our personal lives and in our churches!”

“Heavenly Father, may we see revival and bring it about in such a way that we have been lukewarm will be restored to full fellowship with you! Help us to realize that miracles are the conversion of souls, not the filling of teeth with gold dust! It is not the calling down of fire, but the changing of the mind about our own sin and our worthlessness before a Holy and Righteous God. May we remember that many churches have seen Ichabod written over the door, and so too could we if we are not willing to confront our sin. Amen.”

HT: DefCon’s Desert Pastor via Christian Research Network

Ridding the Church of Divisions – 1 Corinthians 3:18-23

August 3, 2008

NOTE: The following article serves as the basis of a message on 1st Corinthians 3:18-23 that I delivered to the people of Shepherd’s Fellowship Baptist Church. I hope it blesses you as you read it, for it provides the biblical solution to the common problem of clustering ourselves around men and worldly philosophies rather than Christ.

In 1st Corinthians 3:18-23, Paul summarizes the argument he was making from 1:18-3:4 by giving us a preliminary conclusion regarding the root of this church’s problem: strife. He begins by first warning them against being deceived by the world’s wisdom; thus reminding them of the argument he made in 1:18-2:16a regarding their supposed wisdom that is in reality nothing more than utter foolishness to God (3:18-20). Second, Paul turns their boasting and factiousness on its head telling them that it is not the Corinthians that belong to Paul, Apollos, or Peter, but that these great leaders (and everything else) are good gifts that come from God for the entire church to enjoy. Paul wants them to understand that their spiritual leaders and all other things are given for the benefit of the Corinthians because they belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God. And so for Paul, the solution to the problem is found in correct thinking; thinking that starts with the conviction that God has spoken in Scripture and that the Bible is the final authority in all matters. To gain, maintain, and promote unity in the church of Christ, we must know how to think, Whom we must stay focused on, what we must love, and to Whom we belong.

The Folly of Worldly Wisdom: How We Must Think – 1 Corinthians 3:18-20

Verse 18 – “Let no man deceive himself.” This is exactly what they had done through pursuing worldly wisdom, and should they continue on that course, it will lead to their destruction because God destroys those who destroy His Bride, the Church (vv. 16-17). Nevertheless, he beckons them back to God’s folly: “If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age” – These people thought they possessed the best of both worlds, the wisdom of the world found in Greek philosophy and the wisdom of God as expressed in the Gospel of Christ. And so, they thought they had created a most cherished and prized philosophy. They thought themselves as wise, having gathered all knowledge (8:2), and as being very spiritual (14:37) and so they reveal their problem: worldly spiritual pride. But Paul debunks all those notions when he forcefully says that a truly wise man “must become foolish, so that he may become wise.” He shows them that God turns the things of the world on its head: wisdom is foolishness; foolishness is wisdom; weakness is power; leaders are servants; God’s people are nobodies yet they possess “all things” (v. 22). And so, to be truly wise in God’s sight God’s people must ditch all attempts at finding security in this present evil age and instead must trust in God’s folly as displayed in the cross of Christ alone. How strange the wisdom of God is when compared to the wisdom of the world!

Verse 19 – And why must a truly wise man become foolish so that he may become wise? Because, or “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.” The world’s manmade philosophies; all of which seek to find utopia and bliss apart from God are simply declared stupid in verse 19 by divine decree. And what evidence do we have that God considers the wisdom of the world absolute folly? Well “for it is written,” is a signal telling us again what His thoughts are about the futility of the wise by quoting a verse from Job 5:13 He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS’”. The imagery here is that of the Divine Hunter catching His prey by using the prey’s own craftiness or cunning against it. The irony is that the worldly wise think they are craftily avoiding the God with whom they have to do; but God will use that very craftiness against them to capture them for the kill.

Verse 20 emphasizes the complete uselessness and futility of the worldly wise – and again, THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.’” God not only will capture them by their own cunningness (v. 19) but also knows their mental machinations; that they will come to naught. After all, Paul’s point in writing this to the Corinthians is to show them that should they not take God’s view of these things; then they will show that they are fools waiting to be eventually captured and killed (2 Peter 2:12).

The Folly of Following Men: Whom and What We Must Fix Our Eyes Upon – 1 Corinthians 3:21-22

Verse 21a – “So then let no one boast in men. . .” – The “So then” indicates that after all that has been said about the power of God’s wisdom as displayed in the cross, about how servant leadership should display the power of the cross, and about God’s contempt for worldly wisdom, let no one go on and boast in men by saying “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos” or “I am of Cephas”. To base our confidence in the creature rather than the Creator eventually leads to futility, idolatry, and eternal ruin.

Verse 21b-22 gives the reason for not boasting in men, “For all things belong to you” with the “all things” being the “all things” mentioned in verse 22, “whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you . . .”. Again, Paul turns the Corinthians’ thinking on its head. They said “I am of Paul” but God said “Paul is yours”. They said “I am of the world” but God said, “the world is yours”. And so, instead of them belonging to these great spiritual leaders; Paul is telling them that God has given these great teachers to them as a gift; and not only these teachers, but “the world or life or death or things present or things to come.” Not only are godly leaders ours, but everything else is ours as well. In Christ, all the five great terrifying and enslaving problems of human existence: the world, life, death, the present, and the future; all of them are turned on their heads, redeemed or awaiting complete redemption, and are thusly given to us as part of our spiritual redemption. All of these things are for our sake and ultimately for God’s glory (2 Cor. 4:15). O’ what amazing grace! Even though the world is still in the grip of the evil one (1 John 5:19), it will someday and forever completely belong to us and not to Satan. Even death, that great enemy of mankind has been overcome. Christ conquered death, and through Him we too have conquered it (cf. 1 Cor. 15:54-57). This explains why Paul could say with such great joy, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21). Whether he remained on earth for a while longer or went to be with the Lord, he had a win-win situation. For Christians, death can only make things better. To stay here and labor for Jesus may be “more necessary,” but “to depart and be with Christ . . . is far better” (Phil. 1:23-24). For God’s people, this present life is good, but death; that which ushers us into eternal life; that is far better, and since all things belong to us through faith in Christ and we belong to no one except God; then we can truly say that we are children of liberty, bound by no one, enslaved only to God Himself with our gaze transfixed upon Him only, and how glorious it is!

The Folly of Misunderstood Ownership – To Whom We Must Belong1 Corinthians 3:23

Verse 23 – “and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. – Since we belong to Jesus as His slaves, the “all things” that are ours don’t come to us willy-nilly. Nor do they come to us through our own power as if we had the power to become self-sufficient and independent from God. This type of selfish behavior only comes from those who think they know God but don’t. They are self-deceived, and as a result, they experience the illusion of misunderstood ownership. In other words, they belong to the devil, they do his desires, and are even held captive by him to do his will (John 8:44; 2 Timothy 2:24-26). The problem is that they don’t know who they are really spiritually owned by, and as a result, they comfort themselves with their false identity (“I’ve been baptized and I go to church three times weekly”) or their false works (“I help the poor by fixing meals for the old fogies down at the soup kitchen and I’ve never hurt anybody too badly”). Heed this warning: No autonomous, self-centered person will ever enter the Kingdom of God because idolatry is the most heinous sin in the eyes of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). And idolatry is the foundation for autonomy. However, those who truly belong to Christ indeed have “all things”; because it is only by virtue of being “in Him” by faith alone that we too become joint-heirs of Christ (Romans 8:17). This kind of gift can never come to the boastful, the proud, and the person that is haughty in spirit. Since “you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God”, then we know that we have “all things” through Him alone, apart from our works, lest any many should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is only through Christ that we have true spiritual unity and the solution for healing division in the church. When we take our eyes off Him division begins and when we put our eyes back on Him division ends.

Conclusion: The Take Home Message

True believers all belong to the same Lord. Because of this we should work hard to be together in mind, purpose, and action with each other. Anything that undermines our oneness with each other also undermines our oneness in Christ (cf. Phil. 2:1-4). We are so quick to ditch the Scriptures and look to the world’s methods for maintaining the unity of the Spirit; and when we do so we cannot for the life of us figure out why we still cannot avoid division in the church. Avoiding church division is all about understanding that we belong to Christ and that Christ belongs to God and because we belong to Him, we have no cause for boasting in “belonging” to any person, especially a spiritual leader. It’s because we all belong to Him that we all belong to each other and we are part of the “all things” given by Him to minister to each other. If we are tied together in such an eternal oneness with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and thus with each other in them, how can people who are supposed to be unified be so divided? Well, the answer lies in the fact that we fail to understand the reality of our spiritual unity in the Triune God, the very One who owns us. And that failure to understand as we ought always comes as the direct result of our own personal sin. Nevertheless, with God as our slavemaster, with Christ’s cross are our great banner display for God’s wisdom, and with the Holy Spirit as our teacher, we trust God to honor the clear, consistent teaching of His word and grant spiritual unity where true unity must exist; only in the Bride, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

On racial diversity (or the lack thereof) in our churches

July 12, 2007

A recent Supreme Court ruling of two school integration plans as unconstitutional prompted the Albert Mohler Radio Program (guest-hosted by Dr. Russell Moore) to feature conversations specifically focused on issues of racial diversity. This program, which aired on June 28, 2007, featured two special guests: John McWhorter, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and Pastor Eric Redmond, Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

McWhorter primarily focused on the subject of integration in education, whereas Redmond was focused on diversity in our churches. As the discussion with Eric Redmond is more in line with the format of this blog, the remainder of this post will focus on some of the statements he made. (more…)

The opposite of “glorify God”=”lighten up”

July 10, 2007

It’s the stereotypical “deep” philosophical question. You’ve probably heard characters on TV shows ask it with the assumption that it cannot be answered. It’s the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

By God’s grace, the Reformed believer is not stumped by this question, for God’s Word has given us an answer for why we are here, and this answer is the first thing a child learns when receiving a Reformed education. So, to answer the question, “What is the meaning of life?” or, “Why are we here?” the response immediately comes: “To glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and to enjoy Him for ever (Psalm 73:25-26).”

This answer is not confined to a specific culture, for the second Scripture proof in the statement above (Psalm 73:25-26) was penned by Asaph, a chief musician for David, an Israelite king who reigned from about 1011-971 B.C.; the human author of the first Scripture proof (1 Corinthians 10:31) was the Apostle Paul, a Greek-educated Jew who wrote from Ephesus in Asia Minor some time in between A.D. 54-57. These texts can be wedded together in harmony without confusion, reflecting timeless Truth, for their ultimate Author is God Himself.

We know that our purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever because we have been created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26) to rule as His stewards over the earth. As divine image-bearers, our purpose in God’s universe is to be a reflection of His purpose in the universe. And what is that purpose? … God’s purpose in His universe is to magnify His glory and enjoy Himself forever. As Pastor John Piper noted at the New Attitude Conference last May: God is working to magnify His glory in Creation (Isaiah 43:6-7), Incarnation (Romans 15:8-9), Propitiation (Romans 3:23-26), Sanctification (Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Peter 4:11), and Consummation (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

When we say that our purpose or meaning in life is to “glorify God and to enjoy Him forever,” most people have a fairly good grasp on the meaning of the word “enjoy.” People naturally enjoy many things, so the only question is whether one’s enjoyment ultimately flows from and is directed toward enjoyment of God.

The word “glorify,” however, is almost entirely unheard of outside of church contexts, and so most people do not have much awareness as to its meaning. Even for Christians, this word can just be an empty sound if we fail to reflect on what it is intended to communicate.

“Glorify” is the verb form of the noun “glory,” which translates the Hebrew word kabod, meaning “weight” or “heaviness.” This word speaks to heaviness in terms of dignity, and indicates a radically humbling emotional impact on any who encounter true glory; as seen, for example, in the experience of the Prophet Isaiah, who, when encountering the glory of God, began to call down curses upon himself for his sin (Isaiah 6).

This word also speaks to the power of God throughout His creation. In the passage cited above, the seraphim declare that the whole earth is full of God’s glory. This declaration is in keeping with the Psalmist’s testimony that nature is constantly proclaiming God’s handiwork (Psalm 19:1-6). Whereas the atheist tries to assert that there is no proof of God and whereas we might fail to discern His invisible presence, the kabod- the glory, “weight,” or power of God is ever impacting the world around us, holding all things together and directing all events according to His purpose. We glorify God by recognizing His presence, dignity and power, and by loving Him with all our heart, soul, and might (Deuteronomy 6:5). In this way we see that glorifying God and enjoying Him are intimately connected. For the simple recognition of or even subservience to the fact of God’s glory does not glorify Him if we resent His dignity and power. It is only as we love or enjoy His glory that mere acknowledgement is transformed into “glorifying.” (more…)

T-shirt annoyance

May 30, 2007

The T-shirt design pictured here, though it’s been out awhile now, is (I think) becoming more rather than less popular. Based on the people I’ve seen wearing it and the people who think that it’s cool, the point of wearing the T-shirt seems to be that people are trying assert that Calvinism and Arminianism are really two ways of looking at one truth. Notice, however, that the shirt is actually making an argument for Arminianism (to say that “this shirt chose me” is ridiculous). Notice, also, that this T-shirt is appropriate-

ONLY IF-

  1. You are very Man-centered
  2. You believe God is as impersonal and impotent as a T-shirt

My Chronological Compliation of the Calvinism Controversy in the SBC

May 28, 2007

It’s a work in progress, I know.  But I thought this might provide a little historical perspective and why SBF exists today.  To download a PDF of my research go here

This project is ongong, so if you have any information, articles, or research that could help fill in any gaps in my chronology, please let me know.  And those of you who take a look at it, let me know what you think.

Thanks.


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