December 5, 2013

Christ The Door of Heaven

"Oh, what a mercy that you are not already in hell, and that there is a door open to you into heaven! That door is Christ. "I Am the Door." Cease striving to enter heaven by the door of your good works and religious duties; by the merits and intercessions of men, of saints, or angels. There is but one door into heaven—faith in the Savior, who died for sinners on the cross, and whose blood and righteousness supply all the merit God requires, or man can bring. Jesus came to save sinners—saves them now, saves them to the uttermost, saves there freely and forever. Why not you?"
--Octavius Winslow, Our God 

December 3, 2013

Twitter Tuesday


 Zebulon Carpenter(@ResurrectedZeb)One of the most arrogant things I can think of is for a Christian to believe that he *could* lose his salvation, but hasn't.

Kevin DeYoung(@RevKevDeYoung)Being bold does not mean you say everything that can be said the first time you have an opportunity to say anything.

Nathan Finn(@nathanafinn)Why one bright seminarian opted not to pursue a Ph.D. Worth pondering if you are considering Ph.D. studies. http://t.co/pn5TTGmwc3



November 30, 2013

Risky Gospel: A Book Review

A Great Book for the Millenial Generation

Owen Strachan's book, Risky Gospel, is written for a generation in the eye of today's cultural hurricane. They are floating unattached to needed mooring points, being blown out to sea by the gale, all the while thinking it is merely a nice summer breeze to be enjoyed. While Strachan does call for unsettling risk in living out the gospel every day, it is not the kind of risk we hear from other authors. Instead of calling for "wild-eyed, John the baptist in camel hair clothes gnawing on locusts" radicalism, the author raises visibility to such radical ideas as living a faithful Christian life in obscurity while loving those around you through self-sacrificing service.

Risky Gospel's focus audience is a few years removed from where I'm at in life.  It is strongly oriented towards the 30ish-and-under crowd. The life-choices Strachan explores are not what most empty-nesters, retirees, or senior-citizen-saints are considering. Nonetheless, for its intended audience, I see the author stretching in many ways to try to bring reality as it is and Christian life as it should be into view for the millenials. I found many surprising word-hooks that should find traction with a disconnected, vaguely-committed generation.  For example:

"A Christian is not some prettified spiritual contestant in the great pageant of Who Can Look the Most Religious."

"John Owen, a Puritan teacher who wore one of those killer white wigs,..."

"Life as many evangelicals approach it isn't supposed to be scary. ... We want the Jesus of our best life now to give us a blanket and some hot cocoa, not send us out in a fearsome world."

"We can see where we should be. We just don't really have the oomph, the spiritual horsepower, to get there."


But Discipline Takes So Much... Well... Discipline

In describing hurdles to discipline, Strachan's somewhat sardonic sense of humor is on display:

"I remember the first time I tried to be disciplined in prayer. Maybe you had a similar experience. I saw that I needed to devote myself to prayer, so I set out to pray for half an hour. Target: set. Locked and loaded, I launched in.
 "I prayed up a storm. Everything I could think of. The wind howled; the earth shook. Moses and the saints interrupted their heavenly discussions to peer down through the filmy clouds at this fledgling mystic. This was serious prayer.
 "As I wound to a close, I let my words trail off. A prayer warrior had been forged. A lifetime of supplication had begun. I looked at the clock with a sense of pietistic triumph...
"... and saw that exactly nine minutes had elapsed. And--wince--my knees hurt from kneeling."


Watch Where You Step

The author isn't afraid to scatter some sanctification landmines across the countryside. He skewers the oft-repeated mantra, "I lack discipline." Instead, Strachan rightly diagnoses our heroic, olympian, mis-directed discipline.  He writes:

"We have discipline, all right: discipline for hedonism, self-satisfaction, pleasure.
 "Call it self-driven discipline.
 "Our favorite TV shows? You couldn't make us miss that must-watch reality program on fashion if you stole all five of the remotes it takes to DVR them. Our fantasy football league? We conduct more research on who to draft in round seven than paralegals working on billion-dollar settlements. Going to sports events or concerts of the artists we love? Of course we can postpone our studying or call in sick for work. You only live once, right? Buying the latest offerings from the technology gods? We'll wear the same clothes for a month if it means we can access the cloud whenever we want. Getting the coffee and treats we want? You couldn't stop us from that Starbucks run if you personally took hold hold of the wind, the rain, and the snow. Nothing keeps us from our $4.50 coffee--truly nothing.
 "You know what these patterns show us? You and I are serious about what we want to be serious about."


Can Risky Gospel Christians Make Plans?

Risky Gospel hits on many areas of life, and some very specific challenges within the evangelical world. For example, many of our young people are fearful to embark on an active faith because they don't have any solid footing biblically to stand on. More specifically, many are confused on how to turn faith into any specific concrete action due to a flavor of mysticism at work in the evangelical world. Waiting to hear "the still small voice", a profound paralysis strikes our young people because they aren't sure if they are hearing anything. Strachan writes:
"You may have been trained as many believers are in mystical, fearful Christianity. If so, the Bible has great news for you. Provided you are saturating your mind and your prayers with biblical wisdom in a Romans 12:1-2 sense--such that your heart and mind are being transformed by Scripture--it's appropriate to strategize, and plan, and then to act."

Could Ricky Gospel Launch You To a New Life?

Yes. It is worth reading, considering, learning from. The author gives wise counsel, settles a few old debts and doubts, and keeps his eyes on the cross of Christ while moving towards it. I believe this book will prove to be a cornerstone work for the Millenial generation. To give a compliment that is truly a compliment, Strachan has written an impacting work akin to Jerry Bridges' Pursuit of Holiness/Practice of Godliness for this generation. Risky Gospel is set on the bedrock of the cross-work of Christ and the real freedom that results from the concerted effort of the Trinitarian God in saving all who would come to Him. I leave you with the following extended quote to demonstrate Strachan's commitment to the gospel as the bedrock of Christian freedom, upon which every encouragement to risk is built.

"Jesus triumphed over the grave, much to the shock of his followers. This is not an abstract fact, though. It's not a magnet for your refrigerator, a key chain for your pocket. With the defeat of sin at the cross, the defeat of death through the resurrection means that now we can live righteous lives.
"This is a bonfire in your heart.
"The gospel message of Jesus' saving work offers us the power to risk everything for him, and gain everything in him. When we come to Jesus, we are not merely punched through to the afterlife, though. We are redeemed--all of us. Heart, soul, and mind. The old has passed away. The new has come. This is precisely what Paul tells us: "From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" (II Cor. 5:16-18).
"This passage is foundational for bold spirituality. If you're going to pursue the Lord with zeal each day, you need to know the core DNA of your faith. Here it is. Bullet, meet powder. You are not a miserable wretch. You are not 50 percent saved/50 percent wicked. You are in Christ, and you are a "new creation." The old is gone. The new is here.
"This isn't your work or mine. God has done this through Christ. On the cross, Jesus bore our sin; through the cross, we gained his righteous standing. This is what his reconciliation means for us. We're no longer outcasts. We're reconciled to God. This is our fundamental identity.
"God loves us. We are his." 
 

Christ Considered As The Ages Roll On

The days of eternity shall pass on, and our eye shall never weary of looking on Him, but 'shall gaze upon His glories, as the eagle is said to do upon the meridian sun.' Ages upon ages pass, and still He is to us all in all. We admit the light from His Person freely now; never did Moses so eagerly survey the goodly land from Pisgah, as we now survey the glories of the Lamb. We get looks into that heart where love has dwelt from everlasting, and where love shall dwell to everlasting. Eternity is in its full course! Long, long ago, we lost sight of the shores of time, and still He is the unexhausted and inexhaustible fountain to us of 'Good tidings of Great Joy!' Eternity only serves to let in upon our souls the fullness of the blessing given to us in the day when we received Him, and began to have fellowship in His Gospel. The Gospel is still 'THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL;' for Christ is its substance; Christ is its essence; Christ is its Alpha and Omega; and the life it has brought us is out of 'Christ our life,' and must be 'Life Everlasting.'

--Bonar, Andrew; The Person of Christ

November 29, 2013

Sola Scriptura: The New Hampshire Baptist Confession, 1833

1. Of the Scriptures
We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction;(1) that it has God for its author, salvation for its end,(2) and truth without any mixture of error for its matter;(3) that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us;(4) and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union,(5) and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.(6)

  1. 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:21; 1 Sam. 23:2; Acts 1:16; 3:21; John 10:35; Luke 16:29-31; Psa. 119:11; Rom. 3:1-2.
  2. 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; Acts 11:14; Rom. 1:16; Mark 16:16; John 5:38-39.
  3. Prov. 30:5-6; John 17:17; Rev. 22:18-19; Rom. 3:4.
  4. Rom. 2:12; John 12:47-48; 1 Cor. 4:3-4; Luke 10:10-16; 12:47-48.
  5. Phil. 3:16; Eph. 4:3-6; Phil. 2:1-2; 1 Cor. 1:10; 1 Pet. 4:11.
  6. 1 John 4:1; Isa. 8:20; 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Cor. 8:5; Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:6; Jude 3:5; Eph. 6:17; Psa. 119:59-60; Phil. 1:9-11. 

November 26, 2013

Twitter Tuesday


 Caleb Suko(@sukofamily)Buying things you don't need with money you don't have seems to have become the American way of life. Jesus>Materialism


 adviseamad(@tjacobbsmith)by Jesus’ Cross I am saved, and to his Crown I am subject.


Burk Parsons(@BurkParsons)God has all power to defend you, all wisdom to direct you, all righteousness to clothe you, and all happiness to crown you. HT: T Brooks


 Nick Batzig(@Nick_Batzig)Talked to a friend tonight who lives in a US city with a population of one million with no good church. Welcome to the mission field.


 Donald S. Whitney(@DonWhitney)I'm often aware that I stand on the shoulders of giants. But sometimes I think the best I do is just step on their toes.


 Tony Reinke(@TonyReinke)Spurgeon (120 years ago): "Where Christ is not prized, health becomes an idol."

November 23, 2013

The Short List: Three Ideas On How You Can Encourage Your Pastor

1. Pray today for your pastor.
The number one priority for you to encourage your pastor is to pray for him. Period. This isn't the gratuitous #5 to assuage everyone's guilty conscience for not praying anymore. It isn't the polite unspoken duty that isn't necessary to mention because everyone knows they need to do this. Pray for your pastor. Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Stop talking about Christian duties and actually pray. Stop saying "I really need to make time for that". Pray. If it means that you stop reading this right now and spend the next few minutes praying for your pastor and never reading the other two ideas, that is "mission accomplished" for me. This is #1 for a reason. It's that important.

2. Talk to your pastor like he's a human being.
He's not a theology robot, even if he happens to be a theology geek. The guy is a human being. Do you talk to other people throughout your day? Good. Then I can assume you understand how to talk to people. Talk to your pastor. You don't need to impress him with a new theological discovery or inform him of an anticipated spiritual event. Talk to him like you would talk to your brother about everyday things.


3. If you don't have a "your pastor", get one.
Brothers and sisters, if you're not in regular attendance at a local church, change that this week. Find a church you can join together with and worship God as part of the assembled congregation. If you are a regular attender but not a member of your church, talk to your pastor about joining the church. It's really that simple, and "your pastor" will be greatly encouraged by your attendance and membership.


November 21, 2013

The Christian Battles To Be Like Christ

"He that would be holy must fight. He must war a good warfare (1 Tim 1:18); fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12), though not with carnal weapons (2 Cor 10:4). He must fight upon his knees, being sober, and watching unto prayer (1 Pet 4:7). He must wrestle with principalities and powers, being strong in the Lord and the power of His might, having put on the whole armor of God, girdle, breastplate, shield, helmet and sword (Eph 6:13-17). This battle is not to the strong (Eccl 9:11), but to the weak; it is fought in weakness, and the victory is to them that have no might; for in this conflict time and chance do not happen to all; but we count upon victory from the first onset, being made more than conquerors through Him that loved us, and are cheered with the anticipation of the sevenfold reward "to him that overcometh" (Rev 2:7). Though, in this our earthly course and combat, we have the hostility of devils, we have the ministry of angels in aid (Heb 1:14), as well as the power of the Holy Ghost (Eph 1:13). "
  -- Horatius Bonar, God's Way of Holiness





November 20, 2013

Sola Scriptura: Midland Confession of Faith - 1655

3rd. We profess and believe the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testament, to be the word and revealed mind of God, which are able to make men wise unto Salvation, through faith and love which is in Christ Jesus; and that they are given by inspiration of God, serving to furnish the man of God for every good work; and by them we are (in the strength of Christ) to try all things whatsoever are brought to us, under the pretence of truth. II Timothy iii.15-17; Isaiah viii.20. 


November 19, 2013

Twitter Tuesday

This week's list includes: Evan Welcher, ThaKiddJopp, Nick Batzig, Mark Dever, Erik Raymond, and Jon Tyson.



 Evan Welcher(@EvanWelcher)They say you’d be healed if only you were asking God in the right way: Convenient: they're selling a book to teach you. #SermonNotes


 ThaKiddJopp(@ThaKiddJopp)Your relationship with Jesus should be a everyday thing, not just a weekend fling.


Nick Batzig(@Nick_Batzig)You can overdo nearly anything in life; but you can never worship, love, bear witness to, speak of, sing to or call upon Christ too much.


 Mark Dever(@MarkDever)"Shall man be proud after God has been humble?" (Richard Sibbes, Bruised Reed, p. 27)


 Erik Raymond(@erikraymond)The (successful) finished work of Christ means that he has accomplished something that cannot be done by anyone else. Even us.


 Jon Tyson(@JonTyson)Dear church planter. 

Think... 

"Disciples Disciples Disciples"

Not...

"Locations, Campuses, Sites"









November 17, 2013

Words of Wisdom

"Justification without sanctification would not be salvation at all. It would call the leper clean and leave him to die of his disease; it would forgive the rebellion and allow the rebel to remain an enemy to his king."
  --Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace

November 16, 2013

True Evangelical Fellowship of Calvinists and Arminians


What think you, readers? Is Machen's view correct for his time, timeless, or flat out wrong?

"Another difference of opinion is that between the Calvinistic or Reformed theology and the Arminianism which appears in the Methodist Church. It is difficult to see how any one who has really studied the question can regard that difference as an unimportant matter. On the contrary, it touches very closely some of the profoundest things of the Christian faith. A Calvinist is constrained to regard the Arminian theology as a serious impoverishment of the Scripture doctrine of divine grace, and equally serious is the view which the Arminian must hold as to the doctrine of the Reformed Churches. Yet here again, true evangelical fellowship is possible between those who hold, with regard to some exceedingly important matters, sharply opposing views."

  -- J. Gresham Machen,  Christianity and Liberalism (pp. 51-52).

 

November 15, 2013

Sola Scriptura: First London Baptist Confession (1644), Second Edition (1646)

VII.

And this is life eternal, that we might know Him the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. And on the contrary, the Lord will render vengeance, in flaming fire, to them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

John 17:3; Heb. 5:9, 2 Thess. 1:8; John 6:36.



VIII.

The rule of this knowledge, faith, and obedience, concerning the worship of God, in which is contained the whole duty of man, is (not men's laws, or unwritten traditions, but) only the word of God contained [viz., written] in the holy Scriptures; in which is plainly recorded whatsoever is needful for us to know, believe, and practice; which are the only rule of holiness and obedience for all saints, at all times, in all places to be observed.

Col. 2:23; Matt 15:6,9; John 5:39, 2 Tim. 3:15,16,17; Isa. 8:20; Gal. 1:8,9; Acts 3:22,23.

November 12, 2013

Twitter Tuesday

Select highlights from Twitter. This week: Kevin DeYoung, Jared Wilson, Colten Barnaby, and Tabletalk.


 Kevin DeYoung(@RevKevDeYoung)If your favorite Christian blogger/writer/speaker never talks about the cursed Christ on a bloody cross, find a new favorite.



 jaredcwilson(@jaredcwilson)Every day we are busy building our own Babel Towers, but in prayer we set the bricks and trowels down, trusting God to knock the towers over



 Coltenbarnaby(@Coltenbarnaby)You don't have to be outraged all the time.



 Tabletalk Magazine(@Tabletalk)I have often repented of speech but hardly ever of silence (C.S. Lewis).



 Mitchell Chase(@mitchellchase)"You cannot serve God and money" - Jesus.

November 9, 2013

From the Archives: The Great Trinity Debate: Bowman & Burke

From the Archives: Occasionally I will repost something helpful from the archives.  Here is an online debate from 2010 that many have found to be very helpful.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Evangelical Rob Bowman and Christadelphian Dave Burke have completed their debate of the nature of God on the Parchment and Pen blog. Below are their posts collected to help you follow the discussion from beginning to end.






Preliminaries




Part 1 - On God and Scripture



Part 2 - On Jesus Christ


Part 3 - On Jesus Christ, continued



Part 4 - On The Holy Spirit



Part 5 - On The Trinity
Part 6 - Closing Statements

November 5, 2013

Words of Wisdom

"The gospel calls us to an active pursuit of holiness."
--Mitchell Chase. The Gospel is for Christians

November 2, 2013

Words of Wisdom

"Into this vast universe, into this human world of sin, there came from the outside, in God's good time, a divine Redeemer. No mere teacher is he to us, no mere example, no mere leader into a larger life, no mere symbol or embodiment of an all-pervading divinity. Oh no; we stand to him, if we are really his, in a relationship far dearer, far closer than all that. For us he gave his precious life upon the cross to make all well between us sinners and the righteous God, by whose love he came."
  --J. Gresham Machen. The Gospel And The Modern World: And Other Short Writings

November 1, 2013

Right Out of the Gate

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (Mark 1:1, ESV)


Mark starts his Gospel off, not merely with a bang, but with a theological BOOM. He designates Jesus as the Christ, but even more telling, as "the Son of God". Both of these terms are theological black powder, igniting worship in the hearts and minds and lives of believers throughout the world, in Mark's time as well as in our world today. Right out of the gate, boom! "Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the Son of God."


Amen and Hallelujah.


Mark pushes the theological launch button at the very beginning of his writing by choosing to dive directly in the deep end of Christian theology... into pure Christology. It is an intriguing choice. Every author has decisions to make... questions to answer. Who is my audience? What is their vocabulary? What do I want to say? How do I start? At what background rhythm do I introduce new ideas and flesh them out? As an author, Mark had those and other questions in mind as he wrote, and he made choices for each of them. (sidebar: I fully acknowedge the role of the human author in writing inspired Scripture, as well as the superintending of the Holy Spirit to ensure a fully God-breathed, inspired Scripture as well.)


Mark's evident decision is to play his hand in the opening sentence, serving his readers with a foundation for everything Mark writes. In fact, he starts so big that I am struggling myself with an adequate description of what Mark has done. I hesitate to use the word-picture "foundation", since the concepts of Jesus as Messiah and as the Son of God are so large. They extend beyond a foundation, providing a towering superstructure to give shape and substance to the entire construction of Mark's gospel.


Mark's Gospel has been characterized as "the Gospel to the Romans". Why would people describe his work this way? Partially due to the repeated emphasis on Jesus as a man of action and authority, appealing to Roman cultural sensibilities built up from a long history of military domination and victory. Further, Mark translates Jewish ideas for his readers, assuming they are unfamilar territory to his audience, so they may grasp the deep realities he is communicating. Perhaps this is a new idea to you. Maybe you've never thought about Bible authors and how they wrote as authors;  considering their intended audience and writing from their own perspective while reaching through the cultural/religious window, influencing not only what they would write but also how they would write it. And yes, it is possible to hold to Biblical inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility while acknowledging the very real role of the individual human authors.


Then again, this might be nothing new to you at all. Perhaps you've wondered about whether and how much should we contextualize our message. Should we modulate our vocabulary and imagery to avoid stumbling people with deep theology until we walk quite a ways down the road with them?


What I gather from Mark's opening is, at a minimum, we do not always need to back off, dumb down, or gloss over rich theology early on. Why, Mark hasn't even taken a second breath and we've already seen Messiahship and "Son of God"-ness come into play. While both of these need to be fleshed out in the subsequent text, it doesn't force Mark to abandon using them in his opening.


Taking this principle in hand, we see now that we are not compelled to always test the waters with a tentative toe in the pool, pulverizing the good news into a digestible mush in order to reach the unchurched masses. No, instead of a fearful foray into the dark land, we can carry the bright torch of our Messiah, our Savior, the Son of God with us, to give light to lost souls living in darkness.

 

October 29, 2013

Words of Wisdom

"When we are bored, it can be only because we have stopped looking at Jesus. He can't be boring. If we find him boring, it's because we are boring. The deficiency is ours, not his."  -Jared Wilson, Gospel Deeps.

October 28, 2013

Good News! Good News!

Yesterday was 'Reformation Sunday'. I had the opportunity to serve my home church while our pastor was under the weather and unable to preach. The sermon starts in Jeremiah and ranges over quite a bit of Scripture. It is 24 minutes long. May God bless the preaching of His Word.

I know some of you have followed the blog for several years. I would love to hear from you, whether here in the blog comments, on Vimeo, Facebook, or Twitter.


Jeremiah 23:5-6 Good News! Good News! from First Evangelical Free Church on Vimeo.

October 25, 2013

A Plea To My Brothers In Danger

My dear brother,
I know. I know. You've thought it through. Your situation is unique and the only relief you have in your loneliness comes from the plans you are making. Plans... with someone else. Someone... who is not your wife. Maybe she has a name at this point, maybe still a faceless, anonymous fantasy. After all, you reason, intimacy at home is non-existent. The woman you share a roof with has become, perhaps not the enemy, but like a piece of furniture you pass by without care, or a stranger on television who could care less about you...  about "us".

BROTHER! STOP!

PASTOR! HOLD YOUR GROUND!

Sin is strangling you, choking out your sight until you tunnel vision in on what will ultimately burn down your entire life. Pause before your blind burning desire strikes the match and immolates your entire life and every treasured, hard-fought relationship you have: your wife, your children,  your loved ones, your friends, your church, your Lord and Savior.

Brother, can you not see that your heart is becoming hard as diamonds? Humble yourself before God, and repent before the insanity of sin drags you under the surface. Seek His face, which shines brighter than the sun, to dispel the darkness you've lost yourself in.

You retort, "Oh, but when her hand touched mine, such depth of feeling shook me, our connection was immediate and without words! The fog of my loneliness lifted and I feel hopeful that someone, anyone, would care again for me." Brother, it was simply a touch. The old nature, agitated by that spark, has clambered out of the grave and filled your mind with visions, visions of unreality, visions of fantasy, visions which the light of day will prove to be worthless, less than worthless, truly tragic in their destructive power; deadly and bringing death with them, riding on the night, where darkness conceals the danger and lying to yourself seems like hope.

The surge of excitement you feel in anticipation is actually your soul imploding upon itself before unleashing explosive fury in every direction. Nothing will remain, including your 'happiness'. Your flock which you have shepherded faithfully will be scattered, beaten down, some devoured in the aftermath of your sin. Your precious wife, who has loved and supported you for so many years will be left scarred of soul, burned to the bone, trying to reassamble her life with the children, no comfort or guidance from your 'loved-for-so-long' hand. Instead, the shadow of betrayal lurking in every corner.

Again, you push back. "When I look into her eyes, the tenderness and desire I see takes my breath away." A man drowning in the depths of the ocean has his breath taken away as well. It is a soul-drowning, conscience-killing undertow of rebellion that drags more and more the longer you toy with it.

BROTHER!  STOP!

 Before you scatter spiritual napalm everywhere and on everyone around you, before you strike the match of 'burning desire', before your life landscape becomes ground zero of your 'scorched earth' lusts, stop. Stop the fantasizing, planning, lusting, and hardening of your affections.

Do not take that step. Pull your foot back from the brink. Seek the Lord in humility and repentance, that you may not be lost in the furious tempest.

For the glory of our God, the good of your soul, the joy of you and your wife and family, and all the rest; seek the Lord and wise counsel to help you regain your footing and strengthen your commitment of love for your wife.

Brother, I plead with you. It is my prayer that God will help you embrace again the hope-filled reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ and turn from the minefield of death-dealing sin.

For specific suggestions on how to deal with these temptations, this article by Jason Helopoulos will prove very helpful.

October 15, 2013

Sola Scriptura: London Baptist Confession of 1644

London Baptist Confession of 1644



VI.


1 This therefore is life eternal, to know the only true God, and whom He has sent Jesus Christ. 2 And on the contrary, the Lord will render vengeance in flaming fire to them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.



  1. John 17:3; Heb. 5:9; Jer. 23:5, 6
  2. II Thess. 1:8; John 3:36



VII.


The rule of this knowledge, faith, and obedience, concerning the worship and service of God, and all other Christian duties, is not mans inventions, opinions, devices, laws, constitutions, or traditions unwritten whatsoever, but only the word of God contained in the Canonical Scriptures.


John 5:39; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Col. 21:18, 23; Mat. 15:9



VIII.


In this written Word God has plainly revealed whatsoever He has thought needful for us to know, believe, and acknowledge, touching the nature and office of Christ, in whom all the promises are Yea and Amen to the praise of God.


Acts 3:22, 23; Heb. 1:1, 2; 2 Tim 3:15-17; 2 Cor. 1:20


October 12, 2013

Kaiser On A Roll

I recently found a very helpful, inspiring book on deep discount at CBD.  Walter Kaiser's The Majesty of God in the Old Testament is available for a short time at $5.99 as 'slightly imperfect'. I have not figured out what flaws exist with the copy I received. Nothing on the cover, spine, or binding that I can discern.

Anyway, once I received the book I started to look through it. Kaiser grabbed my attention in the introduction with his infectious energy for exalting the greatness and majesty of God from numerous biblical passages. Those familiar with the YRR movement and its literature will find a familiar tune of intentional pursuit of the glory of God in Kaiser's reflections. Not only does he stir up high thoughts of our great God, but he also lays out a practical framework to pursue preaching and teaching from ten specific passages which could be applied to numerous others. In other words, Kaiser not only paints a magnificent biblical portrait of God's majesty, he provides you with brushes, tints, a pallet, and a theological artist's eye to help you teach your people about our glorious God.

Kaiser also gives a brief reflection on and response to the Christocentric preaching model emphasized most prominently by Bryan Chapell. If you have never read Kaiser, here's a solid and stirring work of deep theology that would benefit both you and those who hear you preach and teach concerning the majesty of our great God and Savior.






October 11, 2013

The Burning Man

"The Spirit moves when he will and how he will, and we cannot command his coming, but about one thing that will happen when the Spirit moves in, power in the church of Jesus Christ, I think we can be perfectly sure. When that happens, the miserable, feeble talk about the avoidance of controversy on the part of Christian men and preachers of Jesus Christ will all he swept away as with a mighty flood. A man on fire with a message never speaks in a way like that; never speaks with the indifferent manner of the world but proclaims his gospel in the presence of the world of enemies, briefly and nobly in the presence of everything that is lifted up against the gospel of Jesus Christ."


--J. Gresham Machen's The Gospel And The Modern World: And Other Short Writings

October 8, 2013

Christ and Suffering Temptation

"His sinlessness did not immunize Him against the effects of sin, either during His life or on the cross. In fact, He tasted our temptations with a sensitivity none of us has known precisely because He resisted them. Whatever your experience of temptation or suffering, Christ's was deeper because His humanity was sinless."

  -Sinclair Ferguson. In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life 

August 16, 2013

Things Which Truly Matter

"Light may seem at times to be an impertinent intruder, but it is always beneficial in the end. The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from 'controversial' matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life. In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight."
                                                                 -- Machen, J. Gresham. Christianity and Liberalism


August 14, 2013

Prayer: Who Should We Pray To?


"God is the One to whom we pray. Not angels. Not some group of 'saints' up in heaven. Not the departed dead. But God alone. There is not a single verse either in the Old Testament or the New Testament where prayers are made to angels, to saints, or the departed dead. Such ideas are human inventions. Prayer is to be made only to God."  - Rhodes, Ron. Prayer to the Living God


August 13, 2013

Words of Wisdom

A prophet is a spokesman; one sent from God to man to make known the divine will. In this sense Moses and all inspired men were prophets. But Christ was the personal "Word of God" incarnate, he who had eternally been "in the bosom of the Father," and "known the Father"; and consequently as Mediatorial Prophet is that original fountain of revelation of which all other prophets are the streams. He is the Prophet of all prophets, the Teacher of all teachers.

Hodge, A.A. A Commentary on The Westminster Confession of Faith With Scripture Proofs (Kindle Locations 1840-1844)

August 6, 2013

Sola Scriptura: Keach's Catechism (1677)

KEACH'S CATECHISM (1677)


Q. 4. What is the Word of God?

A. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, being given by divine inspiration, are the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
(2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; Isaiah 8:20)

Q. 5. How do we know that the Bible is the Word of God?

A. The Bible evidences itself to be God's Word by the heavenliness of its doctrine, the unity of its parts, its power to convert sinners and to edify saints; but the Spirit of God only, bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in our hearts, is able fully to persuade us that the Bible is the Word of God.
(1 Cor. 2:6,7,13; Ps. 119:18, 129; Acts 10:43, 26:22; Acts 18:28; Heb 4:12; Ps. 19:7-9; Rom. 15:4; John 16:13,14; 1 John 2:20-27; 2 Cor. 3:14-17)

Q. 6. May all men make use of the Scriptures?

A. All men are not only permitted, but commanded and exhorted, to read, hear, and understand the Scriptures.
(John 5:39; Luke 16:29; Acts 8:28-30; 17:11)

Q. 7. What do the Scriptures principally teach?

A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man.
(2 Tim. 3:16,17; John 20:31; Acts 24:14; 1 Cor. 10:11; Eccles. 12:13)

August 3, 2013

Sola Scriptura: Westminster Catechism


Westminster Larger Catechism

Question 3: What is the Word of God?
Answer: The holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.
Question 4: How does it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?
Answer: The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity; by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very Word of God.
Question 5: What do the Scriptures principally teach?
Answer: The Scriptures principally teach,: What man is to believe concerning God, and: What duty God requires of man.
Question 6: What do the Scriptures make known of God?
Answer: The Scriptures make known: What God is, the persons in the Godhead, his decrees, and the execution of his decrees.


July 25, 2013

Words of Wisdom

"We need the Bible to give feeble feet a firm place to stand."
--Chase, Mitchell L., Behold Our Sovereign God


July 24, 2013

Sola Scriptura: The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646)


CHAPTER I. Of the holy Scripture.


I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation; therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.

II. Under the name of holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the Books of the Old and New Testament, which are these:



Of the Old Testament

Genesis Exodus Leviticus

Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua

Judges Ruth 1 Samuel

2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings

1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra

Nehemiah Esther Job

Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes

Song of Solomon Isaiah Jeremiah

Lamentations Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos

Obadiah Jonah Micah

Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah

Haggai Zechariah Malachi





Of the New Testament

Matthew Mark Luke

John Acts Romans

1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians

Ephesians Philippians Colossians

1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy

2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter

2 Peter 1 John 2 John

3 John Jude Revelation



All which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.



III. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.



IV. The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.



V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the holy Scripture; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.



VI. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word; and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.



VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.



VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have right unto, and interest in, the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the language of every people unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.



IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it may be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.



X. The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.




July 23, 2013

The Painful Reality of Sin

"The groan of humanity, as well as the groan of creation, by reason of sin, has been deep and long. Not always loud; often an undertone, more often drowned in laughter, but still terribly real."
  --- Horatius Bonar, God's Way of Holiness


July 22, 2013

Sola Scriptura: The Second Helvetic Confession (1566)


Chapter 1 - Of the Holy Scripture Being the True Word of God


Canonical Scripture. We believe and confess the canonical Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles of both Testaments to be the true Word of God, and to have sufficient authority of themselves, not of men. For God himself spoke to the fathers, prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures.

And in this Holy Scripture, the universal Church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God; and in this respect it is expressly commanded by God that nothing either be added to or taken from the same.



Scripture Teaches Fully All Goodness. We judge, therefore, that from these Scriptures are to be derived true wisdom and godliness, the reformation and government of churches; as also instruction in all duties of piety; and, to be short, the confirmation of doctrines, and the rejection of all errors, moreover, all exhortations according to that word of the apostle, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof," etc. (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Again, "I am writing these instructions to you," says the apostle to Timothy, "so that you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God," etc. (1 Tim. 3:14-15). Scripture is the Word of God. Again, the selfsame apostle to the Thessalonians: "When," says he, "you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God," etc. (1 Thess. 2:13.) For the Lord himself has said in the Gospel, "It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of my Father speaking through you"; therefore "he who hears you hears me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me" (Matt. 10:20; Luke 10:16; John 13:20).



The Preaching of the Word of God Is the Word of God. Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe the the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not the minister that preaches; for even if he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless the Word of God remains still true and good.



Neither do we think that therefore the outward preaching is to be thought as fruitless because the instruction in true religion depends on the inward illumination of the Spirit, or because it is written "And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor . . ., for they shall all know me" (Jer. 31:34), and "Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (1 Cor. 3:7). For although "no one can come to Christ unless he be drawn by the Father" (John 6:4), and unless the Holy Spirit inwardly illumines him, yet we know that it is surely the will of God that his Word should be preached outwardly also. God could indeed, by his Holy Spirit, or by the ministry of an angel, without the ministry of St. Peter, have taught Cornelius in the Acts; but, nevertheless, he refers him to Peter, of whom the angel speaking says, "He shall tell you what you ought to do."



Inward Illumination Does Not Eliminate External Preaching. For he that illuminates inwardly by giving men the Holy Spirit, the same one, by way of commandment, said unto his disciples, "Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). And so in Philippi, Paul preached the Word outwardly to Lydia, a seller of purple goods; but the Lord inwardly opened the woman's heart (Acts 16:14). And the same Paul, after a beautiful development of his thought, in Rom. 10:17 at length comes to the conclusion, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God by the preaching of Christ."



At the same time we recognize that God can illuminate whom and when he will, even without the external ministry, for that is in his power; but we speak of the usual way of instructing men, delivered unto us from God, both by commandment and examples.



Heresies. We therefore detest all the heresies of Artemon, the Manichaeans, the Valentinians, of Cerdon, and the Marcionites, who denied that the Scriptures proceeded from the Holy Spirit; or did not accept some parts of them, or interpolated and corrupted them.



Apocrypha. And yet we do not conceal the fact that certain books of the Old Testament were by the ancient authors called Apocryphal, and by others Ecclesiastical; inasmuch as some would have them read in the churches, but not advanced as an authority from which the faith is to be established. As Augustine also, in his De Civitate Dei, book 18, ch. 38, remarks that "in the books of the Kings, the names and books of certain prophets are cited"; but he adds that "they are not in the canon"; and that "those books which we have suffice unto godliness."





Chapter 2 - Of Interpreting the Holy Scriptures; and of Fathers, Councils, and Traditions


The True Interpretation of Scripture. The apostle Peter has said that the Holy Scriptures are not of private interpretation (II Peter 1:20), and thus we do not allow all possible interpretations. Nor consequently do we acknowledge as the true or genuine interpretation of the Scriptures what is called the conception of the Roman Church, that is, what the defenders of the Roman Church plainly maintain should be thrust upon all for acceptance. But we hold that interpretation of the Scripture to be orthodox and genuine which is gleaned from the Scriptures themselves (from the nature of the language in which they were written, likewise according to the circumstances in which they were set down, and expounded in the light of like and unlike passages and of many and clearer passages) and which agree with the rule of faith and love, and contributes much to the glory of God and man's salvation.

Interpretations of the Holy Fathers. Wherefore we do not despise the interpretations of the holy Greek and Latin fathers, nor reject their disputations and treatises concerning sacred matters as far as they agree with the Scriptures; but we modestly dissent from them when they are found to set down things differing from, or altogether contrary to, the Scriptures. Neither do we think that we do them any wrong in this matter; seeing that they all, with one consent, will not have their writings equated with the canonical Scriptures, but command us to prove how far they agree or disagree with them, and to accept what is in agreement and to reject what is in disagreement.

Councils. And in the same order also we place the decrees and canons of councils.

Wherefore we do not permit ourselves, in controversies about religion or matters of faith, to urge our case with only the opinions of the fathers or decrees of councils; much less by received customs, or by the large number who share the same opinion, or by the prescription of a long time. Who is the judge? Therefore, we do not admit any other judge than God himself, who proclaims by the Holy Scriptures what is true, what is false, what is to be followed, or what to be avoided. So we do assent to the judgments of spiritual men which are drawn from the Word of God. Certainly Jeremiah and other prophets vehemently condemned the assemblies of priests which were set up against the law of God; and diligently admonished us that we should not listen to the fathers, or tread in their path who, walking in their own inventions, swerved from the law of God.



Traditions of Men. Likewise we reject human traditions, even if they be adorned with high-sounding titles, as though they were divine and apostolical, delivered to the Church by the living voice of the apostles, and, as it were, through the hands of apostolical men to succeeding bishops which, when compared with the Scriptures, disagree with them; and by their disagreement show that they are not apostolic at all. For as the apostles did not contradict themselves in doctrine, so the apostolic men did not set forth things contrary to the apostles. On the contrary, it would be wicked to assert that the apostles by a living voice delivered anything contrary to their writings. Paul affirms expressly that he taught the same things in all churches (1 Cor. 4:17). And, again, "For we write you nothing but what you can read and understand." (2 Cor. 1:13). Also, in another place, he testifies that he and his disciples--that is, apostolic men--walked in the same way, and jointly by the same Spirit did all things (2 Cor. 12:18). Moreover, the Jews in former times had the traditions of their elders; but these traditions were severely rejected by the Lord, indicating that the keeping of them hinders God's law, and that God is worshipped in vain by such traditions (Matt. 15:1ff.; Mark 7:1 ff.).



July 19, 2013

Some Thoughts On Prayerlessness

Benefits of Not Praying

  • None.

Dangers of Not Praying

  • Growth in Pride & Self-sufficiency
  • A growing distance between yourself and God
  • Growing hard in your attitude toward others
  • Growing deaf to instruction found in the Bible
  • A growing inability to speak the gospel with conviction
  • Growing disobedience to God with less and less concern over it
(These kinds of growth we can all do without.)

From Tim Challies and Nancy DeMoss:  More Thoughts On Prayerlessness

July 18, 2013

Praying... With All Prayer

In the following video, I get to share the second of a two-part sermon from Ephesians 6:10-20. This sermon covers the final three verses in that passage. Prayer is critical for the battle of the Christian life. We are to be occupied in prayer at all times. How is that practical when we have other important necessities to attend to, such as work, caring for the family, and driving?





July 16, 2013

Some Thoughts On Prayer

Prayer is not:

Commanding God around.

A magic incantation that brings God under your control.

Using the power of words to create the reality you want to possess.


Prayer is:

Calling out to God.

Acknowledging God's power and your own powerlessness.

An act of faith that God hears your prayer.

A cry for help in the battle of the Christian life.

An act of submission before the Sovereign Lord of the universe.


Praying at all times, with all prayer, alert with all perseverance, for all the saints.


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.  -Ephesians 6:10-20, ESV, emphasis added.




July 13, 2013

Words of Wisdom

"It should be ever borne in mind that the necessity of holiness is absolute. With regard to other things, some, though desirable, are not essential, and others, though essential under ordinary circumstances, are not universally and absolutely necessary. But holiness is necessary in such a sense that salvation, without it, is impossible, because salvation principally consists in this very transformation of the heart."  --Charles Hodge, The Way of Life, p.352

July 12, 2013

Apologetic Methodology - An Interview with Robert M. Bowman, Jr.

I have been a student of Christian apologetics for several decades. There has been a constant kerfuffle between the classical, evidential, and presuppositional schools of thought in that time. The barbs from one school to another range from "That's hard to follow" to  "You're doing it all wrong" to "You're a heretic." Typically the most acidic comments issue from the presuppositional school, which is the one I find most challenging to understand, since it is deeply philosophical in nature.

During that same time, I have read and interacted with apologist Rob Bowman. Rob is one of my heroes of the faith. The guy has demonstrated nothing short of enduring perseverance in dealing with obstinate unbelief of several religions, especially Jehovah's Witness and Mormon, interacting persistently and patiently with adherents in group settings and at an individual level as well.

A few years ago, Rob co-authored a book with Ken Boa called Faith Has Its Reasons. This is a survey of various schools of thought concerning Christian apologetics. The most surprising feature of the book is an irenic tone where Boa and Bowman encourage each apologetic school to look at and learn from other schools. Rather than calling for all-out war between apologetics methods, they seek to bring a little peace between brothers.

The following video is an interview with Rob where he discusses the book at length. 



July 10, 2013

Sola Scriptura: The Belgic Confession of Faith (1561)

Article 3: Of the written Word of God.

We confess that this Word of God was not sent, nor delivered by the will of man, but that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, as the apostle Peter saith. And that afterwards God, from a special care, which he has for us and our salvation, commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit his revealed word to writing; and he himself wrote with his own finger, the two tables of the law. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.


Article 4: Canonical Books of the Holy Scripture.

We believe that the Holy Scriptures are contained in two books, namely, the Old and New Testament, which are canonical, against which nothing can be alleged. These are thus named in the Church of God. The books of the Old Testament are, the five books of Moses, namely: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the books of Joshua, Ruth, Judges, the two books of Samuel, the two of the Kings, two books of the Chronicles, commonly called Paralipomenon, the first of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, the Psalms of David, the three books of Solomon, namely, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; the four great prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel; and the twelve lesser prophets, namely, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

Those of the New Testament are the four evangelists, namely: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, namely: one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, one to Philemon, and one to the Hebrews; the seven epistles of the other apostles, namely, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; and the Revelation of the apostle John.


Article 5: From whence the Holy Scriptures derive their dignity and authority.

We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing without any doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Ghost witnesseth in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.


Article 6: The difference between the canonical and apocryphal books.

We distinguish those sacred books from the apocryphal, namely: the third book of Esdras, the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Syrach, Baruch, the appendix to the book of Esther, the Song of the three Children in the Furnace, the history of Susannah, of Bell and the Dragon, the prayer of Manasses, and the two books of the Maccabees. All of which the Church may read and take instruction from, so far as they agree with the canonical books; but they are far from having such power and efficacy, as that we may from their testimony confirm any point of faith, or of the Christian religion; much less detract from the authority of the other sacred books.


Article 7: The sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures, to be the only rule of faith.

We believe that those Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe, unto salvation, is sufficiently taught therein. For, since the whole manner of worship, which God requires of us, is written in them at large, it is unlawful for any one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures: nay, though it were an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul saith. For, since it is forbidden, to add unto or take away anything from the word of God, it doth thereby evidently appear, that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects. Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore, we reject with all our hearts, whatsoever doth not agree with this infallible rule, which the apostles have taught us, saying, Try the spirits whether they are of God. Likewise, if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house.

July 8, 2013

God Calls You, Christian, Into Battle

God both calls and equips you, Christian brother and sister, for battle with the devil. His armor is more than sufficient to meet the attacks. The sermon is from Ephesians 6:10-17. Please take up your sword and follow along.


The Hard Work of Preaching

I am currently reading the book Saving Eutychus by Gary Millar and Phil Campbell. It is a convicting,  encouraging,  and wise book. In describing their approach to preaching, expository preaching to be specific, they  make the following statement.

"Preaching like this is hard work. And, in one sense, it doesn't get any easier  the longer you're at it. That's why all of us need to develop a culture of llifelong learning. If we are going to take teaching the Bible seriously, then we will need to work at it constantly, developing our ability to understand, and teach, and apply, the Scriptures. Uncaging the lion involves rather a lot of hard work."  --p38-39.

As you can see, the demands on the preacher to understand the Bible and to communicate it clearly are rigorous. To hold a high-view of Scripture and God's design for it to change and shape people demands this kind of commitment by the preacher. I believe this holds true as well for teachers in the church, no matter the age-group being taught. Millar and Campbell have hit on a very important truth...  to continue growing in our ability to carefully handle God's Word, we must continue learning - to the point where it becomes a habitual, intentional, lifelong learning effort.

There is much to commend in Saving Eutychus. I will try to post a review when I finish the book. I do recommend it very highly to pastors and Bible teachers in the church.

In the vein of preaching, this post by Omaha pastor Erik Raymond delivers simple, practical insights you can put to use immediately in your preaching and teaching.

There you have it... a combined approach to improve your Bible preaching and teaching: lifelong learning and simple, practical insights you can put to use immediately.

May God be glorified in our preaching and teaching.

July 6, 2013

Sola Scriptura: The Scots Confession

The Scots Confession


A. D. 1560 - John Knox

 

Chapter 19 - The Authority of the Scriptures


As we believe and confess the Scriptures of God sufficient to instruct and make perfect the man of God, so do we affirm and avow their authority to be from God, and not to depend on men or angels. We affirm, therefore, that those who say the Scriptures have no other authority save that which they have received from the Kirk are blasphemous against God and injurious to the true Kirk, which always hears and obeys the voice of her own Spouse and Pastor, but takes not upon her to be mistress over the same.
   

Chapter 20 - General Councils, Their Power, Authority, and the Cause of Their Summoning


As we do not rashly condemn what good men, assembled together in general councils lawfully gathered, have set before us; so we do not receive uncritically whatever has been declared to men under the name of the general councils, for it is plain that, being human, some of them have manifestly erred, and that in matters of great weight and importance. So far then as the council confirms its decrees by the plain Word of God, so far do we reverence and embrace them. But if men, under the name of a council, pretend to forge for us new articles of faith, or to make decisions contrary to the Word of God, then we must utterly deny them as the doctrine of devils, drawing our souls from the voice of the one God to follow the doctrines and teachings of men. The reason why the general councils met was not to make any permanent law which God had not made before, nor yet to form new articles for our belief, nor to give the Word of God authority; much less to make that to be his Word, or even the true interpretation of it, which was not expressed previously by his holy will in his Word; but the reason for councils, at least of those that deserve that name, was partly to refute heresies, and to give public confession of their faith to the generations following, which they did by the authority of God's written Word, and not by any opinion or prerogative that they could not err by reason of their numbers. This, we judge, was the primary reason for general councils. The second was that good policy and order should be constitutes and observed in the Kirk where, as in the house of God, it becomes all things to be done decently and in order. Not that we think any policy of order of ceremonies can be appointed for all ages, times, and places; for as ceremonies which men have devised are but temporal, so they may, and ought to be, changed, when they foster superstition rather than edify the Kirk.

July 5, 2013

Of Fire Pits and Prayer

I must confess...  I love a good campfire. Whether at the campground or in the fire pit in the back yard, I put down roots right next to the fire and hang out there until it's all done. The smell, the sounds, the dancing flames, the soothing wonder of it all. Our fires have been one of the best places for family conversation and also for family silence together.

Before we start the fire, we make sure we have an ample supply of fuel for the fire. A lot of it, please and thank you. I build a leaning tower of wood and light it up. No wood. No fire. It's as simple as that. Without the preparation of gathering and chopping the wood, there is nothing to light.

I see many Christians standing around holding a full tank of prayer lighter fluid and a big match, with the gleam of good intentions in their eyes. And nothing comes of it. There's no fuel for the prayer fire. There has been no preparation fitting for prayer (no time in the Bible, no vision of our extreme need and God's extreme generosity, no worship vocabulary beyond the standard sunday school answers, no attempt to see the war that already exists in the life of the Christian and for the souls of the lost). Instead, there has been a lot of fun, fun, fun. Entertainment by the forest full. Distractions by the thousands.

When this sad situation is pointed out, many Christians panic and immediately set the match to the lighter fluid, and have the hottest one or two minutes of prayer that you can imagine. These impromptu prayer immolation pyres are not necessary, dear friends.  If you are one that struggles with prayer, here's an article from author Don Whitney that recommends remedial, accomplishable, and wise steps to be taken.  To give you a preview of his main point, here's a small excerpt.


"The Psalms are the best place in Scripture from which to pray Scripture.  This is because of the original purpose and usage of the Psalms.  The Psalms were songs inspired by God for the purpose of being reflected in song back to God.  Moreover, there’s a Psalm for every sigh of the heart.  The entire range of human emotion is recorded in the 150 Psalms."



You can read the entire article here.


July 3, 2013

All of Christ for all of __________________ (fill in the blank)

Guilt. It's one of the great hurdles to evangelism. I'm not talking about guilt and forgiveness in the context of the Gospel. No... that would be the very heart of evangelism - the Gospel itself. Instead, I'm thinking of the huge hurdles we build concerning actually doing evangelism. It seems that we evangelicals continually feel the need to run to extremes, to place the bar always far above our own heads. For example, if you're not evangelizing down-and-out authentically homeless people, then are you truly doing evangelism?

How foolish we are, to manufacture guilt that does not exist and allow it to hold us back from reaching out to the very real people who do exist in our circle of influence. "You mean, I could actually talk to the empty-nester about the Gospel over a cup of coffee?" Yup. That's what I mean.

For some helpful thoughts on evangelism, check out what Pastor Kevin Miller says in The Gospel for All People.

April 10, 2013

Words of Wisdom

"When old truths are attacked with new weapons, they must be vindicated by new defenses, adapted to meet the most recent forms of error;..."
 - James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification

April 9, 2013

Where does Psalm 110 fit into your devotional life?

The Psalms are written in the key of 'worship' for believers everywhere. The 23rd Psalm holds a place of prominence amongst North American evangelicals, understandably so. It's one of my favorites as well, along with Psalm 29.

After a recent lesson in Sunday School, I am left wondering why Psalm 110 doesn't take a more prominent position in our devotional lives. Why? Psalm 110 is a Messianic Psalm with several familiar references to the Savior... but this alone is not what lifts Psalm 110 above its brothers.  Rather, Psalm 110 is the Psalm most-often quoted in the New Testament. Stop and think about that. Of all the Psalms to draw from, Psalm 110 is dipped into most often by the writers of the New Testament.

Pause and consider where this Psalm should fit in your personal devotions.



Psalm 110
English Standard Version (ESV)


A Psalm of David.


The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”


The Lord sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.


The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”


The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

April 8, 2013

Deo Volente, New Features Coming Soon

Dear friends,


God willing, you will be seeing video blog entries beginning later this month. I have been blessed with an opportunity to get some new {to me} technology that gives me the ability to begin vlogging. Yes, I know. People have been doing that for years, so this isn't innovative by any stretch of the imagination.


Nevertheless, I am pretty excited about the possibilities, and feel more energized and eager about this than I expected. It has come about primarily through my home church, First Evangelical Free Church. The dear brothers and sisters there are so encouraging to me, both as friends on a personal level and corporately as a body of believers who consistently affirm my ministry among them as a lay-minister, teacher, theologian, and sometime elder in their service.


So I am pretty stoked about the ministry opportunities, and pray that, Deo Volente (God willing), I will be faithful in proclaiming the glory and grace of our Triune God.


Soli Deo Gloria

April 7, 2013

Words of Wisdom

God is worthy.

    Of love.

    Of adoration.

    Worship.

    Service.

He calls you and me to believe His word about His Son.

    To trust.

    To obey.

    Follow.

    Live.

Commit your life, your hope, your very soul to His tender, sure care. Abandon the prison of sin and death to follow the Author of life forever.

Repent and believe.

April 6, 2013

Psalm 29

A Psalm of David.

Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

      The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters.
      The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
      The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
      The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
      The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
      The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, "Glory!"

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!
(Psalms 29   ESV)


Propitiation and Expiation

"The two concepts (propitiation and expiation) are really very different. Propitiation means the turning away of anger; expiation is rather the making amends for a wrong. Propitiation is a personal word; one propitiates a person. Expiation is an impersonal word; one expiates a sin or a crime."


  -- The Atonement, Leon Morris