Sunday, April 30, 2006

Foolishness of Preaching

I recently had an email exchange attempting to get Pastor Chris to Blog. He hasn’t agreed yet due to his busy pastoral schedule, but I am sure this may get his fingers typing. I have wanted to do a series on the church. So, I’d thought I’d start with the necessity of the foolishness of preaching.

With the rise of the Emergent church movement, preaching seems to be on its way out and other means of communicating the Gospel are to be used. Means such as group discussions about what we all think a text is saying. That may seem fine, but usually what occurs is that people begin to express their different interpretations of God’s Word and feelings as too what God is doing in the world.

God’s Word eventually becomes “unclear” and “insufficient” for everyday life. Doctrine is placed in the classroom and “practical theology” takes the front seat. Everyday life is divorced from “dogmatic teaching”.

The diminished role of preaching in the life of the church is nothing new. History is replete with times of apostasy and preachers being thrown out on their ears. Martin Lloyd-Jones in his book Preaching and Preachers stated:

“Is it not clear, as you take a bird’s-eye view of Church history, that the decadent periods and eras in the history of the Church have always been those periods when preaching had declined? What is it that always heralds the dawn of a Reformation or of a Revival? It is renewed preaching. Not only a new interest in preaching but a new kind of preaching. A revival of true preaching has always heralded these great movements in the history of the Church.”

The denial of the need for preaching is happening in our day. Truth has become relative. How is “modern” man any different from the first century? He isn’t. “But we need ‘new’ ways to reach people” we are often told. Man’s need is the same now as it was in the first century.

Men will cloud the issue and equivocate preaching with other means. For instance, Jones likens “elements of worship”, “responsive reading”, “drama”, “giving of testimonies” and the like as being entertainment and not equal to the ministry of God’s Word. Yet do we not see in our mega-churches exactly that. I actually heard a guest speaker say that singing the Gospel is just as good as preaching the Gospel. It doesn’t matter how you “share it”. I don’t remember the Apostles “sharing” or singing the Gospel as a means of the proclamation of the Gospel. Even Steve Camp, a Christian musician, will be only too quick to point this out.

It was preaching that the Apostles did in order to call God’s people. It was through their preaching that thousands of souls were converted to Christ in one day. It was their preaching that called dead sinners from spiritual death to spiritual life. Preaching the Word of God is the means by which God has ordained the salvation and preservation of men. To deny this truth is to deny the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

Preaching is the means God has ordained to save sinners. There will be times when men will reject preachers. Now may be one of those times. Still, God’s ministers should remain faithful and steadfast. For God is glorified in the Proclamation of His Word in times of revival or times of trial.

Some passages to think about:

Mat 3:1 Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,
Mat 3:2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Mat 12:41 "The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Luk 3:3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;

Luk 4:44 So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Luk 20:1 On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him,

Act 5:42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Act 8:4 Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.

Act 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.

1Co 2:4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

Col 1:25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,

1Ti 5:17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.

Series on the Church

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pulpit Crimes

OK. If there just happens to be a really really rich guy that comes along and reads this Blog and if this rich guy decides he has way to much money and needs to get rid of some, then let me help you.

Next November there will be a debate beteen John Shelby Spong and James White on the issue of homosexuality. Then there will be a cruise with seminar speakers Steve Camp, James White, Phil Johnson, Don Kistler, and David King. The topic will be...Pulpit Crimes.

So again, if you're just some guy desiring to throw some money away. I would be more than happy to take it from you and go listen to these great speakers on this most important topic.

Friday, April 28, 2006

An Act Of War?

I need to be clear. I think immigrants in this country are a great blessing to the world. The U.S. is still the beacon of light upon a hill when it comes to economic and religious freedom. I think most people agree that our land is still a land of great opportunity and the envy of the world.

I have often wondered why dictators of foreign nations do not want to mimic what Americans have. The amount of wealth that can be gained for a people is only determined by God's blessings and (from man's perspective) their ingenuity. Then I look around and see the Left in this country wanting to follow the policies that loser nations have. They simply want to keep people in slavery. They will do anything to achieve the fall of our nation.

On Monday, our nation will be invaded by another country. Millions of Mexicans who are NOT citizens and have no love for our country will protest our government. No, they probably won't use weapons. Instead they will use another tactic, economic sanctions.

Will the greatest and freest and most powerful nation on earth bend its knee to a foreign army of migrant workers and non-citizens? Will Mexico and other Latin American countries overthrow the United States? Is this not some sort of an act of war?

This is the reason why our immigration policy must reflect what American ideals have been for a few hundred years. Immigrants must be inculturated. If they are not, then let us all just learn to speak foreign languages. America will be only a name. There will be no substance.

Nothing has no ability to oppose something. We will cease being who we are and become something altogether different. That is simply bad for America, and it is simply bad for the world.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Is There Anyone Able in the SBC?

I have questioned from the beginning whether the upcoming debate is in the best interest of the Caner brothers. I truly believe they do not want to be in the position they are in. I have linked to an earlier email exchange between Dr. White and Dr. Caner, which clearly demonstrates this.

Dr. White has Blogged some more on this issue. So I stand by my initial thoughts. The Caner brother simply can not afford to do this debate. They are simply out of their league.

Although, I for one would be glad to see such a debate occurr. It should only be done in order to show both sides what is truly believed by both sides. The debate should be done for clarification. People who love God's Word and the consistent exegesis of it would greatly benefit from an open and fair discussion. The problem is that the Caner brothers are simply not able to do this.

We do not need a debate that spends most of its time knocking down straw men. We need serious indepth discussion of the real issues at hand. Paige Patterson seems to understand the issues better than most. Would he be willing to do this instead of the Caner brothers? Would someone of a scholarly backround in the SBC and, or Liberty please come forward?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Forefathers At Plimouth Wrong?

Many many moons ago a group of people were nearly wiped out. It wasn't that famous first winter. It was, according to Governor Bradford, socialism.

In order to save the feldging new colony, Plimouth Plantation went to an ownership society. When this was done, the growth and wealth of the colony only prospered.

Today on the Today Show, the Great Senator Edward Kennedy from the People's Republic of Massachussetts said the problems of society today are because of the ownership society. I guess the Fourteenth Amendment needs to be chucked under the bus as the current saying goes.

This is strange coming from a man who owns quite a bit. Perhaps when he sells all and gives all to the poor, then I'll be convinced. Until then, would the Great Senator do his forefathers a little honor and remain silent long enough for us to think he is truly great.

Trees Known By Fruit

I have to make one more point about this sin of unbelief. I think the saying, "God loves the sinner, but hates his sins", is so pervasive that it is simply taken as being part of the Gospel itself. The problem with a lie is that there is always truth mixed in.

It is true to say that I am loved by God despite my sin. The difficulty comes in the reason why. God just doesn't love everyone equally without any differentiation in His love or as one person likes to say, "God doesn't love everyone with peanut butter love." God loves His people because of His Sovereign purpose in joining them to His Son. He simply doesn't love men redemptively outside of Christ.

Therefore to say that God loves sinners while separating the sinner from their sins is to separate a man from his deeds. It is to say that men are basically good in their hearts, but they just keep doing these bad deeds.
Psalm 11:5

The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.
A tree is known by its fruit. Gods hates sin, therefore He hates the sinner. Jesus said that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes forth from the heart is what defiles him. Man's heart is continually evil. That is why we do particular sins. That is why men are sent to hell and not their particular sins.

So Jesus' death on the cross not only forgives my particular sins, but goes even farther. He secures the whole person. It is not just my sins that need salvation, it is my heart, my soul, all of me. He saves me.

Unbelief is the condition and action of the unregenerated soul. Therefore we need a Perfect Savior with the ability to save and save perfectly. Have you come to Christ?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Nature and Scope of the Atonement part 2

Heb 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Heb 7:26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;
Heb 7:27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
Heb 7:28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.
and again
Heb 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Tonight was the night when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. It was the night He was betrayed. It was the night when He was arrested. But none of that is the atoning work itself.

The Bible says He bore our sins in His body on the tree. It was there He propitiated the sins of His people. It was there where He who knew no sin became sin in our behalf. It was there that the Blessed man has his sin imputed to Christ. It was there where Christ said, "The debt is paid."

Jesus died once for all. What confuses many people is the word "all". It has been shown over and over again that the word "all" does not always mean every person ever. In fact, most of the time it doesn’t.

But this shouldn’t be the key to understanding the text. What is overlooked is the High Priestly office that Jesus has. In John Owen’s work, The Death of Death In the Death of Christ, Owen argues that Jesus is a Perfect Savior because He is a perfect mediator and intercessor.

Think through the argument of the writer of Hebrews. Since Jesus is a perfect priest, since He offers Himself as a perfect sacrifice, since the Father always hears His prayers, Jesus is able to perfect those who draw near to God.

This is not some hypothetical atonement, as Geisler would call it. This is a real vicarious substitutionary work. The reformed position is the only consistent position on this doctrine. I would go so far as to say the substitutionary atonement is a reformed doctrine.

Everyone says that Jesus died for you or us or me. The question has always been, “What does dying for us mean?” Sadly, for many evangelicals, it simply means that if we just do our best, Jesus takes care of the rest. Listen to the White Horse Inn’s questioning booksellers at a Christian booksellers convention.

I am thankful that I serve a risen Savior who has died in my place and has perfected forever all those who draw near to Him. I leave you with the promise of John 6:

Joh 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
Joh 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
Joh 6:39 "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
Joh 6:40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

Home Court Is Apparently No Advantage

Perhaps the argumentations and exegesis was not as bad as a sermon I personally heard recently (because there wasn't any), it was nevertheless bad, at points even horrible. Dr. Caner recently preached against Calvinism. If Dr. Caner of Liberty is trying to persuade me, he has failed miserably. This makes me think that men like him have their Traditions and are only trying to keep their own from straying. They are certainly not attempting reach those who are visitors that are not intimidated by a home crowd mentality.

You can listen to a special Dividing Line's critique of Dr. Caner's sermon here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Nature and Scope of the Atonement: part 1

Fads come and go, and the "sin of unbelief" as being the only sin for which men perish is a fad I'd like to help out the door. I agree that unbelief is a state where man in his sin is judged. He is commanded to believe the Gospel, and that is what he is to do.

To say however that the sin of unbelief is the only sin by which men are judged is an interesting claim. It is usually argued that in the scope and intention of the cross, Jesus died for "our sins", but also not only our sins, but the sins of the whole world. Hence the claim by the likes of Norman Geisler is that at the cross, Jesus made men savable but did not actually save anyone.

The argument is defended from the Bible by usually quoting 1 John 2:2, “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

Usually no exposition is given. It is just assumed that any unbiased person may read the word “propitiation” and the word “world” and come to only one logical conclusion. The problem however is that we should never treat God’s Word in a cavalier fashion. Words must be defined and exegesis must be done. Otherwise our Traditions will overtake us. As they say, “You know what happens when you ‘assume’.”

The word propitiation means to satisfy the wrath of God and to expiate sin. So it is simply assumed that Christ must have satisfied our sins. We should not assume here that “our” means every believer ever. John was writing to a specific church with probably many Jews. Therefore John wanted to be clear that the “world” also had their sins forgiven as well.

Many believe the term “world” means “world”. They will say “world” means the whole cosmos. So I must ask, “Is Jesus satisfying the sins of Mars and Jupiter? Obviously we must allow the context to determine the usage of the term. John’s usage of the term “world” parallels the conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus in John 3:16. Jesus was teaching Nicodemus that salvation was not for just for the Jews, but for Gentiles in every nation as well.

This is exactly John’s meaning in 1 John 2:2. John however often uses the same word in nearly the same place in a different manner. In John’s Gospel chapter 17:9, Jesus is recorded as saying, “"I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;”

Jesus in His High Priestly prayer specifically does not pray for the “world”. He prays for the disciples and all those who believe through their word. In 1 John 2:15 John says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Obviously the term world has different meanings based on its usage.

The question still remains as to the meaning of 1 John 2:2. Does Jesus expiate the sins of every single person ever? Are we universalists? Will everyone be saved? Obviously the Bible speaks of people going to hell. Is it merely the basis of unbelief? Is unbelief not a sin? Is it merely a description of man? For what sin do men go to hell if unbelief is not a sin? The position is illogical and not supported by Scripture in any way shape or form. It is a horrible error. It is based on an autonomous free-will philosophy not taught anywhere in Scripture.

Men in the last judgment will be judged according to their deeds. It is our deeds and "fruit" that explains what kind of persons we are (believers or unbelievers). Notice Jesus' words in John 5:28-29 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. "

Unbelief is the result of man’s sin. It is often referred to as original sin and total depravity. Men are judged for their sins. I will leave you with some passages, and you decide if all of men’s sins are forgiven except for unbelief (whatever that may mean).

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

Rom 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

Rom 13:4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

Eph 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Rom 3:9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;


Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Father of Modern Creationism Dies

It was a bloody war. The Kingdom had suffered many casualties and was in full retreat. Where once stood godly Christian men, none could be found. Many were remaining silent as intimidation overcame them. Evolution had seemingly become the invincible Goliath of the modern era.

Who would dare to confront the scientific world dominated by “reason”? Believing the Bible could only be seen as foolishness and unscientific. Dr. Henry Morris decided to load his little Red Rider BB gun and co-authored a book with Dr. John Whitcomb, The Genesis Flood.

In 1961, a shot was fired that would literally be heard around the world. A book that seemed silly to the scientific community would start a grassroots movement that would encourage men to stand firm on the Word of God. This book would become, as Stephen J. Gould recognized, “the founding document of the creationists movement.”1

Henry Morris recognized as so many did, that if Genesis was not historical, then Jesus’ life was a complete waste if time. If there is no creation/fall/sin/death, then there is no resurrection/life/redemption/atonement.

The father of the creationist movement went to be with Christ Feb 25 at the age of 87. Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis likens this man to be as great as “Luther, Wesley, Whitefield, Spurgeon and others.” I agree.

The Creation/Gospel message does something that many other ministries overlook. It intuitively brings people to start with God’s Word. It makes claims upon men’s lives while giving assurance that the Christian, Biblical worldview is consistent with the world around us.

As a result of Morris’ work, there are literally hundreds of creationist ministries around the world. The gates of Hades as Jesus said, shall NEVER overcome the Kingdom of God. During an era of such great apostasy, God has been faithful to call men forth to lead the charge against the kingdoms of darkness. As James (speaking by the Spirit) said, “resist the Devil and he will flee.”

I personally have several of his books and a whole shelf full of creationist writings. A man who remained faithful to God’s calling has blessed me. I have never met Dr. Morris. I simply give thanks to God for providing men such as him.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Modernism’s Answer: There Is No Hope

The older I get, the more clearly I see what movies are trying to say. As a sci-fi movie fan I grew up watching those Godzilla and alien movies with just the eyes of a boy who had no idea I was being taught something via stories. Star Wars was just a great action movie with light sabers and good guys trying to beat the bad guys. Movies however seem to have far more meaning than just entertainment.

Last Saturday I watched one of my all time favorite movies, BladeRunner. Harrison Ford plays Decker, a kind of cop who is hunting down replicants (genetically engineered people with super strength). The leader of the replicants (Roy) is played by Rutger Hauer.

The thrust of the story is that the replicants are going to die. They are desperately killing everyone in order to see their maker, Dr. Tyrell, in order to gain more life.

The movie however is more than meets the eye. The conversations are about “questions” that look for answers to the meaning of life. Roy (the replicant) finally meets his maker and tries to find the answers. Dr. Tyrell is symbolic for the modernist philosophy that seeks to give scientific explanations for everything.

It was simply assumed in modernism that science would be the “fountain of youth”. Science would discover new technologies that would save man. We all know it didn’t. Therefore Roy killed Dr. Tyrell and all of the modernist hopes crashed with him.

At the end, Roy struggles to say his last few words to Decker (Harrison Ford), and in sci-fi poetic fashion describes his life and the amazing things that he has seen. He finishes by saying,

"All of those moments will be lost, like tears in rain."

Roy finally dies realizing that life is short. So love it while you can. As one atheistic acquaintance of mine said, “The chances of life happening are so rare that life must be wonderful. So live while you can.” So chance, which is nothing of substance, gives meaning to life. Therefore “nothing” gives worth to “something”. Roy realizes that to accept death is freedom to love life.

This may sound wonderful to so many outside of Christ. But it is completely and utterly hopeless and leaves life meaningless. His questions were never answered, and based upon the worldview of the Director of the movie, they simply can't be.

Post-modernism has risen in Modernism’s wake. Modernism’s promises have only left society in disillusionment and despair. Now we are left with a philosophy that says men can know nothing. There is no truth.

For those who love the Gospel, these will be trying times. For men will become lovers of themselves and lovers of…" There is more to life than just “drinking and eating, for tomorrow we die”. As Albert Mohler said, “The creation doesn’t explain the Creator, the Creator explains the creation.” May He grant us repentance. Perhaps then we will look to Him to explain who we are and our purpose.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hath God Really Said...?

Thank the good Lord we can now be free from those terrible Gospels that Christians think to be inspired. We now will learn that Judas was really a good guy. How do we now know this? Well, National Geographic has been studying the Gospel of Judas. Who would ever question a group of people with their credentials?

OK. I'll try to stop being sarcastic. It just bugs me when a bunch of non-Christians who don't believe the four canonical gospels will somehow think Judas is even relevent. Even USA Today recognizes this will be a "dud" (as all of the other so-called gospels have been).

Naturalists have been long in their winded explanations as to why we cannot believe in the historicity of the canonical Gospels. Yet they will give credence to gospels that come from later centuries written by people who call themselves Christians but instead were gnostics or some other twisted religion. They do this simply to cast some kind of DaVinci Code conspiracy and doubt upon God's revelation. They simply repeat the Serpent's question, "Hath God really said...?"

The idea that the church conspired to hide all of these other books and chose just the Four we have is ahistorical. It has been wisely observed that if all the things that are accredited to the Council of Nicea were to have actually occurred, then that Council would indeed have been more miraculous than any event in history.

A worldview that starts with naturalism is as idolatrous and vile in its thinking as any pagan religion worshiping statues. It is the church's duty to call men everywhere to repent of their twisted and darkened thinking and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is inHim that all wisdom is hidden. To start anywhere else is "foolishness".

Dr. White wrote a series of Blog articles dealing with the DaVinci Code. I think those are relevant to this current issue and will benefit the people of God looking for solid Biblical answers for those who oppose the faith. This may sound too controversial for Willow Creek, but those who love the truth will be both humble and bold in their proclamation.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Evangelism and the Church

BP News did an interview with Evangelist Tony Nolan. It is interesting to see what our traditional understandings of evangelism are in America. While traveling with Christian musicians, Mr. Nolan is able to "relay" a gospel presentation. I am all for Christians who are granted opportunities to present the gospel in any context. So long as that context glorifies Christ.

What troubles me is how we seem to divorce the preaching of the gospel from the church. So much talk is about "getting outside of the walls of the builiding", that we seem to go beyond not only the walls but the context of the Scriptural meaning of the church itself. I'd like to know how proper evangelism can seemingly be done in any setting whatsoever when Scripture defines the purpose of evangelism is to glorify God. Instead we have made evangelism merely about getting people into heaven by the skin of their teeth. There seems to be no sense of calling out of this world, no sense of Pastoral oversight (almost anyone can start their own ministry outside of a local body of believers), no accountability to any local body. The idea of repentance is an alien idea in modern Evanjellyism today.

Notice this portion of the article below:

We went on this tour across America, and we're going again this year. Last year we went to 38 cities in two months. There were 15,000 people who signed a card saying that they accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior during the tour.

SBC LIFE: How are you following up with these people who committed their lives to Christ?

NOLAN: We've entered the names of all those who made decisions into a database and given them to churches that do the FAITH [Sunday School-based evangelistic] ministry. And those people are going back to those homes, knocking on the doors, saying, "We heard about your decision you made at Casting Crowns. And we just came to follow up.

I am glad that there may be "follow up", but the presumption seems to be optional. Church is something that comes after one is "saved" but is not necessary. The idea of pastors and preaching and accountability and being joined to a local body of believers is just not in the vocabulary of many evangelists today. The fact we have to join evangelism with entertainment is only a symptom of our thinking.

This reminds me of the "Jesus is my Savior but not Lord" argument that seemed to rage in the early 90s. If we can just get them to sign a card, walk the isle, pray the sinner's prayer, then we can "chalk 'em up for the kingdom".

Numbers may make an evangelist look good, but salvation is far more than a "tip of the hat". It is a way of life. God elects sinners by His sovereign grace for a purpose. That purpose must be loudly proclaimed from the pulpits once again.