Thursday, June 29, 2006

High Court Sides With Terroists

That nice document sitting under that bullet proof glass for millions to see each year is indeed an artifact. Sometimes I wonder if there are any copies available for the Federal Government, in particular the U.S. Supreme Court.

Yesterday the High Court ruled "that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees." Apparently, the Court believes that enemy combatants deserve Constitutional rights or at least be covered under the Geneva Convention. One author (I think Mark Lavin) stated that the Court has formed a treaty with Terrorists that no one has yet signed onto but the Court.

When will American wake up and realize that the Supreme Court is not the only branch that may interpret the constitution. Abraham Lincoln once stated in reference to the Dredd Scott case:

"I do not forget the position assumed by some that Constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court....At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made...the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having...resigned their Government into the hands of the eminent tribunal....

Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust in the best way all our difficulty."
Would it not be fantastic that the other two branches of government (you know, the two that actually legislate and sign into law legislation) told the Supreme Court to "stick it in your ear"? Since Bush has decided to allow himself to be hamstrung by a runaway Court in a time of war (a court that commits greater acts of Treason than the New York Times), I suppose he could ask that all enemy combatants be released into "safe houses" next door to each of the Justices. Then again, why would Terrorists bomb their allies?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What I Really Need

A friend of mine made this comment to me about the Gospels:

In the 4 gospels Jesus teaches us what to do. He speaks very little of worship, yet talks constantly about our hearts. God will judge us by the true content of our hearts.

How true that we will be judged by the content of our hearts. Yet I fear that Jesus would do so. If Jesus were to judge my heart I would be instantly lost into outer darkness and bearing God's wrath.

So much of the Gospels speak of true worship, I am amazed that anyone would miss it. In fact, it is in the context of worship that Jesus condemns our evil hearts. When reading the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, one can't help but see Jesus teaching on the law of God and how we are to live our lives in true worship. Yet Jesus makes the law so much more difficult, that my evil heart is only exposed in brighter light for what it truly is.

The "New Perspective" on the Apostle Paul's doctrine of Justification (which many Protestant Scholars are beginning to teach) is only a step backwards as a solution to the above quote. It takes us back to the days when men had to maintain their relationship with God in the Covenant. If we fail to do so, we become lost again.

Due to the Law of God and his grace, I have come to see my sin for what it is, atleast in part. I do not need a Savior who will help me go through a twelve-step-Joel-Osteen-gospel on how to live a better life. I need a foreign and alien righteousness that is God's imputed to me. This is what Paul teaches in Romans.

I thank God Alone that by His Sovereign Grace Alone, I have received Christ's perfect righteousness Alone, through Faith Alone, according to the Scriptures Alone. It is only in this context that I will be able to truly worship God.

Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Why I Am Reformed

Is John 6 verses 31-the end of the chapter really about God trying to save every soul ever, but failing to save millions, perhaps billions? That seemed to be a part of a message I heard recently. However, no exegesis of the text was ever offered. The scope and context of the text was never given. Instead 1John 2:2 was cited and an improper interpretation was forced into John 6.

The scope of John 6:31-71 is about Jesus explaining the unbelief of the Jews and explaining that He is the only source of eternal life. Jesus tells them that they are utterly dependant upon Him. Men's works will never contribute one ounce to their salvation. Jesus says in the plainest of words that He has come to save an elect people, and He is to do that perfectly. Note His words in verses 37-39:

"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 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."

The logic is compelling. The thought is sound and clearly expressed. Yet men have done everything to get around this simple text. Jesus explains the total inability of man in the clearest language. Jesus is the only means that is offered by God to save men and to save them perfectly.

It is the Father who gives a people to the Son. It is this action of God that is the cause of those "who come" to Christ. This is the simple reason why Christ never casts them out. They come to Him because of an action by the Father to save them. Could Jesus really decide not to save any person that comes to Him?

Jesus tells us that He is doing the will of the Father. That "Will" is to save all that are given to Him. We must ask the obvious question. Will Jesus fail to save those that the Father has given to Him and thus failing to do the will of God?

Jesus will raise up on the last day all that the Father has given to Him, and He will do so without fail. Some have asked me why I am Reformed in my beliefs. The answer is simple. The consistent exegesis of the text drives me to that position. If you take God's Word seriously, then consider this text and meditate upon it. I am convinced God's Word is sufficient to convince the lover of truth to the Reformed position

Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, June 23, 2006

Living In Two Worlds

CitizenLink is reporting on an ongoing cultural battle in the courts. For many years Leftists and Atheists and the like have been attacking American ideals while using language that many Americans use. For instance, Baptists have historically been in favor of a separation of church and state. Now the Left in this country is using that language to have all vestiges of religion removed from any public sphere, especially any government sphere.

It is typical of the Left to hide in the courts where their unconstitutional rulings can have a sense of authority to them, since they could never win in the legislative branch where these arguments should take place legally. I agree with the Left that there should be a separation of church and state. The two should not be confused as so many Fundamentalists and Evangelicals seem to have done.

I once heard an atheist mock a State Supreme Court Judge saying we do not need the Ten Commandments posted since we all know that murder is wrong anyway. This simply begs the question. How does the atheist know murder is wrong? Usually there is some evolutionary answer that argues that murder hurts our species or some other reason. None however remain consistent when assumptions are challenged.

So I now repeat my assertion. Atheism and Liberalism and others on that side of the fence will not be able to withstand cultic religions like Islam. You simply cannot put forth an incoherent system like atheism as the basis for civil government and think it will survive.

The Christian worldview is the only consistent worldview that has withstood the test of time and philosophical thought. It has defeated Islam intellectually in the past and will do so again.

There is one major problem with what I am arguing. Establishing a Christian worldview in a nation full of people that are not Christian simply will not work either. It certainly will not work when churches are counting huge numbers of people as part of their churches when most of those members are not converted.

Christianity is not a religion that may be passed down from generation to generation by some kind of birthright. It is not something that can just be taught from a textbook. It is not just about a bunch of dos and don'ts. Making children say a sinner's prayer for the 50th time creates more Traditions than one could count. It is not a Billy Graham crusade leading hundreds of people down to some makeshift Altar. It is not Tony Campolo's social Gospel.

Christianity is a religion where God is King of a Kingdom. It is a new nation from and out of among the nations of the world. Yes, nations are blessed from time to time with repentance. A healthy church is a blessing upon a nation. But it is not that nation!

Jesus said that the World hated Him. Therefore it will hate Christians. Has the world at times favored Christianity? Yes, but at what cost? Christians must be careful as they think through difficult issues that deal with church and state.

Do I sound confusing? I suppose I do. This is not an easy topic to deal with. Too many Evangelical Christians are diving headlong on a path to save an American culture without doing the necessary work that needs to be done in the church. Patriotism is important. Serving the true King is even more so.

Anybody Defending First Amendment?

CitizenLink stated in their article on the removal of the cross from government property:

U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson ruled in May that the city must remove the cross because it violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The 9th Circuit upheld that decision Wednesday.

I again reissue my challenge to those of you who are on the side of the Left. A written debate on a Blog or another format that would be suitable with the thesis statement, "Does Judge Roy Moore violate the First Amendment by having the Ten Commandments in his court room?"

Thursday, June 22, 2006

To What End?

Focus on the Family reported on the Episcopal Church of the USA's General Convention. The Reverend Tom Wetzel stated,

"The Episcopal Church was once a proud, clear, mainline and very Christian denomination. But beginning in the '50s we began to slide into moral ambiguity, watering down the marriage canons; then came the Pike affair (the theological challenges made by an Episcopal bishop that bordered on heresy), and then women's ordination, and then blessing same-sex unions, and then ordaining practicing homosexual males and a variety of other things."

It was also stated that the convention could not even pass a resolution that stated Jesus is Lord and Savior. What could possibly bring a denomination to a point that a church is more concerned about social ethics and moralisms (which are abandoned anyway) than with God's Law and the Gospel? Is homosexuality being recognized as legitimate really going to bring millions into God's Kingdom? Is making sure a woman is elected as a presiding Bishop and preaching sermons going to expand and grow churches? We know this simply isn't the case. Albert Mohler has demonstrated that liberal churches are bent on suicide with their liberal theology.

I have personally seen churches that have both theological conservatives and theological liberals under one roof. It seemed to me that the conservatives were not willing to destroy their membership by rejecting liberalism. Liberalism just expects conservatives to convert to their "let's all just get along" position. All the while the church is imploding and neither side can do anything about it.

Is it possible for Reformation to come to the Episcopal community? The Southern Baptists managed to "clean house". Perhaps churches I have witnessed personally in this struggle could also. But to what effect? Shall we just kick out the gays and lesbians and claim moral victory?

The Southern Baptists fought for the inerrancy of the Scriptures and rightly so. To what end I must ask? Will bringing "no drinking alcohol resolutions" save a denomination while rejecting resolutions that deal with the heart of church discipline and a regenerated membership as in recording numbers at a Billy Graham crusade?

We do not need a social Gospel. We do not need moralisms. We do not need Fundamentalism or King James Onlyism or Legalism. May God grant Biblical repentance to His church with sound doctrine and solid exegetically based expositional preaching. For it is through the foolishness of preaching that God has chosen to save His people.

Unless Biblical authority is taken seriously, unless the Spirit begins a new work, unless God's called men (I do mean males only) do the necessary work of relaying a Biblical foundation over time, unless God's people pray with vigor, an unhealthy church is only a curse upon a land.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Jones Still Speaks On Evangelism

Some of you may remember a conversation I had with Evangelist Tony Nolan back in April. I simply challenged the Invitation System that is used by most evangelicals today. Of couse as a Calvinist, challenging anyone's method of bringing people to Christ is quickly seen as mean and nasty.

Since most people misunderstand Calvinists it is hard to explain to people why we believe what we believe. There are so many Traditions that must be scaled in order to clear the air so-to-speak.

Today I came across a recording of a Question and Answer session that involved Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. Jones was a famous preacher who lectured on preaching at the Philadelphia Westminster Seminary many years ago. That lecture series was put into book format and has been used as a text book for many since. In this clip he answers the question of why he opposes the Finney style (now evangelical) of evangelism.

Perhaps he may shed some light for those who oppose Calvinism as being an anti-evangelistic system.

Monday, June 19, 2006

She Belongs To Me...For now

Today she is seven, next year she'll be seventeen. I remember when she was born I honestly thought, "What do I do with a girl?" I simply do not understand girls. Rachel has only proven my fears.

She seemed to only want her mother for a long time. She cried till daddy gave her to mom. There was a female bond that only mom had rights to. Perhaps it was my mean sounding voice. Perhaps it was just being a man that kept us apart.

One evening at a family gathering, Rachel heard a scary sound. I saw her begin to run. She ran past mom. She ran past Grandma. She ran past Grandpa. She ran past aunts and uncles. She ran to me. She always run to me. She has been mine ever since.

Steven managed to steal third base tonight. I can understand that. He is my mirror image. Yet as fickle and finicky and as feminine and the complete opposite of me as a girl can be, she is. I simply love that girl.

Happy Birthday Rachel.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Heart of Justification Disappearing?

In my sermon Sunday morning, I briefly mentioned how important doctrine and life go hand in hand. I simply could not even begin to think of life without the doctine of Imputation as taught by Paul in Romans. Yet, as Evanjellyism drifts more and more into Biblical illiteracy, the separation of doctrine from life grows wider.

I have seen this within the walls of my own denomination. It is sad however to actually hear it in full force at a recent Pastors Convention (not American Baptists). The White Horse Inn provided yet another example of how wide the road is back to Rome and eventually to destruction. Listen here for disturbing and even blasphemous responses to the doctrine of Imputation.

You can download the full program here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Coming Harvest

The farmers in western Kansas have been expecting harvest for quite some time. They knew it was coming. They recognized the season and have known it is immanent. They had put into the fields the work needed. They planted, watered and sprayed for weeds. They worked hard. Then there is the wonder if the Lord above is pleased to bless the work of their hands.

The time has finally arrived. The workers are being sent into the fields as we speak. They are bringing in the wheat and destroying the chaff. There is a separation going on as we speak. That which is good is being brought into the "elevators" for storage. That which is useless is being destroyed in the cutting process.

It is interesting to note that Jesus uses agricultural parables in order to describe the Kingdom of God and the final Day of the Lord. Read His words in Matthew 13:

36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Jesus uses the harvest as a description for when the Kingdom of God comes in its fullness. Both good and evil must grow up together in the seed time. It is at the harvest when Jesus will send out His angels to separate good men from evil men. He will gather together His people and also destroy the wicked.

In much of evangelical eschatology, Tim LaHaye has popularized a view that is not biblically sound. The idea of the immanence of the Coming of Christ is equated to "at any momentness". Yet do not the seeds of the Kingdom have to be sown? Do not the plants have to grow?

It has been said many times that every prophecy that needs to be fulfilled has been done. Jesus can now come back. Then we hear from the same pulpits that there are still places that the Gospel has not gone to. If Jesus said the Gospel must be preached first, how can He come back at any moment?

Harvest happens after a specific time, a time of planting, a time of growing, a time of maturing. When this evil age has run its course, when every nation has had the Gospel preached, when every language has heard the Gospel, when every tribe and people have been evangelized, then the end or harvest will come.

Let us send workers into the field to prepare every peoples for the coming harvest.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pulpit Supply

The interim pastor of First Baptist church Garden City was apparently getting ready to move back to his home when he suddenly died. Next week the church will be interviewing a candidate leaving this Lord’s Day short of someone able to preach. (More reasons to have a plurality of Elders, but….)

So this morning I had the privilege of proclaiming the Gospel to the First Baptist Church in Garden City 30 miles south of where I live. I was woefully unprepared. I planned to spend all day Saturday studying and meditating on John 1: 19-34. Instead I found myself transferring a patient to the Garden City Hospital for several hours. When I arrived at home I was called on an emergency gas leak at the Catholic Church’s parsonage.

Those who expect good preaching may not be satisfied with my message. But hopefully the Lord’s people were blessed. Anyway, here is the link to the sermon.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Pledge of Allegiance

I received an interesting question from a pastor friend this past week, and I have been trying to chew on it. Most conservative American Christians are grateful for the blessings secured to us by our forebears and especially the Revolutionary Fathers that took on a mighty Empire in times when victory could only possibly be gained by prayer. Yet when worshiping God on the Lord’s Day, is it proper to say the Pledge of Allegiance?

The question arose due simply because it is our conservative culture to thank God for our nation. So why not return the favor? Thank the nation that secured our right to worship this God. Was it not the brave men that lost their lives in the Normandy Invasion that restrained the tyranny of Hitler? Might we be speaking German today if not for them?

The question of separation of church and state can be a tricky one. Yet as a Baptist, I am committed to Baptist principles. Although the U.S. is heavily influenced by Reformed Protestant Christianity (some have argued John Calvin to be the Father of our country), the U.S. government is not the church. The U.S. is not going to save men’s souls. Having dual citizenship should not cloud our judgment on such important issues.

There are places for citizens to acknowledge the Creator through government-sponsored functions. There are even times to say the Pledge of Allegiance and offer prayer to God. It is in my humble opinion that a worship service, set apart to God, on the Lord’s Day of Rest, is not an earthly government function. Therefore, confusing church and state only denigrates the perfect coming kingdom that we should all long for.

Thy Kingdom Come. Amen

Monday, June 05, 2006

Isaiah 53 Teach Universal Atonement?

Does Isaiah 53 teach Universal Atonement without Universal effect? I was given a passage that says it does.

Isa 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.

On the face of this verse, it certainly could be argued that this is universal. Everyone certainly has turned away. Who would argue that point? The questions however is one of scope and purpose and context of the text. Is God really saing that every person ever has their sin to "fall on Him"?

Let's read more of the text.

Isa 53:1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
Isa 53:2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
Isa 53:3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Isa 53:4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.
Isa 53:8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
Isa 53:9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
Isa 53:10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
Isa 53:11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.
Isa 53:12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

What does verse 8 mean when he says, "For the transgression of my people" Is this meant to be taken universally? Is everyone "His people"?

What does verse 11 mean when he says that he will justify many?

Does Jesus intercede for every single person ever in verse 12? Does His intercession fail to save millions? What difference is there in this kind of intercession than the Jesus of Mormonism or the Jehovah's Witness or even Roman Catholicism?

If the sin of unbelief is the only sin by which men go to hell, do men that have never heard of the Gospel go to hell? Do they get a chance to "unbelieve" the Christ never heard of at a later time?

Since 1684, in his work The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, John Owen's question still goes unanswered. "Is unbelief a sin?" If so, then did Jesus forgive it on the cross? If not, then why do men go to hell if all of their sins are already pardoned and satisfied at the cross?

Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument.

What Happened To Verse 13?

There was a verse of Scripture that I struggled with for years. It was a verse that was pointing me, more than any other, to the Calvinistic doctrine of election. No, it was not Ephesians 1 or John 6. Nor was it even Romans 8 and 9. It was John 1:12-13.

Apparently, I am wrong about the meaning of this verse. Yesterday I was told that this passage is about whosoever chooses God of their own free-will. Then only this portion of the passage was quoted:

12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

What troubles me about preachers only qouting portions of a text without giving proper exegesis is that the text then becomes a pretext. Yet I am sure this preacher is convinced he is not doing so. This preacher has an obvious love for God's Word. Yet, when it comes to God's sovereignty in election, the next verse.

13children born not of natural descent,[a] nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

I am really not sure what I could add to this verse to make it more Calvinistic. I am not sure what to take away to make it less. Perhaps I should leave well enough alone.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Get a Massage

With the rise of Campoloism and Osteenism and other Emergent churchisms, Evanjellyism is becoming a feel good religion. The Gospel has become a twelve step help guide to all our ailments. "God loves you anyway" so let's try to help ourselves feel good about ourselves.

I came across this make-believe commercial, which really isn't all that make-believe. So head down to your local "Jesus and Me" book store and pick up a copy of the "Massage" and start feeling better.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Inconsistency: Sign of a Failed Argument

“Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument.” That was the recurring statement by Dr. White in a debate with Shabir Ally.

I finally downloaded and listened to the debate with the premier Islamic apologist Shabir Ally done recently at Biola University. The thesis was “Is the New Testament We Possess Today Inspired?” If Dr. White established anything, it was that Islamic apologists must use inconsistent arguments in order to defend their position that the Christian Scriptures are not inspired (fully, since they pick and choose what they like).

For instance, Shabir Ally uses liberal scholarship and liberal sources that use methods he would never apply to the Koran. Either no one has ever challenged Shabir on this obvious fact, or Shabir knows this and simply does what most scholars that attack the Christian faith do. Time will have to tell.

This debate sounded like it went very well. At one point, Shabir Ally even conceded a point. It takes a big person to admit he is wrong. Shabir did this. Although another debater replied on the Dividing Line that he would probably repeat the error, I think we should give Shabir the benefit of the doubt for now. Perhaps God will open up the opportunity for more dialogue in the U.K.

Although Shabir may never come to the faith, God may use those ringing words “inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument” to sting the ears and conscience of those who are diligently seeking truth. When men seek to be consistent in their search for truth, they must inevitably find Christ.