Saturday, September 29, 2007

Theology Matters

Tom in the Box News (fake, satire news) reported on a satirical story, which turn out to be true. The story is about a man in Romania, who filed suit against God. Now many stories exist where man is suing God. That is not unusual. What I find interesting is the reason this man did so.

"Pavel Mircea, who is serving a 20-year sentence for murder, filed a lawsuit in the western Romanian town of Timisoara against God for not protecting him from the Devil. He claimed that he had concluded a contract with God at baptism but God had not kept his side of the bargain. "He was supposed to protect me from all evils and instead he gave me to Satan who encouraged me to kill," he claimed."

Now I am not sure what the views are of the Romania's Orthodox Church would be concerning the nature of Baptism, but I imagine it is the error of many religions. It is the error that physical baptism regenerates in some fashion as to bring one into favor with God.

Keeping this short, I think the obvious needs to be said. Acts of righteousness save no one. It is even admitted by those who hold to baptismal regeneration that men may lose their salvation. These men are in religions which preach a Gospel that is based on human cooperation and effort. They are in a word, Synergistic.

In God's defense from the Romanian Orthodox perspective,

"Constantin Stoica, the spokeswoman for the Romanian Orthodox patriarch in Bucharest, told reporters Thursday that the prison chaplain will be given the difficult task of explaining to the man 'that God does not act without our will and that people have the freedom to choose between good and evil.'"

This kind of synergistic answer just doesn't cut it. In the end, Theology Matters. Without it, giving a proper Apologetic for the faith becomes a lot of fast talking and short on substance. If you doubt me, just ask any Evangelical about 9/11 and listen to the inconsistencies falling from his lips.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dr. Nettles To Speak At Reformation Weekend Conference

I just received an email announcing the annual Reformation Weekend at First Baptist Church in St. Francis, KS. Here is a portion of that email.

On behalf of First Baptist Church, I want to personally invite you to meet with us for Reformation Weekend October 26-28, 2007. This year’s conference theme is The Glory of God in the Face of Christ. Dr. Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky will be with us to preach from God’s Word. More information regarding the conference, lodging and Dr. Nettles can be found in the enclosed flyer.

When I read the name of the guest speaker, I just have to ask how Pastor Glidewell does it. I truly think he has a way of pinching someone while asking them to willingly come and speak at his church. Keep in mind St. Francis is no big city. For Dr. Tom Nettle to come to North Western KS and preach a series of sermons for the conference is simply to good to be true.

Southern Baptist Seminary gives a brief bio:

Dr. Tom Nettles is widely regarded as one of the foremost Baptist historians in America. He came to Southern Seminary from the faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. He previously taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author or editor of nine books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, the highly influential volume which he co-authored with L. Russ Bush; and Why I am a Baptist, co-edited with Russell D. Moore.

An excellent DVD lecture given by Dr. Tom Nettles explains the basics of Calvinism within Southern Baptist History. The DVD set is Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism, which is available at I have also read several articles by Dr. Nettles in the Founders Journal.

After viewing this DVD set, I am convinced that even though I have never met Dr. Nettles, he seems to be a man of great godly character. I look forward to attending this Conference and hope to see many of you there as well.

For more information click here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Terrorists Allowed To Speak To Us

Well, it's the news of the day. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. I must admit, I was shocked to hear the President of the University take the Iranian President to task. I just assumed the typical liberalism of loving our enemies like so many others in the past. Yet the Columbia University President insulted his guest.

Yahoo News reported, "Ahmadinejad rose, also to applause, and after a religious invocation, said Bollinger's opening was "an insult to information and the knowledge of the audience here.""

Applause? He rose to applause? I have a real problem. It is not even the fact that we have unAmerican Americans applauding. I expect that of brain washed college age idiots, who don't have the slightest idea that the freedom of speech that Mahmoud claims to have in his country simply does not exist. What I find disturbing is that he is here. How does the President of the United States allow a known terrorist to come and speak here? How can the United States allow an avowed enemy spread his propaganda here? How can we seriously allow a man, who would just assume to lop our heads off or blow up more buildings and is currently killing our soldiers in Iraq (as even the President of Columbia pointed out), stand behind a podium and speak with authority? Is this not reinforcing the behavior and beliefs that he has? I agree with David Dykstra's statement that "Muslims hate the fact that they do not have the power or the infuence that they think they should have." [my paraphrase].

Islam is a serious threat. Legitimizing the terrorist by giving him a platform is foolishness. I guess I am just going to have to break down and get Dykstra's book, Yearning To Breathe Free? Thoughts On Immigration, Islam & Freedom. You may listen to David Dykstra's recent interview on Iron Sharpens Iron. It is worth your time.

I am curious though. How long would Columbia's President be alive after his statements today if he were a citizen of Iran?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More Evidence Campolo Is Outside of Orthodox Christianity

A friend of mine just sent me a link to a Blog of Tony Campolo quotes. I just have to sit here and wonder why American Baptists are not able to excommunicate heretics? This is what theological liberalism does. It makes Christians into theological wimps.

Redeemed From Curse of the Law

I have finally finished the first chapter of Morris' book on the study of Redemption. So I thought I'd share a couple of quotes. Quite often I hear Roman Catholics speak of the "legal fiction" of the Protestant's view of Justification. In speaking about the passage in Galatians 3:13:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"--

Morris had this to say on page 58:

When, therefore, Paul speaks of Christ as having borne the curse of the law, he speaks of our removal from the legal plight into which we have fallen through our failure to keep the law of God.

and again on page 59:

It is wrong to separate the legal status, gained by the complete discharge of the claims the law had upon us, from the resultant life. The only redemption Paul knew was one in which the redeemed had received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and in which they lived as those who had been adopted into the family of God.

Morris is in agreement with Piper's argument against the New Perspective on Paul. It is precisely because we have been legally freed by the justification of God in the imputation of Christ's righteousness to His people that gives the believer true peace with God and the freedom to serve Him.

Jesus "acts in this place as only He can, in our cause and interest, that we cannot add to anything that He does there [in the substitutionary atoning work] because the place where we might do so is occupied by Him, that anything further which might happen can result only from what is done by Him in our place and in our cause."

Praise be to God. Jesus is the Perfect Redeemer of His people.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross

I am currently reading Leon Morris’, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. In the first chapter Morris is demonstrating that different terms, such as redemption, have a specific meaning. In particular he deals with the idea of “Ransom”. The book’s preface states an important observation.

"When the present writer first began to read seriously on the atonement he discovered that some of the great theological words such as ‘redemption’, ‘propitiation’, and ‘justification’ are often used in such a way which seems to indicate that they mean different things to different people. If we may take redemption, the subject of our opening chapter, as an example, some writers, as we there point out, practically equate it with deliverance; others see in it a reference to a substitutionary transaction; while others use it as a comprehensive term for the whole Christian salvation. For some it has a backward reference, pointing to the satisfaction for sin made on the cross, while for others it is essentially forward looking and gives expression to the liberation from sin’s bondage which enable the believer to live the Christ-like life. There is similar uncertainty and ambiguity attaching to the use of some other terms."

With this in mind, the author sets out to see how the terms are used in both secular Greek and in the Old and New Testaments. In doing so he gathers information that gives a clearer understanding of how the New Testament authors use their terminology.

After much study of the term Ransom in its varying forms Morris states on page 39:

"It seems clear that only special pleading can rid these two passages1 of the thought of a ransoming. In each case we find the price mentioned and an evil condition from which the ransoming has freed us. There is a substitutionary thought, for it is Christ, not the sinners, who has paid the price, so that He is acting in their stead in His redeeming death."

The book is technical and difficult. For those seeking a little more advanced theology and Biblical study, for those who have a passion and love for what Christ has perfectly done for His people, for those who love the doctrines of substitutionary atonement and all that entails, this book is worth the effort.

1 Mark 10:45 & 1 Peter 1:8 with reference to Titus 2:14

Church Is Birthed By Scripture

James Swan reminded me why I need to pick up the pace in my reading. I own Calvin's Institutes, yet I just can't seem to find the time to read them. Here is a quote from the Institutes that I am copying from his Blog.

"But a most pernicious error widely prevails that Scripture has only so much weight as is conceded to it by the consent of the church. As if the eternal and inviolable truth of God depended upon the decision of men!"

"But such wranglers are neatly refuted by just one word of the apostle. He testifies that the church is 'built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles' [Ephesians 2:20]. If the teaching of the prophets and apostles is the foundation, this must have had authority before the church began to exist. Groundless, too, is their subtle objection that, although the church took its beginning here, the writings to be attributed to the prophets and apostles nevertheless remain in doubt until decided by the church. For if the Christian church was from the beginning founded upon the writings of the prophets and the preaching of the apostles, wherever this doctrine is found, the acceptance of it — without which the church itself would never have existed — must certainly have preceded the church.

It is utterly vain, then, to pretend that the power of judging Scripture so lies with the church that its certainty depends upon churchly assent. Thus, while the church receives and gives its seal of approval to the Scriptures, it does not thereby render authentic what is otherwise doubtful or controversial. But because the church recognizes Scripture to be the truth of its own God, as a pious duty it unhesitatingly venerates Scripture. As to their question — How can we be assured that this has sprung from God unless we have recourse to the decree of the church? —it is as if someone asked: Whence will we learn to distinguish light from darkness, white from black, sweet from bitter? Indeed, Scripture exhibits fully as clear evidence of its own truth as white and black things do of their color, or sweet and bitter things do of their taste."

Source: Calvin's Institutes I.7.1-2

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Did Anyone Know Moses Wrote Scripture?

Well, now that Drive By seems to be ending our conversation, did anyone catch the main problem? He asked in his last response, “"Do you infallibly know what is and what is not even so much as a single line of Scripture?"” What is interesting is that anyone who may read more than just a driving by attitude would see I challenged the idea of infallibility. Simply placing infallibility into the hands of Rome only sets the question back one. It never solves the problem. For who has infallible knowledge except God? To trust in Rome’s ultimate authority is to follow Utah’s line of “feel good in the belly” logic.

Since he wanted me to demonstrate how would I know Scripture was Scripture in AD 38 by using his misunderstanding of Scripture Alone, I’d like to offer another scenario. How would an Egyptian or a Hebrew watching Moses first approach Pharo know Moses was a true Prophet? Drive By raised the question of false prophets and false scriptures. His belief is that without Rome, one could not know which Scripture is true?

When Moses took his staff and turned it into a serpent, did not the Magicians do likewise? How would an Egyptian know which god to believe in? Well, you might say, “Moses’ serpent ate the others.” However, many today would simply ignore such serpent eating tricks. Here is an example of competing authorities claiming to be God. In time and through the demonstration of signs and wonders and the consistency of sound doctrine, we see Moses as being the true Prophet of the One True and Living God.

In time, Moses wrote the Pentateuch. God clearly testified to that work. He brought the chosen people of God to recognize that work as Scripture. The Scriptures were committed to the Hebrew people. There were no infallible indexes within Moses’ books. Yet all claim to be God breathed.

I say all of this because according to Drive By, we simply are not able to know without an infallible source. Why that source cannot be God through His Prophets and Christ and Apostles I have yet to understand. Basically what has happened is that many are seeking the “Infallible Fuzzies”.

Are there competing claims and competing scriptures? You bet there are. That does not mean we need competing infallible authorities to tell us infallibly which scriptures to believe. One comes from the One True God. The others are false. They will all be demonstrated as to their true nature in time. The Christian Scriptures have withstood the test for they are form God. The New Testament is consistent with Moses’ writings. They fulfill prophecy. They are historically accurate. They have the testimony of the Apostles and the reception of the early church. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and His Spirit ultimately confirmed them. In a phrase, they are Self Authenticating and demonstrably true.

For an excellent book that goes into depth on the Canonical issues and the infallibility problem the Roman Catholic suffers, read James White’s book, Scripture Alone.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Preaching At Shallow Water

This morning I had the privilege to preach at Gospel Fellowship in Shallow Water, KS. Apparently they have a hankering for abuse. Here is the message if you desire to suffer through it. The text is Matthew 4: 1-4, The First Temptation of Christ.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I Love the Trinity

The other night in my church, a volunteer teacher asked a group of children "Who made the creation? Not Jesus, but God made it."

Now obviously some people may still be young in the faith and may not fully grasp who Jesus is. Of course, this may be a good reason why the Bible teaches "that not many of you should be teachers." While trolling through the Blogosphere, I came across an excellent Post, I Love the Trinity, by John Samson at Reformation Theology. Here is the post:

I love the Trinity!

I love the Trinity. That's because I love God, and God is a Trinity.

Very few people have a firm grasp of the concept of the Trinity. It is important therefore to determine what we as Christians mean by the term. The doctrine of the Trinity, stated simply is that there is one eternal being of God, and this one being of God is shared by three co-equal, co-eternal persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is therefore one in essense and three in personality.

It is necessary here to distinguish between the terms "being" and "person." It would be a contradiction, obviously, to say that there are three beings within one being, or three persons within one person. There is no contradiction though because that is not what is being said at all. There is one eternal, infinite being of God, shared fully and completely by three persons, Father, Son and Spirit. One what and three who's.

All the major cults today (Including the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), etc.) contend that Christians have simply made up the concept of the Trinity, saying that the term is not even found in the Bible. Though it is true that the actual term cannot be found in Scripture, I would have to say, "so what?" for even the word "Bible" is not found in the Bible! The term "Bible" comes from the word biblos meaning "book," and therefore means "the Book." The Bible is not just "a" book but "the" book, because it is the very Word of Almighty God, and therefore the most important book anyone can ever read; for it is the only one that is inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16).

We believe in the Trinity because it is taught in the Bible. How so? While the actual term is not found in the Scripture, the doctrine certainly is.

On the basis of Scripture itself, Christians throughout the centuries have professed belief in the Holy Trinity, affirming the fact that our one God is eternally existent in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are co-equal, co-existent and co-eternal. This is because the following three things are very clearly taught in Scripture:

(1) There is only one God, who is eternal and immutable (unchanging). (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10; Mal. 3:6; Mark 12:29; John 17:3; 1 Tim. 2:5; Jam. 2:19)

(2) There are three eternal Persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These Persons are never identified with one another - that is, they are carefully differentiated as distinct Persons. The Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Holy Spirit, and nor is the Holy Spirit the Father. (Matt: 3:13-17; 28:19; Luke 10:22; John 1:1, 2; 3:16, 17; 15:26; 16:7; 17:1-26; 2 Cor. 13:14)

(3) The Father, the Son, and the Spirit, are identified as being full Deity - that is, the Bible teaches the Deity of the Father, the Deity of Christ and the Deity of the Holy Spirit. (Isa. 9:6; John 17:3; John 1:1, 18; 8:58; 20:28; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1; Acts 5:3, 4; 2 Cor. 3:17, 18)

When someone denies any of these three statements, severe error is the result. Dr. James White states, "if one denies that there are Three Persons, it results in the "Oneness" teaching of the United Pentecostal Church and others. If one denies Full Equality, one is left with Three Persons and One God, resulting in "subordinationism" as seen in Jehovah's Witnesses, the Way International, etc. (though to be perfectly accurate the Witnesses (JW"s) deny all three of the sides in some way - they deny Full Equality (i.e., they believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel), they deny the Three Persons (the Holy Spirit is an impersonal, active "force" like electricity) and One God (they say Jesus is "a god" - a lesser divinity than Yahweh). And, if one denies One God, one is left with polytheism, the belief in many gods, as seen clearly in the Mormon Church, perhaps the most polytheistic religion I have encountered."

"God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God." (Dr. Wayne Grudem)

"To all three belong the same eternity, the same unchangeableness, the same majesty, the same power. In the Father is unity, in the Son equality, in the Holy Spirit the harmony of unity and equality; and these three attributes are all one because of the Father, all equal because of the Son, and all harmonious because of the Holy Spirit" (Augustine, On Christian Doctrine: Preface/Book 1 Chapter 5).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Infallible Regress

For those of you who need infallibility, James Swan's conversation with Leo is typical.

Leo responded:
-If the Pope has the authority of God on earth, then there you have it, now, what do you mean "regress"?

A quick response:

If he's infallible, then you have to have a way to know infallibly whether what he said yesterday is infallible.
If it is, you need to know infallibly whether that way to know infallibly whether what he said yesterday is infallible is infallible.
If you solve that, you need an infallible interper to tell you the infall interp of what he said.
If you solve that, you need an infallible interper to tell you the infall interp of the infall interp of what he said.
If you solve that, you need an infallible interper to tell you the infall interp of the infall interp of the infall interp of what he said.

Which Canon?

In the discussion between myself and Drive By, you may have noticed his question of "How do we know which books belong in the Canon since there is no passage telling us which books belong in the Canon?" (my paraphrase). His conclusion is the typical Roman Catholic conclusion. You must have Rome's infallible authority telling you, or you would never know.

The first problem is the idea of Canon in Rome's understanding. The books of the Bible only have authority because Rome says they do. Apparently no one knew what the Canon was prior to Trent.

Another problem is that the term Canon is misunderstood. The term Canon means "standard". The bible is the Standard. Sam Waldron's book, To Be Continued, has an excellent chapter dealing with Prophets and the nature of their teachings. He basically argues that whenever a True Prophet speaks in the Name of the Lord, what is said is "Canonical". It is the Standard. This would be true of Jesus' teachings as well as the Apostle's. The moment any Prophet would speak, since what he is saying is God's Word, then by definition men who hear it are bound to it. Since we are not able to hear directly from Jesus and His Apostles, the Lord has seen fit to "inscripturate" their Oral, Canonical , proclamation and teaching. Therefore, when you hear the Word of God proclaimed, you are bound by it.

To have the Standard or Canon of the Words and teachings of Christ and His Apostles appeal to another Standard for validation would be like God swearing by the Name of the Bishop of Rome in order to validate any Covenant He makes with His people. Is this what God teaches in Scripture? Is this even epistemologically possible? May an ultimate authority appeal to a higher authority?

This leads us back to the question of how do we know what is God's Word. Others have explained these issues more fully. I will simply say this. God in His Providence and purpose for His church always demonstrates and validates his own Word by his own authority. In other words, He will give ample evidence demonstrating His own authority. For example, Jesus ultimately demonstrated He is the Son of God by raising Himself from the dead. Jesus did not appeal to a higher authority outside of God to do this.

To say we need Rome's infallible ability to know what books belong in the Bible only sets the question back one step, yet it still remains. How do we know Rome is infallible? Which teaching of Rome should we believe, Partim/Partim or Material Sufficiency? Why not believe those in Utah?

Another problem that I thought of later is that if I were to accept Drive By's argument that we need an index within Scripture to know what belongs in Scripture (in order for Sola Scriptura to be true), how does that solve the dilemma? Let's say Scripture has an infallible index. How would his view now accept Sola Scriptura? Would not the problem the RC has because of his view of the canon remain? He would then argue, "You can't know that index is true until Rome validates that index within the pages of the Bible." So his question above is a simple straw-man that never truly gets to the heart of the matter.

For the Roman Catholic, this challenges his authority claim. For if you are going to accept Rome's argument and infallible authority, then you must not only accept what she has to say about the Bible, you must also accept the other De Fide Dogmas such as the Marian Dogmas (ie: the ascension of Mary), Indulgences, Purgatory and the entire Treasury of Merit system (which emphatically denies the clear Biblical teaching of the Gospel.

Many RCs today treat Rome's authority as something they may accept as they see fit. This, however, was denied by Pope John Paul. It is being denied by the current Pope. If you deny these other dogmas, then you are not consistent and are living a lie.

There are not two ultimate Standards or Canons or Authorities. Either Rome is infallible or God's Word is.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

James Swan and Ultimate Authorities

James Swan, in an excellent recent post, started a repeat conversation about ultimate authorities and epistemoligies [I know that epistemologies ain't a word] and all that kind of fun stuff with Roman Catholicism's claim to Tradition. I say repeat because we both have had this conversation with RCs along with the thousands of Protestants and RCs before us.

Roman Catholics claim Protestants can't know what Scripture is without Rome's infallible ability to tell us what is Scripture, and Protestants claim God is able to tell us without some infallible source equaling God's voice itself. In the comments section Gene Bridges fires both barrells at the RC arguments only to get a response (which I, amazingly enough, expected) from Orthodox. Here is his response:

GENE: What grounds the authority of the Church? If it is Scripture itself by itself, that's the Protestant rule of faith - so you're borrowing capital from us to arrive at your position. If it is the Church's "Tradition" then that is viciously circular, and if you ground it in Scripture by way of authorizing Scripture through the Church's authority, then you've only moved the question back a step. You're in a vicious regress.

ORTHODOX: It seems odd to me that an appeal to scripture would in any shape or form be borrowing capital from protestants. Quite the reverse.

How is it again that an appeal to tradition to support tradition is viciously circular, but an appeal to scripture isn't?

Is a native on a desert island with no scripture at an epistemic disadvantage in knowing if Jesus is the Christ? Apparently not, since if he had scripture it would be viciously circular. And even ignoring that problem, were he to have scripture it would only be moving the question back a step in answering the question as to what authority can tell us anything about Jesus anyways. May as well give up this religion thingy now I guess.
The response I expected was the sentence, "How is it again that an appeal to tradition to support tradition is viciously circular, but an appeal to scripture isn't?"

The answer is quite simple for those of us who see the necessity of Pressupositional Apologetics perspective. The Christian believer recognizes God's voice. He can not start at any other place in order to judge what is and is not God's truth.

For example, in the conversation at the above Blog, the RC is starting from a source outside of God to infallibly tell us what is God's Word. This, however, is circular and begs the question. For the ultimate authority becomes something other than God Himself. Although all ultimate authorities are by nature circular, they must be able to account for and be consistent with the world around us. The Roman Catholic starts with Rome and ends up at Rome. He sees Rome as the ultimate. If Rome says white is black then black turns into white.

Now I must explain that the RC will object and say that Rome is infallible because Scripture says it would be when Jesus gave the keys to Peter in Matthew 16. Again, this begs the question, for this is Rome's interpretation of Matthew 16. This is an interpretation that was not held by anyone for several hundred years (see William Webster's book, The Matthew 16 Controversy, where he demonstrates that no church father believed Rome's interpretation for at least the first several centuries). So again, Rome is telling us by her infallible and ultimate authority what the Bible means, validating herself, while an exegesis of the text allows for no such interpretation.

The Christian starts with God's Word and judges the world. The Christian is never able to prove God's Word nor does it need proving. He does demonstrate its validity and consistency. It is God's revelation that explains to us the nature of nature and is especially provoking when it reveals man's evil heart to man. The Word is able to explain our deepest evils and explain our deepest needs. It is able to authenticate itself as being God's Word. Does God really need a source equal to His own voice to authenticate His own voice? May God swear by any other Name other than His own?

Rome claims self authentication when it is convenient. When she is unable to substantiate her claims, she goes to Scripture to validate her authority, but then she is caught with her hand in the cookie jar, borrowing from the Protestant's Sola Scriptura (as Gene Bridges pointed out).

"Is a native on a desert island with no scripture at an epistemic disadvantage in knowing if Jesus is the Christ? Apparently not, since if he had scripture it would be viciously circular."

Sorry Orthodox, to put this whole thing bluntly, if Jesus were to show up in a foreign country or on a desert Island and speak to a man, who had never heard of Him, would His words be valid and ultimately authoritative, or would have to wait for Rome to send some emissary?
1 John 5:9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son.

They Simply Can't & Won't Hear

No matter how many times Muslims have the beliefs of Christian doctrine explained to them, they simply refuse to understand. The reason is quite simple...The Quran. If the Quran says Christians believe Zeus lives on the moon, it does not matter how many times Christians say the contrary, they will believe what the Quran says.

Notice in the above video that the Muslim says that God "has not taken any creature as His literal Son." We may have all of the dialogue we want. Until a Muslim sees his sin for what it is, until he sees the Bible as truly the Word of God, until the Spirit of God takes his heart of stone and gives him a heart of flesh, he will always hear what Christians are saying through the overriding ignorance of Muhammad.

May those Christians working to have this conference remain steadfast in the proclamation of the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray for them as they seek to do a work that is literally impossible without the True and Living God.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sovereign Grace Fellowship

I just love this guy. I have never personally met Pastor Eddie Exposito, but he is clearly a man who loves the Lord Jesus Christ. He is pastor of Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Slidell, Louisiana. He is working very diligently in pastoring a church and helping to put lives back together.

If your church is seeking to do some kind of missions work, perhaps a trip to his church is in order. Here is his website. Sovereign Grace Fellowship.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Urgency of the Gospel

A sense of urgency was always in the preaching of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. He knew issues of Life and Death of the sinner's soul was at stake. Keith Green, a Christian musician, who died in a plane crash, also knew this. He was constantly bothering his friends and family with preaching the Gospel. In one song, Keith even laments his zeal towards others simply because he "cares". He was afraid that his zeal may have caused him to drive men away from Christ, yet as Albert Mohler notes in one of his Blog posts, "The recovery and renewal of the church in this generation will come only when from pulpit to pulpit the herald preaches as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men."

I know I suffer this problem. I know that I often bother people simply because the one thing I want to discuss is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a sense of urgency. I have a love for Christ and what He has done for me. I am simply (as Paul put it) compelled to proclaim the Gospel every chance I get.

On Tuesday, I was reminded very sharply by God as to why I have this drive within me. I was paged to a vehicle accident on a country road. When I arrived upon the scene, I found two women, a mother and daughter, had been broadsided by a truck, the kind of truck that carries sand for the county road department.

They were friends. They weren't close friends, but friends from the community. Their younger daughter (not involved in the accident) went to the Christian school with Steven for a short time. They attended our churches. Our children played on the same soccer team. So we know these people.

We (EMS and Fire Rescue) made every attempt to save them, but there was simply nothing left to save. There was no strength within their bodies. They left this world to meet their Maker.

We, who remain after this tragedy, are left with the Big Questions. Why? Death came into our community and took two of our own. There is no sense of celebration as some are wont to do. The only answer I have is the Gospel, the Urgency of the Gospel!

Perhaps some of you think my zeal for the Gospel is overbearing. Perhaps you may be annoyed with me. Today I am reminded of the great issues of Life and Death. The Urgency of the Gospel!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Fisk: Spurgeon Against Calvinism?

I had some time last night to look more through Fisk’s book, Election & Predestination. As a reminder, he seeks to show the problems of Calvinism with what he believes Scripture teaches. There are so many problems with the book it is truly difficult to know where to begin.

For instance, his exegesis of John 6 is simply just bad. He also attempts to explain the apparent Calvinism of Romans 9 by inadvertently turning Paul’s argument against his original thesis. You can always tell an interpretation is wrong if it goes against the Scope of the text.

However in error he may be at these points, there were some paragraphs highlighted (the book belongs to a friend) that pointed out an underlying misunderstanding by Fisk that guides his inability to truly interact with Calvinism. I will quote the paragraphs and then point out the problem. These paragraphs may be found on pages 64-67 in the chapter entitled, C.H. Spurgeon’s Other Side.

“Shall we never be able to drive into men’s minds the truth that predestination and free agency are both facts? Men sin as freely as birds fly in the air, and they are altogether responsible for their sin; and yet everything is ordained and foreseen of God. The foreordination of God in no degree interferes with the responsibility of man. I have often been asked by persons to reconcile the two truths. My only reply is—They need no reconciliation, for they never fell out. Why should I try to reconcile two friends? Prove to me that the two truths do not agree. These two facts are parallel lines; I cannot make them unite, but you cannot make them cross each other.” – Fisk quoting Spurgeon on pg 64

Fisk explaining the Spurgeon quote:

“The practical part of theology is that which is most important for us to understand. Any man may get himself into a terrible labyrinth who thinks continually of the Sovereignty of God alone, and he may equally get into deeps that are likely to drown him if he meditates only on the free will of man.”

In the first paragraph, I know of no Calvinist that would really object to Spurgeon’s understanding. Perhaps the "parallel lines" portion needs to be fleshed out a bit. As I would argue that the human will line comes from the decree of the Sovereignty of God line. One holds up the other to even exist. (Keep in mind, Fisk is citing Spurgeon to show that Spurgeon contradicted Calvinism by writing this paragraph.)

Aside from that the problem is in the definitions of words. Spurgeon says, “predestination and free agency are both facts”. As a Calvinist I agree. However, Fisk speaks of “the free will of man”. This according to several other places entails the “ability” of man to freely choose God despite his sin. Spurgeon, like most Calvinists, would not agree to some kind of autonomous free will.

No Calvinist is saying that when a man chooses to follow Christ, he is doing so against his free will. That is absurd. That, however, seems to be Fisk’s thinking throughout the entire work. It is a shame that so many pages are written with a false assumption that he never proves from Scripture.

Fisk cites Spurgeon against Calvinism on page 67:

“Inanimate matter obeys the divine law by force, but a human being can only obey God with his will, since unwilling obedience would be no obedience at all. There can be no such thing as unwilling love, unwilling trust, or unwilling holiness. Voluntariness enters into the essence of a moral act.”

Again, to attempt to cite Spurgeon against Calvinism by using this passage assumes a definition of free will that Spurgeon never believed. It also assumes that Calvinists believe that men are forced against their wills to come and believe in Christ.

This basic misunderstanding that could have been easily corrected if he had taken the time to actually interact with Calvinists flaws the entire book. But as so many of these crusade pastors, a willingness to truly dialogue is missing. Instead their Zeal to defend the Bible from the evil system of Calvinism keeps them from true knowledge of the subject.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Tenacity: It's All There

Last night I had a conversation with a person who is of a different faith than my own. At one point she honestly wondered what the Bible would say if we had the original. “It sure would be great to know what the Apostles originally wrote” she said trying in an attempt to cast doubt on the reliability of the Bible.

I had to sit there and wonder in amazement. Now here is a religious person who believes in God, yet doesn’t believe God has the ability to preserve His Word. It is one thing for Theological Liberals coming out of the 19th and 20th centuries and now spilling over into the 21st century to believe in the corruption nonsense. It is quite another for someone of faith to remain so ignorant on the transmission of the Bible.

I have to admit at this point I am no scholar, but I understand just enough things to make me dangerously stupid in the light of those who do not trust the Bible.

I began to explain to her that “yes”, there are corruptions in the transmission of the Bible. However, the manuscripts that we have received are not all copied by one guy who then makes a mistake and the original is lost forever. The manuscript Traditions are far too vast to allow such a thing to happen. God has been pleased to preserve His Word not in one man or even one church or even one area of the world. Due to this wide variety of manuscripts there is a term to describe what has happened in the transmission process, the Tenacity of the Text.

Tenacity is a simple concept. What was originally written as well as every error has come down to us today. Andy Stanley once remarked in a tape series that there is a science that men use to distinguish between copyist errors and the original readings. During his classes he began to become tired of working through spelling errors. So he decided to ask his professor for the “big three”. He wanted to work with variants that actually had to do with a major point in theology. The response from his professor was plain and simple, “There are none.”

My point for this post is simple. If you are struggling with believing the Bible as the Word of God, if you doubt its transmission from the Apostles to us, I highly recommend a couple of books.

First is James White’s, The King James Only Controversy. You may wonder what does this book have to do with the subject. Well, my response is “Everything!” In dealing with King James Onlyists, who argue that only the King James may be trusted and IS the Word of God, he explains how the Bible was transmitted and deals with many of the so-called corrupted texts. By the time you are done reading this book, you will have an idea of how great the manuscript Tradition is.

Another book that I have on my shelf, that is becoming old, is The Origin of the Bible, by Comfort. Contributing Editors are recognized scholars such as F.F. Bruce, Carl F. H. Henry, J. I. Packer and R. K. Harrison.

In its self description it is “A comprehensive guide to: The authority and inspiration of the Bible, The Canon of the Bible, The Bible as a literary text, The Bible text and manuscripts, and Bible translations.”

So stop reading Liberal Scholarship that starts with the assumption God is not able to speak and preserve His Word and start where we all must, with God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”