Monday, August 31, 2009

We Know He's Right, Just Ask Him

I recently went to Hot Springs South Dakota and visited the Mammoth site. It is quite impressive. Many fossils of mammoths are still being uncovered at a working museum in progress.

Although going around and watching the workers unearth these massive creatures from the past is impressive, I wonder if these CSI investigators have ever had their worldview challenged?

I heard several stories explaining how many of the mammoths ended up buried at this site. The presuppositions that went into these stories were in my mind just insane. On the surface, they sounded good, but the fact is, we have no real idea of what really happened. There were no eye-witnesses. Yet to challenge these stories would be anathema if one were to approach the same evidence from a Biblical creationists viewpoint. (Even if one were to approach from a biblical creationist viewpoint, we still would never really know as can be seen here).

In this morning's blog post, Dr. White quotes from Richard Dawkins' book while interacting with his article from the TimessOnLine.
Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips . . . continue the list as long as desired. That didn’t have to be true. It is not self-evidently, tautologically, obviously true, and there was a time when most people, even educated people, thought it wasn’t. It didn’t have to be true, but it is. We know this because a rising flood of evidence supports it. Evolution is a fact, and [my] book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.
This quote reminds me of a debate between a biblical creationist and an atheist that I listened to many moons ago. In this particular debate, the creationist cornered the atheist/evolutionist and forced to admit that,
"We know evolution is true because we are here. Therefore evolution is true. We are simply trying to discover the mechanism by which it occurred."
At the end of the article cited by White (read here) Dawkins concludes,
The aids to inference that lead scientists to the fact of evolution are far more numerous, more convincing, more incontrovertible, than any eyewitness reports that have ever been used, in any court of law, in any century, to establish guilt in any crime. Proof beyond reasonable doubt? Reasonable doubt? That is the understatement of all time.
This is why I am a Presuppositionalist and not merely and Evidentialist. Dawkins assumes what he is trying to prove. He starts with his assumptions and presuppositions as being unquestionable. In fact, he does not even bother to defend such views. They are simply basic even though he can not even begin to justify his beliefs.

This in conjunction with irreducible complexities and information issues simply will not allow Dawkins' arrogance to go unchallenged. His comments resulting in his conclusion that to deny evolution is to be a holocaust denier is simply a method to shut up and marginalize opponents of his view.

Dawkins says the theory is not a tautology. He even argues that evolution is as true as the holocaust with the eye witnesses. I wonder how many people watched their eyes evolve.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Phillips & Wiemers part 5

A couple of questions for Mr. Wiemers. Is he truly arguing that the man drawn in John 6:44 to be different from the man that Christ raises on the last day? Can a man be drawn that is not raised on the last day? In other words, is the "him" in the first part of the verse different from the "him" from the latter part of the verse?
John 6:39 says,
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.
Does Jesus fail to do God's will?

Why write about all of this? Tomorrow I may encounter my Jehovah's Witness friend. It is precisely the foundational issues of the Gospel that need to be discussed. Mr. Webster has a man-centered gospel, which is no gospel at all. So I pray that if the Lord should bring about a meeting between us, that I would be clear and consistent in proclaiming the Gospel of grace. I pray that the Spirit of God would be blessed to present not a mere man, but a powerful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, that saves sinners perfectly.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Phillips & Wiemers part 4

just in order arbitrarily to send people to hell for not choosing a salvation offered only to the 'elect.'
Again, God is not arbitrarily doing things with the flip of a coin. But even more importantly, this statement assumes that men go to hell because they are not of the elect.

Now it is true that men do not believe or hear Christ's word because they are not of God. However, they go to hell because they are sinners. Phillips as well as Wiemers seem to think that Calvinists teach that men are desperately trying to get to heaven through Christ, but God is shutting them out because God did not choose them to be elect.

In an anti-Calvinist sermon from last year, a pastor used the analogy of men trying to board a bus destined for heaven. But the bus driver would not let them on due to the their not being of the elect. Again, this is not Calvinism.

Salvation is not merely "offered only to the elect". Christ is to be proclaimed and "offered" among all men without distinction. Men who remain in their unbelief will perish in their unbelief. The truth that God must draw men to be saved only demonstrates how wicked we truly are.

In other words, Calvinism teaches that it is the power of God in the proclamation of the Gospel that takes dead sinners and raises them from the dead. It is God by His Holy Spirit that takes the Gospel and applies it to dead sinners. It is the Holy Spirit who takes the Gospel preached and breathes new life into the soul.

This is the difference between a man centered Gospel and a God centered Gospel. Non-Calvinists quite often use extra biblical means to gain false conversions. Paul tells us,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
and again

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Phillips & Wiemers part 3

In this post we will look at this portion of the Phillips quote.
on terms they did not select (so-called "total depravity"), under impossible handicaps they did not choose (depraved in will and 'dead in trespasses and sins')
they did not themselves plunge into original sin
I am not certain if John Phillips is outright denying Original Sin, but reading this statement certainly causes one to wonder if Phillips has any idea as to the nature of his own sin or the Scriptural teaching of Federalism.

Romans 5 clearly teaches that all men die for one reason. That reason is all men are united under Adam's headship. When Adam sinned, all of mankind sinned in him. Adam's sin is imputed to every man. If we deny this clear teaching of Scripture, then we by definition undercut the imputation of Christ's righteousness by faith alone.

Another aspect of this quote is that Adam did not choose to sin and embrace the consequences for that sin. God specifically told Adam that in the day he ate of that fruit, he would surely die. Apparently, Mr. Phillips (and I assume Wiemers) do not believe that Adam died. Perhaps he was mostly dead?

A common misunderstanding among Christians is that sin touches every aspect of our lives except our wills. For some reason, our wills are left floating in mid air and untouched by sin. It is as if our wills are not really a part of our very sinful souls. In essence, the human will seems to be thought of as being morally neutral.

This position also assumes that if God gives a commandment, man must have the ability to carry out that commandment. Yet Paul tells us in Romans 3 that the law was not given so that we could obey God, but instead was given to increase our knowledge of our own sin. Romans 3:20
by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
God's sovereign grace may be anathema to Phillips and Wiemers, but that is because they do not recognize how great their fall in Adam is and how great God's grace truly is.

Phillips & Wiemers part 2

Phillips is quoted,
Someone once tried to persuade me that God has chosen some people for salvation and chosen other people for damnation. Such an idea is monstrous.
Has Phillips ever read Romans 9? But I move on to the rest of the quote.
God does not arbitrarily and sovereignly damn the greater part of the human race into an existence they did not seek, on terms they did not select (so-called "total depravity"), under impossible handicaps they did not choose (depraved in will and 'dead in trespasses and sins'), dominated by forces they cannot control (the world, the flesh, and the devil), into a ruined family (Adam's) they did not themselves plunge into original sin, just in order arbitrarily to send people to hell for not choosing a salvation offered only to the 'elect.'
The first error here is that man "did not seek" what God had secretly decreed. It assumes that the Calvinist is saying that God held a gun to Adam's back and made him sin. This is no more true than when God decreed that Jesus would die upon the cross. The men that crucified Jesus did so because they wanted to.

Do we all accept that the event of the cross was not an accident but something God ordained to happen? If so, did the men that murdered the Son of God do so because their creaturely wills desired to do so? Of course!

To put it another way, was God forcing men against their wills to murder the Son of God? Of course not.

Phillips and Wiemers need to understand that man does not have a sovereign will equal to that of God, but instead has a creaturely will. Man's will fulfills the decree of God. God is not forcing man to choose what he desires. Men do what they do because they want to. Yet man also does God's will. This is called Compatabilism.

If Wiemers wants to understand Reformed theology, then he needs to go to the relevant texts such as Genesis 50, Isaiah 10, Acts 4, Romans 9 and many others.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Phillips & Wiemers part 1

John Phillips' first part of the paragraph quoted earlier says,
God does not act in an arbitrary way nor in defiance of the human will when he draws people to Christ.
I am not certain what is meant when non-Calvinists charge Calvinists with the idea that God is being arbitrary. The fact that God does things without explaining to the creature why He is doing them does not makes His secret purposes arbitrary. Does God have to explain to me why my son fell and injured Himself? Does God have to explain to me why my friend's son had an accident? Does God have to explain to me why He decreed Hitler's reign, causing the deaths of millions? Does any of this have to be arbitrary because God chooses to fulfill His own decree?

The other part of this sentence assumes that the drawing in verse 44 is somehow against the will of the creature. In one sense that charge is true. The creature would never on his own choose God. The reason is simple. Unless God draws him, he is not of God. Therefore, unless he is of God, he can not hear God's voice. Therefore, he does not come to God through Christ.

The sinner that is drawn is drawn in such a way that he willingly comes. So much of Galyn Wiemers post is a language barrier problem. Heaven is not filled with people that do not want to be there. Heaven is filled with people who are changed by the grace and mercy of God.

So the charge against R.C. Sproul is not really accurate. Men are dragged in one sense. God must change sinners into saints. In another sense Wiemers is correct in saying that men are not dragged against their will but drawn. This is consistent with John 6:44 and is what Reformed theology teaches.

But as we will see Wiemers' position misunderstands the nature of the will. We will look at that in a future post.

Caricatures of Evangelism

Just saw these on the Founders Blog. They are pretty funny.

Although I am not really certain the second video is much of a caricature since I have actually had that conversation.

Wiemers Citing Phillips On Being Drawn

To be able to anticipate some objections, I thought interacting with a blog post by Galyn Wiemers against the Reformed understanding of John 6:44 would be good preparation for Saturday. Although there is much in this post which causes Calvinists and non-Calvinists to speak past each other, there is one citation that really gets to heart of the issue clearly.
John Phillips says concerning John 6:37: "God does not act in an arbitrary way nor in defiance of the human will when he draws people to Christ. Someone once tried to persuade me that God has chosen some people for salvation and chosen other people for damnation. Such an idea is monstrous. God does not arbitrarily and sovereignly damn the greater part of the human race into an existence they did not seek, on terms they did not select (so-called "total depravity"), under impossible handicaps they did not choose (depraved in will and 'dead in trespasses and sins'), dominated by forces they cannot control (the world, the flesh, and the devil), into a ruined family (Adam's) they did not themselves plunge into original sin, just in order arbitrarily to send people to hell for not choosing a salvation offered only to the 'elect.' That may be some people's idea of God and some people's view of salvation, but such concepts make God out to be a tyrant worse than any in the history of the human race. However, such is not the God of the Bible and such is not the kind of 'salvation' offered us." (The John Phillips Commentary Series, "Exploring the Gospel of John")
Over the next few posts, I will attempt to clarify the major problems with the non-Calvinist's critique of Calvinism as it is articulated by John Phillips.

John 6:44

Another aspect of my conversation with Mr. Webster last Saturday was that he kept speaking about how man must choose God either now or at the Judgment. He seemed to be saying that everyone must have a chance to be a part of Jehovah's Kingdom. So although on the one hand Mr. Webster spoke of mankind needing some kind of atoning work of Christ, on the other hand he seemed to argue that salvation is dependent upon man's will.

This morning I read John 6:44 to my family. It states,
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
Dr. White on the Dividing Line recently discussed this verse in an attempt to interact with George Bryson's internet meanderings. Basically Bryson argued that God draws everyone just as God has invited everyone to come to heaven. Therefore to be invited is equivocated with being drawn. However, this is not what being drawn means.

So I asked my family, if you were to lower a bucket into a well to draw up water, are you "inviting" the water into the bucket? Does the water naturally flow up to the bucket? Or does the water naturally attempt to go the opposite direction and must be drawn up out of the well?

The answer is obvious. Man does not have the natural ability to come to Christ. Christ is a powerful Savior who has come down from heaven to save a people and to save them perfectly. As Jesus said, "I will raise him up on the last day."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Romans 4 For Lunch

During lunch time, I took a few minutes to read Romans 4 to my family. Time was brief so I explained to my kids the purpose of Paul's chapter and its relevance to my JW friend.

I want to be prepared to possibly discuss how one stands before God declared righteous. During Saturday's conversation, good works (as defined by the Watch Tower) was a major basis for Mr. Webster's acceptance before God. In other words, Mr. Webster does not possess the Gospel nor does he know what the Gospel is. He has never presented the Gospel when I have asked because his view of salvation is man-centered.

Pray that I would be able to ask Mr. Webster a simple question. "Who is the blessed man?"

Romans 4:


Monday, August 24, 2009

This Saturday...Lord Willing

Last Saturday, my long time Jehovah's Witness friend, Russell Webster, stopped by for a brief visit. It was brief due to the fact that he was truly not feeling well or due to the fact that I asked him a question he could not answer. Perhaps it was both.

For years I have been praying for Mr. Webster. He has been a Jehovah's Witness for at least 35 years, and I suspect a lot longer. This makes Mr. Webster a true challenge. He is a great example of demonstrating our weakness as Christians. He has the ability of proving that every "method" an average Evangelical may use is useless.

I have come to believe that it is truly the Gospel that saves despite our best efforts and pathetic attempts to be cool. As Romans 1 says,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Since it is the Gospel of God that saves, I waited patiently during our conversation as to what question I should ask and when. I could have asked one of three questions, but his words reminded me of getting back to the basics. So at a certain point, I broke into his typical "Isn't the world getting worse eschatology", and asked a simple question.
Do you have Eternal Life?
The question is simple yet profound. He wants to say, "Nobody can know in this life." Yet he knows where that leads him. He says he has Good News for me, yet in a typical man-centered fashion, he wants to make salvation dependent upon man.

I once read to him John 6:37-39. His response to me was, "That is just your interpretation." Pretty odd when I all I did was read the text. This time I read John 6:47,
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
I asked him if he had crossed over from death to life,
John 5:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
He then got up and started to make his way for the door. He asked if he could come back this coming Saturday. I don't know if he will. I do know this. He will come prepared. He always manages to find a response from Watch Tower literature.

If you are a Christian, I ask that you pray for the sake of Christ's name that God would be pleased to show mercy to Mr. Webster. He is not able to say he has eternal life simply because he does not have a perfect Savior. His savior is a mere creature who is only able to offer salvation and make men savable (similar to many Evangelicals). However, Lord willing, I will try to present a Christ who is nothing less than God the Son who came to save sinners. That it is by His perfect life, death and resurrection that the sinner will stand declared righteous before a holy and righteous God.

God Bless

This Pretty Much Says It All

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Edwards On Pride

"Consider how monstrous pride is in one that professes himself a Christian. Pride and Christianity suit no better together than heaven and hell, or than Beelzebub and the meek and lowly Jesus. Nothing can be more opposite to the nature of the Gospel...Christ tells us that we can't be Christians unless we humble ourselves and become [like] little children, Matthew 18:3."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sarah Kliff Witnesses a Murder

Sarah Kliff at Newsweek has written an amazing personal column about her recent witnessing of an abortion. Her last paragraph sums up her emotions.
Americans may support abortion rights, but even 40 years after Roe, we don't talk about it like other medical procedures.

And maybe that's appropriate. Abortion may be a simple procedure medically, but it is not cancer surgery. It's an elective procedure that no one—neither its defenders nor its detractors—expects to elect for themselves. I had (and still have) difficulty understanding my own reaction, both relieved to have watched a minimally invasive surgery and distressed by the emotionality of the process. Abortion involves weighty choices that, depending on how you view it, involve a life, or the potential for life. And my reaction, complicated and conflicted as it was, may have been a reflection of our national ambivalence about a private medical procedure at the center of a very public debate.
I'd like to take a moment and explain why Sarah had a reaction she could not understand. Before I do, I must confess that quite often, people have false guilt due to cultural factors or perhaps other sources that oppress the conscience in a way that is more manipulative than reality. We see this especially in children, who are abused and do not wish to upset their parents.

However, I am not speaking of that here. As her last sentence admits, our nation seems to be ambivalent about such procedures, and she defends that statement by arguing that statistically, most Americans support Roe v. Wade.

Sarah felt discomfort because she is made in the image of God. As Romans chapter 2 from the Bible tells us, we intuitively know God exists, and we intuitively know His moral law. We also know we have broken His law, and our consciences make us very aware of this fact.

Mankind does not like to "feel" guilty so we must do what the Apostle describes in the previous chapter. We must hold down the truth so that our consciences may be free from guilt. In doing so we fulfill what Paul describes. We become fools while proclaiming to be wise. We fall into deeper sin and our true character becomes exposed over time.

Albert Mohler's comments that, "Her report is both chilling and honest."

I agree in some sense this was quite brave of her to write such a story. It is honest in some sense. But I would disagree that she follows through. As her last paragraph says, "Abortion involves weighty choices that, depending on how you view it, involve a life, or the potential for life." Although this appears honest, it is self-deceiving. She makes the statement in a world where the question of the meaning of life becomes meaningless. Why make the statement in the first place? Who gives life value? What makes life so dang important?

As long as Sarah Kilff suppresses the truth of God and twists the created order, she will always be dishonest in her conclusions. This is not honesty. This is an excuse to witness a murder and attempt to deal with our seared consciences while pretending to acknowledge our humanity.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Two Kingdoms vs Obama

For years the political religious right has been accused of trying to establish some kind of theocracy. Yet today we see the political left doing the very thing they accuse the Right of doing. Fox News is reporting an interesting story in which President Obama speaks to Religious leaders.
Obama told the rabbis that "we are God's partners in matters of life and death" and asked them to "tell the stories of health care dilemmas to illustrate what is a stake" in their sermons, Moline wrote.
Obama is even quoted as saying that,
"this debate over health care goes to the heart of who we are as a people."
For most people, this statement would be interpreted as someone who is caring and wants to make sure that our fellow citizens are cared for. Yet the evidence is glaringly to the contrary as those who have stood up in the Town Hall meetings have demonstrated over and over again.

Obama's health are plan has nothing to do with "loving your neighbor" or making sure we are "our brother's keeper". The facts are plain and for all to see. Since the facts do not line up with Obama's declared motivations, we know that he is lying. Therefore Obama is now doing what former Vice President Gore has done. He is using religion as a means to overthrow the Constitution (Could anyone imagine Bush doing this without reporters going nuts?).

Riddlebarger is right. This is another example of the confusion of the two kingdoms. Instead of the political Right, now it is the political Left.

Why? Why would the political Left desire to do this? For example, why would reporters support Left Wing ideology when in so many Left Wing countries, the freedom of the press doesn't exist? Why support communist dictators like Hugo Chavez when they seek our destruction? I think many people on the Left see Capitalism as evil because of the abuse of many within the system. The Left naively thinks that the evil arises out of our American system of free enterprise and limited government.

Yet the evidence is demonstrates the contrary. No system in the world has raised the standard of living as it has here. Communist countries all over the world are full of evil dictators and tyrants (Of which I suggest Obama is another one, but then the Left sees Bush in the same light).

I have become convinced over the years that systems are not necessarily evil if good men run them. The U.S. government as it was constituted is not a suicide pact. Evil men will arise and attempt to abuse the system. That does not mean we need to overthrow the system. If the Rule of Law is followed within the system, and the system is maintained by good men, then the system will work.

At this point I will offer one example. Ronald Reagan broke up monopolies for the simple reason that our system would collapse under its own weight if men became tyrants through corporate power. Evil men must be restrained. That is the role of good government, ours or any other system.

That is not to say that all systems are good or morally neutral. Communism is painfully wrong and immoral. Even if good men were within it, it violates human nature by definition and therefore can not defend itself. As can be seen in any communistic country, the citizens do not have equal access to the law. History is replete with the abuse of those who grant themselves power over the masses.

President Obama does not like our form of government and has said as much. His health care plan (if it may be called that) has nothing to do with helping people. It has everything to do with overthrowing the Constitution and creating an even larger dependent class of citizens.

So is there an answer in all of this? Whatever the answer is, the Christian must always keep the two kingdom model front and center. We must remember what the role of good government is and is not. The Christian must always pray for their political leaders that God may grant us peace and that we may live peaceably with our neighbors. As Paul says to Timothy,

1Ti 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,
1Ti 2:2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
1Ti 2:3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
1Ti 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
1Ti 2:6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

Personal Note

Just on a personal note, my wife and I have been watching a concert with David Gilmour, Live In Gdansk. For years I have been thoroughly impressed with his music. Somehow I noticed a new channel on my Dish Network that I never noticed before, and there was a listing for David Gilmour. So I recorded it on that great machine called a DVR.

The talent that existed on that stage was simply amazing. He is able to play with a live orchestra. See website here. If you see it listed on your TV, watch it and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mt. Rushmore is really a work of art. Here are a few pictures that I am sure you have never seen before. ;-)

After the lighting ceremony and the taking down of the flag, they honored present and former military personnel. What is most fascinating about this video is the crowd's response. I have never heard such an applause for our military veterans.

Sturgis Motorcycle Giveaway

Stories like this just annoy me to death.
For the fourth year in a row, the Sturgis Motorcycle Giveaway sponsored by the Dakota Baptist Convention and North American Mission Board used volunteers from across the nation to give personal testimonies Aug. 3-8 about how they met Christ and to invite rally-goers to invite Him into their lives. By the end of the week, 835 people made professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
How do they get these professions?
"You have to start with relevance," Golden said. "You have to start with something that's going to get their attention, something that's going to make them stop and say, 'Yeah, I'll listen to you for three minutes.'"
Now don't get me wrong. I am all for Christians engaging different people in different situations. Jesus went to the harlots and tax collectors. So that idea isn't new. But Jesus also didn't need to be "relevant" to what man thinks he needs. Remember the woman at the well in John 4. She tried to deflect Jesus to the religious debate of the day. Jesus bypassed all of her nonsense and addressed the real issues.

Starting with a "motorcycle giveaway" would have had me professing terrorists are really nice guys. We need to stop trying to get professions and simply be faithful to the proclamation of the Good News.

The Good News seems to be equated with personal testimonies of Christians. Again don't get me wrong. All Christians experience Christ on some level. But that is not the Gospel. Notice the context of the Gospel's presentation.
"Sometimes people are hurting, and they don't realize it," Pratt said. "They're trying to find satisfaction in everything but Christ -- whether it's motorcycles, alcohol, drugs or relationships -- but the only satisfying relationship is with Christ."
The crowd was able to hear a "three-minute testimony of how Christ could radically change their lives."

As important as all of this is, the Gospel should be proclaimed as true, not helpful. Nevertheless, I am thankful God uses weak vessels and despite our bad theology, He chooses to save people.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vacation In South Dakota

My family and I just got back from a vacation in South Dakota. Perhaps tomorrow I'll get some pictures and videos uploaded. For now, I just want to extend my appreciation to Pastors Cory Kitch and Chris Gorman and to their church at Central Valley Community Church. My family and I participated in their worship service service last Sunday morning.

The sermon by Pastor Gorman was simply excellent, and I was truly "fed". Yet that was not even the best part. The Pastors and Elders of CVCC struggle together through texts that will be preached upon. Because my wife is the Pastor Gorman's cousin, I got to hang around and listen in. Again, it truly is a blessing to see godly men struggle through the text and be allowed to participate in exegeting the passage.

Listen here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Edwards On Man's Pride

For years I have been perplexed by either comments on this blog or in personal conversations about man's abilities to do things better than God and man's moral neutrality. We saw this recently by one commenter, who agreed that the thought police should probably put conservative Christians in jail. This same commenter has also quoted Jesus to defend his position. The perplexing aspect of his strange views is that he has demonstrated his loathing of the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet Jesus loved the Hebrew Scriptures and believed they are God's Word to His people.

William C. Nichols has done the church of Christ good by editing unpublished sermons by Jonathan Edwards from the Yale Library titled, Knowing the Heart: Jonathan Edwards On True and False Conversions. Nichols comments on the sermon, Man Is Naturally a Proud Creature,
Another way in which that Edwards mentions of how men exercise their pride towards God is in their quarreling with Him. Men quarrel with God about the way in which He rules the world. They don't like it that such and so happened. They are upset that something else which they wanted to happen, hasn't. They think things would work out much better if they could decide for themselves what should occur. If they were in charge of things, the world would be a much better place. This extends also to their own views of love and mercy. Men censure God for His threats of eternal punishment. They ask , "How could a loving God torture one of His creatures in such a place as hell for all eternity?" Richard Baxter tells us: "pride maketh men set up their own love and mercy above the love and mercy of God...When they think of hell fire, and the number of the miserable, and the fewness of the saved, they consult with their ignorant compassion, which is in themselves, and that they would not thus use an enemy of their own, and therefore they censure the holy scriptures." Edwards adds, "These things show the dreadful pride of the heart and the high opinion man hath of himself. They are too proud to subject [themselves] to God as their sovereign; and they exalt themselves and set up themselves as God's judges, and presume to arraign the Most High to their bar. Romans 9:20, 'Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?'"
Nichols recognizes something that so many Evangelicals have forgotten today. Man is not some morally neutral creature. He acts as if he is above God and as if he is seated in God's place. "that they would not thus use an enemy of their own". The commenter referenced above has more than demonstrated his willingness to do what he/she supposedly loathes. This is true for all men. Until a man sees his fallen state, he will never see His true need.

Again, when a man cuts Himself off from his creator as the source and foundation for all knowledge and morality, ect, he is by definition at enmity with God and perverts his understanding of the Creator and His creation.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Theology Matters

Over the years, I have read or interacted with Roman Catholics that have attempted to blur the distinctions between historic Protestantism and the Roman communion (Remember the Pope's attempt to sound like he might agree with Luther knowing full well he doesn't?). This blurring usually takes place with discussion on the doctrine of Justification. The same may be said on the far side of the Tiber. Many so-called Protestants have abandoned the sinfulness of man. In so doing, their apologetic is not able to withstand Rome's advances in proselytizing Evangelicals.

As I was reading this week's Spurgeon Baptist Newsletter, Richard Smith cited the Baptist Catechism.
Q 36. What is justification?

A. Justification is an act of God’s
free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth
us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of
Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
He cites this question and answer because of the mass of Evangelicals that have embraced a Christ who is not sufficient to save by his own power. Smith demonstrates that Jesus is King, not a mere slave of sinners.
We have to work our minds and hearts to fight the modern idea of a weak and almost helpless Jesus in His mildness. No, it is in the great power of a mighty King that He went to the cross and became the Redeemer of souls. But the biblical idea of a Redeemer is one that the King carries out. We looked at some of the Baptist Catechism a few articles ago, but now we want to look at it in a different context. What has to happen to the soul in salvation and what does Christ by His Spirit do to actually accomplish this?
So I ask for clarity on the Q&A above. Can any Roman Catholic agree with the Reformation's distinctive of Grace alone, through faith alone on account of Christ alone, without any work done by us as stated above? Do we help God change our souls or does the mighty King come down to us in the work of His Spirit and bring about regeneration and conversion?

For those Evangelicals, who embrace Rome's view of man, yet believe the above Q&A, do you see your inconsistency if man becomes the cooperating force to allow God's grace to work in our lives.

Theology matters. It determines our apologetic methods and how we evangelize lost sinners. As Pastor Fry has said, "What we win them with is what we win them to."

Here are some other questions from the Baptist Catechism cited in the article that may offer some thoughts to meditate upon.

Q 26. What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?
A. Christ as our Redeemer executeth the offices of a prophet, or a priest, and of king, both in his estate of humiliation and of exaltation.

Q 29. How does Christ execute the office of king?
A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling, and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

Q 32. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

Q 33. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ, in our effectual calling.

Q 34. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

War For the Constitution Marches On

The Political Left wants to command and control the economy and our way of life. If there is any doubt just open your eyes and look at the Cash For Clunkers program. The same is true for health care.Here are a couple of videos I saw on La Barber's blog. Although the two do not appear to be directly related, they really are.

We all know the Political Left is lying. Here is direct evidence that proves it. The Constitution hating crowd will soon dispose of that document as quick as possible. It really is a strange thing to have grown up during the end of the Cold War fighting the Communists "over there". The odd thing is they were right here taking over every institution (such as public education) under the guise of compassion. History is full of ironies.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Early Marriage Is on the Right Track

Albert Mohler interacts with Regnerus on the topic of early marriage. Mohler wrote,
Back in April of this year, Regnerus wrote an op-ed column for The Washington Post arguing for early marriage. In his words, his article met with a "nearly universal hostile reaction." As one who has made similar arguments in public for years now, I can understand his pained reflection that even to raise this issue in public is to risk being heard as speaking a "foreign language." But this is not universally true. There are many evangelical young people, parents, and pastors who fundamentally agree that evangelicals are putting off marriage for far too long. More and more are speaking this language every day.
Finally, someone who says what I have thought for years. Mohler states toward the end of his post.
The biblical case for early marriage is even stronger than Regnerus indicates. Our bodies are not evolutionary accidents, and God reveals his intention for humanity through the gifts of sexual maturation, fertility, and sexual desire. As men and women, we are made for marriage. As Christians, those not called to celibacy are called to demonstrate our discipleship through honoring the Creator's intention by directing sexual desire and reproductive capacity into a commitment to marriage. Marriage is the central crucible for accepting and fulfilling the adult responsibilities of work, parenthood, and the full acceptance of mature responsibilities.
I agree with this statement, but I do so with a major question. With both a secular culture and Christian culture that tolerates adultery and divorce, how could this possibly work? Would not the divorce rate just go up? Would not more children be produced in broken families?

Until our culture learns to encourage early marriage with encouraging married couples to work through the difficult times such as dealing with finances and honestly dealing with lustful desires, I don't see how encouraging early marriage will solve our culture's problems. Nevertheless, I think this attitude is moving back in the right direction.