Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
“Yea…that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more . . . raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ. And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat. They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.”
"The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.
There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity…No subject of contemplation will tend to more humble the mind, than thoughts of God…
"But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe…The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity."
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Metro East is honored to be hosting Paul on April 4th and 5th for his conference "Marriage, There Really is a Better Way." You can learn more about Paul Tripp and his ministry at www.paultrippministries.org.
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”
- Genesis 6:5-7
The writer of Genesis tells us some things about the Lord in those verses that surprise us. We are told of the Lord’s repentance, or His sorrow that He had made man. We are told of His grief and sadness. This has raised questions about God’s impassibility. Simply put, for God to be impassible means that he does not experience emotions. For generations orthodox theologians simply assumed the impassibility of God. The assumption was that in order for God to be unchanging (immutable) then he must be free of emotions or “passions”. But I believe the assumption that immutability depends on impassibility is flawed. Certainly, for fallen man emotions will send us all over the map, as it were. But must this be so for God?
Does Scripture allow us to make God’s unchanging nature dependent on His being free of emotions? The answer seems clear enough. The Bible is rich with language depicting the emotional life of God. Perhaps the traditional idea of impassibility arose from the fact that human emotions are so often linked with frailty and sin. The idea of impassibility then became a way to defend the immutability of God. While we must be careful to affirm that God is unchanging in his nature and perfections we must not deny what Scripture makes plain about His emotions. The way forward then is to affirm God’s perfections and His passions (or, emotions). This is a big leap for us because we have no frame of reference for emotional perfection. Imagine such a thing!
In his wonderful book on the attributes of God, Behold Your God, Scottish theologian Donald Macleod writes, “[God] cannot be the victim of mental conflict, or a prey to anxiety, discontent, envy, depression or any other neurosis. He can never lose His composure or show the symptoms of stress or agitation. Nor, again, can there be in God any merely passive suffering. He can never be a helpless victim, falling into pain or overtaken by it. Whatever occurs, occurs by His own arrangement and remains under His control” (p. 31).
The next hurdle me must negotiate is whether or not God changes his mind or “repents.” The above text clearly says twice that God was sorry for having created man and thus determined to blot out humanity as well as every living creature. This is certainly akin to our idea of repentance – a change of mind producing a change of behavior.
But any language that God changed his mind or repented of a previous decision is an example of anthropopathism which is an ascription of human emotion to God. Anthropopathism is akin to anthropomorphism which is an ascription of human physicality to God like hands and eyes. Both anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms are used to help finite sinful beings understand an infinite and perfect God. They are linguistic tools in order to explain that “God is like this, but not exactly.”
In the case of Genesis six God’s sorrow in creating man is not the same kind of sorrow we experience. In other words, God’s sorrow over creating man is not the sorrow that comes from making an error. The anthropopathism is used in order to emphasize the strength of God’s disgust over man’s sin. It does not mean that God changed His mind the way we change our minds. It does not mean that God was caught off guard or surprised. It does not mean that God made a mistake that He wish He hadn’t made.
Elsewhere in the Old Testament, the writers are emphatic that God does not change His mind, that God does not make mistakes, that God does not repent in the human sense of that term. For example, I Samuel 15:29 says, "The God of Israel will not lie or change His mind for He is not a man that He should change His mind." That type of realization in the Old Testament prophets is not unique to Samuel. Time and again in Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and elsewhere it is emphasized that the Lord does not change His mind.
The language of Genesis six helps us understand that God does not get some kind of sadistic kick out of judging. He is grieved over man’s sin as well as the fact that sin makes judgment necessary. God’s judgment comes only after repeated warnings and calls for repentance. God is not thrilled by the exercise of judgment but in it He is glorified. God prefers mercy to justice but His glory is not diminished when He judges for God is equally glorified in the display of His justice as He is in the display of His mercy.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
John Piper offers this MUCH needed response to "A Word Between Us and You." For those of you unfamiliar with the document, it is an attempt between prominent Christians to forge common ground with Muslims. However, their approach is quite troubling. Piper's response is a good primer on how Christians should engage Muslims.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Now I know why Paige Patterson hired Malcolm Yarnell.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
The church is not merely one commitment to juggle along with all the others. Upon conversion God grafts his people into the body of Christ. God loves the church. Christ died for the church. The church is the community of people wherein my life takes on more and more Christ-likeness. The church is full of problems because she is full of sinners like me. But she is still Christ's beautiful bride. Jesus Himself is even now working to present her (us) before Himself holy, free of all blemishes.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
"All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is not a moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.
"This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort–the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates–in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.”
J.I. Packer from Knowing God
J.I. Packer from Knowing God
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
"We have attended conferences and learned to market our churches. We have imitated the cell-church movement. We have spoken in tongues, listened to self-proclaimed prophets, and pursued signs and wonders. We have changed our worship styles to cater to our culture's impatience with doctrine and its desire for immediate emotional gratification. We have studied the art of communication and learned to craft sermons that provide well-balanced doses of humor, insight, and comfort. We have incorporated drama and multimedia presentations into our worship, taking at face value the claim that only by doing so can we minister effectively to modern, visually oriented, television-conditioned church attendees.
"But it seems to me that there is one thing we have not generally done, and it is the most crucial thing of all. We have not, by and large, exerted great effort to make sure that the message we are preaching is really the gospel. We are good marketers and good moralists, but too often we are shallow theologians. We are fearful of preaching the doctrines that offend, in part because we don't wish to drive people away and in part because we have never felt the power of those doctrines ourselves.
"God, as David Wells has argued, seems 'weightless' in the modern world and even in teh modern evangelical church. His hatred of sin does not pierce us. His wrath does not terrify us. His sovereignty does not humble us. And so, instead of presenting His truth in all of its shocking angularity, we massage the gospel to smooth its way in our world. Instead of giving people strong doctrine, powerfully presented and closely applied, we give them tips for succesful living. Instead of confronting them with the hard fact that they are headed for perdition, we flatter them that they are very fine people who lack only faith to make their lives full. And yet, in spite of this failure to understand and proclaim the gospel, we continue to hope that somehow, by means of some new insight or book or technique, we will 'release' God's power for revival.
"The truth is that there is no key to revival. Charles Finney and all who have followed him have been utterly mistaken: Revival is not something we create or even something we 'pray down': it is a sovereign work of God, given in His timing and for His purposes and glory. We are more likely to produce rain by dancing than to produce revival by the use of our methods and techniques. If we really desire revival, we must turn to God. And that means both that we must pray to Him earnestly and humbly, recognizing that there is no power in our prayers but only in the God to whm we pray, and that we must be certain that it is the gospel we believe and the gospel we preach."
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
“Born in 1881, J. Gresham Machen grew up in an educated, well-to-do Presbyterian family in Baltimore. He majored in classics at Johns Hopkins University and graduated first in his class in 1901. He then entered the graduate program but after one year enrolled in Princeton Seminary. Following his graduation in 1905, he studied in Germany for a year then returned to Princeton Seminary as a professor of New Testament in 1906.
“Gresham Machen was known for his serious research and scholarly writing on various New Testament topics. He also became known for his defense of conservative theology, especially the authority of Scripture. After publishing Christianity and Liberalism in 1923, he became a nationally recognized figure. He maintained that liberalism was not a variety of Christianity but was instead an entirely different religion.
“‘Liberalism appeals to man’s will, while Christianity announces, first, a gracious act of God.’ He argued that historical Christianity had always been rooted in the saving acts of Christ’s death and resurrection, whereas liberal Protestantism reduced Christianity to a set of general religious principles regarding the moral teachings of Jesus.
“These beliefs caused Machen to become controversial figure both at Princeton Seminary and within his denomination, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., as these institutions were beginning to shift toward a more liberal theological stance. Princeton’s drift into liberalism was heartbreaking for Machen, who fought hard to keep the seminary committed to the creeds of the Presbyterian Church. He pleaded with the seminary faculty to stand for ‘the full truthfulness of the Bible as the Word of God and for the vigorous defense and propagation of the Reformed or Calvinistic system of doctrine, which is the system of doctrine that the Bible teaches.’
“It was a losing battle. Princeton officially reorganized in 1929 to ensure a more inclusive theological curriculum. This left Machen and other Reformed professors worried about the lack of evangelical training for future Presbyterian ministers. In response, Machen and other Reformed faculty members left Princeton and founded Philadelphia’s Westminster Theological Seminary, an institution that would stand for theological orthodoxy and academic excellence. Gresham Machen was a professor of New Testament there until his death.
“At Westminster, Machen continued to fight liberalism within the Presbyterian Church. In 1933 he helped form the conservative Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions in order to counteract the liberalism that was infiltrating Presbyterian foreign missions. The Presbyterian General Assembly rejected this new mission board, and in 1935 Machen was tried and suspended from the ministry of the Presbyterian Church for refusing to break his ties to the Independent Board.
“Machen then played a central role in founding a new denomination, the Presbyterian Church of America (later the Orthodox Presbyterian Church), which over time continued to uphold theological orthodoxy.
“While speaking in Bismark, North Dakota, in December 1936, Machen came down with pneumonia, yet he continued preaching even though it was extremely cold and he was very sick. Finally he was hospitalized. When a friend visited him New Year’s Eve, Machen told him about a vision of heaven he had in the hospital: “Sam, it was glorious, it was glorious.” He died the next day on January 1, 1937.”
*From "The One Year Christian History" by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten
Some good books by and about J. Gresham Machen:
Defending the Faith by D.G. Hart
J. Gresham Machen by Stephen Nichols
The Biblical View of Man by J. Gresham Machen
Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen
The Origins of Paul’s Religion by J. Gresham Machen
The Virgin Birth of Christ by J. Gresham Machen