Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday's Sermon


You can listen to or download Sunday's sermon "Pentecost: Babel Undone" by clicking HERE.

Lane Tipton on Calvin's view of justification

Quotable

“Having absorbed the world’s values, Christianity in our society is now dying. Subtly but surely worldliness and self-indulgence are eating away the heart of the church. The gospel we proclaim is so convoluted that it offers believing in Christ as nothing more than a means to contentment and prosperity. The offense of the cross (cf. Gal. 5:11) has been systematically removed so that the message might be made more acceptable to unbelievers. The church somehow got the idea it could declare peace with the enemies of God.”

- John MacArthur

George Tiller Shot to Death

This morning the well known late-term abortionist George Tiller was shot to deat at his church in Wichita, Kansas.

Here's the story from The Wichita Eagle:
George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.

Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation. Witnesses and a police source confirmed Tiller was the victim...

Members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting were being kept inside the church by police, and those arriving were being ushered into the parking lot. Witnesses are being transported downtown for interviews and other members of the congregation are slowly being released from inside the sanctuary.

Tiller has long been a focal point of protest by abortion opponents because his clinic, Women's Health Care Services at 5701 E. Kellogg, is one of the few in the country where late-term abortions are performed.
Read the entire story HERE.

This is a tragedy. It is a tragedy that Dr. Tiller was murdered. It is a double tragedy that Dr. Tiller chose to use his medical credentials and training to perform abortions.

If you are pro-life remember that killing is not the way to advance the cause. I understand the moral outrage over abortion. I understand that it is the taking of innocent life. Unfortunately however it is still the law of our country and Christians are not called to be vigilantes who kill wrongdoers.

Unfortunately many in the media and many of our politicians will gladly lump all pro-lifers in the camp of crazed, violent lunatics.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's Official: Greg Beale is coming to WTS


Beginning in the Fall of 201o Dr. G.K. Beale will leave his post as Chair of Biblical Studies at Wheaton to become Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. This is great news for WTS which has experienced some controversy over the issue of inerrancy for the last few years. Dr. Beale is not only a world class scholar but one of the most effective advocates for the doctrine of Scripture's inerrancy. He will be an important addition to the WTS faculty. Congratulations to Peter Lillback and Carl Trueman for their leadership in this matter.

On the necessity of humiliations

To preach is a fearful privilege. It's a privilege because of the honor to proclaim God's Word to God's people. It's a privilege because of the opportunity for in-depth study every week. But preaching is fearful because of the risk of getting it wrong. Also, it is fearful because of the pontential for pride to grow. I am blessed to be in a church with many people who say a lot of very kind things to me every week. There are many preachers who cannot say that. But because of the kindness I am so graciously shown there is perhaps an even greater need for humiliations - things that remind me that I am just a sinful, flawed man. If God chooses to bless anything that I am a part of then it is certainly not because of anything meritorious in me.

I once heard it said that humility comes only through humiliations. That's the tough part about humility. We never willfully go the way of humility. It always has to be forced upon us. Our natural trajectory is toward pride. It's so insidious that we even become proud of our humility.

Each week it seems God works to kill something ugly in me. As He prepares me for Sunday He confronts my sin. I ran across these words recently which resonated with me:
The struggle to make much of Christ rather than self is a struggle for every preacher; we’re all prone to say “Behold me telling you to behold the Lamb of God.”

Everything God does to kill this tendency in me is a good thing. God is even pleased to use people whose intentions are not noble and whose words are not kind to graciously kill what is ugly in me.

So I am learning to rejoice in those necessary humiliations that God sends my way. I need them.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"In God's School"


An English translation of Pierre Marcel's "In God's School" is now available. It is based upon the Heidelberg Catechism and is a wonderful tool for teaching the Christian faith. But make no mistake. "In God's School" will benefit new and mature believers, young and old. This is theology done well. It will enrich the mind and lead to devotion and doxology. Highly recommended.


"In God's School" is a course designed for students who desire to be introduced to the foundations of the Christian faith, and put the gospel of Christ into practice. It is also for those who wish to deepen their faith and sharpen the contours of Christian thought. For the teacher, this will not be a question of another "school" or method, but a special spur to spiritual vitality. Our knowledge of salvation can never be more than the Word of God, or such as God has revealed in the Holy Scriptures. It is a Word to which we may never add, and from which we must never take away. This is the only "School of God" in which the sinful creature learns to know and love his Creator, Savior, and Father, and at the same time learns to know himself and how to give God the honor of which He is worthy.

- From the Introduction


Order "In God's School" HERE.

Rest


"A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out."

- Isaiah 42:3


We all know what it is like to feel like a bruised reed and a smouldering wick. They are both images of weakness. Relationships, work, loss, and pain can all sap our strength and rob us of joy. It is in those times when we need to know the tender touch of God.


I am tired today. Certain burdens are weighing especially heavy. Too often I depend on the approval of others which always results in wounds and disappointment. I am a sinful man and I live among other sinful men. The reality can be overwhelming. But what I need is not more approval or to work harder. What I need is Jesus.


Thanks to Ray Ortland for the following post. I neede this today (and a lot of days for that matter).


"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

The sacred center of Christianity is Christ himself. Coming personally to the Person. Coming directly to the Mediator. No one but Jesus can call us with such authority, and no one but Jesus can encourage us with such a promise. No one else can give us rest.

If our functional purpose in church is to connect with one another and build community, that's what we'll get -- one another. And we'll end up angry. Only Jesus gives us rest. If we will put him first and come to him first, we'll have something to give one another.

If our functional purpose in church is outreach and mercy and justice and all those good missional things, we'll end up exhausted and empty. Only Jesus gives us rest. If we will put him first and come to him first, we'll be renewed for endless mission.

Only One has ever said and can ever say, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." His offer stands. But he comes first.

"The two camps are irreconcilable"


Robert George of Princeton University recently debated Douglas Kmiec, a pro-life supporter of President Obama. Public Discource, one of my favorite sites, reproduced Professor George's opening statement:


Professor Kmiec and I share common ground in the belief that every member of the human family—irrespective of race, class, and ethnicity, but also irrespective of age, size, location, stage of development or condition of dependency—is entitled to our care and respect and to the equal protection of our laws. This is what it means to be pro-life. In this shared conviction, Professor Kmiec and I are on one side of a crucial divide, and President Obama is on the other. Professor Kmiec and I stand together in our opposition to abortion and human embryo-destructive research, but we share very little common ground on these matters with President Obama and those whom he has appointed to high office who will determine the fate of vast numbers of our weakest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters.

I appreciated the President’s candor at Notre Dame when he said:
“Now understand, understand, class of 2009, I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. Because no matter how much we may want to fudge it . . . the fact is that at some level the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.”

The President is right. His view regarding the status, dignity, and rights of the child in the womb, and the view shared by Professor Kmiec and myself, are irreconcilable. A chasm separates those of us who believe that every living human being possesses profound, inherent, and equal dignity, and those who, for whatever reasons, deny it. The issue really cannot be fudged, as people sometimes try to do by imagining that there is a dispute about whether it is really a human being who is dismembered in a dilation and curettage abortion, or whose skin is burned off in a saline abortion, or the base of whose skull is pierced and whose brains are sucked out in a dilation and extraction (or “partial birth”) abortion. That issue has long been settled—and it was settled not by religion or philosophy, but by the sciences of human embryology and developmental biology.

Read the entire statement HERE.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"You Aint Seen Nothin' Yet"



From Sam Youngman at The Hill:
Even as he conceded there is still much hard work to do, President Obama was in a boastful mood Wednesday night, telling a star-studded crowd at a fundraising dinner that he "would put these first four months up against any prior administration since FDR."The president, speaking to a dinner that included Hollywood A-listers like Kiefer Sutherland, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg, lauded the legislation he has signed since taking office but added that he is "not satisfied."

"I'm confident in the future, but I'm not yet content," Obama said.The celebrity dinner, which cost couples $30,400 to attend, was followed by a larger, lower-dollar concert that all told raised between $3 million and $4 million for the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Read the entire story HERE.

Risking The Truth


I have been looking forward to the release of Martin Downes' latest Risking The Truth: Handling Error in The Church. Here's the publisher's info:


A collection of interviews on handling truth and error in the church. Contributors reflect on this issue in relation to the minister's own life, pulpit ministry, local church leadership, seminary training, denominations, the impact of the academy, Evangelicalism, contemporary trends, history, creeds and confessions, and doctrines that are currently under attack. There is also personal reflection on these matters, lessons drawn from experience, and practical advice. The interviews are introduced by a primer on heresy and false teaching, and concluded with a chapters on why “Being Against Heresies is not enough” and “What really matters in ministry: directives for church leaders in Acts 20.”

Featuring a Forword by Sinclair Ferguson.

Contributors include: Carl R. Trueman, Tom Schreiner, Michael Horton, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Derek Thomas, R. Scott Clark, Tom Ascol, Guy Waters, Kim Riddlebarger, Ron Gleason, Sean Michael Lucas, Iain D Campbell, Gary L. W. Johnson, Conrad Mbewe, Geoffrey Thomas, Joel Beeke, Robert Peterson, Michael Ovey

A book on this subject is sorely needed. I look forward to reading it.

Mapping Sin


Scott Clark at Heidelblog has a link to a fascinating study done at Kansas State University.


Researchers at Kansas State University have created a map of the prevalence of the Seven Deadly Sins (envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath) across the USA through statistical analysis (HT: John Bales). A writer from the Las Vegas Sun gives an account of the project here. I highlighted “wrath” simply because of the apparent (assuming the validity of the analysis) contrast between the so-called “rust belt” states around the Great Lakes (where it is often cold) and the “sun belt”
states where it is often hot. I’m not suggesting that people are intrinsically or really less sinful in the cold than in the heat (that puts one in mind of Leonard Jeffries) but one does wonder about the effect of circumstances upon external behavior (which is all the researchers can measure). Certainly I thought the “sloth” map was telling and it resonates with my limited experience. The culture of work in Southern California is rather different from where I was raised. On the other hand, judging by what I’ve seen when I’m back home I think they missed the mark on the “gluttony” measure. I don’t think that west Texas has that all locked up frankly.

Read the entire post HERE.


Connect to a story on the KSU study HERE.

Quotable


"There is...a curious connection between the doctrine of creation out of nothing and the professional life of Richard Dawkins. Without God, Dawkins would be out of a job. it is thus particularly churlish of him to call the existence of his employer into question."


- Terry Eagleton from Reason, Faith, and Revolution

The Latest Trend in Group Think


The red ribbon is SO 90's! Now the white knot is where it's at for the savvy, sensitive, non-neanderthal type.


According to WhiteKnot.org:


“The White Knot is the symbol for marriage equality. Wear it every day to show your support and to create conversation. Use it to tell someone today that equal rights are important to everyone. Share the White Knot and spread the word that all loving couples deserve the same legal rights, benefits, and respect that civil marriage bestows.”
Celebrities, always on the cutting edge of sympathy chic, are resplendent in the newest must-have accessory.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Graces are better than gifts"


As the Life—So the Fruit


For if these thing be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:8)


"If we desire to glorify our Lord by fruitfulness, we must have certain things within us; for nothing can come out of us which is not first of all within us. We must begin with faith, which is the groundwork of all the virtues; and then diligently add to it virtue, knowledge, temperance, and patience. With these we must have godliness and brotherly love. All these put together will most assuredly cause us to produce, as our life fruit, the clusters of usefulness, and we shall not be mere idle knowers but real doers of the Word. These holy things must not only be in us, but abound, or we shall be barren. Fruit is the overflow of life, and we must be full before we can flow over.


"We have noticed men of considerable parts and opportunities who have never succeeded in doing real good in the conversion of souls; and after close observation we have concluded that they lacked certain graces which are absolutely essential to fruit bearing. For real usefulness, graces are better than gifts. As the man is, so is his work. If we would do better, we must be better. Let the text be a gentle hint to unfruitful professors and to myself also."


- Charles Spurgeon from "Faith's Check Book"

Whining Atheists


In a recent article in the L.A. Times Charlotte Allen takes on "superstar atheists."


I can't stand atheists -- but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores.

Other people, most recently the British cultural critic Terry Eagleton in his new book, "Faith, Reason, and Revolution," take to task such superstar nonbelievers as Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins ("The God Delusion") and political journalist Christopher Hitchens ("God Is Not Great") for indulging in a philosophically primitive opposition of faith and reason that assumes that if science can't prove something, it doesn't exist.

My problem with atheists is their tiresome -- and way old -- insistence that they are being oppressed and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity. What -- did their Sunday school teachers flog their behinds with a Bible when they were kids?

Read Dawkins, or Hitchens, or the works of fellow atheists Sam Harris ("The End of Faith") and Daniel Dennett ("Breaking the Spell"), or visit an atheist website or blog (there are zillions of them, bearing such titles as "God Is for Suckers," "God Is Imaginary" and "God Is Pretend"), and your eyes will glaze over as you peruse -- again and again -- the obsessively tiny range of topics around which atheists circle like water in a drain.

First off, there's atheist victimology: Boohoo, everybody hates us 'cuz we don't believe in God. Although a recent Pew Forum survey on religion found that 16% of Americans describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, only 1.6% call themselves atheists, with another 2.4% weighing in as agnostics (a group despised as wishy-washy by atheists). You or I might attribute the low numbers to atheists' failure to win converts to their unbelief, but atheists say the problem is persecution so relentless that it drives tens of millions of God-deniers into a closet of feigned faith, like gays before Stonewall.
Read the entire article HERE.

When Album Covers Go Wrong


Are we justified by faith or works?


Over at Ref21 Rick Phillips has posted a clear and concise rebuttal of N.T. Wright's contention that our future justification before God will be based upon our works. Many of us have been troubled by the influence of N.T. Wright within evangelicalism. Certainly his work on the historical reality of Christ's resurrection is outstanding (perhaps the best). However his redefining of the doctrine of justification is troubling to say the least.


Pastor Phillips writes:


N. T. Wright's new book does not introduce his teaching of "future justification according to works," as the teaching is usually expressed. Rather, this doctrine that has long been present in his writing is now declared plainly and directly. We can summarize Wright's teaching on future justification in 3 points:

Point #1: Present justification does not precisely equal future justification. Wright points to the final judgment of God as the eschatological terminus of justification, which is only anticipated in present justification. (This itself is not a controversial statement.) The question is the relationship of present justification to future
justification. Are the two essentially the same, as classic Reformed theology puts it, so that final vindication merely republishes present justification through faith alone? Wright argues that while present justification anticipates future justification, the two are not essentially the same, as follows.

Point #2: Whereas present justification is according to faith, future justification is according to works. Wright bases his position in large part on Romans chapter 2. Classic Reformed theology has seen Romans 2 as Paul's condemnation of Jewish attempts at law-righteousness. Contrary to this opinion, Wright and others see here a positive teaching of justification:"it is... the doers of the law who will be justified" (
Rom. 2:13). Wright describes this verse as setting forth the true way of justification, commenting, "Justification, at the last, will be on the basis of performance." [1] Here, Wright says, Paul plainly affirms a final justification according to works. Whereas classic Reformed theology sees justification based on faith alone, to which works are a necessary attestation, Wright reverses this, seeing final justification as based on good works, to which faith was a pledge and anticipation. Justification through faith places us on a path that is marked by good works, which good works serve as the basis for our final justification.

Read the entire post HERE.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

There goes the neighborhood


It appears that San Diego is infringing on the free exercise of religion.


Here's the story:


A San Diego pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a county official and warned they will face escalating fines if they continue to hold Bible studies in their home.

The couple, whose names are being withheld until a demand letter can be filed on their behalf, told their attorney a county government
employee knocked on their door on Good Friday, asking a litany of questions about their Tuesday night Bible studies, which are attended by approximately 15 people.

"Do you have a regular weekly
meeting in your home? Do you sing? Do you say 'amen'?" the official reportedly asked. "Do you say, 'Praise the Lord'?"

The pastor's wife answered yes.

She says she was then told, however, that she must stop holding "religious assemblies" until she and her husband obtain a Major Use Permit from the county, a permit that often involves traffic and environmental studies, compliance with
parking and sidewalk regulations and costs that top tens of thousands of dollars.

Read the whole thing HERE.


I'm curious about the potential impact on church plants and small group Bible studies.


Any thoughts?

Greg Beale at WTS (2)


Dr. Greg Beale recently lectured at Westminster Seminary on Scripture's attestation of inerrancy found in John's Apocalypse. Check out the audio HERE.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday's Sermon


Last Sunday is recognized by the church as Ascension Sunday. You can listen to or download Sunday's sermon "Taken Up To Heaven" HERE.

Continuing Discussion on Inerrancy

There is another good post at Green Baggins on inerrancy. Check it out HERE.

Memorial Day and the people of God

Kevin Deyoung's post on Memorial Day is, I believe, worth reproducing:
It is always tricky to know how the church should or shouldn’t celebrate patriotic holidays. Certainly, some churches blend church and state in such a way that the kingdom of God morphs into a doctrinally-thin, spiritually nebulous civil religion. But even with this dangers, there are a number of good reasons why Christians should give thanks for Memorial Day.

1. Being a soldier is not a sub-Christian activity. In Luke 3, John the Baptist warns the people to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. The crowds respond favorably to his message and ask him, “What then shall we do?” John tells the rich man to share his tunics, the tax collectors to collect only what belongs to them, and the soldiers to stop their extortion. If ever there was a time to tell the soldiers that true repentance meant resigning from the army, surely this was the time. And yet, John does not tell them that they must give up soldier-work to bear fruit, only that they need to be honest soldiers. The Centurion is even held up by Jesus as the best example of faith he’s seen in Israel (Luke 7:9). Military service, when executed with integrity and in the Spirit of God, is a suitable vocation for the people of God.

2. The life of a soldier can demonstrate the highest Christian virtues. While it’s true that our movies sometimes go too far in glamorizing war, this is only the case because there have been many heroics acts in the history of war suitable for our admiration. Soldiers in battle are called on to show courage, daring, service, shrewdness, endurance, hard work, faith, and obedience. These virtues fall into the “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just” category that deserve our praise (Philippians 4:8).

3. Military service is one of the most common metaphors in the New Testament to describe the Christian life. We are to fight the good fight, put on the armor of God, and serve as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. When we remember the sacrifice, single-minded dedication, and discipline involved in the life of a soldier, we are calling to mind what we are supposed to be like as Christians in service to Christ.

4. Love of country can be a good thing. As Christians we have dual citizenship. Our first and ultimate allegiance must always be to Christ whose heavenly dwelling is our eternal home. But we are also citizens of an earthly country. We will stand before God not as individuals wiped clean of all earthly nationality, but as people with distinct languages, cultural affinities, and homelands. It is not wrong to love our distinct language, culture, or nationality. Whenever I’m at a ball game I still get choked up during the singing of the National Anthem. I think this is good. Love for God does not mean we love nothing else on earth, but rather that we learn to love the things on earth in the right way and with the right proportions and priorities. Love of country is a good thing, and it is right to honor those who defend the principles that make our country good.

5. This may be controversial to some, but I believe the facts of history will demonstrate that on the whole, the United States military has been a force for good in the world. Obviously, as a military power, we have blundered at times, both individually and corporately. But on the whole, the men and women of our armed services have fought and are fighting for causes that promote freedom, defend the rights of human beings, and reject tyranny. War is still hell and a tragic result of the fall. Praise God for his promise to one day end all human conflict. But in a world where people are evil by nature and leaders are not always reasonable and countries do not always have good intentions, war is sometimes the way to peace–at least the best peace we can hope for between peoples and nations this side of heaven.

So thank God for a day to remember God’s common grace to America and his special grace in enlisting us, poor weak soldiers that we are, in service to Christ our Captain and conquering King.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How should the Bible be read?


Is the Bible a guidebook for successful living or a personal guide to fulfillment? Perhaps the Bible is God's little rule book.


The guys over at the White Horse Inn help us understand that Scripture is to be read first and foremost as God's story of redemption through Jesus Christ.


Check out the AUDIO HERE.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Book Recommendations


The bookstore at Westminster Theological Seminary has begun posting my book recommendations. If you are interested then click on the Westminster Bookstore link at the right side of this blog and click on "Highest Rated". From there click on any of the books and then on the "pastor/elder review" button.
I will continue to build on the list. Hope it is helpful. Incidentally, the prices at Westminster Bookstore are the best I have found so far.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More on "Ida"


This is my third post on the remarkable fossil of the lemur named "Ida." My original post lampooned the breathless excitement and characteristic overstatements from some within the scientific community. I believed then and believe now that those statements deserved lampooning.


Just to refresh your memory:

"This little creature is going to show us our connection with the rest of the mammals."


"The link they would have said up to now is missing - well it's no longer missing."


"This fossil is really a part of our history; this is part of our evolution, deep, deep back into the aeons of time, 47 million years ago."


Chris Beard, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, has written in New Scientist:


Unbridled hoopla attended the unveiling of a 47-million-year-old fossil primate skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on 19 May. Found by private collectors in 1983 in Messel, Germany, the press immediately hailed the specimen as a "missing link" and even the "eighth wonder of the world."...

But this does not necessarily make Ida a close relative of anthropoids – the group of primates that includes monkeys, apes – and humans. In order to establish that connection, Ida would have to have anthropoid-like features that evolved after anthropoids split away from lemurs and other early primates. Here, alas, Ida fails miserably.

So, Ida is not a "missing link" – at least not between anthropoids and more primitive primates. Further study may reveal her to be a missing link between other species of Eocene adapiforms, but this hardly solidifies her status as the "eighth wonder of the world".

Instead, Ida is a remarkably complete specimen that promises to teach us a great deal about the biology of some of the earliest and least human-like of all known primates, the Eocene adapiforms. For this, we can all celebrate her discovery as a real advance for science.
The next time they dig up a cool fossil of a monkey and excitedly claim it as a human ancestor then I shall lampoon once again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You are the weakest link!


Does it surprise anyone that the following words from an AP article have not gotten much play?


Experts not connected with the discovery said the finding was remarkably complete because of features like stomach contents. But they questioned the conclusions of Hurum and his colleagues about how closely it is related to ancestors of monkeys and humans.

"I actually don't think it's terribly close to the common ancestral line of monkeys, apes and people," said K. Christopher Beard of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. "I would say it's about as far away as you can get from that line and still be a primate."

Rather than a long-ago aunt, "I would say it's more like a third cousin twice removed," he said. So it probably resembles ancestral creatures "only in a very peripheral way," he said.

Beard said scientists already have a fossil from China of about the same age that is widely accepted as coming from monkey-ape-human ancestral line, and it's much smaller than the new-found fossil and ate a different diet. "They are radically different animals," he said.

John Fleagle of the State University of New York at Stony Brook said the scientists' analysis provides only "a pretty weak link" between the new creature and higher primates, called anthropoids, that includes monkeys and man.

"It doesn't really tell us much about anthropoid origins, quite frankly," Fleagle said.

Good Discussion of Inerrancy

Over at Green Baggins (one the best blogs on the web) is having a very helpful discussion on the issue of inerrancy. Check it our HERE.

Pay special attention to the comments by Rick Phillips. Pastor Phillips is one of my favorite preachers. His books are terrific as well.

Also, check out this post dealing with inerrancy over at Ref21.

The Truth About Angels and Demons


Check out this helpful website from Westminster Theological Seminary.

"I can see you are very religious"


Russ Douthat has written an excellent piece for the New York Tmes entitled "Dan Brown's America."


In the Brownian worldview, all religions — even Roman Catholicism — have the potential to be wonderful, so long as we can get over the idea that any one of them might be particularly true. It’s a message perfectly tailored for 21st-century America, where the most important religious trend is neither swelling unbelief nor rising fundamentalism, but the emergence of a generalized “religiousness” detached from the claims of any specific faith tradition.

The polls that show more Americans abandoning organized religion don’t suggest a dramatic uptick in atheism: They reveal the growth of do-it-yourself spirituality, with traditional religion’s dogmas and moral requirements shorn away. The same trend is at work within organized faiths as well, where both liberal and conservative believers often encounter a God who’s too busy validating their particular version of the American Dream to raise a peep about, say, how much money they’re making or how many times they’ve been married.

These are Dan Brown’s kind of readers. Piggybacking on the fascination with lost gospels and alternative Christianities, he serves up a Jesus who’s a thoroughly modern sort of messiah — sexy, worldly, and Goddess-worshiping, with a wife and kids, a house in the Galilean suburbs, and no delusions about his own divinity.
Read the entire article HERE.

Your New Government Car!


Does anyone think any members of congress are going to be driving one of these?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Hunger in the Land

“I do think that there is a hunger in the land for a vision of confessional Christianity that is robust, God-centered, tough-minded, able to address today and tomorrow and the next day, and comprehensive.”

- D.A. Carson

From an interview in Christianity Today.

Gossip

Ray Ortlund has an excellent (and convicting) post on gossip.
Gossip leaves a wide trail of devastation wherever and however it goes – word of mouth, email, blogging, YouTube. It erodes trust and destroys morale. It creates a social environment of suspicion where everyone must wonder what is being said behind their backs and whether appearances of friendship are sincere. It ruins hard-won reputations with cowardly but effective weapons of misrepresentation. It manipulates people into taking sides when no such action is necessary or beneficial. It unleashes the dark powers of psychological transference, doing violence to the gossiper, to the one receiving the gossip and to the person being spoken against. It makes the Body of Christ look like the Body of Antichrist – destroyers rather than healers. It exhausts the energies we would otherwise devote to positive witness. It robs our Lord of the Church he deserves. It exposes the hostility in our hearts and discredits the gospel in the eyes of the world. Then we wonder why we don’t see more conversions, why “the ground is so hard.”

Read the entire post HERE. It is worth your time.

The Proof Is In!


Finally! Definitive proof that humans evolved from lower speceis. You know that I would never question the words of scientists. The fossil of the lemur is proof positive of Darwinian evolution. How do we know? Because some scientists say so. And believe me, scientists never overplay their hand or exagerate. Nor are scientists ever conflicted with aprior assumptions.


"This little creature is going to show us our connection with the rest of the mammals."


"The link they would have said up to now is missing - well it's no longer missing."


"This fossil is really a part of our history; this is part of our evolution, deep, deep back into the aeons of time, 47 million years ago."


Perhaps you are wondering how such sweeping statements can be made on the basis of one fossil. Well, if you're asking this then you're an idiot. Trust the scientists! Haven't scientists been consistent when it comes to their theories of human origins?
* Okay so I got a little snotty on this post. Usually when I am commenting on something controversial I try to take a few moments before I actually hit the "Publish Post" button. I rushed this one and came off sounding sort of like a jerk. Anyway, there are some wonderful scientists out there who do not at all fit the generalizations in this post. And while I continue to be dismayed at the way some paleontologists overstate the nature of their evidence this is certainly not true for all.

The Abortion Divide


Commenting in the New York Times on the controversy surrounding President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame University Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes:


In nearly four months in office, President Obama has pursued a careful two-pronged strategy on abortion, enacting policies that secure a woman’s right to the procedure while vowing to move beyond the culture wars that have divided the nation on the issue for more than three decades.

Now, Mr. Obama is suddenly in the thick of the battle he had hoped to transcend, and his delicate balancing act is being put to the test.

The confluence of two events — his commencement speech on Sunday at the
University of Notre Dame, in Indiana, and his forthcoming choice of a candidate to
replace Justice
David H. Souter, who is retiring from the Supreme Court — threaten to upend Mr. Obama’s effort to “tamp down some of the anger” over abortion, as he said in a news conference last month, and to distract from his other domestic priorities, like health care.

The invitation from Notre Dame, a Roman Catholic institution, has riled opponents of abortion, who object to giving such a platform to a supporter of abortion rights. The local bishop has vowed to boycott the ceremony. Some graduating seniors are planning to protest it. Conservatives, frustrated by what they regard as Mr. Obama’s skillful efforts to paint himself as a moderate, are all over the airwaves denouncing him as “the most radical, pro-abortion of any American president,” as
Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker, said on Fox News...

As president, Mr. Obama, who during the campaign answered a question about when human life begins by saying it was “above my pay grade,” has tried to straddle the abortion divide. He has done so partly by reaching out to religious conservatives, partly by avoiding the most contentious legislative battles and partly by reversing the policies of his predecessor,
George W. Bush, a faithful ally of abortion opponents, in piecemeal fashion — all while the nation has been consumed by the economic crisis.

He has named abortion rights advocates to top jobs;
Dawn Johnsen, a former legal director of Naral Pro-Choice America, is his pick to run the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. He has repealed the so-called Mexico City rule, which prohibited tax dollars from going to organizations that provide abortions overseas; lifted Mr. Bush’s limits on embryonic stem cell research; stripped financing for abstinence-only sex education; and is seeking to undo a last-minute Bush regulation giving broad protections to health providers who refuse to take part in abortions.
Read the entire article HERE.


Also, check out this post by Al Mohler


Mr. Obama went on to call for "Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words." In the end, the President's comments were entirely about how Americans should discuss or debate abortion. There was no serious consideration of abortion itself. President Obama merely talked about talking about abortion.

This was a moral evasion and an insult to the importance of the issue. If the President had actually addressed the issue of abortion -- if he had actually even offered a defense or rationale for his own position -- he would have dignified the issue. Instead, Mr. Obama issued what amounted to a call for civility.

When the President called for Americans to agree that, while differing on abortion, "we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually," he failed to make clear why this is so. If the unborn baby is not a person who possesses an intrinsic right to life, why is the decision to abort so "heart-wrenching?" If the fetus is just a collection of cells, why the angst? Furthermore, does the fact that a decision is "heart-wrenching" make it right or rational?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gracia Burnham honored in Washington D.C.

During my years in Wichita I had the blessing of serving as Gracia Burnham's pastor. Gracia was recently in Washington D.C. at the invitation of the Justice Department.
In May 2001, Mrs. Burnham and her husband, Martin, missionaries for more than 15 years with New Tribes Mission in the Philippines, were awakened by armed gunmen affiliated with the terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). The Burnhams were among 20 hostages seized that morning and were held captive for more than a year. Throughout their terrifying ordeal, they exhibited remarkable strength and courage. On June 7, 2002, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines found the terrorists’ encampment, and in the subsequent firefight, Mr. Burnham was killed, and Mrs. Burnham was shot in the leg; but she survived and was rescued. Since that time, she has dedicated herself to pursuing justice against the terrorists who held them captive.

In a recent ceremony in Washington, D.C., Attorney General Eric Holder presented Gracia Burnham with a Special Courage Award, recounting her efforts to protect victims’ rights. The ceremony was a prelude to the nation’s observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 26­–May 2, 2009; nine other individuals and programs were also recognized for their service to crime victims.
Read the entire post HERE.

I would encourage you to read Gracia's moving, heartbreaking, and affirming memoir "In the Presence of My Enemies."

Systematic Theology for Kids!


The Praise Factory is producing some outstanding curriculum for children. The author is Connie Dever whose husband, Mark Dever is the pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C.


Check out The Praise Factory HERE.

Death Is Not Dying


I saw the following posted over at Tom Ascol's sight. Take the time to watch the video. It's worth it.


If you have not seen this video of a talk given by Rachel Barkley then I encourage you to stop reading and watch it now. Rachel is a wife and mother who is dying of cancer. She talks about her life and impending death to a group of ladies in Vancouver. It is a compelling case for the gospel and the sufficiency of God's grace in His Son, Jesus Christ.

John Wesley said, "Our people die well." Indeed, how a person thinks about and faces death is a testimony to his or her faith. As her recommended book list testifies, Rachel Barkley has been helped to face
terminal cancer by sitting at the feet of some of the Lord's most faithful teachers through reading.


Watch the video. Then encourage others to do so, as well. And pray for Rachel and her husband Neil, and their children, Quinn and Kate.

Sunday's Sermon


You can download or listen to the last two Sunday's sermons by clicking HERE. The messages are parts 3 and 4 of our currrent series on Hebrews - "Prophet, Priest, & King" and "The Superiority of Christ."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why Johnny Can't Preach


T. David Gordon of Grove City College appeared recently on the White Horse Inn to discuss his new book "Why Johnny Can't Preach." Professor Gordon suggests that, contrary to what the church growth gurus promised, the medium does effect the message. More specifically the contemporary media culture has had a significant impact on the gospel message and its messengers.


Listen HERE.

A thought on God's sovereignty

If you identify anything or anyone in the universe whose determinitive power and free will trumps the determinitive power and free will of God then worship that because it is God.

Friday, May 15, 2009

U.S. taking on unsustainable debt

From Bloomberg:
President Barack Obama, calling current deficit spending “unsustainable,” warned of skyrocketing interest rates for consumers if the U.S. continues to finance government by borrowing from other countries.

“We can’t keep on just borrowing from China,” Obama said at a town-hall meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, outside Albuquerque. “We have to pay interest on that debt, and that means we are mortgaging our children’s future with more and more debt.”

Holders of U.S. debt will eventually “get tired” of buying it, causing interest rates on everything from auto loans to home mortgages to increase, Obama said. “It will have a dampening effect on our economy.”

Read the entire story HERE.

What the...?

I thought...?

Nevermind.

Friends, this is immoral. We are taking on debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay. We are to blame. We sat by and watched it happen.

Tim Chester's Latest Book


Tim Chester's newest book "The Ordinary Hero" has been released in the UK and will be released in the U.S. soon.


Here's the outline:


Part One: The pardon of the cross – humble confidence
1. How do you know God loves you?
2. Will God’s love stand up in court?
3. Humility
4. Confidence

Part Two: The practice of the cross – sacrificial service
5. The way of Jesus = the way of the cross
6. Everyday martyrdom
7. The value of Jesus
8. The way of the cross = the way of joy

Part Three: The pattern of the cross and resurrection – suffering followed by glory
9. No glory without the cross
10. Bondage followed by liberation
11. Hiddenness followed by revelation
12. Suffering followed by glory

Part Four: The power of the resurrection – power to be weak
13. Resurrection power, freedom and life
14. Power to be weak
15. Freedom to serve, life to die
16. The Spirit of resurrection

Part Five: The promise of the resurrection – adventurous hope
17. A renewed world of life
18. A world of justice, joy and love
19. A world worth living for and a world worth dying for
20. The adventure of hope
Conclusion – My hero of the cross and resurrection

When Church Signs Go Wrong


Thursday, May 14, 2009

What is Song of Songs about?


Over at Reformed Forum Iain Campbell discusses the meaning of Song of Songs. In recent days there has been a number of heated interchanges around the web over some of the ways Song of Songs is preached. Dr. Campbell offers sound insight into the meaning of this oft times misunderstood book.


Listen HERE.

Basics Conference (4)







Check out audio from this year's Basics Conference HERE.

The Church in Recessionary Times

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why I don't preach Mother's Day messages


So, I found out that some are wondering why I did not preach a "Mother's Day sermon" last Sunday.


I'll be brief.


I do not preach Mother's Day messages...

1. for the same reason I do not preach Father's Day, Valentine's Day, Groundhog's Day, Guy Fawkes Day, or Chinese New Year's Day messages.


2. because there is no biblical prescription for Mother's Day.


3. because I am trying to build a pulpit ministry that is characterized by consistent biblical exposition not topical points of interest.


4. because I am obliged to honor God and His Word above all things in the corporate gatherings of His people.


5. because I don't want greeting card companies to dictate sermon content to Christ's church.


6. because I am inclined away from "bandwagonism" and sentimentality.


Al Mohler has posted some great thoughts on Mother's Day:


Christians must resist the reduction of motherhood to sentimentality, and particularly that sentimentalism that undermines what mothers are truly to represent -- nurture, fortitude, courage, dedication, faithfulness, discipline, and trust in God.

Mother's Day is a bad idea because it subverts the reality of faithful mothering and robs faithful mothers of their true glory. Mothers deserving of honor are handed cards and taken to lunch, when songs of praise should instead be offered to the glory of God. Undeserving mothers, who abdicate their true responsibility, are honored just because they are mothers. Children, young and old, who ignore and dishonor their mothers by word and by life throughout the year, assuage their guilt by making a big deal of Mother's Day.

Read the entire post HERE.

Is Capitalism Good?


Unless you have had your head in the sand you have no doubt taken note of the debate over capitalism going on in the U.S. Howard Dean, former head of the DNC recently said in a televised interview that "we have had enough of capitalism in the last eight years." Of course, the federal government grew exponentially larger under President Bush than it did under his Democratic predecessor. The United States is by no means an example of pristine capitalism. There seems to be on the horizon some developing issues that may diminish capitalism in the U.S. to an even greater degree.

So, the goodness or badness of capitalism is a timely question for us.

Justin Taylor has posted on a newly released book which advances the notion that capitalism is a positive good.

For some time now I've been looking forward to the publication of Jay Richards's book, Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem, which has just been published by HarperOne.

Dr. Richards (M.Div.; Union Theological Seminary in Virginia; Th.M.; Calvin Theological Seminary; Ph.D. in philosophy and theology, Princeton Theological Seminary) is a clear writer and a sharp thinker. (His expertise is wide-ranging; a previous book, published by IVP, was a philosophical defense of classical theism; another one was a co-authored defense of intelligent design.)Here are a couple of blurbs for this new book:

"In Money, Greed, and God, Jay Richards has written the definitive case for capitalism, a crisply written and incisive discourse on wealth and poverty, money and morality for the 21st Century."
--George Gilder, co-founder of the Discovery Institute and author of Wealth and
Poverty


"Jay Richards understands the objections to capitalism, and here explains why they do not convince him. The empirical findings revealed in Money, Greed, and God run against those objections."
--Michael Novak, Chair in Religion and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute, author of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
The outline of Dr. Richard's book is based on a series of popular myths:

1. Can't We Build a Just Society? Myth no. 1: The Nirvana Myth (contrasting capitalism with an unrealizable ideal rather than with its live alternatives)

2. What Would Jesus Do? Myth no. 2: The Piety Myth (focusing on our good intentions rather than the unintended consequences of our actions)

3. Doesn't Capitalism Foster Unfair Competition? Myth no. 3: The Zero-sum Game Myth (believing that trade requires a winner and a loser)

4. If I Become Rich, Won't Someone Else Become Poor? Myth no. 3: The Materialist Myth (believing that intellect cannot create new wealth)

5. Isn't Capitalism Based on Greed? Myth no. 4: The Greed Myth (believing that the essence of capitalism is greed)

6. Hasn't Christianity Always Opposed Capitalism? Myth no. 5: The Usury Myth (believing that charging interest on money is always exploitive)

7. Doesn't Capitalism Always Lead to an Ugly Consumerist Culture? Myth no. 7: The Artsy Myth (confusing aesthetic judgments with economic arguments)

8. Are We Going to Use Up All the Resources? Myth no. 8: The Freeze Frame Myth (believing that things always stay the same—for example, assuming population trends will continue indefinitely or treating “rich” and “poor” as static categories)

Conclusion: Working All Things Together for Good

Appendix: Is the "Spontaneous Order" of the Market Evidence of a Universe without Purpose?

Taylor also links to an audio lecture by Dr. Richards (Don’t Just Care – Think: Myths Christians Believe About Wealth and Poverty.) and the following video:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Basics Conference (3)


Click HERE for the John Piper's first two addresses. His address from this morning will be posted later. The first address was a session dealing with the idea that ministers are to labor for the joy of God's people. His second session was from last evening and was a call to preach the doctrine of justification. This morning he gave a terrific message on the doctrine of the new birth.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Inclusive language, Kenny G., and the destruction of worship

I love to read Carl Trueman.

I had to link to his latest post at Reformation 21:
A few years ago I was attending a conference on behalf of the Seminary arranged by an organization which includes in its membership institutions from a wide variety of theological and religious perspectives. As the conference stretched over a weekend, there was a worship service arranged for the Sunday morning. I had wondered whether to attend, not knowing how such a theologically diverse group might come together in such a setting; but I finally decided to do the polite thing and show up; and, I was not disappointed. Indeed, I have been retelling the story at dinner parties ever since.

The service kicked off OK, with a short call to worship. So far so good. Then we sang a hymn. Now, I have a preference for psalms, but the hymn was fine, as far as I remember. It was then that the real fun began. The first Bible reading was from the book of Isaiah. The gentleman apologized at the outset saying that he had been unable to obtain an inclusive language translation of the Bible; but indicated that he would make the necessary changes himself as he read the passage. I confess that, personally, I was quite relieved about that since, for one horrible second, I had imagined I was about to witness the terrifying and distressing marginalization and oppression of over half the people present. But with the necessary substitutions, I was confident that the women around me would feel suitably enfranchised and affirmed.

That's when it all started to go wrong.

Read the entire post HERE.

Basics Conference (2)

The opening day of Basics has been terrific. One of the things I love about this conference is that it is not overwhelmingly large. It usually runs about 600 pastors. I don't have to navigate a downtown maze or pay for parking. It's not held in a large convention center but in a church. It is truly a time to refresh. This year is a bit different because there are 1,500 pastors present. That's what happens when John Piper is one of the speakers.

Piper's first session was excellent. More on that later.

The keynote speaker is a man named John Lennox. I have never heard of Lennox before. He is a brillant appologist. He teaches mathematics at the University of Oxford and is a Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green College. He lectures around the world. He is particularly interested in the intersection of science, philosophy, and theology. His opening address was warm and pastoral. Although a respected intellectual Dr. Lennox communicates humbly and passionately. He has held public debates with Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. The DVD's of those debates (4 in all) are available for purchase.

Check out these resources from John Lennox:
God's Undertaker
Christianity: Opium or Truth?
Debates with Hitchens & Dawkins

Basics Conference


This week I am attending for the seventh year the Basics Conference at Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls, OH. Chagrin Falls is a beautiful town east of Cleveland.


Click HERE for an excellent reading list.

Considering Spurgeon


“If we do not make the Lord Jesus glorious; if we do not lift Him high in the esteem of men…we shall not have the Holy Spirit with us. Vain will be rhetoric, music, architecture, energy and social status: if our design be not to magnify the Lord Jesus, we shall work alone and in vain.”
- C.H. Spurgeon

There are few men that I look to with the same interest and respect as I do Charles Haddon Spurgeon. He was a pastor, preacher, writer, evangelist, teacher, mentor, philanthropist, innovator, thinker, husband, and father. He was and is, in my mind, without peer. I am hopeless to sum up Charles Spurgeon’s life in this limited space. However, I will attempt and feebly so, to highlight a few things that make him a hero to me and a worthy subject for the contemporary church’s consideration.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born into a Christian family in Essex on June 19, 1834. In spite of godly surroundings and the fervent prayers of his mother Charles was not converted to Christ until the age of 16. The knowledge of his own sinfulness weighed heavy upon his young soul. Later, he would write, “I reckoned that the most defiled creature…was a better thing than myself, for I had sinned against Almighty God.” This proper understanding of sin would make Spurgeon an effective preacher of the free grace of God. From his late teens until he was 19 years old (1851-1854) Charles pastored a Baptist church in a small village called Waterbeach. The church grew from 40 to 100 during that time and Spurgeon became convinced that he would spend the rest of his life serving Christ and His church as a preacher of the Gospel.

While still only 19, Spurgeon accepted a call to pastor the historic but dying Park Street Chapel, Baptist congregation in London. The worship center was built to seat 1,200 but saw fewer than 300 in attendance. Within weeks the once almost empty church was overflowing with people eager to hear this young man who preached so fervently. The building was retro-fitted to hold 1,500 but in less than a year that was too small. The decision was made to build a new chapel that would seat 5,000 and have standing room for an additional 1,000. It would be called The Metropolitan Tabernacle. In the days before mega-churches the Metropolitan Tabernacle was a strange sight. “The lad from Cambridge” found himself pastor of the largest church in the world. During Spurgeon’s ministry there, 14,691 people were added to the role, almost 11,000 of which were by conversion and baptism. Thousands of copies of his sermons were mailed out all over the world each week. What an enormous burden for a young pastor to bear. What a temptation toward self-aggrandizement. But Spurgeon maintained a healthy distrust of numeric success. He saw it very much as the exception rather than the rule. In 1887 he wrote, “Long ago I ceased to count heads, truth is usually in the minority in this evil world.”

Spurgeon seemed always to be the target of vicious criticism. This certainly was owing, at least in part, to his prominent voice. After all, Spurgeon was pastor of the largest church in the world and was not shy to offer his opinion. This is not because he enjoyed controversy or was belligerent in any way. Indeed, he loved tranquility and desired to live in unity with his brothers and sisters in Christ. However, Spurgeon’s love for truth and passion for doctrinal precision outweighed all other passions. In the 1860’s he wrote, “Friends chide us and foes abhor us when we are very jealous for the Lord God of Israel, but what do these things matter if the Master approves?...[Be] not dismayed for flesh and blood while you are for the Lord, and for His truth and cause. And howbeit we see truth put to the worse for the time, yet Christ will be a friend to truth, and will act for those who dare hazard all that they have for Him and for His glory.”

Spurgeon’s commitment to the truth was bred within him early on. His father and grand-father were both Congregationalist preachers. When he was only a child, Spurgeon discovered a substantial collection of Puritan writings in the home of his grandfather. The wedding of spiritual fervor and doctrinal clarity championed by the Puritans would mark Spurgeon for the rest of his life. It would fire his preaching and serve as a bulwark through times of sickness, defeat, and controversy. During his life, Spurgeon was often criticized by Arminians and newspaper editorialists because of his high doctrine of God’s sovereignty. On the other hand, he was criticized by “hyper-Calvinists” for his passion for evangelism. Finally, he was criticized and officially censured by the Baptist Union for his stand in what became known as “The Down-Grade Controversy.”

The controversy was sparked by two articles that ran in The Metropolitan Tabernacle’s newsletter, The Sword and the Trowel, called “The Down-Grade”. Spurgeon whole-heartedly endorsed the articles which warned of the downward slide of England’s churches and placed the blame at the feet of preachers and churches that no longer held firmly to the truth. Pastors, who though orthodox themselves, were no longer contending for the truth and in many cases even shared their pulpits with men who outright denied fundamental tenets of biblical Christianity. As evidence of these errors mounted Spurgeon became more outspoken. To those who thought him too stringent Spurgeon wrote, “A little plain speaking would do a world of good right now. These gentlemen desire to be let alone. They want no noise raised…It is time that somebody should spring his rattle, and call attention to the way in which God is being robbed of His glory, and man of his hope.” He went on to call Christians to consider breaking fellowship with those who profess faith in Christ but deny Gospel essentials. “Numbers of easy-minded people wink at error so long as it is committed by a clever man and a good-natured brother, who has so many fine points about him…Under colour of begging friendship of the servant, there are those about who aim at robbing the Master.”

Spurgeon refused to tone down his rhetoric even though many of his brethren pleaded for him to do so. Certainly, he took no pleasure in his difficult duty. “It is no joy to us to bring accusations; it is no pleasure to our heart to seem to be in antagonism with so many.” During this time, Spurgeon’s health problems escalated. Kidney problems and gout caused him severe, debilitating pain. Through it all Spurgeon did not back down in sounding the alarm that the evangelical faith was under serious assault from within. He saw no reason why the Baptist Union should seek to accommodate those pastors who denied essential Christian doctrines such as the authority of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, and the doctrine of hell. “To be very plain, we are unable to call these things Christian Unions, they begin to look like Confederacies in Evil.” On January 13, 1888 Spurgeon met with leadership of the Baptist Union and urged them to adopt an evangelical statement of faith. They refused. In response, he submitted a letter withdrawing from the Union. In the end, the leadership of the Baptist Union, unwilling to stand clearly for truth, accepted his withdrawal and then censured Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Spurgeon hated division. But his conscience was captive to the Word of God and would not permit him to align with anyone who denied gospel essentials. “Nothing has ever more largely promoted the union of the true than the break with the false.” The Down-Grade Controversy broke Spurgeon’s heart and is thought by many to have hastened his death which came on January 31, 1892.

Spurgeon’s funeral was attended by thousands who came to mourn the passing of this contender for truth and winner of souls. The Reverend Archibald Brown spoke these words at the graveside:


“Champion of God thy battle, long and nobly fought, is over; they sword which clave to thy hand, has dropped at last; a palm branch take its place. No longer does the helmet press thy brow, oft weary with its surging thoughts of battle; a victor’s wreath from the great Commander’s hand has already proved thy full reward.


“Here for a little while shall rest thy precious dust. Then shall thy Well-Beloved come; and at His voice thou shalt spring from thy couch of earth, fashioned like unto His body, into glory. Then, spirit, soul, and body shall magnify thy Lord’s redemption. Until then beloved, sleep. We praise God for thee, and by the blood of everlasting covenant, hope and expect to praise God with thee. Amen.”


Books by and about C.H. Spurgeon:
Spurgeon
by Arnold Dallimore – a great place to begin
The Forgotten Spurgeon by Iain Murray – deals primarily with doctrinal distinctives
Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism by Iain Murray - ditto
Lectures To My Students by C.H. Spurgeon – a must for ministers
Morning & Evening by C.H. Spurgeon – wonderful daily devotions