Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Here's All Soul's version:
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,Here's the original text:
What wondrous love is this, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this that brings my heart such bliss,
And takes away the pain of my soul, of my soul,
And takes away the pain of my soul.
When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath my sorrows ground,
Friends to me gathered round, O my soul, O my soul,
Friends to me gathered round, O my soul.
To love and to all friends, I will sing, I will sing,
To love and to all friends I will sing.
To love and to all friends who pain and sorrow mend,
With thanks unto the end I will sing, I will sing,
With thanks unto the end I will sing.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on.
I embrace the term evangelical, if by that we mean a belief that we together can actually work for change in the world, caring for the environment, extending to the poor generosity and kindness, a hopeful outlook. That’s a beautiful sort of thing.
I think we have enough religious people who are going around trying to convert people. My guard is up when somebody is trying to convert me to their thing. Are you talking to me because you actually are interested in this subject, because you care about me as a human, or am I one more possible conversion that will make you feel good about your religiosity? I don’t have any embarrassment about my religion, and it’s not that I’m too cool, but I would hope that the Jesus message would come through, hopefully through a full humanity.
This is what Mark Dever says about it in his annotated bibliography on inerrancy:
I’ve saved the best for last. If I could just recommend one book on the inerrancy of the Bible it would undoubtedly be this one—John Wenham, Christ and the Bible (Tyndale Press, 1972 [UK]; IVP, 1973 [US]). Wenham’s book has been through three editions and makes the simple point that our trust in Scripture is to be a part of our following Christ, because that is the way that He treated Scripture—as true, and therefore authoritative. (Robert Lightner, a professor of Systematic Theology at Dallas Seminary published a similar book a few years later, A Biblical Case for Total Inerrancy: How Jesus Viewed the Old Testament [Kregel, 1978].) Wenham had first put these ideas in print with a little Tyndale pamphlet in 1953 called Our Lord’s View of the Old Testament. In Christ and the Bible, Wenham, who taught Greek for many years at Oxford, an Anglican evangelical, has done us all a great service in providing us with a book which understands that we do not come by our adherence to Scripture fundamentally from the inductive resolutions of discrepancies, but from the teaching of the Lord Jesus. Only because of the Living Word may we finally know to trust the Written Word. May God use these resources of those who’ve gone before us to equip and encourage us in so trusting.
It is a question that came my way recently: will God really condemn good people to hell? And the answer is yes. However, we need to approach the answer with some deliberate sensitivity. First, we need to assert three inviolable truths taught in Scripture:
(1) Hell exists. No matter how distasteful hell may be to think about and talk about, no one spoke about it more than Jesus. Hell, according to Jesus, is a state of eternal, destructive punishment, in which God's punishment is directly experienced. Some Scripture passages of Jesus' include references to hell as a place of weeping and grinding of teeth (Matt. 8:12), of incineration (Matt. 5:22), and torment (Luke 16:23). Appalling? Yes, and it is meant to have that effect upon us - striking with terror at the thought of what could lie ahead outside of God's forgiveness.
(2) Hell is certain for all who reject Jesus Christ. There must be no equivocation here, for Scripture is clear: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes
to the Father except through me" (Jn. 14:6); "there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Speculations about what some call "anonymous Christianity" - that people are saved through Christ's work even if they have never heard of him - have no biblical basis whatsoever.
(3) Hell is a just punishment for sin. Low view of sin leads to questioning the appropriateness of such a drastic punishment as hell. "Good" people are sinners. On the scale of sinfulness, some are less sinful than others, nevertheless, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Truth is, we are all fit for hell unless God's mercy intervenes. We may find this truth harsh, and unremitting. It might offend our civility and sense of worth. But we tamper with Scripture's assessment of the human condition at our peril. To suggest otherwise seriously questions Jesus' competence (he was ignorant of human worth) or morality (knowing otherwise, he continued to frighten us by painting a darker picture than is the case). If Jesus is either of these, he is unworthy of our admiration let alone
This life's decisions are decisive. And our task as Christians is to proclaim the gospel to our fallen, guilty, hell-bent fellows. As Paul said, "I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish... I am eager to preach the gospel to you also ... For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Rom. 1:14-16). And again in Hebrews: "it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment" (Heb. 9:27).
It would be nice to think that hell does not exist, or that men and women may avoid it even if they do not have faith in Jesus Christ. But such thoughts are a delusion and, as J. I. Packer writes: "It is really a mercy to mankind that God in Scripture is so explicit about hell."
Monday, September 28, 2009
Check out the story HERE.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
While an answer to the question of where Baptists came from has yet to reach a widespread consensus among Baptist historians, few of them would be prepared to deny that the immediate origins of the three earliest groups of Baptists—the General Baptist, the Particular Baptists, and the Seventh-day Baptists—lie outside of the matrix of Puritanism. All three of these Baptist groups emerged from the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Puritans, a body of men and women who are remembered, among other things, for their passionate commitment to the doctrinal position known as Calvinism. And of these three groups, it was the Particular Baptists—so denominated because they upheld the Calvinistic assertion that Christ‘s death was solely for the elect—who turned out to be the most significant in passing on Baptist convictions. The General Baptists, who were the first Baptist group to emerge in 1609, mostly wandered off into the wasteland of Unitarianism in the eighteenth century, while the Seventh-Day Baptists, who appeared in the 1650s and who worshipped on Saturday, were never that large a community. The future of the Baptist cause lay with the Particular Baptists.Read the entire article HERE.
The first Particular Baptist congregation was established in 1638. By 1644 there were seven such congregations, all of them located in the metropolis of London, and, after fifteen years of aggressive evangelism on the basis of the First London Confession of Faith, a robust statement of confessional Calvinism, there were roughly 130 Particular Baptist churches throughout the British Isles. From such beginnings and over the next two hundred years, Calvinistic Baptist churches were planted in other Anglophone cultures around the world, becoming particularly strong in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the United States, and Atlantic Canada.
See this catalogue of biblical texts compiled by Nathan Pitchford.
Three helpful studies by Sam Storms Here, Here, and Here.
"Biblical Reflections on Hebrews 6" by John Hendryx Here.
"Perseverance of the Saints" by John MacArthur Here.
"Perseverance of the Saints" by Loraine Boettner Here.
"Final Perseverance" by Charles Spurgeon Here.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Second, humankind: made in God’s image but now totally unable to respond to God or do anything right by reason of sin in their moral and spiritual system. Third, the person and work of Christ: God incarnate, who by dying wrought atonement and who now lives to impart the blessing that flows form his work of atonement.
Fourth, repentance, that is, turning from sin to God, from self-will to Jesus Christ. And fifthly, new community: a new family, a new pattern of human togetherness which results from the unity of the Lord’s people in the Lord, henceforth to function under the one Father as a family and a fellowship.” (44, emphasis added)
Packer, J.I. Serving the People of God: Collected Shorter Writings of J.I. Packer. Vol. 2. Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 1998.
The genesis of this book goes back to a conversation Alister McGrath and I had at Oxford about our friend, J. I. Packer, his influence on us, and the role he has played in the revitalization of evangelicalism as a living tradition within the world Christian movement. We wanted to bring together a symposium where friends, colleagues, and former students could express their gratitude and respect to him on his eightieth birthday, but we knew that Packer, with his natural British (and perhaps also Canadian?) reserve, would balk at the idea. He did. It took some time for us to convince him that this gathering was meant not only to celebrate a life well lived to the glory of God (the life of one, let it be said, who is still going strong and shows no signs of diminishment at age eighty-three), but more importantly to exalt J. I. Packer’s God—the great, awesome, three-personal God of joy and grace, the God of creation and redemption we meet in the pages of the Bible and see most clearly in the face of Jesus Christ...
Despite his charitable spirit and his desire to foster a unitive, irenic evangelicalism, Packer has not been able to avoid the effects of the deep ruptures within the world Anglican Communion. In June 2002 the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster in Vancouver voted to approve the blessing of same-sex unions. Packer, among other synod members, saw this action as a flagrant abandonment of the authority of Scripture and walked out in protest. In February 2008 Packer’s church in Vancouver voted to seek episcopal oversight from an orthodox Anglican bishop. In response to charges brought against them by the bishop in Vancouver, Packer and other evangelical clergy declared their determination to continue their ministry “under the jurisdiction of and in communion with those who remained faithful to historic, orthodox Anglicanism and as part of the Anglican Communion worldwide.”2 In the midst of controversy that continues to unfold, Packer has received acclaim for his courage and commitment in the face of what by all accounts must be considered one of the great tragedies in contemporary church history.
It has been my privilege to know and work closely with J. I. Packer for the past twenty-five years, only a fraction of his long and still amazingly productive career. I have seen him buffeted by adversity and criticized unfairly, but I have never seen him sag. His smile is irrepressible and his laughter can bring light to the most somber of meetings. His love for all things human and humane shines through. His
mastery of ideas and the most fitting words in which to express them is peerless. Ever impatient with shams of all kinds, his saintly character and spirituality run deep. I love to hear him pray. Again and again, he has reminded us that we live our lives coram deo and in the light of eternity. He has taught us that theology is for doxology and devotion, that theology is always at its best “when it is consciously done under the eye of the God of whom it speaks, and when it is singing to his glory."
David Koyzis has written a thoughtful post on why abortion matters more than the other issues.
Yes, health care is important. It is only just that all people have access to the best medical attention possible so they can fulfil their life callings. Similarly, it matters that we protect the environment, because we owe it to future generations whose lives will depend on it. Christians in particular are aware that, as God’s image-bearers, we have been given a stewardship over his earth, which we are to use wisely and carefully. It is indeed necessary that we ensure that all workers be able to feed and clothe their families and to keep a roof over their heads.
Nevertheless, not all issues necessarily have the same import or significance – something the language of morality may mask. In fact, there is a qualitative difference between abortion and the cluster of issues touched on above. In the case of the latter, no one disputes that the environment must be protected; the current debate revolves around how best to do so. Some favour a market-oriented approach, while others are convinced that government must play a central role. Again no one denies the desirability of furnishing the best health care to all citizens. Disagreement arises over whether this is best done through private or public insurance plans. Though Canadians and Americans have taken different paths on the issue, both approaches have their flaws – serious flaws, as it turns out, which illustrates that calling health care a moral issue cannot itself resolve the political debate.
Abortion is different. Here the quarrel is not over the best way to protect the unborn; it is precisely over whether to do so at all. Those believing women should have the right to terminate a pregnancy hold this position despite the presence of the vulnerable child. Those who believe that the unborn deserve protection do so because of the child’s presence. This fundamental disagreement over what is at stake is what sets the abortion issue apart from most others. Proponents of the so-called consistent life ethic generally fail to comprehend this. Such bishops as Denver’s Charles Chaput are right to make a fuss over Catholic politicians who support abortion rights. Abortion is not merely a private opinion; it is a clear matter of justice that needs to be addressed head on.
I know why we do it:
Kids can be noisy.
Parents need a break.
Kids won't really learn anything in "big church."
Ironically, the third reason which is the most frequently used as a justification for not including children in the corporate worship of God's people is by far the most dubious reason. I know that kids can be noisy. I know that parents need a break. But please do not tell me that kids don't learn anything in the corporate gathering of God's people.
Corporate worship provides parents with a unique opportunity in parenting. Where else are kids taught to listen and be still? that the world does not revolve around them? Where else are they exposed to the proclamation of God's Word. Where else are they exposed to the biblical substance and generations worth of wisdom that are reflected in the great hymns of the church? In what other venue are parents and children being taught the same thing and thus given the opportunity to work out the implications together? I remember at the previous church I pastored being asked by a visiting parent (who just discovered that we did not have children's church), "What am I supposed to do with my kids?" I responded as gently as possible, "parent them."
From Joshua at Creed or Chaos:
This division does more harm than good. It teaches children that they are not a vital part of the congregation, which in some churches is sadly true. However, my sense is that most churches value their children. The everyday church’s impulse to provide a place where children will connect with the church and stay with the church for many years to come is noble. But if ministers and parents want their children to connect deeply with the church, then they should stop allowing their children to be sent away during the most important part of the Christian life—the collective worship of the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I am glad that I gather in a church where all the parents are looking for a way to keep their children in the service and where a cooing baby is a blessing. In this environment, my children will grow up feeling important and my guess is that they will stay in the church much longer than they would if they went to Sunday School in lieu of assembling with the whole community. Besides, the gospel is for children too, and there should never be too few in pew.
Read the entire post HERE.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
"Mistakes Pastors Make When Practicing Church Discipline"
1. They fail to teach their congregation what church discipline is and why to practice it.
2. They fail to teach about and practice meaningful membership. This involves cultivating a culture of personal discipleship and involvement in one another’s lives in which people transparently confess sin to one another. This also involves failing to adequately teach what membership is, as well as having a clear list of who is a member of the church and who is not.
3. They fail to teach their congregation about biblical conversion, especially the need for repentance. A congregation that doesn’t understand the role of repentance in the Christian life will have difficulty understanding why they need to discipline someone who is not repenting of sin.
4. They fail to teach new members as they enter the church about the possibility and circumstances for church discipline.
5. They fail to teach new members as they enter the church that the church may not grant a pre-emptive resignation from a person trying to avoid discipline. That misses the point of Matthew 18:15-20. Also, the nature of a church covenant requires the church’s consent to both enter into and leave the membership of the church.
6. They fail to ensure the church’s public documents (by-laws, constitution, articles of incorporation, etc.) address the procedures of church discipline, thereby exposing the church to legal risk.
7. They fail to follow the steps of Matthew 18 or 1 Corinthians 5, depending the circumstance. In a Matthew 18 situation, for instance, they fail to begin the process by confronting sin privately.
8. They don’t give adequate time to the process of moving through the various steps of Matthew 18. For instance, they move so quickly from step to step, that they don’t give the sinner adequate time to be reasoned with and shepherded toward repentance.
9. They call for the congregation to act too quickly. For instance, they fail to insert any time in between “tell it to the church” and “if he does not listen to the church, treat him as a pagan or tax collector.” Except in situations of a public scandalous sin of a 1 Corinthians 5 variety which do call for immediate removal, leaders should give the congregation time to both digest the information and to pursue the unrepentant sinner themselves.
10. They treat the processes of church discipline entirely as a legal process with little consideration for shepherding the unrepentant individual’s heart.
11. They give little attention to the differences between kinds of sinners and how that might affect how long we should bear with a pattern of sin before proceeding to subsequent stages of discipline (see 1 Thessalonians 5:14).
12. They forget that they too live by the gospel’s provision of mercy, and therefore prosecute the discipline from a posture of self-righteousness. Other mistakes follow from this wrong posture, such as an overly severe tone and stand-offishness.
13. They fail to truly love the sinner…
14. …and beg the Lord for his or her repentance.
15. They demand too much from a smoldering wick or bruised reed. In other words, they stipulations for repentance and restoration are too high for this one who has been deeply enslaved in sin’s grip.
16. They fail to properly instruct the congregation on how to interact with the unrepentant sinner, such as how to relate to them in social situations and how to pursue their repentance.
17. They fail to invite the discipline individual to continue attending services of the church so that they might continue to hear God’s Word (except in situations where the unrepentant sin is a severe threat to the church). Also, they fail to inform the church that everyone should hope for the disciplined individual to continue attending.
18. Putting the responsibility for leading discipline entirely on the shoulders of one man, the senior pastor. Doing so will tempt individuals in the church to accuse the senior pastor of personally vindictive. Such a charge is harder to make when a recommendation for discipline comes from an entire body of elders.
19. They fail to have sufficient elder involvement in the congregation’s life, such they are unaware of the state of the sheep. This failure of formative discipline will inevitably weaken the church’s ability to do corrective discipline well.
20. They fail to teach God’s Word on a weekly basis.
21. They allow the congregation to approach the case of discipline with a wrongful spirit of retribution, rather than with the loving desire to warn the unrepentant sinner about God’s ultimate retribution to come.
22. They pursue discipline on non-biblical grounds (playing cards, dancing, etc.).
23. They pursue discipline for any other reason than for the good of the individual, the good of the church, the good of the onlooking community, and the glory of Christ.
My conviction is that Scripture clearly teaches the historicity of Adam.
James Anderson has posted an excellent response to Dr. Longman by offering 12 "prima facie reasons why an evangelical view commits one to the existence of Adam as a real historical individual."
1. On the face of it, the basic literary genre of Genesis 1-4 is that of historical narrative (as opposed to, e.g., poetry, legal code, or apocalypse). This isn’t to say that these chapters can contain no figurative language; many conservative OT scholars would readily grant that they do. But it does imply that these chapters (like the rest of Genesis) are intended by the author to report important events within historical space-time. As such, there should be a strong presumption that the Adam of chapters 1-4 is no less a real historic figure than, say, the Abraham of chapters 12-25.Read the rest of Anderson's reasons HERE.
2. The first five verses of Genesis 5 not only describe events in Adam’s life, they attaches specific numerical dates to those events. This is passing strange if the author didn’t consider Adam to be a real historical figure. (This point applies equally to the human author and to the divine author!) For example, we’re told that Adam lived 930 years. Why would one make what seems to be precise factual statement about the lifespan of a certain individual if the individual in question never actually lived? (Cf. Gen. 25:17; 50:26; Num. 33:39; Deut. 34:7; Josh. 24:29; etc.)
3. The author of Genesis presents the book as a seamless historical account. There is no obvious shift from non-historical narrative to historical narrative. Rather, we’re presented with a series of narrative sections, each introduced with some variant of the formula, “These are the generations of . . .” (Gen. 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1, 9; 37:2). The implication is that Adam and Eve were no less historical figures than Noah, Shem, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Esau, and Jacob.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Edwards risked more than his career or his party or even his country. He risked, if the stories are true, his little daughter’s very identity.Read the entire article HERE
And that’s where it matters to us. Because no matter how many jokes are made about the “Brek Girl candidate,” we’re all vulnerable here.
We know from the Bible that a child learns who he or she is in relation to his or her father. That’s why persons in the scriptural story are known as “Joshua son of Nun” or “John son of Zebedee.”
Our personal identities are shaped after a cosmic pattern, a Father from whom fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named (Eph 3:14-15). We reflect a Father-Son dynamic in which a Father God announces “you are my Son, this day I have begotten you” (Psalm 2:7).
That’s why Jesus’ Kingdom ministry doesn’t start with a display of sovereignty but with an announcement of paternity. As Jesus comes up out of the waters of Jordan, he hears “You are my beloved Son, and with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
Every child is made to hear this from his parents, to be acknowledged, to be loved, and to find an identity in that.
This is threatened in our churches, and not by John Edwards. It’s threatened by generations of men, including evangelical Christians, who are just as willing to sacrifice a child’s identity for the sake of what we want.
From the Publisher:
In his well-received Christless Christianity Michael Horton offered a prophetic wake-up call for a self-centered American church. With The Gospel-Driven Life he turns from the crisis to the solutions, offering his recommendations for a new reformation in the faith, practice, and witness of contemporary Christianity. This insightful book will guide readers in reorienting their faith and the church's purpose toward the good news of the gospel. The first six chapters explore that breaking news from heaven, while the rest of the book focuses on the kind of community that the gospel generates and the surprising ways in which God is at work in the world. Here is fresh news for Christians who are burned out on hype and are looking for hope.
"Mike Horton has once again hit the nail on the head. With engaging clarity he demonstrates that the gospel is not just for non-Christians; it's for Christians too. In compelling ways he shows that the gospel doesn't just ignite the Christian life; it's the fuel that keeps Christians going every day. Horton's book is a flavorsome reminder that in order for Christians to make a difference in this world, we must be driven by something otherworldly--namely, the gospel."
- Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and author of Unfashionable
Sunday, September 20, 2009
“I cannot think of a young evangelical writer and theologian whose works I more eagerly read than Carl Trueman.”
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
The geneticist, assuming Karen would undergo an amniocentesis to determine if our baby had DS, calmly informed us that at that time we could "choose to abort" if the tests were positive. Well, he said the wrong thing to the wrong pregnant woman. While I sat there dismayed my wife leaned forward, fixed her eyes firmly on the doctor and with her best "now you listen and listen good" tone of voice said, "This is our baby and we will love her no matter what is wrong." The conviction in her words and across her face made his nonchalance all the more profane. Her words may well have bounced off the doctor but they resonated in my troubled mind. I knew in that moment it would be alright regardless of the outcome.
Interestingly (providentially?) that same evening we attended a Michael Card concert in Kansas City. At one point Michael shared about a child with Downs Syndrome in the church to which he belonged in Tennessee. He told of the joys that child gave not only to his parents but to those within the fellowship of believers. He lamented the reality that because of abortion fewer of those beloved little ones would be given life outside the womb. What is more, sitting in the row directly in front of Karen and I was family that had a young child with Downs Syndrome. It made for a profound evening and God comforted us with the truth that He was the author of life and would give us a fearfully and wonderfully made child.
We chose not to have an amniocentesis because of the risk of miscarriage. So until that afternoon in April of 1994 we did not know exactly what the outcome would be. All we knew is that we would treat the child God gave us with love and dignity.
In His wisdom God gave us a perfectly healthy little girl. We are thankful for that. But we also know that had she had Downs Syndrome she would have been no less loved or valued.
Al Mohler has written an important post on the disappearance of children with Downs Syndrome due to the abominable practice of abortion.
The new research is based on work by Dr. Brian Skotko, a clinical genetics fellow at Children's Hospital Boston. Skotko, who has a sister with Down syndrome, asks this haunting question: "As new tests become available, will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear?"Read the entire post HERE.
His research reveals deeply troubling trends. Between 1989 and 2005, births of babies with Down syndrome decreased by 15 percent. As Science Daily explains, "In the absence of prenatal testing, researchers would have expected the opposite -- a 34 percent increase in births -- due to the trend of women waiting longer to have children; known to increase the chances of having a baby with Down syndrome."
In an article published in 2005, Skotko argued that doctors are often ill-prepared to discuss the diagnosis of Down syndrome with their pregnant patients. Chillingly, he also revealed that a significant percentage of the doctors "reported that they 'emphasize' the negative aspects of DS so that patients would favor a termination."
With the new technologies of prenatal diagnosis so close on the horizon, Skotko now sees a "true collision" on its way. "More women will be going through the testing process, which could lead to a lot of difficult, uncomfortable conversations between physicians and expectant patients."
The reason for the decrease in the number of babies born with Down syndrome comes into clearer focus when The Washington Post cites Skotko's research indicating that 92 percent of women who learn they are carrying a baby with Down syndrome choose to abort the pregnancy. That is more than nine out of ten.
1. The good news of God’s substituting his Son for us on the cross depends on it.
“Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:27-28)
2. The perseverance of the saints in the fear of God depends on it.
“I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” (Jeremiah 32:40)
3. Progress in holiness now, and the final perfecting of the saints in the end, depends on it.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
“But you have come to Mount Zion . . . and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:22-23)
4. The assurance of God’s final triumph over all natural and supernatural evil depends on it.
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
5. The comfort that there is a wise and loving purpose in all our calamities and loses, and that God will work all things together for our good, depends on it.
“Though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love. . . . Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (Lamentations 3:32-38)
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
6. The hope that God will give life to the spiritually dead depends on it.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
7. Well-grounded expectation of answered prayer depends on it.
“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1)
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. . . . For the promise is for . . . everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39)
8. Boldness in the face of seeming hopeless defeat depends on it.
“Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” (2 Samuel 10:12)
“Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him.” (2 Chronicles 32:7)
9. Seeing and savoring the revelation of the fullness of God’s glory depends on it.
“But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ . . . What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power . . . [acted] in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy?” (Romans 9:20-23)
10. Praise that matches the fullness of God’s power, wisdom, and grace depends on it.
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. . . . We will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 115:3, 18)
“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.” (Psalm 96:4)
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is an anchor for the troubled soul, a hope for the praying heart, a stability for fragile faith, a confidence in pursuing the lost, a guarantee of Christ’s atonement, a high mystery to keep us humble, and a solid ground for all praise. And oh so much more. O Lord, turn this truth for the triumph of your saving and sanctifying grace.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The Walk is a book written to those who have expressed a desire to follow Christ as his disciple. It assumes no prior understanding of what that means, nor does it assume that the person has actually come to a point of professing faith. It uses as a starting point someone who is simply wondering, “what next?”. Stephen also addresses those who have grown up “Christian” and may be wondering how to step out in their own faith. The Walk is designed to be used as much as read. It will be helpful to someone who wants to read on their own, but also includes readings and projects that will make it useful as a workbook for that individual, in a mentor relationship, or for use in groups. The division into twelve chapters is ideal for a typical Sunday School quarter.
- Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City
Also by Stephen Smallman:
In an article for Christianity Today Dinesh D'Souza reflects on some questions raised at a fundraiser he recently attended. He suggests that the tenacity of abortion has something to do with the lasting success of the sexual revolution.
The consensus among those gathered at the fundraiser was that the pro-life movement needs to educate more Americans about the grim reality of abortion. As one guest told me, "Most American women who go in for abortions simply don't realize that the unborn are human persons with rights." I disagree; I believe most women know this instinctively. But even if they don't know this or are unsure, they still have to weigh the risks of the procedure. And in a case of this importance, a case involving life and death, one has to give the unborn the benefit of the doubt. If a hunter sees something move behind a branch and isn't sure whether it's an animal or a human, is it reasonable for him to go ahead and shoot?
Factor in politics, and the mystery deepens. It seems bizarre that many who claim the political virtue of compassion are champions of abortion rights. These people are able to cry tears for just about every vulnerable group in the world. They feel the pain of the seals, they grieve over sex trafficking in Asia, and they are worried about the plight of children in Darfur. They react with genuine indignation and mobilize to take action. Why, then, do the unborn persons in their own communities not usually inspire a similar compassionate response?
The pro-choice slogan offers no explanation, because the legitimacy of "choice" depends on what is being chosen. Abraham Lincoln exposed this argument a century and a half ago. He argued that if Negroes are hogs, then there can be no question that people have the choice to buy and sell them. On the other hand, Lincoln said, if Negroes are human beings, then how can slave owners invoke "choice"—thus denying choice to other humans? In sum, choice cannot be defended without regard to the content of what's being chosen.
Why then, in the face of its bad arguments, does the pro-choice movement continue to prevail legally and politically?
I think it's because abortion is the debris of the sexual revolution. We have seen a great shift in the sexual mores of Americans in the past half-century. Today a widespread social understanding persists that if there is going to be sex outside marriage, there will be a considerable number of unwanted pregnancies. Abortion is viewed as a necessary clean-up solution to this social reality.
In order to have a sexual revolution, women must have the same sexual autonomy as men. But the laws of biology contradict this ideology, so feminists who have championed the sexual revolution—Simone de Beauvoir, Gloria Steinem, Shulamith Firestone, among others—have found it necessary to denounce pregnancy as an invasion of the female body. The fetus becomes, in Firestone's phrase, an "uninvited guest." As long as the fetus occupies the mother's womb, these activists argue, the mother should be able to keep it or get rid of it at her discretion.
If you're going to make an omelet, the Marxist revolutionaries used to say, you have to be ready to break some eggs. And if you're going to have a sexual revolution, you
have to be ready to clean up the debris. After 35 years, the debris has become a mountain, and as a society, we are still adding bodies to the heap. No one in the pro-choice camp, of course, wants to admit any of this. It's not only politically embarrassing, it's also painful to one's self-image to acknowledge a willingness to sustain permissive sexual values by killing the unborn.
Read the entire article HERE.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
"And though we've made progress, there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes, who fail to see your families like their families, and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted."
- President Barack Obama
speaking at a homosexual pride event at the White House
The unchurched don't need the Bible...
"My messages will be very light on Scripture. They'll be stories, primarily, with lessons. They'll be biblical concepts, but my platform on the 'Hour of Power' and the cathedral on Sunday mornings is as an outreach to the unchurched."
- Sheila Schuller Coleman, who will take over at the Crystal Cathedral for her father Robert Schuller.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I’m sure many of our readers have seen or heard about Michael Spenser’s article, picked up in the Christian Science Monitor, “The Coming Evangelical Collapse.” I strongly agree with his overall perspective, while perhaps quibbling on some details. Michael Bell has followed up with some useful statistical analysis here, largely confirming the thesis. If we ask, why is evangelical America collapsing, there are a number of reasons which all amount to its abandonment of biblical Christianity in any meaningful form. But the most revealing statistics may be those that pertain to parenting. Not long ago I saw a study stating that 88% of evangelical youths abandon the faith by the time they leave college. Whatever evangelical faith is, it must not be very impressive if we can only pass it on to 12% of our own children. More recently, I saw this study, that shows that only 14% of evangelical parents consider faith in Christ to be a significant success indicator for their children. Well, there it is folks! Evangelical churches are not distinctively Christian and evangelical parents are not evidently Christian, so what a surprise that “a generation arose in Israel that did not know the Lord” (Jud. 2:10).
From Al Mohler:
The Wall Street Journal may be an unusual venue for theological debate, but this past weekend's edition featured just that -- a theological debate of sorts. The "of sorts" is a necessary qualifier in this instance, because The Wall Street Journal's debate was not, as advertised, a debate between an atheist and a believer. Instead, it was a debate between two different species of atheists.
The paper's "Weekend Journal" section front page for the September 12-13, 2009 edition featured articles by Richard Dawkins and Karen Armstrong set in opposing columns. The paper headlined the feature as "Man vs. God: Two Prominent Thinkers Debate Evolution, Science, and the Role of Religion." Well, the feature at least looked interesting.
Dawkins, after all, is probably the world's most famous atheist. At the same time (and not coincidentally, he would insist) he is also the world's foremost defender of Darwin and evolutionary theory. Karen Armstrong is a popularizer of works on world religion. She takes a basically benign view of religion, arguing that the different religions of the world are avenues toward the same quest for meaning. A former nun, she has written several books on themes and figures related to Islam, and she is a critic of what she terms "fundamentalist" religion. She is a critic of "fundamentalism" on whom the media can depend for comment.
The paper presented the articles by Dawkins and Armstrong in an interesting format. The article by Dawkins is headlined, "Evolution Leaves God with Nothing to Do." Armstrong's essay is headlined, "We Need to Grasp the Wonder of Our Existence."
Predictably, Dawkins begins his article with Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. Evolution, Dawkins claims, has simply displaced God. "Evolution is the universe's greatest work. Evolution is the creator of life, and life is arguably the most surprising and most beautiful production that the laws of physics have ever generated," he asserts. Quoting a T-shirt, Dawkins insists that evolution "is the greatest show on earth, the only game in town." As for God, evolution just renders deity a useless and vacuous concept. "Where does that leave God?," Dawkins asks. "The kindest thing to say is that it leaves him with nothing to do, and no achievements that might attract our praise, our worship or our fear."
Evolution, he continues (presumably less kindly), "is God's redundancy notice, his pink slip." God, who never existed in the first place, has now been fired.
As the Washington Post reports:
"If you've ever wondered why conservative evangelical Chrisitans seem so concerned about the dangers of government intervention in our lives, read a recent New Hampshire court ruling that 10-year-old Amanda -- who has been home schooled by her religiously conservative mother since first grade -- must now attend public school."
Read the entire article HERE.
Check out THIS STORY from The Wall Street Journal about Amanda and another girl who fled to Florida from Ohio after becoming a Christian because her Muslim father threatened to kill her.
Also, THIS EPISODE of the Al Mohler Radio Program is dedicated to the homeschooling case from New Hampsire. Take time to listen.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
When you have a chance take time to listen to the audio or read the transcript of Dr. Piper's message HERE.