Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sunday's Sermon

On Sunday I preached part 8 in our current series through Philippians. It is entitled "Living Worthy of the Gospel" and can be listened to or downloaded HERE.

I Really Need a Trip to this Place...

Lanier Theological Library

The Lanier Theological Library was founded by one the top attorneys in the country and is located very near the church in which I grew up.

Don't Deny Muslims The Son...

It is evangelistically disastrous when, in an effort to reach Muslims, references to Jesus as "the Son of God" are removed from New Testaments. To tamper with the Sonship of Jesus is to undermine such essential doctrines as the Trinity, the incarnation, the deity of Christ, the humanity of Christ, the atonement, etc. And yet amazingly there are major players within evangelicalism and missions who are advancing this deadly tactic.

Here are a few helpful links:

"Forty-Year-Old Light on How to Translate 'Son of God' for Muslims" by John Piper

The Bible for Muslims - A Difficult Strategy

More on Bible Translations to the Muslims

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Pastor

From The Blazing Center:

The absolute, most important, best thing that you can do for your pastor is to pray for him.

I was freshly reminded of that fact this morning when I read 2 Corinthians 1:11 - "You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many."

This is Paul talking. The apostle. The dude who wrote a significant portion of the New Testament. The guy who got blindsided by Jesus on Damascus Road. The guy who had the whole “taken up to the third heaven and seeing things too glorious for words” experience. This isn’t a little ol’ Average Pastor With Minimal Gifting. We are talking about THE Apostle Paul who studied under THE Gamaliel. If anyone could feel sure of his ministry success it was Paul. I would expect Paul to say, “I am confident of my success in the Lord, but your prayers would also be helpful.”

But that’s not what Paul says. He says, “You also MUST help us by prayer.” There’s a hint of desperation in his voice. He is pleading for the prayers of the Corinthians. Why? Why does Paul feel such a deep need for the prayers of others?

Because he knows that the depth of his fruitfulness hinges on the prayers of others. He knows that he will not be successful unless he is propelled forward by the prayers of the saints.

That’s why he says that many will give thanks for the blessing granted through the prayers of many. In other words, Paul is expecting people to be grateful to God for his ministry and for the blessings that they have received through his ministry. But how did those blessings come about in the first place? Through the prayers of Paul’s friends! Paul’s ministry was fruitful because others were praying for him.

Your pastor desperately needs your prayers. I desperately need the prayers of the people in my church. The best thing that a person can do for me is pray on my behalf. The more people pray for me, the more fruitful my ministry will be.

So how can you pray for your pastor? Here are a few practical ways:

Pray that they will have spiritual and emotional endurance. Being a pastor is a wonderful job, but it can also be a very draining job. I need endurance to continue working with joy.

Pray that they will have rich fellowship with the Lord. The pastor’s power comes from the Lord. I need God to meet me and refresh week after week.

Pray that your pastor will be protected from temptation. If Satan can take down a shepherd, the sheep are much more vulnerable. I need the Lord to protect me from the temptations of pride, greed, lust, impatience, and a host of other sins.

Pray that your pastor will preach with power. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, a sermon will be nothing more than an eloquent boatload of crap. I need the Holy Spirit to put power behind my words.
I cannot more urgently endorse those words. Any pastor is a fool who is not yet convinced of his desperate need for the prayers of God's people. When asked by people, "How can I pray for you?" (A beautiful question, by the way) my answer is usually the same: "Pray for me the way you pray for yourself. I'm a husband, father, and sinner. Also pray for me with reference to Paul's words in 2 Corinthians when he classified 'the anxiety of caring for the churches' alongside things like Roman scourging, being beaten with rods, being stoned and shipwrecked."

There is nothing more vital you can do for your pastor than pray for him as if his life depends on it, for it does.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

To Suffer Rightly...

I was made to see that if ever I would suffer rightly, I must first pass a sentence of death upon everything that can be properly called a thing of this life, even to reckon myself, my wife, my children, my health, my enjoyment, and all, as dead to me, and myself as dead to them. The second was, to live upon God that is invisible.
John Bunyan from Grace Abounding To The Chief Of Sinners

Assume Not...

Certainly Jesus' words, "Judge not, that you be not judged" (Matt 7:1) are among the more misunderstood and misapplied words in Scripture. Nevertheless, Jesus is telling something vital.

Kevin DeYoung weighs in with a thoughtful post:

Too many people, non-Christian and Christian, take Jesus’ words to be a blanket rejection of all moral evaluation. But given that Jesus alludes to his opponents as dogs and pigs five verses later, it’s safe to think Jesus wasn’t condemning every kind of judgment. We see from the rest of the Gospel that Matthew 7:1 is not inconsistent with strong criticisms, negative statements, church discipline, and warnings about hell. Judgmentalism is not the same as making ethical and doctrinal demands or believing others to be wrong.

And yet, after all the necessary qualifications, we must not mute this important command. As sinners, we are apt to assume the worst about people. We are eager to find favorable comparisons that make ourselves look good at the expense of others. We are quick to size people up and think we have them figured them out. But I have learned over the years–both as the giver and receiver of judgmental assumptions–that it’s best not to assume.

Don’t assume you know all the facts after hearing one side of the story.

Don’t assume the person is guilty just because strong charges are made against him.

Don’t assume you understand a blogger’s heart after reading one post.

Don’t assume that famous author, preacher, athlete, politician, or local celebrity won’t read what you write and don’t assume they won’t care what you say.

Don’t assume the divorced person is to blame for the divorce.

Don’t assume the single mom isn’t following Jesus.

Don’t assume the guy from the Mission is less of a man or less of a Christian.

Don’t assume the pastor looking for work is a bad pastor.

Don’t assume the church that struggles or fails is a bad church.

Don’t assume you’d be a better mom.

Don’t assume bad kids are the result of bad parents.

Don’t assume your parents are clueless.

Don’t assume everyone should drop everything to attend to your needs, and don’t assume no one will.

Don’t assume the rich are ungenerous.

Don’t assume the poor are lazy.

Don’t assume you know what they are all like after meeting one or two of their kind.

Don’t assume you should read between the lines.

Don’t assume you have interpreted the emotions of the email correctly.

Don’t assume everyone has forgotten about you.

Don’t assume they meant to leave you off the list.

Don’t assume everyone else has a charmed life.

Don’t assume a bad day makes her a bad friend.

Don’t assume the repentance isn’t genuine.

Don’t assume the forgiveness isn’t sincere.

Don’t assume God can’t change you.

Don’t assume God can’t love you.

Don’t assume God can’t love them.

"Strengthen Your Weak Knees

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees," (Heb 12:4-12).
In his outstanding book How Long O Lord? D.A. Carson comments on this passage:
1. The context shows that the discipline the author has in mind is designed to help Christians combat sin.
2. The author designates the cited passage from Proverbs as a "word of encouragement."
3. This discipline is for our good.
4. This is so much a part of God's way with his people that if any live without God's discipline in their lives their status as the children of God is called into question.
5. No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Carl Trueman on the Trinity

Given some recent goings on among prominent evangelicals it is clear that the doctrine of the Trinity still needs clarity and defending. To lose clarity on the Trinity is to lose clarity on the gospel itself. Recently Carl Trueman gave a series of lectures on this vital tenet of biblical faith. I would encourage you to take time to listen.

AJM11 Carl Trueman Session 1 from The Proclamation Trust on Vimeo.

AJM11 Carl Trueman Session 2 from The Proclamation Trust on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A False Antithesis

Sound biblical exegesis and systematic theology are not enemies. Indeed, they are friends.

From Kevin DeYoung:

Systematic theology looks at the whole Bible and tries to understand all that God says on a given subject (e.g., sin, heaven, angels, justification). Exegesis is what you do when you look at a single text of Scripture and try to understand what the author–speaking in a specific culture, addressing to a specific audience, writing for a specific purpose–intended to communicate.

Good systematic theology will be anchored in good exegesis. The sum of the whole is only as true as the individual parts. No Christian should be interested in constructing a big theological system that grows out of a shallow and misinformed understanding of the smaller individual passages. I don’t know of any evangelical pastor or scholar who disagrees with these sentiments.

But what about the reverse? We all know exegesis should inform systematic theology, but should our theological systems also inform our exegesis?Some Christians, especially biblical scholars, have argued that the best exegesis is completely theologically unprejudiced. We can’t bring our theological concerns to the Bible, lest we gerrymander the Scriptures and impose anachronistic categories on the text. The unspoken (or spoken) assumption is that the traffic between exegesis and theology is one way. Biblical scholars do their work, and as long as theologians pay attention to professional exegesis they can go on and do their own work. But the task of exegesis, it is often implied and sometimes explicitly said, has little to gain from listening to the theologians.

This insistence on making the path between exegesis and theology a one way street is untenable and unwise. Pastors, scholars, and lay interpreters would do well to heed the counsel of Moises Silva:

In contrast [to this one way street], I want to argue not only that the exegete may address theological issues and suggest what bearing the text may have on theological reflection–I go a daring step further: my systematic theology should actually inform my exegesis. To put it in the most shocking way possible, my theological system should tell me how to exegete. (Interpreting Galatians, 207)

Read the entire article HERE.

Does prophecy continue?

A debate between Wayne Grudem and Ian Hamilton:

EMA 2010: discussion about prophecy from The Proclamation Trust on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Teaching the Bible to Children

From Sally Lloyd-Jones:

When I go into churches and speak to children I ask them two questions:

First, How many people here sometimes think you have to be good for God to love you? They tentatively raise their hands. I raise my hand along with them.

And second, How many people here sometimes think that if you aren't good, God will stop loving you? They look around and again raise their hands.

These are children in Sunday schools who know the Bible stories and probably all the right answers, and yet they have somehow missed the most important thing of all.

They have missed what the Bible is all about.

They are children like I once was.

As a child, even though I was a Christian, I grew up thinking the Bible was filled with rules you had to keep (or God wouldn't love you) and with heroes setting examples you had to follow (or God wouldn't love you).

I tried to be good. I really did. I was quite good at being good. But however hard I tried, I couldn't keep the rules all the times so I knew God must not be pleased with me.

And I certainly couldn't ever be as brave as Daniel. I remember being tormented by that Sunday school chorus "Dare to Be a Daniel" because, hard as I tried to imagine myself daring to be a Daniel, being thrown to lions and not minding . . . who was I kidding? I knew I'd be terrified out of my skull.

How could God ever love me?

I was sure he couldn't because I wasn't doing it right.

Breaking Spells One Sunday, not long ago, I was reading the story of "Daniel and the Scary Sleepover" from The Jesus Storybook Bible to some 6-year-olds during a Sunday school lesson. One little girl in particular was sitting so close to me she was almost in my lap. Her face was bright and eager as she listened to the story, utterly captivated. She could hardly keep on the ground and kept kneeling up to get closer to the story.

At the end of the story there were no other teachers around, and I panicked and went into automatic pilot and heard myself---to my horror---asking, "And so what can we learn from Daniel about how God wants us to live?"

And as I said those words it was as if I had literally laid a huge load on that little girl. Like I broke some spell. She crumpled right in front of me, physically slumping and bowing her head. I will never forget it.

It is a picture of what happens to a child when we turn a story into a moral lesson.

When we drill a Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it all about us. But the Bible isn't mainly about us, and what we are supposed to be doing---it's about God, and what he has done!

When we tie up the story in a nice neat little package, and answer all the questions, we leave no room for mystery. Or discovery. We leave no room for the child. No room for God.

And that's why I wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible. So children could know what I didn't:

That the Bible isn't mainly about me, and what I should be doing. It's about God and what he has done.

That the Bible is most of all a story---the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

That---in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost him---God won't ever stop loving his children . . . with a wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

That the Bible, in short, is a Story---not a Rule Book---and there is only one Hero in the Story.

I wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible so children could meet the Hero in its pages. And become part of His Magnificent Story.

Because rules don't change you.

But a Story---God's Story---can.


Editors' Note: The new Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sam Shammas contains 44 lessons revealing how Jesus is the center of each Bible story and how every story whispers his name. It includes activities, notes for teachers based on material from Timothy Keller, memory verses, handouts for children, a hardcover copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible, and three audio CDs containing David Suchet's reading.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sunday's Sermon

On Sunday I preached part seven in the current series through Philippians. It is entitled How to Live When Dying is Gain and can be listened to or downloaded HERE.

Lloyd-Jones on "Spiritual Depression"

Martyn Lloyd-Jones' classic Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure has been published in a new edition which includes a CD of the Dr's sermons on the topic. If you have never read this excellent work it would be worth your time.

Check out Dan Phillips' review HERE.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Resting in the Righteousness of Christ

The gospel encourages me to rest in my righteous standing with God, a standing in which Christ Himself has accomplished and always maintains for me. I never have to do a moment's labor to gain or maintain my justified status before God! Freed from the burden of such a task, I now can put my energies into enjoying God, pursuing holiness, and ministering God's amazing grace to others.

The gospel also reminds me that my righteous standing with God always holds firm regardless of my performance, because my standing is based solely on the work of Jesus and not mine. On my worst days of sin and failure, the gospel encourages me with God's unrelenting grace toward me. On my best days of victory and usefulness, the gospel keeps me relating to God solely on the basis of Jesus' righteousness and not mine.
From A Gospel Primer

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Carl Trueman is an excellent ebooklet on the nature of evangelicalism and the necessity of clear confessions of faith. Anyone interested in the state of the church and the importance of doctrinal unity ought to read it.

Get Registered for The Science and Faith Conference

April 14, 2012

Early-bird registration for the Westminster Conference on Science
and Faith closes on March 16th. Register now before the discount ends!

The third annual Conference on Science and Faith will be held on April 14th, 2012, at the
ACE Conference Center in the greater Philadelphia area.

Speakers include Westminster professors Rev. Dr. Vern Poythress, Rev. Dr. David Garner, Rev. Dr. K. Scott Oliphint, and Rev. Dr. William Edgar; as well as CCEF counselors Dr. Edward Welch and Dr. Michael Emlet. Early-bird registration runs now until March 16th.

Click here for more information and to register.

Reading the Bible the Jesus way...

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
- Luke 24:27

Great Reads
The Unfolding Mystery by Edmund Clowney

God's Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts

One Lord, One Plan, One People by Rodger Crooks

Bible Overview by Steve Levy

How To Read The Bible Through The Jesus Lens by Michael Williams

From Eden To The New Jerusalem by T. Desmond Alexander

Great Series!
The Gospel According to the Old Testament

Up for a Challenge?
The Goldsworthy Trilogy by Graham Goldsworthy
Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics by Graham Goldsworthy
God-Centered Biblical Interpretation by Vern Poythress

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Serious Gospel Exposition

Carl Trueman writing of Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

We have leaders with a lot of swagger and `street cred’; Lloyd-Jones had gravitas and did not care to be cool. Lloyd-Jones may have been less than clear on what he wanted in 1966, but he always had complete clarity about the gospel and little time for trendy diversions. We have leaders whose politeness too often creates an atmosphere of ambiguity and uncertainty; Lloyd-Jones spoke on doctrinal issues with unerring clarity. He was obviously a serious man of conviction with a seriously convicting message. And, for the record, I would take five minutes of his serious gospel exposition over an hour of the conversational stand-up of today’s cutting-edge preachers any day.
Read the whole thing

Dangerous Calling

Coming to Church of the Saviour this weekend!

For all of the excitement and privilege of pastoral ministry in the local church, it is important to remember that ministry with, to and for the Body of Christ is accompanied by a unique set of obstacles and temptations. Successful, God-honoring, productive pastoral ministry in the church is never just a matter of mastering the requisite body of information and possessing the right set of skills. Pastoral ministry in the local church is always shaped by the condition of your heart. What are the issues that are at the heart of ministry struggle and failure? What are the protections that need to be built into the life of every pastor? How do we assure that the message of the transforming grace of Jesus Christ is not only operating in the lives of those being ministered to, but in the one doing ministry as well?

Dangerous Calling is designed for those in pastoral ministry and those who care about them. If you are a ministry leader (especially a pastor) this conference is for you. It would also be enormously helpful for elders and laypersons to attend in order to gain better insight into their pastor's life, his struggles, and his unique tempations with an eye toward helping them become healthier

Registration - $25

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On trying to "accomodate" religious beliefs

Al Mohler dissects Nicholas Kristoff's troubling views concerning religious liberty:

Like so many, including the White House, Kristof does his best to describe the controversy over the birth control mandate as a Catholic issue. In his “Beyond Pelvic Politics” column he wrote of “Catholic universities and hospitals,” “Catholic institutions,” and “a majority of Catholics.” The fact that so many evangelical Christians share this concern and outrage is never mentioned.

After asking his most pressing question, “After all, do we really want to make accommodations across the range of faith?,” he makes this amazing statement:

“The basic principle of American life is that we try to respect religious beliefs, and accommodate them where we can.”

That sentence caught the immediate attention of many. Could someone of Nicholas Kristof’s influence and stature really write and mean that?

When President Obama spoke February 10, announcing his administration’s modifications to the birth control issue, he at least spoke of religious liberty as “an inalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution.” The President then made the error of speaking as if an “inalienable right” is to be accommodated to a matter of policy. That was bad enough, and very revealing of the President’s worldview and constitutional perspective. Nicholas Kristof’s statement is light years beyond the President in disrespect for religious liberty.

Where would we find what Kristof describes as “the basic principle of American life,” when he goes on to state that principle with language as chilling as “we try to respect religious beliefs, and accommodate them where we can”?

The language of accommodation is almost as old as the Constitution itself, but it was never framed as Kristof frames it — certainly not by the founders who spoke of “inalienable rights” granted to human beings by the Creator’s endowment.
Read Dr. Mohler's entire article HERE.

New Teaching Series from Paul Tripp

In 2011 Paul Tripp met with a small gathering of men and women at Church of the Saviour for a series of studies based on his book Forever. The DVD of those sessions is now available and ideal for personal or small group use. Highly recommended.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Under Attack

From Paul Tautges' helpful site Counseling One Another:

Sunday's Sermon

On Sunday I preached part 6 in our current series through Philippians. It is entitled "So Long as Christ is Preached" and can be listened to or downloaded HERE.

I Asked The Lord

Preaching the Word or Trading in Novelty?

Great post from Phil Johnson:

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

In all of Paul's instructions to Timothy and Titus, there is not an ounce of encouragement for the person who thinks innovation is the key to an effective ministry philosophy.

Much less is there any room for the pulpiteers of today who like to exegete the latest movies, or preach on moral lessons drawn from television sitcoms, or build their sermons on themes borrowed from popular culture. You know what I mean: the kind of preachers who insist they are being "missional" when they are merely being worldly.

Still less is there any warrant for the celebrity rock-star pastor who continually makes himself the focus of his preaching. "For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:5). "Necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Paul's focus is extremely narrow—stiflingly narrow for the typical young-and-restless church planter for whom "style" is everything; and whose style (let's be honest) is conspicuously dictated by secular fashion rather than by the worldview Paul was exhorting Timothy to embrace.

"Preach the word." That's the centerpiece and the key to everything Paul tells Timothy about how to shepherd God's flock. That command is followed immediately by a second imperative that simply makes the first one more emphatic: "Be ready in season and out of season." The Greek verb means "stand by," and it does have the sense of readiness. (In fact, in radio, that is exactly what the expression "stand by" means: "Be ready." But the word Paul uses is richer and stronger than that.) It also carries the connotation of expressions like: "take a stand," "stand upon it," "stick to it," "stand up to it," or simply "carry on."
Read the rest HERE.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

For Calvinism?

What is the role of the human will in salvation? How are we to understand predestination? Why does God choose some, but not all? Is he the author of evil? On this special edition of the program, we’re airing part one of a conversation between Michael Horton and Roger Olson recorded live at Biola University concerning their differences over the issue of grace and free will. White Horse Inn: know what you believe and why you believe it.

When you get a chance listen to the following two episodes of The White Horse Inn:

Recommended Reading:

For Calvinism by Michael Horton

Chosen By God by R.C. Sproul

When Grace Comes Home by Terry Johnson

Who is the center of your universe?

Every preacher hears it: "I want to hear relevant sermons." Many church websites promise it: "our pastor's sermons are relevant." However, the problem with the demand and the promise is the underlying assumption that a preacher's job is to make the Bible relevant to his hearer's lives. It makes the Bible just one more consumer product providing personal improvement or relief. What is needed, according to Darryl Dash, is nothing less than a Copernican Revolution in our attitude toward the Bible.

He writes:

The danger in this way of thinking, though, is that it demands that the Bible spin in orbit around our lives. This view puts us at the center. It's far better to put God and His Word at the center, and to demand that our lives spin in orbit around Him.

Try reading Job 38 or Isaiah 40 and ask yourself whether God needs to become relevant to us, or whether we have things completely backwards.

The Bible is already relevant. We demonstrate its relevance, but we don't make it relevant. If anything needs to be made relevant, it's our lives.

Kim Fabricius writes:

For many people, God is a god who answers my questions, satisfies my desires and supports my interests. A user-friendly god you can access and download at the push of a prayer-key, a god you can file and recall when you need him (which gives “Save As” a whole new meaning!). A utility deity for a can-do culture. Evangelism becomes a form of marketing, and the gospel is reduced to a religious commodity.

The real God is altogether different. He is not a useful, get-it, fix-it god. He is not “relevant”, he is the measure of relevance. Indeed best think of God as good for nothing and totally unnecessary, playful rather than practical - and whose game is hide-and-seek: “such a fast / God,” as the poet R. S. Thomas puts it, “always before us and / leaving as we arrive.” The Bible speaks of God as a desert wind, too hot to handle, too quick to catch. A God who is only ever pinned down - on the cross.

I like that. God is not relevant, he is the measure of relevance.

It's time for a Copernican Revolution of the Word that puts us in our place in orbit around God and His Word in our lives, our churches, and our preaching.
Read the whole post HERE.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Books on Scripture

I am excited to read some new titles soon to be released on the nature and doctrine of Scripture:

Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? Hoffmeier and Magary, editors

Good Listening

If you have never checked out the Reformed Forum you ought to.

The Reformed Forum is a podcast from some guys affiliated with
Westminster Theological Seminary. Here’s the brief description:

Reformed Forum is a reformed theology media network, which seeks to serve the church by providing content dedicated to issues in reformed theology. … Reformed Forum records much of its content on the campus of Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, PA. … As an organization, we subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as adopted by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
We are all, for better or worse, theologians. We all have thoughts about God and those thoughts are either deep or shallow, informed by Scripture or something else. Good theology leads to devotion and doxology. Good theology builds the church. It gives life. It clears away confusion.

Check out
this recent Reformed Forum conversation on the historical Adam:

Rick Phillips joins Nick Batzig and Kenneth Kang-Hui to speak about the historical Adam. The teaching that Adam was a historical figure, the federal head of all those who descend from him by ordinary generation, has become a much debated topic. Dr. Phillips and the panel navigate through the issues and underscore why this traditional doctrine is so significant.

Rev. Phillips is pastor of Second Presbyterian Church PCA in Greenville, SC. Nick Batzig is church planter at New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Richmond Hill, GA. Kenneth Kang-Hui has been a long-time friend to Reformed Forum, and he is a member of a PCA church in New York City.
HT: Owen Strachan

Is it time for civil disobedience?

"We have come to the point—I say this very soberly—when if there isn’t a dramatic change in circumstances, we as Christians may well be called upon to stand in civil disobedience against the actions of our own government. That would break my heart as a former Marine Captain loving my country, but I love my God more… I’ve made up my mind—sober as that decision would have to be—that I will stand for the Lord regardless of what my state tells me."

Sunday's Sermon

On Sunday I preached part 5 of our series through Philippians. It is entitled "Capturing Calamity for Christ" and can be listened to or downloaded HERE.

Why it is wise to believe in the historical Adam

It used to be that only "liberals" denied the historical fall and the special creation of mankind beginning with a first human couple. Unfortunately, those denials have now crept into otherwise conservative evangelicalism through scholars such as Peter Enns and Tremper Longman (both of whom once affirmed an historical Adam). It is done, I suppose, to assuage the loud complaints of Darwinists whose philosophy of life and morality depends upon man's ascent from lower species. But God's Word is plain and a real fall by a real man is an indispensable part of the gospel narrative of Scripture (Romans 5).

The following is from a helpful post by Kevin DeYoung:

[Let] me suggest ten reasons why we should believe that Adam was a true historical person and the first human being.

1. The Bible does not put an artificial wedge between history and theology. Of course, Genesis is not a history textbook or a science textbook, but that is far from saying we ought to separate the theological wheat from the historical chaff. Such a division owes to the Enlightenment more than the Bible.

2. The biblical story of creation is meant to supplant other ancient creation stories more than imitate them. Moses wants to show God’s people “this is how things really happened.” The Pentateuch is full of warnings against compromise with the pagan culture. It would be surprising, then, for Genesis to start with one more mythical account of creation like the rest of the ANE.

3. The opening chapters of Genesis are stylized, but they show no signs of being poetry. Compare Genesis 1 with Psalm 104, for example, and you’ll see how different these texts are. It’s simply not accurate to call Genesis poetry. And even if it were, who says poetry has to be less historically accurate?

4. There is a seamless strand of history from Adam in Genesis 2 to Abraham in Genesis 12. You can’t set Genesis 1-11 aside as prehistory, not in the sense of being less than historically true as we normally understand those terms. Moses deliberately connects Abram with all the history that comes before him, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden.

5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.

6. Paul believed in a historical Adam (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45-49). Even some revisionists are honest enough to admit this; they simply maintain that Paul (and Luke) were wrong.

7. The weight of the history of interpretation points to the historicity of Adam. The literature of second temple Judaism affirmed an historical Adam. The history of the church’s interpretation also assumes it.

8. Without a common descent we lose any firm basis for believing that all people regardless of race or ethnicity have the same nature, the same inherent dignity, the same image of God, the same sin problem, and that despite our divisions we are all part of the same family coming from the same parents.

9. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of original sin and guilt does not hold together.

10. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of the second Adam does not hold together.

Christians may disagree on the age of the earth, but whether Adam ever existed is a gospel issue. Tim Keller is right:
[Paul] most definitely wanted to teach us that Adam and Eve were real historical figures. When you refuse to take a biblical author literally when he clearly wants you to do so, you have moved away from the traditional understanding of the biblical authority. . . .If Adam doesn’t exist, Paul’s whole argument—that both sin and grace work ‘covenantally’—falls apart. You can’t say that ‘Paul was a man of his time’ but we can accept his basic teaching about Adam. If you don’t believe what he believes about Adam, you are denying the core of Paul’s teaching. (Christianity Today June 2011)

DeYoung then offers some recommendations for further reading:

Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? by C. John Collins.

For more on the relationship between faith and science, you may want to look at one of the following:

•John C. Lennox, God’s Undertake: Has Science Buried God?
Should Christians Embrace Evolution: Biblical and Scientific Responses, edited by Norman C. Nevin
God and Evolution, edited by Jay Richards
•Vern S. Poythress, Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach
•C. John Collins, Science and Faith: Friend or Foes?

Beale and Trueman on Biblical Inerrancy

Thanks to Justin Taylor for posting these videos of the Q & A with Drs. Greg Beale and Carl Trueman from the 2011 Clarus Conference:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Komen, Planned Parenthood, and the god of Money

Dr. Russell Moore has written an important article on the recent decision by the Susan Komen Foundation for the Cure to restore its funding to Planned Parenthood. Dr. Moore sees the worship of money at the core of this sad decision and urges the church not to try to compete in this pagan arena.

He writes:

We don’t need a Christian foundation to compete with the merchants of death. We don’t need one more coalition with enough signatures to counter the threatened boycotts of the abortion rights peddlers. And we sure don’t need to sell bumper stickers with a line drawn through a pink ribbon.

What we need, first of all, are churches who recognize that this isn’t all that surprising. Mammon is a jealous god, and he’s armed to the teeth. We need to create the kind of counter-culture that constantly shines the light of Christ wherever these false gods exist in our own affections. And then we need to demonstrate what it means to believe that a person’s life consists in more than the abundance of his possessions.

Let’s stop highlighting how God “blesses” the millionaire who tithes. Let’s stop trumpeting the celebrity football players and beauty queens as evidence of God’s blessing. Let’s show that God has blessed us in a Christ who never had a successful career or a balanced bank account, but who was blessed by God with life, and with children that no one can number, from every tribe, tongue, nation, and language.

Planned Parenthood has won this one. They spent a lot of money, and they’ll make a lot of money. And they’ll do so off the shredded corpses of children and the raped consciences of women. If Jesus’ kingdom were of this world, we’d be fundraising to keep up with them.

But what we have is greater than that. We have a word that tells a pregnant young woman that we believe her Down Syndrome baby is a gift, not a health care burden. And we can offer the kind of gospel that cleanses the conscience and offers what outlasts money and power: life and that to the uttermost.

Let’s work to legally protect women and children. And let’s grieve that old Mammon has won the day, again. But let’s not grieve like the pagans who have no hope. When it comes to the struggle for life, the color of victory isn’t pink like a ribbon. It’s red like a cross.
Read the whole article HERE.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The "Prosperity Gospel" is not the Gospel

It is appropriate that a prosperity gospel be born in the hedonistic, self-centered, get-rich-quick milieu of modern American society. We are, by nature, pagan. Either our religion will transform us or we will transform our religion to suit our sympathies. . . .

The prosperity Bible does not deal only with freedom from sickness. It would have us read, ‘He himself bore our sicknesses and poverty in His body on the tree, so that we might die to infirmity and lack; for by His wounds you have been healed.’ In contrast, there was no question in the mind of the apostles that the gospel promised, ‘spiritual riches in heavenly places in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:3), not earthly ones. Our Lord was afflicted so that we could be healed. But that is a metaphor for the wonderful truth that the penalty justly meant for us was endured by Christ, our substitute. The rod of justice that dealt the Lamb of God such bitter blows declared us righteous!

It is to trivialize greatly the work of Christ to suggest that God the Father sent His only-begotten Son into the world to bear the world’s blasphemy, insults, and violence, and, most of all, to bear the Father’s wrath—all for increased cash flow and fewer bouts with asthma. It is to make a joke out of the great displeasure, anger, and wrath God has toward sin and sinful persons. God’s real problem, say the faith teachers, is not that we are wicked, selfish, God-hating rebels who deserve eternal punishment, but that we aren’t enjoying ourselves!
- Michael Horton
quoted in John MacArthur, Our Sufficiency in Christ, Word Publishing, Dallas, 1991, pg. 251.

Keller and Carson on the Elephant Room

Tim Keller and D.A. Carson have written a helpful article on the Elephant Room controversy. I would encourage you to take the time to read it. If you are not used to reading about biblical interpretation, their second point ("Biblicism One and Biblicism Two") is very important. Please read carefully and digest it. They help correct the fallacy of "I'm into the Bible, not creeds."

Carson and Keller also respond to those who say that the Elephant Room provided an important opportunity for brothers to converse in order to see if there could be agreement. However, as the authors point out, it is no secret what T.D. Jakes believes and preaches.

Talking with T. D. Jakes in ER2 has been cast as listening to someone first before we say anything critical of him. Relationships precede evaluation. Anyone who ventures a critical evaluation of Pastor Jakes before ER2 is simply being judgmental. With respect, this argument does not hold up to either Scripture or reason. Pastor Jakes is not a private individual about whom some people might have heard a few negative things. If that were the case, it would be imperative to uncover the truth before passing on what would in that case be nothing more than gossip. Pastor Jakes, however, is a public individual. He himself publishes his views in various media; they circulate widely. He is read and heard around the world. Not long ago in a Christian bookshop in South Africa, one of the writers of this article discovered that the author with the greatest number of books on the shelf was T. D. Jakes. It is the responsibility of Christian pastors to become aware of such a preacher and teacher if his works are significantly influencing their own flocks. To imagine that no fair evaluation is possible before an ER2-type public event does not square with apostolic practice. When in 2 Corinthians 10-13 Paul learns of interlopers who are preaching another Jesus, he does not begin by arranging a fireside chat. The content and direction of the interlopers' ministry is already public, and Paul confronts it.
Read the entire article HERE.

Making Sense of the Elephant Room

If you are wondering what the whole controversy over the Elephant Room is about, check out this very helpful post by Mike Riccardi.

Would Augustine invite Muhammad?

A few months before Elephant Room 2 Thabiti Anyabwile wrote an excellent article outlining his concerns over James MacDonald's invitation to prosperity preacher T.D. Jakes. Sadly, his counsel, and that of many others was rejected.

Pastor Anyabwile wrote:

This kind of invitation undermines that long, hard battle many of us have been waging in a community often neglected by many of our peers. And because we’ve often been attempting to introduce African-American Christians to the wider Evangelical and Reformed world as an alternative to the heresy and blasphemy so commonplace in some African-American churches and on popular television outlets, the invitation of Jakes to perform in ‘our circles’ simply feels like a swift tug of the rug from beneath our feet and our efforts to bring health to a sick church. […] This isn’t on the scale of Piper inviting Warren. This is more akin to Augustine inviting Muhammad.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Elders, Pastors, and Protection

From Mike McKinley:

Last Spring, Thabiti shared some statistics about pastors compiled by the Schaeffer Institute. These numbers emerged from research done from 1989-2006, and my guess is that things have gotten worse, not better, since then. The one that struck me most in the report was the fact that 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month. That number is astounding to me.

At a recent gathering, Carl Trueman was asked what churches could do to stem the tide of men leaving the pastorate. His answer was that elders of the church needed to do a good job protecting the pastor of the church (for the sake of brevity, allow me to make the distinction between "elders" and "pastors" in the church).

I think Trueman is right. Pastoral ministry requires a lot of work with sin-sick, spiritually wounded people. It can require unpleasant confrontation and rebuke. And while church members often appreciate the pastoral care they receive, sometimes spiritually unhealthy people react in spiritually unhealthy ways. And so pastors are particularly vulnerable to attack and accusation from the very people they are called to serve and love. I Timothy 5:19 seems to assume that this is the case, thus the apostle's instruction not to consider accusations against him lightly.

So it might be good for you to think about how you can protect your pastor, particularly if you are in church leadership.. Do you listen willingly when people complain about him. Do you pray for his spiritual protection regularly? If your pastor is discouraged, what can you do to help him?

Tim Tebow shows discernment

Tim Tebow had been scheduled to speak at an event in Ohio led by mega-church pastor Rod Parsley. Parsley, an advocate of prosperity teaching will be sharing the stage with notorious word/faith prosperity preacher Kenneth Copeland. Tebow canceled his plans to appear at the event. That was the right decision. Had Tebow appeared at that particular event he would have been lending credibility to two false teachers. Read the story HERE.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Voddie Baucham to preach at The Shepherd's Conference

Great decision by John MacArthur to host Voddie Baucham as one of the preachers for this year's Shepherd's Conference.

Grace Community Church's youth pastor explains why in a thoughtful post.

Carl Trueman weighs in on Trinitarianism, celebrity pastors, and the race card

Dr. Trueman has apparently seen this video.

He responds with a very helpful post on historic Christianity and the cost of defending the truth.

Still, let us go back to the fourth century and see how the `middle aged white guy’ critique measures up. Well, at the Council of Nicea in 325, many of the participants were no doubt middle aged — which Paul in the Pastorals would actually seem to think is quite a good thing in a church leader. But white? I suspect they were ethnically more akin to modern day Turks or south eastern Europeans, not that racial categories really meant anything then. The key category in the fourth century was that of Roman citizenship, not skin colour.

More significantly, of course, had you been there yourself and looked around the council, you would have seen that many of the delegates had body parts missing – an arm here, a leg there, an occasional eye – because they were survivors of the terrible persecutions under Diocletian and Galerius. Indeed, many had probably lost close friends and family members too. Thus, the foundations for the creedal doctrine of the Trinity were laid by men who thought doctrine was something for which it was actually worth suffering and dying.

Read the entire post HERE.

The Elephant Room - A Timeline

Justin Taylor has written a helpful post on the dust up over Elephant Room 2 complete with a timeline. You should read it HERE.

"A Win for Team Jakes"

Prior to Elephant Room 2 there were a number of black pastors who expressed deep concern about two pastors as influential as Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald lending broad credibility to T.D. Jakes, an unrepentant Modalist (Jakes says now that he is not a Modalist although he is still vague and has never actually repudiated Modalist heresy and clearly affirmed biblical Trinitarianism) and propagator of prosperity heresy. These black pastors were rightly dismayed and even vexed that some of their white brothers were going to offer public approval to a man whose theology has done great damage to the black church.

One of those thoughtful pastors, Anthony Carter, who cares deeply about biblical Christianity
wrote about his concerns prior to Elephant Room 2. As it turns out his concerns were entirely valid.

Jakes is no dummy. He will be careful not to say anything that would indict him as a false teacher. He is a smart man. You don’t get to his position being stupid. Therefore, I fear that by the end of the discussion, when all the rounds have been fired, and the dust has settled, the elephant in the room will be Mr. Jakes himself. He will be standing tall shaking everyone’s hand and thanking them for giving him another platform on which to promote himself. No matter what is said, unless Jakes denounces his previous teachings or is exposed as a false teacher, it’s a win for team Jakes and a loss for those of us left to clean up after the elephant has done his business.
Another black pastor, Thabiti Anyabwile gave voice to the same concern:

If Jakes could be won over and would publicly teach orthodox Trinitarian views, that could be huge. If the discussion turns warm and fuzzy, “aren’t we all brothers in the end,” the damage could be irreparable—to everyone. (emphasis mine)
Please read Thabiti's entire post HERE.

To make matters worse, charges of racism are now coming against those who voiced their dismay that MacDonald and Driscoll would embrace T.D. Jakes.

But what would explain James MacDonald's decision to cancel Voddie Baucham's appearance at a Harvest Bible Chapel men's conference?

I was naive to think that there would be no fallout if I decided to go forward with the Men’s Conference. The Men’s Conference was scheduled to take place two days after ER2. Once my worst fears were realized at ER2 (i.e., Jakes equivocated on modalism, was not even challenged on WOF gospel, etc. see here for a detailed analysis), there was no way for me to 1) keep silent on this growing controversy, and 2) attend the Men’s Conference, without giving tacit approval to ER2. The decision to go public was inevitable. The only question was how.

I have a regular practice of posting notices of upcoming events in my monthly newsletter, and on my Facebook fan page. These have been invaluable tools that keep people apprised of when I’m coming to their area (or the area of friends and family whom they’d like to invite to one of our events), how they can pray for me, and what kind of doors the Lord is opening for the ministry.

As per my practice, I posted a link to the Men’s Conference and asked, “Any fan page members planning to attend...” As you can imagine, there were more than a few questions about my position on ER2, my relationship with James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel, and a whole host of other things. I answered those questions as honestly as I could. I made it clear that I opposed the decision to invite Bishop Jakes; pointed out what I saw as his masterful ‘dodge’ on the trinitarian question (and subsequent affirmation of modalist language), and gave a brief explanation of my reasoning for keeping this prior commitment (see here for a recap).

This did not go over well with James MacDonald. Upon my arrival at the church the next day, he and I sat down (along with my assistant and several members of his staff) and had a candid conversation about my decision to answer questions in a public forum. Ultimately, we agreed that it was not a good idea for me to speak at the conference. We prayed, shook hands, embraced, and ended the meeting as brothers. James also insisted on paying the agreed honorarium (Added 1/31/12). MacDonald had already made arrangements for a replacement speaker. My assistant and I were escorted to a waiting car and taken back to the airport.
Read the whole thing HERE.

So Voddie Baucham was disinvited after stating that it was not wise to give a platform to a false teacher. T.D. Jakes was given the hand of fellowship. Voddie Baucham was escorted out.