Friday, September 28, 2007

Why Seminary? by Michael S. Horton

The Continuing Importance of an Educated Ministry
Michael S. Horton, Ph.D.

Dear Alumni,

I hail from a long line of medical doctors. Although none of us has ever had formal medical training, we are all perfectly confident that we can diagnose ourselves and prescribe a remedy. My grandmother ("Big Mama"), in fact, created a concoction which she called "the remedy." No fancy names to befuddle patients and overwhelm them with a foreign vocabulary. Just "the remedy. Since we were, generally speaking, hypochondriacs, the remedy seemed to work. Only in my adulthood did I learn that it consisted mainly of cheap bourbon and coconut shavings. (We were Southern Baptists: whiskey could only be justified for medicinal use.)

Read the rest of Dr. Horton's article.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My Westminster Visit

I had a great visit to Westminster West on Tuesday. Dr. Hywel Jones preached in chapel. I sat in on an systematic theology course taught by Dr. Horton and a church history class with Dr. D.G. Hart. Both classes were exciting, but the highlight had to be when Mark MacVey, the Director of Admissions, gave me a copy of Machen's "Christianity and Liberalism!" I knew there was a reason I never picked this up. I also bought the textbooks for the first two Greek classes, hoping that some self study and the Greek I have already had in undergrad will allow me to test out of the first six hours of Greek (and therefore avoid taking Greek and Hebrew concurrently). Oh, and I got a Westminster Seminary baseball cap to add to my fledgling collection of hats.

I thought I would share some pearls of wisdom I gleaned from Dr. Horton's class, though don't be disappointed if it is not world altering.

"Good philosophy helps clarify and simplify what we believe."

"A little philosophy can be dangerous."

"All knowledge is a form of faith seeking understanding."

There you have it—words to live by thanks to Dr. Horton. I promise not to post quotes from my classes once I start attending Westmin.....errr, wherever I end up attending. Speaking of which, don't forget to vote in this week's poll!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Crossing Paths with Dr. Horton

So, my wife got a contract job in southern CA. It was supposed to be for 4 days, but it turned into 8, so I flew to San Diego Saturday night. I looked up Christ URC on the internet and got directions from the hotel we are staying at in Hemet. It's about 80 miles, so we got up early Sunday morning and took a scenic drive to the church. Rev. Michael Brown preached on Genesis 37, and I was not disappointed. He preached the Law and the Gospel like no one I have heard except my former pastor in St. Louis, Scott Churnock. (As an aside if you would like to hear Scott preach you can do so here.) The people were friendly, noticing we were guests and stopping to talk with us. One of them, Beth, asked what we thought about the sermon. I told her it was great, and she smiled saying, "We get this every week!"

Then, we had the pleasure of sitting under Dr. Horton teaching a Sunday school class. He taught on the Federal Vision/New Perspective on Paul with authority. My wife and I also had the opportunity to have our picture taken with Dr. Horton, so enjoy.

I will be visiting Westminster Seminary tomorrow and will be meeting with Mark Mcvay—who happens to have a sister in Cedar Rapids, where I live. Her husband also happens to teach history at Kirkwood Community College, where I happen to be taking two history classes with, you guessed it, her husband Professor Peterson. Small world, huh?

You may also hear Rev. Brown preach here. I encourage you to listen to both Rev. Brown and Rev. Churnock. They are both excellent expositors of the Word of God.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Are we so lacking discernment?

One of the things I am finding as I take this journey called the Christian life is that so many people claim the name of Christ and then proceed to drag his name through the mud.

This video has me outraged. When I first became a Christian, I looked to others to discern what was allowed and what was not. I soon found out that Christians are sinners, and it needs to be Christ we look to. The music in this video is nothing more than driving beats and repetitive lyrics that cause a release of certain chemicals in the brain that leads to a kind of rush—the purpose of which is to get one into a particular mind set that leaves one open to influence. The lead singer says he loves Jesus but that he also loves having a good time. Jesus said nothing of "partying" or having a good time. As a matter of fact, he said we will be persecuted, and that we must take up our cross. This young man has changed his name to "Soul Glow Activator", another puzzling action. If one is going to change the name given by one's parents, should it not be something that lets the world know one is a follower of Christ? Mr. Activator had a public opportunity to share the Law and Gospel of God, and all he got out was that he loves Jesus and has pink tennis shoes. I think Christ's words need to be heeded here:

"22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’"
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001). Mt 7:22-23.

We are to be in the world, but not of the world. This is another clear case of marketing a "Christian band" to imitate the ways and sound of a secular band. Just slapping the label "Christian" on it does not make it ok; as a matter of fact I believe this is all the more insidious, because it appears in sheep's clothing. And we all know we have been warned of this.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Decision Theology

When I put up the first poll an amazing 14 out of 15 answered 'Nothing, Christ did it all.' But even answering the loaded question correctly, many in today's evangelical Christian culture still think they have a part in their regeneration. This video does a good job explaining why this is heresy. Please take ten minutes and watch this.

Osteen said what?

Thanks to Chris over at 'A Little Leaven' for this one.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Please, God, don't let me be misunderstood

I want to address a comment I received about yesterday's post. I think this is very important, so I am going to address it in another post. A very dear friend of mine who was so very influential in my growth as a Christian commented on my post about doctrine/following Jesus. I want to make clear that I was not setting up a false dichotomy. I was not pitting doctrine against following Jesus. As a matter of fact, I believe one cannot be a Christian without following Christ. However, many today do pit doctrine against action. Rick Warren is heard repeatedly calling for a new reformation, one of deeds not creeds, behavior not belief. This is a false dichotomy, and one that Satan dearly loves. When one calls for deeds not creeds, what one is unwittingly doing is saying "Give me Law not Gospel." My wife pointed out a very good article from some years ago by Michael Horton that does a wonderful job of summing up my position on this. (You can find this article here.) My whole point is if one does set up a false dichotomy, then one may be following the wrong Jesus.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Poll 3

I don't know if it's just me, or my poll questions, or the fact that I am posting less, or maybe offending more, but the number of people responding to my poll questions is dwindling. This will not discourage me. OK, it is discouraging me, but I will not stop posting polls.

The third poll question was inspired by a question Shane Rosenthal, producer of the White Horse Inn, asked at an evangelical pastor's conference. Wouldn't you know, the results he got were far worse than I got with the four who chose to answer the poll. Well over 50% answered "following Jesus."

If you think there is nothing wrong with the "following Jesus" answer, let me help you understand it a bit better. The first thing that must be established: what Jesus are you following? Is it the Jesus of the Mormons? He can't save anyone. Perhaps it's the Jesus of the Jehovah's Witnesses. He has not reconciled anyone to an utterly holy God in recent memory. Do you see where this is leading? When we start dialogging about which Jesus are we talking about, what are we discussing? You got it—doctrine. The word doctrine means teaching, and if we get our doctrine wrong, it does not matter how well we follow the example of Jesus. For example, if one follows the example of the Jesus of Mormonism, he will follow him straight into hell!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Praise of the Prosperity Preachers

I do not know who makes these videos (the same people that made the "self worship" one). But while they are hilarious, at the same time, they should make one realize how ridiculous the gospel these heretics are preaching is.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Poll 2

Having spent a couple of years at a "Christian College", I had the opportunity to interact with a plethora of true Arminians. I put the college name in quotes because they advertise themselves as a non-denominational institution. However, it quickly becomes apparent this group is every bit a denomination as any others are. They claim to have "no book but the bible" and "no creed but Christ." Isn't that interesting, no creed but Christ is a creed (credo="I believe" in Greek). These well intentioned individuals did do one thing I can forever be grateful for: they drove me to the scriptures to investigate what I was being taught. I have derived much pleasure over the last year telling people "Who would have thought I would have gone to an Arminian school and become a Calvinist?" Searching the scriptures, I soon discovered the doctrines of grace were there all along, and I had been letting my presupposititions get in the way.

One of the things I always got a kick out of was asking these well meaning but misguided souls if they believed God was sovereign. They would, without exception, say, "Yes, but...." followed by any number of things. Alas, try as I might, I just could not make them see that "yes, but..." was equal to "no." I love many of these people, and I am grateful for learning the true biblical doctrine in spite of what is being taught there. The credit goes entirely to God. Thank you Lord.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The 50 Most Influential Churches?

So, my wife is applying for a job with Logos Bible Software, and one of the things required in their most interesting and entertaining application process is to provide the url where she would find a list of the 5o most influential churches. Since one of the requirements for the job is writing blog posts, she created a blog to display her answers to their questions, along with her resume and cover letter (you can check it out here). Her surgery and recovery time have delayed her completing the scavenger hunt they prescribed to apply for the job. Today she resumed working on this maze of information gathering, and found that someone had discovered her blog and commented on it. At first we found this entertaining, but after searching around a bit, she discovered there appears to be a controversy around the "magazine" that puts out the list, specifically the man in charge.

If you are interested in reading about this story, here are some links:

I also have a question for those who wish to comment (I know more of you read than comment but I am interested in everyone's opinion on this, so I hope you will all step up and let me know what you think). Do you think Lisa should mention the controversy in her application for the job?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Are You Acceptable to God?

One of the main problems with modern evangelicalism is they get, or at least communicate, justification improperly. Many leaders today talk about our becoming "acceptable" to God. The issue with this is it communicates to many people that because of Jesus, they are now acceptable to God the way they are. It makes people believe they don't have to try to stop sinning. And, it misses the whole point of what Jesus did.

There is a distinct correlation between this and something Calvinism is accused of, namely that Christians don't need to evangelize because God's elect are God's elect. That is simply not true! We are commanded to go and make disciples of all nations. (Note the word "go" is used, not "put on a relevant show to bring people in".) What too many evangelical leaders are doing is making people think they do not have to change anything in the way they are living because they are acceptable to God even in their sins, rather than letting them know they are acceptable to God only because of Christ's righteousness.

Jesus did not die so God would be able to accept us and our sins—this is a man-centered gospel—but rather to make us just before a completely holy God. Christ's righteousness is imputed to us so we actually are righteous—a God-centered gospel. These two ideas could not be further apart in their focus. It may seem subtle, but Satan revels in subtleties. We must get the gospel right, or there is no hope.

Speaking of modern evangelicalism, I read a report recently in Parade magazine that said American children say "It's not fair" 19 times a week! No wonder people grow up thinking God has to be fair. Again, the problem is with our perspective. We want God to be what we consider fair. I guarantee you do NOT want God to be fair. If He were, we would all go to hell. We deserve hell because, in Adam, we all sinned. Oh, there I go again, talking about things that are not fair. Why are we all condemned because someone else sinned? That is the way many think today; never mind the fact they not only always and only ratify Adam's choice everyday, but also, they would have done exactly the same thing in his position. I am tired of this self-centered culture I have to live in. I love this country, don't get me wrong. But I am trying to do what I can to take the focus off of us and put it back where it belongs: on Jesus Christ and His perfect life imputed to us, his death on the cross where our sins were imputed to Him, AND His resurrection assuring us of eternal life. Don't get me started on the resurrection. Ask people to explain the gospel to you, and I promise 8 out of 10 will not mention the resurrection. If we leave Jesus in the tomb, we are, of all men, to be most pitied.

In Christ,

P.S. The Alpha post is coming!

P. P. S. Modern Reformation has a great article that relates to this post in this month's issue.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

D. James Kennedy goes to be with the Lord

D. James Kennedy went home today September 5, 2007. He was 76 years old and has been fighting complications from a heart attack Dec. 28th. Dr. Kennedy has not been seen since his heart attack. His death comes only ten days after his retirement announcement.

Dr. Kennedy was the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, since 1959 when he started the church with just 45 members. Today the congregation boasts over 10,000 members.

In the 1960's, Kennedy began Evangelism Explosion, one of the most effective evangelistic tools created in the last few decades.

Dr. Kennedy was an influence to me personally. I spent many years delivering pizzas, listening to Christian radio, and honing my discernment skills and he was one of the reliable speakers I listened to along with R. C. Sproul and Alistair Begg. While some of his sermons probably would not pass the diagnostic I laid out a few weeks back, he was a man of God and will be missed.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Listen To This

This is what a heart for Christ sounds like! Oh Lord give us all this kind of emotion.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Latest Blasphemy

This is incredible! I can't believe that any truly regenerated Christian would buy into this. Moreover, I can't believe any truly regenerated Christian would put this scam on. I am not calling anyone's salvation into question, however, James makes it clear:

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”— and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001). Jas 2:18-26.

Scripture makes it clear that the day of Atonement was done away with when Christ atoned for us on the cross:

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001). Heb 10:11-14.

I am outraged that not only do people so blatantly flaunt their heresy, but that so many BUY into it as well. Again, this goes back to the whole reason I started this blog—the level of discernment in the church today is at an all time low. I am angry and sad. God forgive them, for they know not what they do.

In Christ