Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Little Levity

I grew up in the seventies and a huge fan of rock music. The very first song I learned to play on the guitar was "Smoke On The Water." So if you are older than me or younger than me you may not get this. All I have to say is leave it to the Japanese to spend so much time and effort at making something so unintentionally funny. I follow this video with one from the 70's which actually features both Ian Gillan and David Glover, one of the few times the two were together in that decade, enjoy.


Monday, January 28, 2008

More Logos Books!

I just received the BDAG Greek Lexicon and the HALOT from Logos today. First let me give them another great plug. I ordered these on Friday at about 3pm and yes, received them in the mail today, Monday. I know there must be something not to like about this company, but I have yet to find it. I am excited as these are the top Lexicons for their respectful languages and to have them in my library is just going to make seminary life that much easier. I thought I would take a few moments today to make a couple of lists. First I want to make a list of the top 5 Logos books, or sets, I have on my current wish list. Then I will make a list of top 5 I wish would be available from Logos. Let me know what you think of both.

My wish list:

1. Baker Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament (8 Volumes)

2. Pillar New Testament Commentary (8 Volumes)

3. R. Kent Hughes' Preaching the Word Collection (19 Volumes)

4. Berkouwer's Studies in Dogmatics (14 vols)

5. The Works of Cornelius Van Til

6. A. W. Pink Collection (40 titles)

Ok, I know it's six but I couldn't leave one out.

My "Wish Logos would make available list"

1. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones Romans series. I would buy this as soon as it was announced.

2. Michael Horton lifeworks library.

3. Gordon Clark lifeworks library.

4. Berkhof's Systematic Theology. Please!!!!!

5. Vos' Biblical Theology.

What do you think? Agree or disagree let me know.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Owen On Baptism

I still have not been feeling well this week. I am in pain most of the time. I have been reading though and ran across this in the works of John Owen and thought I would share it with everyone since it addresses out topic at hand, enjoy.


I. THE question is not whether professing believers, Jews or Gentiles, not baptized in their infancy, ought to be baptized; for this is by all confessed.

II. Neither is it whether, in such persons, the profession of saving faith and repentance ought not to go before baptism. This we plead for beyond what is the common practice of those who oppose us.

Wherefore, testimonies produced out of authors, ancient or modern, to confirm these things, which consist with the doctrine of infant baptism, are mere tergiversations, that belong not to this cause at all; and so are all arguments produced unto that end out of the Scriptures.

III. The question is not whether all infants are to be baptized or not; for, according to the will of God, some are not to be baptized, even such whose parents are strangers from the covenant, But hence it will follow that some are to be baptized, seeing an exception confirms both rule and right.

IV. The question is only concerning the children or infant seed of professing believers who are themselves baptized. And, —

First, They by whom this is denied can produce no testimony of Scripture wherein their negation is formally or in terms included, nor any one asserting what is inconsistent with the affirmative; for it is weak beneath consideration to suppose that the requiring of the baptism of believers is inconsistent with that of their seed. But this is to be required of them who oppose infant baptism, that they produce such a testimony.

Secondly, No instance can be given from the Old or New Testament since the days of Abraham, none from the approved practice of the primitive church, of any person or persons born of professing, believing parents, who were themselves made partakers of the initial seal of the covenant, being then in infancy and designed to be brought up in the knowledge of God, who were not made partakers with them of the same sign and seal of the covenant

Thirdly, A spiritual privilege once granted by God unto any cannot be changed, disannulled, or abrogated, without an especial divine revocation of it, or the substitution of a greater privilege and mercy in the room of it; for, —

1. Who shall disannul what God hath granted? What he hath put together who shall put asunder? To abolish or take away any grant of privilege made by him to the church, without his own express revocation of it, is to deny his sovereign authority.

2. To say a privilege so granted may be revoked, even by God himself, without the substitution of a greater privilege and mercy in the room of it, is contrary to the goodness of God, his love and care unto his church, [and] contrary to his constant course of proceeding with it from the foundation of the world, wherein he went on in the enlargement and increase of its privileges until the coming of Christ. And to suppose it under the gospel is contrary to all his promises, the honor of Christ, and a multitude of express testimonies of Scripture.

Thus was it with the privileges of the temple and the worship of it granted to the Jews; they were not, they could not be, taken away without an express revocation, and the substitution of a more glorious spiritual temple and worship in their room.

But now the spiritual privilege of a right unto and a participation of the initial seal of the covenant was granted by God unto the infant seed of Abraham, Gen 17:10,12.

This grant, therefore, must stand firm for ever, unless men can prove or produce, —

1. An express revocation of it by God himself; which none can do either directly or indirectly, in terms or any pretense of consequence.

2. An instance of a greater privilege or mercy granted unto them in the room of it; which they do not once pretend unto, but leave the seed of believers, whilst in their infant state, in the same condition with those of pagans and infidels; expressly contrary to God's covenant.

All this contest, therefore, is to deprive the children of believers of a privilege once granted to them by God, never revoked, as to the substance of it, assigning nothing in its room; which is contrary to the goodness, love, and covenant of God, especially derogatory to the honor of Jesus Christ and the gospel.

Fourthly, They that have the thing signified have right unto the sign of it, or those who are partakers of the grace of baptism have a right to the administration of it: so Acts 10:47.

But the children of believers are all of them capable of the grace signified in baptism, and some of them are certainly partakers of it, namely, such as die in their infancy (which is all that can be said of professors): therefore they may and ought to be baptized. For, —

1. Infants are made for and are capable of eternal glory or misery, and must fall, dying infants, into one of these estates for ever.

2. All infants are born in a state of sin, wherein they are spiritually dead and under the curse.

3. Unless they are regenerated or born again, they must all perish inevitably, John 3:3. Their regeneration is the grace whereof baptism is a sign or token. Wherever this is, there baptism ought to be administered.

Fifthly, God having appointed baptism as the sign and seal of regeneration, unto whom he denies it, he denies the grace signified by it. Why is it the will of God that unbelievers and impenitent sinners should not be baptized? It is because, not granting them the grace, he will not grant them the sign. If, therefore, God denies the sign unto the infant seed of believers, it must be because he denies them the grace of it; and then all the children of believing parents dying in their infancy must, without hope, be eternally damned. I do not say that all must be so who are not baptized, but all must be so whom God would have not baptized.

But this is contrary to the goodness and law [love?] of God, the nature and promises of the covenant, the testimony of Christ reckoning them to the kingdom of God, the faith of godly parents, and the belief of the church in all ages.

It follows hence unavoidably that infants who die in their infancy have the grace of regeneration, and consequently as good a right unto baptism as believers themselves.

Sixthly, All children in their infancy are reckoned unto the covenant of their parents, by virtue of the law of their creation.

For they are all made capable of eternal rewards and punishments, as hath been declared.

But in their own persons they are not capable of doing good or evil.

It is therefore contrary to the justice of God, and the law of the creation of human kind, wherein many die before they can discern between their right hand and their left, to deal with infants any otherwise but in and according to the covenant of their parents; and that he doth so, see Rom 5:14.

Hence I argue, —

Those who, by God's appointment, and by virtue of the law of their creation, are, and must of necessity be, included in the covenant of their parents, have the same right with them unto the privileges of that covenant, no express exception being put in against them. This right it is in the power of none to deprive them of, unless they can change the law of their creation.

Thus it is with the children of believers with respect unto the covenant of their parents, whence alone they are said to be holy, 1 Cor 7:14

Seventhly, Christ is "the messenger of the covenant," Mal 3:1, — that is, of the covenant of God made with Abraham; and he was the "minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers," Rom 15:8. This covenant was, that he would be "a God unto Abraham and to his seed."

Now if this be not so under the new testament, then was not Christ a faithful messenger, nor did confirm the truth of God in his promises.

This argument alone will bear the weight of the whole cause. against all objections; for, —

1. Children are still in the same covenant with their parents, or the truth of the promises of God to the fathers was not confirmed by Christ.

2. The right unto the covenant, and interest in its promises, wherever it be, gives right unto the administration of its initial seal, that is, to baptism, as Peter expressly declares, Acts 2:38,39. Wherefore, —

The right of the infant seed of believers unto baptism, as the initial seal of the covenant, stands on the foundation of the faithfulness of Christ as the messenger of the covenant, and minister of God for the confirmation of the truth of his promises.

In brief, a participation of the seal of the covenant is a spiritual blessing. This the seed of believers was once solemnly invested in by God himself This privilege he hath nowhere revoked, though he hath changed the outward sign; nor hath he granted unto our children any privilege or mercy in lieu of it now under the gospel, when all grace and privileges are enlarged to the utmost. His covenant promises concerning them, which are multiplied, were confirmed by Christ as a true messenger and minister; he gives the grace of baptism unto many of them, especially those that die in their infancy, owns children to belong unto his kingdom, esteems them disciples, appoints households to be baptized without exception. And who shall now rise up, and withhold water from them?

This argument may be thus further cleared and improved: —

Christ is "the messenger of the covenant," Mal 3:1, — that is, the covenant of God with Abraham, Gen 17:7; for, —

1. That covenant was with and unto Christ mystical, Gal 3:16; and he was the messenger of no covenant but that which was made with himself and his members.

2. He was sent, or was God's messenger, to perform and accomplish the covenant and oath made with Abraham, Luke 1:72,73.

3. The end of his message and of his coming was, that those to whom he was sent might be "blessed with faithful Abraham," or that "the blessing of Abraham," promised in the covenant, "might come upon them," Gal 3:9,14.

To deny this, overthrows the whole relation between the old testament and the new, the veracity of God in his promises, and all the properties of the covenant of grace, mentioned 2 Sam 23:5.

It was not the covenant of works, neither originally nor essentially, nor the covenant in its legal administration; for he confirmed and sealed that covenant whereof he was the messenger, but these he abolished.

Let it be named what covenant he was the messenger of, if not of this. Occasional additions of temporal promises do not in the least alter the nature of the covenant.

Herein he was the "minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers," Rom 15:8; that is, undeniably, the covenant made with Abraham, enlarged and explained by following promises. This covenant was, that God would be "a God unto Abraham and to his seed;" which God himself explains to be his infant Gen 17:12, — that is, the infant seed of every one of his posterity who should lay hold on and avouch that covenant as Abraham did, and not else. This the whole church did solemnly for themselves and their posterity; whereon the covenant was confirmed and sealed to them Ex 24:7,8. And every one was bound to do the same in his own person; which if he did not, he was to be cut off from the congregation, whereby he forfeited all privileges unto himself and his seed.

The covenant, therefore, was not granted in its administrations unto the carnal seed of Abraham as such, but unto his covenanted seed, those who entered into it and professedly stood to its terms.

And the promises made unto the fathers were, that their infant seed, their buds and offspring, should have an equal share in the covenant with them, Isa 22:24; 44:3; 61:9. "They are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them," Isa 65:23. Not only themselves, who are the believing, professing seed of those who were blessed of the Lord, by a participation of the covenant, Gal 3:9, but their offspring also, their brads, their tender little ones, are in the same covenant with them.

To deny, therefore, that the children of believing, professing parents, who have avouched God's covenant, as the church of Israel did, Ex 24:7,8, have the same right and interest With their parents in the covenant, is plainly to deny the fidelity of Christ in the discharge of his office.

(from Works of John Owen, volume 16, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2004, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. and Ages Software, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Delay

Some of you know I have been having hip problems for some time now. In the last couple of months it has worsened. I am seeing a chiropractor about it but it is not getting better, as a matter of fact it seems to be getting worse. In the last week or so the pain has been some of the worst pain I have ever felt. I went to the store yesterday morning as spent most of the rest of the day in bed. I am not posting right now until I can get some relief from this pain and think clearly again. I am amazed at what pain does to the cognitive skills but would appreciate any prayers. Sorry for the delay, I am off to bed again.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Baptism 2b

My ability to communicate seems to be a bit lacking on this baptism issue. I have had a couple of comments that I thought warranted my clarifying what I meant in the last post. I am NOT saying baptism saves us. I will try and clarify this with a quote from the Westminster Shorter Catechism and one from John Murray, first question and answer 94 says:

What is baptism?
Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, (Matt. 28:19) doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’ s. (Rom. 6:4, Gal. 3:27)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism : With Scripture Proofs., 3rd edition., Question 94 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

And from Dr. Murray in WTJ:

"It is here that some of the most relevant references in the New Testament afford us light and direction. Such passages as Romans 6:3–6; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27, 28; Colossians 2:11, 12 plainly indicate that union with Christ is the governing idea. Baptism signifies union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. It is because believers are united to Christ in the efficacy of his death, in the power of his resurrection, and in the fellowship of his grace that they are one body. They are united to Christ and therefore to one another. Of this union baptism is the sign and seal. The relationship which baptism signifies is therefore that of union, and union with Christ is its basic and central import."
Westminster Theological Seminary, Westminster Theological Journal Volume 13, 13:109 (Westminster Theological Seminary, 1950; 2003).

I think my mistake was in not emphasizing baptism as the sign and seal of our union with Christ. I hope this clears things up a bit.

P.S. I see where the confusion comes in and have reworded point 2 at the end of the "Baptism Part 2" post.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Baptism Part 2

We agreed at the end of the last post that Christian baptism must be done in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This time, I want to look at a few verses and make sure we look at them in context and practice good hermeneutics. All to often, people will read a verse in light of something they already believe and not even realize the verses they read are not talking about their particular issue. Let's look at some verses that discuss baptism.

From Romans 6:
"3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;"
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Ro 6:3-6 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

From 1 Corinthians 12:
"13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, 1 Co 12:13 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

From Galatians 3:
"27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Ga 3:27-28 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

From Colossians 2:
"11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead."
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Col 2:11-12 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

Now, we must be honest as we ask the important hermeneutical questions about these passages. What is Paul talking about in these passages? Is he talking about baptism? No, he is not speaking about baptism here. He is speaking about our union with Christ. We cannot look to these passages and gain any knowledge of the mode or method of baptism. We can look to these and find out who is doing the work in baptism, though. Are we joining ourselves to Christ? Or are we being joined to Christ? It is clear that we are being joined to Christ in baptism, making the work of baptism a work of God not a work of ours. We see in Col. 2:12, we were buried with Him in baptism; we did not bury ourselves with Him. We were raised up with Him; we did not raise ourselves up with Him. Baptism is a work performed upon us, not a work we do. It is because we are all united to Christ in baptism that we are also united to one another. It is baptism that gives us a ground for fellowship. We have this in common so we are united as one family in Christ.

In coming to our lowest common denominator for this post I believe we should be able to agree that:

  1. Baptism is to be done in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

  2. Baptism is a work performed by God which is a sign and seal of the fact that we are joined to Christ and therefore to one another.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Baptism Part 1

The argument over baptism contains just two parts:

  • The mode of baptism—There are two ways to baptize: immersion or sprinkling (though the argument is not immersion vs. sprinkling). There are people who believe in immersion exclusively and those who believe it can be done either way.
  • The recipients of baptism—Again, there are two sides, those for believer’s baptism (adults only, which I’ll refer to in this series as baptists) and paedobaptists, those who believe in infant baptism. Paedobaptists do not exclusively baptize infants. I, and all reformed believers that I am aware of, are not against dunking an adult who has never been baptized.

Up front, I have to say I spent most of my Christian life in a baptist church. Now, I am reformed and believe in paedobaptism. If you are a paedobaptist and disagree with something I write in this series, please bring it to my attention. I am open to the possibility that I may err. This is new ground for me, and I hope to tackle this subject with as much humility and grace as the Lord will give me. I am aware of many baptists who read this blog, and was even prompted by one to do this series, so if anyone feels I am not being fair or gracious, please bring that to my attention, also.

I would like to begin with a quote from John Murray about how we derive our doctrine and beliefs:

"Traditional sentiment can never be pleaded as the proper ground for any element of the worship of the church of God. Divine institution is the only warrant."
Westminster Theological Seminary, Westminster Theological Journal Volume 13, 13:105 (Westminster Theological Seminary, 1950; 2003).

We must be careful to draw all of our beliefs and practices from scripture and not impose our traditions and pet doctrines onto what we read. We all do this at times. I occasionally do it, sometimes even knowingly. I will attempt to be fair and honest with the texts in this series; let's see where that takes us.

One of the baptist arguments I hear often is that Jesus went down into and came up out of the water, indicating that he was immersed. I will not engage this argument, because John's baptism and Jesus' baptism are two different things, just as John's ministry differed from Jesus' ministry:

3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
4 Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Ac 19:3-5 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

John's ministry was preparatory and transitional, and so was his baptism. Therefore, we cannot derive from John's baptism what must be practiced today in our baptisms.

We also see many other baptisms in scripture. During Jesus' ministry we see his disciples baptizing (John 3:22, 26; 4:1, 2), John's baptism previously mentioned, baptism into Moses (1 Cor. 10:2), baptizing into Paul (1 Cor. 1:13), and finally Matt 28:

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,"
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Mt 28:19 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

So, what we see is important in these verses is the difference in the meaning, not the mode or method, of baptism. What is clear is that baptism must be done in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is the command Jesus gave to the apostles; he did not say, “Immerse them, and do not sprinkle them.” Be sure to notice whom Jesus gives this command to, as it will be important later in our discussion.

My goal in this series will be to find the lowest common denominator at the end of each post. I think I have achieved that in this post, because the only conclusion I have drawn, baptists and paedobaptists will agree with.

  1. Baptism is to be done in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

From The Suggestion Box

Elder Eric suggested I do a post on infant baptism as he is a Baptist and would like to hear the perspective of someone who actually supports the practice, rather than the characterization he has received from his fellow Baptists. Wow, what an undertaking. This is THE issue separating many Christians, and as I spent ten years in a believer's baptism church, I will take up this challenge. I must say up front, I will rely heavily on sources for this one, but I will also put in what I consider the most compelling arguments in my journey from baptism by belief into covenantal baptism. I have avoided this topic until now, but this must surely be providential that Eric has asked this. I have not avoided it because of any doubts I have—I have none—I have avoided it because it is a heated topic of which not many are convinced to change their mind by argumentation. So, I undertake this task prayerfully, asking the Lord to be generous with us, to help keep our minds open, and to lead us wherever the text may take us—in context of course.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Knowing Doctrine or Just Following Jesus

I (Lisa) deliver pizza a couple of nights a week, and I've been listening to the White Horse Inn as I drive. Tonight, the show was about Doctrine and what pastors should preach. Shane Rosenthal, the producer of the show, goes to pastor's conferences and polls people on a question. The question I heard tonight was "Which is more important, knowing doctrine or following Jesus."

Alan did a poll about that question a few months ago and followed it up with a post. Some people hear a different question than the one asked and think the question sets up a false dichotomy, that if you choose one, the other is excluded. That is understandable, because you really can't have one without the other. But, the thing that both the White Horse Inn hosts and Alan were trying to get across is which is more important?

Of the people Shane Rosenthal polled, 61% responded that following Jesus was most important and 39% said that they were intertwined and dependent on each other. None said that doctrine was more important than following Jesus. I agree that they are not separable, but not for the reason that the people in the interviews gave. Several said that if you're following Jesus, the doctrine will just naturally work itself out.

Umm... how?

It is through doctrine that we learn who Jesus is. If you don't know doctrine, how do you know whom you are following? Are you following a good rabbi? How is he going to save you from the wrath of God? Are you following a good moral teacher? What will those morals be worth standing before God on judgment day? Are you following the spirit brother of Lucifer? Millions of Mormons are following him to hell.

However, if you know doctrine, it is following Jesus that will naturally work itself out.

By knowing doctrine, you will understand that we are guilty of Adam's sin and that we are dead in sin.

By knowing doctrine, we understand that God requires perfection—perfection that we are not able to attain. We also know the Jesus is the fulfillment of God's promise of redemption, and that through Jesus' death, God's people will be saved.

By knowing doctrine, we understand effectual calling, that every single person God calls (the elect) will, in fact, be saved.

By knowing doctrine, we understand that the Holy Spirit regenerates the elect, allowing them to repent unto life and faith in Jesus Christ.

By knowing doctrine, we understand that through Jesus Christ, we are justified before God.

By knowing doctrine, we understand that we have been adopted as true sons, meaning we inherit eternal life.

By knowing doctrine, we understand that after we die, we will be glorified in a resurrection like Christ's.

Once you know these things, you can do nothing but follow Jesus.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What Can We Learn from the Early Church Fathers?

The other night, I was listening to the White Horse Inn, and one of the hosts mentioned that people should be reading the writings of the Early Church Fathers instead of only reading modern writings. Why? Because those people were the closest to Jesus' life on earth, and therefore less likely to be tainted by "humanness". So, I broke out Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 1 in Libronix and started reading. Note: The red link indicates the item will be opened in Libronix, if you have Libronix and also have that particular book. If you click on the link but don't have Libronix or the resource being linked to, you will get an error.

It's a little tough going for me, not being the scholar that my husband is. The language, even though it's an English translation, is different than I'm used to, and I find my mind wandering even as my glazed eyes continue passing across the words on the page...

But, I found a way to keep myself on track. I made the text into a pdf file, then opened it in Acrobat (you can use a free pdf maker like CutePDF and open the file in Reader if you don't have the full version of Acrobat). Under the View menu in Acrobat or Reader is an option to have the text "read" to you. I listen and follow along in the document, and find I get so much more out of it than if I was just reading. Some of the words aren't pronounced correctly, but if you're following along, between listening and reading, you can get it all.

This method may not work for everyone, but since it worked for me, I thought I'd share it. I'll post more later about what I discover as I read the writings of the Early Church Fathers.

Lisa G.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Dangers Of A Self Centered Gospel

I found this video on Purgatorio and had to share it. It is an emotional video to be sure but watch it and then read my comments afterward.

Notice what this man puts in each slide, "I did this,""I did that," every slide is about what he did never once is God and what He has done mentioned. This is very sad to have spent 33 years relying on oneself to save oneself must truly have been a lonely journey. No wonder he is bitter, nothing he did could save himself. I encourage everyone to pray for this man but I would like to point out one other thing. Why did this man grow up in a Christian home, attend college, join the ministry, read his Bible and never once see that salvation is of the Lord? Because the Holy Spirit never opened his eyes to the truth. So while we should continue in prayer for him do not forget the words of Paul in Romans 9:

"22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles."
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Ro 9:22-24 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

Please never forget the riches of His glory He has made known to us. The reason some never believe is for the benefit of the ones who do, so that we will all the more praise and worship the God who saved us and deserves all glory.

In Christ

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Every Now And Then Even A Blind Squirrel Finds A Nut.

This video is from a Way of the Master show aired on TBN. It features Paul Washer and one of the things I love listening to him talk about—his experience as a missionary. It does not matter where one is, in America or in a tribal country, the message is the same: Christ crucified for sinners. When we start doing programs and groups and whatever to appeal to a larger audience, the gospel gets lost. The gospel is an offense, and we should worry if the numbers of converts we are seeing goes up. This should make us question our methods and what we are doing and preaching. Enjoy this video; I did.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Grammar Again?

It has been my experience in general that Arminians do not spend the time to learn the original languages, and many of those who do abandon their Armininan views. It is true at my Arminian undergrad school we had a Greek professor who was Arminian, but he also was a higher criticism adherant and whenever we would dialog about the Greek text he would time after time appeal to his knowledge instead of appealing to the text. Frustrating to say the least, he actually claimed at one point that the translators of Romans for the NIV were Calvinists, that is why it appears the doctrines of grace are in the book. I gently reminded him that Romans was written by a Calvinist. In the following CrossTV video JR is James White from Alpha and Omega ministries and Dave is Dave Hunt an Arminian who attacks Calvinism whenever he can. By the way, Dave has no understanding of Greek. Watch and learn a bit more about Greek grammar.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Providence Is A Wonderful Thing

Just when I was thinking about looking into a way of posting audio files on my blog I happen to visit the Captain's blog and find this BOX thingy in his sidebar. So I went ahead and stole it and put it on my sidebar. It's a neat little widget that actually lets me upload audio files that can then be played from my blog. I put up three sermons from my pastor in St. Louis, Scott Churnock. He is one of the best expositors of Scripture I have ever heard and I think more people need to hear him. Don't worry, he does not visit my blog so there is no danger of him getting a big head. There is a 10mb limit so I had to pick sermons less than that, which is no mean feat when one is sifting through sermons by a reformed pastor. If anyone is interested he just finished sermon 95 and is just finishing Romans 8 and I have them all. I will gladly provide an itunes link for any who are interested.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Alpha-- Christ's Friend Or Foe?

I was planning on doing a post on the Alpha course but Dusty Peterson has done such a fine job I thought I would just link to one of his outstanding articles.

DESPITE failing to reverse the decline in church attendance in the UK, the Alpha Course has swept the globe and is being used by an incredibly wide range of groups – including Methodists and Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Seventh-Day Adventists.1 Where other evangelistic initiatives have petered out very swiftly, Alpha has done the opposite. From its roots in the late 1970s, Alpha has grown to stunning proportions today and over a million souls try it each year. Let us uncover its secret…
To continue reading click here

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Charles Finney, Hero Or Heretic?

Ok, I will not keep you in suspense, Charles Finney is a heretic. I was browsing his Systematic Theology, which is more like a Systematic Ethics, and found myself amazed at the ideas he so vociferously taught. I am more shocked by the number today who consider Finney a legend, "The father of revival" as he has been called. If you bring a group to your congregation to hold a "revival" you can thank Mr. Finney. It still bothers me that people think they can bring about revival, God is the only one who can bring about genuine revival. Watch these videos closely and learn more about the heresy of decisional regeneration.

True Worship, Divine Worship, and John Owen.

The issue of Church and worship has come up in several blogs I read regularly in recent days. It is an issue close to my heart as I had to look into this as I underwent my identity crisis in the last few years. I acquired the works of John Owen from my pastor today and was reading the first volume on the way home (my wife was driving) when I came across the quote I include in this post. It seems clear to me that we should not include things in our worship that we find appealing, that elicit emotional responses only(such as drama/skits, nowhere do we see this done in scripture yet the art form existed), or that we just "feel" good about. We are still in our corrupted minds and our fallen nature can, and often will, be wrong. I commented on another blog about not forgetting the Old Testament when we consider how we should worship. The Bible is one story from start to finish. It is the historical-redemptive story of God and His people. In the Old Testament people died when they worshiped in ways they thought were good but were not. There is great evidence for the regulative principal in worship, and if we stray outside of it we enter dangerous territory.

John Owen entered university at the age of 12, and I do not think I can say it any better than he did:

"They [believers] will receive nothing, practice nothing, own nothing in His worship, but what is of His appointment. They know that from the foundation of the world he never did allow, nor ever will, that in any thing the will of the creatures should be the measure of his honor, or the principle of His worship, either as to matter or manner. It was a witty and true sense that one gave of the Second Commandment, 'Non image, non simulachrum prohibetur, sed, non facies tibi;' — it is a making to ourselves, an inventing, a finding out ways of worship, or means of honoring God, not by him appointed, that is so severely forbidden. Believers know what entertainment all will-worship finds with God. 'Who has required this at your hand?' and, 'In vain do ye worship me, teaching for doctrines the traditions of men,' is the best it meets with I shall take leave to say what is upon my heart, and what (the Lord assisting) I shall willing endeavor to make good against all the world, — namely, that that principle, that the church has power to institute and appoint any thing or ceremony belonging to the worship of God, either as to matter or to manner, beyond the orderly observance of such circumstances as necessarily attend such ordinances as Christ himself has instituted, lies at the bottom of all the horrible superstition and idolatry, of all the confusion, blood, persecution, and wars, that have for so long a season spread themselves over the face of the Christian world; and that it is the design of a great part of the Book of the Revelation to make a discovery of this truth.

"And I doubt not but that the great controversy which God has had with this nation for so many years, and which he has pursued with so much anger and indignation, was upon this account, that, contrary to the glorious light of the Gospel, which shone among us, the wills and fancies of men, under the name of order, decency, and authority of the church (a chimera that none knew what it was, not wherein the power did consist, nor in whom reside), were imposed on men in the ways and worship of God. Neither was all that pretense of glory, beauty, comeliness, and conformity, that then was pleaded, any thing more or less than what God does so describe in the Church of Israel, Ezek 16:25, and forward. Hence was the Spirit of God in prayer derided, — hence was the powerful preaching of the gospel despised, — hence was the Sabbath-day decried, — hence was holiness stigmatized and persecuted. To what ends that Jesus Christ might be deposed from the sole power of lawmaking in his church, — that the true husband might be thrust aside, and adulterers of his spouse embraced, — that taskmasters might be appointed in and over his house, which he never gave to his church, Eph 4:11, — that a ceremonious, pompous, outward show-worship, drawn from Pagan, Judaical, and Antichristian observances, might be introduced; of all which there is not one word, little, or iota in the whole book of God. This, then, they who hold communion with Christ are careful of, — they will admit nothing, practice nothing, in the worship of God, private or public, but what they have his warrant for. Unless it comes in his name, with 'Thus saith the Lord Jesus,' they will not hear an angel from heaven."
John Owen "On Communion With God" pp. 309-310

Friday, January 4, 2008

In My Thinking?

Someone asked me if I am Calvinistic in my thinking. Well, I suppose I should take this opportunity to tell a bit more about where I came from and how I got to this place. I was raised, as a Christian, in a non-denominational Bible Church. God saved me when I was 30. I spent the better part of ten years in that church. There were many people that had a great influence on my maturing as a Christian, and there are still many there that I deeply love.

About four years ago, I sensed a calling to preach the word of God. I approached my pastor and he suggested I attend a "Bible Institute." I do not think he understood what I meant—I wanted to learn everything there is to learn about God and his word, I wanted to go to school and earn as many doctorates as they would allow me to. About this same time, I started having an identity crisis. OK, it wasn't a crisis, but that is the term, so I'll go with it. I understood that we, at our church, were evangelical, but as I was reading everything I could get my hands on, and comparing that to what I was seeing on TV and hearing on radio as evangelical teaching, I was quickly coming to understand that I was not an evangelical.

I enrolled in a Bible college and thought this would be a great way to earn my BA before heading off to seminary. The school happened to be an Arminian school. Had I known that, it still would not have kept me out, because I had no idea what an Arminian or a Calvinist was. Now, I had just finished a Bible reading plan that took me through the Bible in a year, and I was terribly excited about taking classes to learn more about the Bible and what it taught. It was not long before I had to ask myself, "What is this strange teaching I am hearing?" I do not know where they were getting their teaching from, but it was not the scripture. Within a couple of weeks, I was returning to my room every night searching the scriptures and finding the exact opposite of what I was being taught. Being in my mid-thirties and so excited about school again, I was sitting in the front of every class and my professors quickly learned my name as I would not remain silent and had to speak up every time I thought they were teaching error. I actually had one fellow student tell me, "We are never going to finish this class if you don't shut up." That made me feel good.

There also happened to be two other older guys who started at the same time I did, and both of them were "reformed" as well. Midway through our first semester, we were nicknamed the "Tulip squad," I didn't mind, and I don't think Jason or Kelvin minded either. I had an understanding of the difference between exegesis and eisegesis and was amazed at how often seminary trained men, some with doctorates, would practice the latter. Now, we are all fallen and tend to bring our own presuppositions to the text, but if we are aware of that and try as often as we can to avoid it, it goes a long way toward allowing us to understand what the text says instead of what we would like it to say.

Now Jason was new to the area and looking for a church. I searched the internet and happened upon this Presbyterian church just down the street from school. The first Sunday I took him there we walked into a Sunday School class studying Machen's "Christianity and Liberalism," the pastor there, Scott Churnock, was preaching on Romans. He had started this series seven months earlier and on that particular day was somewhere in Chapter three, that is expository preaching! He is now over two years into the book and not quite done with chapter eight, I listen via podcast every week. Anyway, I knew I had found a home, this was the kind of preaching and teaching I had been looking for. I do not think it any coincidence that shortly after I began attending he also did a three part series on covenant theology involving chapter four. At last things began falling in place, everything in scripture started becoming clearer and clearer when viewed from an historical/redemptive standpoint.

So now here I am and the doctrines of grace are the point at which I approach everything in life, I think they are where everyone should begin their thinking. So am I Calvinistic in my thinking? Well, I suppose, but only because the Bible is Calvinistic in it's meaning.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?

There is a great deal of misunderstanding surrounding Jesus' words in John 3. In verse 3 Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, and unfortunately what most people hear is "You must get yourself born again." I previously posted on the topic of whether or not we need to know Greek. Again, an English translation is sufficient for salvation, but if we are to get our doctrine correct, sometimes there is no way around it—knowing Greek will definitely help in this case.

Most of evangelical error comes as a result of people confusing indicatives with imperatives. Indicatives are statements of fact; imperatives are commands. There are two issues we must deal with in this verse if we are to interpret it correctly. First, I would like to point out that this verb, born, is in the third person. Second, it is not an imperative, so Jesus is not telling Nicodemus what he must do, He is stating facts about other, the elect, people and their condition. Jesus is saying all those who are saved are born again. He is not saying to be saved you must get born again.