Contend Earnestly: January 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

17 Year Old Gets 10 Years

This is a story of finger pointing by the secular media and secular mind set that "everyone is doing it" or "he is such a good boy." If you haven't heard of the story of the 17 year old in Georgia who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, with no parole and also has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, then you can read here. But, understand that the story is explicit in description of what happened so please only for adults.

The explanation that I have heard of why this young man should not be put into prison is because: Every youth in America is doing the same thing, or the young man was a good student, good athlete, and just all around, a good boy.

This, again, shows how much people don't like, nor will they own up for their own sins without pointing to seemingly other "worse" sins or "worse" criminals. If only they saw their sin the way that God and the Scriptures sees their sin and their "good" works.

James 2:10 tells us that if you break the law in one point you have broken the whole law. Romans 3:10-18 tells us that none are good and that without the Spirit there is no fear of God in their eyes. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our righteous deeds are like filthy rags, Genesis 6:5; 8:21 states that our thoughts and hearts are continually evil from our youth; Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is desperately sick. And what happens when we sin? Romans 6:23 states: Death forever in hell. So, with all this how can anyone plead to this young man's goodness?

Simple...what you see is what you get in America. This is why post modernism has been such a widely taught and accepted practice these days. Whatever feels true to you is true and there are no absolute truths. The thought that all people have some good in them and to always see the good in each other (secular humanism). I have yet to hear that this boy should have been put into prison because he broke the law and that he had premarital sex, or that he should take the punishment for his sin, that he should own up to what he did instead of pointing to the rest of America.

How many will be doing the same at Christ's judgment? When Christ separates the sheep and the goats, how many goats will be saying, "I wasn't as bad as that person!" The problem that the unregenerate apparently don't understand is that even the smallest sin in our eyes, separates us forever from a holy God.

I am not trying to be cold here, nor pretend that I am some righteous "standard" for anyone to follow. The difference is that I know that I am a wretched sinner saved only by God's grace and know that any righteousness in me is because of Christ imputing it unto me by His death on the cross.

When I see this kind of public outcry for the goodness of this young man I wish that someone in that community would stand up and preach the gospel so that even if this young man spends the next 10 years in prison, he will hear the truth of the ugliness of that sin and to know that 10 years is nothing in comparison to hell for eternity.

May God's glory be seen in this event and may we as God's people stand up against sin.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Door to Door Evangelism

Talk about a dead issue these days. Who goes door to door anymore? Didn't the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses ruin this for us who believe in the true Gospel? It doesn't really work, does it? As I continue in my thoughts on God's sovereignty from my last post the pracitical aspects of His sovereignty find themselves in this post and in this area of my life. I head the evangelism "team" at my church and a couple of months ago, and again yesterday, we went door to door handing out Bibles to our community and proclaiming the truth of our Lord's death and resurrection. I find this in the New Testament in Acts 5:42

And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Now, I am not saying that if you don't go door to door you are sinning. But, I must ask for all those who don't: Why not?

Is it because of the above mentioned questions: The Mormons ruined it, it doesn't work, etc. etc. Again, do we not believe in God's sovereignty? I don't care what people think of me as I walk up to their door. They can think I am a Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness; they can yell at me, shut their door in my face, or tell me to go away from the comforts behind a closed door. You know why? Because I believe that God ordains those who will not only be home or not, but also ordains who will or will not open their door. Not only that, but I believe that this person who takes a Bible might throw that Bible away and the garbage man could pick it up and see it and be saved by the power of the word of God. I believe that these people could keep it on their night stand, be on the brink of a major breakdown and decide to pick up that Bible to save their soul. All because they decided to not go to the store, to open the door to a stranger and to take a Bible and not throw it away. All because of the sovereignty of God. He does not lose anything! If one of these is His elect and I am the only one who will ever witness to them then God will not only direct my steps to their house on the correct day at the correct time, but He will not allow them to be away from their house, will not allow them to NOT open the door and will direct their heart to take a Bible and listen to the strange young man speaking of Christ.

Have the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses "ruined" this for us Christians? Only if you believe that God is not completely sovereign. Because I believe that He is, I go. Yesterday we knocked on many doors, had many responses, but in the end we handed out 40 Bibles to people who may or may not have their own copy of the sacred Scriptures. Now my prayer is that God would open the eyes of their heart to understand them.

Also, if I hear one more person say that "door to door doesn't work" or that "going door to door isn't their 'gift'" I might scream.

May we all press on towards the goal, and that goal is for God to be glorified in all we do.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

God is Sovereign

Where has the sovereignty of God gone? I recently read a book by James White, called The Sovereign Grace of God, and before going into his beliefs on Calvinism he first had to defend God’s sovereignty. Where have we gone in modern Christendom? Where have we gone that we have to defend, amongst Christians, that God is completely sovereign? I know the debates are strong in the area of Calvinism and Arminianism but God’s sovereignty should not be apart of this debate as this is our core of beliefs. Of course this belief on God leaving us humans to our “free will” has gone exactly where anyone could have guessed, to Process Theology and complete Open Theism. I am excited to have Dr. Bruce Ware coming up to Seattle and discuss this issue at hand, but to think that this is not a discussion between pagans and Christians, but against those who believe in Yahweh, is astonishing. If God is not completely sovereign, yes even in salvation, how can we hope in His omnipotence and omniscience? Some say that God knows all things but does not ordain all things, but Scripture speaks completely to the opposite. Not only can we see this in narrative parts of Scripture but also in the prophets and wisdom literature as well. Let us see the three different areas in compact form. I just want to show one example from each so you can see that God not only knows the future but He actually ordains the future as well, very important to understand.

First, in narrative Scripture.

“Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is
my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have
done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the
integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning
against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.”

Genesis 20:5,6

This comes from when Abraham was traveling with his wife Sarah and came to the land of Gerar (Gerar was near the coast about 12 miles south of Gaza and about 50 miles south of Hebron, in the land of the Philistines) where he tells King Abimelech that Sarah is his sister so that the King does not kill Abraham for his wife. Notice that God says that He “kept” the King “from sinning;” which literally means to restrain or hold back, showing that if the King were left to his own desires the King would have surely done as Abraham predicted (for you don’t have to restrain something unless it is fighting against another force, like restraining water with a dam). God also, “did not let” the King touch her. God shows that from His hand He truly decrees what will happen. We don’t know what would have happened if God didn’t intervene, one can only imagine, but that was not apart of God’s plan so He did not allow it to happen. So you can see the King did not have a “free will” to choose what he would do, but God directed the King’s heart and kept him from sinning.

The second comes from the Prophets:

“Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Because you have not obeyed My words,
behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the
LORD, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will
bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these
nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and
a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. ‘Moreover, I will take from them
the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the
voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. ‘This
whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the
king of Babylon seventy years. ‘Then it will be when seventy years are completed
I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the LORD, ‘for
their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting

Jeremiah 25:8-12

Notice here the great insight to the plans of the Lord. God says, speaking through Jeremiah, that it is only Him who will do all these things. In these five verses God uses the phrase “I will” six times. God is making sure that we know exactly who is declaring these times of destruction of not only His people but also those who were allowed to carry out their sinful and darkened ways. The discussion of the punishment of this sin is for another discussion but shows again, God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in sin. But in all this, God is the one who is doing the sending and the destruction.

The last is in the Wisdom literature:

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.
Proverbs 21:1

The first verse is a very strong verse. The word for “directs” means to literally “to be securely determined.” So even though we as men might have thoughts and intents on what we will be doing it is God who determines our steps. This is why David can say in Psalm 139 that God “leads him with His hand” and that all his ways were “ordained” or “predetermined” before David was even born.

The second verse is again to show that even the highest courts of men cannot do anything that is not from the hand of God. God turns the King’s heart wherever God wishes, or better yet, wherever God “is pleased to.” Would make sense so that we can truly cry out that no matter what, “God is glorified.”

These are just a quick overview of some great verses in the Bible that speak to the sovereignty of God; which is important to truly trust, so that we can believe Paul when he says,

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who
love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28

How can one believe that these words are true unless they believe that God is completely sovereign in all things? This should not be something that is “debated” amongst Christians, this should be an afterthought. For if God is not completely sovereign, then just one mistake out of someone’s “free will” would cause all the preceding verses and revelatory verses to crumble.

I truly would like someone who doesn’t believe in complete sovereignty to exegete these passages above to show they could mean something besides God pre ordaining all things.

I love the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and it allows me much hope and security in times of distress and trials to know that God is in complete control; even in the lives of those I know that don’t know Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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USS New York

She was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center.

She is the fifth in a new class of warship - designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft.

Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, LA to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept. 9, 2003, "those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence," recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. "It was a spiritual moment for everybody there."

Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the "hair on my neck stood up." "It had a big meaning to it for all of us," he said. "They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back."

The ship's motto? "Never Forget"

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Letter from Iraq

This is a letter from a dear friend from my church who is over in Iraq fighting in the war. I hope that this will encourage us who are here to pray for our soldiers and realize the luxuries we have here in our homeland. I pray that as you read this you would feel as I, our providence is sovereign and divine, Soli Deo Gloria!

Well, as I told you in the brief email, the official word has finally come down and we are extended. It?s kind of strange that so many of us volunteered but only for specified amount of time. For myself that date was May 1st but since the Brigade was coming back early in March, my choice was to remain in Iraq with a third Brigade here (which I was not going to do) for at least another six months or return home (which was my intent).
Now, it looks like I will be here until at least the end of July unless I hear otherwise.

So, now the question on everyone's mind is how do I really feel about it? Since some of you know me and others are learning about me, you can understand that I analyze almost everything. With that in mind here is what I think.

On the negative side, I am away from my family, friends and church. I am in a war zone in which occasionally we have rockets or mortars exploding someplace near. I live in a desert where sometimes in the winter it is so cold I can see my breath in the summer so hot I can hardly breathe. I eat food that after a month here looks and smells the same. There are times when I am lonely, sometimes fearful and sometimes depressed. I work seven days a week and holidays march by as any other day even those that I revere. I wear the same clothes everyday. Everyone around me wears the same. I sleep surrounded by stonewalls. I am imprisoned behind concertina wire and only occasionally can I venture out at the risk of injury or death. At times I must wear 70 pounds of armor and at all times I carry my M16. I eat with it, drink with it, bathe with it, sleep with it and even pray with it. When it is turned in I will feel like the amputee who can still feel the lost limb even though it is gone. I have known death and it is burned into my memory. Never will I be the same man again. I work with many who do not worship the same God I do nor speak the same language I speak. I do not know who the enemy is as they wear no uniforms. The dust burns my eyes; the heat burns my skin and sucks the energy from my bones. Drinking water is no longer just a relief from the heat but a requirement to keep moving during the day. I am weary and tired and the pain in my back sometimes forces me to stop and find something to lean on or sit down on. I am a prisoner in a strange land with no possibility of parole until the sentence is finished. My family is thousands of miles away and my mother is slowly losing her memory and I fear that she may not know me the next time I see her.

In all of this, yes all of it, I give praise to God for being here. I have walked in Abraham's home, walked on stones that filtered the waters of the Garden of Eden, flown over and walked where many in the old testament walked. I have lived in hell but felt closer to heaven. I have prayed with soldiers, become friends with Chaplains and cried at memorials. I have met the people of this land and moved from being fearful and suspicious to respectful and in awe. I have turned from looking at them as the enemy to looking at them with compassion and love. I eat the food and give thanks for it. I bear the weight of the armor and am thankful that even though I am sometimes in pain, He gives me the strength to continue on, to not give up as I could easily do. With His guidance I humbly write these words so that you can feel some of what I am feeling. It is a gift He has given me to give to you.

Yes I miss my family but He comforts me. He answered my prayer to see my mother before she got any worse and I did before I was deployed to Iraq. When I am depressed, He picks me up and shows me that my life is rich compared to others. When I am fearful He reminds that He is with me and I have nothing to fear. When I work, He gives me rest.

He has blessed me with a wife and family who show nothing but support for what I am doing here.

And now He has extended my time here in Iraq to participate in what might be the beginning of the end for the enemy. But is that the reason I am here? I do not know for Gods plan is sovereign. Am I here to bring some to the Lord or to encourage someone reading this? Am I here to write a book or to learn for my own growth? Or maybe I am here to learn that all are Gods children and to not judge those that have been led astray and believe in a god that is not the true God. I do not know for Gods plan is sovereign.

I used to believe that I volunteered to be here but I don?t believe that anymore. I believe, no that is not correct, I know, God urged me to volunteer. I feared failing the physical but I passed. I feared that I would not be able to handle the armor but I did. I feared, at my age, to wear the 70 pounds of armor and carry over 100 pounds of equipment and though I struggled, I did it. I feared the unknown but embraced it. I feared not being up for the task and at times I excelled. I hated leaving my family, felt the pain of the loss of my brothers wife, the loss of an Aunt, my mother moving to a home and the pain my father must feel over it. But I handled it. I was not there when Tyler had a major operation, was not there for my anniversary, nor my wife?s birthday. I will miss my sons 18th birthday, the anniversary of the day my wife and I met, and I will be alone for my 52nd birthday (another birthday). But I handled it. Do not think that I handled it due to any strength I have because it just is not true. It has only been through Him who has given me the strength when I have felt I have none left. There are days when I ache over missing so much for not being there for my family. No dear friends it is not my strength that keeps me moving. It is not me who walks the base not fearing the rockets that may or may not fall. It is only through Him.

No, I do not know why I am here and it may sound strange but I don?t care. I don?t care if I ever know until I have the opportunity to ask the Lord face to face. I just know that for whatever reason; it is His will and I am humbled that He has chosen me for some task that my small, finite mind cannot fathom. Whether it is for me personally or for others or for both, He is my God and I gladly will follow Him wherever He leads me.

One thing I have learned is that we who are believers never need to question our worth or judge others by how many people they have or have not led to the Lord. We need only to understand that once saved, we are His and once open to His will, we are His vessel that He will use sometimes, I believe, without our even realizing it. Is it really important to know what He has done through us or is it more important that we are open to His will and accepting of our place on this Earth? No dear brothers and sister I do not know Gods plan for me here in Iraq, all I know is that He is here with me and He is sovereign. As much as I desire to know, I accept that I do not and may never. I just know that I have learned and grown, my wife and son have learned and grown. If there is no other reason for my being here, I praise Him for it. But I must admit that in the back of mind there is more that He has planned. He has shown me so much here. He has turned the desert from an ugly
sandy nomads land where no life existed into something totally unexpected by me; a land that has so much beauty if you just open your eyes. He opened mine. He showed me the beauty of the stars in the sky in Tikrit, the animals and plants and even the dust devils that cut across the land. He has let me mingle with the people here. I still am amazed. I am still in awe and I am still thankful.
So be at peace with my being here longer. God is not through with me here yet and has something else He needs me to do. I don't know what it is but my God is sovereign.

May the Lord who created the heavens, the Earth, Adam and Eve, became man and was crucified, buried and rose on the third day, bless you and your family. May you never doubt your worth, accept your failures, repent and move forward. May the pain you have suffered in your lives be replaced with the knowledge that our God is a good God and there is a plan for ALL of us. May you always understand that God loves you no matter what. And when you sin as we all do it is not God who turns his back on you but we who turn our backs in shame. And when we ask for forgiveness and turn back to face our Father, remember that He is not frowning at you as if you are a bad child returning to the fold. No, He is smiling, possibly with tears of happiness in His eyes and His hand extended saying, ?I told you that I would never forsake you?. Believe it!

God Bless you all. Pray hard for the protection of those soldiers who will march into Baghdad. Remain strong in the faith He is our sovereign God and pray that all of those who face death daily come to believe as we do; that God does love them and will be with them. Most importantly pray that many will come to know the Lord; both the soldier and the people of Iraq.

Be Blessed,

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Contend Earnestly Books

Although a work in progress to get more of the commentaries on the site, our book review blog is up and running. Hope you enjoy, and for those that I know through the blogosphere, I would also love if you wanted to drop a book review on the site to let me know...the more the merrier. Contend Earnestly Books

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Dueling Blogs

Just wanted all to know that starting this Saturday I, Seth, will be "dueling" with Josh from Theology Online in dealing with eschatology. Josh and I have discussed many things over the internet and have enjoyed sharing instead of quarreling over matters. Josh emailed me and invited me to do something that I have never done, dueling blog posts. It should be interesting and I hope that no one, meaning commenters, will deal with this issue in a hateful manner. Be on your best behavior and know that I have a great deal of respect for Josh in our differences in the past. We are going to start our discussion on Pre-Trib vs. Post-Trib rapture. I hope you all enjoy and in the meantime check out a great series on Bible Versions on Theology Online from Larry (Theologian).

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Resurgence Conference 2007

I am now excited for this March more than I was before, because of the Resurgence Conference here in Seattle. It is sponsered by Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church and the keynote speaker is Dr. Bruce Ware. It used to be that Seattle got very little attention but now, we are getting more and more. I pray that this will continue and looks like it will with James White doing a cruise up here next October as well.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Theonomy Discussion

I was surprised, showing my ignorance of some issues, to find out a view I did not know was growing with popularity: Theonomy: theos = God + nomo = law. As a theological expression, it means the abiding authority of all of the Bible's teachings, unless the Bible itself asserts that those teachings have been fulfilled or rescinded.

It first came out in our discussion on Calvin vs Servetus and then "the gloves came off." I found an article that I have just started to read, but before I finished, I thought I would go ahead and supply the link for all to read. Enjoy.

Theonomy, A Reformed Baptist Assessment
by Sam Waldron

ummm...go read the article...I have nothing else to say

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sealed: Holy Spirit and Circumcision

We had a great discussion, and I stress discussion, over at Theology Online about paedo baptism vs credo baptism. I thought that Lance Roberts brought out a great point so I thought I would stress it in blog form. The paedo baptist would contend that our children, children of the covenant, are to be baptized in the same way that a child was circumcised in the Old Testament. We as credo baptist would believe that baptism is only given to believers as a sign of what the Holy Spirit did on the inside when He baptized us internally (Romans 6). Please do not get this confused with the second baptism of the Spirit that charismatics speak of.

The real question though is what is the role of baptism? I will say this to make sure all understand. I used to think that paedo baptist had no reasoning for their thought process and just did it from tradition of the Catholic Church that carried over to Calvin, Luther and then to the newly found Presbyterian Church of long ago.

Again, go to either Lane's blog or Josh's to get a better understanding of the paedo baptism stance on the issue at hand. Here was Lance's thoughts and I find them interesting:

The seal for the faith of Abraham was circumcision and our seal in the New Testament church is the Holy Spirit. Here are the proof texts:

How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while
circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of
circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while
uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without
being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,

Here is the other texts referring to us as the New Testament saints:

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your
salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit
of promise,
Ephesians 1:13

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30

This thought of the Holy Spirit being our "circumcision" would make a lot of sense as well. This would also make sense being that the Israelites were told that their hearts must be circumcised.
We find this in Jeremiah 4:4; Deut 10:16; 30:6

Further, Ezekiel 36:26 states:

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I
will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and
you will be careful to observe My ordinances."

I know this is a lot of Scripture references but here is the last one that seems to point that the Holy Spirit, when He regenerates, He gives you the circumcision not made by hands:

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;
Colossians 2:11

But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
Rom 2:29

So, it seems through this process that the Holy Spirit, when He regenerates, circumcises, then our obedience would be to follow this inward circumcision with our outward observance of that through baptism. Since only the believer is baptized with the Spirit and circumcised by Him, only those who believe should be baptized, not the children.

Acts 2:38
Repent and be baptized

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Genesis 22 - Part 3

The last time that we left off we ended with Genesis 22:5, with Abraham commenting that "we will worship and return to you." We now move on to the crux of the passage as Abraham and Isaac leave together to worship their God. Here is our verse:

Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.
Genesis 22:6

Notice that this again, is showing Abraham, as the one who prepared the wood for the offering and placing it on his son. We see the same mentioned in John 3:16, that shows that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to be sacrificed. In essence, God placed the cross on the shoulders of Christ for His Son to bear. Notice also that Abraham carries the fire and the knife, those things which actually slay the son. As we have seen before, in Acts 2:23 that Christ was delivered over by the predermined plan and foreknowledge of God. So, God sent Christ to the cross. We also see this more fully in Isaiah 53:4d

...smitten of God, and afflicted
The word for smitten means to be struck down, just as Abraham was to strike down His son.

Genesis 22:8 continues:

Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my
son." So the two of them walked on together.

God will indeed provide a Lamb.

saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power
and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."
Rev 5:12

Notice also that the two of them walking together to the place of the offering, showing a constant communion, as with our Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father. Their constant communion is one that cannot be fully shown on the pages of Scripture and we will never fully understand what it meant spiritually when Christ states on the cross:

Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?
Mark 15:34


Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the
altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the

altar, on top of the wood.
Genesis 22:9

Two things of note here is to notice that it was Abraham who bound his son Isaac on the wood, showing once again that it was Abraham, just as God was, doing the sacrificing. But, one thing often missed is to know that Isaac is somewhere between the age of 17-35, the Jewish Talmud states that Isaac was in his early 30's, while Abraham was over the age of 100. So, not only did Abraham bound Isaac, but Isaac was old enough and strong enough to not allow this to happen. He could have very well decided that his father was in the wrong and not allow this to happen; but Isaac was a willing sacrifice. Just as Christ. Christ willingly gave up his life.

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set
before Him endured the cross,despising the shame, and has sat down at the right
hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2
As we conclude, Genesis 22:13 states:

Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in
the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up
for a burnt offering in the place of his son.

Notice that the promised Lamb was not yet sent to Abraham but it was a ram. Christ was yet to come, the Lamb, to take away the sins of not only Isaac but to Abraham and God's chosen people. Isaac, as Christ, was the sacrifice, the willing sacrifice. Notice also that Isaac never once complains to his father, but is submissive to him at all times. The only time he questions his father is asking, "Where is the lamb?" But the question is almost posed as if Isaac was saying I will go and get the lamb if we have none, the question was not to degrade his father. Isaac at all times was submissive to his father; just as Christ.

What great insights in the foreshadowing of the cross. What great promises we have in Christ, that in Him their is no sin and He exchanged that righteousness for those who will believe. Have you believed? Take a look at this site that explains God's great gift of salvation.

Know this. That God provided the ram for Abraham and even greater:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

He is definitely the great and only, Jehovah Jireh. (Genesis 22:14)

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Prayer and Answered Prayer for Al Mohler

Most of you know that Al Mohler has been having some serious health issues, but here is the update that I have taken from Tim Challies:

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was moved out of intensive care and into a private room at Baptist Hospital East this afternoon and continues to improve following complications from abdominal surgery that was performed Dec. 28.

Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern, said Mohler is in good spirits following a difficult weekend.

"I am extremely encouraged after having just left his room," Moore said Monday afternoon. "He is eating, he is in good spirits and it looks as though the situation is completely under control at this point. He looks strong, is in remarkably good spirits and is even cracking jokes.

"Dr. Mohler is very appreciative of the prayers of God’s people and the outpouring of support from the churches and from the community."

Mohler was placed in intensive care Friday after developing blood clots in both lungs. After nearly a week of intense abdominal pain, he was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 27 and underwent surgery the following day.

While physicians reported that the procedure went well and that Mohler's abdominal issues were remedied, the development of blood clots led doctors to move Mohler to the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Moore asked that the seminary community and local churches continue to pray for Mohler and his family during the recovery. It is not yet known when Mohler will be released from the hospital, however Moore said the improvement in Mohler's condition along with his high spirits were readily evident.

"He has a stack of books and articles in his bed along with a massive number of highlighters," Moore said, "so the Albert Mohler I know is back."

Prayer Requested:

Let's continue to pray that God will heal Dr. Mohler and get him back to serving Him in his home, church and seminary.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Which Church is it? Universal or Philadelphia's

I know that we have a lot of reformed readers here that will jump on this band wagon and love to "make fun" of me and my co-horts being dispensationalists, but I still must point out a troubling "proof" text that someone recently used for the rapture of the church. And when I say that my reformed friends will "make fun" I am kidding as they have been very gracious to us here at Contend Earnestly and I have enjoyed their company. Now time to move on.

As I was a young boy in the pew of my churches we would always sing "Just as I am" or "I surrender all," both great songs, and as people would respond to the altar call, which I longer adhere to, the pastor would almost always say, "Jesus stands at the door and knocks and whomever lets Him in will have eternal life."

This reference has been used by a lot of "free-willers" and Arminians to show that Jesus Christ literally stands at the heart of every man. This view of Christ really depicts a sorrowful Saviour with no control, and definitely no sovereignty, but almost seems as though He just waits on us and when we finally decide, "He wins one for the gipper!" Sorry, but this is not what this means and this is not what happens. Read John 6:35-45 and pick up "Drawn by the Father" for the illustration and exhortation on that text.

The verse used is in Revelation is speaking directly to the church of Laodicea, and them alone. Christ was not welcomed in their worship and Christ was commanding to be worshiped or their church was to be condemned.

Anyway. If we take this in context, we must also throw out another misnomer. It is this letter directed towards Philadelphia.

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you
from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole
world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

Revelation 3:10

I have heard many use this as a way of showing a Pre-Trib Rapture, which to many reading this sounds like folly in itself, but bear with me. There are other verses that I see that we can use for the pre-trip rapture but we must not go here for that exhortation. For if you use this we must adhere to, Jesus standing at the heart of every man waiting to be accepted, which I will never do.

We must test all those who are teachers to the word of the Lord and as I look at this defense of a pre-trip rapture it leaves me wanting. Are we really willing to use this verse as a an overarching message to the universal church? Because if we do we must not stop there and must charge that the same is meant in the next view verses to Laodicea when speaking of the knocking at the door, and that cannot be or the whole of the Doctrines of Grace does not make sense.

This promise is only for Philadelphia and not for us. Philadelphia's faith was great, therefore they will not have to go through the time of wrath.

Use discernment and test these Scriptures that have been used so many times in the past.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Packer on Recovering the Gospel

I took this from "Morning Coffee with Gomarus" and thought I would share it here as well. Enjoy and thanks Jim for the post!

The following is an extract from J. I. Packer’s Introduction to a 1958 reprint of John Owen’s, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Although penned over 35 years ago, Packer’s words ring truer than ever when he says “One of the most urgent tasks facing Evangelical Christendom today is the recovery of the gospel.” He follows with these words:

This last remark may cause some raising of eyebrows, but it seems to be warranted by the facts.

There is no doubt that Evangelicalism today is in a state of perplexity and unsettlement. In such matters as the practice of evangelism, the teaching of holiness, the building up of local church life, the pastor’s dealing with souls and the exercise of discipline, there is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction with things as they are and of equally widespread uncertainty as to the road ahead. This is a complex phenomenon, to which many factors have contributed; but, if we go to the root of the matter, we shall find that these perplexities are all ultimately due to our having lost our grip on the biblical gospel. Without realising it, we have during the past century bartered that gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing. Hence our troubles; for the substitute product does not answer the ends for which the authentic gospel has in past days proved itself so mighty. The new gospel conspicuously fails to produce deep reverence, deep repentance, deep humility, a spirit of worship, a concern for the church. Why? We would suggest that the reason lies in its own character and content. It fails to make men God-centred in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts because this is not primarily what it is trying to do.

One way of stating the difference between it and the old gospel is to say that it is too exclusively concerned to be “helpful” to man—to bring peace, comfort, happiness, satisfaction—and too little concerned to glorify God. The old gospel was “helpful,” too—more so, indeed, than is the new—but (so to speak) incidentally, for its first concern was always to give glory to God. It was always and essentially a proclamation of Divine sovereignty in mercy and judgment, a summons to bow down and worship the mighty Lord on whom man depends for all good, both in nature and in grace. Its centre of reference was unambiguously God. But in the new gospel the centre of reference is man. This is just to say that the old gospel was religious in a way that the new gospel is not. Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach men to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better. The subject of the old gospel was God and His ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference. The whole perspective and emphasis of gospel preaching has changed.

From this change of interest has sprung a change of content, for the new gospel has in effect reformulated the biblical message in the supposed interests of “helpfulness.” Accordingly, the themes of man’s natural inability to believe, of God’s free election being the ultimate cause of salvation, and of Christ dying specifically for His sheep, are not preached. These doctrines, it would be said, are not “helpful”; they would drive sinners to despair, by suggesting to them that it is not in their own power to be saved through Christ. (The possibility that such despair might be salutary is not considered; it is taken for granted that it cannot be, because it is so shattering to our self-esteem.) However this may be, the result of these omissions is that part of the biblical gospel is now preached as if it were the whole of that gospel; and a half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth. Thus, we appeal to men as if they all had the ability to receive Christ at any time; we speak of His redeeming work as if He had done no more by dying than make it possible for us to save ourselves by believing; we speak of God’s love as if it were no more than a general willingness to receive any who will turn and trust; and we depict the Father and the Son, not as sovereignly active in drawing sinners to themselves, but as waiting in quiet impotence “at the door of our hearts” for us to let them in. It is undeniable that this is how we preach; perhaps this is what we really believe. But it needs to be said with emphasis that this set of twisted half-truths is something other than the biblical gospel. The Bible is against us when we preach in this way; and the fact that such preaching has become almost standard practice among us only shows how urgent it is that we should review this matter. To recover the old, authentic, biblical gospel, and to bring our preaching and practice back into line with it, is perhaps our most pressing present need.

Note: It is at this point that Packer suggests Owen’s treatise on redemption (The Death of Death) can give us help. For Packer’s entire introduction, see here.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Are Homosexuals "Born that Way?"

Tyrone asked a very good question, "Are homosexuals born homosexuals, or are they born into sin, like all of us, with this specific sin being their "vice?" I have gone back and forth in my own mind over the past couple of years with this issue. First, I thought, of course they weren't born that way, there is no way! Then again, I had no Scripture to point to. So, then I thought: Are we not all born into sin, some of us prideful, some of us lustful, some of us greedy, some of us, etc. etc. etc. So couldn't some of us just be born gay? This doesn't say that being gay is not a sin, for it still does, and still says that those who are gay, prideful, lustful, greedy, and the such still are commanded to repent and turn to Christ. But then I found the clincher that changed my mind once again.

Romans 1:27

and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

The word for "natural" means in the Greek "inborn" or "produced by nature." This means that those that are gay are going against what they were inborn with: heterosexuality. If you look even further into Greek literature, Aristotle and the such, they also used this exact word for "the way nature intended" when using this word in their writings. I am not saying that they were writing about homosexuality, but they used the words when pertaining to the way "things were meant to be by nature." So, I have gone back to my roots, with Scripture this time, knowing that the homosexual is NOT born a homosexual. They are however, like us all, born into sin. They might have different struggles than we do in this particular sin, but they were not specifically born as a homosexual.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Around the Web

Fide-O discusses church membership

Theology Online "debating" on baptism and a little on covenants

Calvinist Gadfly having an interesting time with some songs

Dan Philips has an interesting post over on Team Pyro

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Is Homosexuality a Sin?

I have been having a dialogue with someone who emailed me and asked if I felt that homosexuality is a sin. As we have dialogued through email the discussion turned into more of a heated debate. I am saddened when I see this happen but am not surprised when we are speaking of such a "hot" topic these days and also trying to defend it with the most absolute and closed-minded source: the Bible.

Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?
Jeremiah 23:29

When we take a look at homosexuality we must see what God says to the issue and then we will take a look at what this person has tried to refute me with.

The first and obvious Scripture lies in these verses:

You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.
Leviticus 18:22

If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act
Leviticus 20:13

To these the man replied, "this is the law of the Old Testament and has no barring for us in the New"

Without going into a complete defense of this I just remarked simply, "In Leviticus 18:23 it tells us not to mate with animals, is this now appropriate for Christians to do?" Simply put, no answer on this one from him.

I then went to the New Testament and showed Romans 1:26,27

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

This obviously points to not only the lust but also the carrying out of that lust to the "indecent act."

He tried to then say, "this is saying that it is unnatural for a heterosexual to have lust for another man but it is okay for a homosexual to have that same lust."

The interesting point to also make is that when we see the word "men with men" in verse 27, this is a Greek term meaning, "abuser of (one’s) self with mankind, a sodomite" So if anything, this isnt' even speaking to a heterosexual because a heterosexual will not have these lusts or these acts that are both called improper and improper.

The same term for "men with men" is used both in 1 Cor 6:9 and also 1 Timothy 1:10, and they both point to that the homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God.

I will stress this, if you have read this far, I do not "focus" my time on this issue, nor do I put it above other sins as more vital or less vital, but trust the word of the Lord that says:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he
has become guilty of all.
James 2:10

The finality of my email to him was that the burden of proof lies on him. God never speaks of homosexuality in any sort of good whatsoever, and actually sends down fire from heaven to destroy a city because of it.

To put some kindling on the fire I also had to refute his idea that David and Jonathan had a love relationship with one another that extended past friendship.

May we all hold to Scripture alone and His glory alone.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Luther's 97 Theses: Disputation Against Scholastic Theology

I have taken this from the book: Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings edited by Timothy F. Lull

In this crucial document from the early fall of 1517, Luther offers a number of theses for debate that are sharply critical of the currently reigning method of scholastic theology, with its high confidence in human reason and free will. The philosophical dependence of theology on Aristotle, going back two hundred and fifty years to St. Thomas Aquinas, may initially have been a creative and worthwhile experiment. But now as Luther views the scholastic theology of his own time, this approach has blunted the distinctiveness of the gospel.
The reader may well find the thesis-form forbidding and find some of the issues that Luther is addressing difficult to understand. These theses were written for a student to defend in an academic exercise at the University of Wittenberg and therefore were designed only to provide initial clues about these positions. Their very pointed, exaggerated nature is part of the intellectual challenge of the disputation for those who must develop and defend them.
But the reader who perseveres will find in them many of the major themes of Luther’s own theology as they had been emerging in his biblical lectures of the preceding years. One can at least see that Luther already had strong convictions on a number of issues, especially the relations between sin, grace, free will, and good works, even before the debate about indulgences began.
Luther’s language is sharp, but his official posture is still deferential. He concludes the attack on scholastic theology with the claim that we believe we have said nothing that is not in agreement with the Catholic church and the teachers of the church. But within weeks Luther had launched a debate about the selling of indulgences that brought him and his theology to the attention of the highest church authorities.

Translated by Harold J. Grimm

1. To say that Augustine exaggerates in speaking against heretics is to say that Augustine tells lies almost everywhere. This is contrary to common knowledge.
2. This is the same as permitting Pelagians1 and all heretics to triumph, indeed, the same as conceding victory to them.
3. It is the same as making sport of the authority of all doctors of theology.
4. It is therefore true that man, being a bad tree, can only will and do evil [Cf. Matt. 7:17–18].
5. It is false to state that man’s inclination is free to choose between either of two opposites. Indeed, the inclination is not free, but captive. Tiffs is said in opposition to common opinion.

6. It is false to state that the will can by nature conform to correct precept. This is said in opposition to Scotus2 and Gabriel.3
7. As a matter of fact, without the grace of God the will produces an act that is perverse and evil.
8. It does not, however, follow that the will is by nature evil, that is, essentially evil, as the Manichaeans4 maintain.
9. It is nevertheless innately and inevitably evil and corrupt.
10. One must concede that the will is not free to strive toward whatever is declared good. This in opposition to Scotus and Gabriel.
11. Nor is it able to will or not to will whatever is prescribed.
12. Nor does one contradict St. Augustine when one says that nothing is so much in the power of the will as the will itself.
13. It is absurd to conclude that erring man can love the creature above all things, therefore also God. This in opposition to Scotus and Gabriel.
14. Nor is it surprising that the will can conform to erroneous and not to correct precept.
15. Indeed, it is peculiar to it that it can only conform to erroneous and not to correct precept.
16. One ought rather to conclude: since erring man is able to love the creature it is impossible for him to love God.
17. Man is by nature unable to want God to be God. Indeed, he himself wants to be God, and does not want God to be God.
18. To love God above all things by nature is a fictitious term, a chimera, as it were. This is contrary to common teaching.
19. Nor can we apply the reasoning of Scotus concerning the brave citizen who loves his country more than himself.
20. An act of friendship is done, not according to nature, but according to prevenient grace. This in opposition to Gabriel.
21. No act is done according to nature that is not an act of concupiscence against God.
22. Every act of concupiscence against God is evil and a fornication of the spirit.
23. Nor is it true that an act of concupiscence can be set aright by the virtue of hope. This in opposition to Gabriel.
24. For hope is not contrary to charity, which seeks and desires only that which is of God.
25. Hope does not grow out of merits, but out of suffering which destroys merits. This in opposition to the opinion of many.
26. An act of friendship is not the most perfect means for accomplishing that which is in one.5 Nor is it the most perfect means for obtaining the grace of God or turning toward and approaching God.
27. But it is an act of conversion already perfected, following grace both in time and by nature.
28. If it is said of the Scripture passages, “Return to me,…and I will return to you” [Zech. 1:3.], “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” [Jas. 4:8], “Seek and you will find” [Matt. 7:7], “You will seek me and find me” [Jer. 29:13], and the like, that one is by nature, the other by grace, this is no different from asserting what the Pelagians have said.
29. The best and infallible preparation for grace and the sole disposition toward grace is the eternal election and predestination of God.
30. On the part of man, however, nothing precedes grace except indisposition and even rebellion against grace.
31. It is said with the idlest demonstrations that the predestined can be damned individually but not collectively. This in opposition to the scholastics.
32. Moreover, nothing is achieved by the following saying: Predestination is necessary by virtue of the consequence of God’s willing, but not of what actually followed, namely, that God had to elect a certain person.
33. And this is false, that doing all that one is able to do can remove the obstacles to grace. This in opposition to several authorities.
34. In brief, man by nature has neither correct precept nor good will.
35. It is not true that an invincible ignorance excuses one completely (all scholastics notwithstanding);
36. For ignorance of God and oneself and good work is always invincible to nature.
37. Nature, moreover, inwardly and necessarily glories and takes pride in every work which is apparently and outwardly good.
38. There is no moral virtue without either pride or sorrow, that is, without sin.
39. We are not masters of our actions, from beginning to end, but servants. This in opposition to the philosophers.
40. We do not become righteous by doing righteous deeds but, having been made righteous, we do righteous deeds. This in opposition to the philosophers.
41. Virtually the entire Ethics of Aristotle is the worst enemy of grace. This in opposition to the scholastics.
42. It is an error to maintain that Aristotle’s statement concerning happiness does not contradict Catholic doctrine. This in opposition to the doctrine on morals.
43. It is an error to say that no man can become a theologian without Aristotle. This in opposition to common opinion.
44. Indeed, no one can become a theologian unless he becomes one without Aristotle.
45. To state that a theologian who is not a logician is a monstrous heretic—this is a monstrous and heretical statement. This in opposition to common opinion.
46. In vain does one fashion a logic of faith, a substitution brought about without regard for limit and measure. This in opposition to the new dialecticians.
47. No syllogistic form is valid when applied to divine terms. This in opposition to the Cardinal.6
48. Nevertheless it does not for that reason follow that the truth of the doctrine of the Trinity contradicts syllogistic forms. This in opposition to the same new dialecticians and to the Cardinal.
49. If a syllogistic form of reasoning holds in divine matters, then the doctrine of the Trinity is demonstrable and not the object of faith.
50. Briefly, the whole Aristotle7 is to theology as darkness is to light. This in opposition to the scholastics.
51. It is very doubtful whether the Latins comprehended the correct meaning of Aristotle.
52. It would have been better for the church if Porphyry8 with his universals had not been born for the use of theologians.
53. Even the more useful definitions of Aristotle seem to beg the question.
54. For an act to be meritorious, either the presence of grace is sufficient, or its presence means nothing. This in opposition to Gabriel.
55. The grace of God is never present in such a way that it is inactive, but it is a living, active, and operative spirit; nor can it happen that through the absolute power of God an act of friendship may be present without the presence of the grace of God. This in opposition to Gabriel.
56. It is not true that God can accept man without his justifying grace. This in opposition to Ockham.9
57. It is dangerous to say that the law commands that an act of obeying the commandment be done in the grace of God. This in opposition to the Cardinal and Gabriel.
58. From this it would follow that “to have the grace of God” is actually a new demand going beyond the law.
59. It would also follow that fulfilling the law can take place without the grace of God.
60. Likewise it follows that the grace of God would be more hateful than the law itself.
61. It does not follow that the law should be complied with and fulfilled in the grace of God. This in opposition to Gabriel.
62. And that therefore he who is outside the grace of God sins incessantly, even when he does not kill, commit adultery, or become angry.
63. But it follows that he sins because he does not spiritually fulfill the law.
64. Spiritually that person does not kill, does not do evil, does not become enraged when he neither becomes angry nor lusts.
65. Outside the grace of God it is indeed impossible not to become angry or lust, so that not even in grace is it possible to fulfill the law perfectly.
66. It is the righteousness of the hypocrite actually and outwardly not to kill, do evil, etc.
67. It is by the grace of God that one does not lust or become enraged.
68. Therefore it is impossible to fulfill the law in any way without the grace of God.
69. As a matter of fact, it is more accurate to say that the law is destroyed by nature without the grace of God.
70. A good law will of necessity be bad for the natural will.
71. Law and will are two implacable foes without the grace of God.
72. What the law wants, the will never wants, unless it pretends to want it out of fear or love.
73. The law, as taskmaster of the will, will not be overcome except by the “child, who has been born to us” [Isa. 9:6].
74. The law makes sin abound because it irritates and repels the will [Rom. 7:13].
75. The grace of God, however, makes justice abound through Jesus Christ because it causes one to be pleased with the law.
76. Every deed of the law without the grace of God appears good outwardly, but inwardly it is sin. This in opposition to the scholastics.
77. The will is always averse to, and the hands inclined toward, the law of the Lord without the grace of God.
78. The will which is inclined toward the law without the grace of God is so inclined by reason of its own advantage.
79. Condemned are all those who do the works of the law.
80. Blessed are all those who do the works of the grace of God.
81. Chapter Falsas concerning penance, dist. 5, 10 confirms the fact that works outside the realm of grace are not good, if this is not understood falsely.
82. Not only are the religious ceremonials not the good law and the precepts in which one does not live (in opposition to many teachers);
83. But even the Decalogue itself and all that can be taught and prescribed inwardly and outwardly is not good law either.
84. The good law and that in which one lives is the love of God, spread abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
85. Anyone’s will would prefer, if it were possible, that there would be no law and to be entirely free.
86. Anyone’s will hates it that the law should be imposed upon it; if, however, the will desires imposition of the law it does so out of love of self.
87. Since the law is good, the will, which is hostile to it, cannot be good.
88. And from this it is clear that everyone’s natural will is iniquitous and bad.
89. Grace as a mediator is necessary to reconcile the law with the will.
90. The grace of God is given for the purpose of directing the will, lest it err even in loving God. In opposition to Gabriel.
91. It is not given so that good deeds might be induced more frequently and readily, but because without it no act of love is performed. In opposition to Gabriel.
92. It cannot be denied that love is superfluous if man is by nature able to do an act of friendship. In opposition to Gabriel.
93. There is a kind of subtle evil in the argument that an act is at the same time the fruit and the use of the fruit. In opposition to Ockham, the Cardinal, Gabriel.
94. This holds true also of the saying that the love of God may continue alongside an intense love of the creature.
95. To love God is at the same time to hate oneself and to know nothing but God.
96. We must make our will conform in every respect to the will of God (in opposition to the Cardinal);
97. So that we not only will what God wills, but also ought to will whatever God wills.
In these statements we wanted to say and believe we have said nothing that is not in agreement with the Catholic church and the teachers of the church.

Editor, T. F. L., & Second Edition Editor, W. R. R. (2005; 2005). Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings. Fortress Press.

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