Contend Earnestly: March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pastor Joe Schmo Interview Series

Most pastors around the world are relatively unknown, yet do the work of Christ everyday to the fullest of their ability. They will stand in front of the Christ and give an account for those put under their charge. Most entering into heaven will point to their local pastor as the one who aided in their growth of the glories of the cross. But, they are largely unknown to the public as a whole. They are the ones buying the tickets to the conferences not speaking at them, they are reviewing books, not writing them, and they are the ones asking the questions on "how" instead of answering them. They are your local pastor.

They labor just as much as those we know and podcast every week. They might someday be known to a wider audience, they might not, but they still labor for the sake of the cross. I am not taking anything away from the pastors that everyone knows and desires to listen to, but most of us aren't under their direct leadership and preaching. If we were to walk down the street John Piper wouldn't know me by name or recognize me, but my pastor would not only recognize me, he would take me to lunch and pray with me and ask how my family is, and name them by name. God has put him in charge over me for the sake of my soul. Your pastor is probably the same.

I would like to do an interview series on the local "Joe Schmo" pastors who are relatively unknown and simply do the work for God and not for man. The interviews will be serious, but with a flare of humor as well...because what kind of interview from me would it be if it wasn't somewhat funny?

I am asking for some help here. I would like to know some pastors that I should interview. I would like to know from you why I should interview them and what they have meant to you. You can either email me at smcbee at mcbeeadvisors dot com or you can simply comment in this post. Please spread the word on this as I would like to have many pastors to choose from to interview and make this something that truly glorifies Christ and the work that he is doing around the nation and possibly the world.

There are four guys that I will probably interview right off the bat. They are friends of mine that I know fight for the gospel and labor under the banner of Christ for his glory.

Erik Raymond from Omaha Bible Church South and from Irish Calvinist fame

Tim Lien from Riverwood Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa,AL

David Drake from Crosswinds Church in Wyoming, MI

Pete Williamson from Oikos Fellowship in Bellingham, WA
Any help is appreciated.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Solus Christus: Part II

As the Roman Catholic faith would agree in principal to our first point we must push the envelope, per se, to further this thought of Solus Christus that states that Christ alone is our Mediator between God and man. We further assert that He alone is our Mediator and not a pope, not a priest, not Mary, not a saint, not a sacrament and not a mass.

So what is a mediator? We see this usage in 1 Tim 2:5

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

This word “mediator” means one who intervenes between two, either in order to make or restore peace and friendship, or form a compact, or for ratifying a covenant. In the Hellenistic period it meant “the neutral whom both parties could trust and who also guarantees agreement” So in reality to us, Christ is the one whom both God and man can put full trust in, to settle the disagreement. Which is that there is wrath due upon us for our sin and, because of Christ, that debt is paid by the imputation of His righteousness.

Again, there is only one mediator between us and God. Before Christ we were separated from God, said to be enemies of God, God haters and said that without Him that our foot would slip in due time in Deut 32:35.

for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
Ephesians 2:18

This Greek word “through” means “because of or on account of” and the word “access” means, when pertaining to God: that relationship with God whereby we are acceptable to him and have assurance that he is favourably disposed towards him.

Not only is Jesus Christ our only way of access and our only Mediator but is said to be our only Advocate with the Father. Let’s go through these verses then expound:

by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh
Heb 10:20

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
1 John 2:1

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Romans 8:33,34

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Hebrews 7:25

What is amazing about Jesus Christ is that not only did He die for us and is our only way to God but He also is the One that intercedes on our behalf.

So what is this Advocate and intercessor on our behalf?

Advocate: (Parakletos) (also used of the Holy Spirit) summoned, called to one’s side, esp. called to one’s aid. A one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate. B one who pleads another’s cause with one, an intercessor. of Christ in his exaltation at God’s right hand, pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins. in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant. of the Holy Spirit destined to take the place of Christ with the apostles (after his ascension to the Father), to lead them to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth, and give them divine strength needed to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom. (Strongs)

Because of these truths in the Bible the reformers realized that going to a priest or to ask a saint or the virgin Mary to intercede for them on their behalf, was a slap in the face to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was saying that Christ could not do His job correctly and that we don’t have access to the Father through Christ but that we need another advocate or another to intercede. If this is true, why ask in Jesus name? Why ask anything in Christ’s name if it isn’t sufficient? Revelation 1 and 1 Peter 2 both call us priests ourselves, the saints. If this is true then we have direct access to our High Priest, Jesus Christ, who lives to make intercession for us.

Christ Alone is to be Glorified

As we take a look at this we must understand where we come to here and is something that is changing in our culture and was not ultimately understood fully by the reformers. It really started with the Great Awakening of Lordship Salvation, with the false ways of evangelism that was started with Charles Finney and then countered biblically with Asahel Nettleton in the early 19th century. It is now coming down the road with popular evangelistic tools like Campus Crusade for Christ, the name it and claim it gospel with Benny Hinn, and all of TBN, and also The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. These all center on, “God has a wonderful plan for your life”

These all drive to self esteem and the improvement of life instead of what we are called to do in our lives for Christ: Surrender to Christ and deny ourselves

We used to use the word surrender all the time in the English language. It means to “
give into the hands of another to be used for their purpose and power”

Instead most, now, use the word, “commit.” Commit your lives to Christ, commit your ways to Him. This word was not even apart of the English language before the 19th century.

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
Romans 6:17,18

It is said that when a new word is used it replaces another in the language. Anyone want to guess what word “commit” replaced? Surrender.

In our text of Romans 6:17 the word that is used is committed, the actual Greek word that is used is the word surrender.

We are called to surrender to Christ, He is our Lord, we are His slaves. We are called to be humble, which means to lower one’s self to abasement or to a low esteem. We are called to deny ourselves, Paul said that it is not he who lives but Christ who lives in me. What happens when you commit to something? You can commit to a job, a diet and so on. What happens when you surrender in a war? The difference between surrendering and committing to Christ is the difference that commitment can be negated where surrendering cannot.

We are not called to a wonderful plan or a high self esteem that the world would think of, but we are called to a life that is spiritually wonderful and spiritually high in Christ’s esteem not our own.

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
Mark 8:34,35

Solus Christus denies this gospel of the “you gospel” and turns that on its head and says like Isaiah did, “Here am I, send me

The only time that you will understand God’s love for you, and understand the grace and mercy that He bestowed on you is when you understand how filthy and sinful you are with absolutely no hope without Christ. Once you understand this, how low and that you are like Paul said, “the chief of sinners” only then, can you start to comprehend the love of Christ.

It is not a “me gospel” but a “because of Him gospel” We will be hated, persecuted, spit upon, killed, hurt and despised, but all for the cause of Christ and the hope and assurance of Christ’s voice, “Well done good and faithful servant

When we see that the whole sum of our salvation, and every single part of it, are comprehended in Christ, we must beware of deriving even the minutes portion of it from any other quarter. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that he possesses it;270 if we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, we shall find them in his unction; strength in his government; purity in his conception; indulgence in his nativity, in which he was made like us in all respects, in order that he might learn to sympathise with us: if we seek redemption, we shall find it in his passion; acquittal in his condemnation; remission of the curse in his cross; satisfaction in his sacrifice; purification in his blood; reconciliation in his descent to hell; mortification of the flesh in his tomb; newness of life in his resurrection; immortality also in his resurrection; the inheritance of a celestial kingdom in his entrance into heaven; protection, security, and the abundant supply of all blessings, in his kingdom; secure anticipation of judgment in the power of judging committed to him. In fine, since in him all kinds of blessings are treasured up, let us draw a full supply from him, and none from any other quarter. Those who, not satisfied with him alone, entertain various hopes from others, though they may continue to look to him chiefly, deviate from the right path by the simple fact, that some portion of their thought takes a different direction. No distrust of this description can arise when once the abundance of his blessings is properly known.
Institutes of the Christian Religion – John Calvin

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Stop Working and Start Reading

Mark Driscoll has a tribute to John MacArthur (I will resist any commentary on this)

The rest of these are links to some of my friends' and enjoy. I think I should become a blogging agent.

My friend Erik over at Irish Calvinist has a great article on the "New Fundamentalists of Christianity": Buyer beware...I think I am one...scary, I need to repent.

David at Calvin and Calvinism has a great resource in John Brown's removal of Legal Obstacles

My friend Ted Kluck is over in Kiev adopting his second son Maxim and has some funny insights on things he is doing while over there. I think he would give my blog 1 Sausage.

Tim Lien shares some craziness from an undercover operative trying to up-end Christians on Spring break. I might also add that I am winning in our bet for the tourney...start making your sign baby sprinkler :)

Dave has taken on a new venture called the Crosswinds Experiment. Check it.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Solus Christus: Part I

As we enter into our second of the Five Solas, this again, like we will probably find with most of the Solas, we will agree with the concept but must challenge ourselves to agree practically as well. Most confessing Christians, would agree with the second sola, Christ Alone.

If I just say Christ Alone what are some thoughts that are brought to your attention?

For me when we proclaim Christ Alone we stand here stating that we are closed minded, that we alone have the truth, that we alone are going to heaven, that we alone have access to the true God, Creator of all things.

By saying, “Christ Alone” we draw a line in the sand against all who disagree and to those Christ says:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. ”
Matthew 7:13,14

We are called many things for this belief in Christ alone, but we must stand for this truth as it saves us from our sins and sets us apart to be sanctified.

Solus Christus states the belief that the Scriptures and Christ have been secularized and has gone away from a Christ centered faith. At the time of the reformation it was to return to Christ alone is our salvation and our only mediator between God and man. As we have come along we have also seen that Christ alone opposes those things which are built upon the belief of self esteem, feelings instead of belief, man’s wisdom instead of the wisdom found only in Christ, the so called, “What will Christ give me gospel?” It stands in the face of “God has a wonderful plan for your life” and instead states “serve Christ because He alone died for you.”

Solus Christus stands, only on, everything we do and exalt is Christ centered and on Him alone.

Hopefully we will be challenged through this study to understand what we state when we cry out “Solus Christus” but know that our voice is not in solitary, our voice is heard and our voice, because of Christ, reaches to the ears of our Father in heaven.

We are going to look at three aspects of this truth:

Christ Alone is our Salvation
Christ Alone is our Mediator
Christ Alone is to be Glorified

First: Christ Alone is our Salvation

Have you ever told anyone that if they don’t believe in Christ that they will go to hell? What was the reaction? Most of the time the first thing they will say is, "I am a good person and not as bad as ::enter name:: so God will allow me into heaven." Or, that there are many roads to heaven and if you believe in Jesus and someone else believes in Buddha that God will see the good that they have done and they will be accepted as a child of God.

Maybe you have run into a secular humanist, claiming that there is no God and we are the only ones that can save ourselves. Maybe you have run into a postmodernist that believes that there is no absolute truths so to believe that Jesus is the Messiah for all people of all time is a misunderstanding of truth.

Maybe you have run into a universalist that believes that all will be saved and that there is no hell but that we will all enjoy heaven together.

Whichever of these you have run into, they are all the same: none of them believes the Reformation doctrine of “Solus Christus” as our Saviour. But where did the reformers find this doctrine? Well because we have defended and illustrated Sola Scriptura we know where they find these truths: The Bible

Because of the vastness of this subject we must concentrate our time on John 14:6 from Christ’s own mouth in what He claimed.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Notice why Jesus even came to this statement, look to Thomas’ question in verse 5:

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

Thomas’ real question to Christ was, "where are you going?" But, Christ, knowing the eternal impact of the question answers perfectly, as He always does, not where He is going, because He could have just as easily said, “I am going to heaven” but in actuality He gives Thomas three answers to His question and then insight on His exclusivity. With His three prong answer Christ uses the emphatic article, “the” to denote singleness or inclusively of His statement.

Jesus says that He alone is the way, or for us here in our life as a Christian, this is the start of our walk with God, when we understand this, this is our justification: He is the way. As Jesus then puts it, He is the truth. As we live our Christian life we must understand that He alone is the truth and we find it no where else, this is our progressive sanctification. Lastly; He is the life. This is our glorification, this is when we see Him face to face and enjoy Him forever. Jesus’ answer to Thomas shows the entire embodiment of a believer’s new life. And Christ, making sure that His commands are understood, says it again by saying, “no one comes to the Father but through Me.” It is almost like when Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” in Phil 4:4 or when Paul says to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thess 5:17. Paul could have just said, “Pray” because that is in the present tense and in the Greek would mean to never cease from doing so, but he follows it up with the repetitive, “without ceasing”

This is what Christ is doing here. He is displaying to His apostles that He alone is the way to God, He alone is the truth, He alone is the life. What does this mean? If He alone is the way, there are no other ways, if He alone is the truth, everything else is a lie, if He alone is the life, everything else is death. And in case you didn’t get it; no one can come to the Father but through Christ.

This use of “no one” is important to understand. The term literally means “nothing or not a thing; denying absolutely; particularly placing emphasis as not even one, not the least and differing from mēdeís (3367) which would be conditional on certain circumstances.

So, Jesus is stating that under no circumstance can anything or anyone come to the Father except through Him no matter the circumstance. This is an absolute statement and if Christ meant for their to be other ways He could have used the Greek term “medeis” instead of the term that He actually used, which was “oudeis.”

There are absolutes, and this is one and the most important one: No one can come to the Father but through Christ, Solus Christus.

Followed up with these is Acts 4:12 that states:

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be

Of course, as we know that Scripture is breathed out by God and perfect, the word for “no one” is again our term “oudeis” that we just discussed in John 14:6. There are many other important verses and statements by Christ affirming that He alone is our salvation but none more than His declaration in John 14:6

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Satan Debate: Watch Online Now

Tonight Nightline will have the Satan Debate on at 11:35 Pacific time on ABC. If you are itching to watch it early, you can go here to watch it: Satan Debate

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

James White...Really? Frontlines?

I found out what happens when you question theology with someone who has their own radio show and following last year when I brought up some concerns with James White's theological convictions on the desire and will of God. What ensued was a belittling on his radio show, the normal thrashing at my character and yet another debate challenge on the subject. Which I find very interesting. I am not writing this to point to our differences in some of our theological convictions, but I am writing based simply on his arrogance of his ministry. I have had to delete and re-write this a couple of times, because I don't want my anger over this post to show it's ugly head.

I am not sure who this post is written to, but I find it disheartening with his opening paragraphs. Here is what he writes: (click here for the entire article)

Those who have not been on the frontlines find it amenable to sit in their comfy computer chairs and opine away at the keyboard. They know they will never be called upon to present a consistent defense of the faith, especially in the face of competing world religions. So they have little concern about the use of words like "tension" and "mystery," which are so often used to do little more than cover over contradiction and irrationality. Some actually think they are giving a meaningful apologetic when they openly confess the contradictions in their proclamation.

I wonder what White thinks the frontlines are? Does this only mean those that are on radio programs, debating, etc.? It seems like with White, if you aren't willing to debate him, you are a wuss and aren't allowed to bring complaints. I find that a tad bit odd. When I write posts, many in my congregation reads them, many of my friends read them and then others that pick it up from time to time around the world read them. But, this isn't all that I do. I don't just sit in my "comfy chair and opine away at my keyboard" hoping to stir up trouble and then get on with my life. My posts are simply to aid my small body of Christ that I influence for the sake of the gospel.

I find what White does in the public eye one form of ministry, but I also find those who administer a flock of God in the local church as the frontlines as well. I will be honest, I have been a pastor's kid my entire life, and my father (was a pastor) and pastors are on the frontlines far greater than one who makes these kind of absurd comments from his comfy couch with a camera for his youtube audience and online chat room.

I just get tired of these guys who believe that they are the only ones on the front lines because they have written a book or been in the public eye. The front lines don't have to do with what people see you doing Mr. White, the frontlines are what you do for the glory of God. I know I am just some "young man" to you who has no right to question your authority or what you say, but in my estimation it would in your best interest to stop with these ideas that you are the only one on the frontlines who defends the faith.

That is garbage. The correct understanding is that, yes, you are on the frontlines, but so are a lot of other people who question some of your theological convictions. The frontlines of Christ are a lot different than you seem to understand, or at least put forth in this latest post on the subject. I have seen you do this over and over in the past with people who challenge you. I am not sure why you feel like you need to degrade people who challenge your convictions. We might as well start telling "your momma" least they're funny.

I wonder how far your followers (I use this loosely, not degrading here) will allow you to go with your arrogance before they recognize that if they use the same logic that use against us, that they are also being called out on this. They are also, not on the frontlines.

Personally I come into contact with struggling teens with their faith, struggling parents, struggling atheists, etc. all face to face. I see their pain, I see their struggles. I am asked about my faith and have to give a complete defense of it all the time. I am questioned constantly on who Christ is and how I can believe in a God that is all sovereign and still allows people to go to hell. Have I ever written a book? No. Have I ever had a recorded debate? No. Have I ever spoken at a conference? No. Am I on the frontlines? As much as you are Mr. White. There is nothing comfy about the couch that God has placed me on, it is just different than yours and I can see how God can work through different people in different ways, where you seem to think he only works through audio/visual equipment and published books.

Do I get questioned as much as you do as far as volume? No, but I do get questioned as much as you probably do in sincerity. I can't imagine how much it must suck to write a book or have a debate and have people always questioning you. That must really suck. But, please don't forget the little guys and put forth that all we do is sit anonymously behind a computer screen and never have to present a consistent defense of the faith. Far from it.

Have I enjoyed watching some of your debates in the past? Yes. Have I enjoyed reading your books in the past? Yes. Have they aided me in understanding different subjects? Yes. Will I continue to? Not if you believe that you are on the frontlines while the rest of us are just watching the show.

I hope this post of yours was just a rant and not your actual beliefs. Because they came off very condescending to those of us who fight the fight every day, just like you.

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Leno's Interview with President Obama

Whether you like him or hate him, this is a pretty good interview and Leno does a great job having some fun with our President.

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Sola Scriptura: Part II

God’s View of His Word

The first thing we must understand is that we should strive to be like God. We are told in Leviticus 19:2 be holy, for I the Lord your God is holy, 1 John 2:6 says to walk in the same manner that He walked.

So in the area of His Word we must also regard it as important as He does. So let us take a look at how important God’s word is to Him so that we can follow in His steps.

The most important passage that I have seen in this area is Psalm 138:2c.

For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.

As we take a look at this small part of Scripture hidden almost behind the great 139th Psalm, which speaks of God’s omniscience and omnipresence, we see this phrase: God has magnified His word according to all His name.

Let’s break this down:

God has magnified, or made great or has promoted, His word, according, which means to make above, to all Your name. The word name, to the Jews, meant not just how to identify their family but meant their entire essence, it was who they were, it meant their reputation or their glory.

So, God puts His word some sort of equality with His own essence and glory, making His word supreme and most important so that it is not ashamed by men. If God does this of His word how much should we also make the word of God so important.

God also has some warnings according to His word:

Deut 4:2 says not to add or subtract from His word; Deut 18:20 and Zechariah 13:3 say that if a prophet acts presumptuously or who says something that the Lord has not commanded; he shall die.

Because of this and because of the unity of the Godhead, when Christ came, He must also do the same if these things are true. He is the Word that became flesh, and Christ also is said to have come not for peace but with a sword, which is the same Greek word also spoken of in Hebrews 4:12, when the word of God is said to be sharper than any two edged sword. We also see Christ putting this in practice.

And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Luke 24:25-27

Christ also refuted the temptation by the devil only by Scripture. He spoke of His death and resurrection by the story of Jonah, and spoke of who He was many a times by Scripture, especially when He read in the synagogue from Isaiah 61 to proclaim who He was. Christ actually uses their traditions to refute them when He uses the term: “you have heard it said” all through the Sermon on the Mount.

The Apostles View of the Word

Let’s take a look at 2 Peter 1:16-21

Notice first that Peter is saying that even though He saw the living Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration that the word of God is still more sure than even that. Or can also be interpreted: We have the even more sure prophetic word. The statement “more sure” means literally to be more stable and firm. Peter is stating that seeing Christ is nothing compared to the word of God.

Peter is also saying that experience, even in seeing Christ in His glorified state, does not match the Word of God. Peter did not say, we have man’s wisdom, man’s revelation, man’s tradition or anything else made more sure; no, only the word of God is made more sure. Very important to understand. Peter is relying only on God’s word and It alone.

Then we see in verse 21 that that no prophecy was by an act of human will but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

This same word for “moved” is the same word used in 2 Timothy 4:13 when Paul tells Timothy to “bring the cloak which I left” The Holy Spirit did the same to these writers. He moved them. Understand that these men weren’t just dummies taking orders, nor were they just told what to write as a scribe would be told. We will never fully understand how this actually took place but we can have confidence that every single word that was penned by these men were made sure and breathed by God.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
Galatians 1:8,9

Notice that the Gospel has been received, not will receive or will receive more fully, but this is past tense, you received. If the canon is not closed, if there is revelation apart from God’s holy word, how can you adhere to this text of Scripture?

The God-breathed Text

Finally, let’s look at the clincher: 2 Tim 3:16,17

As we read this text it is vital to know some background.

Who wrote 2 Timothy? Paul
To whom? Timothy in 66ad great fire was 64 a.d
What is Paul’s relationship to Timothy? His elder and mentor, led Timothy to Christ
Is the date important? During Nero’s reign (54-66 ad)
Timing? Last epistle of Paul before he died
What is the book’s theme? Handbook for the soldier of Christ; Fighting against heretical teachers and standing firm in the faith
What is the prior verses speaking of? The delusion of hater’s of God
What is the succeeding verses speaking of? Preaching the word
Main subject of verses 16 and 17: Scripture (Peter calls Paul’s letters scripture: 2 Peter 3:15,16)
What parts of scripture? All Scripture: Both Old and New Testaments (1 Tim 5:18; 2 Peter 3:16) Notice that Paul uses this illustration in 1 Tim and now we look in 2 Tim when he says, all Scripture…Paul knew what they were writing was Scripture. Inspired: only use in NT, means divinely breathed into, so then ties the OT with the NT when the prophets would say, “God spoke to me saying…” also can be seen in Jeremiah 1:9 when God said that He put the words in Jeremiah’s mouth
Teach: edify the church, doctrine
Reproof: only used one other time in NT, means to correct error and to convict a sinner
Correction: (only use in NT) bring back those who are backsliding
Training in righteousness: sanctification after justification
Man of God: Used only one other time in NT and that was in 1 Tim 6:11
Adequate: means perfect or complete (only use in NT)
Equipped: means to be equipped fully or thoroughly (only used one other time in NT)
Every: literally means all, any, every, the whole
Good work: same as used in Mark 10:18 when Jesus calls God the Father “good” and same as used in James 1:17 when James says that every good gift comes from above

In the end as we see these verses, Scripture is mentioned to refute haters of God and is Paul’s last instruction to Timothy as the way to run the church as we found in teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.

Think of this: Scripture does everything according to Paul. It really shows the pattern of the person who is unsaved all the way to the life of the saved. (follow along with me in 2 Timothy 3:16,17)Scripture teaches doctrine, then it rebukes sin, then it corrects sin in those lives and then, once saved, it instructs to righteousness. Why? So that we as men would be perfect (remember be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect in Matthew 5:48), and thoroughly equipped or maybe better put, the only way to be equipped fully, for every single good work for God.

It is the only way that he mentions that makes the man of God perfect to do God’s good work. Romans 8:8 says no one in the flesh can please God. So how does Paul now tell us how we can do good, how can we live good and how will we be equipped to do good?

He only mentions Scripture, he doesn’t mention tradition, he doesn’t mention experience, he doesn’t mention cultural changes, he doesn’t mention a pope, and he doesn’t mention marketing schemes: he mentions Scripture.

What is Timothy told to do with this Scripture in the next chapter? Preach it in season and out of season! We must understand how special this passage of Scripture is, for so many words are used here that are hardly used elsewhere, I think this is important and intended to continue to draw attention to the detail not only of this part of Scripture but to Scripture itself.

I cannot help but draw our attention back to the great reformers words when Luther said:

My conscience is captive to the Word of God, I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither honest nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.

Martin Luther (as he stood at the Diet of Worms)

Where is your confidence? Where are your convictions? How do you answer those questions posed by men seeking knowledge? Do you rely on your own attempts to describe an infinite God by a foolish man? Or do you rely solely on the inspired word that was forever ordained in heaven by the Creator Himself.

This Sola stands between you and a study that will enrich you deeply. If you adhere to Sola Scriptura we have a common ground to move forward to the next four Solas. If you do not, I am afraid that the gap that has grown between you and I has grown to a width too far for me to cross.

When someone asks how can an axe head float, how can a man walk on water, how can a dead man come to life, how can a few loaves become a thousand? I simply ask: How can a finite creature question his infinite Creator.

May you be able to say the same.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sola Scriptura: Part I

As we jump into our study of the Five Solas of the Reformation we start at where we find our foundation. If we find these Solas starting at the Reformation let us take a look again at some quotes of the fathers of the Reformation:

My conscience is captive to the Word of God, I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither honest nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.

Martin Luther (as he stood at the Diet of Worms)

Holy Scripture is the permanent authority for every Christian, and the rule of faith and of all human perfection, then it became of prime importance to have the scriptures in the language of the people. For as much as the bible contains Christ, that is all that is necessary for salvation, it is necessary for all men, nor for priests alone. It alone is the supreme law that is to rule Church, State, and Christian life, without human tradition and statutes.

John Wyclif

We, those who adhere to Sola Scriptura, stand on the shoulders of these giants of faith. Before we get into our teaching of this great Sola, let us first define it:
We find no where else to guide our lives, our knowledge of God or His plan for our lives. Not in tradition, not in man, not in creation, not in ourselves, not in reason, but our full and complete rule of faith only comes from Sola Scriptura.
Also, it is important to know that Sola Scriptura is NOT Scripture with no fellowship or teaching from anyone else, which is the belief of Solo Scriptura Don’t get the two confused. But we stand with the Berean’s instead and believe as they:
Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so
Acts 17:11

Like Wyclif and the Bereans, I believe that Scripture alone is our guide and rule of faith, only explained and expounded on by men, but not of men nor of traditions solely.

I believe that many say they believe in this doctrine but don’t fully live this out. To understand Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide and Soli Deo Gloria fully; you must believe this doctrine first and then practice it. Any time we state, “this is the way I see it” we are abandoning Scripture alone. Your beliefs of everything pertaining to life and godliness should reflect sound exegesis and exposition of the Holy Scriptures and them alone.

Only when I truly started to do this did I turn from the belief of free will and reason, to bondage of the will and God’s truth. But we will get into that when going through Sola Gratia. So let us look at our study on this great subject that was so critical in the protestant reformation.

A Little on the Canon of Scripture

I will not be exhaustive here so bear with me. If you have additional questions regarding the canon of Scripture I am more than willing to discuss further through comments or email. The first thing to understand is simply this:
Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.
Psalm 119:89

What is great about this passage is that when we think of forever as humans we think of only the future. But, this Hebrew word means for eternity past and eternity future. We need to understand the importance of God’s word as it has forever in eternity past and future has been settled, or better put, appointed or established.

This is why David could say that in Psalm 139 that his days were already numbered and that God knew his words before they were said. God is eternal and so is His word and neither Him nor His word can be moved or changed.

If God’s word is forever settled in heaven then it is only acceptable for His people to understand that if it has already been settled God does not react to man’s disobedience, as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses would contend. They both reinterpret “man’s mistakes” in the word because of man’s error. Both contend that they were told by God that we had it all wrong and needed a better interpretation.

The Mormons take it a step further and came out with a completely new revelation with the Book of Mormon. I would contend that if these cults are true this means that no one has been saved since the days of the apostles and therefore God needed to “react” to man’s sin; this cannot and does not happen. Because, forever God’s word has been preordained in Heaven.

As far as the Canon of Scripture the first to “formally” put together a list, and I use that word, formally, loosely, was Athanasius in 367. This list was then complimented by Jerome and Augustine putting their stamp of approval on the matter. Done so as almost a, “of course” statements by the two. Jerome, who translated what Catholics use in the Latin Vulgate (405 AD), said that the 66 books were inspired, yet, the Apocrypha, while helpful, were only to be used for history and were not inspired.

This list was not formally refuted until the Council of Trent in 1545 by the Roman Catholics to refute the Reformers. The reason is because the Apocrypha is the only source that contains such things as purgatory, penance, indulgences, praying for the dead, etc. And those references are vague at their very best.

Just a quick sidenote, 1 Maccabees 9:27 and 14:41 state that there were no prophets at the time that these revolts were happening, that is why it is known as the period of silence by God between the time of Malachi and John the Baptist.

Hebrews 1:1,2 sum up my beliefs on the issue:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Hebrews 1:1,2

And when he speaks of the last times (or last days), he intimates that there is no longer any reason to expect any new revelation; for it was not a word in part that Christ brought, but the final conclusion. It is in this sense that the Apostles take the last times and the last days. And Paul means the same when he says, “Upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11.) If God then has spoken now for the last time, it is right to advance thus far; so also when you come to Christ, you ought not to go farther: and these two things it is very needful for us to know.
John Calvin

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Monday, March 23, 2009

All Men Should Watch This

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Five Solas of the Reformation: Introduction

I wrote this series over two years ago, but wanted to bring it back again as I have many different readers and really think that this topic, the Five Solas, needs constant focus in today's Christendom. I hope that you enjoy the content and I hope that we can have some great conversations on their importance.

As we start this interesting and thought provoking study, it is essential that we come to the Five Solas with some background of where they came. They do not stand alone without explanation nor are they understood without complete exegesis of the meaning behind them. Today we will look at where these Five Solas came from and glean a little from their meanings. We will look at the key men of the reformation, such as John Wyclif, John Hus and Martin Luther. We will look at the key doctrines of the reformation that made the Pope and his papacy stand on their heads.

What I will tell you is that this post is just to give us a better understanding of the forest before we look at each tree. What I mean by this is that if we are to look at the individual trees of the Solas we must first look at the overarching forest in the reformation, the men and the doctrines.

There will be some things concerning the Solas that might tear at your conscience, as they did mine the first time I looked into them about 10 years ago, and even more so as I have studied them ferociously for the past 3 years.

Key Men of the Reformation

Who is usually credited as the key to the protestant reformation? Martin Luther. The most overlooked man then must be John Wyclif, who is nicknamed as the Morning Star of the Reformation. D’Aubigne, a reformation historist, stated:

If Luther and Calvin were the fathers of the Reformation then Wyclif was its grandfather

We don’t know much of Wyclif, we don’t even know where or exactly when he was born although some think he was born in 1330. He received his doctorate from Oxford in 1372 and immediately was risen to the leading professor of Oxford.

The Key year for Wyclif was 1378, called the Great Schism, when one Pope tried to excommunicate another Pope and this led to Wyclif’s beliefs to shape the reformation that would not come for another 150 years.

In one sense Wyclif welcomed the Great Schism. The spectacle of two rival popes excommunicating each other seemed to him to be a confirmation for all to see of the spiritual bankruptcy of the office and the need to put something else in its place. As the schism continued however, Wyclif’s view hardened. He came to believe that the pope was Antichrist. He states: “Christ is truth the pope is the principle of falsehood. Christ lived in poverty, the pope labors for worldly magnificence. Christ refused temporal dominion, the pope seeks it.”

Church History in Plain Language, Pg. 226, 227

This meant that it was time for Wyclif to take action as he in turn became a protestant. Wyclif believed that the best way for the spreading of the Gospel was for it to be preached and what better way to preach than to be a priest.

Wyclif truly understood that the only way for one to be saved was through the preaching of the Word, as stated in Romans 10.

The problem, Wyclif said, was that the priests of his day were “found in taverns and hunting; and playing at their tables, instead of learning God’s law and preaching.”

So he decided to take action with what were called Lollards or “one who mumbles or mutters” as was given them the title by those who hated them, but in actuality Wyclif meant for them to be “poor priests.”

They were men trained usually by Wyclif himself to go to the villages and preach the Gospel. Instead of great robes and honor they were barefoot and dressed in robes made of wool, they went from village to village dependant on their fellow man for shelter and food. They carried with them a few pages of Wyclif’s bible and tracts that were made for their teaching. Many came to faith under this blue collar mission of Wyclif.

The word of God was brought to the lowly as Christ intended.

Wyclif ended up dying after multiple strokes at his home in Lutterworth in 1384. His followers were hunted down, were all expelled from Oxford or told to denounce their views. Wyclif’s teachings, thirty years later were dispelled as heresy and his books and papers were all burned along with his bones.

One of his biggest proponents was John Hus of Southern Bohemia (Czech Republic). He took Wyclif’s writings and continued to preach against the Pope and for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the wall of Bethlehem Chapel, where Hus preached, it showed many images of the abuse of the pope. Such as:

The pope rode a horse; Christ walked barefoot. Jesus washed the disciples feet; the pope preferred to have his kissed.

Hus’ sermons were widely followed as he was very fiery in his zeal for the true church of Christ and for the true bride.

Because of this Rome rallied against him and brought false heresy charges against him for doctrines he never taught, he was thrown into prison in Constance before his day of execution he prayed this in his cell:

O most holy Christ, draw me, weak as I am, after Thyself, for if Thou dost not draw us we cannot follow Thee. Strengthen my spirit, that it may be willing. If the flesh is weak, let Thy grace precede us; come between and follow, for without Thee we cannot go for Thy sake to cruel death. Give me a fearless heart, a right faith, a firm hope, a perfect love, that for Thy sake I may lay down my life with patience and joy. Amen.

Hus refused to give in to save his life. He would not recant his actual teachings against the Pope or his false system. He stated, “I have said and I would not, for a chapel full of gold, recede from the truth.”

As he was finally taken to his burning in 1415 he knelt to pray and the marshal of the empire asked him if he would recant and save his life, this was Hus’ response:

God is my witness that the evidence against me is false. I have never thought nor preached except with the one intention of winning men, if possible, from their sins. In the truth of the gospel I have written, taught, and preached; today I will gladly die.

By the end of the 15th century the Papacy succeeded in crushing the works of Wyclif and Hus until the day of Luther: the man named the wild boar in the vineyard.

Martin Luther: born in 1483 to a miner he went to university to study to be a lawyer and finished his undergrad and master’s very quickly, but in 1505 everything changed. He was caught in a thunderstorm and a bolt of lightening knocked him to the ground and he called out to God saying, “St. Anne (God’s patroness of miners), save me! And I’ll become a monk.” He was spared and much to his parent’s discord, he kept his vow.

He quickly was risen to the chair of biblical studies at the newly opened Wittenberg University and was one that was very hard on himself and on his sin. When he was about to head his first Mass he stated:

I was utterly stupefied and terror-stricken. I thought to myself, “Who am I that I should lift up mine eyes or raise my hands to the divine majesty? For I am dust and ashes and full of sin, and I am speaking of the living, eternal and true God.

1515 is probably one of the biggest years of the protestant church for it was the year that Luther was studying Romans and came across Romans 1:17

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

Luther saw that it was God’s righteousness that was given to man by and through faith alone, not by the man’s merit. Let the journey begin.

In 1517 a man named John Tetzel came through Germany selling indulgences, which was a way for the Church of Rome to raise money; in this case it was for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Tetzel would use the phrase: “Once the coin into the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory heavenward springs.”

To Luther this was at least bad theology if not worse. He promptly wrote up his 95 theses and nailed it to the Wittenburg door on October 31st, 1517 and that day the spark that was soon to be spread called the Reformation started.

Earlier that year, in September, Luther would pen the lesser known 97 theses in which he calls for the church to return to its Augustinian theology instead of Aristotle’s. Luther states that Aristotle placed too much emphasis on reason and states that his influence caused the downfall of the Church’s theology, namely that man was good, and that man had the ability of his will to choose good, about freedom and merit.

This concept goes all the way back to Augustine’s fight against Pelagius in the early 5th century, where Pelagius contended that man was not born into sin, and therefore had a free will and could freely choose good.

Luther was quickly denounced of a man preaching “dangerous doctrines” and Luther, willing to accept a final answer from Rome, asked the Pope and the priests for Scriptural proof that he was wrong. This led Luther down the line of not only questioning the Pope’s power through indulgences and forgiving of sin but now into what we now know as Scripture alone.

In 1521 the pope declared Luther a heretic and excommunicated him and called him to the Diet (or assembly) of Worms and asked him to defend his writings, Luther explained:

My conscience is captive to the Word of God, I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither honest nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.

Luther was given 21 days until his arrest and death but was saved by the prince of Saxony and given a home at the Wartburg Castle where much of Luther’s translation of the New Testament from Latin into German.

Many of the German towns started to tear down the statues and other relics of the Roman Catholic church and Luther, in 1522, returned to Wittenburg and started the movement of Protestantism.

Luther was followed up by great men, namely Melanchthon, Zwingli and Calvin who took Luther’s thoughts of Justification by Faith alone to the next generation. In fact, Luther said of Calvin, “I might have entrusted the whole of this controversy to him from the beginning.”

Key Doctrines of the Reformation

Dominion or Lordship

The Roman Catholic church had much property and also much control during this time; Wyclif’s first book was one that called out those; not only laymen but also on the clergy of the church, that if they had sin in their lives that they too could be in contempt according to the government and should have their resources and land revoked and given back to the governing authorities. Basically this was the start of the doctrine that we are all priests in God’s eyes as stated in Rev 1, all are equal and there shall be the same ‘standards’ of the Pope and his papacy as there are to the peasants.

Two popes were serving at the same time and just added more “fuel to Wyclif’s fire”

The Church

Wyclif taught that the body of believers were Christ’s church and the only head was that of Christ and not the pope. Luther also stated that the church was not made up by those in Monastic society or one that involved the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church, but was only made up of those who God chose to elect where there was no bounds to the sex or stature.

The Eucharist and Transubstantiation (Accepted by RCC in 1215)

This belief that the bread and the wine actually become the body and blood of Christ was declared as a “blasphemous deceit” and a “veritable abomination of desolation in the holy places,” by John Wyclif.

In his lectures in 1381 Wyclif stated:

The consecrated host we see upon the altar, is neither Christ, nor any part of Him, but an effectual sign of Him; and that transubstantiation rests upon no scriptural ground.

Wyclif stood alone when he taught this new thought on the Eucharist. Although it took all the way to Zwingli to get the correct interpretation of the bread and the wine as mere representation, Wyclif and Luther started the pebble down the hill so to speak.

The Scriptures

Holy Scripture is the permanent authority for every Christian, and the rule of faith and of all human perfection, then it became of prime importance to have the scriptures in the language of the people. For as much as the bible contains Christ, that is all that is necessary for salvation, it is necessary for all men, nor for priests alone. It alone is the supreme law that is to rule Church, State, and Christian life, without human tradition and statutes.

John Wyclif

Wyclif and his fellow scholars translated Jerome’s Latin Vulgate in its’ entirety to the common language of the day, so that all could know Christ, not by Pope but by reading and hearing it in their language to be understood by all.

Neither the testimony of Augustine nor Jerome nor any other saint should be accepted except in so far as it was based upon Scripture. Christ’s law is best and enough, and the other laws men should not take, but as branches of God’s law.

Free Will vs Bondage of the Will (election of the saints)

Wyclif was a predestinarian, like Augustine and the early church fathers and of course the apostles themselves.

One’s election, according to Wyclif had nothing to do with whether or not they were a priest, pope or monk nor was it conditioned on whether or not they went to Mass, paid indulgences or penances or any other of the priesthood fallacies.

Wyclif anticipates Luther’s doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, God does not see classes or races of men or women, we are all equal. And we are all chosen by God’s grace and nothing to do with who we are or what we have done.

This was also led by Luther’s belief in Justification by Faith alone and in his writing of “The Bondage of the Will” Luther states this in his opening:

It is not irreligious, wasteful, or superficial, but essentially healthy and necessary, for a Christian to know whether or not his will has anything to do in matters pertaining to salvation. Indeed, let me tell you, this is the hinge on which our discussion turns, the crucial issue between us; our aim is, simply, to investigate what ability "free will" has, in what respect it is the subject of divine action and how it stands related to the grace of God.

Luther also states later in his life:

Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, “ As if indeed it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the Decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath. Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience.

He wondered how one could not hate a God who comes only with righteous demands that cannot be met. He came to a realization that when God, speaks of righteousness, he is not speaking of the righteousness that he demands, but when he speaks of righteousness in the gospel, he is speaking of the righteousness that he gives in Christ.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Jim Gaffigan Making Fun of Christmas and Easter: Hilarious

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Satan Debate: Is He a Reality?

*image courtesy of Mars Hill blog

I would love to go to this event here in Seattle, but it seems as though Mars Hill was only given a minor amount of tickets and gave them out very quickly. So, I will be watching it on March 26th like the rest of you. Check it out, looks very interesting. I will say that the last time I saw Deepak Chopra, he was debating with John MacArthur on Larry King and was more heated than an IFB preaching against Hollywood. I will say that MacArthur did a fine job with handling Deepak's strange ideas.

Here are the details:

The devil -- also known as Satan, Lucifer and Beelzebub -- has become the primary antagonist in almost every major religion. He is seen as the rebel, a serpent and a fallen angel who tempts mortals into committing sin, and preys upon their despair. But does Satan really exist?

That question will be debated Friday, March 20, when "Nightline" tackles the controversial and sensitive issue in the third installment of the "Face-Off" series.

The "Nightline Face-Off" launched two years ago by asking the question "Does God Exist?" The Face-Off aired on and more than 15,000 comments were posted on the Web site as viewers engaged in the debate.

The conversation will pick up with a debate on the devil in Seattle at the Mars Hill Church, moderated by Dan Harris, who covers faith issues for the network.

Watch the "Nightline Face-Off" Thursday, March 26, 2009, on and at 11:35 p.m. on "Nightline"

On one side of the debate is Deepak Chopra, famous philosopher and author of "Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment" and Bishop Carlton Pearson, author of "The Gospel of Inclusion." They will argue that Satan does not exist.

Chopra is the founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in California. He specializes in mind-body medicine and gives lectures and speeches around the world.

Pearson began his spiritual journey as a fourth-generation Pentecostal minister who enjoyed a vast following as an heir apparent to Oral Roberts. But his revelation almost a decade ago that a loving God would not condemn people to hell just because they are not Christian caused him to question the very existence of hell and the devil. It also caused him to lose the vast majority of his congregation. Since then, he has become an independent spiritual leader in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and preaches his message that God loves all mankind.

On the other side will be Pastor Mark Driscoll of the Mars Hill Church and Annie Lobert, founder of the international Christian ministry "Hookers for Jesus," who will argue that the devil does exist, and has made a personal impact on their lives.

Mark Driscoll is the co-founder and pastor at Mars Hill Church and also the author of the "Books You'll Actually Read" series.

The church, founded in 1996, has almost 8,000 members. Most of his parishioners call him "Pastor Mark" but, in a recent interview with "Nightline," he said, "You can call me Pastor Dude if you want."

Driscoll is often referred to as the "indy rock star" of the evangelicals. His 20-something members, who arrive on Sundays wearing torn jeans and sporting tattoos, are there to hear Driscoll's edgy sermons.

Lobert, a former Las Vegas escort, now preaches the Christian message in her effort to rescue girls and young women from the sex trade.

"Nightline" recently profiled Lobert and her organization, "Hookers for Jesus." Her mission is to save prostitutes from the streets and, if possible, bring them to church and to God. A one-time escort, Lobert now enlists other ex-prostitutes and volunteers from a local church to reach out to working girls on the street, in the casinos, even over the Internet.

Her journey out of the industry began with a terrifying moment. "One night I was just so desperate, I was telling God I hated him. 'I hate you. Look what you did to my life.'"

At one point Lobert was living in her car and was addicted to cocaine.

"[It was the] very lowest point of my entire life," she said. "Just hitting rock bottom. I took a hit of [cocaine]. I didn't mean to try to commit suicide. It just kind of happened. I had a heart attack and I remember everything turning black. Fading to black. And just this total emptiness and there was nobody there."

Thinking she was surely going to hell, Lobert's instincts kicked in.

"I said, 'Jesus, please help me. I am alone. Please help me.'" After surviving the overdose, she began to turn her life around and formed "Hookers for Jesus."

In Seattle, representatives from both sides will fill up the church to watch the debate. After, they will be encouraged to ask questions.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Paedo vs. Credo: It's On! not as serious as one might think. Because March Madness is on, I thought I would throw out a bet idea to my buddy, and preacher extraordinaire, Tim Lien. Although he sprinkles anything that moves, I still very much like his preaching but I keep my kids away in fear that he will try and attack them with water under the banner of the covenant. We are both in another March Madness pool together and I decided to throw out this bet idea, and he, being a little off his rocker, took it.

So here is what is going to happen. If I win, he has to make a sign, hold it up, take a picture and place it on his blog. It will look something like this:
If he wins, which is as likely as seeing a Presbyterian preach without a suit on, I will show off this sign on this blog:

I will keep everyone up to date after each day on who is winning. Should be a great way to settle the Paedo vs Credo debate once and for all.

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Letter from Page CXVI

I received this email from the band Page CXVI and figured I would share it with all. I am not special, they sent this to probably everyone who downloaded their new album. Again, if you have not downloaded this album, go is free and will not be available for free after March 25th. Here is what they wrote:


We'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has
downloaded the Hymns project over the last week. We've met many
wonderful people over the last few years as a band at the churches and
conferences we've partnered with, and we are pleased to say that what
started with telling a just a few pastors and friends has spread to
ministry partners in all 50 states and 104 countries.

Thank you to all of you who have blogged and twittered about the
project. Because of you, the project has grown well past what we
thought possible. We have become first hand witnesses of how closely
connected the church community is. Please be encouraged to continue to
share the hymns project with your fellow pastors, worship leaders,
missionaries, and youth leaders during the final week of the ministry
giveaway. The last day of the giveaway will be Wednesday, March 25th.

The link for the giveaway is

For all of you who were wondering where our name "Page CXVI" came
from, we'd love to share with you a little bit about it. Page CXVI is
a reference to page 116 of our personal copy of The Magicians Nephew
by C.S. Lewis. It is a poignant passage where Aslan begins to sing
Narnia into creation out of a black void. One of the characters,
Digory, describes it as,

" was the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so
beautiful he could hardly bear it."

As the hymns project began to form, our hope was to wrap the strong
lyrical content of the hymns, with music that portrayed our personal
reactions to the life that God has brought to our "black void." The
most personal song on the album is by far "Joy" with the counterpart,
"It is Well" was written by Horatio Spafford after losing his son to
scarlet fever, all of his real estate investments to the Great Chicago
Fire, and his 4 remaining children to the sinking of a boat. The
contemplative turn from "Joy" into the lines from "It is Well" comes
out of our own personal tragedy this past year and combines a Psalm
like lamentation with hope. Our intention with all of these songs is
to be a source of comfort and encouragement to all who hear them.

Thank you again for listening and sharing.


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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who Killed God?

Last year I watched the Mars Hill Good Friday service, and have to say, it was very well done. Of course Red Letter played some amazing music as usual which made the evening that much better.

I will once again watch it this year, and interestingly enough, they have a live feed this year. I would go, but it is my youngest boy's birthday on the 10th, so I want to spend time with him.

The question I have is this: Can God die? I know that Jesus is God and he was and is the God/Man. But, is it accurate to say that God died on Calvary, or was it Christ's humanity that died that fateful day?

Here is the link to the live feed and below is the "trailer" video for the Good Friday service at Mars Hill Seattle this year. I also included under that the video from last year's service.

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What Should I Pray For?

The title of this post couldn't be more ambiguous. The question comes because I have been praying for my father through this latest bout of craziness. What I have found is that my brother, who is a charismatic, has been praying for my father's arthritis to be completely healed and done away with. It is quite odd...growing up in the Southern Baptist Convention, I am Reformed and my brother is

Anyways. My father has had both of the major kinds of arthritis: rheumatoid (where the body attacks itself and causes major bone loss) and osteoarthritis (this causes major trauma to the joints, causing constant pain). He has had arthritis since he was 15 years old and has had 16 major operations. He is going to be 54 next month, so that is a major surgery ever 2 and a half years. He has lived a very painful life, but if you ask him he is "fine". He never complains but believes that God has allowed this serious condition in his life to point him more to the glories and comfort of Jesus. Honestly, when he dies, it will be one of the best days of my life, because my father, who is the toughest man I know (even though he is 5'7 and a little hunched over), will feel no more pain and see the glories of Christ face to face. This sounds morbid, but if you had to see your dad in immense pain every day of his life, you would hopefully say the same thing. He loves Jesus, so I would see him again. Medically speaking, he is a walking miracle. There is no way he should be able to walk, be able to move his arms or go to work. Yet, every day this is what he does, without complaint. It is thorn in the flesh that God has given him to praise God even more.

I bring all this up to allow you, the reader, to better understand how serious his condition is. He has been told by many charismatics that if he just had enough faith that he would not have this disease. Honestly, if I saw these people, I would probably punch them in the face and ask if their face is hurting, then ask, "Where is your faith now?" I know that is a bad response, but I get sick of people trying to take away hope and faith that my dad has in Christ by pointing to his disease. I honestly want to tell those people to go to hell. But, that isn't godly either, so I don't.

I believe in our God. I believe he is all powerful, I believe that he controls all things in the palm of his hands. I believe that he is the great physician. But, I also know that he works within our natural laws for the most part. There are times of great signs and wonders which are unexplainable, and for that, this question comes.

What should I pray for in regards to my dad? I know that I should pray for God's will to be done for his glory, which is exactly the thrust of my whole prayer life. But, God also tells us to make our requests be known. What I pray for, in regards to my dad is simply the oppression of pain. I don't believe that his arthritis is all the sudden going to be gone. It would be the same if I was praying for a guy who lost his arm. I wouldn't pray that it would grow back, I would pray that he would be able to function without it.

The question comes, "Am I of little faith in regards to the prayers for my dad?" My charismatic brother is praying that my dad's arthritis to be gone and healed. I am not sure if there is a right answer here, but I feel either his prayer is ignorant, or mine is of little faith. Although, as long as he is not putting my dad's sickness in direct linkage to my dad's faith, I do greatly covet my brother's faith in this.

So, I ask for your comments and guidance on this. What are your thoughts on this? What would your prayers be for your parent if this is what they were going through every day of their life?

Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

James 5:14-16

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just trying to help out my homeschooled homies

Before you get too mad at this post, know that I like to poke fun of my friends that have decided to have school on their couch. But, for some reason they still love me and allow me into their world of school on video, the lunch lady also called mom and where getting out of schooling because of snow is non-existant. I care about my homeschooled friends. Some have recently asked me to speak at their senior celebration. Not sure if that was smart...asking a sarcastic jerk that was public schooled to be the emcee at a homeschool function? Why not just give your daughters over to crack addicts?

Anyways...I am already going to get a lot of emails for what I stated above...which is fine, because that gives me more material to use for jokes.

What I want to do is simply warn my homeschooled friends. I saw a commercial for something that I know you think is pretty cool and probably already ordered one for your whole family. I know you were upset that they didn't have any in plaid, but turquoise blue will work. This is just a warning. The product is not cool. It is not something you should buy. Stay away from it. I know you want to get one and wear it while you watch Little House on the Prairie, but please resist the temptation like you resist a science teacher teaching evolution. Although this product looks very useful and will make your Trekkie friends all jealous, please do not pick up the phone. Although you might look like someone from Star Wars if you wear it, know that Star Wars isn't really up on fashion. So, the more you can stay away from looking like someone on the set of Star Wars the better. Anyways...not sure what I am talking about? Take a look at the video below....and matter not pick up your rotary phone and call.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Hey Dirtbag...The Sermon is For You!

If you are of Arminian persuasion, you probably want to kindly skip this post because it will make as much sense as Weight Watchers saying they "aren't a diet but a way of life." Whatever. Anyways, one of the issues I sometimes face while I am either preaching or while I am sitting in the crowd of hypocrites (me included), is noticing who is in the crowd and who isn't.

I will be sitting there and listening to the sermon thinking, "Wow, what a great point, I hope 'so-and-so' heard that." Or if they aren't present, I might think something like, "I really wish 'so-and-so' was here because they really need to hear this." As I am thinking this, I am usually smiling like Benny Hinn counting his money and shaking my head in agreement with the preacher. But, the realization is this: How prideful do you have to be to hope that others are hearing the message without realizing YOU are the one that should most concern you in hearing the message?

Everytime this happens with me I get very frustrated at my contentness of self in regards to the message preached. What I have realized is that if I am a good Calvinist, I should understand that everyone that is at the worship service is there by the hand of God and everyone that isn't there was retrained by the hand of God. So, what I need to understand is that it isn't that person that missed the service who needs to hear this message the most, it is me.

"Even from eternity I am He,
And there is none who can deliver out of My hand;
I act and who can reverse it?"
Isaiah 43:13

"I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
Job 42:2

Surely these verses have a much greater meaning than who is in attendance at church. But, with any truth, the greater meaning of the truth will prove the lesser meaning.

Now, this doesn't mean that those who aren't there don't need to hear the message or that they are being godly for missing it, but what I need to keep reminding myself is that I am the greatest sinner and the one who needs to hear this message preached the most. Not anyone else. So, when I look around to make sure others are hearing the message, maybe I should carry a small mirror around and look at myself first.

This is the most basic understanding of the gospel. That I need Jesus most. That I need to judge myself first.

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5

Here are some quick things you can do to better put forth examination of the preaching every Sunday:

1. Pray that God would bring to light what you need to hear during the sermon. Do this before you get to church. I would say to continue this practice throughout the week.

2. During the sermon, think of why God has you in the pew or folding chair, to hear this message this week.

3. Think of how you can see the glory of Christ in your life because of the sermon, and how God can exemplify his name even more clearer through you because of the sermon.

4. Ask others how you could apply this sermon in your life and what points they think you need to improve on the most.

5. Pray for change in your heart.

6. Finally, you are now hopefully ready to ask God how you can use the sermon to edify others to show them the glory of Christ.

This list isn't perfect, but if you are like me, too often I think the sermon is for others and not for myself. I thank God that "that person" is in attendance when humility is preached. I just pray that they don't get up to go to the bathroom when God is about to apply the sermon to their heart. I seriously am like an Arminian sometimes when it comes to the sermon preached. What a dirtbag I am. So, from one dirtbag to another: The sermon is for you so that you will learn more about your filthiness and the glory and honor of our hero, Jesus Christ.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Free Hymns with Re-Written Music Compilations

I love old school hymns, but most of them put me to sleep because of the instruments and how slow they seem to take to develop. This is pretty sweet though. Some re-written compilations of some old school hymns. Better yet, they are free. Here is the link: Page CXVI

HT: Dwayne Forehand

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thank You for the Prayers and Update on Dad

I have been overwhelmed with the amount of people around the world praying for my father. It is humbling to say the least. When my dad went into the hospital it was 50/50 whether he would live or die, and if the doctors were honest, they would have said that the probability of death was more likely than him living. The problem? God's will was for him to live.

When I spoke to a doctor yesterday, he said that my father is at the point of just waiting for him to recover. They expect a full recovery, now it is just a waiting game. Although they said "anything can happen" they expect everything to be fine.

Amazing to see God's hand at work here, and for my sake, and my family's sake, we are glad to have him a bit longer to poke fun at.

Again, thank you so much for the prayers and know that God is good even if my father would have died. He is in control, not us. God knows what is best for us, not us.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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Calvinism is Changing the World

This is pretty interesting. Time put out an article on 10 things changing the world right now and number 3 is Calvinism. For the entire article, you can click here. I thought this was pretty interesting and pretty honest from Time magazine. Take a gander:


If you really want to follow the development of conservative Christianity, track its musical hits. In the early 1900s you might have heard "The Old Rugged Cross," a celebration of the atonement. By the 1980s you could have shared the Jesus-is-my-buddy intimacy of "Shine, Jesus, Shine." And today, more and more top songs feature a God who is very big, while we are...well, hark the David Crowder Band: "I am full of earth/ You are heaven's worth/ I am stained with dirt/ Prone to depravity."

Calvinism is back, and not just musically. John Calvin's 16th century reply to medieval Catholicism's buy-your-way-out-of-purgatory excesses is Evangelicalism's latest success story, complete with an utterly sovereign and micromanaging deity, sinful and puny humanity, and the combination's logical consequence, predestination: the belief that before time's dawn, God decided whom he would save (or not), unaffected by any subsequent human action or decision.

Calvinism, cousin to the Reformation's other pillar, Lutheranism, is a bit less dour than its critics claim: it offers a rock-steady deity who orchestrates absolutely everything, including illness (or home foreclosure!), by a logic we may not understand but don't have to second-guess. Our satisfaction — and our purpose — is fulfilled simply by "glorifying" him. In the 1700s, Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards invested Calvinism with a rapturous near mysticism. Yet it was soon overtaken in the U.S. by movements like Methodism that were more impressed with human will. Calvinist-descended liberal bodies like the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) discovered other emphases, while Evangelicalism's loss of appetite for rigid doctrine — and the triumph of that friendly, fuzzy Jesus — seemed to relegate hard-core Reformed preaching (Reformed operates as a loose synonym for Calvinist) to a few crotchety Southern churches.

No more. Neo-Calvinist ministers and authors don't operate quite on a Rick Warren scale. But, notes Ted Olsen, a managing editor at Christianity Today, "everyone knows where the energy and the passion are in the Evangelical world" — with the pioneering new-Calvinist John Piper of Minneapolis, Seattle's pugnacious Mark Driscoll and Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Seminary of the huge Southern Baptist Convention. The Calvinist-flavored ESV Study Bible sold out its first printing, and Reformed blogs like Between Two Worlds are among cyber-Christendom's hottest links.

Like the Calvinists, more moderate Evangelicals are exploring cures for the movement's doctrinal drift, but can't offer the same blanket assurance. "A lot of young people grew up in a culture of brokenness, divorce, drugs or sexual temptation," says Collin Hansen, author of Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists. "They have plenty of friends: what they need is a God." Mohler says, "The moment someone begins to define God's [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist." Of course, that presumption of inevitability has drawn accusations of arrogance and divisiveness since Calvin's time. Indeed, some of today's enthusiasts imply that non-Calvinists may actually not be Christians. Skirmishes among the Southern Baptists (who have a competing non-Calvinist camp) and online "flame wars" bode badly.

Calvin's 500th birthday will be this July. It will be interesting to see whether Calvin's latest legacy will be classic Protestant backbiting or whether, during these hard times, more Christians searching for security will submit their wills to the austerely demanding God of their country's infancy.

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