Thursday, August 31, 2006

Have You Drank Orange Juice to the Glory of God?

When I asked two weeks ago, "Is the Doctrine of Total Depravity Biblical" my answer was, Yes. And one thing I meant was that all of our actions (apart from saving grace) are morally ruined. In other words, everything an unbeliever does is sinful and thus unacceptable to God.

I said that one of my reasons for believing this comes from 1 Corinthians 10:31. "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." I asked, "Is it sin to disobey this Biblical commandment?" Yes.

So I draw this somber conclusion: It is sin to eat or drink or do anything NOT for the glory of God. In other words, sin is not just a list of harmful things (killing, stealing, etc.). Sin is leaving God out of account in the ordinary affairs of your life. Sin is anything you do that you don't do for the glory of God.

But what do unbelievers do for the glory of God? Nothing. Therefore everything they do is sinful. That is what I mean by saying that, apart from saving grace, all we do is morally ruined.

Some of you then asked the practical question: Well, how do you "eat and drink" to the glory of God? Say, orange juice for breakfast?

One answer is found in 1 Timothy 4:3-5: "[Some] forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer."

Orange juice was "created to be received with gratitude by those who believe the truth." Therefore, unbelievers cannot use orange juice for the purpose God intended-namely, as a occasion for heartfelt thanksgiving to God from a truth heart of faith.

But believers can, and this is how they glorify God. Their drinking orange juice is "sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." The word of God teaches us that juice, and even our strength to drink it, is a free gift of God (1 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Peter 4:11). The prayer is our humble response of thanks from the heart. Believing this truth in the word, and offering thanks in prayer is one way we drink orange juice to the glory of God.

HT: John Piper

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Minister is Supposed To Live Above Reproach

I appreciate so much the kind and great words from Dr. Danny Akin to his students at Southeastern Seminary. He has a fantastic heart for God and love for His Word. What a terrific reminder by him that a minister must seek to live a life above reproach.

Integrity in Ministry: No Place for Compromise
(A Message From the President)

In 1 Timothy 3:1 the Bible says leaders in the church must be “blameless” (NKJV), “above reproach” (NIV). In recent days a number of stories have appeared in the media concerning well known ministers forced to resign because of inappropriate or unwise actions. The cause of Christ has been harmed and the respect for ministers significantly damaged. There are a number of issues addressed in Scripture that speak to the essential nature of integrity in ministry (1 Tim 3:17; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4), but let me encourage our students to especially guard their lives in 5 particular areas.
1) Guard your integrity by always being completely honest. Do not pad your resume or reputation with false or inflated accomplishments. The Bible says God hates a proud look and lying tongue (Prov 6:17). Be a truth-teller in every area of your life, both in the big things and the little things.
2) Guard your integrity in your dealings with the opposite sex. If you are married covenant with the Lord and your mate never to be alone with anyone of the opposite sex. Men, be known as a “one woman kind of man” (1 Tim 3:2; Eph 5:33). Ladies, be known as a “one man kind of woman.” If you are single, be careful in your conduct with the opposite sex. Treat them with respect due a sister or brother in Christ. Avoid those private places where your hormones can override your will and you make a bad decision that can change your life forever.
3) Guard your integrity when it comes to money. As a minister, require annually a full outside audit of your church finances. On the personal level, have nothing to do with the direct financial responsibilities of the church. Do not have check writing authority. Do not handle or receive money, but direct individuals to the proper persons who handle the finances of the church. Never use a church credit card for personal reasons. Use your own credit card for personal reasons. When you do use a church credit card, always document its use with a receipt and a description of how it was used. Maintain accountability with someone in your church office or on your finance committee. Go the extra mile to be above board and blameless.
Furthermore, realize people who love you will want to be a blessing to you. Develop an attitude of gratitude, but never one of entitlement. Ministers do not deserve nor should we expect special treatment. The Lord Jesus will properly reward us when we stand before Him (1 Peter 5:1-4). If that reward is not sufficient, I would suggest you get out of the ministry and do so quickly.
4) Guard your integrity when it comes to your family life. First Timothy 3:4 says we must rule our own house well and have children who are in submission with all reverence. Titus 1:6 adds that they must be faithful, “not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient (NIV). One’s family life is often an accurate reflection of their spiritual life. Godly men and women will raise up godly children who love Christ and obey the Bible. Few areas of investment will yield greater reward.
5) Guard your integrity with solid theological competency. Often moral and ethical sins grow out of a defective biblical and theological life. Failing to cultivate a healthy understanding of theological truth like the sovereignty and holiness of God, the sinfulness and depravity of man, the process of sanctification and the necessity of biblical wisdom, and the centrality of Christ and the crucified life, we begin to think and then live in a manner that is foreign to the clear teachings of scripture. Nothing will be more valuable in avoiding this danger than a steady diet of biblical exposition, whereby we are continually exposed to the totality of God’s revealed truth. What we believe will determine how we live. Belief and behavior always go together.
6) Guard your integrity with the model of ministry you pursue. God calls us to be shepherds of His sheep. We are not called to be CEO’s or drill sergeants. We are not called to be ranchers or dictators. We are certainly not called to be spiritual superstars or celebrities. A word of caution is in order at this point. The greater your natural gifts and abilities, the more susceptible you are to entrapment by these seducing sirens of the world. Men, and women, with charismatic personalities and a commanding presence can too easily operate in the power of the flesh and not the Spirit. They can be deceived into believing their own press and the accolades showered on them by adoring followers (fans!). If they are not careful, they can begin to believe they have the right to operate by a different standard. This is the way of foolishness. This is the way that leads to the damage, and potential destruction, of a ministry.
Brothers and sisters, there is no place for spiritual superstars in the church, who like proud Diotrephes, love to have the preeminence (3 John 9). No, preeminence is rightfully reserved for only one and His name is Jesus (Col. 1:18). Let us not lose sight of who we are, sinners saved by grace. Let us not lose sight of who really matters, it is Jesus. Let us not lose sight of how we serve, it is with integrity as we imitate Christ (1 Cor. 11:1) in every sphere of our lives.
I love you each and every one, and I pray for you. Please pray for me, that I will both run well and finish well, all for the glory of Jesus.

Daniel L. Akin
Southeastern Seminary

Monday, August 28, 2006

Nuclear War Begins September 12, 2006

According to a press release issued by The House of Yahweh - theologically a cult of Christianity - nuclear war will begin on September 12, 2006.

Now, before you start packing your dishes, note the following from the Jan. 10, 2000 issue of the Los Angeles Times:

According to the House of Yahweh, a Christian sect, when Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shook hands at the White House on Sept. 13, 1993, they began a seven-year tribulation that will end this Sept. 13 and bring about the end of the world."

Of course failed prophecies seldom discourage certain religious types from trying again. Hence the the House of Yahweh has recently rescheduled the beginning of the end of the world for this September 12.

September is going to be a bad month anyway, because another cult - The Lord’s Witnesses and the True Bible Code - has also scheduled a nuclear event:

We now predict a terrorist Nuclear Bomb will hit the UN plaza in Midtown Manhattan on the sabbath of 2006Elul13 (Sundown Friday September 8th to Sundown Saturday September 9th)

Earlier the same group predicted that the UN would take over the world sometime between March 26th and April 24th of 2001, and that a worldwide famine would begin in September that same year.

It should be noted that the group's web site helpfully includes a list of failed prophecies ("mistakes").

Meanwhile, over in Texas (uhuh), the House of Yahweh states

Nuclear war will start September 12, 2006, but that is not the end.

The group’s leader has a much nicer looking web site, with such helpful articles as "Amazing Prophecies Showing The Exact Date When Nuclear War Will Start And Where!"

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Billy Graham - Still the Man??

In its Aug. 14 issue, Newsweek ran as its cover story a profile of the Rev. Billy Graham, now 87 and in poor health. I've been ruminating on it since.

When I was a Southern Baptist boy, Graham wasn't just a hero to the pastors and lay members of the conservative, rural and small-town congregations I attended. He was an icon, the nearest thing to a pope we low-church evangelicals had.

Newsweek's article, written by Jon Meacham, left me in a quandary. I was struck by how moderate -- or even, dare I say it, liberal -- Graham sounds today in comparison with other prominent evangelicals such as, for instance, the current Southern Baptist leadership.

After mulling it over, I'm still not sure whether he's drifted that far left or whether the evangelical subculture has wandered way to the right of where it once lay.

Graham's evangelical and conservative vita is impeccable. No one in history has preached to as many people. His massive crusades were famous for his impassioned pleas that sinners accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. People flooded down the aisles to repent and be saved.

Here is a sad excerpt from the article:
This Graham says Christians don't need to take every word of the Bible literally, and that equally sincere believers can find very different meanings in the Scriptures. "I'm not a literalist in the sense that every single jot and tittle is from the Lord," he says. "This is a little difference in my thinking through the years." He still loves the Bible and recites favorite passages to himself, but doesn't read it as if it's a scientific textbook for understanding the earth's origins or a blueprint for predicting Armageddon.

Instead of embracing biblical inerrancy, he prefers to ponder the mysteries inherent in our limited knowledge of God. He thinks there are a lot more truths we humans don't understand than truths we do.

Asked whether he thinks God will accept Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and secularists into heaven, he responds: "Those are decisions only the Lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won't. ... I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have."

For full article click here.

Dallas Episcopalians Consider Church Split

The issue that just won't go away: gay unions

Associated Press

DALLAS – As a moderate Episcopalian in the conservative Diocese of Dallas, Dixie Hutchinson doesn't find her strength in numbers.

"Nobody around here would elect me to anything," she says.

Soon, she may find herself even more isolated.

Dallas Bishop James M. Stanton is among the leaders of seven Episcopal dioceses who have rejected the authority of the denomination's incoming national leader, Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, as the debate over the Bible and gay relationships tears at the church.

The move, prompted partly by Jefferts Schori's support for gay relationships, falls just short of a complete break. But in October, Dallas-area Episcopalians will meet to more fully consider their future in the denomination.

The six other dissenting dioceses – Central Florida; Fort Worth, Texas; Fresno, Calif.; Pittsburgh; Springfield, Ill., and South Carolina – are having similar internal debates.

And even though the Diocese of Dallas is overwhelmingly conservative, anxiety about what's ahead is apparent throughout its 77 churches.

Christ Church Episcopal in suburban Plano, one of the largest Episcopal parishes in the country with about 2,200 worshippers each weekend, is not waiting for the fall diocesan convention; it has already announced plans to leave The Episcopal Church.

For full article click here.

Church Marriages are So Old Fashioned has conducted a survey of over 1,200 people to find out where they will get married.

(PRWEB) August 25, 2006 -- has conducted a survey of over 1,200 people to find out where they will get married.

Two years ago the Anglican Church, concerned about their falling numbers, debated whether to relax their current rules for church weddings, which stipulate that the bride or groom must live or worship in the parish before they can marry in the church. Moreover, with no agreement yet reached by the church on this issue, the rules remain unchanged, and the erosion in the numbers of church weddings continues. However, there are still many who want to continue with tradition; bride to be, Beverly Spencer, intends to buck the trend, Beverly and her husband to be will be "getting married in church because we are both devout Catholics."

Yet the decline in church weddings has been a boost to licensed venues, with 26% of couples -- up from only 5% in 1996 -- now choosing to have a Civil Wedding in one of thousands of licensed venues throughout the UK.

Click here for full article.

Get Your Prayer On

Survey Ranks Most, Least Prayerful Colleges
By Kat Glass
Religion News Service

Considering that 98 percent of the students are Mormon, some classrooms are converted into worship spaces on Sundays, and alcohol and drugs are banned from campus, perhaps it's not surprising that Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, received the sacred No. 1 spot on the list of schools where "Students Pray on a Regular Basis" in the Princeton Review's
2007 college rankings.

Meanwhile, the liberal arts Reed College in Portland, Ore., where the Christian student group is called "Oh, for Christ's Sake," ranked atop the "Students Ignore God on a Regular Basis" category, according to the same rankings, which were released this week (Aug. 22).

For full article click here.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mark Dever on How to Preach the Gospel

Mark Dever on how to preach the gospel:

"When we hold forth the good news in our preaching, we should particularly beware of presenting this gospel as an option to be exercised for the betterment of sinners’ lives. After all, what would a carnal person consider "better"? Leading questions like "are you scared of death?" "Do you want happiness?" "Wouldn’t you like to know the meaning of your life?" are all well-intentioned, and any of them may be used by God’s Spirit to convict someone, and to lead to their conversion. But such questions may also be answered by a simple "no." To use such questions as if they are the starting point for those considering the gospel is to make it sound all too optional.

I don’t care if my hearers are scared of death, wanting happiness or meaning in life, I know that they will die and stand before God to give an account of their lives. And I know that God will therefore rightly condemn them to an eternal Hell.

* So I find verses like Mark 8:38 useful, where Jesus taught "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels."
* Or again, Romans 3:19-20, "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."
* Or Hebrews 9:27, "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment . . ."

This demand—rather than a marketer’s appeal—is to be the basis of the evangelistic call in our sermons. Our gospel sermons are not to sound like the solicitations of a salesman, but the summons of a judge.

—From "Evangelistic Expository Preaching," in Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship, Philip Graham Ryken, Derek W. H. Thomas, and J. Ligon Duncan eds. (P&R, 2003), 134-135.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I was a Calvinist Before it was Cool

September's Christianity Today will be worth a read.

One More Time--Islam Is No Religion of Peace

This excerpt is from an excellent article written by Kim Riddlebarger I would encourage you to read the whole thing.

Lets cut to the chase. Your next door Muslim neighbor is probably a meek and kindly person. So are the Muslims I encounter here in Orange County.

But when a noted Islamic academic in the UK contends that it is perfectly just to die for what you believe--even if you do so with a bomb with nails and ball-bearings strapped to your chest in a marketplace full of innocent civilians--then should be clear to all, Islam is a religion of conquest and violence.

For full article click here.

Evangelism Commanded

A common misunderstanding by some people is that individuals who hold to the Doctrines of Grace do not evangelize. They do not reach out to the lost for Christ. That is not so! Scripture clearly commands evangelism. (Just look at the Great Commission.) God expects it from his children; if soul winning is not done by the Christian on a regular basis he or she must repent before a holy God. It doesn't matter if a person holds to the Doctrines of Grace or not, evangelism must be an active part of their life.

Recently I reflected on the importance of evangelism and I want to share with you some of my findings.

Dr. Wade Armstrong was a visiting evangelism instructor that I had in seminary. He wrote a book on evangelistic growth in Acts 1 and 2. I like the book because he deals with the importance of church growth from the Scriptures. Read Acts 1 and 2 and note how God grew His church. God can very much grow His church today.

He says in the book:

-Evangelistic Growth comes from the Scriptures.
-The study in Acts 1 and 2 reveals through Dr. Armstrong that almost every principle of evangelistic growth can be modeled in the early church.
-He says that there are two types of churches today “Maintenance churches and churches on Mission.”
-Evangelistic growth comes from prayer in the church.

I also ran across a poem and letter that I want to share with you about evangelism. Remember it does NOT matter the current state of your theology God expects you to evangelize the lost.

You Forgot My Soul

You lived next door to me for yearsWe shared our dreams, our joys, and tears.A friend to me you were indeed...A friend who helped me when in need.
My faith in you was strong and sureWe had such trust as should endure.No spats between us ever rose;Our friends were like...and so our foes.
What sadness then, my friend, to findThat after all you weren’t so kind.The day my life on earth did endI found you weren’t a faithful friend.
For all those years we spent on earthYou never talked of second birth.You never spoke of my lost soulAnd of the Messiah Who’d make me whole.
I plead today from Hell’s cruel fireAnd tell you now my last desire.You cannot do a thing for me...No words today my bonds will free.
But do not err, my friend, again;Do all you can for souls of men.Plead with them now quite earnestly,Lest they be cast in Hell with me.
Author Unknown

If you are having trouble being evangelistic let me offer you a solution. Remember what you were before you were Christian. A dead person! A person who had no hope of heaven, headed for hell. That is the state of the unconverted soul. If a person has never embraced Jesus by faith and said yes I believe in you (Jesus) and repent from my sins; he or she is headed on a one-way track for hell.

The Letter

Some time ago an 18-year-old girl from Washington state attended a worship service. For the first time in her life she heard a gospel sermon. The following Tuesday the pastor of the church received a letter from her. It read:
Dear Pastor:
Last Sunday I attended your church, and I heard you preach. In your sermon you said that all men have sinned and rebelled against God. Because of their rebellion and disobedience they all face eternal damnation and separation from God.
But then you also said God loved men and sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to redeem men from their sins and that all those who believe in him would go to heaven and live with God eternally.
My parents recently died in rapid succession. I know they did not believe in Jesus Christ, whom you call the Savior of the world. If what you preach is true, they are damned.
You compel me to believe that either the message is true, or that you yourself don’t believe this message, or that you don’t care. We live only three blocks from your church, and no one ever told us. You hypocrites!

Could your pastor or your church ever receive such a letter from a neighbor who lives nearby? It’s not likely if you’re seriously praying for them. Churches that pray earnestly and specifically for neighbors always seem to find a way to touch their lives.

Live to the glory and honor of Jesus Christ and look for opportunities to witness to another. Remember God wants to use you to save people. He saves people we do not, but we are commanded to go and proclaim to others His great salvation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Why God Tells Us That He Delights in His Children

The question is not whether God delights in his children. He does. The question is twofold: One, what is it about us that he delights in? And two, why does he tell us that he delights in us? What effect does he want it to have? (When I say God, I mean all that God is for us in Christ. I mean the triune, Christian God.)

First, notice some of the texts that speak of Gods delight in his people and his praise of them.

Zephaniah 3:17, The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness.
Psalm 147:11, The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
1 Peter 1:6-7, In this [salvation] you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faithmore precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by firemay be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Romans 2:29, But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
1 Corinthians 4:5, Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

To answer our questions above we also need to see the truth that God commands us to delight in him.

Psalm 37:4, Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Philippians 4:4, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Romans 5:2, Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Psalm 43:4, Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy.
Psalm 70:4, May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, God is great!
Psalm 63:3, Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Note: Those last two texts show something crucial. One says that when you love Gods salvation you dont say mainly, Gods salvation is great! You say, God is great! And when you experience the steadfast love of the Lord, you dont mainly say, My lips will praise your steadfast love. You mainly say, My lips will praise you! In other words, in all these texts the command is to delight in God himself, and all other blessings we enjoy should lead us to God himself as our final and fullest satisfaction.

Therefore, in answer to our first question my answer is: At root, what God delights in about us is that we delight in him.

One way to get at this is to say the obvious: God approves of what is right. He rejoices in our thinking and feeling and doing what is right. So we should ask, What is rightultimately? What makes something right? My answer is: Rightness is thinking and feeling and acting in a way that expresses in true proportion the value of what is most valuable. Rightness is thinking, feeling, and doing what flows from a true perception of the supreme value of God. It is seeing truly, savoring duly, and showing consistently in action the infinite worth of God. Therefore, we are doing what is right when we are understanding the truth of Gods value for what it is, and feeling it proportionately to his universal supremacy, and acting in ways that express Gods supreme value. That is what right means.

Therefore, when we say God rejoices in our thinking and feeling and doing what is right, we mean that he delights in our seeing, savoring, and showing his own supreme value. God values our valuing him. God delights in our delighting in him.

Now the second question we asked above is: Why does he tell us this? Should we be glad to hear it? Yes, we should be glad to hear it. But why? What is the bottom of our joy in hearing it? It is possible to hear it, and be glad to hear it, in a way that is devastating.

The proper reason to be glad that God delights in our delight in him is because it confirms that our delight is truly in God. This fixes our gaze more steadfastly on him and deepens our joy in his beauty. But there is a devastating way to respond to Gods commendation of us. What if we hear Gods praise and are drawn away from delighting in God to delighting in Gods delighting in us? What if we hear his praise as a tickler of what we really enjoy, namely, being made much of? What if the bottom line of what makes us happy is not God himself, but Gods attention, Gods praise? If that is the bottom line, then we are not delighting in God, but only using delight in God to get commendations. That would be devastating. When Gods delight in us lures us to delight in being delighted in, we are ceasing to do the very thing God delights in.

The teaching that God delights in us is very dangerous. Very true. And very dangerous. The reason it is so dangerous is that we are fallen and the chief pleasure of our fallen nature is not sex but self-exaltation. Our sinful nature loves to be praised for what we are and what we have done.

The remedy for this is not to make God the praiser, and think all is well. All may not be well, but deadly. Gods praises of us will do us good, if we hear them as confirming that we are truly delighting in him. Gods praise of our delight in God is meant to help us to keep on delighting in God, and not be distracted by anything. God forbid that his praise of our delight in him would lead us away from delighting in him to delighting in being praised by him.

Hear me well. We do delight in being praised by God. But not the way a carnal mind would. Gods praise of us is not the bottom of our joy. We should not let his praise distract us from the very thing he is praisingnamely, our delight in him. We delight in being praised by God because it confirms and increases our focus on him, rather than distracting us from him. Even his merciful approval of our imperfect delight in him makes him more beautiful in himself. May those who hear the words, Well done, good and faithful servant, say, How great and merciful is our God!

The relationship between what I have said here and the doctrine of justification by faith is that God looks upon his children through the lens of Christs imputed righteousness. That means two things: One is that God counts us perfect in Christ. The other is that he can still see us becoming in practice what we are positionally in Christ. The lens of imputation secures our invincible right standing with God. It also warrants Gods delight in our imperfect delight in him. That is, even though we are counted perfectly righteous in Christ, God can still see our actual sinning and the fruit of the Spirit in our life. That is why he can be delighted in us to greater or lesser degrees. We know this because he both reckons us as perfectly righteous (Romans 4:4-6) and disciplines us for sin in our life (1 Corinthians 11:32). Therefore, Gods delight in our delight in him varies in proportion to the affections of our heart, but is possible only because God imputes to us Christs perfect righteousness.

HT: John Piper

Definite Atonement

According to Dr. Steven J. Lawson and the Bible, it teaches a “Definite Atonement or Limited Atonement.” This is one of the great doctrines of grace, flagged by Total Depravity, and Unconditional Election on one side, and on the other side Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. He says that the importance of fully understanding the Doctrines of Grace (T.U.L.I.P) is found in the L or Definite Atonement. If you have never gone to his website, (, you need to listen to some of his great expository messages.

The message that I want to review is entitled, “10 reasons to believe in the Definite Atonement: The Unity of the Godhead.” I only will give one of his points.

1. The Unity of the Godhead. (John 6:37) “All that the Father gives me will come to me.” This is a great promise! All of the deity works together to save the elect. (John 10:22) Jesus teaches on election in this section.

-(John 10:22-30)--At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one." (ESV)

-Note he replies that because the Father and the Son are one the Bible teaches a “Definite Atonement."
It is rooted and grounded in the Doctrine of Election. According to J.I. Packer in his forward to John Owens’s book you either believe all of the points of Calvinism or none at all. There is really only ONE point to believe, in other words there is no such thing as a one, two, three, or four point Calvinist. Lawson states, "The one who believes in the doctrine of election has more reason to praise God." This makes perfect sense to me! One cannot help, but praise the sweet Savior who saved them from hell.

-(Ephesians 1:3) Begins with a Trinitarian praise

Ephesians 1:3-14

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

-Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

(Notice the “In Him” in the verses)
-4-6 deal with God the Father
-7-12 deal with God the Son
-13 and 14 deal with the Holy Spirit

God not only chose us by Himself, but for Himself! He chose us in Christ, He chose us because of what Christ would do on the cross.

May you be shocked and stand in awe of God’s saving His children today.

Awed by God

God created us to be awed, His overall intention is that we are awed supremely by Him. I love this newly released picture by the hubble telescope, I think that as amazing and unbelieveable this picture of space is - God is even more so! When you walk away from the ocean or the grand canyon or an incredible sunset, praise God for giving us that sense of awe. How great that sense will be when we are in the presence of the Lord.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Do SBC Moderates Really Believe Women Should Serve as Pastors? An Important Research Project

This is a very interesting article written by Al Mohler, the findings I thought were very surprising.

The controversy over women in the pastorate has been a part of Southern Baptist life for the last three decades. This is not to say that the controversy has itself reshaped the Baptist landscape at the congregational level. As is now clear, "moderate" churches historically identified with the Southern Baptist Convention are virtually as reluctant as conservative churches to call a woman as pastor. Instead, the question of women in the pastorate has become something of a symbolic issue for SBC moderates and their successors. In a very real sense, the question has become rather hypothetical, serving as an indicator of a theological trajectory rather than a genuine openness to having a woman serve as pastor.

The conclusive evidence for this is found in a report commissioned by Baptist Women in Ministry. "The State of Women in Baptist Life, 2005" by Eileen R. Campbell-Reed and Pamela R. Durso is a major research project that should reshape the conversation over women in ministry among Baptists.

For full article click here.

Pastor Fires Sunday School Teacher After 50 Years

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. Baptist preacher has publicly defended himself for firing a female Sunday School teacher after more than 50 years on the job because he believes the Bible bans women from teaching men.

Watertown First Baptist Church Pastor Tim LaBouf, also a city council member in Watertown, N.Y., said women could fulfill any role or responsibility they wanted to -- outside the church.

"My belief is that the qualifications for both men and women teaching spiritual matters in a church setting end at the church door, period," LaBouf said in a statement on the church Web site (

LaBouf and the church board fired Mary Lambert, 81, earlier this month in a letter that cited the scriptural qualifications for Sunday School teachers, Lambert said.

"They quote First Timothy Two, 11-14: A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent," Lambert said, reading from the letter.

For full article click here.

God, Give Me A Pure Heart!

I wish more had a love for God and His Word like John MacArthur. I just cannot believe that John is in his early 70's now. I praise God for him and men like him who faithfully and innocently preach and live their lives before a holy God; desiring to see others grow in their own spiritual life. I cannot say that there has been a preacher who has had a bigger impact on my ministry than John MacArthur. If you have never been to the Shepherds' Conference at his church the first week of March, I highly encourage you to attend. I wanted to share some thoughts with you today on his daily devotion.

Rejoicing in Righteousness

"[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness" (1 Cor. 13:6).

To most Christians, the idea of rejoicing over unrighteousness is repulsive because it suggests enjoying deliberate, wanton sin. We've seen sin's tragic effects on mankind and know how it offends God, so how could we ever rejoice in such a thing? But rejoicing in unrighteousness includes any attempt to justify sin in your own life or the lives of others, so it can be a very subtle thing.
There are many ways to rejoice in unrighteousness. One is to exchange right for wrong. That's what the prophet Isaiah condemned when saying, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness" (Isa. 5:20). In our society, for example, virtues such as virginity and fidelity in marriage are branded as old-fashioned and prudish, while promiscuity and adultery are heralded as contemporary and liberating. Social pressures can cause undiscerning or weak Christians to yield to confused and godless moral standards.
Another way to rejoice in unrighteousness is to be undiscerning about what you expose yourself to. The humanistic philosophies and blatant immorality of our society can quickly dull your moral and spiritual senses. Therefore you must carefully evaluate what you read, view, and listen to. Do they denigrate God and exalt violence, crime, immorality, slander, and the like? If so, and you find them entertaining, you are rejoicing in sin.
Some believers actually do rejoice over the sins of others. That's what Jonah did when he refused to preach at Nineveh for fear the people would repent and God would forgive them. He preferred to see them continue in sin rather than reconcile with God. That attitude is not so far removed from today as we'd like to think. I've known professing Christians who wanted out of their marriages so badly that they hoped their spouses would commit adultery so they would feel justified in getting a divorce. What a convoluted perspective!
True love cannot rejoice in sin, but glories whenever righteousness prevails. If you love God, the things that please Him will please you, and the things that offend Him will offend you. Let that always be your standard.

Suggestions for Prayer:
Ask God for the grace to live a life that pleases Him.

For Further Study:
Read Matthew 18:15-20, carefully noting the procedure for confronting a sinning Christian.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Youth Pastors Unite

Youth ministry's revival

Job gets more respect and higher pay as denominations try to reach young.

By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post

The philosophy of the youth ministry business these days is summed up by a recent cover story in Group magazine, the industry's must-read glossy: "Busting the 'Cool Leader' Myth."

The sarcastic cover photo - a young, cute guy wearing a goatee and jeans, with a guitar slung across his back and tossing a Frisbee - conjures up memories many adult Americans carry of the people who were assigned by their church, temple or mosque to be with them when they were young. Youth ministers or youth directors were likely barely out of their teens - someone who organized softball and maybe led a simple Bible study.

That guy is passe.

Increasingly, a position once relegated to a low rung on the pay and respect scales is getting bumped up. Spurred by a new seriousness about young people's spiritual development, youth ministers and directors today have more education, are staying in their positions longer and are being paid more than they were a decade ago, according to statistics and interviews with researchers and industry groups.

For full story click here.

Racisim is Sadly Still Alive and Well in the Church

I am truly speechless and angered by this story. But, I am thankful that this Pastor took a stand for the Gospel.

Pastor leaves after church turns away biracial boy

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal,
Aug. 19, 2006
Charity Gordon

SALTILLO - Twelve-year-old Joe recently asked Jesus to live in his heart.

Yet the church where Joe accepted his Savior not even two weeks before will no longer allow the biracial boy to enter.

On Aug. 6, during its scheduled Sunday night business meeting, Fellowship Baptist Church in Saltillo voted not to accept blacks within the church. More specifically, the congregation also voted Joe out and said he could not return.

That evening Fellowship Baptist did not just say goodbye to Joe and an entire race of humans. With that decision the church's pastor, the Rev. John Stevens, resigned, and at least one other family decided not to return to the Baptist Missionary Alliance congregation that averages 30 people.

The church was "afraid Joe might come with his people and have blacks in the church," Stevens said. "I could not go along with that. There would always be a wall between us, so I resigned that night."

For full story click here.

Ministry Gone Mad

Husband of faith healer jailed for drugging his wife

A Tulsa psychiatrist who used psychotropic medicine to drug his wife -- once a prominent faith healer and evangelist -- has been jailed, ordered to wear an ankle monitor and told to stay half a mile away from the woman, records show.

The bizarre court case involving Dr. Carl R. Peterson and his wife, Martha "Vicki" Peterson, began a year ago, when the Department of Human Services took custody of Vicki Peterson in an emergency guardianship. Though such cases are usually sealed under state law, Carl Peterson filed some public court records with the Oklahoma Supreme Court in an appeal of a contempt of court conviction against him.

Wendell Clark, Carl Peterson's attorney, said he could not comment on the case.

Carl Peterson, 71, is the former medical director for two Tulsa hospitals -- Brookhaven and Doctors' Hospital -- and former president of the Tulsa Psychiatric Society, according to news accounts.

He was a psychiatrist at Oral Roberts University's City of Faith Hospital in the 1980s and has written about the effects on the brain of speaking in tongues.

Between 1988 and 2004, Carl Peterson operated Christian Psychiatry Services in Tulsa. His Oklahoma medical license was suspended last year after he failed to reapply for it, records show.

Click here for more madness.

Signs of the Apocolypse

The only thing missing are the cookies.

Indians rush to temples to feed "thirsty" idols

LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) - Thousands of people flocked to temples across India on Monday following reports that idols of Hindu gods were drinking milk given by devotees as sacred offerings, witnesses said.

Teenagers, adults and the aged stood in long lines with garlands and bowls of milk to feed the idols of Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha, they said.

Hundreds chanted hymns in the northern city of Lucknow and the eastern city of Kolkata and went into hysterics when the milk held against the idols disappeared.

"It is amazing, Lord Ganesha drank milk from my hands. Now he will answer all my prayers," said Surama Dasgupta, a middle-aged woman in Kolkata.

The frenzy began late on Sunday in some northern cities and soon spread across the country, including the capital New Delhi, even as rationalists and non-believers called it mass hysteria.

For full hysteria click here.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Way to Pray

Incomprehensible, great, and glorious God,

I adore thee and abase myself.

I approach thee mindful that I am

less than nothing,

a creature worse than nothing.

My thoughts are not screened from thy gaze.

My secret sins blaze in the light of thy countenance.

Enable me to remember that blood which cleanseth

all sin,

to believe in that grace which subdues

all iniquities,

to resign myself to that agency which can

deliver me from the bondage of corruption

into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

Thou hast begun a good work in me

and canst alone continue and complete it.

Give me an increasing conviction of my tendency

to err,

and of my exposure to sin.

Help me to feel more of the purifying, softening

influence of religion,

its compassion, love, pity, courtesy,

and employ me as thy instrument

in blessing others.

Give me to distinguish

between the mere form of godliness and its power,

between life and a name to live,

between guile and truth,

between hypocrisy and a religion that will bear

thy eye.

If I am not right, set me right, keep me right;

And may I at last come to thy house in peace.

HT: Valley of Vision

Friday, August 18, 2006

John MacArthur Says It Well.

I was blessed by John MacArthur's daily devotion today in Drawing Near. If you do not have a personal copy I would highly recommend getting one or you can view them at I wanted to pass along this truth to strengthen your faith this day.

Treating Others with Consideration

"[Love] does not act unbecomingly" (1 Cor. 13:5).

"When I was a young child, I loved to slurp my soup. I didn't see any harm in it even though my parents constantly objected. Then one evening I ate with someone who slurped his soup. He was having a great time but I didn't enjoy my meal very much. Then I realized that proper table manners are one way of showing consideration for others. It says, "I care about you and don't want to do anything that might disrupt your enjoyment of this meal."
On a more serious note, I know a couple who got an annulment on the grounds that the husband was rude to his wife. She claimed that his incessant burping proved that he didn't really love her. The judge ruled in her favor, stating that if the husband truly loved her, he would have been more considerate. That's a strange story but true, and it illustrates the point that love is not rude.
"Unbecomingly" in 1 Corinthians 13:5 includes any behavior that violates acceptable biblical or social standards. We could paraphrase it, "Love is considerate of others." That would have been in stark contrast to the inconsiderate behavior of the Corinthians--many of whom were overindulging at their love feasts and getting drunk on the Communion wine (1 Cor. 11:20-22). Some women were overstepping bounds by removing their veils and usurping the role of men in the church (1 Cor. 11:3-16; 14:34-35). Both men and women were corrupting the worship services by trying to outdo one another's spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:26).
Undoubtedly the Corinthians justified their rude behavior--just as we often justify ours. But rudeness betrays a lack of love and is always detrimental to effective ministry. For example, I've seen Christians behave so rudely toward non-Christians who smoke that they destroyed any opportunity to tell them about Christ.
Be aware of how you treat others--whether believers or unbelievers. Even the smallest of courtesies can make a profound impression."

Suggestions for Prayer:
Ask the Holy Spirit to monitor your behavior and convict you of any loveless actions. As He does, be sure to confess and forsake them.

For Further Study:
Read Luke 7:36-50. How did Jesus protect the repentant woman from the Pharisee's rudeness?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

At The Movies

What a dark day in America’s history it was on September 11, 2001. I think everyone will always remember what they were doing when the Twin Towers were hit by terrorists that day. I can't say that I have ever experienced those sort of emotions before and don't care to again. For me and my family, I had not even been the pastor of the FBC of Burden, Kansas for a month when that terrible day came.

I saw the movie that came out recently called “World Trade Center” by Oliver Stone and I would highly recommend it to anyone. This was one movie that was worth the price of the ticket as well as the popcorn and Diet Pepsi. I am proud to be an American and a Christian this day, how about you?

Conference: The Cross of Christ

Click on picture for more info:

Anaheim, California
September 8-9, 2006

Dr. R.C. Sproul and
Dr. Ligon Duncan

Houston, Texas
September 15-16, 2006

Dr. R.C. Sproul and
Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas

Lexington, Kentucky
November 3-4, 2006
Dr. R.C. Sproul and
Dr. Al Mohler

Desiring God 2006 National Conference

Click on Picture for more info:

Theme: Above All Earthly Powers: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World
Dates: September 29 October 1
Location: Minneapolis Convention Center
Speakers: David Wells, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, D. A. Carson, Voddie Baucham, John Piper

Are Altar Calls Biblical?

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 2, Paul shunned manipulative oratory. He didn't do like many preachers do today. He wasn't into manipulating his crowd, he says in chapter 2, verse 1, of 1 Corinthians, "I didn't come with superiority of speech" (that's oratorical ability), I didn't come to bowl you over with my oration, I didn't come with "wisdom."

He says, verse 4, "My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom" (I didn't use technique; I didn't use manipulation). I didn't want your faith to "rest on the wisdom of men" (literally, the wisdom of their information or their approach). He said, I came to you with God's wisdom; I came to you in God's power; I came to "you in weakness in fear and in trembling."

He didn't use techniques that excite and stir, and move people's emotions to achieve results. He preached the Scriptures (listen to this) to the mind! Many preachers today (and I suppose through history) are good at the art of persuasion--they know how to move people to respond without the Scripture being the issue. They can manipulate them emotionally, and frankly, that kind of stuff really prostitutes the preacher's stewardship, because it makes him no different then a secular persuader. Now, I want to talk about this for a moment because it is an issue.

A number of years ago, a man named Duane Lifton (sp.) who is now pastoring back in Tennessee, wrote a very interesting article called "The Perils of Persuasive Preaching." There are a number of things in that article that are worth understanding. I share them with you because I want you to be alert to what some people endeavor to do, and what you can see them endeavoring to do with crowds of people. They claim to be preachers, and in fact are not preaching the Word of God, but are manipulating the people.

In this particular book, that Lifton and his article quotes, called "Hypnotism--Fact and Fiction," Frederick Marcuse (sp.) reports a research study conducted at a large eastern university,

The researchers attempted, through hypnotic suggestion, to induce a convinced and vocal atheist to become religious. The attempt was so successful that it had to be halted and all suggestion removed from the subject's mind. When his entire attitude towards religious faith changed, after only three sessions, and for the first time in his life he began to attend church, the investigators decided that the ethics of the situation prevented them from pursuing their research any further.

They could literally make atheists religious by manipulating their minds. While the example is admittedly a dramatic one, it serves to raise a monstrous question, "Would it be possible through hypnotic suggestion to create a believer--quite apart from any work of the Holy Spirit? And would such a person really be a child of God?" Such questions, he writes, "are not simply academic."

Psychologist, James McConnell has said, The time has come, when if you give me any normal human being and a couple of weeks, I can change his behavior from what it is now to whatever you want it to be--if it is physically possible.

I can't make him fly by flapping his wings, but I can turn him from a Christian into a Communist and vice versa.

Although, researchers have shown that audiences are not nearly so malleable as once thought, nevertheless, skilled persuaders, including some who stand in the pulpit are often able to exert a tremendous influence on other human beings. And they do not have to resort to such dramatic methods as hypnotism. Consider for example, the words of the well known social scientist, Milton Rochiche (sp.),

Suppose you could take a group of people, give them a twenty minute pencil and paper task, talk to them for ten to twenty minutes afterward, and thereby produce long-range changes in core values and personal behavior in a significant portion of this group. Suppose further, you could ascertain quickly, and that you could predict accurately the nature and direction of these changes. My colleagues and I, have in the last five years, achieved the kind of results suggested above. As a result, we must now face up to the ethical implications that follow from the fact that it now seems to be within man's power to alter, experimentally, another person's basic values and to control the direction of the change.

That is from "Psychology Today" magazine. If you have any questions if that is true, just remember what I have told you in the past about how many psychologists are creating false memories and restructuring a person's entire life with fantasy, and causing those people, by manipulating their thinking, to believe that it is the real story of their life.

Preachers who are gifted communicators, and who are articulate, and who use the emotional techniques, and the sad stories, and the tear jerking approaches, and who get the mood music playing behind the scene, and can create the kind of manipulative environment, can effect in people behavior changes and even alter their basic values--and never need to use the Word of God. But what is the result? What is the ultimate result? Is it true regeneration? Of course not! The only legitimate tool is the Scripture. The only legitimate bridge to change--is the mind. Lifton also says in this article, In an excellent article on attitude change, in the "Handbook of Social Psychology, Volume 3" psychologist William McGuire suggests that human attitude change may be broken down into at least five steps of levels (this is interesting). This is the process people go through when they change attitudes: ATTENTION, COMPREHENSION, YIELDING, RETENTION, and ACTION.

In other words, they move across that kind of spectrum. They go from attention (something gets their attention) to comprehension, to yielding, to retention and action. And he writes, "The hearers must go through each of these steps if communication is to have ultimate persuasive impact, and each depends on the occurrence on the preceding steps." The traditional approach to homiletics seems to suggest that the goal of preaching is the third step--YIELDING.

Probably, you have experienced that, there was attention--the preacher got your attention. Then their was certain amount of comprehension, and then they started talking about you need to surrender, you need to yield. They started to play the organ, the mood music began. Maybe you have been in a meeting where they "played and they played" and they kept telling people to raise their hands, "come down the aisle," and they tried to force or manipulate the YIELDING, and not with clarifying truth, but with sounds and sights. They will even tell you, "We have all of these people that we start down the aisles, just to prime the pump, because it gets a flow going and people get caught in the flow." That is sheer manipulation!

I am not saying that people can't be converted in a situation like that, but I am saying that people who aren't being converted get swept up in it. The people who are converted, are converted because they comprehend the truth, and because the Spirit of God effects the transformation.

Now, Lifton says, "I suggest that the preachers goal should not be viewed as the YIELDING step at all, but the previous step--COMPREHENSION." I want to let you know that I agree with that absolutely. I think it is the preacher's responsibility to get ATTENTION and COMPREHENSION. It is the Holy Spirit's responsibility to produce YIELDING, RETENTION, and ACTION--that's not my job.

It is NOT my task to manipulate you to do something emotionally. All the slick techniques, all the gospel marketing packages, all the pulpit histrionics of jumping and stomping and flailing around and beating the organ, and doing whatever they do to create the mood. All the sad stories, the mood music, the endless invitations, the hand raising, the walking, all of that kind of pressure is not preaching the Word. It has nothing to do with COMPREHENSION.

The decision of yielding, surrendering and then retaining and acting, is between the hearer and God, and not the hearer and the preacher. It is the Holy Spirit's work.

Preaching is proclaiming saving truth, sanctifying truth, and strengthening truth from Scripture, the rest is up to the Holy Spirit. So Paul says, I was entrusted with the proclamation. That's all that I can do. All I can do is to get their ATTENTION and bring COMPREHENSION. The message is the Scripture, and since the message is the Scripture, beloved, it should be patently obvious to everyone that the proper kind of preaching should be "expository preaching." That is the only legitimate way to be true to the divine message.

You know as well as I know that I could manipulate people with stories. I mean, you could tell a tear jerking story and effect emotional trauma on people. You can move people with things other than the Scriptures, but you are working on their feelings and not on their mind. The message is Scripture, and if the message is Scripture and the preacher is to preach the message he has to preach the Scripture, and preaching the Scripture means you must exposit the Word.

It is strange to me but the Master's Seminary stands in some ways unique, with just a few other seminaries across this country that are interested in teaching people how to do expository preaching. How hard is it to figure out that we should be doing that?

By the way, I was happy when Dick Mayhue (the Dean of our Seminary) told me that the book that our faculty wrote on expository preaching was given the award "Book of the Year" by the "Preaching Journal" which is the professional journal of preaching. They named it "Book of the Year." Also, the EPA, the Evangelical Press Association has nominated it for the "Gold Medallion Award" and it has been nominated even in "Christianity Today" for the "Book of the Year in its Field." Obviously, that book is having an impact because there is such a deadness out there in the terms of understanding the importance of expository preaching.

The preacher's job is not to force his people, by some manipulative process, to YIELD. His job is to make them comprehend the Word of God, which will save them, sanctify them, and strengthen them.

What does it mean when we say "expository preaching?" To "exposit" simply means to "explain the meaning." It means to preach the Bible in such a way, that the meaning of the Bible passage is presented entirely and exactly as it was intended by God. That's the challenge--the divine Word coming through the preacher.

Walt Kaiser (sp.) wrote in his wonderful book "Towards Exegetical Theology," It is no secret that Christ's Church is not at all in good health in many places of the world. She has been languishing because she has been fed, as the current line has it--"Junk Food." All kinds of artificial preservatives, and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her. As a result, theological and biblical malnutrition has afflicted the very generation that has taken such giant steps to make sure its physical health is not damaged by using food or products that are carcinogenic or otherwise harmful to their physical bodies. Simultaneously, a world wide spiritual famine resulting from the absence from any genuine publication of the Word of God continues to run wild and almost unabated in quarters in the Church.

We have got to get back to preaching the Word of God. What a calling. What a calling. That's our calling. That's what God has commanded us to do. Just so you cannot get off the hook by saying, "Well, I am glad that you were talking to yourself--I'm not a preacher!" Listen to Mark 16:15, "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'" You may not have a pulpit like I do, but you have a mandate from God, don't you? To preach the truth, to proclaim it wherever you can.

HT: John MacArthur

Biblical Preaching II

Not to long ago I had a person ask me why we needing preaching in the contemporary church. In essence he was asking why we needed preachers, elders and shepherds of local churches. I might add that he promotes the idea of house churches. I personally feel that the idea is unbiblical and not right in the eyes of God. In a house church you don't have a pastor or one preacher.

Think about it for a moment; our society is moving away from biblical sermons being preached in the church. Countless items are taking the place of preaching in the modern church. Drama, programs of all types, clown worship, concerts, Jesus county worship, and the seeker sensitive list goes on. Many churches now days will do just about anything to get people in the door. The real issue is this really God’s plan for His church? Does He really want to strengthen believers in the church and save lost souls through non-preaching? I think not! His plan has always been for biblical preaching in the church and always will be. Just make sure that your church is not one of them that turns away from it.

Let me get back to my original question of why preaching needs to take place in the church and why we should never, never stray from it. Friends it is biblical! I believe with my whole heart that pastors are Scriptural and that God has ordained them to be in a church. An important role of a pastor is preaching/teaching the Word of God; after all that is why he can even be called an elder or an overseer. Sadly, for the most part preaching is no longer what it used to be. More times then not it is topics from the Bible on what the congregation wants to hear and not what God wants to hear. The bottom line is preaching is not as important as it once was. Solid Bible preaching must take place in the church and is expected by God. God commands it because it changes lives and it is to His glory!

Preachers have the mandate to preach the Word of God. Richard Mayhue responds to this mandate of preaching, “The Gospels, Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation provide many examples and exhortations to preach the truth in fulfillment of God’s will. As a reminder of the apostolic legacy and as a reaffirmation of the scriptural authority for Bible-based preaching, five significant mandates are representative of the larger number of passages.”

Matthew 28:19-20—“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

1 Timothy 4:13
—“Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.”

2 Timothy 2:2—“And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to reach other also.”

2 Timothy 4:2—“Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”

Titus 2:1 “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to do what brings glory and honor to God in His church. He is building it, man is not. So, there aren’t any gimmicks that a person can perform to out do God. Everything in the church should be biblical; from the announcements, singing, offering, special music, to the message in God’s Word and the closing prayer. The worship in the Word of God is the high point in the church service. Why? Because that is when one hears from God in His Word. I love the reverence of God and His Word in Nehemiah Chapter eight. If you have never read this passage I encourage you to do so today. If you are a preacher may you always be one that BRINGS THE BOOK to hungry souls in the church.

I found something from the great preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards; may you aim to be the great man of God that he was in and out of the pulpit.

Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a brilliant theologian whose sermons had an overwhelming impact on those who heard him. One in particular, his famous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” moved hundreds to repentance and salvation. That single message helped to spark the revival known as “The Great Awakening” (1734-1744). From a human standpoint, it seems incredible that such far-reaching results could come from one message. Edwards did not have a commanding voice or impressive pulpit manner. He used very few gestures, and he read from a manuscript. Yet God’s Spirit moved upon his hearers with conviction and power.
Few know the spiritual preparation involved in that sermon. John Chapman gives us the story: “For 3 days Edwards had not eaten a mouthful of food; for 3 nights he had not closed his eyes in sleep. Over and over again he was heard to pray, “O Lord, give me New England! Give me New England!’ When he arose from his knees and made his way into the pulpit that Sunday, he looked as if he had been gazing straight into the face of God. Even before he began to speak, tremendous conviction fell upon his audience.”
Source unknown

[1]John MacArthur and the Master’s Seminary Faculty, Preaching: How To Preach Biblically
(Nashville: Thomas and Nelson, 2005), 6.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Edwards on the Bible

Jonathan Edwards was such a great man of faith and theologian of the Bible lets remember that the Word of God was everything to him and may it be in our lives as well.

"You all have by you a large treasure of divine knowledge, in that you have the Bible in your hands; therefore be not contented in possessing but little of this treasure. God hath spoken much to you in the Scripture; labor to understand as much of what he saith as you can. God hath made you all reasonable creatures; therefore let not the noble faculty of reason or understanding lie neglected. Content not yourselves with...divine accidentally gain in conversation; but let it be very much your business to search for it, and that with the same diligence and labor with which men are wont to dig in mines of silver and gold."


Giving All Praise To Our God

I came across this devotion from Spurgeon this morning and wanted to share it. What a great reminder of the importance of meditating on God's Word in our lives.

"Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide."Genesis 24:63

"Very admirable was his occupation. If those who spend so many hours in idle company, light reading, and useless pastimes, could learn wisdom, they would find more profitable society and more interesting engagements in meditation than in the vanities which now have such charms for them. We should all know more, live nearer to God, and grow in grace, if we were more alone. Meditation chews the cud and extracts the real nutriment from the mental food gathered elsewhere. When Jesus is the theme, meditation is sweet indeed. Isaac found Rebecca while engaged in private musings; many others have found their best beloved there.
Very admirable was the choice of place. In the field we have a study hung round with texts for thought. From the cedar to the hyssop, from the soaring eagle down to the chirping grasshopper, from the blue expanse of heaven to a drop of dew, all things are full of teaching, and when the eye is divinely opened, that teaching flashes upon the mind far more vividly than from written books. Our little rooms are neither so healthy, so suggestive, so agreeable, or so inspiring as the fields. Let us count nothing common or unclean, but feel that all created things point to their Maker, and the field will at once be hallowed.
Very admirable was the season. The season of sunset as it draws a veil over the day, befits that repose of the soul when earthborn cares yield to the joys of heavenly communion. The glory of the setting sun excites our wonder, and the solemnity of approaching night awakens our awe. If the business of this day will permit it, it will be well, dear reader, if you can spare an hour to walk in the field at eventide, but if not, the Lord is in the town too, and will meet with thee in thy chamber or in the crowded street. Let thy heart go forth to meet Him."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Biblical Preaching

For those of you that know me, you realize that I think that expository preaching is the best way to preach in the local church. This is the way that many of the early reformers preached, and yes I realize that CH Spurgeon did not preach expositorally. Yes God used him greatly in his topical and textual messages, but it makes sense perfect sense to me to preach His inerrant Words through the Bible in expositonal preaching.

There are three sermons that you will hear when you go to church. You will either hear a topical one, textual one, or an expository one. Topical and textual sermons are closely related and are preacher-driven; that is the preacher decides where the sermon will go from selected passages of Scripture. Now he may use some Scriptures in these two types of sermons, but it is how he sees it relating to the sermon.

The value of expository preaching is limitless. Why you may ask is expository preaching so great? Because God decides the direction of the sermon. To be an expository message the sermon generally consists of at least two or three verses from the Bible; maybe more. The preacher studies them from a historical and grammatical aspect. The context of the passage is looked at and studied also. The preacher demonstrates personal Bible study to his people through this form of preaching; not to mention that the laity arguments are with God when they disagree with what is said by the preacher. The church realizes that the pastor will address the subject contained in the next verse(s). There is power in expository preaching!

It makes perfect sense to me to have God direct the sermon and not the preacher. When one hears good expository preaching, I think it is fair to say that he or she has found something very pleasing to the ears, a jewel to their faith and something worth listening to. Why is that? Because God speaks through His Word and it will not return void.

May God continue to raise up great expository preachers in the future.

I read something about G. Campbell Morgan that I want to share:

G. Campbell Morgan

Early in his ministry, when he was pastor of the Congregational Church at Rugeley, Campbell Morgan studied hard and preached often. He was discovering and developing the gift of Bible exposition that later made him the prince of expositors. His preaching made him popular. One evening, as he sat in his study, he felt God saying to him, “What are you going to be, a preacher or My messenger?”
As Morgan pondered the question, he realized that his desire to become a “great preacher” was hindering his work. For several hours Morgan sat there struggling with God’s call and human ambition. Finally he said, “Thy messenger, my Master—Thine!” He took the precious outlines of his sermons, messages that he was proud of, and laid them in the fireplace where they burned to ashes. That was when the victory was won.
As the outlines were burning, Morgan prayed: “If Thou wilt give me Thy words to speak, I will utter them from this day forward, adding nothing to them, taking naught away. Thine whole counsel I will declare, so help me God!”

(Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, Moody, 1984, p. 212)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Parts of Scripture Must be Interpreted in Light of the Whole

Every verse of Scripture must be read in light of the context of the entire Bible if God’s Word is to be accurately understood and applied, essayists assert in the summer edition of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (SBJT).

Evangelicals succeed in teaching moral lessons through the individual stories of the Bible, but often fail to understand where the stories fit within “the overall plan of God centered in the Gospel,” journal editor Stephen J. Wellum writes. “Biblical Theology,” the topic of the new SBJT, provides the antidote, Wellum argues.

“Biblical theology seeks to remedy this failure by helping us to think in terms of a ‘whole-Bible’ theology,” Wellum writes. “It seeks to counter the growing biblical illiteracy in our day by returning us to the Scripture in all of its beauty, depth, and breadth. It seeks to help us read all of Scripture in light of the ‘big picture’ in order that we may better preach, teach, and live out God’s Word in our daily lives.”

A failure to understand the Bible’s “big picture” often leads to misinterpretation and misapplication of individual texts, argues Wellum, who serves as associate professor of Christian Theology at Southern Seminary.

“In a day in which pluralism and postmodernism encourage us to find our own meaning in Scripture, [Biblical Theology] is absolutely necessary to return us to the Scripture in order to discover God’s intent as he has graciously revealed himself to us across the ages and now consummated in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

In his essay “Preaching and Biblical Theology,” Thomas R. Schreiner argues that a faithful minister must center his message on the Gospel because it is the fulfillment of all of Scripture. Sermons on marriage, raising children, depression, and conquering fears have their place, he writes, but all must be understood in terms of Christ, who is the central focus of Scripture.

Schreiner is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament and associate dean for Scripture and interpretation at Southern Seminary.

“In many conservative churches pastors almost always preach on the horizontal level,” Schreiner writes.

“…Many congregations do not realize what is happening because the moral life that is commended accords, at least in part, with Scripture and speaks to the felt needs of both believers and unbelievers. Pastors believe they must fill their sermons with stories and illustrations, so that the anecdotes flesh out the moral point enunciated. Every good preacher, naturally, illustrates the points being made. But sermons can become so chock full of stories and illustrations that they are bereft of any theology.

“…Our task as preachers is to proclaim the whole counsel of God. We will not fulfill our calling if as preachers we fail to do biblical theology…we are not faithfully serving our congregations if they do not understand how the whole of Scripture points to Christ, and if they do not gain a better understanding from us of the storyline of the Bible.”

In his essay “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth,” Mark A. Seifrid examines the crucial distinction a Bible teacher must make between law and Gospel. The moral law of God (as expressed in the 10 Commandments) shows a sinner that he is under the condemnation of God and in need of a redeemer, and the Gospel provides the remedy in Christ, Seifrid points out. Seifrid serves as the Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Seminary.

Seifrid unpacks the views of the major figures of the Protestant Reformation—Martin Luther and John Calvin—on law and Gospel. If a minister is to teach the whole counsel of God, he must preach both law and Gospel, Seifrid asserts. The law, for example, exposes sin in the heart of the Christian, he writes.

“Those who gather as a church for worship often (but not always!) already know and confess that they are ‘sinners’ in need of grace,” Seifrid writes.

“What they need, and what those need who do not feel themselves to be sinners need, is the careful, gentle, yet direct exposure of their sins, corporately and individually: not merely the faults of our society or problems in our culture, not merely sinful activities…but finally the root sins of self-seeking, pride, lust, envy, [and] greed by which we deny God and mistreat one another.”

In his essay, “Speaking the Truth in Love: Life in the New Covenant Community,” Peter J. Gentry shows readers how to approach biblical theology by examining Paul’s writing in Ephesians 4-6 in light of its Old Testament background. Gentry serves as professor of Old Testament and director of the Hexapla Institute at Southern Seminary.

“The meaning of the phrase ‘speaking the truth in love’ cannot be uncovered by simply cracking a Greek lexicon or even performing an exhaustive lexical study,” Gentry writes. “The biblical theological background and framework must first be understood. In the new covenant community, loyalty to Jesus has replaced the command to love God in the old covenant, and speaking the truth in love sums up the social justice of our relationships in the new humanity.”

By Jeff Robinson

Thursday, August 10, 2006

God is in Complete Control or is He?

I had an acquaintance tell me the other day that they are beginning to feel that Al Gore is right about his theory of Global Warming. This comment came because of the heat wave that most of us are experiencing in the United States right now. I know you are wondering how I feel about Global Warming; it is nothing more than HOGWASH and a man-made theory like evolution for example.

Liberals are always going to suggest something is happening that is not read in Scripture. To me, this shows that a person that holds to a theory such as Global Warming or Evolution is not placing their total faith and trust in the inerrant Word of God. Where has faith and trust in a sovereign God gone in this country?

Until Jesus comes again people will try and find out what is wrong with the weather or what is wrong in the Middle East, or why did 9-11 happen, etc. Listen, we have always been in the end times since the death of Jesus Christ and bad stuff will continue to happen and will get worse until the second coming of Jesus.

Christ speaks of the “Signs of the Close of the Age” in Matthew 24:3-14. I prefer to place my faith and trust in the Bible and not to some man made theory. I look forward to the second coming of Christ, how about you?

Former President of the SBC Misrepresents Opponents of Resolution #5

Just because you have been the President of the SBC doesn't mean that you always tell the truth. That has been made very evident in the recent SBCLife, the journal of the Southern Baptist Convention. Bobby Welch wrote a letter to Southern Baptists that appears in the current issue (August 2006). It appears under the title, "A Word From Our Former President." In it, he expresses his deep appreciation for being allowed to serve two terms as the President of the SBC. He also sets forth his desire to help Southern Baptist stay focused on evangelism. Early in the letter he addresses the issue of resolution #5, which calls for the total opposition of beverage alcohol. He writes that people have asked him the following question: "Were there any surprises at the Convention?" Here is his answer:

Click here for the answer from Dr. Welch as well as the excellent commentary refuting Dr. Welch's statements from Tom Ascol.

God is a Saving God

Friends in Christ can you praise God with me today of His electing and saving power? I am so glad to know that I have been chosen by God and set apart for His glory! I know I am saved because I have turned from my sins and will forever live with Christ, can you say that today?

Once again I was reminded of God electing, and choosing some to salvation and how we should glory in it. Praise God for the words in the Old Testament that were given to Ezekiel the prophet. The Sovereign God of the universe has to punish sin and if a person does not repent and go to heaven it is his or her own fault. Their lack of repentance and belief puts them in hell. But people are so quick to point their finger at God and blame Him; that should not be.
In Ezekiel the Eighteenth Chapter, one reads the section, “The Soul Who Sins Shall Die.” We see these helpful words in verses 21-23, “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”

Also verses 27-28 are key, “Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.”

The last few verses of the chapter are very touching for me. One reads in verses 30-32, “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” (All sections from the ESV)

If you have repented from the sins in your life and believed in Him rest in Christ this day. I encourage you to read and meditate on Ezekiel Chapter 18 in its context and entirety.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Meditate On This

Habakkuk 3:17-18

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

This is such a striking contrast to the health and wealth gospel of today's T.V. preachers. They would have you believe if you don't have a Lexus, Mercedes, Rolex, and a Big House that you are missing out on God's blessing. The truth of the gospel is that the blessing of salvation is God Himself (1Peter 3:18).

What we see more and more of today is known as, “Prosperity Doctrine,” “Health and Wealth,” “Name It and Claim It,” or “Blab It and Grab It”.

The prosperity teaching is an aberrant doctrine, largely promoted by the Word-Faith movement.

Here’s how it is sold: God wants you to be rich (and/or healthy), but He can not bless you unless you first send money (also known as a “seed-faith offering”) to whichever televangelist or teacher tells you about this scheme. Perfected by Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, Benny Hinn the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, et al.

The teaching is part and parcel of ‘Positive Confession,’ one of the doctrinal pillars of Word-Faith theology:

1) Positive Confession: The Theology of the Spoken Word (Rhematology), or thought actualization, is commonly known as positive confession. It stresses the inherent power of words and thoughts. Each person predestines his own future by what he says verbally and by how well he uses spiritual laws. As such, it is as if we live in a mechanistic universe instead of a personal one (see, Kenneth Copeland, Laws of Prosperity, p. 15; Charles Capps, The Tongue A Creative Force, pp. 117-118; Releasing the Ability of God, pp. 98-99, 101-104).

2) The Gospel of Health: Isaiah 53 is used to justify blanket coverage for the physical healing of every Christian who has enough faith. “…it is the plan of our Father God in His great love and His great mercy that no believer should ever be sick, that every believer should live his life full span down here on earth and that every believer should finally just fall asleep in Jesus” (Hagin, Seven Things You Should Know About Divine Healing, p. 21). Hagin also denies having a headache for forty-five years, labeling such as “simply symptoms rather than any indication of a headache” (In the Name of Jesus, p. 44).

3) The Gospel of Wealth: A central tenet of the prosperity gospel is that God wills the financial prosperity of every Christian. If a believer lives in poverty, he/she is living outside God’s intended will. “You must realize that it is God’s will for you to prosper” (Copeland, Laws of Prosperity, p. 51).- Source: Word-Faith Movement, “Other Doctrines,” a Watchman Fellowship profile.

Robert Bowman, formerly a researcher at the Christian Research Institute, and currently the director of The Center for Biblical Apologetics writes:

Much of the mail which Christian Research Institute receives concerns the teaching known variously as “positive confession,” the “faith” (or “Word-Faith”) teaching, and the “prosperity” doctrine. Some of the best-known American televangelists subscribe either partly or wholly to this teaching. Its chief representatives today seem to be Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Fred Price, Robert Tilton, and Benny Hinn, though there are many other evangelists, teachers, and writers promoting the teaching.

It is our considered opinion that this teaching, at least in its complete form as expressed by the above men, is at best extremely aberrational and at worse heretical. (We use the term “aberrational” to refer to teaching which is decidedly unbiblical and damaging to authentic Christian faith, but which is not quite so heretical that its adherents must be considered non-Christians.) CRI has attempted to meet with these men and dialogue with them concerning their teachings, but most of them have refused. We were able, however, to meet with some of them and discuss a few of our concerns. We are continuing our efforts to engage these men in dialogue.

In brief, the teachings of these men may be summarized as follows: God created man in “God’s class” (or, as “little gods”), with the potential to exercise the “God kind of faith” in calling things into existence and living in prosperity and success as sovereign beings. We forfeited this opportunity, however, by rebelling against God in the Garden and taking upon ourselves Satan’s nature. To correct this situation, Jesus Christ became a man, died spiritually (thus taking upon Himself Satan’s nature), went to Hell, was “born again,” rose from the dead with God’s nature again, and then sent the Holy Spirit so that the Incarnation could be duplicated in believers, thus fulfilling their calling to be little gods. Since we are called to experience this kind of life now, we should be successful in every area of our lives. To be in debt, then, or be sick, or (as is often taught) be left by one’s spouse, and not to have these problems solved by “claiming” God’s promises, shows a lack of faith. While certain aspects of the above doctrine may vary from teacher to teacher, the general outline remains the same in each case.- Source: Robert Bowman, CRI speaks out on the errors of the Word-Faith movement