LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Friday, February 29, 2008

Sins Washed Away

Zechariah 13:1 On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

Children love to play and be washed in water fountains as the photo above demonstrates. The water cleans their sweaty and dirty bodies. The great hymn below also speaks of a cleansing fountain that washes sinners clean. All human beings have sinned and fall short of God’s glory and righteous standards. The Bible teaches there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood and that the Old Testament sacrificial system of animal sacrifice does not atone for sin. The book of Hebrews explains that the Old Testament sacrificial system pointed toward the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, as the savior who could make atonement for sin.

Praise God that he so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son to redeem sinners from the curse caused by sin. There simply was no other way that God could forgive the debt incurred by human sin. The great hymn below points to this great truth and gives some of the details and reasons the blood of Jesus on the cross of Calvary saves sinners. Just as children are attracted to the water fountain above, Christians are drawn to the fountain filled with the blood of our savior Jesus Christ. What peace, joy, and comfort it is for believers to know that all of their sins have been washed away by His redeeming love.

There is a Fountain Filled with Blood
Words by: William Cowper

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.
Be saved, to sin no more, be saved, to sin no more;
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

Lord, I believe Thou hast prepared, unworthy though I be,
For me a blood bought free reward, a golden harp for me!
’Tis strung and tuned for endless years, and formed by power divine,
To sound in God the Father’s ears no other name but Thine.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Mark leads us to the mountaintop of his gospel in chapter 8. It is the Continental Divide of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus pulls away the veil and reveals himself and his ministry clearly to his disciples. (In the next chapter he is transfigured on a literal mountaintop and Peter, James, and John get to see who Jesus is!)

Jesus’ teaching in 8:27-38 should leave his followers without doubts. “Who do you say I am?” “You are the Messiah!” “OK, then. You need to know some things. I’m going to be rejected by our own religious leaders; I’ll be executed; and I’ll rise from the grave. If you want to follow me you need to count the cost. You’ll have to deny yourselves, take up your crosses, and follow in my footsteps.”

Jesus finishes his watershed teaching with some warnings. He says, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 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.”

Whoever wants to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life will save it. Whoever wants to try to maintain control of his own life will lose it. Whoever is unwilling to surrender all his life to Christ will lose his life. Whoever sees Jesus and the gospel as more important than his own life will find life. This is exactly opposite of the flow of our society which is completely self-centered. In Christ’s kingdom the values are turned upside down! Those who lose are keepers! Instead of “finders keepers, losers weepers,” it’s, “keepers weepers, losers winners!”

Seriously, what good is it if we gain the whole world and lose our souls for eternity?

And what do we have that we can use to redeem our souls?

Finally, if we are ashamed to embrace Jesus’ words and ways; if we are afraid to live the radically Christlike life, we can’t expect Christ to recognize us when he comes! Will we take up the call of Christ and walk in his ways?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Peter’s great confession is found in Mark 8:29. The Lord questioned the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter courageously answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus confirmed Peter’s answer and there could never again be any question about who Jesus really was.

The confession of the disciples only brings them part way to understanding who Jesus was and what he was doing in the world. Now Jesus asks them to believe something that is so radical that it will shake them to the very core of their being! They are being asked to turn around and go completely against the flow of the expectations of almost every single Jew alive! If they were going to follow Jesus they would need to know the truth about the Messiah. They were going to have to accept as true and believe something that they could make no sense of. That is called faith! We are also called to believe and accept things that we cannot explain! That is why so many people think Christians are crazy! The truth Jesus told them was that he was going to be executed. He made it clear that these things must happen. He must suffer. He must die. And he must rise again. The elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law were going to reject their own Messiah and participate in his execution! This was God’s perfect plan for the Messiah. Jesus was speaking clearly. For the first time his truth was not veiled.

All this proved to be just too much for Peter. It just didn’t register! It made no sense at all! Peter knew Jesus was the Messiah. He was the one who had answered the question correctly. And everyone knew the Messiah was not going to be killed! He was going to bring victory over Rome! He was going to restore the kingdom of Israel to its former glory! He was going to lead them out of poverty to wealth!

So Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him. “Jesus, we can’t have any more of this kind of talk. People will not want to follow you if they hear these things. You are heading in the wrong direction! You don’t have to suffer and die!” Jesus stepped away and turned on Peter and the rest of the disciples who were apparently with Peter. Jesus rebuked Peter. Peter had become the instrument of temptation. In the wilderness temptations Satan had tempted Jesus to abandon his mission. Now Satan was trying to use Peter to do the same thing.

What Jesus says to Peter makes my blood run cold. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” When I look at all the things some churches are doing in the name of God and when I see all the things that are being called “churches” and when I see what some pastors are doing in the name of God and Christianity I tremble. I can hear the words of Jesus, “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men!”

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hidden In A Cleft

Colossians 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

The ruins of ancient cliff dwellers have been preserved at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. As the photo above shows, villages were built in the clefts of cliffs. These buildings provided the inhabitants protection from the elements, enemies, and wild animals. The only way to reach these settlements was with tall ladders, which could be pulled up from the valley floor if necessary. The inhabitants were basically hidden in plain sight from many kinds of harm. They lived in the cleft of a rock.

What peace and comfort it is for Christians to know that the same kind of cleft is available for their spiritual well-being in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the rock of our salvation and in him we are not only saved from wrath, but we are also made pure and spotless by his blood sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. There is simply no other way that sinful humans can be accepted by a Holy and just God since the labor of our hands cannot pay this infinite sin debt. Thou must save and Thou alone is the message of the hymn below. Thus, lost sinners flee to the cross for the grace and mercy that is provided by the Rock of Ages. Christians are safe from all spiritual harm when they are hidden in the cleft of this rock. What a joy it is to reflect on line two below where sinners come to Christ and ask to be hidden in his grace and mercy. Praise God, for we know that his cleft is large enough for all who come in faith.

Rock of Ages
Words by: Augustus M. Toplady

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The lot of free grace!

The lot of free grace!

(Thomas Watson, "A New Creature")

"Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

The new creature is a work of free grace. There is nothing in us, to cause God to make us anew. By nature we are full of pollution and enmity—yet now God forms the new creature. Behold the banner of love displayed! The new creature may say, "By the grace of God I am what I am!" In the creation,we may see the strength of God's arm; in the new creature, we may see the working of God's heart! That God should consecrate any heart, and anoint it with grace—is an act of pure love! That He should pluck one out of the state of nature, and not another—must be resolved into sovereign grace! This will increase the saint's triumphs in heaven, that the lot of free grace should fall upon them—and not on others.

The new creature is a work of rare excellency. A natural man is a lump of dirt and sin mixed together. God loathes him! But upon the new creature is a spiritual glory—as if a piece of clay, was turned into a sparkling diamond!

Those are not new creatures, who continue in their sins and are resolved so to do. These are in the gall of bitterness, and are the most miserable creatures that ever God made—except for the devils. These stand in the place where all God's arrows fly! These are the center where all God's curses meet!

An unregenerate person is like one in debt—who is in fear of being arrested by death, and carried prisoner to hell! Can that traitor be happy—who is fed by his prince in prison—only to be kept alive for his execution? God feeds the wicked like prisoners. They are reserved for the dayof wrath!

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Why Evangelise?

Shortened YouTube.com presentation based on the comments below:
Here's a thought for you. I'm sure you have heard/read the old anti-Calvinism argument that if God really has ordained that a certain number will saved, and that they will invariably be gathered in - as Spurgeon words it: We say Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved - then why bother evangelising? We give elsewhere 7 solid reasons why Calvinists evangelise. This page will supplement the arguments found there. If this non Reformed argument carried any weight, then we could also logically ask:
WHY BOTHER VOTING? The Bible says that the powers that be are ordained of God (Romans 13:1) God says, By Me, king's reign and princes decree justice (Proverbs 8:15) The Most High rules in the Kingdom of men and gives it to whomsoever He will (Daniel 4:25) and that he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (Daniel 4:35) He ordained that Tony Blair would be the British Prime Minister again after the last election, that George W. Bush would defeat John Kerry in America and Bertie Ahern, here in Ireland, would be returned to Dail Eireann. He ordained the exact number of votes each candidate would get and who would vote and who wouldn't and why they so voted and why they didn't. He ordained the exact number of die hard voters each election would have, the not so dedicated ones and the "floating voters" who judge each election and candidate on its merit. Although there were many devices in a man's heart - and there is nothing like a good hard fought electioneering campaign to bring them out - nevertheless the counsel of the LORD stood (Proverbs 19:21) and there was absolutely no chance that it would be overthrown. There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD. (Proverbs 21:30) This applies to good men getting into power and evil men - the final result is ordained of God.Do we quit voting? Do we disenfranchise ourselves? Do we say "Why bother voting?" when the result is not only known in Heaven but also ordained? No we don't. We go out and we exercise our democratic rights, because we believe that God uses our votes to put the men whom He has ordained into power. He ordains the means as well as the end. We vote to put good men in and to keep bad men out. Our vote in itself may not amount to very much. Millions of other people with other agendas have the exact same voting power in the same election, but nevertheless, we know that every vote counts, especially when it is joined by others for the same candidate(s) Nor does it negate our responsibility to vote according to our God instructed conscience. We ought to think twice about voting for those who are determined to push through God dishonouring agendas etc., We will give an account to God where we put our "X" on voting day. But if we applied this argument against Calvinism then we would argue that it is useless to vote.
WHY BOTHER PRAYING? God knows what we have need of before we ask (Matthew 6:8) He declares in the most definite of language, And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24) Do we quit praying? Do you cancel the prayer meeting in our church? Do we refuse to go through all that getting alone privately into the closet and struggling against the flesh and the devil and all the distractions, when God knows everything and has already ordained the outcome? Do we ignore the prayer cards of missionaries with their well ordered and specified little lists of prayer requests? Do we throw away our books like EM Bounds on "Power through Prayer" and have no regard for the great prayer warriors whose praise in the churches? No we don't. We pray because God ordains the means as well as the end. We obey the precepts to pray, noting the additional instructions like "ought always" (Luke 18:1) and "without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) We note the great examples which are given in Scripture (Acts 12:5/2 Thessalonians 1:3) and the great promises (James 5:17) and we pray. But if we applied this argument against Calvinism then we would argue that it is useless pray.
WHY BOTHER SOWING? God says that the harvest will not cease (Genesis 8:22) Do we quit ploughing the fields and sowing the seed and getting it watered and trying the keep the birds away? Do we just stand in our field or in our garden and think positively that the harvest will not cease and wait for the green shoots to appear? No, we don't. We notice that Genesis 8:22 says that seedtime and harvest will not fail. We only reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7) We read the Book of Proverbs about the satisfying lot of the diligent man and the blasted loss of the sluggard, noting that the sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing. (Proverbs 20:4) We take the time to sow the seed etc., because God ordains the means as well as the end. If we scatter but a few seeds, we will reap but a few sheaves (2 Corinthians 9:6) but if we applied the argument that is applied against Calvinism, then we will smirk at those who argue that we must sow in order to reap.
WHY BOTHER STAYING SAFE AND HEALTHY? The day of your death is appointed of God (Hebrews 9:27) You will not die one split second before your God ordained time. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. (Psalm 91:7) We may not know the day of our death (Genesis 27:2) but we know that God knows, and God knows because it is written down in His diary in indelible ink. God has never missed an appointment yet. Doubtless, you have heard this old story, but I repeat it again and slip in the reminder that the one who decides where and when is not fate, but God:
Death speaks:
There is a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to buy provisions from the market and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said,
"Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me.She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city to avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me."
The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went.
Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said,
"Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?"
"That was not a threatening gesture,"
I said,
"it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra."
Do we quit eating and drinking? Or looking both ways when we cross the road? Do we stop avoiding notorious areas at night or wrapping up in suitable clothes in cold or wet weather? No, we don't. If we are ill, we go to the Doctor. We take the prescribed medicines and tablets or go to hospital and consent to surgeons etc., operating upon our bodies. We know it would be foolish to disregard those warning notices that adorn electric boxes or other dangerous sites. We do not swim out of our depth or pick fights with violent people. Why not? Because we know that God has ordained the means as well as the end and that our health and safety is , under God, dependent upon our own actions. But if we applied the argument that is applied against Calvinism, then we will cease observing such common sense matters and by the evening we might well be dead or fighting for our lives in some hospital bed.
WHY BOTHER EVANGELISING? Because it pleases God by the foolishness of preaching to save those that believe (1 Corinthians 1:21) That these believing souls have been ordained to such saving faith is undoubtedly true ( Ephesians 1:4) That they will infallibly come is also true (John 7:37a - the bit many folk leave out) but they will come through the means of our evangelism, therefore we do not quit evangelising and seeking by all means to save some, just as we do not quit voting etc., just because the result is ordained of God.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Who Will Stand Up and Sit This Guy Down?

Greetings from the Midwest!

I've been reading Brian McLaren's most recent book Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (2007). Mr. McLaren's audacity struck me even more in this book than usual and, while I can hardly do justice to the whole of the book (even in this unusually long post!), one aspect COMPELS me to respond.

McLaren argues that the Church has missed the point of the Gospel – not just American evangelicals, but all of Orthodox Christianity over the centuries. (I guess if you're going to take something on, you may as well go for broke!) His proposition, at least in part, is that our focus on individual salvation is wrong - or at least misguided. In seeking to demonstrate this, he contrasts historic orthodox Christianity (what he calls the “conventional” view) with the “emerging” view (which he clearly holds), and contrasts those views' answers to four questions foundational to the Gospel message. The following excerpts are his words, and I believe speak for themselves in terms of fairness, tone of “charity” and his feelings about our historic message. His questions - his responses. Let's take a Fox News look at this ("We report, you decide"):

The Human Situation: What is the story we find ourselves in?
Conventional View: God created the world as perfect, but because our primal ancestors, Adam and Eve, did not maintain the absolute perfection demanded by God, God has irrevocably determined that the entire universe and all it contains will be destroyed, and the souls of all human beings – except for those specifically exempted – will be forever punished for their imperfection in hell.*

* Of course, there are many modern Western nonreligious ontologies and framing stories too, plus Eastern ontologies and framing stories - both religious and irreligious.

Emerging View: God created the world as good, but human beings – as individuals, and as groups – have rebelled against God and filled the world with evil and injustice. God wants to save humanity and heal it from its sickness, but humanity is hopelessly lost and confused, like sheep without a shepherd, wandering further and further into lostness and danger. Left to themselves, human beings will spiral downward in sickness and evil.

Basic Questions: What questions did Jesus come to answer?
Conventional View: Since everyone is doomed to hell, Jesus seeks to answer one or both of these questions: How can individuals be saved from eternal punishment in hell and instead go to heaven after they die? How can God help individuals be happy and successful until then?

Emerging View: Since the human race is in such desperate trouble, Jesus seeks to answer this question: What must be done about the mess we’re in? The mess refers both to the general human condition and to its specific outworking among his contemporaries living under the domination by the Roman Empire and who were confused and conflicted as to what they should do to be liberated.

Jesus’ Message: How did Jesus respond to the crisis?
Conventional View: Jesus says, in essence, “If you want to be among those specifically qualified to escape being forever punished for your sins in hell, you must repent of your individual sins and believe that my Father punished me on the cross so he won’t have to punish you in hell. Only if you believe this will you go to heaven when the earth is destroyed and everyone else is banished to hell.”* This is the good news.

*This reflects a Calvinistic, evangelical, Protestant version of the message. The popular Roman Catholic version might say, “You must believe in the teachings of the church and follow its instructions, especially those regarding mortal sins and sacraments.” The popular mainline or liberal Protestant version is sometimes vague and difficult to pin down, but one version of it might be summarized in its most dilute form as, “God is nice and wants you to be nice too.”

Emerging View: Jesus says, in essence, “I have been sent by God with this good news – that God loves humanity, even in its lostness and sin. God graciously invites everyone and anyone to turn from his or her path and follow a new way. Trust me and become my disciple, and you will be transformed, and you will participate in the transformation of the world, which is possible, beginning right now.”* This is the good news.

* This experience of transformation is, in my view, related to what Jesus means by “the kingdom of God.”

Purpose of Jesus: Why is Jesus important?
Conventional View: Jesus came to solve the problem of “original sin,” meaning that he helps qualified individuals not to be sent to hell for their sin or imperfection. In a sense, Jesus saves these people from God, or more specifically, from the righteous wrath of God, which sinful human beings deserve because they have not perfectly fulfilled God’s just expectations, expressed in God’s moral laws. This escape from punishment is not something they earn or achieve, but rather a free gift they receive as an expression of God’s grace and love. Those who receive it enjoy a personal relationship with God and seek to serve and obey God, which produces a happier life on Earth and more rewards in heaven.

Emerging View: Jesus came to become the Savior of the world, meaning he came to save the earth and all it contains from its ongoing destruction because of human evil. Through his life and teaching, through his suffering, death, and resurrection, he inserted into human history a seed of grace, truth, and hope that can never be defeated. This seed will, against all opposition and odds, prevail over the evil and injustice of humanity and lead to the world’s ongoing transformation into the world God dreams of. All who find in Jesus God’s hope and truth discover the privilege of participating in his ongoing work of personal and global transformation and liberation from evil and injustice. As part of his transforming community, they experience liberation from the fear of death and condemnation. This is not something they earn or achieve, but rather a free gift they receive as an expression of God’s grace and love.”
A little later in the book, McLaren goes further along this line, discussing the songs of Mary and Zechariah. In seeking to make the point that, at the time of the birth of Christ, these key announcements echoed the themes of the "emerging" rather than the "conventional" view of Christianity. To make the point, McLaren rewrites Mary's "Magnificat" (as he thinks it should have read if the "conventional" view was right) in the following manner:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my personal Savior, for he has been mindful of the correct saving faith of his servant. My spirit will go to heaven when my body dies, for the Might One has provided forgiveness, assurance, and eternal security for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who have correct saving faith and orthodox articulations of belief, from generation to generation. He will overcome the damning effects of original sin with his mighty arm; he will damn to hell those who believe they can be saved through their own efforts or through any religion other than the new one he is about to form. He will condemn followers of other religions to hell but bring to heaven those will correct belief. He has filled correct believers with spiritual blessings but will send those who are not elect to hell forever. He has helped those with correct doctrinal understanding, remembering to be merciful to those who believe in the correct theories of the atonement, just as our preferred theologians throughout history have articulated.” (emphasis added to increase nausea).
McLaren’s characterization of the orthodox view certainly bears comment and rebuttal. It is, at best, a caricature - and an unfair one at that. His rhetoric here is consistent with his frequently utilized tendency in his writings to make his point seem more reasonable by setting up an unreasonable “straw man” argument for comparison. But in this case, his caricatures and their comparisons lead one to a very different view of the Gospel itself!

Just as one example, he appears to say that God would obviously be unfair to judge men and send them to hell for their “imperfections” while ignoring the clear doctrine of original sin. What is one to make, for example, of his characterizations of the doctrine of original sin and the lost condition of man? What is he implying when he characterizes this view as punishment in hell forever for our “imperfections” and that “because our primal ancestors” (a long time ago) weren’t perfect? What emotion is he trying to stir by saying that because of this ancient “imperfection,” “God has irrevocably determined that the entire universe and all it contains [and the souls of all human beings] will be destroyed”?

McLaren defines the historic, orthodox view of original sin and divine justice as self-evidently untrue, written in a manner that demands “NO – THAT’S NOT TRUE” as the only decent response. But while McLaren states it in an inflammatory fashion, the fact remains that the sin of Adam and Eve is imputed to all men (Romans 5:12 and following), and all of humanity faces an eternity in hell apart from the atoning work of Jesus received by faith. In his book The Story We Find Ourselves In, McLaren characterizes substitutionary atonement (what we have always affirmed as the cornerstone of the Gospel message) as “something sounding like “divine child abuse!”* And while his "emerging view" seems so much more reasonable - especially by comparison - it avoids the foundational question of the spiritual state of man and his need for the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Apart from this, men aren't "spiral[ing] downward in ...evil" - they are DEAD in it.

* To be fair (or at least complete), McLaren makes this statement in a dialogue between characters, and so he might seek to distance himself from the sentiment expressed. He does, however, go on to explain that substitutionary atonement is “a theory” which, along with others, may be “windows” into understanding a broader truth – but, like a window, they are inadequate in conveying the whole of what’s to be viewed outside. “The theories are like windows, and having a theory is better than staring at a blank wall or even a picture on the wall, but theories can’t give you the whole sky… I’d rather use the word ‘Mystery’…” All of which is part of McLaren’s ongoing effort to undermine the certainty of historic truth and propel a sense of mystery which rejects any efforts at propositional truth – at least to the extent it has been viewed as foundational in historic, Orthodox Christianity as understood by traditional Evangelicals.

The type of rhetoric used by McLaren is more than merely "provocative," and it does not represent something over which “reasonable people can disagree.” At best, it is confusing and misleading; at worst, it is “another Gospel” within the meaning of Galatians 1:8, and heretical.

There are certainly many people who have done a fair, scholarly review and assessment of Brian McLaren’s writings (see for example, D.A. Carson’s book Becoming Conversant With The Emerging Church, which predates McLaren’s most provocative writing), but my concern is not with scholarly review – we don’t need an analysis of his ideas as much as we need protection from them. This is why church leaders are told to guard the doctrine of the Church – that is, not only to give instruction in sound doctrine, but “also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). It is also why we, as “the rank and file” are commanded to test everything against the Word (e.g., Acts 17:11, 1 John 4:1) and flee from false teaching (Romans 16:17).

Evangelicals (by and large) have thankfully dismissed things like the Joel Olsteen lunacy, but seem to tolerate Brian McLaren – and for the life of me, I can’t understand why. McLaren’s socteriology appears (at least in practical application) to be Palagian, with not-so-subtle hints towards universalism thrown in as well. He is increasingly widely read, invited to prominent speaking events, featured in Christianity Today, and continues to move further and further away from historic Christianity. People need to be warned about him, and the silence of the main stream evangelical church leadership in tolerating – and even promoting his message – is astonishing.

If we have reached the point where someone can redefine the Gospel without reaction from Evangelical leadership, and where aberrant, historically biased, cartoon-like broadsides on historic Christianity (like what’s being offered by Mr. McLaren) are tolerated and even entertained, we’ve sunk farther as a movement than one would have feared. I’m praying that leaders and thinking disciples of Jesus repudiate Mr. McLaren and false teaching for the sake of the name of our Lord – and the eternal benefit of those who are less discriminating.

Short of that happening, I'm thinking of awarding Mr. McLaren the first "Yapper Award":

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Welcome Wes!

The BlueCollar team welcomes Wes Wetherell of "No Pearls Before Swine"! Welcome Wes


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Welcome Colin!

I consider it an honor that Colin Maxwell ,"GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME", has accepted my invitation to become a member of the BlueCollar team!

Please join me in welcoming him to the team.

Mark Pierson


Friday, February 15, 2008

Salvation Is Salvation From Sin

The transition from Hebrews chapter one to Hebrews chapter two is sheer poetry.

The thrust of what the author is saying is that everything that God ever revealed to us through his messengers has proven solid, rock solid in fact. The author reasons for us that if everything God sent through messengers has proven trustworthy, how much more so when God speaks to us directly through the person of Jesus Christ? If they did not escape who ignored the messengers Christ sent, how can anyone escape if they ignore Christ directly?

The wording speaks of salvation - how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? A salvation from what? A salvation from sin. How shall we escape the wrath to come if we make so little of our salvation from sin? Or put another way - anyone who thinks they are going to get to heaven because they now assent to the facts about Christ (however passionately or impassionately), but at the same time ignores their own salvation from sin - how will such a one escape God's wrath?

The New Covenant is not "you can sin all you want and go to heaven" the new covenant is "I will put my Spirit in you, pouring out my own love into you so that through my love you will definitely keep My commandments" But some have turned the doctrine of eternal security into a doctrine of unconditional justification. They forget that the justified are those whose faith produces obedience.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fire And Water by Kim Riddlebarger

Folks, I have googled Warfield on Chafer. The whole article can be found here...

Here is a snipet...

"Warfield's point must not only be seen as a serious blow to the logic of Chafer's dispensational-
evangelical "hodgepodge" view of sanctification, for it applies equally to all of those in today's very
popular non-denominational movements who also reject the confessionalism of Protestant orthodoxy and
attempt to mix conflicting doctrinal elements into a kind of theological stew that is supposed to have a
broader-based appeal for the masses, but instead leads only to doctrinal confusion. And as in Warfield's
day, under the quite pretentious guise of rejecting "theology" and "head-knowledge," there are many who
end up in a shallow sea of error and confusion. Unfortunately, this error is still with us and in even
greater measure than in Chafer's time. Take for an example the subject of Chafer's book: the Christian
life. Here, as in all other aspects of our salvation, either God works in our sanctification through means
and our part is purely response and gratitude, or we are the prime mover in sanctification by "yielding,"
"seeking," "making Christ Lord," and so forth. While the Calvinist insists on active, energetic
involvement in this process, either God is the one working in us to will and to do of his good pleasure, or
sanctification is the product of our striving and yielding.

What Chafer has done is to combine two contrary elements, losing both the activism of human
responsibility as well as the gracious character of sanctification by trying to achieve something "in
between" the two.
Chafer insists upon the very untenable distinction between "carnal men and spiritual men," which
Warfield notes is based upon Chafer's serious misreading of 1 Corinthians 2:9. According to Warfield,
Chafer tells us "that the passage from the one [the carnal] to the other [the spiritual] is at our option,
whenever we care to 'claim' the higher degree by 'faith.'" Chafer commits the same error as other
"victorious Christian life" advocates and it is easy to see that this immediately separates the body of
Christ into those "who have it," and "those who don't." This has a divisive effect upon the church
everywhere such teaching has gone. In addition, such unbiblical schemes make the human will, instead of
the grace of God, the determining power in the Christian life."

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

From Jonathan Moorhead's Blog

Little Miriam in the Hospital Again
Our Miriam is running a fever again (100.5), so Sharon has taken her to the ER. She actually had a check-up today and everything looked great, except for a little fever (which we thought was just b/c she was so bundled up [it's snowing out today]). The doctor said she probably just caught another cold, but they need to check her out anyways. Please pray that everything checks out and that there aren't bigger issues. Thanks!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

True Biblical Calvinism

by Colin Maxwell

The words that adorn (for the dire want of a better description) the beginning of this article are attributed to one John Ryland Senior when William Carey, William Fuller and others of like mind spoke at a Minister's Fraternal meeting about seeking to convert the heathen in India and other places to saving faith in Jesus Christ. I have seen this story disputed (I forget the source at the moment) on the basis that Ryland never referred to it at all. I note that Laurence Vance uses the word "supposedly" in relation to it. I have read of the speech being "perhaps with some embellishment" (Sketches of Church History by SM Houghton, BOT) while Peter Masters from the Metropolitan Tabernacle (Spurgeon's) in a public address indicated that, although basically true, the words are really a paraphrase of what was actually said.
If true (and I am not entertaining any doubts on the matter) then these words display a horrible Hyper Calvinistic spirit, totally inconsistent with true Biblical Calvinism. True, authentic Calvinism believes that when it pleases God to convert the heathen, not only will He raise up missionaries to go forth an reach them with the gospel, but that He has already displayed that pleasure and has already been raising up missionaries to fulfill His divine will and will continue so to do until the end of the age. John Calvin himself was a strong believer in the conversion of the heathen through gospel preaching. He wrote: "It is no small consolation to godly teachers that, although the larger part of the world does not listen to Christ, He has His sheep whom He knows and by whom He is also known. They must do their utmost to bring the whole world into Christ's fold, but when they do not succeed as they would wish, they must be satisfied with the single thought that those who are sheep will be collected together by their work." (Comment on John 10:27)
Understandably - but only to a certain point - Ryland's words have been greedily seized upon by those who oppose Calvinism and who argue that it destroys the burden of evangelism and the need of world missions etc., However the story of William Carey is much bigger than one quote, paraphrased or otherwise, by John Ryland Senior. If we are going to examine the role of the Calvinists in this incident, then please consider the following facts and then decide whether John Ryland Senior should be allowed to be the representative Calvinist as our opponents make him out to be. There is a certain shallowness and indeed injustice that seizes upon an individual quote and tries to effectively father it, or the thinking that lie behind it, on a whole school of thought.
* William Carey himself was a Five Point Calvinist. This important point is usually overlooked by those who repeat this incident to discredit Calvinism. David Cloud never bothers telling it, as can be seen here and here. Terry McGovern failed to do so when first reporting the incident for the purposes of discrediting Calvinism's input to missionary work. Laurence Vance does so, but doggedly, and in my opinion very foolishly, fights on maintaining that Carey was an inconsistent Calvinist. I do not know what Dave Hunt wrote on the matter and I will hold my counsel until I gain more information.
* Carey's missionary friends were likewise Five Point Calvinists. Andrew Fuller was perhaps the best known among them. A helpful page on his Calvinism is found here and worth perusing.
* The interest of Carey and his friends in missionary work was stirred, at least in part, by a book written by Jonathan Edwards of Northhampton, New England. Jonathan Edwards was another Five Point Calvinist and one of America's greatest soul winners, witnessing real, true revival in his church. Edward's book was entitled: "A humble attempt to promote explicit agreement and visible union of God's people in extraordinary prayer for the revival of religion and the advancement of Christ's Kingdom on earth." which you can access here in its online edition. There could hardly be a more practical outcome to this book than having men of Carey's zeal and calibre offering themselves for missionary service with the subsequent results.
* Twelve ministers from Ryland's denomination formed the "Particular (Calvinistic) Baptist (Missionary) Society", sacrificially contributing the initial sum of £13 2s. 6d which was all they could afford. These men were all Five Point Calvinists. This society is still operating today.
* Five Point Calvinist, William Carey, one of the above twelve, had already published a small pamphlet urging Christians to use all the means at their disposal in missionary effort. This booklet was entitled: "An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens in which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practicability of Further Undertakings, are Considered." The title is immediately followed by Paul's inspired missionary argument drawn from Romans 10: 10-15. You can read it here in its online edition.
* Five Point Calvinist Andrew Fuller published is book called "Gospel Worthy of all Exception." (Online edition here) The Hyper Calvinist's loathed it, but it was well received by those Calvinists of Calvin's own stamp. Later CH Spurgeon (another Five Point Calvinist) would refer to this book as a "classic of our faith" and mention it in the same breath as "Hodge's Outlines" and "Owen on the Spirit". Spurgeon also considered Fuller to be "the greatest theologian of his century" (cited Laws, Andrew Fuller, 127) and felt "so honoured" in the fact that he had been branded as a "Fullerite" (MTP: 12:68)
* In all my reading of books on Calvinism or by Calvinist writers, I have never seen any Calvinist since defend John Ryland Senior's remarks. We have all been so quick to put as much ground as we can between us on him on this issue.
* The practical refusal of those who oppose Calvinism to hardly acknowledge the existence of Hyper Calvinism (as opposed to real, authentic Calvinism) displays either gross ignorance of the subject or a desire to blacken the names and stands of good men. Phil Johnstone's primer on Hyper Calvinism is a good place to start.
* Much opposition to Carey and friends came not only from the Hyper Calvinists but also from the Socinians whose presence and influence riddled many of the mainline denominations. However, all true Calvinists (and others) supported these men in their endeavours.
* It would be interesting to see a list of those who supported or encouraged these Five Point Calvinists in their soul winning work. We know that the Missionary Society in that hotbed of Five Point Calvinism in Princeton University wrote to encourage William Carey in 1821. John Calhoun in his History of Princeton records that the Princeton students wrote, "The different names by which we are known in the Christian church, and the different views we take of points not essential, will not be suffered to affect our feelings towards you, or to damp our joy at your success."
* Why is it that those who are so opposed to the Doctrines of Grace are prepared to ignore the many examples of Calvinistic missionaries in order to highlight this one example of Ryland senior? If the definition of a missionary is one who leaves his homeland to preach the gospel in another, then Calvin himself was a missionary. Furthermore, his church in Geneva sent forth young men as missionaries to Brazil. These young Calvinists perished on the mission field. To say that any Calvinist missionary is the EXCEPTION rather than the rule (David Cloud's emphasis) is surely a non starter of an argument. Surely that can be said of missionaries from any doctrinal position? How many members does your denomination have? What percentage of them are on the mission field? Anything less than 50% of the membership being actively involved is the exception rather than the rule.
* We see similar tactics used by the enemies of Calvinism in regards to Spurgeon. Again, David Cloud likes to remind us all that many Hyper Calvinists opposed Spurgeon in his indiscriminate gospel appeals - except Cloud seems to have a phobia about using this term "Hyper Calvinists" and somewhat mischievously brands them as "Calvinists". What he doesn't tell his readers is that many prominent Five Point Calvinists agreed with Spurgeon, including the eminent Presbyterian John Kennedy of Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands (who brought Spurgeon to open his new church building) and many other Scots Presbyterians. ("Dinnae forget Spurgeon" was the cry of one Scots wife to her husband going into the nearest market town) and other men like the Bonar brothers etc., Spurgeon's sermons saw great circulation, among Calvinists and non Calvinists alike, including the Five Point Calvinists in the Southern Presbyterian Church in the USA. It was only when Spurgeon criticised slavery that the sales fell somewhat in those quarters, but his warm evangelistic Calvinism matched their own and he was popular on that account. Incidentally, the Calvinists of today still love Spurgeon and seek to see his sermons circulated. Our own church website here has a Spurgeon Index and it is only the lack of time (which I must spend in evangelising, and I do, I do) that prevents me from adding more to it. We happily link to SPURGEON ARCHIVES on our links page. This is a theme I would like to develope as more information becomes available. However, I believe I have done enough here to show that the Calvinists in the situation are best represented by Carey and his friends rather than by one man.
P/s This page is taken from the website of Cork FPC where the webmaster/writer is a Calvinistic Missionary. It is written in part response to a particularly misleading blog which tries to portray Carey as less than a 5 point Calvinist


Monday, February 11, 2008

Any Other Gospel Other Than the Trinitarian Gospel Is a False Gospel.

guest post by: Bobby Grow
originally posted at: White To Harvest

There are certain "Christian" belief systems that assert that the Trinity is a man-made distortion of who God is. They assert that Jesus is either: a creation of God, an exalted Angel, a demiurge, a mode or expression of the one God. They assert much more, and there are many more views of who Jesus is, that are under or beyond whom Jesus really is as disclosed in Scripture. Conversely, it is those who make such assertions about who Jesus is, whom preach a different gospel -- since Jesus is the gospel. And if we get who Jesus is, wrong, then we get the Gospel wrong. If Jesus isn't the second person of the Trinity, then we end up with a gospel that necessarily starts with man. It took God assuming humanity to himself to bridge the gap between sinful man, and a holy God. If Jesus is just a creation, or a mode, then he is unable to bridge this gap ... since He "really" cannot represent us before God -- this requires a God-Man. Thankfully Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, which makes the Gospel a predicate of the Trinity. The Gospel is necessarily Trinitarian. Vanhoozer says this way more succinctly than I:
In sum, the Gospel is ultimately unintelligible apart from Trinitarian theology. Only the doctrine of the Trinity adequately accounts for how those who are not God come to share in the fellowship of Father and Son through the Spirit. The Trinity is both the Christian specification of God and a summary statement of the Gospel, in that the possibility of life with God depends on the person and work of the Son and Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity thus serves both as an identification of the dramatis personae and as a precis of the drama itself. "He is risen indeed!" (Kevin Vanhoozer, "The Drama of Doctrine," 43-44)

This illustrates my point above, that in order for man to truly be brought into the presence of a holy God, requires that God bring us into his very life! Which He did, in Christ. Unfortunately, this means that LDS, Jehovah's Witnesses, Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals, Unitarians, et al. all preach a different gospel than the one proclaimed by the Apostles in the New Testament. The Gospel is exclusive by definition, to Trinitarians.


In the Silence

And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
(Matthew 26:37 – ESV)

Imagine the scene that night in Gethsemane. The great swelling crowds that had come to follow Christ had turned away (John 6). Some that had stayed were now turned against, and they were coming to arrest and eventually kill Him. Of the twelve disciples, eight were near the entrance to the garden, but they were perhaps unaware of the great spiritual battle that was unfolding. They knew nothing of the event, their Master and the temptation, the prayer, the great drops of blood falling on the ground from our Savior’s brow, evidence of the most extreme spiritual crisis of all time taking place. In the silence the battle of the ages raged on.

Now the inner circle, the three, Peter, James, and John, they had been taken further into the silence by our Lord, deeper into the mystery of the garden. They were witness to the troubled, distressed spirit of the One whom they had known as the Prince of Peace. Suddenly they also knew Him as the Man of Sorrows. Jesus told them to watch and pray, knowing that they, too, were about to enter their greatest hour of temptation.

It might have seemed like any other quiet night, where Jesus had told His disciples to pray, and it didn’t seem like there was much activity, but the silence of the night betrayed the violence of the fight. The human crowds were gone, but the hosts of heaven looked on as the sinless Son of God faced His greatest hour of need. In the silence of that night the greatest temptation and spiritual battle of all time took place.

The road to the cross leads through Gethsemane. It can be in those moments of silence that destiny is determined. It may seem as if there is no action going on in your life, within your family, at your church, but indeed, it is in these moments that all hell is lining up against you to try and take you down, when you are in the silence, without a clue or a care. Jesus is agonizing and everyone else is unaware. They don’t think they or you are at the crossroads to their cross, they think all is well, or all of this must be stopped or that they are simply in a holding pattern, awaiting instructions at the gate to the garden. Or they have followed Him right to the edge, but are falling asleep even as He is interceding for them. How often we don’t realize that we are vulnerable, or that we are about to enter in to great trial and need to be watching and praying.

We don’t know the exact timing of when Christ is coming, the disciples had been told by Christ Himself that He was to be betrayed and killed, and would rise again, but they didn’t expect what would take place. We are caught and taken off guard even though we have been warned and exhorted to watch and pray (1 Peter 4:7). Are we realizing that someday, sometime, perhaps right now that the last person to be saved will receive Christ? And then, boom, all the events we pontificate about will suddenly begin to happen. The certainty that the fullness of the Gentiles must come in is biblical, and eventual, but we act as if it is casual, or not as cataclysmic as it really is. When God has filled up the Body, He will then unfold the rest of the mystery. Are we watching and praying for that to happen?

Are we following the crowds as they turn away to where the fun is when Christ makes us uncomfortable? Are we revolting against what Christ wants to do in our lives, drawing near to Him but with our own agenda? Are we settled outside the gate, having left from following Christ because we have not actually come in to the inner circle? Are we devout followers of Jesus, only to be sleeping in the most critical hour?

In the silence, when the great spiritual battles take place, when the crowds have turned away and some of the crowd has even turned against and some are waiting for instruction yet away from the battle and some are right near but falling asleep, where will you be?


Saturday, February 09, 2008


I Posted this on my blog last year and I thought it worth sharing here....

I read this in a book by Philip Yancy a few years ago. The name of the book is "What's so Amazing about Grace?" It is a bit long but I encourage you to read it.

Evertime I read this part of the book. it brings tears to my eyes. It kind of reminds me of the Prodical son...The picture of the father receiving the son back into relationship . Any one, if not by God's grace, could have been in a similar situation like this. It just shows us How Amazing His Grace is.....

A young girl grows up on a cherry orchard street just above Traverse City, Michigan. Her parents, a bit old fashion, tend to overact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, and the length of her skirts. They ground her a few times, and she seethes inside. "I hate you" she screams at her father when he knocks on the door of her room after an argument, and that night she acts on a plan she has menatlly rehearsed scores of times. She runs away.

She visited Detroit only once before, on a bus trip with her church youth group to watch the Tigers play. BecauseNewspapers in Traverse City report in luird detail the gangs. drugs and the violence in downtown Detroit, she concluded that is probably the last place her parents would look for her. California, maybe or Florida, but not Detroit.

Her second day there she meets a man who drives the biggest car she's ever seen. He offers her a ride, buys her lunch, arranges a place for her to stay. He gives her some pills that make her feel better then she's ever felt before. She was right all along, she decides her parents were keeping her from all the fun.

The good life continues for a month, two months, a year. The man with the big car-she calls him"Boss"-teaches her a few things that men like. Since she is underage, men pay a premium for her. She lives in a penhouse, and orders room service whenever she wants. Occasionally she thinks about her folks back home, but their lives seem so boring and provincial that she can hardly believe that she grew up there.

She has a brief scare when she sees her picture on the back of a milk container with the Headlines "Have you seen this child?" But by now she had blonde hair and make-up and with all the body piercing jewlery she wears no one would mistake her for a child. Besides most of her friends were runaways and no one rats on anyone.

After a year the first sallow of illness appears, and it amazes her how the Boss turns mean. "Theses days we can not mess around", He growled. And before she knew it she was out on the streets without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, but they don't pay much and it goes to support her habit. When winter blows in she finds herself out on the grate in front of a Department Store sleeping. Sleeping is the wrong word-teenagers girls in Detroit can never relax their guard. Dark bands circle her eyes, her cough worsens.

One night as she lies awake listening for footprints,all of a sudden everything about her life seems different. She no longer feels like a woman of the world, she feels like a little girl, lost in a cold and freezing city. Her pockets are empty and she's hungry. She needs a fix.She pulls her legs tightly underneath herself, as she shivers under the newspapers she piled atop her coat. Something jolts a synapse of memory and a single image fills her mind: of May in Traverse City, when a million cherry trees blooming at once, with her Goldern Retriever dashing through the rows and rows of blossom trees in a chase of a tennis ball.

"God Why did I leave?" she said to herself and pain stabbed at her heart. My dog back home eats better then I do now. She is now sobbing and knows more then anything else she wanted to go home. Three straight phone calls, three straight conections to an answering machine. She hangs up without leaving a message the first two times but the third time she leaves a message "Dad, Mom it's me, I was wondering maybe about coming home?" I'm catching a bus up your way and It will get there about midnight tomorrow. If you are not there, well, I guess I'll stay on the bus until it hits Canada.

It takes about 7 hours for a bus to make all the stops between Detroit and Traverse City, and during that time she realized the flaws in her plan. What if her parents are out of town and missed the message? Shouldn't she have waited another day or so until she could talk to them? And even if they were home, they probably wrote her off as dead a long time ago. She should have given them some time to overcome the shock.

Her thoughts bounce back and forth between worries and the speech she is preparing for her father. "Dad, can you forgive me?" She says the words over and over, her throat tightening even as she reherses them. She hasn't apologized to anyone in years.

The bus has been driving with lights on since Bay City. Tiny snowflakes hit the pavement rubbed worn by thousands of tires, and the asphalt streams. She's forgotten how dark it gets at night out here. A deer darts across the road and bus swerves. Every so often, a billboard. A sign posting the milleage to Travers City. Oh, God....

When the bus finally rolls into the station, the air brakes hissing in protest, the driver announces in a crackly voice over the microphone, Fifteen minutes folks. That's all we have here. Fifteen minutes to decide her life. She checks herself in a compact mirror, smoothes her hair, and licks the lipstick off her teeth. She looks a the tobacco stains on her fingertips and wonders if her parents will notice. if they are there...

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect. Not one of the thousand scenes that had played in her mind prepared her for what she saw. There in the cononcrete-walls-and-plastic-chairs-bus-terminal in Traverse City Michaigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and aunts and Uncles and cousins and a grandmother and great Grandfather to boot. They're all wearing goofy party hats and blowing noise makers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that read "Welcome Home!"

Out of the crowd of well wishers breaks her Dad. She stares out through the tears quivering in her eyes like hot mercury and begins the memorized words "Dad I'm sorry, I knew....."
He interupted her, "Hush, child." We got no time for that. You will be late for the party. A banquet's waiting for you at home.

If there is anyone that reads this, that have fallen off the path and is struggling, let me encourage you that Our Lord is right here to forgive and to give you strength.....And He loves you, just as much as when He saved you. He is the one that we can always count on. Remember He first love us.


Friday, February 08, 2008

God Will Wipe Away Every Tear!

Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

As the photo above illustrates, tears begin early in our fallen world and they continue throughout our lives. The tears that come with the inevitable human event of losing a loved one to death is vividly described in the hymn below. It is a bittersweet moment full of tears for the Christian that is left behind to bid farewell to the loved one that has passed into the heavenly realm. The sadness and grief of this farewell is pitted against the rejoicing of heaven’s anthems for the deceased loved one. Memories of happier days and fellowship, prayer, and praise are all that is left of this earthly friendship. The songs of earth with family and friends have ended and will be no more. Loved one, farewell.

However, praise God that salvation’s story is not over. Loved ones ascend to where angels dwell and the saints in heaven form a praising throng singing and praising God with new made songs. Soon enough there will be a reunion at the pearly gate when friends and family meet, and where God will wipe away every tear and lead them all to springs of living water. Loved ones, farewell and be sure to watch and wait as we all get to heaven one by one. What a day of rejoicing that will be.

Loved One, Farewell
Mary B. Slade

Birds are rejoicing,
O’er hill and dell;
Hushed is thy voicing,
Sweeter that fell.
Friend of our happy days,
Brother of prayer and praise,
Thine own sweet music says,
Loved one, farewell!

Thou hast ascended,
Where angels dwell;
Where, earth songs ended,
Heav’n’s anthems swell.
Safe, all the saints among,
Blest with the praising throng,
Singing the new made songs,
Loved one, farewell!

Salvation’s story
Then thou wilt tell;
Triumphs of glory,
Thy voice shall swell.
Rest thou, oh,
friend so dear,
Thy precious Savior near,
Where God shall wipe each tear,
Loved one, farewell!

Safe from thee turning,
Grief’s tones will knell;
Hard, hard the learning,
God doeth well!
Till, be it soon or late,
Up, at the pearly gate,
We meet, oh watch and wait,
Loved one, farewell!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Blog Familly Prayer Time

Folks, things to keep in prayer:

Susan's mom goes into surgery today to remove blockage in her neck.

Ongoing prayer for James and Cristina Lush - Jame's continued healing; and Cristina's parent's salvation

For Jonathan and Sharon Moorhead and their baby; also for Jonathan's disertation defence in a couple days.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Revealing His glory

While driving recently with my nearly five-year-old daughter into town, I enjoyed pointing out a crescent moon visible in the daylight sun – something we don’t often see. As I was pointing out to her where exactly in the sky it was, suddenly a patch of cloud cover obscured its view, yet I remained intent on showing her the moon, expecting it to soon appear from behind its veil.

While waiting, I encouraged her to continue looking toward the sky in anticipation of its delightful appearance, and I was reminded of recent discussions in our church’s Sunday School class. I had asked our pastor if when we pray for God to be glorified, do we in essence mean that He would be revealed (in some way in greater measure than already revealed), since we can add no glory to the Ancient of Days, the great I Am?

I’m currently reading RC Sproul’s What is Reformed Theology?, wherein he discusses the holiness of God in the following manner:

“Calvin writes: ‘…men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God. Frequent examples of this consternation occur both in the Book of Judges and the Prophetical Writings [Judges 13:22; Isa. 6:5; Ezek. 1:28; 3:14; Job 9:4; Gen. 18:27; 1 Kings 19:18]; so much so, that it was a common expression among the people of God, ‘We shall die, for we have seen the Lord.’’ …

“Calvin understood that idolatry is not limited to crass or primitive forms like those found in animistic or totemic religions. He realized that idolatry can become subtle and sophisticated. The very essence of idolatry involves the distortion of God’s character.

“As Paul declared to the Romans, idolatry consists in exchanging the glory of God for a lie, elevating the creature and denigrating the Creator. Paul says, ‘Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. [Rom. 1:22-25] …

Any distortion of the character of God poisons the rest of our theology. The ultimate form of idolatry is humanism, which regards man as the measure of all things. Man is the primary concern, the central focus, the dominant motif of all forms of humanism. Its influence is so strong and pervasive that it seeks to infiltrate Christian theology at every point. Only by a rigorous attention and devotion to the biblical doctrine of God will we be able to keep from tasting and even swallowing this noxious brew.

As my daughter and I watched for the moon, I initially stated that the moon would rise from behind the cloud, but then corrected myself to tell her that it would actually be the cloud which moved in order to reveal the moon in our sight. This got me to thinking that it is not unlike our own moving down, decreasing in order that He may be revealed – and hence glorified – in the sight of others.

We then talked some more about stars in the night sky – and how they aren’t visible during the daytime. I told her that they’re merely reflections, not unlike ourselves, of a greater Light.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Loved By The World!

Luke 6:26 Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

How should the world and its wisdom react to Christians? If all people speak well of you and the secular world approves of you, then Jesus makes it clear that you have a problem and even compares such a situation to the Israelites of old speaking well of false prophets.

Recently on an emergent church blog, I witnessed a video of the liberal Christian activist Jim Wallis on the Comedy Central Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Mr. Wallis takes every opportunity to impugn orthodox Christianity and what is often called the religious fundamentalist right. He received a warm friendly reception from Jon Stewart as well as from the audience on this appearance. I have seen him on Larry King live and other television talk shows. He always seems to receive agreeable and favorable response from both the hosts as well as the audiences in all the times that I have seen him. I am sure his approval would be great on Oprah and her audience. You can go right down the list of television talk shows and be certain his interpretation of Christianity will not offend either the host or the audience. He is well received and loved by the world.

However, when Christian leaders like Dr. Al Mohler, Dr. John MacArthur, and other Biblical truth tellers appear on television shows, the response is hostile and the questions are meant to challenge the exclusive truth claims of Jesus and the Bible. These Biblical teachers are painted as intolerant and narrow minded, and the audience insults them, which brings applause and approval. The world hates these religious leaders and the message they bring.

Christians do not be dismayed, troubled or doubt your Christian beliefs when you see this occur. Be courageous and rest in the fact that the Bible very clearly tells us this will happen. We should not be surprised and in fact should rejoice that the world does not approve of our beliefs because when the world approves, Jesus does not!

More Scripture on the subject:

1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.

Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 17:14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.