Monday, August 31, 2009

Sermon-The Crown

I recently heard a sermon on Matthew 27:26-31 at a church my family and I have been visiting. I was moved. The Lord spoke clearly to my heart in this text as it was preached. Click here to listen to the sermon. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Russell Moore on the Kennedy Funeral

I highly encourage you to check out the entire article written by Dr. Moore about the funeral of Ted Kennedy. However, these two paragraphs are particularly striking in their content.

This isn’t a Catholic/Protestant divide. I’ve heard many, many Baptist preachers do the same thing at a celebrity funeral. This is true even when the “celebrity” is just the kind of small-pond “celebrity” of the furniture store owner who happens to be the wealthiest man in a tiny hamlet.

It’s not a conservative/liberal divide either. The Religious Right establishment often confuses the kingdom with a set of legislative goals just as surely as does the Left. There are many churches and ministries whose kingdom litanies would sound just like the Kennedy funerals, except on the other side of the legislative docket.

The gospel isn't about polictics. The gospel is about a holy God who has been wronged and offended by our sin. The gospel is about Jesus Christ satisfying the wrath of God so that we can be adopted as His children.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Christian Response to Health Care Reform pt 2

In America today, you would have to be hiding under a rock not to have heard about the health care debate and you'd have to be pretty unusual not to have an opinion on it. I believe that God's word is the answer to any trials we face or concerns we have. With that in mind, I am reposting an exposition of Psalm 23 I did a few years ago as a reminder to all my brothers and sisters in Christ that it is not we nor the government that takes care of us and our needs--it is God. Regardless of how the health care debate shakes out, our God is still on the throne and we can trust Him. Be encouraged.

As I noted in the last study of this wonderful psalm, sheep are difficult to take care. It takes a lot of work and a tremendous amount of attention to the details to provide a safe, productive environment for sheep to flourish. In the end, the condition of a flock rests solely on the shoulders of the shepherd tending that flock.

Since we have a loving Shepherd, we can rest safely in His care. David, in the second verse of this wonderful psalm, describes what a blessing we have to be tended by such a kind and gentle Shepherd. First of all, we notice the condition the Shepherd puts the sheep in. It says, in the beginning of verse 2, that “He makes me lie down”. This, from everything I have read, is quite a feat. Sheep are naturally skittish creatures. They re easily frightened and quite high strung. They do not relax easily. There are two reasons I would suggest for this constant state of agitation. First of all, sheep have no natural defenses. They do not have claws or big, sharp teeth. No one has ever heard of another person getting mauled to death by a sheep. They are not fast or agile. In fact, a 100lb sheep might well have legs of only 5 lbs. While I am joking a little about that, it probably is not too much of an exaggeration. Secondly, most animals probably consider the sheep to be very tasty. Your life in the animal kingdom is going to be very stressful when other animals are looking at you and thinking “Man, I bet that’d be good with some Dale’s” or “I’d like to throw that on the George Forman”. Therefore, in order for a sheep to lie down as is stated in this verse, that sheep must be absolutely sure that it is 100% free from any danger.

If the sheep is not in a danger free situation, it will not be able to rest. What David is saying, then, is that because the Lord is his Shepherd, he knows that he is safe and secure. He is not going to be harmed by his enemies. He knows that God will protect him and keep him safe. Isn’t that such a blessing for us to meditate upon as Christians? I mean, no matter how bad things get, no one can hurt us as far as anything eternal goes. Even here on the earth, we are blessed by His providence and protection. That is not to say that nothing bad happens to Christians. Rather, He is there with us in the midst of it. We too can relax and cast our cares upon Him, as Peter said, knowing that He is our Shepherd.

David goes on to describe the circumstances the sheep find themselves in. He says that the Shepherd causes him to lie down “in green pastures”. David, as a shepherd, would have known first hand the kind of hard work that involved. The area where he kept sheep was rocky, hilly, and oftentimes barren compared to what we would think of as pasture land. If a shepherd was going to provide pasture for his flock, he was going to have to work to provide that pasture. This meant hours of backbreaking, sweaty, painful work of clearing rocks, planting good grass, and pulling up weeds which were poor quality feed at best or poisonous at worst. A shepherd spent a lot of time preparing pasture for his flock in order to provide the best for them.

This is a picture of the kind of hard work our Shepherd provides as He cares for the sheep. Not that it is difficult for Him to provide for our needs but rather that He is diligently, constantly working to provide for us. Of course, we know what grueling torture He endured on Calvary’s cross where He shed His precious blood for you and me. However, even before that, He was at work throughout human history putting the right people in the right places at the right times to accomplish His redemptive purpose. Not only does He provide green pastures for us as He provides for us materially, but even more so, He provided spiritual green pastures as He laid on His Son the sins of all who would believe.

However, this Shepherd not only provides food for the sheep but as David notes “He leads me beside quite waters”. Again, we must remember the climate in which David lived. We would probably describe much of the surroundings are barren and dry. The pools of water that you found oftentimes were polluted and undrinkable. Of course, that wouldn’t stop the sheep from drinking them. Like we’ve observed before, sheep are not known for their intelligence. If you give them two choices and one of them is good while the other is bad for them, the will more often than not choose the one that is bad for them.

So, if you left sheep to their own devices, they would drink for foul, polluted water all day long. Therefore, as a shepherd, if you want you sheep to have clear, clean drinking water, you had to go out, dig the pools or watering holes, and fill them your self. Again, the picture we get is that of tireless, constant work to provide the best for the sheep. This Shepherd, David says, does not turn the sheep out to find this still, quite water on their own. Instead, He leads the sheep. He knows the way and He lovingly takes the sheep where they will be safe and provided for. What a wonderful heavenly Shepherd we have who loves us and takes such wonderful care of His sheep. Praise His holy Name.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Excellent Sermons on Parenting

The church my family and I have been visiting the past few weeks, Community Bible Church in Nashville, recently had a conference on parenting. The guest speaker was none other than Dr. Bruce Ware. The sermons from that conference are available for download FREE!!! Now, I am an accountant so I like cheap but man oh man I love free. I haven't listened to them all but I highly recommend checking them out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Christian Response to Health Care Reform pr 1

In America today, you would have to be hiding under a rock not to have heard about the health care debate and you'd have to be pretty unusual not to have an opinion on it. I believe that God's word is the answer to any trials we face or concerns we have. With that in mind, I am reposting an exposition of Psalm 23 I did a few years ago as a reminder to all my brothers and sisters in Christ that it is not we nor the government that takes care of us and our needs--it is God. Regardless of how the health care debate shakes out, our God is still on the throne and we can trust Him. Be encouraged.

Bill Cosby, in one of his comedy routines, said that his father defined their relationship when he was very young. He was told “I am your father—I brought you into this world, and I’ll take you out. And it don’t make no difference to me ‘cause I’ll make another one that looks just like you.” Now, this is quite silly and we can have a good laugh about it. There is, however, something about defining a relationship that gives one a sense of security. When you know what the boundaries and the responsibilities of a relationship are, you feel safe. In this manner, when David writes this most familiar psalm, we can be particularly encouraged as we reflect on our relationship to God and His love and care for us.

I should probably mention as I start this series that my interpretation of this psalm was greatly influenced by a book written by Phillip Keller titled “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”. You can find information about the book here. I strongly recommend it as a great resource to understanding what God meant when He inspired David to write this text.

I believe the first thing we should take note of as we examine this psalm is that David writes this psalm about a Person—specifically God. He begins the psalm by saying in verse 1 that “The Lord is my Shepherd”. The fact that he identifies God as his Shepherd should be of great encouragement to us as believers. This is the same Lord that made, and kept, a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 2:24). He displayed His power by freeing the Israelites from bondage in Egypt (Exodus 7-12) not to mention creating the entire universe by merely speaking it into existence (Genesis 1-2). This is a Holy God who judges sin and, as David would come to find out, forgives people when they repent. Suffice it to say, God has quite an impressive track record and it only makes sense that the Bible declares that there is no God like Him (I Kings 8:23).

Considering the relationship that is defined by this psalm, the character of the One on whom David is depending seems particularly relevant. Therefore, we should remember that it is the Lord that David refers to as his Shepherd. I think it’s pretty important to notice, also, that David is writing in the present tense. He does not say the Lord was his Shepherd or will be his Shepherd or that He might be his Shepherd but rather that He is David’s Shepherd. David made this rather bold affirmation of his relationship with God based on his daily walk with God. As we read in I Samuel 17:34-36, David depended on God daily as he carried out his task of tending his father’s sheep. When he faced dangerous situations, he knew through experience that God would be with him. What we have here, then, is not touchy-feely “You Best Life Now” garbage, but true saving faith grounded in a daily walk with God. It is not hope for the future or pining about the past but a present tense awareness of the presence of God in David’s life that leads him to write these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, in making this statement, David is acknowledging that he recognizes not only his position but also God’s position. By saying “The Lord is my Shepherd”, David is saying that he is a sheep. Recognizing who you are in relation to others is important in any relationship. For instance, the book of Genesis records that when a man is married he is to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. Basically, his primary responsibility is no longer to his parents but to his wife. Failing to recognize that change in relationship can result in problems with his new wife to say the least. (By the way, I also believe the same principal applies for wives. That was an aside. You don’t owe me anything for that) David has no delusions about his role in relation to God. He is a sheep.

Now, this is a humbling admission for him to make. First of all, sheep are stupid. I mean, these critters, from all accounts I have read, will go out of way to get themselves into trouble of all kinds. They need constant care and supervision. If left to their own devices they will invariably get themselves into trouble time and time again. You know, that is a pretty good description of you and me. I mean, I’ve been saved for 24 years now and sometimes I have pretty good days. But it is just as often that I feel like the apostle Paul in Romans 7 and I feel like shouting “I’m doing the things I know I shouldn’t do and not doing the things that I know I should do”. If it were not for the mercy, grace, and providence of almighty God I would get my self in pickles so often they’d have to change my last name to Vlassick. It’s the same way with sheep. Being a shepherd is very hard work because you have to watch out for those animals tirelessly. God does just that. He never sleeps, takes a day off, or turns His eyes off of us who are His sheep even for a moment. Because of this wonderful, loving care provided by our Shepherd, we can come to the same conclusion that David did. He said that because of the Lord being his Shepherd, “I shall not want”.

Sheep don’t take care of themselves. Therefore, if their needs are provided, it is a direct result of the shepherd’s care of them. Notice the condition he expects to find himself in. He uses a Hebrew word “chaser” which is translated “want”. That Hebrew word means lack. David isn’t saying that he will always have everything that he wants; but that he will not lack things he needs so as to suffer want. That’s just a wee bit different take on God’s care of us than you would find from your typical prosperity theology preacher. Saying that we will not want in this context does not mean that we will be happy all the time or in a state of abundance. What it does mean is that God will provide what we need when we need it. There have been Christians who have been hungry or lacked clothing or shelter. That does not mean that God is not fulfilling His role as Shepherd. In fact, I’m not sure I could even speculate on why a situation like that would occur. I would suggest that more times than not Christians are provided for with the things they need in this life by a loving Shepherd who takes meticulous care of His sheep. Let us praise God for His love and protection.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Shack's Author in a Radio Interview

The following is a partial transcript of a radio interview with Wm Paul Young, author of The Shack where he clearly denies that Christ took the penalty for our sin on the cross and was punished as well as saying he doesn't know whether or not everyone will be in heaven. Folks, if that isn't heresy I don't know what is.

By the way, the radio interview is a HUGE file. However, I highly listening to it.

1) On the Penal Substitutionary Atonement (that Jesus Christ took the penalty for our sins on the cross):

Adams: "On page 120 where God says, you know, I don’t punish sin, sin is it’s own punishment, you know, this is when Mack , um, is having a hard time with his view of God pouring out wrath, etc. But then when it says, “Mackenzie, I don’t need to punish people for sin. I guess when people read the scripture my question is, doesn’t God…hasn’t God, and doesn’t He…punish sin?"

William Young: "Some of it is semantics, we’re dealing with the concept of the wrath of God and, and here’s an underlying question. “Do you believe that God does anything that is not motivated by love?"

Adams: “Well I think in scripture we have wrath, we have justice, we have mercy-"

Young: “I understand…but…”

Adams: “…we do have love, so…”

Young: “Do you believe that God does anything that is not motivated by love, cuz love is his onthological character, it’s his being, justice is an activity of God, uh, wrath is an activity of God, so…”

Adams: “So you do believe though, that he does punish sin…”

Young: “I..I believe in the wrath of God, absolutely, but, but the wrath of God is, is always couched, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodly (undecipherable word here) and unrighteousness of men, it’s not against the men, it’s against everything that is damaging them, hurting them, causing them to sin against eachother, everything that is contrary to his nature, and um…so…”

Adams: “But-"

Young “I, I absolutely believe in the wrath of God, yes, but I believe it’s motivated by love .”

Adams: “But this love also, and just as you quoted, you know, you mentioned uh the lake of fire, etc., it does say that there is torment day and night, so there is punishment, torment…”

Young: “Ya, and it, it is in the presence of the Lamb.”

Adams: “Here’s my question, if God doesn’t punish sin, what is the cross then, because if Jesus took our punishment on the cross, if he died for our sins, he was taking our punishment. If God doesn’t punish sin it seems like that demeans the whole concept of the cross.”

Young: “Oh, not at all. Look, the cross is, is the plan of God from before the foundation of the world, to redeem us back from being lost, being in the grip of our sin and lostness and idolatry and everything else, it’s absolutely essential. There’s no hope for any human being let alone the human race apart from the cross.”

Adams: “So you do believe that Christ was punished, then, for our sin.”

Young: “I believe that, that Christ became sin for us.”

Adams: “I mean that he was a sacrifice, that he was punished, he took...”

Young: “Uhuh…by who?"

Adams: “The Father.”

Young: “Why…why would the Father punish His son?”

Adams: “Because sin demanded justice, it, it demanded-"

Young: “Oh, it, but it, where was Father when the Son was on the cross?”

Adams: “In your book, when it says, um, Mack had a problem with 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' and God basically says, 'Mack, I never left him'…”

Young: “That’s right.”

Adams: “When Jesus said 'Why have you forsaken me?' it…”

Young: “Ya, he’s quoting, he’s also quoting and doing the cry of David in the Psalms, and in Psalms that’s totally reconciled within the Psalms. The next thing that he says, even though that’s exactly what he feels for the first time as a human being who was born of the spirit, baptized of the spirit, filled with the spirit, for the first time, he doesn’t sense the presence of the Father, and in that he cries out. But Paul the apostle comes up later, and Jesus first says, but into your hands I commit my spirit, so he’s still saying, you’re here. And Paul says, where was God the Father? For God the Father, 2 Cor. 5:19, was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against them. So where was God the Father? You…and where did reconciliation happen? I believe it happened on the cross. And it says that God the Father was in His son reconciling the world to himself.”

Adams: “Ya, many see that as Christ being the agency of our reconciliation but that when, you know, that Christ was taking the wrath of God upon him, I, I take it that you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t agree that the cross was a place of punishment for our sin.”

Young: “No. I don’t, I am not a penal substitution …reformation…point of view.”

Adams: “But isn’t that the heart of the gospel? Is that the heart of the gospel?”

Young: “No! Ha, no! The heart of the gospel is that we are, are so pursued, the heart of the gospel is in Ephesians 1:5. He predestined us before the foundation of the world to be adopted as sons and everything is by, for and through Jesus, and when Jesus dies, all die, all die.”

Adams: “But all the sac- all the sacrifices in the Old Testament, they were for the sins of the person, as they laid the hand on the lamb, or, or the Passover, you know the lamb’s blood was shed and put on the doorposts so when the death angel came it passed over, that way…”

Young: “And, and I understand uh, ya, I'm not saying that I don’t agree with some sense of substitutionary atonement.”

Adams: “But you disagree…”

Young: “But it’s way broader (muffled) than that.”

Adams: “But if you reject a penal substitution that Christ died as a penalty for our sins, it seems like that is the, that is the Christian faith.”

Young: “I don’t know if you’re aware, but that’s a huge debate that’s going on in theology right now within the evangelical community.”

Adams: “It is, and I, and I, and I would say everything hangs on that, I mean, there’s so many scriptures that Christ died for our sins, 1 Corinthians 15:3 -”

Young: “Oh, and, and I, I agree with that, I, he became sin for us..”

Adams: “No, he died for our sins. Romans said, the Father delivered him over for our sin. If he didn’t, if he wasn’t delivered for my sin…”

Young: “I’m not disagreeing with any of those passages at all, it’s just that how do we understand it? And how do we define what exactly took place? And I’m saying, that there is a huuuuuge amount of disagreement among theologians, about what all that means.”

Adams: “Kay.”

Young: “And so there is, you know, a degree of ambiguity there. And uh, what I’m saying everything that happened there, is the purpose of father, son and holy spirit, and that purpose is, our redemption, is salvation, reconciliation, and I don’t see, um, that it’s necessary to have the father, uh, punish, in that sense, the son!”

Adams: “Ya, we could, this is, I think this is an important issue.”

2) On Hell and Ultimate Reconciliation (eternal punishment vs. eternal life - no matter what you believe or choose in this life):

Adams: “I believe there’s an eternal hell and once there, always there, and it’s punishment and torment, I guess I believe in the traditional, evangelical view that, you know, the decisions is made before this life is over, God is not going to redeem those, in hell. I mean it’s a, it’s an eternal place that never ends and it’s not good, so if..”

Young: “I understand that.”

Adams: “If in the other view…”

Young: “But going back to your question. Even if there was ultimate reconciliation, which I don’t know, but even if there were, that doesn’t diminish the damage of sin at all. That doesn’t diminish what sin is doing to the people around us and in our lives, at all. So the burden is not any lessened at all, you know, and it’s never been, you know, hell is never used as a motivator for transformation, ever. Not anywhere in the scripture. And you’d think that, you know, if it was, the ultimate evil, that it would at least be used in some of the sermons, but it doesn’t appear in Acts at all. And uh, you know…”

Adams: “Well Jesus did talk about hell a lot.”

Young: “Ya, we…and I know that. I’m very aware, and I do believe that it is real! That’s not the question.”

Adams: "And he did say fear the one who as the power to throw you into hell, to destroy both body and soul, so, um..."

Young: "Absolutely!"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lutherans to allow sexually active gays as clergy

It's pretty easy to understand when people who do not claim to be followers of Jesus Christ act like they're not followers of Jesus Christ. That should come as no shock to anyone even though it is heartbreaking. However, when a church decides "We're going to do what we want regardless of what the Bible teaches", that's when you have a problem. You can read the whole story here. I can't say it any better than the apostle Paul did thousands of years ago:

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first,
2 Thess 2:1-3 (NASB)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Matthew 6:31-34 Get Your Priorities Straight

In this economy, people are worried about losing their jobs or losing pay at their jobs. I know of at least two people who had to take unpaid time off at work against their will. I would feel pretty confident in saying that most everyone knows someone that has lost a job in the past year or so. It’s safe to assume that there are people worried about their personal finances and being able to take care of themselves. However, as Christians we can have victory over this anxiety because of the promises of Christ. While He did not promise that we would be rich or even well off necessarily, He does promise God’s care and protection as we read in these verses.

Jesus summarizes the line of thought began in verse 25 in verse 31. The long and short of it is contained in the first 3 words of verse 31 where He says “Do not worry”. It’s pretty easy to sit here and type that but it hasn’t’ always been easy to do it. However, as we read the preceding verses, we see why we shouldn’t worry. God is going to take care of us. He takes care of birds. He takes care of flowers. It is therefore certainly reasonable for us to trust that He is going to take care of us. Because of that, we don’t have to make acquiring the necessities of life (food, water, clothing) our priority.

In fact, our witness to this lost and dying world demands our distinctiveness in this matter. As Matthew records in verse 32, Jesus observed that the people of the world “eagerly seek all these things”. In fact, the headlines over the past 5 or 6 years attest to the fact that some people will do just about anything to enrich themselves. Enron, Worldcom, and the Madoff scandal are prime examples of greed. We read in the paper and hear on the new about robberies and shootings all the time. The Lord Jesus says that these people aren’t just seeking material possessions casually but “eagerly”. There is intensity to their search. Christians, however, should have a different mindset. We have the promise of God’s word that our “heavenly Father knows [we] need all these things”. Therefore, because He is our heavenly Father and He knows the things we need to live, we can trust Him to provide those things we need.

Because of this knowledge, we are free to not have to worry about how we’re going to take care of ourselves and we can make serving God and living for His glory our main priority. As Jesus says in verse 33, we are to “seek first” the kingdom of our Father. Our primary priority is not getting stuff to shove in our pie holes or cover our selves with. Our primary priority is glorifying God in all we do. In doing so, we don’t display our own righteousness which is just like filthy rags anyway. We seek “His righteousness” because we recognize our moral bankruptcy. In doing so, our lives will look different. We won’t be chasing after getting stuff like the rest of the world. We won’t have to compromise our integrity to try to get ahead or just to get what we think we need. We can be contented in the fact that when we serve God as our first priority “all these things will be added to [us]”. We, therefore, have no need to worry.

Further, because we have the assurance of God’s providential care of us as His children, we should not only rest in His care today but, as Jesus tells us, “don’t worry about tomorrow”. Why? Because, beyond reasonable precautions for things that we can reasonably expect and plan ahead for (putting gas in the car the night before you go to work so you won’t run out, putting aside a little money in a “cookie jar” fund for unexpected emergencies) there are a myriad of things that we can’t anticipate. Since He takes care of us today, we can assume He will take care of us tomorrow. Each day, Jesus notes, will have things in it that we have to concern ourselves with and devote our attention to as we go along. We should focus our mind on the present (didn’t Yoda say that) and not worry about tomorrow. We have enough to handle today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our Witness at Home

Here is some wise counsel to consider from the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood blog:

Children will learn from their parents the things they most consistently live out. Fathers, watch how you talk to your wife. Do you love and care for her with your words? Mothers, watch how you honor your husband. Do you appropriately submit to his leadership in a way that is a signpost to the gospel?

Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

II Peter 2:10 False Teachers-Depraved Character On Display

Sometimes, the phrase “what you see is what you get” doesn’t hold true. Something can be ugly on the outside but beautiful on the inside. My alto saxophone is about 60 years old and looks like junk. However, it plays really sweetly when it’s in good adjustment. In the case of false teachers though, more often than not if you’re paying attention you can see them for what they really are. In fact, Peter gives in this verse some practical clues to look for in the lives of these people in order to recognize them.

First of all, observe with me that, as Peter says in the previous verse, God will punish the ungodly. However, His punishment on the false teachers being described will be particularly harsh it seems. Peter begins this verse saying that God will punish these teachers “especially”. This recalls the words of Jesus when He said that sin would come into the world but pronounced woe upon the person through whom it comes. In fact, His harshest words were directed squarely at the Pharisees who were supposed to be the teachers in Israel but did not teach the truth of God. Instead, they taught their own brand of do-it-yourself religion that couldn’t save anyone. Those who lead others astray will certainly be subject to particularly severe judgment of a righteous, holy, and omnipotent God.

Peter goes on to describe the actions of these false teachers. He says they “indulge the flesh”. In Greek, you could translate this to mean they “walk after” the flesh. These men purport to be leaders and teachers in the church. They call for people to follow them. In fact, they are not leaders at all but they follow after “the flesh”. Their passions guide them. Their unredeemed “flesh” with all its sinful desires is their leader. They act out in a regular, persistent manner of living the things that their flesh leads them to do. As Paul says in Galatians, the flesh and the Spirit have desires that are diametrically opposed and to serve one is to not serve the other. As Christ says in Matthew, you can’t serve two masters.

Peter further clarifies this picture of their sinfulness by describing their flesh as having “corrupt desires”. Instead of being controlled by the word of God or the Holy Spirit, these people follow passionate cravings (“desires”-epithumia 1939) to for things that are sinful. Therefore, these desires are tainted or stained (“corrupt”-miasmos 3394). Rather than having their garments washed white in the blood of Calvary’s Lamb, these people have their very actions and character stained with sinful lusts.

These false teachers lead others astray but are themselves led by their own sinful desires. As we examine their lifestyle and actions, we should compare how they live with what scripture clearly teaches and ask—“Are these people following God as revealed in the Bible or are they following sinful passions?” Praise God for giving His word to be a measuring stick so we can discern truth from lies.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Difference Between Roman Catholics and Christians.

Great post by Jason Smathers over on his blog on The Difference Between Roman Catholics and Christians.

1 Sola scriptura (by Scripture alone)Roman Catholics believe in their verbal tradition. Christians believe in scripture as the ultimate authority.

2 Sola fide (by faith alone)Roman Catholics believe that good works are required for justification. Christians believe that good works are done because of salvation and faith is the only requirement to be justified.

3 Sola gratia (by grace alone)Roman Catholics believe salvation can be earned. Christians believe salvation is entirely of God, a free gift that was not earned.

4 Solus Christus or Solo Christo (Christ alone)Roman Catholics pray to saints, Mary in particular, and ask them to intercede for them with God. Christians believe this is sinful idolatry. Christians believe Jesus is the only mediator between man and God. All prayer should be done in the name of Jesus and directed to God.

5 Soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone)Roman Catholics wish to glorify saints and angels along with God, they also share in God's glory when they say that they earned or contributed to salvation through works. Christians believe God gets all the glory.

You can't get it both ways. It's not by grace throiugh faith AND works. I mean, come on.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

II Peter 2:9 A God of Righteousness Judges Rightly

In my job, I have to make judgment calls from time to time. As I examine audit evidence while doing work on the audit, I have to draw conclusions based on what I find. If I find something that indicates there is a problem, I have to decide how big of a problem it is. Sometimes, because they don’t want to be written up for having a problem (who would), the auditee tries to explain the issue in a different light and convince me and those in charge of the audit that the issue is really not that bad. In the end, there is a fair amount of subjectivity involved because even when facts are known sometimes there are other mitigating circumstances. In short, there’s no way as a fallible human being that I’m always going to come to the right conclusion and make the right call about every situation. However, in the end when our Lord judges, He will judge perfectly because He has seen everything, knows everything, and knows the exact right thing to do all the time.

Verse 9 is the capstone verse of the thought Peter has been building in this chapter. False teachers will come and they will lead people astray. However, God is a God of justice and He judges sin, as we see in the punishment of Christ in His death on Calvary’s Cross. In His judging, He perfectly administers to each person what is due to them thereby demonstrating His holiness and righteousness. For instance, God “knows how to rescue the godly”. You and I can take great comfort in this. While sometimes in our legal system (or on an audit) the guilty go free and the innocent are punished, that won’t happen when God judges. As we saw in the preceding verses, God saved Moses out of the midst of a world full of sinful, evil, anti-God people who were looking for newer, better, and faster ways to sin. Also, God rescued (pulled out of harms way) Lot from the city of Sodom. God knows how to make a distinction between the people who are righteous by faith and those who seek to serve another god of their own making.

Observe with me what He rescues them from—“temptation”. The word means usually some kind of testing and we know that it is by testing that our faith is proved genuine. Peter is not saying that we are going to be saved from having to endure temptation but rather that God will not allow any temptation to overtake us completely. We can be sure that no matter how difficult our life here on earth can be sometimes, we will be ultimately saved from the temptations. We have an eternal home in heaven that our Lord had lovingly prepared for us. Just as He rescued Lot and Noah, He will also rescue us.

However, that is only one side of the coin of God’s judgment. He will not only save the righteous, but He will “keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment”. The word translated “keep” means to guard or watch over like guarding a prisoner. God sees their evil deeds and their mockery of His word. While He rescues the righteous out of their temptations, He keeps the wicked, especially in this context the false teachers, “under punishment”. This world, with all its pain, trial, and turmoil, is the best life those who reject God and Christ will ever know. They have no salvation or redemption to look forward to in the future. They can only look ahead to a “day of judgment”. Those who live for themselves and serve a god of their own making may enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season but they will ultimately suffer eternal torment in the fiery pit of hell.

God will not allow His righteousness to be offended by the sin of men who will not repent forever. There is a payday. Just as surely as God has judged in the past, He will judge sin once and for all one day soon. Those who have a righteousness which comes by faith will be saved from His wrath. Those who don’t will suffer God’s terrible wrath as the due penalty for their sins.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

If you think you've had a bad day....

...think about what these Christians had to endure, as reported by Baptist Press.

At the urging of local Muslim leaders, police in western Bangladesh have tortured a pastor and two other Christians for legally proclaiming Christ. Police blindfolded them after reaching the camp and took them to three separate rooms."I heard blood-curdling scream from other rooms," Rahman said. "I was sitting on the floor blindfolded. I could not understand what was happening around me. Later several police came to me and one of them kicked me on the back of my head, and my head ricocheted off the wall. They also kicked my waist." Ordering him to say how many people he had converted to Christianity in the Muslim-majority nation, the commander said he would kick him a like number of times. The official told him to call out to Jesus, saying he wanted to see how Jesus would save him, Rahman said.

Somehow, I think these guys have a better idea of what it means to follow Christ than Rick Warren or Joel Osteen. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Matthew 6:26-30 Our Trust Proves Our Faith

I was laid off three times in a row not long after my daughter was born. It was a demoralizing, scary time in my life that I try not to think about very much about. My daughter, on the other hand, wasn’t the least bit worried. She didn’t know what was going on and didn’t know there was a reason to be scared. From her perspective, she just assumed she was going to be taken care of—and she was. We didn’t miss a meal, we had a roof over our heads, and we had clothes. Now, I know that my wife and I went out and worked to earn the money to provide those things but ultimately we had the jobs where we worked because God watched over us. In the same way a young child trusts in a parent to provide for them, we can trust God to provide for our needs.

Jesus draws our attention to nature in explaining God and His care for us. Jesus tells His audience to take notice that birds “do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns”. For the most part, we would say that they live “hand to mouth” as the saying goes (or would that be “wing to beak”). They don’t store food like an ant or a squirrel, and they don’t cultivate crops. In fact, birds probably couldn’t do that. God did not wire them to live communally like insects and they don’t have the appendages necessary to do that kind of work. Even with this lack of ability on their part, they are still provided for by God. Now, Jesus is not saying that we should not work but rather we should just sit around and wait for God to provide for us without needing to lift even a finger on our own. This is not an excuse for laziness on our parts. In fact, reading the last part of verse 26, we see Jesus make the point that if God provides for birds, surely He will feed us because we are more important to Him than any bird.

Furthermore, Jesus points not only to the animal kingdom but also to the plant kingdom. My wife and I went to Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile, Alabama one year around Christmas for our anniversary. It was lit up with Christmas lights and decorations which made the already beautiful flowers of the garden even more spectacular. Flowers, trees, and the like are simply awe inspiring. God shows Himself to be a Master Artist in all of creation as we observe the magnificent world He created and maintains. No artist, musician, and certainly no fashion designer has created anything to rival the beauty of this world. Now, as Jesus says, in verses 28 and 29, that flowers don’t struggle to manufacture their own clothing he also points out that the most opulent king ever to live couldn’t compare in his royal trappings to the beauty of nature. Therefore, if God creates such beautify in nature that is subject to decay and destruction (“alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace”) then we can trust Him to provide us with what we need for clothing because we are infinitely more important than grass that is burned up.

Finally, I believe the middle verse (v. 27) of this passage provides us the most important reason to trust God with our needs. Worry is a fruitless activity. We accomplish nothing good by worrying. The word translated “worry” is a Greek word that means to be divided like trying to be in two places at once. Even if we worry about something, we accomplish nothing. Now, we’re not talking about taking reasonable precautions to avoid a problem like saving money for a rainy day. We talking about anxiety about things that may or may not happen—a mysterious misty phantom of the future. When you get right down to it, while there are things we can and should do to plan for the future whatever happens is out of our hands. We can’t even “add a single hour to [our life]”. We don’t have control, but our heavenly Father does. Therefore, if He provides for the birds, and clothes the plants we can trust Him to take care of us because He is in control of the universe.

If we trust God it will be demonstrated by our obedience to His word. We won’t try to live like the rest of the world constantly worried about how we’re going to eat and what we’re going to wear. We are free to live a life totally devoted to serving our Master. Praise God for His faithfulness.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Book Review: The Hole in Our Gospel

All too often, we Christians take for granted the blessings we have in this country. Even the poorest among us do pretty well when compared to the poor in some other coutries. Even now, in the worst economic conditions that have occurred in recent memory, people call in to radio shows on their Blackberry's to complain about how bad things are while they are driving their BMW's to meet their spouse for dinner at Red Lobster. I dare say that most of us don't really know what it is to suffer lack.

In essence, this is what the author of The Hole in Our Gospel is saying. If we profess to be Christians but can turn a blind eye to the suffering of impoverished people all over the world, there is a disconnect between our faith and our practice. It is not enough for us to say be warmed and well-fed, we must put feet to our faith and make it tangible.

I found the book to be encouraging in the sense that it made me realize that while I can't do everything I can do something. I can help to make a difference even it's a small one. In short, taken for what it is, this book is a challenge to all Christians to no longer look at suffering as someone else's problem but to seek ways that they too might help someone who needs it.

300th Post-Needy Children: WIll You Help?

A friend of mine from elementary school (Silverhill Elementary-Go Bulldogs!!) is adopting a child, Max, from Hati. She is adopting him from a ministry called Lashbrook Family Ministry. Below is a description of who they are and their mission:

We Are a Christian organization that is based on showing the Father’s love to a nation through serving them by meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Founded on family values, we cherish relationships: with God and with each-other. We are non-denominational and serve all people, regardless of religion, gender, and social status.

Our Mission
~ To restore the foundation of the family
~ To raise a new generation of fathers by fathering a new generation of sons
~ To care for abandoned children and place them in loving homes in the States
~ To feed and educate the children of the community both physically and spiritually at no cost to them
~ To have a church that brings the kingdom of God to a country that is 80% voodoo.

I encourage you, if you're able to consider prayerfully if God would have you or your church donate to this ministry. I know they have needs that they would appricate your help in meeting.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Between Two Worlds: Carson on Inerrancy

This a good, fairly concise, biblical description of inerrancy. Take a listen, yaw.

Between Two Worlds: Carson on Inerrancy

Posted using ShareThis

HT: Stan McCullars

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Preaching in the Old Testament

My friend Alan Knox has started a series on the use of the word "preach" in the Old Testament. He has a way of examining things that makes me think and I appreciate that. I believe you'll be encouraged by the series as well.

Check it out.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Mathematical Arguement for God's Existance

My friend Nathan W. Bingham has a link to an article presenting a mathematical arguement for the existance of God. I commend the entire article to you, but the crux of the arguement is as follows:

1-Numbers are concepts. We can symbolize them but the symbol is not the same thing as the actual number.
2-Numbers are absolute. 2+2=4 whether you are in America, Australia, or the Left Coast.
3-Numbers are eternal. The number 1 did not come into existance just because someone thought of it but rather it always existed.
4-Numbers are unchanging. 1 has been and always will be 1.
5-Numbers must exist independantly of the human mind since the human mind is not absolute, eternal, and unchanging.
6-Only God's mind is absolute, eternal, and unchanging.
7-Therefore, God exists.