Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Voice of the Lord

We can gain much knowledge from reading great men who have gone before us and have diligently studied the Scriptures and have imparted to us wisdom that they have received from the Lord. Although this is true, it does not substitute our own reading and studying of the Word of God. It is only within the last several years that I have developed an unquenchable hunger for the Word of God. When I read it, the pages seem to come alive right before my eyes! I have been reading the Psalms every morning, and I now know why Charles Spurgeon called his commentary, The Treasury of David, because the Psalms are just that, an amazing treasure that God has graciously given to mankind. Yesterday I was reading Psalm 29, and the words came alive again! I must share my insights from the Psalm.

1Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

3The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
4The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

5The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.

7The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

9The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth[c]
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, "Glory!"

10The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Notice...the voice of the Lord is powerful and full of majesty, it breaks the cedars of Lebanon, flashes forth like flames of fire, shakes the wilderness, makes the deer give birth, strips the forest bare! The Voice of the Lord is a powerful voice! It was the voice of the Lord that created everything out of nothing! It was the voice of the Lord that breathed life into the dust and formed Man! It was the voice of the Lord that commanded the waters to flood the earth! It was the voice of the Lord that established His covenant with Abraham and with David! It was the Voice of the Lord that blessed Jacob over Esau! It was the voice of the Lord that told Moses exactly what to say to Pharaoh! It was the voice of the Lord that command Moses to lift his staff and that the Red Sea would split and the Israelites would cross on dry land! It was the voice of the Lord that thundered forth on Mount Sinai and gave the Ten Commandments! It was the voice of the Lord that revealed to the virgin Mary she would conceive a Son begotten by the Holy Spirit! It was the voice of the Lord that cleansed lepers, made the lame to walk, and the blind to see! It was the voice of the Lord that called to Lazarus, saying,"Lazarus, Come forth!" It was the voice of the Lord that cried from the cross making the payment for sin, crying, "It is finished!"

Reader, was it none other than the voice of the Lord that revealed to you your sin? Was it not the voice of the Lord that called you into adoption to be called a Child of God!? Most Certainly, it was the voice of the Lord that thundered forth and called you by name into his eternal kingdom! Is the voice of the Lord any less powerful today? Some make the voice of the Lord to be pleading with men yet failing in His efforts. My friend, the voice of the Lord that breaks the cedars of Lebanon is the voice of the Lord that changes the stony heart to a heart of flesh and that powerfully and effectively calls you into the family of God! May we Ascribe to the Lord the glory that is due His name and may our praises be sweet in His ear as he sits enthroned as King forever! Be Blessed!

Monday, January 29, 2007

According to Calvinism....

In the book, Why I am not a Calvinist, written by Jerry Walls, and Joseph Dongell, Walls gives a reason why he is not a Calvinist:

For instance, according to Calvinism, it is entirely up to God who is an is not saved, and if one is not numbered among the elect, one cannot help but sin. And yet God blames sinners and punishes them for their unbelief even though they cannot act otherwise.

This is one of the most often objections to Calvinism, and because of that several things need to be understood.

1) God created Man with a Free Will. Adam was not enslaved to any particular choice. Adam was created good, because God created Him, and what God creates is good. This theme of God creating what is good is clearly seen in the creation account in Genesis. Though Adam was created good, he had the free will to do what is evil, if he chose to do it. Of course he did choose to do what God had forbidden him.
2) Man's Will is no longer completely free. Jesus told the Jews that if they were to know the truth, then the truth would see them free. The Jews objected that they had never been enslaved. Jesus then tells them that "Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin." (John 8:34). It is clear that the man who commits sin is enslaved to his sin.
3) Man sins freely. Man is not enslaved to sin because some outside force is making him sin against his will, Man sins because he wants to. He is enslaved by his own sinful desires. Ephesians 2 says that we were dead in our trespasses and sins, and we were fulfilling the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body, and the mind.
4) God is sovereign. God did not force Adam to sin, he sinned because he wanted to, God was completely able to prevent it from happening, because he knew it would happen, but he didn't. It fit in to his plan of redemption to allow it, thus even sin was a a part of God's plan, even though he did not create it, or make it happen. The Fall did not come as a surprise to God, as Open Theists would believe. God has also determined to save some; many scriptures proclaim this truth (Ephesians 1, 2, John 6, Romans 9, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, etc.)
5) God holds us accountable for our sins. To the Arminian, as Walls agrees, it seems ridiculous to say God would hold someone accountable for something they cannot do. However, they miss the fact that the sinner WANTS to sin, The sinner is enslaved by his OWN desires. God can hold sinners accountable because we sin because we want to sin. If a sinner is going to be freed from himself, something besides himself must free him.

I am so thankful that God freed me from my sinful desires. If left to myself, I would have continued living a sinful life. I would have happily skipped down the road of destruction, blinded to where I was going. I am thankful that by God's grace, he saved me from my own self. He saved me from my sin. Sin no longer controls my life, the King of Kings is Lord of my life, and I gladly give him all the glory for saving my soul! Be Blessed!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fire Extinguisher?

Some have made claims that Calvinism kills churches. They say that people who get into Calvinistic Soteriology end up losing their zeal for evangelism. Are these claims true? Does Reformed Theology end up putting out a person's fire?

I cannot speak for everyone, but I can tell you that since coming to understand the Doctrines of Grace, there is a raging inferno in my heart! During some of my time in the Pentecostal-Holiness movement, I believed and preached a graceless gospel. I thought my righteousness and perseverance was based solely in my own works. Even the concept of imputed righteousness was foreign to me. At one time I even wondered to myself, "what's so amazing about grace?"

Back then the Bible was a confusing book. There were many chapters and passages that simply had no place within my theological framework. When I saw passages that spoke of election, predestination, and perseverance; I would have to skip over them or think to myself: "that can't possibly mean what it says!"

No my friends, Calvinism doesn't put out a person's fire. It doesn't kill evangelism either! The only thing it killed was my self-righteous pride and man centered theology! Actually, coming to understand the Doctrines of Grace has was like throwing gasoline on a match! The Bible has come alive! My faith has been greatly increased! I know that God is in control of everything in the Universe! Grace is amazing!

Glory be to God in the highest!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Baptist Forefathers on Free Will

Today there is much confusion about the freedom of the human will. In much of American Evangelicalism, the will of man is almost made into an idol.

Free Will Theology is popular in some Southern Baptist circles as well, however, this conflicts with what our Baptist forefathers believed. Below is the chapter on Free Will taken from the 1689 London Baptist Confession.

Chapter 9: Of Free Will

1._____ God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. ( Matthew 17:12; James 1:14; Deuteronomy 30:19 )

2._____ Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but yet was unstable, so that he might fall from it. ( Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 3:6 )

3._____ Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. ( Romans 5:6; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:1, 5; Titus 3:3-5; John 6:44 )

4._____ When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil. ( Colossians 1:13; John 8:36; Philippians 2:13; Romans 7:15, 18, 19, 21, 23 )

5._____ This will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in the state of glory only. ( Ephesians 4:13 )

I hope and pray that someday Southern Baptists would return to their rich theological heritage!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Rhett Kelley

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Love of God

I decided to write this post for two reasons. First, Rhett just wrote that predestination was to the glory of God, and certainly it is. Second, Dave Hunt would disagree. He would say that predestination is the most vile thing, and cannot imagine a God of love predestining souls to heaven, and not others. Instead of making my own arguments as Dave Hunt does, I appeal to the scriptures. I appeal to the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesian Church.

In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Notice how Paul describes predestination in his letter. In LOVE He Predestined us. He predestined us for adoption. Would anyone object to adoption. Would anyone say that adoption is evil because a couple picks a child they want to take home to be theirs? Would anyone say that adoption is a vile thing because they do not give equal opportunity to every child at the orphanage to come home with them? No! Adoption is a loving thing. A couple choosing to love a child who was destitute of that love to begin with.
My friend, you were destitute of love when you were not a child of God. The world did not love you. But God, because of his love, he has made you alive in Christ, and predestined you to be a child of God...according to the purpose of his will...to the praise of his glorious grace!

Let us give God all the glory for his love for his people in predestining us to be children of God!

Soli Deo Gloria!

I'd guess the majority of Reformed Christians are familiar with the Latin phrase "Soli Deo Gloria." Which in English we might phrase "to God alone be the glory." I really believe this phrase is at the very heart of Reformation Theology. The men who signed the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith also seemed to understand the concept very well.

In section three, of the third chapter, of the 1689 Baptist Confession we find the following statement:

"By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice."

There's something I would like you to notice about the confession above. These Baptist forefathers saw predestination as a manifestation of God's glory! They understood that God should be praised for His grace in Salvation, as well as for His justice in the condemnation of the wicked. They saw both as being "glorious!"

Sadly, this is not the case with many leaders within the Baptist movement today. Today, truth such as is expressed above is met with outright hostility and disgust. It is usually denounced as being dishonoring to God instead of glorious and worthy of our praise.

Unlike some, I refuse to raise my voice against my Creator to judge and question Him and His decrees. I cannot define what brings glory to God based upon my flawed human sensibilities. God's ways are not my ways. Furthermore, I believe that I have no right to question God at all about any of these things! The Apostle Paul addressed this fact very well in Romans 9: 19-24.

Friends, I'll just have to disagree with some of our modern Baptist brothers, because I fully affirm this confession made by our forefathers in the 1689 Confession. Whatever God does: it is for His glory! Whatever God decrees: it is right! Whomever God has chosen to save: it is to the praise of His glorious Grace! Whomever God has chosen to leave in their sins: their condemnation is just, and it is to the praise of His glorious Justice!

No matter what: Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Amazing Word of God

Psalm 19:7-11

7The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
8the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

What a wonderful description of the word of God! Notice the characteristics of the word of God. The law is perfect, The testimony is sure, the precepts are right, the commandment is pure, the fear is clean, and the rules are true. Notice the benefits for the believer. The word revives the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, and enlightens the eyes. But look what the word promises: In keeping them, there is great reward! What an amazing promise! The Amazing Word of God is to be desired for what it is, what it does, and what it promises for the one who lives according to it! Praise God for his wonderful Word!