Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Swine is a Swine

What the true proverb says has happened to them: "The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire." (2Peter 2:22 ESV)

Why does a "backslider" go back into sin? Why do some who profess to know Jesus later deny that God even exists? Why after washing a hog does it run right back to the mud?

I once raised a pig to show in the County Fair and I can tell you this:

You can clean off a pig and keep it clean for a time, but leave it to it's own desires it will be right back in the mud in no time. As long as a pig remains a pig, it will do what pigs do!

The same is true with sinners...

Thankfully, when God truly saves us, He makes us new creatures!

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor 5:17 KJV)

Soli Deo Gloria!

(Found the video Here)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Covenant and Gospel

I have already gained very many insights in my few weeks here at Seminary. I do not have a favorite class, but have been intrigued with my Introduction to Old Testament Class at 7:00am. (I probably won't take a 7am class again though!)

Nonetheless, The concept of the covenant in the Old Testament has become a particular interest of mine lately. In Genesis chapter 6 we see the Noahic Covenant. (Genesis 6:18). We see the theme of covenantal blessing in Gen. 9:1, "And God Blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. In verses 9:9 &11, God says that he will establish his covenant with Noah. Also, the sign of the Noahic Covenant is the rainbow.

Before I continue, notice the parallel between Genesis 9:1 and 1:28, "And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the eath and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Do you see the striking parallel. Here, although the word covenant is not used, is covenantal blessing and command. I call this the Adamic Covenant. God has been a covenant making and keeping God even before the fall of man.

In chapters 15 and 17 we see the Abrahamic Covenant, that God will make his covenant with Abram and that he will be a father to many nations, thus, his name is changed to Abraham meaning, A Father to the nations. Notice that in the first two covenants, being fruitful and multipying was given as a command. Notice in this covenant that God is going to make Abraham fruitful.

Genesis 17:6-8, "I will make you exceedingly fruitful and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you through their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possesion, and I will be their God."

In verse 26, God confirms to Isaac, the covenant he made with Abraham. "Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. I will multiply your offspring ad the stars of the heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Gen. 26: 3-5. Also, you can also see the Lord doing the same thing in Jacob's dream of the ladder in chapter 28.

This post is entitled covenant and gospel, and is not meant to be a mere history lesson of God's dealings with Israel. Turn to Galatians 3:7-14.

Galatians 3:7-9

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the
Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you
shall all the nations be blessed." So then, those who are of faith are blessed
along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Notice that it says the gospel was preached to Abraham, and the gospel is the language used in the establishment of the Abrahamic Covenant. This we can clearly see that the gospel is the fulfillment of the covenant that God had began in creation.

When we speak of the gospel, we cannot reduce it simply to the "death, burial, and resurrection" because in this text, the gospel is spoken of as the covenant made with Abraham that goes back to the Adamic Covenant, before the fall.

However this covenant has its ultimate fulfillment in Christ. When a covenant is established, there is always blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. It is of no surprise that Galatians 3:10-14 uses the terminolgy of cursed and blessed. Humanity was cursed because of their continued disobedience to the covenant established by Yahweh. Yet in Galatians 3:10-14, We see that Christ took the place of humanity so that humanity could receive the covenental blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Galatians 3:10-14
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them."Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

In this passage we see that Christ became a curse for us. Why? verse 14 tells us, so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might recieve the promised Spirit through faith. Christ became a curse for us so that we may partake in the covenantal blessings.

Friends, when we speak of the gospel, may our minds be opened to all that it entails. The gospel cannot be reduced to mere facts of the passion narrative. No, the gospel is rooted in God's covenantal relationship throughout scripture that finds its ultimate fulfilment in Christ. In proclaiming the gospel, we must show that God has been initiating a covenant relationship since the creation of man, and still is issuing that covenant relationship to people today in and through the atonement of Jesus Christ!

The Apologetics Study Bible

A New Study Bible is coming out in only a matter of days. It is called the Apologetics Study Bible. This Bible feautures articles and study notes from many men who all Christians in the 21st century have been influenced by either directly or inderectly. This study Bible has contributions from R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where I attend. Also, this study bible features seminary professors, Russell D. Moore, dean of the school of theology, Chad Owen Brand, Thomas Schreiner, and Bruce Ware. Also, contributing to this study Bible are Ravi Zacharias, Ergun Caner, Phil Johnson, Danny Akin, Eugene Merrill, Craig Blomberg, Lee Stroebel, Josh McDowell, Norman Geisler, Hank Hannegraff and many more. This Study Bible belongs on every christian's shelf. This study Bible has a series of articles which include the titles:

“Can we still believe in demons today?”
“What is apologetics?”
“How can modern medicine relate to the Old Testament?”
“Is the New Testament Trustworthy?”
“ Are the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses compatible with the Bible?”
“The Trinity: is it possible that God can be both one and three?”
“Does science support the Bible?”
“Can a Christian have assurance of salvation?”
“How can Jesus’ death bring forgiveness?”
“Does the Bible teach there is a purgatory?”
“Is Mormonism compatible with the Bible?”
“Is God a male?”
“Intellectuals who found God”
“What about those who have never heard about Christ?”
“How should a Christian relate to the New Age movement?”
“Are the days of Genesis to be interpreted literally?”
“ How should a Christian understand the age of the earth controversy?”
“What does the Bible say about abortion?”
“What does the Bible say about euthanasia?”

I believe this Bible will be a wonderful contribution to evangelicalism and will be a wonderful tool as we seek to proclaim the gospel to a lost and dying world! Be Blessed!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Perseverance: Owen, Augustine, and the Church Fathers

It was recently stated in the Speak-Easy, by our Arminian friend "Kangeroodort," that Augustine taught that true believers could lose their salvation, but the Elect would not; and that Calvin was "the first to teach inevitable perseverance of all believers." This statement came with no documentation, so I didn't know if it was fact or something the he found stated on Dan Corner's Pelagian landfill.

Well, I did some research and I think I found what Kangeroodort was referring to...

There was indeed a difference between the teachings of the Reformers and Augustine on the subject of Perseverance, but it wasn't as much of a difference as some might want us to believe. Concerning the differences and similarities between Augustine and John Owen (who would probably represent Calvin's views quite well), Henry Knapp has written,

"the difference... is a matter of semantics and/or a function of Augustine's sacramental/ecclesiastical views. On issues of soteriology and salvation, their understanding of perseverance is very similar."

For those interested in an in depth review of the similarities and differences between Owen and Augustine, I would suggest reading the entirety of Knapp's treatment of the issue from a work published in the Westminster Theological Journal available on pdf by clicking here.

For those interested in getting things straight from Augustine, I'd suggest his work entitled On the Gift of Perseverance.

If you read these two works for yourself, I think you may also see that there's not much of a difference either.

One other thing that Kangeroodort stated was this:

"Calvin's doctrine of inevitable perseverance was just as novel to the church in the 16th century as practicing yoga is today. Not to mention that only gnostics had taught inevitable perseverance prior to Calvin."

Again, he does not cite a reference back this assertion. Again, I decided to do a little digging to see what was out there. I found that John Gill, in his book, The Cause of God and Truth, cites numerous examples of folks, prior to Augustine even, who seemed to have some understanding of Perseverance. For those without access to the book I will cite each example Gill gives and link it to a web page where you can check it out for yourself:

Gill's Introduction to the Chapter.
  1. Clement of Rome (69 A.D.)
  2. Barnabas (70 A.D.)
  3. Ignatius (110 A.D.)
  4. Irenaeus (180 A.D.)
  5. The letter of the Martyrs in France (180 A.D.)
  6. Clement of Alexandria (190 A.D.)
  7. Tertullian (200 A.D.)
  8. Origen (230 A.D.)
  9. Cyprian (250 A.D.)
  10. Lactantius (320 A.D.)
  11. Eusebius Caesariensis (330 A.D.)
  12. Chronomatius (335 A.D.)
  13. Athanasius (350 A.D)
  14. Macarius Aegyptus (350 A.D.)
  15. Hilary of Poictiers (350 A.D.)
  16. Basilius Caesariensis (370 A.D.)
  17. Gregory of Nazianzum (350 A.D.)
  18. Gregory of Nyssa (380 A.D.)
  19. Hilary, the Deacon (380 A.D.)
  20. Ambrose, of Milain (380 A.D.)
  21. John Chrysostom (390 A.D.)
  22. Jerome (390 A.D.)

Kangeroodort's last remark concerning the issue was this challenge:

"...if you can produce something from Augustine that teaches that all true believers will persevere to the end, then I will concede that inevitable perseverance began with Augustine, which was still novel at the time."

I'm not sure if any of the preceding information meets this challenge, but, I've placed it before everyone and I hope it helps.

In closing, I have to conclude that no matter what Augustine, Calvin, Owen, Gill, or any of the Church Fathers listed above may have taught, our Lord Jesus Christ himself unambiguously taught that not one of His Elect sheep would perish -and there ends the matter.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37 ESV

Soli Deo Gloria!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Seven Characteristics of False Teachers

Paraphrased from Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices by Thomas Brooks, maybe my favorite Puritan.

1. They are men-pleasers. They preach more to flatter and say things they know folks will like, than to convict or admonish.

2. They seem to have a special hatred for the best and holiest of God's ambassadors. Whether speaking of holy men of the past or the present, these pestilent irritants love to heap on the scorn and dirt.

3. They pronounce, as the oracles of God, upon the various notions and innovations in their own heads and hearts. They'd rather go on about what they think than about what God has said.

4. Not only do they strain out the gnats, so to speak, passing over lightly all the weighty matters of both law and gospel; but they focus on those little gnats which are really of no or little value to anyone. How long are your shirt sleeves? How short is your hair? When will the Rapture be?

5. In the same way that a harlot paints her face and perfumes her bed, the better to cover her filth, false teachers very often cover the rot in their teaching with flowery speech, and the lofty articulation of arguments resting on purely human wisdom. Or, I can think of one particular guy who tries to hide it behind a blurring, blazing-fast litany of Scripture references which he sprinkles into the middle of every sentence so quickly that no one could possibly keep track. (My, how Biblical he is!)

6. They are happier to win men to their own opinions than to win souls to Christ. Always remember, when you're counting your converts and notching your guns, there is no more prolific evangelist than the devil. However well you're doing, the devil makes even more proselytes than you do. False teachers are like the guy who glories in winning the High School Chess Tournament, and then fails to realize that, despite the praises all around him, he's still a geek. (It ought to be about changing lives, and not proving how correct you are.)

7. In Brooks's own words here: "False teachers make merchandise of their followers." Send in your seed gift. You have to sow to reap a harvest. As soon as the coin clinks in the chest, a soul flies up to heavenly rest. (You've heard 'em all.)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

1689 London Baptist Confession: The Holy Scriptures

Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures

1._____ The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.( 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Isaiah 8:20; Luke 16:29, 31; Ephesians 2:20; Romans 1:19-21; Romans 2:14,15; Psalms 19:1-3; Hebrews 1:1; Proverbs 22:19-21; Romans 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19,20 )

2._____Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these:

OF THE OLD TESTAMENT: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, I Chronicles, II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomen, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations,Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, The Acts of the Apostles, Paul's Epistle to the Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, I Timothy, II Timothy, To Titus, To Philemon, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Epistle of James, The first and second Epistles of Peter, The first, second, and third Epistles of John, The Epistle of Jude, The Revelation
All of which are given by the inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life. ( 2 Timothy 3:16)

3._____ The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon or rule of the Scripture, and, therefore, are of no authority to the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings.( Luke 24:27, 44; Romans 3:2 )

4._____ The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.( 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 John 5:9 )

5._____We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.( John 16:13,14; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; 1 John 2:20, 27)

6._____The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.( 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Galatians 1:8,9; John 6:45; 1 Corinthians 2:9-12; 1 Corinthians 11:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 14:26,40)

7._____All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.( 2 Peter 3:16; Psalms 19:7; Psalms 119:130)

8._____The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.( Romans 3:2; Isaiah 8:20; Acts 15:15; John 5:39; 1 Corinthians 14:6, 9, 11, 12, 24, 28; Colossians 3:16 )

9._____The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.( 2 Peter 1:20, 21; Acts 15:15, 16)

10.____The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved.( Matthew 22:29, 31, 32; Ephesians 2:20; Acts 28:23)


Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Heart of a Calvinist

What is the heartbeat of a true Calvinist? What I mean is, what is the utmost desire of the person who holds to reformed theology? Perhaps a better question would be, what should be the heartbeat of a Calvinist?

I believe the heartbeat of many Calvinists is simply to win a theological debate with an Arminian. While claiming to hold to Pauline Theology (which I believe does speak very Calvinistically), these people fail to see the heartbeat of the apostle Paul.

One of the favorite proof text of the Calvinist is Romans 9. We like to point out that God chose Jacob before Jacob was even born. (Romans 9:11). God did this so that his purpose of election might continue, not because of works, but because of his call. We like to point that out.

But how many Calvinism verses Arminianism debates begin with Romans 9:1-3:

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

In this passage we see the heartbeat of the apostle Paul is the salvation of his people, his relatives, the Jews. This is echoed in the very beginning of the next chapter as well. This passion is the springboard for his discourse on election.

Friends, if you claim to believe the doctrines of Paul, but do not share the heartbeat of the apostle Paul, then do not call yourself a Calvinist. If you simply just want to win a debate, then you need to examine yourself, because the heart of a Calvinist is a zeal for evangelism and a passion for the salvation of lost souls.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Our Response to Lordship

Seeking to be "always reforming" (Semper Reformundum) we ought to pay attention to the way we present the Gospel, for many strange creatures have come into the land, calling themselves evangelists and making many innovations. What we say when we present the Good News of salvation in Christ is important. The words we use matter, because words mean things.

One of AW Tozer's most famous sermons, for instance, is all about pointing out how unbiblical it is to speak of "accepting Jesus."

I would like to follow his lead now and point out that it is also unbiblical to say things like, "You need to make Jesus the Lord of your life." (Or any of its slight variations.)

"November 29th, 1989, yes, that's the day I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior."

Not Biblical, I tell you.

And why not? I'll tell you why not.

Because it's God the Father who made Jesus the Lord of lords, the Lord of all the earth. You don't have anything to do with that.

The Lordship of Jesus Christ ("the King") is not waiting around for your permission. Jesus doesn't need your belief or your acquiescence or your acknowledgment in order to be the Lord.

Check this out, for instance:

Psalms 2:6 "As for me [God says], I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill."

Matthew 28:19, "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'"

Acts 2:36, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ..."

These are just three examples of many, many places where the Scripture teaches us that God has made Jesus Christ the Lord, and given Him all authority.

Who made Jesus the Lord of all things? God did.

Did He ask your permission to do that? No, He didn't.

Does He need you to believe that Jesus is Lord before He really is? Not at all. Not in the least.

This is the truth: Jesus is already the Lord of your life. I don't care if you're a Christian or not. I don't care what you believe: God has given Jesus the Lordship over you, in minute detail, regardless of what you happen to think about it. Regardless of whether that makes you happy or not.

So, the Lordship of Jesus is really not the issue. He is the Lord. He is the King, regardless.

The only issue is this one: What sort of subject will you be? Will you be a loyal subject and servant, doing your best to keep your Lord's commands; or will you be a rebel within the boundaries of His great dominion, opposing His will at every turn and thereby marking yourself out for His kingly wrath?

We can't make or deny the Lordship of Christ. God has already given that to him. All we do is acknowledge that truth, and repent of our former seditious state. We stop rebelling. We start obeying, and His first command to us is to believe in His salvation and trust in Him with all our hearts.