Monday, September 27, 2010

Why we still need to learn from Francis Schaeffer


As an undergraduate I read almost everything written by J. I. Packer, John Stott, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Francis Schaeffer. For all their discernible faults, these four men rank among the foremost spiritual giants of the twentieth century and the great moulders of classical evangelical theology, ministry and evangelism in the last sixty years.

If you know anything of their lives and ministries they also appear to be conspicuously out of step with the glitzy celebratory culture that pervades twenty first century evangelicalism.

Colin Duriez has done a remarkable job of recording the life of Schaeffer. His biography Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life has the virtues of being interesting, honest and accessible.

Francis Schaeffer was a fascinating human being; born in 1912, he was an only child and grew up in a working class home in Pennsylvania. The story of how he was brought to faith, his call to pastoral ministry, his early encounters with and love of music, art and philosophy, make for fascinating reading. I will in due course write more about the man, how he was moulded by God (including the secondary causes and relationships that shaped him), and his thought and influence.

Francis Schaeffer has a lot to teach us about true authenticity in ministry today. We have temptations that he can help us with, sub-cultural maladies that he can help us identify and avoid. There is an ugly superficiality in evangelical ministry, a grubby clamouring for recognition, a lip service paid to our usefulness to God outside of the spotlight.

Here are some of the themes that I want to explore in future posts:

Continue reading.....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Huh?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Is Truth?

by John MacArthur

One of the most profound and eternally significant questions in the Bible was posed by an unbeliever. Pilate - the man who handed Jesus over to be crucified - turned to Jesus in His final hour, and asked, "What is truth?" It was a rhetorical question, a cynical response to what Jesus had just revealed: "I have come into the world, to testify to the truth."
Two thousand years later, the whole world breathes Pilate's cynicism. Some say truth is a power play, a metanarrative constructed by the elite for the purpose of controlling the ignorant masses. To some, truth is subjective, the individual world of preference and opinion. Others believe truth is a collective judgment, the product of cultural consensus, and still others flatly deny the concept of truth altogether.
So, what is truth?
Here's a simple definition drawn from what the Bible teaches: Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of God. That is the biblical meaning of truth. Because the definition of truth flows from God, truth is theological.
Truth is also ontological - which is a fancy way of saying it is the way things really are. Reality is what it is because God declared it so and made it so. Therefore God is the author, source, determiner, governor, arbiter, ultimate standard, and final judge of all truth.
The Old Testament refers to the Almighty as the "God of truth" (Deut. 32:4; Ps. 31:5; Is. 65:16). When Jesus said of Himself, "I am...the truth" (John 14:6, emphasis added), He was thereby making a profound claim about His own deity. He was also making it clear that all truth must ultimately be defined in terms of God and His eternal glory. After all, Jesus is "the brightness of [God's] glory and the express image of His person" (Heb. 1:3). He is truth incarnate - the perfect expression of God and therefore the absolute embodiment of all that is true.

Continue reading....

Monday, September 20, 2010

The War Between Spirituality and Science Is Over

The real question posed by Mooney’s USA Today column is whether Christians possess the discernment to recognize this postmodern mode of spirituality for what it is — unbelief wearing the language of a bland faith.

There are many arenas of cultural and intellectual conflict in the world today, but one of the most controversial of these arenas has disappeared. There is now no conflict between spirituality and science. The war is over, the combatants have gone home, and lilies of peace now decorate the landscape where conflict once raged. Science and spirituality are now at total unperturbed peace.
That paragraph is meaningless, of course, which is entirely the point. Monday’s edition of USA Today features an opinion column by Chris Mooney, author of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future. Mooney sets out to argue that spirituality can serve as a bridge across the science-religion divide.

countinue reading...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Good Thing He is Good

Thursday, September 16, 2010

John MacArthur on Arminian theology

 Can you talk a little bit about Arminian theology? Is it biblical? And, if a church embraces that theology, are they saved? [Can somebody who holds an Arminian view be a Christian?”]

Answer

Yes, if you’re talking about Arminian theology. We always want to make the distinction between Armenians and Arminians. Armenians [are] a people; Arminian is a theology from Arminius. Let me just say this. This debate comes up all the time, and I like to answer the thing by saying I really don’t land, necessarily, with labels very comfortably. You know, you can be called a Calvinist or a Hyper-Calvinist or a Four-point Calvinist or…I’ve been called a Four-and-a-half-point Calvinist… One guy called me a One-point Calvinist--I don’t know how he came up with that. And people can be labeled Arminian.

I understand what they mean by that, but I, personally, try to resist those labels because those labels are loaded with different content for different people. And people love to slap a label on you and then everybody defines that label in a different way. So, I really run from those labels.

At the same time, to put it simply, the debate of Calvinism and Arminianism falls along five simple lines that we all know about called T.U.L.I.P.: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and the Perseverance of the saints--T.U.L.I.P.

John Calvin rightly interpreted the Bible to teach that man is totally depraved. What that means, is that, not every human being is as sinful as he could be or she could be, but that every human being is sinful to the point that they’re incapable of altering their condition. That is to say, total depravity means you can’t do anything to save yourself. You can’t even make a right choice. You can’t awaken your spiritual deadness. You can’t give life where there is death. You can’t come to a right conclusion on your own. Total depravity means that everyone, is by virtue of their own will and their own power and their own choices, incapable of redemption. That’s total depravity.

Arminius would say--Arminian theology, Palagian theology, as it’s also called--would say “man is capable.” That while man is, in the general sense, a sinner, he has capacities within himself to choose to be saved. That is the debate. I don’t think that’s biblical. I think we are dead in trespasses and sin, and dead people don’t make choices. Dead people can’t make themselves alive. So, I think there is a clear distinction there.

Continue reading........

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Quiz For Your Arminian Friends,

Here's an interesting quiz I came across on a friend's Facebook profile. 


by Jay Banks

Eph. 1:11 ...[W]ho [God] worketh all things after the counsel of His will.

Q.  If God works all things after the counsel of His will, how much
does He work to the will of you, me, Satan, etc.?
A. None.
B. 20%
C. 50%
D. 85%

 Is. 14:24  Jehovah of hosts hath sworn, saying , Surely, as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.
Q. How much of what He wants to come to pass, doesn’t?
A. All of His thoughts will come to pass
B. Some of His thoughts will not come to pass
C. A few of His thoughts will not come to pass
D. A lot of His thoughts will not come to pass
  
Rom. 8:29  For whom He foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many bretheren: and whom He foreordained, them He also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.
Q. How many do you think have been called, justified, or glorified that He did not first foreknow or foreordain?
A. Write in your answer: ___________________

John 10:14  I am the good shepherd; and I know my own, and mine own know me, even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.


Q. Where does this scripture say that Jesus laid down his life for the sheep and the goats
A. It doesn’t
B. It doesn’t, but I just know He meant the goats, too
 John 6:65  No man can come unto me, except it be given unto him of the Father.
Q. How many come to Jesus that were not first given to him by the Father?
A. 0
B. 5,000
C. 5,000,000
D. 10,000,000

 John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me
Q. How many that the Father gave Him will not come to Him?
A. Two
B. A couple of thousand
C. A couple of million
D. Trick question, it says they will all come unto him

 John 10:28  I [Jesus] give unto them the (true followers, or ‘sheep’) eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Q. How many sheep do you think have been snatched from either God’s or Jesus’ hands?
A. None
B. 50,000
C. 500,000
D. 1,000,000


 Rev. 13:8  And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Rev. 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Q. Considering this, and other related scripture, God having to blot out a name from the book of life would mean:
A. God makes mistakes.
B. Some have been snatched from Jesus’ hands?
C. God didn’t know that some of His sheep were really goats.
D. None of the above.
Q. Could a person whose name was written in the book of life from the foundation of the world not have become a Christian (or have saving faith in God if born before Jesus)?
A. No
B. Yes
C. This confuses me, but I’m going to believe the Bible.
D. This confuses me, and I’m going to pretend this isn’t in the Bible (be honest).

 Matt. 13  10  And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Q. Jesus himself declared that one of the reasons why He spoke in parables was that the truth might be concealed from whom it was not intended. Is this fair?
A. No.
B. Yes.
C. Who are we to question God?
D. I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that verse.


 Rom. 8:28 To them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to His purpose.
Q. How many things do not work for the good of those who love God?
A. 10% of all things
B. 40% of all things
C. 85% of all things
D. Trick question, the Bible says all things work for the good of those who love Him


 Mark 14:30 And Jesus said unto him (Peter), Verily I say unto thee, that thou, today, even this night before the cock crow twice shall deny me thrice.
Questions:
A. Could Peter not have denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice?
Answer here: ____________________________
B. Did Jesus make Peter deny him, or did Peter do it of his own free will?
Answer here: ____________________________

 Exodus 4:11 [God Himself asks the rhetorical question] Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or dumb? Who gives him his sight or makes him blind? Is it not I the Lord?
Q. Is this fair?
A. Yes.
B. No.
C. Who are we to question God?
D. I’m going to pretend this isn’t in the Bible.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Church Building in Bogor, Indonesia Re-opens – for a Day


City officials order security police to close church under cover of darkness.

The Bogor city government in West Java re-sealed the Gereja Kristen Indonesia (GKI) Yasmin Church on Aug. 28, one day after security police had removed the seal and lock.

Under cover of darkness, Bogor security police were ordered to secretly re-seal the church building at 11 p.m. the night before it was to be used for worship services.

Jayadi Damanik, a member of the GKI Yasmin legal team, said security police had removed the lock and seal after church talks with the district officer, the Bogor police chief, the head of the security police and citizens who live near the church. In those talks all parties agreed that there was no reason to question the construction and presence of the GKI Yasmin Church, he said.

The district officer and the Bogor police chief told church leaders that the original sealing of the church on April 11 was the unwarranted result of political pressure, he said.

After re-opening the church on Aug. 27, authorities placed a notice that read, “Because this Gereja Kristen Indonesia building has satisfied all of the requirements, it has a building permit, No. 645.8-372 Year 2006, and has been strengthened by the force of law according to the decision handed down by the Bandung State Court Number 41/G/2008/PTUN-BDG, which rescinded the Bogor City Government decree Number 503/208-DKTP dated Feb. 14 freezing the permit.”

But on Aug. 28 at about 4 a.m., unknown persons locked the gate of the GKI Yasmin fence and placed a banner on it that read, “Because this building is continuing to be processed under the law, it cannot be used.”


continue reading.......

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Court in India Convicts Legislator in Second Murder Case

Manoj Pradhan arrested; three more cases pending against Hindu nationalist.

A Hindu nationalist legislator was arrested yesterday after a court pronounced him guilty of playing a major role in the murder of a Christian during anti-Christian carnage in Orissa state’s Kandhamal district in August 2008.


The Fast Track Court II in Kandhamal convicted Manoj Pradhan of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the murder of a 30-year-old Christian, Bikram Nayak, who succumbed to head injuries two days after an attack by a mob in the Raikia area of Budedi village on Aug. 25, 2008.


Judge Chitta Ranjan Das sentenced Pradhan to six years of rigorous imprisonment for “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code and imposed a fine of 15,500 rupees (US$335) for setting houses ablaze.


Pradhan, who contested and won the April 2009 state assembly election from jail representing Kandhamal’s G. Udayagiri constituency, was not initially accused in the police complaint in Nayak’s murder, but his role emerged during the investigation, according to The Hindu.


One of the primary suspects in violence that followed the assassination of Hindu nationalist leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on Aug. 23, 2008, Pradhan was initially arrested in Berhampur city in neighboring Ganjam district in December 2008. The violence began a day after Saraswati’s killing when Hindu nationalist groups blamed Christians for his murder, although Maoists (extreme Marxists) claimed responsibility for it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Five Solas of the Reformation by James Montgomery Boice

1. Scripture alone. When the Reformers used the words sola Scriptura they were expressing their concern for the Bible’s authority, and what they meant is that the Bible alone is our ultimate authority—not the pope, not the church, not the traditions of the church or church councils, still less personal intimations or subjective feelings, but Scripture only. Other sources of authority may have an important role to play. Some are even established by God—such as the authority of church elders, the authority of the state, or the authority of parents over children. But Scripture alone is truly ultimate. Therefore, if any of these other authorities depart from Bible teaching, they are to be judged by the Bible and rejected.

2. Christ alone. The church of the Middle Ages spoke about Christ. A church that failed to do that could hardly claim to be Christian. But the medieval church had added many human achievements to Christ’s work, so that it was no longer possible to say that salvation was entirely by Christ and his atonement. This was the most basic of all heresies, as the Reformers rightly perceived. It was the work of God plus our own righteousness. The Reformation motto solus Christus was formed to repudiate this error. It affirmed that salvation has been accomplished once for all by the mediatorial work of the historical Jesus Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification, and any ‘gospel’ that fails to acknowledge that or denies it is a false gospel that will save no one.


3. Grace alone. The words sola gratia mean that human beings have no claim upon God. That is, God owes us nothing except just punishment for our many and very willful sins. Therefore, if he does save sinners, which he does in the case of some but not all, it is only because it pleases him to do it. Indeed, apart from this grace and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that flows from it, no one would be saved, since in our lost condition, human beings are not capable of winning, seeking out, or even cooperating with God’s grace. By insisting on ‘grace alone’ the Reformers were denying that human methods, techniques, or strategies in themselves could ever bring anyone to faith. It is grace alone expressed through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ, releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from death to spiritual life.

4. Faith alone. The Reformers never tired of saying that ‘justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.’ When put into theological shorthand the doctrine was expressed as “justification by faith alone,” the article by which the church stands or falls, according to Martin Luther. The Reformers called justification by faith Christianity’s “material principle,” because it involves the very matter or substance of what a person must understand and believe to be saved. Justification is a declaration of God based on the work of Christ. It flows from God’s grace and it comes to the individual not by anything he or she might do but by ‘faith alone’ (sola fide). We may state the full doctrine as: Justification is the act of God by which he declares sinners to be righteous because of Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.

5. Glory to God alone. Each of the great solas is summed up in the fifth Reformation motto: soli Deo gloria, meaning ‘to God alone be the glory.’ It is what the apostle Paul expressed in Romans 11:36 when he wrote, ‘to Him be the glory forever! Amen.’ These words follow naturally from the preceding words, “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (v. 36), since it is because all things really are from God, and to God, that we say, ‘to God alone be the glory.’”

–James Montgomery Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2001), pp. 65-149.

HT: Reformation Theology

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Define "Best"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Hollywood Believes Promo.

Fla. minister: Sept. 11 Quran burn still planned

GAIVILLE, Fla. – The leader of a small Florida church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy said Wednesday he was determined to go through with his plan to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11, despite pressure from the White House, religious leaders and others to call it off.

"We are still determined to do it, yes," the Rev. Terry Jones told the CBS Early Show.
Jones said he has received more than 100 death threats and has started wearing a .40-caliber pistol strapped to his hip since announcing his plan to burn the book Muslims consider the word of God and insist be treated with the utmost respect. The 58-year-old minister proclaimed in July that he would stage "International Burn-a-Quran Day."

Supporters have been mailing copies of the holy text to his Gainesville church of about 50 followers to be incinerated in a bonfire Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Kabul, took the rare step of a military leader taking a position on a domestic matter when he warned in an e-mail to The Associated Press that "images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence."


Continue reading....

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Loving Husband: A Portrait of Christ

Jodi is fed up with her husband. She refuses to cater his every need and put up with his abusive treatment any longer.“My husband has been a dominating spouse since the day I met him,” Jodi says. “Frank treats me like a slave.”
Frank complains,“I don’t understand why my wife just won’t obey me like she said in her wedding vows. I’m the man. She’s the woman. It’s her job to serve me, and I’ve got the Scripture to back it up.”
Sadly, stories like Frank’s and Jodi’s are common in our day. A controlling husband drags his wife to the Bible and rubs her nose in his favorite passage—“Wives, submit to your own husbands.” But if Frank had continued reading, the Scripture would have dealt a death-blow to his sinful attitude—“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:22).
Frank’s domineering, chauvinistic attitude is the experience of many women who feel more like their husband’s doormat than the beloved, cherished bride of Christ. Even worse—beyond the damage to husband, wife, and children—a bad marriage is a poor testimony about Christ and the church.
By God’s design, marriage presents to the world a picture of Christ’s relationship to His bride, the church. But marriages like Frank’s and Jodi’s sinfully distort that portrait into a gross misrepresentation. Is Christ a petty tyrant like Frank? Does His abuse turn the church into an embittered spouse like Jodi?
Wives, maybe you’ve never viewed your marriage from that perspective. God intends your submission to your husband as a living illustration of the church’s submission to her Lord. That is precisely the reason Paul commanded wives to submit: “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Eph. 5:23-24). So, here’s a probing question: Wives, what message are you sending to the world? What does your submission to your husband say about the church’s submission to Christ?
Husbands, your turn.
Husbands, are supposed to be a living illustration of Christ, who “loved the church and gave Himself for her” (v. 25, italics added). Notice that the stress is entirely on Christ’s sacrifice and service for the good of the church. Take a look at the passage again:

That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (vv. 26-33)

Continue reading.....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Muslims Resume Building on Christian Graveyard in Pakistan


Hard-line cleric defies local officials’ order to stop construction.  


Muslims led by a hard-line cleric on Friday (Aug. 27) resumed building on a Christian cemetery in Mandi Bhawaldin, desecrating more graves in spite of a local government order to halt construction, according to the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA).


Radical Muslim cleric Mirza Abdul Ghani had built a mosque on the Christian graveyard off New Rasool Road in Mandi Bhawaldin after allegedly occupying the land 16 years ago, when area Christians were too intimidated to object, said Salamat Zia of APMA.


“No one could object to the construction of the mosque, as it is in the constitution of Pakistan that no religious worship place could be demolished,” said Zia. “Therefore all the Christians remained silent then.”


The cleric’s alleged desecration of more of the graveyard land around the Masjid Ahle-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat mosque began three months ago, Zia said.


Continue reading.....

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Alleged Bomber of Christian Boy in Israel to Stand Trial



Hearing could determine whether Jack Teitel is transferred from mental hospital.

An Israeli man accused of planting a homemade bomb that almost killed the son of a Messianic Jewish pastor in Ariel, Israel has been declared competent to stand trial.


Jack Teitel, 37, who in November was indicted on two charges of pre-meditated murder, three charges of attempted murder and numerous weapons charges, is expected to enter a plea on Sunday (Sept. 5).


David and Leah Ortiz, parents of the teenage victim, said that the 10 months since the indictment have been difficult but their stance toward Teitel remains the same; they have forgiven him for the attack but want him to face justice before a judge and seek salvation from God.


If nothing else, they said, they want him incarcerated to keep other Messianic Jews from being attacked either by Teitel or those following his lead.


“He’s dangerous,” Leah Ortiz said. “He’s an extremely dangerous person. He’s totally unrepentant.”


Continue reading.....

Friday, September 3, 2010

This Is The Way It Ought To Be

I was impressed and glad to read the "why" of Coral Ridge's decision to change the music format at their church. To quote Pastor Tchividjian, "It was a gospel decision."


Given the amount of attention and feedback we’ve received this week with regard to removing the “traditional/contemporary” split in worship at Coral Ridge in favor of a blended format (you can read about it here), I thought it would be a good idea to do a follow-up post going into even more detail regarding why we made the decision we made. Later this week I’ll do a post answering some of the questions we’ve been asked.

First of all, this was not first and foremost a music decision. It was a gospel decision. In other words, while I certainly don’t claim to know each and every situation in each and every local church, I don’t think a local church can experience the degree of deep, rich unity that Jesus prayed for the night before he went to the cross by having a “traditional/contemporary” split in worship. I think by segregating ourselves this way we miss out on some choice blessings that Jesus intends for his one body to enjoy.

Let me tell you a story.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"How Do I Know If I'm One of God's Elect?" (Mark Kielar)