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      Straightforward Makes the Best Runner.
      (C.H. Spurgeon)

      Thursday, January 31, 2008


      "Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi."
      (2 Samuel 18:23)


      Running is not everything, there is much in the way which we select: a swift foot over hill and down dale will not keep pace with a slower traveller upon level ground. How is it with my spiritual journey, am I labouring up the hill of my own works and down into the ravines of my own humiliations and resolutions, or do I run by the plain way of "Believe and live"? How blessed is it to wait upon the Lord by faith! The soul runs without weariness, and walks without fainting, in the way of believing. Christ Jesus is the way of life, and He is a plain way, a pleasant way, a way suitable for the tottering feet and feeble knees of trembling sinners: am I found in this way, or am I hunting after another track such as priestcraft or metaphysics may promise me? I read of the way of holiness, that the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein: have I been delivered from proud reason and been brought as a little child to rest in Jesus' love and blood? If so, by God's grace I shall outrun the strongest runner who chooses any other path. This truth I may remember to my profit in my daily cares and needs. It will be my wisest course to go at once to my God, and not to wander in a roundabout manner to this friend and that. He knows my wants and can relieve them, to whom should I repair but to Himself by the direct appeal of prayer, and the plain argument of the promise. "Straightforward makes the best runner." I will not parlay with the slaves, but hasten to their master.


      In reading this passage, it strikes me that if men vie with each other in common matt
      ers, and one outruns the other, I ought to be in solemn earnestness so to run that I may obtain. Lord, help me to gird up the loins of my mind, and may I press forward towards the mark for the prize of my high calling of God in Christ Jesus.









      END OF POST.

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      Christianity is Not Synonymous with Compromise. [Part Two]
      (John MacArthur, Paul Washer, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

      Monday, January 28, 2008

      John MacArthur:

      No one would argue that we live in a world of compromise. In fact, compromise is often touted as a virtue; it’s diplomatic and reasonable. On the other hand, those who hold fast their integrity are viewed as difficult, hard-nosed, and unconcerned about the common good. You can understand how the world thinks that way, but shouldn’t Christians be different?

      Unfortunately, too many believers worry about what people will think, say, or do if they take a stand on godly principles. So instead, they compromise their convictions or maintain them under the cover of darkness. If you’re one of those faint-hearted Christians, or if you know people who are, I’d like to encourage you to take a lesson from the life of one man, a man with a backbone.

      The Test of Integrity

      Following his first invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem in 606 B. C., King Nebuchadnezzar took hostage dozens of quality Jewish youths (who were probably in their teenage years) to help ensure the success of his long-range plans for world dominance. One of those youths was especially destined for greatness, and today his name is synonymous with integrity and an uncompromising spirit. His name is Daniel.


      "If you’ve fallen into a pattern of compromise, confess it as sin to the Lord.
      "


      It wasn’t captivity that tested Daniel’s integrity, it was privilege. When the king ordered his chief official, Ashpenaz, to choose from among the Israelites, he sought youths with certain qualities. They were to be without defect, good looking, “showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge,” with the ability to serve in the king’s court (Dan. 1:4). They were to receive privileged instruction for privileged positions.

      The king ordered Ashpenaz “to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans” including mathematics, astronomy, natural history, agriculture, and architecture (Dan. 1:4). They were to eat the king’s food and drink the king’s wine, and after three years, they were to have a guaranteed position in the king’s personal service. I doubt the other exiles were getting along as well.

      Now you say, “Privilege, education, good food and drink, one of the most sought after jobs in the kingdom—who could have a problem with that?” Daniel.

      Daniel didn’t argue with the education, the training program, and the future in the king’s court. He didn’t even balk when Ashpenaz named him Belteshazzar, after a Chaldean god. Daniel drew the line where the Scripture did—he wouldn’t eat the king’s food or drink the king’s drink.

      “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank” (Dan. 1:8). Those enticing morsels and vintage wines—perks of the king’s service—had been ritually dedicated to Babylon’s false gods. What’s more, eating food prepared to Babylonian standards was likely to put the young exiles in violation of God’s laws concerning unclean foods (cf. Lev. 7:23-27; Lev. 11).

      Daniel wanted no participation in any pagan feast, even to the slightest degree. That would be a form of idolatry that would provoke the wrath of a jealous God (Ex. 20:4-5). His decision, though immediately dealing with food and wine, was ultimately a decision about who he worshiped.

      The Results of Integrity

      Daniel’s decision constitutes a basic part of genuine integrity and the uncompromising life: you must draw lines where Scripture draws them. If the truth of God’s Word opposes the world’s wisdom on a certain issue, you must align yourself with God’s Word.

      The more you read about and analyze the life of Daniel, the more clearly his personal integrity comes into focus. His uncompromising lifestyle stands in sharp contrast to the way many believers live out their convictions. Many Christians tend to waver and offer ambiguous explanations for abstaining from certain secular activities. But that wasn’t how Daniel approached the opportunity to state his convictions.

      Unashamed Boldness – If Daniel wanted to abstain from eating and drinking what the king provided, he could have gone about it a number of ways. He could have thrown it away when no one was looking and sneaked other food from the kitchen; he could have made arrangements with the kitchen staff; he could have started a vegetable garden out back. But Daniel, having made up his mind, chose the route of open boldness. “He sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself” (Dan. 1:8). He was respectful, but unbending. That’s called courage.

      Unearthly Protection – Daniel was in a foreign country, at the very heart of the empire that had just destroyed his homeland. And yet, “God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials” (Dan. 1:9). He proved the truth of Proverbs 16:7: “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Don’t compromise and forfeit God’s protection. Stand firm in obedience to God’s Word and trust Him—He’ll take care of you.

      Unhindered Persistence – In his boldness, Daniel didn’t hesitate to go right to the top. But when Ashpenaz feared the forfeiture of his head for granting the special menu, Daniel was undeterred. He appealed to a lower-ranking overseer who monitored him–presumably a man who would not be as afraid of Nebuchadnezzar since he didn’t report directly to the king. Daniel showed another vital trait of integrity: persistence in doing what is right.

      Unblemished Faith – When Daniel sought permission to go on a water and vegetable diet, he demonstrated unwavering faith in God. He said, “Please test your servants for ten days … then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see” (Dan. 1:12-13). Daniel did what was right, and trusted God for the results, no matter what. In this case, God caused Daniel to look healthier than all the other youths (Dan. 1:15).

      If it had turned out that Daniel’s appearance failed the overseer’s scrutiny, I believe he would have trusted God without wavering, maintained an uncompromising lifestyle, and humbly accepted the consequences. I also believe that all true Christians will show the same fortitude in the midst of trials.

      If you’ve fallen into a pattern of compromise, confess it as sin to the Lord. Repent and look at Daniel as an example of unwavering integrity. Then seek the Lord’s help to live like he did. You must resolutely set your heart as Daniel did to fear the Lord, and the Lord alone. Borrow a little backbone from him, and you’ll live your life with integrity before God.

      - John MacArthur
      HT: Today’s Post Adapted from The Power of Integrity (Crossway, 1997).



      "You're Mean-Spirited, Proud, and Critical, Paul!"




      "It Insults the Memory of the Apostles to Suggest That Even Crossed Their Minds..."



      (Here is part one of this article series.)


      END OF POST.

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      Joel Osteen: Christless "Christianity"
      (White Horse Inn)

      Friday, January 25, 2008



      White Horse Inn


      (If you would like the embed code for thist, just let me know.)
      EMAIL


      END OF POST.

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      Don't Quench the Spirit.
      (A.W. Pink)

      Wednesday, January 16, 2008


      Quench not the Spirit.
      (1Th 5:19)

      Wherever little honor is done to the Spirit, there is grave cause to suspect the genuineness of any profession of Christianity. Against this, it may he replied, Such charges as the above no longer hold good. Would to God they did not, but they do. While it be true that during the past two generations much has been written and spoken on the person of the Spirit, yet, for the most part, it has been of a sadly inadequate and erroneous character. Much dross has been mingled with the gold. A fearful amount of unscriptural nonsense and fanaticism has marred the testimony. Furthermore, it cannot be denied that it is no longer generally recognized that supernatural agency is imperatively required in order for the redemptive work of Christ to be applied to sinners. Rather do actions show it is now widely held that if unregenerate souls are instructed in the letter of Scripture their own willpower is sufficient to enable them to "decide for Christ."

      In the great majority of cases, professing Christians are too puffed up by a sense of what they suppose they are doing for God, to earnestly study what God has promised to do for and in His people. They are so occupied with their fleshly efforts to "win souls for Christ" that they feel not their own deep need of the Spirit’s anointing. The leaders of "Christian" (?) enterprise are so concerned in multiplying "Christian workers" that quantity, not quality, is the main consideration. How few today recognize that if the number of "missionaries" on the foreign field were increased twenty-fold the next year, that that, of itself, would not ensure the genuine salvation of one additional heathen? Even though every new missionary were "sound in the faith" and preached only "the Truth," that would not add one iota of spiritual power to the missionary forces, without the Holy Spirit’s unction and blessing! The same principle holds good everywhere. If the orthodox seminaries and the much-advertised Bible institutes turned out 100 times more men than they are now doing, the churches would not be one bit better off than they are, unless God vouchsafed a fresh outpouring of His Spirit. In like manner, no Sunday School is strengthened by the mere multiplication of its teachers.

      o my readers, face the solemn fact that the greatest lack of all in Christendom today is the absence of the Holy Spirit’s power and blessing. Review the activities of the past 30 years. Millions of dollars have been freely devoted to the support of professed Christian enterprises. Bible institutes and schools have turned out "trained workers" by the thousands. Bible conferences have sprung up on every side like mushrooms. Countless booklets and tracts have been printed and circulated. Time and labors have been given by an almost incalculable number of "personal workers." And with what results? Has the standard of personal piety advanced? Are the churches less worldly? Are their members more Christ-like in their daily walk? Is there more godliness in the home? Are the children more obedient and respectful? Is the Sabbath Day being increasingly sanctified and kept holy? Has the standard of honesty in business been raised?

      The Need

      Those blest with any spiritual discernment can return but one answer to the above questions. In spite of all the huge sums of money that have been spent, in spite of all the labors which has been put forth, in spite of all the new workers that have been added to the old ones, the spirituality of Christendom is at a far lower ebb today than it was 30 years ago. Numbers of professing Christians have increased, fleshly activities have multiplied, but spiritual power has waned. Why? Because there is a grieved and quenched Spirit in our midst. While His blessing is withheld there can be no improvement. What is needed today is for the saints to get down on their faces before God, cry unto Him in the name of Christ to so work again, that what has grieved His Spirit may be put away, and the channel of blessing once more be opened.

      Until the Holy Spirit is again given His rightful place in our hearts, thoughts, and activities, there can be no improvement. Until it be recognized that we are entirely dependent upon His operations for all spiritual blessing, the root of the trouble cannot be reached. Until it be recognized that it is "‘Not by might, (of trained workers), nor by power (of intellectual argument or persuasive appeal), but by MY SPIRIT,’ saith the Lord" (Zech. 4:6), there will be no deliverance from that fleshly zeal which is not according to knowledge, and which is now paralyzing Christendom. Until the Holy Spirit is honored, sought, and counted upon, the present spiritual drought must continue. May it please our gracious God to give the writer messages and prepare the hearts of our readers to receive that which will be to His glory, the furtherance of His cause upon earth, and the good of His dear people. Brethren, pray for us.


      - A. W. Pink
      (from the book The Holy Spirit)

      END OF POST.

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      Chiristianity is Not Synonymous with Compromise.
      (J. Gresham Machen and John MacArthur)

      Recently, Jim from Oldtruth.com posted an article about a "pastor" named Tim Stevens who decided he will add words to the Bible to make it more "relevant" to the unbelief of the day. What happens when the Scriptures aren't our authority, but instead, we become the authority of the Scriptures? Well, unbelief ensues. There is so much compromise prevalent today largely because of the sin of idolatry. There are those who profess to be "pastors" who are concerned about public opinion rather than the people of God (Paul, Peter, John, etc.). It's blatant idolatry and compromise.

      Today, I came across this letter by the late John Gresham Machen of Princeton and later of the Westminster Seminary. Even though this was written nearly 100 years ago, like all the other writings of his I've read, it speaks directly to the issue at hand and is just as relative today as it was at the time he wrote it. This letter in particular addresses the issue of placing ourselves over the authority of Scripture. Nothing but chaos ensues when a person does so, hence modern "evangelicalism". It's bad enough when an individual decides to do this, but it's even worse when these same people are encouraging others who are a bit naive to do so, as well. Here's the part of the letter I choose to emphasize:


      THE PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL REVIEW, Vol. 13, 1915, Page 351

      ...The Bible is not a ladder; it is a foundation. It is buttressed, indeed, by experience; if you have the present Christ, then you know that the Bible account is true. But if the Bible were false, your faith would go. You cannot, therefore, be indifferent to Bible criticism. Let us not deceive ourselves. The Bible is at the foundation of the Church. Undermine that foundation, and the Church will fall. It will fall, and great will be the fall of it.

      Two conceptions of Christianity are struggling for the ascendancy today; the question that we have been discussing is part of a still larger problem. The Bible against the modern preacher! Is Christianity a means to an end, or an end in itself, an improvement of the world, or the creation of a new world? Is sin a necessary stage in the development of humanity, or a yawning chasm in the very structure of the universe? Is the world's good sufficient to overcome the world's evil, or is this world lost in sin? Is communion with God a help toward the betterment of humanity, or itself the one great ultimate goal of human life? Is God identified with the world, or separated from it by the infinite abyss of sin? Modern culture is here in conflict with the Bible. The Church is in perplexity. She is trying to compromise. She is saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. And rapidly she is losing her power. The time has come when she must choose. God grant she may choose aright! God grant she may decide for the Bible! The Bible is despised—to the Jews a stumbling block, to the Greeks foolishnes—but the Bible is right. God is not a name for the totality of things, but an awful, mysterious, holy Person, not a "present God", in the modern sense, not a God who is with us by necessity, and has nothing to offer us but what we have already, but a God who from the heaven of His awful holiness has of His own free grace had pity on our bondage, and sent His Son to deliver us from the present evil world and receive us into the glorious freedom of communion with Himself.

      Princeton.

      J. Gresham Machen



      Compromise is certainly an issue now just as it has been since the Church began. Look to the warning Paul gives throughout Scripture of false teachings, "those who will rise up from among you speaking perverse things", and so forth if you need to see examples of this being a true statement. Compromise is not synonymous with Christianity. The number of people who may have insinuated to you that it is in your youth VBS or Sunday School is irrelevant to the issue. Christianity is not a religion of compromise. Again, if you need proof this statement being true, read about five chapters of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, and your doubts should be at rest.


      John MacArthur is another who recognizes the problem of compromise as he has dealt with the issue for decades now. His ministry, Grace to You, recently released a series he did on The Uncompromising Life. You can download these podcasts in the archive at Travis Carden's site:



      END OF POST.

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      Does Christianity Even Exist Without Jesus Christ?
      (B.B. Warfield and The White Horse Inn)

      Tuesday, January 15, 2008


      ...Why should the definition of the essence of Christianity be so vexed? Why should there be so much controversy over the application of the name? There surely ought to be little difficulty in determining what Christianity is. We need not disturb ourselves greatly about the debate which has been somewhat vigorously prosecuted as to whether its definition should be derived from its New Testament presentation or from its whole historical manifestation. Impure as the development of Christianity has been, imperfect as has always been its manifestation, corrupt as has often been its expression, it has always presented itself to the world, as a whole, substantially under one unvarying form. Unquestionably, Christianity is a redemptive religion, having as its fundamental presupposition the fact of sin, felt both as guilt and as pollution, and offering as its central good, from which all other goods, proceed, salvation from sin through an historical expiation wrought by the God-man Jesus Christ. The essence of Christianity has always been to its adherents the sinner's experience of reconciliation with God through the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ. According to the Synoptic tradition, Jesus Himself represented Himself as having come to seek and to save that which is lost, and described His salvation as a ransoming of many by the gift of His life, embodying this conception, moreover, in the ritual act which He commanded His disciples to perform in remembrance of Him. Certainly His first followers with single-hearted unanimity proclaimed the great fact of redemption in the blood of Christ as the heart of their Gospel: to them Jesus is the propitiation for sin, a sacrificial lamb without blemish, and all their message is summed up in the simple formula of "Jesus and Him as crucified." Nor has the church He founded ever drifted away from this fundamental point of view, as witness the central place of the mass in the worship of its elder branches, and the formative place of justification by faith in Protestant life. No doubt parties have from time to time arisen who have wished to construe Christianity otherwise. But they have always occupied a place on the periphery of the Christian movement, and have never constituted its main stream.

      We can well understand that one swirling aside in an eddy and yet wishing to think of himself as traveling with the current - or even perhaps as breaking for it a new and better channel - should attempt to define Christianity so widely or so vaguely as to make it embrace him also. The attempt has never been and can never be successful. He is a Christian, in the sense of the founders of the Christian religion, and in the sense of its whole historical manifestation as a world-phenomenon, who, conscious of his sin, and smitten by a sense of the wrath of God impending over him, turns in faith to Jesus Christ as the propitiation for his sins, through whose blood and righteousness he may be made acceptable to God and be received into the number of those admitted to communion with Him. If we demand the right to call ourselves Christians because it is by the teaching of Jesus that we have learned to know God as He really is, or because it is by his example that we have been led into a life of faithful trust in God, or because it is by the inspiration of His "inner life," dimly discerned through the obscuring legends which have grown up about Him, that we are quickened to a like religious hope and aspiration, - we are entering claims that have never been recognized as valid by the main current of Christianity. Christianity as a world-movement is the body of those who have been redeemed from their sins by the blood of Jesus Christ dying for them on the cross. The cross is its symbol; and in its heart sounds like great jubilation of the Apocalypse: "Unto Him that loves us and loosed us from our sins by his blood; and He made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen."

      A Christianity without redemption - redemption in the blood of Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for sin - is nothing less than a contradiction in terms. Precisely what Christianity means is redemption in the blood of Jesus. No one need wonder therefore that, when redemption is no longer sought and found in Jesus, men should begin to ask whether there remains any real necessity for Jesus. We may fairly contend that the germ of Christless Christianity is present wherever a proper doctrine of redemption has fallen away or even has only been permitted to pass out of sight. Of course in the meantime some other function than proper redemption may be found for Jesus. We are not insensible, for example, of the importance of the function assigned to Him in, say, the Ritschlian theology; and we quite agree when Troeltsch urges that to the proper Ritschlians, therefor, Jesus is indispensable. But we cannot close our eyes to the artificiality of the Ritschlian construction, and we cannot put away the impression that the indispensable role assigned to Jesus, as it rests rather on inherited reverence for His person than on the logic of the system, is, in a word, only an interim-measure. Why should an influence from Jesus be needed to awake man to faith-knowledge? And how could such a creative influence be exerted by a personality so slightly known, or an "inner life" so vaguely discerned through the mists of time? Herrmann, for example, expressly denies that there is any direct communion o the believer with the exalted Christ; everything is mediated through the "community." All this, therefore, will easily fall away and the actual influence which begets faith be assigned, as Otto Ritschl, for instance, does assign it, to the "community," while to Jesus there is left little more than the role of first Christian. And so soon as Jesus becomes merely the first Christian, He at once, as Macintosh justly urges, ceases to be indispensable for subsequent Christians. Why should not they, as we as He, rise out of the void? He may be the first of the series: that is an accident. Being the first of the series, He may have set an example which works powerfully through all subsequent time; He may even have left precepts and directions which smooth the path of all who would adventure the Christian walk with Him; above all He may have by His "inner life" of perfect rust in His Father become an inspiration which throbs down all the years. He may, in other words, be exceedingly useful. But indispensable? To be indispensable He must be something more than a teacher, an example, an inspiration. He must be a creator. And to be a creator, He must be and do something far more than the first Christian, living in the realization of the fatherhood of God. Whenever Jesus is reduced in His person or work to the level of His "followers," His indispensableness is already in principle subverted and the seeds of a Christless Christianity are planted.





      - B.B. Warfield
      (from his article "Christless Christianity")







      Have you read this article and think that Warfield's remarks are speaking directly to what is occurring today in professing "evangelicalism"? Does this concern you? You're not alone. The radio/podcast show The White Horse Inn has been speaking about the problem of a Christianity done in the name of Christ but without Jesus Christ Himself being the focus for many years now. In fact, they decided to dedicate this entire year to the theme, "Christless Christianity: The American Captivity of the Church." The first two shows are under here for you to stream, but you will need to go to White Horse Inn by the link below to download them and/or subscribe to the podcast. Don't fret and think that you're the only one who is recognizing this. This problem isn't going unnoticed and unaddressed.


      Christless Christianity (Jan. 6, 2008)


      Crossless Christianity (Jan. 13, 2008)





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      "To the Praise of the Glory of My 'Free' Will." ...?

      Saturday, January 12, 2008


      One of the most prominent debates in all of Christendom for say the last 2,000 years or so has been the issue of man’s “free” will. Pelagius and Augustine disputed this as early as the late 300’s, but many think that this is really about the first time this issue was ever addressed. Now it’s no secret that the Puritans regarded “free” will to be an idol. Take John Owen and Augustus Toplady for example. I must admit that I agree with them, but I’ve always tried to make a case for it (as opponents of the doctrine say) using only the words of the Bible. I am all for Sola Scriptura, but I am not for Scripture out of context. There's a big difference. I presume the greats of the past have used the following argument, and the only reason I'm not aware of it is because of my ignorance. Nonetheless, I’m not aware of this particular argument being used so if you know of some writer that has addressed the subject using these two verses, please let me know so I can read further.

      I’ve heard many convincing cases against “free” will like how many verses there are that speak about what man is not able to do in his unregenerate state, but none that say what he is able to. That’s pretty telling right there. Earlier today, though, I was reading through Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians and something caught my attention. Paul wrote:

      “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a stewardship of the gospel is committed unto me.”
      (1Co 9:16-17)

      Now, at first this may seem like a strong case for a man having a “free” will to choose to follow God if he pleases or not. It may even look trivial, but look a bit closer and read this verse… (here’s the key)… in context. When did Paul write this letter to the Corinthians? Was it before or after his conversion? It was obviously after. Well, what was his will to do before his conversion? Anyone who honestly deals with facts will admit that before Jesus Christ knocked him off his horse, he was killing Christians. In fact, he was doing exactly what his will permitted him to do. His will was sinful, and because he chose according to what his desires and will wanted him to do, he killed Christians with his will; not against it. Take into account what exactly Paul was doing on that Damascus road. (Acts 9) He was following his will that was entirely free to kill Christians as he pleased. Note that was his will. Now, note what he says in his first epistle to the Corinthians: “if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will,” It seems his will changed. He now speaks of a different will when he says, “against my will” (which is also why I believe Romans 7 was written as a believer, but that’s something to address at another time.) If it were true that he had this will his entire life and was killing Christians all the while saying, “Ah, this is against my will.”, then he would not have said in his epistle to the Philippians:

      “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has reasons he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but rubbish, that I may win Christ,
      (Php 3:4-8)

      Certainly unregenerate Paul counted killing Christians to be gain to him because he considered “persecuting the church” to be an attribute then, but post-conversion he “counted them loss for Christ.” Why would a man in one sense count all of those things that Paul mentions in Php 3:4-6 gain, but later to be loss? Why would a man that is acting according to what his nature will allow him to choose prior conversion speak of doing certain things post conversion to be “against his will”? It’s simple. His will was not free to do what was pleasing to God, but rather pleasing to himself. The issue of “free” will is a myth. The will is free only to choose what a person’s nature will allow it to. Paul’s sinful nature only allowed him to persecute Christians and have no remorse. Paul’s post-conversion spiritual nature allowed him to say, “Oh, I count all that but loss for the very sake of the one whose people I have persecuted!”

      “Free” will is a myth, and it is nothing more than an egocentric way to say in so many words, “God saved me because of my ‘goodness’.” It’s why Paul the Apostle could kill those who preached Christ according to his will prior to Christ’s intervention and say that not preaching Christ would be “against his will” post intervention. It’s also why he could say: “To the praise of the glory of his (God’s) grace, in which he (God) has made us (objects of mercy) accepted in the beloved (Christ).” (Eph 1:6) and didn’t say, “To the praise of the glory of my ‘free’ will decision to follow Christ and stop persecuting the Church.” It’s also why the writer of Matthew makes it perfectly clear that one is “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Joh 1:13)


      After the first clip that deals with being God centered, here is a three part clip where Mark Kielar explains the history of the doctrine of ‘free’ will, what exactly the human will is, and contrasts it with God’s Sovereign grace which He is free to give as he pleases. As it is written, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Php 2:13) Note that it is not written, “It is you who works in God both to do and to will of your good pleasure.”


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      Christian Life in Contrast with Pagan Corruption
      (Philip Schaff and White Horse Inn)

      Friday, January 11, 2008


      I was reading Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church (highly recommended, by the way) last night and came across this section in which Schaff talks about the pagan corruption of the second
      century and how the true church lived in direct contrast to it. As I was reading, I couldn't help but think how many in the present day professing church have allowed for pagan activities to be incorporated in their "evangelism outreach". I hear often the excuse, "Well, Jesus ate with sinners..." and that's true, but he didn't sin with with them. Schaff here speaks in the body of this section (of which I've omitted a large portion) of the pagan activities found in culture at the time including barbarianism, the murderous games in the coliseum, etc. Now given, I haven't yet heard of a non-seeker-sensitive "church" having duels to the death in order to draw in the crowds, but I have heard and even been in attendance of several who adopt and partake in the culture's paganism in hopes to "meet the 'seeker' at their level". When these "pastors" are being judged by the Creator, do they really think that God's going to wink at their compromise? Read the following by Schaff and note how different true Christianity is by contrasting it with the pagan corruption and sensuality of any time from about 2,000 years ago. Note that public opinion did not utter a dissenting voice then either, nor will it ever. I believe the point made by the following is obvious to anyone who honestly deals with facts.



      § 95. The Church and Public Amusements.

      Christianity is anything but sanctimonious gloominess and misanthropic austerity. It is the fountain of true joy, and of that peace which "passeth all understanding." But this joy wells up from the consciousness of pardon and of fellowship with God, is inseparable from holy earnestness, and has no concord with worldly frivolity and sensual amusement, which carry the sting of a bad conscience, and beget only disgust and bitter remorse. "What is more blessed," asks Tertullian, "than reconciliation with God our Father and Lord; than the revelation of the truth, the knowledge of error; than the forgiveness of so great past misdeeds? Is there a greater joy than the disgust with earthly pleasure, than contempt for the whole world, than true freedom, than an unstained conscience, than contentment in life and fearlessness in death?"


      Contrast with this the popular amusements of the heathen: the theatre, the circus, and the arena. They were originally connected with the festivals of the gods, but had long lost their religious character and degenerated into nurseries of vice. The theatre, once a school of public morals in the best days of Greece, when Aeschylos and Sophocles furnished the plays, had since the time of Augustus room only for low comedies and unnatural tragedies, with splendid pageantry, frivolous music, and licentious dances. Tertullian represents it as the temple of Venus and Bacchus, who are close allies as patrons of lust and drunkenness. The circus was devoted to horse and chariot races, hunts of wild beasts, military displays and athletic games, and attracted immense multitudes. "The impatient crowd," says the historian of declining Rome "rushed at the dawn of day to secure their places, and there were many who passed a sleepless and anxious night in the adjacent porticos. From the morning to the evening careless of the sun or of the rain, the spectators, who sometimes amounted to the number of four hundred thousand, remained in eager attention; their eyes fixed on the horses and charioteers, their minds agitated with hope and fear for the success of the colors which they espoused; and the happiness of Rome appeared to hang on the event of a race. The same immoderate ardor inspired their clamors and their applause as often as they were entertained with the hunting of wild beasts and the various modes of theatrical representation."...


      (Note: Here's the bio of a band this "church" chose to bring in as the opener. Note that although the lead singer decided to "clean up his act", there's no mention of God, Jesus, or the Holy Ghost in any of this, and this is who "churches" are choosing to represent them.)


      The theatrical passion was not confined to Rome, it spread throughout the provinces. Every considerable city had an amphitheatre, and that was the most imposing building, as may be seen to this day in the ruins at Pompeii, Capua, Puteoli, Verona, Nismes, Autun (Augustodunum), and other places.

      Public opinion favored these demoralizing amusements almost without a dissenting voice. Even such a noble heathen as Cicero commended them as excellent schools of courage and contempt of death. Epictetus alludes to them with indifference. Seneca is the only Roman author who, in one of his latest writings, condemned the bloody spectacles from the standpoint of humanity, but without effect. Paganism had no proper conception of the sanctity of human life; and even the Stoic philosophy, while it might disapprove of bloody games as brutal and inhuman, did not condemn them as the sin of murder.

      To this gigantic evil the Christian church opposed an inexorable Puritanic rigor in the interest of virtue and humanity. No compromise was possible with such shocking public immorality. Nothing would do but to flee from it and to warn against it. The theatrical spectacles were included in "the pomp of the devil," which Christians renounced at their baptism. They were forbidden, on pain of excommunication, to attend them. It sometimes happened that converts, who were overpowered by their old habits and visited the theatre, either relapsed into heathenism, or fell for a long time into a state of deep dejection. Tatianus calls the spectacles terrible feasts, in which the soul feeds on human flesh and blood. Tertullian attacked them without mercy, even before he joined the rigorous Montanists. He reminds the catechumens, who were about to consecrate themselves to the service of God, that "the condition of faith and the laws of Christian discipline forbid, among other sins of the world, the pleasures of the public shows." They excite, he says, all sorts of wild and impure passions, anger, fury, and lust; while the spirit of Christianity is a spirit of meekness, peace, and purity." What a man should not say he should not hear. All licentious speech, nay, every idle word is condemned by God. The things which defile a man in going out of his mouth, defile him also when they go in at his eyes and ears. The true wrestlings of the Christian are to overcome unchastity by chastity, perfidy by faithfulness, cruelty by compassion and charity." Tertullian refutes the arguments with which loose Christians would plead for those fascinating amusements; their appeals to the silence of the Scriptures, or even to the dancing of David before the ark, and to Paul’s comparison of the Christian life with the Grecian games. He winds up with a picture of the fast approaching day of judgment, to which we should look forward. He inclined strongly to the extreme view, that all art is a species of fiction and falsehood, and inconsistent with Christian truthfulness. In two other treatises he warned the Christian women against all display of dress, in which the heathen women shone in temples, theatres, and public places. Visit not such places, says he to them, and appear in public only for earnest reasons. The handmaids of God must distinguish themselves even outwardly from the handmaids of Satan, and set the latter a good example of simplicity, decorum, and chastity.

      The opposition of the Church had, of course, at first only a moral effect, but in the fourth century it began to affect legislation, and succeeded at last in banishing at least the bloody gladiatorial games from the civilized world (with the single exception of Spain and the South American countries, which still disgrace themselves by bull-fights). Constantine, even as late as 313, committed a great multitude of defeated barbarians to the wild beasts for the amusement of the people, and was highly applauded for this generous act by a heathen orator; but after the Council of Nicaea, in 325, he issued the first prohibition of those bloody spectacles in times of peace, and kept them out of Constantinople. "There is scarcely," says a liberal historian of moral progress, "any other single reform so important in the moral history of mankind as the suppression of the gladiatorial shows, and this feat must be almost exclusively ascribed to the Christian church. When we remember how extremely few of the best and greatest men of the Roman world had absolutely condemned the games of the amphitheatre, it is impossible to regard, without the deepest admiration, the unwavering and uncompromising consistency of the patristic denunciations."


      - Philip Schaff
      (From The History of the Christian Church (Vol. 2, Sect. 95))
















      The White Horse Inn's theme this year is Christless Christianity: The American Captivity of the Church. They started this year off with the first show which you can listen to here:



      You can download this show and/or subscribe to their podcast through links on their website here:



      END OF POST.

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      It is Pitiable Cowardice to Try to Overcome Fear by Ignoring Facts
      (J. Gresham Machen)

      Wednesday, January 9, 2008

      "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him, which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).

      These words were not spoken by Jonathan Edwards. They were not spoken by Cotton Mather. They were not spoken by Calvin, or Augustine, or by Paul. But these words were spoken by Jesus.

      And when put together with the many other words like them in the Gospels, they demonstrate the utter falsity of the picture of Jesus which is being constructed in recent years. The other day, in one of the most popular religious books of the day, The Reconstruction of Religion, by Ellwood, I came upon the amazing assertion that Jesus concerned Himself but little with the thought of a life after death. In the presence of such assertions any student of history may well stand aghast. It maybe that we do not make much of the doctrine of a future life, but the question whether Jesus did so is not a matter of taste but an historical question which can be answered only on the basis of an examination of the sources of historical information, which we call the Gospels. And if you want to answer the question, I recommend that you do what I have done, and simply go through a Gospel harmony, noting the passages where Jesus speaks of blessedness and woe in the future life. You may be surprised at the result; certainly you will be surprised if you have been affected in the slightest degree by the misrepresentation of Jesus which suffuses the religious literature of our time. You will discover that the thought not only of heaven but also the thought of hell runs all through the teaching of Jesus. It appears in all four of the Gospels; it appears in the sources, supposed to underlie the Gospels, which have been reconstructed, rightly or wrongly, by modem criticism. It is not an element which can be removed by any critical process, but simply suffuses the whole of Jesus' teaching and Jesus' life.

      It runs through the most characteristic parables of Jesus — the solemn parables of the r
      ich man and Lazarus; the unrighteous steward; the pounds; the talents; the wheat and the tares; the evil servant; the marriage of the King's Son; the ten virgins. It is equally prominent in the rest of Jesus' teaching. The judgment scene of the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew is only the culmination of what is found everywhere in the Gospels. "These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." There is absolutely nothing peculiar about this passage amid the sayings of Jesus. If there ever was a religious teacher who could not be appealed to in support of a religion of this world, if there ever was a teacher who viewed the world under the aspect of eternity, it is Jesus of Nazareth.


      These passages and a great mass of other passages like them are embedded everywhere in the Gospel tradition. So far as I know, even the most radical criticism has not tried to remov
      e this element in Jesus' teaching. But it is not merely the amount of Jesus' teaching about the future life which is impressive; what is even more impressive is the character of it. It does not appear as an excrescence in the Gospels, as something which might be removed and yet leave the rest of the teaching intact. If this element were removed, what would be left? Certainly not the gospel itself, certainly not the good news of Jesus' saving work; for that is concerned with these high issues of eternal life and death. But not even the ethical teaching of Jesus would be left. There can be no greater mistake than to suppose that Jesus ever separated theology from ethics, or that if you remove His theology — His beliefs about God and judgment, future woe for the wicked and future blessedness for the good — you can leave His ethical teaching intact. On the contrary, the stupendous earnestness of Jesus' ethics is rooted in the constant thought of the judgment seat of God. "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee to enter into life having one eye rather than having two eyes to be cast into the gehenna of fire." These words are characteristic of all Jesus' teaching; the stupendous earnestness of His commands is intimately connected with the alternative of eternal weal or woe.

      That alternative is used by Jesus to rouse men to fear. "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him, which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Luke records a similar saying of Jesus: "But I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him." There are those who tell us that fear ought to be banished from religion; we ought, it is said, no more to hold before men's eyes the fear of hell; fear, it is said, is an ignoble thing. Those who speak in this way certainly have no right to appeal to Jesus; for Jesus
      certainly did employ, and insistently, the motive of fear. If you eschew altogether that motive in religion, you are in striking contradiction to Jesus. Here, as at many other points, a choice must be made between the real Jesus and much that falsely bears His name today. But which is right? Is Jesus right, or are those right who put out of their minds the fear of hell? Is fear altogether an ignoble thing? Is a man necessarily degraded by being afraid?

      I think, my friends, that it depends altogether upon that of which one is afraid. The words of our text, with the solemn inculcation of fear, are also a ringing denunciation of fear: the "Fear him" is balanced by "Fear not." The fear of God is here made a way of overcoming the fear of man. And the heroic centuries of Christian history have provided abundant testimony to its efficaciousness. With the fear of God before their eyes, the heroes of the faith have boldly stood before kings and governors and said, "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me,
      Amen."

      It is certainly an ignoble thing to be afraid of bonds and death at the hands of men; it is certainly an ignoble thing to fear those who use power to suppress the right. Even the fear of God might be degrading. It all depends upon what manner of Being you hold God to be. If you think that God is altogether such an one as yourself, your fear of Him will be a degrading thing. If you think of Him as a capricious tyrant, envious of the creatures He has made, you will never rise above the groveling fears of Caliban. But it is very different when you stand in the presence of the source of all the moral order of the universe; it is very different when God comes walking in the garden and you are without excuse; it is very different when you think of that dread day when puny deceptions will fall off and you stand defenceless before the righteous judgment throne. It is very different when not the sins of other people but your sins are being judged. Can we really, my friends, come before the judgment seat of God and stand fearlessly upon our rights? Can we really repeat, with
      Henley, the well-known words: "Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul," or this: "It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul"?

      Is this the way to overcome fear? Surely not. We can repeat such words only by the disguised cowardice of ignoring facts. As a matter of fact, our soul is not unconquerable; we are not masters of our fate or captains of our soul. Many a man has contemplated some foul deed at first with horror, and said, "Am I a dog that I should do this thing?" And then has come the easy descent into the pit, the gradual weakening of the moral fiber, so that what seemed horrible
      yesterday seems excusable today; until at last, at some sad hour, with the memory of one's horror of sin still in the mind, a man awakes to the realization that he is already wallowing in the mire. Such is the dreadful hardening that comes from sin. Even in this life we are not masters of our fate; we are of ourselves certainly not captains of our bodies, and we are of ourselves, I fear, not even captains of our souls.

      It is pitiable cowardice to try to overcome fear by ignoring facts. We do not become masters of our fate by saying that we are. And such blatancy of pride, futile as it is, is not even noble
      in its futility. It would be noble to rebel against a capricious tyrant, but it is not noble to rebel against the moral law of God.

      Are we then forever subject to fear? Is there nought, for us sinners, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation? Jesus came to tell us No! He came to deliver us from fear. He did not do so by concealing facts; He painted no false picture of a complacent God who should make a compact with sin; He encouraged no flattering illusions about the power of man. Jesus did not leave the realm of divine justice as it was, and establish in opposition to it a realm of love. But He introduced unity into the world by His redeeming work. He died not to abolish but to satisfy divine justice and reconcile us to God. In the days of His flesh He pointed forward to that act; He invited the confidence of man by the promise of what was to come. In our days we look back to what has already been done; our joy is in
      salvation already attained; our boasting is in the Cross.

      Even the Christian must fear God. But it is another kind of fear. It is a fear rather of what might have been than of what is; it is a fear of what would come were we not in Christ. Without such fear there can be no true love; for love of the Saviour is proportioned to one's horror of that from which man has been saved. And how strong are the lives that are suffused with such a love! They are lives brave, not because the realities of life have been ignored, but because they have first been faced — lives that are founded upon the solid foundation of God's grace. May such lives be ours!

      Perfect love casteth out fear. But if it be our love which casteth out fear, our love is only a response to the loving act of God. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." There is the culmination and the transformation of fear. "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men," says Jesus, "him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven."


      - J. Gresham Machen



      END OF POST.

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      Theology Talk: Jim McClarty and Jeff Young of the GCA
      on "Is Calvinism Dangerous?"

      Philip at Reformed Voices recently posted this 5 part series on refuting the straw men people usually make against Calvinists and is gracious enough to send the code here for me to link to it. I confess that I just started listening to this today, but as of 30 minutes into it, I believe it will be well worth the time needed to listen to all of it so I wanted to share it with you all here. Some people are trying to falsely state that Calvinism is "something new and dangerous", but the brief part I've heard of these messages gives a good introduction to the history of Calvinism and debunks those claims and shows that it is actually at the heart of what the Baptist and Presbyterian traditions are founded on.

      UPDATE: I've listened to almost three of the episodes now and it is wonderful. I highly recommend it.

      Philip wrote:

      In this audio series, Jim McClarty and Jeff Young of Grace Christian Assembly begin a very thorough and precise biblical defense of Calvinism as they respond to an anti-Calvinist message that had been preached in a nearby baptist church.
      There are a total of (5) 1 hour long segments in this series of talks responding to the other pastor's message. If you have questions about reformed theology (Calvinism) or are stumped by passages that would seem to point against it, I would highly recommend you check out all 5 hours of these talks as Jim and Jeff clear up the common misconceptions about Calvinism while giving a careful apologetic for it.

      mp3 download

      part 1

      part 2

      part 3

      part 4

      part 5



      YouTube Player settings: The audio is sliced in 10 minute segments and is set to play in order right after another, no need to search for the next segment or click on anything after first pressing play. Enjoy!


      HT: Reformed Voices

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      Well, They Can't Both Be Right...
      (Charles Hodge)

      Tuesday, January 8, 2008



      Protestants object to tradition as part of the
      rule of faith, because it is not adapted to that
      purpose. A rule of faith to the people must be
      something which they can apply; a standard by
      which they can judge. But this unwritten revelation
      is not contained in any one volume accessible to
      the people, and intelligible by them. It is
      scattered through the ecclesiastical records of
      eighteen centuries. It is absolutely impossible for
      the people to learn what it teaches. How can they
      tell whether the Church in all ages has taught
      the doctrine of transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the Mass, or
      any other popish doctrine. They must take all such doctrines
      upon trust, i.e., on the faith of the extant Church. But this is to
      deny that to them tradition is a rule of faith. They are required to
      believe, on the peril of their souls, doctrines, the pretended evidence
      of which it is impossible for them to ascertain or appreciate.

      Romanists argue that such is the obscurity of the Scriptures, that
      not only the people, but the Church itself needs the aid of tradition
      in order to their being properly understood. But if the Bible, a
      comparatively plain book, in one portable volume, needs to be thus
      explained, What is to explain the hundreds of folios in which these
      traditions are recorded? Surely a guide to the interpretation of the
      latter must be far more needed than one for the Scriptures.

      Tradition destroys the Authority of the Scriptures.

      Making tradition a part of the rule of faith subverts the authority
      of the Scriptures. This follows as a natural and unavoidable
      consequence. If there be two standards of doctrine of equal authority,
      the one the explanatory, and infallible interpreter of the other, it is
      of necessity the interpretation which determines the faith of the
      people. Instead, therefore, of our faith resting on the testimony of
      God as recorded in his Word, it rests on what poor, fallible, often
      fanciful, prejudiced, benighted men, tell us is the meaning of that
      word. Man and his authority take the place of God. As this is the
      logical consequence of making tradition a rule of faith, so it is an
      historical fact that the Scriptures have been made of no account
      wherever the authority of tradition has been admitted. Our Lord said,
      that the Scribes and Pharisees made the word of God of no effect by
      their traditions; that they taught for doctrines the commandments of
      men. This is no less historically true of the Church of Rome. A great
      mass of doctrines, rites, ordinances, and institutions, of which the
      Scriptures know nothing, has been imposed on the reason, conscience,
      and life of the people. The Roman Catholic religion of our day, with
      its hierarchy, ritual, image and saint worship; with its absolutions,
      indulgences, and its despotic power over the conscience and the life of
      the individual, is as little like the religion of the New Testament, as
      the present religion of the Hindus with its myriad of deities, its
      cruelties, and abominations, is like the simple religion of their
      ancient Vedas. In both cases similar causes have produced similar
      effects. In both there has been a provision for giving divine authority
      to the rapidly accumulating errors and corruptions of succeeding ages.

      Tradition teaches error, and therefore cannot be divinely controlled
      so as to be a rule of faith. The issue is between Scripture and
      tradition. Both cannot be true. The one contradicts the other. One or
      the other must be given up. Of this it least no true Protestant has any
      doubt. All the doctrines peculiar to Romanism, and for which Romanists
      plead the authority of Scripture, Protestants believe to be
      anti-scriptural; and therefore they need no other evidence to prove
      that tradition is not to be trusted either in matters of faith or
      practice.


      - Charles Hodge
      (From "Systematic Theology")

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      True Definitions: One of the Believer's Greatest Allies
      (J. Gresham Machen)




      Religion, it is held, is an ineffable experi-
      ence; the intellectual expression of it can be symbolical
      merely; the most various opinions in the religious
      sphere are compatible with a fundamental unity of life ;
      theology may vary and yet religion may remain the
      same.

      Obviously this temper of mind is hostile to precise
      definitions. Indeed nothing makes a man more unpop-
      ular in the controversies of the present day than an
      insistence upon definition of terms. Anything, it
      seems, may be forgiven more readily than that. Men
      discourse very eloquently today upon such subjects as
      God, religion, Christianity, atonement, redemption,
      faith; but are greatly incensed when they are asked to
      tell in simple language what they mean by these terms.
      They do not like to have the flow of their eloquence
      checked by so vulgar a thing as a definition. And so
      they will probably be incensed by the question which
      forms the title of these lectures; in the midst of elo-
      quent celebrations of faith usually faith contrasted
      with knowledge it seems disconcerting to be asked
      what faith is.

      This anti-intellectual tendency in the modern world
      is no trifling thing; it has its roots deep in the entire
      philosophical development of modern times. ... Thus the
      relinquishment of theology in the interests
      of non-doctrinal religion really involves the relinquish-
      ment of Christianity in the interests of a skepticism than
      which a more complete could scarcely be conceived. But
      another contrast has an equally baleful effect upon the
      life of the present day. It is the contrast between
      knowledge and faith; and the consideration of that con-
      trast takes us into the heart of our present subject. That
      contrast, as we shall see, ignores an essential element in
      faith; and what is called faith after the substraction of
      that element is not faith at all. As a matter of fact all
      true faith involves an intellectual element; all faith in-
      volves knowledge and issues in knowledge.

      The exhibition of that fact will form a considerable
      part of the discussion that follows. It will not, indeed,
      form all of it; since the discussion will not be merely
      polemic; but after all the only way to get a clear idea
      of what a thing is, is to place it in contrast with what
      it is not; all definition involves exclusion. We shall
      endeavor, therefore, by comparison of opposing views,
      as well as by exhibition of our own, to arrive at an
      answer to the question, "What is Faith?" If that
      question were rightly answered, the Church, we believe,
      would soon emerge from its present perplexities and
      would go forth with a new joy to the conquest of the
      world.

      There are those who shrink from a consideration of
      these great questions of principle; there are those who
      decry controversy, and believe that the Church should
      return to its former policy of politely ignoring or taking
      for granted the central things of the Christian faith.
      But with such persons I, for my part, cannot possibly
      bring myself to agree. The period of apparent har-
      mony in which the Church in America found itself
      a few years ago was, I believe, a period of the deadliest
      peril; loyalty to Church organizations was being substi-
      tuted for loyalty to Christ; Church leaders who never
      even mentioned the centre of the gospel in their preach-
      ing were in undisputed charge of the resources of the
      Church; at Jboard meetings or in the councils of the
      Church, it was considered bad form even to mention,
      at least in any definite and intelligible way, the Cross of
      Christ. A polite paganism, in other words, with reli-
      ance upon human resources, was being quietly and peace-
      fully substituted for the heroism of devotion to the
      gospel.

      In the face of such a condition, there were some men
      whose hearts were touched; the Lord Jesus had died for
      them upon the cross, and the least they could do, they
      thought, was to be faithful to Him; they could not
      continue to support, by their gifts and by their efforts,
      anything that was hostile to His gospel; and they were
      compelled, therefore, in the face of all opposition, to
      raise the question what it is that the Church is in the
      world to do.

      God grant that question may never be silenced until
      it is answered aright 1 Let us not fear the opposition
      of men; every great movement in the Church from Paul
      down to modern times has been criticized on the ground
      that it promoted censoriousness and intolerance and dis-
      puting. Of course the gospel of Christ, in a world of
      sin and doubt, will cause disputing; and if it does not
      cause disputing and arouse bitter opposition, that is a
      fairly sure sign that it is not being faithfully pro-
      claimed. As for me, I believe that a great opportunity
      has been opened to Christian people by the "contro-
      versy" that is so much decried. Conventions have been
      broken down; men are trying to penetrate beneath pious
      words to the thing that these words designate; it is
      becoming increasingly necessary for a man to choose
      whether he will stand with Christ or against Him. Such
      a condition, I for my part believe, has been brought
      about by the Spirit of God; already there has been gen-
      uine spiritual advance. It has been signally manifested
      at the institution which I have the honor to serve. The
      morale of our theological student body during the past
      years had been becoming rather low; there was marked
      indifference to the central things of the faith; and re-
      ligious experience was of the most superficial kind. But
      during the academic year, 1924-1925, there has been
      something like an awakening. Youth has begun to think
      for itself; the evil of compromising associations has
      been discovered; Christian heroism in the face of opposi-
      tion has come again to its rights; a new interest has been
      aroused in the historical and philosophical questions that underly the Christian religion; true and independent convictions have been formed. Controversy, in other words, has resulted in a striking intellectual and spiritual advance. Some of us discern in all this the work of the Spirit of God. And God grant that His fire be not quenched! God save us from any smoothing over of these questions in the interests of a hollow pleasantness; God grant that great questions of principle may never rest until they are settled right! It is out of such times of questioning that great revivals come. God grant that it may be so today! Controversy of the right sort is good; for out of such controversy,
      as Church history and Scripture alike teach, there
      comes the salvation of souls.

      It is with such an ultimate aim that we consider the
      question, "What is Faith?" A more "practical" ques-
      tion could hardly be conceived. The preacher says:
      "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be
      saved." But how can a man possibly act on that
      suggestion, unless he knows what it is to believe. It
      was at that point that the "doctrinal" preaching of a
      former generation was far more practical than the "prac-
      tical" preaching of the present day. I shall never forget
      the pastor of the church in which I grew up. He was
      a good preacher in many ways, but his most marked
      characteristic was the plainness and definiteness with
      which he told the people what a man should do to be
      saved. The preachers of the present time allude to the
      importance of becoming a Christian, but they seldom
      seem to make the matter the subject of express exposi-
      tion ; they leave the people with a vague impression to
      the effect that being a Christian is a good thing, but this
      impression is difficult to translate into action because def-
      inite directions are absent. These preachers speak about
      faith, but they do not tell what faith is.

      It is to help in some small way to supply this lack
      that the present little book has been written. If the
      way of salvation is faith, it does seem to be highly im-
      portant to tell people who want to be saved just what
      faith means. If a preacher cannot do that, he can
      hardly be a true evangelist. ...

      Such clearness, however, is, unfortunately, in many
      quarters conspicuous by its absence; there are many who
      by a sort of spiritual indolence or at least timorousness
      seek to conceal the issue both from themselves and from
      others. It is evident that they have a sentimental at-
      tachment to Jesus; it is evident that they love Him;
      why then should they try to decide whether such
      attachment is or is not what is designated by the
      New Testament and by the historic Church as "faith"?
      "Surely," men say, "it is better to let sleeping dogs
      He; surely it is better not to mar the peace of the
      Church by too careful an effort at definition of terms.
      If those who are called 'Liberals' in the Church will
      only consent to employ traditional language, if they
      will only avoid offending friend as well as foe by the
      unpardonable ecclesiastical sin of plainness of speech,
      all will be well, and the work of the Church can go
      satisfactorily on as though there were no division of
      opinion at all."

      Many are the ways in which such a policy is com-
      mended to our favor; plausible indeed are the methods
      by which Satan seeks to commend an untruth; often the
      Tempter speaks through the lips of sincere and good
      men. "Let us alone," some devout pastors say, "we
      are preaching the gospel; we are bringing men and wo-
      men into the. Church; we have no time for doctrinal
      controversy; let us above all have peace." Or else it is
      the greatness and beneficence of the work of the organ-
      ized Church which catches the imagination and inspires
      the cry of "peace and work." "Let us sink our doc-
      trinal differences," it is urged, "and go on with our
      work; let us quit defending Christianity and proceed to
      propagate it; whatever be our theological differences let
      us conquer the world for Christ."

      Plausible words these are, and uttered sometimes
      no doubt, by truly Christian men. For such men we
      have full sympathy; their eyes are closed; they have no
      inkling of the facts; they have no notion how serious is
      the issue that faces the Church. But for us, and for all
      who are aware of what is really going on, the policy of
      "peace and work," the policy of concealment and pallia-
      tion, would be the deadliest of sins. The Church is
      placed before a serious choice ; it must decide whether it
      will merely try to trust God as Jesus trusted Him, or
      whether it will continue to put its trust in Jesus Him-
      self. Upon that choice depends the question which of
      two mutually exclusive religions is to be maintained.
      One of the two is the redemptive religion known as
      Christianity; the other is a religion of optimistic confi-
      dence in human nature, which at almost every conceiv-
      able point is the reverse of Christian belief. We must
      decide which of the two we shall choose. But above
      all things let us choose with our eyes open; and when
      we have chosen let us put our whole souls into the
      propagation of what we believe. If Christ is the object
      of faith, as He is held by the New Testament to be, then
      let us proclaim Him not only in our pulpits but by all
      our activity in the Church. There is nothing more un-
      reasonable than to preach the gospel with our lips and
      then combat the gospel through the funds that we con-
      tribute to agencies and boards or through the votes that
      we cast in Church councils and courts.

      It is the encouragement of such inconsistency that
      places the most serious ethical stain upon Modernism
      in evangelical churches today. It is not a stain which
      appears merely in weaknesses and inconsistencies of in-
      dividual men for such failings we have the greatest
      possible sympathy, being keenly conscious of worse
      moral failures in ourselves than can be found in other
      men but it is a stain that is inherent in the settled
      policy of a great party in the Church. Concealment of
      the issue, the attempt to slur over a mighty change as
      though full continuity were being preserved, the double
      use of traditional language, the acceptance on false pre-
      tences of the support of old-fashioned evangelical men
      and women who have no inkling of what is really being
      done with their contributions or with their votes these
      are things that would convince us, even prior to his-
      torical or theological investigation^ that there is some-
      thing radically wrong with the Modernist movement
      of the present day. "By their fruits ye shall know
      them," said our Lord, and judged by that ethical stan-
      dard the present movement will not stand the test.
      There are, indeed, exceptions to the particular fault
      upon which we are now insisting,...
      for which we have the very highest possible respect
      but the chief outward successes of Modernism
      have been won by the wrong methods of which we
      speak. A true Reformation would be characterized by
      just what is missing in the Modernism of the present
      day; it would be characterized above all by an heroic
      honesty which for the sake of principle would push all
      consideration of consequences aside.








      - J. Gresham Machen
      (From the book What is Faith? [1925])



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      No One Can Come to Jesus Christ, Unless...

      Saturday, January 5, 2008



      No man can come to me, except the Father who has sent me draw him:

      - Jesus Christ
      (Joh 6:44a)


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      Rick Warren Vs. The Gospel

      Thursday, January 3, 2008


      I receive criticism because of my stance against what Warren teaches, but, if I'm faithful to God, I believe there really isn't a choice to be made between whether I serve God in truth or invoke my seal of approval on whatever Wal-mart and its loyal constituents deem to be trustworthy. In this recent article by Chris Rosebrough at ExtremeTheology.com, Chris shares what, I believe, gives the best explanation that I've found as to why Chris, myself, and many others who buy the truth and sell it not take no part in buying what Warren is selling. My prayer is that those who do not understand why I do not approve of Rick Warren will understand after reading the following article:


      Warren's Mulligan Theory of the Atonement:
      A False Gospel?


      If you didn't see Rick Warren's Christmas Sermon on Fox News then you missed a dooosie of a sermon and by dooosie I don't mean that it was a good sermon I mean that it was a bad sermon.

      This year's "Christmas Sermon" at Saddleback is a perfect example of the quintessential Warren sermon.

      First of all, the sermon was chock full of verses ripped from their context which were cited from really bad paraphrases like "The Message". Warren delivered these verses in such a fashion that they didn't even remotely resemble what the Bible actually says and means in the original languages. (Since, when did this practice become okay?)

      Secondly, his sermon barely mentioned sin and the entire context of what we need a savior for. Instead of giving us the Biblical context of sin and the gospel proclamation of a savior being born to us Warren, like a used car salesman, listed out 3 benefits that people could receive by accepting God's "Christmas Present" to them. (Warren and his apologists call this approach the 'Positive Gospel'). Here were the promised benefits.

      1. Presence - You lose your loneliness
      2. Pardon - Jesus gives you a Mulligan, a 'do-over'
      3. Purpose - You find out who you are (discover your purpose)

      The "benefit" that I want to focus on for this post is the second one, Jesus gives you a Mulligan. Here is some video from that segment of Warren's sermon:

      video

      Warren says that God wants to give us a 'second chance', a do-over and a Mulligan. Is this the Biblical Gospel? Is the 'good news' of the New Testament the proclamation that Jesus is offering you and me an opportunity for a 'do-over'? Before you answer, consider the implications of this 'gospel' very carefully.

      I play golf nearly every week. My USGA Handicap Index is a 15.3. You could say that I have a lot of experience with Mulligans. Here is how a Mulligan works. When a golfer stands on the tee box, addresses the ball then takes a swing and finds to his dismay that rather than heading straight down the fairway his ball instead flies off into the woods or into a house or into a water hazard. Making a mistake like this on the tee box is not only embarrassing, it can be very costly. When a golfer finds himself in this situation (if his playing partners are feeling forgiving) he can invoke the Mulligan and re-tee his ball and take another swing. There is a catch. If your second shot is just as ugly as your first, there are no third chances. You cannot take a second Mulligan.

      So if you take Warren's Mulligan metaphor and mistakenly think that is what the Biblical gospel is all about then you are going to believe a false gospel.

      The Bible does NOT teach that Jesus Christ came to Earth and died on the cross so that you can have a 'do-over'. If that were the case then our salvation would still be based upon us and our keeping of God's law. That is like saying that we messed up the first time, so Jesus is giving us a 'second chance' but if we mess up another time there is no hope for us. Quite frankly, I don't need one do-over, I need hundreds of do-overs every day.

      This whole do-over/Mulligan metaphor that Warren used is at best wrong and at worst is a 'false gospel'.

      So what would be an appropriate Golf illustration that conveys the truth of the Biblical Gospel?

      If you want to use a golf analogy to convey the true 'Good News' of the scripture it would sound like this.

      Pretend you are a terrible golfer (for most there is not much imagination needed here). Now pretend that your eternal salvation depends on you scoring a perfect round of Golf (par or better for the entire round) at Bethpage Black (arguably the toughest golf course on the planet) and the course has been set up for U.S. Open conditions (7400 yards long, 8 inch rough and greens so fast it's like putting in a bath tub). But, wait just to make things even more difficult, the devil has thrown in gail force winds that are swirling and gusting as high a 60 miles an hour.

      To give you an idea of how difficult this feat is, Tiger Woods at the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, with practically perfect weather conditions was the ONLY golfer with a score that was UNDER par. Phil Mickleson was the only other golfer that scored an even par for the tournament. Every other golfer was above par for the tournament. But under these course conditions not even Tiger Woods has any hope of being saved. Sadly, even if Jesus gave you a Mulligan then there would still be no hope of your being saved. One 'do-over' would be quickly gobbled up at Bethpage Black under these conditions.

      So then how can you be 'saved' in this scenario?

      The Biblical Gospel teaches us that even under these impossible conditions, Jesus Christ shot the perfect round of golf for you at Bethpage Black and is offering you HIS scorecard as your own. He's already taken your scorecard, the one with all the sins on it, and he's atoned for those sins on the cross. In return, He will give you His perfect scorecard and let you sign your name to it as if you were the one who shot that round.

      Do you see the difference between these two golf metaphors and the implications they carry regarding the Gospel?

      The 'gospel' Warren preached this Christmas was the 'gospel' of the Mulligan and the do-over. But this is really no gospel at all. It puts our salvation back on our shoulders and puts us in an impossible situation by requiring us to get it right the second time.

      The Gospel that the Bible teaches isn't about 'do-overs', its about what Christ has already DONE for you (believers). He has won your (believer's) salvation and is offering you a full and true pardon, complete forgiveness and His perfect righteousness as a gift.

      There is a big difference between Warren's Mulligan Theory of the Atonement and the Biblical Gospel. Which are you going to put your trust in?


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