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This site was not developed with the intention of drawing a large number of visitors using trivial methods and shallowness. There is rejoicing among the angels when even one sinner repents and believes in Jesus Christ. (Luke 15:10) If, for as long as this site exists, just one sinner is led to repentance and belief in Christ with the aid of the material presented here, the purpose of this site has been served.


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Married to @SueBirdChaplin, LaneCh on Youtube, Host of Rightly Divided, Reagan Conservative, J.D., Deacon at Christ Reformed of Anaheim (Rom.7:24-25a)




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      Are You Now Born of the Promise or of Something Else?
      (C.H. Spurgeon)

      Friday, February 29, 2008

      "It is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise."—Galatians iv., 22, 23.

      ABRAHAM had two sons. Ishmael and Isaac were beyond all dispute veritable sons of Abraham. Yet one of them inherited the covenant blessing, and the other was simply a prosperous man of the world. See how close these two were together! They were born in the same society, called the same great patriarch " father," and sojourned in the same encampment with him. Yet Ishmael was a stranger to the covenant, while Isaac was the heir of the promise. How little is there in blood and birth! A more remarkable instance than this happened a little afterwards; for Esau and Jacob were born of the same mother, at the same birth, yet is it written, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated." One became gracious, and the other profane. So closely may two come together, and yet so widely may they be separated! Verily, it is not only that two shall be in one bed, and the one shall be taken, and the other left; but, two shall come into the world at the same moment, and yet one of them will take up his inheritance with God, and the other will for a morsel of meat sell his birthright. We may be in the same church, baptized in the same water, seated at the same communion table, singing the same psalm, and offering the same prayer; and yet we may be of two races as opposed as the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.

      Abraham's two sons are declared by Paul to be the types of two races of men, who are much alike, and yet widely differ. They are unlike in their origin. They were both sons of Abraham; but Ishmael, the child of Hagar, was the offspring of Abraham upon ordinary conditions: he was born after the flesh. Isaac, the son of Sarah, was not born by the strength of nature; for his father was more than a hundred years old, and his mother was long past age. He was given to his parents by the Lord, and was born according to the promise through faith. This is a grave distinction, and it marks off the true child of God from him who is only so by profession. The promise lies at the bottom of the distinction, and the power which goes to accomplish the promise creates and maintains the difference. Hence the promise, which is our inheritance, is also our test and touchstone. Let us use the test at once by seeing whether we have been wrought upon by the power which fulfils the promise. Let me ask a few questions,—How were you converted? Was it by yourself, by the persuasion of men, by carnal excitement; or was it by the operation of the Spirit of God ? You profess to have been born again. Whence came that new birth ? Did it come from God in consequence of his eternal purpose and promise, or did it come out of yourself ? Was it your old nature trying to do better, and working itself up to its best form ? If so, you are Ishmael. Or was it that you, being spiritually dead, and having no strength whatever to rise out of your lost estate, were visited by the Spirit of God, who put forth his divine energy, and caused life from heaven to enter into you ? Then you are Isaac. All will depend upon the commencement of your spiritual life, and the source from which that life first proceeded. If you began in the flesh, you have gone on in the flesh, and in the flesh you will die. ...

      Have you never read, " That which is born of the flesh is flesh " ? Before long the flesh will perish, and from it you will reap corruption. Only " that which is born of the Spirit is spirit"; the joy is that the spirit will live, and of it you will reap life everlasting. Whether you are a professor of religion or not, I beseech you, ask yourself—Have I felt the power of the Spirit of God ? Is the life that is within you the result of the fermentation of your own natural desires? Or is it a new element, infused, imparted, implanted from above? Is your spiritual life a heavenly creat* . ? Have you been created anew in Christ Jesus? Have you been born again by divine power? Ordinary religion is nature gilded over with a thin layer of what is thought to be grace. Sinners have polished themselves up, and brushed off the worst of the rust and the filth, and they think their old nature is as good as new. This touching- up and repairing of the old man is all very well; but it falls short of what is needed. You may wash the face and hands of Ishmael as much as you please, but you cannot make him into Isaac. You may improve nature, and the more you do the better for certain temporary purposes; but you cannot raise it into grace. There is a distinction at the very fountain-head between the stream which rises in the bog of fallen humanity, and the river which proceeds from the throne of God. Do not forget that our Lord himself said, " Ye must be born again." If you have not been born again from above, all your church-going, or your chapel-going, stands for nothing. Your prayers and your tears, your Bible-readings, and all that have come from yourself only, can only lead to yourself. Water will naturally rise as high as its source, but no higher: that which begins with human nature will rise to human nature; but to the divine nature it cannot reach. Was your new birth natural or supernatural ? Was it of the will of man or of God ? Much will depend upon your answer to that question.

      Between the child of God and the mere professor there is a distinction as to origin of the most serious sort. Isaac was born according to promise. Ishmael was not of promise, but of the course of nature. Where nature's strength suffices there is no promise ; but when human energy fails, the word of the Lord comes in. God had said that Abraham should have a son of Sarah ; Abraham believed it, and rejoiced therein, and Isaac was born as the result of the divine promise, by the power of God. There could have been no Isaac if there had been no promise, and there can be no true believer apart from the promise of grace, and the grace of the promise.

      Gentle reader, here let me inquire as to your salvation. Are you saved by what you have done ? Is your religion the product of your own natural strength ? Do you feel equal to all that salvation may require ? Do you conclude yourself to be in a safe and happy condition because of your natural excellence and moral ability ? Then you are after the manner of Ishmael, and to you the inheritance will not come; for it is not an inheritance according to the flesh, but according to promise. If, on the other hand, you say,—" My hope lies only in the promise of God. He has set forth that promise in the person of his Son Jesus to every sinner that believeth in him ; and I do believe in him ; therefore I trust and believe that the Lord will fulfil his promise and bless me. I look for heavenly blessedness, not as the result of my own efforts, but as the gift of Goas free favor. My hope is fixed alone upon the free and gratuitous love of God to guilty men, by the which he has given his Son Jesus Christ to put away sin, and to bring in everlasting righteousness for those who deserve it not"—then this is another sort of language from that of the Ishmaelites, who say " We have Abraham to our father." You have now learned to speak as Isaac speaks. The difference may seem small to the careless, but it is great indeed. Hagar, the slave-mother, is a very different person from Sarah, the princess. To the one there is no covenant promise, to the other the blessing belongs for evermore. Salvation by works is one thing; salvation by grace is another. Salvation by human strength is far removed from salvation by divine power: and salvation by our own resolve is the opposite of salvation by the promise of God.

      Put yourself under this inquiry, and see to which family you belong. Are you of Ishmael or of Isaac? If you find that you are like Isaac, born according to the promise, remember that your name is " Laughter"; for that is the interpretation of the Hebrew name Isaac. Take care that you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Your new birth is a wonderful thing. If both Abraham and Sarah laughed at the thought of Isaac, you may certainly do so concerning yourself. There are times when, if I sit alone and think of the grace of God to me, the most undeserving of all his creatures, I am ready to laugh and cry at the same time for joy that ever the Lord should have looked in love and favor upon me. Yes, and every child of God must have felt the working of that Isaac nature within his soul, filling his mouth with laughter, because the Lord hath done great things for him. Mark well the difference between the two seeds, from their very beginning.

      Ishmael comes of man, and by man. Isaac comes by God's promise. Ishmael is the child of Abraham's flesh. Isaac is Abraham's child, too; but then the power of God comes in, and from the weakness of his parents it is made clear that he is of the Lord,—a gift according to promise. True faith is assuredly the act of the man who believes; true repentance is the act of the man who repents; yet both faith and repentance may with unquestionable correctness be described as the work of God, even as Isaac is the son of Abraham and Sarah, and yet he is still more the gift of God. The Lord our God, who bids us believe, also enables us to believe. All that we do acceptably the Lord work- eth in us; yea, the very will to do it is of his working. No religion is worth a farthing which is not essentially the outflow of the man's own heart; and yet it must beyond question be the work of the Holy Ghost who dwells within him.

      O friend, if what you have within you is natural, and only natural, it will not save you ! The inward work must be supernatural; it must come of God or it will miss the covenant blessing. A gracious life will be your own, even as Isaac was truly the child of Abraham; but still more it will be of God; for " Salvation is of the Lord." We must be born from above. Concerning all our religious feelings and actions, we mnst be able to say, " Lord, thou hast wrought all our works in us."

      END OF POST.


      Richard Dawkins is Truly an Ignorant Man.

      Thursday, February 28, 2008

      Richard Dawkins is truly an ignorant man. Since arguments like the ones in this video are what he uses to "substantiate" his assertions regarding there "not being a God", it only goes to prove that Vance Havner had it right when he said, "When the tide is low, every shrimp has his own puddle."

      HT: Alpha and Omega Ministries

      END OF POST.


      The Milky Way [Full Sermon Video]
      (Jeff Noblit)

      Tuesday, February 26, 2008

      "You have milky churches that demand milky preachers, preach milky sermons to milky Christians who desire to have their bottles refilled with formula each week that they might nurse themselves back to sleep and satisfy their lactose dependency.... It all comes from this idol of glorying in shallowness which I'm calling the Milky Way."

      - Jeff Noblit

      Here is Pastor Jeff Noblit preaching about The Milky Way. What exactly is the Milky Way? This verse will give you some idea of it:

      Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to explain, seeing you are dull of hearing. For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
      (Heb 5:11-14)

      END OF POST.


      First, The Bad News:
      Stage6 Goes Off Air Entirely Thursday...

      Monday, February 25, 2008

      Several of us have seen this when trying to login to Stage6 in the past. As of Thursday, though, Stage6 will be permanently unavailable. As many of you know, I've been hosting full sermon videos on Stage6 of Paul Washer, Jeff Noblit, Mark Kielar, etc. for some time now. I received an email from someone on their staff today informing me that Stage6 is going to be shut down Thursday for good. The email gave various reasons for the termination, but the main reason was a lack of resources and a lack of funds. It's a shame. I really like Stage6 and have profited from the high quality it gives viewers.

      Your next question now may be, "Well what about all your videos!?" I thought about that and came to another decision. I have a Revver account that allows me not only to upload videos long enough to host these sermons, but also gives you the option to download them as Stage6 did so I've decided to upload them there now. You can also embed them to your own site easier than Stage6 would allow for now. It's very similar to Youtube, but allows me to upload longer videos. There are two of the shorter videos that I've posted on Youtube there now, but there should be many more coming soon. Jeff Noblit's full sermon "The Milky Way" should be up before the night is over. I hope to keep this updated more frequently because it accepts videos that Stage6 wouldn't so the conversion time factor is eliminated. Anyway, you can visit it now in the meantime:

      END OF POST.


      Cultural "Christianity" and the Emergent Church
      (Francis Schaeffer)

      Francis Schaeffer died in 1984. Even before then, though, he could see things creeping into the church that had no business being there. His suggestion? He suggested to make sure there is a line drawn in the sand; to make sure there is a differentiation between theose who hold to a full view of Scripture and those who do not and for those that do to not associate with those that don't without preaching repentance from their unbelief. I agree with the late Dr. Schaeffer.

      (This video is in four parts. If anyone would like the embed code to a four part video player to post on their site, just let me know, and I'll send it to you.)


      "I Am Not Ashamed Of the Scandal."
      (Paul Washer)

      Friday, February 22, 2008

      When the light shines through, those who love the darkness scoff at those who are in the light. This holds true for Paul Washer and Jeff Noblit. Truth is truth and it cuts, bites, and stings.

      "If for the name of being civilized (and popular), we did not raise our voice so that someone would not think 'unproperly' of us, would you not HATE us that we cared more about ourselves and our own reputation than we did the welfare of your child?"

      - Paul Washer

      This quote is from a recent sermon Washer gave regarding those who are ashamed of the truth and would rather cater to the lusts of men to increase their popularity or quota than honor Jesus Christ.

      END OF POST.


      Church "Growth" -The Neglected Question:
      What Are They Growing Exactly?

      Tuesday, February 19, 2008

      It seems the order of the day is "Church Growth", but the question that is commonly avoided is "What are you growing exactly?" If your church is "growing in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ", that's what we (who believe the Bible, anyway) call "Biblical Church Growth." It's evident that there are many in this day, though, who would rather frown upon those "legalists" who actually believe the Bible and, instead, deem that the numbers in attendance to a certain meeting is really "Church Growth". The problem with this mentality is that the Church is the Bride of Christ. It's the "called out ones" as it is translated from the Greek. The Church isn't made up of unbelievers. So when a person comes along and says, "We have all these decisions for Christ," they are either ignorant of what the Church actually is or are deceived enough into thinking that they are actually growing the Church FOR (key word) Christ.

      I received the following message this week. I still have no idea what the person was addressing, but pay attention to their argument:

      "if you dont like that one wait til you see the next one man, God bless to you and your yours and let me think, we got lots of kids giveing there lives to Christ. we aint just about music homeboi, we bout gettin these kids right and away from people like you, the ones stuck in the old tradition. keep ya head up and come to Grace Point and you will learn something, Peace Be With You."

      Obviously this person has a problem with something I've done or said and, although, after replying several days ago and inquiring what exactly that problem is, I have yet to hear anything from him/her. What I want you to notice about this person's comment, though, is this part: "we got lots of kids giveing there lives to Christ. we aint just about music homeboi, we bout gettin these kids right and away from people like you, the ones stuck in the old tradition." Again, obviously this person has a problem with something I've said or done and his solution is "gettin these kids right and away from people like you." Clearly he's acting with these two presuppositions:

      1) These kids are actually giving their lives to Christ. Why is that? No appeal to God (the God of the Bible) is given, just pejorative language to "strengthen" his argument.

      2) He needs to "get these people away from people like me." so he's acting with the presupposition that I'm in the wrong and he's in the right so the thing he needs to do is be "bout getting these kids right and away from people like [me]". Here's the point again, though: No appeal to God of the Bible is given. He only shares pejorative language based on his presuppositions.

      In summary, he is saying 1) I'm wrong. 2) He's (and his group) is right. both with NO APPEAL TO SCRIPTURE WHATSOEVER, and the thing is, I understand this completely. I understand why a person would do such a thing. Let me give you a little history: the Protestants say Scripture Alone as their final authority. The Roman Catholics say Scripture and Tradition is the authority, but, and pay attention to this part, if there's a conflict between Scripture and Tradition, Tradition wins out so the real authority is tradition. Now let's look at this "seeker"-sensitive movement. What is their authority? They claim it to be Scripture and Personal Opinion (whether that be from friends, family, the media, the culture, the world, etc.), but when it comes down to it, what wins? What is their final authority? Let's say there's a passage where Jesus says something like "Feed my sheep." (which there is, btw) and some "mentor" comes along and says, "Start new programs! More programs! Let's have small groups! Get decisions and grow your fan base! Grow your numbers!" What takes precedence? From what I can tell, public opinion is the ultimate authority in this movement, and believers know that this is as fickle as the culture itself. Like the Roman Catholic church, they can keep enough Scripture around to make it appear that what they are doing is Biblical to those who are ignorant of what the Bible actually says, but when you really get down to what the authority is, they have the same problem as a whole: God is not their ultimate authority. Do I say that harshly? It may sound that way to someone who doesn't believe the Bible to be God's revealed, inspired Word, but those who hold to it and believe it know exactly what I mean when I say that. It's why I can receive pejorative comments like the one I shared above and not fret because I know that God's Word trumps public opinion no matter what the case. Those who hold to public opinion as their highest authority naturally get offended when those who have not said in the past, "Hey, God says this, and you're doing that..." start saying it. Are you starting to understand why the Reformation actually took place?

      Placing public opinion as the authority in making decisions rather than the Word of God (or God, Himself to be more precise) is the insanity that leads to believing that increasing the numbers of people to a particular professing worship experience is synonymous with preaching to them God as He is revealed in Scripture. I'm thankful that God is sanctifying me of sin and error, and what really troubles my soul is there are those who do not see a problem with what has been discussed because they are blinded by idolatry. It's the idol of self-promotion and a lack of faith in the only true and wise God as revealed in Scritpure. I can't even begin to tell about all the "sermons" or lectures I've heard about people "growing up from nothing and God delivering them all this material comfort". It's no wonder 50 Cent and Osteen have followings. When you preach messages like that, it doesn't matter if you preach them behind protective plexiglass on the stage or behind a plexiglass podium: people get the false hope and assurance and become returning customers regardless.

      The great Charles Spurgeon shared his thoughts about this mentality often. He wrote many sermons and other writings which denounced this mentality. I wish to share one with you now and several other clips of audio regarding the "seeker" sensitive; "church growth" methodology and mentality that is permeating much of what we're seeing today. I ask you this when you read, listen, or watch them: Will you pray before you read, watch, or listen and ask God, the God of Scripture; not the god of public opinion if you're caught in the mentality of having Scripture around as long as it meets your ends of "Personal peace and affluence"?

      Spurgeon on Church Growth

      I think that there is a great lesson in my text to those who preach their own thoughts instead of preaching the thoughts of Christ. These disciples were to follow Christ that they might listen to Him, hear what He had to say, drink in His teaching, and then go and teach what He had taught them. Their Lord said, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops." If they will be faithful reporters of Christ's message, He will make them "fishers of men."

      But you know the boastful method, nowadays, is this: "I am not going to preach this old, old gospel, this musty Puritan doctrine. I will sit down in my study, and burn the midnight oil, and invent a new theory; then I will come out with my brand-new thought, and blaze away with it." Many are not following Christ, but following themselves, and of them the Lord may well say, "Thou shalt see whose word shall stand, Mine or theirs."

      Others are wickedly prudent, and judge that certain truths which are evidently God's Word, had better be kept back. You must not be rough, but must prophesy smooth things. To talk about the punishment of sin, to speak of eternal punishment, why, these are unfashionable doctrines. It may be that they are taught in the Word of God, but they do not suit the genius of the age; we must pare them down!

      Brothers in Christ, I will have no share in this. Will you? O my soul, come not thou into their secret! Certain things not taught in the Bible our enlightened age has discovered. Evolution may be clean contrary to the teaching of Genesis, but that does not matter. We are not going to be believers of Scripture, but original thinkers. This is the vainglorious ambition of the period.

      Mark you, in proportion as the modern theology is preached, the vice of this generation increases. To a great degree, I attribute the looseness of the age to the laxity of the doctrine preached by its teachers. From the pulpit they have taught the people that sin is a trifle. From the pulpit these traitors to God and to His Christ have taught the people that there is no hell to be feared. A little, little hell, perhaps, there may be; but just punishment for sin is made nothing of.

      The precious atoning sacrifice of Christ has been derided and misrepresented by those who were pledged to preach it. They have given the people the name of the gospel, but the gospel itself has evaporated in their hands. From hundreds of pulpits the gospel is as clean gone as the dodo from its old haunts; and still the preachers take the position and name of Christ's ministers. Well, and what comes of it? Why, their congregations grow thinner and thinner and so it must be.

      Jesus says, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men;" but if you go in your own way, with your own net, you will make nothing of it, and the Lord promises you no help in it. The Lord's directions make Himself our Leader and Example. It is, "Follow Me, follow Me. Preach My gospel. Preach what I preached. Teach what I taught, and keep to that." With that blessed servility which becomes one whose ambition it is to be a copyist, and never to be an original, copy Christ even in jots and tittles. Do this, and He will make you fishers of men; but if you do not do this, you shall fish in vain.

      HT: TeamPyro

      Here is Charles Spurgeon and Mark Kielar discussing what Christ commanded:

      "Christ Commands to Make Disciples; Not Returning Customers"

      Finally, here is Al Mohler and R.C. Sproul discussing the problems with the "seeker" sensitive movement:

      END OF POST.


      Defending Christ's Crucifixion Against Islam
      (James White)

      Monday, February 18, 2008

      "That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) know ledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:"

      Surah 4:157
      (From the Islamic Koran)

      What does the Koran, the Islamic "Bible", declare? Well, it declares that Christ really wasn’t crucified. It declares that the whole thing was a lie and the Apostles, the writers of the New Testament, were liars. Are people that profess to believe what the Koran states that the same people believers should want to make a "peace treaty" with? Is what the Koran declares not the antithesis of belief in Jesus Christ? (James White's response)

      James White recently did a debate with Muslim apologist Shabir Ally on the subject of Christ's crucifixion. The following video (in a series of three) is his opening statement from that debate. In these roughly 25 minutes, James clearly lays out on the table many of the differences between Islam and Christianity. With continued pressure from the culture to become more pluralistic, these 25 minutes are vital to helping us understand that "without antithesis, historic Christianity is meaningless" as Francis Schaeffer once said.

      (In three parts)

      You can get this entire debate:

      by MP3 for $3 HERE.

      The video by DVD HERE.

      END OF POST.


      "W.W.J.D.?" No, the Right Question is "W.H.J.D.?"

      Thursday, February 14, 2008


      "What Would Jesus Do?" It could be the single question that has hindered me the greatest. I remember growing up as a young, impressionable Southern Baptist when the wave hit. The "W.W.J.D.?" bracelets became the epitome of popularity for many. You simply "had to have one." I remember likening it to the same hysteria that happened when the Spice Girls put out a new album and everyone simply "had to have it or you weren't with it." I also remember being fifteen and dealing with some of my first serious struggles with sin that no one ever knew about. I remember even at that age wondering what kind of implications this question would have, though. Why? It wasn't because I had a lack of professing evangelicals around me. It was because the advice I received was basically, "What would Jesus do?" Well, it didn't take me long to admit that he wouldn't have ever slipped into some of the sin I was involved in. Likewise, it didn't take me long to realize that he never had to ask His Father for forgiveness of His sins. It was also apparent to me that Jesus would have never had to worry about His Father's approval because "This was God's Son in whom He is well pleased." Are you starting to get a feel as to why this single question has been one of the most destructive parts of my faith in Jesus Christ in times past?

      Christianity itself is a historical faith. It is faith in a person, but that person has been revealed in history. When one takes Jesus Christ out of history, they are no longer dealing with the God of the Bible. Take John's words for an example:

      "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, of which you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."

      (1Jn 4:1-3; emph. mine)

      John said that "every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God." In other words, every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ is a figure in history, that he came in actual flesh and blood, and that he actually existed at a set time about 2,000 years ago; this spirit is not of God. In fact, John goes even further to say it is the spirit of antichrist. Think of the question we've been discussing in particular: "W.W.J.D.?" Is there any historical context to that question? If you based your belief on that question alone, would you be basing it on objective historical fact on what Christ has already done or would you be basing it on subjective personal opinion of what you believe Christ would do if so forth and so forth...?

      Let's look at another passage from Paul's letter to the Corinthians:

      "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins. Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."

      (1Co 15:12-20; emph. mine)

      Paul says, "If Christ is not risen, then (the first believers) preaching is vain, and faith (in Christ) is also vain." In other words, if Jesus Christ has not be risen from the dead for almost 2,000 years, your faith in Him is absolutely worthless. Also, preaching Him is absolutely worthless. Are you starting to understand the implications of taking Jesus Christ out of a historical context? If Jesus Christ has not come in the flesh and is not risen from the dead, this whole thing, Christianity itself is worthless. But as Paul also declares, "But now is Christ risen from the dead..."

      I include this quote on my blog, but I believe it is well suited for this post. The late Princeton Theologian J. Gresham Machen said:
      "The student of the New Testament should be primarily an historian. The centre and core of all the Bible is history. Everything else that the Bible contains is fitted into an historical framework and leads up to an historical climax. The Bible is primarily a record of events." If you don't believe it is a record of events that have actually taken place, but you still call yourself a Christian (a believer in Jesus Christ), you are by definition a liberal. In other words, you're not a believer in Christ or a Christian at all. When one takes Noah and the flood, Jonah and the whale, Baalam's ass, and all the other records of historical events out of their historical context, one isn't talking of the same God of the Bible as the one that is immutable and true.

      I'm almost positive that this question "W.W.J.D.?" is one of the fires that fuels liberalism and unbelief. If one can take "Jesus Christ" apart from the same historical Jesus Christ that said such things as, "Don't think I came to bring peace, but a sword. I came to set son against father, and so on...", any rational person would admit that we are not speaking of the same Jesus Christ but rather a subjective "what does Jesus Christ mean to you?" caricature of what many people who don't want to honestly deal with facts have conjured in their imaginations over the past thousand years or two. I believe this mentality is in part driving what we are now seeing called the Sensitive-to-Please-Unbelief Movement (or the "Seeker"-Sensitive Movement as it is nicknamed) and the Emerging Group of Digressives (or the "Emergent Church" as it is also nicknamed). When we can take Jesus Christ and pick and choose what we want to believe about the Son of God who has been revealed in History, we're not believing in the literal Jesus Christ who has been raised from the dead for nearly 2,000 years. In other words, as Augustine said in so many words,"When we pick and choose what we want to believe out of the Bible, it is not the Bible that we believe... but ourselves."

      So the point has been pretty much laid out now. If our faith isn't in an actual person who has been revealed at a point in History, namely the Son of God, our faith is in vain, and we are yet in our sins. I was listening to the
      White Horse Inn a while back and Mike Horton basically made the comment... "When it's 'W.W.J.D.?' instead of 'What has Jesus done?'..." That comment was definitely an influence as to why this post was written. I got to thinking that if Christianity is basically W.W.J.D.?, is there any real need for education? In other words, is there any real need for knowing what exactly Jesus has done if Christianity is basically the subject, W.W.J.D.? Of course, the more I delved into this question seeking the answer, the more it was clear that, like the Spice Girls, anything that is extremely popular and easily acceptable by worldlings for a given time is rarely worthwhile and lasting. I mean even Allen Iverson endorses it:

      If that doesn't tell you about how suitable it is deemed by the world to be, how marketable it is, and opposed to humbling itself to objective truth the concept is, I'm not quite sure what will. With all this said, this is the point I have come to: I got fed up and gave up on trying to resurrect myself from the dead, be the only person ever to live who didn't sin, and be born of a virgin so I decided to start giving credit where credit is due. There's a reason why worshiping Jesus Christ, the historical Jesus Christ is vital. It's primarily because we can't do the things that Jesus has already done. When we take him out of context, we neglect actually believing in the Christ who's been revealed in time-space history. So in my rebellion to the "evangelism" of the day, I had a few bracelets made up:


      What has Jesus done? That may be a novel concept to many. It may be that you've never thought about that before. It's understandable. If you're caught up in the W.W.J.D.? smoke and mirror show, naturally you're prone to neglect what Jesus has already done. When we do that, we welcome with open arms the circus that is now calling itself modern "evangelicalism".

      Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. That is a fact of history that can never be changed. He died on the cross and he was also risen from the dead almost 2,000 years ago. Think about this: If it's a fact that he actually did raise from the dead 2,000 years ago, is he dead today? Is Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of the Living God dead today? I'm not asking if you live like He is, I'm asking if it's true that in time-space history that he has risen from the dead almost 2,000 years ago, has He died again even once or died daily? No. If the Bible is true, He has been alive long before any living human being reading this post was ever even born. Think about that implication for a second. Long before my parents, your parents, you, or me were ever born, Jesus Christ had already risen from the dead forevermore. Do you see the danger in taking Him out of a historical context now? When you do, who (or what) are you actually believing in? As Horton said, "when it becomes W.W.J.D.? instead of W.H.J.D.?" chaos ensues and we confuse proclaiming the Good News with sharing narcissistic trivia about ourselves. There's a reason Jesus said that he who doesn't deny himself and take up his cross is not worthy of Him. Jesus Christ rose from the dead almost 2,000 years ago. That is news that should be proclaimed if we truly do believe and confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. (1John 4:1-3)

      END OF POST.


      Moriel Ministries on Richard Abanes
      (Symphony of Scripture Link)

      Tuesday, February 12, 2008

      (Ben from Symphony of Scripture posted this earlier tonight. Although I don't agree with all the people mentioned in terms of theology, but this gives a great critique as to what the purpose of the Purpose Driven Movement actually is.)

      Moriel Ministries & Jacob Prasch take extreme exception to the long statement highly critical of Chuck Smith, various Calvary Chapels, Roger Oakland and Dave Hunt by Richard Abanes of Saddleback Church in reaction to their expressed position regarding The Purpose Driven Agenda of Rick Warren. Mr. Abanes wrote as an apologist for Rick Warren and the Saddleback Purpose Driven ethos.

      The response by Mr. Abanes was an exercise in circumlocution failing centrally and candidly to address the various concerns voiced to the unbiblical nature of The Purpose Driven Agenda. These are well documented in a series of well-researched and strongly lucid books and presentations by Warren Smith, Ray Yungen, Roger Oakland, Bob DeWaay, James Sundquist and others.

      The caveats raised by Chuck Smith and various Calvary Chapel ministers, by Roger Oakland & Understanding The Times, and by Dave Hunt & The Berean Call, are scripturally based objections to a compromise of biblical doctrine, biblical standards, and the nature of the biblical Gospel itself.

      The Purpose Driven agenda combines the programmatic approach of marketing guru of the late Peter Drucker (a non believer) with a plethora of consumer psychology, New Age, and an ecumenical & interfaith pattern of compromise on essentials of the Christian faith - even advising rabbis who reject their true Messiah how to grow bigger synagogues without the gospel of Yeshua (Jesus). Mr. Abanes’ attempted defense of Purpose Driven involvement with Yoga as mere “stretching exercises” are directly balked at by Christian evangelists saved out of Hinduism such as Tom Chacko, and reflects the incipient New Age infiltration of the church in addition to the more general influences of New Age figures such as Ken Blanchard. ...

      From Mr. Warren’s applause of a pro partial birth abortion presidential candidate as “the epitome of compassionate liberalism” to his false gospel that confuses justification with sanctification - warning us not to tell the unsaved to repent but just to accept Jesus in direct contradiction to The New Testament, the reasons for opposition to Mr. Warren’s new brand of paradigm shifted Christianity are very well in order.


      Of more concern however still is the Rick Warren & Purpose Driven partnership with Emergent Church leaders such as Brian McLaren who believes the use of imagination is the hermeneutical key to parable interpretation; this is pure gnosticism. Mr. Warren has closely co-operated with McLaren at least since the National Pastors Conference in San Diego in 2004. Mr. Warren co-authored the forward to Dan Kimbell’s book on The Emergent Church with Brian McLaren. ...

      McLaren’s rejection of propositional truth as the basis of Christian faith stands in direct rejection of the Pauline doctrine that propositional belief in the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus is the crux of Christianity; McLaren’s position relegates him to the status of heretic. McLaren’s further call for a moratorium on debate of the morality of homosexuality and lesbianism in the church renders him a purveyor of unadulterated moral and doctrinal apostasy.

      The Emergent church is an exercise in mysticism that redefines Christianity as a postmodern faith. With its contemplative exercises, icons, and pseudo-spiritual sensuality, it does not re-contextualize the gospel to evangelize a postmodern worldview but is rather an exercise in revived Patristic and medieval mysticism that redefines Christianity as a spiritually abject postmodern religion, and PURPOSE DRIVEN is merely the door into this demonically orchestrated delusion. McLaren’s ‘Generous Orthodoxy’ is but blatant heterodoxy.

      Rick Warren’s joint activity with McLaren, such as joint authorship of a major book promulgating ‘Emergence’, can in no sense be dismissed as mere affiliation. McLaren and Warren are fellow architects of a new kind of church whose blue print is not biblical and whose ecclesiology is neither biblically apostolic or in accordance with the teachings of Christ concerning the nature of the church and its mission. Such scriptural principles are at best subordinated to the ideas of men (many of them non-believers); at worst, biblical principles are not uncommonly negated or else ignored. This is the essence of so called “Emergence”.

      As a non-cessationist who takes a conservative biblically grounded understanding and praxis of charismatic gifts, I have in times past been appalled at the Word of God being relegated to a back burner in the face of an avalanche of emotionally charged experiential theology disguised as ‘new spirituality’. At times, this has amounted to virtual demonic deception as in the spiritual counterfeits in Toronto and Pensacola that failed to deliver the promised revivals. I likewise witnessed the lunacy of The Kansas City false prophets and their failed prophetic predictions before one of their leaders was discovered in serious immorality while another was admitted to be a homosexual and an alcoholic - after the bible was relegated.

      I also watched as the positive thinking psychology of Norman Vincent Peale was repackaged for Evangelicals by Robert Schuller in further relegation of The Word of God. I then observed yet another level of the relegation of scripture when individuals such as C. Peter Wagner and Bill Hybels effectively nullified major areas of the eternal truths of scripture, replacing divine and apostolic concepts of church growth contained in scripture with a usurping system of programmatic strategies of purely human design.

      I then looked in almost disbelief as men like Chuck Colson and J.I. Packer endorsed Peter Kreeft’s book ‘Ecumenical Jihad’, among other things, demanding ecumenical unity with Islam to morally redeem society, once again at the expense of the teaching of God’s Word.

      Purpose Driven is but the natural next stage in this progression, following the same identical pattern of a relegation of the contextually exegeted Word of God to an inferior level of authority in favor of the devices and doctrines of mere men. As an evangelist to The Jews, it is my conviction that as The New Testament teaches in Matthew 15, this was condemned by Christ and did not work for Israel, and it is still condemned by Christ and likewise cannot work for the Church. Purpose Driven will not bring revival anymore than Toronto, Pensacola, or any the other doctrinally flawed attempts.

      While Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven agenda is again simply the next stage in this downward progression, it is not the final stage. It is rather setting the stage for the next stage - The Emergent Church.

      More serious than his working associations with Mr. McLaren however have been Mr. Warren’s working associations with Leonard Sweet and the recorded ‘Davos’ address by Mr. Warren placing him firmly at the forefront of an across the board departure from many of the most fundamental tenets of biblical Christianity.

      The published Sweet position is that the biblical & propositional (doctrinally and historically factual) and the relational (personal relationship to Christ) components of Christian faith are mutually exclusive. Plainly, the scriptural position conversely is that the two are not only mutually dependent and complimentary, but hypo-statically united in that “Jesus is ‘The Truth’ incarnate”, yet simultaneously and co-equally as The Logos, “Jesus is ‘The Word’ incarnate”. Warren has been tied to Sweet and his aberrational views since 1995. Mr. Warren’s Davos address moreover is both irrefutable and incontrovertible in its clear and unambiguous contra-biblical content and thrust standing in basic contrast to scriptural dogma.



      Long before Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” and “Purpose Driven Church”, I also have seen other books amplified in emphasis above scripture including “The Prayer of Jabez”, and “God Chasers”. The latter went so far as to teach scripture is where God once was, but the epistles are dusty old letters to ancient churches. Neither became the panacea for woes their aspirants hoped. I also watched as Promise Keepers promoted “The Masculine Journey” as its guidebook by Robert Hicks. It taught that “Jesus was tempted have sex with other men” and that our young children losing their virginity outside of holy wedlock and coming home drunk or stoned should be seen as “a right of passage with the next generation being congratulated for being human”, which the author tried to deny was placing a benediction on sin. Needless to say, that Promise Keepers after similarly relegating God’s Word to a companion digest for “The Masculine Journey”, also similarly failed to stem the tide of spiritual and moral decline as it professed it could.

      The Purpose Driven books of Rick Warren fit into the same groove and merely constitute the next phase of the same kind of books. Warren’s books are simply the next in line only engulfing even more Christians and churches then predecessors trends in Christian book sales that were its harbingers. As with the others, much of the postulating in the book is incompatible with that of scripture thus functionally eclipsing the Bible and often rendering it to a position of supplemental reading.

      There is one partial difference with the books of Rick Warren however. In the previous trends, deduction took precedent over induction and the routine was to manipulate scripture passages out of ‘context’, in isolation from ‘co-texts’ in order to form a ‘pretext’. This facilitated a devious means to substitute exegesis (taking out of bible texts what is in there) with eisegesis (reading into it something not there). With the assistance of Eugene Peterson and a cultic hermeneutic of his own invention using the translocation of bible verses, Rick Warren outperforms the previous generation of false teachers who prepared the way for him, as he himself now prepares the way for Emergence.

      As his premise is demonstrably void of biblical substance, it is obvious why Rick Warren resorts to ‘The Message’, a deranged paraphrase of Holy Writ bearing little translational fidelity to the original Greek & Hebrew texts. Not only does the authentic Word of God very often not support Mr. Warren’s presuppositions, but on the contrary, scripture quite frequently mitigates directly against key elements of Mr. Warren’s Purpose Driven / Market Driven mind set.

      Jesus moreover, in The Olivet Discourse, issued an unmistakable warning of specific prophetic events Christians were to anticipate and recognize as indications of His return. Those failing to heed His instructions, Jesus warned, would be unprepared for this ‘parousia’ or the apocalyptic events that will usher it in. The final book in the canon of scripture is devoted exclusively to this theme, as are major sections of both Testaments. Yet, Rick Warren openly teaches the church in no uncertain terms, is to ignore the clear teachings of Jesus in this regard and avoid End Time prophecy as a “diversion”. This is delusional and is proposed by Mr. Warren by a literal trans-location of bible verses from Matthew 24 into the text of Acts 1 to make the text state the exact diametric opposite of what Jesus actually taught. He actually removes a verse from one book and interposes into another to take the place of a verse he deletes. It is actually a computer age “cut & paste” style of biblical interpretation, except that he is not the original author.

      Jesus provided a detailed litany of End Time events to watch for. Either we believe and abide by the plain instruction of Jesus, or we believe and abide by the directly contrary teaching of Rick Warren. We cannot believe and adhere to both. Only one teaching can be true; the other must be false. Either Jesus teaches error or Warren does.


      Underlying the disparity between Chuck Smith, Roger Oakland, and Dave Hunt -and Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven crowd is series a fundamental dichotomies between the doctrine and authority of scripture and the philosophies and popularity of men.

      No place is this perhaps more evident than in the sphere of biblical prophecy. In Calvary Chapels, the prophetic significance of contemporary world events from the moral deterioration of society, to deception in the church, to trends towards a one world currency, to the constellation of forces aligned in The Middle East with the same countries important in the ancient world of the bible now at the center of world events again, all represent a scenario pointing to the return of Jesus. This stance has always been a cornerstone of the ministries of Chuck Smith, Dave Hunt, and Roger Oakland. But, it is at inevitable odds with the ‘keep away from End Time prophecy’ urging of Rick Warren to his followers.

      More to the point, biblical evangelism requiring a faith and repentance is the divine ‘PEACE PLAN’ of scripture preached by Calvary Chapel (Isaiah 52 & Ephesians 6). Again, in Rick Warren’s model, the need for repentance is downplayed with a message of ‘Just Get Jesus Into Your Life”, while biblically, without repentance, Jesus is not coming into someone’s life.

      In Rick Warren’s ‘PEACE’ plan of ‘Planting Churches, Equipping leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Education - there is no biblical definition of evangelism. Rick Warren’s is largely a social-political gospel. Biblically, social benevolence aimed at helping the poor and sick (and I write this as director of a ministry operating orphanages for AIDS babies in Africa) is both derivative from and subsequent to the salvation message predicated on faith and repentance; No Christ - No Peace. Indeed, in the estimation of some, biblical prophecy specifically warns against the advent of something along the lines of Rick Warren’s Peace plan (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

      This is to say nothing of Mr. Warren’s shameful antics in Syria singing the praises of a terrorist regime responsible for the death of tens of thousands of its own citizens, that is additionally party to the slaughter and displacement of countless Lebanese Christians and massive rocket and missal attacks on Israeli civilians in partnership with radically Islamic Iran in 2006, only a few weeks prior to Rick Warren’s visit. Warren’s blasting of those who decried his actions as being “more interested in politics than the gospel” are doubly hypocritical, as he himself certainly conducted no evangelistic campaign in Syria, but pursued a kind of political agenda of his own. A biblical expositor, biblical pastor, or biblical evangelist Rick Warren most certainly is not. A consummate theocrat and theocratic politician however - Rick Warren most certainly is. Nevertheless, this seems to be all that he truly appears to be; just another motivational speaker masquerading as a bible preacher.


      My own willingness to debate Rick Warren publicly in an open properly formatted and filmed webcast debate stands. While I place no judgment on their motives, theologically I can only regard him and his accomplices to be, wittingly or wittingly, agents of a deception concocted in Gehenna and perpetrated against God’s people.

      I thank God for the pastoral integrity exhibited by Pastor Chuck Smith and other Calvary Chapel pastors in protecting the flock of Christ, as I also thank The Lord for the efforts of Dave Hunt, Roger Oakland and others to rightly warn the church.

      The polemic of Mr. Abanes reads like a flawed tome evading and avoiding the cardinal issues highlighted above.

      We stand with Chuck Smith, Dave Hunt, and Roger Oakland solidly. My challenge to publicly debate Rick Warren and / or Brian McLaren also stands.

      JJ Prasch
      Moriel Ministries

      UPDATE: Ben and I received a comment/email from Mr. Abanes. My email said,

      I would ask that you please read both sides of this issue without passing judgment. Please, ofr the sake of truth, read my response to Moriel, http://abanes.com/moriel.html, as well as the first two articles that Moriel is talking exception to:



      I have attempted to speak lovingly, civilly, and maturely to Jacob Prasch. Please note his responses to me at the end of my article that deals with where he has made several errors about Rick Warren. There are many, many, many falsehoods being spread out there regarding Warren, and I pray that you would bot be caught up in the smear campaign that has nothing to do with scripture, God, or truth.

      peace in Christ,

      R. Abanes"

      His comment to Ben said,

      I would ask that you read my article on Moriel’s response, paying particularly close attention to the emails Jacob Prasch sent to me, which I show at the end of my article. It will clearly indicate the type the person Jacob is. His responses to me in private emails were deeply disturbing.


      In Christ,

      Richard Abanes"

      Ben replied with,

      "The following response is from Jacob Prasch:


      After behaving like an apologist for Rick Warren & Purpose Driven , defending and explaing even Rick Warren’s invitation to partial birth abortion arch advocate Barak Obama to his pulpit in Mr. Warren’s Saddleback church, Richard Abanes seems caught in a quagmire of his own design. In a series of circulated e mails, Richard Abanes (of that church) has selectively posted half the e mails exchanged in this regard on his website (with-holding the other half), apparently in an effort to distance himself from Warren and his own comments in support of Warren. To place his responses without my comments he responds to is obviously ridiculous. Mr Abanes seems to only want his readers to read what his replies, not what the remarks he is reacting to.

      Such conduct does not appear only hypocritical, but irrational.

      Anyone of serious merit and intent wishing to see proof of this should ask Mr Abanes for a copy of his apologetic statement on behalf of Rick Warren and all of the e mails (which we have copies of). If he refuses, the reason why should be obvious.

      Posting a defense of Warren ’s actions on his website and then trying to remove himself from what he himself wrote and web posted on the same website is absolutely hideous.

      Is this man for real?

      Our decision is to ignore him as a lost cause as we can only engage with people who behave in a rational manner."

      Later a brother named Philip Powell replied,

      Philip L. POWELL says:

      Richard Abanes obviously does not know the true meaning of “circumlocution”. In his attempt to refute Jacob Prasch he has settled on the secondary not primary and principal definition of that word. The Oxford dictionary defines “circumlocution” as “a roundabout expression” or “evasive talk”, which is obviously the way in which Jacob correctly uses the word. Abanes just like his mentor Rick Warren, who he abortively attempts to defend, employs deceitful argumentation, in other words a ploy. It is well known that Warren lied about what happened in Syria until he was backed into a corner by the disclosure over the internet through You-Tube of the record of what happened, which he had previously denied and had also claimed that there was no recording, when there was. If men will lie they will also try to deceive, which is precisely what Abanes has done and continues to do. Yes Jacob Prasch you are precisely correct to accuse this man Richard Abanes of engaging in “circumlocution”. He did it in response to you and is continuing to do it in his on going argument. Can these men be trusted?

      Philip L. POWELL

      Visit Symphony of Scripture to see how this is panning out.

      Also, it seems that Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries has had dealings with Abanes, himself. You can read about that here.

      END OF POST.


      The Promise-Driven Life
      (Michael Horton)

      HT: Modern Reformation Magazine
      (I encourage you to visit Modern Reformation. They have many well written articles such as this.)

      What are you driven by? The last time I was sick, it was a Saturday and I flipped on the TV for an extraordinary long time. The whole day was exercise equipment, how to become real-estate rich with no money down, and Suze Orman gave me her steps to financial security. As much as we all make sport of this sort of thing, it attracts us. That's because we are "wired" for law: tell me what to do and I'll get it done. That is not just the American spirit, but it is human nature. God's law is inborn, in our conscience, part of our moral makeup. The average person on the street will tell you that the role of churches and other religious institutions is to provide moral instruction-practical suggestions for successful living for the spirit, just as Suze Orman and Jake are there to help us out with our banking and bodies.

      Even human imperatives can be enormously effective at laying out a course of action. If I am sufficiently motivated, a good diet-and-exercise plan can help. I've never even come close to being credited with any financial planning wisdom, but even I can recognize that if I follow half of what Suze says, I'll be a much better steward. (I bought the video. Don't ever leave your credit card within reach if you spend a Saturday watching TV. I nearly bought three separate gyms and a few things for my wife.) Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura don't even have to be Christians to provide good, commonsense instruction in daily affairs. At least in terms of raw, general principles, non-Christians have law down. When Christians talk law ("How to ... "), non-Christians know that we're speaking their language. I guess that is why such preaching and teaching dominates in the church today, since "law" (however watered down) is perceived as relevant. However, it is only when we encounter God's law in its full strength that we are knocked off our horse. Instead of being in charge, answering with Israel and Mount Sinai, "All this we will do!", we find ourselves in the hot seat, the charade exposed, the spin unmasked. Church shouldn't be a place where the old self is revived for another week, but where it is killed and buried and the new self is created in the likeness of Christ.

      Even as Christians, the law (in its third use) can direct us, but it cannot drive us, except to either despair or self-righteousness. Christians are not purpose-driven, but promise-driven. Purposes are all about law. To be sure, at least in Christian discourse, some promises may be mentioned, but they are usually dangled as the carrot for fulfilling the conditions that have been laid out. If you did that with the real Ten Commandments-something like, "Do this and you shall live" (Lev. 25:18), people would catch on: "That's legalism!" But the therapeutic version (easy-listening law) flies under the radar: "Hey, here are a few helpful principles based on God's instruction manual that will help you get victory in your life." Although Rick Warren's phenomenal best-seller, The Purpose-Driven Life, for example, differs from the usual pattern of self-help books by insisting that we were created for God and his glory, it offers Fifteen Principles-all of which are imperatives (commands, or rather, suggestions) that promise a life of victory for those who follow them. That, I would suggest, confuses law and gospel. And that eventually leaves resentment of God, not delight, in its wake. ...

      The fact that purposes are about law does not make them wrong. We need purposes! Nobody can live without goals. Yet purposes and goals are always something to be reached, to be achieved and be attained by us. They require tactics and strategies. All of this is fine as long as we realize that they are law, not gospel: commands and promises are both necessary, but they do different things.

      Law tells us what we should do, whether we're faced with the wrath of God (full-strength law) or by the fear of not reaching our full potential (the watered-down version). God's promise, by contrast, creates true faith, which creates true works. The church father Augustine defined sin as being "curved in" on ourselves. While imperatives (including purposes) tend by themselves to make us more "curved in" on ourselves (either self-confidence or self-despair), only God's promise can drive us out of ourselves and our own programs for acceptance before ourselves, other people, and God. While the Christian life according to scripture is purpose-directed, it is promise-driven. Both of our passages-Genesis 15 and Romans 4-bring this point home powerfully.

      Wrestling with the Promise (Genesis 15)

      Even after his military victory and the remarkable event of being offered bread and wine with a blessing from Melchizedek, Abram's greatest problem is that he has no heir, no one to carry on the calling that God has given him. His world, as he sees it anyway, is bleak. "After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, 'Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great'" (Gen. 15:1). Abram and Sarai had been called out of the barrenness of moon-worship in the city of Ur by God's powerful Word, which created faith in the promise (12:1). There is the reward of the land of Canaan, but ultimately the whole earth ("father of many nations"), of which the land of Canaan will serve as a type. The New Testament even tells us that Abraham himself was looking through the earthly promise as a type to its heavenly reality (Heb. 11:10, 13-16).

      Notice in this opening address, it is sheer promise. This covenant is not like the one that God made with Adam or with Israel, which made the promise conditional on their future obedience. It was a gift to be received, not a task to be undertaken. God simply declares, "I am your shield. Your reward shall be great." This is what ancient Near Eastern lawyers would have called a "royal grant."

      Yet Abram wonders, "O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezar of Damascus? ... You have given me no son, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir" (vv. 2-3). The empirical facts of the case-what Abram sees, appear to be overwhelming evidence against the testimony of the promise. Nevertheless, God counters again with the promise, offering the innumerable stars as a sign of the teeming offspring who will come from his loins. "And [Abram] believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness" (vv. 5-6). Abram's response is not one of blind optimism or positive thinking. Abram finds himself believing.

      Faith does not create; it receives. It does not make the invisible visible or the future present or hope reality. It receives that which is already given. Grace precedes faith. It is not finally accepting the goodness of the world, or my own goodness, but receiving God's goodness toward me in spite of the way things really are with me and with the world. Further, there is no way around the forensic or legal character of this Hebrew verb, "declared." It is chashav, referring to a courtroom judgment, not a process. There Abram stood, wicked and helpless, and yet at the same time-by virtue solely of the promise declared to him, received by faith, was declared righteous. Commenting on this passage, Calvin reminds us, "In all ages, Satan has laboured at nothing more assiduously than to extinguish, or to smother, the gratuitous justification of faith, which is here expressly asserted." Justification is at the core of the divine paradox: How can I have the assurance that I am accepted before God as righteous when I continue in sin? I see my life. Nevertheless, by pronouncing Abraham just, Abram is just. The promise makes it so. If we can get this right in our understanding of justification, it will radically alter every other aspect of our relationship with God.

      Abram goes on to ask how he can know that God will give him the land and God responds in this vision by passing through the severed halves of animals (a treaty-making event of calling down judgment in case of violation) alone (vv. 12-21), foreshadowing the cross of Christ. As Paul would later attest in Galatians 3:19-20, specifically referring to this covenant with Abraham, no covenant could be more firmly anchored in God and his promise rather than in the faithfulness of the human partner than one that God swears by himself.

      The preaching of the promise created justifying faith and this sign and seal now confirms and ratifies it. No wonder question 62 of the Heidelberg Catechism confesses, "The Holy Spirit creates it [faith] in our hearts by the preaching of the holy gospel and confirms it by the use of the holy sacraments." Out of his confession of faith, Abram now continues his pilgrimage not on the basis of his physical vigor or Sarai's fertility, but on the sole basis of the Word (again, in anticipation of his greater Son in his temptation). We will either rely on the visible realities we see or the invisible realities we hear preached to us, but we cannot rely on both. Unbelief is unavoidable: either we will doubt the credibility of the divine word in the face of life's realities or we will doubt the credibility of this world's so-called "givens" in the face of the divine promise. Faith ignores statistics. The world says we have to save ourselves (and it), offering countless strategies of striving, while the Word slays us in our self-conceit and raises us up together with Christ. God's promise creates a new world out of darkness and void, fertile pastures of fruit-bearing trees out of the infertile soil of unbelief and ungodliness. This covenant is not a call to claim a future he can control, but to receive a future that God has spoken into being. Sarai's infertile womb is the canvas upon which God will paint a new creation. And they both get renamed. The promise gives them a new identity.

      The Fulfillment of the Promise (Romans 4:13-25)

      These passages from Genesis 15-17 form the backdrop for much of Paul's teaching. Israel had confused the promise-covenant made with Abraham and the law-covenant that Israel made with Yahweh at Sinai. Nobody can be justified by means of a law-covenant, Paul insists, but only on the basis of a promise-covenant. So Paul brings Abraham to the witness stand as an example to us, not chiefly as someone whose holiness we can emulate (have you read the story?), but primarily as someone for whom the promise worked even though he didn't. If Abraham could not be justified by his own righteousness, how can the rest of us who claim Abraham as our forefather?

      Paul is contrasting law-logic with promise-logic. The law is not the problem, but we are, and the law simply points that out. We know the law by nature; nobody has to teach at least its rudimentary principles to us (Rom. 1 and 2). When we turn to our common sense, reason, experience, or what we see in order to determine our relationship to God, it is always the law that has the last word. Law-logic is entirely appropriate for those created in God's image, designed and equipped to reflect God's righteousness in every way, but it says nothing about how law-breakers can be saved from its judgment.

      In Romans 3:21-26, Paul announces that law-logic can only announce the righteousness that God is and which therefore condemns us who have failed to conform to it. Then we arrive at chapter 4. The question that throws law and promise into a sharp contrast is this: How does one obtain the inheritance of the heavenly rest? The barrier between Jew and Gentile is broken down not merely because the laws of ethnic separation are set aside but because law as a principle was never intended to be the way of inheriting the Abrahamic promise. "But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works" (vv. 5-6).

      If we read Romans 4 in the light of Paul's argument in Romans 10, the contrast is even clearer: law-logic ascends to bring Christ down or up from the grave, while gospel-logic receives Christ as he descends to us in the preaching of the gospel. Because the law is innate (in creation) and the gospel is a surprising announcement (after the fall), climbing, ascending, attaining, doing whatever "ten steps" or following whatever "fifteen principles" is natural to us. It is not natural for us, like Abraham, to simply receive a promise, the hearing of which creates faith (Rom. 10:17). But God is never closer to us, says Paul, than when Christ is being preached to us (v. 8). Law-logic strives for what it sees and can possess; promise-logic sits down and listens to the covenant attorney reading the last will and testament, legally enacting the bequest.

      Back to chapter 4, then, where Paul uses the same phrase-"through the righteousness of faith" (v. 13) that he will use in chapter 10, where he contrasts the law-logic of our ascent ("go get it") with the promise-logic of God's descent ("God gave it to you"). So when it comes to how we are justified-that is, set right before God and made heirs of all the gifts that he has for us, Law and Promise represent antithetical means of inheritance. We know the difference between a contract ("I'll do this if you do that") and a bequest ("I hereby leave my estate to ... "). That's the difference here between employees and heirs (v. 4). Christ's active obedience is the basis and his death is the legal event that distributes the royal estate to all of his beneficiaries. God doesn't just give us more good advice and exhortation, but the most amazing news in the world: "But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness" (v. 5).

      The contrast is either/or again in verse 14: "For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect." It's not just that faith is also necessary, but that faith and obedience are absolutely antithetical as means of attaining that which the promise promises. The last part of the sentence (v. 15) reads, "because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression." It is the law that exposes our sin and makes it utterly sinful, counting our wrongs not as "mistakes," "self-expression," "foibles," or even "not being all that we could be," but as a wicked transgression of God's explicit command. The law speaks and the old self dies. The law cannot create faith because it tells us what is to be done. It can only announce what we have not done. The promise, by contrast, tells us what has been done by someone else. That is why it brings life.

      Then in verse 16 Paul says, "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all." See the logic of the promise? Paul will add one more pearl to the string later.

      It is important to recognize that God's promises are not simply a pledge of a future reality, but bring about that reality in the present. We see this clearly in the way Paul talks about the law doing certain things and the promise doing certain things. In verse 14 of our passage he says, "For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression." The promise (or gospel) preached creates faith, just as the law actually brought about our condemnation. The law not only warns us of God's coming wrath, it "brings about wrath," just as the judge's act of sentencing a criminal actually effects the criminal's condemnation.

      Throughout Scripture we are taught that God's Word is effectual: it brings about whatever God speaks, whether in creation, providence, or redemption. God's speech is "active and living," Scripture says. The law is successful in condemning, driving us to despair of ourselves, to seek salvation outside ourselves. The gospel is successful in giving us faith to receive Christ and all his benefits. The gospel doesn't just talk about a world that might come to be if we all just got our act together; it creates a new world where no capacity existed, and that is exactly the language that Paul uses in verses 17 to 22. God creates death and life by speaking.

      This is why Paul returns again to the example of Abraham and Sarah as the construction site of a new creation, produced by the promise. Here is the logic: "For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all of his descendants," both Jew and Gentile (v 16). He adds, "As it is written, 'I have made you the father of many nations'-in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist" (v. 17). Just as God spoke the world into existence without any contribution from the creation itself, God speaks a new world of salvation into being. And just as Abraham is declared righteous by this proclamation then and there, Paul observes, he was declared then and there "father of many nations" despite all appearances to the contrary. "Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become 'the father of many nations,' according to what was said, 'So numerous shall your descendants be'" (v. 18). God's saying makes it so. Salvation comes, then, not by doing certain things but by hearing certain things and embracing them by faith, which is itself created by the Spirit through the preaching of the promise. Not all parts of the Word give life, as Paul says later in chapter 7 (v. 10): "And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death." If Paul were not a transgressor, the law would pronounce him just, but as it is, it can only bring death. The promise, by contrast, brings life-out of nothing.

      This is the scandal of justification: How can God declare us righteous if we are not inherently righteous? Isn't this a legal fiction? Doesn't it make God a liar? But that's like saying God cannot say, "Let there be light" unless there is a sun to give it. God himself creates the conditions necessary for the existence of his work. When he says, "Let there be light!", the sun exists. When he says, "Let this ungodly person be righteous," "this barren woman be pregnant," "this faithless person embrace my Word," it is so. When we really understand justification, we really understand how God works with us in every aspect of our lives before him. Christ lived the purpose-driven life so that we would inherit his righteousness through faith and be promise-driven people in a purpose-driven world. He did gain the everlasting inheritance by obedience to everything God commanded, driven by the purpose of fulfilling the law for us, in perfect love of God and neighbor.

      Relinquishing hope in the ordinary powers of human nature, he was given genuine hope in God for the first time. The future was now God's future, not his own. He didn't have to work it all out, plot and plan, scheme to bring about the inheritance (as he had done before). Thus, because of the power of the promise, not his own goals or resolve, Abraham could turn his eyes away from "his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb" (Rom. 4:19). "He did not waver," again, not because of any inherent virtue of his faith, but because he "was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform" (v. 21). In other words, it was because of the object of faith, not the act of faith itself that Abraham could stand firm.

      As anticipated above, Paul adds here another pearl in the chain of the promise-logic: If the inheritance comes by faith in the promise and not in the works of the law, then faith gives all "glory to God" (v. 20). Faith gives no glory to self, even to our act of faith. It is directed entirely to God and his promise. Faith is strong only to the extent that the promise is strong. Abraham knew that God could perform what he had promised. "And therefore 'it was accounted to him for righteousness'" (v. 22).

      Conclusion: What Really Drives You?

      In the concluding verses of this remarkable chapter (vv. 23-25, and the first verse of chapter 5), Paul writes,

      Now the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not only for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

      Faith is defiance. Abraham's faith defied every possibility that he saw, in favor of the "impossible" word that he heard. This is why "faith comes by hearing ... that is, the word of faith which we preach" (Rom. 10:17). To trust in God is to distrust every other promise-maker. The world makes a lot of promises: "Try this product and you'll be ...." Constantly buying into new fads or makeovers as so many fig leaves to hide the seriousness of our condition, we hand ourselves over to marketers who persuade us that we can attain salvation, however we define that. Even the church can become a place where people get the idea that they exist merely to usher in the kingdom by serving on committees and being involved in a thousand programs. We have a lot of purposes, a lot of goals-some of them noble. Desperate to save ourselves and our kids from everything but the wrath of God, we fail to realize that, however watered down, these are all nothing but law rather than promise. Eventually, we will become burned out on good advice. What we need is good news.

      (Michael Horton)

      Michael Horton is the J. Gresham Machen professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California (Escondido, California), host of The White Horse Inn national radio broadcast, and editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine. He is author of several books, including Power Religion, A Better Way, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology (Baker, 2006), and Too Good to be True: Finding Hope in a World of Hype (Zondervan, 2006).

      Issue: "The Promise-Driven Life" Nov./Dec. Vol. 14 No. 6 2005 Pages 13-19

      Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be explicitly approved by Modern Reformation.

      END OF POST.


      Deficient Grace:
      The Arminian's Rendition of Amazing Grace

      Monday, February 11, 2008

      (I saw this earlier tonight. It reminds me of the Arminian Prayer by Spurgeon.
      I believe the point is made pretty clear.)

      “Deficient Grace”

      Verse 1:Total Depravity Terminated

      On neutral ground, I’ll make my choice
      Detached from death in sin
      Able to see iniquity
      And will myself to him

      Verse 2:Unconditional Election Conditioned

      Twas grace that made me savable
      But did not make it sure
      It took my will to make it real
      And it may not endure

      Verse 3:Limited Atonement Limited

      The blood he shed, he shed for all
      A mere symbol of his love
      Held no real pow’r in of itself
      Just vain hope from above

      Verse 4:Irresistible Grace Resisted

      This god is but a gentleman
      Not wanting to intrude
      We have rejected o’er and o’er
      While he, for us, has wooed

      Verse 5: Perseverance of the Saints Perished

      I willed myself to be redeemed
      On one of my smart days
      So if I sin badly enough
      I’ll probably fall away


      Alternate Verse 5:

      Though he’s big enough to justify
      And hold me in his hand
      I’m strong enough to leave his grip
      And thwart his pseudo-plan

      HT: Reformers, Puritans, and a Geek

      END OF POST.


      The Real Jesus DVD: An Antidote for Liberal "Christianity"
      (DVD Review)

      Sunday, February 10, 2008

      Liberal "Christianity". There's an oxymoron if I've ever heard one yet there are many in the land today that are professing that we can believe things like "Jesus didn't do miracles" or "Jesus didn't actually raise from the dead literally" and still be believers in the actual, historical Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It's almost as ridiculous as saying something like you can not literally send money to pay your bills yet your bills are still payed. It doesn't make any sense. It seems, however, that the Discovery Channel, ABC, etc. doesn't take that into consideration when they are looking for advice on a topic as long as the person they reference has "Dr.", "expert", or "scholar" associated with their name in some sense which leads us to the topic at hand: the Jesus Seminar. Several years ago, ABC and Peter Jennings gave a documentary called The Search for Jesus in which they looked to liberal "Christians" to try and explain some of the things that are harder to believe than others regarding Our Lord and Savior, the historical Jesus Christ.

      Several years have gone by since 2000, and there have been various wonderful rebuttals. James White has even debated John Dominic Crossan on the subject of "Is the Bible True?" Still, there has been a lingering sense that the Jesus Seminar has had a "stranglehold" on Christianity for many years now. Many take their arguments as canon and still consider themselves to be believers in Jesus Christ despite the glaring errors and misrepresentations in the Seminar's "scholarship". That's where this documentary comes in...

      The Apologetics Group whose documentaries include the Hell's Bells series and Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism has come together with some of the same people from the Amazing Grace documentary including George Grant and Stephen Mansfield along with some others including James P. Holding of Tektonics Ministries and Phillip G. Kayser of Bilibcal Blueprints to give their newest one: The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

      First, let me say that I am going to watch this documentary again in the next week, Lord willing. I took the LSAT last weekend which was between the time I first received it and finished it so I didn't get to give it the amount of attention that I would have liked to. Even if I would have not had the test, though, I don't believe that I would have been able to take it all in in just one sitting. It is so full of wonderful material not only debunking the myths put out by liberals, but also expounding upon the wonderful facts that they meet the liberal's arguments with that I believe I would have only been able to take in about 65% of it at once aside from any other responsibilities. In fact, they do such a great job of elaborating on the truths and accuracy of the Scriptures, I found myself pressing the pause button often just to take it all in. It is such a convincing piece of work that I believe it to be vital to anyone who is seriously weighing the issues proposed by liberal "scholars" and those who hold to faith in Christ.

      The documentary is sectioned into 10 parts: the opening, the introduction, 7 myths proposed by the higher critics, and the conclusion. They tackle the 7 most popular myths that are being raised by the skeptics. They don't waste time with them, either. If after you watch this documentary, you are still convinced that the liberals have actual arguments, then you just haven't given this documentary an honest evaluation. Such topics include "Did Jesus really do miracles?" "Was Jesus literally raised from the dead?" and this sample clip of Myth #1 "Is the 'historical Jesus' different from the Jesus of the Bible.

      The entire documentary is just as thorough as this clip if not more. It takes myth by myth and debunks each one with true scholarship and logic and not subjective opinion. On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest, I give it a 4.8. It is a worthy addition to anyone's library who is looking to understand not only the historical accuracy of the Bible, but also how to answer the skeptics who wish to denounce it's claims.

      You can get this HERE

      and HERE.

      END OF POST.


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