Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Biographical Sketch: J.I. Packer

In addition to the “Bible study,” “evangelism,” and “personal” posts I have been publishing to this blog, I would like to begin posting some short biographical sketches of Bible teachers and theologians who have had an impact on my life for Christ. I begin today with J.I. Packer.

Educated at Oxford University, Dr. James I. Packer has served as assistant minister at St. John’s Church of England, Harborne, Birmingham and Senior Tutor and Principle at Tyndale Hall (an Anglican Seminary in Bristol). He preaches and lectures widely in Great Britain and America and contributes frequently to theological periodicals. His writings include Fundamentalism and the Word of God, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, Knowing God, and Growing in Christ.[1]

In 1978, Dr. Packer signed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.[2] In 1994, Dr. Packer signed the ecumenical document Evangelicals and Catholics Together[3] and contributed to the book that came about as a result of this document. Dr. Packer has retired from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he was a Professor of Theology, though he still offers occasional courses or conferences.[4]

Admittedly, Packer’s involvement in Evangelicals and Catholics Together is inexcusable. Packer could certainly outline the differences between a Roman Catholic and Protestant understanding of the Gospel better than I can, and he should be able to see how partnering with the Roman system in this way is a violation of II Corinthians 6:14-18. Nevertheless, this error on Dr. Packer’s part does not invalidate his entire ministry.

The principle way I have been taught by the writings of J.I. Packer is in the area of evangelism. Think of this dilemma, which has occurred to Christians throughout the ages: If God already knows every aspect of the future, if He already knows what He is going to do in any given situation, and if He already knows our every desire as well as what is truly best for us and others, then why do we pray? Similarly we may ask, “If God is entirely sovereign in salvation (as the Bible clearly indicates He is in passages such as John 6:44, Romans 9:18, Ephesians 1:3-11, Ephesians 2:8-9, etc.), then why do we evangelize?” In his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, Dr. Packer explores this question and sheds light on true human responsibility as empowered by God’s sovereignty.

Another way that Packer has helped my thinking has been in terms of meditation on the work of Jesus, particularly His work of substitutionary atonement on the Cross. In this regard, I commend to you Packer’s essays, “The Logic of Penal Substitution” and his introductory essay to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.

Update 7/3/07: Today the Reformation 21 blog posted an article by J.I. Packer titled, "Penal Sustitution Revisited." (HT:: Timmy Brister)

[1] Packer, A Quest for Godliness, back cover.

[2] Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1979), 4:211-219. [on-line]; accessed 3 June 2007,; Internet.

[3] Evangelical Times (1994). [on-line]; accessed 3 June 2007,; Internet.

[4] Regent College: Retired, Emeritus & Board of Govenors Professors. [on-line]; accessed 3 June 2007,; Internet.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Evangelistic Encounters: 6/23/07

[Before reading the following post, I ask you to read the post Evangelistic Encounters: Introduction, if you haven't already done so.]

As usual on Saturdays, I went with my friend Brian Shank out into the community around our church in order to evangelize. Today, we distributed about eight Ultimate Questions booklets and had more lengthy conversations with three people. The rest of this post will focus on those conversations. These accounts are merely summaries of some of the most important sections of the conversations, as best as I can recall.

The first man we really spoke with did not return our greeting, so I don’t know his name. When we said that we were from Kosmosdale Baptist Church he asked, “Have they got a pastor yet?” in an antagonistic manner. I simply replied that Tray Earnhart has been the pastor for about two years [on further reflection, it has been closer to three years]. The man said that he had been baptized at KBC, but that he no longer attends church because he does not believe in the Bible. I asked him why he does not believe the Bible to be true. He replied that he studied it and found it false. When pressed to give an example of why he thinks the Bible is false, he said that it contained exaggerated numbers. Brian said that the numbers were sometimes given in rounded figures, but that these did not constitute an error in Scripture. The man said that he did not believe in miracles, because he does not see them occurring today. Brian pointed out that the mere existence of the orderly creation we see around us is proof of a miracle. The man said that he did not believe in creation the way it is taught in the Bible, but believes in the scientific account instead. Brian began pressing him concerning the claims of the Bible, and attempting to challenge his faith in science. The man finally just muttered something at us, turned around while Brian was still speaking, and walked into his house.

Next, we talked to a man named Robert who is a member of Heritage Baptist Church and said (basically) that he is trusting in Jesus for his salvation. Brian asked Robert about a statue of Mary in his yard. Robert said that the statue belonged to his grandmother, and that he did not want to disrespect her by removing it, though he realized that some people take devotion to Mary too far. As far as we could ascertain in such a short conversation, Robert seemed to be a genuine believer (we had even interrupted him as he was about to do his daily devotion).

The final conversation that I will mention in this entry was with a woman named Nicole who said she is a Catholic. She did not want to speak to us at first, because she thought that our main goal was to get her to become Baptist. I told her that our intention was not so much that she become Baptist as to tell her about eternal life in Jesus Christ, pointing out that when one reads the Gospel accounts this is a question people ask Jesus, “How can I have eternal life?” I asked her if she were standing before God and He asked her, “Why should I grant you eternal life?” what she would say. She replied, “Because I’ve been a good person.” I said, “Let’s see if that’s true. You’re familiar with the Ten Commandments, right?” She said, “Yes.” I pointed out that the ninth commandment is, “You shall not bear false witness,” and I asked her if she had ever told a lie. She said, “Yes.” I said, “If I told a lie, what would you call me?” She said, “A liar.” So I said, “Then if you tell a lie, that shows you to be a liar, and that is what we all are.” I took her through a couple of the other commandments, and then I asked, “If God were to judge you by these commandments would He find you innocent or guilty?” She said, “I think He’d find me innocent, but I’m not sure, but I don’t think I’ve broken all the commands, and I think I’m still a good person.” I pointed out the verse from James that says, “If you keep the whole Law, and yet stumble at just one point, you are guilty of all of it,” explaining the verse in some detail. She said she understood and agreed. At about this point, Brian took over, articulating (as he always does so well) how our seemingly minor sins are of infinite importance because they are against an infinite God. He pointed out the corruption sin has brought into the world, and the hatred of God against sin. Then he spoke of the Gospel– of Jesus’ death as payment for the sins of all who would believe in Him, and His resurrection. Brian expertly contrasted the biblical Gospel of grace with the Roman Catholic “gospel” of the sacraments. Nicole seemed to receive all of this thoughtfully. I told her forthrightly that her answer about why she thought she should have eternal life– that she considered herself to be a good person– gave us cause for concern. I contrasted this answer with the biblical evaluation of our sinfulness and our need for a Savior; that we must trust in the work of Christ and not in ourselves if we are to be saved. Brian spoke some more to her. She said she would read through Ultimate Questions and tell her fiancé (who apparently lives with her) about our church.

Please pray for those mentioned above, especially for the first man we spoke with and for Nicole, that the Lord would confront them with who He is and who they are in light of His holiness, and that they would find salvation in Christ Jesus.


Evangelistic Encounters: Introduction

It is my usual practice on Saturdays to go with my friend Brian Shank into the neighborhood around our church (Kosmosdale Baptist Church) to talk to people about the church and (much more importantly) about the Lord Jesus Christ. Until now, I have not mentioned this on the blog for the same reason I don't write about myself much at all- I am concerned that in being too self-referential, especially in connection with the spiritual disciplines, I may become foolishly puffed up with pride. Praying about this, however, I've decided that the following benefits are compelling reasons to write about what Brian and I are doing each week:

  1. By recording our attempts to proclaim the Gospel others may be encouraged to be more faithful in witnessing.
  2. These accounts may help to keep me accountable in providing a witness to the lost.
  3. These accounts may facilitate conversation, leading to greater wisdom in how we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
  4. These accounts may help to dispell the erroneous notion that theological education stifles evangelism.
  5. In reading these accounts, additional prayers may be offered up on behalf of those Brian and I speak with.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

An Evening With Friends

Last evening, we had friends of ours from church (Kosmosdale Baptist Church) over for supper: Evan and Autumn Stewart, and Brian and Lindsay Shank. Evan and Autumn are moving away to Montana soon [for among other reasons] to be with Autumn’s family as their first child is about to be born. We had them over and Brian and Lindsay along with Abby and I gave them presents for the baby. Please pray for Evan and Autumn as they travel and as they prepare to become new parents.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Said@Southern Day

Tony Kummer, a fellow student of mine here at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has assembled an excellent blog giving news about and relevant to Southern Seminary. This blog, named Said at Southern Seminary also features links to blogs from Southern Seminary faculty, students, and alumni as well as links to audio from audio files either recorded here at Southern or by Southern Seminary faculty speaking at other events. Though Said@Southern has been on the Internet for awhile, Tony and others have been working to re-edit the blog to make it as useful as possible to anyone viewing the site. Today is the official "launch" for Said@Southern, and I encourage everyone reading this blog to check it out HERE.

[BTW- Today is also the 40th anniversary of the release of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, and it is my 28th birthday. The best birthday present I anticipate receiving is the Matthew Henry Study Bible (KJV) from my wife.]