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, February 27, 2009

The Best Gospel Tract

In my opinion, the "Experiencing God's Grace" tract [which can be read on-line HERE] is the best mass-produced evangelistic tract available.

I plan to write more about this wonderful tract tomorrow.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chapel notes, 2/26/09

[Read the official chapel live-blog at Towers Online. Hear spring semester chapel sermons of Southern Seminary HERE.]

Dr. Hershael York, Professor of Preaching at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It," 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.

1 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (ESV)

I. Intro. In Southern Baptist life, we have often misstated the doctrine of eternal security. It is true that a person once regenerated cannot be un-regenerated. But just because a person prays a prayer or their name is on a church roll somewhere, that does not necessarily mean he or she is a Christian.
II. Historical context. The Israelites had the right:
A. Experiences
B. Ceremonies
C. Nourishment
->But the majority of the Israelites were not eternally secure. Their desires were yet for evil.
III. Manifestations of the Israelites' desires for evil:
A. Idolatry. Evangelicalism today also tends toward idolatry, downplaying God's wrath.
B. Adultery. "An aberrant view of God leads to an aberrant view of self and sexuality."
C. Tempting Christ. This term refers to living according to our pleasures and expecting God to bless. All God's commandments are for our good.
D. Grumbling.
IV. God provides the believer a way of escape from every temptation:
A. So we need not grumble.
B. We need not chafe under God's commandments.
C. Christians are free from adultery.
D. We can rejoice in the true God and flee idolatry.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sermon notes, 2/22/09

[I thought that I had lost these notes, and that is why I am just now posting them.]

Pastor Tray Earnhart, "Justice to His Elect," Luke 18:1-8.

1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (ESV)

Intro.: We live in an instant, impatient culture.

Cross-references: Exodus 2:23ff.; Exodus 14:5-12. The Israelites had an instantaneous mindset, but Moses did not and endured their complaints.

Transition: We should have an enduring prayer: "Thy kingdom come."

2 motivations for endurance:
[Connection to Luke 17, speaking about the coming of God's kingdom.]
1. We MUST pray without losing heart.
a. Delay is to be expected.
b. The passage is related to the biblical idea of continual prayer.
c. As the widow had no where else to go for justice, we have no where else to go for justice.
-> Unlike the judge in the parable, God is perfectly just (Deuteronomy 32:1-4).
2. God has promised to act in justice on behalf of His elect.
a. God will bring justice without unnecessary delay or reluctance.
b. The question is raised whether the elect will be faithful in persistent prayer for the return of Christ.

Challenge: Would we be disappointed if Christ returned today?

Call for response: We must turn to Christ now to flee the judgment that is coming.

[The audio file for this sermon should be available soon HERE.]

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chapel notes, 2/24/09

[Read the official chapel live-blog at Towers Online. Hear spring semester chapel sermons of Southern Seminary HERE.]

Dr. Timothy Beougher, Professor of Evangelism at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “Compelled to Share,” 1 Corinthians 9:6-23.

1. We commit to share the gospel. (“Woe is me if I do not share the gospel.”)
2. We commit to share the gospel with all types of people.
a. To the Jews, not creating any unnecessary stumbling blocks.
b. To the Gentiles, not imposing any unnecessary ceremonies.
c. To the weak.
d. Becoming all things to all men.
i. This does not mean, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” in the sense of compromising one’s character.
ii. This does not mean compromising morals, for Paul was under the law of Christ.
iii. This means having patience and compassion for the non-Christians with whom we share.
iv. This means laying aside our supposed rights to have things our way when we share the gospel; we do not have the privilege of demanding our rights as Christians. We do not have the right to only associate with people like us, to be comfortable, to use our resources selfishly, or not to be bothered by bothersome people.
3. We share the gospel with a view to a response.
a. Paul did not shrink back from speaking about “winning” people for Christ.
b. Paul had not forgotten the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.
c. Paul had a right view of means.
d. Paul was not content with just imparting information, but he wanted to see life transformation.
4. We must have a passion for sharing the gospel.
a. Paul wrote that he did all things for the sake of the gospel.
b. Paul had not forgotten that we do all things for the glory of God.
c. It is easier to speak of living for the glory of God than to actually live for the glory of God.
d. God is supremely glorified in the salvation of sinners.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Thomas Aquinas On Original Sin, Part 2.

From Summa Theologica:

Treatise on Habits in Particular, Question 81, Article 2: Whether also other sins of the first parent or of nearer ancestors are transmitted to their descendants?

If Original Sin is transmitted from Adam to the entire human race, are other sins of ancestors passed to their children? The Scriptures may appear to teach that they are in passages such as Exodus 20:5b, in which God speaks of, "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me," (NKJV).

Thomas answers the above question in the negative. He points out that,

The reason is that a man begets his like in species but not in individual. Consequently those things that pertain directly to the individual, such as personal actions and matters affecting them, are not transmitted by parents to their children:

Thomas gives the example of one who learns a skill; the skill that is learned is not then passed on to the child. Likewise, a sin that is committed is not passed on to the child. On the other hand, characteristics of a species are passed on to the children. Thomas teaches that the original justice (an upright standing before God) possessed by Adam would have characterized the human species and thus been passed on to his descendants. A chief consequence of Original Sin, however, is that the human race is characterized by sin, and thus a sinful nature is passed on to Adam's descendants. It is interesting to note that in writing on this sinful nature, Thomas defines it as "a proneness to sin."

In regards to Exodus 20:5b, Thomas argues that passages such as Ezekiel 18:4 [Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. (KJV)] into account. Each soul stands accountable before God for his own sins. Thomas understands Ezodus 20:5b to speak of temporal punishments suffered for the sins of parents (as when, to borrow an example he uses elsewhere, the children of a banished criminal suffer by living in a banished condition themselves), and not of spiritual punishments.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thomas Aquinas On Original Sin, Part 1.

From Summa Theologica:

Treatise on Habits in Particular, Question 81, Article 1: Whether the first sin of our first parent is contracted by his descendants, by way of origin?

Thomas lists four philosophical objections to the transmission of Original Sin, but only one possible biblical objection- that from Ezekiel 18:20, "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father." Thomas then replies from Romans 5:12, "By one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death." Thomas points out that a denial of the transmission of Original Sin is part of the Pelagian heresy.

Thomas directly replies to the objection raised from Ezekiel 18:20 with the following:
The son is said not to bear the iniquity of his father, because he is not punished for his father's sin, unless he share in his guilt. It is thus in the case before us: because guilt is transmitted by the way of origin from father to son, even as actual sin is transmitted through being imitated.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Addition to my proposed course of study on Original Sin

For my current study on Original Sin [explained HERE] I proposed the following readings-
-of which I have read Augustine and Anselm in the past two months. In the above list, I neglected to include Thomas Aquinas, who has also been highly influential on the doctrine of Original Sin in Historical Theology. Over the next few days, I plan to read Thomas' writings on Original Sin from Summa Theologica.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chapel notes, 2/19/09

[Read the official chapel live-blog at Towers Online. Hear spring semester chapel sermons of Southern Seminary HERE.]

Dr. Mark Dever. 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13,

10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?
Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. (NKJV)

3 goods Paul prayed for the Thessalonians:
1. That he might be present with them to supply what is lacking in their faith.
"Even those who outdistance others are still a long way from their goal."-John Calvin
a. Paul is not hesitant to publicly mention the lack in the Thessalonians' faith.
b. Paul's prayer demonstrates and depends on the sovereignty of God.
c. Paul's prayer demonstrates and depends on the deity of Christ.
2. That the Thessalonians' love would be increased.
a. The prayer is that the Thessalonians would increase in love without reference to a change in those who are loved, which demonstrates that the love is not dependent on the worthiness of the one loved.
b. Paul set the example of love to the Thessalonians, and we must set the example of love for those to whom God has called us to minister.
"God does not consider what we can do, but demands of us what is beyond our capacity, so we may learn to ask of Him..."-John Calvin
3. That the Thessalonians would be accepted by God.
a. The love Paul desires for the Thessalonians is intended to make them persevere in godliness and character.
b. Our claims to love by God are mocked if we do not love others.
c. The "blamelessness in holiness" is a manifestation that God has done a saving work in the heart.

Notice what Paul does not pray for- sheer numbers of attendees- instead, he focuses on spiritual growth. This is the kind of church growth we must be passionate about in ministry.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chapel notes, 2/17/09

[Read the official chapel live-blog at Towers Online. Hear spring semester chapel sermons of Southern Seminary HERE.]

"Gospel Clarity and the Call to Suffer." Matthew 16:13-28. Dr. Denny Burk, dean of Boyce College.

We live in a culture that is in opposition to Jesus Christ. This problem is often within our own congregation.

Dr. Burk talked about treating the "sinner's prayer" as a magical incantation, confessing that he had done this in his younger days.

1. Gospel confession (vv. 13-20)
a. Jesus' question to the disciples (v.13)
b. The crowd's consensus that Jesus was some kind of prophet (v.14)
i. This consensus shows that the crowd was either too ignorant or too belligerent to acknowledge Christ for who He is.
ii. To say a whole lot of good things about Jesus without saying the main things about Him is unfaithfulness and disrespect on our part.
c. Peter's confession of Christ (vv. 15-16)
i. "Christ," as explained through OT prophesies of the Messiah, refers to Israel's deliverer.
ii. "Son of God," as explained through OT prophesies of the descendant of David called "the Son of God," refers to the true, everlasting king of the world.
d. God's causing this confession (vv. 17-20)
i. God's power reveals the gospel.
ii. [Cross-reference to John 6...]
iii. This means that we must not try to gloss over difficult parts of the gospel to "sell" it.

2. Gospel clarification (vv. 21-23)
a. Jesus gospel work explained (v.21)
b. Peter's rebuke of Jesus (v.22)
c. Jesus' opposition to the temptation coming through Peter (v.23)

3. Gospel call (vv. 24-28)
a. As Jesus had to die, His disciples must die as well; death is the way of discipleship (v.24)
b. Jesus presents a paradox, based on different senses of the word "life" (v.25-28)
i. Death is not a net loss, but a net gain, for disciples of Jesus.
ii. Disciples of Jesus can face death without fear due to the gospel promises.
iii. The Great Commission, according to the way Jesus defines His terms, means that we go throughout the world teaching people to be willing to die for Jesus.
iv. The gospel will not go throughout the world without martyrs.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Personal Confession of Faith, Article V. Election

[If you haven't done so already, please read the introduction HERE.]

I believe that God, before the foundation of the world, for His own glory did elect a great host of men and women to eternal life as an act of free and sovereign grace (Eph 1:4-6; Rev 5:11). This election was in no way dependent upon His foresight of human faith, decision, works, or merit, but of His mere mercy in Christ (Acts 13:48; Rom 4:4-5; 5:6-8; 9:16; Eph 2:9; 2 Tim 1:9)-- in consequence of which choice the elect are called, justified and glorified (Rom 8:29-30).


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Discussion of Reinhold Niebuhr on "Speaking of Faith"

On Speaking of Faith this week (broadcast in Louisville at 6AM this morning), an discussion was aired between host Krista Tippett, conservative columnist David Brooks, and liberal columnist E.J. Dionne about the current significance of twentieth century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. The broadcast of this discussion was titled "Obama's Theologian," since President Obama has cited Niebuhr as a major influence, but in the last half of the program (the half I heard) President Obama was barely mentioned, with the focus placed on other aspects of Niebuhr's legacy.

As I am not very familiar with Niebuhr, I can offer little here in the way of critique or comment, except to say that from the little that I know of Niebuhr, it seems like he had a more realistic view of the effects of sin on society, and therefore the impossibility of bringing about the kingdom of God through sheer human effort, than the "Yes We Can!" position of the current administration.

The conversation on the broadcast was very interesting, and I encourage readers to listen to it HERE.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pre-Evangelistic Encounter: 2/13/09

Last night while at work, one of my co-workers asked me about what kind of music I liked. My first response was ,"SKA!" This was interesting to my co-worker [again, I refer to him only as "my co-worker" in case he would be embarrassed to see his name here] as he has a brother who is the only other person he knows that listens to SKA. I asked him what kind of music he liked, and he said that he likes all kinds of music except rap. I asked him why he didn't like rap, and he said that he finds all the focus on sex and money in rap to be degrading.

Now, I consider this co-worker a friend, and so I have been looking for a good opportunity to speak to him about the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done. One of the difficulties in talking to people about this good news is that we must also talk to them about the bad news of sin- a concept to which most people don't give much thought. Thinking about this for a couple of minutes as we worked, I realized that what my co-worker said about why he didn't like rap should provide a great opportunity to talk about sin and then about the salvation from sin that is in Jesus.

Finally, I spoke, pointing out that it seems like most people are focused on sex and money- that these are considered to be the most important things in life, as seen by what is played on the radio and what is shown on TV. My co-worker agreed, pointing out some examples of rock songs that focused on sex. I asked him what he thought was the most important thing in life, and he replied, "family."

As I was about to continue the conversation, my boss called me to another work area, and I did not get to converse with my co-worker again for the rest of the night. I ask that any Christian reading this post would pray for my co-worker, that he would come to see Christ as of supreme importance.


Friday, February 13, 2009

God's Permission of Sin

As I have been posting my personal confession of faith on this blog [explanation HERE], the last article I posted was on providence. In this article I confess that "all events occur by absolute necessity." Some would certainly question whether such a confession would make God the author of sin, and so I proceed to confess, " yet not so as to be the author or approver of sin (1 Cor 14:33; Jas 1:13; 1 John 1:5)." How can it be that God is in absolute control of all events and yet He is not "the author or approver of sin"? One foundational element to understanding how these sections of my confession (based on confessions from the Protestant Reformation) fit together is the teaching that while God is in control of both good and evil, there is a difference in the quality and manner of His control over good and evil [see Bruce A. Ware, Perspectives on the Doctrine of God, 105-106]. While the Bible teaches that God creates good things and acts in good ways, the Bible does not teach that God creates sin or acts in evil ways. Instead the Bible teaches that God in His sovereignty and for His good purposes permits (or does not permit) evil agents to carry out their intentions. To give two biblical examples of where this language of permission is used:

12 The demons begged Him, "Send us to the pigs, so we may enter them." 13 And He gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs, and the herd of about 2,000 rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there. (Mark 5:12-13 HCSB, emphasis added)

He [Laban] has cheated me and changed my wages 10 times. But God has not let him harm me. (Genesis 31:7 HCSB, emphasis added)

To this, we may add the introduction of the book of Job, in which Satan has an evil intention concerning Job, but Satan must have God's permission before he can touch Job. The evil intentions belong to the Satan, his angels, and to sinners. God's sovereignty over these agents does not involve placing evil intentions in them, but only in granting them permission, which permission is granted for His good purposes.

As Joseph said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery years before:

You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result-the survival of many people. (Genesis 50:20 HCSB)


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chapel notes, 2/12/09.

[Read the official chapel live-blog at Towers Online. Hear spring semester chapel sermons of Southern Seminary HERE.]

Gene Mims, senior pastor, Judson Baptist Church, Nashville, TN. “You as God’s Workmanship.”

Ephesians 2:8-10:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (NASB)

We are God’s workmanship:

I. Grace
A. In spite of our sinful condition
B. From before the foundation of the world
II. Saved
A. In the state of having been saved
B. In spite of the fact that we still struggle with sin
III. Faith
A. Salvation comes through faith throughout redemption history
B. Like grace and salvation, this faith is a work of God

Our theology and how our theology works out in our lives should be changed by the above and by the extension of these truths in verse 10. That we are God’s workmanship should transform our self-understanding, so that we are not satisfied with a mediocre existence. That we are God’s workmanship speaks to the corporate nature of God’s work in this world, and guards us against a self-centered existence.

We are not to focus on our ministries on merely “helping people through the tough times,” on addressing the economy, or environmental issues, but we are to focus on the truths of God’s amazing grace.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Quote from Dr. Adrian Rogers on Economics

The following quote from late Southern Baptist statesman Dr. Adrian Rogers has been making its way around the Internet as it is appropriate to attempted governmental solutions to our current economic crisis:

You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chapel notes, 2/10/09.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. "And When You Pray: Or, Why Jesus Doesn't Think Much of Standard Fare Christian Prayer." Matt 6:5-8. [Read the official chapel live-blog at Towers Online. Hear spring semester chapel sermons of Southern Seminary HERE.]

5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:5-8. The above is from the NIV, due to my preference of this translation for this particular passage– Dr. Mohler read from the ESV.)

A person’s prayer reveals that person’s theology.

The way that we teach our children to pray is often a form of child abuse– not that we shouldn’t teach our children words to pray, but we should encourage them in heart-felt prayer as soon as possible, to avoid leading them in vain repetition.

2 dimensions of prayer:
1. Private prayer (passages such as the one above reveal that private prayer for Christians is an assumption).
2. Public prayer (this is an assignment for Christians, as seen in the Lord’s Prayer, when the pronouns are first person plural, rather than singular).

Presuppositions upon which prayer is based:
1. We are able to commune with God because we are made in His image.
2. Prayer is not an exercise in human creativity– we must pray in spirit and in truth.

Misconceptions concerning prayer:
1. That prayer is therapy (prayer may rightly disturb rather than soothe us, depending on our circumstances).
2. That prayer is an exercise in manipulation.
3. That prayer is for the purpose of persuading God (as if God were complacent or hostile toward us as Christians).
4. That prayer is an exercise in bargaining or negotiating.

Correctives to our prayer from this text:
1. We are not to pray to impress other people.
2. We are not to pray to impress God.


Monday, February 09, 2009

"In the Study:" A New Feature of Southern Seminary Chapel Messages On-Line

This semester for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary the on-line recordings of the chapel messages are being appended by a short interview with each speaker in a feature called, "In the Study." I, for one, think that this new feature is a great idea, as it allows listeners access to intelligent questions and answers exploring exegetical, theological, and practical application issues raised by the chapel messages.

This semester's Southern Seminary chapel messages, including "In the Study," can be heard HERE.

Update: I just listened to the second chapel service of the semester and "In the Study" was not included. Hopefully, it will be back for future recordings.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Discussion of Charles Darwin on "Speaking of Faith"

On the radio broadcast Speaking of Faith broadcast in Louisville this morning, Krista Tippett discusses Charles Darwin with Darwin scholar James Moore [hear the broadcast HERE].

Tippett's agenda in this interview seems to be threefold:
  1. To demonstrate that Darwin was not himself an atheist.
  2. To assert that faith is not incompatible with Darwinistic evolution.
  3. To deny a literal reading of Scripture.

According to Tippett, Darwin takes particular exception to the idea of God's extensive sovereignty in predestination. Tippett speaks of Darwin liberating God from the responsibility for suffering; Darwin apparently taught that God initiated certain natural processes and that these processes, apart from God's direct control, are responsible for the violence seen in nature.

In relation to this last point, I would direct readers' attention to John Piper's article, "Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained that Evil Be?"

An interesting and foundational point is made at one point in the interview by Tippett when she contrasts the idea of interpreting Scripture in light of scientific observation vs. interpreting scientific observation in light of Scripture. I would question what kind of God one would discover using scientific observation as a starting point, especially in light of Richard Dawkin's objections to theism based on scientific observations. From Scripture, we know that this world is captive to sin, and that there are many aspects of this world that directly contradict God's goodness, rather than the violence of this world proving that God is evil. From Scripture, we know that this world needs a Redeemer.

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