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.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Application of Matthew 18:10 to Abortion

See that you don’t look down on one of these little ones; for I tell you that their angels in heaven always behold the face of my Father in heaven.

We see from Jesus' words above that we are not to "look down on" (i.e., "think against," "despise," or "disdain") the little ones. But we must recognize that there is a multi-million dollar industry in America that is built on despising the little ones: the abortion industry.

The total number of deaths due to legal abortions in America stands somewhere above 45 million at this time. And, yet, it’s hard to be certain of the exact number, because so-called “Womens Surgical Centers” often mask the reporting of abortions by including the procedure under otherwise anonymous gynecological treatment. Nor does that 45 million deaths include all those children aborted by misnamed contraceptive devices, which do not prevent conception, but rather generate a spontaneous miscarriage whenever there is a conception.

As John Piper has observed, “In the United States today, you can be fined $5000 and imprisoned for up to a year for breaking an eagle’s egg, you can be imprisoned and fined for stealing a sea turtle egg, and yet our babies are being killed daily with little outcry.” Surely we, as a nation, have been guilty of despising the little ones.

But think of a woman who is fearful of a pregnancy that she thinks she has no resources to manage, a woman who is irritated and frustrated by the way this new life has overturned her own – how can such a woman turn away from her own fears or her own self-centeredness and embrace, instead of despise, the little one in her womb? A woman in such a “crisis pregnancy” situation must have a gospel witness and she must see the example of Christians who can model self-sacrificial family living for her and offer her the support that she will absolutely need. Jesus said we are to be the light of the world; so we must seek for ways to be light in this dark, to keep from turning our backs on the little ones.

[Many of the thoughts and phrases above are from the sermon "Abortion: Where From Here?" by William Mouser.]

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Friday, April 29, 2011

The proper question is not what God "has to" do, but what God has revealed.

In a recent "debate"/discussion between Adrian Warnock and Rob Bell [available HERE], Bell (arguing that repentance and salvation are possible after death) asked Warnock the following:
So [you're saying] God has to create a situation-- to be true to God's judgment-- in which there is, for this person, it [i.e. "Hell"] is fixed, it goes on, into the future with no end, and there is no hope,
But this is the wrong question. The question is not what God has to do in some theoretical sense. The question is what God has revealed concerning the truth of the afterlife. We do not get to first decide what things it makes sense to us that God must or must not do, and then read Scripture in light of what we think God has to be like; instead, we must learn the truth concerning who God is and what He has done from His Word, and then let that truth shape our thoughts and conscience.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Matthew 18:1-14 Overview

[The following overview draws from my earlier outline of Matthew 18:1-14.]

Due, perhaps, to experience of certain apostles witnessing the transfiguration, mentioned in the last chapter, the disciples begin to ask Jesus “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

In response to this question, Jesus emphasizes the necessity of becoming "childlike" in order to enter and become great in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus takes this mention of children as an opportunity to speak about the necessity of receiving children and refraining from causing believing children to sin; this concern for children (those who are naturally the most powerless in society, and who can be so easily overlooked by powerful men) ties into the issue of humbling oneself that Jesus mentioned above; it takes humility to be concerned about children.

Having mentioned "sin" in His warning against causing the little ones to sin, Jesus emphasizes the seriousness of sin, pronouncing woes upon agents involved in temptation, and illustrating the severity with which sin must be dealt. Jesus says, "Woe to the world for temptations to sin," but then He explains, "For it is necessary that temptations come:" God, in His sovereignty, has ordained that temptations should come as a part of His plan to glorify Himself in the redemption of sinners. The natural man might conclude from the truth of God's absolute control that people will not be held accountable for bringing temptation to others, but Jesus answers such thoughts with "woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!" This leads into a discussion concerning the severity with which sin must be dealt.

Jesus returns to the above theme of care for children, giving a warning against despising little ones. Jesus gives a specific basis for this warning: namely, the privileged position of the little ones' angels before God; Jesus indicates that the little ones' angels have a continual audience with God, which ensures that they are always able to bring the case of the "little ones" before Him, to receive His judgment against those who would discriminate against them.

The parable of the lost sheep is obviously a story that was told by Jesus many times; in the Gospel According to Luke, this parable is told alongside the parable of the lost coin and the lost son to illustrate God's joy over the salvation of sinners, but in this context the parable serves as an illustration of the Father's care for the little ones. At the conclusion of this parable, Jesus reveals the Father's will concerning the little ones: that it is not His will for any of them to perish.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

God's Special Love for the Little Ones

As the elders at Kosmosdale Baptist Church have been faithful to point out in the years I have been a member there, many people in our culture have an over-sentimentalized view of God in which God is thought to be only love, and His holiness, justice, and wrath are ignored.

Given this problem, thoughtful Christians may tend to think that the idea of God having a special love for small children comes about due to such carnal sentimentality; one may come to the conclusion that there is no reason God should have a special love for small children since we are all by nature children under wrath (Eph 2:3).

But the idea that God has a special love for small children does not come about due to wishful thinking, but due to the words of Jesus. After having warned His disciples, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones" on the basis that their angels have a privileged position before the face of His heavenly Father (Matt 18:10), Jesus declares, "So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish" (Matt 18:14).

We need to look into the ramifications of God's special love for the little ones, but the first thing we must do is to joyfully acknowledge that God does have such a love, and that small children are spoken about with terms that are not applied to humanity in general.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Outline of Matthew 18:1-14

[This next Lord's Day, I have the privilege of preaching the morning sermon at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. I plan on preaching from Matthew 18:1-14. I construct the following outline as part of an exercise in close observation of the text.]

I. Who Is the Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? (vv. 1-6)
A. The question asked and answered (vv. 1-4)
1. The disciples ask Jesus “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (v. 1)
2. Jesus sets a child in their midst (v. 2)
3. The necessity of becoming like children to enter the kingdom of heaven (v. 3)
4. The above question answered (v. 4)
B. Receiving a child in Jesus' name or causing a little one to stumble (vv. 5-6)
1. Receiving a child in Jesus' name (v. 5)
2. Causing a little one to stumble (v. 6)

II. Temptations to Sin (vv. 7-9)
A. Woes concerning temptation (v. 7)
1. "Woe to the world for temptations to sin" (v. 7a)
2. "For it is necessary that temptations come" (v. 7b)
3. "woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!" (v. 7c)
B. The severity with which sin must be dealt (vv. 8-9)

III. The Parable of the Lost Sheep (vv. 10-14)
A. Warning against despising little ones (v. 10)
B. Illustration of the Father's care for the little ones (vv. 12-13)
C. The Father's will concerning the little ones (v. 14)

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Monday, April 25, 2011

An Outline for the Opening Chapters of the Book of Revelation


REVELATION 1-3

I. Introduction: Chapter 1

A. Introduction to the Revelation: Rev. 1:1-3

1. The mediated Revelation: Rev. 1:1

a. The Revelation from Jesus Christ

b. The Revelation through His messenger

c. The Revelation to His servant John

2. The role of His servant John: Rev. 1:2

3. A beatitude: Rev. 1:3

a. To the one reading and heeding

b. To those hearing and heeding

B. Introduction of the epistle to the seven congregations: Rev. 1:4-8

1. Salutation and blessing from the triune God through His Apostle: Rev. 1:4-5a

2. Dedication of the epistle to Jesus Christ: Rev. 1:5b-6

3. A prophecy of Jesus Christ’s coming: Rev. 1:7-8

a. The prophecy

b. The assurance of the LORD Almighty that His message will come to pass

C. Commission of the Apostle John to write the Book of Revelation: Rev. 1:9-20

1. Context of the commission: Rev. 1:9

2. The command to write the book of Revelation: Rev. 1:10-11

a. The voice like a trumpet: Rev. 1:10

b. The command to write to the seven congregations: Rev. 1:11

3. The vision of the glorified Christ: Rev. 1:12-20

a. The vision of the lamp-stands: Rev. 1:12

b. The clothing of the glorified Son of Man: Rev. 1:13

c. The head of the glorified Son of Man: Rev. 1:14

d. The feet and voice of the glorified Son of Man: Rev. 1:15

e. Further characteristics of the glorified Son of Man: Rev. 1:16

4. Comfort in the person and work of Jesus Christ: Rev. 1:17-18

a. Jesus is the First and the Last– even the Living One: Rev. 1:17-18a

b. Jesus conquered death and Hades: Rev. 1:18b

5. A further command to write: Rev. 1:19-20

a. The command given to John that he will write concerning all of his visions: Rev. 1:19

b. Christ reveals the mystery of the seven stars and seven lamp-stands: Rev. 1:20

II. Letters to the Seven Congregations: Chapters 2-3

A. Letter to the congregation in Ephesus: Rev. 2:1-7

1. Introduction of the Author: Rev. 2:1

2. Commendation of the Ephesians’ works: Rev. 2:2-3

3. Condemnation of the Ephesians’ heart condition: Rev. 2:4

4. Admonition to the Ephesians: Rev. 2:5a

5. Warning to the Ephesians: Rev. 2:5b

6. Additional commendation of the Ephesians: Rev. 2:6

7. Charge to heed the word: Rev. 2:7a

8. Promise to the victor: Rev. 2:7b

B. Letter to the congregation in Smyrna: Rev. 2:8-11

1. Introduction of the Author: Rev. 2:8

2. Acknowledgement of the Smyrnans’ hardships: Rev. 2:9

3. Admonition and encouragement to the Smyrnans: Rev. 2:10

4. Charge to heed the word: Rev. 2:11a

5. Promise to the victor: Rev. 2:11b

C. Letter to the congregation in Pergamum: Rev. 2:12-18

1. Introduction of the Author: Rev. 2:12

2. Acknowledgement of the Pergamenes’ faithfulness under hardships: Rev. 2:13

3. Condemnation of the Pergamenes’ tolerance of the Balaamites: Rev. 2:14

4. Condemnation of the Pergamenes’ tolerance of the Nicolaitans: Rev. 2:15

5. Admonition to the Pergamenes: Rev. 2:16a

6. Warning to the Pergamenes: Rev. 2:16b

7. Charge to heed the word: Rev. 2:17a

8. Promise to the victor: Rev. 2:17b

D. Letter to the congregation in Thyatira: Rev. 2:18-29

1. Introduction of the Author: Rev. 2:18

2. Commendation of the Thyatirans’ works: Rev. 2:19

3. Condemnation of the Thyatirans’ tolerance of Jezebel: Rev. 2:20

4. Impending judgment against Jezebel and her followers: Rev. 2:21-23

5. Encouragement to the remnant in Thyatira: Rev. 2:24

6. Admonition to the remnant in Thyatira: Rev. 2:25

7. Promise to the victor: Rev. 2:26-28

8. Charge to heed the word: Rev. 2:29

E. Letter to the congregation in Sardis: Rev. 3:1-6

1. Introduction of the Author: Rev. 3:1

2. Admonition to the Sardiceans: Rev. 3:2-3

3. Encouragement to the remnant in Sardis: Rev. 3:4

4. Promise to the victor: Rev. 3:5

5. Charge to heed the word: Rev. 3:6

F. Letter to the congregation in Philadelphia: Rev. 3:7-13

1. Introduction of the Author: Rev. 3:7

2. Commendation of the Philadelphians’ works: Rev. 3:8

3. Encouragement to the Philadelphians: Rev. 3:9-10

4. Admonition to the Philadelphians: Rev. 3:11

5. Promise to the victor: Rev. 3:12

6. Charge to heed the word: Rev. 3:13

G. Letter to the congregation in Laodicea: Rev. 3:14-22

1. Introduction of the Author: Rev. 3:14

2. Condemnation of the Laodiceans’ tepidity and pride: Rev. 3:15-17

3. Admonition and encouragement to the Laodiceans: Rev. 3:18-20

4. Promise to the victor: Rev. 3:21

5. Charge to heed the word: Rev. 3:22

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Revelation 2:8

Introduction

Continuing from yesterday, the following verse from the opening chapters of Revelation is likewise, I think, and especially appropriate subject for reflection on this day.

Revelation 2:8

And write to the messenger of the congregation in Smyrna:

The First and the Last, the [one] who became dead and he lives, says these things:


Commentary

The reason for this particular self-introduction from the One commanding John to write, echoed from Revelation 1:17-18, becomes obvious in the following text of the letter to the Smyrnan congregation. The congregation in Smyrna is characterized as being impoverished, being slandered, being made to suffer, being imprisoned, and even being killed (Rev 2:9-10). The One addressing the congregation in Smyrna commands them, by a letter to their messenger, written by His servant John, to become faithful unto death (Rev 2:10b), and He promises them that the one faithfully overcoming the various hardships mentioned above will not be injured by the second death (Rev 2:11). This command and this promise are rooted in, and take their strength from, the truth concerning the One issuing the command and promise. As the One "like a son of man" (Rev 1:13) had earlier comforted John, when he had fallen cadaver-like at His feet, with a word concerning His Person and Work, this One now comforts the Smyrnan believers, who are facing (and will face) grave hardship and even death, with the good news of who He is and what He has done. Because He is the transcendent, eternal, ever-living One, because He became dead but now lives, He can guarantee that the second death will not be able to harm the faithful, victorious ones at all.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Revelation 1:18b

Introduction

Recently, I have once again been reviewing my notes on the Book of Revelation, chapters 1-3, from my Greek Syntax and Exegesis class at SBTS. In this season, as we give special focus to the resurrection of Jesus, I've realized that there are a few verses in these opening chapters of Revelation that touch upon this subject. Below, I give special attention to one of these verses from Revelation concerning the resurrection of Jesus.

Revelation 1:18b

...and I was dead– but look!– I am living from forever into forever, and I hold the keys to death and to Hades.


Commentary

After comforting His servant John with a proclamation of who He is, this one "like a son of man"-- who is also "the First and Last, the Living One"-- gives another reason that John should not fear: by a proclamation of His work.

In this proclamation of His work, the One standing before John first says, "and I was dead." This certainly refers to the death of Jesus on the Cross. This death is recorded in the Gospel of John (and the reader will remember that John claimed to be an eyewitness to the crucifixion: John 19:35), as Jesus is quoted as saying, "Tetelestai!" ("it is/has been finished/completed/accomplished/canceled"), and John notes in his Gospel account, "... and he bowed his head, giving up his spirit" (John 19:30). The death of Jesus is clear and crucial in the Gospel message and in the Book of Revelation.

After saying, "I was dead," the One standing before John sets up a contrast for this phrase, saying, "But look!" (kai idou). This statement is intended to forcefully draw John's attention both to the Living speaker standing before him and to the statement he is about to hear.

This One who was dead says, "I am living from forever into forever" (eis tous aiônas tôn aiônôn). Literally, this phrase could be rendered something like, "into the ages from the ages." This indicates the eternality of the One speaking; it is a straightforward assertion of His deity.

This eternal One who has conquered death says, "I hold the keys to death and to Hades." This mention of death and Hades points forward to end-times events more fully discussed later in the Book of Revelation (see Rev 20:14). Here it may be noted that the resurrection of Jesus was not a one-time victory over death and the grave, which may later be lost. Instead, it was the decisive blow in a war against these great enemies of humanity. Jesus, the chief Victor, has all power over death and the realm of the dead. This truth would have been a great comfort to John, and it should be a great comfort to every follower of Jesus today.




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Friday, April 22, 2011

USA Today Weekend: Joel Osteen

In recent years it seems that the main-stream media uses each Easter season to attack essential teachings of the Christian Faith (remember, for example The Lost Tomb of Jesus controversy or claims made about The Lost Gospel of Judas: both of those stories came out at Easter-time).

This year, the big controversy seems to be in regards to Rob Bell: Time Magazine, for example, has done a cover story emphasizing Bell's proposed changes to the traditional understanding of the Christian Faith.

And so I was interested to see that USA Weekend (the insert USA Today places in Sunday newspapers in some locations) did a cover story on Joel Osteen last weekend, at that the tone of the article was largely positive toward Osteen.

Three things about this article [which may be read on-line HERE] were especially interesting from my perspective: 1. The positive tone taken toward Osteen; 2. The way Osteen presented his teachings in the article; 3. The way that Osteen's critics were dismissed in the article.

1. Though the article refers to Osteen as "the Lord's Polyanna," which sounds derogatory, the overall tone taken toward Osteen is positive. The title of the article and the penultimate sentence in the article are both quotes from Osteen. Throughout the article, Osteen is quoted without any further question or critique provided by the journalist writing the article. Such an article, serving basically as an advertisement for a religious leader, is, I think unusual in a secular publication. I'd like to see articles similar in tone done on John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, or John Piper by the main-stream media, but I doubt I'll see those any time soon.

2. Osteen seems to have heard some of what his critics have been saying for a while, and, at least for the purposes of this article, he has clarified (or perhaps changed?) his message accordingly. "I never said God wants everyone to be rich," Osteen claims in this article: this despite what critics, the main-stream media, and even his own parishioners thought they heard from him in the past (see Time Magazine's 2006 story, "Does God Want You to be Rich?"). Osteen also claims in this article, "I do talk about sin. I just do it in a different way." The fact that Osteen has to keep asserting that he does, indeed, talk about sin, seems unusual itself because preachers who DO regularly talk about sin don't have to say "I do talk about sin" in every interview; no one accuses John MacArthur of failing to talk about sin. (It's like a friend of mine who I've heard on at least two occasions say, "I have a great sense of humor;" the fact that he has to keep asserting that he has a great sense of humor seems indicative of the fact that he doesn't have much of a sense of humor.)

3. After quoting Osteen as saying, "God wants to double your blessings as he did for Job," the article continues:

This all makes his critics livid. The Rev. Albert Mohler, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president and powerhouse traditionalist, whacks him for “platitudes with attitudes.” The Rev. Mark Driscoll, who packs a Seattle megachurch for doctrine-laden sermons, says Osteen reduces the pursuit of God to “lollipops and skipping while singing hymns.”

Mohler? Driscoll? “I don't know who those people are,” Osteen says, looking genuinely mystified.
With this, the article mentions Osteens critics in such a way as to make them look mean-spirited and ridiculous, while completely avoiding any mention of the theological substance of their criticism.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Biggest Loser

As Abby was watching Biggest Loser earlier this week (while I was eating chocolate cake: that show always makes me hungry), I heard the person voted off the show say the following:
I never felt accepted in a group until I became invested with all of you in this journey.
I told Abby, "That's really profoundly sad." To which she replied, "Yeah, especially because that guy is a pastor."

I have absolutely no interest in verbally berating the former contestant mentioned above, and I have no idea what kind of church he serves, but I sincerely pray that both he and his congregation come to a better biblical view of what the Church should be. Jesus said that His followers would be known by their love for one another (John 13:34-35), and so no member of our churches should be able to say, "I never felt accepted in a group."

This is a challenge to us all.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Religion:" George Carlin on the First Episode of SNL

A few weeks ago I noticed that every season of Saturday Night Live is available to watch on Netflix Internet streaming, so I was interested to see the very first show of SNL, which I'd never seen before.

This show was interesting for a number of reasons. First, it is obvious that production value has changed, as the show looked like it was filmed in somebody's basement. Second, there were already a couple of examples of the bawdy humor that has come to characterize so much of the show. Third, there were certainly a few examples of real comedic brilliance in the show, such as Andy Kaufman's rendition of the "Mighty Mouse" theme and the "Show Us Your Guns" sketch.

The most interesting part of the show, from my perspective, was a stand-up comedy routine performed by George Carlin. I knew that Carlin was notorious for his attacks on religion in general (and when he spoke about "religion" it seems like he usually meant the "Judeo-Christian" rather than more mystical variety), but I had assumed that his overt attacks on religion in his stand-up comedy had developed more slowly over the years. And so I was surprised to hear statements like the following:

Religion at best is like a lift in your shoe; if you need it for a while and it makes you walk straight and you feel better, fine, but you don't need it forever, or you can become permanently disabled. Religion is like a lift in your shoe, and I say, just don't ask me to wear your shoes, and let's not go down and nail lifts onto the natives' feet.
The above quote came after several statements that were blasphemous and sacrilegious.

My first reaction to the above quote was to think of the statement I've heard from more than one preacher, that Christianity is not like a crutch, but like an iron lung: relationship with Christ is necessary for survival.

Also, I thought of the New Testament definition of true religion:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)
Notice that if we take the above definition of "religion," then Carlin's statements are shown to be selfish and nonsensical. If "religion" were defined properly, then Carlin was basically saying "don't try to get me to help the most needy in society, and don't go and try to help the most needy among the natives."

One main reason why Carlin got away with making the statements he did-- and so many others get away with similar statements today-- is that people in general, and even Christians in particular, have allowed "religion" to be defined in terms of ritual rather than in terms of justice, charity, and holiness.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gospel Tract Analysis: "Your Life, A New Beginning"

In one of her Seminary Wives Institute classes at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, my wife (Abby) was given a tract from the North American Mission Board titled, "Your Life, A New Beginning."

The following evaluation of the above gospel tract is based on Tell the Truth by Will Metzger, Appendix A (IX):
  • Metzger writes, "Check first for some reference to God, man, Christ, response." This tract certainly addresses these areas.
  • "Was the nature of God defined, or was it assumed that the Christian view of God is understood?" The nature of God was defined to an extent-- God is presented as Creator, personal, and loving-- but more probably should be said (the holiness of God, for example, was unmentioned).
  • "Is sin presented primarily as an offense against God or more as psychological hunger (lack of fulfillment, etc.)?" Sin, in this tract, is NOT explained away as a mistake or just some lack, but is defined as falling short of God's perfect standard. On the other hand, there was no mention of sin as rebellion against God or breaking His Law, and so more should probably be said on this subject.
  • "Is sin presented in such a way as to go beyond outward sins to the inner sin of idolatry?" In a sense, yes: this tract relates sin to seeking to write our own story (a self-centeredness) rather than having Jesus as the author of our story, and this is certainly a type of idolatrous attitude. Again, however, more should probably be said.
  • "Is salvation clearly tied to one's relationship to the living Christ[?]" Yes.
  • "Is salvation presented as the restoration of the human-God relationship for all of life [rather than something] detached from life's primary concerns?" Yes.
  • "Is Jesus Christ presented as the bridge to God or merely as the source of good advice, which if accepted, would improve our lives?" This tract clearly presents Jesus Christ as the bridge to God.
  • "Is the biblical character of Jesus (the God-Man) defined or assumed?" This tract defines Jesus' character in terms of His deity, His sacrificial and substitutionary death, and His exclusivity.
  • "Is the necessity for a response to the gospel stressed or slighted?" The necessity for response is certainly stressed in this tract.
  • "Is Christ as Lord made clear, or is future obedience to Him obscured?" The lordship of Christ is certainly clear in this tract, especially from the daily devotionals at the end of the tract.
  • "Are repentance (turning from sin) and faith in Christ made clear?" Yes.
As obvious from the analysis above, there are many good qualities to this tract, but there are also some weaknesses, and anyone using this tract to explain the good news of Jesus may want to take these weaknesses into account so that they can compensate for them in their witnessing conversation.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

A Brief Comment on Altruism and Darwinism: Presuppositions

Altruism in this post is defined as: "self-sacrificial behavior in the service of others."

[From National Public Radio's RadioLab, Season 9, Episode 1]:

"[Altruism] was a great mystery to Darwin, and Darwin said this is, in fact, the greatest mystery and the greatest riddle, and if I can't answer it, then my theory isn't worth anything."

"And for a hundred years when people talked about evolution, this thing-- altruism-- was the elephant in the room."

"So we were curious about this. How might you take this 'elephant'-- this 'niceness' thing that seems to be everywhere-- and shove it back into the mean old theory of evolution; there's gotta be a way."

Most interesting in the quote above is the final assertion: "There's gotta be a way."

After spending the preceding few minutes describing how altruism seems to contradict Darwinian "survival of the fittest," and before examining any evidence that might be taken as indicating that altruism fits in with the Darwinian model, the scientists of NPR's RadioLab assert that "there's gotta be a way" to make altruism fit in with Darwinism.

Why?

Because adherence to naturalistic evolution according to a Darwinistic model is absolutely taken for granted. From the worldview of those involved in producing RadioLab-- and from the standpoint of many scientists and media personalities today-- there is no possibility that any evidence could overturn naturalistic evolution. Even when evidence seems to point in another direction, before the conversation begins, naturalistic evolution according to a Darwinian model is presupposed. The conclusions are made before the evidence is gathered: THIS IS NOT SCIENCE.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sermon Notes from 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3, "The Church of the Thessalonians (2)," by Tray Earnhart.

[The following notes were taken at the 10:45AM service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. The sermon is available to hear on-line HERE.]

I. Introduction: We must both anticipate the Lord's return and patiently wait for His return.

II. The Identity of the Thessalonians (Continued from LAST WEEK)
A. Background: Acts 17:1-9
B. Thessalonica was originally "Therma," due to naturally occurring heated pools
C. Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonia
D. Thessalonica was a free city
E. Thessalonica was primarily Greek, but contained a Jewish minority

III. The attack on Paul in Thessalonica does not seem to be an attack upon his authority, but upon his methods.

IV. The Deeds of the Thessalonians
A. Verse 2
1. "We give thanks:" present tense
2. "To God:" God is the author of salvation
3. "Always:" continually
4. "Mentioning you in our prayers:"
a. Paul was faithful to pray for the Thessalonians.
b. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians by letting them know he prayed for them.
B. Verse 3: "Remembering before our God and Father:"
1. "Your work of the faith:"
a. NOT working to produce or earn faith.
b. The Thessalonians' works are rooted in and flow from faith.
2. "And labor of love:"
a. The Thessalonians (and we) love because Christ first loved them/us (1 John 3:1; 4:13-19).
b. 1 Thessalonians 4:9
2. "And steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ:"
a. James 5:7
b. This is not a vague hope that things will work out, but a specific gospel hope.
c. Colossians 1:3-5

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Discipline of Discernment, Chapter 5 (Study Notes)

[The following are my teaching notes for Chapter 5 of Tim Challies’ The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, which I am teaching through in a Sunday school class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]


Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. (Eph 5:8b-10 ESV)

I. True Truth
The definition of truth: “Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory and being of God; truth is the self-expression of God.”

II. The Source of Truth
A. “God is the source of truth, for he is truth.”
B. “The fullest expression of truth is in the person of Jesus Christ.”
C. In seeking the truth, we should resist giving undue weight to our feelings.
D. “A discerning Christian will be one who returns constantly to the Word of God, the source of all truth.”

III. Thinking Rightly About God
A. “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us” (quote from A.W. Tozer).
B. “We must think rightly about God, because what we believe necessarily impacts what we do.”
C. “… the first area in which we must exercise discernment is our thoughts about God.”
D. “If we are going to know God by knowing what is true about him, we must be people who have [our] doctrine right.”

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:17-21 ESV)

IV. Worldliness
A. Worldliness is “the very opposite of thinking rightly about God.”
B. (In discussing “worldliness,” Challies especially contrasts godliness with pragmatism.)

V. The Test of Truth
A. “When Jesus is exalted, when his name is honored, we know we are seeking the true God.”
B. “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,” (Phil 1:9-10 ESV).

VI. The Relationship of Truth to Error: “We can best know what is wrong by first knowing what is right.”

VII. The Subtlety of Error
A. "For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." (Jude 4 NIV)
B. “Repeated exposure to error can lead us unwittingly to swallow a lethal dose.”

VIII. Black, White, and Gray
A. Rarity: “…truly gray situations are rare.”
B. The Fall: “… ‘grayness’ is a result of the fall.”
C. Clarity: We must “begin with what the Bible makes clear.”
D. Humility: “Gray situations provide us an opportunity to express humility.”
E. Dependence: “Gray situations also give us an opportunity to express dependence on [the] Creator.”
F. Conscience: “These gray situations show the need for a developed, biblically-informed conscience.”

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gospel-Punk Nostalgia: Miss Angie and FIF

Abby and I recently watched Marathon Man, and so, thinking it would be fun to watch another 70s spy movie, I searched for my VHS copy of 3 Days of the Condor, recorded off TV.

I didn't find Condor, but looking through old boxes I was thrilled to find a couple of old CDs.



The first was Miss Angie's 100 Million Eyeballs (pictured above) from 1997. I remembered this album as having a pop-punk sound, and, listening to it again, was surprised at how edgy the music is. I was also surprised at how good the songs are. Especially notable is the title track; drawing on Isaiah 6:1-3 and Revelation 4:6-8, the refrain in the song is simply:

Holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
Holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
The whole earth is full of Your glory, Your glory
The whole earth is full of Your glory, Your glory


The second CD was Five Iron Frenzy's Upbeats and Beatdowns. This is one of my favorite albums ever. The Punk/SKA movement provided scathing social commentary, and on this CD, FIF often represented the best of this tradition combined with a Christian worldview. One great example of this is the song "Beautiful America" [below I quote the first verse and the chorus]:

The man on the television said I need to drink THIS,
and sleep with THAT, in order to be COOL.
And you know that I would do almost ANYTHING,
to be like that guy on TV.
I know that if I had just the right outfit
and a hairstyle that could be me.
Don't you know you can't be cool if you dress dumb,
I need to have THAT 'cause everybody's got one.
I think I'll start smoking,
that would make me INTELLECTUAL,
that's what I've always wanted to be.
I need to lift weights,
that would make me MORE SEXUAL,
and that would be good FOR ME.

In America it's WONDERFUL,
all you have to do is FAKE IT.
Own anything you want,
all you have to do is TAKE IT.
Live for today, DON'T THINK ABOUT TOMORROW,
have a good time in AMERICA-GOMORRAH.

[The reader will notice that I lost the covers/liner notes for both CDs, which is pretty normal for me.]

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

IS THE TEACHING OF ROMANS 14:5 INIMICAL TO AN UNDERSTANDING THAT THE LORD’S DAY IS THE PROPER DAY FOR CHRISTIAN CORPORATE WORSHIP? (Part 4)

Biblical Evidence

The use of biblical evidence. Though the phrase “the Lord’s Day” is a hapax legomenon, making the use of historical evidence necessary, the New Testament provides both linguistic and thematic evidence that assists the readers in identifying “the Lord’s Day.”

The Lord’s Day and the Lord’s Supper. The particular word for “Lord” used in Revelation 1:10 is not the general root of “Lord” that is the common way of referring to Jesus Christ in the New Testament;[1] the term for “Lord” here, while it's not the general word κύριος, is the derivative possessive κυριακ, and it is not a hapax legomenon in the New Testament: it's the whole phrase that's a hapax. Therefore, as a phrase, “the Lord’s Day” must be examined as a hapax legomenon, but the root for the word κυριακ (i.e., kuriakos) is used in one other place in the New Testament: in reference to the Lord's Supper (1 Cor 11:20). Now this parallel usage of terminology regarding “the Lord's Supper” and “the Lord's Day” suggests that, like the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s Day is a Christian ordinance of some kind; as Christians partake in a particular Supper that belongs to the Lord in a special way, so Christians recognize a particular day that belongs to the Lord in a special way.[2] This line of reasoning leads John Murray to conclude:

The two pivotal events in this accomplishment [of redemption] are the death and resurrection of Christ and the two memorial ordinances of the New Testament institution are the Lord’s Supper and the Lord’s Day, the one memorializing Jesus’ death and the other his resurrection.[3]

The first day of the week. Sam Waldron notes: “The only day of the week mentioned by its number in the New Testament is the first day of the week. It’s mentioned seven or eight times.”[4]

It’s clear that Christ was raised from the dead on the first day of the week (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20: 1, 19). We know, on the basis of the New Testament, that the lordship of Jesus Christ is particularly associated both with the Day of Resurrection: the day upon which He was declared to be the Son of God with power (Rom 1:3-4), and made both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).[5] We are told that “eight days later”— which in the Jewish, inclusive manner of reckoning time was the next first day of the week— he appeared to His gathered disciples again (John 20:26). And so there were two significant, unique, and distinct kinds of appearances to His disciples: on the first day— the resurrection day— and eight days later (the next first day of the week).

The Day of Pentecost, we know for certain due to Leviticus 23:15-16, took place on the first day of the week (the day after the seventh Sabbath). And so the first day of the week is also associated with Pentecost: when Jesus, with the exercise of His lordship, poured out the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4, 32-33).

And so Jesus’ resurrection on the first day of the week and His appearance eight days later on the next first day of the week (when Thomas declares Him as, “my Lord and my God!”) are associated with His lordship. And the Day of Pentecost— the outpouring of the Spirit on that first day of the week— was the open display of the power and glory of His resurrection. When we add to these historical facts the information of Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, which demonstrate that the first day of the week was the day upon which the early churches met, then we see that there is a great deal of 'naturalness' to the identification of the Lord’s Day as the first day of the week.[6]

Conclusion. The New Testament linguistic evidence concerning “the Lord’s Day” indicates that the Day is to be understood within the Church as a kind of ordinance: a day regularly commemorated as having a special relationship to the work of the Lord Jesus. The New Testament thematic evidence concerning “the Lord’s Day” indicates a relationship between “the Lord’s Day” and the first day of the week: the only day of the week mentioned by its number in the New Testament; the day of the week specifically related to the lordship of Christ through His resurrection, His post-resurrection appearance to the disciples eight days later, and His sending of the Spirit at Pentecost.



[1] It's clear in the context that “Lord” refers to Jesus Christ.

[2]Waldron, “’Saturday or Sunday (Part 4).”

[3] Murray, Romans, 258. Concerning the phrase κυριακ μέρ [in Rev 1:10] BDAG 576 s.v. κυριακός states: “pert. to belonging to the Lord, the Lord’sκ. μέρ the Lord’s Day (Kephal. I 192, 1; 193, 31…) i.e., certainly Sunday (so in Mod. Gk…) Rv 1:10 (WStott, NTS 12, ’65, 70-75).” Cited from The NET Bible [on-line]; accessed 14 July 2010; available from http://net.bible.org/bible.php?book=Rev&chapter=1; Internet.

[4]Waldron, “Saturday or Sunday (Part 4).” Waldron says, “seven or eight times” because Mark 16:9 is in dispute. Of the times that the term “first day of the week” is used, six speak of the very day Jesus was raised from the dead (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2; Mark 16:9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1; John 20:19).

[5] Jesus was certainly divine prior to His resurrection (John 1:1; 17:5), “but He assumed, in a new way, kingship and lordship at His resurrection.” Sam Waldron, “’Saturday or Sunday: Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?’ A Debate Between Baptists (Part 2)” [on-line]; accessed 14 July 2010; available from http://sharpens.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-06-03T05%3A44%3A00-04%3A00; MP3.

[6]Waldron, “Saturday or Sunday (Part 4).”

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dr. Thomas Schreiner on "The Israel of God" in Galatians 6:16

In his Galatians commentary, which I purchased a few months ago, Dr. Thomas Schreiner [who was my professor for a Greek exegesis class on Galatians] writes about the phrase "the Israel of God" from Galatians 6:16. Dr. Schreiner begins his article as follows:
The last words of Gal 6:16, "even upon the Israel of God," could be interpreted to refer to ethnic Israel or to the church of Jesus Christ. Scholars dispute whether Paul refers (1) to a remnant of Jewish believers within the church of Jesus Christ, or (2) to Gentile believers (along with Jewish believers) who constitute the new people of God-- the new and true Israel. If the reference is to ethnic Israel, it is limited to Jewish believers in Christ, for it is "the Israel of God," not merely ethnic Israel.
Schreiner next offers some arguments from those who take the first view mentioned above, and he raises questions about these arguments. Then he presents the following case for understanding "the Israel of God" in Galatians 6:16 to refer to all believers, both Jewish and Gentile. [The remainder of this post is quoted from Schreiner's Galatians commentary, pages 382-383]:

...in 1 Cor 10:18 Paul speaks of (lit.) "Israel according to flesh," which at least suggests that there may be a contrast between Israel according to the flesh and Israel according to the Spirit, and the latter could possible include Gentile Christians. The term "Israel" is not decisive in any case, for context as always must be determinative, and here the arguments for Israel referring to the church of Jesus Christ, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, are compelling.

The key question in Galatians is whether one must become a Jew and be circumcised to belong to the people of God. Must one receive circumcision to belong to the family of Abraham? The false teachers argued that circumcision and observance of the law were required to be part of Abraham's family. But Paul has argued throughout the letter that circumcision is unnecessary and that those who put their faith in Christ belong to the family of Abraham. When he speaks of "the Israel of God" at the conclusion of the letter, where he rehearses the major themes of the letter, he is driving home the point that believers in Christ, members of the new creation, are the true Israel.

Such an interpretation fits with the whole of the letter, for believers in Christ are the true sons of Abraham. But if they are Abraham's children and belong to his family, then they belong to the Israel of God. It would be highly confusing to the Galatians, after arguing for the equality of Jew and Gentile in Christ (3:28) and after emphasizing that believers are Abraham's children, for Paul to argue in the conclusion that only Jews who believe in Jesus belong to the Israel of God. By doing so a wedge would be introduced between Jews and Gentiles at the end of the letter, suggesting that the latter were not part of the true Israel. Such a wedge would play into the hands of his opponents, who would argue that to be part of the true Israel one must be circumcised.

Instead, Paul confirms one of the major themes of the letter. All believers in Christ are part of the true Israel, part of God's Israel. This fits with what Paul says elsewhere when he says believers are the true circumcision (Phil 3:3). Since believers in Christ are the true family of Abraham and the true circumcision, they are also part of the true Israel.

...the decisive argument for seeing the church as the Israel of God is the argument of Galatians as a whole.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Harold Camping Pamphlet in Louisville

As it turns out, Family Radio's campaign to spread Harold Camping's false teachings in Louisville is not limited to the billboard[s] mentioned in my previous post.

This past week, Pastor Tray Earnhart of Kosmosdale Baptist Church received the following pamphlet in the mail [Tray briefly mentioned this pamphlet in yesterday's sermon in order to refute the tendency toward such end-times speculation]:



Apparently, Family Radio is randomly mailing their pamphlets to Louisville pastors.

Camping's errors concerning the Church are not mentioned in this particular pamphlet (aside from a passing reference to people not being able to trust spiritual leaders), which makes sense; it seems that the idea is to get pastors to promote Family Radio (or Family Radio's website), and then members of churches will be persuaded to leave their congregations and depend on Camping's organization for their spiritual nourishment.

The focus of the pamphlet is on end-times date-setting. Camping arrives at his 2011 date for the rapture by asserting that Noah's flood occurred in 4990 B.C., quoting God's warning from Genesis 7:4 that the flood will occur in seven days, then turning to 2 Peter 3:8, which says that a day to the Lord is as 1,000 years; from this he concludes that the rapture will happen exactly 7,000 years after the flood, which, subtracting one year, since there is no year "0," is 2011. Camping further calculates that the 17th day of the 2nd month in which the flood began (Gen 7:10-11) corresponds to May 21.

The above reasoning ignores the facts that (among other things) 7 days are not mentioned in 2 Peter and two verses after 2 Peter 3:8 the Bible plainly declares that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief" (i.e., unexpectedly). There is no reason to combine the history recounted in Genesis 7 and the illustration in 2 Peter 3 in the way Camping has done.

In the last third of the pamphlet, readers are urged to repent and to seek God's mercy, using Jonah as an illustration. The gospel of who Jesus is and what He has done on behalf of sinners is never mentioned. It is also implied that acceptance of the May 21, 2011 date for the rapture is part of accepting the gospel in the same way that Ninevah had to accept Jonah's prophecy in order to receive the Word of God.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sermon Notes from 1 Thessalonians 1:1. Sermon by Tray Earnhart.

[The following notes were taken at the 10:45AM service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. The following outline does not include the introduction nor the gospel call at the end of the sermon, as I believe these sections will be much more effective if heard in full-- the sermon should soon be available to hear on-line HERE-- what this outline includes are main points of exegesis from the passage that Tray explained.]

1 Thessalonians 1:1.

I. "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy" [background of Paul's association with Silvanus and Timothy]:
A. Acts 15:22, 40 ("Silas"="Silvanus").
B. Acts 16:1, Timothy.

II. "To the church of the Thessalonians"
A. Genitive ("the church OF the Thessalonians") is used here rather than the usual dative (i.e., "to all... IN Rome," Rom 1:1).
B. Acts 16:6-10, Thessalonica is in Macedonia, Acts 17:1-9.

III. "In God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"
A. "In:" both positional and instrumental.
B. "And:" to be in God the Father is to be in the Lord Jesus Christ:
1. This is high Christology;
2. A person cannot be in God the Father without being in the Lord Jesus Christ, OR in the Lord Jesus Christ without being in God the Father.

IV. "Grace to you and peace."

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Discipline of Discernment, Chapter 4 (Study Notes)

[The following are my teaching notes for Chapter 4 of Tim Challies’ The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, which I am teaching through in a Sunday school class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]


The Heart of Discernment


I. Can We Judge?

A. Apparently not, for we are commanded not to judge (Matt 7:1).

B. But we are also commanded to judge (1 Thess 5:21)

C. “…not all judging is equal. There are times when we may and must judge and times when we may not and must not judge.”


II. What We Must Not Judge

A. Going Beyond What Is Written (1 Cor 4:3-7)

1. God’s written word is our objective standard, given to us in such a way that it can be known adequately for making necessary judgments.

2. Subjective matters of the heart are unknown to us, therefore we are not to judge the motives or righteousness of other believers.

B. Matters of Conscience (Rom 14:1-4)


III. What We Must Judge: Doctrine [as well as character and conduct, as seen below]


IV. Test Everything

A. Test [“prove, try, examine, or discern”]

B. Everything

1. Teaching (Acts 17:11)

2. Prophecy (1 Thess 5:20-21)

3. Spirits (1 John 4:1)

4. Leaders (1 Tim 3:10)

5. Other Believers (2 Cor 8:22)

6. The Times (Luke 12:56)

7. Ourselves (2 Cor 13:5)


V. Priorities [from Dr. Albert Mohler’s “Theological Triage”]

A. First-Level Issues [issues that determine whether one is a Christian]

B. Second-Level Issues [issues that properly divide denominations]

C. Third-Level Issues [issues over which Christians within a congregation may cordially disagree]


VI. Areas of Discernment

A. “What Man is to believe concerning God” [i.e., “the truth of God”].

B. “What duty God requires of Man” [i.e., “the will of God”].

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Harold Camping Billboard[s] in Louisville

The following billboard is on Mellwood Avenue going toward Brownsboro Road here in Louisville.

[UPDATE 4/11/11: Today while driving Christian home from pre-school at Shively Baptist Church, I saw two billboards in Louisville identical to the one on Mellwood Avenue; one was on I-264 West, where I-264 splits into I-64, the other was on I-64 East, Exit 3.]

[UPDATE 4/13/11: Today after dropping Christian off at pre-school, I saw yet another identical billboard on I-264 West, about a mile before the I-64 split; this means that, together with the other billboards mentioned in the last "update," there are 3 Family Radio billboards within a 5 mile stretch of road.]

[UPDATE 4/19/11: Yesterday I saw another identical billboard in Louisville; this one was on Dixie Hwy, traveling south, just before the Louisville Metro Southwest Government Center on the left.]


The billboard is from Family Radio, which is headed by Harold Camping. Camping teaches that May 21, 2011 is the date of the rapture and that the world will be destroyed on October 21, 2011. As Camping is spreading these teachings over the radio and on the Internet, I think that Christians should be aware of his teachings and give some thought on how to respond.

Camping is a false teacher who proclaims error in the following areas: end-times teaching, the Church, and the gospel.

End-times teaching. As obvious from the billboard above, Camping is guilty of date-setting. Setting specific dates for end-times events is an error, as seen in the New Testament whenever the apostles asked Jesus about such things (see, for example, Acts 1:7). Most Christians, having some awareness of past false teachers who have tried to set dates for the end times, would immediately avoid Camping on this basis alone (and rightly so!), but Camping's end-times timeline is (sadly) not the worst of his errors.

The Church. Camping has declared that the Church-age has ended and that Christians should leave their churches (which, he claims, are all apostate) and should depend on Family Radio for their spiritual nourishment. Now, as seen by Jesus' warnings in the early chapters of Revelation, any single congregation can become apostate, and even a whole denomination can reject the faith, as seen with the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent. But to say that there is no church left would make Jesus' words in Matthew 16:18 out to be a lie. Given that the Church is declared to be 'the bride of Christ' in Ephesians 5:22-23, Camping's insults directed at the Church place him in a precarious position indeed.

The gospel. Gravest of all, Camping has directly perverted the gospel of Christ. In a debate with James White on the Iron Sharpens Iron radio program [linked from THIS PAGE], Camping asserted that acceptance of his date for the rapture is part of the gospel message. It is certain that "the rapture will occur on May 21, 2011" was no part of the gospel preached by the apostles, and therefore Camping has placed himself under the curse mentioned in Galatians 1:9.

[For more information on Camping, see James White's article for the Christian Research Institute HERE.]

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

"Useless" Movie

The following film was written and directed by Brandon Adams, who is a fellow member of the Reformed Baptist Discussion List. This film was the winner of the 2011 168 Project. (The 168 Project is 'an annual speed film-making competition based on a Bible verse. Teams draw from a pre-selected pile of verses and then have 10 days to write a short film based on that verse, and then 7 days to shoot and edit the film.')

The Bible passage providing the inspiration for "Useless" is Philemon 1:10-11.

This film is a truly impressive work of art and a highly effective illustration of biblical truth. (Also, the acting is very good; the man playing the former law enforcement agent is especially remarkable.)

WARNING: this film should be considered "PG-13" material; the plot involves a murder, and the depiction of this murder is rather grisly.

Useless (2011 168 Project Winner) from Brandon Adams on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A Good Greek Help

This past weekend at the closing Borders on Hurstbourne here in Louisville, all merchandise was 50-70% off list price. On Saturday I figured I'd buy a novel or music CD (which I almost never do), but the store was already picked over to the extent that there was virtually nothing interesting left in the store.

EXCEPT:


Dr. Pennington, who recorded the CDs pictured above, was my professor for Greek Exegesis of Matthew. I bought the CDs at a little under half price and I've been listening to them; I think that they would be very helpful to anyone who has taken (at least) an introductory course on biblical Greek. (They would be pretty much useless to anyone who has not already taken Greek, because you really need to be able to visualize the words as you're hearing them.)

I wish there had been more half price copies at Borders, so I get my Louisville friends in on this deal, but the CDs are definitely worth the price on Amazon, found HERE.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Bell Video Parody

Someone finally did a proper video parody of Rob Bell's "Love Wins" video. [See Bell's video at the top of THIS POST.]

Robbed Hell - C.A.S.T. Pearls Presents from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Sermon Notes from Nahum 3:8-19, "Ninevah's Funeral Message (2)" by Tray Earnhart

[The following notes were taken at the 10:45AM service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. The sermon is available to hear on-line HERE.]

[Continuing from last week's message, the main points of Tray's exposition of the text were as follows:]

I. Comparison of Ninevah to Thebes (vv. 8-11)

II. God's Taunt of Assyria [The Futility of Assyria's Defense] (vv. 12-17)

III. Assyria's Leaders are Oblivious and Its Fall is Final (vv. 18-19)


[As usual, Tray gave a good explanation of the text. The truly great part of the sermon, however, was near the end, as Tray contrasted Jonah 4:9-11, in which Ninevah (Assyria's chief city) was vindicated, with Nahum 3:19, in which God finally pronounced judgment upon Assyria. Tray then made application of the text, telling the congregation: 'You are living between Jonah 4:11 and Nahum 3:19; will you not find the mercy of God in Christ before it is too late?' Then Tray gave a clear presentation of the gospel with a moving call to faith.]

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Discipline of Discernment, Chapter 3 (Study Notes)

[The following are my teaching notes for Chapter 3 of Tim Challies’ The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, which I am teaching through in a Sunday school at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. In the following outline, material placed in brackets represents material I have added for teaching.]


I. The Key to Discernment: Knowing God/ Truth (Rom 12:9b)

A. “Because God is truth, knowing God and knowing truth are inseparable.”

B. “Before God will address conduct, he chooses to address character. Once he has molded and shaped our hearts, he is ready to train us in wisdom and understanding.”

C. “Truth comes first and application of the truth follows later. And so we must know God’s truth before we can know God’s will.”


II. Wisdom

A. "So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" (1 Kings 3:9 NASB)

B. “The Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov 1:7).

C. Wisdom May Be Distinguished From Discernment:

1. Proverbs 26:4-5,

4 Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

2. Proverbs 29:7,

A righteous man knows the rights of the poor;
a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.


III. Discernment in the Original Languages

A. Space Between

1. “So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" (1 Kings 3:9 NASB)

2. He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples; (Isa 2:4a)

B. Understanding

1. Lean not on your own understanding (Prov 3:5).

2. Daniel was given understanding of dreams (Dan 10:1)

3. ‘Understanding the times’ (1 Chron 12:32)

C. Skill (sometimes related to “skill with tools or implements”)

D. Judging (1 Cor 2:14-15)


IV. Discernment is…

A. The Skill…

1. Not an inherent [natural] ability

2. It requires practice (Heb 5:14)

B. Of Understanding…

1. Of God and His ways

2. Knowing God Himself precedes [further biblical] interpretation and application

C. And Applying… (understanding is not enough)

D. God’s Word…

1. God’s Word is truth (John 17:17)

2. Scripture is our source of discernment (Psa 119:66, 100, 104)

E. With the Purpose of Separating…

F. Truth from Error…

G. And Right from Wrong. [In this definition, “truth from error” focuses on doctrine, while “right from wrong” focuses on morality.]


V. Further Defining

A. The Source: God

1. (1 Kings 3:9)

2. (1 Cor 2:14-15)

B. The Power: God the Holy Spirit

1. (Prov 2:6-8)

2. (1 Cor 2:11-14)

C. The Process: Dedicated and Deliberate Effort

D. The Heart and the Head

1. “[D]iscernment points us continually to the Scriptures.”

2. “Spiritual discernment is a pursuit that must always engage the mind.”

3. The discerning person acquires knowledge (Prov 18:15 NET).

E. The Purpose: To Glorify God and to Enjoy Him Forever

F. The End: [Glorification]

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