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)

My Photo

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2 Suggestions for the Conversation on Christians Attending to Their Physical Appearance

Recently a few bloggers (notably Tim Challies and Mary Kassian) have written on the subject of whether it is important for a woman to attend to her physical appearance for sake of her husband.

I agree with the thoughts offered by the 2 bloggers linked above, but would like to offer 2 suggestions for any bloggers or pastors addressing this issue:

1. Make application to both spouses equally. I notice that Challies does address a paragraph in his article to husbands, saying (in part), "It is not just women who ought to make a continued effort to be attractive and appealing and dignified." But in many articles and sermons this word to husbands seems to be an afterthought if it is mentioned at all. If the principles about physical attractiveness offered by Challies, Kassian, and others are biblical (and I think that they are), I can see no reason why they would not apply to both spouses equally.

2. Make it clear that a lack of attending to physical attractiveness offers absolutely no excuse for infidelity. Challies and Kassian mention that "a wife’s effort to be beautiful for her husband speaks of her care and respect for him, and communicates her desire to be sexually attractive and available for him," and I've heard some preachers/teachers take this line of reasoning and assert that a wife's lack of attention to her appearance may provide a temptation for a man to commit adultery. But, on final analysis, it should be recognized that a wife's physical appearance has virtually no correlation to whether a husband will be tempted to adultery: if it did, then we would see no infidelity among all those gorgeous Hollywood couples! In reality, infidelity is an issue of the heart, and, while there may be reasons for preachers/teachers to exhort their congregation/students to honor their spouses by paying some attention to their physical appearance, there are deeper principles of commitment that will govern whether, overall, marriages are faithful and healthy.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Some Notes on a Christian View of Patriotism for Memorial Day

On last week's "The Cross & The Jukebox" podcast, Dr. Russell Moore examined the song "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. The following are a few summary notes I took re: a Christian view of patriotism while listening to this podcast. [The entire podcast can be heard HERE.]


An expression of patriotism that is illegitimate for Christians is an idolatrous love of country, by which emotions are stirred more by patriotic songs that by hymns honoring God's holiness, and which equates the nation with the church

A proper expression of patriotism is an extension of honoring father and mother, by which we recognize our dependence upon our community and the blessings that have come about through our (national) community.

A Christian view of patriotism is neither Nazism (hyper-nationalistic) or Marxism (which would do away with all national distinctions).

We are to be ambassadors, who both honor the country in which we live and also recognize that our ultimate allegiance is to a higher kingdom.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sermon Notes from Revelation 1:4-7, "Prophet, Priest, and King," by Tray Earnhart.

[This morning, Abby and I kept nursery, so I was unable to hear the sermon. This afternoon, we took some time to listen to the sermon preached on Easter Sunday at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, which we missed since we were out of town. The following are some notes I took while listening to this sermon. The sermon is available to hear on-line HERE.]

Revelation 1:4-7

3 Main Offices in the Old Testament, Which Christ Fulfills

I. Prophet (Deut 18:18, x ref. Acts 3:22)

II. Priest (Hebrews)

III. King (Deut 17:14-17, x ref. John 1:43-49; 18:33-38); two duties of this king:

A. He defeated our enemies

1. 1 Cor 15:20-26. In His resurrection, Jesus defeated death.

2. In our salvation, Jesus defeated the tyranny of sin.

B. He rules and reigns

1. Isa 9:7; Jer 23:5.

2. Examples of proper authorities, established by God:

a. Families

b. Teachers

c. Government

3. Mankind has rebelled against God’s authority.

4. “We need someone to rule and reign over our sinful hearts.”

-> Our response to the above must be submission; repent and put your faith in Him.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Discipline of Discernment, Chapter 9 (Study Notes)

[The following are my teaching notes for Chapter 9 of Tim Challies’ The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, which I am teaching through in a Sunday school class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

I. The Commitments for Discernment

A. Pursue Discernment

1. Humility before God

2. Humility before men

B. Desire Discernment (= seek discernment passionately, as if searching for hidden treasure)

C. Pray for Discernment (Philippians 1:9-10)

D. Seek Discernment (through diligent study of God’s Word)

II. The Context for Discernment (= the congregation of believers) -> “reasons that Christians must join a church”

A. For assurance

B. To evangelize the world

C. To expose false gospels

D. To edify the church

E. To glorify God

III. The Character for Discernment

A. Humility

1. Humility before God

a. Isaiah 66:2

b. The definition of humility: “honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness” (C.J. Mahaney).

2. Humility before men

a. We must humbly surround ourselves with discerning people “and to invite their encouragement and correction” (see Proverbs 13:20).

b. We must humbly seek to protect our brothers and sisters in Christ.

B. Meekness (gentleness, expressing humility, seeking to build up rather than tear down)

C. Compassion (based on a humble recognition that we are all prone to stumble)

IV. The Confirmation of Discernment

A. “Discernment… requires obedience.”

1. Proverbs 28:7

2. Psalm 119:100 NET

3. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

B. Growth in the Christian faith requires a growth in discernment.

C. “[I]f we are to pursue discernment, we must pursue God.”

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Contrast of Teaching on Whether Pastors Should Perform Weddings Between Two Unbelievers: Dr. Samuel Waldron and Dr. Russell Moore

Posting yesterday concerning a contrast in teaching between Dr. Adrian Rogers and Dr. Russell Moore reminded me of another blogpost I've been meaning to write: this one regarding a difference in teaching between Dr. Samuel Waldron and Dr. Russell Moore on whether pastors should perform weddings between two unbelievers.

Two things prompt me to write this post:

First, I've had family members and friends in ministry who have had to grapple with this issue, and I have seen that it is difficult to find biblical counsel in regards to this matter; a good deal of advise that a Christian minister may encounter when thinking through whether he should perform a wedding in a particular circumstance seems to be based on worldly pragmatism rather than biblical principles.

Second, I find, in studying this issue, that I am persuaded by Dr. Moore's argument, rather than Dr. Waldron's; this is interesting to me because, while I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dr. Moore, in the very few matters on which Drs. Moore and Waldron disagree, I virtually always more closely identify with Dr. Waldron's position (the issue examined in this post is, to my knowledge, the only exception to this rule).

Regarding the question of whether pastors should perform weddings between two unbelievers Dr. Waldron's answer is "YES" [as the reader can hear HERE], a conclusion he reaches in the following way:

1. The Bible only contains a prohibition against a believer marrying an unbeliever, not a prohibition against two unbelievers marrying.

2. Marriage is a creation ordinance rather than a church ordinance and so marriage should not be withheld from unbelievers.

3. Therefore, while a pastor may deem it wise to refuse to perform a wedding in a particular case due to certain circumstances, he should not feel prohibited from performing a wedding for unbelievers.

Dr. Moore agrees with the first two points made above, and mentions them near the beginning of his article on this subject. From these two points he reaches a conclusion with which Dr. Waldron would agree:
It is good for unbelievers to marry rather than to live in immorality. It’s good for them, for their children, and for society as a whole.
But Dr. Moore argues against the further conclusion articulated by Dr. Waldron; while marriage IS good for unbelievers, Dr. Moore argues that a Christian minister should NOT be the one to perform such a marriage. Dr. Moore reaches this conclusion as follows:

1. The pastor's authority is "rooted only in the message he proclaims and in his calling from the church;" the pastor is recognized by a specific church as a minister within that church [this is consistent with the New Testament principle of local church autonomy, which Baptists have championed through the years].

2. "A minister is not [properly understood as] an agent of the state" [this is consistent with the New Testament principle of church/state distinction/separation, which Baptists have also championed throughout the years].

3. "In the New Testament, the marriages of church members are the business of the church community," whereas the marriages of those outside the church are not (Dr. Moore cites 1 Cor 5:12-13 as proof for this argument).

4. Therefore, a minister of the state (i.e., a Justice of the Peace), rather than the pastor of a church, is the appropriate person to perform the wedding ceremony for unbelievers.

I encourage anyone reading this post to listen to Dr. Waldron's argument and read Dr. Moore's blogpost and to prayerfully consider this matter for yourselves.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Contrast of Teaching on the "Rapture:" Dr. Adrian Rogers and Dr. Russell Moore

One good thing about the failed "rapture" prediction that caught headlines this past weekend is that it did prompt many Christians to review what the Bible has to say concerning the return of Christ.

Recently, the "Love Worth Finding" radio broadcast [hereafter, "LWF"] has been playing recorded sermons from the late Southern Baptist statesman, Dr. Adrian Rogers, focused on the Book of Revelation. Last week, LWF aired a message from Dr. Rogers titled "The Coming of the King" from Revelation 19:11-16. In part of this sermon, Dr. Rogers argued that, "The church will not go through the Great Tribulation:" that Jesus will "rapture" the Church out of the world before the coming time of intense judgment on the earth previous to the end of the present world-age. As proof for this 'pre-tribulational rapture' Dr. Rogers cited 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 and Revelation 3:10.

Also last week, Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, published an article on his blog titled "A Pre-Tribulational Rapture?" in which he argues against the titular doctrine. Knowing the verses used to support the pre-trib position, Dr. Moore addresses both the 1 Thess and Rev 3 passages:

[I]n prophetic passages in the New Testament the church is said to be “not destined . . . for wrath” (1 Thess. 5:9). But the question is whether this passage speaks of “wrath” in terms of the tribulation or of ultimate wrath—condemnation and hell. It would seem to speak of the latter, since Paul contrasts this wrath with “salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us” (1 Thess. 5:9b–10a). God does promise that believers are exempt from wrath (Rom. 8:1), but he does not promise that they are exempt from tribulation; indeed he guarantees it for all who will live godly in Jesus (Rom. 8:17; Phil. 1:29; 1 Pet. 4:12–19).

In the Revelation, Jesus does promise the church at Philadelphia that he will keep it “from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world” (Rev. 3:10). It does not suggest, however, that he will do so by removing the church from the world.

Both Dr. Rogers and Dr. Moore offered more proof for their respective positions than what I have mentioned above. I would encourage readers interested in this topic to listen to Dr. Roger's sermon HERE and to read Dr. Moore's blogpost HERE; furthermore, I would strongly encourage readers to not be persuaded by which personality they find more attractive, but to carefully examine the Scriptures themselves.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Comparison/Contrast of Family Radio Responses to the Failed Rapture Date

When the Lord did not return on Saturday, some of the first responses from Family Radio (the vehicle for the failed "rapture" prediction) were promising. On Sunday, May 22, as Harold Camping remained in his home, not speaking with the media, ABC News spoke with Tom Evans, a board member of Family Radio, and reported the following:

Evans said his personal position is that the public is owed an apology and he wants the board -- and Camping -- to meet on Tuesday to figure out what to say and do next.

On the same day, NPR quoted Evans as follows:

"I don't know where we went wrong other than that we obviously don't understand the Scriptures in the way that we should."

Both of the above statements seemed to provide some hope that people around Mr. Camping may be urging him to repentance, and that we might have reason to expect him to be humble and apologetic in the statements that he would make last night.

As we know now, repentance was not forthcoming from Mr. Camping. During last night's "Open Forum" broadcast on Family Radio, the self-proclaimed Bible teacher declared himself more humble than all pastors because he was willing to admit he was mistaken about some incidental details (such as the physical nature of Christ's return), he told those who trusted in the details of his May 21 prediction that they would just have to "cope," and he continued to proclaim that October 21 of this year will be the end of the world, now accompanied with the physical return of Christ.

Immediately following last night's "Open Forum" broadcast, a recording of someone other than Mr. Camping announced that God had been merciful in allowing five additional months (until October 21) for people to repent. But this seems to contradict Mr. Camping's new teaching about the spiritual Judgment Day that he claims did come to pass on May 21. In context, as Mr. Camping apparently meant to compare the time period following May 21 with what he claimed took place between May 21, 1988 and September 7, 1994, along with his statements that there will be no more billboards or campaigns leading up to October 21, it seems that Mr. Camping is now teaching that no people can find salvation after May 21.

We pray that no more people will be deceived by Mr. Camping, and that those who previously trusted in this false teacher (who perverted the gospel) will find salvation.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Liveblog of Family Radio's "Open Forum"

As I type the following, I'm listening to Harold Camping's explanation of the failed May 21, 2011 prediction, which is as follows:

In September 7th 1994 God began to again evangelize outside the churches. We have been looking at the Bible in too physical a way. We were convinced on May 21 that God would return here in a very physical way. When we look at it spiritually, we find that He did come.

On October 21, 2011 the great earthquake will occur.

God is too merciful to allow a Hell on earth for 5 months between May 21st and October 21st.

The doctrine of Hell was used by churches as a "club" to try to bully people into joining them in order to escape everlasting judgment.

No church believes that every word of the Bible comes from God.

On May 21, 1988 Christ left the churches and installed Satan there. God actually enlisted Satan, who is the enemy of God, as the head over the churches.

On September 7, 1994 there was judgment in a terrible way and salvation in a wonderful way; between May 21, 1988 and September 7, 1994 literally no one was saved, but on September 7, 1994 people could again become saved, only outside the churches.

On May 21, 2011 we didn't feel any difference, but we know from the Bible that God has brought Judgment Day to the world. The world is under judgment.

We won't be changing a date at all; we're just learning that we have to look at this a bit more spiritual, but it won't be spiritual on October 21.

In the next section, Camping begins taking questions from gathered reporters.

Question: Will you give away all your possessions before the October 21 date?

Answer: I'm not interested in that kind of question. I will need my possessions until October 21st and there will be no one left to take them after October 21.

Question: What will you do about people who have sold their possessions due to the May 21 date?

Answer: I've never told people how to spend their money; I've always told people their money is between them and God.

Question: You were very sure about the details about the May 21 date, and now you say you've learned a lot about the Bible; how can you say that October 21 will not come and go, and you will thereafter learn a lot about the Bible?

Answer: We have not changed the time-line, we simply didn't understand the spiritual nature of the May 21 date.

Question: Do you feel any personal responsibility for those who have put their hope and trust in you?

Answer: I am not the authority, the Bible is the authority, I simply show you where to look in the Bible to see this or see that.

Question: You have no recognition that you might make still another mistake and still mislead other folks?

Answer: We have not made a mistake concerning the time-line, we just misunderstood the spiritual nature of the judgment.

Question: Previous to the 21st of May, people asked you about the possibility of a spiritual judgment... {question interrupted}

Question: How much money had Family Radio invested previous to May 21?

Answer: I don't keep up with that, I just have made sure we have enough to keep the lights on. We have a certified personal accountant who goes over the books. I'm a volunteer, God is the CEO.

Question: Previously people had asked you about the possibility of a spiritual earthquake and you said there was no chance of a spiritual earthquake rather than a physical earthquake; how do you reconcile this with your statements tonight?

Answer: {Camping rambles about how hard the Bible is to interpret, challenging the questioner to try and interpret Jeremiah.}

Question: Are you saying that we as mere humans are not really capable of understanding the Bible?

Answer: You are correct. {Camping rambles about the Apostle Paul's conversion.} We not only have to study the Bible comparing Scripture to Scripture, but we have to pray and ask God to open our spiritual eyes.

Question: How do you feel about the woman who attempted to take her own life and her daughters' lives?

Answer: If there's going to be death, leave it to God.

Question: Do you take any responsibility for that though?

Answer: I'm simply teaching the Bible, I don't have spiritual rule over anybody except my wife.

Question: How can you now guarantee that October 21 will be physical, when you previously guaranteed that May 21 would be physical?

Answer: I've never claimed to be infallible.

Question: Are you willing to publicly apologize for your mistake?

Answer: If people want me to apologize... then may I say, yes, I was wrong, it was to be understood spiritually rather than physically, yet there is a big difference in the world spiritually after May 21, 2011.

Question: Why do you think you have gotten so much international media attention?

Answer: From one standpoint I thank God for the media, because of what you have done and what we have done, the world really knows we are there. Man was made in the image of God and we all know that there is such a thing as sin. {Camping begins rambling about evolution, etc.}

Question: How much radio has been donated to Family Radio in regard to May 21 and do you intend to return it?

Answer: We're not out of business! Why would we return it?

Question: Will you return in after October 21?

Answer: The money is for the gospel!

Question: Will you dissolve Family Radio after October 21?

Answer: If its the end of the world, God will dissolve it! I'm not the CEO, God is! {Camping begins rambling about all the radio stations run by Family Radio, claiming that money is used for the stations to get the gospel out.} You don't see greed in Family Radio at all.

Question: What kind of Christians do you believe will ascend in the rapture, and what will happen to people of other religions?

Answer: Regardless of religion, if God has saved them, they will be caught up. The Bible says the last will be first and the first will be last. All people have to know is that God has spoken, and they have to say, 'God have mercy on me!' {Camping makes reference to knowledge of the May 21 date as prompting the call for mercy, and begins rambling about the different denominations.}

Question: What advise do you give your followers who took you very literally, sold everything they have, and now must live until October 21?

Answer: We don't advise anyone what to do with their money, we're not in the business of giving financial advise. We just had a great recession, we had lots of people who lost their jobs and houses, yet somehow they all survived. People cope.

Question: Does it worry you that you have made a mockery of religion?

Answer: Most pastors will not admit they have made a mistake. All I can do is go to the Bible. This just shows us we have feet of clay, and that we're not perfect. God says again and again that he resists the proud.

Question: Then why not stop predicting the end?

Answer: I'm sorry, we're at the end. I thank you that you have not asked me any questions that I have found embarrassing at all. If you could please just report what I have said honestly.

[It is important for an understanding of the above that one know Harold Camping is an annihilationist, denying an everlasting Hell.]

[Camping spends much of this program reading letters from readers that basically agreed with his framework, and are offering new interpretations of the May 21st date.]

[Camping asserts that September 7, 1994 was "The Feast of the Memorial of the Jubilee" and the beginning of the final in-gathering of believers.]

[Camping reasserts that the church-age has ended.]

[Camping directly asserts a "dictation" theory of inspiration.]


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sermon Notes from 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10, "The Fruit of Unconditional Election," 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.]

Introduction: "Actions speak louder than words." (xref. 1 Jn 1:6: 2:4,9)

1 Thessalonians 1:6-10

I. The Fact of the Thessalonians' Unconditional Election (vv. 6-7)
A. Background: Reception of the Gospel in Much Affliction, Yet With Joy (1:6b)
B. The Thessalonians' became imitators of Paul.
C. The Thessalonians' became an example to believers throughout the region.

II. Explanation/Examples of the Thessalonians' Fruit (vv. 8-10)
A. The word of the Lord sounding forth.
B. The Thessalonians' faith going forth.
C. The Thessalonians' reception of Paul.
D. The Thessalonians' repentance.
E. The Thessalonians' expectancy concerning Jesus' return.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Discipline of Discernment, Chapter 8 (Study Notes)

[The following are my teaching notes for Chapter 8 of Tim Challies’ The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, which I am teaching through in a Sunday school class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

I. “Innocent as to What is Evil”

A. “Christians [should] invest their time studying not what is evil but what is good.”

B. Proof: Rom 16:19; 1 Cor 14:20; Matt 10:16.

C. We should not become immersed in evil or needlessly oppressed by evil by an undue amount of attention to evil.

II. Guilt by Association

A. “[I]t is unfair and illogical to suppose that a relationship between two people, whether it is a friendship or merely a mention in a book or sermon, is a blanket endorsement of all a person writes or teaches.”

B. Imputing guilt by association indicates laziness in discernment.

III. Honor by Association

A. We should not believe a certain doctrine simply because we like who teaches it.

B. We cannot respect a teacher simply based upon whom that teacher claims as an ally.

C. Imputing honor by association indicates a lack of discernment: a failure to test everything by Scripture.

IV. The Critical and the Disputable

A. We must not denigrate “first-order” doctrines, as do the liberals.

B. We must not unduly elevate “third-order” doctrines, as do the fundamentalists.

V. Witch Hunting

A. “[D]iscernment [at least as the word is used in this chapter] is largely a defensive posture.”

B. Those who engage in “witch hunting” become oppressive to fellow Christians.

VI. Relying Unduly on Others: [Challies especially points to the danger of relying unduly on those who are not part of one’s own congregation.]

VII. Simplicity

A. We cannot over-simplify the process of discernment by grouping teachers into a “good” list and a “bad” list, and then fail to weigh carefully the specific teachings of these teachers.

B. As we practice discernment we grow into maturity.

VIII. Pride

A. When practicing discernment, we must be on guard against the sin of pride.

B. Discernment itself can become an idol.

IX. Withdrawal

A. A.W. Pink as a (in this case) negative example of one who sought to be discerning and who ended up disobeying the Bible’s commands regarding fellowship in the church.

B. Heb 10:24-25.

X. Truth Without Love

A. Discernment must be done out of the motive “to defend what is right and to serve other Christians.”

B. 1 Thess 2:4. (God will test our hearts.)

C. Eph 4:15. (“We are to speak the truth in love.”)

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Friday, May 20, 2011

More "Exploratory Questions"

Some alternative "Exploratory questions" [see my previous post] that I sometimes use at the beginning of an evangelistic conversation come from from Bill Fay's Share Jesus Without Fear evangelism training.

These questions are:

1. Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs?
2. To you, who is Jesus Christ?
3. Do you believe in heaven or hell?
4. If you died, where would you go?
5. If what you are believing is not true, would you want to know?

I find the above questions to be particularly useful if, in the "Religious background" part of the conversation, the church background of the person is ambiguous, or if it seems to me that the person may be confused over basic questions concerning who Jesus is.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Encouraging New Blog

My friend Eric Paulson regularly goes out onto the streets of Louisville and tells people the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done on behalf of sinners.

Eric has started a new blog, "Patience in Crossbearing," which I think will be a great encouragement to Christians who are seeking greater faithfulness in evangelism. I encourage everyone reading this post to read Eric's blog HERE.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beginning An Evangelistic Conversation

For most Christians seeking to speak to others concerning the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done on behalf of sinners, the most difficult part of the conversation is the beginning; if you have a healthy relationship with the Lord, if you are seeking to grow in faithfulness to Him daily, and if you are regularly thinking about the gospel, then once you actually begin speaking to others about Jesus, the conversation is not too difficult. The difficulty lies in how to begin such a conversation.

In beginning evangelistic conversations, I've found the "FIRE" model from the Continuing Witness Training (CWT) program that was used by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to be helpful.

"FIRE" stands for:

Religious background
Exploratory questions

Suggested conversation questions/conversation starters for each of the above are as follows:

  • Are you originally from here?
  • How long have you lived here?
  • Tell me about your family.
  • [Or ask about children, if you know the person has children, as most people love to talk about their "kids."]

  • What special hobbies do you have?
  • [If the person with whom you're speaking is wearing a shirt for a sports team, etc., you can certainly ask about sports.]

Religious background:
  • When you attend church, where do you usually attend?
  • [This program was developed in the Deep South where most people have some church background, probably attend church at least on Easter or at Christmastime, and where asking whether a person goes to church might be considered offensive; if you are in more unchurched area, then you may simply ask, "Where do you go to church?" "Do you go to church?" or "What is your religious background?"]

Exploratory questions:
  • Have you come to a point in your life that you know for certain that you have eternal life and that you will go to heaven when you die?
  • Suppose you were standing before God right now and He asked you, "Why should I let you into my heaven?" What do you think you would say?
  • [I hope to mention some other possible "exploratory questions" for evangelism in upcoming posts.]
Basically, most of us (I certainly include myself here) need help in moving beyond trivial chit-chat about the weather, entertainment or whatever situation that's immediately in front of us, so that we can have meaningful conversations. Developing the art of meaningful conversation is what the questions/suggestions under "FIR" above are meant to accomplish. If we cannot engage in meaningful conversation, it is difficult to have a conversation about that most meaningful of topics: the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we engage in meaningful conversation at the beginning of a "witnessing" encounter, paying attention to what the other person has to say, our gospel witness becomes more than just a "project;" we begin to care even more deeply about the other person as an individual and to want that person to have the hope that comes only through knowing Christ.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Two New Resources Re: Campingites

The following two resources seem like they will be very helpful in addressing the errors of Harold Camping within the next few days, when his prophecies are proven to be false.

Yesterday, James White taught a lesson at Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church about how to address Camping's followers [this can be heard HERE]; this is helpful because White challenges us to think about how we can move beyond a simple denial of Camping's errors to consider how to give a positive presentation of our beliefs.

This morning, Albert Mohler published a blogpost confronting Camping's teachings [the post can be viewed HERE]; at the end of this post, Dr. Mohler details some biblical principles that help in addressing anyone seeking to set dates for end-times events.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sermon Notes from 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6, "The Experience of Unconditional Election," 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: Truth

A. Objective Truth= “truth that exists outside of [the individual],” examples:

1. God exists;

2. The Bible is God’s Word;

3. Christ is the only Savior;

-> The gospel is true and Hell is a reality.

B. Subjective Truth= truth as experienced by the individual, examples:

1. Regeneration;

2. [Transition->] The Thessalonians’ experience of unconditional election in salvation.

-> Unconditional election should not only be presented as an objective truth, it should fill us with joy.

II. Two Powerful Experiences Re: Unconditional Election

A. The Powerful Preaching of the Word of God

1. “Our gospel” speaks to Paul’s personal experience with the objective gospel.

2. “Came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit” refers to the power of the Spirit demonstrated in the Thessalonians’ conversion.

3. “And with full conviction:” an entire change of heart, bringing peace of mind.

->Have you experienced this power?

B. Joy

1. “You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord,” And you became imitators of us and of the Lord,” We may imitate Paul, as he sought to imitate Jesus.

2. “[F]or you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,” Those outside of Christ have seasons of so-called joy (even intense joy), but their bedrock is affliction; those in Christ have seasons of affliction (even intense affliction), but their bedrock is joy.

-> Have you experienced this joy?

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Discipline of Discernment, Chapter 7 (Study Notes)

[The following are my teaching notes for Chapter 7 of Tim Challies’ The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, which I am teaching through in a Sunday school class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

I. Spiritual Gifts (1 Cor 12:4-7)

A. Variety

1. The fact that each list of spiritual gifts in the New Testament is unique, with only partial overlap, suggests that the lists of gifts are representative, rather than exhaustive.

2. “The variety of gifts is meant to build a stronger church” unifying it through diversity.

B. Empowered by the Spirit

1. The gifts are “dispensed by the Holy Spirit.”

2. Spiritual gifts do not necessarily correspond to characteristics that can be determined through personality tests.

C. In Everyone (1 Cor 12:1-2)

D. Manifestation of the Spirit: The first main reason the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts is “so that his power and presence can be manifested in the church.”

E. For the Common Good:

1. In Service to Others

2. Not having a certain gift does not negate our responsibility for serving others in a certain way.

II. Discernment As a Gift (1 Cor 12:10)

A. What is this Gift?

1. The special ability to test the spirits (1 John 3:24-4:1)

2. Again, this does not negate the responsibility of all believers to test the teaching they encounter (Acts 17:11)

3. “The power and influence of spirits can be discerned in word, deed, and appearance.”

a. Word: Gen 3:4; Matt 16:23.

b. Deed: Matt 24:24; 2 Thess 2:9.

c. Appearance: Acts 16:17.

B. How Do I Know If I Have This Gift?

1. Begin With Prayer (Jas 1:5)

2. Look For Passion

3. Ask Others

a. Those in spiritual leadership over you.

b. Those who know you best.

4. Try Them!

5. Keep Trying!

C. What Do I Do With It? (All the following primarily take place within the local church.)

1. Separating Truth From Error

2. Discerning the Will of God

3. Identifying the Presence and Work of the Holy Spirit

4. Identifying Worldliness

5. Overseeing the Exercise of Spiritual Gifts

6. Deciding Disputes (1 Cor 6:5)

7. Protecting New Christians

D. What If I Want It? (Ask with expectation, but also with humility.)

E. What If I Don’t Have It? (Ask for help from someone within the body that does have this gift.)

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Friday, May 13, 2011

The Doctrine of Election in the Novel "True Grit"

[Lately, I've been reading the novel True Grit. As a Southern Seminary grad, the following paragraph was particularly interesting to me.]

The Indian woman spoke good English and I learned to my surprise that she too was a Presbyterian. She had been schooled by a missionary. What preachers we had in those days! Truly they took the word into "the highways and hedges." Mrs. Bagby was not a Cumberland Presbyterian but a member of the U.S. or Southern Presbyterian Church. I too am now a member of the Southern Church. I say nothing against the Cumberlands. They broke with the Presbyterian Church because they did not believe a preacher needed a lot of formal education. That is all right but they are not sound on the doctrine of Election. They do not fully accept it. I confess it is a hard doctrine, running contrary to our earthly ideas of fair play, but I can see no way around it. Read I Corinthians 6:13 and II Timothy 1:9,10. Also I Peter 1:2, 19,20 and Romans 11:7. There you have it. It was good for Paul and Silas and it is good enough for me. It is good enough for you too.

[I find a couple of things in the above paragraph particularly noteworthy:

First are the particular proof-texts used for the doctrine of Election. In my experience of having seen proof-texts for this doctrine in the past, this seems an unusual list. It seems that 1 Corinthians 6:13 is included to demonstrate that it is not contrary to God's character to bring about destruction; 1 Peter 1:19-20 speaks of God's foreknowledge of Christ for the sake of "you:" i.e., the Christians to whom Peter was writing.

Second, the mention of the "U.S. or Southern Presbyterian Church" is noteworthy due to recent events. The group to which the heroine of True Grit refers later joined with other Presbyterians to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). At the time in which the story of True Grit was set (and even, probably, when Charles Portis wrote True Grit) these Presbyterians were best known for a conservative view of the doctrine of election. As I noted yesterday, the PCUSA is now known for something else entirely.]

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Submission to Lordship Means Actually Obeying Specific Commands and Following Specific Guidelines

Night before last, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) amended its constitution to omit language requiring clergy to live “in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.” This previous language has been substituted with a phrase ostensibly affirming "the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life" and asserting "Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.” Lest anyone should imagine that nothing has really changed, the Office of the General Assembly for the PCUSA issued a churchwide letter that stated, in part, "persons in a same-gender relationship may be considered for ordination and/or installation as deacons, elders, and ministers of the Word and Sacrament within the PC(USA)." But later this same letter asserted, "It is Jesus Christ who calls individuals to ordained ministries, and all those who are called to ordained office continue to acknowledge Jesus as Lord of all and Head of the church."

Notice the highly confused nature of these "progressive" changes.

The PCUSA wants to affirm that Jesus is "Lord of all and Head of the church." But Jesus exercises His authority over the Church by prescribing in Scripture points of doctrine, the pattern of government, principles of gathered worship, and procedures for church discipline to be followed in the local congregations. In allowing and approving members, and even clergy, who live in "same-gender [sexual] relationship[s]" the PCUSA is refusing to exercise church discipline, thus short-circuiting the authority of Jesus and rebelling against His headship over the church. As Southern Baptist theologian John L. Dagg famously noted, "when discipline leaves a church, Christ leaves with it;" Dagg said this because those congregations that refuse to practice church discipline are regularly grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, and thus cutting off their communion with Christ. No matter what the PCUSA claims, if they will not call sinners to repentance, they do not have Christ as their Head.

The Lord Jesus Christ has given, through His apostles, very specific guidelines for selecting the leadership of His Church (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9). The "husband of one wife" and "above reproach" statements in these verses, along with other New Testament principles and examples, led directly to the old PCUSA requirement that clergy must be required to live “in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.” The PCUSA has now rejected this language, yet they affirm "It is Jesus Christ who calls individuals to ordained ministries." But how will the PCUSA determine if a person has indeed been called to ministry by Jesus if they ignore the guidelines Jesus has established for recognizing shepherds of the flock?

The experience of the PCUSA should provide a warning for all congregations. Most people reading this probably go to conservative churches that would never think of ordaining people to clergy who acknowledge living in "same-gender [sexual] relationship[s]," but how many of our churches fail to practice church discipline? How many of our churches, when choosing leadership, barely consider the guidelines in the New Testament? Do our churches claim that Jesus is "Head over the church," yet fail to submit to His authority?


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Acts 1:7 and End-Times Curiosity

[Recently I've seen comments from two of my friends on Facebook re: Harold Camping. One of my friends noted that Camping's group now has a smartphone app, the other friend-- who is a faithful evangelist on the streets here in Louisville-- has been questioned about whether he is part of the "May 21" group. For this reason, I've been thinking about Camping recently, and my thoughts have turned to some specific New Testament passages, including the following words from Jesus.]

He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." (Acts 1:7 ESV)

In the previous verse the disciples asked Jesus whether it was time for Him to restore the kingdom to Israel. As the New Interpreter's Study Bible (hereafter, NIB) notes: "The disciples' question reflects on expectation of restoration of political autonomy to Israel" (1955).

Jesus does not correct the disciples' expectation that He would restore the kingdom to Israel. He does, however, correct their curiosity concerning the timing of future events. As Luke recorded in his Gospel account, Jesus consistently taught that the end is to be expected and "that Christians must be vigilant for its sudden coming" (NIB 1956; see, for example, Luke 12:38-40, 45-46). In the next verse (Acts 1:8) Jesus expands His disciples' vision so that they are not concentrated solely upon national Israel; instead, they are to spread the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit to all the nations.

From the above consideration we learn that we are not to spend our time inquiring into the chronology of end-time events; aside from the grand hope of Christ's return and the grave warnings concerning gospel enemies and God's wrath against sin, our Father has chosen to keep the details of the future as His own prerogative. Instead, we are to spend our time as gospel witnesses, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to all people, with the knowledge that the Lord may return at any time.

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Open Letter to Adrian Warnock Re: Discussion With Rob Bell

Mr. Warnock,

In the last couple of days I was looking back over some on-line material related to the recent controversy concerning Rob Bell. One thing I was considering was your discussion with Rob Bell on the "Unbelievable" radio program. In this regard, I wanted to write you this letter of both appreciation and caution.

First, I want to thank you for asking Rob Bell difficult questions that drew out answers from him that were much more specific than he has offered in other venues. As I understood it, it seems that Bell is truly agnostic concerning universalism; his assertion that "love wins" (as he explains it) seems to indicate that he thinks everyone will eventually be saved, but his commitment to 'free-will' drives him to statements that seem to indicate people can continuously choose to reject God. On the other hand, this commitment to 'free-will' is so strong that Bell does NOT seem agnostic about the strange idea of postmortem salvation; he seems to clearly believe that people will ALWAYS have the opportunity to choose repentance, even into eternity (one wonders if this 'free-will' works both ways and if someone in Heaven might have a bad day and choose Hell, according to Bell's belief). As mentioned above, I think that Bell expressed his thoughts on these important issues- universalism and postmortem salvation- much more clearly on "Unbelievable" than he has in other venues, and I think that your insightful questions were a big part of why Bell was not able to simply answer a question with a question, as he has done in the past and as he attempted to do on "Unbelievable." I also thank you for properly expressing concern over how Bell's views will impact gospel proclamation.

I was, however, somewhat disappointed with the tone that you took toward Bell at points in the discussion. You seemed particularly keen on affirming that Bell is a brother in Christ. I think that this is a mistake. Not so much because of the universalism and postmortem salvation, as important as these issues are, but especially because of his inclusivism, which, I would argue, impacts his basic understanding of the gospel message. In his promotional video for Love Wins, Bell raised the question of what makes the difference whether one goes to Hell, and he said (among other things), "Is it what you believe? ... Or who you know?" if Bell cannot proclaim a hearty "yes!" to these statements (based on Bible verses such as Romans 10:9-10 and Luke 10:21-22), then one wonders if he has understood the gospel at all. Especially when, in Love Wins, Bell asserts, “There is inclusivity. The kind that is open to all religions, the kind that trusts that good people will get in, that there is only one mountain, but it has many paths. This inclusivity assumes that as long as your heart is fine or your actions measure up, you’ll be okay” (p. 155). By this statement it seems that Bell thinks that there are "good people," people whose hearts are "fine" and whose "actions measure up," who will be "okay." But this is not Christianity. It is Pelagianism. Christianity teaches that we are not "fine," that we are, in Adam, naturally sinful rather than "good people," that our actions fall short, rather than measure up, to God's standards, and that we will not be "okay" without a special work of God's grace found only in Christ Jesus. If I have understood Bell and have represented him accurately, then, instead of assuring him that we think he is a Christian, we ought to, at least, express deep concern over his soul due to his errors concerning the gospel message.

Peace in Christ,
-Andrew Lindsey


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Sermon Notes from 1 Thessalonians 1:4, "Unconditional Election," by Tray Earnhart.

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

I. Introduction

A. We must beware of overly complicating matters of theology due to our own pride.

B. “Unconditional election” is based on the simple idea that God is sovereign and we are not.

1. God’s sovereignty becomes a complicated issue only because we do not want to accept the truth of who God is and who we are.

2. John 10:22-30 demonstrates both God’s sovereignty in salvation and the explanation for why some refuse to hear and believe.

II. Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:4

A. Unlike in other letters, Paul interrupts the “thanksgiving” section of the First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians to detail his ministry to the Thessalonians.

B. “Knowing.” Paul is encouraging the Thessalonians with a certain knowledge of their calling.

1. Paul’s certainty of the Thessalonians’ calling is NOT because they have prayed a certain prayer, etc.

2. Paul’s certainty of the Thessalonians’ calling is because of the obvious power of the Holy Spirit in their lives (1 Thess 1:5ff.).

C. “Calling.”

1. God is the initiator of salvation.

2. God’s calling is based on His special love: i.e., “Beloved by God.”

III. Doctrine: Unconditional Election

A. God alone is sovereign; Man is not.

B. Examples of Unconditional election:

1. Abraham

2. Israel

3. Christ

C. We must worship God as He is revealed in Scripture; anything else is idolatry.

D. In the end, God will have His way.

E. The concept of election according to foreknowledge (1 Pet 1:1-2) becomes clear as we consider Romans 8:29; God’s foreknowledge is active, leading to His intended result.

F. Additional Scripture proofs of Unconditional election:

1. John 6:37-40; 15:16

2. Ephesians 1:4

IV. Gospel Call

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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Matthew 5:43-48 and God's Love for His Enemies (Part 5)

46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

As mentioned before, when we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, it demonstrates that we are children of our heavenly Father. Our heavenly Father rewards His children for displaying a love like His: a love that goes beyond what is found among those who do not follow Christ. Human society could not function without some sort of love in place-- for people cannot get much accomplished if they are constantly at each others' throats-- but the way that love regularly manifests itself among people who have not been transformed by the Holy Spirit is the kind of love that "even the tax collectors" and "pagans"-- those individuals who everyone in God-fearing society would acknowledge as sinful-- manifest.

"Love those who love you." This is the selfish "love" that comes naturally to the human heart. Why would I love someone who does not love me? What would be the point? If someone does not love me, and I invest myself in loving him or her, then that person will ignore my love. Even worse, if I seek to love someone who does not love me, that person may very well disdain me for seeking to invest in his or her life when he or she has not asked me to do so. Loving those who do not love you-- and greeting those who are not "brothers"-- is often unwelcome and always uncomfortable.

In The Gospel According to Matthew we see Jesus going out of His way to greet those who are not His "brothers:" those who are not in His natural circle of friends. And so we see Him calling Peter and Andrew-- random fishermen-- in Matthew 4 and in Matthew 9 He calls Matthew, one with the most despised profession of "tax collector." At the end of Matthew's Gospel Jesus is shown to be abandoned by His disciples (Matt 26:56) and yet He loves them-- and all His future disciples-- to the point of giving up His life on their [and our] behalf, dying on the Cross for sinners.

As followers of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, we should reflect God's love for His enemies, obeying His commands, first and foremost by speaking the gospel to others: even those who may not love (or even hate) us or our faith. As we seek to proclaim the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done on behalf of sinners, we will necessarily have to extend ourselves and greet those who are not our brothers: we must lovingly engage people who are outside of the Church and who are outside of our natural circle of friends and relatives.


Friday, May 06, 2011

Today's Prophecy and Inerrancy

A week ago today a friend of ours from Auburn treated my family to lunch at the Founders Cafe of Southern Seminary. (This friend is a student at Boyce College, and she had extra meals on her meal plan that she needed to use up before the end of the semester.)

Over lunch our friend mentioned that in one class she was required to debate a classmate on whether the gift of prophecy is still to be practiced in the church today. As I understood it, she thought that this debate was a good experience: she argued the negative position and her classmate argued the positive position. From her account, the student arguing that the gift of prophecy continues in the church today took the position that today's prophecy (unlike the prophecy practiced by the Old Testament prophets) is not necessarily inerrant; as it is supposed to function today, God does grant an inerrant word to the "prophet," but then the "prophet," due to human fallenness, may relay this word in a way that includes errors.

Note that this explanation of today's prophecy is identical to how Protestant Liberals have generally believed that all the prophecies (and other words) recorded in the Bible were given. Classic Protestant Liberalism has sought to have some place of respect for the Bible-- they have taught that there were words of God delivered to the authors of the Bible-- but they have argued that human fallibility prevented the Bible from being infallible or inerrant.

In thinking through these issues, the Christian seeking to be faithful to God's word must ask the following questions:
  1. Does the Bible itself allow for the idea that true prophets may make errors when delivering a word from the Lord?
  2. If prophets were expected to deliver prophecies without error during the biblical age, is there any hint in the Bible that a lesser type of prophecy-- consisting of prophecies that admit errors-- will be operative in the Church age?
  3. If the answer to both of the above questions is "no," then doesn't the idea of fallible prophecy prone to error, as mentioned above, provide a pathway to Liberalism?

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Thursday, May 05, 2011



Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 identify the first day of the week as the day upon which the early churches met. The historical evidence immediately following the close of the New Testament also points to the churches meeting on the first day of the week: meeting regularly for worship on a day that they called “the Lord’s Day”— a term found in Revelation 1:10— due to its association with the lordship of Christ, specifically in regards to His resurrection on the first day. It is unthinkable that the early Christian community— including, it seems, the apostle John, as the author of Revelation— was entirely composed of those who were “weak in faith” (to use Paul’s phrase from Romans 14), with no one raising an objection to this prevailing understanding of “the Lord’s Day.” Therefore, John Murray’s conclusion seems inevitable:

The evidence supporting the memorial character of the first day is not to be controverted and, consequently, in this respect also the assumption in question cannot be entertained, namely, that all religious distinction of days is completely abrogated in the Christian economy.[1]

[1]Murray, Romans, 258-259.

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