Call To Die

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

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

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Cobb Neighbor" Promotes Mormonism

A week ago yesterday, the Cobb Neighbor, a newspaper in the Atlanta-metropolitan area, ran a full-page story about the "I'm a Mormon" advertisements being utilized by the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (the main denomination of Mormonism).

The story, written by Marcus E. Howard, lacks any sense of journalistic integrity, for it makes passing mention of "some Christian leaders who have questioned [Mormon] religious practices," but, without exception, all quotes in the article are from Mormons, who argue that Mormons "are Christians:" the other side of the story is not represented at all.

Without comment or rejoinder, Bishop Robert Walton is quoted as saying:
[Mormons] are Christians and members of the church have a devout belief in the Bible; we follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we accept him as our personal savior and redeemer.
Any Christian who has studied this issue at all could have easily given Howard a response to Bishop Walton's claims, pointing out that Mormons have historically re-defined ALL of the theological terms-- crucial terms such as "Bible," "Gospel," and "Jesus Christ"-- in the quote above.

Thankfully the Cobb Neighbor-- a popular publication-- is also a free publication, so that non-Mormon readers do not have to feel that they have paid to promote Mormonism. However, I wonder if the advertisers who do pay for the production of this publication would be comfortable with the thought that they are paying for the promotion of Mormonism.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sermon Notes from "Hello, Goodbye, and What's in the Middle." Sermon by Jim Scott Orrick.

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

1 Thessalonians 5:26-28.

I. Intro.We should be intentional in our interactions with others.

II. Greeting
A. Christians ought to be friendly. (Matt 5:43ff.)
B. There is a special love we must have for Christian brothers.
C. "Holy kiss."
1. Greet one another warmly in a way that is culturally appropriate.
2. Appropriate physical touch can be tremendously meaningful.

III. What's in the Middle
A. Legal language is used to charge the Thessalonians to have the letter read.
B. We must give heed to the public reading of the word.

IV. Goodbye
A. We must be intentional with our speech.
B. Little things, like saying, "Have a blessed day," instead of , "Bye," can make a big difference.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Additional Critique of Jim Wallis

In his recent debate with Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jim Wallis consistently compared his concern for the poor with the Abolitionist movement and the Civil Rights movement in previous generations; Wallis said that Christian leaders who worked for Abolition or Civil Rights were on the side of justice.

I wonder: what if a Christian leader during the Civil Rights era spent a great deal of time helping the poor in general, but refused to take a firm stand against racism? Would Jim Wallis say that Christian leader was on the side of justice? What if a Christian leader influenced other Christians to join the Democratic Party in the South during the era when the state Democratic Parties were institutionally racist due to the White Primary? Would that Christian leader be on the side of justice?

But now Wallis has influenced many Christians to vote Democrat because supposedly the Democrats care more about the poor. The main problem with voting for the Democratic Party in general is that their official party platform calls abortion a "right" and declares, "we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Certainly there are still some "blue dog" Democrats (especially in the South) and voting for such Democrats may, at times, be appropriate. But unless a Democratic candidate specifically repudiates the pro-abortion plank in his or her Party's platform, that candidate should be viewed in the same way that we would view a Dixiecrat. No matter how many other good programs a Democratic candidate may support, unless he or she both repudiates the pro-abortion plank in his or her Party's platform, and explicitly declares an intention to change that plank of the platform, that candidate is aligned with an ideology that runs contrary to the right to life for the unborn, which is the crucial social justice issue in America today.

If a person cared for the poor in the antebellum South, but did nothing to end slavery, then that person would not be considered 'on the side of social justice.' If that person claimed that, instead of focusing on the rights of African-Americans, he would focus on improving the economic system in the South so that slavery would be less necessary, then that person would not be considered 'on the side of social justice.' If that person helped pro-slavery candidates get elected for the end of accomplishing other (perhaps noble) political goals, then that person would not be considered 'on the side of social justice.'

Wallis wants to care for the poor, but has called the abortion debate "stale." Wallis wants to call Christians to care for those who are metaphorically without a voice and who are powerless, but his agenda would distract Christians from caring for those who are literally without a voice and powerless. Wallis, and those following his line of thinking, claim that by improving economic conditions of the poor (a goal that, they claim, will be accomplished by liberal economic policies), they will make abortion "less necessary," as if it is sufficient to make murder "less necessary" rather than illegal.

Though painful for the South, it was right for the United States to make chattel slavery illegal first-- recognizing the rights of African-Americans-- and then to work for an economic reconstruction of the South so that (as it was hoped) industry would come to the South, making slavery unnecessary. Though painful for the poor, it would be right for the United States to make abortion illegal first-- recognizing the right to life for the unborn-- and then to work to end any institutionalized injustice that may make the poor think that killing their unborn is the correct option.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Why Dr. Mohler won the recent debate (without Jim Wallis noticing).

Recently, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary debated Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners. The topic for the debate, which can be heard on-line HERE, was, "Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church?" Wallis answered "yes," and Dr. Mohler (somewhat reluctantly, due to the way the question was framed) answered "no." Wallis stated that care for the poor is "integral" to the gospel: basically, he wanted to argue that care for the poor is an essential part of the gospel message itself. Dr. Mohler stated that care for the poor is a necessary consequence of gospel work in someone's life, but the gospel message is distinct from a message about caring for the poor.

Dr. Mohler said that he was concerned that the way Wallis framed the issue would lead to a loss of the gospel message. Wallis conceded that this was a valid concern, but that he worked to make sure that personal salvation is central to the gospel proclamation at Sojourners.

When Wallis conceded that the possibility of losing the gospel was a valid concern, after having earlier stated that doctrines such as substitutionary atonement and the bodily resurrection were also essential to the gospel, he automatically lost the debate without knowing it. Because earlier in the debate, when listing his heroes (in terms of those whom he felt got it right in terms of preaching that social justice is integral to the gospel) he kept mentioning people like Charles Finney and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The reason that the mention of these men is such a problem is that Finney was a hyper-Pelagian arch-heretic and Dr. King, for all his admirable qualities, denied the resurrection. If Wallis, who attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and should know better, is so enamored with "social justice" that he cannot discern when his heroes are those who abandoned the biblical gospel, then there is something drastically wrong with the way he wishes to frame the argument.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sermon Notes from "The Doctrine of Salvation: Limited Atonement, Part 1." Sermon by Dave Stephenson.

[This morning, I had to miss worshiping with Kosmosdale Baptist Church because I was staying home with Christian, who has been sick. I decided to listen to the sermon mentioned in the title of this post. This sermon is from a pastor who has been greatly influential in my life, and is on a subject that I have studied in great detail. The sermon can be heard HERE.]

I. Defining the Controversy
A. The work of Jesus Christ on the Cross did not save every human being who ever lived, but salvation is limited to those who believe. The controversy is concerning the way in which the atonement is limited.
B. Did Jesus die to make salvation possible for every person without distinction? Or, did Jesus die to secure salvation for a particular people?

II. The Reformed Belief Concerning the Limit of the Atonement
A. We believe that the death of Jesus was sufficient for all, but effective only for the elect.
B. We believe that Jesus' death paid for all the sins of the elect, and none of the sins of the non-elect.

III. Passages Cited as Objections to Limited Atonement
A. "World" Passages (John 1:9, 29; 3:16-17; 4:42; 2 Cor 5:19; 1 John 2:2, 4:14)
1. None of these make the point that the Arminians want to make; none of them speak of human choice.
2. "Propitiation" = "appeasing sacrifice" or "satisfying payment;" this word carries no sense of potential or partial satisfaction. If 1 John 2:2 teaches that Jesus is the propitiation for every individual has ever lived, then the verse does not teach Arminianism, but Universalism.
B. "All" Passages (2 Cor 5:15; 1 Tim 2:6; Heb 2:9)

IV. Passages Concerning the Limit of the Atonement
A. Passages: (Matt 1:21; 20:28; John 10:11; Acts 20:28; Eph 5:25; Heb 9:15; Rev 5:9)
B. Terms: "His people," "the many," "His sheep," "the Church"

V. The Harmony of these Passages
A. The natural use of inclusive language:
1. The normal use of "all" does not indicate "each and every human being who ever lived."
2. The biblical use of the word "all" means "all kinds" as seen, for example, in Rev 5:9.
3. In normal use, when "all" means "all without qualification," more words are added to "all."
4. In the Bible, when "all" means "all without exception" [with the lone exception of Christ], more words are joined to all, as seen in the verses leading up to the statement that "all have sinned" in Romans 3.
B. The use of world in the New Testament context:
1. In the Church, when we say "the world," we often think, "the world as distinct from the Church;" in [New Testament-era] Jewish culture "the world" would have been understood as 'the world as distinct from the Jews.'
2. Acts 11:17-18, the Church seems shocked that the world outside Judaism would be saved.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

A Prophecy of Jesus' Coming: Revelation 1:7-8

Translation of Revelation 1:7-8

7 Look! He is coming with the clouds,

and every eye will see him,

and whoever pierced him,

and all the tribes of the earth

will anguish[1] over him.

–It is certain.[2]

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,”[3] says the Lord God, “He who is and was and is coming, the Almighty.”



[1]kovyontai has been traditionally rendered “mourn;” after much prayer, study, and consideration, I have opted to translate this term as “anguish,” as the ‘mourning’ here does not seem to refer to the grief over losing a loved one, but rather it refers to a deeply painful sorrow over personal guilt.

[2]naiv, ajmhvn is a synonymia, “whose function is to strengthen the certainty of what has just been prophesied.” Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 79.

[3]There is no theological significance to the fact that the word for “Alpha” is spelled out in the Greek text, while “Omega” is given as a single letter; that is, the phrase to; “Alfa kaiv to;; W (to Alpha kai to O) appears uneven in the Greek text, but this is simply because Greek grammarians did not coin the word #Wmega until the 7th century A.D. (Aune, Revelation 1-5, 57)

“The Alpha and the Omega” could reasonably be translated as “the A and the Z” so that the one reading in English could immediately see that the Lord God is using the first and last letter of the alphabet. The traditional anglicized forms of the Greek letter names– “Alpha and Omega”– is retained because the phrase “the A and the Z” is not commonly used in English and rendering reading “the A and the Z” may have an unintended comic effect.



Commentary on Revelation 1:7-8

Having referred to his writing as “the words of prophecy” in verse 3, John now prophesies to his readers.

The prophecy. =Idou; (idou), translated, “Look!” is characteristic in the book of Revelation as indicative of special divine intervention and should be understood in this case as introducing an oracle or prophecy. =Idou; has two related meanings: (1) “It functions as a marker of strong emphasis indicating the validation of the statement it introduces;” (2) “It functions as a marker to draw attention to that which it introduces.”[1]

The prophecy in Revelation 1:7 draws upon Daniel 7:13 and Zechariah 12:10: texts Jesus used to prophesy of His second coming, as recorded in Matthew 24:30. Whereas Zechariah 12 seems to be firmly centered upon Jerusalem, Revelation 1:7 speaks of “all the tribes of the earth.” Viewed through faith in Christ, texts with specific revelation to the Old Testament nation of Israel are now seen as universal.

Assurance the message will come to pass. The One from whom John had received the prophecy recorded in verse 7 announces Himself in verse 8. This declaration from the Lord God highlights His sovereignty over the course of history and thus serves as an assurance that the prophecy will come to pass.

In Revelation 1:8, the Lord God first refers to Himself as to; “Alfa kaiv to;; W (to Alpha kai to O) “the Alpha and the Omega.” This divine title emphasizes the sovereignty of God in a way similar to the titles “the beginning and the end” (Rev 21:6; 22:13) and “the first and the last” (Rev 1:17; 2:8; 22:13).[2]

The Lord God next refers to Himself as oJ w[n kai; +o #hn kai; +o ejrcovmenoV (ho on kai ho en kai ho erchomenos) “He who is and was and is coming.” This phrase is repeated from verse 4. In the former verse, this phrase clearly referred to God the Father as the phrase occurred in the first section of a Trinitarian formula. In this verse, the reader may ask if the phrase is once again in reference to the Father, or if it is now specifically applied to the Son. But the Trinitarian distinction made a few verses earlier does not seem to be in view with this verse; rather, God in the fullness of His divine essence is being magnified. That this verse takes in a reference to the Son in His deity along with the Father is seen in that: (1) “He who… is coming” in this context most naturally includes the idea of the One who is said to be “coming” in the previous verse– that is, the One who was also said to be “pierced”– namely, Jesus; (2) oJ w[n (ho on) “He who is” is basically the third person form of =Egwv =ei;mi (Ego eimi) “I am,” and John consistently records Jesus referring to Himself as “I am;” (3) In Revelation 22:13, Jesus is clearly the speaker, and He refers to Himself using a title for the Lord God also found in this verse: to; “Alfa kaiv to;; W (to Alpha kai to O) “the Alpha and the Omega.”

The final title by which the Lord God refers to Himself in this verse is +o pantokravtwr (ho pantokrator) “the Almighty.” This divine title occurs eight other times in the book of Revelation (4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22).[3] In Revelation 1:8, “the Almighty” summarizes the two previous phrases by which the Lord God identifies Himself– phrases that were rather poetic– into a single term. The Lord God can and will bring His prophecy to pass because He is “the Almighty.”



[1]Aune, Revelation 1-5, 53.

[2]Ibid., 57.

[3]There is only one other verse in the New Testament in which the term “the Almighty” is used– 2 Corinthians 6:18– and this is an Old Testament quotation. (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 81)

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

A New Book to Honor Tom Nettles


Today during the chapel service at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), the highly influential Baptist historian and theologian, Dr. Thomas J. Nettles was honored by being presented with a festschrift. I was not able to be present at the chapel service this morning due to work, but apparently Tom Ascol, Director of Founders Ministries, presented the work to Dr. Nettles.

I first learned of this book about a year ago when I had the privilege of chatting with Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin while I was doing some research at the SBTS library. I asked Dr. Haykin about the research he was doing, and he told me that he was preparing to write a chapter on John Gill for an upcoming festschrift for Dr. Nettles. (At that time, Dr. Haykin told me not to mention this to Dr. Nettles, as the festschrift was meant to be a surprise: I wonder if this work remained a surprise to Dr. Nettles until yesterday?) It was highly interesting that Dr. Haykin would write the chapter on Gill, since (unless their positions have changed) Dr. Nettles does not believe that Gill was a hyper-Calvinist, while Dr. Haykin is convinced that Gill was a hyper-Calvinist. I am extremely interested to see how Dr. Haykin's chapter turned out.

The rest of the book-- with contributors such as Dr. Greg Wills, Dr. Russell Moore, Dr. Sam Waldron, and Dr. Fred Malone-- looks highly interesting as well, and I look forward to reading it. For those interested, information about the book and how to order it can be found HERE.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Herman Cain: Why I'll not vote for him in the Republican Primary

Recently, Herman Cain's bid for the Republican nomination for President has come under fire due to allegations of sexual harassment. Four different women have made accusations against Cain, and the National Restaurant Association paid two of the women an out-of-court settlement. While Cain certainly has the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, conservatives should resist the temptation to completely turn a blind eye to these allegations. We should beware of showing favoritism or having a double standard; if liberals were wrong to downplay Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct, then, if it turns out that these allegations have against Cain have merit, we must consider that this moral failure indicates a lack of character, which would disqualify Cain from office.

But regardless of the truth or error concerning these allegations, I had already decided not to vote for Cain for two reasons: 1) the 9% federal income tax he has proposed; 2) his fuzzy statements regarding the right to life for the unborn [the second reason being much more important than the first].

1. 9% Federal Income Tax

Proposed as part of the 9-9-9 plan, the 9% federal sales tax would place an excessive burden on consumers. Also, I agree with the conservative opposition to granting the federal government another source of revenue, which would inevitably by expanded (a 9% federal sales tax today could be a 15% federal sales tax tomorrow).

2. Fuzzy Statements Regarding the Right to Life

Note the boldface statements HERE and Cain's answer under #3 HERE. Now, in other cases, Cain has given unequivocally pro-life answers, so I am not saying that Cain is pro-abortion. What I AM saying is [to borrow a quote from yesterday's blogpost by Dan Phillips] "he doesn't seem to have thought through even how to enunciate core principles." And this is especially troubling when it comes to a failure to enunciate a clear stand in regards to the chief issue of social justice in America today: the right to life for babies in the womb.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

God's Love for the Non-Elect

Previously on this blog, I have written about God's love for His enemies. Recently, there has been some conversation about God's love for the non-elect on the Reformed Baptist Discussion List. One of the contributors to that List, David Ponter, recently wrote the following re: God's love for the non-elect, and I commend it to anyone reading this blog:
Does Scripture speak of God having any volitional or emotional disposition of favor to any who we can identify as non-elect, or whom it is clear God has identified as sinners who shall never be saved? Yes: Rom 2:4-5, John 3:16 with John 12:47-47. Clearly in Romans 2:5 the subjects of the long-suffering, given to direct them to repentance, are the vessels of wrath, who have stored up wrath for themselves for the day of wrath. And John 3:16 (with John 12:47-47) by obvious implication, the world of apostate humanity is loved, including even ultimate 'rejectors.' This world is subject of Christ's redemptive activities. And we have the passages where God-incarnate speaks to sinners as desiring and seeking their salvation, sinners who finally reject Christ and were not saved (Matt 23:37 and Jn 5:34).
In reading the statement above, I was especially struck by the use of Romans 2:4-5. Those addressed in these verses are hypocrites who will NOT escape the judgment of God (verse 3); they will face God's wrath on the day of judgment (verse 5b). AND YET verse 4 speaks of God's kindness, forbearance, and patience toward these individuals, and these aspects of God's disposition toward those destined for wrath are intended (in some sense) to lead these people to repentance.

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sermon Notes from "The Preservation of the Saints." Sermon by Jim Scott Orrick.

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

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

I. God
A. The God of Peace
1. There is only one God.
2. No other religion teaches about a god who has so humbled himself in the interest of peace.
B. Himself
1. The wonder of what God does
2. The effectiveness of what God does

II. What God is Doing and Will Continue to Do
A. Sanctification is being set apart for the pleasure of God
B. Sanctification will be complete at the return of the Lord

III. Our Confidence is in God's Faithfulness

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