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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Response to "Being Biblical More Than Logical"

Recently on the blog for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. John Hammett argued for the "Four-Point" Calvinist position, denying the "L" of TULIP, which stands for "Limited atonement" (most every Calvinist I know would prefer that this point be known as "Particular redemption," but this throws off the acronymn).

As evident by the title, Dr. Hammett argues that, while "L" has a certain ring of logic, Unlimited atonement (or General redemption) is more consistent with the Bible's teaching.

The following is my response to Hammett's post:

The idea that “L” is simply a logical, rather than a biblical, conclusion, is often asserted by “four-pointers,” but does not ring true. Quite the contrary: I could think of ways to support the “four-point” position that (at least) seem logical, but am convinced, instead, of particular redemption by the biblical text, which presents a necessary connection between the sacrifice made for the [new] covenant people and the benefits certainly enjoyed by the elect on the basis of that sacrifice (Rom 8:32Heb 10:14).
Even the verses used to argue against “L:” notice how many concepts from outside the verses must be then crammed into the verses in order for them to be used to deny particular redemption. And the actual words found in the verses– words such as “propitiation,” “Savior”– must be either either explained away or turned on their head, while words such as “all” and “world” must assume unusual meanings (in any given context, Scripture does not generally mean to indicate “every person who ever lived throughout history” by these terms).


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Notes on Revelation 2:18-29

[Tomorrow morning in Sunday school at Kosmosdale Baptist Church I plan to teach from Revelation 2:18-29, "the letter to the church in Thyatira;" below are some of my teaching notes for this lesson.]


18 And write to the angel of the church in Thyatira:
Thus says the Son of God, having eyes like a flame of fire and feet resembling fine bronze:
19 I know your works– your goodness, faithfulness, service, and perseverance[1]– and that your last works surpass your first [works].[2] 20 But I have this against you: you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches, and she seduces my servants to fornicate and to eat meat sacrificed to an idol. 21 And I gave her some time[3] so that she might repent, but[4] she doesn’t want to repent from her fornication. 22 Look! I will throw her into a sick-bed and those committing adultery with her into great affliction, unless they repent from her evil works. 23 And I will destroy her children in a plague. And all the churches will know that I am the searcher of minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira– as many as don’t keep her teaching: whosoever doesn’t know “the deep things of Satan” (as they say)– I tell you: I will not place another burden upon you, 25 except [that you[5]] hold fast to what you have until I come. 26 And to the victor, the one keeping my works, I will give him authority over the nations. 27 And he will rule them with an iron rod; he will shatter them like ceramic pots– 28 as I also receive [authority] from my Father– and I will give him the morning star. 29 Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit says to the churches.


Thyatira was an industrial town on inland Asia Minor. The town was by a river on a plain and had no natural defenses. The town was often subject to fires due to its many foundries. This was the least important city (imperially speaking), and yet the longest letter, in Revelation 2-3. The church in Thyatira was subject to persecution due to the trade guilds, which controlled all the business in the town and which were run like powerful fraternities, with degrading initiation rites, debauchery, and frequent hazing.

Introduction of the Author

Commendation of the Thyatirans’ works

Condemnation of the Thyatirans’ Tolerance of Jezebel

th;n gunai:ka Ijezavbel (ten gunaika Iezabel) “the woman Jezebel” almost certainly refers to a certain individual within the congregation at Thyatira (rather than to a sect in general), as the singular “woman” is used, and it would be awkward symbolism for the entire sect to be spoken of as claiming to be “a [singular] prophetess,” as groups of mixed gender in the Bible are normally referred to using masculine terms, and as the punishment for “Jezebel” is differentiated from the punishment of “her children” in subsequent verses.

Prophetesses are mentioned in a few places in the NT record. The word for prophetess is used of Anna in Luke 2:36 and the daughters of Philip were said to prophesy in Acts 21:9. In the apostolic era, prophets ranked only behind apostles in their importance to the church. The “Jezebel” in Thyatira was obviously accepted into the congregation of Thyatira as a prophetess, but she used her position to lead others astray. She is referred to as Jezebel, bringing to mind the OT queen of Israel, who is identifies with harlotry and witchcraft (1 Kings 9:22); Jezebel promoted the worship of foreign gods.

Impending Judgment Against Jezebel and Her Followers

“Religious infidelity is often spoken of in the OT under the figure of harlotry (e.g., Jer 3:6; Eze 23:19; Hos 9:1).”[1] Idolatry such as that to which Jezebel enticed Israel in the OT was often accompanied by literal sexual perversion, and idolatry was not much different in this respect during NT. The fornication that is here mentioned in association with other cultic practices, and which is mentioned later in this book alongside idolatry three times (19:21; 21:8; 22:15), cannot be understood as something entirely spiritual, but literal sexual immorality is in view.

metanohvswsin (metanoesosin) “repent,” preceded by eja;n mh; (ean me) “unless,” is a negative third class conditional clause indicating that, as things stand, it is probable that those committing adultery will not repent, and so they will receive judgment.

nefou;V kai; kardivaV (nephous kai kardias) “kidneys and hearts:” this refers to the entire spiritual/ mental/emotional/volitional component of a person and can thus be translated “minds and hearts” within the same meaning. This forms part of an allusion to Jeremiah 17:10. The statement from Jeremiah is especially applicable to the congregation in Thyatira because Jeremiah, like John, was dealing with people who were practicing idolatry due to economic motives (cf. Jer 17:3, 11; 11:10-17, 20).[2]

ajpoktenw: ejn qanavtw (apokteno en thanato) “I will destroy… in a plague.” Although this phrase could be a Hebraism meaning “I will certainly kill,” the difference in the words (rather than the normal manner of using cognates to express intensification), the strong similarity of this phrase to Eze 33:27 in the LXX (wherein rbd, the word for “plague,” or “pestilence, is translated with a form of qanatoV), and the later Greek use of qanatikov to mean “disease” all seem to indicate that this phrase should be translated, “I will destroy… in a plague.”

Encouragement to the Remnant in Thyatira

ta; baqeva tou: Satana: (ta bathea tou Satana) “the deep things of Satan,” followed by the quotation formula, wJV levgousin (os legousin) “as they say,” was apparently a phrase actually employed by “Jezebel” and her followers. Some have tried to understand wJV levgousin (os legousin) “as they say” as applying to the faithful group in Thyatira, so that ta; baqeva tou: Satana: (ta bathea tou Satana) “the deep things of Satan” is an accusation made by the godly against “Jezebel”’s followers. On the other hand, the Lord, in this section, is addressing the godly in the second person, and levgousi;n is in the third person.

Others have tried to understand tou: Satana (tou Satana) “of Satan” as an addition to– or substitute for– part of a phrase that was actually employed by the Jezebelite sect. This would be grammatically absurd, however, as wJV levgousin (os legousin) “as they say” introduces a phrase that would all be understood as a quote from the third party.

ta; baqeva tou: Satana: (ta bathea tou Satana) “the deep things of Satan” were actually taught, under this name, by later Gnostic sects such as the Cainites. Carpocratians, and Naasenes. In the early form of this– thought to be found in Thyatira– it seems that the Jezebelites believed themselves impervious to any spiritual danger from sin, so they claimed to participate in ta; baqeva tou: Satana: (ta bathea tou Satana) “the deep things of Satan”– such as the fornications and participation in idolatrous festivals previously mentioned– in order to prove their freedom from any hint of legalism.

Admonition to the Remnant in Thyatira

Promise to the Victor

ejousivan epi; tw:n ejqnw:n (exousian epi ton ethnon) “authority over the nations.” This phrase begins an allusion in Revelation 2:26b-27 to Psalm 2:8-9 (especially in the words of the LXX).[3] Psalm 2 is Messianic in nature, promising that the Messiah will receive authority over the nations. The Thyatirans who keep Christ’s works– persevering through temptation and persecution as He did– will also participate in Christ’s rule.

The Lord Jesus Christ, who declares Himself to be the morning star in Revelation 22:16, here promises to give the morning star to those who overcome and keep His works. This promise continues the idea of believers participating in the reign of Christ. The ideas in these verses– of the Messiah (and, by His extension of grace, those in Christ) ruling with an iron rod or scepter and manifested in brilliance like the morning star– are ancient, as seen in the prophecy spoken through Balaam in Numbers 24:17. Significantly, 2 Peter 1:17-19 refers to “the morning star” arising in believers’ hearts immediately after a reference to Psalm 2.

Charge to Heed the Word

[1]Thomas, 218.
[2]Beale, 264.
[3]Aune, 209.

[1]The list of accusatives (th;n ajgavphn-th;n uJpomonhvn) are taken as describing the “works.”
[2]The referent of “first” at the end of the sentence is the same as that of “last” earlier in the sentence, and so “works” is added in the translation for clarity.
[3]crovnon, which is literally rendered “a time,” in translated to mean “some time.”
[4]The second kai in this verse is taken as adversative, and it is thus translated “but” (Aune, Revelation, 197).
[5]The subject of the phrase has been re-iterated in the translation for clarity.
[6]Thomas, 218.
[7]Beale, 264.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Band of Bloggers Panel on "The Elephant Room Controversy:" Helpful, Then Lousy

Attempted Brief Summary of The Elephant Room Controversy

The Elephant Room was a conference this past year put on by some men associated with The Gospel Coalition. The organizers of The Elephant Room asked T.D. Jakes-- a prosperity gospel preacher, who is well-known for his Oneness theology-- to speak at the conference. This invitation was, of course, extremely controversial, and many people asked the organizers of The Elephant Room to reconsider; many people also asked The Gospel Coalition to come out with a statement denouncing the "ministry" of T.D. Jakes.

At The Elephant Room, Jakes gave an ambiguous answer to questions about modalism, saying that he believes in "One God-Three Persons," on the one hand, yet he still prefers the term "manifestations" (a term commonly employed by modalists) to the word "Persons."

The Elephant Room organizers then embraced Jakes as an orthodox brother in Christ, with no mention being made of his prosperity gospel teachings.

Band of Bloggers Panel Reaction One: Helpful

At the recent Band of Bloggers [BoB] fellowship, a panel consisting of Timmy Brister, Tim Challies, Collin Hansen, Owen Strachan, and Justin Taylor addressed issues concerning the current state of Reformed blogging [the audio for this panel discussion is HERE]. As it was one of the major controversies within evangelicalism this past year, the panelists addressed The Elephant Room.

Regarding The Elephant Room, Tim Challies said:

I chose just not to address that one, because I just didn't know what to say about it. I thought, "If I just spew something out, I'll get lots of traffic, but I'm just going to expose my own foolishness in this; I don't have anything wise or godly to say about it."

This fits with what Timmy Brister had said earlier in the discussion:

I've just come to the point where I've realized that 99 out of a hundred people are going to say it better than me, so why do I feel like I have to say something about that?

I do think that it is a helpful reminder to note that we who blog should not feel that we must make some comment on every controversy: even every important controversy. People who forget this are constantly in danger of falling into the sin mentioned in Proverbs 10:19.

With that in mind, the only time I've previously mentioned The Elephant Room on this blog is when I took notes while listening to a Dividing Line webcast. I was not planning on mentioning the recent BoB fellowship, but there has been-- it seems to me-- a real paucity of response to the panel discussion, and now the Pyromaniacs have put the issue on the front-burner.

Band of Bloggers Panel Reaction Two: Lousy

I DO think that David Kjos was correct in his summary concerning the main point that the BoB panelists seemed at pains to communicate about The Elephant Room controversy: "if you're not on the inside, you're not qualified to speak."

I do NOT think Kjos was quite correct in his assessment of what the panelists meant to indicate by this attitude; I do NOT think that the BoB panelists were taking an "us" vs. "y'all" attitude toward the BoB attendees. I DO think that the panelists were taking an "us" (BoBers) vs. "them" (The Elephant Room organizers) position, and saying that all of us bloggers (including the panelists themselves) should exercise extreme caution in criticizing The Elephant Room, because we were not privy to private conversations between The Elephant Room organizers and T.D. Jakes. If my assessment is correct, then notice: 1) the BoB panelists' attitude lacked the "arrogance" that Kjos charges them with, yet; 2) the BoB panelists' attitude was still completely bogus.

If The Elephant Room organizers had simply invited T.D. Jakes to a private conversation over dinner, and if bloggers had criticized The Elephant Room organizers for this private conversation, without knowledge of what was actually said, then the BoB panel may have had a valid point. BUT this is not what happened. Instead, T.D. Jakes was invited to speak from the platform of The Elephant Room, and every blogger that I read who criticized what happened criticized (1) Jakes' previous "ministry" and then (2) what actually happened on stage at The Elephant Room. In other words, the public critique was aimed at public matters; private conversations are simply irrelevant. The BoB panelists know this: they know it, for example, when they publish book reviews. If one of the BoB panelists goes to critique The Shack, he does not think, 'Hey, I need to find out whether William Paul Young ever had some private conversation with his publisher in which he clearly expressed an orthodox view of the Trinity;' if Young had done so, then it would not change what he printed in the book, and it would not change the need to critique the book on its own terms.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Actual NASA Photos of Jupiter and Saturn

I'm somewhat of a sci-fi geek (lately, I've been watching some of the Borg episodes from Star Trek: Voyager on Netflix), but no CGI image on a movie or TV show can compare with the actual beauty of God's creation.

[Thanks to my friend Tim Thompson for sharing this on Facebook.]


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Government Regulation for the Benefit of the Poor

When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.’” (Lev 23:22 NASB)

As David Noebel has notedgovernment is "the institution of justice" and "should prohibit, prevent, prosecute, and punish injustice;" government should not "attempt to dispense grace through tax-funded handouts."

Noebel's assertions are based on a close examination of biblical principles concerning government, and they lead to a conservative view concerning the role of government.

One area in which political conservatives' instincts may run contrary to scriptural principles, however, is concerning the regulatory powers of government. Many conservatives seem to take such a "hands-off" approach that-- if they had their way-- government would be allowed virtually no say in regulating private enterprise. But notice the passage at the beginning of this post. Leviticus 23:22 is not a suggestion, but a command, coming within the Mosaic law. Presumably, if an ancient Israelite was found guilty of violating this law, they could find themselves facing a legal proceeding. The Mosaic law prescribed government regulation of private enterprise for the benefit of the poor.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Shinar" in Daniel 1

Sunday before last, Mitch Chase began teaching through the Book of Daniel in the evening service at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.
As we read from the opening verses, I noticed that the names "Babylon," "Chaldea," and "Shinar" seemed to be used interchangeably in reference to the same place. But Mitch pointed out something that I did not know: apparently "Shinar" was already an archaic term when the Book of Daniel was written. On the basis of this fact, Mitch argued that the name "Shinar" was purposefully used in order to connect readers' thoughts to a previous misadventure in the same region; the plain of Shinar was the site where the undivided tribes had infamously erected the Tower of Babel. Nebuchadnezzar's social experiment in taking the choice youths from the Hebrews (and other surrounding peoples)-- educating them in the language and customs of the Chaldeans-- had the ring of Babel about it. Through conquest, the Babylonian Empire was seeking to bring the world under its umbrella, thereby making everyone Babylonian. That this was an anti-god enterprise is demonstrated in the pervasive references to paganism found throughout these opening verses.

At the very least (as we touched on in the church discussion after Mitch's teaching), reflection on Babel and Babylon should make Christians cautious about:

1. Any efforts of trans-national unity as imposed by government. (The Church has a unity that incorporates every tribe, language, and nation, but this unity is from within-- through faith in the gospel-- as we join together in worship of the Lamb of God, who was slain for our sins yet lives forever.)

2. Systems of education. (Christian parents must take responsibility for the education of our children; whatever type of school our children attend, we must make sure that our children are given a Christian worldview, so that they see their education as a means of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever, and they are therefore equipped to hold fast to those things that are good, rejecting ungodliness.)

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Audio for "Propitiation: The Most Important Word Sinners Should Know." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

Last month at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, Mitch Chase preached from Romans 3:25-26.

Many people, upon seeing a five-syllable "-tion" word at the beginning of the title-- a word that most of us do not use in our daily lives-- may be tempted to allow their eyes to glaze over, and to think, 'there goes a seminary doctoral student, trying to preach a sermon as if he's in a Systematic Theology classroom.'

If you find yourself in this category, please notice the second half of the sermon title: "The Most Important Word Sinners Should Know." I believe that Mitch, to God's glory, did an exceptional job explaining why "propitiation" is not just an abstract theological concept, but is key to understanding Scripture and is vital to all of our lives.

I encourage everyone to listen to the audio for this sermon, which is now available HERE.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sermon Notes from "Where Angels Long to Look: Salvation Foretold by Prophets and Fulfilled by Christ." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

1 Peter 1:10-12.

I. Introduction

A. The easy road is not always the most desirable, especially when the journey itself is important.

B. OT prophets prophesied about the salvation that was to come in Christ to us.

II. Inquiry of the OT Prophets

A. OT prophets had a sense that there was something more than what they could understand.

B. OT prophets were not merely disinterested vessels through which revelation came, but they were keenly interested in the subject of their prophecy.

C. OT prophets demonstrated an understanding that they were looking for something more and greater.

III. Revelation to the OT Prophets

A. OT prophets foretold Christ's passion and subsequent glory.

B. OT prophets were ultimately serving us:
1. Not that they were not also serving the people of their time;
2. We should consider ourselves to have been placed in a privileged position.

C. OT prophets prophesied by the Spirit, who now empowers preachers in proclaiming the gospel.

IV. Results

A. Angels marvel at God's salvation.

B. Believers' suffering will give way to glory.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Notes on Revelation 2:12-17

[Tomorrow morning in Sunday school at Kosmosdale Baptist Church I plan to teach from Revelation 2:12-17, "the letter to the church in Pergamum;" below are some of my teaching notes for this lesson.]

Translation of the Text

12 And write to the angel of the church in Pergamum:
    Thus says the One having the sharp, two-edged sword:
13 I know where you dwell, where the throne of Satan [is located],[1] and you have my name and you have not denied my Faith even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed in your presence,[2] [there] where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you. There you have those adhering to the teachings of Balaam, who was teaching Balak to place a trap before the sons of Israel: to eat meat sacrificed to idols and to fornicate. 15 Similarly, you even have those adhering to the teachings from the Nicolaitans as well. 16 Therefore, repent. But if you don’t, I will come to you quickly and make war with them by means of the sword from my mouth. 17 Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit says to the churches: to the victor, I will give him some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name will have been written, which no one knows except the one receiving it.
Introduction of the Author
Pergamum was home of a grand temple of Zeus, and it was also a focus of Caesar-worship. The temple itself looked like a throne, which is one reason why it is referred to as a seat or throne of Satan. Pergamum was known as the city of the sword because the government of Pergamum had the right to execute without an appeal to Rome. Pergamum had the first medical school known to Western history. At one time, Pergamum had the second-greatest library in the Western world after Alexandria and developed the process of recording writings on animal skins rather than papyri, but this library was given by Mark Antony to Cleopatra. However, in NT times, Pergamum was still a center of education, striving to retain its place of importance.[3]

Acknowledgement of the Pergamenes’ Faithfulness Under Hardships
Pergamum is referred to as the throne of Satan due to a confluence of several local features. The altar of Zeus, who was said to be king of the gods, resembled a throne. Also, Caesar-worship was prominent in Pergamum, and failure to pay homage to Caesar was considered high treason against the state.[4] Rampant paganism and blasphemous nationalism led to severe, satanic persecution of the church, as illustrated in the case of Antipas.

Condemnation of the Pergamenes’ Tolerance of the Balaamites
The reference to the teachings of Balaam seems to be indicating Numbers 3:16, in which Balaam is said to provide counsel that resulted in the Israelites committing sexual immorality and practicing idolatry. In Pergamum, there was apparently a group encouraging participation in the orgiastic idol feasts by teaching that such activity was permissible for Christians. Perhaps part of the motivation for the teachers’ attitudes was either the threat of economic depravation or the promise of financial gain as the promise of treasure to  Balaam plays such a prominent role in the biblical account and subsequent traditions.[5]

Condemnation of the Pergamenes’ Tolerance of the Nicolaitans
This verse may be understood to mean, “You have also [in addition to those who hold to the teaching of Balaam] those who hold in like manner [to the way of the Balaamites and their teaching] the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”[6]

Admonition to the Pergamenes
The command to “repent” is given in the second person singular. As this letter is addressed to the “angel of the church in Pergamum, “This seems to indicate that repentance is to take the form of the church pursuing a process of discipline with those who are holding to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”[7]

Warning to the Pergamenes
“Just as the Lord struck down those who yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor, and 24,000 died (Numbers 25:9), so Jesus threatens to ‘war [with] them’– apparently those holding to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”[8]

Charge to Heed the Word
Observe that “churches” is in the plural, even though it is the church in Pergamum that is currently being addressed.

Promise to the Victor
tou: mavnna tou: kekrummevnou (tou manna tou kekrummenou) “the hidden manna” is an allusion to the jar of manna held within the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 16:32-34) and is employed in contrast to the food sacrificed to idols previously mentioned.[9]

In connection with the earlier OT references informing the readers’ understanding of the rewards to be given, the white stones with names engraved upon them seem to recall the stones worn by the high priest, bearing the names of the children of Israel before the LORD (Exodus 39:6-14), which is consistent with the already-established idea of the priesthood of believers.

“Whiteness” in Revelation is consistently a metaphor for righteousness.[10]

The “new name” is properly understood, not in terms of each believer receiving an individual secret name for himself, but in connection with Revelation 19:12; the “new name” is a name for Christ, which no one will know until the final judgment, and then only those who are victorious through faith in Christ will know this name. Unbelievers will never know this hidden name of the Lord.[11]

[1] ojpou oj qrovnoV tou Satana, in context, certainly refers to locality, so “is located” is added for clarity. tou Satana is either genitive of possession (“Satan’s throne), descriptive genitive (satanic throne), or subjective genitive (where Satan is enthroned/ruling).
[2] gar ujmin, literally rendered “with, beside, or among you,” is translated “in your presence,” as suggested by Aune.
[3] Daniel E. Hatfield, “Revelation 2:12-18” (classroom lecture notes, 22440–Greek Syntax and Exegesis, Spring 2007).

[4]Beale, 246.
[5]Ibid., 249.
[6]Thomas, 194.
[7]Hamilton, 90.
[9]Thomas, 194.
[10]Beale, 253.
[11]Ibid., 257.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Outline of "Pilgrim's Progress," chapter 17

I.                   Enjoying the Country of Beulah

A.    Beulah is past the Enchanted Ground, beyond the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and out of the reach of Giant Despair.

B.     In Beulah, the pilgrims are within sight and earshot of the Celestial City.

C.     The pilgrims experience intense longing for the City.

D.    The pilgrims enter one of the King’s vineyards, eat some of the produce, fall asleep, and talk in their sleep.

II.                Two Shining Ones

           A. After looking upon the golden brilliance of the City, the pilgrims encounter Two Shining Ones, clothed in gold, with faces of light.

           B. The Shining Ones converse with the pilgrims, then they tell the pilgrims that they will encounter only two more difficulties, then they will enter the City.

           C. The Shining Ones say that they will accompany the pilgrims the rest of the way, but that they must gain entrance into the City by their own faith.

III.             The Unavoidable River

           A. In order to reach the Gate, the pilgrims must cross a deep river with no bridge.

           B. The Shining Ones say that the River is deeper or shallower depending on the faith of the one passing through it.

IV.             Passing Through the River

           A. Upon entering the River, Christian panics, and Hopeful encourages him.

           B. Christian becomes stricken with abject terror and can neither see the way ahead not remember his previous blessings; Hopeful struggles mightily to keep Christian's head above water.

           C. Christian believes that God has forsaken him, but Hopeful reassures him with Scripture, and Christian can once again see the way ahead. 

V.                On the Other Side

           A. The pilgrims are greeted by the Two Shining Ones.

           B.  The Shining Ones comfort the pilgrims and help them up a mighty hill to the City.

VI.             What the Pilgrims Can Expect Ahead

           A. The Shining Ones describe the glorious splendor of the City to the pilgrims.

           B. In the City, the pilgrims will receive comfort, rewards, and joys; they will serve the Holy One with praise, shouting, and thanksgiving.

           C. In the City, the pilgrims will see and hear the Mighty One, and they will joyfully take part in His activities of:
              1. Welcoming other pilgrims;
              2. Passing sentence on evil-doers.

VII.          A Glad Procession to the Gate

           A. The pilgrims are joyfully received at the Gate by a throng.

           B. The pilgrims are announced by shouting and trumpeters.

           C. The trumpeters are joined by a joyful procession.

VIII.       They Gain Entrance to the City


           B. The pilgrims knock on the gate.

           C. The King checks the pilgrims' certificates and then orders his servants to open the gates for the pilgrims.

           D. As the pilgrims enter the Gate, their appearances are transfigured: their clothes begin to shine like gold, and they are given crowns and harps.

IX.             Final Outcome of Ignorance

           A. Ignorance is ferried across the River by Vain-hope.

           B. Ignorance has no certificate, and the King orders the two Shining Ones to bind him hand and foot and bear him away.

X.                The Conclusion


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jimmy Carter versus Jesus Christ

JC vs. JC

Last month, when Albert Mohler interviewed Jimmy Carter-- who has recently come out with a study Bible based on his years as a Sunday school teacher-- Dr. Mohler asked Mr. Carter about some of the more controversial issues of our day. In defense of his moderate-to-liberal theological leanings, Mr. Carter said: "I really turn almost exclusively to the teachings of Jesus Christ."

This has long been the liberal ploy: take the "teachings of Jesus Christ" and try to set them against the teachings of the Apostle Paul and the rest of the Bible. But this method of reading Scripture is entirely unsustainable. One problem with the 'Jesus-only' method of liberal interpretation is that the actual teachings of Jesus keep getting in the way. Take, for example, the Sermon on the Mount: perhaps Jesus' most famous teaching. At the beginning of Matthew 5, with the beatitudes-- "Blesed are the poor," etc.-- this Sermon may start out in a way that is not too inimical to the liberal perspective: at least as long as one does not think too deeply about the definition of certain terms. Then the reader comes to Matthew 7:1, perhaps the most well-known verse in America today. But by the end of that same Chapter, Jesus teaches about the wide gate that leads to destruction and about rejecting those who reject His words; these teachings are entirely consistent with Jesus teaching about Himself as the exclusive Way to the Father (in John 14:6 and elsewhere) and they tend to contradict the moderate/liberal doctrine of inclusivism or universalism. The liberal theologian must, like Thomas Jefferson, take a pen-knife to the Gospels in order to create a Jesus in his own image. This is idolatry.

The liberal response to this conservative, evangelical observation is typically to mount an ad hominem tu quoque ['you too!'] defense. In the Mohler interview, Mr. Carter's words tend in this direction when he says, "I know that Paul condemns homosexuality, as he did some other things like selfishness that everybody’s guilty of..." With this statement, Carter seems to be implying what other liberal theologians state explicitly: conservatives have blind spots in their reading of Scripture, too; 'look, we might turn a blind eye to Paul's teaching on homosexuality,' so the reasoning goes, 'but you conservatives turn a blind eye to teachings against selfishness, and your sin is more serious.' The main difference is, inasmuch as the responsible conservative theologian realizes that he has under-emphasized a teaching of Scripture, he seeks to repent of this error. This is why, when the liberal theologian correctly points out that we in our selfish and materialistic culture have overlooked the Bible's teachings concerning the poor, we seek to make changes. On the other hand, the convinced liberal theologian actively seeks to rationalize away the Bible teachings that bother him, as Mr. Carter openly admits during the interview.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Good Reminder from Spurgeon for the Week After T4G

[From Charles Spurgeon , The Power of Prayer in a Believer's Life, Robert Hall, ed. (Lynnwood, WA: Emerald Books, 1993), 155.]

I even fear that some allow public religious engagements to over-ride private communion with God. They attend too many sermons, too many conferences, too many Bible readings, too many committees, and even too many prayer meetings-- all good in their own way, but acting injuriously when they cramp out our private prayer. A friend once said that if the apostles were preaching at her time for private communion with God, she would not forsake her place of prayer to go and hear them. It must be better to be with God than with Peter or Paul. Praying is the end of preaching, and woe to the man who, prizing the means more than the end, allows any other form of service to push his prayers into a corner.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Philosophy of Christian Education

[I've had to type this out a few times, and thought I'd share it here.]

Each follower of the Lord Jesus Christ has been commanded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt 22:27 NKJV), and each follower of the Lord Jesus Christ has been commissioned, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20 NKJV). Christian students should seek to honor God as they receive education appropriate to their vocation. As a Christian educator, it is my goal— as I lead my students to accomplish the objectives in whatever class I teach­— to help “make disciples” of the Lord Jesus Christ by assisting men and women to love the Lord God with all of their minds, while also turning my students’ attention to matters concerning proper Christian desires and affections.

Each follower of the Lord Jesus Christ has been commanded to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2b NKJV). This transformation comes about first and foremost by means of the Scripture: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NKJV). As a Christian educator, it is my goal to help students see life through the lens of the inerrant, infallible written word of God. Any subject that I teach will, therefore, be related to Scripture. Some subjects that I may teach (such as Theology), will be directly derived from Scripture, whereas in other subjects I may teach (such as English) I will strive to guide my students to evaluate the subject-matter according to biblical principles.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Notes on Revelation 2:8-11

[Yesterday morning in Sunday school at Kosmosdale Baptist Church I taught from Revelation 2:8-11, "the letter to the church in Smyrna;" below are some of my teaching notes for this lesson.]

Translation of the Text

8 And write to the angel of the church in Smyrna:
              Thus says the First and the Last, the [one] who became dead and he lives:
9 I know your hardships: abject poverty– but you’re rich!– and the slander from those calling themselves Jews when they’re nothing but a synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear nothing that you are about to suffer. Look! The devil is about to throw some of you into prison in order that you might be tested, and you will have hardships for ten days. Become faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit says to the churches: the victor will certainly not be injured by the second death.
Introduction of the Author
In Smyrna, “the first city of Rome” in Asia Minor, which had supported Julius even before he was Caesar, Emperor-worship was not only widespread, but also enforced by law. Christians would have found it particularly difficult to make a living in an area of enforced emperor worship.

Acknowledgement of the Smyrnan’s Hardships
The use of “synagogue” in this passage heightens the contrast between the slanderers’ claimed Judaism (i.e., their claim to follow God) and the reality that they have rejected God as He is revealed in Christ and thus they have become satanic. “This [verse] is analogous to Paul’s claim that to be a Jew means to be circumcised in heart, which can even apply to those who are not physically circumcised, i.e., non-Jews (Rom 2:8-3:1; cf. his figurative use of “Israel” in Gal 6:16; cf. 1 Cor 10:18)." The “slander” mentioned in this verse may refer to the Jewish community denouncing Christians before the Roman authorities. Such slander would result in Christians losing the ancient Jewish exemption from enforced Roman state worship; Christians would therefore be subject to Roman persecution.

(For other passages on Christians in poverty, see 1 Cor 1:26; Jas 2:5.)

kai before th;n ptwceivan is epexegetical: the poverty and the slander against the Smyrnan Christians being the content of their persecution.

Admonition and Encouragement to the Smyrnans
Due to their support of Caesar, Smyrna was known as the crown city. In common practice, a crown was placed on the head of the deceased. This phrase indicates a major theme in the book of Revelation: namely, that the Lord will reward his servants who are faithful unto death with eternal life. This is not works-righteousness, as the faithfulness is not tied to any specific activity, but rather to an attitude of trust in Christ alone and fidelity to him as Lord, which– out of love for Jesus– will not fail to confess him even unto death (Jas 1:12).

Charge to Heed the Word

Promise to the Victor
“The second death” implies a first death: the first death being physical and the second death being the sentence to the lake of fire at the final judgment.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sermon Notes from "Joyful Faith in the Fire: Loving and Trusting the Unseen Christ." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

1 Peter 1:6-9.

I. Introduction: Reference to "What Can Miserable Christians Sing?" by Carl Trueman.

II. Joyful Faith in the Presence of Trial (vv. 6-7)

A. Trials Are Temporary
1. Present suffering is presented as something God is doing for His people.
2. God knows best what will sanctify us.

B. Trials Are Varied

C. Trials Are Purposeful
1. Genuine saving faith is more valuable than anything in the world.
2. Trials prove true from false faith.

III. Joyful Faith in the [Bodily] Absence of Jesus (vv. 8-9)

A. "Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe."

B. Joy:
1. Inexpressible;
2. Full of glory.

C. Salvation: already/not yet.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Charismaticism and Inerrancy

At the Together for the Gospel Conference this week there was a panel discussion on the subject of biblical inerrancy. New Testament scholar Simon Gathercole mentioned two major arguments for inerrancy: 1) The character of God yields inerrancy; 2) The way Jesus handles Scriptures presupposes inerrancy. Key to an understanding of this first argument is the idea that God cannot lie (Num 23:19; Heb 6:18); that is, He cannot communicate error.

Interestingly, there was a rather large group of Reformed Charismatics at the conference; this group holds to the idea that God still gives special revelation in the form of prophecy today, but that-- unlike the prophecies we find in Scripture-- human fallenness may interfere with the prophecy in such a way as to allow for errors in the communication of that prophecy.

Notice that the charismatic view of prophecy mentioned above completely erodes Gathercole's first point in his argument for inerrancy; if the charismatics are correct, then it turns out that God regularly communicates in a way that involves error. The questions that still must be answered are:
  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?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two Thoughts on the Mahaney Detractors

[I discussed this with a couple of beloved brothers earlier this evening, but in case I say things differently than they would want them articulated, I will not mention their names here.]

As the Together for the Gospel Conference was underway this week, it seemed like the small, vocal group of Mahaney detractors amped up their efforts to protest against C.J. Mahaney's continued acceptance as a faithful gospel minister.

Those who wanted to expand their protest against Mahaney attempted to point to personal testimonies of disaffected Sovereign Grace church members and blamed others for not taking the truth seriously. In response, I would like to note to things:

1. Mahaney has been cleared by faithful gospel ministers. The board of directors for Sovereign Grace Ministries apparently looked over the charges against Mahaney carefully, and they issued a statement affirming his fitness to serve. Mahaney's fellow ministers with Together for the Gospel seem satisfied that the charges did not merit them censoring Mahaney. Now Mahaney's detractors yell, "Conspiracy!" Well, to be quite honest, it is certainly possible that a conspiracy of sorts is taking place. The other T4G guys are definitely friends with Mahaney, and the other board members at SGM may be personal friends with him as well: but the common blogger or T4G attender is at the mercy of those trusted ministers in this matter, especially since Mahaney's detractors may not be telling the entire story accurately. If the detractors are in the right, they will certainly be vindicated before God and the SGM/T4G leadership will be accountable to God, but based on the decisions of the SGM/T4G leadership, the detractors cannot expect a mass protest to break out against Mahaney.

2. It's your own fault! There is a real sense in which the detractors-- even if they have been legitimately wronged-- yet have no room to complain. If you are a disgruntled former SGM member, then guess what: you voluntarily joined a group whose leadership claimed apostolic authority and the ability to receive new special revelation through modern-day prophecies! Given that theological understanding: instead of complaining that the man who wrote The Cross Centered Life may have been a jerk to you,  you should be praising God that your charismatic leader didn't turn out to be Jim Jones!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Nine Ways in Which Preaching is Being Undermined

Compiled from statements made during T4G Panel 2.

Mohler: [1] Through a dependence on images rather than on the Word; [2] Through speaking of “worship” and preaching as separate, rather than seeing preaching as the summit of worship; [3] Through viewing preaching as passive, rather than participatory;

Duncan: [4] Through assuming that people will be attracted to what they already find all week in the world;

Dever: [5] Not enough preparation; [6] Not enough specific application; [7] No “feed back loop” (to provide insight into strengths and weaknesses in the sermon) in place;

Mohler: [8] The idea that there must be immediate, visible results; [9] Turning to moralism or pop psychology for application.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

T4G: Seeing Timmy Brister and Trevin Wax; Meeting Carl Trueman and Dan Phillips

One benefit to attending the Together for the Gospel Conference (rather than just listening to the audio over the Web) is getting to interact with people in person who you usually only encounter over the Internet.

Last night I got to spend a little time at dinner with my old friend Timmy Brister and with Trevin Wax (Trevin and I graduated at the same time from SBTS: I met him in the graduation line).

This evening I got to shake hands with Carl Trueman and speak with him briefly: telling him how much I appreciated his recent review of The Unintended Reformation by Brad Gregory. I also got to meet Dan Phillips, who graciously autographed my copy of God's Wisdom in ProverbsI gave Dan a copy of my friend Mitch Chase's book The Gospel is for Christians; Dan looked interested, so perhaps the book will one day be mentioned on the Pyromaniacs blog.


Monday, April 09, 2012

You are NOT a theologian

In my first full post to this blog, I referenced the following famous quote from Book IV of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity:

Consequently, if you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones- bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trotted out as novelties today, are simply the ones which real Theologians tried centuries ago and rejected.

In that earlier post, I focused on the idea from the above quote that it is impossible to have "no ideas about God" in order to make the point that we are all-- unavoidably-- theologians, and as theologians we must not shy away from the study of theology.

In this post, I want to focus on another aspect of Lewis's statement: the idea that it is possible for people to have "bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas," which have been discredited by "real Theologians."

It strikes me as odd how representatives from the media will ask anyone famous-- from among musicians to sports figures to movie stars to politicians to pop psychologists-- to express his or her ideas about God or religion, and then (as long as the interviewee does not mention sin), the reporters will regularly take the answers that are given with unquestioning seriousness.

This would not happen in regard to virtually any other field of study. A reporter would never (for example) ask Dr. Drew about astro-physics, and if he began to spontaneously offer his opinion on that subject, the responsible journalist would fact-check the doctor. Yet the other day on the radio I heard a pop-psychologist spouting his view on what sexual activities were or were not to be considered sin in God's sight, and apparently listeners were expected to accept that somehow his psychological training made him an expert on God and sin.

Obviously-- just as an amateur astronomer could discover a previously unknown comet or an amateur historian could write an influential biography-- someone does not necessarily need a degree in Theology in order to do sound theology; C.S. Lewis himself had no such degree (and-- if the reader has objections to Lewis-- Calvin, Bunyan, Spurgeon, and others could be mentioned). On the other hand, when an amateur makes a contribution to a field of study, it is normal for that contributor-- as an amateur-- to face increased scrutiny. Whether amateur or trained expert, others should only accept a researcher's findings if that researcher has used sound methods of inquiry appropriate to his or her field of study.

Though theology and psychology are fundamentally different, theology may be seen as analogous to psychology in that both disciplines study something that cannot be directly observed-- you cannot see either God or the human psyche-- and in both theology and psychology there are various schools of thought regarding how the discipline should be considered. Now, there is certainly a great deal of controversy between different religious traditions regarding proper methods for reaching theological conclusions, but within each tradition there is a certain discernible range of agreement. The Protestant tradition, for example, teaches that God (who is definitionally transcendent and spiritual) has condescended to reveal Himself in the Holy Bible; therefore, we are to use sound grammatical-historical-Christological exegetical methods in order to come to conclusions regarding God and the spiritual realm. Other Christian traditions teach that God has granted authority to the Church, which formed the Bible (instead of the Bible forming the Church, as Protestants argue), and so they would prescribe study of Church fathers, councils, papal decrees, etc., as the way to form theological conclusions. Various other cults or religions look to different texts or groups of people as authoritative. NO trained theologian follows the method of 'just make stuff up on the spot.'

You sitting there reading this on your computer screen- you are not necessarily a theologian; you are not a theologian if you have not been diligent in your study of theology- carefully weighing the ideas about God that you hear around you or that you have received by tradition. You must "examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil" (II Thessalonians 5:21-22).

If you are not a theologian-- if you do not do the work of a theologian-- and if you then attempt to practice theology, then the shoddy nature of the theology that you practice may have an everlasting, negative impact on your life and the lives of those around you.


Sunday, April 08, 2012

Sermon Notes from "Born Again to a Living Hope through the Resurrection of Jesus." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

1 Peter 1:3-5.

I. Introduction

A. We have no reason to follow, trust, or worship Christ if there was no resurrection.

B. But the disciples saw the risen Christ.

II. Summary: "God should be praised for mercifully regenerating us unto a living hope."

III. Reasons God Should Be Blessed and Praised:

A. We've been born again into a living hope.

B. We've been born again into an inheritance: imperishable, undefiled, unfading:
1. Imperishable: this inheritance cannot be lost through our physical death;
2. Undefiled: this inheritance cannot be lost through our sin;
3. Unfading.

C. We've been born again to a final salvation.

IV. The Three "Reasons" Above Are Inseparable

V. The Gospel Call 


Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Resurrection in Revelation 1

Currently I'm teaching through Revelation 1-3 in Sunday school at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.

Every Easter, when it is normal and proper to especially focus on Bible accounts concerning the resurrection of Christ, if it is my turn to teach Sunday school, I do my best to focus on how whatever book of the Bible we are studying points to the cruciality of the resurrection. So, instead of turning to the Gospel accounts tomorrow, we will be looking at the resurrection of Christ as it is seen in Revelation 1.

At the end of verse 1, John is referred to as "his servant;" the "his" in this phrase seems to refer to "Jesus Christ's" as in Jude 1. This title for John presupposes the resurrection as you cannot be the servant of a dead person.

In verse 5, one of the titles for Christ is "the firstborn from the dead." This title for the Lord directly points to His resurrection. This title for Christ is also found in Colossians 1:18, and so it seems to have been a commonly known title among Jesus' earliest followers.

The title "ruler," the present-tense verb "loves," and the promise of the Second Coming may be seen as implying the resurrection, but (of course) the most obvious indication of the resurrection is the fact that-- as recorded in Revelation 1-- the living Lord Jesus actually shows up and speaks with John! Jesus-- the one "like a son of man"-- declares Himself to be, "the Living One," going on to say, "I was dead-- but look!-- I am living from forever into forever" (verse 18). In giving a certain place (“Patmos”) and time (“the Lord’s Day”) for his vision, John seems to be once again giving a literal, eyewitness testimony as he did in his Gospel account (John 19:35; 21:24) and in his first epistle (1 John 1:1). Moreover, John does not only see the resurrected, glorified Christ, but he actually experiences physical contact with Him. Observe verse 17: "And when I saw him, I fell before his feet like a dead man, and he placed his right hand on me." Having encountered deity, John has the natural reaction of overwhelming terror (see Isaiah 6:1-5). But Jesus comforts John and raises him up.

Application: when we truly consider the holiness of the Lord (and our sin in light of His holiness) we count ourselves as dead; the one who died for our sins and was raised to life for our justification raises us up and gives us life in Him.