A Front Row View Of The Church
So Let’s Talk About Love - Wed, 03 Feb 2016
A God kind of love. The kind of love that no one has the power to take from you.That love that instills every fiber of your being when you repent of your sins and you know without a doubt Christ is in you,and you in Him. That kind of love. The love that all of […]
So What’s Stopping You…? - Mon, 01 Feb 2016
So What’s Stopping You… From sending that email? The one you know you should write.The one someone is desperately waiting on as a sign that you care.That God cares. So What’s Stopping You… From making that phone call? No time? What else can be so important as obeying that still,small voice that keeps reminding you […]
The Trappings of Modern Evangelism - Sun, 24 Jan 2016
Watching “church”on TV,online,etc…I find myself wondering if people (you know,the one’s in the pew) even read the Bible any more.It’s shocking to see and hear so many “amen’s” to things that are contrary to the teachings of the Bible.When did God’s people become so gullible as to believe that if the preacher said it,well it […]
Challies Dot Com
Weekend A La Carte (February 6) - Sat, 06 Feb 2016
This has been a bit of a slow week for Kindle deals. That is, in part, because so many of the deals cycle on a regular basis and I try not to link to them if they’ve come up recently. There should be some new ones on Monday. Until then, here’s some reading for you:
“Out of the destruction and looting [in Iraq], and partly because of it, emerge striking gains in knowledge of our oldest literary inheritance.”
This is a good one from Bob Kauflin. He focuses on what makes singing in church different from every other kind of singing.
Here’s an interview with Adam Lewis Greene who Kickstarted a beautiful redesign of the Bible. “The expected form of the Bible almost across the board for the last 200 years or so has not been conducive to appreciating biblical literature as literature. Rather, the Bible is designed to be an easily-navigated theological encyclopedia.”
If you read with Kindle, you may be interested in Clippings, a service that does a great job of extracting and formatting your notes and highlights. You can also use it to copy your notes right over to Evernote or other programs.
Here are a few things to remember in those times you stumble into the deep ditches of doubt.
This Day in 1951. Sam Storms turns 65 today! You can wish Sam a Happy Birthday on Twitter.
Have you ever checked out Psallos? It is a concept album based on the book of Romans.
If you are heading to Together for the Gospel, you might be interested in CBMW’s preconference. They’ve got quite a list of speakers for you to hear.
Also, if you are from Canada or interested in ministry in Canada, be sure to come to this breakout.
My thanks goes to Zondervan for sponsoring the blog this week with “Why the Bible Is Hard to Understand—and What You Can Do About It.”
A man can’t be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it. —C.S. Lewis
Robert Haldane on Mortifying Sin - Wed, 03 Feb 2016
Robert Haldane quoting William Romaine in his commentary on the book of Romans: True spiritual mortification does not consist in sin not being in thee, nor in its being put on the cross daily, nor yet in its being kept upon it. There must be something more to establish perfect peace in thy conscience; and […]
Polka Worship? - Sat, 30 Jan 2016
Saw this sign on a Lutheran church building in Austin a while back. It could have been on the building of most any denomination. The questions that popped into my head are: a.) Is polka being worshipped? b.) Is polka worshipping a god? c.) Is polka the means of worship? Answers to any of these […]
Chick-Fil-Church? - Thu, 28 Jan 2016
Because if preaching Christ and Him crucified is not enough to get them in the door, simply offer a $10 gift certificate to Chick-Fil-A to all first time adult visitors. That should bring them in the droves. Do we wonder why the world mocks us in the evangelical world? There is no difference between this […]
Do Not Be Surprised
Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin - Fri, 05 Feb 2016
by Cameron Buettel
We live in a therapeutic culture that seems determined to do away with sin. Adultery and every form of immorality has been re-classified as sex addictions. Addictions to drugs and alcohol are classified as diseases, not the results of deliberate actions. And guns are now perceived as a greater evil than the murderers pulling the trigger. Whatever the sin may be, there always seems to be a way to excuse, redefine, or minimize it.
That determination to separate who a person is and what he does has also infiltrated the church. The exhortation to “love the sinner and hate the sin” is a clever Christian cliché regularly used to deflect people’s responsibility and accountability for their sin. While it’s true that we should both love sinners and hate sin, the cliché distorts those truths by unbiblically severing the two.
That sort of dualism was prevalent among the Gnostic heretics of the first century AD. The error of the Gnostics was so seductive that the apostle John wrote his first epistle as a direct response to their false teaching. John MacArthur made the following observations regarding the situation facing the church in 1 John:
Gnosticism (from the Greek word gnōsis [“knowledge”]) was an amalgam of various pagan, Jewish, and quasi-Christian systems of thought. Influenced by Greek philosophy (especially that of Plato), Gnosticism taught that matter was inherently evil and spirit was good. That philosophical dualism led the false teachers whom John confronted to accept some form of Christ’s deity, but to deny His humanity. He could not, according to them, have taken on a physical body, since matter was evil.  John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1–3 John (Chicago: Moody Press, 2007) 8.
But it was the Gnostics’ personal application of their dualistic views that echoes today in the efforts to separate the sinner from his sin.
The Gnostics’ philosophical dualism also caused them to be indifferent to moral values and ethical behavior. To them, the body was merely the prison in which the spirit was incarcerated. Therefore, sin committed in the body had no connection to or effect on the spirit.  1–3 John, 8.
The cliché of loving the sinner and hating the sin follows the same dualistic reasoning as Gnostic heresies—that we ought to effectively divorce the sinner from the culpability and consequences of his sin.
Worse still, it confuses and corrupts the very concept of what it means to love a sinner. True love does not demand willful ignorance. You wouldn’t simply pretend that a cancer patient was suddenly free from his disease. Nor would you ignore his affliction in hopes that it would go away on its own.
The same holds true for sinners—the most loving thing you can do for them is not to blithely ignore their sin or excuse it away, but to confront it. In other words, you cannot possibly love a sinner if you don’t also hate his sin.
Not Dualism—Dual Responsibilities
I’ll grant that the way we confront sin can vary depending on the nature of the sin and the spiritual condition of the sinner. You might need to show more gentleness with an unbeliever blinded by his own depravity than with a fellow Christian who ought to know better. And even within the church, we need to be measured and considerate with how we confront one another, yet still bold and clear enough to preserve the purity of the Body of Christ.
In fact, church discipline is an essential part of protecting the church’s purity (Matthew 18:15–20). John MacArthur, while commenting on that passage, points out:
A Christian who is not deeply concerned about bringing a fellow Christian back from his sin needs spiritual help himself. Smug indifference, not to mention self-righteous contempt, has no part in the life of a spiritual Christian, nor do sentimentality or cowardice that hide behind false humility. The spiritual Christian neither condemns nor justifies a sinning brother. His concern is for the holiness and blessing of the offending brother, the purity and integrity of the church, and the honor and glory of God.  John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 16–23 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985) 128.
In response to those who see the confrontation of sin as inherently unloving, John adds:
In the eyes of much of the world and even in the eyes of many immature believers, such action is considered unloving. But discipline given in the right way expresses the deepest kind of love, love that refuses to do nothing to rescue a brother from unrepentant sin and its consequences. Love that winks at sin or that is more concerned for superficial calm in the church than for its spiritual purity is not God’s kind of love. Love that tolerates sin is not love at all but worldly and selfish sentimentality.
To preach love apart from God’s holiness is to teach something other than God’s love. No awakening or revival of the church has ever occurred apart from strong preaching of God’s holiness and the corresponding call for believers to forsake sin and return to the Lord’s standards of purity and righteousness. No church that tolerates known sin in its membership will have spiritual growth or effective evangelism. In spite of that truth, however, such tolerance is standard in the church today-at all levels.  Matthew 16–23, 128.
Some people appeal to God’s unconditional love as if that trumps or invalidates His other attributes, most notably His wrath. But as John emphatically argues, such sentiment amounts to nothing less than a popular form of idolatry.
Belief in a God who is all love and no wrath, all grace and no justice, all forgiveness and no condemnation is idolatry (worship of a false god invented by men), and it inevitably leads to universalism-which, of course, is what many liberal churches have been preaching for generations. Salvation becomes meaningless, because sin that God overlooks does not need to be forgiven. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross becomes a travesty, because He gave His life for no redemptive purpose. Not only that, but it becomes apologetically impossible to explain the common question about why a loving God allows pain, suffering, disease, and tragedy. Removing God’s holy hatred of sin emasculates the gospel and hinders rather than helps evangelism.  Matthew 16–23, 130.
We should love sinners. We should hate sin. And we shouldn’t divide those two truths into separate categories. Our hatred of sin should manifest itself in a love that warns sinners—compassionately, but no less clearly—of the dire consequences their sin demands. Short of that, how could we ever claim to truly love them?
Ligonier Ministries Blog
A Failure of Epidemic Proportions - Sat, 06 Feb 2016
There is a center to the Bible and its message of grace. It is found in Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. Grace, therefore, must be preached in a way that is centered and focused on Jesus Christ Himself. We must never offer the benefits of the gospel without the Benefactor Himself. For many preachers, however, it is much easier to deal with the pragmatic things, to answer "how to" questions, and even to expose and denounce sin than it is to give an adequate explanation of the source of the forgiveness, acceptance, and power we need.
We must never offer the benefits of the gospel without the Benefactor Himself.
It is a disheartening fact that evangelical Christians, who write vast numbers of Christian books, preach abundant sermons, sponsor numerous conferences and seminars, and broadcast myriad TV and radio programs actually write few books, preach few sermons, sponsor few conferences or seminars, and devote few programs to the theme of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We give our best and most creative energies to teaching God's people almost everything except the person and work of our Lord and Savior. This should cause us considerable alarm, for there is reason to fear that our failure here has reached epidemic proportions. We need to return to a true preaching to the heart, rooted in the principle of grace and focused on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This excerpt is taken from Sinclair Ferguson's contribution in Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching.
Speaking Truth to a Secular Age: A Google Hangout with Albert Mohler - Fri, 05 Feb 2016
As we seek to leverage new technology for the advancement of God's Kingdom, we regularly host live Google Hangouts with Christian leaders.
On February 12th at 3:30pm, we will be joined by Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dr. Stephen Nichols, president of Reformation Bible College. We will be discussing some of the issues surrounding the church's urgent need to boldly and clearly speak the truth to a post-Christian culture.
You will be able to watch this Google Hangout below or click here.
John Calvin's 4 Rules of Prayer - Fri, 05 Feb 2016
For John Calvin, prayer cannot be accomplished without discipline. He writes, "Unless we fix certain hours in the day for prayer, it easily slips from our memory." He goes on to prescribe several rules to guide believers in offering effectual, fervent prayer.
1. The first rule is a heartfelt sense of reverence.
In prayer, we must be "disposed in mind and heart as befits those who enter conversation with God." Our prayers should arise from "the bottom of our heart." Calvin calls for a disciplined mind and heart, asserting that "the only persons who duly and properly gird themselves to pray are those who are so moved by God's majesty that, freed from earthly cares and affections, they come to it."
2. The second rule is a heartfelt sense of need and repentance.
We must "pray from a sincere sense of want and with penitence," maintaining "the disposition of a beggar." Calvin does not mean that believers should pray for every whim that arises in their hearts, but that they must pray penitently in accord with God's will, keeping His glory in focus, yearning for every request "with sincere affection of heart, and at the same time desiring to obtain it from him."
3. The third rule is a heartfelt sense of humility and trust in God.
True prayer requires that "we yield all confidence in ourselves and humbly plead for pardon," trusting in God's mercy alone for blessings both spiritual and temporal, always remembering that the smallest drop of faith is more powerful than unbelief. Any other approach to God will only promote pride, which will be lethal: "If we claim for ourselves anything, even the least bit," we will be in grave danger of destroying ourselves in God's presence.
4. The final rule is to have a heartfelt sense of confident hope.
The confidence that our prayers will be answered does not arise from ourselves, but through the Holy Spirit working in us. In believers' lives, faith and hope conquer fear so that we are able to "ask in faith, nothing wavering" (James 1:6, KJV). This means that true prayer is confident of success, owing to Christ and the covenant, "for the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ seals the pact which God has concluded with us." Believers thus approach God boldly and cheerfully because such "confidence is necessary in true invocation... which becomes the key that opens to us the gate of the kingdom of heaven."
These rules may seem overwhelming—even unattainable—in the face of a holy, omniscient God. Calvin acknowledges that our prayers are fraught with weakness and failure. "No one has ever carried this out with the uprightness that was due," he writes. But God tolerates "even our stammering and pardons our ignorance," allowing us to gain familiarity with Him in prayer, though it be in "a babbling manner." In short, we will never feel like worthy petitioners. Our checkered prayer life is often attacked by doubts, but such struggles show us our ongoing need for prayer itself as a "lifting up of the spirit" and continually drive us to Jesus Christ, who alone will "change the throne of dreadful glory into the throne of grace." Calvin concludes that "Christ is the only way, and the one access, by which it is granted us to come to God."
An excerpt from Joel Beeke's contribution in John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
RIGHT JUDGEMENT - Mon, 25 Jan 2016
As we well know, speaking truth is often met with offense by nay-sayers, people who don’t like to know or hear what the bible has to say in certain areas. Anymore, the phrases “Judge Not!” or “You shouldn’t judge!” have … Continue reading
Media Sphere Promotes Another False Jesus - Sun, 24 Jan 2016
One of Proclaim 16’s “premiere supporters” has plans to release a new movie in the springtime. The story line depicts a “young messiah named Jesus” coming into his own, so to speak, performing miracles. The Young Messiah (link) “Discover the … Continue reading
Building the Sphere of Media Influence - Sat, 23 Jan 2016
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the … Continue reading
Possessing The Treasure
Justification by what? - Thu, 04 Feb 2016
by Mike Ratliff 1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 NASB) Justification by Faith is […]
Supply of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ - Wed, 03 Feb 2016
by Mike Ratliff 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 According to my earnest […]
Christians’ Blessed Hope - Tue, 02 Feb 2016
by Mike Ratliff 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ […]
Faith, Reason, Obedience, Sufficiency - Thu, 04 Feb 2016
by Dan Phillips
In verse one, Yahweh instructs the prophet to purchase and wear a linen loincloth. In verse 2, Jeremiah does it. Period. Then, and only then, does the prophet receive another word from Yahweh.
Pause and reflect on that. Such a trivial command, no? As if God parted the heavens to tell you to buy a can of olives, or a jar of mayonnaise, and put it on the shelf?
If that were the case, would it be lawful and reasonable to ask why this command was given? Sure, I don't know why not. We could ask. But suppose no answer was forthcoming? What then?
In response, let me ask four questions of my own:
- Was the directive surely from God?
- Was the directive clear enough?
- Does God deserve obedience, regardless of the presence or absence of further explanation as to His rationale?
- Would it in any sense be unreasonable to say that disobedience, dithering or delay would itself be unreasonable?
Suppose Jeremiah never received one further word from Yahweh. The entry for that day might be, "Dear Diary: today, Yahweh told me to buy a belt, so I did." The diary's last entry of his life might include, "...oh, and I never found out what the deal with the belt was. But that's okay. He's Yahweh. I'm not."
Why would it be "okay"? Do this mental exercise. List for me every last being who does not have exhaustive knowledge of the nature, meaning and significance of every fact or event that ever has existed or will exist, as well as every fact or event that might have existed.
That will be a very, very long list. Blogger won't allow you to write all the names in your comment. This list will contain the name of every last sentient creature, of any order, ever.
My name will be on that list. Yours, as well.
Now: list for me every last being who does have exhaustive knowledge of the nature, meaning and significance of every fact or event that ever has existed or will exist, as well as every fact or event that might have existed.
That will be a very short list. It will contain only one name: God.
At this point — because this is what they do — your village atheist might sputter and fume with explosive, scornful fury. But, just to be blunt and plain, that's what Hell is all about, and that is why only people who deserve to be in Hell will be in Hell... and why we all deserve to be in Hell. The idea of a God who deserves ultimate and all-consuming love and respect and obedience, simply because He is God, is abhorrent, and the rejection of that premise is what launched the doomed project known as "the world."
Back to our passage. The issue to Jeremiah, once he received this seemingly nonsensical directive, is this and only this: is Yahweh worthy of faith, love, and obedience?
That, right there, is the archetypal question. It was that same question in the Garden, and it was at that same point that our great-great-greats answered wrongly, and doomed us all.
You see, they had a word from God that was also clear and sufficient: don't eat the fruit of this tree, or you will die. In fact, they actually had more than Jeremiah had, in that they had a known consequence. So the issue was exactly the same: was Yahweh worthy of faith, love, and obedience?
Sola Dei Gloria
Superstition – The Fruit of Christian Zionism - Fri, 06 Nov 2015
Many thanks to Steve Lumbley at Apostasy Watch, for this excellent teaching. Hope you’ll check it out. “People come from all over the world to pray at the Wall, the epicenter of God’s presence on earth. We will place your prayer request in the Wall. What will you ask Him?” Is there anything in those […]
The BIG Blood Moon Fizzle - Fri, 06 Nov 2015
Strange how we are not hearing anything (more) about Blood Moons and such. Hagee and company really pulled the ‘wool’ (again) over the eyes of many ignorant Sheep….while making a bundle on books, videos, and tapes concerning all the “Blood Moon” nonsense. For an interesting report on this see: Premillennial False Prophecies Fizzle Again… [Pastor] John […]
American Apocalypse – the rise of Christian evangelicals - Thu, 22 Oct 2015
This is a good article found at The Guardian. Last year the Texas pastor John Hagee presided over the ninth annual summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which describes itself as “the largest pro-Israel organisation in the United States”. Five thousand evangelicals gathered in Washington to hear a distinguished roster of speakers including six […]
Investing in Your Crown of Exultation - Fri, 05 Feb 2016
“Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown . . .” – Philippians 4:1 – The way Paul addresses the Philippians in this verse is unparalleled in his writings. It is a piling up of no less than five terms of endearment, and it illustrates the love and affection that […]
Psalms 3-9: Glory lost, glory found - Thu, 04 Feb 2016
The book of Psalms begins with the pillars of God’s authority and the reality of his glory. Psalm 1 tells us that blessing comes from wisdom and worship, while Psalm 2 describes God’s authority while it gives a warning for those who would revolt against him. Then comes Psalms 3–9. Here the book shifts focus, […]
More Than a Spectator - Wed, 03 Feb 2016
I love watching soccer. Believe it or not it is something that I find enjoyable. And before you mock me let me remind you that billions of people across the world enjoy it as well. I love telling the coach of my favorite team how wrong he was in his decision making. I love sharing […]
The Watchman’s Bagpipes