A Front Row View Of The Church
But Know This… - Thu, 27 Aug 2015
From Paul’s second letter to Timothy; 1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure […]
The Faithfulness of God - Fri, 21 Aug 2015
I am so glad that there is a God who sees the things that I cannot.A God who goes before me to make a way in what can best be described at times as a “weary land”.A God who reveals Himself as faithful every single day. When others look at us as not good enough,not […]
Christianity…. Detached From the Vine - Mon, 03 Aug 2015
This morning I was looking forward to service and hearing an encouraging message from God’s Word. Not having been in church for a few weeks due to vacation and other things, it felt good getting ready for church again. Church is one of those things that I love and it’s been a central part of […]
Challies Dot Com
Why You Should Not Wear a Crucifix - Sun, 30 Aug 2015
Crucifixes have long been a fixture in Roman Catholic worship. But in the past few years I have begun to see more and more Protestants wearing them as well, exchanging their empty cross for one that contains an image of the suffering Savior. J.I. Packer once addressed the issue of the crucifix, and addressed it well.
What harm is there, we ask, in the worshipper surrounding himself with statues and pictures, if they help him to lift his heart to God?
We are accustomed to treat the question of whether these things should be used or not as a matter of temperament and personal taste. We know that some people have crucifixes and pictures of Christ in their rooms, and they tell us that looking at these objects helps them to focus their thoughts on Christ when they pray. We know that many claim to be able to worship more freely and easily in churches that are filled with such ornaments than they can in churches that are bare of them. Well, we say, what is wrong with that? What harm can these things do? If people really do find them helpful, what more is there to be said? What point can there be in prohibiting them? In the face of this perplexity, some would suggest that the second commandment only applies to immoral and degrading representations of God, borrowed from pagan cults, and to nothing more.
But the very wording of the [second] commandment rules out such a limiting exposition. God says quite categorically, “you shall not make an idol in the form of anything” for use in worship. This categorical statement rules out, not simply the use of pictures and statues which depict God as an animal, but also the use of pictures and statues which depict him as the highest created thing we know—a human. It also rules out the use of pictures and statues of Jesus Christ as a man, although Jesus himself was and remains man; for all pictures and statues are necessarily made after the “likeness” of ideal manhood as we conceive it, and therefore come under the ban which the commandment imposes.
Packer goes on to say that whatever else the second commandment teaches “there is no room for doubting that the commandment obliges us to disassociate our worship, both in public and in private, from all pictures and statues of Christ, no less than from pictures and statues of his Father.”
Why? Why is this prohibition in place and why is it so important that we heed it? He offers two reasons.
1. Images dishonour God, for they obscure his glory. The likeness of things in heaven (sun, moon, stars), and in earth (people, animals, birds, insects), and in the sea (fishes, mammals, crustaceans), is precisely not a likeness of their Creator. “A true image of God,” wrote Calvin, “is not to be found in all the world; and hence … his glory is defiled, and his truth corrupted by the lie, whenever he is set before our eyes in a visible form … Therefore, to devise any image of God is itself impious; because by this corruption his majesty is adulterated, and he is figured to be other than he is.” … The heart of the objection to pictures and images is that they inevitably conceal most, if not all, of the truth about the personal nature and character of the divine Being whom the represent.
…The pathos of the crucifix obscures the glory of Christ, for it hides the fact of his deity, his victory on the cross, and his present kingdom. It displays his human weakness, but it conceals his divine strength; it depicts the reality of his pain, but keeps out of our sight the reality of his joy and his power. In both these cases, the symbol is unworthy most of all because of what it fails to display. And so are all other visible representations of deity.
2. Images mislead us. They convey false ideas about God. The very inadequacy with which they represent him perverts our thoughts of him, and plants in our minds errors of all sorts about his character and will. … It is a matter of historical fact that the use of the crucifix as an aid to prayer has encouraged people to equate devotion with brooding over Christ’s bodily sufferings; it has made them morbid about the spiritual value of physical pain, and it has kept them from knowledge of the risen Savior.
These examples show how images will falsify the truth of God in the minds of men. Psychologically, it is certain that if you habitually focus your thoughts on an image or picture of the One to whom you are going to pray, you will come to think of him, and pray to him, as the image represents him. Thus, you will in this sense “bow down” and “worship” your image; and to the extent to which the image fails to tell the truth about God, to that extent will you fail to worship God in truth. That is why God forbids you and me to make use of images and pictures in our worship.
Image credit: Shutterstock. Quote drawn from Knowing God, chapter 4.
Praying in Jesus’ Name - Fri, 28 Aug 2015
“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). Many use this verse as a way to convince God that He must answer their prayers since they are praying in Jesus’ Name but Scripture is very clear that, if we pray […]
Quotes: Frogs and fish. - Wed, 26 Aug 2015
“Some can better remember an item of news than a line of Scripture; their memories are like these ponds, where the frogs live, but the fish die.” Thomas Watson 1620 – 1686
Walk in Unity - Mon, 24 Aug 2015
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! … For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore” (Psalm 133: 1, 3b). “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by […]
Do Not Be Surprised
Guarding the Pulpit - Wed, 26 Aug 2015
By Cameron Buettel
The number of unguarded pulpits we see today in solid Bible-believing churches is quite shocking. Not unguarded in a physical sense but a spiritual one. Unguarded against those who pretend to deliver God’s Word but instead deliver error.
Even in my own experiences with itinerant preaching, I’ve been surprised at the lack of careful scrutiny. As an unknown seminary student, I am exactly the kind of guy a senior pastor should thoroughly vet before I step into the pulpit. And even when the end result is sound exposition, it doesn’t excuse negligence at the point of entry.
Certainly in my own experiences with itinerant preaching, I’ve been surprised at the lack of careful scrutiny by those who should be exercising it. As an unknown seminary student, I am exactly the kind of guy a senior pastor should thoroughly vet before allowing me to step into the pulpit. And even when the end result is sound exposition, it doesn’t excuse negligence at the point of entry.
I’ve also lost count of times I have heard guest preachers deliver sermons that violated the doctrinal statements of the churches they were preaching in. It is painful to watch a senior pastor have to do damage control because he made the simple yet glaring error of not reviewing the sermon subject matter, or getting a character reference from the guest speaker’s home church.
It is obvious that important questions need to be asked when choosing a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or accountant. We don’t roll the dice when we need someone to perform surgery or defend us in court. Yet too many senior pastors happily take their chances with an itinerant. Moreover, many in the congregation blindly swallow whatever’s served to them from the pulpit.
There is nothing new with this phenomenon—it played a major role in the decline of Puritanism more than 350 years ago.
Charles Spurgeon was deeply troubled by the theological trajectory of English Baptist churches in the nineteenth century. In March 1887, he enlisted his close friend, Robert Schindler, to help him research evangelical history from the early stages of Puritanism’s decline (1662) into their day.
Much of what Spurgeon discovered was hardly surprising. The Protestant drift towards liberalism, the rise of rationalistic skepticism, academic snobbery, and the popular shift away from Calvinism (specifically God’s sovereignty in salvation) towards Arminianism (human will as the decisive factor in salvation) all contributed to the decline. The surprising discovery of Shindler’s research was the discrete entry point that heresy had gained into solid churches pastored by godly, Bible-believing shepherds. As John MacArthur explains in his book Ashamed of the Gospel,
Many of those who remained true to the faith were nevertheless reluctant to fight for what they believed in. Evangelical preaching was often cold and lifeless, and even those who held to sound doctrine were careless about where they drew the line in their associations with others: “Those who were really orthodox in their sentiments were too often lax and unfaithful as to the introduction of heretical ministers into their pulpits, either as assistants or occasional preachers. In this way the Arian and Socinian heresies were introduced into the Presbyterian congregations in the city of Exeter.”
Thus within only a few decades, the Puritan fervor that had so captured the soul of England gave way to dry, listless, apostate teaching. Churches became lax in granting membership privileges to the unregenerate. People who were, in Shindler’s words, “strangers to the work of renewing grace” nevertheless claimed to be Christians and were admitted to membership—even leadership—in the churches.John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, 3rd ed. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 235.
If history reveals a common chink in the armor of godly men, it would have to be their vulnerability to corruption through bad company. During the time of Israel’s division into two kingdoms (Judah and Israel), the godly king Jehoshaphat brought disaster on Judah because of his foolish marriage alliance with the evil king Ahab of Israel (2 Chronicles 18:1–3; 19:2). By allowing his eldest son, Jehoram, to marry Ahab’s daughter, Jehoshaphat failed to guard his family and monarchy from Ahab’s evil influence (2 Chronicles 21:6). In sowing charity towards Ahab, Jehoshaphat reaped catastrophe upon Judah. By the time Jehoram ascended the throne in succession to his father, he instigated the mass murder of all his siblings (2 Chronicles 21:4) and triggered Judah’s long slide into apostasy.
Spurgeon and Shindler’s research was like a re-telling of that biblical account, as once-sound Baptist churches carelessly slid into the abyss of apostasy. Many of them were shepherded by pastors who fed the sheep well but were naïve concerning prowling wolves. They lived godly lives, proclaimed a godly message, but instigated disaster through foolish alliances with ungodly men. In April 1887, Schindler published more of his research. MacArthur recounts his findings:
He laid the blame for the downhill slide at the feet of the church leaders. Even those who were orthodox in their teaching were not earnestly contending (Jude 3), but were weak in defending the faith, Shindler said. As one example, he cited Philip Doddridge (1702–1751), best known today as the hymn writer who penned “O Happy Day” and “Grace, ’Tis a Charming Sound.” Doddridge, according to Shindler, “was as sound as he was amiable; but perhaps he was not always judicious; or more probably still, he was too judicious, and not sufficiently bold and decided.”
Doddridge had been principal of the academy where most non-conformist ministers went for training in the mid-1700s. Shindler’s judgment was that “[Doddridge’s] amiable disposition permitted him to do what men made of sterner stuff would not have done. He sometimes mingled in a fraternal manner, even exchanging pulpits, with men whose orthodoxy was called in question. It had its effect on many of the younger men, and served to lessen in the estimate of the people generally the growing divergence of sentiment.”
In other words, Shindler felt that Doddridge’s tolerance of unorthodox teachers obscured from his ministerial students the awful reality that these men were guilty of serious error, and left the students exposed to the deadly effects of their heresy. But, Shindler hastened to add, no one could “insinuate even the suspicion of heresy” against Doddridge himself.
Because of the attitude of tolerance implanted by Doddridge, the academy at last succumbed to Socinianism, then was dissolved in the generation after Doddridge’s passing.
Shindler paraphrased Hosea 4:9: “Like priest, like people,” and wrote, “Little good can be expected of such ministers, and little hoped for of the hearers who approve their sentiments.” He warned against such tolerance, suggesting it is better to err on the side of caution:
“In too many cases sceptical daring seems to have taken the place of evangelical zeal, and the husks of theological speculations are preferred to the wholesome bread of gospel truth. With some the endeavour seems to be not how steadily and faithfully they can walk in the truth, but how far they can get from it. To them divine truth is like a lion or a tiger, and they give it ‘a wide berth.’ Our counsel is—Do not go too near the precipice; you may slip or fall over. Keep where the ground is firm; do not venture on the rotten ice.”Ashamed of the Gospel, 235–36.
Thankfully, Spurgeon and Shindler were also able to identify some rare exceptions to what they called “The Down-grade”: “Those churches willing to fight for the faith and uphold the doctrines of grace and God’s sovereignty had managed to avoid the fate of those on the down-grade.”Ashamed of the Gospel, 237.
If our zeal to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3) does not extend to securing the perimeter of our pulpits, then we become as vulnerable to apostasy as the many shipwrecks that have gone before us.
The same principle also applies to us as individual laymen if we are going to avoid the poisonous words of infiltrators—false teachers who gain deceitful access into the hearts and minds of an otherwise healthy church congregation. Churchgoers who have been hung out to dry under lax pastoral leadership may not have the means to secure the borders around the pulpit in their church.
But you can and must secure the borders around your own heart. Each of us is responsible to carefuly evaluate the speakers, writers, and teachers we follow, and not be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14, emphasis added). We are never absolved of the responsibility to emulate the noble Bereans who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
How foolish would it be for us to ignore the discoveries of Spurgeon and Shindler’s research? Their work furnishes a powerful lesson for modern churches still towing the biblical line. Furthermore, it reminds the members of those churches that a pastor who preaches with a high view of Scripture (2 Timothy 2:15) also needs to have a hardened resolve in deciding who can—and cannot—stand in his absence.
Ligonier Ministries Blog
Carnal Peace - Sat, 29 Aug 2015
The message of the false prophets of Israel was one of peace. But their peace was an illusion. They preached peace when there was no peace, or what Luther called a carnal peace. Luther said that when the gospel is preached with passion and with accuracy, it does not bring peace. In fact, our Lord Himself said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). That does not mean that we are called to use weapons of military combat to further the extension of the kingdom. We are to be peacemakers. We are to be tolerant, kind, and patient people. But if you look at the record of history, the true prophets of Israel contended for the truth, and every time they did, controversy emerged.
Probably no human being has engendered as much controversy as Jesus Christ did. People were galvanized either for Him or against Him. The record of the Apostolic church in the book of Acts is the record of ongoing and unabated controversy. The controversy focused on the preaching of the gospel. So controversial was the preaching of the gospel that the religious establishment of the Jewish community forbade the Apostles from preaching the gospel at all because it was controversial and because it divided people.
In our generation we've been told that the highest virtue is peace. We've lived in the age of the atomic bomb. We've seen widespread warfare. We're tired of disputes, tired of people fighting and killing each other. It is by God's grace that churches aren't burning people at the stake or putting them on torture racks as was done in earlier centuries. We've learned to coexist with people with whom we disagree. We value that peace. But I'm afraid the danger is that we value it so much that we're willing to obscure the gospel itself. We have to be careful of speaking about unity when we really don't have it. At times I think we believe we have more unity than we actually have.
The Importance of What We Do in Secret - Fri, 28 Aug 2015
According to Jesus, it is what we do in secret that matters most. Jesus is not suggesting that the outward is unimportant—far from it. "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?" (James 2:14).
The answer is emphatically no. Still, it is also possible to have outward works but no inner reality. In this instance, religion is a pretense. Six times in the Sermon on the Mount, alluding to three distinct exercises, Jesus employs the term secret:
- Give "in secret…and your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matt. 6:4).
- Pray "in secret…and your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (v. 6).
- Fast "in secret…and your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (v. 18).
The Sermon on the Mount is addressing the issue of authenticity. Just how genuine is our relationship with the Lord Jesus? It is altogether possible to practice an outward display of piety—to "talk the talk"—without demonstrating any inner reality of godliness. This is true of every professing Christian, and it is especially true of those engaged in Christian ministry. Authentic Christianity requires an outward and discernible "work of faith" (1 Thess. 1:3; 2 Thess. 1:11). But it also requires genuine godly affections and an inner discipline of the heart.
There is a manner of ministry that is more about self-service than self-sacrifice, self-indulgence than self-discipline, and self-promotion than self-denial. There is also giving that is designed for recognition—plaques on walls intended to be read by generations to come, or press releases informing the world of "generous donations"; prayers in pristine Cranmerlike language of the sixteenth century suggesting depths of personal piety; fasting that is shown via open-necked T-shirts revealing a ribbed torso.
But all these outward demonstrations of piety may be no more than mere hypocrisy. The Greek word translated "hypocrites" (Matt. 6:2, 5) refers to the masks worn by ancient actors as symbols of pretense and show. Thus, give with fanfare; pray with pride; fast with notice. This ministry is inauthentic. It is a sham.
Inauthentic ministry was a charge leveled against Paul. The Corinthians said that there was discrepancy between the way he wrote his letters and the way he was in person: "His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account" (2 Cor. 10:10). It is a serious charge, and in his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul spends almost the entire time defending himself. The critique came from jealousy and therefore bore no legitimacy. But the fact is, the charge can be true—not of Paul, but of us. Leadership calls for genuineness, authenticity and transparency.
True, there's something of a cliché about the word authentic when applied to Christian ministry (add contemporary, intentional, relevant, and community to that list). If we really need to add the description authentic, we are probably trying too hard and therefore not being authentic at all. Nevertheless, hypocrisy lurks everywhere, not least in Christian ministry, and we ignore it at our peril.
Godliness must be found in the heart if it is to be genuine. The one who prays more in public than in private, or only gives at special events when likely to be thanked for it, or practices spiritual disciplines and lets everyone know just how difficult a spiritual routine he keeps, is more concerned about the outward appearance than a heart-relationship with Jesus.
Jonathan Edwards observed the pattern of the hypocrite with respect to prayer:
Perhaps they attend it on Sabbath days, and sometimes on other days. But they have ceased to make it a constant practice daily to retire to worship God alone, and to seek his face in secret places. They sometimes do a little to quiet conscience, and just to keep alive their old hope; because it would be shocking to them, even after all their subtle dealing with their consciences to call themselves converts, and yet totally to live without prayer. Yet the practice of secret prayer they have in a great measure left off.
There has been a rise in the use of "written prayers" in Presbyterian worship in the last decade. In part, it is a reflection of the desire to elevate worship. Liturgical, written, prepared prayers are certainly preferable to the (otherwise) paucity and emptiness of some extemporary prayers. But written prayers (drawn from The Valley of Vision, for example) may simply mask the emptiness of the heart.
And Thomas Cranmer seemed to understand the danger of wearing a mask of hypocrisy when he included the Collect of Purity in the Book of Common Prayer for the Anglican Church. Cranmer placed it just before the celebration of the Lord's Supper:
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord.
This is a prayer for all seasons.
This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.
$5 Friday: John’s Gospel, Atheism, and Sanctification - Fri, 28 Aug 2015
It's time for our weekly $5 Friday sale. Due to our warehouse being closed for inventory, this week's resources are digital only and include such topics as Calvinism, sanctification, the atonement, baptism, Scripture, atheism, John's Gospel, theology, Isaac Watts, and more.
Sale runs through 12:01 a.m. — 11:59 p.m. Friday ET.
2015 Burning Man is Biting-bug Infested! - Sat, 29 Aug 2015
Last year opening day was rained out. This year, it’s a bit worse! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3204358/They-New-Mexico-site-year-s-Burning-Man-INUNDATED-biting-bugs.html Filed under: Christianity
A Look at Dreams and Visions - Sat, 08 Aug 2015
I wanted to take a closer look at what the bible has to say in the areas of dreams and visions. These experiences have become quite popular over the years with many people who claim their dreams are from God. … Continue reading
Chat with Susan Puzio - Thu, 30 Jul 2015
Hello I will be talking with Susan Puzio blog talk radio on Saturday, August 1 at 1PM Eastern Time. We will be discussing my involvement with the healing rooms and the false prophetic. During this time with Susan I plan … Continue reading
Possessing The Treasure
Who are the apostates? - Sat, 29 Aug 2015
by Mike Ratliff 12 “If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that 13 some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom you have […]
Mortification of sin - Thu, 27 Aug 2015
by Mike Ratliff 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13 NASB) God […]
If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him - Wed, 26 Aug 2015
by Mike Ratliff 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much […]
A detective story - Sun, 30 Aug 2015
Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The following excerpt is from We Endeavour, pages 54-56, Pilgrim Publications."With what gusto some would undertake the task if they had to give in a report upon other people’s characters! How easily each of us can play the detective upon our fellows!"
We like thus to reckon up our fellow-creatures, and our arithmetic is wonderfully accurate — at least, so we think; but when other people cast us up according to the same rule, the arithmetic seems terribly out of order, and we cannot believe it to be right.
Ah! but at the great judgment we shall not be asked to give an account for others, neither will I ask any of you now to be thinking about the conduct of others. What if others are worse than you are, does that make you the better, or the less guilty? What if others are not all they seem to be, perhaps neither are you; at any rate, their hypocrisy shall not make your pretence to be true.
Judge yourselves, that ye be not judged. Let each thrust the lancet into his own wound, and see to the affairs of his own soul, for each one must give account of himself to God. Remember, too, that you are not called upon to give an account to others,
Alas! there are many who seem to live only that they may win the esteem of their fellows. There is somebody to whom we look up; if we do but have that somebody’s smile, we think all is well. Perhaps some here are brokenhearted because that smile has vanished, and they have been misjudged and unjustly condemned.
It is a small matter to be judged of man’s judgment; and who is he that judges another man’s servant? To his own master the servant shall stand or fall, and not to this interloping judge.
Remember, also, that the account to be rendered will be from every man, personally concerning himself; and whatever another man’s account may be, it will not affect him.
It was a maxim of Pythagoras that each of his disciples should, every eventide, give in a record of the actions of the day. I think it is well to do so; for we cannot too often take a retrospect. Sit down a while, pilgrim; sit down a while. Here is the milestone marked with the end of another year; sit down upon it, put thine hand to thy brow and think, and lay thine hand upon thy heart, and search and see what is there.
There are no persons who so dislike to look into their account-books as those who are insolvent. Those who keep no books, when they come before the court, are understood to be rogues of the first water; and men who keep no mental memoranda of the past, and bring up no recollections with regard to their sins, having tried to forget them all, may depend upon it that they are deceiving themselves.
If you dare not search your hearts, I am afraid there is a reason for that fear, and that above all others you ought to be diligent in this search.
Sola Dei Gloria
John MacArthur accused of heresy at his home church - Wed, 26 Aug 2015
Without knowing all the details, such as who this prophet is, I can’t say much more then, if this be a true word from God to MacArthur, he better take heed. There have been many things John denies as biblical, in which I disagree with him. I have posted about this previously. The only other […]
Scott Walker: Would bomb Iran on his first day as president - Mon, 10 Aug 2015
Interesting, frightening, article. Who are these US citizens who support this? There must be quite a number for this warmonger to be running third in the polls. Huffington Post: Netanyahu and His Marionettes Benjamin Netanyahu is laying siege to the Congress of the United States, not for the first time. He has thrown his voice and […]
Burning of Christian churches in Israel justified, far-Right Jewish leader says - Sun, 09 Aug 2015
HT to Steve Lumbley (Apostasy Watch) The leader of a far-Right Israeli group has risked arrest by apparently voicing support for arson attacks on Christian churches amid an official crackdown on Jewish extremism. Benzi Gopstein, the outspoken head of Lehava – which has drawn notoriety for its violent assaults on Jewish-Arab assimilation – made the […]
I Will Surely Tell of the Decree of the Lord - Fri, 28 Aug 2015
In numerous passages throughout the Bible, there are places where Scripture speaks of God’s “purpose” (Acts 4:28), His “plan” (Ps 33:11; Acts 2:23), His “counsel” (Eph 1:11), “good pleasure” (Isa 46:10), or “will” (Eph 1:5). In one way or another, each of these designations refer to what theologians call God’s decree. The Westminster Confession famously […]
Did God “want” Jordy Nelson to get injured? - Thu, 27 Aug 2015
I’m sure you’ve heard of the NFL theological conundrum: if prayer works, and two opposing teams pray for victory, who will win? Here is a variation of the question: In a game against the Steelers, Green Bay Packer’s receiver Jordy Nelson tore his ACL. After the game he made headlines when he told a reporter that […]
Ministering to the Suffering - Wed, 26 Aug 2015
One of my mentors used to wisely say, “We are either in a trial, about to enter a trial, or coming out of a trial.” Such is life under the weight of the Curse. Since God’s people are called to be skilled relationally, this means that relating to people in suffering is going to comprise […]
The Watchman’s Bagpipes