Agonizomai: December 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Couldn't Help Myself *

And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. - Isaiah 40:5

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14

[*I originally meant that I couldn't keep from posting this. But, now that I think about it, that's why He came; because I couldn't help myself.]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Closed Until Jan 2, 2009

Merry Christmas to All
See You in the New Year - D.V.

Rejoice! He Came to Die For the Sins of His People. He accomplished all that He came to do. And now, because He rose from the dead, those who believe in Him will live forevermore.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Romans Chapter 2
Excuse #3 - I Do Many Good Things
Response: God's judgment of the self-justifying will be according to works.

Romans 2:6-10 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well–doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self–seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.

The world is full of people doing good deeds. Feeding the hungry in Africa, donating to worthy causes, fighting social injustices without number, both at home and abroad. People work and march and carry placards against abortion, discrimination, gun crime, pollution, environmental irresponsibility and many other things. Hurrah! Do you know what Jesus said about such things? He said:
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. {John 15:5}
We need to ask what the Lord means by this. Nothing that is wrought outside of faith in Christ is of any avail. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. {Romans 14:23b} All the good works that people do outside of Christ are sin. Does that mean no good comes of them? Not at all! Let them do things which help, even though they themselves are sinning. Somewhere along the line some moral precept, some motivation towards good, compassion, mercy, brotherhood – whatever – was instilled into them, and it glows like an ember with the faint heat of its True Source, even if they refuse to acknowledge Him. But in eternal terms, as far as the kingdom of God goes, as far as treasure in heaven is concerned, they are fruitless in all their efforts. What they do is not wrought in Christ.

God knows what we are and what we have done in the flesh. His recompense will be exactly right. The torments meted out to wicked men will be no more and no less than their deeds deserve. As I have said, all unregenerate deeds are tainted with evil – even the best of them:
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. - Isaiah 64:6
None of the good works of an unregenerate person are truly righteous. None. There will be many "good" people in hell whose good deeds were not wrought in faith. But their recompense in judgment will be proportional to their motives and their deeds. Human goodness is not God's righteousness and is therefore of no avail in avoiding judgment or condemnation. People are not saved by their so-called "good" works, but they are condemned for their sin.

And for the saint, nothing that is performed in the flesh – through the carnal nature, and not in the Spirit of God – is of any avail either. How much is being and has been done in the flesh within the church? One shudders to think.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sermon of the Week
Bell Rings for Joy

I like this man's way of preaching. He sounds like an old fashioned fundamentalist at first, though never of the Hylesian bent. But it doesn't take long to warm to him. He's not exactly homespun and not exactly seminarian to the ear - but whatever he is, he's Biblical. If I had to categorize him, I'd probably have to put him in the High Calvinist camp. It just goes to show you the infinite variety of God's work in raising people from every flavor of upbringing, geography, culture and experience and then using them to proclaim the glories of His righteousness in Christ. This indeed is the true unity in the body!
I also noticed his irrepressible glee when brother Bell was contemplating the wonders of God's Word and ways. From time to time he couldn't keep from chuckling. He reminded me a bit of Don Fortner, who has the same mannerism. But neither of them is anything like the so-called "holy laughter" manifested in some recent "revivalist" experiences. This is joy in the Holy Spirit. The other was sometimes more akin to the demonic.

Finally, look for the way he finds Christ in scripture. Though not the subject of this particular sermon, he mentions that the gospel is clearly to be seen in the creation account in the first few verses of Genesis, by those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. This sort of view does not exactly spring from the strictly exegetical parsing of words (though that is an essential part of study), but from a more expansive look, taken by stepping back and taking in the whole picture of what the Holy Spirit is telling us throughout all of scripture. It is close to what I mean when I call myself "mystic by nature".

I suppose neither brother Bell nor I might make very appealing Calvinists to some, but if conforming to their idea of the faith missed the whole reality of this man's manifest (and my occasional) joy in the Holy Spirit - then I guess I'm outside the mainstream.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Schedule

This blog will go dormant on Tuesday Dec 23rd and posts will not resume until Friday Jan 2, 2009.

A merry Christmas to all my readers. You know the reason for the season.

A New Gleaning for Nick
This is what is meant by God being in all and through all {#Eph 4:4-6}; it is us doing it, yet not us, but Christ in us. We are engaged, active, moved by our wills and yet Christ is working in and through us by these very means for good. The Perfect clothed in the imperfect, working goodness and blessings in both the doer and the recipient of the deed. This is our God, to whom all glory and honor is due, and from whom all blessings flow. - Gleanings 16:603

Friday, December 19, 2008

Romans Chapter 2
Excuse #2 - I Am Doing OK Without God
Response: Every moment you keep fooling yourself are accumulating more wrath for judgment day.

Romans 2:4-5 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

While ‘the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men, who by their wickedness suppress the truth’, we must not overlook that fact that God rains down his mercies upon both the just and the unjust. Summer and winter and seedtime and harvest come upon both the just and the unjust alike.

When God blesses a city or a congregation or a family that blessing falls upon the whole group – both believers and pagans. And He blesses every day. God’s people see it and give thanks; the unregenerate take it, consume it upon their lusts and ignore the Source. We must not forget, either, that He is also working in His saints by making them salt and light in the world, thus preserving it against the day of retribution. Through them, the gospel call goes out day and night all over the world.

These kindnesses are meant to lead people to repentance. But they do not. And not because of any lack on the part of God. It is on account of the hardness of people’s hearts. They don’t see – they don’t want to see – God’s hand in all things – especially the blessings of life, health, security, shelter, food, breath and peace. They think these things appear by some random arrangement of impersonal universal laws.

And they think they come on account of their own efforts to control and to carve out some piece of life for themselves, however fleeting. So they take God’s kind and merciful providences for granted and they attribute their blessings to dumb luck and human effort. They are OK without the very God who upholds all things by the power of His Word – including the things they receive and consume so ungratefully.

We all did likewise before God made Himself known to us. Hopefully, now that we do know Him, we don’t make the same mistakes. Hopefully there is a visible difference between those who consciously live at the pleasure of their Sovereign Lord and those that live for their own pleasure. Sadly, the Christian church is so often indistinguishable from the world. Do we take God’s providence for granted and do we think that we live of and unto ourselves? Or do we constantly remember the words of Jesus…
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? {Matthew 6:26-30}
…and of His chosen Apostle, Paul…
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. {Romans 6:17-18}

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Samaritan" Shocks Self-Righteous Sophist
I am a subscriber to Gene Cook's "The Narrow Mind" on "Unchained Radio". I think I was attracted to the program initially by the name "Narrow Mind". Maybe I was looking for somebody who was more narrow minded than me so that I could feel better about myself. That didn't work. Gene's concept of a narrow mind is more akin to the focus needed to enter in a the stait gate and walk in the narrow way.

I think he originally came out of the music industry, so he has an appreciation for all kinds of music genres and songs that don't make my top ten list.

In the broadcast of Dec 13th, towards the end, he played the audio from the following YouTube rap video (yes, I said RAP VIDEO!!*#@!) by Shai Linne. Have I said how much I HATE rap? Oh well, at least this one's sung acapella. And it will blow your socks off.

The shame is that it confuses an old "frozen chosen" guy like me to hear the gospel of grace and the sovereignty of God proclaimed more clearly than from many pulpits - and in power, to boot - but out of what I have allowed myself to think of as a "Samaritan" culture. God have mercy on me!

But, no - I'm not going all hip-hop and dreadlocks any time soon...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Romans Chapter 2
Excuse #1 - I Am Better Than Others

Response: God’s judgment is "according to truth".

Romans 2:2-5 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man––you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself––that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

God is right and just to condemn all men, for all men do such things (note the tense) - and those who point the finger at others are no exception. We are reminded of the words of the prophet Jeremiah here:
"The heart is deceitful above all and desperately wicked - who can understand it?" - Jeremiah 17:8
Any attempt to justify ourselves to God by comparing ourselves to others does not cut the mustard because we all do the same things - it's simply that we are usually willfully blind to those things in us that we see so clearly in others. We are blind because we will not look and we will not look because we are proud, haughty and depraved.

When we become Christians, however, one of the easiest ways to know what we truly are ourselves is by looking at ourselves in the mirror of the person we judge to be so beneath us, or so much more sinful or less spiritual than we. It is in that moment that we are actually seeing ourselves in God's eyes. We begin to walk in the light and to see the truth that we would not look upon before.

Do you think the person you are sharing the gospel with is “good”? Do you believe them to be “not so bad” – certainly not as bad as some villains in the world? Then you don’t see them as God sees them. They are transgressors of His Holy, perfect law. They are self-deceived keepers of their own black hearts that, if they show any grace or goodness at all, is by the mercy of God and the influences of His Spirit.

They are precisely what you yourself used to be before God brought you to salvation. You and they are of the same lump. It is because of this that you can speak the truth to them in love and not judge them, for though you are being made holy, you were no different than them until the grace of God saved you.

Or do you think of yourself as “not so bad” before God saved you? Is that what’s behind your desire to find good in the lost, and thereby to justify them? Are you justifying yourself? Is it that you have never admitted your own depravity? Have you never agreed with God that you are depraved in your own right and turned from what you are?

Do you fool yourself? God is never fooled the way we fool ourselves. His vision is perfect and His judgments are perfect. He is the truth and it is in this perfect, all-seeing light that all men are weighed, and all men are found wanting. Let it not be that anyone naming the Name of Christ secretly denies the depravity of humankind and waters down the gospel. And let it not be that any person is deceived into believing he has repented when he has not.

There is only one standard and only one judge. The standard is perfect righteousness and the judge is God Almighty. Nobody stacks up. You are either completely righteous in God’s eyes, or you are depraved. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. A healthy drink becomes wholly lethal when even a drop of poison is added.

Can you not see that by the single drop of Adam’s sin the whole world of humanity was corrupted and banished from fellowship with the Creator? Are you or your neighbour, now encompassed and engrossed in numberless sins, any less of a pollution?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Man and Superman
With apologies to George Bernard Shaw
(but not too many)


[Great! I sit on this post for two years waiting for the timing to be right and the very day before I post it, wouldn't you know Dan Phillips over at Pyromaniacs goes and posts this, making essentially the same point, only much better, and more topically. Arrrgh!!!]

"They can be a great people. Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the Way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you - my only son." - Jor-El to his son (Superman).

This is the proverbial pint of poison in the ocean of truth. While people rave about the gospel hidden just below the surface of the 2006 movie "Superman Returns" all that is shown is the great danger of getting your theology and your doctrine from comic books and movies, instead of directly from the Bible.

The true doctrine of the depravity of man and the grace of God in salvation actually teaches the polar opposite of what is stated in the above quote; but because this Superman quote appeals to, and finds its source in, modern day "Christian" sentimentality about man, and has an abysmally low concept of God, this heresy will be swallowed hook, line and sinker by many an unwary soul.

There is some truth here, but it is ironical truth. Men wish to be great alright, but the greatness they aspire to is to be their own God. Unregenerate men have no capacity for good, apart from the restraining grace of God. Every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts is only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5) And, yes, men do lack the light to show them the way, but their lack is not for want of the light shining, but for lack of a willingness to see it. Why? Because they will not come to the light because their deeds are evil. (John 3:20-21)

Beware of getting your theology from secular sources - the Devil is a liar and a murderer, and has been from the beginning. (John 8:44)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Romans Chapter 2 - Chart
What's Your Excuse?

Here is the chart of the lamentable list of men's excuses for not truly obeying God that is just as fresh today as it was in Paul's day.

You can click on the image for a larger on line view, but you really should download the chart in MSWord format from here. It will prove helpful in following the argument.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sermon of the Week
DeWaay, the Truth and the Life
I've mentioned Bob DeWaay before - or at least I've posted something from his church, Twin City Fellowship in Minneapolis Minnesota. Pastor DeWaay also has a weekly program called "Critical Issues Commentary" and publishes periodic topical material dealing with trends and heresies in our culture.

The following piece is from a sermon treating the passage in Luke 13 from which I derived the name of this blog, namely "Agonizomai", from the Koine Greek "to strive". You can read my take on the word here, but you might find it interesting to listen to Pastor DeWaay's understanding. This man has been around the theological block and has come to his knowledge of the truth and of the Christian life through much tribulation and some wrong turns. I love his honesty about this, as well as his passion for the purity of the gospel. Enjoy this one...

The Narrow Door and the Scope of Messianic Salvation
Luke 13:22-30

Power Point Slides Here

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Relative Goodness
When absolutes go out the window it is not long before the ridiculous takes over. Here's an article about liars and cheats in college, admitting what they do, but still regarding themselves as good. Does this remind you in any way of our Romans study?

Postmodern think, in which people are absolutely certain of nothing, except that there can be no certainty, is bearing its fruit in the minds of those who grew up under its influence.

Goodness has always been relative to the world; this is what enables the natural man to justify himself in his own sight before others. It is why even prisoners who have committed the most awful crimes, such as murder, nevertheless band together to despise, abuse and often kill child abusers incarcerated in their facility. Regarding someone as worse then they are plays to their relative (if twisted) sense of morality and deceives them into feeling better about themselves by comparison.

But we have entered a new era where society itself is poised to applaud those who make good evil and evil good; where tolerance is demanded for all except those who stand upon absolute moral values; where the actual approval of what used to be universally regarded as morally repugnant behavior is demanded under threat of penalty. Freedom of speech, opinion and even thought is perfectly alright for the conforming crowd to whom all opinions are claimed to be equally valid, but dare once to stand upon truth and to speak the exclusivity of Christ and the right to freedom of expression dissolves.

The time is very near when God will purify His remnant. Those who are not of us will go out from us and prove their real disposition. The furnace of persecution is about to be unleashed on the Christian church in Western society, and men will think they are doing God a favor when they hand us over to authorities.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Romans Chapter 2
Depravity - Nobody's Exempt, Not Even You
God’s Judgment on those who think they will escape His wrath

Romans 2:1-3 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man––you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself––that you will escape the judgment of God?

In verse 1 of this chapter we encounter one of those Biblical prepositions that so meaningfully link to something that has gone before. So we read, "Therefore, you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are…." Ask yourself, “What’s the ‘therefore’ there for?” In this case it clearly implies that all men without exception are included in the litany of depravity that has just been given at the end of Chapter 1.

But apart from the gracious work of God’s Spirit, man is in denial – he is self-deceived. He will deny that he is even capable of such wickedness, let alone guilty of it. Under the pretentious flag of self-righteousness he will cling to self and sin, fooling himself in the process into believing that he is not so bad after all. He will grasp at any excuse, knowing that there is wickedness all about, but thinking himself above it, or not a part of it, or at least that he is better than those who commit the more obvious outward depravities. We would rather judge others than look at ourselves, though God says:
…if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. {1Corinthians 11:31}
Again, though, apart from the gracious operation of God’s Spirit men will do no such thing. This verse is actually for believers. Unless God shows it to him, the unregenerate person can never comprehend and apply to himself these truths, spoken by our Lord:
And he (Jesus) said, "What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man." {Mark 7:20-23}

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. {Matthew 7:17-18}
It is a part of man's deceitful nature to puff himself up in judgment against his fellow man - as if by proving himself "better" than others, according to some standard of his own invention, he would be able to justify himself to God, and thereby to prove that the awful depravities listed in Chapter 1 surely could not apply to him. God's firm rebuttal of such woeful and false hypocrisies is laid out in seven principles designed to put the lie to them all. We shall examine these principles in the following posts. Don't forget to download the chart for this section from the next post in this thread.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Are You Feeling the Heat Yet?
Don't say that you weren't warned! The last couple of weeks have painted a grim picture of universal human nature. But you're not off the hook yet. We've just begun.
Next comes the litany of more specific whining and wheedling that we have all done in order to suppress our God-given consciences. This is going to be relentless, so I hope you took me seriously when I warned you at the outset that we were going to monotonously beat the drum of human depravity - yours, mine and everyone's.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Romans Chapter 1
Present Revelation of God's Wrath - Part 3
The Self-Worship of Humanity

Romans 1:24-26a Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up...

Such behaviour doesn’t go unchecked by the real God. When men turned away from Him (and all have) he gave them up to the results of such an attitude. If there is no God then there can be no morality. The natural result of human anarchy and rebellion is that men turn to doing as they please, without restraint. Who is to say what is right any more?

The most powerful person might impose some arbitrary rules upon the weaker ones – but only so long as nobody stronger comes along. This is what we still see in unChristianized societies, or in post Christian ones. It is what we will see universally when all the Christians are removed from the earth.

So God gave men up to do as they themselves wanted. God did no wrong in giving them up. It was what men wanted. It was their choice. This is freedom of the will. This is the only end of freedom of the will for unsaved men. People get so downright uppity in demanding their right of freedom of the will to choose what they want. Take a look at what freedom of the natural will of man results in. It results in slavery to evil. Man’s will is enslaved just like his mind and his emotions. He chooses slavery to evil rather than submission to God.

Without God, the natural man turns to what Paul calls “unnatural acts”. H*mos3xuality and l3sbi@nism, when welcomed and when practiced openly with approval and acceptance, are the harbingers of judgment and the signs of utter depravity. We are getting there. Our apostate country has forsaken the faith of its fathers, trashed the legacy of God’s blessings of grace upon their obedience and is headed, pell-mell, for the most severe judgment of God.

And God gave men up to all the other depravities of moral relativism and amorality. These are simply “immorality”. If there is a kind of evil that it is possible to commit then man has either discovered or invented it. Whenever God gives men up it means He withdraws His restraining grace. He lets them be what they are. Do we get the picture?

Apart from God we are all covetous, malicious, envious, murderous, contentious, deceitful, malignant, gossipy, slanderous, hateful, insolent, proud, boastful, disobedient, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless evildoers. Some of us are more of one thing than another, but we all have depraved hearts that are utterly alienated from God. Men are willful rebels. They love sin and they hate God.

If you are saved, you were like this, and there are strong elements remaining in you that witness to you of this evil nature. Your wife or husband and children are like this, your neighbour is like this, the nicest pagan you know is like this at heart. All mankind is like this unless they have been saved by the grace of God. So don’t fool yourself. Remember what Christ knew…
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; but Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man. {John 2:23-25}
This teaching is not easy to accept. Many people will not believe that man is depraved in mind, emotion and will. They may believe it of those in whom there are worse, or more outward, or more obvious evidences of corruption, but they will not believe it of those they know as “good” people, or – sad to say – many will not believe it of themselves.

But God explicitly says that men all know better than to disobey Him. In saying that “they knew God’s decree” Paul is affirming that all men still have written on their hearts the traces of the glorious truth of God’s immutable and eternal law. Whatever light men have – whether nature, conscience, law or gospel – they choose to willfully sin against that light. Men do more than simply sin, as we shall see – they are sinners by nature. And one result of their sinfulness is self-deception.

That is why Paul wrote what we find in the next chapter, where there are seven different kinds of self-justifiers. People who say that the shocking depravities of Chapter 1 may be true of others, but not of themselves. Paul demolishes all seven of these self-deceptions and renders true to our hearing that phrase with which we find starting out Chapter 2 –
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. {Romans 2:1}
Next, the axe will be laid at the root of hypocrisy and self-deception. Don’t miss it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New Audio Problems

Once more the method I have been using to provide a player on site has been made unavailable. Because I don't have my own server I store all my audio files on a public server here. They have been developing their own embeddable flash player but I wanted to wait until the bugs had been worked out before committing to it.

Now I have no choice so, as of tomorrow all NEW posts will have a new player format. I'm afraid that older posts will not show a player at all. If you are capturing the posts in Google's Reader, the audio can be played from that client. I don't know about other readers. Also, the podcast will still capture all audio files from the beginning and into the future. Finally, the Feedburner site will display the last 20 or so posts and you can still play audio from their site by clicking the red arrow.

I do hope that both my readers are not too disappointed.

A. Mohler Grinds Down Miller's Grist

As a bonus second post for today, here's a link to an Al Mohler response to an article in the latest edition of Newsweek, in which the world's ignorance of, and malice towards, the truth of God's word is shown for what it is. Many a canard, misrepresentation, misinterpretation and misapplication is pulled out of Ms. Miller's bag of tricks and used to mischaracterize both the true faith and the Word of God. Mohler is far too nice to put it this way, but I'm not. As sound journalism, what Newsweek has put its name to makes pretty good jetsam (they both begin with "J") - but that's about all.

Only remember that they are as we all once were and pray for them, that the light might shine in their hearts and that, perhaps, God might grant them repentance.

Now THIS is Cultural Relevance....

Here is a short commentary by Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries. As an apologist and an exegete, I am a dust particle on a smudge on the sole of his left foot. As a Christian, I am his brother. His live broadcast program and podcast, called the Dividing Line is a twice-weekly sizzler for those who live in the rarified atmosphere of Koine Greek nuances and the finer points of doctrine. He has strong opinions on some matters but, unlike some people, he can back up the strength of his views with a sound knowledge of the scripture.

In this piece about the recent elections in the Excited States of America, he expresses the Biblical view of certain sinful acts and societal trends that are also referred to in the section of Romans currently being treated here.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Romans Chapter 1
Present Revelation of God's Wrath - Part 2
Preferring Idolatry to the One True God

Romans 1:19-24a For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up...

In the age of reason, evolution theory became a god. In prior ages it was a simpler form of idolatry. People would go into the forest, cut down a tree and chop it into two parts. One part was broken down into pieces for the cooking fire and the other part was given to a skilled carver to make into a figure of a man, a bird or a reptile (or a combination of these) for the family to bow down to and worship. Today we roll our eyes at such blind insanity. “Primitives!” we cry. “Thank God we have evolved beyond that!” do you see the irony?

Whether it is evolutionism or wooden idols that we bow down to, the point is that we prefer anything before we will acknowledge that there is a God, and that we are enemies of His by choice. We prefer to bury our heads in the sand as if He would cease to exist if we put our foolish beliefs in something – anything – else.

Now, for those who have grown up living off the spiritual capital of godly people in prior generations this seems like a wrong picture. We generally don’t think of people as being like this. We don’t see people in our society bowing down to chunks of wood. Many are not outwardly blasphemous, ungodly, wicked, perverse or all the other things that characterize the mankind that Paul is speaking of. "Maybe then, but not now," we think. But how wrong-headed we are.

It is the grace of God that has shed light and salt into our civilized world through saints of earlier generations, who have believed God and have encountered His blessings, the overflow of which we still sup from today. Is our country civilized? Thank God! Thank Him that He raised faithful saints who followed Him throughout the ages. But don’t let the free blessings of God’s grace blind your eyes to the true nature of mankind. Let God withdraw that grace and then see what society shall become. And we shall see it, one day.
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. {2Thessalonians 2:7}
The natural state of man’s mind is to deny the true God so that they do not have to honour Him. This denial of deity is perversely often thought of as a sort of “wisdom”. But what wisdom it is! How silly that while it is a plain as the nose on your face that there is a God above all Who made and sustains everything, men prefer to pretend He isn’t there at all.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sermon of the Week
Washer Puts Religion Thru Wringer
Here's a little something from Paul Washer, called 'Regeneration v. The Idolatry of Decisional "Evangelism"'. I can only take Paul Washer in small doses - not because he is wrong, but because he's so right and it overwhelms me. This particular sermon lays the axe to the root of much modern North American evangelism, preaching and discipling.

Alright, this is not really a sermon but a conference presentation. But be warned, it is meat that will stick in your craw unless you chew it thoroughly. As brother Washer himself said - he preaches in a lot of places only once.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Behind All the Masks
The human heart is a perpetual factory of idols.

John Calvin - Institutes 1:108

Friday, December 05, 2008

Romans Chapter 1
Present Revelation of God's Wrath - Part 1
Refusal to Acknowledge and Thank God

Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

God is filled with fury at the attitude of all mankind because all men suppress the plain truth. There is a God. That there is a God in heaven is evident from the creation itself. All around us is order and beauty, complexity and variety that our minds tell us could only have come from a Creator. The silliest rubbish ever to spring from man’s perverse and rebellious mind is, for example, evolutionism. Taken to its logical conclusion it says that the universe created itself from nothing.

Can you imagine anything more foolish than that? You would have to be deceived or self-deluded in order to believe such a thing, when you are surrounded by the plain evidence of intelligent design and a power beyond human imagination. Yet such is the foolishness of man in his desire to deny God that he will grasp at this nonsense – or at any other nonsense – rather than submit to God.

If men submitted then they would be thankful to Him. Or, if they would be thankful then they might find the way to submission. But despite the fact that every part of the universe, including the wonder of our own bodies screams out the glory of God, and that our every breath is a gift that comes from beyond our own power to grant or sustain it – despite the obvious fact that we are creatures (creations) we prefer to be self-existent, self-reliant, self-absorbed, self-pleasing and self-serving little gods in our own right.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Piper Perception
When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the gospel passes from good news to simply news.

John Piper - Brothers We Are Not Professionals (Brothers We Must Feel the Truth of Hell)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Romans Chapter 1
Why the Gospel is Needed - Part 2
The Reality of God’s Wrath - Part B

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

To preach gentle Jesus, meek and mild, without preaching the Jesus who will tread out the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty – that self-same Jesus {#Re 19:15} – is not only foolhardy but blasphemous! Many in our day and age have succumbed to sentimentality and come to altogether ignore what is regarded as an unnecessarily harsh and unsavoury emphasis on hell and damnation in prior generations. The latter-day proclaimers of neo-evangelicalism may have good motives, but they have also gone way too far in redressing the situation.

This is truly the age of grace. God has sent His son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. But the moment for repentance is always now, for there will come a moment for everyone who does not believe when the time for repentance has passed. We must preach Christ but we must preach all of Him as He is found in scripture. We must not neglect to preach the 14% of His sayings that spoke of judgment and hell and damnation.

Is a servant greater than His Master? Are we morally superior to Christ because we are too dainty to speak boldly the facts of the gospel? We preach, "Repent and believe and you will be saved!" But men must know what it is they repent of and, in order for men to know what it is, it must be preached to them. The Holy Spirit will take it and do as He sees fit, but we are not to "hobble" the Spirit by curtailing the truth. To quote Dr. James White, "God has freed us to proclaim the gospel, not to edit it."

It is for the overarching sins of "ungodliness" and "unrighteousness" that men are condemned. "Ungodliness" is a lack of proper reverence for God, and "unrighteousness" is, in the final analysis, "a failure to conform in disposition and conduct to God's perfect standard of right and justice."

Paul will develop the argument more fully later, but it is noteworthy that ungodliness is the source, and that unrighteousness is the result. Ungodliness is a condition of the heart, or essence, manifested through acts of the will - whereas unrighteousness is the fruit of the heart's condition. Jesus said it perfectly:
"What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man." {Mark 7:20-23}
The thrust of Paul's statements, and of his subsequent arguments is that all men need a righteousness that comes from God, but that they first need a new essence, or heart, from which that righteousness can issue.

Now begins the long litany of the willful rebellion of man. It explains why the world of men is the way it is. We shall see a trinity of judgments from God upon mankind’s headlong slide into every sort of evil. Therefore, God gave them up… is the threefold cry of the remainder of Romans Chapter 1.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Self-Delusion - Fruit or Cause of Depravity?
'I am a practising Christian, but there is nothing in this which I believe to be blasphemous.'

BBC director-general Mark Thompson of the televised show "Jerry Springer - The Opera" in which Jesus is portrayed in a nappy (diaper) admitting he is 'a bit gay'.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Romans Chapter 1
Why the Gospel is Needed - Part 1
The Reality of God’s Wrath - Part A

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Any explanation of the gospel of salvation poses the question of “salvation from what?” What’s the problem? The problem is that God is angry with mankind. He hasn’t just turned away and ignored us. He is angry with us, and the expression of that anger is evident. The text says that God’s wrath is revealed – it does not say it “will be revealed.” The wrath of God already abides on all who have not believed on the Name, and do not obey the only Son of God. {John 3:36} And it will continue on into eternity for those who remain that way.

We only have to see the world the way it is in order to understand the truth. Wars, pestilence, cruelty, selfishness, hatred, disasters of all kinds, suffering and finally death itself have to mean that God is angry. Does he cause these things? Are they punishments? These questions will be examined as we delve deeper. But let us not be blind to the grace of God, who rains His mercy down upon the just and the unjust alike. Aside from suffering there are also the gifts of providence, the bounty of beauty in nature, love and kindness, tolerance, patience, gentleness and a many other positive blessings to be seen.

Our existence displays precisely the mixture of goodness and depravity, joy and suffering that you would expect to find in a universe where God is both angry and is also displaying grace and mercy by restraining evil. Everything is an expression of His will. He either causes it or He allows it.

God’s wrath is not something to be trifled with. Yet when was the last time you heard a sermon on the wrath of God? Do you even know what it means? Let us be sure to take it in, or else our dull human minds will gloss over the import of the word. For myself, I must confess that I often read words without coming to a true or a full understanding of their significance. This is why so many recommendations are made to not only read the Bible, but also to meditate upon what God is saying in the passage that is being read.

"Wrath" is a word demanding more than a cursory glance - and "the wrath of God" deserves our very greatest attempt at understanding.(v18) Here are a few definitions of "wrath" from Webster's New International Dictionary:
• Determined and lasting anger
• Extreme and violent rage
• Fury
• Vehement indignation
These definitions correspond exactly with the meaning of the original Greek word "orge" (or-gay), from which the English translators worked.

We can see immediately that this is more than just being "a bit ticked off". Mere human wrath can be a powerful thing - but for this word to be used of the Almighty Maker and Sustainer of all things, Whose power is unopposable and Whose judgments are without appeal is indeed a terrifying prospect. What would be "lasting anger" for a man, for example, can only be maintained until he dies. If I could manage it, I could be in a rage from now until my dying day at you over some indignity done to me. But that would be it. Not so with God! As eternal and immortal Being, God's rage against all unforgiven indignities to His holiness will continue unabated forever. And He has both the eternity of Being and the omnipotence to do it. The Bible confirms this:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords. {Revelation 19:11-16}

and if any one’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. {Revelation 20:15}
This, of course is commonly held to be speaking of as yet future events, but Jesus Himself said:
"So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. {Matthew 10:26-28}
From this we can see that there is a coming judgment and that God's disposition will be final – a time when all of God’s restraining graces and mercies will be fully and finally removed from those who love evil.