Agonizomai: February 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Maker of Heaven and Earth - by Roxylee
Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities––all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

The last song I posted from the wonderful Roxylee was a tough commentary on the state of the church in our culture. This is a change of pace in that it is a song of pure praise based on the above passage from Colossians. What gift she has!

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Maker of Heaven an Earth

Praise to the Lord
Glory to God!
His Name is Holy forever
Sing to the Lord, Jesus our Lord
Maker of Heaven and Earth

On the Cross He took away all of our sin
He died, that we might live
When God looks at us
He sees Jesus, instead
He rose again that we may give…

Praise to the Lord
Glory to God!
His Name is Holy forever
Sing to the Lord, Jesus our Lord
Maker of Heaven and Earth

We walk with Him daily
He hears all our prayers
Our joy is complete as we follow
The Spirit will lead us through all of our trials
No matter what hardships we have, so…

Praise to the Lord
Glory to God!
His Name is Holy forever
Sing to the Lord, Jesus our Lord
Maker of Heaven and Earth

We will assemble and give thanks to him
He promised he’ll never forsake us
We will remember the great things He’s done,
Now let us all join in the chorus…

Praise to the Lord
Glory to God!
His Name is Holy forever
Sing to the Lord, Jesus our Lord
Maker of Heaven and Earth
Maker of Heaven and Earth

Listen to this song at Roxylee's site

Roxylee's CC License

Friday, February 27, 2009

Romans Chapter 3
God's Righteousness Supplied

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Romans 3: 21-22a But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

After the thunderous litany of woe that described our true condition before God, and which Paul has expounded three times, in three different ways in the first three chapters, we come to the light at the end of the tunnel. He has removed for any person all vestiges of hope that there can be any way out of His just condemnation, other than by the free grace and mercy of God. The picture we have been seeing is one of darkness, depravity and despair – man as a race and all men as individuals inescapably under the just condemnation and wrath of a holy God.

Yet now, Whose righteousness has been manifested? It is God’s! This righteousness is not attainable through the law, for it is "apart" from the law in this sense. In other words our justification is not attained by anything that we ourselves do or try to do to keep God’s perfect law. One does, however, need to understand that it was through the keeping of the law by the man, Jesus Christ, that the righteousness of God apart from the law was imputed to we sinners who could not justify ourselves.

Adam’s single sin had him ejected from Eden. The discovery of unrighteousness in Lucifer had him cast out of heaven. One lone sin, one hint of corruption, one shadow of impurity in any being is enough to destroy that being from the presence of God eternally.
“Thou who art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on wrong…” says the prophet Habbakuk (Habakkuk 1:13)
In fact, the man, Jesus Christ, was also the Eternal Son of God, in Whom dwells all the fulness of the godhead bodily {Col 2:9} and upon Whom the Spirit rests without measure. {John 3:34} As such, He was not only the keeper of the law, but the originator of it - because the very law itself is the expression of His perfect divine nature. God effectively said, in giving the law, "You must be like me; exactly like me. You must be holy as I am holy and perfect as I am perfect."

No fallen flesh – no man, no corrupted being – can do this, as Paul has shown. The next verse states it plainly enough when we read, "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." We are reminded yet again of the fundamental truth that, "There is none righteous, no not one."

The righteousness that belongs to God - perfect holiness - came in the Person of Christ and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. He lived and died in perfect righteousness as a man, by perfectly following the spirit of all of God’s law, following exactly the plan of the Father from eternity for Him specifically {Ps 40:7-8; Luke4:16-18; John 5:19,30; Heb 10:5-9} – even unto death on a cross.

All that remains is for the means of the appropriation of these things to be given to a person so that he might receive them. This means is faith. God has given to every man (that is, every believer) a measure of faith. {Ro 12:3}

It is faith in Jesus Christ that is contemplated, rather than that abstraction of simply "faith" - a vague sense of belief in God. That sort of faith is a corruption of the word, just as all religions are, these days called "faiths." Christianity is not a "faith." Christianity is the exercise of faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind and the Eternal Son of God. Such faith is active and it trusts God implicitly as both Saviour and Lord. The term "Lord" means explicitly that He governs the life and that all of our so-called "rights" are given into His hands.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Romans 3:21-31
Chart - God's Righteousness Supplied

This is the final chart for the current Romans series.

Double click for a larger view or...

This chart can be viewed and downloaded in MSWord format here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Romans Chapter 3 - Universal Corruption
Man's Corrupt Heart
No fear of God before their eyes

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Romans 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

The litany of sins in Chapter 1, we may recall, started with a refusal to acknowledge or to thank God. (Romans 1:18-23). This is simply a repetition of that assertion in different words. Just as the refusals in Chapter 1 led ultimately to “utter lostness” in the “proliferation of every imaginable evil” – so we see that the refusal to fear (honour, respect, worship) God is at the base of man’s corrupt deeds, words and character. The fundamental flaw is man’s heart, and all else bubbles up like so much hot and smelly black pitch from this core.

End Note

Paul has said it many ways. Can there be any doubt that all of mankind is given to the imagination and the commission of every kind of evil, upon which the wrath of God rightly and justly abides. No one is exempt – not Jew, not Greek, not other Gentiles; not the poor, the rich, the smart, the dense; not the “good” the bad the “responsible” or the reckless. All men are corrupt to and at the core. Paul has preached it and proved it. Will we believe it? And will we, in turn preach it?

This brings us to the end of Paul’s treatise on man’s depravity. It is long, heavy and depressing – but it is necessary. We need to know the depth and the horror of sin – of our sin – or we shall never understand the glories of God’s grace. It has been pointed out that if we truly knew the blackness and the depravity of our own carnal hearts it would fill us with a terror so intense that it would be unbearable. If you are praying for revival, bear this in mind – that conviction of sin as powerful as that hinted at here usually accompanies any genuine move of God. It is then that you will begin to know holy fear, and through it catch a real glimpse of holy wisdom.

Praise the Lord that we are now coming to the good news. The bad news we now know, and the good news is about to be revealed. Perhaps we will see a little of John Newton’s relief as he penned this…

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Up and Down
If you tire of having to come so low remember it is because you have hoisted yourself so high.

Gleanings 16.604

Monday, February 23, 2009

Romans Chapter 3 - Universal Corruption
Man's Corrupt Deeds - Part 3
Not knowing the way of peace...

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Romans 3:15-17 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.

Humanity does know peace, after a fashion. After war there comes a “peace”. We speak of the world being “at peace” – even though there are scores of local wars going on all the time. But this “peace” is not what the passage is speaking of. It is not “peace" that people do not know, because God is gracious to grant glimpses of peace from time to time – respites between periods of ruin and devastation. It is the way of peace that they do not know.

Mankind does not know peace as a way of life that is actively and continually lived, but only as a thing to be experienced from time to time. It is external to them. Something to be gained or sought when “needed.” But it is the Prince of Peace they need in their hearts, for He is the Way. To know Christ and to abide in Him is to live the way of peace. The world knows nothing of this because they are in rebellion against the very source of peace Himself.

Christ gives peace in a way the world cannot…
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. {John 14:27}
The world’s peace is fleeting and temporary, but God’s peace is eternal and steadfast.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sermon of the Week
Faith ALONE - Dr. James White

This is Dr. White's presentation in the Sola Conference at Countryside Bible Church, February 7, 2009. There are some real nuggets in this presentation, one of which is Dr. White's clarification that the real issue with Rome's semi-Pelagianism is NOT the necessity of grace (Rome agrees on this) but has always been the sufficiency of grace - which was the fundamental assertion of the Reformers.

Dr. White of Alpha and Omega Ministries, shows his scholarly understanding of the issues and displays a wonderful sense of humor in this non-preaching format.

Dr. White's YouTube channel can be found here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Justification by Faith Alone - Sproul
R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries is a man of great sense and sound doctrine whose teachings have been very beneficial to me. Here, he spends a few minutes explaining justification by faith alone - a fundamental truth, the absence of which in anyone's gospel indicates heresy.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Romans Chapter 3 - Universal Corruption
Man's Corrupt Deeds - Part 2
Paths are ruin and misery

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Romans 3:15-16 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery..."

Do you hold your life here lightly? Or do you grasp it tightly? Is life in this world “not so bad” or is it a time of sorrow and mourning? Is heaven more appealing to you than this world? Are you living for the day when He will call you home? Is your treasure in heaven or where moth and rust corrupt?

If you think this life is something wonderful then you are in for a surprise when you get to heaven. This life is short and full of woe. Misery and suffering are all around, and are never far from touching any one of us. Societies rise and fall, powers come and go. Politicians and Hollywood stars shine for a season and tumble at the fickle whim of the populace.

Wherever man has reached upon the earth there is waste, crime, oppression and perversion. There is unpitied poverty, untended sickness, uncaring domination, unmerciful dealing. From Sodom to San Francisco, from Gath to Guelph, from Moab to Montreal ruin and misery follow man because man is their cause. It is like the quip, “Wherever you go, there you are.

We can’t escape what we are. If we populate the solar system or even the galaxy we will take with us the misery and ruin that our sin produces. The Star-Trek idea of a humanity that has finally dispensed with war and has learned to get along, exporting its high morality to the far reaches of space, is a farcical myth. It is just one more deception foisted off on our children and ourselves from the spawning ground of evolution theory ingrained into our culture.

Things aren’t getting better, they are getting worse and worse. Even the Church is falling apart at the seams piece by piece. Jesus asks the ironic question…
… when the Son of man comes, will he find (the) faith on earth? {Luke 18:8b}
And His Apostle, Paul asserts strongly to his pupil, Timothy that…
… evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. {2timothy 3:13}
… understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people. {2Timothy 3:1-5}
…just as they have always been, but more so on account of the gradual removal of the salt and light of the Spirit in the saints.

All of these things produce ruin and misery, just as Adam’s single sin of disobedience did in producing the world we see now. There is no hope to be found in man. None. There is no cause to be optimistic about man solving his problems. He can’t. Only God can undo the interminable snaggle of our sins.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Three Reasons to Believe in God

1) He is worthy

2) If you don't bow the knee you are going to hell because you are a sinner

3) Now you will be held to an even higher level of accountability because you have been told.

[Presuppositional Apologetic of unknown origin]

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Romans Chapter 3 - Universal Corruption
Man's Corrupt Deeds - Part 1
Feet - swift to shed blood

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Romans 3:15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood..."

I won’t repeat the scripture that calls murderers those who get angry with their brother without a cause. This is as good as shedding blood. But there is no shortage of evidence from history and from contemporary times of mankind’s bent for murder.

As I write this (2004), there is in the Sudan, an ethnic cleansing of “Christians” by the Muslim Arab government. Thousands are dying through village bombings and even more are being forced into starvation. A few years ago the Serbs and Croats, and then the Serbs and Kosovites went at it with unspeakable horrors being committed. Murder, genocide, rape and torture were rampant. Serbian leaders encouraged it. It was actual policy.

In the 1970’s there arose in Cambodia a man named Pol Pot who caused the killing of millions of non-conformers to his particular ideal of a communist state. Children were put in charge of deciding who should be summarily executed and who should live. Little babes who should have been in school or in the playground became a terror to the adult population, wielding guns and murdering a whole generation.

Seventy years or so ago, a man arose in Germany who led a whole nation into war and the genocide of the Jews, ending in 6 million of them being exterminated like insects. Dreadful and inhumane experiments were done on little Jewish children. Another 20-30 million people died in the war that finally stopped him and his followers.

Stalin is thought to have “eliminated” as many as 20 or 30 million people. Communist China and Burma (now Myanmar) have persecuted, imprisoned and executed countless people for nothing more than contrary opinions. Genocide in central Africa was all over the headlines throughout the 1980’s and 90’s.

In every large city in America and throughout the world thousands die every year from murders of all types – whether robbery related, so-called crimes of passion or even just the homicidal mania of psychopaths and sociopaths.

In our nice, civilized, comfortable homes, where we can be desensitized by watching “pretend” murders on live TV and on video, we are insulated from, and numbed to, the full horror of murder. We can watch the news and see the annual murder count for our city rise one at a time with a sort of hypnotic indifference, tinged with a bit of moral outrage to make us feel superior.

Do we think it is only that some are guilty and not others? Yes, some do the crime and they must do the time (or pay the ultimate price) – but are the rest of us better than they? The Bible says we are not. Whatever it is that kept you and me from being exactly like them is only the grace of God. Do you really believe this? Or do you still justify yourself by thinking you have made better choices?

Don’t you see that in a world where all choices are fashioned and presented by the sovereign hand of God, where all restraint upon human depravity is through the operation of His Spirit – that there is no cause for boasting in yourself? Almost forgotten today is the old saying, “There but for the grace of God go I!” The truth is that the veneer of our civility is brittle and thin. Thank God you have not done murder, but never think that you owe your restraint to yourself.

If you can accept this, then you can truly have compassion on a murderer and still know why he must suffer punishment. You can pray for his soul and condemn his deeds, because you know that you would be just as guilty as he is if God had not intervened.

Was mankind not swift to shed the blood of the Son of God? Was it just the Romans and the Jews who were there at the time that killed Him? Didn’t you want Him dead, too, when he was preached to you? Didn’t you want to shut Him up so that you could continue in sin? Not you, eh? Too good? Then aren’t you glad now, that He died? If He didn’t die there is no salvation for you or anyone, so aren’t you glad He died? And isn’t wanting someone dead the same as killing them?

It’s a dilemma. Who wants to admit that they want the Son of God killed? Yet this is what we must come to if we are to be saved by Him. If we do not lay our hands upon the head of the sacrifice for sin {Leviticus 4:29} then there is no atonement. We must accept the responsibility for our sin, including the death of Christ, before atonement is made, and His righteousness can be attributed to us. And the reason it can be attributed is that, in the moment we admit what we wanted and what we are, then He assures us that He laid down the very life we murdered. He gave it freely, thus making our murder of Him an atoning sacrifice through faith.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Liberalism and Postmodernity Kiss
What many men despise today as “doctrine” the New Testament calls the gospel.

J. Gresham Machen - “Education Christianity & The State”

Monday, February 16, 2009

Romans Chapter 3 - Universal Corruption
Man's Corrupt Words - Part 4
Mouth - full of curses and bitterness

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Romans 3:14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

Curses and bitterness are all directed against God. Sometimes openly so, and at other times more subtly. Mankind has turned into what the psychiatric profession calls “help rejecting complainers”. People who want to complain and so reject all offers to help them. They refuse to be corrected or comforted. Bitterness and complaint have become their purpose – they have grown comfortable with it – it is their “friend”.

But when men complain they exhibit a chafing against the will of God for them. It is God’s will that whatever is in their lives be there in the way it is at the time it is there. Are they sick? They complain, but do not understand that the sickness is there for a reason that the God of all creation has determined. Are they frustrated, passed over for a promotion, broke, family problems, friends unreliable, house falling apart, car on the fritz, kids acting up or the weather either too hot or too cold? God has purposed this for them but, instead of thanking Him and submitting – searching out or simply submitting to His reasons – they follow their bitter, resentful and depraved hearts into complaint, thus compounding their sin and misery.

They will not see that all things are there to bring them to repentance, whether God’s kindness when things “go well”, or God’s judgment warnings when things are a disaster. All things are drawing men towards God so that they will call out to Him either in thanks and praise, or in sorrow, repentance and supplication. But the fallen man will not come. All lost men are like the Jewish leaders that Jesus rebuked…
…you refuse to come to me that you may have life. {John 5:40}
This despite the various evidences we have seen that God has put into the lives of all men.

When they complain, all men either blame or reproach God. And everyone complains. To our great shame, even Christians complain – in unguarded moments we complain about the weather, the government, our jobs or our families – and if we don’t do it openly then we think it. We catch ourselves forming the thought and giving rein to it in our minds, instead of …“taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” {2Corinthians 10:5}

Try to imagine what God hears in the hearts of every fallen person on earth. A constant bitter droning complaint wafting up to Him, blaming Him, slandering Him from every quarter without ceasing, day or night. And this in the place where prayers of thanksgiving, praise and gratitude ought to be ascending like a sweet and pleasing odor. These good things are God’s due, His right and His desert, but mankind instead sends only ungrateful and bitter evil His way.

The wonder is not that God is wrathful with men, but that He delays to wipe every one of them from the face of the earth, and to consign them to the torments of hell without further ado; that he forbears their rebellious ingratitude and is patient and merciful and kind in the face of slanderous lies about Him; that He still calls upon all men everywhere to repent, and holds out the hope of salvation to them. It is a fathomless wonder that He saves any one at all, rather than simply pulling the plug on us all.

When a lady complained to C.H Spurgeon that she could not understand how God could hate Esau and love Jacob, Spurgeon replied that it was not God’s hating Esau that gave him a problem – it was trying to understand how God could love Jacob.

As we Christians consider these thoughts, let us not take the word "they" too much to heart. “They” are “we” apart from the free grace of God in Jesus Christ. In fact, though we have greater light than they, we ought to be considering how grace upon grace is needed in our case, as we falter and stumble constantly in the very same things that we are supposed to have turned from.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sermon of the Week
The Reproach of the Solemn Assembly

Many will remember David Wilkerson from his book "The Cross and the Switchblade", first published in 1962, but documenting events that took place in 1958. Well, I'm old enough to remember it, anyway.

Rev. Wilkerson is a non-denominational minister with Assemblies of God associations who has faithfully served his Savior for decades. Now, I'm not a Pentecostal and anyone who had read my devotional posts on 1Corinthians can have no doubt about that fact - but like Wilkerson I am a Christian. Because we share this common salvation, we also share a reverence for the holiness and sovereignty of God.

No doubt there are many things upon which we would disagree, especially related to his views on prophesy (including his own prophesies) but I realize that he is a man whose bootstraps I am unworthy to untie. He has walked the walk and not just talked the talk.

It is my lot in life, it seems, to admire Pentecostal believers while having serious reservations about their theology. In the weekly Bible study that I attend there are a number of Pentecostals, as well as Brethren and I find them to be people full of the grace of God, with humble hearts.

So I am not the least abashed as a Reformed Christian to feature a sermon by a man of a different persuasion on non-essential matters. In fact it was this very sermon that I found extremely encouraging at a time when it felt like the church I was attending had gone lock, stock and barrel over to every crazy Charismatic clown trick in the book, from gold dust to gold diggers.

Wilkerson and I found common ground in our mutual horror of word/faith/prosperity heresies and their shameless manifestation in God's church. Here, then, is David Wilkerson mourning for sins perpetrated in Jesus' name, and for the lack of discernment which allowed it.

The Reproach of the Solemn Assembly

David Wilkerson - Times Square Non-Denominational Church

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and here is his text...

Zephaniah 3:18 (AV) I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Big Silver Toothpaste Tube in the Sky

Today I am on my way to Vancouver to visit my daughter and grandkids. I'll be babysitting for a week while she is in "Lost Wages", Nevada at a Veterinary Convention. Yes, she's is a vet (and I don't mean that she did a tour in Afghanistan).

The plan is for me to be back, God willing, on the 25th of February, but I won't be back in the saddle until the following Monday. Meanwhile, I have prepared material that should self-post just as if I was actually still here. And my daughter has a computer, so I may even be able to respond to any comments while I am on the left coast.

Until my return, I wish you a fond farewell, just like the Von Trapp children in this video showing the actors both then, and as they now are.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Romans Chapter 3 - Universal Corruption
Man's Corrupt Words - Part 3
Lips - venom of asps is under them

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Romans 3: 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.

Venom kills. Words can kill. They can kill a person’s spirit, his enthusiasm, his hope. They can embitter. They can create resentment, hatred, anger. They an make people stumble worse than they already do. They can add to the drowning pool of human chaos and lostness – a drop at a time. Every time we open our mouths and spew forth poison it kills something.

All people do it. We all slay fellow human beings with cutting, biting depersonalizing remarks. What? Not you? Then do you think them? Recall Jesus’ words…
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. {Matthew 5: 22-23}
So important are words and so severe the judgment against the misuse of them that, if they (or anything else we do) cause one of His little ones to stumble it would be better for us to have a millstone around our necks and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. {Matthew 18:6}
"Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes!…” {Matthew 18:7}
When venom is spoken into God’s creation then it automatically tempts people to sin. It aggravates them. It adds to the general level of anger, resentment and the desire for vengeance. The unregenerate do this automatically, all the time and without a second thought. In a sense, they know no better. But we ought not so to be found.

Instead, when we encounter venom that would have exacerbated the sin in our once unregenerate hearts, as people in whom the Spirit of God now dwells we ought to take the sting out of the venom by receiving the bite and forgiving the biter. After all, the bite of the snake can no longer harm us anyway, if we are trusting in Christ. {John 3:14-15} We ought to do so by praying for those who despitefully use us; by regarding ourselves as having died with Christ and allowing His love to cover the hurt in us.

As far as the lost go, you can try to think of exceptions – people who are gracious, kindly, soft-spoken and temperate, even though they are unsaved. There are such people. No one denies it. Christ Himself, meeting Nathaniel said...
Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile! {John 1:47}
To find anyone like that was remarkable enough for the Lord to comment upon it. However, he was not without guile in the same sense as Jesus was, but only by comparison with other fallen men. Guile did not govern or motivate him, but Nathaniel was, nevertheless, a sinner by nature, like all men. His relative guilelessness, be it ever so much better than most of his fellow men, still fell infinitely short of the heavenly standard.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Almost 100 Years On And.....?
The growth of ignorance in the Church is the logical and inevitable result of the false notion that Christianity is a life and not also a doctrine; if Christianity is not a doctrine then of course teaching is not necessary to Christianity. But whatever the causes for the growth of ignorance in the Church, the evil must be remedied. It must be remedied primarily by the renewal of Christian education in the family, but also by the use of whatever other educational agencies the Church can find. Christian education is the chief business of the hour for every earnest Christian man. Christianity cannot subsist unless men know what Christianity is...

J. Gresham Machen - Christianity & Liberalism (1923)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Romans Chapter 3 - Universal Corruption
Man's Corrupt Words - Part 2
Tongues used to deceive

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Romans 3:13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.

Fallen men have all believed “the lie” and are all are enslaved to the Father of Lies. The only One upon whose tongue no deceit was found is Christ:
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. {1Peter 2: 21-22}
The word “guile” means “deceit”. Christ had no guile because He is the Truth. He is the very antithesis of what is being described here in verse 13. It is proof of corruption whenever a lie is manifested, because Christ cannot lie, and whatever therefore speaks the lie must be unholy and corrupt.

Unbelievers lie without blinking. They lie to themselves by believing they are alright, or that God is not angry with them. They lie to others to get advantage. When push comes to shove they will lie because, apart from God, there is no logical reason not to. When absolutes go out the window then all other moral or ethical systems are only relative.

It is true that men sometimes have codes of honor for which they would rather die than lie. This is a form of “goodness”. They will be judged by it. But it was not wrought in Christ and so is still sin.

Do Christians lie? Are there lies in your life? What does that mean for your intimacy with Christ, the Truth?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Decretum Horribilis" Horribly Defamed?

Dr. William Cunningham points out the utter unfairness of many of Calvin's Anglican critics in using his own words against him. Calvin had described double predestination and the attendant decree of reprobation by God as a "decretum horribilis". The Arminian Anglicans (as opposed to the orthodox ones) pounced on the use of "horribilis" and inferred that Calvin was appalled to think that God would decree some to be saved and some to be damned.

But Calvin's use of the word "
horribilis" was actually consistent with his meaning "awe-full" or "awe inspiring", as he did in using the phrase "Horribilis Dei majestas" for the awe and solemnity with which God's majesty is contemplated. John Bunyan the tinker/preacher, however, got it without the benefit of High Anglican training and defended it in his work "Reprobation Asserted". Here is Bunyan's view of the part of the decree that relates to election unto salvation in his own case.


For thus the elect considereth: Though we all came alike into the world and are the children of wrath by nature, yea, though we have alike so weakened ourselves by sin that the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint, being altogether gone out of the way, and every one become altogether unprofitable, both to God and ourselves, yet that God should open mine eyes, convert my soul, give me faith, forgive my sins, raise me, when I fall, fetch me again when I am gone astray – this is wonderful!

Yea, that he should prepare eternal mansions for me, and also keep me by his blessed and mighty power for that; and that in a way of believing, which without his assistance I am in no way able to perform – that he should do this notwithstanding my sins, though I had no righteousness, yea, that he should do it according to the riches of his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ our Lord, even according to an everlasting covenant of grace, which yet the greatest part of the world are void of, and will for ever miss and fall short of!

Besides, that he should mollify my heart, break it, and then delight in it, put his fear in it, and then look to me, and keep me as the apple of his eye; yea, resolve to guide me with his counsel, and then receive me to glory! Further, that all this should be the effect of unthought-of, undeserved, and undesired love – that the Lord should think on this before he made the world, and sufficiently ordain the means before he had laid the foundation of the hills, – for this he is worthy to be praised; yea, "Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord; praise ye the Lord."

In the same chapter, Bunyan completes the thought by putting double predestination in its proper spiritual and doctrinal context as follows...

Thus you see again that the non-elect perish by reason of sin, notwithstanding present mercy, because of eternal justice; and that the elect are preserved from the death (though they sin and are obnoxious to the strokes of present justice) by reason of eternal mercy. What shall we say, then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid; "He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and compassion on whom he will have compassion."

John Bunyan
Reprobation Asserted - Chapter 11

Monday, February 09, 2009

Romans Chapter 3 - Universal Corruption
Man's Corrupt Words - Part 1

Play in your default mp3 player


We often underestimate the importance of words. That is because we are so used to using them wickedly. We want our words to be regarded as trivial so that their consequences will be trivial for us. We say things we do not mean, we bite and devour each other without giving it a second thought, we slander and gossip and we call it “information” or “concern”.

But God regards words much differently. He Himself has invested His Word with so much power and preeminence, both written and Living. His Word endures forever. Similarly, what we speak is broadcast into God’s universe and it also spreads outwards, like ripples on a pond – having far-reaching and eternal consequences, of which we may not have any inkling until that Day when He Who knows all reveals all. The sins of the mouth are given great prominence in this final summation of man’s corruption. We should take note of that.

As Christians we ought to know better. No less than God Himself has advised us that…
…no human being can tame the tongue —a restless evil, full of deadly poison. {James 3:8}
No man can control it! Only God can. Will we submit our tongues to Him? Or will we be like this…

Their throat is an open grave

Romans 3: 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”

The very sounds we speak originate in our throats. God describes the ungodly throat as a grave – an open grave. Graves ought not to be open, but covered for the sake of the living. Graves contain corruption. They stink and are full of disease, rot and ugliness.

If this “grave” is the place where ungodly speech begins then nothing good can be found in it. Nothing living, vital and graceful. Have you listened to the conversations that unregenerate people have? Do you quietly observe the banter in the lunch room at work? Complaint, rebellion against authority, speaking evil of leaders, bitterness, filthy language, blasphemy, negativity, licentiousness…the woeful list is endless.

But people expect this of each other, and if you don’t participate you are regarded with suspicion or even anger. It is the norm. Nobody sees anything wrong with it. They want you to approve of it by partaking with them. And, if you are honest, you will see that you used to do the same. And it is only God’s grace that restrains you now, not your own self-control or willpower, but that self-control which is fruit of the Spirit of God Himself. Christ in you.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sermon of the Week
Griswold on Free Will

An often controversial subject within theological circles is the question of free will. Many great theologians have opined and differed upon this topic. I personally still believe that the definitive work was one of the earliest in the Reformation, namely, "The Bondage of the Will" by Martin Luther in response to Erasmus' critiques of his works. Luther admired the fact that at least Erasmus wasn't side tracked by the peripheral nonsense about Indulgences and Transubstantiation, or even Papal infallibility - but that he went right for the crux of the matter - the question of the operation of the human will in spiritual cases.

Whatever you personally think about the will, whether you feel, for example that you simply have to believe in free will because you have no choice (/smile) or whether you follow Edwards in believing that the will does as it pleases (though the fallen will only pleases to do fallen things) - whatever your state of understanding you should know that I most emphatically do not believe in that child of Satan known as the Libertarian Free Will (LFW). Not only is it patently obvious that our choices are limited by opportunity (which is God's Providence) and ability (which is God's creative sovereignty), but they are at all times governed by our dispositions. Are we disposed to evil or to good?

R.L. Dabney told his students that freedom was more properly predicated of persons than of their attributes. To the degree that a person is free, then his choices are free. But are we ever free in the fully libertarian sense? I think not. The lost are enslaved to evil by nature and the redeemed are bondservants of God. Only God is free - and even God's will (I speak reverently here) is bounded by His nature.

And, without further ado, I give you Ferrell Griswold, who went on to glory in 1982, preaching about free will. Enjoy...

The recording quality isn't great at first, but patient listening will be well rewarded.

The text: John 8:32-36 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Resonance In Chambers

The author who benefits you most is not the one who tells you something you did not know before, but the one who gives expression to the truth that has been dumbly struggling in you for utterance.

Oswald Chambers - My Utmost for His Highest, December 15th

Friday, February 06, 2009

Romans Chapter 3 - Universal Corruption
Man's Corrupt Character - Part 4
Unprofitable as a race and as individuals (v12)

Play in your default mp3 player

Romans 3: 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless (unprofitable); no one does good, not even one.”

The word “unprofitable” is used in the AV. It is translated from a Greek word meaning “made useless” or “rendered unserviceable”. It has nothing to do with making money.

God has a right as Sovereign Lord and Creator to expect men to fulfill the purpose for which He made them. When they don’t then they are useless, because they don’t do what they were made for. If you buy a computer and it doesn’t run programs then it has become worthless for the purpose you intended. As a computer it might make a good boat anchor, but that is all.

This is what has happened to all of mankind. As glorifiers of God and enjoyers of Him forever we make good boat anchors. The whole race. We don’t fulfil what we were made to do. We can’t. We refuse to. But because we have no right to refuse our Creator anything, especially One so loving, kind and gracious, then we rightly incur His wrath and judgment.

Are there any natural men anywhere that you know of who are fulfilling the purpose that God made them for? If you didn’t answer, “No!” then you need to go back and retake Depravity 101.