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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

10 Reasons to Pray the Scriptures

By: John Piper
Here are some of the reasons you should pray and meditate over biblical truth.
1. Biblical truth saves.
Take heed to yourself and to your doctrine; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)

2. Biblical truth frees from Satan.

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)

3. Biblical truth imparts grace and peace.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2)

4. Biblical truth sanctifies.

Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth. (John 17:17)

5. Biblical truth serves love.

It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment. (Philippians 1:9)

6. Biblical truth protects from error.

Attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God...so that we may no longer be...carried to and fro by every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:13-14)

7. Biblical truth is the hope of heaven.

Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

8. Biblical truth will be resisted by some.

The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings. (2 Timothy 4:3)

9. Biblical truth, rightly handled, is approved by God.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

10. Biblical truth: Continue to grow in it!

Grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book Giveaway

Go check out this great giveaway offer! Here is the blurb from the website.

"All of these books could be yours! Today, it is my pleasure to announce the first ever Kingdom People Christmas Giveaway.

For the next ten days (Dec. 15-25), you have the opportunity to register to win all ten of my favorite books this year. Plus, an ESV Study Bible. That’s $260 worth of books!"

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Mystery of Iniquity by R.C. Sproul

It has been called the Achilles’ heel of the Christian faith. Of course, I’m referring to the classical problem of the existence of evil. Philosophers such as John Stuart Mill have argued that the existence of evil demonstrates that God is either not omnipotent or not good and loving — the reasoning being that if evil exists apart from the sovereign power of God, then by resistless logic, God cannot be deemed omnipotent. On the other hand, if God does have the power to prevent evil but fails to do it, then this would reflect upon His character, indicating that He is neither good nor loving. Because of the persistence of this problem, the church has seen countless attempts at what is called theodicy. The term theodicy involves the combining of two Greek words: the word for God, theos, and the word for justification, dikaios. Hence, a theodicy is an attempt to justify God for the existence of evil (as seen, for instance, in John Milton’s Paradise Lost). Such theodicies have covered the gauntlet between a simple explanation that evil comes as a direct result of human free will or to more complex philosophical attempts such as that offered by the philosopher Leibniz. In his theodicy, which was satired by Voltaire’s Candide, Leibniz distinguished among three types of evil: natural evil, metaphysical evil, and moral evil. In this three-fold schema, Leibniz argued that moral evil is an inevitable and necessary consequence of finitude, which is a metaphysical lack of complete being. Because every creature falls short of infinite being, that shortfall must necessarily yield defects such as we see in moral evil. The problem with this theodicy is that it fails to take into account the biblical ideal of evil. If evil is a metaphysical necessity for creatures, then obviously Adam and Eve had to have been evil before the fall and would have to continue to be evil even after glorification in heaven.

To this date, I have yet to find a satisfying explanation for what theologians call the mystery of iniquity. Please don’t send me letters giving your explanations, usually focusing on some dimension of human free will. I’m afraid that many people fail to feel the serious weight of this burden of explanation. The simple presence of free will is not enough to explain the origin of evil, in as much as we still must ask how a good being would be inclined freely to choose evil. The inclination for the will to act in an immoral manner is already a signal of sin.

One of the most important approaches to the problem of evil is that set forth originally by Augustine and then later by Aquinas, in which they argued that evil has no independent being. Evil cannot be defined as a thing or as a substance or as some kind of being. Rather, evil is always defined as an action, an action that fails to meet a standard of goodness. In this regard, evil has been defined in terms of its being either a negation (negatio) of the good, or a privation (privatio) of the good. In both cases, the very definition of evil depends upon a prior understanding of the good. In this regard, as Augustine argued, evil is parasitic — that is, it depends upon the good for its very definition. We think of sin as something that is unrighteous, involving disobedience, immorality, and the like. All of these definitions depend upon the positive substance of the good for their very definition. Augustine argues that though Christians face the difficulty of explaining the presence of evil in the universe, the pagan has a problem that is twice as difficult. Before one can even have a problem of evil, one must first have an antecedent existence of the good. Those who complain about the problem of evil now also have the problem of defining the existence of the good. Without God there is no ultimate standard for the good.

In contemporary days, this problem has been resolved by simply denying both evil and good. Such a problem, however, faces enormous difficulties, particularly when one suffers at the hands of someone who inflicts evil upon them. It is easy for us to deny the existence of evil until we ourselves are victims of someone’s wicked action.

However, though we end our quest to answer the origin of evil, one thing is certain: since God is both omnipotent and good, we must conclude that in His omnipotence and goodness there must be a place for the existence of evil. We know that God Himself never does that which is evil. Nevertheless, He also ordains whatsoever comes to pass. Though He does not do evil and does not create evil, He does ordain that evil exists. If it does exist, and if God is sovereign, then obviously He must have been able to prevent its existence. If He allowed evil to enter into this universe, it could only be by His sovereign decision. Since His sovereign decisions always follow the perfection of His being, we must conclude that His decision to allow evil to exist is a good decision.

Again, we must be careful here. We must never say that evil is good, or that good is evil. But that is not the same thing as saying, “It is good that there is evil.” Again, I repeat, it is good that there is evil, else evil could not exist. Even this theodicy does not explain the “how” of the entrance of evil into the world. It only reflects upon the “why” of the reality of evil. One thing we know for sure is that evil does exist. It exists, if nowhere else, in us and in our behavior. We know that the force of evil is extraordinary and brings great pain and suffering into the world. We also know that God is sovereign over it and in His sovereignty will not allow evil to have the last word. Evil always and ever serves the ultimate best interest of God Himself. It is God in His goodness and in His sovereignty who has ordained the final conquest over evil and its riddance from His universe. In this redemption we find our rest and our joy — and until that time, we live in a fallen world.

From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine.Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org.Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Love Worth Sharing


“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Romans 13:11


Do you know what Napoleon said about China? “There lies a sleeping giant, and let him sleep, because if he awakens, he will shake the world.” I believe the devil says that about the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I believe the church is just that, a sleeping giant. We’re asleep because we have been chloroformed by the spirit of this age. We’re bombarded on every side by all kinds of amusement. Do you know what amuse means? It’s a combination of two words. Muse means to think, and the alpha prefix in front of it means not to. We are a generation that is amusing ourselves into oblivion. And it’s time to wake up!


Are you taking the Christian life seriously? If this were your last day on earth, how would you spend it? In amusement? Or in evangelism?

Love Worth Finding Ministries Devotions

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I've just started a new bible study based on the text of the ESV Study Bible. Please take time to check it out and participate in the open discussions.

You can find the study at http://esvstudybible.blogspot.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=29771613373

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lessons to Learn from Job's Friends

1) True theological statements can be false.

If you take many of the statements of Job's friends separately, they sound like good theology. But their application is shallow and insensitive.
Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools. (Proverbs 26:9)

We put a high premium on good theology. But let us be warned: it can be made false by the way it is applied, and can even be destructive in the mouth of fools.

Drink deep at the fountain of God's truth. And let love stand as a watchman at the gate of your mouth.

2) Suffering and prosperity are not distributed in proportion to the evil or good that a person does.

Job is right: the wicked are spared in the day of calamity (21:30). But the just and blameless man is a laughing stock (12:4).

Therefore let us not judge one another too quickly, or at all. Those who suffer most may be the best. And those who prosper most may be the worst among us.

3) Nevertheless God still reigns over all the affairs of men, from the greatest to the smallest.

It is amazing that the most common means used by people today to solve the mystery of suffering never occurred to Job or to his three friends—namely, the limitation of God's sovereign control over all things.
Today we limit God at the drop of a hat: He couldn't have willed that sickness, or that explosion, or the death of that child! So he must not be in control. He is a limited God.

But Job and his friends have this great common ground: God reigns. No solution to the problem of suffering that questions this will ever satisfy the heart of a saint.

4) There is wisdom behind the apparent arbitrariness of the world, but it is hidden from man.

Where shall wisdom be found?And where is the place of understanding?Man does not know the way to it,and it is not found in the land of the living . . .God understands the way to it,and he knows its place. (28:12—13, 23)

We see through a glass darkly, even from our New Testament perspective (1 Corinthians 13:12). But faith always affirms that no matter how chaotic and absurd things may seem to our limited view they are in fact the tactics of infinite wisdom.
Desiring God Blog (Author: Abraham Piper)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tim Challies "ESV Study Bible" Review

For Tim Challies complete review click the title of this post.
I suspect that many of the people reading this review will already be owners of at least one study Bible. I feel it is important to affirm that there is nothing innately wrong with the Reformation Study Bible, The New Geneva Study Bible, the MacArthur Study Bible and many of the other similar products. If you are currently using one of these Bibles and are happy with it, there may be fewer compelling reason to rush out and purchase the ESV Study Bible. I have used the Reformation Study Bible and its predecessor for many years with great benefit. I have no doubt that I will continue to refer to it.

With that said, I think the ESV Study Bible is an incredible resource. A long list of endorsers have expressed their excitement for its theological faithfulness, its accessibility, its insight, its scholarship, its practicality and its sheer excellence. I would simply append my name to this list. I agree wholeheartedly with C.J. Mahaney who writes, “I can’t imagine a greater gift to the body of Christ than the ESV Study Bible. It is a potent combination indeed: the reliability and readability of the ESV translation, supplemented by the best of modern and faithful scholarship, packaged in an accessible and attractive format. A Christian could make no wiser investment for himself, a pastor could recommend no better resource for his congregation.” This is a powerful resource and one that can aid any reader of Scripture. It is one I recommend wholeheartedly.

Early in this review I wrote, “Today, if you drop by my home in the early morning, you are likely to see me reading from the Literary Study Bible.” I think it’s safe to say that, if you drop by my home early tomorrow morning, you are likely to see me reading from the ESV Study Bible.

Friday, October 10, 2008

books, Books, BOOKS!

My wife and I buy alot, (ALOT!), of books. I buy mostly theological books and have an almost obsession with WW2 and history in general, whereas my wife has a definite obsession with childrens books, (we have four boys all of whom are 8 and under). So for a family getaway we went to Calgary, AB, to trade off some of our less used or read books. We took with us about 7 big boxes of books(about 500 books) and traded most of them in for a few dozen books we've wanted or don't own already. My point is, we love books.

The reason I read so many books is because of my desire to know more and more about the Lord. I realize that all we can know (aside from creation) about God is found in the bible, but I love to read well written exposition about God, His grace and His wonderful revelation about Jesus Christ. I thank God for weak men that He has used in powerful ways to get good books into my hands and into my head.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Buy Books, From Good Sources

Please consider my words carfully. I have bought alot of books. some from Blessings Christian Marketplace, some from Amazon, but most from Christianbook. All of which are obviously out only for the almighty dollar. Just a quick look at the items they stock, promote and recommend show no concern for doctorine nor for the souls of the lost.

I challenge everyone to think long and hard on whom you support. I make this plea, buy your books from a biblically sound source, http://www.monergismbooks.com/.

You can keep supporting those who have no regard for truth or those who stand on it, the choice is yours. Please don't misunderstand me, if you need a book and there is no other option then get it, but you have an option, please choose the right one.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Book Review - “A Tale of Two Sons” by John MacArthur

Click title above for a link to GTY video interview with John MacAthur.

Review by: Tim Challies (click for link)

The story of the Prodigal Son is undoubtedly among the best-known and most highly-favored tales of all time. Even those who do not know the story itself are familiar with its outline or some of the words and phrases that arose from its King James translation. A powerful and heart-rending story, it is unforgettable to all who hear it. John MacArthur, with no hyperbole, says it is “hands down, the greatest five minutes of storytelling ever.” His most recent book, A Tale of Two Sons, is an examination of this, Jesus’ most memorable and most powerful parable.

Though most people know something of this parable, very few really understand it. We see this even in the name assigned to it—the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The story, after all, was not meant to be primarily a feel-good tale of a father’s love for his son, though certainly it is that, too. Rather, “it is a powerful wake-up call with a very earnest warning.” The purpose of the parable, as Jesus delivered it, centered on the elder brother—the very character who is so often overlooked in popular re-tellings of the tale.

In the book’s opening chapter MacArthur makes clear the central and culminating lesson of the parable: “Jesus is pointing out the stark contrast between God’s own delight in the redemption of sinners and the Pharisees’ inflexible hostility toward those same sinners.” Though the younger son is important to the story, his redemption is not the main point. Rather, this parable is to serve as “a mirror for every human heart and conscience” that will reflect either God’s love for fallen sinners or a human hardness and arrogance that would deny that such hardened sinners could ever know His love.

A Tale of Two Sons is classic John MacArthur. If you have read his other books, you’ll know what to expect here. It is consistent, methodical exposition of the passage and one that never misses an opportunity to provoke application. It looks to the past to provide historical context and setting that explain many of the story’s elements that would otherwise be obscure to people reading 2,000 years later. The book looks first at the parable in its context and then at the story through a wide lens. It then turns to the younger brother, to the father, and finally to the elder brother.

It concludes with an Epilogue that describes the shocking real-life ending to this parable—the very conclusion that is so often overlooked in modern adaptations and explanations of the story. Though the story itself has an open ending and Jesus never told whether or not the elder brother repented and discovered the joy of his father, the wider biblical context makes the ending clear. The elder brother, represented by the Pharisees, was hardened in his sin and turned on his father (who represents Christ). The son, in his unrepentant hardness, put the father to death. It is a tragic and sobering ending.

This book is a fine examination of the tale and an powerful explanation of its importance to each of us today. It is suitable for any reader—believer or skeptic, laity or clergy. Read it and you will be blessed!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Does God answer the prayers of unbelievers?

God is sovereign and can choose to answer any prayer He sees fit. But Scripture clearly indicates that God does not listen to or answer every prayer. In fact, Scripture gives at least fifteen reasons for unanswered prayer. God does not answer the prayer of those:

1. Who have personal and selfish motives.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:3).

2. Who regard iniquity in their hearts.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear (Psalm 66:18).

3. Who remain in sin.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).
Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).

4. Who offer unworthy service to God.
“You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the LORD is to be despised.’ But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts. “But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts.

5. Who forsake God.
Thus says the Lord to this people: “Thus they have loved to wander; They have not restrained their feet. Therefore the Lord does not accept them; He will remember their iniquity now, And punish their sins.” Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence (Jeremiah 14:10-12).

6. Who reject God’s call.
Because I [Wisdom] have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke…. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me (Proverbs 1:24-25, 28).

7. Who will not heed God’s law.
One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination (Proverbs 28:9).

“But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,” says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 7:11-13).

8. Who turn a deaf ear to the cry of the poor.
Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, Will also cry himself and not be heard. (Proverbs 21:13).

9. Who are violent.
When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:15; see also 59:2-3).

10. Who worship idols.
Therefore thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them. Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble.” (Jeremiah 11:11-14; see also Ezekiel 8:15-18).

11. Who have no faith.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7).

12. Who are living in hypocrisy.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1).

13. Who are proud of heart.
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

14. Who are self-righteous.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18:11-14).

15. Who mistreat God’s people.
You have also given me the necks of my enemies, So that I destroyed those who hated me. They cried out, but there was none to save; Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them (Psalm 18:40-41).

You who hate good and love evil; Who strip the skin from My people, And the flesh from their bones; Who also eat the flesh of My people, Flay their skin from them, Break their bones, And chop them in pieces, Like meat for the pot, Like flesh in the caldron. Then they will cry to the Lord, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, Because they have been evil in their deeds (Micah 3:2-4).

So, does God answer the prayers of unbelievers? A strict yes or no answer is difficult without qualifying the answer in various ways. However, it is noteworthy that the above mentioned principles represent some of the key characteristics of an unbeliever. Thus we can safely say that, in general, God does not answer the prayers of an unbeliever.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Charles Spurgeon on Lordship

Pulpit Magazine
October 13th, 2006

The following are excerpts from four of Spurgeon’s sermons. They outline the lordship salvation position in a way that only Spurgeon can.
Excerpt 1: To repent does mean a change of mind; but then it is a thorough change of the understanding and all that is in the mind, so that it includes an illumination, an illumination of the Holy Spirit; and I think it includes a discovery of iniquity and a hatred of it, without which there can hardly be a genuine repentance. We must not, I think, undervalue repentance. It is a blessed grace of God the Holy Spirit, and it is absolutely necessary unto salvation. …

The repentance which is here commanded is the result of faith; it is born at the same time with faith—they are twins, and to say which is the elder-born passes my knowledge. It is a great mystery; faith is before repentance in some of its acts, and repentance before faith in another view of it; the fact being that they come into the soul together. Now, a repentance which makes me weep and abhor my past life because of the love of Christ which has pardoned it, is the right repentance. When I can say, “My sin is washed away by Jesus’ blood,” and then repent because I so sinned as to make it necessary that Christ should die—that dove-eyed repentance which looks at his bleeding wounds, and feels that her heart must bleed because she wounded Christ—that broken heart that breaks because Christ was nailed to the cross for it—that is the repentance which bringeth us salvation. …

Faith means trust in Christ. Now, I must again remark that some have preached this trust in Christ so well and so fully, that I can admire their faithfulness and bless God for them; yet there is a difficulty and a danger; it may be that in preaching simple trust in Christ as being the way of salvation, that they omit to remind the sinner that no faith can be genuine but such as is perfectly consistent with repentance for past sin; for my text seems to me to put it thus: no repentance is true but that which consorts with faith; no faith is true but that which is linked with a hearty and sincere repentance on account of past sin. So then, dear friends, those people who have a faith which allows them to think lightly of past sin, have the faith of devils, and not the faith of God’s elect. (“Faith and Repentance Inseparable,” Sermon #460)


Excerpt 2: Every true Christian pronounces this phrase, “Jesus our Lord,” with the emphasis of unreservedness. We desire that Christ Jesus should be our Lord in everything, and Lord over every part of our being. Each one of us has said to him, “My Lord, do just what thou wilt with me. If I can the better glorify thee by patient endurance or by active service, only give me the needful grace, and I will not fail to own thee as my Lord.” Have you not, beloved, given up to the Lord Jesus everything that you have! Have you not felt that you love him better than husband, or wife, or child! Do you not feel that your spirit, soul, and body, all belong to him, and that you desire to consecrate to him all your goods, all your hours, and all your powers? Are you keeping back from him any of your substance; do you reckon that aught that you have is your own? If so, you are not true to Jesus your Lord, for he who truly loves Jesus, and who knows that he is one of those who are redeemed by him, says with all his heart that Jesus is his Lord, his absolute Sovereign, his Despot, if that word be used in the sense of Christ having unlimited monarchy and supreme sway over the soul. Yea, O “Jesus our Lord,” thou shalt be the autocratic, imperial Master of our heart, and of the whole dominion of our manhood! (“Jesus Our Lord!” Sermon #2806)

Excerpt 3: It is a faith which produces works which saves us; the works do not save us; but a faith which does not produce works is a faith that will only deceive, and cannot lead us into heaven. …

There never was in this world such a thing as an impenitent believer in Jesus Christ, and there never can be. Faith and repentance are born in a spiritual life together, and they grow up together. The moment a man believes he repents, and while he believes he both believes and repents, and until he shall have done with faith he will not have done with repenting. If thou hast believed, but hast never repented of thy sins, then beware of thy believing. If thou pretendest now to be a child of God, and if thou hast never clothed thyself in dust and ashes; if thou hast never hated the sins which once thou didst love: if thou dost not now hate them, and endeavour to be rid of them, if thou dost not humble thyself before God on account of them, as the Lord liveth, thou knowest nothing about saving faith, for faith puts a distance between us and sin; in a moment it leads us away from the distance between us and Christ; nearer to Christ, we are now far off from sin. But he that loves his sin, thinks little of his sin, goes into it with levity, talks of it sportively, speaks of sin as though it were a trifle, hath the faith of devils, but the faith of God’s elect he never knew. True faith purges the soul, since the man now hunts after sin that he might find out the traitor that lurks within his nature; and though a believer is not perfect, yet the drift of faith is to make him perfect; and if it is faith to be perfected, the believer shall be perfected, and then shall he be caught up to dwell before the throne. Judge yourselves, my hearers. Have you brought forth the fruits of repentance? If not, your faith without them is dead. (“Fruitless Faith,” Sermon #3434)

Excerpt 4: Are you born again? Have you passed from death unto life? Are you “a new creature in Christ Jesus?” Is all your trust put in the Lord Jesus Christ? Has his life become your model, and does his Spirit dwell in your mortal body? If so, peace be unto you; this promise is yours. You may have been the worst of men; but if you have faith in Christ those sins are all forgiven, and you may take this promise to be yours for ever. But if you are self-righteous, self-sufficient, ungodly, careless, worldly, there is no such promise for you; you are in the snare, you shall be there, and you shall perish, unless you repent; for it is written, “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” May God save you from perishing, by giving you an interest in the blood of Christ; and to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. (“The Snare of the Fowler,” Sermon #124)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Bible and Archaeology

(By Nathan Busenitz)

The following comes from Nathan’s new book, Reasons We Believe: 50 Lines of Evidence that Confirm the Christian Faith (Crossway). Today’s article is adapted from part of reason no. 13, regarding archaeological evidence for the Bible’s trustworthiness.

Recent interviews with leading archaeologists in Israel have again confirmed the historical and geographical trustworthiness of the Bible.[1] “Serious scholars, even if they’re not believers, even if they do not think this is a sacred text, still consider it to be history, because things match up so well,” says archaeologist Steven Ortiz who has been working in Israel for over 20 years. He continues, “[T]here isn’t anything to contradict or anything to make me wary of the testimony of Scripture.”[2] Speaking specifically of the Old Testament, Denis Baly notes that “the historical material in the [Old] Testament must be taken with great seriousness. It is primary evidence for the history of the time, and no honest historian or archaeologist should treat it as anything else.”[3] Echoing this sentiment, Aren Maeier of Bar Ilan University acknowledges the fact that “You can’t do archaeology in Israel without the Bible.”[4]

Their consensus on the importance of the biblical text to Israeli archaeology echoes the words of Yale archeologist Millar Burrows, who wrote over a half-century ago, “On the whole, archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the scriptural record. More than one archaeologist has found his respect for the Bible increased by experience of excavation of Palestine.”[5] More recently, after an extensive study of Old Testament data, renown archaeologist and Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen (of the University of Liverpool) has written:

What can be said of historical reliability? Here our answer—on the evidence available—is more positive. The periods most in the glare of contemporary documents—the divided monarchy and the exile and return—show a very high level of direct correlation (where adequate data exist) and of reliability. . . .

In terms of general reliability . . . the Old Testament comes out remarkably well.[6]

The testimony of archeology continually confirms the trustworthiness of the Bible. As Norman Geisler, Dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary, correctly points out, “While many have doubted the accuracy of the Bible, time and continued research have consistently demonstrated that the Word of God is better informed than its critics.”[7] Henry Morris presses the point even further, asserting that there is “not one unquestionable find of archaeology that proves the Bible to be in error at any point.”[8] On the other hand, notes Josh McDowell, “numerous discoveries have confirmed the historical accuracy of the biblical documents, even down to the occasional use of obsolete names of foreign kings.”[9]

Those are statements no other religious book can make. Yet they correspond directly to the Bible’s own claim to be true.

* * * * *
[1] “The Archaeologists I”, video presentation, SourceFlix Productions (uploaded August 10, 2007) http://www.sourceflix.com/vid_arch_1.htm (accessed September 2, 2007). This clip highlights the testimony of a number of leading archaeologists who are currently working in Israel and who affirm the importance of the Bible to their work. It is part of a larger documentary to be released in 2008.
[2] Steven Ortiz, transcribed from “The Archaeologists I,” video presentation.
[3] Denis Baly, God and History in the Old Testament (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), 19.
[4] Aren Maier, transcribed from “The Archaeologists I,” video presentation.
[5] Millar Burrows, What Mean These Stones? (New Haven, CT: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1941), 1.
[6] Kenneth A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 499–500.
[7] Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 52. Cf. Thomas Lea’s commentary on 1, 2 Timothy, Titus NAC (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1992), 239, where he notes that “any errors in the field of history would undermine the confidence of the reader in the theological trustworthiness of Scripture.”
[8] Henry Morris, The Bible and Modern Science (Chicago: Moody, 1956), 95.
[9] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, 89. Along these lines, Jens Bruun Kofoed in Text and History (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005), 4–5 responds to skeptics of the Old Testament by arguing that it is much more historically reliable than many scholars claim, and that “it must be included in rather than excluded from the pool of reliable data for a reconstruction of the origin and history of ancient Israel.”

Monday, July 21, 2008

** "Who do you think that I am?" **

Just click the title link, and read what the bible says about Jesus Christ.

Friday, July 18, 2008

What about Those Other Gospels?

(By Nathan Busenitz)

It sometimes surprises, or even frightens, contemporary Christians to learn that there are other “gospels” outside of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But they need not be afraid. “The apocryphal gospels, even the earliest and soberest among them, can hardly be compared with the canonical gospels. The former are all patently secondary and legendary and obviously slanted.”[1] Of these extra-biblical traditions about Jesus, “only a tiny proportion have even a slight claim to being genuine. The vast majority of the material is quite worthless as a historical source for knowledge of Jesus, and their real value lies more in highlighting the quality of information preserved in the canonical gospels themselves.”[2]

It is possible, of course, that we might find some factual accounts about Jesus outside of the biblical gospels. The gospels do not claim to be exhaustive biographies of the life of Jesus. In fact, John closes his gospel by stating: “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). What the gospels do claim, however, is that the information they provide is both accurate and sufficient, so that when you read them “you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:4).

It is also important to recognize that the New Testament continually warns against the reality of false teachers—those who would distort the truth for their own gain. In their letters, the apostles warned their readers about the danger of certain heresies, including lies that might affect their understanding of Jesus and His redemptive work (e.g. 1 Cor. 15:13–14 Gal. 1:6–10; Col. 2:4; 1 Tim. 4:7; 1 John 4:1–3; 2 Peter 1:16; Jude 3–4).

Among these heresies, gnosticism was a growing concern. “The name gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis, meaning ‘knowledge,’ and stresses the character of this heresy. Gnosticism was a philosophical system built upon Greek philosophy that stressed matter was evil but spirit was good.”[3] The gnostics believed that matter was evil, which caused them to reinterpret and distort the incarnation of Christ. If matter is evil but Christ is good, the gnostics reasoned, then He could not have possessed a physical body. To solve this problem the gnostics invented two possible explanations: “one view was that because matter was evil, Jesus could not have actually come in human form; He only appeared in human form and only appeared to suffer. The other view suggested that the divine Logos came upon the human Jesus [at His baptism] and departed prior to the crucifixion.”[4]

In either case, the gnostic view of Jesus was completely incompatible with that taught by the apostles (cf. Titus 3:9; 1 Tim. 4:3). In the words of the apostle John, “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” (1 John 4:2–3). Paul likewise warned Timothy to “avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ [gnosis]” (1 Tim. 6:20).

The gnostic gospels, along with other grossly imaginative accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, were rightly rejected by the early Christians.

The emergence of documents with strange fairy-tale-like stories about Jesus and skewed theological ideas in works such as the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and indeed the Gospel of Truth (which in fact is not a gospel in the sense of Gospel genre but more of a theological treatise) bear witness to the necessity in the church for authoritative Gospels to combat the growth of deviant views and fanciful legends concerning Jesus. To peruse these noncanonical documents and reflect on the stories about Jesus preserved in them and other early documents gives the reader the immediate sense of the genuine reserve and feeling of authenticity that is present in the canonical presentations concerning Jesus.[5]

Following the warning of the apostles, the early church rejected these gospels. They were either so fanciful or so theologically skewed (by gnosticism or the like) that their historical authenticity was clearly lacking. In some cases, such as the Gospel of Thomas, they are little more than a collection of sayings, and therefore not really “gospels” at all.

By contrast, the four New Testament Gospels all contain orderly accounts of the birth, life, deeds, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They also point to the glorious “good news” of redemption in Jesus Christ, and are therefore “gospels” in the truest sense of the word.[6]

The New Testament gospels are clearly superior—both in terms of being straightforward accounts of Jesus’ life, and also by being theologically consistent with what the apostles taught in the rest of the New Testament. This again affirms the trustworthiness of the NT gospels, and helps explain why the early Christians, from the earliest points of church history, were able to distinguish between the true gospels and the counterfeits.

* * * * *

[1] Edwin Yamauchi, cited in Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 311.

[2] J. W. Drane, Introducing the New Testament (Oxford: Lion Publishing, 2000), 227.

[3] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago: Moody, 1997), 415.

[4] Ibid., 416.

[5] G. L. Borchert, John 1-11 NAC (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001), 33.

[6] Ron Rhodes, “Crash Goes the Da Vinci Code,”

Monday, July 14, 2008

What are the Pillars of your Faith?

We have no right to pronounce a sentence of eternal doom against anyone (John 5:22). But by the same token, we have no business receiving just anyone into the communion and fellowship of the church. We should no more forge spiritual bonds with people whose religion is fundamentally in error than we would seek fellowship with those guilty of heinous sin. To do so is tantamount to the arrogance shown by the Corinthians, who refused to dismiss from their fellowship a man living in the grossest kind of sin (1 Corinthians 5:1-3).

We must also remember that serious error can be extremely subtle. False teachers don't wear a sign proclaiming who they are. They disguise themselves as apostles of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13). "And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness" (vv. 14-15).

In view of the current hunger for ecumenical compromise, nothing is more desperately needed in the church right now than a new movement to reemphasize the fundamental articles of the faith.

Adapted from John F. MacArthur, Reckless Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1997), pp. 108-17.

Life Saving Station or Country Club?

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks
often happened was a makeshift lifesaving
station. Its devoted workers went out day or
night, searching for the lost and saving many
lives. Soon the little station developed quite a
reputation for its unselfish work. Many people
joined the station, giving of their time, money,
and effort for the support of its work. They
bought new boats and trained new crews. The
little lifesaving station grew.

Then, some of the new members of the station
grew unhappy because the building was
crude and poorly equipped. So they enlarged
the building, replaced the emergency cots with
comfortable beds, and put in nice furniture.
Soon the station became a popular gathering
place for its members. Most of them lost interest
in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so
they hired a professional crew to do this work.
One day a large ship was wrecked off the
coast. The hired lifesaving crew brought in
boatloads of people. They were wounded,
dirty, and sick. The beautiful new building
was soiled and damaged. So the property
committee had a shower house built outside
the club where shipwreck victims could be
cleaned up before coming inside. At the next
meeting, club members got into a big dispute.
Most wanted to stop the lifesaving work because
it interfered with their regular activities.
But some members insisted that lifesaving was
still their primary purpose. However, they
were voted down. The majority told them
if they wanted to save lives, they could start
their own station down the coast. They did.

As the years passed, this new station also
developed into a club, and a third lifesaving
station was founded. If you visit that area today,
you will find a number of exclusive clubs
along the coast. Shipwrecks still happen, but
most of the people drown in the stormy waters
just off the shore.

by Frank G. Voight.
From the site of www.heartcrymissionary.com

Friday, July 11, 2008

Right Now Counts Forever

Twilight of the Idols by R.C. Sproul

The nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is famous for his declaration that “God is dead.” That brief dictum does not give the whole story. According to Nietzsche, the cause of the Deity’s demise was compassion. He said, “God is dead; He died of pity.” But before the God who was the God of Judeo-Christianity perished, Nietzsche said that there were a multitude of deities who existed, such as those who resided on Mount Olympus. That is, at one time there was a plurality of gods. All of the rest of the gods perished when one day the Jewish God, Yahweh, stood up in their assembly and said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Hearing this, according to Nietzsche’s satirical summary, all of the rest of the gods and goddesses died. They died of laughter.

In our day, where pluralism reigns in the culture, there is as much satirical hostility to the idea of one God as there was in Nietzsche’s satire. But today, that repugnance to monotheism is not a laughing matter. In the culture of pluralism, the chief virtue is toleration, which is the notion that all religious views are to be tolerated, all political views are to be tolerated. The only thing that cannot be tolerated is a claim to exclusivity. There is a built-in, inherent antipathy towards all claims of exclusivity. To say that there is one God is repulsive to the pluralists. To say that one God has not revealed Himself by a plurality of avatars in history is also repugnant. A single God with an only begotten Son is a deity who adds insult to injury by claiming an exclusive Son. There cannot be only one Mediator between man and God. There must be many according to pluralists today. It is equally a truism among pluralists that if there is one way to God, there must be many ways to God, and certainly it cannot be accepted that there is only one way. The exclusive claims of Christianity in terms of God, in terms of Christ, in terms of salvation, cannot live in peaceful coexistence with pluralists.

Beyond the question of the existence of God and of His Son, and of a singular way of salvation, there is also a rejection of any claim to having or possessing an exclusive source of divine revelation. At the time of the Reformation, the so-called solas of the Reformation were asserted. It was said that justification is by faith alone (sola fide), that it is through Christ alone (solus Christus), that it is through grace alone (sola gratia), and that it is for God’s glory alone (soli Deo gloria). But perhaps most repugnant to the modern pluralist is the exclusive claim of sola Scriptura. The idea of sola Scriptura is that there is only one written source of divine revelation, which can never be placed on a parallel status with confessional statements, creeds, or the traditions of the church. Scripture alone has the authority to bind the conscience precisely because only Scripture is the written revelation of almighty God. The implications of sola Scriptura for pluralism are many. Not the least of them is this: It carries a fundamental denial of the revelatory character of all other religious books. An advocate of sola Scriptura does not believe that God’s revealed Word is found in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon, the Bible and in the Koran, the Bible and in the Upanishads, the Bible and in the Bhagavad Gita; rather, the Christian faith stands on the singular and exclusive claim that the Bible and the Bible alone is God’s written word.

The motto of the United States is e pluribus unum. However, since the rise of the ideology of pluralism, the real Unum of that motto has been ripped from its foundation. What drives pluralism is the philosophical antecedent of relativism. All truth is relative; therefore, no one idea or source can be seen as having any kind of supremacy. Built into our law system is the idea of the equal toleration under the law of all religions. It is a short step in people’s thinking from equal toleration under the law to equal validity. The principle that all religions should be treated equally under the law and have equal rights does not carry with it the necessary inference that therefore all religions are valid. Even a cursory, comparative examination of the world’s religions reveals points of radical contradiction among them, and unless one is prepared to affirm the equal truth of contradictories, one must not be able to embrace this fallacious assumption.

Sadly, with a philosophy of relativism and a philosophy of pluralism, the science of logic doesn’t matter. Logic is escorted to the door and is firmly booted out of the house onto the street. There is no room for logic in any system of pluralism and relativism. Indeed, it’s a misnomer to call either a system, because it is the idea of a consistent, coherent view of truth that is unacceptable to the pluralist. The fact that people reject exclusive claims to truth does not invalidate those claims. It is the Christian’s duty to hold firm to the uniqueness of God and of His Christ and not compromise with the advocates of pluralism.

From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine.Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org.Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Getting the Gospel Right

Excerpt from John MacArthur's article of the same title.

Here are some questions that need to be answered biblically:

Do we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, or as Savior only?

Some say a person who refuses to obey Christ can still receive Him as Savior. They teach that the gift of eternal life is available by faith even to one who rejects the moral and spiritual demands of Christ. They accuse others of teaching "lordship salvation," implying that it is novel to suggest that submission is a characteristic of saving faith.

Until relatively recently, however, no one would have dared suggest a person can be saved while stubbornly refusing to bow to Christ's authority. Nearly all the major biblical passages calling for saving faith refer to Jesus as lord (cf. Acts 2:21, 36; Romans 10:9-10).

Is repentance from sin essential to salvation?

Some say that turning from sin is a human work and therefore cannot be part of salvation. To accommodate the biblical call to repentance, they redefine repentance as nothing more than a change of mind about who Jesus is.

Biblically, however, repentance is a total about face--turning away from sin and self and unto God (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9). That is no more a result of human effort than faith itself. Nor is it in any sense a pre-salvation work required to prepare a sinner for salvation. Real repentance is inseparable from faith and, like faith, is the work of God in a human heart. It is the response God inevitably generates in the heart of one He is redeeming.

What is faith?

Some say faith is merely believing certain facts. One popular Bible teacher says saving faith is nothing more than confidence in the divine offer of eternal life.

Biblically, however, the object of faith is not the divine offer; it is the Person of Jesus Christ. Faith in Him is what saves, not just be­lieving His promises or accepting facts about Him. Saving faith has to be more than accepting facts. Even demons have that kind of faith (James 2:19).

Believing in Jesus means re­ceiving Him for all that He is (John 1:12). It means both confessing Him as Savior and yielding to Him as Lord. In fact, Scripture often uses the word obedience as a synonym for faith (cf. John 3:36; Acts 6:7; Hebrews 5:9).

What is a disciple?

In the past hundred years or so, it has become popular to speak of discipleship as a higher level of Christian experience. In the new terminology, a person becomes a believer at salvation; he becomes a disciple later, when he moves past faith to obedience.

Such a view conveniently relegates the difficult demands of Jesus to a post-salvation experience. It maintains that when He challenged the multitudes to deny self, to take up a cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34); to forsake all (Luke 14:33); and to leave father and mother (Matthew 19:29), He was simply asking believers to step up to the second level and become disciples.

But how does that square with Jesus' own words, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt 9:13)? The heart of His ministry was evangelism, and those difficult demands are evangelistic appeals.

Every believer is a disciple and vice versa. A careful reading of Acts shows that the word disciple has been a synonym for Christian from the earliest days of the church (cf. 6:1-2, 7; 11:26; 14:20, 22; 15:10).

What is the evidence of salvation?

In their zeal to eliminate good works as a requirement for salvation, some have gone to the extreme of arguing that good works are not even a valid evidence of salvation. They teach that a person may be genuinely saved yet never manifest the fruit of salvation--a changed life.

A few have even taken the absurd position that a born-again person may ultimately turn away from Christ into unbelief, deny God, and become an atheist--yet still possess eternal life. One writer invented a term for such people: "unbelieving believers"!

Scripture is clear that a saved person can never be lost. It is equally clear that a genuine Christian will never fall back into total unbelief. That kind of apostasy proves an individual was never really born again (1 John 2:19).

Furthermore, if a person is genuinely saved, his life will change for the better (2 Corinthians 5:17). He is saved "for good works" (Ephesians 2:10), and there is no way he can fail to bring forth at least some of the fruit that characterizes the redeemed (cf. Matthew 7:17). His desires are transformed; he begins to hate sin and love righteousness. He will not be sinless, but the pattern of his life will be decreasing sin and increasing righteousness.

You need to settle these critical questions in your own heart. Study the gospel Scripture presents. Listen with discernment to every speaker you hear. Measure everything by the Word of God. Above all, make sure that the message you share with unbelievers is truly the gospel of Christ.