Jan 252018

Psalm 2: Jesus Christ Reigns! – Part 3

This is Part 3 of a 4-part series on Psalm 2. It is a prophecy of Christ, that He would suffer and become King of the whole world.




“1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 ‘Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.’ ”

In Part 1, we examined how the suffering and death of Jesus fulfilled verses 1-3, as confirmed by the testimony of the apostles in Acts 4:24-28.

“4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 ‘As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.’ ”

In Part 2, we read how God held the whole world in derision by raising Jesus from the dead, setting Him on His holy hill, and subjecting all kingdoms of the earth to Him.

This week, we continue in Psalm 2, beginning at verse 7:

“7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”

Christ will tell of His Father’s decree – that Christ is the Son of God. Bringing in the authority of the Father when speaking of His divinity is Jesus’ manner of speaking throughout the Gospel of John, for example: “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.” (John 7:16); and “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” (John 14:10).

It is the will of God that we believe His decree that Jesus is the Son of God: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40). That Jesus is the Son of God is, in compact form, the scope of the whole Gospel, as it is written: Jesus “said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ ” (Matt 16:15-16). Faith in the divinity of Jesus, that He is the Son of God, is the rock upon which the Church is built!

This decree, that Jesus is the Son of God, is a teaching of eternal life, as it is written: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36); and “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:49-50)

“The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” (Ps 2:7)

Christ is God’s “only Son” [KJV: “only begotten Son;” ISV: “unique Son”] (John 3:16). He is begotten of the Father, yet is co-eternal, co-equal, and of one substance with the Father, as it is written: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3); and “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9b); and “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9).

The doctrine of Christ’s two natures, that He is fully God and fully man, is summarized well in the Nicene Creed:

“Jesus Christ, the onlybegotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man”.

God exists outside of time, and Christ’s divine sonship is eternal. Therefore, where Psalm 2:7 speaks of “today”, it speaks neither of a yesterday nor of a tomorrow, but always a present, time, today. In other words, Christ is eternally begotten of the Father, as He says in John 8:58: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58).

“Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage” (Ps 2:8)

In verse 6 we are taught that Christ has been set as King over Zion. Here in verse 8 God adds the nations, that is, the Gentiles, to Christ’s kingdom as an inheritance. Thus Paul taught: “that he [i.e., Christ] might create in himself one new man in place of the two” (Eph 2:15).

Therefore, Christ is King over a worldwide kingdom, not conferred on Him by men, nor in any human way, but by God, that is, spiritually. Thus Jesus spoke to Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36); also Paul: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (John 14:17)

“You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Ps 2:9)

Christ builds His Church with His Word, which God here calls “a rod of iron.” Although the Gospel is a sweet and consoling Word to faith, it is most galling to the flesh. Luther explains this: “For it lays on all the desires of the flesh the cross and death, and imposes on us poverty, humility, and patience. These are the three horns of the cross. For poverty breaks in pieces the lust of the eyes and avarice; humility, the pride of life and ambition; and patience, the lust of the flesh and pleasure.”

Therefore, we are like a “potter’s vessel.” First, because, as a potter’s vessel is most easily broken; so conscience-stricken men, not rendered obstinate by unbelief, easily believe the Word of God and neither resist nor contradict it; whereas, those who are of a hardened mind remain in unbelief and yet will be broken in pieces in the final judgment.

Second, because, when an earthen vessel is broken in pieces it becomes unfit for its former use. Thus when the Gospel converts a man or women to Christ, he or she is rendered useless for his or her former manner of life, agreeing with Paul: “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal 6:14) Amen.

Thank you for reading. Next week we will pick up Psalm 2 at verse 10, in which the psalmist exhorts the powerful of the earth to humble themselves and believe in Christ. Amen.

Jan 242018

So, we conclude another series on Calvary Chapel and hope we’ve served that audience well.

It has become more difficult for me to write these pieces,as I’ve moved on from the topic personally in more ways than one.



Back in the early days I thought we could change things…that we could help bring transparency and accountability to this group of churches and by doing so, create a template for doing so throughout Christendom.

I too am prone to occasional delusions of grandeur…

We’ve failed on every count and basically serve now as a conduit for information from a closed system and as a threat to those whose corruption may harm the flock.

Nobody wants to be on the front page of the Phoenix Preacher.

When I started this blog it was a scandal…this kind of reporting was considered trash…and so was I.

Today, it’s bloggers and alternative media that wag the tail of traditional media and break important stories in both the Christian and secular media.

Everyone has a voice now, whether they have something of value to say or not.

What we are missing now are voices that proclaim the goodness and majesty of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We ignore those parts of the church that are actually doing all the things that we think it ought.

We are now failing those who faithfully plow the Gospel ground and sow kingdom seeds.

This troubles me as much as all those scandals we’ve covered.

We’ll still do these articles when I feel it good to do so.

My hope is that we spend more time lifting up Jesus in any way we can…as He is the answer to all the issues and the model we need to follow.

We want to help you grow and rejoice in Him and help you navigate in faith through a fallen world.

Let us know what we can do to help you…


Jan 242018

Calvary Global Network

Whatever one thinks about Brian Brodersen, you have to admit that he’s very resilient.

He’s been battered from within and without for almost two decades, but he takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’…


Resilience, though, might not be enough to carry him through his current situations.

Before Chuck Smith died, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa was already in decline.

The changing demographics of the surrounding area combined with a tired “liturgy” that catered to the age of the crowd had led to a downturn in both attendance and giving.

When Brodersen took over and changed both sound and players it declined even farther.

The constant attacks from family, the CCA, and online critics have taken a toll as well.

Today, his critics like to send me pictures of empty parking spaces and sparsely filled pews.

He not only has this to worry about, but also the far flung properties all over the world that CCCM gathered during Smith’s tenure, but didn’t bother investing in their upkeep.

The reports I have are that the church is hemorrhaging money and has been for years.

I noted yesterday that one of the strengths of the Calvary Chapel Association is that it has established a strong identity for it’s members to embrace.

The main weakness of the CGN is the lack of the same.

What does it mean to be part of the CGN?

“We’re the Calvary guys who split from the other Calvary guys but we’re still kind of Calvary” is not a compelling message.

Without a real organization or recognized leaders (other than Brodersen) there’s little here to identify with.

Even more damaging is the fact that instead of joining up with either side, Greg Laurie acted like a kid ashamed of his parents and dual affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

If you take out a high reverence for Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapel Distinctives from CC, what you have left is… a Baptist church.

Some pastors are realizing that they may as well follow Greg into the SBC where the same local church autonomy is treasured.

Add to this a general apathy among those pastors who are discontent with the old guard and you have a new car without an engine.

The positives are few , but significant.

Brodersen’s emphasis is on the Gospel, not on holiness codes or matters of Christian liberty and that is attractive to younger men coming up through the ranks.

He is much more open to the greater Body of Christ and hearing from and working with it.

The works overseas have a real vitality that is missing here.

Brian Brodersen has a tough road ahead…the mothership is floundering and this side of the split isn’t generating the buzz of days past.

However, he’s always depended on God to fight his battles and lead him…and it’s a minor miracle he’s made it this far.

I wouldn’t count him or the CGN out.


Jan 232018

The Calvary Chapel Association

I confess that I find it difficult to fairly assess this side of the Calvary Chapel split.

In my mind, the leaders of this side represent everything I fought against in the early years of this blog.


(I purposefully delineate between the leaders and the rank and file pastors, many of whom are unwillingly caught up in this mess.)

They waged war on Brian Brodersen with factual distortions and outright lies, and even their origin is questionable as I’ve documented in numerous articles.

They continue to act as mercenaries on the mission field with reports of a demand for fealty if financial support is to continue.

This is the old guard of CC, where numerical success equals the blessing of God and elevates “successful” pastors as leaders over others.

Don’t bother to ask how one gets on the “council”…

They see themselves as the exclusive keepers of the Calvary Chapel tradition and the legacy of Chuck Smith and demand adherence to the Calvary “distinctives”.

They are accountable to no one, including each other.

Having said that, they have won more of the battle for pastoral numbers and mind share than Brodersen’s Calvary Global Network has.

The reasons for this are pretty simple, but important to understand.

One of the reasons we join a group of any kind is to establish an identity.

The CCA has a clear identity…they know who they are, what they believe, and consciously trace their history back to the founder.

That is a very comfortable place for pastors who have been affiliated with CC for any length of time.

Equally as important, they also know what they are against…the enemies list is easy to compile from their sermons and writing.

The second powerful reason they are succeeding is that they continue the style of leadership that CC pastors are familiar with.

In that model, you do whatever the leaders say and you give them the benefit of the doubt over heathen critics with blogs.

Whether they like it or not, an inability to deal with conflict constructively is also a CC distinctive…but one that this group is used to.

The issues this group has are these.

First, the self appointed leadership is aging and will soon pass from the scene.

Because there is no clear protocol for who gets placed on the “council” or the regional leadership, there is no succession protocol either.

Expect some bloody political battles as the current members pass on.

Second, they have already lost credibility and gravitas with a significant number of “affiliated” pastors.

Third, it appears that the younger generation of pastors are less interested in eschatological dogmatism and holiness codes than the old guard is.

Finally, (and this applies to most churches) there is so much Christian information and instruction online from every different corner of Christendom, it will be increasingly difficult to pit one group against another without defending why you do so.

Making enemies out of most of the rest of Body of Christ is not an unusual tactic in this group (though not unique to them).

In the long run I expect this group will remain viable and maintain their dominance for at least the near future among those who identify with the Calvary Chapel brand.


Jan 232018

Unprecedented crisis of trust…

The nature of love…

Wearied by spiritual warfare…

No creed but the Bible?

Five things you need to hear right now…

Franklin Graham says Trump is a strong defender of Christianity…

Evangelicalism as a brand and a space…

Are you a listening,seeing person?

The difference between rest and being lazy…

How poetry might change the pro-life debate…

Why leaders should lead us in lament…

Pastoral transition…assistant becomes senior pastor and vice versa…

The year science took over the pro-life movement…

Protecting the homeless in freezing weather…

Trump gets a “mulligan” from FRC on porn star…

A great prayer…

Different religious groups views on abortion…

Church plans to plant 1000 churches…

For some Christians,pro-life is more than just opposing abortion…

Not so sure about scientists…

The mystery of the Trinity…

The one social media sin we’re all apparently ok with…

The “browning” of American megachurches…

The one thing about sexuality that Christians just don’t get…

Virtuous evildoers…

The persistent intensity of American religion…very important research paper worth taking the time to study…

Huge thanks to EricL as always…support him at top right…

Jan 222018

We’re always looking for ways to get good books into peoples hands.

Thanks to a Facebook friend we found a treasure…

If you have a public library card, get the Hoopla app…free ebooks, audio books, movies,music, and television shows.

You can check them out just as you would a book from the library.


I just signed up…lots of good stuff here.



Jan 222018

For better or worse, this site has become the “go to” place for information about Calvary Chapel.

We still get lots of inquiries about the state of the movement, though I find it less than compelling anymore to find answers to those inquiries.

I believe what we’re seeing in CC is the end of a particular time in the history of American evangelicalism and what we’re hearing are the death rattles of what once was.

Calvary Chapel’s place in church history is first of all as the fulcrum of a genuine revival and secondarily as innovators who used contemporary music styles combined with fundamentalist Bible teaching to give that revival structure.

As is common with true revival, the action was on the edges of society and CC exploded by accepting the marginalized youth of the day.

Also as is common with revival, the revival doesn’t last, but the structure does.

Then the structure becomes institutional, and over time denies it’s own origin and history.

This is the story of CC in my opinion and the reason that the group split and is no longer a “movement” at all, but a stagnant institution with little vision of the future other than a fruitless attempt to grasp it’s former glory.

Calvary Chapel in it’s heyday was a personality driven movement… first with Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee, than with Smith alone as he navigated the church away from the fringe and into the mainstream of American evangelicalism.

Smith’s unique personality and business acumen set the parameters of what his “affiliate” churches would look like.

When Smith died, there was no one of his stature in the group who wanted to take over, but plenty of lesser lights who desperately wanted the position.

A split was inevitable, and even then, the lack of charismatic leadership on both sides meant neither would succeed in unifying the tribe.

What is left is splintered and irrelevant, the emotions of both the founders death and the bitter divorce having dissipated like the revival that birthed the movement.

The cultural fringe is now something to preach against, not to minister to.

The ability to innovate musically and artistically has been replaced with a continual nostalgia for what once was.

The power of the untamable Holy Spirit has been replaced by the power of authoritarian pastors and dogmatism.

The current leadership is aging and the younger generation is less inclined to fully identify with the brand.

A lot of pastors simply don’t care about the conflicts or the brand anymore.

In the coming days, I’ll look more closely at the state of both sides of the split…but there’s not much worth writing about…


Jan 222018

1. I’m teaching through the life of Abraham in church these days…he might have been a “friend of God”, but he would never have survived social media today. Very few biblical figures would…



2. The world divides itself between “good” people and “bad” people…the Bible divides it between “sinners” and “redeemed sinners”. One view actually reflects who we are, the other does not…

3. Social media is a reflection of a culture that is quickly losing the concept of redemptive grace…without which everyone goes to hell and the culture becomes it…

4. The only thing harder than raising a child these days is being one…

5. I am fully persuaded that as a person on center/left of the political scale I could go in a room with any of my conservative friends and hammer out reasonable solutions to most of the issues of the day in a matter of hours. We should be inquiring why the people paid to do so cannot or will not…

6. Some people watch the stock market…I watch the price of cat food…

7. It seems like the most frequent verse I repeat these days is “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”…not as a declaration of piety, but as a choice made…

8. We are all born with an inner ambivalence between needing fellowship and seeking war…

9. We are becoming a people devoid of heroes and saints…that may be realistic, but it feels awful…

10. My Vikings lost in embarrassing fashion yet again…and again I will hope in next year. Hope in the face of defeat is a Christian virtue which evidently takes practice to achieve…


Jan 202018

Almighty God,
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Jan 202018

Revelation 2:8-11

To the Church in Smyrna

  • The city of Smyrna had a well known stadium – that is never good news to the Christians.
  • The city also had a very large Jewish population.
  • Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna and was persecuted and killed for his faith in Christ. All that was asked of him was to take the oath that Caesar is lord, curse Christ and he would be released, His famous calm reply was, “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my king who saved me?” And he was put to death.
  • The point? – John is writing these letters and this book to them to tell them what they will be going through – what the church will be going through – then and today.
  • This is the shortest letter to the seven churches.

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

  • So we know the speaker is Jesus – as he is in all 7 of the letters. The description comes from 1:17 – Jesus is the first and the last – eternal and unchangeable. Hebrews 13:8
  • With each description we are hearing from Jesus. Luke 10:16 = “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
  • When Jesus speaks, it is important that we listen. How Jesus describes himself sets the tone of the letter.
  • If Jesus speaks of himself as dying and coming back to life, what does that convey – what does that make you think?
  • Is it a scary picture, is it a comforting one? Is it encouraging? What does it do?
  • For those in Smyrna facing death, this should be offering hope and comfort – Jesus died and Jesus came back.

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

  • We heard from John in Rev 1:9 about his tribulation – a shared tribulation.
  • Now Jesus recognizes the tribulation of the church.
  • Poverty – now it is possible that the Christians were just poor, or perhaps their exclusive message about Jesus got them shut out of the local economy.
  • We could also be speaking of poverty in the spiritual sense which would match up with the (but you are rich) comment – rich in the eternal spiritual sense.
  • Jews who “are not”. – What did Paul say in Rom 9:6-8
  • Jesus, a Jew himself likens unbelieving Jews to the followers of Satan. Does this sound familiar? John 8 telling the Jews that their Father was really the devil. And who were these Jews? John 8:31”the Jews who had believed him”
  • But know this, all unbelievers are the enemy of God and all are of the synagogue of Satan.

10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

  • Note that Jesus tells them the future they face – note also that he does not say he will rescue them from this – in fact Jesus delivers the news that they will be executed (“be faithful unto death”). Jesus tells them how to stand.
  • Jesus comforts for coming suffering – there is a coming suffering.
  • What is the comfort? “Do not fear” – do not be afraid. We saw this with Jesus with his disciples in the storm tossed boat – Matt 14:27 and with the 3 disciples on the Mount of Transfigurations – Matt 17:7
  • The devil cannot touch Jesus, so he goes after those Jesus loves. Whether it is the Jews or the Romans, who toss you into prison, just recognize who it really is. Who is our fight against? Ephesians 6:12
  • Do we understand what is meant by “Do not fear”? Read Luke 12:4-7
  • 10 days is a symbolic number and it equals a short period of time – just as in Rev 20 1,000 years equals a long period of time. If it were a literal number then what is the big deal – anyone can handle 10 days in jail.
  • Whatever the actual length, it is a set time known to God.
  • “That you may be tested” – this is really a gospel statement because it is not just suffering for suffering sake.
  • “Be faithful …” What is the goal? What are the marching orders for this church? Be faithful until the end – persevere to the end – run the race until the end and receive your reward.
  • The crown of life = a crown of thorns? That was the crown Jesus wore.
  • This is not the plan for success, but the plan to be faithful – on the surface the cross was not a success.

11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

  • The pattern is repeated – he who has an ear. Note that the messages of Jesus are spoken to two different audiences (1) he who has an ear and (2) to those who do not have an ear.
  • Those willing to listen and those who will not. Those willing to listen are those who “have and ear” and obviously those who do not listen do not.
  • The 2nd death = the end of grace for the unbeliever.
  • These gifts are not specific to the individual churches. You do not try to pass the Ephesus challenge to receive the tree of life and then move on to the Smyrna challenge conquer the 2nd death and then move on to…
  • When you conquer, when you remain faithful, you get them all.

So what have we seen?

  • The church of Smyrna seems to have been persecuted heavily but remained faithful. For this, they received only blessings from Jesus and no condemnation. They do not receive any negative words about any apparent weakness in their devotion, theology, worship, love, or service.
  • This letter is filled with paradoxes. The believers in Smyrna are said to be poor yet rich. The opposition claims to be faithful Jews but were not. The path to a victor’s crown lies in death and is guaranteed by the eternal one who died.
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