Mar 112010
 

John MacArthur tells us what you must believe to get saved in this new audio blog.

On his list is justification by faith alone.

Now, as someone who calls the Reformed tradition his own, I believe in this doctrine with all my heart.

However, to say that it is an absolute necessity for salvation sends Roman Catholics and the Orthodox to hell.

I’m not ready to make that jump…you?

The original reason I set this site up was for it to be a host for podcasts and video content that the other site is too bloated and fragile to handle.

To do online ministry really well you have to co-ordinate blogs, podcasts, video, and social media.

There is a new book available for Mac owners to learn to do all of those things with the tools available on every Apple computer.

“Macs In the Ministry” is written by David Lang who is also a programmer for Accordance Bible software.

It has tutorials on how to use iWorks, iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and other programs to create your own media.

I’m working through it now and recommend it highly.

I’m working on a Mac software video for later…just to try this out. 😉

Great article by Challies…would you be embarrassed if your Google searches were revealed?

Mar 102010
 

Glenn Beck:

I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them…are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.

Lots of reaction out there, including from Scot McKnight and Skye Jethani.

Bill Streger’s post on church planters and “uncool people” and his subsequent clarification.

Jared Wilson:

Bill’s point was mainly a general question: Is it possible the new church planting movement(s) is neglecting certain American mission fields because they aren’t “fashionable” mission fields?
I think that’s an excellent question, and my answer is “yes,” it is absolutely possible this is the case.
Unfortunately, more than a few took Bill’s words as negativity toward Acts 29, some even accusing him of criticizing Mark Driscoll and Keller. Those who actually read the piece carefully know he wasn’t doing any such thing. (The part about Driscoll and Keller said nothing negative about those men; it merely asked if maybe some young men were making idols of them like so many made idols of Hybels and Warren. And the answer to this question is undoubtedly yes.)…For my part, I think the inflammatory pushback to Bill’s honest questions are warning signs. Absolute refusal to self-reflect and self-criticize is not a sign of organizational health, and these are elements of the church growth movement’s ongoing dysfunction.

Nick Charalambous’s observations on his year as web pastor of NewSpring Church.

Michael Patton’s five questions to ask yourself if you’re considering the ministry.

Next time you go church shopping 😉 here’s 10 questions R.C. Sproul Jr. has for you to ask your prospective pastor.

Pete Wilson: Most pastors have no friends – and why that’s not a good thing.

Listen to the new Passion album, Awakening, for free once at Tony Morgan’s blog.

Tony Morgan: Why can’t things be both/and instead of either/or in the church?

Mar 102010
 

While we await the Link-a thon…consider this from J.I. Packer’s “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God”.

“There is a second way in which you acknowledge that God is sovereign in salvation.

You pray for the conversion of others.

In what terms, now, do you intercede for them?

Do you limit yourself to asking that God will bring them to a point where they can save themselves, independently of Him?

I do not think that you do.

I think that what you do is pray in categorical terms that God will, quite simple and decisively, save them: that He will open the eyes of their understanding, soften their hard hearts,renew their natures, and move their wills to receive the Savior.You ask God to work everything in them necessary for their salvation. You would not dream of making it a point in your prayer that you are not asking God actually to bring them to faith, because you recognize that is something He cannot do.

Nothing of the sort!

When you pray for unconverted people, you do so on the assumption that it is in God’s power to bring them to faith.

You entreat Him to do that very thing, and your confidence rests on the certainty that He is able to do what you ask.

And so indeed He is: this conviction, which animates your intercessions, is God’s own truth written on your heart by the Holy Spirit.

In prayer, then, (and the Christian is at his sanest and wisest when he prays) you know that it is God who saves men, you know that what makes men turn to God is God’s own gracious work of drawing them to Himself; and the content of your prayers is determined by this knowledge.

Thus, by your practice of intercession, no less than by giving thanks for your conversion, you acknowledge and confess the sovereignty of God’s grace.”

Mar 102010
 

Some of you may know of Michael Spencer, a teacher in eastern Kentucky who is probably best known as the “Internet Monk”. His blog of the same name has a high readership among Christian blogs.

Michael Spencer was diagnosed with cancer some time ago. Today his wife Denise posted an update:

“It is with a heavy heart that I bring my latest update on Michael. We have learned that his cancer is too advanced and too aggressive to expect any sort of remission. Our oncologist estimates that with continued treatment Michael most likely has somewhere between six months and a year to live.”

The rest of her post is here.

Michael Spencer is one of the few Christian writers or bloggers who seems to understand the circus that pollutes much of evangelicalism and how Christ is often lost in the mix.

He helped me to realize that I wasn’t alone regarding my frustrations with the dog and pony show in much of the church.

He helped me remember that I can have Reformed convictions and still see and appreciate how God is moving in other Christian traditions.

And, Michael always kept pointing back not just to the cross, but to the Savior who died on that cross and walked out of the tomb.

I’m not ready for him to go. I’m not ready to lose his voice in the blog world; there are ten million voices with the right theology and not enough with iMonk’s heart and honesty.

I will miss his writing, which often was a breath of fresh air and a gallon of cool, fresh water in the wide, wide Christian blog world.

In the end, though, I suspect iMonk would point us all away from his life, which is but a mere vapor, and to Jesus…whom walked out of that tomb, rose into heaven and even now is working on that mansion for his servant…with a bar in the backroom.

Mar 102010
 

Just saw on Twitter that Tom Stipes son is in ICU with a skull fracture from a biking accident.

He is expected to recover, but lets pray the family through.

Mar 102010
 

There going to be another internet storm soon…and J.I. Packer is going to once again be taken to task.

John Armstrong has written a new book on the church and unity…and Packer wrote the forward.

The book is called “Your Church Is Too Small”.

I haven’t read the book, but Packer’s words are ones that I have been struggling to express here…words that I believe God has put in his mouth.

“My friend John Armstrong is a church leader who has traveled the distance from the separatist, sectarian fixity of fundamentalism to embrace the kingdom-centered vision of the church and the call issued by a number of Bible-based theologians and missiologists during the past half century.

What vision is this? It is the one that views the visible church as a single worldwide, Spirit-sustained community within which ongoing doctrinal and denominational divisions, though important, are secondary rather than primary. In this vision, the primary thing is the missional-ecumenical vocation and trajectory crystallized for us by our Lord Jesus Christ in his teaching and prayer and illustrated in a normative way by the Acts narrative and much of the reasoning of the apostolic letters.

Evangelicals have always urged that the church of God is already one in Christ but have typically related this fact only to the invisible church (that is, the church as God alone sees it).  All too often, they have settled for division in the visible church (the church on earth, as we see it) as at least tolerable and at best healthy. The vision Armstrong offers, however, perceives by exegesis that the unity of Christians, which Jesus prayed that the world might see, is neither unanimity nor uniformity nor union (as he neatly puts it) but loving cooperation in life and mission, starting from wherever we are at the moment and fertilized and energized by the creedal and devotional wisdom of the past. Thus the internal unity of togetherness in Christ may become a credibility factor in the church’s outreach, just as Jesus in John 17 prayed that it would.

Embracing this vision will mean that our ongoing inter- and intra-church debates will look, and feel, less like trench warfare, in which both sides are firmly dug in to defend the territory that each sees as its heritage, and more like emigrants’ discussions on shipboard that are colored by the awareness that soon they will be confronted by new tasks in an environment not identical with what they knew before. There they will all need to pull together in every way they can. The church in every generation voyages through historical developments and cultural changes, against the background of which new angles emerge on old debates and truths may need to be reformulated in order to remain truly the same as they were. Not to recognize this is a defect of vision on our part.

This perception, not surprisingly perhaps, disturbs persons brought up to believe that Bible-based doctrinal faithfulness counts supremely (yes, indeed, right so far), and that some form of ahistorical fundamentalist fixity was, is, and always will be the doctrinal last word. John Armstrong knows; he has been there.  His corrected and corrective vision generates deep suspicion and an onslaught against its proponents as confused compromisers.  Both he and I have learned this by direct experience. Some years ago, in One Lord, One Faith, Rex Koivisto made many of John Armstrong’s points and was effectively ignored. I hope this book will not be ignored but will have the influence it deserves. Aspects of North America’s future—aspects, indeed, of the honor and glory of Christ in this century—may well depend on whether or not it does.”

— J. I. Packer, Advent 2009

The part I italicized is exactly my vision for what I want to happen here and in my church and my community.

Before we are buried by shouts about compromise and the coming one world religion…what do you think of Packers vision statement?

Mar 102010
 

After a tough weekend reading about the lack of moral and ethical accountability in some Calvary Chapels, I have found out what the unforgivable sin is to Costa Mesa.

Calvinism.

According to George Bryson, “While some “closet” Calvinists may be Calvary Chapel pastors, those who openly promote Calvinism in Calvary Chapel are given “the left foot of fellowship”.”

So that’s what it takes…

Instead of documenting the moral and ethical failures of some leaders, I should have just planted a couple hot copies of the ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion” on them and saved myself the grief.

Adultery, ethical violations, beating the hell out of your kids or abusing your spouse is forgivable…just don’t let us catch you with an R.C. Sproul tape next to Chuck’s in the car console.

George wants all you Reformed leaning “cowards” to “come out of the Calvinist closet”.

By golly, George & Co are going to clean house of all those damned Reformers, emergents, post tribbers and anyone with the audacity to think differently than they do.

Some true believers over in the Southern Baptist Convention are willing to help.

They have a checklist of how to spot and smoke out anything that smells of Geneva.

They list 16 “behaviors” to be on the lookout for…my favorites;

“Use of the ESV Study Bible”

“Moving the church under elder rule.”

“They love to write and blog about their reform theology and can form a theological swarm on the internet “blogging” against anyone who speaks or writes about their reform theology.”

That’s right… we are masters of all media…we have special training centers underneath St. Pierres where we can create “blogging” swarms online that overwhelm semi-Pelagians before they can lift a mouse.

We have plans to kidnap all Calvary Chapel pastors and replace them with a hologram of John Piper…don’t tell anyone.

We have cloned James White…we’re hoping you clone Bryson.

We are so subversive and so stealthy that even I don’t know any Calvinists among Calvary Chapel clergy.

No, not one.

I understand the desire to have CC be what it’s founder and the majority of it’s clergy want it to be theologically.

Every denomination wants subscription to it’s standards.

No problemo.

What I can’t understand is why dividing from brethren is more important and worthy of greater effort than cleaning up the messes that are hurting both the organization and it’s congregations.

I can’t understand why theological disagreements have to be places of scorn and reproach instead of growth and learning.

Let me show you a model of how these relationships can work without the mockery and misrepresentation.

This is a dialog between the Calvinist Charles Simeon and the uber Arminian John Wesley:

Charles: Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

John: Yes, I do indeed.

Charles: And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

John: Yes, solely through Christ.

Charles: But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

John: No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Charles: Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

John: No.

Charles: What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?

John: Yes, altogether.

Charles: And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

John: Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Charles: Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.


Sounds good to me…

Mar 102010
 

What did you teach?

What did you learn?

Did you hear the Gospel?

We continue in the Heidelberg Catechism;

Question 110. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?

Answer: God forbids not only those thefts, (a) and robberies, (b) which are punishable by the magistrate; but he comprehends under the name of theft all wicked tricks and devices, whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbour: (c) whether it be by force, or under the appearance of right, as by unjust weights, ells, measures, fraudulent merchandise, (d) false coins, usury, (e) or by any other way forbidden by God; as also all covetousness, (f) all abuse and waste of his gifts. (g)

(a) 1 Cor.6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (b) 1 Cor.5:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. Isa.33:1 Woe to thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee. (c) Luke 3:14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. 1 Thess.4:6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. (d) Prov.11:1 A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight. Prov.16:11 A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are his work. Ezek.45:9 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Let it suffice you, O princes of Israel: remove violence and spoil, and execute judgment and justice, take away your exactions from my people, saith the Lord GOD. Ezek.45:10 Ye shall have just balances, and a just ephah, and a just bath. Ezek.45:11 The ephah and the bath shall be of one measure, that the bath may contain the tenth part of an homer, and the ephah the tenth part of an homer: the measure thereof shall be after the homer. Ezek.45:12 And the shekel shall be twenty gerahs: twenty shekels, five and twenty shekels, fifteen shekels, shall be your maneh. Deut.25:13 Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Deut.25:14 Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. Deut.25:15 But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Deut.25:16 For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God. (e) Ps.15:5 He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. (f) 1 Cor.6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (g) Prov.23:20 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: Prov.23:21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. Prov.21:20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.

Question 111. But what does God require in this commandment?

Answer: That I promote the advantage of my neighbour in every instance I can or may; and deal with him as I desire to be dealt with by others: (a) further also that I faithfully labour, so that I may be able to relieve the needy. (b)

(a) Matt.7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (b) Eph.4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Mar 102010
 

How to Believe
John 4:43-54

When truth is given, it then becomes the responsibility of the one who receives it. That responsibility is gauged by your reaction to the truth. In other words, if you don’t like anything about the teaching of Christ and if you choose to reject it all, you will never be able to say, “Nobody told me.” So, if you don’t want to hear the truth, stop reading right here.

If you are a skeptic or have ever been one, then, chances are, you have had the experience of going to a Christian, asking about his or her faith, only to receive a “You just believe, that’s all” in response.
I don’t know about you, but I remember feeling frustrated by that. To tell a pagan simply to believe is silly!
Jesus had a lot of amazing things to say about belief. He said we could move mountains and that, with Him,nothing would be impossible. But the problem is—How to believe. What is the process of belief?

Belief is born in need (John 4:47). If you have no need to believe, then you will not believe. In the text, this father had a son who was dying. That is need. Perhaps it began when his little boy had a sore throat. He didn’t get over it; it only got worse. Th e boy’s fever rose, death drew near and out of fear, panic and need,his father went to Jesus. When your kid is sick, you will do anything. This was a man of power and influence, used to giving favors, not asking for them. He had a need and without that need, the man would never have believed.The difference between strong faith and weak faith is need. The paradox: the strongest Christian is the weakest Christian (2 Corinthians 12:9). God is in the business of putting His children in holes so deep that they can’t get out without His help.What is your need right now? Whatever it is, God is going to teach you how to believe.

Belief is nurtured in Christ (John 4:47). Whether or not belief grows depends on the object of your belief.When God digs your hole, make sure you reach out to the proper “helper-outer.”
The fact is, belief, unless vested in the proper object of belief, will die. Are you hurting? Go to God. That is how you nurture belief.In John 14:12, Jesus teaches that, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” Jesus does not say that “He who believes in the power of positive thinking (in the power of the church, in the power of himself, in the strength of theology) . . .” Belief will not grow unless the object of that belief is proper—Jesus Christ Himself.

Belief grows in faith (John 4:50). Jesus said to the father, “Go your way; your son lives.” If it were me, I would have said to Jesus, “Would you do me a favor and go down to Capernaum with me? If I get there and my son isn’t well, then I will have to come all the way back to Cana and my son might die in the meantime.” That isn’t what happened. The man accepted what Jesus said as reality . . . even when he didn’t know the reality for himself at that moment.You say you believe? How much are you willing to bet on that belief? Your money, your life, your relationships, your family? Without risk, there can be no belief.

In John 5, When Jesus told the man who had been sick for a lot of years, “Take up your bed and walk,” the man could have said, “Are you out of your mind? I can’t walk!” If the man had said that, he would have remained a cripple.Acts 3 describes the time Peter and John went to the temple and saw a lame beggar. Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold, but what I’ve got, I’ll give you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, get up and walk.” What if the beggar had said, “No, that’s impossible! I can’t walk.” If he had said that, he would have stayed at the temple gate,begging until the day he died.

When I was just out far enough on the limb to hesitantly believe, I was afraid to talk to people about it.
Someone might challenge my faith and I was afraid to risk. One of the great discoveries of my life was that faith in Christ is true. It holds water.Within the context of your faith, God is asking you to risk. Maybe it is money, maybe it is a relationship,maybe it is in witnessing, maybe it is in a moral error. Belief grows in proportion to faith. And another word for faith is risk.

Belief is matured in fact (John 4:51). The mature believer is the one who has seen God act in direct and specific ways and whose faith cannot ever be shaken because it is built on fact. How do you get there? You have to have a need; you have to risk; you have to invest in a proper object and then, God acts in ways that will simply leave you speechless.I don’t want you to miss one of the most exciting things about this text: “ . . .And he himself believed, and his whole household” (John 4:53). Not only was the son healed, but the father, the mother, the siblings and the servants were also healed.Paul got it right: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20). A mature Christian is not the Christian who says, “Lord,zap me with faith and belief, so that I can move mountains.” The mature Christian is the one who has gone through the process of need, Christ-centered help, faith and risk . . . and has seen God literally stagger that Christian with His faithfulness.
Maturity never comes in shallow water. I will never forget the day, when I was a little boy, my father let me go in water over my head. I then had the absolutely thrilling experience or realization that I was in deep water and I was swimming! I laughed in excitement and my father laughed, too. In the area of faith, the Heavenly Father laughs for the same reason.

Steve Brown

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