Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I Cannot distribute Transcript

I just wanted everyone to know that Alan Kurschner was kind enough to let me verify that the Rick Warren comments are in context and that they are indeed from his GMA appearance on Sept. 7, 2005. He has asked me not to redistribute it since he paid $30 for it. He sent a separate email and so I will honor his request, since it is his money:) However, I wanted anyone who may have doubts Warren's comments, that they are at least verified by at least 2 witnesses, which is what the Scriptures call for.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Purposeless God of the Purpose Driven Church

Many I'm sure have heard about the interview earlier this month where ABC's Good Morning America spoke with best selling author Rick Warren in regards to Hurrican Katrina. The following is an excerpt of Warren's interview:

Roberts: Rick Warren is the best-selling author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.” He’s also the pastor of Saddleback Community Church…. In my hometown of Pass Christian, [sic] I ran across a woman who came up to me and she said, Robin, it’s, it’s as if God tried to wipe us off the face of the earth. You know there are some people that look and see this destruction and, and say, where, where is whatever it is, or whomever they, they, they look to…

Warren: Right.

Roberts: …for guidance in a higher way?

Warren: Right. Well, first thing we need to understand that not everything that happens in this world is God’s will. I have a will, you have a will, we have a free will… And so, we have a lot of things that go bad… But what God wants to do is he wants to comfort us. Somebody asked me when I was actually on the floor of the, the, the Houston Astrodome talking to people and praying with people, said, where is God in all of this? And I’ll tell you where God is, he’s in thousands of lives of people who love him and follow him, and they are the hands and feet of God…

Roberts: Yeah.

Warren: …You know Robin, we have nearly 4,000 Purpose Driven churches that have done the “40 Days of Purpose” program in the Gulf states. And we know at least four to 500 of them were, lost their buildings completely. And yesterday, I met with…

Roberts: Okay Rick. Thanks you very much… you take good care of yourself. Thank you Rick Warren. We appreciate your time this morning. Always good to talk to you.

He begins with an utter lie. I don't know what else to call it. "Well, first thing we need to understand that not everything that happens in this world is God’s will." Really? Maybe Warren hasn't read the Scriptures concerning this matter. Maybe he just pulls up certain words that he likes in his bible program and thinks on those things. It's highly unlikely that he has ever done serious study on God's sovereignty and His decrees. Many verses come to mind:

"Daniel 4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?"

"Ephesians 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."

"Ps. 33:Ps 33:11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."

"Ps. 135:Ps 135:6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places"

"Isaiah 46:Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it."

"Isaiah 14:Isa 14:24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: 25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. 26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. 27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?"
Men forget that God has purposes that He is accomplishing. Nothing happens without purpose on God's part. We could cite numerous passages. One that we quoted above was His clear use of the Assyrians in order to discipline his people. Their desires were sinful in what they did, but God's intentions were holy in the fact that He loved His people and chastened them for their sin. Assyria simply desired Israel harm. We could speak to the issues surrounding the Fall in that God had a good purpose even in Adam's sin: that was to demonstrate His judgment and wrath against sin, His holiness, His mercy & grace, His integrity and a whole host of things. Ultimately He is the One who has made all things and those things are made for Him and His glory.

"I have a will, you have a will, we have a free will… And so, we have a lot of things that go bad… But what God wants to do is he wants to comfort us. Somebody asked me when I was actually on the floor of the, the, the Houston Astrodome talking to people and praying with people, said, where is God in all of this? And I’ll tell you where God is, he’s in thousands of lives of people who love him and follow him, and they are the hands and feet of God…"

What in the world does this have to do with anything? What does our will have to do with the hurricane? He is obviously trying to say that our wills somehow made the hurricane come. I guess he might agree with many of the far left political activist who claimed President Bush caused the hurricane. Clearly our wills have something to do with it: we bring upon ourselves the judgment of God, but it is not our wills that form hurricanes. That is simply the outworking of God's incredible power over His creation and His using that creation to demonstrate His wrath against sin. It is because our wills are sinful and bring about sinful behavior towards God and our fellow man. Therefore, we desire to rebel against God and thus He must judge sin. What is amazing is that even insurance agencies identify things such as hurricanes as "acts of God". At least they attribute them correctly to Whom they should be attributed. Man and his often "deified will" is nowhere to be found in the providential acts of God.

Indeed, no wonder his books sell so well. He is not the least bit intimidating at all. He is not even coming close to proclaiming any sort of biblical truth here. Yes, I know, the network would just crucify someone who might speak the truth about God's wrath being revealed, but tell me, if you can, who would the person be clearly identified with? "Mt 10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?" If they crucified Christ, are we above our Master, even if it would be just a political or media crucifixion?

How one can squander that incredible opportunity to speak the truth in love and call men and women to repentance and to turn to God through Jesus Christ is beyond me. Yet, my brothers, don't we often fall prey to the temptation to be silent or to blunt the edge of the sword of the Lord? How many times have we sat silent, when the truth was at stake. Let's remember our own failings, but let us not rest in them. For we are called of our Lord to take the gospel to every creature.

Warren's comments though show the utter lack of knowledge of the Scriptures. The man is a pastor for goodness' sake. Forget the fact that millions of people have purchased his books and thousands of churches are "purpose-driven", he clearly does not have a "purpose driven God". He has a purpose driven church, a purpose driven life, but not a purpose driven God. That seems utterly unbalanced. How can you truly have this inconsistency, unless the purpose of your life and church, are, well, your own purpose?

Notice that Warren wasn't concerned with the glory of God in bringing judgment and the deomonstration of His wrath, but he was more concerned, it seems to me, with promoting "his purpose driven" stuff. "You know Robin, we have nearly 4,000 Purpose Driven churches that have done the “40 Days of Purpose” program in the Gulf states. And we know at least four to 500 of them were, lost their buildings completely." Oh I'm so sick of the programs and the self aggrandizement of those who proport to speak for God.

God said to Jeremiah in chapter 23:

21I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.

22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.

23 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?

24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.

26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;

27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.

28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.

29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.

31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.

32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

When men like Warren has opportunity and mingles the chaff of his own thinking with the wheat of God's Word, there is a price to pay. He will answer for his words. He has not stood in the counsel of God, but has devised schemes and figments of his imagination. He would have been better off not to have spoken and simply answered to God for not answering, rather than to misrepresent with the sovereign Lord does. May God grant him true understanding of His Word and turn Him to the truth.

In all this, I pray that God might raise up those men who have stood in His counsel who will preach the word when it is convenient and when it is not (2 tim. 4:2) and will clearly call sin sin, and speak of God's wrath against sin, and hold men accountable to a holy God and declare to them the glorious gospel of grace found in the active and passive obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Practice Mercy to Deserve Mercy?

Practice Mercy, to Deserve Mercy?

This is the flip side of the four square gospel church’s sign from the previous post. We have been discussing on Steve Camp’s blog with many Roman Catholics the issue between justification and sanctification; about “It is finished” and “It is in progress”. The Roman Catholic seems to indicate that God declares us righteous only when we actually become righteous. However, the Scripture tells us that we are righteous based on the fact that God has not imputed to us sin, but has imputed to us the righteousness of His Son Jesus Christ. Therefore, if we are believers, it is not that we can boast in our good works, which in fact would indicate that we “deserved” mercy. Rather we received mercy, because of God’s grace. For as the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Our deserving of mercy is not because we practiced it, it is because Christ practiced it. Also we will note in the latter verses of that text that Jesus did not accomplish atonement for every single individual, but for those whom the Father has given Him. Notice Paul is addressing the church at Rome. The church is synonymous with the term “the elect”. However he terms those in chapter 1 verses 6 and 7 as “the called of Jesus Christ”; they are “the beloved; called to be saints. This is the context of the letter in general. Therefore we he makes reference in the early part of chapter 5 to we and us, he is not making some claim with every single person in the world in mind. Rather, he is speaking of God’s people.

This is an important point for this passage speaks of our weakness and our ungodliness and our sinfulness. But look, when we were in that condition Christ died for us. Let us not forget this one thing: many reformed people tend to just go for the intellectual stuff, rather than be moved with praise and thanksgiving concerning the truth they hold dear. Jesus died for me….in my place. When I think upon such things the words of the hymn, “Amazing Love, How can it be” come to mind, “that though my God would die for me?” What kind of unearthly love is this that Christ has shown towards me: a weak, suffering, miserable, enemy of God? He has redeemed me not because I practiced anything good, but because He is good.

Peter delivers much of the same message in the opening of the letter of 1 Peter. He says,

9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

On the “other side of the aisle” so to speak, will say, “See isn’t that clear? Peter says we have obtained mercy. How much plainer to you need him to say it?” Well, I will simply submit that mercy, by its very nature is not something the one in need of it can demand, nor is it something by nature that can be obtained by the person by his doing something. Rather, mercy is dependent upon the good grace of the person giving mercy, not the one who receives it and God has graciously granted mercy to His people. This mercy is borne out in the fact that they believe. Again, the passages that would refute even the argument that they somehow mustered such faith up within them would be John chapter 6 and Ephesians 2. Even 1 Peter itself references God’s sovereign work in His people from the opening verses:

2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Whew! Not only are we elect, sanctified, and sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, but we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation! Praise be to God.

Now some may object to my points and say, “Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, ‘for if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’.” The context of the chapter is in regards to Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. There he is bringing people back to the original intent of the Law. It was not to make men moral. It was to get to the intentions of the heart behind their actions. All throughout the Old Testament when the commands of God were given, the underlying discretions of the heart are either implicitly or explicitly tied to the action. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that Jesus was very blunt when he addressed specific sins in this chapter and the nature behind them. They were indeed heart issues. Thus when He speaks of forgiveness here, He is not implying that we forgive to be forgiven. Rather the idea is that those who truly forgive other’s trespasses against them, are forgiven of their Father, but those who will not forgive, have not been forgiven. Remember Jesus put this in the model prayer just a few verses before. Therefore, there is Jesus’ exhortation to forgive.

The conclusion is not that we are to practice mercy in order to deserve mercy. It is just the opposite. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we practice mercy because we have become the recipients of the mercy of God. Therefore, let us demonstrate the same mercy we have received from God to others, thus presenting to them the way God responds to His people. We will either be the means He uses to draw them to Himself, or we will be the means of heaping upon their heads fiery coals. In either case, let us show mercy, for we are those who have received mercy.

Give Till It Hurts! Ouch!

Give Till It Hurts

I am writing from the chauffeured vehicle of my boss’ Ford F-150. We are on our way to Raleigh, N. C. to do some work today. It looks as though we might actually get some rain today, but I’m not counting on it.

I ran across this sign the other week. It is from our church down the road. They really have a problem with these signsJ Now they have two messages at a time going. So I will be commenting on both in these next posts. The first one says, “Compassion demands that we do something. Give until it hurts!” Now it has become acceptable in our society and even in the church of Jesus Christ for this phraseology to be used. Yet this is not a biblical statement at all. As a matter of fact our giving should be done for several reasons. Compassion does come to mind. James said, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? (James 2:15-16)” In contrasting those who say they have faith and those who say and act accordingly, James gives a very practical demonstration of someone’s faith: help your brother or sister when you see them in need. Now, before we pride ourselves that we have said what is often said “down south”, “Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with”, without actually desiring to help. You’ve seen that before, right? Maybe you have even been guilty of it. I sure have. We have said those things thinking that it makes us look compassionate, but failing to realize that God saw our heart and took those as idle words. I am not speaking to genuine concern and a sincere desire to help our brother, but there are times when we have clearly seen the need of our brother and said those words without opening a heart of compassion and simply helping him.

Compassion is not hurtful. It is joyful. It should mark every believer in Jesus Christ. Christ was compassionate to the multitudes. Notice:

Mt 9:36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.

Mt 14:14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

Mt 15:32 Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." Mt 20:34 So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.

Mr 1:41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed."

Mr 6:34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

Mr 8:2 "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat.

Lu 7:13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."

The word used in all these verses is the word splagchnizomai (translated “compassion”). It means to be moved as to one's bowels. Those of Jesus’ day would have spoken of the bowels as the seat of their emotions. They would have been “touched” in the pit of their stomach’s had something affected them deeply. We use the same concept, but speak of our heart not our bowels, for obvious reasonsJ However, let us note that these are emotions, but they are not emotions that are left alone. Jesus was touched with their infirmities and sicknesses and waywardness and hunger. He “felt” for them if you will. However, Jesus did not simply “feel” for them, but He acted and demonstrated compassion. In other words, His compassion is not a feeling alone and neither should it be of his followers. Just as faith without works is dead, feeling compassion is dead apart from its outward demonstration. Notice it didn’t hurt Christ, it moved Him.

Jesus used the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. There we find a man who was beaten, robbed and left for dead. He was from the nation of Israel. Along comes a man, a Samaritan, who for all intents and purposes this beaten man would probably not have the time of day for on any other given day. But the Samaritan is moved with compassion when he sees him. Let’s not forget that many of the man’s fellow countrymen and in fact religious leaders have already passed him by, having their emotions stirred, but leaving the man without help. This Samaritan was moved to the point of action and took care of what many would have said was his mortal enemy and he did it without saying, “You can pay me back when this is all over.” Since the man who was beaten was a merchant, the Samaritan could have told him that he could just repay him in goods, but that’s not what he did. He took him to an Inn, paid for his stay, asked the keeper to care for the man and said he would pay any expenses when he returned. Wow! Jesus wanted to make sure that prejudice was set aside among His people and that they cared for people the way this Samaritan did: with true compassion. Notice it didn’t hurt the Samaritan. It moved him.

Another aspect that often happens in regards to giving is that many give out of guilt. How many people buy presents for people not out of love or compassion, but because there is some type of celebration and they believe that the other person will be getting them something and so they get a gift? That is not a gift of compassion.

When there is the giving of money, some people feel obligated. When the cashier asks would you like to help with, whatever the particular organization is or some other particular project, people somehow feel obligated, but not moved with compassion. Let me lay it on the line. It is ok to say “no”. If you act out of guilt rather than compassion, just keep your money. Remember Ananias & Sapphira form Acts 5? What were they doing? It appears that there was great pressure on them to give because, well, everyone else was giving. What is most telling and I think most common today is that they gave, which was good, but they gave for the wrong reasons and under false pretenses. They lied about what they gave, when they didn’t have to give at all. Their giving was for show and God struck them dead. Incredible! God wants giving that is from a cheerful heart, not one motivated by guilt or pride.

Also, remember that in Acts 4 we see what was going on. There were many believers who had need and there were many believers whom God had enabled to meet those needs. Guess what? They called the committees of the church together and made sure that they could meet it through their financial needs. No? They called the government and made sure that the social welfare program would care for them. No. They gave to the apostles of what they had, which for many was, lands and money from land, so that they could be distributed to those who were in need. Clearly we see these early believers moved by compassion. Let us note the words of Luke in Acts 4 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.

34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,

35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

Isn’t that beautiful? There were none among them who lacked anything, for they cared for one another and they were of the same mind and God blessed them and He gave power to His apostles to witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. What good would the witness of the resurrection do if it did not produce holy living and compassion in others? It would do exactly what many see today among those who call themselves Christians. It would create those who do not see the glory and beauty of the Savior and His gospel. May God grant us hearts of compassion and move us to action for our brothers and sisters.

Before I left this morning I checked out Nathan White’s website and saw the post he left regarding some brothers and sisters in MS. They are in desperate need and his church has decided to send some supplies and help. If you would like to help, please visit Nathan’s Site and they have list of items that the people need. May God guide you and me in giving, not till it hurts, but out of genuine compassion.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Who was John Rogers?

We have had in our home now for many years a reprint of the 1777 edition of the New England Primer. This Primer was used to teach children the alphabet and also, reading, writing and the Scriptures. Many of the early fathers of our country grew up with this type of training. While it may seem simple, with our modern complex education system. It is really telling, which one does the better job of molding character and setting the mind for good social service (showing love for his fellow man). The following is a poem that is in the midst of the primer. It is by John Rogers. In light of the conversation we have been having with many Roman Catholics, I thought it might be well to look back and be reminded of faithful men who stood firm against Rome, even when it cost them their lives and denied them opportunity to be with their wife and children, for they were looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith.

With this in mind, let me say that I am profoundly amazed when men write such things as this before their death. As they instruct little ones to look unto Jesus and follow Him. That is fresh air. We hear so many today who simply want to have Christ for ease, but I say, "If you will have Christ, be ready to share in His sufferings. If you will love the Son of God, love Him unto death." This was the mind of John Rogers and many of those before him. May God grant us grace, that when we face persecution, tribulation, and trials, we can face those around us and even our spouse and children and say, "It is well with my soul to face these things for Jesus' sake, do thou likewise." Amen.

The primer says this concerning him and the poem:

MR. JOHN ROGERS, minister of the gospel in London, was the first martyr in Queen MARY's reign, and was burnt at Smithfield, February 14,1554. His wife with nine small children, and one at her breast following him to the stake; with which sorrowful sight he was not in the least daunted, but with wonderful patience died courageously for the gospel of JESUS CHRIST.
Some few days before his death, he wrote the following Advice to his Children.

GIVE ear my children to my words
Whom God hath dearly bought,

Lay up his laws within your heart,
and print them in your thoughts.

I leave you here a little book
for you to look upon,

That you may see your father's face
when he is dead and gone:

Who for the hope of heavenly things,
While he did here remain,

Gave over all his golden years
to prison and to pain.

Where I, among my iron bands,
inclosed in the dark,

Not many days before my death,
I did compose this work:

And for example to your youth,
to whom I wish all good,

I send you here God's perfect truth,
and seal it with my blood.

To you my heirs of earthly things:
which I do leave behind,

That you may read and understand
and keep it in your mind.

That as you have been heirs of that

that once shall wear away,

You also may possess that part,
which never shall decay.

Keep always God before your eyes
with all your whole intent,

Commit no sin in any wise,
keep his commandment.

Abhor that arrant whore of ROME,
and all her blasphemies,

And drink not of her cursed cup,
obey not her decrees.

Give honor to your mother dear,
remember well her pain,

And recompence her in her age,
with the like love again.

Be always ready for her help,
and let her not decay,

Remember well your father all,
who would have been your stay.

Give of your portion to the poor,
as riches do arise,

And from the needy naked soul,
turn not away your eyes:

For he that doth not hear the cry
of those that stand in need,

Shall cry himself and not be heard,
when he does hope to speed.

If GOD hath given you increase,
and blessed well your store,

Remember you are put in trust,
and should relieve the poor.

Beware of foul and filthy lust,
let such things have no place,

Keep clean your vessels in the LORD,
that he may you embrace.

Ye are the temples of the LORD,
for you are dearly bought,

And they that do defile the same,
shall surely come to nought.

Be never proud by any means,
build not your house too high,

But always have before your eyes,
that you are born to die.

Defraud not him that hired is,
your labour to sustain,

But pay him still without delay,
his wages for his pain.

And as you would that other men
against you should proceed,

Do you the same to them again,
when they do stand in need.

Impart your portion to the poor,
in money and in meat

And send the feeble fainting soul,
of that which you do eat.

Ask counsel always of the wise,
give ear unto the end,

And ne'er refuse the sweet rebuke
of him that is thy friend.

Be always thankful to the LORD,
with prayer and with praise,

Begging of him to bless your work,
and to direct your ways.

Seek first, I say, the living GOD,
and always him adore,

And then be sure that he will bless,
your basket and your store.

And I beseech Almighty GOD,
replenish you with grace,

That I may meet you in the heavens,
and see you face to face.

And though the fire my body burns,
contrary to my kind,

That I cannot enjoy your love
according to my mind:

Yet I do hope that when the heavens
shall vanish like a scroll,

I shall see you in perfect shape,
in body and in soul.

And that I may enjoy your love,

and you enjoy the land,

I do beseech the living LORD,
to hold you in his hand.

Though here my body be adjudg'd
in flaming fire to fry,

My soul I trust, will straight ascend
to live with GOD on high.

What though this carcase smart awhile
what though this life decay,

My soul I hope will be with GOD,
and live with him for aye.

I know I am a sinner born,
from the original,

And that I do deserve to die
by my fore-father's fall:

But by our SAVI0UR'S precious blood,
which on the cross was spilt,

Who freely offer'd up his life,
to save our souls from guilt;

I hope redemption I shall have,
and all who in him trust,

When I shall see him face to face,
and live among the just.

Why then should I fear death's grim look
since CHRIST for me did die,

For King and Caesar, rich and poor,
the force of death must try.

When I am chained to the stake,
and fagots girt me round,

Then pray the LORD my soul in heaven
may be with glory crown'd.

Come welcome death the end of fears,
I am prepar'd to die:

Those earthly flames will send my soul
up to the Lord on high.

Farewell my children to the world,
where you must yet remain;

The LORD of hosts be your defence,
'till we do meet again.

Farewell my true and loving wife,
my children and my friends,

I hope in heaven to fee you a11,
when all things have their end.

If you go on to serve the LORD,
as you have now begun,

You shall walk safely all your days,
until your life be done.

GOD grant you so to end your days,
as he shall think it best,

That I may meet you in the heavens,
where I do hope to rest.

OUR days begin with trouble here,
our life is but a span,
And cruel death is always near,
so frail a thing is man.

Then sow the seeds of grace whilst young,
that when thou com'st to die,

Thou may'st sing forth that triumph song,
Death where's thy victory.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

God has a plan for your life

This sign is what much of the modern church and cults pour forth from their pulpits. As a matter of fact, it comes forth from the pulpits of reformed assemblies. At its core it is biblical. God does have a plan for each and every life. He has purposed the forming of every human being. He has not sat back and as the deists believe just allowed things to run apart from a sovereign decree. However, knowing what is prevailing in the modern church, that somehow the God of the Bible is not actively involved in the affairs of men down to the smallest detail and that He only has "good", as man defines "good", things in store for man, I want to address the lack of context here.

I recall reading in a wonderful book concerning the last 50 years or so of the 20th century of evangelicalism by Iain Murray titled "Evangelicalism Divided". In it he sees clearly the evidence of what Charles Spurgeon said would come about in the future and was occuring in his day. Murray documents how the church lost her footing after Spurgeon. Moving into the midst of the 20th century he shows how the church began to more and more embrace "decisional regeneration". He specifically cites Billy Graham with pushing this type of "conversion" to the forefront, though there were a small minority of faithful pastors who opposed his methods and theology. Today, the church has long surpassed that. They have embraced "decisional regeneration" and they have even gone to the point where there is not even need of regeneration at all. Many believe what Pelagius taught and was condemned for. Many like Robert Shuller clearly don't think man has a problem with sin, but with negative thinking. His solution is not the person and work of Christ, but simply altering the thinking of the individual. However, both Graham and Shuller both promote the quote from the sign above. "God has a plan for your life", though they often throw in "wonderful" in the midst of it.

The fact is God does have a plan for our lives. He has made us for a purpose. As the catechism states, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Yet why do many men not attain to this lofty end? Well just as there are those who are predestined to eternal life by God's grace, according to Ephesians 1, there are also those whom God will leave in their sin in order that He may glorify Himself in the just punishment that they deserve (I will be writing on the deserving of mercy in a future installment). You might read this and say, "Oh no, God would never do that. He is a loving God. He wants and desires the salvation of every single man." I want to remind you that God had different plans and purposes for different men in history and not all of those purposes were for salvation.

Most notably we can refer to Romans 9 and there we see that God had different purposes for Moses, than He did for Pharaoh. While He was merciful to Moses, He hardened Pharaoh. One was blessed with earthly possessions and power and the other was blessed with being among the people of God. God's favor delivered Moses and the Israelites, but His wrath consumed the armies of Egypt and God states clearly that He raised Pharaoh up for this purpose, "that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." God indeed had a plan for Pharaoh, but it was not that he might experience the sovereign grace of God. The question that is often asked is, "What will you do with Jesus?" The question should rightly be asked, "What will Jesus do with you?"

This subject has been touched on in many works of those of the church down through the centuries in far better writings than I can give. However, the truth of the matter is that we must be clear about God's purposes and that those purposes are very often unknown to man. We do not know the precise purposes of our existence and what God's intentions are to accomplish in us or anyone else. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, those who have been regenerated and given the gift of faith, we are simply those earthen vessels (clay pots) that God has poured the treasure of the gospel of grace into. We are to be used in the Master's hands to spread the treasure to all men, whether from the divine perspective, they are appointed to life or death. As the apostle Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 2:14 "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?" You know what brothers and sisters? When we proclaim the gospel, we are not so much proclaiming it to men as we are to God. It is a savour, an aroma, a fragrance. Get this..........God just wants to smell the sweet fragrance of His gospel! That should make a reformed baptist want to shout "Hallelujah!, Glory!"

Therefore, let us keep the phrase, "God has a plan for your life" in perspective the next time someone says it and let us be aware of its context and be faithful to correct, rebuke, or exhort accordingly. May God bless us as we do so. Amen.

Need Help?

I ran across this sign near Mt. Pleasant, N. C. It caught my eye, because it contained more words than I'm accustomed to seeing. First let me say that I appreciate the fact that at least the first part of the sign is directing those who need help to call upon Jesus. That is good and it is biblical. The Scriptures repeated exhort us to call upon the name of the Lord. From the opening book of Genesis we see that godly men called upon the name of the Lord (4:26) throughout the pages of Scripture we find that men are to call upon God for help and He is an ever present help in time of need (Heb. 4:16).

The most help a person needs is for God to raise them from spiritual death to spiritual life and though I am thoroughly convinced that they will not have spiritual life unless The Resurrection gives it to them, then they are at His mercy. I always encourage the lost to call upon God for a new heart, a new spirit and peace with God through His Son the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:37, 38, Rom. 10:13). If you are a Calvinist and don't do these things, then your Calvinism isn't worth speaking about. As a matter of fact, it isn't true biblical theology or Calvinsim at all. We must give the remedy and right response to sinners. Peter and Paul and all the apostles did this in their messages to Jew and Gentile alike. They commanded them to turn from sin and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ and call upon His name. Therefore, this is good.

However, I am in a little debate over the second line. It is good in that it directs men to thank God. Well said. We are commanded over and over to thank Him, for from Him are all things (Col. 1:16) and He is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Throughout Scripture we are to be thankful in all things (Ps. 100:4; Col. 3:15).

However, there is a premise here that bothers me: "If you don't need help". Who is there among us who truly does not need help? Is this to assume such a statement? The Scriptures are clear that we all sin and that we all fall short of the glory of God. We all remain under His wrath and that we all turn aside to our own way rather than walk in His ways. Some might stand up and say that there are those who now have been delivered out of His wrath by His Son. To that I say a hearty, "Amen!" Yet are we who have been summoned by His effective grace ever without need? Oh brothers and sisters we are always in need of the grace of God. Though we may look back on our life and see the wonderful evidence that god has indeed worked in our lives, we can also see how much we continue to miss the mark and we continually, more and more, see the evidence of our need of the continued grace of God to sustain us.

Therefore, let us continue to be those recognizing our need, even in the midst of abounding grace and let us come boldly before the throne obtaining grace from the hand of God. Let us come humbly thanking Him for the grace He has already provided to us in Jesus Christ and let us give Him glory for His goodness, mercy and love that has abounded to us in Christ. If you are among those who still practice sin, then come in fear and trembling before Him with a broken heart over your sin and a sincere desire to be delivered from it and call upon the name of the Lord and He will deliver you.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Great Post on Law and the Gospel

Here is a great post by Steve Camp on Law and the Gospel. It was quite interesting, but even more curious were the discussion comments that followed (They were up to 65 at the time of this posting). Everything from antinomianism to a wonderful brother's insights into the law and Paul's continuing to obey the law in the book of Acts. I hope you find it encouraging.

Here's the Link

Sunday, September 11, 2005

New Orleans - A pictorial documentary

Here is a link by a person who lives in New Orleans. This links to a photo gallery with about 197 pics from before the storm through it. He also documents his thoughts and the scenes. This is probably the best "coverage" you could get of what really happened in New Orleans.

Sorry guys. The gentleman who was posting the pics and comments has already taken them down. They were something to see though. Nothing like the news media portrayed it.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

In the Wake of Katrina

Though I have not been able to follow the news as close as many, it truly is amazing when nature is unleashed by the hand of God. Many today speak of an "act of God" and do not take the term seriously, but tend to see that phrase in relation to nature itself. God is simply "the force of nature". However, in the Scriptures we see a very real and personal, as well as sovereign God. I warn those of you who read on that this will not be the "God loves you and has a plan for your life" approach to dealing with the issue surrounding the devastation in LA, MS, and AL. This disaster was not something that God simply "allowed". In short it is by His divine and sovereign decree.

Some have asked, as they did after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, "Where was God when all these things were going on?" They presume to think that God had absolutely nothing to do with those things then and that a good and loving God would have nothing to do with the terrible things that went on last week. However, we saw that the wind and the waves were both working together to bring about the tremendous devastation we viewed and those in the "big easy" experienced. When we look to the Scriptures we find that God is the One who is in charge of those things, specifically the waters of the seas. Notice Job chapter 38 how God acts and does and is not responsible to anyone, yet He is the One in complete control from the beginning:

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
2 "Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge?
3 Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.
4 "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 "Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
9 When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band;
10 When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors;
11 When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!’

Notice who it is that has formed the seas and set their boundaries. Notice who it is that sustains those boundaries. Notice who limits the advancement of the waves of the ocean. These are all rhetorical questions given to Job in his interview with God. God is the One who founded and did all these things, not Job and not any other creature! God in His mercy holds the waters back from sinners. He gave a promise to Noah in Genesis 9 that He would not destroy the earth again with water. Yet when He gave the word the fountains of the deep broke forth and the windows of heaven were opened and the earth was flooded. He judged the entire world in the day of the flood except 8 and today there are more localised flooding that are evidences of His hand. Katrina, was indeed a judgment upon the ungodliness of the area. Though there were undoubtedly some of God's people in the area, Bourbon Street and the festivals of Mardi Gras and other worldly and down right depraved parties (the homosexual festival scheduled for just a few days after Katrina hit was canceled) were some of the testimony that the people had tolerated and even endorsed outright and open sin in their streets. This particular area is known for "Fat Tuesday" followed by their mockery of repentance in "Ash Wednesday". God's wrath is revealed against all ungodliness everyday (Rom. 1:18). Men suppress this knowledge of the truth concerning God. They don't want to see clearly that God is a righteous judge and lest we who have found grace in the sight of God think we are superior, we must realize that His grace abounds in not allowing the flood waters to overtake us as well, for we deserve no less.

Jesus spoke of some people who perished in Luke 13:1-5. In these two instances He mentions some Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices and He also speaks of eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them. He then ask a very penetrating question to those listening: "Do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?" Lest someone think in my writing that I view those who live in the areas devasted by the hurricane, as worse sinners than I or anyone else for that matter, that is not the case, as I will show shortly. Jesus is simply going to make a point that sinners deserve punishment and every moment that they live is mercy from God. Just as Jonathan Edwards preached,:

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his band, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it.

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God's enemies. God's creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor.

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

We so often think we have accomplished our own preservation or our own salvation, when really we have done nothing, but it is God who sustains us. Jesus' own words from Luke ring down 2 millenia to us today, "I tell you, no; but unlessyou repent you will all likewise perish." We are no better than those who perished before Pilate, in Siloam, Pompey, Mt. St. Helens, Indonesia, or Louisiana. We have simply been spared by God's mercy and been given opportunity to repent.

Jesus makes the point by illustrating what He means in verses 6-9 of the same chapter. There He speaks a particular fig tree that has been planted and when the owner of the tree continues to see that it produces no fruit, he tells the keeper of the vineyard to cut it down. But the keeper desires to work with the tree and see if it will produce fruit. He asks for one more year and digs around it and fertilizes it. He then states, "if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down." Jesus no doubt may have Israel in mind in this parable. However, the application we can see clearly. It is His patience and longsuffering towards us that keeps us from being swallowed up by the grave and experiencing the wrath of God. Oh how sinners need to see their sad state, mourn for their sin, and have godly sorrow that leads them to repentance. Oh how our churches need a touch of godly sorrow and repentance, instead of justifying sin and making light of it. We would do well to realize that God's judgment is not limited to those outside the church but also to those inside the church as well (See Acts 5:1-10; 1 Cor. 11:27-32).

Sinners would do well to heed the words of Edwards as he continued:

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.

May God bring His elect to Himself through this "shaking those things which can be shaken", and may He do it through the glorious proclamation of His gospel and love of His people to those who so desperately need Christ. This event not only occurred by the judgment of God, but will also be seen as the mercy and love of God towards those who are His elect. We who are His must see this opportunity to proclaim His truth and demonstrate His love to those who have been effected by the hurricane. Even in the state I work in people have come here for shelter. The Charlotte Coliseum has been opened and numerous hotels are caring for people. Christians rise up and be the means God uses to accomplish His purposes in Christ Jesus. May God grace us grace and wisdom and use us in this hour for His honor and glory. Amen.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Blogger Blip

I haven't had an opportunity to finish up my blog on Katrina. However, it is in the works. I am in the midst of an intensive study of Daniel and so my time had sadly been limited. However, I was able to have some time yesterday to work in the yard with the kids. We trimmed hedges and bushes and also pressure washed the house. They also helped me Saturday wash the vans. We had a great time. Those are the wonderful moments that you really get to spend with your kids. You are able to watch them help and work with one another, even if there is the occasional cold wet spray of the hose at one another. How I cherish those moments working along-side my little ones.

The other times are those times that are spent reading to them. Usually in the morning I have to leave before they wake up, and so Denise is the one reading, or they are reading themselves. However, at night we are into many things. We are about to finish Richard Newton's little book, "Heroes of the Early Church" (click on the photo to order). I have been challenged in many areas by the men of the early church. Also, we are going to start "A Journey in Purity". I have completed all of the journey series, but the kids missed about 4 of them. We are also in the book of Romans and trying desperately to go through the Douglas Bonds book "Duncan's War". I pray that God may take His words, whether from my mouth, books, or straight from His Word and apply them by grace to my children.

Anyway, I should be able to post tonight I hope. I will also be posting some things in regards to home birth. We spoke yesterday to a very helpful lady named Damaris. She is a midwife and we are going to seek her services in regards to delivering our next baby at home, Lord willing. I am very excited for several reasons: I think it will be more relaxing for Denise, it will be less expensive, and I just may have the opportunity to deliver the baby myself. I'll write more as we get to know this lady. If you're reading this, please be in prayer concerning the provisions that we need in order to pay for this. Our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills and all of the earth is His, so we ask beleiving that since He has given us this child that He will provide.