Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas from our family in Louisiana, U.S.A. to you and yours, wherever you may be.  Christmas is probably my favorite time of year.  I love everything about it.  The decorations, the food, the festivities, the fun, the cold, the snow (rare here in LA), gift-giving, Christmas music, Christmas shows, and the list goes on and on.  I love to have fun, and my family does too.  But in the midst of all the activities, we try to keep at the forefront of our minds daily the true meaning of this season, as well as well as every day of our lives.  Jesus Christ, our Saviour has come into our world, and given Himself for us and to us.  

Isaiah wrote the following words around 700 hundred years prior to the future earthly incarnation of the Promised One, Jesus who is called "The Christ" (Greek), or "The Messiah" (Hebrew):
Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  
(7) Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over His kingdom to establish it and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 
Did you notice Isaiah's words sound like they are speaking of something that has already happened, past tense, although it was still several hundred years in the future?  That's the way it is with God. He speaks of those things that haven't happened yet as though they have.  You may ask how can He do that?  What if things don't work out like He says?  What if something goes wrong?

Well, He not only holds the future, He also plans it, and ensures that it comes to pass exactly as He has predetermined, or predestined it to be.  I know "predestined" is a word that turns a lot of people off, but it's taught extensively in Scripture.  Look it up in Romans, Ephesians, and elswhere in the pages of the Bible.  As David wrote in Psalms, He (the LORD) sits in the Heavens and does all that He pleases.   The Book of Job says that His will cannot be thwarted.  So even as sure as Jesus came exactly where, when, and how the Bible said He would, He'll accomplish in your life all that He has planned and promised. 

Prior to these verses, Isaiah wrote the following words to a people who were in darkness, and appeared to have no hope. Not only were they in the middle of tough times, but more trials and tribulations, worse than they could ever imagine were on the way.  But he wrote of a future time coming, as though it was past, when things would get better, better than they could ever imagine:
Isaiah 9:1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time He brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time He has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.  (2) The people who walked in darkness have seen a Great Light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has Light shined.
Although the Christmas season brings joy to many people, you may be one of those for whom this time of year brings "anguish and gloom", instead of "Holiday Cheer".  Perhaps you've lost a loved one(s) during this time of year, or you may be going through divorce, financial hardship, job loss, or any of a plethora of other things that contribute to your being discouraged.  For those who can relate to "gloom and anguish", what a marvelous promise this is!  Although the context of the passage is to the inhabitants of the lands listed, I believe the message in this passage can bring great comfort to us today, over 2700 years later.

The prophet says there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish.  He also says He has made the way glorious.  He is speaking to God's chosen people.  If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, saved by grace through faith, then you can claim the promise that The people who walked in darkness have seen a Great Light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has Light shined. 

Isaiah also spoke of the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.  I don't know about you, but this brings great Joy and Light to me, because I'm not of Jewish descent, but am what the Bible calls a Gentile, "of the nations".   This Light was promised to us, as well as the Jews.  Jesus, our Saviour has come, and given us Himself, and promised us an eternity with Himself and the Father in Heaven.  Our sins have been forgiven and we have been cleansed from all unrighteousness by His blood!

Even though your current situation may not seem to reflect this promise of "no more gloom", it is spoken of in past tense by Isaiah, and you can be assured of every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  Although we know we are to face many trials and tribulations while here on earth, if you're a Christian, there is a better day coming.  If not in this life, then in the next, in the eternal state with Him in Glory!
Isaiah 40:5 (ESV) And the Glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see It together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 29, 2010

What's "Of First Importance" according to the Scriptures?

One of our Associate Pastors filled the Pulpit Sunday morning at Church while our senior Pastor was away for the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, and this was one of many Scripture passages he used.    The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV)
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures..."
Although this was not the Pastor's main text, (Psalm 103 was), that phrase "of first importance" really stood out to me, and spoke to my heart, convicting me of my need to re-focus on what's really important in life.  Don't you just love how the Holy Spirit shows you things you need to see and apply to your life in a passage that you've read and studied for years, but seemed to pass right over?  Sometimes in the "hustle and bustle" of this world, our priorities can get out of order and things can get out of balance.  In the midst of stress, health problems, work, church, theological or doctrinal issues, family, politics, etc., (and on and on the list could go), I (we) can easily forget what is of "first importance".  

Forgive me, Father, and help me to always remember, and share with others that which is of first importance, "what I also received: that Christ died for our (my) sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures..." In Jesus name I pray, Amen!

And let us be like Charles Spurgeon, who said:
"I take my text, and make a bee-line to the CROSS." 
No matter where Spurgeon took his text from, he would quickly show where all Scripture points to Jesus.   (A good topic for a future blog)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just How Sovereign is God?

Charles H. Spurgeon, the 19th Century "Prince of Preachers" once said in a sermon entitled "God's Providence":

I believe...that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes —that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit as well as the sun in the heavens —that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphis over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence —the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche. He that believes in a God must believe this truth. There is no standing-point between this and atheism. There is no half way between a mighty God that worketh all things by the sovereign counsel of his will and no God at all. A God that cannot do as he pleases—a God whose will is frustrated, is not a God, and cannot be a God. I could not believe in such a God as that.

You might say, Wait a minute! What about human choice? Well, just prior to the quote above, Spurgeon led up to it with the following:

Providence is amazing. O! that thought, it staggers thought! O! it is an idea that overwhelms me—that God is working all! The sins of man, the wickedness of our race, the crimes of nations, the iniquities of kings, the cruelties of wars, the terrific scourge of pestilence—all these things in some mysterious way are working the will of God! We must not look at it; we cannot look at it. I cannot explain it. I cannot tell you where human will and free agency unite with God's sovereignty and with his unfailing decrees. This has been the place where intellectual gladiators have fought with each other ever since the time of Adam. Some have said, Man does as he likes; and others have said, God does as he pleases. In one sense, they are both true; but there is no man that has brains or understanding enough to show where they meet. We cannot tell how it is that I do just as I please as to which street I shall go home by; and yet I cannot go home but through a certain road. John Newton used to say, there were two streets to go to St. Mary Woolnoth; but Providence directed him as to which he should use. Last Sabbath day I came down a certain street I do not know why—and there was a young man who wished to speak to me; he wished to see me many times before. I say that was God's Providence—that I might meet that young man. Here was Providence, and yet there was my choice; how, I cannot tell. I cannot comprehend it.
I believe...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spurgeon's Pulpit Prayer

I do not come into this Pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, "You are Mine, and you shall be Mine. I claim you for Myself." My hope arises from the freeness of Grace, and not from the freedom of the will.

C.H. Spurgeon
(I gave a copy of this Spurgeon quote to a former Pastor/friend of mine 10 to 15 years ago. He later told me he taped it in the front cover of his Bible to remind him of this Truth before he ascends the Pulpit)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

God Saves Sinners! One-Point, not Five

The following post is a most excellent and most helpful word-for-word quote from J.I. Packer.
"The very act of setting out Calvinistic soteriology [the doctrine of salvation] in the form of five distinct points (a number due, as we saw, merely to the fact that there were five Arminian points for the Synod of Dort to answer) tends to obscure the organic character of Calvinistic thought on this subject. For the five points, though separately stated, are inseparable. They hang together; you cannot reject one without rejecting them all, at least in the sense in which the Synod meant them. For to Calvinism there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that
God saves sinners.

God the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing.
Saves does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies.
Sinners men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners – and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man’s own, or by soft-pedalling the sinner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Saviour. This is the one point of Calvinistic soteriology which the “five points” are concerned to establish and Arminianism in all its forms to deny: namely, that sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but that salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever; amen."
J.I. Packer, “Introductory Essage,” in The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, by John Owen (London: Banner of Truth, 1959) 4-5.

Amen!  Well stated (as usual) Dr. Packer!  (No offense intended to all my 4-Point or 3-Point friends)

On a personal note, I prefer the term "Doctrines of Grace", to describe my "Soteriology", which I first read about in Dr. Tom Nettles' excellent book "By His Grace and For His Glory", because I don't follow John Calvin.  Although he was a great Reformer and a great man of Faith, he was a sinner like we are.  I follow my LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. If someone asks me if I'm a Calvinist, I ask them to define their term. I respectfully disagree with some of Calvin's and Reformed Theology's views such as infant baptism, their Eschatology, their position on Israel and the Church, etc., but I do fully agree with "Calvinism" on what is commonly called the 5-Points, or T.U.L.I.P., or the "Doctrines of Grace". However, as Packer said, these 5-Points were actually counter-points in response to the heresy being taught by the Remonstrants (followers of Arminius) at the Synod of Dort, after the deaths of both Calvin and Arminius. The acronym T.U.L.I.P. was coined even later, and could probably be better worded for better understanding of what these Doctrines teach (might be a subject for a whole other blog topic in the future). John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul both recently taught through them with their recommendations for better wording for each, but their acronyms weren't as "catchy" as "TULIP".

Friday, October 15, 2010

Has it ever "occurred" to you that nothing has ever "occurred" to God?

I was listening to Jeff Noblit MP3 sermons, and thought this quote by Pastor Noblit was pretty good! When something "occurs" to me, it's because something was previously lacking in my knowledge. I guess it's kind of like something I had not thought of before "coming to me", and shedding light on a particular subject. If I was a perfect being (which I obviously am not, just ask my wife & kids-LOL) with perfect or complete knowledge, this could not happen, because I would be Omniscient.

I guess how you view this question/statement depends on how big your God (or god) is. Is your God Omniscient? The term literally means "all-knowing", understanding God's knowledge to be exhaustive of the past, present, and future. If you agree that one of God's many attributes is His Omniscience, then you'll agree that "nothing has ever occurred to God".

Many people today think God had plan A, then had to re-group & go with Plan B, then Plan C, etc... I attended an early morning men's Bible Study/Prayer group years ago, where they were teaching that God had to go to "Plan B" after Adam & Eve sinned. (I couldn't figure out what they do with passages such as in Revelation speaking of Jesus being the Lamb slain before the foundations of the earth) Later the teacher said God had to re-group & move on to the Gentiles for his next plan when Israel failed Him. Needless to say, I stopped attending after a short time, couldn't go along with this "small God" they were promoting.

One popular "Christian author" that everyone seems to be reading today wrote “God is a person who takes immense risks.”

Tim Challies wrote the following about this statement at
John Eldredge - Though Eldredge denies he is an open theist, the evidence does not support his claim. Time and time again he speaks of God in ways that can only be explained if you hold such views. While the following quotes are taken from Wild at Heart, similar beliefs are expressed in at least one of his other works (The Sacred Romance). "God is a person who takes immense risks" (p. 30). "It's not the nature of God to limit His risks and cover His bases" (p.31). "As with every relationship, there's a certain amount of unpredictability. God's willingness to risk is just astounding. There is definitely something wild in the heart of God" (p. 32).
God taking a risk implies that He doesn't know ahead of time how something will turn out, and that He could fail.. That's a different "god" than the God I find in Scripture. His views of God and man seem to be the opposite of John the Baptist, who said -
"He must increase but I must decrease"
Eldredge's views seem more akin to-
Man (I) must increase, but God (He) must decrease".

God "limiting" his Omniscience in order to "take immense risks" is about as impossible as God "limiting" His Sovereignty. Can God the Father at any time "limit" any of His attributes? I don't think so. God is Sovereign, Holy, Omnisicient, Omnipotent, Immutable, etc.. just to name a few. He is also Righteous, Just, Merciful, Gracious, and Loving, and the list goes on.

To his credit, I will say that John Eldredge's passion for men to be masculine men, and women to be feminine is a good thing, especially in our messed-up world of gender-blending. It's a shame that rather than using the numerous Godly examples available both historically and presently, such as great Preachers, Missionaries, Laymen, etc., Eldredge sets forth mostly fictional, secular, ungodly, and profane examples of "real men".

His theology doesn't come from Scripture, but from Hollywood. Although he uses Scriptural proof-texts occasionally, his theology is a man-centered Hollywood movies theology, and in my opinion, unbiblical and unorthodox. Among Eldredge's role-models for men are "R" rated movies with the hero uttering profanity, involved in sexual immorality, and ungodliness, without a glimmer of godliness. Never does he use a man leading his family in Bible Study, or praying with his family, ministering in his church or serving others. (I think maybe a separate blog just on Eldredge may be a good idea for the future, because I'm starting to shift this blog to him instead of staying on track)

Isaiah recorded this passage which open-theists have major difficulty with:
Isaiah 46:9-11 (ESV)

...for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose'...I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

In recent years, Open Theists seem to have rekindled what is actually an old controversy by claiming that God does not have full foreknowledge of the future, because it hasn't happened yet. They claim God is having to make adjustments for every "potential outcome" of the choices we might make with our "free-will", but none of it can be certain in His mind. That is to say that He does not know everything that is going to happen. This is not new. This is actually an old controversy.

In the Eighteenth Century, Jonathan Edwards addressed this issue in his book "Freedom of the Will" (a shortened version of the original title)
Edwards wrote:
"First, I am to prove, that God has an absolute and certain foreknowledge of the free actions of moral agents. One would think it should be wholly needless to enter on such an argument with any that profess themselves Christians: but so it is, God’s certain foreknowledge of the free acts of moral agents is denied by some that pretend to believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God; especially of late."

As "The Preacher" (or Hebrew "Qoheleth") wrote thousands of years ago in Ecclesiastes,
Ecclesiastes 1:9(ESV) What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Child-Like Faith

Last night I was driving home from church with my 10 year old daughter beside me in the truck (my older 2 teenagers and my wife were staying late for youth activities). My whole family has been saved by His Grace, and all love Jesus, but she's the one of my three children who, after our family Bible Study/Prayer time at night, often asks me to come to her room where she can ask more questions about the passage, or just to talk about Biblical things in general. She longs for more! She wants to know more about Heaven, more about God, more about Jesus, she just can't get enough! We frequently have long conversations and prayer time with just the two of us.

She has an understanding well beyond her years, and never ceases to amaze me with her insight into spiritual things.

She asked if I had any of our Church's Praise Band's CD's in the truck, which I did, and put one in. One of the songs was "Lay 'Em Down", the first line of which is "Come down to the River". She asked me to turn it off after we listened to it so we could talk, and told me singing about the River reminds her of this summer when we were at the beach. The following are her words:
Dad, this song about coming down to the River reminds me of this summer when we were at the beach. Remember when we would go out into the ocean, and stand there while the waves came crashing in on us? Remember when they would pull us back out? They would be over my head, and I was kind of scared, but when you held me, I felt safe. That's why I would jump up in your arms when a big wave came. Even if I couldn't hold on to you, you were holding onto me so the waves couldn't pull me back out. Dad, I think that's how it is with God, us, and Satan. I think when he tries to pull us away, and when bad things happen, God is holding on to us. Don't you think so?

I am amazed at my precious little girl using metaphors and allegories like this at her age. I know God has great things in store for her! I am reminded of something Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew.
Matthew 18:3 (ESV) ...“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
I also came across John Wesley's Notes on this verse:
"the first step toward entering into the kingdom of grace, is to become as little children: lowly in heart, knowing yourselves utterly ignorant and helpless, and hanging wholly on your Father who is in heaven, for a supply of all your wants. "

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"The Fire Stirred Gives More Heat"

Are you connected to a local congregation under Biblical, Godly Preaching where you get your fire stirred on a regular basis? Consider the words of the Puritan Preacher below:

"Preaching is vitally necessary above merely reading the Bible, because as the fire stirred gives more heat, so 'the Word', as it were, blown by Preaching, flameth the more in the hearers than when it is read."
Thomas Cartwright-Puritan Preacher (1535-1603).

Again, I ask, are you connected to a local congregation under a Godly Preacher(s) where you get your fire stirred? My family and I sure are. We can't wait to go to church with our family every Sunday, Wednesday, & any other night we're able!What a blessing it is to have our 2 teenage and 1 grade-school age kids upset at even the very possibility of missing a church service. Thanks be to the LORD!

I encourage you, my friends, to get involved in a Christ-Honoring, Christ-Preaching Church if not already active!

2 Timothy 1:6 (ESV) For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you...

Hebrews 10:24 (ESV) And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Is Open Theism "Beyond the Bounds of Orthodox Christianity"?

While reading through the book of Isaiah and being in awe of God's Sovereignty, Might, Glory, Omniscience, and all of His other attributes, I was wondering,
what do the "Open Theists" like Clark Pinnock, Greg Boyd, & John Sanders do with the myriad of passages throughout scripture like this?

Isaiah 46:9-11 (ESV)
...for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose'...I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

In case you are wondering what I'm talking about, historically, Calvinists, Arminians, and
"mixtures of both" have at least all agreed that God definitely does know the future.
They have just disagreed on "how"...whether He decreed or ordained it, or whether He just "looked ahead and saw it"...but either way, both agree God is Omniscient
...and Calvinists & Arminians differ on the definition of words like predestination, foreknowledge, election, chose, chosen, etc., but they all remained within the bounds of "Orthodox Christianity".

But Open Theism goes "beyond the bounds" and says God doesn't and can't know the future because the future is not settled, because it can't be known until we as humans make our daily choices and decisions.

If this is the case, then the God they espouse must quite often have to wring His hands after reading the morning newspaper, and say "Oops, what do I do now?, or uh-oh, I didn't expect that!, or how am I going to fix that?, or well, I guess I'll have to move on to plan-b, plan-c, etc... and just hope it all works out in the end, and doesn't get too far out of control."

The Open Theists like to camp out heavily on isolated passages and use them as proof-texts like the Genesis flood where God said He was sorry He had made man, the one in Exodus where it says God relented, or in Jonah when God relented from destroying Ninevah, and a few other passages, but they fail to use scripture to interpret scripture, and they totally ignore the passages that proclaim God's Sovereignty and his Immutability. They don't seek the "whole counsel of God", but cherry-pick the passages they want to believe. The LORD, through the prophet Jeremiah, clarified some of these issues quite well as follows:
(ESV) Jeremiah 18:7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. 9 And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.
There's no way for us as humans to fully comprehend or understand the LORD, as His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55). So by using anthropomorphisms, words like repent and relent and changed were used by the Biblical writers through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to express what God's actions appeared like from the vantage point or perspective of fallen man. The same is true as when Scripture talks about God's arm, hand, heart, wings, etc., but in other passages we are told the Father is Spirit.

So this passage in Jeremiah tells us that God has already decreed what He will and will not do. He's not changing at all, His Character remains the same, it's the people that change. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

Here's a small list of just a few other men of God who oppose Open Theism, and see it as un-Biblical, according to http://www.theopedia.com/Open_theism


Click below for links to some excellent books on the subject

John MacArthur goes so far as to say Open Theists may very well be worshiping "another god" than the God of Scripture.

What do you think, and why?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

For Such a Worm as I...Isaac Watts

“Alas, and Did My Saviour Bleed”, or “At the Cross”

(Words by Isaac Watts, 1674 – 1748)
Remember that Glorious old hymn? One line was as follows:

''Alas! and did my Saviour bleed,
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred Head
For such a worm as I?''

In today's hymnals, it reads "For Sinners such as I"

Wonder why it was changed?

I remember singing this hymn as a child, with the original word “worm” in it. This was one of my favorite hymns. I still have a clear mental image of the exact placement of each line, each word, the notes, bars, etc. on the page in the old Baptist Hymnal. I also recall on the opposite page was the hymn "At Calvary". When we had Sunday night Hymn requests, I would raise my hand and request one of these two hymns.

I remember once, when the church ordered new hymnals, Bro. Benny discovered that “worm” had been changed to “sinners”.
I distinctly remember like it was yesterday when my Pastor of 17 years, Bro. Benny, a very Godly preacher, with a heart for the LORD, Truth, His Word, and a love for His people, stopped the minister of music in the middle of the hymn. All became silent as he approached the pulpit, where the minister of music stood as he led the congregation in praise to God through the singing of hymns, and motioned for the pianist and organist to stop playing, and the choir & congregation to stop singing.

Bro. Benny told everyone in the congregation to look at that line in the newer hymnal, and he explained to us the watering down and subtlety of the editors in replacing the original, harsh/humbling word with a weaker/more palatable substitute. (I believe some hymnals today have watered it down even further, and put "for such a one as I", and even left off "sinner". The image intended by Isaac Watts was not meant to be a pleasant image, but to paint a contrast of the depths of our sinfulness with "That Sacred Head", Jesus Christ.) Brother Benny used this as a “teachable moment”, and then asked us all to take a pen or pencil, and cross out “sinner”, and write back in “worm”. He took his role as the shepherd of his flock very seriously, and was always conscious of his responsibility to lead us into all Truth, and protect us from any error or watering down of the Truth. We then proceeded to sing the hymn as it was originally intended by its author, and for years, every time this hymn was sung, those of us who were present that day remembered the time Bro. Benny interrupted the service and addressed this. This had a huge impact on me, which I will never forget. I realized then how much TRUTH MATTERS!

Bro. Benny did this on more than one occasion. Once we were singing the hymn "Grace Greater than Our Sin", and came to the line “where the blood of the lamb was spilt

"Grace Greater Than Our Sin"

written by Julia Harriet Johnston, born in1849

"Marvelous love of our loving Lord,

Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt

Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured

There where the blood of the lamb was spilt

Bro. Benny did the same thing again. He approached the pulpit while the minister of music led the congregational singing, and stopped us. Once again, he asked us to get our pens or pencils out and mark through "spilt", and replace it with "shed". He told us that to him, "spilt" seemed more like an accident, like "spilled-milk" or something, and "shed" seemed more intentional. He took a few minutes to expound how Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was no accident, but intentional, and was planned by Jesus and the Father, the Lamb slain before the Foundations of the world! Jesus willingly shed His Blood for our sins. My family and I agreed wholeheartedly with Bro. Benny's theological reasoning for changing these words, but even if someone didn't, they had to admire him for his strong conviction, and taking a stand to protect his flock from anything that could even be perceived as less than accurate.

This blog wasn't intend to be as much about those hymns, as it was a tribute to my Pastor Bro. Benny, that great man of God, and his strong convictions, which on occasion led him to even interrupt the Baptist order-of-worship services (nearly unheard of back then) to address what was on his heart, and to stand for the Truth.

Thanks, Brother Benny for the impact you had (& still have) on my Christian life!

For more on the word "worm", click here to see my earlier post on William Carey, Missionary to India, a man who knew his place before a "Thrice Holy God", who had put on his tombstone,

William Carey
Born, August 17, 1761
Died, June 9, 1834
“A wretched, poor, and helpless worm,
On Thy kind arms I fall.”

Additional Scriptures:
Psalm 22:6(ESV) But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
Isaiah 41:14(ESV)Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel!
I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
John 3:30(ESV)He must increase, but I must decrease.

Friday, August 20, 2010

John Flavel's quotes on God's Providence

John Flavel (1627–1691) was an English Presbyterian clergyman. I've heard several of my favorite preachers whom I routinely download sermons from, like Alistair Begg, R.C. Sproul, Albert Mohler, etc. quote John Flavel lately. My interest was aroused and I've been reading some of his works online.

Here are a few excellent quotes of his that I found to be most helpful. May God be Glorified.
When our needs are permitted to grow to an extremity, and all visible hopes fail, then to have relief given wonderfully enhances the price of such a mercy (Isa. 41:17-18).

You may look upon some providences once and again, and see little or nothing in them, but look "seven times," that is, meditate often upon them, and you will see their increasing glory, like that increasing cloud (1 Kings 18:44).

All the dark, intricate, puzzling providences at which we were sometimes so offended...we shall [one day] see to be to us, as the difficult passage through the wilderness was to Israel, "the right way to the city of habitation".

Whatsoever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon, God has from time to time broken it, and made us to see the vanity of it; so that we find the readiest course to be rid our comforts is to set our hearts inordinately or immoderately upon them.

—John Flavel

(I want to order one of Flavel's books,
"Mystery of Providence"
soon, but I've ordered too many books lately and need to catch up on reading the ones I already have. It will likely be next in line, though.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Charles Simeon meets John Wesley (a "delightful" conversation on Dec. 20, 1748)

According to a book I'm reading by Warren Wiersbe, "50 People Every Christian Should Know-Learning From Spiritual Giants of the Faith", Charles Simeon wrote,
"My endeavor is to bring out of scripture what is there, and not to trust in what I think might be there...Take the Word as little children without enquiring what human system it appears to favor."..."Be a Bible Christian and not a system Christian," he advised his students.
Simeon once had a "delightful personal meeting with Wesley"
Wesley recorded briefly in his journal later:
"I went to Hinxworth, where I had the satisfaction of meeting Mr. Simeon...He gave me pleasing information..."
Simeon left a more complete record of the conversation as recorded below.

the following is from:
Charles Simeon (1759-1836) was an Anglican who served Trinity Church in Cambridge, England for 54 years. The story of his life and ministry are fascinating and challenging to modern pastors who tend to be soft and too quick to retreat in the face of opposition and trial.
Simeon tells the following story from his early years of a meeting that he had with the venerable John Wesley. A young, largely unproven Calvinist engages an older, much revered Arminian.
The conversation--and heart behind it--is instructive for us today as we contemplate how brothers should relate to those with whom we disagree on important doctrinal points. Too often we allow our disagreements to eclipse completely the fundamental beliefs that we hold in common.

Now let's allow Charles Simeon join the conversation (he writes about his experience in the third person perspective). He has something to teach us. May the Lord grant us a double portion of his spirit today.

A young Minister (Charles Simeon), about three or four years after he was ordained, had an opportunity of conversing familiarly with the great and venerable leader of the Arminians(John Wesley) in this kingdom; and, wishing to improve the occasion to the uttermost, he addressed him nearly in the following words:

--"Sir, I (Simeon) understand that you (Wesley)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, not from impertinent curiosity, but for real instruction."
Permission being very readily and kindly granted, the young Minister proceeded to ask,
--"Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved, that you would never have thought of turning unto God, if God had not first put [it] into your heart?
--"Yes," says the veteran, "I do indeed."
--"And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by any thing that you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?"
--"Yes, solely through Christ."
--"But, Sir, supposing you were first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?"
--"No; I must be saved by Christ from first to last."
--"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?"
--"What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?"
--"Yes; altogether."
--"And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto his heavenly kingdom?"
--"Yes; I have no hope, but in him."
--"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."

The Arminian leader was so pleased with the conversation, that he made particular mention of it in his journals; notwithstanding there never afterwards was any connexion between the parties, he retained an unfeigned regard for his young inquirer to the hour of his death.

(Charles Simeon, Expository Outlines on the Whole Bible, Vol. 1: Genesis-Leviticus Preface, pp. xvii-xviii)

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Be a Bible Christian and not a System Christian"...Charles Simeon

I'm currently reading Wayne Grudem's excellent textbook, "Systematic Theology", and listening to him teach the book on MP3.
Systematic theology
is a discipline which addresses theological topics one by one and attempts to summarize all the Biblical teaching on each particular subject. Its goal is to present the major themes (or teachings or doctrines) of the Christian faith in an organized and ordered overview that remains faithful to the Biblical witness. Its main goal is to draw a clear description of what the Bible teaches about a particular doctrine.
(definition of systematic theology taken and partly summarized from Theopedia-I know, not the best theological source, forgive my laziness)

(Now before getting upset with me about things we may disagree on in the next few paragraphs, go to the bottom of this post to see what Charles Simeon said, which is actually the whole point of this post.)

On Soteriology - the study of Salvation, I have no tolerance for other views. I believe Jesus was narrow and intolerant when He said in John 14:6 "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Me."
On Ecclesiology - the study of the Church, I have strong views on what I feel the Bible teaches on Baptism, the Lord's Supper, Church Government, etc., and have aligned my family and myself with the Church closest to my views on these, but have respect for other views.
On Eschatology - the study of last things or end times, I part with my "Reformed" brethren here. I believe Jesus will rapture His church, there will be a "time of Jacob's trouble such as the world has never known", i.e. the "Great Tribulation Period", and that Jesus will physically return afterward and rule and reign on the Throne of David for 1000 years on earth, which I think is consistent with my view of the Church and Israel, but give room to other views, and constantly ask God to show me if and where I'm wrong. I don't believe every single promise to the nation Israel can be spiritualized to the Church today. I don't believe the Bible teaches "replacement theology". I believe God is still going to fulfill numerous yet unfilled promises to Israel, and I believe Scripture teaches this plainly in Romans 11, and elsewhere. But I know of many learned and scholarly "Reformed" giants in the faith, past and present who disagree with me, and who knows? They may be right (but I don't presently think so). I do, however, ask God to show me when and where I am wrong, and hope I have the discernment to know when the Holy Spirit is convicting me to change errant views in light of Scriptural Truths.

I believe that correct Doctrine (teaching) is essential, and that Systematic Theology is a much needed discipline among Christian believers. But I see and hear of so much non-productive bickering and arguing among Christians today about "systems", such as:
Calvinism vs. Arminianism; (Can you guess which view I hold to? But there are
certainly many other things Calvin taught, believed, and did that I'm not in
agreement with)
Augustinian vs. Pelagian teachings on original sin (Pelagius was labeled a heretic, by
the way)
Sovereignty of God in Salvation vs. Semi-Pelagianism (also a heresy in my
Divine Grace vs. Free Will (now I'm not saying we don't make choices every day,
nor am I denying human responsibility)
Dispensationalism vs. Covenant Theology; (I lean toward one over the other,
but not fully in all details)
Cessasionist vs. Non-Cessasionist views on spiritual gifts; (not gonna go there
right now)
Historic Pre-Millenialism vs. Dispensational Pre-Millienialism vs. Amillenialism vs. Postmillenialism views on the 1000 year reign of Jesus
Christ on Earth.
Pre-Trib vs. Mid-Trib vs. Post-Trib views on the rapture
Preterist, Partial Preterist vs. all the above (I think the Preterist view is ridiculous by the way, just sayin)
Believer's Baptism vs. Infant Baptism
Now please don't misunderstand me here. These lists are nowhere near all-inclusive areas of disagreement, but just a small sample. These are all important areas of discussion, some more than others, and I have convictions on each one of these. Some I view as critical. Some I view as heretical. Some I view as gray-areas, or non-essentials.

I also know there's a time and place for apologetics and "contending for the faith", as well as "intelligent Christian conversation on issues that matter", as Albert Mohler puts it. I'm not at all suggesting we compromise on any essential Truths of the Christian faith. And I am in no way endorsing Ecumenicalism. There are some things we can't come together on without compromising our Faith.

However, I am grieved in my spirit when I hear arguments about "systems", where the person(s) is so caught up with defending his particular "system", rather than the Gospel. I often hear people go at each other tearing down or defending John Calvin or Jacobus Arminius (mostly Calvin-I hear very few people, even anti-Calvinists even attempting to defend Arminius). Seldom do you hear them mentioning what Jesus said, or what the Apostle Paul said, or what Moses, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, or Isaiah penned. Or how isolated passages they love to quote (sometimes taken out of context) actually fit with the rest of Scripture.

Rarely do I see these disputes lead to the parties opening the Bible and seeing what "thus saith the LORD". They have pre-conceived ideas, and seem to be all about "what I think" or "what I feel", rather than what the Word says.

According to a book I read recently by Warren Wiersbe, "50 People Every Christian Should Know-Learning From Spiritual Giants of the Faith",

Charles Simeon(1759-1836), an English Evangelical clergyman, once told his students,
"My endeavor is to bring out of scripture what is there, and not to trust in what I think might be there...Take the Word as little children without enquiring what human system it appears to favor."..."Be a Bible Christian and not a system Christian," he advised his students.

And so I pray that I can, along with Charles Simeon,

"Be a Bible Christian and not a System Christian".

And I hope and pray that I can always say, as Simeon did:

"My endeavor is to bring out of scripture what is there, and not to trust in what I think might be there...

Friday, July 16, 2010

"Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God." - William Carey

William Carey (1761-1834), known as the "Father and Founder of Modern Missions," was the first missionary to India sent out by the Baptist Missionary Society, which he helped found. I've been intrigued and inspired by what I've read and heard about Carey, and I hope to read more on this great man of faith in the future.

One of his most famous quotes was:
"Expect great things from God.
Attempt great things for God."
The story is told that while Carey lay on his death bed after about 41 years in India, he was visited by Alexander Duff, a young 24 year old Scottish Highlander preparing to set out on his own life’s missionary work in India, who is sometimes referred to as Carey's successor. Duff spoke to him about Carey’s life’s work until...
Carey whispered “Pray!”
Duff prayed and then started to leave the room.
Carey’s feeble voice called him back and then said to him
“Mr. Duff, you have been speaking about Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey;
When I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey – speak about Dr. Carey’s Savior.”

On the morning of June 9, 1834, William Carey’s earthly life ended. His epitaph (written by himself) simply states:
William Carey
Born, August 17, 1761
Died, June 9, 1834
“A wretched, poor, and helpless worm,
On Thy kind arms I fall.”
Additional Scriptures:
Psalm 22:6(ESV) But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
Isaiah 41:14(ESV)Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel!
I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
John 3:30(ESV)He must increase, but I must decrease.

William Carey, the man known as the "Father and Founder of Modern Missions" believed and held to the truths taught in Scripture commonly called the Doctrines of Grace. He knew that God's plan was and is to save people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, including India, and was compelled by the Holy Spirit to go. He knew that God uses men to preach His Gospel, and he knew that all the Glory goes to God alone when sinners are saved!

A proper understanding of God's absolute Sovereignty in all things including Salvation, as missionaries such as William Carey, Andrew Fuller, David Brainard, Robert Moffat & his son-in-law David Livingstone (just to name a few) had, leads to a greater sense of evangelistic responsibility, fervor, and more mission-minded endeavors in the life of the believer.

A few other historic Christians who believed in the absolute Sovereignty of God in all things include Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Owen, John Bunyan, the Reformers, the Puritans, and for us Southern Baptists, James Petigru Boyce, the Founder & First President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

some info on Carey taken from http://www.wholesomewords.org/devotion6.html

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Free-Will Prayer? Never heard one yet!

Now before I lose you, this is not about the choices we make every day. Of course we make choices all throughout the day. What to wear, what to eat, which route to take. We choose to sin, to obey, etc...There is much disagreement on how much of that God is actually involved in, and we know that we are totally responsible for our actions. The whole discussion on Free-Will vs. Sovereignty of God is not my point on this blog at this time. I can refer you to Martin Luther's "The Bondage of the Will", or Jonathan Edward's "The Freedom of the Will" for a much better explanation than I could ever attempt to give.

I'm talking about prayer. How many of you have ever prayed for (or are still praying for) the salvation of a lost loved one such as a child, a parent, a sibling, etc.? How do you pray? Even if you reject some of the "Doctrines of Grace", when it gets down to serious prayer, you pray for Sovereign God to move in a mighty way!

"Lord, I pray that so-and-so will of their own free-will somehow turn to You and will choose You, but don't You force them against their will, Lord, for that would not be fair, and that would make them no more than a "robot". It's a choice they've got to make, being a free-will creature, and they've got to do it on their own, without you exerting Your Sovereignty over them. I know You don't really want anyone to love You if you have to coerce them, Lord, I'm just hoping they will somehow change of their own free-will, abandon their evil desires and evil ways on their own, and begin to love You, desire you, and seek you, although for these many years they have been running from You. I don't know how, but I just pray they will do it."
You ask the Sovereign God of the Universe to show up and do a miracle! You ask Him to call that person to Himself, draw them, change them, and remove the person's heart of stone and give them a new heart! You ask Him to take that person who is dead in their sins and trespasses and quicken, or make them alive in Christ! You ask God to graciously save them! Right? You believe in Sovereign Grace more than you think you do! Think about it! If God doesn't do a work in our wicked heart, we will NEVER choose Him.

As one verse of the old hymn "Breathe on Me, Breath of God" said,
Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
my stubborn will subdue;
teach me in words of living flame
what Christ would have me do.
Here's the whole hymn:
Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
until my heart is clean;
let sunshine fill its inmost part,
with not a cloud between.

Breathe on me, breathe on me
Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
Holy Spirit breathe on me.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
my stubborn will subdue;
teach me in words of living flame
what Christ would have me do.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
fill me with pow'r divine;
kindle a flame of love and zeal
within this heart of mine.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
till I am all Thine own,
until my will is lost in Thine,
to live for Thee alone.
Words by Edwin Hatch 1835-1889
As many of you have already figured out, my above blog was inspired by reading C.H. Spurgeon, whom I highly esteem and highly recommend.

The following is from Spurgeon's sermon at the link below"

You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say; but you never heard an Arminian prayer—for the saints in prayer appear as one in word, and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free-will: there is no room for it. Fancy him praying,
"Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was born with a glorious free-will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Ghost given to them; they had as good a chance, and were as much blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us to differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not—that is the difference between me and them."
That is a prayer for the devil, for nobody else would offer such a prayer as that. Ah! when they are preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to pray, the true thing slips out; they cannot help it. If a man talks very slowly, he may speak in a fine manner; but when he comes to talk fast, the old brogue of his country, where he was born, slips out. I ask you again, did you ever meet a Christian man who said, "I came to Christ without the power of the Spirit?" If you ever did meet such a man, you need have no hesitation in saying, "My dear sir, I quite believe it—and I believe you went away again without the power of the Spirit, and that you know nothing about the matter, and are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity." Do I hear one Christian man saying, "I sought Jesus before he sought me; I went to the Spirit, and the Spirit did not come to me"? No, beloved; we are obliged, each one of us, to put our hands to our hearts and say—

"Grace taught my soul to pray,
And made my eyes to o'erflow;
'Twas grace that kept me to this day,
And will not let me go."

Is there one here—a solitary one—man or woman, young or old, who can say, "I sought God before he sought me?" No; even you who are a little Arminian, will sing—

"O yes! I do love Jesus—
Because he first loved me."

Monday, July 12, 2010

"The Future is as Bright as the Promises of God"-Adoniram Judson

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) was the son of a Congregational Minister, raised in a Christian home. As a 3 year old boy, Adoniram was reportedly reading chapters from his father's Bible. As a teenager in college, Adoniram went astray, engaged in all sorts of immorality, and was influenced by a fellow student and friend named Jacob Eames, a Deist and Skeptic (some sources say Atheist). Either way, Judson was lured away from the faith passed down from his father and became a non-believer as well.

However, unknown to Judson, God in His Divine Providence had great plans in store for him. One evening while traveling, Adoniram stayed at an Inn, and the only room available was next to a dying sick man's room, with less-than-soundproof partitions between the rooms. He told the innkeeper that room would be fine because he was an unbeliever and had no fear of death. All throughout the night, he heard the wailing, moaning, helpless and hopeless cries of desperation of this dying man. It had such an impact on him, that he almost went to try to offer some words of comfort, but having renounced his faith, he had none. Judson pulled the covers over his head to try to sleep and drowned out the eerie sounds of this dying man, but he couldn't. He couldn't help but wonder where this man would go if he died, and where Judson himself would go if he died. After a sleepless miserable night, the next morning Adoniram asked the innkeeper more about the man, and was informed that he died during the night. To his surprise and dismay, the miserable dying man's name was Jacob Eames. This same friend who was by Judson's side in college and had let him into unbelief, had died by his side that night. And he was dead, and lost. Lost, lost, lost. For days this thought raced through Judson's mind. The Holy Spirit of God began drawing Judson back to Himself and Faith in Jesus Christ over a period of time.

Coincidence? Not hardly! What seems to us like a coincidence is really just an act of God's Divine Providence where God chooses to remain anonymous! There are no "chance happenings", nor "luck". God is in control of all things. It seems the same man who was used to lead Judson into unbelief, was used by God to bring him to true Faith. This was the turning point in the life of Adoniram Judson, brought about by the Divine Providence of God. He went on to enroll in Seminary, and later gave his life to Foreign Missions, and translated the Bible into Burmese, the language of the people where he served. He also wrote an English-Burmese dictionary which along with his Burmese Bible, were used by missionaries who came along for years after he died.

On February 19, 1812, only days after getting married, the Congregationalist Christian couple from America, Adoniram Judson and his wife Ann Hasseltine-Judson, (also called Nancy) later known as "Ann of Ava", set sail for Calcutta to join the Baptist Missionary William Carey of England, who was already in India. They studied the doctrine of Baptism in the original Greek in Scripture on their 4-month journey to India, in an effort to be able to work together with Carey on their doctrinal differences, being of "Covenant Theology" themselves. The Judsons became convinced that "Believer's Baptism" was scriptural, and were Baptized by immersion in India, changing their denominational affiliation. They are counted among the group of the first Baptist Foreign Missionaries.

They were forced to leave India by the British East India Company, and eventually settled in Burma. Even William Carey himself warned the Judsons of the hostility and savagery of Burma, and advised them not to go there. On their journey, their ship was tossed about in a 3-week monsoon, Ann became very sick, and had a baby that died and was buried at sea.

It was 6 years after landing there before they saw the first Burmese convert to Christianity. Judson was once driven in chains across burning sands, until his back bled and his feet were full of blisters. Adoniram spent many years in jail, in chains and stocks in a filthy infested prison cell. He was sustained only by God through his wife, who by then was very ill, bringing him food under the cover of night in prison. She had another baby while he was in prison, and unable to produce milk to nurse her child due to illness, weight loss, etc., had to go through the streets begging for nursing mothers to help feed her child. Burma was a constant battle for the Judsons, with 108 degree heat, cholera, malaria, dysentary, filth, etc.

They had arrived in Burma 17 months after their marriage, when Adoniram was 24, and Ann was 23 years old. In less than 14 years since their arrival in Burma, Judson had buried his dear wife Ann, and all of their children. Eventually, 2 of Judson's wives (he remarried) and 7 of his 13 children, along with several colleagues died there.

But at Judson's death, when he was 61, Burma had 63 Christian churches, and 7000 converts to faith in Jesus Christ.
Patrick Johnstone, in "Operation World", p 462, estimates that Myanmar (Burma's new name)Baptist Convention has 3700 congregations today, with estimates of 617,781 members and 1,900,000 affiliates.

Adoniram Judson died in 1850, and during his last days he reportedly said:
"I have had such views of the loving condescension of Christ and the glories of Heaven, as I believe are seldom granted to mortal men. Oh the Love of Christ! It is the secret of life's inspiration and the source of Heaven's bliss. Oh, the love of Jesus! We cannot understand it now, but what a beautiful study of eternity!"
Adoniram Judson once said"
"The Future is as bright as the Promises of God",
or as another source quoted him,
"The Prospects are as bright as the Promises of God"

Adoniram Judson, as well as the great majority of historic Christian missionaries had a deep belief in the Sovereignty of God, and held to the historic "Doctrines of Grace", as is evident in this quote:
"If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings."

God is Sovereign, and God is Good! All the time! Amen?

Some info paraphrased and condensed from:

update 7/12/10...The latest "Rambo" movie was on television last night, and I had read where the plot has to do with missionaries to Burma. I do not in any way endorse the movie, due to foul language and graphic violence with grotesque blood and guts, which were both "over the top"...However, it was interesting because the plot involved American Missionaries wanting Rambo to take them up-river into Burma, which Rambo told them was a war zone.
I looked on Wikipedia this morning, and saw these estimates on the religion of Burma (Myanmar) today.


In summary 2008 estimates of the population's religious affiliation from wikipedia article,
Buddhism is about 90 %
Christianity is about 4%
Baptist about 3%
Roman Catholic 1%
Islam is about 5%
All other is about 1%

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My perspective on ERGUN CANER.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 (ESV)

Most of you likely have no idea who Ergun Caner is, or what I'm talking about. If that's the case, I suggest you don't worry about this blog. Ignore it.

I just heard about the scandal with Ergun Caner. Sadly, this came as no surprise to me at all. A few years ago, the church we were at took our youth to hear him speak at a youth rally in Tennessee. The "acting youth leader" (we were without a staff youth leader at the time) was promoting Caner as some sort of larger-than-life spiritual giant, and said Caner was his favorite speaker/preacher at the time, which made me suspicious. I went home and began researching him, because I have kids in the youth, and was teaching youth boys at the time. There was a popular video of Ergun Caner getting tazed at a youth rally, and the discernment of the Holy Spirit immediately bared witness with my spirit that this man "wasn't right". The arrogant, prideful attitude of this man was evident, and I told my son that I had reservations about Caner, as well as other speakers at this conference, so we didn't go on the trip.

I later read of his interactions with those who hold to the "Doctrines of Grace". Caner made several disturbing statements such as:
I'm "Elected BECAUSE I selected". (sounds like works salvation to me). And
"Calvinists are worse than Muslims"
. Hmmm. Most Calvinists I know would certainly never say the same about an Arminian brother. Caner and his brother also ran from engaging in formal public debates with Dr. James White to address his disdain for anyone holding to the historic "Doctrines of Grace".
Take a look at this blog with some of Caner's disturbing statements from 2006. I can't confirm the validity of this site and I haven't verified the accuracy of the quotes, but I have seen the same ones elsewhere.

Ergun Caner's recent demotion and removal from his leadership position at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary is due to an "alleged" history of lies to apparently embellish his testimony, as if the Gospel is not enough! (oops, is the word "lies" too strong?)
Liberty Seminary chooses to call it "factual statements that are self-contradictory", and "discrepancies". (see the link to Christianity Today website below)

I'm not directly involved in Caner's situation, and it's in Liberty Seminary's hands to handle it as they deem best, but this got me to thinking on this subject...

So if you will, please permit me to deviate from the subject at hand for a while...
Today we seem to like to down-play and sugar-coat sin and call it by many softer, less offensive, more politically correct names.
  • A Lie is called an "embellishment, white-washing, exaggeration, fib, etc... and Liberty University is now adding one, "factual statements that are self-contradictory", and "discrepancies"
  • Drunkenness is called an "addiction", "alcoholism", a "drinking problem", etc.. You can go to A.A. Meetings in nice little groups and talk about your "problems", talk about a "higher power", & now you can even get involved in your local church in Rick Warren's program to "Celebrate Recovery" from your "addiction, but don't you dare say you've been delivered from sin by the power of the Holy Spirit! No, they tell you you're "always an alcoholic"... Whatever happened to becoming a "new creature in Christ", "old things have passed away", according to the Scriptures? Whatever happened to Paul's words in Romans that "sin shall not have dominion over you", or being "more than conquerors"
  • Adultery is called "an extra-marital affair", "a relationship", "a fling", "sexual addiction", etc... How quaint and charming!

  • Homosexuality is called "gay", and an "alternative lifestyle". And rather than an "abomination", they're now condoning "same-sex marriages"
  • Rebellion and disobedience in children is often called ADD, ADHD, Conduct Disorder (that's right, its a real diagnosis), or even ODD, which is Oppositional Defiant Disorder", and Dr.'s write a prescription (drug) for it. (I'm a medical professional, and yes, these are actual psychiatric diagnoses)
  • And the list goes on and on and on.

  • And, by the way, it seems to me that when people are involved in or caught in any kind of sin today they want to be portrayed as a "poor victim", and say they have some sort of "disorder", "disease", "addiction", "condition", etc. instead of facing up to the fact that they are a "guilty sinner" in need of God's deliverance, forgiveness, reconciliation, etc...(please don't misunderstand, I also am, as you are, a "sinner saved by grace" but once we're saved, we're instructed to "put off" those things which we once walked in, and "put on" the things of the Spirit, not wallow in worldly sinful deeds and parade them around like we're proud of them. And when we do fall back into sin on occasion, it should grieve us as a sheep in a mud puddle, and as a dirty sheep, long to be cleansed, rather than a pig in a mud puddle who loves it there and wants to stay there...)
Now, back to the Caner issue. I realize I deviated from the topic at hand, but that's ok, it's my blog-lol.

Below is a link to Justin Taylor's blog, which I'm in full agreement with most of the time.
Here's his blog on the Ergun Caner issue.

Taylor has written books with John Piper that are most excellent, such as this one I highly recommend on the heresy of Open Theism.
Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the undermining of Biblical Christianity

And here's a summary article which I think is biased in Caner's favor, painting him as a "poor victim" rather than a "guilty sinner", with comments by Geisler and Ankerberg. (Although I occasionally read it, I don't endorse the views or opinions of "Christianity Today", as it seems to lean liberal on a lot of issues)

On one hand, a part of me wants to say to those who couldn't see through Caner "I told you so".

On the other hand, I need to make sure I'm not blogging from a prideful perspective myself.
1 Cor 10:12 (ESV) Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
Therefore, I'm going stop here for the day, and seek the Lord's guidance on anything further on the subject, though there is much more on my mind.

Meanwhile, I would love to hear your views on Caner, and any comments or perspectives are welcome.

7/13/2010 Update from Don
I have reviewed and prayed about this topic, and have concluded that there's enough out there on Ergun Caner without my further input. Meanwhile, I'll pray for Dr. Caner, and discuss the subject if and when I'm led by the Holy Spirit to do so, to friends, family, church members, etc. who are interested, but leave the rest to the more "seasoned" bloggers in cyberspace.

I think I got off-track from my usual style of blogging with this Caner issue, and need to return to where I started.
Thanks for reading, and have a blessed day!

Even as I close, the LORD just brought this scripture to my mind, and I, you, and every one of us all will do well to remember:
Num 32:23 (ESV) But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.