31 March 2007

I'm Glad Somebody Else Is Noticing...

I'm glad somebody else is noticing the trash these prosperity preachers are dishing out. The Lutheran World Federation, meeting in Lund, Sweden, has encouraged members to resist these preachers of the health & wealth gospel. The Rev. Mark Hanson of E.L.C.A. said the federation must teach true Christianity "rather than some distortion of the Gospel that we (the USA) so now export and is pure heresy."

29 March 2007

Eleven Books I Need To Read

OK, so here's the 11 books I need/ought to read:

1) Sabbath Scripture Readings: Meditations on Every Chapter of the New Testament by Thomas Chalmers
2) Forgotten Spurgeon by Iain Murray
3) Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1881-1920 by Clifford Putney
4) Revival & Revivalism by Iain Murray
5) The Democratization of American Christianity byNathan Hatch
6) The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern
Evangelicalism by Harry S. Stout
7) Jonathan Edwards: A Mini-Theology by John H. Gerstner
8) Puritan Profiles by William Barker
9) Religion and Society in Scotland Since 1707 by Callum G. Brown
10) Letters of John Calvin by John Calvin
11) Letters of C. H. Spurgeon Edited by Iain Murray

26 March 2007

Altar Calls - Martin Lloyd-Jones

I’ve never liked the altar call. I never thought it was necessary or even desirable to have some come forward and possibly be embarrassed or have to poor out their heart to someone they may not know. Yet its been a practice of some churches since the 1820’s.. I quickly grew a distaste for it when I was young and attended a church that employed (amongst others) this emotional and manipulative practice. Here’s a link to an article by Martin Lloyd-Jones on the subject. It’s a good read.

Teaching the Bible in Public Schools

Time magazine has published an article on teaching the Bible in public schools. You can read it here. I'd really like to read your comments on this.

25 March 2007

Eleven Books That Made a Difference

The following is a list of eleven of my favorite books that have influenced and shaped my theology. So, in no particular order, here they are:

1) Worship In Spirit & Truth by John Frame

2) Letters of Samuel Rutherford by Samuel Rutherford

3) Letters of A. W. Pink by A. W. Pink

4) The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel

5) Keeping the Heart by John Flavel

6) By This Standard by Greg Bahnsen

7) An Eschatology of Victory by J. Marcellus Kik

8) The Defense of the Faith by Cornelius Van Til

9) Gospel & Law by Daniel P. Fuller

10) The Unity of the Bible by Daniel P. Fuller

11) Disciplines of a Godly Man by Kent Hughes

24 March 2007

Matthew 24, Part 5

Concluding the first part of this study, we find Christ saying the gospel would be preached to all the world and then the "end" will come. Dispensationalists believe these events must be future because the Gospel has yet to be preached to the whole world. Ken Gentry explains, "The word 'world' here is the Greek word oikumene. It very often means the Roman empire as it does in Luke 2:1 and Acts 11:28." (Ken Gentry, Dispensationalism in Transition, ICE, September 1991.) J. Marcellus Kik wrote, "That all nations of that day heard the Gospel is definitely told in the book of Acts and the Epistles. Emphasis is given in the second chapter of Acts to the Jews from all the nations being present on Pentecost when the Gospel was proclaimed. 'And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven' (Acts 2:5). The eighth chapter of Acts records how the Gospel went to Ethiopia, and we can well believe that there were similar incidents not recorded." (J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of Victory, p. 99). The phrase, "A witness to all the nations', follows the same premise; that is, all the nations in the Roman Empire.

Finally, let us not forget the context. Jesus is answering a question concerning the destruction of the temple. Christ gives warning with signs that must happen first. As such, "these things" happened before the destruction of Jerusalem. They were the birth pangs to the new covenant. History reveals that these situations had their fulfillment in the years previous to A.D. 70.
more to come...

22 March 2007

It's Kilt Day - Did You Wear Your Kilt Today?

"A man in a kilt is a man and a half."

~ Sir Colin Campbell, Brigadier-General The Queen's 93rd 'Sutherland' Highlanders

Look here.

Current Reading

As I'm very interested in English and Scottish church history I've been reading The Death of Christian Britain by Callum G. Brown. I'm only 70 pages into it but its been rather absorbing & enjoyable so far. However, I find looking in the index that Spurgeon is only mentioned one time in what I would describe as an otherwise detailed book. Only one mention of Spurgeon, probably the most important 19th century theologian, in a book of 200+ pages of British church history leaves me doubting it's accuracy and whether the author really has any true historical insight. I'll press one to see what the author reveals.

I'm also reading The Wit of Martin Luther. It's a short book and I leave it for bedtime reading but its loads of fun.

20 March 2007

Church Attendance or Lack Of

I recently posted on the decline in church attendance and membership in Scotland. In light of that, here are a couple links to studies that show here in the USA we can't really trust the poll data.
As attendance continues to dwindle this information is increasingly important.

Look here and here.

HT: Justin Taylor

18 March 2007

Ordained Servant

For about five years I was a deacon in the PCA & a good source of encouragement and information for me as a church officer was the OPC publication, Ordained Servant. From the website, Ordained Servant exists to help encourage, inform, and equip church officers for faithful, effective, and God glorifying ministry in the visible church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its primary audience is ministers, elders and deacons of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, as well as interested officers from other Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Through high quality editorials, articles, and book reviews we will endeavor to stimulate clear thinking and the consistent practice of historic Presbyterianism.
Take a look at the website, it'll be worth your time. I often pull out old issues from my library just to have another look through. It is well written and the issues addressed are timely and thought provoking.

17 March 2007

Matthew 24, Part 4


Birth Pangs

"But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs." Mt 34:8

"Birth pangs" signify the start of something new. As a mother must endure labor, Jesus was telling the disciples that these things must take place first, but not to be fooled. Jesus was saying that these events were a beginning, not an end. In with the new covenant and out with the old. "In fact, the New Testament looks with anticipation to the change from the old order to the new order, from the Old Testament era the the New Testament era, as a major transformation begun. That transition is called the 'restoration of all things' (Mt. 17:11), 'the regeneration" (Mt. 19"28), 'the times of refreshing' (Acts 3:19), the 'time of reformation" (Heb. 9:10), a 'new heavens and a new earth' (Rev. 21:1; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:17), 'all things new' (Rev. 21:5)." (Ken Gentry, Dispensationalism in Transition, ICE, Aug. 1991)

So we see that these events had to take place as precursors to the "time of reformation." Persecution and apostasy then followed as we are told in vs. 9 and 10. Roman historians corroborate the Scriptures on this matter. (Ken Gentry, Dispensationalism in Transition, ICE, Sep. 1991). The New Testament is full of stories of persecution, particularly the book of Acts. Missionaries were hated or jailed or killed. Apostasy naturally followed persecution. Tacitus, another Jewish historian, reported that under Nero, persecution of Christians was often followed by betrayal of other Christians who were then hunted down and put to death quite cruelly. (Tacitus, Annals 15.)

Jesus, in vs. 11, warns of false prophets. Paul, in Acts 20:29 says, "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you." In the book of Romans chapter 16 he gives a similar warning. Peter cautions, "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves." (2 Peter 2"1.) Both Peter and Paul affirm Christ's warning of false prophets within their own time.

The epistles also bear out Christ's next prediction of people's love growing cold. This lack of zeal was most likely in direct proportion to the effectiveness of the false prophets.

We should note, as Kik does, that Heb. 10:25 admonishes the reader not to forsake the assembly of the saints. J. Marcellus Kik wrote concerning verse 13, "One of the remarkable things about the siege of Jerusalem was the miraculous escape of the Christians. It has been estimated that over a million Jews lost their lives in that terrible siege, but not one of them was a Christian...The 'end' spoken of was not the termination of a Christian's life but rather the end of Jerusalem is evident from the context. " (J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of Victory, p. 96.)

To be continued...

St Patrick's Day

As it is St. Patrick's Day I thought I'd share a couple Irish toasts

May the grass grow long
On the road to hell
For want of use

May the Lord keep you
In his hand
And never close his fist too tight
On you

16 March 2007

John Calvin on Piety

To understand Calvin's Institutes one must understand what he means by piety. From book 1, chapter 2, I call "piety" that reverence joined with with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces. For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him - they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him.

Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion (2 Volume Set)

14 March 2007

Music Is Not Amoral

I find this kind of thinking about CCM here on Christian Research Net most disturbing. The line of reasoning, of what there is, does not even make sense. Its a huge leap to go from Cain whose worship was unacceptable, to Jubal, his descendant, the "father of all who play flute and harp," to the assertion that all music is amoral. What? To the author, I respectfully fail to see the logic. God is the ultimate first cause of all things, including all music styles, and therefore all music is good. It is what man does with it that makes it worshipful or sinful. Not to mention the fact that Cain's unacceptable worship had nothing to do with music. For the record, I have not read this book and based on this blurb I won't. I hope the author's reasoning is much clearer in his book. For a better understanding of this issue I recommend John Frame's books, Worship In Spirit & Truth and Contemporary Worship Music: A Biblical Defense.

13 March 2007

New Calvin Site

I came across this the other day. A group is already preparing for the anniversary of Calvin's 500th birthday. Great looking site and I'm anxious for more news on this.

12 March 2007

Another Eldredge Catastrophe

For an excellent review of Eldredge's latest book, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, take a look here. Please don't spend your time or money until you've read this well written review. Many thanks to the authors.

10 March 2007

Matthew 24, part 3


False Signs

"And Jesus answered and said to them, '"See to it that no one misleads you.'"

Often the events described in these verses of the Olivet Discourse are understood to be events still future for us today, but a closer examination of the text and history will prove otherwise. Jesus first cautions the disciples of some events that must take place but are not signs of the end or the fall of Jerusalem.

Jesus' first warning is of false Christs. Acts 8:9-10 tells of Simon Magnus who, with magical powers, deceived many people. Other accounts tell of his claims to be the "Word of God" and the "Son of God" (An Eschatology of Victory, pg. 92). The Jewish historian Josephus records that the country was filled with imposters and these imposters were rounded up routinely (An Eschatology of Victory, pg. 92).

Christ continues his speech with with warnings of wars, famines, and earthquakes. Dispensational writers look to our current history for these events; however, they are nor keeping the context of the passage. Keep in mind these events were to take place in the first century as our "generation" test (vs. 34) demonstrates.

These things did take place in the first century. In separate uprisings or wars, 70,000 Jews were killed in Seluecia and Caesaria. Josephus records that the Jews live in constant fear of Rome sending an army to Jerusalem (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2:10:4). Acts 11:28 records a large scale famine in the land in the days of Claudius Caesar. Josphus documented a famine during the Roman siege so horrible many despicable deeds were committed (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 5:10:2-5). Also, several earthquakes were recorded by historians of the time. In the period previous to A.D. 70 there were earthquakes in Judea, Rome, Crete, Smyrna, Colosse, Laodicea, and, of course, Pompeii.

much more to come....

Exiled Preacher: Some issues in Reformed Dogmatics

Some outstanding comments and observations from Guy Davies
on the need for a modern systematic theology.

Exiled Preacher: Some issues in Reformed Dogmatics

06 March 2007

Stomach Turning Lyrics

As much as I'm all for singing new & modern worship tunes I draw the line at the emotional & feminized songs that now emphasize relationship over any other aspect of Christian life and duty. Here is my most favorite song to hate, Draw Me Close:

Draw me close to you
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear you say that I'm your friend
Help me find a way to bring me back to you

You're all I want,
You're all I've ever needed
You're all I want,
Help me know you are near

You are my desire
No one else will do
Cause no one else
Can take you place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace
Help me find a way to bring me back to you

You're all I want,
You're all I've ever needed
You're all I want,
Help me know you are near

Sorry guys but if you're comfortable singing that song something is terribly wrong. Read those words again. It's more suited for a man to sing to his wife or vice-versa. It's not a worship song. I agree with David Murrow, if you're a songwriter please write lyrics that draw men into manly worship. Can any of you imagine Stonewall Jackson singing this song? How about Teddy Roosevelt? They'd punch my lights out for even suggesting it if they were alive today.

Murrow has a blurb on this subject on his homepage this month.

05 March 2007

New Uses for Old Churches

In the latest issue of Scottish Life there is an article, New Uses for Old Churches. The author delineates the decline of the church in Scotland and what Scotland is now doing with these empty church buildings, many of which are in disrepair. The church buildings are being converted to used book stores, restaurants, recording studios, theatres, etc. In fact, there are so many church buildings available that the Scottish Civil Trust has issued a bulletin, 101 Uses for Redundant Church Buildings. Of course, this is due to the decline in church attendance. The author reports that “barely one Scot in ten attends church regularly, and three in five go rarely or never. Attendances are falling annually 2-3 percent.” The Church of Scotland has determined that they are losing 17,000 a year and in a country of just over five million, well, you do the math. “67% percent of Scots now identify themselves even distantly with any faith whatsoever.” “ These are not good times for organized religion in Europe, but in few places has the decline been more precipitate than in Scotland .”

This probably isn’t news for those in Scotland but its likely an eye-opener if you’re on this side of the pond. How far has the spiritual life of Scotland declined that it has come to this. For those of us who strive to remain diligent we must pray for a work of the Holy Spirit that will work for revival in this great land of our spiritual forefathers.

04 March 2007

Matthew 24, part 2


From the outset it is crucial to understand the context of Matthew 24. In order to set the stage it is necessary to review the latter verses of chapter 23. Jesus is "conversing" with the scribes and Pharisees when he states in vs. 38, "Behold your house is being left to you desolate." Jesus proclaims a judgment. The House of God will be left desolate for the sins of Israel. This statement stuns the disciples. The temple was the center of worship for Israel. In this entire chapter Jesus has been reviewing the sins of Israel and in vs. 38 he summed it up by the horrible sentence he handed down. "Jesus is emphasizing again that it is 'this generation' that would fill the cup to overflowing and experience the terrible wrath of God (J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of Victory, pg. 80). The destruction of the city was the culmination of the enmity between Christ and the Jews.

The Question

"Tell us when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming, and the end of the age?" Matthew 24:3

The question the disciples posed in verse 3 was a direct result of Christ's devastating comment on the destruction of the temple. Some believe that the language was so strong that it could only be referring to the second coming. Instead, it is so strong because Christ is referring to the temple. It must be understood that the temple was the center of worship for the Jews. There could be no worship without it. Unlike Christianity, in which a person can worship privately alone, in a small group or corporately at a church building, Jewish worship centered around the temple. For Christ to say that not one stone would be left upon another (vs. 2) surely indicated to them the final judgment and prompted their question. Jesus had taught the disciples of the coming day of judgment (11:22; 12:36, 41, 42; 13:39, 40) and therefore the destruction of the temple would indicate to them the end of time. But, as expressed previously, the destruction was to come upon the Jewish nation in A.D. 70 for the rejection of the Messiah. Time would go on.

more to come....

Purpose Driven Drinking

Ya just gotta love the name of this blog...Purpose Driven Drinking. Take a peek, some good Lutherans sharing some great beer info and there's some great beer links as well.

Aaahh...the McEwans's pic is just because I love it.

01 March 2007

It's Just a Stunt

OK, here's my dos centavos on the whole Tomb issue. Its a farce and we all know it. I do so dislike this kind if anti-Christian sensationalism. As somewhat of an armchair Biblical archeaologist, I can tell you that we should not do are part in sensationalizing this find either.

Anyway here's go a good summary of the situation at the Reformed Angler:

The Reformed Angler: 'Lost Tomb of Jesus' Claim Called a Stunt - washingtonpost.com

The archeaologist mentioned in the article, William Dever, although not a believer, is a well known biblical archeaologist and has written for Biblical Archeaology magazine and you may have seen him on the TV show Mysteries of the Bible, has blown this off as a load of rubbish. It really wasn't that big of a find. The names (of those that are still legible) are common names - Jesus, Joseph, Mary - we all know this. Jodi Magness, another archeaologist, states that transferring bones to ossuaries was a practice of the wealthy. This is just another stunt to foster unbelief just before Easter.