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Category Archives: Theology

Decisions, Decisions.

I will definitely admit I am far from being in a position to be asked to participate in any forum where I would be speaking in front of hundreds of people. I am truly not trying to be critical of those who are and the choices they make. I am just trying to think through these things as I listen to some of my favorite speakers and some of the forums they are invited to. Today’s case in point, Michael Horton speaking in at forum in Saddleback Church on June 10th as part of the “12 Cities 12 Conversations” project hosted by the Lausanne Movement.

Earlier this week after watching the recorded web cast of the panel discussion I posed a question, via email, to many of my church leadership friends regarding Horton participating in this panel discussion at Saddleback Church. I received many responses, from simply “dumb” to a short rebuttal in the use of the phrase “reformed infatuation” from a popular blogger brother. But included in this blogger’s response was a point made to him by Mark Dever a few years ago. The point being that if anyone opened their platform or pulpit to him (Mark Dever) he would gladly take the opportunity to present the true gospel. In some cases it may be the only time they audience would hear it.

After watching the panel discussion, I now know why Horton was there. I have included the link below and in the body of this post. If you haven’t seen it please notice the term “gospel” thrown around quite a bit, Horton addresses this later. But the term is used in such a way as to infer that the gospel is the same as the second greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. This is the law, but it is NOT the gospel. This would fall in line with some points made by my senior pastor in a recent sermon found here.

If you watch the video of the panel discussion, the real discussion doesn’t really get cranked up until about 16 minutes in, so you may want to push the feed forward and bypass all the posturing and introductions. Around the 45 minute mark Horton brings up the term “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”, this term is mentioned many times in his book “Christless Christianity“. (Catch Kay Warren chanting Burger King after Horton finishes speaking as if saying have it your way) But my favorite part of the discussion is when Michael Horton addresses the question “How do we make sure that the proclamation of Jesus doesn’t get lost among the feeding of the hungry and the care for the widows and orphans?”. This comes right at the tail end of the first video (there are two parts), which is around the 60 minute mark.  Horton zooms right in on what the gospel is. Very cool. Glory to God.

The web cast panel discussion at Saddleback Church (again the real discussion doesn’t get going until about 16 to 20 minutes in)

Patrick Abendroth on “The Dechristianization of Christianity

The gospel in about a minute by John Piper.

I would encourage any and all comments on this discussion in particular on the subject of decisions to participate in these venues. Did Horton get his point across or was he marginalized? If you are a preacher given the opportunity to speak at a venue, like say the Crystal Cathedral, would you use it to preach the gospel?

 

Am I a Calvinist? You tell me.

First of all I need to take care of a hat tip (ht) to my buddy Seth at Contending Earnestly. This posting is being created 42-18021428out of my thoughts triggered by this fellow blogger’s posting and comments. The posting is about being labeled a Calvinist, and the label or term being used as a dirty word.

I really didn’t know what I was until I started reading books on theology.  Speaking of theology; The word is much like the word doctrine, and Calvinism.  Theology has also been reduced to a dirty word. At least a drastically minimized word in terms of evangelical importance.

Theology – the study of God. Come on, what’s more important?

I didn’t think theology was important until I ran into some blatantly bad theology. For years I had been indoctrinated in meeting peoples needs above doctrine. Now, I believe, if you don’t have sound biblical doctrine and theology, how can you truly meet the peoples ultimate need? Their need is to hear the true gospel of Jesus Christ. What do I mean by the true gospel? Funny I should ask, because it brings up the point of this post.

When I heard about the Five Points of Calvinism I will admit I had heard the term or label Calvinism and immediately thought “one of them”,  and “I heard they don’t believe we have a free will.” But after reading these five points I basically recognized and interpreted it as the gospel. The gospel spoken of in scripture. These five points are also known as TULIP. This is an acronym which is defined below.

T otal Depravity – We suck. (a verb meaning we are sinners and do not seek God) (Ref. Romans 6:20, Romans 3:10-12)

U nconditional Election – God does the choosing. No matter who you are and what you’ve done. (Ref. Eph. 1:4-8)

L imited Atonement – Christ died and His blood covers those who the Father chose. (Ref. Eph. 5:25-27)

I rresistable Grace – God’s elect hear the gospel and the Holy Spirit works in the hearts and minds of the those elect and they willing come to God. (Ref. Romans 9:16, Phil. 2:12-13)

P erseverance of the Saints – The elect of God cannot lose their salvation. For heaven’s sake the elect didn’t do anything to earn salvation. God did the choosing. They are eternally secure. (Ref. Romans 8:26-39)

I think that pretty much sums up the gospel as it is told in scripture.

So, am I a Calvinsit? If you prefer a label or a badge, I will gladly wear it. I have one on my sidebar as a matter of fact. It looks like this:

Calvinist Cadet

Calvinist Cadet

A few months ago I found an article from a blogger that did a real good job of describing why he was a Calvinist. I give a high hat tip to Kevin DeYoung and his article.

 

Puritans and preaching – Part 3

This morning as I read through chapter 4, “The Demands of Preaching”, from the book “Light and Heat : the Puritan light-and-heatView of Preaching” by R. Bruce Bickel, I came across some great tidbits. The Puritan preacher viewed his vocation as a demanding and convicting vocation. The demands being a natural result of their calling, their knowledge of who God is, and the office He had sovereignly given them. The Puritan view of God and His church gave them the awesome judgment that an unfaithful servant did more harm than good to the church.

With this high view and mindset of preaching to one’s own heart, the Puritan Richard Baxter proceeded to write his celebrated work, “The Reformed Pastor”. Concerning the pastor himself he wrote:

Take heed to yourselves, lest you should be void of that saving grace of God, which you offer to others, and be stranger to the effectual workings of that gospel which you preach . . .  Many a preacher is now in hell, that hath a hundred times called upon his hearers to use the utmost care and diligence to escape it. . . . Believe it, brethren, God never saved any man for being a preacher; but because he was a justified, santified man, and consequently faithful in his master’s work. Take heed therefore, to yourselves first, that you be that which you persuade your hearers to be.

Charles Spurgeon, one of the last of the pure Puritan preachers, charged the members of the Pastor’s College, he founded or the purpose of equipping preachers, with this following exhortion:

If we are to pursue our holy calling with success, we need to be better men. Brethren, I do not depreciate you, far from it. But, personally, I feel that, as the times grow sterner, I must cry to God for more grace, that I may be more able to cope with them. Brethren, let it be a main business with us to ourselves more holy, more gracious, and therefore better fitted for our work. Let us not judge ourselves by others, and say, with deadening self-complacency, “We are getting on well as compared with our brethren.” Let us measure ourselves by our Master, and not by our fellow-servants: then pride will be impossible, but hopefulness will be natural.

I’d like to conclude with something I have only learned myself over the past few years. I learned this from my pastor and it was also the character mark of the Puritans as well.

One who did not preach to his own heart could not preach effectively to others.

and as Richard Baxter also has stated:

If the work of the Lord be not soundly done upon your own hearts, how can you expect that he bless you labours for the effecting of ot in others?

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Give Me Five – Unconditional Election

The next point in my brief postings of the Five Points of Calvinism is called “unconditional election.” The doctrine of hand-five-pointsunconditional election is thoroughly based in scripture. It is a doctrine that in affect claims that before the earth was formed God chose who would come to salvation through His son Jesus Christ. There are many texts in scripture that affirm this doctrine of unconditional election. One of my favorites for God’s sovereignty and election is the whole context of Romans chapter 9. Charles H. Spurgeon states of Romans 9 in his sermon on Unconditional Election, September 2nd, 1855:

So long as that is written there, not the most violent contortions of the passage will ever be able to exterminate the doctrine of election from the Scriptures.

This was a doctrine fully accepted within the protestant church until to the late 19th century and the teachings of Charles Finney. I used to believe and teach this as well. But a few years ago I came to understand, through scripture and the gentle dialog of a dear brother in Christ, that the most illogical theology is one that would teach that God is sovereign in everything else except salvation. They would claim that everything else is under God’s sovereignty except when it comes to something as eternal as the soul of man and his salvation. It isn’t even debated that God chose His people, the Israelites, as stated in the whole of the bible. Why is there an exception for the salvation of men from their sins?

One of the best explanations of God’s unconditional election is provided by Dr. James White in the video below. In the video Dr. White mentions some song lyrics by Steven Curtis Chapman. Those lyrics can be found here.

 

Give Me Five – Total Depravity

In the next few weeks I’d like to post some brief things to hand-five-pointsexplain and affirm the Five Points of Calvinism. Hopefully this will create some dialog with those who would argue against and with those who would affirm with additional resources.

When we speak of total depravity, we are speaking in terms of man’s natural condition apart from any grace given by God to restrain or transform man. Since the fall of man through Adam, the natural man (not transformed by God’s grace) has been in rebellion against God. This is supported in Romans 3:9-10.

9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;

In the video clip below, Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington provides a great illustration of total depravity and God’s election.

 

Puritans and preaching – Part 2

I am continuing through my reading / study of “Light and Heat : the Puritans View of Preaching” by R. Bruce Bickel. While reading through the chapter titled “The Direction of Preaching” I found some more gems that I wanted to share.

In order to understand the direction the Puritan view had for preaching Bickel brings to light the view the Puritan preachers had of themselves. Taken from the Horton Davies book “The Worship of the English Puritans“,

They viewed themselves as men sovereignly appointed by God to declare a message that was not their own, but a message that had already been given by God Himself in the pages of sacred writ.

Under such conviction, no wonder a Puritan preacher mounted the steps of his pulpit as if he were Moses ascending the mountain of Sinai.

Now that is what I call a high view of preaching. Not that they highly viewed themselves but their calling.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

What should Christians do with Halloween?

Halloween is almost here. This day has become a very popular one in our national culture. Our family has taken a stand of sorts over the years when it comes to celebrating the popular day recognized as Halloween. We basically recognize the day as Fall Harvest day and shy away of the pagan depiction of the day. We have handed out candy at times and have included some juvenile themed tracks as well during trick or treat. I found a Q&A link from the Bible Bulletin Board which is affiliated with Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California and it’s pastor John MacArthur that addresses this issue. What is your response? Please comment and check out my related new poll in the side bar.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2008 in Christian living, Fall, Family, Halloween, Theology