August 16, 2009

House Cleaning [August 16th, 2009]

August 11, 2009

The Doctrine of Justification

Today I watched a good video from Westminster Theological Seminary on the doctrine of justification.  Once you filter through the promotion for the seminary (nothing against Westminster), it is very informative on the basics of the doctrine.

If you cannot see the above video, you can take the following link the original source: Dr. Lane Tipton on Reformed Justification.

August 7, 2009

House Cleaning [August 8th, 2009]

  • Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at Bible.Logos.com and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.
  • I am a total fantasy geek.  As with any good fantasy geek, my two favorite authors (in that genre) are J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.  Both of these men were top notch linguistic scholars at Oxford University.  Apparently, at one point, these two (who were also great friends) were going to collaborate on a book on the subject of language.  How cool would that have been?!?!  (HT: JHG)
  • Over the course of the next nine years, 9 Marks Ministries and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, are going to be partnering to do series of conferences on the 9 Marks of a healthy church.  This years theme is “God Exposed”, focusing on the centrality of expository preaching to the church. (HT: Founders)
  • In the Southern Baptist Convention, there has been a lot of debate recently on the subject of Calvinism.  One issue, involved with that, is “Which comes first: faith or regeneration?”  James Galyon made a couple of posts on that subject this week: "Born Again" in the SBC, Whitefield and the New Birth.
  • Dr. D. A. Carson is one of my heroes.  Apparently within the next year, or so, he is having six books published!  If I had the money, I would get all of them, as well as all the other books he’s ever had published (besides the ones I already own).  Andy Naselli, while guest blogging for JT, gives us a taste of two of those books, as well as related audio resources.
  • This spring the Gospel Coalition posted a video from D. A. Carson explaining what Biblical inerrancy is and how essential it is. (HT: Andy Naselli)

    If you cannot see the above video, use the following link and go and watch it: D. A. Carson - What does inerrancy mean? Is it essential to Christian belief?
  • This week, the best friend that I have had in recent years (besides my wife of course!!) moved away.  He is heading off to seminary at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.  He wrote a good bye post to his church on his blog earlier in the week: Why I am Filled with Joy and Sadness, Tears and Gladness .  Good bye Mike!  May you continue to shine with that borrowed light!

August 1, 2009

House Cleaning [August 1st, 2009]

Alright, I know that I said this was going to be a weekly series, but I slacked off in my blog reading and writing this past couple of weeks; so, here is three weeks worth of links.

 

If you can’t see the above video click the following link: Dr. Carl Trueman on John Owen

July 25, 2009

A Good Video

James White, of Alpha and Omega Ministries, although I appreciate his ministry as an apologist, is someone that I can only take small doses of because of his, typically, combative nature.  However, today I watched a video from him, today, that I thought was very good.

The text that he discusses is taken from 1 Timothy 3:14-16, which in the ESV reads:

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

   He was manifested in the flesh,
      vindicated by the Spirit,
         seen by angels,
   proclaimed among the nations,
      believed on in the world,
         taken up in glory.

If you cannot see the embedded video above, take the following link to the video: By Common Confession.

July 4, 2009

House Cleaning [July 4th, 2009]

July 2, 2009

Baptist Catechism – Question 1

Yesterday, I intended to start another new weekly series, here on my blog, going through the Baptist Catechism.

First, I should probably begin by explaining what a Catechism is.  Catechism comes from the ancient Greek word καταχέω (katacheō), which means ‘instruct or teach.’ So, a catechism is a method of teaching or instructing, in the case of Christianity, it is a means of instructing in the doctrines of the faith. Most catechisms were designed for small children, to be used by parents in their role as the primary disciplers of their children.

The particular catechism that I am using was taken from Desiring God ministries, and is a modified form of Benjamin Keach’s Catechism. That original catechism was written in 1689 to correspond to the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, produced in the same year.

---------------------

Question 1: Who is the first and best of beings?

Answer: God is the first [i] and best [ii] of beings

One could go into this statement much deeper than was intended, discussing the fact and nature of God’s existence, the fact and nature of God’s being, etc, but I am not going to go into that today. There are two major things that this statement proposes about God, namely that He is ‘the first… of beings’ and ‘the… best of beings.’

God is the First of Beings

This is a fact that is proclaimed from the very first words of the Bible, where in Genesis 1:1, it says ‘In the beginning, God…’ In order for this statement to make sense, God would have to all ready be in existence at the beginning of all of creation, which means that He existed before creation in eternity past. So, before anything else existed, God was. Not only is this truth present here at the beginning, it present throughout the entire Bible:

  • Isaiah 44:6

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.

  • John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

  • Revelation 1:8

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” [iii]

 

God is the Best of Beings

The essence of this proposition is that God is over and above all creation, in majesty and glory.  God is the best of all beings, because He is perfect.  Wayne Grudem, in his “Systematic Theology,” describes God’s perfection in this way: “God’s perfection means that God completely possesses all excellent qualities and lacks no part of any qualities that would be desirable for him.” [iv]  That is why the Bible can describe God in the following ways:

  • Psalm 8:1

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.

  • Psalm 96:4

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.

  • Psalm 97:9

For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.

  • 1 Samuel 2:2

“There is none holy like the Lord;
there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.

--------------------

[i] Isaiah 44:6

[ii] Psalm 8:1; Psalm 96:4; Psalm 97:9, 1 Samuel 2:2

[iii] In the Greek alphabet, α (alpha) and ω (omega) are, respectively, the first and last letters of the alphabet. So, what is being said is that God is ‘the first and the last’.

[iv] Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.

July 1, 2009

The Importance of Doctrine

Last week, I received in the mail Sinclair Ferguson’s “The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction,” via PaperBackSwap.com.  I started reading it earlier this week, and have really enjoyed it so far.  In the first chapter, Ferguson begins by briefly showing why doctrine is so important to the Christian life.  Towards the end of the first chapter, he gives an excellent quote:

We have the following bit of personal experience from a general officer of the United States army.  He was in a great western city at a time of intense excitement and violent rioting.  The streets were over-run daily by a dangerous crowd.  One day he observed approaching him a man of singularly combined calmness and firmness of mien, whose very demeanor inspired confidence.  So impressed was he with his bearing amid the surrounding uproar that when he had passed he turned to look back at him, only to find that the stranger had done the same.  On observing his turning the stranger at once came back to him, and touching his chest with his forefinger, demanded without preface: “What is the chief end of man?”  On receiving the countersign, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever” -- “Ah!” said he, “I knew you were a Shorter Catechism boy by you looks!”  “Why, that was just what I was thinking of you,” was the rejoinder.”[i]

The question, “What is the chief end of man?” is the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a system of questions and answers designed to teach and ground young children in the doctrines, or teachings, of the faith.  The point of this quote is, that with the use of this catechism, these two men were so ground in the doctrines of the faith, that they were islands of calm amidst the turmoil of the environment.  It is my prayer that, like these men, that my knowledge of the faith would go beyond knowing in a merely intellectual sense, but would go beyond the point of affecting the the way I live amidst the turmoil of this fallen world.


[i] Warfield, B. B. Selected Shorter Writings. Edited by J. E. Meeter. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Press, 1970. – Cited in Ferguson, The Christian Life

June 27, 2009

House Cleaning [June 27, 2009]

I am going to try and start doing a week post consisting of links to other blog posts that I found significant for whatever reasons. The above title is just the tenuous title for the series. If someone can think of a better title, please let me know.

  • The Flea and The Man, My friend, Mike, helps us see from Aesop’s Fables and John Owen’s ‘Mortification of Sin’, why we should endeavor to squash out any hint of sin in our lives.
  • This past week was the Southern Baptist National Convention, so there was a lot about that going around the blogosphere. There were several posts on Morris Chapman’s comments, the best example is Dr. James Galyon’s post ‘Chapman’s Oversight.’ After many years of trying to wage a war on culture, it seems that the Convention is starting to get its act together and make the main thing the main thing, namely the Gospel and its proclamation. Because of this, and for other reasons, there were many good reports from the convention, and here are a few of examples: iMonk, James Galyon, and Tom Ascol.
  • The Marks of Saving Faith (Pt. 1, Pt. 2), Dr. MacArthur explains what are and are not signs of genuine saving faith.
  • There has been a resurgence of people who are trying to create modern hymns, or songs that are truly worshipful of God, rather than the man-centered fluff that characterizes much of contemporary praise and worship music. A shining example of this attempt to get back to truly God-centered worship is the husband and wife duo, Keith and Kristyn Getty. Dr. Galyon rights about them briefly and has a video of their awesome song ‘In Christ Alone,’ on his ‘Theology on Thursday’ post.
  • As someone who has criticized Mark Driscoll before, the iMonk’s post on ‘Why Mark Driscoll Shouldn’t Bug Ya’ was good to read.

For those viewing this on Facebook or e-mail, you may need to follow this link to see the video: Keith & Kristyn Getty "In Christ Alone"

June 25, 2009

In Need of Assistance Please Help [2nd Draft]

After six months of turning applications for secular positions and never getting so much as a call back, I sent of six resumes to churches seeking Youth Pastors a few weeks ago and, as of last week, I have been contacted by four of the six. So, I ask that anyone out there who reads this please be in prayer for me, that I would be sensitive to God's leading in whatever happens.

Also, one of the churches that contacted me sent me questionnaire. I have responded to all of the answers, but would like other peoples input. If you are willing and able, would you please read over what follows and challenge me if something I said seems off or whatever. In advance, thank you to anyone that my reply.



YOUTH PASTORAL CANDIDATE QUESTIONAIRE


  1. How do you interpret the role of a Youth Pastor?

    I interpret the role of a Youth Pastor to be much like that of any other pastor or minister of the Gospel, namely the primary responsibility is to preach the Word of God and the Gospel that it contains and to model, in their life, the content of what they preach. I also interpret the role of a Youth Pastor to be such that he would assist the Senior Pastor in the training, equipping, and enabling of parents to disciple their children.

  2. What is your vision for youth in the church today?

    I believe that in the society today, adults have come to expect too little of teenagers and because the adults do not expect much of them, they don't expect much of themselves. They expect teenagers to be lazy and do nothing more than sit around and listen to their iPod or play video games, etc. My vision is that both parents and teenagers would see the urgency of our situation. As Christians, we are at war with spiritual forces constantly, and the only weapon that we have in this war is God's Word. My vision for youth is to see them going deep in their reading and studying of the Bible, seeking to apply it to their lives, and live out its truths.

  3. What are your beliefs about the Bible, The Church, Salvation, the work of the Holy Spirit?

    The Bible is God's inerrant, infallible, inspired Word and is the primary tool that we have in our growth in Godliness.

    The Church is the body and bride of Christ, outside of which there is generally no salvation. All true believers should seek to enter into fellowship with other believers, entering into this covenant community through the ordinance of baptism for the purpose of mutual encouragement and discipline.

    I believe that salvation, from first to last, is wholly the work of God. From eternity past God the father chose out of all people a covenant community for himself and destined them for eventual Christ-likeness. In time God the Son, Jesus, secured the redemption of God's covenant people by His death on the Cross. And God the Spirit applies that redemption to all those who turn in faith to Christ's finished work.

    The work of the Holy Spirit is first to bring about spiritual regeneration enabling people to repent of sin and turn to Christ in faith. Secondly, the work of the Holy Spirit is to apply the secured redemption purchased by Christ to the one who turns in faith, as I already stated. Thirdly, the work of the spirit in the believer is to grow them in holiness before God, by preparing their hearts to receive the teaching of God's Word.

  4. What is your belief on the Genesis account of creation?

    My position on the Genesis account of creation is that God spoke all of creation into existence and fashioned it by the power of His might. Whether, that was in six literal days or in six epochs of timeor some other thing, I am not sure.

  5. What version of the Bible do you prefer & Why?

    In my reading, devotions, and preaching I use the English Standard Version of the Bible. I use this version because it is very accurate in its translation of the original languages. Also, I enjoy the ESV because of the language that it uses, it being simultaneously easy to read, but also not shying away from the theological language that has been present in both Testaments from the time of their writing.

  6. How do you believe a person can be saved? Can anyone be saved?

    I believe that a person can only be saved by the grace of God alone, through faith in Christ alone, and because of the perfect righteousness of Christ alone.

    My answer to the second part of this question is three-fold. Firstly, no one can be saved apart from Christ. Secondly, from the perspective of God, not all will be saved. Thirdly, from the perspective of man, all peoples can be saved, if they turn to Christ in salvation.

  7. Share your salvation experience:

    When in High School, I had a group of friends share the Gospel with me. I was not saved at that time, but several years later, God used the turmoil surrounding the birth of my eldest son to break my spirit and bring me to a place of repentance and submission.

  8. Describe your call to the ministry?

    From the time I was a small boy, I have loved to study and teach. When I was younger, I would study about archaeology, anthropology, paleontology, astronomy, biology, physics, etc. When God saved me, this love of studying and teaching was brought to bear on the Bible.

  9. Describe your greatest strength/ weakness as a Youth Pastor?

    My strengths and weaknesses as a Youth Pastor flow from a common source. My greatest strength, I believe, is that I expect much of teenagers. I don't cut them any slack for being 'just kids' because teenagers aren't 'just kids,' they are young adults and I believe they should be treated as such. However, at the same time, I also, at times, expect too much of teenagers, not taking into account the transitional period they are in, in their lives.

  10. How would you counsel youth: that are experiencing family problems? drug problems? spiritual problems? peer problems? Please explain.

    Without knowing the circumstances, it would be impossible to tell you exactly how I would counsel youth in these situations. However, no matter the case, I would seek to point them to Christ and to follow His example. I would also try to bring in the parents in on all of these situations, since it is their duty to disciple their children in the Lord.

  11. How would you counsel a young woman or young man alone? (Explain)

    Before I give my answer, I would like to say that I am assuming that this question is about boundaries and integrity with the opposite sex. That being said, I would not council a young woman alone, if I counseled them at all. If a young woman came to me seeking counsel, I would either have her talk to my wife or some other godly woman in the church or wait until such time as one of those afore mentioned people could join me in counseling that individual.

  12. If married, what is your wife's roll in your ministry?

    My wife's role in my ministry will primarily be that of support. She will tend to our children and make sure that our home is a safe place for me to land when I am there, giving me support and encouragement and whatever way she can. Outside of her activities in the home, she would assist other ways, such as counseling young women, as needed, and being there to bounce ideas off of or to read over messages.

  13. If married, have you or your wife been previously married? If yes explain.

    Neither my wife nor I have been married before.

  14. Are there any circumstances in your personal life and/or family that would affect your youth pastorate?

    There are no such circumstances that I know of that would affect my youth pastorate, other than the needs of my own family, which must come first.

  15. Tell us about your devotional life and plans for personal growth.

    My devotional life is like that of anyone else: I have up times where God is really speaking to me and I have down times where I am not getting anything out of the Word and even times where I am struggling to get into the Word at all. Currently, I am reading in the psalms and getting ready to go through the book of Galatians. As far as plans for spiritual growth, the only plans I have are to continue to read my Bible, seek to sit under good Godly preachers, and unite in fellowship with other believers for the purpose of worship and mutual discipline and proclaiming the Gospel to the nations.

  16. Are you willing to boldly speak Gods true word and preach the Bible if called upon?

    Yes, it is the duty of anyone who would preach the Word to do so boldly. However, they must do so not only with boldness, but also with humility because in that role, the message they proclaim is not their own, they are serving as the mouth-piece of God.

  17. How would you integrate the youth group with other age groups that make-up the membership of the Church?

    It is my belief that parents are the ones responsible for their children's discipleship, and thus, their involvement with the rest of the church body. However, I would do my part to encourage the youth to join in regular worship services, and not just youth services. I would also seek to bring in other members of the church, from various age groups, assist in youth services, counseling, accountability, mentorship, and teaching.

  18. How comfortable do you feel about working with other age groups that make-up the membership of the church?

    It makes me uncomfortable to work with other age groups, but not necessarily in a bad way. Working with other age groups, challenges me to get out of my comfort zone and enable me to see life and ministry from other perspectives.

  19. What is your philosophy on missions and music?

    Missions are an essential part of the Christian life. However, missions does not necessarily entail taking a trip to someplace else. As Christians, we should constantly be living on mission, seeking to make Christ known wherever we are.

    I love music and think that it is a great way to express our praise and worship to God. I prefer traditional hymns mostly because they seem to focus more on God, rather than the experience of the individual believer. However, I do also appreciate some newer praise songs because they have tried to regain the God-ward focus that is intrinsic to true worship. All of that being said, I am not very gifted musically; so, in order to incorporate music into youth services I would need the assistance of someone in the church.

  20. What are your views on homosexuality and abortion?

    Abortion is murder. Homosexuality is a sin. Although that is the case, the people that commit these things are still human beings, and thus, are fellow image-bearers of God and should not be ostracized. In the eyes of a holy God all sin is equally offensive and deserving of His wrath and condemnation. Also, if that person puts their trust in Christ, that sin will be equally forgiven.

  21. Are you leaving your current church due to conflict? (If yes explain.)

    No, I am not leaving my church because of conflict.

  22. Have you ever been asked to resign from a position in a church? If yes, Explain.

    No, I have never been asked to resign from a ministry position.

  23. Have you ever been arrested? If yes explain.

    No, I have never been arrested.

  24. Would you be willing to have a criminal records check?

    Yes, I would be willing to have my criminal record checked.

June 24, 2009

Bad News From Back Home

imageThis morning, a football coach from back near where I grew up was shot this morning.  Ed Thomas was the head football coach for the Applington-Parkersburg  school district.  This morning, while supervising the team’s summer weight lifting program, an unknown man walked up to Thomas pointed the gun at his head and shot him.  He died shortly after at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, IA.  The man that shot him was captured shortly afterwards and is currently in the Butler County jail.

Parkersburg, the home of the AP school district is 15, or so, miles North of my home town, Grundy Center.  I don’t remember Thomas, specifically, but I remember playing against his team occasionally and how unstoppable they were.  They were nearly always one of the top ranked teams in the state.  The team was good enough that Thomas had four of his former players go on to play in the NFL, which is a very high rate for any team, let alone one from the-middle-of-nowhere Iowa.

I don’t know the condition of his soul, whether or not he was right with Christ, but I hope the best for him and will be praying for his family.

June 23, 2009

Dan Phillips on Prayer

This morning, Dan Phillips, over at Pyromaniacs, posted a great classic post of his on “What Prayer Is and Isn’t.”  I recommend that you all go and read the post, but here is my run down on it:

The concept of prayer has become overly laden with evangelical sentimentality to the point where prayer has become the ‘end all’ and ‘be all’ of the Christian life.  Prayer is not a conversation with God, it is not a dialogue, and our prayers certainly have no intrinsic power in and of themselves.  Prayer is simply us talking to God in petition, supplication, praise, thanksgiving, etc.  When God talks to us, that is called revelation and we have received the fullness of that in His Word, the Bible.

June 22, 2009

An Inspiring Display of Being gripped by the Gospel

Watch this video:

(HT: Mike)

This guys passion for the Gospel makes me uncomfortable, in a good way.  I am scared to leave my house at times, and here is this guy out on skid row in Los Angeles preaching his heart out.  God forgive my unbelief!  Give me the courage to preach the Gospel where ever I am!

June 12, 2009

Some Links

I was doing some catching up on blog reading today and came across a couple of them that I though I would post here.

 

  1. Frank Turk over at Pyromaniacs wrote a very good post (including the posts in the comment section) on what is biblically expected of men desiring the position of elder/bishop/pastor – he must be blameless.  After reading this I am more convinced that I should not be a pastor – yet.  Desiring that position is a good and noble thing, but a pastor should be a model of godliness, and I am not that.  I am growing in Christ, yes, but I still have a ways to go.
  2. Over at Reformation21, Guys Waters posted a good review of N.T. Wright’s new book, Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision.  I have not read the book yet, but would really like to.  If nothing else, so that I can be more aware of the teachings of Wright, who is one of the most influential scholars of the day.
  3. Also, I discovered a new blog today.  It is called Cal.vini.st.  In honor of his first anniversary, he is giving away two free copies of BibleWorks 8.

Cal.vini.st Anniversary Giveaway

The Cal.vini.st blog is giving away two free copies of BibleWorks 8 in honor of their blogs first anniversary.  Go and check it out!

June 10, 2009

My Heart, Idolatry, Sin, and Loving Jesus

Something that I suffered from, and always have, is a near constant and overwhelming fear about nearly anything and everything.  So much so that I have seriously considered applying for disability, just because this fear drives me to the point where I can barely function as an individual.  However, there is something that am starting to realize.  First, fear is a sin.  It indicates a lack trust in Christ as the all sovereign king of all creation.  Secondly, like all sin, this really boils down to a matter of idolatry.  Elevating my comfort as my supreme desire and, thus, robbing Christ of the glory he is due.  This sin has run its course long enough.  It has led to me sinning other areas as well: not providing for my family because I am too afraid to face an employer on a daily basis, which makes me worse than an unbeliever; and, probably most devastating, I don’t share the gospel as I ought because I am afraid of not doing something right.  There are numerous other things that I could mention, but you get the picture.  This is my prayer: “God, do a fresh work of grace in my heart.  Help me to love Jesus more than my comfort.  Lord, give me good, Godly, men in my life that will come along beside me a push me, hold me accountable, and help me to see and seek you when I can’t on my own.  And, God, thank you for those few individuals, that are already in my life and doing this.”

June 9, 2009

Wrestling with Greek

Today I was wrestling with the Greek text of Romans 3:26c, for a sermon I am preaching this Sunday, which in the UBS GNT 4th revised edition reads:

… εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίκαιον καὶ δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἐκ πίστεως ʼΙησοῦ.

I am especially wrestling with the meaning of the first five words.  I have only had one year of Greek, which was nearly 3 years ago now.

Here is what I have so far:

  • I believe that the random article (in the accusative neuter singular) is nominalizing the prepositional phrase (per Wallace, 236), so
  • I believe αὐτὸν, though in the accusative is functioning as the subject of the infinitive, εἶναι (present infinitive of εἰμί).
  • I believe that both δίκαιον and δικαιοῦντα are acting as the objects of the same infinitive.

Now, what does that all mean?  I have no idea really.  This is a little bit beyond me, and I haven’t even gotten to the last part of this.  If there is anyone that actually reads this and can help, would you please?

May 28, 2009

Wings Vs. Pens, 2.0

 

Redwings vs. Penguins

For the second time in two years, my two favorite teams are playing off against each other in the Stanley Cup finals.  Though I like both teams, I am probably going to be rooting for the Wings.  GO DETROIT!!

May 27, 2009

Bible Paraphrases

A few days back, the folks from Desiring God posted a great bit of advice about Bible Paraphrases:

If you could not see the movie above, click the following link: John Piper - What do you think about paraphrased Bible translations?

May 25, 2009

Should We Sacrifice Doctrinal Precision for the Sake of the Gospel?

Last year about this time, I was listening to some sermons by Mark Driscoll (if you do not know who he is check out these two articles: Wikipedia, Theopedia) and repeatedly say “Jesus is our God.”  Something about that phrase rubbed me the wrong way.  I recognize that Jesus is God, but all at the same time time, He is not the fullness of God and if someone wasn’t aware of what was going on, it might lead them into a form of modalism.  So, I wrote Mark Driscoll expressing my concern about this, not really expecting a reply.  A couple of weeks later I received a reply from him, rebuking me and telling me to put down the books and get out and witness to someone.  While there is the sting of truth to that rebuke, since most times I would rather spend time with books than people, it still upset me a little.  It upset me because it seemed like Driscoll was sacrificing doctrinal precision, and about who God is no less, for the sake of spreading the Gospel.  Anyone that reads this, what do you think?

May 23, 2009

What Is Preaching? Or Rather, What Should Preaching Be?

It will be no surprise to those who no me, but one of my heroes is Dr. John Piper, pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN.  A couple of weeks ago, He took a few minutes out of the beginning of the beginning of his sermon to explain what preaching should be:

If you can not see the video above, follow this link: What is Preaching?

HT: John Piper

May 18, 2009

“What does it mean to you?” – The Post-Modern Hermeneutic

C. Michael Patton over at Parchment and Pen, published a great blog post on this topic this morning in a post entitled “It Does Not Matter What the Bible Means to You.”  Here is an excerpt:

It is my contention that we are still struggling with the basic presuppositions of a Gnostic worldview in the church today. Right now, I am simply dealing with this with regards to our Bibliology and Hermeneutic, but we can find the influence of Gnosticism infecting our view of Christ, Humanity, Culture, and the end times. As I mention above, most Christians are reading the Bible with a subjective hermeneutic. They read the text as if there is some secret, hidden, underlying meaning in the text. This hidden meaning is the true “spiritual” meaning that transcends the ordinary, physical, evident, mundane reading. This hidden meaning can only be discovered by Christians. Why? Because Christians have the secret decoder ring. We have the Holy Spirit who meets us at the text and whispers in our ear what the meaning really is.

This hermeneutic started very early in Church history in Alexandria and was predominant until the Reformation. Many in church history laid it out logically in this way: Just as the body has three parts—body (physical), soul, and spirit, so the Scripture has three interpretations—literal (physical), moral, and spiritual. While the literal was not completely disregarded, it certainly took a back seat to the more important spiritual meaning. The problem quickly became evident as people would search for this deeper hidden meaning without any rules or reliable guidelines for finding such. The result was that everyone came to different conclusions about what it meant (sound familiar?). The Reformers led the Church back to authorial intent hermeneutics, claiming that it is the only way for us to understand what the Scriptures really mean.

Today, I believe that we (evangelicals included) are dangerously close to Gnosticism with regards to our Bible study. We have lost the spirit of Reformation hermeneutics, especially in the pews. We sit around in Bible study circles and ask “What does this passage mean to you?” We applaud as someone gives their answer and then move on to the next and ask the same question. “What does it mean to you Billy?… And what does it mean to you Sal?… What does it mean to you Kevin?” We affirm each person’s response even if it means something different to each person. Can the text have different meanings? Only if you are practicing a Gnostic hermeneutic where the Bible becomes a magic book with a secret spiritual meaning that transcends the literal.

While the Bible can have different and subjective applications, it cannot have different and subjective meanings. It means what it meant. Nothing more, nothing less. There is no person, group, denomination, tradition, or magisterial authority who has a magic decoder ring. There is no secret hidden meaning. The only meaning that we can discover is what the original author meant.

While this does produce fear of the Scriptures, I believe that this is a healthy fear. After all, the Bible is God’s word, isn’t it? We can’t take it lightly.

May 13, 2009

Star Wars – An A Cappella Tribute to John WIlliams

I don't know if I have posted this before, but I have watched this several times and think it is just plain awesome.

Yay!!

A while back, readers of Koinonia (the blog of Zondervan’s Academic division) were asked to fill out a survey on the Bible software they used.  As a reward, 5 of the people who filled out the survey would win a Zondervan book ($30 or less) of their choice.  I was one of the lucky five drawn and I chose Dan Wallace’s Basics New Testament Syntax.  Thank you Zondervan!!

April 28, 2009

April 24, 2009

Reflections on Ministry at FBC Monroe City

Positives

  • Focus on teaching
  • Attempt at expository preaching to students
  • Attempt to teach sound doctrine
  • Relationships with students
  • Was willing to consider and explore new ideas (within parameters)
  • Had expectations for students
    • Wanted them to take the time seriously
    • Wanted them to grow in the knowledge and understanding of Christ

Negatives

  • Lack of experience
  • Became bitter and critical
  • Lack of direction
  • (Beth) had hard time connecting with students
  • Teaching
    • Expected too much of students
      • Intellectually
      • Spiritually
    • Not disciplined enough in preparation
    • Over ambitious
    • My inability to bridge gap between text and teenage life
    • Not always able to communicate my own fallen-ness
  • At times too rigid
  • At times too lax
  • Didn't attend to my own spirituality
  • Left the church in a bad manor

April 18, 2009

How are we Saved? (Ephesians 2:8-9)



[8] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)


Introduction

Many, if not all, of you are familiar with what is known as the Protestant Reformation of the 1600’s. That was a very turbulent period in history, in general, but this was especially true within the church. At that point in time the church primarily consisted of two large bodies, what would later be called the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. The later of those two was the one that was by far the more dominant then, and that remains true today.
Within both of those large bodies, there were many changes that had taken place since the church had been founded by the apostles and their immediate descendants. These changes had taken place slowly over time, much of it happening because of foreign ideas, ideas from the world that had crept in, and little by little, were accepted by the church. This was so true, that, to all but a few, even the knowledge and understanding of the Gospel was lost. In this new gospel, they claimed that people were saved by their own good work, which God empowered with His grace.
That was the situation, when a German monk by the name of Martin Luther came onto the scene. Luther was the son of a Saxon coal miner. His father intended for Martin to become a lawyer and even sent him to law school, where young Martin proved himself to be very adept in the knowledge and application of the Law. However, one day that all changed. Martin had gone home and was returning to school and, while on the road, was caught in a sudden violent thunder storm. In this storm, a lightning bolt struck so near to him, that it knocked him from his feet. While Martin Luther lay there cowering in the mud, he called out “Saint Anne, help me! I will be a monk!” Martin survived the storm, and true to his word, he soon paid his vow at the monastery and became a monk.
As a monk, Luther brought his acute legal mind to the study of the Bible. He understood the absoluteness of God’s Law as few ever have. He understood that, in regards to the Law, you either obeyed it, or you were toast. Thus, Luther worked as no monk ever had, seeking to conform every part of his being to the Law. However, as he did so he began to despair. No matter how much he worked, no matter how much he confessed, he could never be free from his sin and the guilt that it brought. Then while preparing a sermon series on the book of Romans, he came to two very important conclusions. The first was that if we are to be saved at all, it has to be by the grace of God alone. The second was that if we are to be saved, it has to be through God given faith alone.
Those two conclusions that Luther came to, though they ran counter to the primary teaching of the church, were what the Bible unquestionably had always taught. Those points are taught in few better places than our passage for today, Ephesians 2:8-9.

I. How Are We Saved?

To begin with, we are going to try to answer the question: “How are we saved?” This passage answers that question in two ways: first that we are saved by God’s grace and secondly, that we are saved through faith.
A. By Grace We Have Been Saved
As we look at our passage for today, it says “by grace you have been saved.” Paul’s wording is significant here. In the time that Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians, they had no way of emphasizing specific texts. He wasn’t writing this letter on a computer where he could underline or embolden a word or phrase when he wanted to make a point. When Paul, or any other writer of Greek (which was the language the New Testament was inspired and written in), wanted to emphasize what they were writing, they would change the word order of the sentence. Normally in English, our sentences are formed by first stating the subject, then the verb, then the object. An example would be: “Bob ran home.” Greek was much more fluid in its sentence construction than English is; word order could be changed based on the desire of the author.
I mention that because, even when these verses are translated into English, they don’t follow the normal sentence structure. This sentence, if properly written, should read like “you have been saved by grace…;” however, if the translators would have done that, it would have obscured some of what Paul was trying to say: that we have been saved completely by the grace of almighty God. Since that is Paul’s primary point in this entire passage, let’s take a closer look at what the word ‘grace’ means.
According to one internet dictionary that I use quite frequently, one definition of grace is “the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.” That is a secular source, but it is a great definition. Now, let us look at that definition and how it relates to our salvation.
First, there is the fact that salvation is a gift that is freely given. It is not something that you can force out of God. Though this is the case, some people seem to think that if they live a good enough life, or in the case of us Baptists, if you walk the aisle or pray the right prayer, then God is obligated to let you into heaven. The fact of the matter is that God is under obligation to no one. There is nothing you can do that can make God save you. If He does choose to save you, it is because it is according to His own plans and purposes.
Secondly, our definition of grace shows that salvation, our salvation, is unmerited, or undeserved. While that is true, it really doesn’t go far enough. It isn’t just that we don’t deserve salvation; it is that we all deserve the exact opposite of salvation: damnation. That has been the case, nearly since the dawn of time. Back in Genesis chapter two, God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of any fruit in the Garden of Eden, but that they could not eat of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told them that “in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” You all know the story I am sure, but Adam and Eve did eat of the fruit, and that day they did die. What may not be apparent on the surface is that they died in two ways.
In that day, they died spiritually. They experienced this spiritual death in a separation from God that had not existed before. Not only that, but there was a hostility that entered their nature, hostility towards each other and hostility towards God. Because of this hostile nature towards God their wills, their ability to think and choose, was damaged so that they no longer even had the ability to respond to God in any sort of positive manner.
In the day that Adam and Eve disobeyed God, not only did they die spiritually, but they also died physically. This did not happen immediately, but was something that happened slowly over the course of their lives, they would slowly age and their bodies would begin to fail them, until the point where they passed from this life to the next, where they were guaranteed to face judgment before the throne of God.
With this new reality of death, both physical and spiritual, the imago dei, or image of God, that they bore was irrevocably damaged, and that is what they passed on to all of their descendants. That is why it says at the beginning of Ephesians 2 that we are all dead in our trespasses and sins and are by nature children of wrath. By our very nature, we are not objects of God’s favor and love, but we are objects of his wrath.
Even though that is the case, God has chosen to set apart a remnant for Himself, just as He did in the days of Elijah and just as He always has done, out of all of humanity. Not because they did or even could deserve it, or because He needed us in any way, but simply out of the over-flow of His divine love. We deserved His wrath in eternal condemnation, but instead He sent His only Son to bare the penalty for our sins in His body, so that we would be saved.
Something else that I want to make note of here is the preposition that precedes the word “grace.” When I was in elementary, junior high, or senior high school, they did not teach us the parts of speech or rules of grammar. For those of you that may be like me, or maybe it has just been a long time since you learned those things, let me quickly explain what a preposition is. A preposition is a word that generally is placed before a noun in a sentence or proposition, and its purpose is to indicate some form of spatial, temporal, or some other relationship between the noun and the main verb. Some examples of prepositions would be words such as “in,” “as,” “since,” “for,” or (our word) “by.”
The passage says that we are saved by grace. So what does “by” mean, and is it significant? In this passage, it means that grace is the very foundation from which our salvation flows. Even the faith and the works that are mentioned later in the passage flow from the outworking of God’s grace. In the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia’s article on grace it says that “God's favor differs from man's in that it cannot be conceived of as inactive. A favorable “thought” of God's about a man involves of necessity the reception of some blessing by that man, and “to look with favor” is one of the commonest Biblical paraphrases for “bestow a blessing.”” In other words God’s grace or favor towards someone, is not simply an inactive feeling that He has towards people, but is a power of force that actually brings about some blessing. In the case of our passage today, God’s grace is the power, the force that makes the salvation of His chosen people certain.
The certainty of our salvation is made evident in what comes next. “For by grace you have been saved. In the original language, that last part, you have been saved, is all one word, and it is what is called a perfect passive participle. The perfect tense means that it is an action that has occurred in some time in the past, but it is an action that has been completed. Also, this is in the passive voice, which means that we are the target of the action rather than the source. Thus, our salvation is something that has been completed, and was something that was done to us rather than something we did ourselves. This was accomplished when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came and died once for all, so that all who called on Him in faith would have eternal life.
B. We Have Been Saved Through Faith
The second way this passage answers the question “how are we saved?” is that we have been saved through faith. For this portion of the passage, we need to try to answer three questions. First, what is “faith”? Second, where does faith come from? And thirdly, what is faith’s role in our salvation.
To answer the first question, “what is faith,” could you please turn in your Bibles with me to Hebrews 11:1? There it says, (Read Hebrews 11:1). That is what my translation, the English Standard Version says, but the version that I memorized that text in was the New International Version, and it is the one that has always made the most sense to me. In that translation it says “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” There is not a lot of difference between the two, but, the NIV just seems to be clearer, at least on that verse.
There are two things that I want you to notice about this verse. First is the fact that faith goes beyond merely acknowledging certain facts. As you can see here in Hebrews 11:1, faith is being sure, being certain about certain things. This is so much the case, that some people would render the word that is translated here as faith, as complete trust or allegiance to a certain cause or person. Secondly, I want you to notice that faith has content. That may seem obvious to you, but there are many people today that would say that it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you have faith in something. However, that is a damnable lie produced by a culture that cannot tolerate real truth. Our faith does have content, it must have content, or it is positively worthless. You must believe that there is a God, who is spirit and has revealed Himself in three persons. You must believe that one day we will all stand before the throne of God where we will be judged, and you must believe that the only hope that we have on that day is found in Christ Jesus who died to pay the penalty for our sins for us and lives to make intercession for us, the only way that we will be spared on that day is through faith and trust in Him. If you do not believe these things you will be amongst the goats in Matthew 25 who Jesus will tell “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
The second question that I posed about faith was “where does it come from?” Ultimately, we have to confess that faith cannot come from us. There may be some that disagree with that notion, but if you understand what the Bible teaches about human nature, you can believe no other. I say this because of passages like Romans 3:10, let us read. (Read Romans 3:10-18)
That doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of humanity does it? However, I want you to notice a couple of things. First, these are universal negatives; they apply to everyone, with the exception of Jesus. Secondly notice what is says in verse 11. It says that “no one understands God; no one seeks for God.” Now remember back just a few minutes ago, where I said that faith has definite content. How can you have faith in something you don’t understand? The simple answer is you can’t.
While that passage says that no one does understand God, Paul takes it even further in 1 Corinthians 2:14 where he says: (Read 1 Corinthians 2:14). In our natural state, before we are regenerated by God, we do not accept the things of God, because they are foolishness to us. It then goes one step further and says that we do not even have the ability to understand them. It isn’t just that we don’t understand the things of God; it’s that we don’t have the ability to understand them. If we do not have the ability to understand the things of God in our natural state, neither do we have the ability to come to a saving faith in Christ.
Where does this faith come from? The only answer is that it comes from God. If you remember back to when we were talking about grace, and I said that God’s grace is more than a passive disposition, but is in fact an active force, and if God looks with favor upon someone they will by necessity be recipient of some blessing. God has ordained that salvation comes through faith and we are incapable of producing that faith in of ourselves. But, if God looks with favor upon an individual, that favor or grace is what produces the faith within us. That is why, in the next part of our passage, Paul says that “this is not your own doing; it is a gift from God...” Though that primarily refers to salvation as a whole, it also refers to the constituent parts of grace and faith. One last important thought about this, is that though faith comes from God, and is produced in us by the working of the Holy Spirit, it is still up to us exercise it.
The third question that I posed about faith was “what is faith’s role in our salvation?” I am not going to labor this point much at all. The key to understanding it, though, is once again found in the preposition that precedes the noun “faith.” The preposition here is “through,” indicating instrumental means. In other words, if we have been saved through faith, as this passage says, than this faith is merely the conduit or channel, which God uses to bring salvation to us. We are not saved because of our faith; we are saved through our faith.
C. The Non-Source of Salvation: works
Next Paul talks of what I call the non-source of salvation. He tells us that salvation “is not a result of work, so that no one may boast.” In Paul’s day, there were many people that believed that they could earn salvation by performing certain good works or living a good life. In fact, Paul had been one of those people. There are still many people that believe that today. They believe that all they have to do is live a good enough life, as if they ever could. They might believe that all they have to do is go to church on Easter and Christmas, maybe give an offering at church every few years. However, while going to church and giving from our financial resources are important, without God’s working through faith, these acts are meaningless. I say this because, if we are saved by grace, we cannot be saved by works. Remember our definition of grace, “the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.” If you have to do good works to earn salvation, then it is no longer free or unmerited and thus it is not by grace.
Also, there is the fact that there is nothing we could do to earn salvation. In order for that to happen, we would somehow have to live a perfect life. Even if we boiled down the requirements to the two most important commandments: “to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself,” it would be impossible. Who, if they were honest, could say that they have always loved God perfectly and loved others as much as themselves.
In the book of James chapter 2 verses 10-11 it says (Read James 2:10-11). That passage may sound harsh, but it is the way God works. Every sin you commit, no matter how large or small, is liable to the same punishment. That is because the Law is a reflection of God’s perfect righteousness, and each sin we commit is an assault against God’s perfect and infinite holiness; with each sin we commit, because it is an assault against God’s infinite holiness, is deserving of infinite punishment. In order to atone for our sin through works, we would have to pay the infinite penalty of sin in this life and by definition that is impossible. Since we, as humans, are finite beings, we can do nothing infinitely. In order to pay the price of sin, it took someone who was infinite, and that was Jesus. It is through His death on the cross and His infinite righteousness that we are made righteous and can stand before God.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I want you to know the purpose of this passage. That purpose is to tell us how we are saved. I want you to walk out of this church this morning knowing that we are saved by God’s grace. I want you to know that we are saved through God given faith. And I want you to know that you are not saved by any good works. The big truth, the ultimate truth, that I want you to walk out of here this morning knowing, though, is that you are saved solely by the gracious work of God.
Now, why are these truths important? These truths are important because they are at the heart of the Gospel and if you don’t get the gospel right, you are stuck believing man-made lies and remain outside Christ. If you are outside Christ, then you are still in your sin. And, if you are still in your sin, your eternity looks pretty bleak.
So, Christian, make sure you have this Gospel right. If you do, rejoice in your salvation. Rejoice in and worship the God that, in His grace, chose you and sent His only Son to die and pay the penalty for your sin.
For you, unbeliever, I urge you today to put your trust and hope in Jesus Christ. You do not know how much time you have left to live. We all have to die sometime and you may not have another minute left. The Bible says that it is appointed once for a man to die and then face judgment. It is just as inevitable that one day you will stand before a holy God and be judged as it is inevitable that you are going to die. However, the Bible also says that “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive them” and “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” If you have not put your trust in Jesus and His death and resurrection, and bowed down to Him as your King, do so today.
θεός μονός δοξάζηται

Something Funny

My two oldest children are downstairs playing in the basement and my older son, Daniel, is pretending he is Martin Luther.  How great is that!

θεός μονός δοξάζηται

March 3, 2009

DG - Jesus' Unbelieving Brothers

image This morning Jon Bloom at the Desiring God blog posted a great post on Jesus' family and the hope that us believers that have unbelieving family can gain from it.

I personally have quite a bit of my immediate family that is not saved: my mom, brother, and half-sister; plus most of my extended family is not saved.  I sometimes despair that so many that are close to me are so far from God.  That and I don't have very good relationships with them and live so far away from them so I cannot develop those relationships and share the Gospel with them.  However, I do have an aunt (my dad's sister) who has been a believer for many years and my dad who only came to Christ a few years ago.

Now, back to the block.  Knowing that Jesus' family lived with him for 20-30 years before they were saved, is comforting.  They had the witness of the very Son of God and were still hard-hearted gives me comfort for a couple of reason:

  1. I am not Jesus (obviously!), so, it may take longer with my witness
  2. Jesus' family was finally saved, so, there is hope for my family

I do pray for my family.  My mom's side of the family is all Irish-Catholic, so there is a sense that they know about Christ, but only enough to inoculate them to the true Gospel of God's free grace.  Many of them also were so burned by the weighty responsibility of Catholicism inherent legalism, that they want to have nothing to do with Christianity in general.  So, I pray that there I eye's would be opened to the true Gospel and the beauty of Christ in it.  I also pray for my brother and sister who are, because of my mom's feelings, were raised with little to know influence of any form of Christianity and both have a spirit of complete rebellion against anything that would place any kind of restrictions on their freedom.  Ultimately, though, I serve a God who is sovereign and I know that He can turn even their stony-hearts to hearts of flesh.

signature image

February 26, 2009

Calfskin ESVSB Giveaway at Boomer in the Pew

Dave over at Boomer in the Pew is having a drawing for a Calfskin ESV Study Bible, which normally retails for $240. Go and check it out!

HT: JT

January 26, 2009

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

image

In the last few years I have heard a few people cite a guy by the name of  Charles Finney as one of their own personal heroes and even a hero of the faith.  I didn't know much about the guys truthfully other than that he was an old-time revival preacher.  Well, I was doing some poking around on one of Phil Johnson's website today and came across an article about Finney.  Having read it, I am convinced that this man, whom many consider to be a hero of their faith, was at best an unbeliever, if not a devil in disguise.

January 12, 2009

Thanks be to God!!

Coming up on three weeks ago, I left my position as the Youth Pastor at a local church.  I have been looking for jobs and applying, but so far haven't gotten any call-backs so far (though I have received a call from one pastoral search committee, but am unsure what to do with it).   Anyway, this morning my wife and I sat down and looked at our budget and realized that if things go the way they are, we are going to fall a couple of hundred of dollars short of being able to make our bills this month.  We were lamenting this and getting depressed when I went in and checked my e-mail.  In my e-mail inbox was a message from my former pastor saying that they were going to be sending my final paycheck out soon and that I would be getting a final mileage reimbursement as well.  I had written these off because, according to my very limited knowledge of things, since I quit the church was under no obligation whatsoever to give me either.  With those coming in, we will actually have an excess (if you can call it that) of right around a hundred dollars for the month (if everything goes right).  So, THANKS BE TO GOD!!

That being said, I would ask that all pray for me and my family, that God would provide me with some way of providing for my family.  Also, I would ask that all be in prayer that God would give me guidance whether to continue on in the ministry at this juncture or just to find a good church and be discipled there as a member of the laity.

January 10, 2009

A thought that came to me today

I have been preparing my next blog post that I am writing for my series on Calvinism.  That post is going to be over the subject of sola Scriptura and essentially going to consist of an exposition of 2 Timothy 3:15-16.  While reading up so that I could write that post, I had an interesting thought: 'Can anyone but a Calvinist, or at least someone with a high view of the sovereignty of God, truly believe in a fully inspired and inerrant Bible?'

Based on my view of Biblical inspiration, the answer that I had to come to was 'no.'  I say that because, first of all, because of my view of Biblical inspiration.  I believe that God worked through the human authors, using their own personalities, vocabulary, etc., but overriding their fundamental falleness, so that the final product was without error.  As far as I know, within the Protestant Camp, Calvinism is the only system that has such a high view of God's sovereignty that it would allow Him to do such.

Anybody that reads this, what do you think?  Am I completely warped in my thinking?  Please feel free to comment.

January 7, 2009

What is Calvinism, Part I

clip_image002[1]Introduction

First of all, I think that it must be said that John Calvin, I think would roll over in his grave if he knew that his system of beliefs had taken on his name. For John Calvin, his beliefs were nothing other than biblical Christianity. In fact, most people that hold to his system of beliefs prefer not to be called Calvinists. They prefer to be called ‘Reformed’ or just simply ‘biblical Christians;’ however, most would concede to the title of ‘Calvinist’ for the sake of conversation.

What Calvinism is Not

Those who oppose ‘Reformed’ or ‘Calvinistic’ theology make many slanderous accusations against it and those who subscribe to it. At this point in time, I only wish to address two such accusations.

Calvinists Do Not Worship John Calvin

The first of these is that those who are ‘Calvinists’ follow and worship the man John Calvin. This is nothing more than straw-man argument used to insight the masses to riot. In general, theological systems are named for their most prominent proponent or defender. Just a few examples that emerged from the Reformation era are 1) Lutheranism: was the theological framework that emerged from Luther’s teachings and those of his followers in the early days of the reformation; 2) Mennonitism: (or Mennonites) was named for the heretical Anabaptist Menno Simons; 3) Calvinism: the theological system we are here considering, which is named for John Calvin and is commonly know by the acrostic TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints) though that is not the sum total of it; 4) Arminianism; founded by the followers of Jacob Arminius, who stood in opposition to five of the points of Reformed Theology (those of the acrostic above) believing that man is not so fallen as to not be able to choose God of his own free will, that it is man who chooses God not the other way around, Christ’s atonement is not limited in its purpose, that man can resist the grace of God, and that genuine believers can and do fall away from the faith, (this belief system was decried as error at the Synod of Dort in 1619); 5) Amyraldism: named for Moses Amyraut and is a theological system that is something of a compromise between Calvinism and Arminianism, holding to all the points of ‘Calvinism’ except the particularity or limitedness of Christ’s atonement.

So with all of that as a backdrop, Calvinist’s no more worship John Calvin than any of these other systems do, which is not at all.

Calvinism Is Not Just a Man-Made System of Beliefs

Another such accusation that opponents of Reformed or Calvinistic Theology make is, that it is just a man-made system of beliefs that are artificially foisted upon the biblical text. This is not the case at all. Reformed theology is an attempt to systematically look at the text of Scripture and compile what it says and means in its most natural and logical sense. So, anyone that disagrees with Calvinistic theology needs to do so on the basis of clearly exegeted Scripture.

What Calvinism Is
It is Part of Catholic Christianity

The statement that Calvinistic theology is catholic, may raise some eyebrows. However, you need to understand how I use the term. First of the 'catholic' comes from the Koinē Greek word, καθολικός (katholikos), which means general or universal (Bauer, et al. 1979). When this is applied to the church, it is referring to the universal church of Christ. The universal church of Christ, or, by some, simply the church, “… is the community of all true believers for [or from] all times (Grudem 2000).” That means that everyone who has ever been truly saved, and thus had communion with Christ, is part of this universal body.

Most people, when they hear the term ‘catholic,’ automatically think you are talking about the Roman Catholic Church. In part that is because the RCC traditionally taught that to be outside of the fellowship of the Bishop of Rome, was to be outside of fellowship with Christ. So, to many, they are the catholic church, the one true representation of the body of Christ. However, there are many who would disagree with this.

So, when we say that Reformed theology is part of Catholic Christianity, in some ways, it is simply another way of saying that it is truly Christian.

It is Part of Protestant Christianity

Historically the church was divided into two parts: the Eastern Church and the Western Church. This division was based on the division in the ancient Roman Empire. The Eastern Church is what we know today as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Western Church is the Roman Catholic Church.

In the Western Church, during the 1500’s, there was a division that arose. The Western Church had grown corrupt, adopting beliefs and practices that were unbiblical. The Western Church taught that there were two sources of revelation: scripture and tradition, both of which could only be infallibly interpreted by the Bishop of Rome. On justification, the Roman church taught that man is saved by working in cooperation with God’s grace. There was a German Augustinian monk who, after actually reading Scripture, became convinced of two things: first, Scripture was the sole authority for faith and practice for the Christian and, secondly, that the Christian was justified by grace, through faith, because of the perfect righteousness of Christ, and apart from any good work. These beliefs stood in stark contrast to the official church teachings on these matters. The later followers of Luther came to be known as Protestants. One such person was John Calvin.

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