Another Chapter

9:43PM, Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The time has come to bid this particular chapter farewell. But it is not that I am done writing; nor is it the case that I am through with the conversations which are currently ongoing within this context. Rather it is the dawning of a new chapter in the same story. It’s not a paradigm-shattering change, but it is a significant change nonetheless. Having purchased billcarlisle.com and the necessary hosting, I will be shifting my focus to that site and its development as a venue for the building up of both my mind and the minds of others. Needless to say, that means that my time in this place is drawing to a close. What does that mean practically for this weblog? Well, I don’t plan on taking away what is written, so if your concern is that, do not fret. I do, however, plan to draw the commentary and conversation here to a gracious close or else shift it to other mediums, perhaps even bringing these ideas to the new site.

It is time to move, but it’s a move down the street, not across town.

Grace and peace to you,


Bill


Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?

11:12PM, Monday, March 3, 2008

What follows was written in the 1800s by a man named Charles Haddon Spurgeon. You may know of him. Oh dear brother Charles, if only you knew how timely, relevant, and accurate an indictment your words to the Church are more than 100 years after your slumber. Would that we would repent of our offerings of strange fire and incline our ear to the sound teaching of the Word which gives life and peace. Would that we would see that to continue in the way of our perverse and adulterous generation is to tread the path to death and Hell.

An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most short-sighted can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ That is clear enough. So it would have been if he had added, ‘and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.’ No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him. Then again, ‘He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry.’ Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the Church to the world? ‘Ye are the salt,’ not the sugar candy—something the world will spit out, not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, ‘Let the dead bury their dead.’ He was in awful earnestness!

Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of his teaching. I do not hear him say, ‘Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!’ Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them. In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of the gospel of amusement. Their message is, ‘Come out, keep out, keep clean out!’ Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon. After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, ‘Lord, grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.’ If they ceased not for preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. ‘They turned the world upside down’. That is the only difference! Lord, clear the Church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her and bring us back to apostolic methods.

Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the Church met them half-way, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment had been God’s link in the chain of their conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.


More Internets Please

11:42AM, Friday, February 22, 2008

This week I purchased three top level domains: billcarlisle.com, .net, and .org. For now I’ve got them pointed here. I think I’ll be hosting the blog, mail, DNS and other things myself very shortly though. I haven’t run into too many bumps getting 64-bit Ubuntu Linux installed and working. Cedega gave me a little trouble at first, not wanting to work with my 64-bit graphics libraries, but a little forum searching and a single command got everything working perfectly. Here’s to the start of a new personal era of completely MS-free computing.


The Cup Which Christ Drank

10:05AM, Wednesday, February 20, 2008

To contrast with Bell’s teaching, I commend to you here true teaching about Christ’s prayer that night in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Thanks go to my friend Ben for sharing this video with me that I might share it with you.


Analysis and Critique of NOOMA 019 – Open

5:19PM, Monday, February 18, 2008

I watched this video on 18 Feb 08 in its entirety when it was available for free on Facebook for 48 hours. The URL I used to watch it is http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=588666405663

This analysis and critique is provided for the purposes of discernment and truth as declared and defined by the Word of God.

Problem 1:
Rob says, “God leaves the world unfinished.” I do not believe that this is an accurate statement in light of what Scripture says about the Creation. When God created the world, He made everything good and perfect. In John 1, we read that nothing that was made was made without Him. When God created, Creation was complete and good, perfect in every way. And then man fell, introducing sin and its consequences to the world.

But I think there’s another contextual clue as to what he means by this statement. He calls Genesis a “creation poem” which immediately raises a red flag for me. Why? Quite simply, you don’t read poems literally. You read a poem as a figure of speech. So if Genesis is a “creation poem” then the whole Adam and Eve thing didn’t happen, nor the literal six-day Creation account.

What sort of agenda might there be to call Genesis a poem as opposed to referring to it as a literal historical account (which, by the way, there is no reason, historical or literary, to assume otherwise)? If it’s not glaringly obvious by this point, it’s Evolutionism. The idea that the universe and that which is in it is constantly being “created” (i.e. evolving into bigger and better) is Evolutionism through and through.

Problem 2:
God commands us to pray, and so we ought to do so. Also God is sovereign and does as He pleases, and all that He does is good and perfect and holy. But the coexistence of these two truths do not mean that somehow there is a synergistic interaction going on when we pray. Prayer is not “tapping into divine creative energy” as Rob says. To even compare the creations of man to the creation of God is blasphemous. Man creates out of what is. God created ex nihilo, that is, out of nothing.

Prayer is the submission of the will of a man to the will of God in humility and acknowledgment of his utter dependence upon the providential graces of God. Sometimes God says no when we ask for things, and He is within His right to do so! God is sovereign. To ask “Well why should we pray then?” in response to God’s sovereignty is to be so arrogant as to expect that God owes us anything. God owes mankind nothing.

How about a little Romans shall we? This passage is from chapter 9, verses 14-24, emphasis mine and in bold:

14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.


Problems and Solutions

2:08PM, Monday, January 28, 2008

What is noticeably wrong with the Church visible:

1. We have departed from the very foundation of our faith: the Bible. It is not held in high esteem. It is not revered as the very Word of God. It is not presented as the highest and sole authority in all matters, moral and spiritual. Instead, we follow after every wind of doctrine, becoming the fanboys of whoever claims they’ve got a “new way” to do the Jesus thing and writes a book about how the entire faith should change so the world will want to be friends with Jesus. We’re so concerned with the world liking us and liking our message that we’ll dress up God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit as anything but what the Bible teaches them to be. This we do all in the name of not offending anyone. We are content to repaint the beautiful Gospel of Jesus Christ until we have arrived at a blasphemous caricature of the thrice holy God of the universe.

2. In our relationships and our personal lives, we do not consult the Bible for instruction. And if we happen to be confronted with the Truth, chapter and verse, we dismiss it as not applicable to us because it doesn’t feel right to our deceitful, sin-soaked hearts. Our feelings and our desires hold more weight in our rebellious minds than God’s commands. We quarrel with those who rightly rebuke and correct us with God’s Word, refusing to acknowledge the sin dwelling in our hearts. One almost wonders if such a person whose mind is in such a rebellious state can rightly be called saved. How can one who is truly reborn despise the counsel of God and refuse to repent of sin which is plainly revealed by the light of the Word?

3. We bring the world’s music, the world’s media, and the world’s way of ordering things into the house of God and call it holy and good. We bring to the house of God songs which are qualitatively bankrupt and utterly man-centered and we dare to call it “worship” with a straight face. We sing songs about how we do this and we do that, as if extolling the virtues of man’s deeds were praise of the Creator and not praise of man’s response. We have all but abandoned the regulative principle, opting instead for whatever pleases the flesh and makes people feel good about themselves. We do not fear God. We do not revere His name nor do we revere His Word. We offer strange fire to God and expect that He will accept this as true worship.

I propose the following as solutions to these issues:

1. Reaffirm the Bible’s place as our only standard and the highest authority. Both the Westminster and 1689 London Baptist confessions begin with the same topic: the Holy Scriptures. And this for good reason, because “[t]he whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men.” Given the serious nature of the current state of the church, I would recommend that we make formal declaration of such a principle, whether by affirming a confession or otherwise making formal recognition of such a principle. We ought to formally draw the battle lines. Let those who call themselves Christians and yet deny Scripture its proper place of authority over our beliefs and actions be lovingly brought to repentance or else let them be put out from among our congregations if they refuse. Let us preach the whole counsel of God from the pulpit. Let us rebuke, reproof, correct, and encourage one another with the whole counsel of God.

2. Bend the knee and submit to the Bible in all areas of our lives, personal and public. When we are confronted with what Scripture says and our words, actions, and thoughts are not in line with God’s Word, we must humble our hearts and submit to God’s Word as corrective and right. When it says that we are always to forgive, we don’t make excuses about why we “can’t” forgive some wrong against us (look to the Amish in Pennsylvania circa 2006 for an example of what biblical forgiveness looks like). When it says that we are to always pursue reconciliation with all, even before coming to worship God, we obey and do not make excuses about how deeply someone has offended us or how deeply we have offended a person with whom we should seek reconciliation. When it says that we are to correct and rebuke those who are in error, we are to do so without hemming and hawing about how uncomfortable confrontation is. When it says that we are to discipline those in the church who refuse to repent of grievous sins, we are to do so without hesitation after it has been reasonably ascertained that biblical disciplinary proceedings have occurred and the person in question is in sin and unrepentant.

3. Rid ourselves of this love affair with the world (and consequently, enmity with God) and return order and reverence to the house of God and the services of worship therein. The house of God is to be a place of dignity and humility before God. A rock concert atmosphere and songs which lift up the “I” instead of the King are out of the question. If a given congregation does not have leadership capable of providing these things due to a lack of time or lack of ability, then I would contend that this warrants a return to more formal liturgical pursuits. At the very least, all singing should be congregational and focused on exalting God and His works as holy and good and humiliating man and his works as unholy and evil. After examining Scripture and understanding the instructions and principles it gives for the right worship of God, I am wholly convinced that the insertion of “special” music and disharmonious breaks for greetings and announcements into a service which is ostensibly set aside for the worship of God and the preaching of His Word is wholly inappropriate and unacceptable. If you wish to announce things to the congregation because they happen to be gathered on a Sunday together, let it be through a bulletin or else a newsletter. If it’s not worth preaching about or singing about, it’s not worth time spent talking about during a worship service. A worship service is for the worship of God through psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, and the preaching of the Word. It is not a place for dramas, community announcements, or dancing around like fools. Church is not where you go to have fun and indulge the flesh by doing what feels good. It is where you go to worship the true and living God the way He commands us to worship Him and to be instructed by His Word. God demands love and adoration. He also demands reverence, awe, and fear. Do not mock Him by offering strange fire — that which He has not commanded.


On the Cusp

8:28PM, Monday, January 14, 2008

I have an overwhelming sense that God has brought me to the point of another enormous change in life. I don’t have the first clue how it’s going to happen, but I’m excited about it, whatever the next step is. I am at peace because I know that it is God who has ordained my steps. His plan is good, His timing perfect, His glory inevitable. For this I am thankful and content.

Perfect submission, all is at rest!
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.


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