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.

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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.


You, However

6:30AM, Sunday, January 13, 2008

On the counsel of a close friend and brother whom I love dearly and the counsel of scripture, I decided to edit my paper on Rob Bell slightly to reflect what I believe to be a more appropriate attitude. I do not believe I was as charitable as I should have been toward Rob Bell himself. I do not speak of my views regarding his teaching; they remain unchanged. The original post has been edited and the edited Word document re-uploaded.

I do not suppose to sit as judge over Rob Bell the man. Only God is in the position to rightfully condemn a man’s soul to hell or else to commend Him to heaven by grace through faith in Christ alone. But that does not mean I will not tell you to stay far, far away from Rob Bell and his teachings until further notice. I do not condemn the man, but I do condemn his teachings as false because I am wholly convinced by scripture that they are in grievous error, at the very best severely lacking or else ignorant.

If given the chance to have dinner with Rob Bell, I would welcome him with a firm handshake, a genuine smile, and an ice cold glass of sweet tea (Southern style, because Yankees don’t know how to make it, ha ha). I would welcome the opportunity for him to clarify and/or be changed in his mind regarding those teachings of his which my understanding of scripture leads me to believe are in error. But until and unless that happens and Rob Bell and I come into contact and relationship with one another, conscience dictates that I warn you against his teachings. If you are looking to learn and grow (as you ought to be), I recommend to you more sound teachers such as John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Ravi Zacharias, and also the men of old who were raised up to preach the Gospel and feed the flock of God: Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry, and others. Walk in the old paths not because they are old, but because they are good and will bring your soul rest.

As for me, I simply want to know the truth and for you to know it as well. To know the truth is to know the word of God. To intimately know the word of God brings knowledge of God. To know God is life. Brothers and sisters pray for me as I struggle to walk humbly before my God. Pray that God will cause me to be faithful to that which Paul called Timothy:

Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Peace be with you, friends.


Just What’s On My Mind

10:39PM, Friday, January 11, 2008

Redeemer:

I do not deserve the love of God. I do not deserve to be able to love God. And yet He graces me with both. God has given to me, a man once His enemy, forgiveness for even my most grievous sins, many though they be. How I long for the sweet embrace of death which would cause this mortal coil of flesh to once and for all cease its struggle against its Maker! In my soul I bear the exhilarating joy of salvation and the peace of a reconciled commune with God. But I also bear a grief of which words cannot speak over coming to grips with the depths of my own depraved and fallen nature. Recognizing that I deserve death, I cry out to God, broken: “Have mercy on me Lord! Save me!”

The Lord hears my cry. He comes to my deathbed and rescues me. Gentle hands has He. Yet mighty are His arms. He is my Eternal Father, strong to save. I find comfort in His arms. I find rest upon his shoulder. I find shelter beneath His wings. For this reason will I tell of His goodness. For this reason will I proclaim to all that He is merciful and mighty. I owe to Him everything I am, all I have, and then some.


Precious Words:

On my heart have been the serious considerations of seminary schooling. If provided the opportunity, I will go without hesitation. I desire to know God more intimately and to love His word more intensely. For me, education is the clearest and most direct route to this. I don’t yet know where I’d go. RTS is probably the most prominent in my thoughts at the moment, but I haven’t pursued it very far. Honestly, finances are the only thing I would say is holding me back from pursuing it.

A good number of people at my church have been extremely discouraging, even disparaging in their remarks about me. No one has really urged me to pursue ministry vocationally or otherwise, nor have I been encouraged to be formally educated. Is it odd that when I pursue what I know is right in the eyes of God (including making right the wrongs I have done) that I am met with strong opposition, even in the church?

I suppose if I had to put into a word what I am feeling right now after over 6 months of thought into these matters, I would use the word discouraged. I really could use some encouragement, and I’m not talking an attaboy. I don’t want someone to lavish vain compliments that would tempt me to puff up in pride. I want a couple brothers and sisters to spur me on to love and good deeds. I desire a best friend, a mentor, and perhaps a woman in whom I can confide. Something just feels. . . I don’t know. . . like it’s missing — like there’s one or two keys that will unlock this gate holding me back and start the engine of the vehicle which will take me down the road to where I’m supposed to be traveling. I can’t see the future, but I feel it there. My heart aches for action. My legs twitch in anticipation.

It’s your show God. If these things on my heart were put there by You, then Your timing and Your plan for bringing them to fruition are in my best interest and Your greater glory. I submit myself to Your good pleasure and loving, providential care. Glorify Yourself in my words, in my deeds, and in my relationships. So let it be.


How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds!

10:14AM, Thursday, January 3, 2008

I happened upon this hymn, and I am compelled to share it with you, my friends. Be reminded of who Jesus is. Be encouraged by these words from our sleeping brother, John Newton.

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death!


Progress and Pain

11:02AM, Thursday, December 27, 2007

No, I haven’t forgotten about the Rob Bell tour review that I promised to write. I’ve got most of the critique written up, I just need to finish the last section and it will be ready for your analysis and feedback. My hope is that it generates meaningful discourse.

Life has been moving at a whirlwind’s pace this past month, though that’s not to say it’s been a terrible time. On the contrary, it’s been very exciting, and I consider myself undeservedly blessed. I started at a permanent job (Yay! No more contractor work!) working downtown in a NOC (network operations center for the ungeeked masses) just a few weeks ago. I’m enjoying the heck out of the work I do and the learning involved. It’s a great place to work, a great company to work for, and I have a boss who is an encouragement every time I see him. I’m working nights at the moment, which somewhat limits my ability to devote more significant periods of time to writing.

And certainly, there have been a few disappointments, the most significant of which are with a few brothers and sisters who have uttered lies and spoken ill of me to church leaders in at least two churches of which I know. Totally ignoring the commands of Christ concerning sins between believers (Matt 18), they have whispered not a word of this supposed grievance to me. Instead they have gone in secret to slander and gossip. I grieve for the loss of those who I might have once called friend to the hellish poisons of bitterness, unforgiveness, and unlove. I long to embrace them once again as brothers and sisters, but they are as unbelievers to me because they have hardened their hearts and have rejected my attempts to make peace with them.

Alas I am no chiseler of the cold and stony hearts of men. But I do know the master stonemason who reduced this man’s heart to rubble. I know the master physician who took that rubble and gave this man a heart of flesh. I am now able to love and forgive because of the great love and forgiveness shown to me. To this great mender of hearts do I commend them with tears and with hope. He is able to do what I am not. May it please Him to do this and bring us together once again around the dinner table to commune in harmony and love.


Healing

3:44PM, Tuesday, October 23, 2007

O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your wrath. Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am pining away; Heal me, O LORD, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O LORD–how long? Return, O LORD, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your lovingkindness. For there is no mention of You in death; In Sheol who will give You thanks? I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief; It has become old because of all my adversaries. Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping. The LORD has heard my supplication, The LORD receives my prayer. All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed; They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed. (Psalm 6)