The Father’s Giving Determines the Peoples’ Coming

Dr. James White reviews comments by Cheryl Schatz regarding John 6:37, and her particular way of undercutting John 6′s clear testimony to monergism. The section begins around the 42 minute mark and continues to 1:18:50.

Text: John 6:36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

Video Church?

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation” (Ps. 111:1).

Rick Phillips writes:

One of the more popular features on our church website (www.spcgreenville.org) is the live video webcast that allows people to watch our worship services on the Lord’s Day as they are taking place. We are delighted to provide this, especially for members who are shut-ins, parents who are home with sick children, and similar situations. I recently heard of a member who was able to watch one of our services on his smart phone when he was stuck in a power outage. There are a surprising number of people who view our services over the internet and we hope it is a blessing to them all. We are particularly pleased if non-Christians are able to hear God’s Word and be encouraged to join us in the flesh.

For all the blessings of this kind of technology, there are some important limitations to video worship of which Christians should be aware and which call for us to make a wise use of this resource. In short, our live webcast is designed for those who are not able to come to church, not as a substitute for those who would otherwise come to church. With this in mind, let me point out some reasons why we should greatly prefer attending church in person, along with some suggestions for our practice.

1. Our physical presence is essential to full participation in worship and in the life of the church. When the Bible urges us “to meet together” (Heb. 10:25), this involves our physical as well as our spiritual presence. We are not meeting with the church if the church cannot see us! Jesus said, he would be present “where two or three are gathered in my name” (Mt. 18:20). His meaning undoubtedly had the normal sense of physical presence with a shared heart. This is why we should never provide for home video participation in the sacraments and why the elders of the church meet in person rather than merely over the internet (notice that Matthew 18:20 occurs in a passage dealing with church discipline).

2. We need to come to church in order to contribute our gifts and graces to fellow Christians. The Lord accomplishes a number of important things through the weekly gathering of the church. For instance, the spiritual gifts of each member are employed in a wide variety of ways, each of which are essential. Paul wrote that “we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom. 12:5). He added that our spiritual gifts are provided to us “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). Therefore, your fellow Christians require your presence: to serve, encourage, listen, support, laugh, hug, and love. We gather on Sunday as a church community, and this requires us to commune! So while video church is a help for exceptional situations, it should never become anything like the norm for a Christian.

3. There is an authoritative dimension to the preaching of God’s Word that involves physically “sitting under” a real and living pulpit ministry. It is a blessing to be able to hear the Word of God even if we are not able to attend church. Yet physically attending the sermon makes a significant difference to the way God ministers his Word. God has ordained for the Bible to be preached through living heralds and ambassadors, and the experience of sitting under a pulpit ministry integrally involves being physically present. Preaching is a living, communal event, and the preacher needs to see and spiritually interact with the congregation, just as the congregation needs to see and spiritually interact with the preacher. It is a blessing to have great preaching available via a number of electronic means and I would encourage you to do so, but none is a substitute from sitting in person under the personal ministry of your own pastor together with the church of which you are a member. This is why I am so opposed to “satellite churches” where the celebrity preacher’s video is beamed into a congregation where he is not physically present. This is also why you should especially attend to the preaching of your own minister, even if more gifted preachers can be heard on radio or the internet. Preaching is an important part of the pastor’s spiritual leadership and sitting under the preaching is an essential way to obey Hebrews 13:17 – “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls.”

4. In worship, we need to give our full attention to the Lord, which is unlikely when we are not physically present in the church sanctuary. The sanctuary experience is designed to draw our full attention to the Lord and to his Word. Outside of the sanctuary and especially if we are alone, we simply are not likely to give ourselves wholly to God in our worship. This is similar to my concern for those using their tablets or smart phones in place of physical Bibles. There is nothing wrong with an electronic version of the Scriptures, but I know that my own smart phone is loaded with opportunities for multi-tasking and other electronic distractions from God and his worship. Is there anything wrong with checking your emails and texts during the sermon? Yes, there is. Psalm 111:1 says: “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.”

As Christians we should be the last to lose our sense of the whole person as God has made us, and we should not allow technology to truncate our view of the human person. Therefore, while we are glad to provide live video streaming for exceptional situations, let us not make the exception the norm and let us not permit technology to dictate our spiritual experience in worship.

Let me conclude with some suggestions related to the topic of video worship:

1) When traveling out of town on a Lord’s Day, make every effort to attend a local church in person rather than watch your home church via the internet. All Christians are part of the universal church as well as their particular church, and these are good opportunities for us to express and experience our broader Christian participation. God uses connections made in these settings to bring us together for his work. Even if there is no church that you would prefer, you should go to the best option. Experiencing “bad worship,” however we may define it, or “different preaching,” will nonetheless impart wisdom and perspective. Whatever the experience, we should generally prefer actual physical worship in company with fellow believers to a video experience even of our own church.

2) If you say to yourself, “I’ll just watch it on the internet,” instead of physically coming to church, you are cheating yourself and, more importantly, your fellow believers. This urge (which probably is more associated with evening worship) should be avoided as much as possible.

3) When attending a large worship event or conference where video screens are used to project the preacher’s image, sit up front where you can look at the speaker directly. I find that where there is a big screen my eyes naturally drift away from the actual person to the video image. This lessens the sense of a live encounter with a living preacher and we should avoid it.

I hope this counsel will enable us to use God’s gifts wisely and responsibly. Christians should always be on guard for unintended consequences and for opportunities of the devil (Eph. 4:27). The loss to the church of the physical presence of the people of God is too terrible to consider. Let us not permit technology to turn us from disciples into consumers, and from a church community to a mere resource provider.

Corporate Worship

“A quick glance at, for instance, 1 Corinthians 10-14 will not only confirm that Paul has a category for congregational worship, but that he really, really cares about how we do it.

So, one thing our worship should look like is congregational or corporate or public. It is important that we worship corporately, for God has made us for his worship and for community with other worshipers. Worship is the one thing he “seeks” (John 4:23). Corporate worship is not evangelism, nor is it even mutually edifying fellowship. It is a family meeting with God, it is the covenant community engaging with God, gathering with his people to seek the face of God, to glorify and enjoy him, to hear his word, to revel in the glory of union and communion with him, to respond to his word, to render praise back to him, to give unto him the glory due his name.

The New Testament makes clear that the congregation of Christians, this family, this body, this community, is the place where God is especially present in this world. In the days of the Old Covenant, the place where God manifested his special presence was “the tabernacle” or “the temple” or “Jerusalem.” In the New Covenant, that special “place” is now “wherever the Lord’s house, that is, his people, is gathered.” Jesus stresses this to the Samaritan woman (John 4:21) and to his disciples in addressing congregational discipline (Matthew 18:20, surely a solemn component of the life of the gathered church). The place of new covenant worship is no longer inextricably tied to a geographical location and a physical structure but to a gathered people. This is why in the old Scottish tradition, as the people gathered to enter a church building, it would be said that “the Kirk goes in” rather than as we often say “we are going to church.” The new covenant locus or place of the special presence of God with the church militant is in this gathered body, wherever it might be—whether the catacombs, or a storefront or beautiful colonial church building. This makes corporate worship extremely important.”

- Dr. Ligon Duncan

The Lawn Mower Parable

Andrew Wilson writes: Here’s a wonderful parable from a wise older Christian I met recently. He probably doesn’t read blogs, but if he does, he knows who he is:

We all know that words, without deeds, are dead. All of us have seen the terrible effect of a person who does not practice what they preach, and if we haven’t, then we have read the New Testament and found such people in its pages.

But fewer of us recognize that deeds, without words, are also dead. I don’t know whether Francis of Assisi ever uttered the words attributed to him – “preach Christ at all times, and where necessary, use words” – but whether or not he did, they are obviously inadequate. And this is true, not only because the gospel of Christ simply cannot be proclaimed without words, but also because the very act of trying to “preach” with our deeds does, in fact, preach something, and it isn’t the gospel.

Let’s say I have a neighbor, and I want to “preach Christ” to him using my deeds. I greet him over the garden fence. I invite him and his wife round for dinner, where I show them the best hospitality of which I am capable; I explain that I am a Christian, but make no attempt to shove the gospel down his throat. Noticing that his garden could use a bit of work, I offer him my lawnmower, which he accepts, and eventually, through repeated usage, breaks. I do not complain, or ask him to replace it; I replace it myself, and continue to allow him to use it whenever he sees fit. I help whenever I can. In all things, I seek to display unconditional kindness towards him, and to love him as I love myself. Eventually, he dies.

Now: what have my actions preached to him? They have preached that Christians are people who do good things for their neighbor. They have preached that niceness, and kindness, and morally upright behavior are what make you a Christian. In short, they have preached justification by works.

Your works have indeed “preached” something. But it isn’t the gospel.

The Relationship Between God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility

Dr. John Piper wrote this paper in response to Dr. J. I. Packer back in 1976: (I agree with Piper; human responsibility is no “antinomy.”)

Between the Sovereignty of God and Human Responsibility

In his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Chicago: InterVarsity Press, 1961) J. I. Packer argues that the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man is an antinomy. He defines “antinomy” as “an appearance of contradiction between conclusions which seem equally logical, reasonable or necessary” (p. 18). It “is neither dispensable nor comprehensible…It is unavoidable and insoluble. We do not invent it, and we cannot explain it” (p. 21). God “orders and controls all things, human actions among them”…yet “He holds every man responsible for the choices he makes and the courses of action he pursues” (p. 22). “To our finite minds this is inexplicable” (p. 23).

The first thing to notice here is that the antinomy as Packer sees it is not between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. Packer is too good a biblical scholar to think there ever was such a thing as “free will” taught in the scripture. Thus the whole conversation between him and myself can proceed on the cordial agreement that free will is an unbiblical notion that is not part of the antinomy because it is not part of revelation.

But now I would like to ask where Packer gets the idea that this so-called antinomy between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man is “inexplicable” to our finite minds? Does he simply have an intuitive feeling that we can’t understand the unity of these two truths? Or is it that he has tried for 40 years to explain it and has found that he can’t? Or does he appeal to the endless disputes in the church on this subject? Packer does not tell us why he thinks the antinomy is an antinomy. He simply assumes that “it sounds like a contradiction” to everybody. He also assumes that anyone who is discontent with antinomy and tries to probe into the consistency of its two halves is guilty of suspicious speculations (p. 24). I disagree with both assumptions: everybody does not think the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man are apparently contradictory (for example Jonathan Edwards), nor is it in my judgment, improper to probe into the very mind of God if done in the right spirit.

Proper Probing

Let’s take the second point first. Packer refers (p. 23) to Romans 9:19, 20 “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted his will?’ O man, on the contrary, who are you to dispute (antapokrinomenos) with God?” What is Paul rebuking here? A sincere, humble desire to understand the ways of God? No! He is rebuking the arrogance that calls God’s ways into question. The word antapokrinomai means “grumble, dispute, make unjustified accusations” (TDNT vol. 3, p. 945, cf Lk. 14:6). Paul’s dander is up because he has already explained in 9:14-18 why God is righteous in electing some men and rejecting others totally apart from their distinctives (9:9-13). But the objector, unwilling to accept that answer, calls God into question again. Yet Paul-unwilling that any should say he has failed to explain the matter-goes on and in verses 22 and 23 unfolds further his justification of the ways of God. If finite men are not to understand how God can be righteous while condemning those whom He sovereignly controls, then why did Paul write Rom. 9:14-23?

I think Packer is wrong when he says, concerning Paul’s response in Rom. 9. “He does not attempt to demonstrate the propriety of God’s action” (p. 23). He does indeed! That is why he wrote Rom. 9:14-23. I also reject the sentiment of these words: “The Creator has told us that He is both sovereign Lord and a righteous Judge, and that should be enough for us” (p. 24). Why should that be enough for us? If that were enough for us Paul would have told the questioner at Rom. 9:14 to keep his mouth shut. But as a matter of fact the only time Paul ever tells people to keep their mouth shut is when they are boasting. If our hearts and our minds pant like a hart after the water-brook of God’s deep mind, it may not be pride, it may be worship. There is not one sentence that I know of in the New Testament which tells us the limits of what we can know of God and his ways. Continue reading

A Course in Eschatology

Lecturer: Dr. Sam Waldron is the academic dean of MCTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Heritage Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response. Dr. Waldron is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society.

This treatment of eschatology examines eschatological thought in Church history, as well as the major structural considerations for an understanding of redemptive history (including the already/not yet, the kingdom of God, and the millennium). Finally, special questions are treated, including issues such as the gospel age, the imminence of Christ’s second coming, the resurrection, and the eternal state.

Outline:

Part 1: Historical Introductions

Section 1: Eschatology in the Early and Medieval Church

Section 2: Eschatology in the Reformation and Modern Church

Part 2: Structural Considerations

1: The Two Ages
Section 2: The General Judgment

Section 3: The Eschatological Kingdom

Part 3: Special Questions

Section 1: The Gospel Age
I. The Intermediate State
II. The Earthly Prospects
III. The Church/Israel Distinction

Section 2: The Imminent Return
I. Pre-Tribulationism
II. Date-setting (or Calculationism)
III. (Hyper) Preterism

Section 3: The Bodily Resurrection
I. Of the Wicked [The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment]
II. Of the Righteous [The Doctrine of the Redeemed Earth]

Here are the first three lectures.

Lecture 1:

Lecture 1 – Eschatology, Dr Sam Waldron from Reformed Baptist Seminary on Vimeo.

Lecture 2:

Lecture 2 – Eschatology, Dr Sam Waldron from Reformed Baptist Seminary on Vimeo.

Lecture 3:

Lecture 3 – Eschatology, Dr Sam Waldron from Reformed Baptist Seminary on Vimeo.

Marriage Defined

“Why should I, as a gay man, be denied the same right to file a joint tax return with my potential husband that a straight couple has?”

Ryan T Anderson answers:

Two Irrefutable Scientific Facts that make Evolution Unscientific

From Answers in Genesis:

The Deity of Christ

Nathan Busenitz writes:

I believe that Jesus is God for at least the following eleven reasons:

1. The Old Testament predicted that the Messiah would be God (Isaiah 9:6; Matt. 1:23)

2. Jesus claimed a heavenly preexistence (John 6:62; 8:23; 16:28; 17:5O)

3. Jesus assumed divine authority:

* Over the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5)

* Over the forgiveness of sins (Mark 2:5–11)

* Over people’s eternal destinies (John 8:24; cf. Luke 12:8–9; John 5:22, 27–29)

4. Jesus exercised divine authority

* Over demons (Mark 1:2–27; 3:11; 5:1–20)

* Over disease and death (Mark 1:29–31; 40–45; 5:25–43; 8:22-26; etc.)

* Over the natural world (Luke 5:1–11; 8:22–25; 9:10–17; etc.)

5. Jesus claimed ownership over that which belongs only to God:

* The kingdom of God (Matt. 13:41; 16:28; cf. Luke 1:33)

* The elect of God (Matt. 24:30–31)

* The angels of God (Matt. 13:41; 24:30–31)

6. Jesus claimed the right to receive worship and the ability to answer prayer (John 14:13–14; cf. Acts 7:59; 9:10–17; Rev. 1:17)

7. Jesus called Himself the Son of Man, a title with divine implications from the Old Testament (cf. Dan. 7:13–14)

8. Jesus also called Himself the Son of God, a title His opponents understood as a claim to deity (Matt. 27:43; John 5:18; 10:46; 19:7)

9. Jesus called Himself “I Am,” thereby applying the Old Testament name Yahweh to Himself (John 8:58; cf. cf. 6:51; 10:9, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1).

10. Jesus claimed absolute unity with the Father, such that He could tell His disciples, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:9–10; cf. 10:30; 12:45).

11. The rest of the New Testament affirms that Jesus is God (John 1:1; Acts 20:28; Romans 9:5; 1 Corinthians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15–16; 2:9; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:3, 8; 2 Peter 1:1O; 1 John 5:20)

God’s Sovereignty, the Nature of Man and the biblical Gospel

Good times: Got to hang out with my friends at Apologia Radio for a two hour show, talking about God’s Sovereignty, the nature of man, and the biblical gospel. The show airs tomorrow (Saturday) in the Phoenix area but can be heard online at this link now.