Please don’t tell me…

Oh Nooooo!!!!! Please don’t tell me they were trying to listen to one of Pastor John’s sermons while driving??

For the brave souls daring enough to listen, eight sermons are now posted at the audio link above, covering a wide range of themes. I trust they will be a blessing. – John

Ask R.C. Live (Part 2)

The second Ask R.C. Live event took place on February 17, 2011. Watch as Dr. R.C. Sproul answers such questions as:

What advice would you give someone as they begin to study reformed theology to help them stay humble, loving and teachable?

Should we reduce being reformed to just embracing the doctrines of grace or is there ultimately more to it?

How is sanctification synergistic since it is God who works in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure?

One pastor said we should only pray to God the Father. Is it wrong to pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit? Does the Scripture support this pastor’s view?

The Apostle’s Creed affirms that Jesus descended into hell. Is this concept faithful to the Scriptures – if so, is this related to the somewhat obscure passage in Peter which talks of Christ preaching to the spirits in prison?

Since sins are forgiven when one is justified, why do we continue to pray for the forgiveness of sins?

Has there ever been a time when an Arminian passage has caused you to question your theology?
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Run for your life!

(Updated)

A new book by Ann Voskamp called “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” has gained extreme popularity among many Christian women today. However, specifically as sexual intercourse.

There are some who would criticise me for speaking out when I admit right up front that I have not read every word in every chapter of the book; the reason being I was sickened by what I did in fact read. However, I do feel I have read more than enough to have an accurate understanding of what the author is saying and enough to be greatly alarmed.

Some quotes (please note, it is somewhat graphic):

“I fly to Paris and discover how to make love to God.”

“God lays down all of His fullness into all the emptiness. I am in Him. He is in me. I embrace God in the moment. I give Him thanks and I bless God and we meet and couldn’t I make love to God, making every moment love for Him? “To know Him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin.”

“The intercourse of soul with God is the very climax of joy.”

“This is what His love means. I want it: union. This is the one gift He longs for in return for His unending gifts, and this even I could give Him, and anywhere. Anywhere–in the kitchen scrubbing potatoes, in the arching cathedrals, in the spin of laundry and kids and washing toilets – anywhere I can have intimate communion with the Maker of heaven and earth. I can’t help myself here. Inches from the canvas, strains of Mozart carrying, I whisper eucharisteo:

“Thank you, God, for the bread of now … for Your Son and sacrifice … for the love song You keep singing, the gift of Yourself that You keep giving… for the wild wonder of You in this moment.

“A stranger on the road, my cold heart burns (Luke 24:32) and He is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh and I am his and He is mine and I want to touch the paint. I want to run my fingertips across the oils, let the colors saturate my skin, let them run into my blood. I want to be in the painting, Supper at Emmaus, the painting to be in me. I want to be in God and God to be in me, to exchange love and blessings and caresses and, like the apostle-pilgrims, my eyes open and I know it because of this burning of the heart: this moment is a divine interchange. I raise my hand slightly, finger imperceptibly the air before the canvas and this is intercourse disrobed of its connotations, pure and unadulterated: a passing between. A connection, a communicating, an exchange, between tender Bridegroom and His bride.

One of the roles a true shepherd of the sheep has is to warn the flock of false doctrine, to help them steer clear of unhealthy or dangerous spiritual food. I do so here:

Concerning “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” I find the sexual connotations attributed to our union with God Himself to be profoundly and deeply disturbing. Though the sexual relationship in marriage is a holy thing and should never be viewed as in any way dirty (Heb. 13:4), the Bible never describes the Christian’s union with God in sexual terms – never.

But lets for a moment allow for the idea. If what the author says is true and God desires us to worship Him and express ourselves to Him with these sexual connotations, then this would be something all Christians should aspire to. That being the case, it would mean that we should teach these “lofty” concepts to even our youngest children. Who would we be to rob them of the fullest form of unity with God? But for a moment, imagine that. Imagine teaching a little 5 year old girl or boy how to make love to God? I am repulsed by even the thought of it. No, God forbid! My advice is that when you hear or see this concept being taught, run for your life!

Update: Thanks for all the comments, both positive and negative. Its been a lively debate, to be sure, but I am no longer convinced that further discussion would be either fruitful, clarifying or edifying. I believe I took the necessary time to understand the author’s words in their context, but of course, my admission that I had not read every word of the book has greatly upset some. However, I do not see the logic here. Please allow me to illustrate what I mean by way of an example.

Lets imagine for a moment that you are reading a book and come across “Chapter 6” which is called “how to kill your Grandmother.” You can hardly believe the author can be serious, but when you read further, it becomes obvious that he/she is. The author is writing about what you think he/she is writing about.

You take the time to make sure it is not some big joke, and you read all the relevant sections, taking hours to do so to make sure you have read everything in context.

You even contact others who have read all the book to make sure you have not missed anything that would lead to you to come to a different conclusion as to the author’s intent.

Question – would you really need to read every other part of the book before you can feel qualified to comment?

I dont think so. As long as sufficient time has been taken to make sure you have correctly understood the intent of the author.

Perhaps some people strongly disagree with that, but I have yet to hear a valid reason as to why. They may not like it and promolgate an emotional defense of the author and engage in viscious personal ad hominem attacks on myself, but I have seen no logic at all as to why I have no right to speak out. Certainly, I have yet to be shown how I have misinterpreted the author’s words I have quoted or in any way taken them out of context.

At one point I tried to read some sections of the book to my mother, but she begged me to stop. While others are obviously thrilled with the author’s insight, there are others, like myself, who are obviously deeply troubled. I no longer wish to even keep the book in my house. I definitely do not want my children to find it.

I have no personal axe to grind. I have attacked no one personally nor do I wish to do so (in spite of the vicious and hostile rhetoric sent my way over the last 48 hours or so).

I wish everyone well, and I hope you understand my intent was only to warn of something I felt was worth the warning.

The level and increasing frequency of the personal attacks against me in the comments section here (much of which I have deleted) has led me to conclude that its best to move on. Comments are therefore closed.

Grace and peace.
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE (2)

Many thousands look to Rob Bell as a pastor and spiritual leader. His latest book “Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived,” about to be released in March, seems to be promoting the heresy of universalism. We will wait and see. I encourage you to read this article by Justin Taylor here for the details.

Update 3 – Justin has been criticised severely by some for making a pronouncement on a yet to be released book. However, Kevin DeYoung provides great insight here on the matter.

Ask R.C. Live (Part 1)

I have long been an admirer of Dr. R. C. Sproul as an author, a theologian, an expert communicator and as a man.

One of the things I so appreciate is Dr. Sproul’s ability to teach complex theological issues in a way that can be understood by all, and yet to do so without distortion. A testimony to that is the fact that, as far as I know, he is the only major Christian theologian in our day who has a national and international radio program (called Renewing the Mind).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010, marked the first official session of Ask R.C. Live, a special event where Dr. Sproul answers questions from an online audience. Students were able to submit their questions via Facebook and Twitter leading up to and during this 45-minute session. The questions included:

Being reformed and committed to the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty, why is it that the vast majority of Christians in our day seem more influenced by an Arminian theology?

Does God have two wills?

Do we violate the second commandment when we make images of Christ?

What is the biblical way to leave a Church? What doctrinal issues would rise to the level of making it prudent or even necessary to do so?

What are the means by which your writing and communication skills have been shaped?

How can I be sure of my salvation?

What is the official stance of the Roman Catholic Church concerning justification (and where can I find it)?

Should women be ordained or have governing authority in the Church?

Enjoy Dr. Sproul as he answers these questions in this video:

Ask R.C. Live (Nov. 30, 2010) from Ligonier on Vimeo.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Over the years, R.C. Sproul’s students have asked him countless questions. Now you can read his answers to more than 300 of these questions in Now, That’s a Good Question! Topics include theology, apologetics, the Bible, philosophy, and personal and cultural ethics. While the answers are brief, they all display the depth and breadth of learning, reasonableness, wit, and commitment to God’s Word that characterize R.C.’s approach to teaching and ministry. Shop now and save when you buy “Now, That’s a Good Question” from Ligonier.org today!

The Book

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” – George Washington

“England has become great and happy by the knowledge of the true God by Jesus Christ. This is the secret of England’s greatness.” – Queen Victoria

“The Bible is more than a book. It is a living being within an action, a power which invades everything that opposes its extension.” – Napoleon

“I have known 95 of the world’s great men in my time, and of these, 87 were followers of the Bible.” – W. E. Gladstone

As Christians, we believe the Bible is inspired by God, the very word of God, without error, the sole infallible rule of faith for all Christian life, practice, and doctrine. The word “Bible” means “the book.” Its very title makes the claim that irrespective of whatever else you read, only the Bible is ‘THE BOOK’ because of its Divine authorship.

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God breathed…”

Jesus Himself had this high view of Scripture. In quoting from the book of Genesis, Jesus said, “…have you not read what was spoken to you by God…” (Matt. 22:31)

But… the Bible would say this kind of thing, wouldn’t it?

All religions and cults claim that their sacred book is inspired. Is there any objective evidence we can point to that would show the Bible to be of a supernatural origin, or certainly more than a book filled with the thoughts and opinions of mere mortal men?

Here’s just a couple of evidences that support the Bible’s claim to being the Word of God, so that we can believe it, beyond doubt.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Most of the Old Testament was written 3,000 – 4,000 years ago. The New Testament was written nearly 2,000 years ago. Interestingly, the other major religious books were written about the same time. For example:

The Koran – written approx. 1400-1500 years ago

Buddhist writings – written approx. 2,000 years ago

The Hindu Vedas – written approx. 3,200-3,500 years ago

HISTORICAL SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE

It is important at the outset to remind ourselves that people have not always believed what we now believe about our world. There is no doubt that scientific knowledge has taken giant leaps forward in the last 2,000 to 4,000 years.

Now this is where it gets interesting. If we read the books of other religions, they all show the scientific thinking of their day – thinking that has huge fundamental errors. For example, the Hindu Vedas teach that the earth is held up on the back of four elephants. When this was written, this indeed was the thinking of the day. The earth was a very heavy object and something strong had to be holding it up. The biggest creatures around who could carry the biggest weights were the elephants.. so the scientific conclusion was obvious wasn’t it? .. elephants were holding the world up… and earthquakes occurred whenever the elephants shivered. When they shook, the earth shook. Obviously! Whenever someone asked, “who or what is holding the elephants up?” the answer was “a huge turtle which carries the elephants on its back while it swims in a gigantic lake.”

I think you will agree with me that science has found this claim to be an inaccurate one! The Hindu Vedas got it wrong.

The Hindu Vedas also teaches that the moon is 1500 miles above the sun, and that it (the moon) shines with its own light, and that the earth is flat and triangular in shape. All of these statements have proven to be false scientifically.

As another example, among many that could be quoted here, was the belief of the Greeks, that a man called Atlas held the earth on his shoulders.

Every other religious book contains statements which, when they were written, were accepted as correct, but have since been proved to be incorrect… every religious book, except the Bible. And here’s where it gets exciting; the Bible contains no such nonsense Scriptures. Even though when the Bible was written most people believed these wild theories, there is no mention of them in the Bible whatsoever… no elephant theory.. no turtle theory.. no moon shining with its own light theory.. no earth is flat and triangular theory..

What does the Bible say…?
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From the Westminster Confession of Faith

V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace. . . .

VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.

VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.

Please Pray!

In 1987 I had the privilege of spending some time in Christchurch, New Zealand on an overseas ministry trip. The photos at this link shows the terrible devastation of the latest earthquake. Please pray that many of those still alive in the rubble would be reached and for comfort for the families of those lost.

Miscellaneous Quotes (10)

Aleck, no! The danger of ruin to Methodism does not lie here. It springs from quite a different quarter. Our preachers, many of them, are fallen. They are not spiritual. They are not alive to God. They are soft, enervated, fearful of shame, toil, hardship. . . . Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.” – John Wesley, writing at age 87 to Alexander Mather, quoted in Luke Tyerman, The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley (London, 1871), III:632.

“None are more exposed to slanders and insults than godly teachers. This comes not only from the difficulty of their duties, which are so great that sometimes they sink under them, or stagger or halt or take a false step, so that wicked men find many occasions of finding fault with them; but added to that, even when they do all their duties correctly and commit not even the smallest error, they never avoid a thousand criticisms. It is indeed a trick of Satan to estrange men from their ministers so as gradually to bring their teaching into contempt. In this way not only is wrong done to innocent people whose reputation is undeservedly injured, but the authority of God’s holy teaching is diminished. . . .

[T]he more sincerely any pastor strives to further Christ’s kingdom, the more he is loaded with spite, the more fierce do the attacks upon him become. And not only so, but as soon as any charge is made against ministers of the Word, it is believed as surely and firmly as if it had been already proved. This happens not only because a higher standard of integrity is required from them, but because Satan makes most people, in fact nearly everyone, over credulous so that without investigation, they eagerly condemn their pastors whose good name they ought to be defending.” – John Calvin, Second Corinthians, Timothy, Titus and Philemon (Grand Rapids, 1964), page 263, commenting on 1 Timothy 5:19.

“What is it to have a god? What is God? Answer: A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need. To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe him with our whole heart. As I have often said, the trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true God. On the other hand, if your trust is false and wrong, then you have not the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God. That to which your heart clings and entrusts itself is, I say, really your God.” – Martin Luther, The Large Catechism (Philadelphia, 1959), page 9.
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