Zephaniah

Prior to leading the launch of CrossWay Community Church in Kenosha County, Wisconsin in 1998, Mike Bullmore served for 15 years as an Associate Professor of Homiletics (preaching) and Pastoral Theology, as well as chairman of the Practical Theology Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. His sermon from April 2011 at the Gospel Coalition Conference was an excellent model of how to preach the gospel of Christ from a book of the Old Testament:

God's Great Heart of Love Toward His Own – Mike Bullmore – TGC 2011 from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Theological Questions

Sinclair Ferguson, Steven Lawson, Russell Moore, and R.C. Sproul answer questions on topics such as why Adam sinned, the importance of creeds and confessions in the church, how we can know if our worship music is pleasing to God, and more.

Questions:

1. If Adam was born free from evil and sin, why did he sin? (00:05)
2. If God is sovereign, what is the purpose of intercessory prayer? (02:20)
3. Is it important that a church subscribe to a confession (such as the Westminster Confession of Faith)? Why or why not? (04:39)
4. What parts of the law are still relevant to us today? (06:57)
5. Why are people so hostile to the doctrine of election? (11:48)
6. Is it a sin to be angry with God? (15:37)
7. Can you still be a Christian if you do not believe that Scripture is the inerrant and infallible Word? (17:39)
8. How can we objectively determine if our worship music is pleasing to God? (22:50)
9. How does one react to being declared homophobic before being able to show love to friends or family who have “come out” as homosexual? (34:29)
10. What has been the best work you have found on the subject of theodicy, if any? (45:15)
11. What is the gospel? (51:54)

Antarctica

Kalle Ljung: This movie was shot during our 20 days trip to Antarctica in December 2014 to January 2015. We started from Ushuaia in Argentina and went to Port Williams in Chile, rounded Cape Horn and crossed the Drake Passage towards the Melchior Islands in Antarctica. We spent 16 days in the Antarctic and got to experience the most amazing scenery and wildlife before we returned back to Ushuaia.

Filmed with GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition and DJI Phantom 2, edited with Final Cut Pro X. Music from Music Bed with rights.

Antarctica from Kalle Ljung on Vimeo.

Suffer Hardship as a Good Soldier (1)

soldier“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” – 2 Timothy 2:3 (NASB)

The political landscape had changed dramatically between the writing of 1 and 2 Timothy, and none of it was for the good. When Paul wrote 1 Timothy the Church was booming. Things looked very bright. Timothy, Paul’s son in the faith must have been thrilled to see leaders emerging and taking their place alongside him in the ministry. Things were going so well that Paul wrote to inform Timothy regarding the kind of attributes and qualities potential elders and deacons should have before being placed into office. The Church was healthy and growing and there was a real excitement in the air.

But that was 1 Timothy… By the time 2 Timothy was written, things were radically different. Public opinion had turned on the Christians and the Roman Empire was now flexing its strong muscles. Christians were no longer left alone. Instead they were hounded, captured, imprisoned, enslaved and even killed. Many of those who had professed faith in Christ were now taking the easy way out, defecting from the faith in order to save their skins. Trusted members of Timothy’s leadership team were now “missing in action,” nowhere to be found. As a result of this, the precious Church he was pastoring was now in sharp decline.

2 Timothy is a very different kind of letter than 1 Timothy. Paul writes as a man knowing he was about to die for his gospel convictions. He writes, “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 race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:6,7)

Paul writes strong words for tough times. He writes for the good of Timothy’s soul.

The message, in so many words was this:

“Stay at your post Timothy. While many have left you, even the very leaders you raised up, and while your heart is devastated by this, know that you have a sacred trust from the Lord. Instead of giving up, throwing in the towel as a heart broken man, be a man, suck it up my son. Stay rooted and grounded in the gospel of grace. Know that God is with you. Rather than wollowing in your sadness, be a leader. I want you to get up, shake yourself off, and realize that Christ has commissioned you to do something. Your commander has spoken to you with clear orders. Until He tells you otherwise, you know exactly what you are to do. You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim 2:1) Then find faithful men… and Timothy, there will be some… go look for them, find them and once you have done so, pour your life into them. Tell them what you know. Leave nothing unsaid. Even if it means starting again from scratch, pour your life into these men. Teach them the word. Teach them what I have taught you. What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Tim 2:2) Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Stay at your post my son. He has given you His word. Use it skillfully my son. All Scripture is God breathed – use it to encourage, to build up, to stir up and if necessary, rebuke. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by anyone. You are God’s man and you have a job to do. Christ’s solemn charge is for you to preach the Word and do so when the people like it and throng to you, and preach the Word when they do not like it at all, even when they will not endure it, and they leave you, when the only sound you hear is the remembrance of the empty words they said to you. I know… I know.. they promised you that they would always be with you.. and now, they are gone… but Timothy… this is all a part of being a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He never promised you a life of popularity or ease. What I am saying to you applies equally to me. I am writing this from a prison cell awaiting my own death. . All have left me too. Only Luke is with me (2 Tim 4:11)… But Timothy, keep your eyes on the prize. Endure hardship as a good soldier… Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Henceforth 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. Stay at your post my son. Until the Lord says otherwise, you have a job to do. Do it!”

The Meaning of “You are gods”

The chief reason for me being a Reformed Christian is not a heartfelt devotion to the Magisterial Reformers like Martin Luther or John Calvin. No, the main reason is that the Reformed message thunders out from the pages of Scripture when the principles of hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation) are correctly applied. When the Biblical text is left to speak for itself, within its own context, the truth is clearly seen. Texts taken out of their setting can be made to support many erroneous views and heresies. Surely, a text out of context is a pretext for all false doctrine. However, error is exposed when individual texts are subjected to analysis such as identifying the background, use of words, context, syntax, etc.

Some people are very quick to say that “the Lord” showed them the meaning of a verse. Yet it is often the case that the context of the verse totally repudiates the interpretation given. To fail to study the text’s context is not a mark of spirituality, but the exact opposite – a failure to honor the Holy Spirit who inspired the original words. We would never wish for our own words to be treated this way. How much more should this be the case when it is God the Holy Spirit who has inspired Scripture?

An old heresy, based upon a misinterpretation of John 10:34, suggests that men can become gods. This is the doctrine espoused by the LDS (Mormons) and other cult groups. I will let an excerpt from Dr. James White’s book “Is the Mormon my Brother?” show the context and true meaning of John 10:34.

James-White23Dr. White writes:

John chapter ten is one of the most beautiful in all of Scripture, for it speaks of the Lord Jesus’ relationship to His people in the terms of the Shepherd and His sheep. In the midst of talking about the glorious salvation that belongs to those who know and trust Christ, Jesus asserts that He and the Father are one in their bringing about the final and full salvation of all those who are given by the Father to the Son (vv. 28-30). When the Lord says, “I and the Father are one,”[1] He offends the Jews, who realize that such a claim implies deity. No mere creature can be fully one with the Father in bringing about redemption itself! This prompts the dialogue that concerns us here:

“I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:30-36)

The use of this passage in LDS literature is widespread. “I said, you are gods” is used to substantiate the idea of a plurality of gods, and men becoming gods. Yet, even a brief review of the passage demonstrates that such is hardly a worthy interpretation, and some of the leading LDS apologists today avoid trying to press the passage that far, and for good reason.[2] The unbelieving Jews seen in this passage, with murder in their hearts, are hardly good candidates for exaltation to godhood. What is more, the Lord Jesus uses the present tense when He says, “You are gods.” So, obviously, He is not identifying His attackers as divine beings, worthy of worship by their eventual celestial offspring! What, then, is going on here? Continue reading

Nobility – A Daily Habit

What should our attitude be to the preaching of God’s Word? The Bereans possessed three components which made them “more noble” than their Thessalonian counter-parts.

Is Theonomy Consistent with the Reformed Confessions?

Junior over at The Confessing Baptist blog posted an article a couple of years ago that is very pertinent. The primary question that needs to be answered: “Is the Theonomic view of the Mosaic ‘Judicial Law’ consistent with the Reformed tradition?”

“This is a pressing question for Theonomists. On the one hand, in asserting “the abiding validity of the law in exhaustive detail” they appear to teach the binding obligation of the “judicial law” of Moses on society today. On the other hand, the divines of the Westminster Assembly and Calvin, their mentor, clearly teach the “expiration” of the judicial law of Moses and deny that it is as such binding on nations today. The critical statement in the Westminster Confession of Faith is found in 19:4. Having clearly distinguished the moral, ceremonial, and judicial law, the Confession states, “To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require.” Calvin elaborates on this very point in his Institutes. His statements are so similar to that of the Confession that it is probable that here as in so many other places he had a formative impact on the Confession.”

The rest of the article, including audio, can be found here.

For whom did Christ die?

Dr. John MacArthur:

Transcript:

We come tonight to a wonderful theme in the Scripture, again the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. And for those of you, most of you, who are with us in our study of the gospel of Luke, we have been looking closely at the record of Luke, the historical record, as well as comparing the account of Matthew and Mark and John on the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have looked at the details of His dying.

Tonight we want to talk a little about the theology of His death and ask the question and answer it from Scripture, “For whom did Christ die?” This is a very, very important question.

Now I know you people very well and you are noble Bereans. You search the Scriptures to see if these things that I say are so. And I also know that if I don’t cover every verse that weighs on this subject, you will line up afterwards to ask me about that verse. So in dealing with a subject like this, if I can borrow a French phrase, this needs to be somewhat of a tour de force(?), I need to cover the ground extensively so I can put your mind at rest because you are so incurably biblical. That, in case you didn’t know, is a great commendation. I expect that, I rejoice in that.

To begin with, what I want to say is what I am going to teach you tonight about this application of the atonement, answering the question, “For whom did Christ die?” is the view that has reigned supreme in the true church since the New Testament. It, along with the other essential doctrines of Reformed Theology, or Augustinian, or Lutheran or Calvinistic theology, has been affirmed by the church since its inception. What I am going to show you tonight is essentially what the early church believed, of course, because you’ll see it coming out of the New Testament. It is what was affirmed in the fifth century as being a true representation of New Testament teaching under Augustine against Palagius. It was again affirmed during the time of the Reformation by Luther in his conflict with Erasmus and further affirmed by Calvin in his conflict with Arminius. It has come down to us in our heritage which is Baptistic through the London Confession of 1689 and the Philadelphia Confession of 1743, being the substantial foundations for Baptists in America. And that is our tradition, our ecclesiology is baptistic rather than sacramental and Reformed. That’s why we baptize adults who believe and not infants.

And so, what I’m going to say to you is not anything new, it is something that the church has affirmed. In fact, the view that opposes what I will show you tonight has been labeled as heresy. It was so labeled at three councils early on in history, it was reiterated again during the time of the Reformation that the view contrary to this view is in fact unbiblical.

Now the question might at first seem an easy one, For whom did Christ die? Most people, I’m confident, in churches would quickly answer, “Well He died for everyone.” Most people in the church believed that on the cross Jesus paid the debt for the sins of everyone because He loves everyone unconditionally and wants everyone to be saved. That is not what the church has historically believed, but that is what the present version of the superficial church believes. Sinners, all of them, have had all their sins atoned for potentially. And that’s the key word. If they will acknowledge Christ and accept the gift. So we have then only to convince sinners to receive the salvation which has already been fully purchased for them at the cross. Since Christ died for everyone, everyone can believe and should believe and must believe if they’ll only will to believe. And in a contemporary concept, we work on the sinner’s will believing that the sinner has both the responsibility and the ability to activate a saving faith on his own and believe. If nowhere else, this is certainly indicated in the most popular of Christian books, The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church where Rick Warren says I can lead anyone to Christ if I can find the key to that person’s heart. It’s just a matter of moving their will.

That is the popular idea and that means that hell is full of people whose salvation was purchased by the death and resurrection of Christ. It means then that everybody in hell and everybody in heaven had the same thing done for them on the cross. The Lake of Fire will be filled with eternally damned people whose sins were actually atoned for on the cross, so the people in hell had the same atonement as the people in heaven. The difference was the people in heaven activated their will to accept that atonement. The people in hell did not.

Now if that sounds strange to you, it is…it is, that Jesus died for, paid for in full the sins of the damned, paid the penalty of divine justice for them just as He did for the redeemed is a very strange notion. And the sinner then determines whether that universally potential death is applied to him or not. This view would say Christ died to make salvation possible, not actual. He died to make it possible, the sinner then makes the choice. He didn’t really purchase salvation for anyone, He actually died on the cross and in some way removed a barrier to make salvation a potential. You will not find such language anywhere in the New Testament or the Old. The message that this would send to sinners goes like this…God loves you so much that Christ died for you, won’t you let Him save you? The final decision is up to you. In fact, God loves you so much that He gave His Son and hopefully when you see the sacrifice that Christ made, you will be moved emotionally to love Him back by accepting Him.

Now the problem with this is glaring. Here’s the problem. According to Scripture, sinners are dead…dead in trespasses and sin, separated from the life of God. They are blind. They are perishing. They’re in a state of perishing eternally. They are double blind because the god of this world has blinded their minds. In their natural state, they cannot understand the things of God, they are foolishness to them. Or to borrow the language of Romans 3, there is none who seeks after God, there is no fear of God before their eyes. This then affirms another doctrine that the church has always established as true and that is the sinner’s total inability. Luther’s great classic, The Bondage of the Will is still preeminent reading for anyone who wants to understand how bound the fallen human will is and how impossible it is for the dead double-blind sinner cut off from the life of God with no desire for God and no ability to seek after God and no fear of God before his eyes to all of a sudden pull himself up by his own bootstraps and take hold of a potential salvation that is hanging out there for him. Continue reading

Does Effectual Grace Make People Into Robots?

Robot-EthicsVisitor to monergism.com:

Sovereignty is king, free will is queen. It takes 100% of both to get to heaven or else its is coercion or robotics. That is why John Wesley taught about prevenient grace. It brings you to the place you can either accept or reject Christ. Its not saving grace, but the Holy Spirit works on ya.

Response from John Hendryx:

John Wesley may have taught prevenient grace but the Bible only speaks of two states of man, regenerate and unregenerate. Wesley had to create this doctrine, apart from Scripture, entirely with human logic (which creates a third state in-between regenerate and unregenerate) in order to maintain his theological system. However, the Bible speaks of no additional in-between state. We are either “in the flesh” (which can do nothing) or “in the Spirit”. As such, Jesus declares, “the Spirit quickens, the flesh counts for nothing … that is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me grants it…[and] “all that the Father gives me will come to me”…. John 6:63, 65,37. No one can come to faith in Jesus unless God grants it and all to whom He grants it will come to faith in Him. This does away with prevenient grace altogether. Jesus left no room for it in these clear statements.

The Bible indeed calls us to declare the gospel to all people … but, left to themselves, none of them will respond to it. All have turned aside. They remain stiff-necked in their opposition to God’s loving plea to come to Christ for life. Yet, in His great mercy, God still saves a people for Himself out of all the ill-deserving people of the earth.

Does this make us robots? .. no it makes God a God of love and mercy. If your child ran into traffic would you only save him if he first met your condition? No a loving parent would run out into the street to scoop up the child at the risk of his own life to make certain his child was safe…regardless of the will of the child at the time. True love gets the job done.

Would you consider a parent who who saved a child’s life without any conditions unloving? No that is love. To save the child’s life trumps the child’s will because the parent knows better than the child what is good for him. How much more God?

God’s love for His people is not conditional as Wesley believed.. a loving parent does not first make his child meet a condition before he will love him. Rather, a loving parent is like Jesus who met all the conditions for us, giving us everything we need for salvation including a new heart to believe (Deut. 29:4, 30:6; Ezek 36:26).

He did not have to save anyone since we all rejected him. He could have left all men to their own devices and swept them away in judgment and it would have been just. Yet he is merciful to many saving them through the blood of his precious Son Jesus. To the rest he simply gives them over to what they want – their independence from God. So some receive God’s mercy, others get God’s justice but no one received injustice.

Your prevenient grace doctrine is simply sleight of hand. It does not solve the problem of grace, it only exacerbates it. Salvation is by Christ alone, not Christ plus our meeting some condition. If it were then it would no longer be grace alone, would it? It would depend on who was more wise, humble or who has the most sound judgment and not grace alone. Why did one man with preveneint grace believe and not the other?

It was not grace, since both has grace. No, what you really believe is that it was something innately good or better in one person over the other. One had a good will and the other did not. Who makes the will good?

To conclude, man indeed has a will, but he has a heart of stone, and he will use his will wrongly until God lovingly changes that heart of stone to a heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26).

Billions of People, Thousands of Years?

calculatorSIMPLE, CONSERVATIVE ARITHMETIC REVEALS CLEAR MATHEMATICAL LOGIC FOR A YOUNG AGE OF THE EARTH.

In an article at answersingenesis.org entitled “Billions of People in Thousands of Years?” Monty White writes:

Creationists are often asked, “How is it possible for the earth’s population to reach 6.5 billion people if the world is only about 6,000 years old and if there were just two humans in the beginning?” Here is what a little bit of simple arithmetic shows us.


One Plus One Equals Billions


Let us start in the beginning with one male and one female. Now let us assume that they marry and have children and that their children marry and have children and so on. And let us assume that the population doubles every 150 years. Therefore, after 150 years there will be four people, after another 150 years there will be eight people, after another 150 years there will be sixteen people, and so on. It should be noted that this growth rate is actually very conservative. In reality, even with disease, famines, and natural disasters, the world population currently doubles every 40 years or so.1


After 32 doublings, which is only 4,800 years, the world population would have reached almost 8.6 billion. That’s 2 billion more than the current population of 6.5 billion people, which was recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau on March 1, 2006.2 This simple calculation shows that starting with Adam and Eve and assuming the conservative growth rate previously mentioned, the current population can be reached well within 6,000 years.


Impact of the Flood

We know from the Bible, however, that around 2500 BC (4,500 years ago) the worldwide Flood reduced the world population to eight people.3 But if we assume that the population doubles every 150 years, we see, again, that starting with only Noah and his family in 2500 BC, 4,500 years is more than enough time for the present population to reach 6.5 billion. 


Evolutionists are always telling us that humans have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. If we did assume that humans have been around for 50,000 years and if we were to use the calculations above, there would have been 332 doublings, and the world’s population would be a staggering figure—a one followed by 100 zeros; that is

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000.

This figure is truly unimaginable, for it is billons of times greater than the number of atoms that are in the entire universe! Such a calculation makes nonsense of the claim that humans have been on earth for tens of thousands of years.


Simple, conservative arithmetic reveals clear mathematical logic for a young age of the earth. From two people, created around 6,000 years ago, and then the eight people, preserved on the Ark about 4,500 years ago, the world’s population could have grown to the extent we now see it—over 6.5 billion. 


With such a population clearly possible (and probable) in just a few thousand years, we could actually ask the question, “If humans were around millions of years ago, why is the population so small?” This is a question that evolution supporters must answer.


Footnotes
1. www.census.gov/ipc/www/img/worldpop.gif

2. www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html
3. White, A. J. Monty, How Old Is the Earth? Evangelical Press, p. 22, 1985.