Tuesday, June 27, 2006

God's Will and His Sovereignty

How often do you hear, “I am seeking God’s will in this or that situation”, or some such statement? I have said this a number of times, actually quite a few times lately. As I go through life I begin to think I see clearly what God has in store for my family and I and then things just do not go as I planned. That is the problem; I think things should go as I plan while only God has the perfect plan. How the Open Theist, whether by belief or practice, deals with life I will never know as when things go out of whack, from their perspective, they can only guess that God is not involved in the situation. Thus the situation at hand is just something that happened. While those that see God as actually being sovereign, in belief and practice, may not be comfortable with the situation at hand but they can know that God is in control for His Glory and His Glory is paramount. This is when we need to turn to God and ask forgiveness, as I seem to do often lately, and rest the situation on Him and rely on His sovereignty, the sovereignty that I believe in so strongly.

Understanding the sovereignty of God is vital to going through life since while we may not know the extent of God’s will for our life, the end as well as the journey, we can know that at any moment God is intimately involved in it. So for myself I have felt, what ever that really means, called to full time ministry but nothing has happened, at least from my perspective. Recently God has brought some possibilities to the surface but I am not sure where they will go but I know for some reason and purpose God is using these situations to further His glory. What I do know is that at my present secular job I get to minister almost daily in some fashion. Is this what God wants me to do forever I do not know but for now I have to be confident in God’s plan as it is the only perfect plan. While Job’s world seemed to crumble and he was confused and bewildered about what was happening He did not deny God. I think that while he struggled with all that happened he knew that God must have had a reason for his predicament and it was not required of God to reveal that purpose. We too need to see all that happens in our lives as part of God’s plan, both the good and bad. Those terms are so open for interpretation because what we see as good and bad look totally different to God. Christ on the cross looked bad from the disciples perspective but ultimately it was to glorify God to the maximum.

As I said I feel that God has called me to full time ministry, it may be tomorrow or in 20 years. Whatever His timing it will be and is perfect. I need to be obedient, repent when I waver, and constantly seek Him and He will reveal things as He sees fit. In all of what goes on in my life it is knowing that God is truly sovereign over everything and all that He does is perfect that brings peace even in the midst of what I may see adversity or strife.

Monday, June 26, 2006

More on the Book Reading Blog

If you would like to take part in the reading of Owen's - Of the Mortification of Sin over at For His Glory-Books leave your name and e-mail address so I can add you to the members list that will let you post there. If you want to just check it out and leave comments that is fine.

I am looking forward to this. My initial feel is that we will start in a couple weeks as I know not everyone has their books yet, even though you can download a copy, and I will be gone for a week. If you get the book early I would suggest reading through once to get an overview as Owen, as many of his time are, can be difficult to read.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Valley of Vision Music CD

Those of you who have read The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions may be interested to know that Sovereign Grace Ministries is coming out with a Valley of Vision CD in August at the WorshipGod06 conference.

Here are some samples:
In the Valley
All that I Need
O Great God
It Was Your Grace

I know I am looking forward to this release as I really enjoy not only the music that Sovereign Grace produces but they are diligent in keeping the words God centered and if you have read any of Valley of Vision it is deffintly God centered.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Nature of the Atonement

As I study, contemplate and pray about the nature and extent of the atonement and specifically of the word propitiation, as it is used in scripture (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 John 2:2 and 4:10), I find it hard to see how anyone can see that Christ on the cross died for everyone in the same way. I say same way as Phill Johnson, at the 2003 Shepherds Conference, spoke on the extent of the atonement and the different ways reformed people see the atonement. However all reformed people would agree, I think, at the end of the day that Christ death was not a propitiation for anyone but the elect. While there may be an aspect of the cross that allows common grace to the unbeliever it is the believer that has had their sins ACTUALLY paid for. This is not speaking to the sufficiency of the atonement but the efficiency. While we can say the atonement was sufficient for the world, if God so desired it to be, and had infinite value, since any sin against an infinite God needs an infinite sacrifice, it is only efficient for the elect. I think it is the idea of “propitiation” that speaks to the saving efficiency of the atonement.

The death of Christ on the cross is only efficient for the elect because it those sins that were actually, in time and space, on the cross paid for. This is important because it takes some linguistic gymnastics to say that Christ’s sacrifice was for all in the same way and then say that not all are saved. This again comes back to the word “propitiation” which means the taking on of the wrath of God and thus Christ’s sacrifice took on that wrath for His children. If Christ took on the wrath of any that would not believe you either have to agree to universalism or believe that there are people in hell that are there having their sins paid for, or redefine what propitiation means.

I by no way have all the answers and even tend to struggle with grasping the whole sufficiently-efficiency, Phill Johnson’s talk has helped greatly in this area. But at the heart of the matter is what happened on the cross. Did Christ die for sins of all (as many like to define all, meaning everyone without exception) or some (all as in meaning from every tribe tongue and nation)? Christ’s death does garner some effect for the unbeliever but not a saving effect or one that pays for sin. I think this is one of those issue that is hard to get ones arms around, as evidenced by disagreements even among those that agree on the end results. But, for those that see Christ dieing for the world in the same manner they, in my opinion, deny the substitutionary aspect of the atonement.

I probably need to think more on this but to ignore the atonement or redefine it often leads to a denial of God’s sovereignty in salvation. Of course there are those that redefine God’s sovereignty to save man’s autonomy and then change the definition of the atonement but either way they end up in the same place and that is to change the God of the Bible to the God of man’s desires. The God we worship needs to be the God of the Bible and not the God of our own making even if the God we find in the Bible makes us uncomfortable. When you think of it, an infinite Holy God should in many ways make us uncomfortable.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New Blog

For the sake of ease of reading blog entries I have set up a blog for the reading/review of books. The site is For His Glory-Books and while there is little there now there will be more in the next few weeks and when we start reading Owen's - Of the Mortification of Sin.

Join us as we seek to see how the Holy Spirit has spoken through those who have come before us.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Book Reading Choice: Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers

I have decided that the book to go through will be Owens - Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers. I chose this book for a couple of reasons. First, because it would be a good introduction to Owen and as it is shorter than say The Death of Death in the Death of Christ it may be easier to read for a first go at his writings. Second, and this may be also true of other books but I know it is for this one, was that there are free copies you can get of this online so it makes the prospect less expensive and one does not have to buy another book if they do not desire to. There are a couple options for free books (there may be more): Option 1, Option 2. If you want to buy the book you can get it from Amazon for $9 (with free shipping if buying over $25 worth of books) or at Banner of Truth for $9. Try and stay with the Banner of Truth version, wherever you purchase it, as I saw another one but the pages and such may be different.

I thought we can take the next two weeks or so to get the books and then start reading it after the first week in July. I will put more on a proposed reading schedule next week.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Atonement and God's Part in it

There have been some good posts over at Pyromaniacs:

The first was on the topic of: Who Killed Jesus? This is a question to which the answer is often overlooked, avoided or denied. The reason that it needs to be dealt with is that it directly relates to the cross and Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA). In today’s kinder and gentler outlook on things and with the bent of many to shy away from even the topic of sin it is no wonder that PSA is denied.

This was followed by one entitled: Cosmic Child Abuse? I too have heard this term used. It would appear that to follow the reasoning of PSA and God’s sacrificing of His Son is to aggravate the sensibilities of today’s modern man. It was Mr. Spong (I find it hard to use the term Bishop with one who so openly denies scripture) who said that:

The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed. (A Call for a New Reformation)

So the whole concept of Penal Substitution is under attack and often not for exegetical reasons but for some feeling or sensibility that is felt to have been harmed.

The last article was called: God, Evil and the Cross. This article deals with God’s part in the whole process of the cross and evil. With the move of some to either openly accept of at the least not deny Open Theism the “problem of Evil” is dealt with by denying an attribute of God. Now I realize that Open Theists, and those that hold to it in some fashion, would not deny an attribute of God but they instead attempt to redefine His character to fit their theology.

Read and Enjoy.

Some Thoughts on the Convention

In an article on Agape Press from the convention Erwin McManus said:

"You know the number-one question I get from Christians when they come from other churches? 'Where do I go get discipled? Well, how many years does it take?'" he shared. The California pastor says for most Christians, that is the wrong attitude. "If you've been a Christian more than three weeks, you don't need to be discipled any more," he said. "It's time for you to start discipling."

So it only takes 3 weeks to be discipled? Is discipling something that necessarily ends? Why do we need to separate discipling from being discipled? I realize that many use the excuse that they do not know enough to allow them to do nothing but this does not mean that discipling is wrong but instead that the individual is misguided.

While Frank Page was voted in as the new president The new 1st Vice President is Jimmy Jackson who won out over Mark Dever by 77 votes. However, there were only 2,152 votes cast (20% of the total registered). Where was everyone? I am guessinghte vote was not a prime time in convention attendance but still only 20% voted.

A resolution on alcohol is passed but one on Integrity in Church Membership put forth by Tom Ascol is not. Based on the resolution on alcohol and the amendment to it, if it were to be followed, one could be a member of an entity/agency if they do not drink but if they fudge their membership numbers that is fine.

Here are some sites to get more info and opinions:

Founders Minsitries
Grace and Truth to You
Baptist Press News
Thoughts & Adventures
Strange Baptist Fire

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Here's a Tip - Tip to the Glory of God

Scott Lamb at Thoughts and Adventures blogs from the SBC Anual Meeting and writes, Here’s a Tip.

This is a sad commentary on the actions of professing Christians in public as it is all too often true. How often I have been with groups that not only tip badly but complain exceedingly and then leave a tact that says something like “Jesus Loves You.” We must remember that our actions often say quite the opposite of our claims. This is not limited to those at the convention and I would pray we would all keep in mind that as 1 Cor 10:31 says, all we do should be to the Glory of God and that means all including tipping.

Group Book Study (cont'd)

Here is where we are with book choices:

1) The Death of Death: In the Death of Jesus Christ – Owen
2) The Bondage of the Will – Luther
3) The Mortification of Sin – Owen
4) Lectures to My Students – CH Spurgeon
5) A Book of the Bible – God
6) Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship – Peterson
7) The Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic – Phillips, Ryken and Dever

I added the last two to the list as the one on worship sounded interesting with our focus on Biblical Theology in Sunday morning bible study. The one on the church seemed very appropriate after I read Barna’s book Revolution.

Can we choose by the end of next week (6/23) and then we can start the first week in July with what ever section we want to start with? So give me your first and second choices and I will decide by next Friday.

Monday, June 12, 2006

More on Complementarianism

Here are some more good comments on the issue of Complementarianism. Al Mohler added some further insights into the issues of Complementarianism and Egalitarianism. Then C.J. Mahaney added some good insights as to how we can not only proclaim the truth of complementarianism but also exhibit as pastors. We truly do need to live out what we preach, and not just in the area of complementarianism but all areas, as this is how those we lead see that what we say is what we really believe.

Friday, June 09, 2006

MP3s of 3 Jonathan Edwards Books

For those of you that drive a fair amount and use your MP3 player to listen to sermons and other things, or just simply use an MP3 player, here is a great resource. At the Reformation Theology Blog they have three books by Jonathan Edwards on MP3 that you can download. They are: The Freedom of the Will, The End For Which God Created the World, The Nature of True Virtue.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

More on Complementarianism and Egalitarianism

Ligon Duncan has posted on the issue of complementarianism and egalitarianism at the T4G blog. He further clarifies how the issue goes to the heart of the Gospel and ones understanding of scripture. The church appears to be buying into blurring the lines of distinction between maleness and femaleness and in doing so are on the way to undermining, if we are not there already in many circles, the inerrancy of scripture. When we allow culture to dictate interpretation we can at the end of the day allow scripture to say anything we like.

More Thoughts on the SBC Annual Meeting

I posted these comments at Grace and Truth to You and thought as it expresses some of my thoughts on the up coming SBC Annual meeting and the ensuing vote for a president I would post them here as well:

There is a lot of interesting information out there with regards to the various nominees for SBC President but at the end of the day how many people know anything substantial about the candidates, who as I understand it, are not officially nominated until the convention. This means that in the end people will vote by name recognition and probably not out of any firm understanding of where each person stands with regards to Theology and to Methodology.

I know this whole process will not change this year and I also realize we do not want people running around campaigning for the position of president but there has to be a better answer than show up and vote for the name you recognize. This is the first year in the 12 years I have been a SBCer that I have known much about the candidates myself other than name and I attribute this to the internet/blogosphere. The internet is far from perfect but information, both good and bad, is available and it is this information that is making people think more about what is going on. We, however, need to make sure that it is not any one persons blog or web site that drives our decision but God’s Word, prayer and more prayer. The information by itself is just words but with prayer we can seek out God’s man.

While I cannot go to the Convention I am praying that real substance is dealt with, as much as it can in so short a time, and that people leave knowing that change has to come. We can not simply keep putting up numbers and claiming largeness as out mantra but instead we would seek after a mantle of Godliness. Would it not be great if when the SBC was mentioned it would be in reference to spirituality and not numbers or some other issues? There may issues ahead but when the smoke (and mirrors) clear I would hope we would be transformed from a denomination of programs to one of mission. A mission to seek after God, for ourselves, and share the message of the Gospel with others in a dieing world.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New Attitude 2006 Conference MP3s

I was just started listening to the MP3s from the New Attitude 2006 Conference. You can get them for a great price from Sovereign Grace Ministries and so far they are well worth it. I am sure thankful to the Ligonier Ministries for the IPOD I received at last years Pastors Conference as it has allowed me to listen to a lot of great stuff on my drive to and from work.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More SBC President News

Another nominee has surfaced, or will surface, or is that may surface ( I am so confused) at the convention. Wade Burleson at Grace and Truth to You mentions that a reporter asked him about Jerry Sutton throwing his hat in the ring. I guess none of this is official until the convention so truly only God knows who will be up for a vote. There is also a note at Steve Weaver’s blog on this as well as at SBC Outpost.

Tom Ascol makes some thought provoking comments at the Founders Blog with regards to Frank Page and his writing of Trouble with Tulip.

I still do not know who I would vote for if I could go to the convention as there is still to little information and any one of the nominees could not be on the ballot as the official nominations do not happen until the convention, as I understand it.

I am sure glad that God is the one placing people in the positions they have because I do not know how most people could make an informed vote. I spend time in the blog world and still know little about each man and I am sure the vast majority of SBCers do not spend that much time researching each man.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Group Book Reading

After talking to Dave, Christ is All, we have decided to read a book and comment on it on our blogs. Over the next month any suggestion would be appreciated and if you would like to join in just let us know. We will then link to each others blog. My goal is to start when I get back from vacation July 9th and read an comment on chapters as agreed upon based on the book.. This should give us time to pick a book and get a copy.

Here are the suggestions I have so far:

The Death of Death: in the Death of Jesus Christ - Owen

The Bondage of the Will - Luther

The Mortification of Sin - Owen

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Complementarianism and Egalitarianism

The issue of complementarianism and egalitarianism is an important issue that is all too often ignored due to its divisive nature. It would seem that the mere fact it is divisive shows its importance. But even more important is that at the heart of the matter is ones view of scripture and what drives that view. On reading a number of articles and books it seems evident that all too often culture drives the hermeneutic of egalitarians and thus their interpretation. One may say that this is a single issue and it should not be so front and center but an even bigger issue is that if culture drives your hermeneutic on the issue of men and women it will do so on other issues. This, in my opinion, can be seen in many of the main line denominations that some time ago took an egalitarian view and are now seriously debating the homosexual issue with regards to ordination and basically whether it is a sin or not. At the Together for the Gospel Blog Mark Dever writes a good article, Undermining Tolerance of Egalitarianism, articulating, better than I, the importance of this issue.