Friday, December 31, 2010

The Old Mission Field - Gene Veith

I came across this article from an old copy of Tabletalk.  Particularly I love how Dr. Veith closes the article, in terms of revising our perspective on international missions:

But we would do well to think of ourselves in the same way we used to think about the lost people of the mission field. We have become the new heathen. We Americans are the ones now in thrall to primitive superstitions, such as believing in the power of positive thinking and having faith in ourselves. We are the ones held back by a materialistic worldview that has little conception of the supernatural. We are the ones with brutal customs, such as aborting our infants, neglecting our children, and abandoning and sometimes euthanizing our elders. We have simple, pounding music, and we are uneducated about the realities outside of our tribe. With our limited mind-set, we have trouble grasping the truths of Scripture.
But the grace of God brings the light of Jesus Christ into heathen darkness — even into our heathen darkness.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Romans 8:38 and Eternal Security

Here's a link to a message by Phil Johnson on eternal security. I will admit that the fifth point of Calvinism - the perseverance of the saints - remains the one of the five that I have the most trouble with. Even election I'm fine with, but the teaching that no genuine believer can ever leave the faith is one I do find myself wrestling with from time to time, especially when you know of people who, once vibrant in the faith, have let it lapse. Maybe the genuine faith wasn't there to begin with (1 John 2:19) but it still remains one of those I toss around in my head. Can one be a 4.5-point Calvinist? :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Another fun description for Paedobaptists (from W. R. Downing of Free Grace Baptist Church)

I was listening to an excellent message W. R. Downing on a sermonaudio message from Free Grace Baptist, on the subject of Zacchaeus, but somewhat off-topic, the opening of the sermon (I'm guessing this was some sort of bridge conversation from the previous class) has Pastor Downing describing a term for paedobaptists as "Paedokefalosrhantizo" (forgive the spelling - still learning some of the Greek nuinaces):

paedo - infant
kefalos - the head
rhantizo - sprinkles

I like this. I need to remember this next time I chat with one of my Presbyterian friends... :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dr. Michael Oh and "Why I Didn't Go to Westminster Theological Seminary"

A brief yet convicting message delivered by Dr. Michael Oh at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, PA, in which he challenges WTS to be more globally focused, particularly in light of the "1040 window", a term new to me, that refers to the area across Africa and Asia from 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees latitude north of the equator, an area of the 55 least evangelized countries, with 97% of their population lives within this area.

Dr. Oh's message addresses the need for theological training and Christian ministry with a focus towards this area, even urging the listeners to consider giving a tithe of years of service to this under-evangelized area.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Kings 18: 36-37

The following is a devotional I wrote years ago for Alpha-Omega:

Prayer is foundational in the life of a believer. It is our means of communicating directly with our creator. Throughout the Bible we read many examples of the power and importance of prayer. A notable example
from the Old Testament is that of the life of Elijah. In I Kings we read about how Elijah was able to perform incredible miracles such as calling down fire from heaven and restoring a widow's child to life again, all accomplished by God's power through prayer. Elijah trusted in God and called on Him during time
of trial, such as when he faced off against the fifty prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Even in a very frightening situation in which he was alone and seriously outnumbered, Elijah's prayer was one of complete and total devotion to God, in which he asked of God for a display of His power before the false prophets, wicked King Ahab and the multitudes of Israel:

“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so there people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (I Kings 18: 36-37)

God responded to Elijah's prayer, displayed His might to the assembly, and brought about change in the heart of Israel (vs. 39). And just as Elijah was consistent in his prayer throughout his ministry, we too should continue to be persistent in our own prayers (I Thes. 5:17), knowing that God hears our
prayers and knows all of our needs and wants.  And while not all prayers are answered, we know that sometimes God does not answer our prayers for a specific reason, the reason not always known to us. This can be difficult to understand sometimes, especially when the unanswered prayer is in regards to needs of a friend or family member. But we understand that as we faithfully bring our petitions to God, we ask that “God's will be done” over that of our own wants and desires, and by doing so we fully put our faith in God to provide for our needs.  So continue to pray fervently, both privately and with one another, and when you bring your petitions to God, rely on Him totally for all of your needs. Remember that God speaks to us through his Word, the Bible, and we respond to that message to God through our prayers. It's an awesome two-way communication that we get to share with the sovereign Creator of the universe.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nine Marks Church Search

Mark Dever's Nine Marks site offers a comprehensive church search directory, with the caveat that the churches listed are self-selected through affirming both the 9Marks mission statement and the T4G Affirmations & Denials, having been minimally screened by 9Marks staff.  The directory is fairly comprehensive, and I'm glad to see Oak Ridge Reformed Baptist listed as well.  A handy reference if you need to relocate and are looking for a like-minded church.

Exodus 20:7

Here's a link to a sermon by Phil Johnson on the third commandment, and the usage of God's name with good taste and Biblical propriety.  In the message, Pastor Johnson talks about how using God's name lightly destroys reverence for what is holy and pure, and when you use God's name lightly or make jokes about Christ, what is reflected is a lack of fear for God and a defiance against the third commandment.

When you call yourself a "Christian", you are taking the name of the Lord and using it for yourself, and while there is nothing wrong with this, you need to ACT the way that Christ would have acted in order to be using the name correctly.  In the commandment, don't "take" the name of God talks about don't pick up/lift it up/use it in some form or fashion. To do it in vain means to do it in a purposeless, hollow way.  If you aren't actually speaking to God, or specifically referencing his name, you should not use it.

The commandment also branches out into flippant usage of swearing, not profanity, but expressions like "I swear on a stack of Bibles", etc. Jesus confronted the Pharisee's should avoid flippant oaths, and passages like James 5:12 that speak about "Do not swear" but let your "yes be yes", yet at the same time, there are places for solemn oaths (marriage, or oaths made to God.) All oaths are solumn promises in which we call God to be our witness.
God's name can also be used in vain in our thoughts and deeds.  To pray wrongly (superficial praying, or praying for the wrong thing) can also be seen as a misuse of the third commandment.  If you stand in corporate prayer in the church but instead just flip through the bulletin or think other thoughts, this is a form of taking the Lord's name in vain.  Singing praise songs without meaning the words, or thinking about something else, is misusing God's name. 
Even if praying carelessly or meaninglessly over a meal, the Lord's name is being misused.  Simply reciting Jesus' name at the end of the prayer doesn't make it more effective.  Prayer in Jesus name means praying for that which he approves, that is consistent with his character.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wayne Grudem - Systematic Theology - MP3s

Here's a link to a treasure trove of Dr. Grudem's lessons in the Christian Essentials class, taken from his book, Systematic Theology. Grudem is fantastic and his systematic theology is a wealth of good information. This is another one of those sites where it can be handy to have an install of DownThemAll! to download all of the MP3s and load them into your MP3 player.