Thursday, February 24, 2011

What a Father Looks for in a Suitor - Voddie Baucham

Excellent sermonaudio message by Dr. Voddie Baucham speaking at Mount Zion Bible church. The message is packed with solid instructional teaching on Christian characteristics that a father needs to look for in a suitor, but beyond just this, gives guidance for daughters in terms of what they should look for, as well as for son in terms of what they should be. I think Voddie is right on with this, as it is just dangerous to just send our children out into the world, with a worldly philosophy of, "they are 18, so 'leave and cleave' and send them out into the world", leaving it to them to find a mate without parental guidance in finding a suitor - and not just seeing out characteristics such as "handsome" or "witty", but rather be an individual with a heart for Christ and passion for nurturing his wife and guiding her sanctification, in addition to a commitment to shepherding their children's hearts as well. Excellent and timely teaching.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Greek to Me

I found a fun text on learning Koine greek at the library today called Greek to Me, by J. Lyle Story and Peter Allen Miller.  I've only just started into this, but what's fun about this guide to learning Greek is that it's built largely around learning by visual representations.
For instance, a term like e-gei-row, that means "I raise up."   By using somewhat silly visual representations you can build these into the memory.  This is ideal for me as a visually-based learner.  The text is pretty easy for a beginner to follow, and the cartoons are cute as well.

Various Random Sermon Notes

I'm not sure where these notes came from, but I think they are worth jotting down here:

Under what circumstances do you leave a church?

  • When there is heresy being taught or committed by the leadership (and don't leave a church without indicating to leadership where and how heresy has been taught.)
  • Unqualified leadership (and I'd add UNDER-qualified leadership.  We left a church over this issue, and one of these days I will jot down notes in terms of why I think that ALL teaching elders need to be seminary-educated or actively pursuing a seminary education.)

Can a man with an unbelieving wife who leaves him become an elder?

  • Is this man above reproach?
  • Does he "stay with" his wife, even when she's gone? (staying committed to HIS marriage vow, til death does them part, and not remarry?)

The Lord's Supper, as observed by denominations like Methodists

  • Methodists allow for a strange teaching along the lines of a "half-way covenant", allowing people thinking of becoming believers to eat the meal.  Believers should actually iron out the implications and decide for themselves prior to taking of the elements.

Church Membership

  • I Cor. 12 speaks of being "members" of Christ's body.
  • In the book of Acts, there are examples of the church knowing it's numbers and people.
  • In the Old Testament, there is a clear demarcation of God's people.
  • " Re-sacrifice" never appears in Ignatius and the early fathers.
  • The 11th century sees the first appearance of transubstantiation.
  • Aquinas took from Aristotle the idea that the inner "essence" changes into Christ.
  • Per Catholic teaching, the elements still maintain the look and taste of bread, which is part of the "double miracle" of transubstantiation.

  • The paedobaptist view was challenged by credobaptists in the first few centuries. 
  • The 1st century saw the baptism of believing children (notes are a little sketchy here - I didn't grab a source.)
  • The Didache talks about baptism taking place in flowing water following fasting (hence implied it was intended for an adult.)

    Psalm 139:23-24

    Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me."

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    What is a "Confessional" Church?

    I recently found a website for a Reformed church that listed it as a "Confessional" one, and I honestly wasn't sure what this meant, so I did a little research.  Initially, I thought that "confessional" merely referred to a church that followed the teaching of the Westminster Divines, but it's actually more than that.  A confessional church is one that adheres to the divines (with larger and shorter catechisms), but also to the Three Forms of Unity as well, which is composed of the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dordrecht and the Ecumenical Creeds (Apostles and Nicene creeds, etc.).  All good and sound doctrines - in fact we've been using the Heidelberg catechism as part of our family worship, and, notwithstanding the errors about infant baptism, it's a solid overview of the tenants of the Christian faith.)

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Acts 20:27, Westminster, and a Flyer in the mail from some local Woodlands church

    I periodically get mailings from a fairly large, amusing Woodlands church that we visited once years ago, so I wanted to jot down a couple of thoughts about this church, because around the same time I ironically also received a copy of Westminster Today in the mail, and there couldn't be a more stark day-and-night difference between these two sources.  The Woodlands church that sent the flyer is an insanely massive Willow Creek-style establishment, and equally as shallow.  The pastors, husband and wife both, advertise various series on life issues and what not, and from our one visit there, it's a church clearly build around entertainment with very shallow teaching.  In fact, during our visit a majority of the service was taken up with parading children on the stage for them to donate money - not for the widows and orphans - but rather to finance some sort of structure for the church (the spirit of Tetzel is apparently alive and well...)

    On the other side of the coin was the WTS magazine, that was a much more enriching read, particularly Dr. Carl Trueman's article on pg. 6 (the article can be read here.)  One the subject of large, shallow churches, I think that Trueman's comments, on the subject of declaring the whole counsel of God, are particularly appropriate in terms of the aforementioned flier:

    This brings me finally to the question: how can I know that my church is teaching the whole counsel of God as Paul understood it? There are various tell-tale signs that such might not be the case: if your minister spends more time talking about politics than Jesus Christ; if he spends more time telling you what you need to do, rather than telling you what God in Christ has done; if he is always focusing on the latest cultural fad rather than upon the priorities of scripture—these are all indicative of a ministry that is probably not preaching the whole counsel of God, however wide-ranging the topics covered may be. It is not breadth of topic but rather narrowness of focus upon God and his revelation that is, paradoxically, a sign that more of the whole counsel is actually being covered.

    The Stires - Missionaries to Albania

    Here's a link to the blog run by the Stires family, a missionary family that visited Oak Ridge last summer.  From what they described, the country of Albania was decimated following the communist regime that held sway in the country, and living conditions to this day remain far from ideal.  Please pray for their mission work in this country.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    The Big Book of Questions and Answers About Jesus - Sinclair Ferguson

    Two books that we use as a part of our family worship are Big Book Of Questions and Answers and Big Book Of Questions & Answers About Jesus.  Dr. Ferguson is an amazing teacher, both his doctrinal teachings for adults as well as his teaching material for kids.  We are currently using the Big Book of Q&A About Jesus nightly, and I like the way the material is broken down into a Scriptural study about an aspect of Jesus life, followed by a question to consider, an activity and closing prayer.  Combined with hymns and Scripture reading, this makes for an excellent addition to daily family worship time.  Highly recommended.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Sproul on Paedobaptism

    Here's a part of R. C. Sprouls message at Christ Fellowship church...

    "I think it's a sin (you can quote me) not to baptize your children. God was going to kill Moses for not circumcising his son. It was a very serious matter to administer the sign of the covenant to believers and to their infants and nowhere in Biblical content is that principle of corporate solidarity ever, ever abrogated and, so I think we are making a huge mistake when we exclude the children of believers from the sing of the covenant. Alright, and so I think it's a serious matter. Because I want to make sure, with the administration of the sacraments, that we're doing what is pleasing to God, so I think its pleasing to God to baptize infants of believers. My friends in the Baptist community believe its displeasing to God to do that. Both sides want to do what is pleasing to God, and what I do believe is that I don't think that we should break fellowship over that issue. Because there's not an explicit teaching in the New Testament that says you must baptize the children of believers, nor is there an explicit prohibition. In the NT it stays that you may not baptize the children of believers, so you have to rest your case on inferences drawn from narratives and from other texts of the Bible, and any time a doctrine is left to the development by inferences you're open to all kinds of mistakes. So it any kind of doctrine should provoke patience and tolerations with other its something like that."

    I didn't have a transcript so I just jotted down a few pages of his comments and transcribed them here.  And while I do greatly respect Dr. Sproul for all his teaching and ministry, I think he's completely wrong on labeling willing paedobaptism as a sin.  With no clear commandment given anywhere in Scripture to baptize infants, and instead drawing on (fairly weak) inferences from Scripture, how could failure to follow the ordinance of baptism by sprinkling unrepentant babies be considered "sin"?  I really wish that, since this Q&A session took place at a Baptist church, at least someone there had taken issue with this.  Well, considering his age and his health, its enough of a blessing that he still travels and shares from his collective learning, and I still marvel when I read his works online or in Tabletalk.

    When discussing baptism with my Dad I like the argument (among many, many other arguments) of the "desert island exegete" - a non-believer who, sitting on the beach one day, finds a Bible that washes on the shore in his own language.  Picking it up, he reads it and, finishing the Gospel of John is convicted of his sins and of his need for a savior and repents and believes.  Sharing his faith with others, they soon start a small Acts-style worship service together.  Now strictly from the Bible alone, would those islanders really conceive of the practice of baptism as being rightly administered by sprinkling water on the bald head of an angry, unrepentant baby, who's parent's may or may not even be genuine believers?  I find that really doubtful.  And while the analogy might be a little bit of a stretch, it's not beyond the realm of possibility:  I've heard the Gideons speak when they visit the church, and they will talk about being at rope's end, ready to end their life in a hotel room when they discover a Gideon's Bible and, upon reading it, are convicted by the Holy Spirit and repent and believe.  So anything is possible.

    Anyhow, below are links to both parts of Sproul's Q&A.  Really great material.  The baptism discussion takes place in the second part.