Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vindication for my Calvinism Defense

In my previous post titled 'In Defense of Calvinism', I argued that the phrase "the whole world" in 1 John 2:2 does not mean all people, but the elect from all nations. Evangelist and biblical scholar A.W. Pink does a better job arguing this same point here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

What About Bob? --Revisited

I finally finished Greg Nichols' Covenant Theology. It is a slow read in the beginning (for me at least), but it picks up in Chapter 6 'Summary of the Classic Reformed Doctrine'. It was definitely worth the time to read through the whole book.

As I read through the chapter on 'The Mosaic Covenant', this sentence from my 'What About Bob?' post kept coming to mind: "Joshua 1 and Psalm 1 are talking about the spiritual prosperity of the believer, not temporal or earthly prosperity."

Since I'm an amillenialist, I'm very sensitive to the premillenial dispensational view of eschatology that I was fed as the "most literal" view of the Bible for many, many years. I now have a better understanding of the Bible, and I no longer believe that there are two separate ways of salvation: one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles; there is only one Covenant of Grace fulfilled by Christ the promised Redeemer. Because of my desire to move away from the view that one part of the Bible is for Israel and another part is for Christians, I tend to over-spiritualize the OT promises (like I did above with Joshua 1 & Psalm 1). Nichols' Covenant Theology book has given me a clearer picture of God's work of redemption throughout the OT and NT without flattening out all of His conditional and unconditional promises.

On page 274, Greg Nichols writes:
"The old covenant promises were evangelical. The Mosaic covenant was gracious and good. Yet God presented this pledge as a conditional promise of perpetual favor and blessing. Scripture insists that God required gospel obedience, not legalistic works righteousness (Deut. 30:6-10). God says, "If you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant." His voice personally spoke from heaven the Ten Commandments to the entire nation. He promised them, on condition of evangelical obedience to the Ten Commandments, perpetual favor as God's special people and sustained theocracy: "then you shall be my own possession from among all peoples." In addition, God required gospel compliance with his statutes in the book of the law as the condition for receiving the manifold blessings of the old covenant. Conversely, God connects the curses of the old covenant to disobedience in unbelief to the book of the law. God addressed these conditions to Israel as a community.  Gospel obedience to the Decalogue is how Hebrew Israel sustains theocracy as a society (Exod. 19:6), not how individual sinners get right with God. Gospel compliance to the book of the law is how Hebrew Israel as a community sustains the blessings of national prosperity and avoids bringing the curses of the covenant on their society."
The Covenant of Grace is the same for the OT & NT; every elect individual is saved by heart circumcision that creates faith and repentance through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. However, there are conditional, temporal promises to the nation of Israel in the OT, such as Joshua 1:8.

God's righteous Servant Jesus dispenses the divine inheritance of the Holy Spirit to NT believers just like Joshua dispensed the divine inheritance of the land in Canaan to the Israelites. The old covenant had a condition, but no guarantee. Christ himself is God's guarantee that the promises of the new covenant can never be broken like Israel broke the old covenant.

A promise for the NT believer is found in Ephesians 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." We cannot yank the OT temporal promises to the nation of Israel into the life of the NT believer like Robert Morris and the Word of Faith Prosperity teachers. The new covenant does not promise material and earthly blessings. God provides for the eternal needs of the soul (which presupposes His provision for the temporal needs of the body) and calls His people to suffer trials and persecutions for their own good (Rom. 8:28) and to conform them to the image of Christ.

So, I was wrong to say that Joshua 1 & Psalm 1 are referring to the spiritual prosperity of the (NT) believer, but the point still remains that these verses were not rightly taught by Robert Morris. The Covenant Theology that surrounds the OT and NT is much deeper than I ever thought.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD," (Isa. 55:8).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Covenant Theology Clarification

In listening to the interview with Pascal Denault on the Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology  Part 2 (see The Confessing Baptist Podcast #3), I found it interesting that Mr. Denault recommended Christ and the Condition:  A CovenantTheology of Samuel Petto.  As a typist for the Puritan Board, I recently typed two books by Samuel Petto called Infant Baptism of Christ's Appointment and Infant Baptism Vindicated.  Petto's main argument is:

"There is no express Scripture against infant baptism; if there was, the controversy would be presently at an end.  Therefore, infants may be baptized, for “where there is no law, there is no transgression,” (Rom. 4:15)."

I've only read reviews of Petto's Covenant Theology book, but it appears that Mr. Petto argues that the Mosaic Covenant is the primary legal condition of the Covenant of Grace:

“The main thesis of the book argues that Petto viewed the Mosaic covenant as a republication of the covenant of works for Christ to fulfill as the condition of the covenant of grace in order to uphold and defend his doctrine of justification sola fide.”

From Part 2 of the on-line interview, Mr. Denault restated Petto's covenant theology view:  "The Old Covenant adds a different function for (1) Israel--a national covenant of conditional sorts, but it wasn't an absolute Covenant of Works; the law of works required perfect obedience from every man; therefore, there was a republication of the Covenant of Works conditional on obedience with earthly typological blessings; and for (2) Christ--an absolute Covenant of Works (the original did not offer redemption); the Old Covenant was based on the Levitical system of sacrifice (typological of Christ's sacerdotal work).  God republished the law of works so that Christ could come and pay for the elect's sins."

So I sent in my question to the Confessing Baptist podcast (very nicely edited by the moderator Jason):  How does Petto's view of the Mosaic Covenant as a Covenant of Works relate to the 1689 Federalism view of that same Mosaic Covenant since Petto is a paedobaptist?

This question was answered on The Confessing Baptist Podcast #15 (around 48:45).  From Mr. Denault (mostly quoted with slight editing for reading):

"In the New Testament (John 7:22-23; Gal. 5:3; Acts 15:10-11), circumcision encompasses all the acts required in the law; it does not allow, but forbids the separation of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants.  These covenants are kept separate by the paedobaptists in order to keep a mixed Covenant of Grace and an old Covenant of Works.  However, in 1689 Federalism, these covenants are cumulative steps of the full establishment of what the New Testament calls the Old Covenant.  That Old Covenant was not an administration of the Covenant of Grace, but a Covenant of Works upon which the blessings were conditional.  It had a typological value for Israel as a nation, but was absolute for Christ who accomplished it; fulfilling God's promises and establishing the New Covenant that endures forever.  Therefore, we can share the same idea regarding the Mosaic Covenant without holding the same federalism."

As I continue to read and study, I think I'm getting a clearer picture of Covenant Theology; however, I've almost reached my saturation level, so I think I'm going to be satisfied with just a slight working knowledge of this subject.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SBC 2013 Calvinism Advisory Panel

I was hopeful that this panel discussion would have cleared up some the concerns in the SBC regarding the "resurgence" of Calvinism.  I listened to the discussion, took notes (some quotes & some paraphrases), and made personal observations.  With the exception of Dr. Page & Dr. Dockery, all of the speakers listed served as members of the Calvinism Advisory Committee.  The questions are from the attendees at the July 2013 Southern Baptist Convention in Houston, Texas.

Dr. Frank Page, SBC President:  "I had some doubts if we could come together, recognize our differences, and be honest about them.  Most important for me--how can we do missions & ministries together?  I believe in winning people to Christ.  I love to win people to Christ; this is the bottom line for Frank Page."  He wants Calvinist (or reformed) and non-Calvinist to share Jesus together because that's what this is all about.  He is among the group with a strong opinion.

Observation:  The Holy Spirit regenerates sinners; man (including Dr. Page) does not win people to Christ.  What does he mean 'to share Jesus together'?  This is a very vague statement for it to be what it's all about.

Dr. Eric Hankins, Sr. Pastor:  He wanted to create this document to call all southern Baptists together around the gospel.  He recognized real, distinct differences that put us on different sides of the theological fence, but wanted to partner together for the cause of Christ and the announcement of the gospel all around the world.  He also wanted to create this document that allows us to share theological differences, but that the rhetoric wasn't so harsh--to begin to love one another, to grant one another liberty in the positions that we hold theologically and to cut out the meanness so that the gospel is not obscured and our partnership together is not harmed.  "Be serious about theology because it is critical to doing good evangelism--knowing what you believe and why you believe it & holding those things deeply."

Observation:  If theology is critical to evangelism (which I agree), then how can we grant liberty in theological differences?

Dr. Al Mohler, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President:  "We are on the same page of this document which is about where we don't always stand in agreement, which is alright.  We've had this conversation from the beginning of our denomination.  Friendship is strengthened by the discussion of theology, not by the avoidance of it."

Question #1:  This individual is uncertain about the statement from the document (the last bullet under Tensions):  "We agree that most Southern Baptists believe that those who die before they are capable of moral action go to heaven through the grace of God and the atonement of Christ, even as they differ as to why this is so."

Dr. Daniel Akin, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President (who identified himself later as a moderate Calvinist):  "Reformed Baptists must believe in elect infants and non-elect infants, which seems unfair, but we know that it is really God's grace.  He has worked on this issue before with Dr. Mohler.  There is a strong reformed tradition on the election of infants--that all infants go to heaven.  Charles Spurgeon was adamant about this; B.B. Warfield was adamant about this; Charles Hodge was adamant about this.  How infants are brought into heaven is approached differently by different theologians.  We believe those who do not reach a stage of moral awareness are not able to conscientiously sin against God in acts in the body; therefore, they are recipients of God's amazing grace."  He wanted to set the record straight theologically by providing a document that is helpful to parents and grandparents pastorally.

Observation:  LBCF Chap. 10 para. 3 states that elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit.  Dr. Akin's view contradicts the LBCF and gives false hope to the parents and grandparents.  This wrong view of the nature of sin stems from the Arminian belief that we do not inherit the guilt for Adam's sin, and therefore, we can only be guilty if we actually sin.  At what age or stage does a person attain moral awareness?

Question #4:  This individual praises the document for diversity at all levels and proceeds to ask:  Can a robust particular Baptist (or Calvinist) view and a strong revivalistic version exist in the same church?  Or must the church distinctly choose which side they fall on?

Mr. Steve Lemke, Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry Provost & Director:  "The theology of the pastor will affect who joins the church; but a large church will have more diversity.  We are one in Christ, but we don't have to be one in theology or one in worship style; we can disagree, but still love and care for each other."

Mr. Mark Dever, Sr. Pastor:  Uses the New Hampshire Confession.  "The things we have in common are more important that the disagreements we have.  We are sharing the same gospel.  Work on unity in your local church."

Observation:  To be affective for Christ, we do need to be one in theology; the weakening of the Church today is due to the lack of agreement and clarity of the biblical doctrines found in God's word.  Without the correct view of the depravity of man (see question #1), we are not sharing the same gospel.

Tammi Ledbetter, Homemaker & Journalist:  "Focus on winning people to Jesus."

Observation: A lady should not have been part of this committee, (1 Tim. 2:12).  No one is going to argue with this vague statement.  The whole point of the current debate is that we have fundamental differences on how to obey Christ's Great Commission.

Question #6:  What constitutes a Calvinist?

Dr. David Dockery, Union University President:  A true Calvinist is not represented because no one is a paedobaptist like Calvin.  There is no one who represents true Arminianism.  We agree about the structure of Calvinism:  depravity, eternal security, God initiating salvation (but differences come at this point).

Mr. Tom Ascol, Pastor:  He affirms the historical 5 points of Calvinism.  "It's not what the gospel is, but how the gospel works in bringing about salvation."

Dr. David Allen, School of Theology Dean at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary:  "The committee didn't have the responsibility of negotiating the different nuances of what qualifies  as a Calvinist (5-point, 4-point, etc).  It's very important that we respect what people say they believe and allow them to define what they say they believe.  But they can't be upset when someone differs from them.  Their position or entailment may be problematic, but we have to have a respectful discussion with them speaking the truth in love."

Observation:  Defining Calvinism and Arminianism for clarity of the document and ensuing discussions should have been a priority for the committee.  The 5 tenets of Calvinism have nothing to do with baptism.  Baptism is only an issue between Reformed Baptists and Reformed Presbyterians because of their different view of Covenant Theology.  Dr. Allen's comment is a weak stance for Christianity because it leads to ecumenism and relativism.  Embracing this view has opened the door to ineffective witnessing not only to our own American culture, but also the world at large.

Question #7:  'Who is able to be saved?' and 'How is that person saved?' are two important questions that the SBC needs to agree on.  The T5 document does not state the answer to these questions.  Will the leadership be honest about their beliefs (5-pt Calvinist)?  There is no liberty for the answers of these two questions and disagreement in this area will cause the questioner (and others like him) to separate.

Dr. Al Mohler, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President:  "Who?  Romans 10--Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How?  There's no disagreement in this; God saves sinners unilaterally through Jesus."

Dr. Frank Page, SBC President:  Agrees with Dr. Mohler, but knows that there are nuances in the interpretation of those scriptures.

Observation:  What nuances?  Isn't the whole point of this to identify the differences and work toward reconciliation?

Question #8:  What now?  How does the document affect SB life?  What do we do with it?

Dr. Frank Page, SBC President:  "There will be continued writing and discussion.  Don't sign the document, but live it out.  Build relationship and trust."

Dr. Al Mohler, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President:  He won't publish without talking to his friend Eric Hankins because of the relationship they now have.  He will pick up the phone before he picks up the pen.

Observation:  This is pandering to the Arminians to show unity within the SBC.

Dr. Daniel Akin, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President:  "The purpose is to come together under a conservative resurgence standing on an inerrant Bible to get the gospel to every person on the planet to have the opportunity to repent and believe."

Observation:  "Although the Gospel be the only outward means by revealing Christ and saving grace, and is, as such, abundantly sufficient thereunto; yet that men who are dead in trespasses may be born again, quickened or regenerated, there is moreover necessary an effectual, insuperable work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul, for the producing in them a new spiritual life; without which no other means will effect their conversion unto God," (LBCF Chap. 20 para. 4).

After listening to this discussion, the issue continues to be whether or not man has a role in the salvation process.  We go; we teach; we baptize, but salvation is of the Lord alone.  Specific unbiblical church practices like altar calls and repeating a sinner's prayer were not addressed (which I think is what question #7 was trying to address; not the theological 'who' and 'how', but the practical 'who' and 'how').

The outcome from the T5 document, along with this discussion, seems to be that while there are still disagreements within the SBC, we should try to be nice to each other.  The committee spent a lot of work, time, and money on this issue, but no real solution was achieved.  It would have been easier if everyone involved had quoted the Golden Rule from Luke 6:31 and moved on.  Either way, the theological differences within the SBC still remain along with the problems that brought this controversy to a head in May 2012.  They may have quieted this boiling pot for now, but it will cause a mess again sooner or later.

Friday, July 19, 2013

What About Bob?

This past week, a close friend asked me to listen to Robert Morris of Gateway Church in the Dallas area and give my thoughts.  Here's my response:

I've done a lot of on-line research of Robert Morris by listening to his sermons, reviewing his website, and reading about the books he has written.  I can say without a doubt that I would never recommend his books or sermons, nor would I sit in his church or satellite group.  He does say some truthful things, but it is laced with false doctrine.  His smooth style is very dangerous, and I consider him a false prophet like Joel Osteen; even if you only eat food with just a little bit of poison it will eventually kill you.

First, as part of his Alpha Summit conference line-up, he has teamed up with Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Church and Perry Noble of Newspring Chruch.  Both of these pastors are part of the seeker-driven movement and have successfully woven in liberalism and other deceptive teachings into their churches.

Second, in his sermon entitled "The Miracle of Meditation" from 12/19/2009, he reads Joshua 1:8 and states that if you meditate on God's word day and night, then you will prosper and have success in your family, relationships, health, finances, every area, etc.  This is a perversion of the prosperity gospel, and it is not biblical.  Joshua 1 and Psalm 1 are talking about the spiritual prosperity of the believer, not temporal or earthly prosperity.  In John 16:33, Jesus explicitly tells his disciples that they will have tribulation in this life.  

Third, in his book The Blessed Life, he states that tithing will bring guaranteed financial results and change every area of your life.  During his 05/21/11 sermon on tithing, Robert Morris issues a money-back guarantee on tithing and says that Christians must tithe to avoid divorce and losing their kids and jobs to the devourer; the curse must be removed by tithing.  There are so many problems with this statement, but at a minimum, that money is not "his" to give back; it is a tithe to the Lord, not to Robert Morris.  His teaching on tithing is blatantly false and unbiblical.  Tithing was instituted before the Mosaic law with Melchizedek & Abraham in Genesis 14:18-20 and reiterated in Matt. 23:23.  Tithing is not part of a covenant (if you do this, God promises this); it's a command for Christians to obey regardless of circumstances or outcome.

As an aside, what do you tell the Christian who reads and meditates on the Bible and/or tithes and is suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer?  What about the Christian who meditates and tithes, but loses his job, or his wife, or his kids?  Or what about the "Christian" person who does not read the Bible and/or tithe, but is rich by the world standards and has it all?  How does he explain the prosperity of the wicked in the world today?  Robert Morris preaches a works-based salvation.  He is teaching a false gospel because Jesus is not enough for the believer; the believer must do his part too.  In addition, Robert Morris does not preach through the Bible book-by-book, verse-by-verse.  You can see from his sermon series titles that he selects a topic and then picks the Bible verses to support his series and books; this practice allows him to subtly distort what the Bible says.

Fourth, in his book The Power of Words, he shows how God blesses your life through the words you speak.  This is very similar to Osteen's book, I Declare.  Both of these books contain teaching that sounds more like witchcraft and not Christianity.  There is no verse in the Bible which says our words have any power to create.  Only Jesus can create by the power of His word, (Heb. 1:3).

Fifth, he allows Michele Cohen to preach in his pulpit which is forbidden in 1 Tim. 2:12.  Women are not to preach or teach men spiritual truths.  They should not be pastors, or Adult Sunday School teachers, or Bible conference speakers, or Christian TV show hosts.  In addition, I'm very uncomfortable with the title of Jewish Ministries Pastors for Geoffrey & Michele Cohen at Gateway Church.  From the Gateway website Geoffrey Cohen's greatest experience with God is seeing Jesus in Jerusalem.  I don't know what he means by this, but if he claims to have seen a vision of Jesus, that is blasphemous, (Exod. 20:4-5).  Christians do not have visions, or hear God speaking to them audibly or directly to their heart.  God speaks to believers through his word alone.  I also believe their ministry focus on Israel and Jews is misguided; "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus," (Gal. 3:38).

Bottom line, if you continue to sit under the teaching of Robert Morris, I won't be much help to you because I will continue to contradict him (and vice versa).  Therefore, I recommend that you get rid of ALL Robert Morris' books & sermon CDs and delete his sermon app.  It's that serious because "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump," (Gal. 5:9).  I do not plan to listen to anymore of his sermons or read anymore excerpts from his books.  Spiritually, it's very dangerous to knowingly listen and/or read false doctrine (1 Tim. 6:3-5).

Right now, I suggest that you start strengthening your assurance of salvation and knowledge of the Bible.  Dr. Don Green has a great sermon series on 1 John which started in 2012.  His sermon topics include the marks of a true christian, the Christian assurance of salvation, and the principles of sanctification.  He is the pastor of Truth Community Fellowship in Petersburg, KY, and his sermons are also available in iTunes.  I don't agree with everything Dr. Green says because he is not a proponent of the KJV and prefers the modern versions.  He preaches from the NASB, and if you decide not to read the KJV, then I would recommend the NKJV or the NASB over the NLT.

Renewing Your Mind with R.C. Sproul is another good series for Christian teaching (it is also available in iTunes).  The lectures are short, powerful, and biblical.  Again, I don't agree with everything that R.C. Sproul preaches because he is Presbyterian and believes in paedobaptism (baby baptism), while I believe in credobaptism (believer's baptism).  Even so, this is a great place to start; his website has many good resources (books, articles, & CDs).

It's difficult to find a church where you are in total agreement; however, as long as there's no false doctrine being preached, then it's just a matter of where you fit in the best in a local body of believers.

I know that all this information is shocking to you, but please make it a matter of serious prayer:  "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ," (Col. 2:8).

P.S. You didn't ask, but I would also advise you to get rid of the Jimmy Evans book too.  Evans joined with Creflo Dollar at The Gathering Conference last week; Dollar is a prosperity gospel preacher who preaches that we are little gods because we are made in the image of God (which is complete blasphemy).  Evans promotes the unbiblical "have your best marriage now" philosophy.  However, marriage is a picture of Jesus and His church, (Eph. 5:32).  The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, not to have a good marriage.  The Bible does not promise a marriage that "works", and Evans' guarantee of a satisfying, dream relationship is similar to Robert Morris' work-based mentality--if you do this, then God is obligated to do this; this concept is not biblical and is deceptively dangerous to the believing Christian.

(Please see my follow-up article to this post.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy

Antinomianism is a belief that the gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law and was the prevalent, implicit view in the previous churches that I attended.  However, as I started studying the London Baptist Confession of Faith (LBCF) and the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW), I began to question this belief.

The moral law (also known as the Ten Commandment) is still binding to all Christians, (LBCF Chap. 19, para. 5).  God's holiness is found in the moral law, and as Christians, we are exhorted to be holy because God is holy, (1 Peter 1:16).  Obeying the moral law is not legalistic; it only becomes legalistic when it is used as a way to obtain or maintain salvation. 
The 4th commandment requires the keeping holy to God one whole day in seven to be a sabbath to Himself (from Keach's Catechism, Question 63).  In our Wednesday night study this summer, we've been reading through Jonathan Edwards' sermons on 'The Perpetuity of the Sabbath'.  The thesis of his first sermon is:  "It is the mind and will of God, that the first day of the week should be especially set apart among Christians, for religious exercise and duties."  During our group discussion, there was some confusion about whether or not keeping the sabbath was a good and necessary inference, but keeping the sabbath is a commandment of God, (see Exod. 20:8-11); changing the Sabbath Day from Saturday to Sunday is a good and necessary inference.  

The biblical observance of the Sabbath Day has not always been part of my Christian understanding; I thought that if I went to church on Sunday morning (with an occasional LifeGroup meeting Sunday evening), I could spend the rest of the day however I wanted.  But a change in my understanding was taking place in November of 2011 as I read about the RPW and thought about how Christmas is not a day of worship prescribed in the Bible.  That year we put up our Christmas tree at Thanksgiving as usual, and then the following week I providentially read Jeremiah 10:2-4 as part of my daily Bible reading plan:  "Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.  They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers, that it move not."

My husband and I discussed these verses, read more about the RPW, and decided to take down the tree.  That year Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, and many churches canceled their services so that their employees and volunteers could spend Christmas at home with their families (our current church did not do this).  Canceling church for Christmas was in direct violation of God's word to keep the sabbath holy unto the Lord, and it was from that point, we knew we would no longer celebrate Christmas.  We celebrate the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ every Sunday during our worship and observance of the Lord's Supper.

In reading through all 3 of Edwards' sermons, my husband and I have continued to refine how we keep the Sabbath Day holy.  At first, we were concerned that our family would be bored with nothing to do, but it has been such a blessing; and we actually find ourselves wondering where the time went.  I'm purposefully not describing our Sundays because I believe that it is a matter of prayer and conviction as you seek God's guidance in this area.

"If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord," (Isaiah 58:13-14).

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Narrow Path

This summer I decided to re-read Willem Teellinck's The Path of True Godliness (which has helped to balance out the Covenant Theology book that I'm slowly reading through).  Teellinck is often called the father of the Dutch Second Reformation, and he lived from 1579-1629.  From Joel Beeke's introduction:  "Teellinck believed that true spirituality is inseparable from an outward walk of life that flees all kinds of worldliness...He was motivated by a zealous desire for God's glory not by legalism."

This book promotes the Puritan ideal of sanctification in all areas of life; therefore, I wanted to share a paragraph on page 126 that I found encouraging this week:

"First, and above all, it is essential that the Christian, who now has a discriminating knowledge of the characteristics of both the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of grace, should have worked out in his mind what it means to be godly.  Above all, he should now fully comprehend what the true purpose of life should be in order to be able to live in a truly godly way.  He must order and regulate his entire life and conduct and make it his most important task to direct all his affairs in such a way that they never distract him from this goal.  Being careful not to pursue the wrong goal in life, he should seriously consider the direction of his life--where it is leading and what he needs to achieve--for the human tendency is to strive most for the things we desire most.  If we want to become rich and powerful in this world, then all our efforts will be directed toward that end.  If we have some other aspirations in life, we will equally strive to attain that one.  It is therefore very essential that we direct ourselves to attain the right goal in life, which is to practice true godliness and to live a godly life.  Otherwise we are like archers without a definite target, aimlessly shooting arrows into the air."

It has taken a long time in my Christian walk, but I'm finally aiming toward the right target.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Speaking in Tongues...Privately

In his article "A Biblical Basis for Speaking in Tongues Privately" dated July 9, 2013, Mr. McKissic calls for the SBC to drop its anti-tongues policy in favor of a more neutral policy.  He states that he does "not believe that it is God's will based on His word for all believers to speak in tongues", but he argues that (1) Jesus affirmed speaking in tongues, (2) the apostles spoke in tongues at Pentecost, and (3) Paul affirmed speaking in tongues as a private devotion.  In summary, his "point is that private prayers often take on a different style and nature then [sic] public prayers"; therefore, his unstated conclusion (which I had to guess at based on his title) is that  instead of continuing their cessationist stance, the SBC should allow its members to speak in tongues privately.

I agree that Jesus told his apostles that speaking with new tongues would be a sign in Mark 16:17, although, I do find it ironic that this verse is used as support because this portion of the Book of Mark is omitted or placed in a footnote in the more 'literal and accurate' modern Bible versions.  I also agree that the apostles spoke in tongues at Pentecost (Acts 2:4).  However, I disagree with his non-cessasionist stance and with his argument that Paul affirmed tongues for private devotion.

First, the idea of cessationism is biblical.  1 Corinthians 13:8-10 states  "Charity never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."  

Tongues will cease when the perfect comes.  What is the perfect thing to come?  Since the word 'perfect' in the Greek is a neuter substantive, then it cannot refer to Jesus (which would be masculine) or His coming (which would be feminine); therefore, it's referring to the inscripurated Revelation or the finished work of the Old and New Testament, the Holy Bible.  Therefore, the giftings were gone once God's Word was complete, and we now abide in faith, hope, and charity (verse 13).  Charity (sacrificial love) is the greatest because it will continue forever, while faith will turn to sight (2 Cor. 5:6-7), and hope will be fulfilled (Rom. 8:22-25) when Jesus returns.

Second, Mr. McKissic states that Paul affirmed speaking in tongues as a private devotion and uses 1 Corinthians 14:2 as his support:  "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto me, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries."

However, the setting of Chapter 14 is a public worship service, not a private prayer closet.  Paul's primary goal is to edify the church officers.  He shows the necessity of understanding in verses 6 through 14.  He directs the officers to to come prepared in verse 26.  In verse 33, he reminds them that God is not the author of confusion.  Finally, he commands that all things be done decently and in order in verse 40.  God's word is not rightly divided when you pull one verse out of context to support your position.

Finally, Mr. McKissic states that our "prayers are often prayed with words understood, words not understood and even without words."  Romans 8:26 states "...but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."  The Bible clearly states that it is the Spirit who prays with groanings that cannot be uttered, not the believer.  In addition, I Corinthians 14:27 specifically indicates that an unknown tongue must be interpreted by another, which cannot be done alone in a prayer closet.

Mr. McKissic's lack of logical flow and sloppy hermeneutics do not encourage cohesiveness in the SBC, and his article continues to promote factions based on personal preference.  According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (from his volume on 2 Peter), true preaching is "preaching which is concerned to expound the Word of God and not merely to express the ideas of the preacher, preaching which is not merely topical and intended to suit the popular palate and condition prevailing at the moment."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Covenant and Biblical Theology

I found this short paper entitled 'Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology and Biblical Theology' written by Micah and Samuel Renihan very helpful as I continue to read through Greg Nichols' Covenant Theology:  A Reformed and Baptistic Perspective on God's Covenants.  Once I'm done with this book, I plan to move to Paschal Denault's The Distinctiveness of Baptistic Covenant Theology.  A second edition should be coming out soon, so I may wait for that.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Baptist Resources

The following links are the main Baptist resources that I use.  I know that there is an exhaustive list of on-line resources, but I'm only highlighting the ones that I find profitable since my time is limited.

Scripture memory: