Daily Archives: August 17, 2013

You Can’t Know God’s Will: Decision Making and God’s Will – Learning the distinction between God’s will of decree and precept.

God’s decretive will takes in absolutely everything, even sin. It is worked out in the big and little things of God’s providential dealings with us. But it is unknowable to us except in retrospect. You know it only after it happens. Knowledge of God’s will in this sense cannot guide us through life just because it is inaccessible to us. 

During my years as a campus minister two seminars I gave always drew large attendances at statewide conferences. They were on the interrelated topics of finding God’s will and choosing a marriage partner.

Read More Here: http://theaquilareport.com/you-cant-know-gods-will-decision-making-and-gods-will/

Heart Corruptions…I am utterly ashamed that I am what I am in myself.

A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

O God, may Thy Spirit speak in me that I may speak to thee. I have no merit, let the merit of Jesus stand for me. I am undeserving, but I look to Thy tender mercy. I am full of infirmities, wants, sin; Thou art full of grace.

I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my wilful sin; all my powers of body and soul are defiled: a fountain of pollution is deep within my nature. There are chambers of foul images within my being; I have gone from one odious room to another, walked in a no-man’s-land of dangerous imaginations, pried into the secrets of my fallen nature.

I am utterly ashamed that I am what I am in myself; I have no green shoot in me nor fruit, but thorns and thistles; I am a fading leaf that the wind drives away; I live bare and barren as…

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Eight Confessions of Church Spies

Have you ever thought that a guest at your church might, in fact,  be a spy? My church consulting company uses church “spies” to help us evaluate  how churches respond to guests. Our spies are “good” spies, though, since their  goal is to help a church face reality and move toward health.

Numerous spies have written us reports for more than a decade. Below are some  of the most common findings they have sent us.

To be fair, the churches that invite us to work with them know they need  help; so, these findings should not be entirely surprising. What concerns me is  the number of churches who have not yet recognized that these findings  characterize them, too.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/eight-confessions-of-church-spies-102487/

A.W Tozer on a new and popular form of Christianity…

A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

tozer-1956“But if I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity. The old cross slew men, the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.” ~A.W Tozer

 

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The Charismatic Movement, A Potemkin Village: S. Lewis Johnson in 2 Peter

Scripture Thoughts

I’m currently going through S. Lewis Johnson’s series in 2 Peter, an evening class (ten sessions) he taught in early 1976, with emphasis on the false teachings of the 1st century as well as modern errors.  Studying the Bible, so many ideas and problems really are timeless, just as true now as nearly 40 years ago: as for instance, Dr. Johnson’s comments regarding the charismatic movement.

The first lecture tells about the “Potemkin Village” expression (something I was unfamiliar with, either never learned or had forgotten) and its background in Catherine the Great’s Russia: the story that the great Russian man Potemkin had exaggerated his accomplishments, then the Queen decided to visit the city he had supposedly built; so Potemkin hurriedly went to the site and built up a scene of impressive buildings rather like a Hollywood movie set..

Upon later reflection I recalled the 1970s movie “Capricorn…

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Violence out of control in Egypt. Over 700 dead. Upwards of 40 churches burned.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

(Schroon Lake, New York) — More than 700 people have been killed this week in violence on the streets of Egypt as Muslim Brotherhood forces battle with the Egyptian military for control. At the same time, the Brotherhood has unleashed attacks on Egyptian Christians. Some reports say at least 25 churches have been torched, while at least one report puts the number at more than 40 churches.

Forgive me for not being more prompt on reporting on this. I’ve been on vacation this week in the Adirondack Mountains with my family, teaching at the Word of Life Inn & Family Camp.

Here is a summary of the latest developments. I’ll report more when I get back to Washington tomorrow. I also hope to do a podcast on the situation in Egypt very soon. In the meantime, please be praying for peace and stability, and pray for courage and boldness for…

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Two new podcasts available on the Iran threat & the Mideast peace process

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

podcastWe’ve posted two new podcasts this week:

* Podcast #2: The rise of Hassan Rouhani as President of Iran & the growing prospect of war between Israel and Iran

* Podcast #3: Inside the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — five critical questions that need to be asked

You can listen to them by going to my web site, www.joelrosenberg.comand clicking on “Podcast,” or you can click here to be directed right to my podcast page.

You can also find the podcast on iTunes and download it to your phone. Just search for “Joel C. Rosenberg Podcast” and look for the photo/logo that you see here to the left.

Please subscribe today and you’ll be instantly notified when the next episode is available.

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The Intolerance of the “Tolerance” Crowd

The Domain for Truth

contradiction

Over the years I have noted in the blog of the incredible intolerance coming from the Tolerance crowd: From last year’s frightening Hatred of Pro-Homosexual advocates against Chick Fil A to last month’s Christian preachers being attacked by hate mongers during PrideFest 2013: there are more and more examples of this on the news with each passing day.  If one doubt that Secular Humanism is a religion, look at the Left’s Political Correctness becoming the new blasphemy codes.

Two news story stood out this week:

(1) Gospel singer and Ex-Gay Donnie McClurkin have been axed out from MLK memorial concert by the Mayor of Washington D.C. after pressure from Gay Rights Activist.  Or should we say political correctness “Hack-Away”-ist.

(2) Then there’s the story of Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk Punished for Objecting to Gay Marriage.  My, how the situation has changed in our military:  At one time being openly homosexuality was forbidden then…

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Rebellion! Americans demand Obamacare spending halt

Stopping Obamacare has been a topic of conversation since Democrats, without a single Republican vote, rammed the legislation through Congress during a lame duck session under the orchestration of President Obama.

Read More Here: http://www.wnd.com/2013/08/rebellion-americans-demand-obamacare-spending-halt/

Russell Moore: From Moral Majority to ‘Prophetic Minority’

The new leader of the Southern Baptist political arm says Christians have lost the culture and need to act accordingly.

‘The Bible Belt is collapsing,” says Russell Moore. Oddly, the incoming president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission doesn’t seem upset. In a recent visit to The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Moore explains that he thinks the Bible Belt’s decline may be “bad for America, but it’s good for the church.”

Why? Because “we are no longer the moral majority. We are a prophetic minority.”

Read More Here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324769704579010743654111328.html?mod=hp_opinion

Our Faith Comes Before Our Good Works

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

8 Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον· 9 οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται. 10 αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NA28)

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not of yourselves, it is God’s gift;  9 not by works lest any should boast. 10 For we are his masterpiece having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God previously prepared that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:8-10 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

We spend a great deal of time here at Possessing the Treasure examining what makes up “Christian Authenticity.” The genuine Christian is a new creation. He or she will not be the same after regeneration as they were before. Before regeneration they were…

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Government agency censors ad ‘scornful’ of Islam

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Government agency censors ad ‘scornful’ of Islam

A Detroit-area transportation authority is refusing to run an ad that offers people who want to leave Islam a way out, claiming it is “scornful” of the religion.

Read More Here: http://www.wnd.com/2013/08/u-s-agency-censors-ad-scornful-of-islam/

Three Ingredients for an Evangelistic Church Culture

I’m convinced it’s better for your church to have an evangelistic culture than just a series of evangelistic programs.

In a church with a program-driven approach to evangelism, sharing the gospel can become something mostly for certain people at certain times, like when the evangelism team goes out visiting.

But in a church with an evangelistic culture, each member is encouraged to play a role within the larger church’s effort to reach the people around them with the message of salvation in Jesus. It becomes a part of every believer’s life.

THREE INGREDIENTS OF AN EVANGELISTIC CULTURE

If you are looking to create an evangelistic culture in your local church, here are three ingredients that may help.

Read More Here: http://www.9marks.org/blog/three-ingredients-evangelistic-church-culture

Do Not Be Surprised… This ‘n’ That 16 August 2013

  • In Illinois, a teen can get an abortion without parental consent. But a tan? Well, now that should just be illegal!
  • You can’t blame a zoo for trying.
  • Do you think Alistair Begg is annoyed with some contemporary “worship” music?
  • Got GMail? Hope you enjoy sharing your messages.
  • I’m not in seminary (obviously), but as a Bible student, I appreciated some of these thoughts.
  • Ladies, make sure you bring your ID if you’re going to buy nail polish remover at CVS.
  • That’s it. I guess you just have to be involved in one of the kookiest forms of “Christianity” to get a reality show. Talk about “spirit of python.”
  • Um, I think this guy forgot to mention that the Holy Spirit points to Christ.
  • The ELCA has elected its first female presiding bishop.
  • I’d never heard of the Andy Griffith movie, “Angel in My Pocket” till I read this review. Sounds simple and safe. I think I’ll put it on my (extremely short) list of movies to watch.
  • Have an old (or new) Bible you’d like to get rebound? Here’s a review by Bible Design Blog’s Mark Bertrand of his newly-rebound Cambridge Clarion (hardbound leather is an interesting choice, but it sure did turn out beautiful!)
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • I don’t normally link to Ed Stetzer, but he’s right on this one. While he calls the third picture in his post the worst church sign of the year, I think it could quite possibly be the worst church sign ever.
  • Ten distinguishing marks of John Calvin’s preaching.
  • This episode of Worldview Weekend will only be available for another week or so. Don’t miss Brannon Howse’s interview with Dr. Daniel Wong of The Master’s College. Dr. Wong shares about what it was like to grow up amid the persecution of Communist China.
  • John MacArthur explains what it means to do greater works than Jesus.
  • Um, can I get an LOL?
  • You have to see it to believe it.
  • If you like rain (or at least the sound of it).
  • Hm. I wonder what these numbers would look like if Piper’s now-former church were to run this survey again? (And is anyone else disturbed by the fact that it ever was conducted at all?)
  • Teaching from Titus 1:10–14, Pastor Don Green of Truth Community Fellowship explains how a church should deal with a wolf in its midst. Feel free to pass this along to the fellas of the Elephant Room. Maybe they could learn a thing or two.

 

Source: http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2013/08/this-n-that_16.html

10 Distinguishing Marks of John Calvin’s Preaching

Steven Lawson contributed a chapter in John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology on John Calvin “The Preacher of God’s Word.” Here is a summary of that chapter, outlining what Steven Lawson suggests are the ten distinguishing marks of Calvin’s preaching.

Read More Here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/10-distinguishing-marks-john-calvins-preaching/

The Greatest Story Ever Told

God’s goal in all of His creative and redemptive work is to bring glory to Himself (Isa 43:7; cf. Eph 1:6, 12, 14).

This is expressed in His creation mandate to Adam and Eve, in which He commissions man, as those uniquely made in His image, to rule over the earth in righteousness (Gen 1:28). Man is to bring glory to God by their manifesting His presence as His vice-regent throughout all creation.

But immediately Adam and Eve fail in their commission. The serpent deceives Eve, Adam eats of the forbidden tree, and in that moment the human race is catapulted into spiritual death and damnation (Gen 3:1–7).

 

The Seed of the Woman

And just as immediately, God graciously promises that He will send the seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent and undo the damage of man’s curse into sin (Gen 3:15). And the story of Genesis, and really the story of the Old Testament, becomes the story of answering the question: “Who is this seed by which man will be redeemed and restored to God?”

  • Eve thought it might have been Abel as one for whom the Lord had regard (Gen 4:4), but Cain killed him right away (Gen 4:8).
  • Eve then bore Seth, and believed that he might be the seed. At his birth, Eve said, “God has appointed me another offspring [i.e., “seed”] in place of Abel, for Cain killed him” (Gen 4:25). But Seth wasn’t the promised seed.
  • Noah’s father, Lamech, thought that Noah might be the seed, saying, “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed” (Gen 5:29; cf. 3:17). But, of course, saving the world was the one thing that Noah could not do, because every intent of the thought of man’s heart was only evil continually (Gen 6:5). Far from saving the world, Noah saw God destroy the world by means of the flood (Gen 6:17). Aside from this, even after the flood, and after God established His covenant with Noah, Noah becomes drunk and has that shameful scene with his sons (Gen 9:20–29). Noah will not be the seed.
  • The next scene is the Tower of Babel, where mankind is pictured as rebelling against the divine commission to fill the earth (cf. Gen 9:1) and pridefully seeking to make a name for himself (Gen 11:4). This is not the way man as God’s vice-regent is to conduct himself. As a result, God confuses their languages and makes it virtually impossible to recognize the seed even when he does come. God sets the stage for the need of His own grace.

The Seed of Abraham

Immediately after the Tower of Babel, God chooses Abraham out of all the nations. He enters into covenant with him and promises to make a great nation of his descendants [i.e., of his seed] (Gen 12:2), to give them a land (Gen 12:7), and to bless the entire world by means of that seed (Gen 12:3). The seed of the woman is narrowed down now to the seed of Abraham. The seed will come from this particular nation.

The Abrahamic Covenant is ratified with Isaac and Jacob as the book of Genesis unfolds, and that section of Scripture chronicles the making of that great nation of Israel. Finally, through the story of Joseph, the nation finds themselves in slavery in Egypt, and the Lord raises up Moses to mediate God’s redemption of Israel from slavery.

The Faithful Israelite

God takes His people, whom He’s already joined to Himself in covenant with Abraham, and enters into covenant with them as a nation at Sinai. The Sinaitic (or Mosaic) Covenant, then, is not merely a list of commandments by which one becomes the people of God. Rather, it is a covenant that graciously reveals how those who are already God’s people are to properly relate to Him.

Golden CalfAnd though Israel is quick to affirm their intended obedience (Exod 24:3), Moses could barely return from the mountain before they had fallen into idolatry (Gen 32:1–6). This incident with the golden calf sets the stage for the showcasing of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God’s covenant throughout the rest of the Old Testament.

As soon as they enter the land of Canaan, they fail to fully drive out the pagans there. Rather than maintaining the pure worship of Yahweh, they fall to the syncretism and idolatry of the nations (Judges 1).

The Righteous Deliverer

The repeating story of the book of Judges is of Israel’s falling into sin, their experiencing the oppression of the nations as a result, their crying out to Yahweh for deliverance, and His provision of a deliverer who would give them rest from their enemies. But this happens over and over again. And the people begin to wonder: “When will Yahweh send a judge who will finally deliver us from our enemies?” That’s why a refrain in the book of Judges is: “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Jdg 17:16; 19:1; 21:25). When would a righteous king come and establish moral purity among the nation?

At the time of Samuel, the last judge, the people rise up, announce they no longer want Samuel to lead them, and demand a king to ruler over them like all the nations (1 Sam 8:5). God interprets this as Israel rejecting God Himself as their king (1 Sam 8:7; cf. 10:19). He nevertheless raises Saul up as king. Would he be the righteous king and the strong deliverer Israel hoped for?

No. Saul was a Benjamite (1 Sam 9:1), and the promised king of Israel would come from the line of Judah (Gen 49:10). He also usurps the authority of the priests in offering unlawful sacrifices to Yahweh (1 Sam 13:8–14) and fails to fully destroy the Amalekites (1 Sam 15:9, 17–33).

The Son of David

God then raises up David and enters into covenant with him, promising that one of his descendants (i.e., his seed) will reign on the throne of Israel forever and establish an everlasting kingdom (2 Sam 7; 1 Chr 17). Now, we learn that the promised seed will be (a) the seed of the woman, (b) the seed of Abraham, (c) of the nation of Israel, and (d) the Son of David.

  • One might have supposed that David was that righteous king, but he was a man of bloodshed (2 Sam 16:7–8) and a murderer and an adulterer (2 Sam 11).
  • One also might have supposed that Solomon, the man of peace, would have been that king. But Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and Deuteronomy 17:17 says that Israel’s king must not “multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away.” This is precisely what happened. Solomon was not the promised king.
  • Then, Israel may have looked to Rehoboam. But at this point the monarchy is divided into the ten northern tribes of Israel and the two southern tribes of Judah. The unity of Israel is wounded.

And that brings us to the books of the Kings, where we learn of the history of the wicked kings of Israel and Judah. While there were a smattering of righteous kings in Judah’s history, the constant refrain is that the son of a righteous king would do what is evil in the sight of the Lord.

The Mediator of a New Covenant

The cycle of wickedness continues until the people stand upon the precipice of the Babylonian exile. Israel has already fallen to Assyria in 721, and in the late 600s BC Judah will be taken captive by Babylon. During this time, the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesy of a coming New Covenant.

A Better CovenantGod will restore Israel to their land (Ezek 36:24, 28), and will put His law in the hearts of His people (Jer 31:33) so that they will walk in His ways (Ezek 36:27). At that time, the law would become power from within rather than pressure from without. He will forgive their sin (Jer 31:34; Ezek 36:25) and cause His Spirit to permanently indwell them and ensure their obedience (Ezek 36:27). He will bring salvation to them through the New Covenant.

But even after Israel returns from exile, they experience no such restoration. Zerubbabel’s temple is nothing like the glory of Solomon’s temple (Ezra 3:12; Hag 2:3). The people intermarry with the nations (Ezra 9) and the priests treat the temple sacrifices of Yahweh with disdain (Mal 1:6–14). But God continues to promise that the Messenger of the Covenant will come (Mal 3:1), that the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings (Mal 4:2).

And for 400 years, that was God’s final word.

Good News of Great Joy

But after those 400 years of silence, both the forerunner and the Messiah Himself are miraculously born. John’s father, Zacharias exults in the dawning of that promised Sun of Righteousness:

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on ‘before the LORD to prepare His ways’; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, ‘to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,’ to guide our feet into the way of peace. – Luke 1:76–79

Annunciation

Both Zacharias and Mary declare that God is now fulfilling the promises of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants in the person of Jesus of Nazareth:

He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever. – Luke 1:54–55

[He] has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant– as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—[…] to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father… – Luke 1:69–73

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. – Luke 1:32–33

This Jesus is the Seed of the woman, a human being (Matt 1:17; Lk 1:35; 3:38). He is the Seed of Abraham (Gal 3:16). He is of the nation of Israel, the perfect embodiment of what an Israelite was to be (Isa 49:3), fulfilling the law perfectly (Gal 4:4–5). He is the Son of David (Matt 1:1), the promised King (Lk 1:32–33; 23:3). And by His death and resurrection, by the sacrifice of Himself, He is the Mediator of the New Covenant blessings of forgiveness of sins and the permanent presence of the Holy Spirit (Luke 22:20; Heb 9:15).

And of course, the story doesn’t end there. Jesus is returning soon to set up His kingdom on the earth, to rule on the throne of David in righteousness, to restore His people Israel to their land and to fulfill God’s promises to the nation, and eventually to banish all evil from the earth—to utterly destroy the works of the devil, just as God has promised.

Source: http://thecripplegate.com/the-greatest-story-ever-told/