It is better to go bruised to heaven than sound to hell. —Richard Sibbes
The Daily Discovery (March 11, 2015)
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
9 Marks of an Unhealthy Church – “Thanks to Mark Dever, many of us have become well acquainted with the 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. While these were never meant to be the last word on everything a church should be or do, the nine marks have been helpful in reminding Christians (and pastors especially) of the necessary substance we often forget in an age fixated on style.”
Discipling Guys: 20 Years of Reflections – “The idea of pouring into younger disciples was engrained in me from the very beginning of my Christian life. But in the last two decades, I have seen more specifically the need to focus on training men. Every follower of Christ, should be taught to obey everything Christ has commanded. Yet God places a special burden of leadership on men, and there is no better way for men to be prepared to shoulder that burden than in the context of a committed mentoring relationship with a godly man in a local church.”
Summary of the Inerrancy Summit and the 2015 Shepherd’s Conference – “Hard to believe that the Shepherd’s Conference started with less than 20 people. This year there were approximately 4500 in attendance. There are so many reasons to attend the Shepherd’s Conference, but this year’s focus on Inerrancy was the singular reason. This conference was nothing short of amazing. Not just the fact that some of the church’s most well known and respected pastors, scholars and theologians were present but because of what they presented. Powerful preaching, strong exhortations, biblical sagacity and gracious unity. We need conferences like this. The hour is late, the times are dark and the church is splintered in a thousand directions. For those reasons I am incredibly grateful to Shep-Con.”
The Trinity – “Using this illustration from nature, St. Patrick was able to help some of the pagan Celtics to accept the doctrine of the Trinity. I think an even better illustration of the Trinity is the universe itself (though no illustration is perfect).2 Isn’t it interesting that the entirephysical universe (uni = one) consists of three and only three aspects—space, time, and matter? If you were to take away any of these three, you would no longer have a universe.”
Youngest Gay Kiss On US TV – “The ABC Family show The Fosters has reportedly made TV history with the youngest same-sex kiss on the US screen. Two male characters, who portray 13-year-old seventh graders in the show, apparently kissed one another on a recent episode of the show, which also features a lesbian couple raising five biological, adopted, and foster kids. The media is praising the gay kiss as ‘setting a fantastic standard’ and as a ‘more accurate representation of LGBTQ youth in entertainment.’”
Church of Tares: Purpose Driven, Seeker Sensitive (Must-See Documentary)
The Cross (Sermon Jam)
Heaven Is For Real
“If you alter or obscure the Biblical portrait of God in order to attract converts, you don’t get converts to God, you get converts to an illusion. This is not evangelism but deception.” – John Piper
God’s Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation
Now whatever shortcomings they may have had, the Puritans certainly sought to ground their faith and practice in the Bible. We may disagree about the extent to which they accomplished that aim, or about whether that was even a good aim in the first place. But they left plenty of clear instruction with regard to the practice of meditation.
Is the God of the Old Testament a Moral Monster?
When God brings judgment on people such as Pharaoh or the Canaanites is He being malicious, or does He have some other purpose in view? In most of these situations, God’s first response is not judgment. Even in a case like Sodom and Gomorrah, God comes first to Abraham to reveal His plans to him. Abraham pleads with God, and God is willing to save the cities if there are 10 righteous people in them. So we see that God’s first response is not one of judgment. Usually God’s judgment comes after an extended period where people refuse to change, and evil reaches epidemic proportions.
Passionately Pleading with God is a Good Thing!
As Christians, we should not shrink from pleading in prayer to God. Rather, let it occupy a routine place in our prayer lives. In all humility, let us fervently make our case before the great God of the Heavens and the Earth, while resting and content in His sovereignty.
4 Ways Inerrantists Undermine The Bible
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones believed that the most important battle in his day was not over the inerrancy of Scripture but over the authority of Scripture. I believe both were and are equally important issues. What’s the point in fighting to the death for the inerrancy of Scripture if we undermine it by rejecting its authority in our lives, especially in our ethics? We end up with a perfect book that has no impact on our lives.
Keep Up the Good Work!
Happy Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month! Thank you for serving God and loving Jesus every day. You are valuable in His sight, and He loves you. We appreciate that you are willing to make sacrifices for others. Your job can be thankless, but God knows and will reward those who seek Him. Please don’t grow weary of doing good. We think of and pray for you. Below you will find a virtual appreciation swag bag, just for you.
Here’s How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel
Popular liberal evangelical writers and preachers tell young evangelicals that if they accept abortion and same-sex marriage, then the media, academia and Hollywood will finally accept Christians. Out of fear of being falsely dubbed “intolerant” or “uncompassionate,” many young Christians are buying into theological falsehoods. Instead of standing up as a voice for the innocent unborn or marriage as God intended, millennials are forgoing the authority of Scripture and embracing a couch potato, cafeteria-style Christianity all in the name of tolerance.
It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way
I understand my dissatisfied evangelical friends. For my money it is Geneva, Heidelberg, or Edinburgh you want. Before you make your trip to Rome, Constantinople, or Pusey House give us a visit first. Please do not assume that you already know the Reformed faith, that you’ve already “been there, done that.” You probably haven’t.
God Doesn’t Want Matt Chandler to Be Your Pastor
Your pastor knows you (at least he should). He knows about your struggles with worry. He knows about your eating disorder. He knows about your battle with greed. He knows about your ongoing chronic illness. Both God and your pastor are shaping the sermon with you, as well as other members of the church, in mind. For your encouragement. For your conviction. For your refreshment. And God intends to use your pastor’s sermon to help sustain your faith.
The Gospel According to Pinterest
My salvation does not rest on whether I feed my family a gluten-free, paleo, vegan, organic diet. My salvation is not found in making my own laundry and dishwasher detergent. My salvation is not earned by decking the halls of my home for every season. Pinterest has given me some wonderful recipes and household tips that have blessed my family. Yet I must remember that my salvation is in Christ, and in Him alone.
The unique significance of corporate worship
by Scott Aniol
As I have explained many times before, Christian worship should be defined in terms of the believer’s relationship to God through Christ, and thus worship understood this way applies to the entirety of a Christian’s life. This may give the impression, however, that there is nothing distinct or sacred about corporate worship. Indeed, this is exactly what many evangelicals today appear to believe. They emphasize all of life as worship, but for them the Sunday morning gathering of the church is in essence no different from what goes on the other six days of the week.
What you’re for and against?
I’m “For” It. by Pastor Chris I hear people say, from time to time, that those who take the narrow view of sticking to God’s Word and who reject the modern church culture are “against” everything and not “for” anything. So, as a public service to those critics, allow me to look at a passage […]
Living Well in a Digital World
The world has changed, hasn’t it? The world we live in today is not the world as it was a few years ago. In just the past few decades we have entered into a digital world, and you and I are the ones who are learning how to live in it, and how to live in it with virtue. We are the trailblazers here, learning how to use these incredible, world-changing technologies to carry out the commission God has given us. These new technologies can be used to do so much good, but they can also be used to do such evil.
When the Bible tells us how to live as Christians, it so often tells us that we need to put on and put off. It tells us that there are habits, patterns, and behaviors we need to stop, and new habits, patterns, and behaviors we need to begin. Today I want to look at 3 things we need to put off and put on as individuals, and tomorrow I will look at 3 things that we need to put off and put on as families.
Q & A WITH DR. CRAIG: WHAT TO DO NOW THAT I’M CONVINCED?
Question: I am a physician (pulmonology) and, until recently, a lifelong atheist, although one who saw great non-religious value in Judeo-Christian culture and civilization. I became increasingly convinced by the moral arguments that atheism could not lead to a society with moral values and thus by the moral arguments for God. Your site, and debates and your Reasonable Faith book, along with CS Lewis and other reading, now have me convinced in at least the likelihood of Christianity.
My question is what are the next best steps for someone who has taken this rarer intellectual path towards Christianity? As someone who never attended Church, who has no preferred denomination or family tradition, it is a bit hard to know where to begin. Any advice would be welcomed. Thank you very much for your incredibly useful site and work and the clarity of thinking behind it.
Dr. Craig’s Answer: Such an encouragement to receive your letter, Mark! I’m so glad that you thought through the implications of the human predicament and the moral argument for the existence of God.
So let’s assume that Christianity is likely to be true. What should you do next? Several things come to mind:
1. First and foremost, make a personal commitment to trust Christ as your Savior and Lord. It’s one thing—a vital part of being a Christian—to give intellectual assent to the truth claims or doctrines of Christianity, but it’s not the whole thing. Intellectual assent now needs to be followed up by trust. Trusting Christ as Savior means trusting God to forgive your sins solely on the basis of Christ’s sacrificial death. It means that we are not trusting in any way in our good works to save us or make us acceptable to God. Salvation is by grace alone. There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s pardon; we can only humbly and gratefully receive it. Trusting Christ as Lord means that you are giving your whole life to Christ to follow and obey him. Trusting in Christ is not just some sort of fire insurance. It is a commitment of all that you are and have to him. This is no more than his due, for he is God incarnate, and God alone is worthy of worship…
Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts
By Justin P. McBrayer
George Washington, depicted here taking the oath of office in 1789, was the first president of the United States. Fact, opinion or both?
What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true that it’s wrong to kill people for fun or cheat on tests? Would you be surprised?
I was. As a philosopher, I already knew that many college-aged students don’t believe in moral facts. While there are no national surveys quantifying this phenomenon, philosophy professors with whom I have spoken suggest that the overwhelming majority of college freshmen in their classrooms view moral claims as mere opinions that are not true or are true only relative to a culture.
What I didn’t know was where this attitude came from. Given the presence of moral relativism in some academic circles, some people might naturally assume that philosophers themselves are to blame. But they aren’t. There are historical examples of philosophers who endorse a kind of moral relativism, dating back at least to Protagoras who declared that “man is the measure of all things,” and several who deny that there are any moral facts whatsoever. But such creatures are rare. Besides, if students are already showing up to college with this view of morality, it’s very unlikely that it’s the result of what professional philosophers are teaching. So where is the view coming from?
A few weeks ago, I learned that students are exposed to this sort of thinking well before crossing the threshold of higher education. When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board. They read:
Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.
Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.
Hoping that this set of definitions was a one-off mistake, I went home and Googled “fact vs. opinion.” The definitions I found online were substantially the same as the one in my son’s classroom. As it turns out, the Common Core standards used by a majority of K-12 programs in the country require that students be able to “distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.” And the Common Core institute provides a helpful page full of links to definitions, lesson plans and quizzes to ensure that students can tell the difference between facts and opinions.
So what’s wrong with this distinction and how does it undermine the view that there are objective moral facts?
First, the definition of a fact waffles between truth and proof — two obviously different features. Things can be true even if no one can prove them. For example, it could be true that there is life elsewhere in the universe even though no one can prove it. Conversely, many of the things we once “proved” turned out to be false. For example, many people once thought that the earth was flat. It’s a mistake to confuse truth (a feature of the world) with proof (a feature of our mental lives). Furthermore, if proof is required for facts, then facts become person-relative. Something might be a fact for me if I can prove it but not a fact for you if you can’t. In that case, E=MC2 is a fact for a physicist but not for me.
But second, and worse, students are taught that claims are either facts or opinions…
9 points: It takes Great blind faith to be an atheist
by James Bishop
1) What is faith? Atheists certainly have it.
According to many atheists faith is something to mean belief without evidence, or where there is no evidence – in other words faith is always blind, and irrational. However, this is not the way a Christian views faith, or how the Biblical record defines it, rather they view it as evidence based, therefore, rational. In fact, both the Christian and the atheist have faith in unprovable things. For example, atheists have to have faith that reason and evidence are reliable ways to get at truth, that we can trust our senses, that the universe is rationally intelligible. Atheists, like all humans, try to make sense of their existence, and the universe in which they live. This inevitably results in beliefs regarding morality, of the purpose of life, of what happens when we die and so on – all of this constitutes a worldview. More often than not this worldview is called naturalism, which is the view that nature is all there is, and that no supernatural reality exists.
Now, atheism is not a religion but it entails a set of beliefs that come with it, yet to refer to it as a religion is fallacious. The way I see it and what this article will best attempt to illustrate is that the worldview of atheism requires faith in the sense of blind-belief, the very thing they accuse God believers of.
2) From Evolution:
Atheists have to hold dogmatically that evolution presupposes their naturalism. Not only would this be unprovable but it can’t be used to dismiss God’s activity in the world, for God could have guided, overseen or initiated the process. An atheist like Dawkins claims that Darwin has made God unnecessary in biology, but that would be the case only if theists believed in a god-of-the-gaps. By no means do Christian theists believe in such a god, rather we believe in a God who oversees the entire process, hence cannot be explained away by scientific discovery. Dawkins’ statement is not scientific, but philosophical, hence why Albert Einstein once mused that: “The man of science is a poor philosopher.”
Yet on top of this the atheist has to hold to a mindboggling and incomprehensible improbability that the human genome evolved in the way they believe it did. In a book called the ‘Anthropic Cosmological Principle’ two prominent scientists Barrow and Tippler lay out ten steps that human evolution would need to have gone through in order to bring about modern man as we know him. But here is the central issue for atheistic evolution – each of these steps are so improbable that even before it could ever possibly occur our sun would have burnt out and ceased to exist, and in the process it would obliterate our planet Earth. In fact, the number that Barrow and Tippler calculate the chance of atheistic, unguided evolution of ever occurring in the human genome to be somewhere between the values of:
4^-180^110 000 and 4^-380^110 000.
Consider the fact that the number of electron particles in the known universe is estimated to be 10^87 – even such an incomprehensible number (10^87) such as that shrivels in comparison to the calculated number above. Now, if we were to be rational we would never even consider the chance of something occurring with such an enormous improbability. Yet, the atheist has to as he has no other option…
Always being prepared to…what?
One of the key passages that comes up when talking about apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15-16. Every apologist out there cites it at some point, and everyone has a pretty similar take on it (seeing that many use the text to justify their very existence). It’s apparently a divine command for every Christian to be continuously ready to let rip when someone challenges some aspect of Christian belief. Seeing that most Christians aren’t prepared to defend the Christian faith against the wide variety of attacks that come against it, the apologists are the big guns that are necessary to help defend the faith (and train others to do so).
Now I don’t doubt or question the value of apologists, but rather I do question the generally accepted interpretation of 1 Peter 3:15-16. Most apologists are decent enough theologians, but almost none of them are properly trained biblical exegetes. In other words, I can only think of a handful who know their biblical languages and have seminary training that’s relevant to exegesis. That’s not to condemn them but rather to recognize that there is an area of apologetic thinking that I can help with. I’m not a trained philosopher, historian or theologian (well, that last one is partially untrue) but I am a trained exegete and I’d like to walk through 1 Peter 2:13-3:16 an offer a little exegetical insight into a commonly cited text.
Our Time is Short
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