Monday, December 31, 2007

This is, perhaps, one of the best New Year's Resolutions that I've heard (or seen!) yet. It's by Dan Wallace of DTS. I think he's right on. I love his heart revealed here...

So, this year, I’m making one new year’s resolution—viz., not to make any new year’s resolutions.

It’s not just that they don’t work; the focus is all wrong. Even if I had a 100% success rate in New Year’s resolutions, it would be all wrong because the goals would be short-sighted and the means would be self-glorifying. No more New Year’s resolutions for me. No, what I want is to know Christ, to love Christ, to obey Christ, to glorify Christ beyond what I had never dreamt of before.

But this is not my new year’s resolution that will fail in a couple of weeks, not to be reviewed or reflected on till next December 31; this is my weekly confession, even daily and hourly confession, that though constantly tainted with failure will nevertheless be the objective that does not go away, that does not wait for twelve months before I decide that it was just a pipedream, causing me to pick on something more ‘practical’ next year. No, this is what I want now, today, every day. And when I fail now, today, and every day, I will confess who I am and confess who Christ is, and he will pick me up and enable me to follow him again. And I will know that my new day’s, new hour’s, new week’s resolution is coming to fruition in my life if I have a genuine, growing love for fellow believers, an increasing concern for their greatest good, and a deeper sense that others are more important than I am. I’ve got a long, long way to go—but at least at the end of the tunnel is not a new and improved me, but Christ himself.
It's always good to remember these seventy resolutions that Jonathan Edwards penned a few centuries ago:

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if, I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.
This is the most complete official deliverance on the Reformed position with respect to the doctrine of Christ found in the Second Helvetic Confession prepared in 1566. Here it is in part:

Therefore the Son of God is co-equal and consubstantial with the Father, as touching His divinity; true God, and not by name only, or by adoption, or by special favour, but in substance and nature... We therefore do abhor the blasphemous doctrine of Arius, uttered against the Son of God... We also teach and believe that the eternal Son of the eternal God was made the Son of Man, of the seed of Abraham and David; not by means of any man, as Ebion affirmed, but that He was most purely conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary...

Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ had not a soul without sense or reason, as Apollinaris thought; nor flesh without a soul, as Eunomius did teach; but a soul with its reason, and flesh with its senses... We acknowledge, therefore, that there be in one and the same Jesus Christ our Lord two natures - the divine and the human nature; and we say that these two are so conjoined or united that they are not swallowed up, confounded, or mingled together, but rather united or joined together in one person (the properties of each nature being safe and remaining still), so that we do worship one Christ, one Lord, and not two...As therefore, we detest the heresy of Nestorius, which makes two Christs of one and dissolved the union of the person, so do we abominate the madness of Eutyches and of the Monothelites and Monophysites, who overthrow the propriety of the human nature.

Therefore we do not teach that the divine nature in Christ did suffer, or that Christ, according to His human nature, is yet in the world, and so in every place. For we do neither think nor teach that the body of Christ ceased to be a true body after His glorying, or that it was deified and so deified that it put off the properties, as touching body and soul, and became altogether a divine nature and began to be one substance alone; therefore we do not allow or receive the unwitty subleties, and the intricate, obscure, and inconsistent disputations of Schwenkfeldt, and such other vain janglers, about this matter; neither are we Schwenkfeldians" (quoted in Berkhof, The History of Christian Doctrines [1975], 116-17).

What do you think? Are you in agreement with this?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I just got home from the rehab center where I go and preach fairly regularly. Tonight my text was Hebrews 10:19-31 entitled "Come all the way to Christ." The text is so clear and straightforward it almost needs no sermon. This is one of those texts in the Bible that we should read regularly to test ourselves and make certain we are in the faith. For those who are pastors, this would be a good sermon text to preach at least once a year so your people are reminded of the horrors of apostasy.

Here is the text. Please read it with a reverence knowing that we are on holy ground:

Hebrews 10:19-31 19 Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.

26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.

28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
We love Christmas and we had a wonderful Christmas. Here is a review of our last few days.

Earlier in the month, we celebrated Hanukkah. I taught Elizabeth some of the traditional Jewish blessings (in Hebrew too! -- she's a natural!). We didn't open any presents though. At any rate, we had a good time.
Then a few weeks ago, we were in cold New York and here's a nice picture of me and Elizabeth, NOT in sunny and warm southern California, but in cold southeastern New York on a frigid morning outside the home where we were staying.
On Sunday evening, we had youth group and instead of playing games before our Bible study, we walked a few blocks to a nearby grocery store and sang some Christmas carols and handed out tracts and pamphlets to our church.
On Monday, Christmas Eve, Elizabeth and I went to the Whitney home for a Christmas eve party. Brent is the other associate pastor at Christ Community Church. He is the pastor of families and children. He is a great guy and we had a fun time at their place. We did the traditional bobbing for "doughnuts." I lost both my matches (one was against the other three seminarians and then the other match was against a guy in my youth group -- man, I gotta practice for next year).
Then on Monday night we had our Christmas Eve service at church. Here is a picture of me and Elizabeth to add to our memories from our first marriage as a married couple :=)
Praise God for His goodness to us. We are mindful that "today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Over the past few days I have been reminded of God’s goodness to me. This is such a simple concept yet with such profound innumerable implications. No doubt God has had his hand upon my wife and me as we have traveled cross country and been in cities which were unintentionally entered because of flight cancellations and reschedulings. I am delighted that I serve a God who has all things under control. I am overwhelmed that I can submit to a God who is ne’er surprised by any circumstance which takes me off guard. I am thankful to God who has given to me His Word.

I have been preparing for a sermon this upcoming Sunday from one of the most Christological passages in the Bible, Colossians 1:15-20. I have been overwhelmed by the supremacy of my Savior. I have been enthralled at the all sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for me. I have been ecstatic in yet another reminder of seeing my Savior face to face one day (soon, Lord willing!). I have been overjoyed by the sufficient and reconciliatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the preeminent God-Man for me. I am thankful that I have not been redeemed by some other fallible being. I am amazed that I have not been justified by the work of a created being. No! Rather, I have been redeemed, bought, owned, sealed, justified, blessed, adopted, declared righteous and made positionally holy by the finished work of the all-sufficient, wholly eternal and authoritative Head, Jesus Christ. This excites me.

Why would I want to acquiesce to some other savior? Why would I want to imitate another deity? Why would I want to rejoice in some other god? I would be damned if these were true.

But praise God I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, by Him who has reconciled all things to Himself, making peace through the blood of his cross (Col 1:14, 20).

My God is the King. Yes, that’s my God. My God is ne’er surprised. Yes, that’s my God. My God is wholly sufficient to save me from my sins. No other savior can claim this fact. But mine can. My God is in control. My God has chosen me to be His own treasured possession even before there was a spot of dust upon the young earth. Why? Because of anything good He found in me? God forbid. Rather, God chose me out of sheer grace.

And for this I am overjoyed by my God’s sufficiency and supremacy.

Your pastor and friend,

Geoffrey R. Kirkland

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mark 10:45 45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear.

Jesus was born to die.

Don’t think I’m trying to put a damper on your Christmas spirit. Far from it—for Jesus’ death, though devised and carried out by men with evil intentions, was in no sense a tragedy. In fact, it represents the greatest victory over evil anyone has ever accomplished" (John MacArthur).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Darrel Bock from Dallas Seminary has a good article in Christianity Today on When the Media Became a Nuisance: How to respond to the next blockbuster book/documentary/movie that questions traditional Christianity. I commend it for your reading. He makes some good notes and how we, as evangelicals, ought to respond to this fast-pace media presentation of quasi Christianity.

Here is a paragraph from his article:

We need to understand that public discussion of the Christian faith has changed—permanently. So the next time you hear an earth-shattering announcement about Jesus from the media, don't get angry. Rather, take three deep breaths, sit down with your Starbucks coffee, and watch how the announcement is treated on blogs and other media. Above all, prepare yourself for the opportunities it presents.

Jude 1:3-4 3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Read the article here. It's discouraging that over 100 Christian leaders, including Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, and Robert Schuller, have expressed delight in this invitation offered by the Muslims.

This is discouraging, yet not shocking, considering the state of evangelicalism today. Read the post here.

I want to protect you and rattle the snake when there are Christian leaders (well-known) who are saying that Christians and Muslims are on common ground. Please do not fall into this trap. May we be faithful to God's Word and exhort others to do likewise. Soli Deo Gloria.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My heart was challenged and convicted this morning as I read a portion from Hosea and I want to post it here for your encouragement as well.

Hosea 6:6 6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

We find that this is in the section of the book where Yahweh is declaring that Israel is that faithless wife who has gone to other lovers rather than being faithful to her husband (i.e. Yahweh). And in this sobering section, Yahweh declares this verse that is quoted in the NT (Matt 9:13; 12:7) and it serves as a fitting test for us today as well.

When you come to God, as the Israelites sure did in the 8th century BC, do you come to God bringing all of the sacrifices you can find? Do you come to all the church services that are available? Do you get up early and spend time in God’s Word and in fervent prayer and delightful meditation? Do you walk around the office with a Bible in hand so that others see that you are a Christian?


But let us never forget that “God delights in loyalty rather than mere sacrifice. If your church attendance is merely a box on the checklist; if your time early in the morning in God’s Word and fervent prayer and meditation is merely another box on the checklist; if your Bible in hand as you walk around the office is out of duty and out of the desire to be seen with a Bible all merely for the sake of “doing” these things – which are not bad in and of themselves (no, they are good things!) – then we miss the whole point. God is not pleased.

Let us be loyal to God. Let us pursue the knowledge of God rather than merely bringing the sacrifice and burnt offerings of God to the altar. Notice, however, that these sacrifices and burnt offerings were commanded by God to be brought. Yet, hear this crucial truth: obedience to God’s rules with a heart that is rebellious is worse than not bringing a sacrifice at all.

Notice one last point. When Yahweh says, “I delight in loyalty, it is the Hebrew word chesed which could be translated: “lasting loyalty,” “faithfulness,” (Holladay) or “covenant faithfulness.” When you come to God, do you come to Him with a lasting loyalty in heart and attitude? Do you come to him with a genuine heart expressing its love and passion for God in those sacrifices and burnt offerings?

Let us remember this Christmas season to draw near with our hearts right before God rather than a mere external act of religiosity. Soli Deo Gloria.

Your pastor and friend,

Geoffrey R. Kirkland

Monday, December 10, 2007

Rob Bell is pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and has now made TIME magazine headlines. He is, according to editor David Van Biema, the "Hipper-than-thou pastor." Bell has a few well-known works, Velvet Elvis and Sex God that find the sacred in the profane.

Van Biema noted this about Rob Bell:

At 28, he founded a megachurch that threw out the conventional sermon-and-worship service and instantly drew thousands of attendees.

Referring to the town of Grand Rapids:

The town is notoriously well churched, but Bell saw an untapped audience: some were his music fans, others Christians left cold by traditional services. "A hundred people a day were calling and saying, 'Dude! Give us the real thing.' I was like, If someone could speak to these people in their mother tongue, they'd be here in droves." Fifteen hundred people, alerted by word of mouth, came that first Sunday. Nine years later, Mars Hill tallies 11,000 weekly.

I am not sure what Bell refers to when he speaks of "the real thing" if that is excluding the preaching of the Word of God, which, of course, he is NOT doing. I am disturbed that this kind of publicity is going out to a guy who is trying with every fiber of his being to reach culture. I fear that he has left the authoritative expositional preaching of God's Word for a sheer monologue giving his thoughts, opinions and "cool comments" so people are met, satisfied and left "feeling better about themselves." This, however, is not what the Bible commands a preacher to be.
According to the Bible, we find a completely different potrait. The preacher must not be one who responds to "Dude, give us the real thing" (as if nonbelievers know what the true real thing is anyway), but rather:

1 Timothy 4:13 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.

May we as true and faithful expositor's of God's Word forget about being "cool" to the culture (which changes every day anyway) and be faithful to God's Word (which never changes). Soli Deo Gloria.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

We have looked at seven of the most serious assaults of the Roman Catholic Church on biblical Christianity. To review, here they are:

1. The Supremacy of God’s Words in the Bible

2. The Sufficiency of God’s Son

3. The Singularity of God’s Gospel

4. The Sovereign Grace of God

5. The Security of God’s Children

6. The Sanctity of God’s Church

7. The Severity of God’s Judgment

We have looked at each of these briefly giving the Catholic view and then the Scriptural rebuttal which, in every case, contradicts and trumps the RC doctrine. I am troubled when I read of a movement forming (which is actually one of many), Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) which is signed by leaders of both the RC church as well as the Evangelical church (signed in 1994, 1997, 2002 and most recently in 2005). ECT says:

We give thanks to God that in recent years many Evangelicals and Catholics, ourselves among them, have been able to express a common faith in Christ and so to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We confess together one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; we confess Jesus Christ the Incarnate Son of God; we affirm the binding authority of Holy Scripture, God’s inspired Word; and we acknowledge the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds as faithful witnesses to that Word.

The very last thing I can ever think to do would be to sign an agreement with another religion that anathematizes (i.e. damns as worthy of eternal hell) those who believe in justification by faith alone apart from human merit. The RC church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1459:

The sinner must "make satisfaction for" or "expiate" his sins. This satisfaction is also called "penance."

And again in paragraph 1477:

"In this way they attained their own salvation and cooperated in saving their brothers.”

I am troubled by this. If there is a Christian who says he can join hands in agreeing with the Catholics who deny the very fundamentals of true biblical Christianity, then have reason to approach these individuals, with love, and exhort them to stop treating the RC church as “brothers and sisters” but to start evangelizing them as lost sinners heading to hell who are in desperate need of a Savior.

In conclusion to this, what can we as bible-believing, blood bought, heaven-bound saved sinners do? Let me suggest three applications:

1) Expose the deeds of darkness by faithful expositional and biblical preaching (Eph 5:11)
2) Be on guard so as to not be carried away by every wind of teaching (2 Pet 3:16-18)
3) Pray and evangelize to your Roman Catholic friends with patience, love, gentleness and humility (1 Pet 3:15)

One final note, one of the best resources out there for Christians to learn about Catholicism is Mike Gendron’s website. He has an excellent page entitled, Hard questions to ask a good catholic. This is an invaluable resource!

Your pastor and friend,

Geoffrey R. Kirkland

Friday, December 7, 2007

I'll come back and comment regarding the conclusion of my Roman Catholic posts soon.

However, because I'm so busy and have not the time to blog at length, here are some excellent blogs that I've found and I commend them for your reading:

Mike Patton has a great post here on "An encouragement for Christians to question their faith." It's a good read. I may not agree end on end with everything he says and concludes, but his point is well taken.

Dave Trepanier has an extraordinary post on Song of Solomon here. When have you ever heard a sermon out of this marvelous book. And no, it is not allegorical for Christ and the Church. It is simply revealing God's view of love and marriage and the sanctity of sex, love and marriage. He comments on this text. Now, preacher (in all seriousness, now), how would you preach on this:

Song of Solomon 8:8-10 8 "We have a little sister, And she has no breasts; What shall we do for our sister On the day when she is spoken for? 9 "If she is a wall, We will build on her a battlement of silver; But if she is a door, We will barricade her with planks of cedar." 10 "I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; Then I became in his eyes as one who finds peace.

Mark Dever gives not the five points of Calvinism but the five points of criticism. A great read and very insightful stuff. Man how our churches would be radically different if these five points were practiced.

That's all for now... enjoy the reading!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

We have seen already the first four attacks of the Roman Catholic (RC) church on the orthodox doctrines as found in Scripture. Here are all seven of the attacks:

1. The Supremacy of God’s Words in the Bible
2. The Sufficiency of God’s Son
3. The Singularity of God’s Gospel
4. The Sovereign Grace of God
5. The Security of God’s Children
6. The Sanctity of God’s Church
7. The Severity of God’s Judgment

We will look at the next three attacks in brief.

Fifth, the Roman Catholic church is attacking the security of God’s children. This is not only a clear assault on the clarity of Scripture’s teaching on the believer’s security, but it also incorporates the doctrine of soteriology. By this I simply mean that when the RC church says that your salvation is not absolutely secure, that means that you, therefore, have some part to play in keeping yourself saved. With that in mind, on the contrary, consider:

Jude 1:24-25 24 Now to Him [Jesus Christ] who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

From this verse it seems as though Jesus Christ is the one who secures our salvation and keeps us safe. The RC church says that no one is ever absolutely and eternally saved from sin. That is what purgatory is for. When you commit a mortal sin, then you, essentially, lose your salvation until you do enough penance, confession and good works to merit yourself back. This is unfortunate, discouraging and anti-biblical.

Finally regarding this issue of the believer’s security, one more strong support will suffice:

Romans 8:35-39 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, "For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sixth, the Roman Catholic church is attacking the sanctity of God’s Church. The fact that the RC church claims to be just as authoritative as the Word of God in written form (i.e. the Bible). That the RC church says that both what the Pope says and also what he claims are infallible is another faith. It’s another religion. It’s a false religion. The Pope is not the head of the church. Peter is not the head of the church. Mary is certainly not the head of the church (cf. Luke 1:47).

Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. Period. He shares His Headship with no one – certainly not the Pope.

Ephesians 1:22-23 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.

Colossians 1:18 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.

Colossians 1:24 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.

May we all recognize that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ (that is, those who are truly regenerate and have come to Christ as Lord and Savior by grace through faith and have turned from sin and submitted their lives to Christ) will obey and submit to Jesus Christ as the sole Head of the Church.

Furthermore, the church is holy. It is consecrated. It is set apart. Let us never forget Nadab and Abihu (cf. Lev 10) who came to offer a sacrifice before the Lord with strange fire. They came into God’s holy and awesome presence in an unsatisfactory way and God struck them and dealt with them severely. Oh how I can envision God’s judgment coming on the false church of Jesus Christ (cf. Gal 1:8-9).

Seventh, the Roman Catholic church is attacking the severity of God’s judgment. The sheer fact that Roman Catholicism teaches that a person can go to so-called “purgatory” (which really doesn’t even exist) to atone for sins is a blatant broadside upon the clear judgment of God.

Hear these severe verses of the wrath of God:

Psalm 5:5-6 5 The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. 6 You destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.

Revelation 20:10 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Revelation 14:9-10 "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

The RC church attacks the severe judgment of God upon all those who reject Him. We know from the Sermon on the Mount that many will think they are believers to awake after death and bitterly find out that they will be cast into eternal hell:

Matthew 7:13-14 3 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it…. Matthew 7:22-23 22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'
To be continued tomorrow…

Monday, December 3, 2007

We have made mention of seven crucial biblical truths that are under attack by the Roman Catholic (RC) church:

1. The Supremacy of God’s Words in the Bible
2. The Sufficiency of God’s Son
3. The Singularity of God’s Gospel
4. The Sovereign Grace of God
5. The Security of God’s Children
6. The Sanctity of God’s Church
7. The Severity of God’s Judgment

We previously have touched upon how the RC church is attacking the supremacy of God’s Word as well as the sufficiency of God’s Son as the efficacious and sufficient sacrifice for sins. But today, I want to look at the next few:

Third, The Roman Catholic Church is attacking the singularity of God’s gospel. Here’s what I mean. To say that believing in Jesus Christ alone or, to use more biblical phraseology, that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but through [Him]” is not enough is to attack the singularity of the biblical gospel. The RC church adds to God’s “gospel” indulgences to remit punishment for sin. This, however, is completely absent from the Bible. Moreover, the Bible is absolutely clear that there are no “indulgences” that can remit punishment for sin. That’s what eternal hell is for, and still, even that, can never fully satisfy the penalty and payment for sin. Listen to these texts:

Psalm 49:7-8 7 No man can by any means redeem his brother, Or give to God a ransom for him-- 8 For the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying forever--

Hebrews 9:22 22 And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

So here, the only way to atone for sin is through the shedding of blood. It is another essential crux of the RC church to say that the Pope is the “head of the church.” Well, Scripture clearly says otherwise and, sorry to say, the pope is not infallible, inerrant or inspired by God when he speaks. Listen to God’s Words:

Colossians 1:18-20 18 He [Jesus] is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Ephesians 1:22-23 2 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.

So it is not the Pope here who is the head over all things given to the church, but rather it is Jesus Christ, the God-Man.

Fourth, the Roman Catholic church is attacking the sovereign grace of God. This is one of the clearest truths in all the Scripture and the RC church eliminates all of the glories of God’s grace from the inspired Word of God. The RC church says that God’s grace is insufficient to atone for all of our sins. To say it differently, God is impotent or incapable of forgiving us all of our sins at the moment of conversion. That is, to be brash, why they must go to confession and confess their sins before a (human and infallible!) priest, why they must do good works to merit their own salvation and why they must go to purgatory to purify sins after death before entering heaven. Scripture is convincingly true that there is no purgatory (it’s either eternal heaven or eternal hell), and there is no need to go to confession and confess sins before a human priest.

1 John 1:7 7 but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Luke 23:39-43 39 And one of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 "And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." 42 And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" 43 And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

May it be known that the RC church is attacking the sovereign grace of God in salvation which offers regenerate people forgiveness of sins in total. There is no sacrifice left to be accomplished. There is no need for another sacrifice. If there were, then the sacrifice of Christ on the cross would have been insufficient and, hence, we would be still dead in our sins and without hope (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-22).

It is my prayer that we understand these RC doctrines that are so false and so antithetical to the Scriptures and, with love and gentleness, confront these dear people with the truth so as to rescue them from the damning trap of Satan’s gospel wrapped in Christian garb which only leads to eternal hell.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I noted yesterday that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is attacking seven crucial doctrines found in the Bible.

The Roman Catholic Church is attacking:1. The Supremacy of God’s Words in the Bible2. The Sufficiency of God’s Son3. The Singularity of God’s Gospel4. The Sovereign Grace of God5. The Security of God’s Children6. The Sanctity of God’s Church7. The Severity of God’s Judgment

I want to address the first two today and hopefully, bit by bit, equip you and encourage you to reach out with love, compassion, humility and an open Bible to your Catholic friends.

First, The Roman Catholic Church is attacking the Supremacy of God’s Word as revealed in the Bible.

This matter of attacking the Word of God is no foreigner to today’s contemporary evangelicalism and all the fads and new church movements that have risen and fallen as of late. Yet, every attack on the Word of God has failed and failed miserably. Is it no wonder that the Word of God has been attacked for thousands of years and yet it still stands true. It still stands the same. It doesn’t need to adapt to culture or any other contemporary mindset? Let us recall the words of Isaiah:

Isaiah 40:8 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.

So, to the matter at hand, the RCC is attacking the supremacy of God’s Word as revealed in the Bible because, fundamentally, the RCC states that the Word of God is not the sole authority as having come from God (this is excluding general revelation, that God reveals Himself in and through creation and nature, that we would adhere to). The RCC has three supreme authorities. Yes they claim the Bible is one of them. The second is the Pope and whatever the Pope says. The third infallible authority is church tradition, that is, what has been passed down through the ages. Yet, the Word of God declares repeatedly:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Matthew 4:4 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"

1 Thessalonians 2:13 13 And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

Acts 17:11 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.

I give all those Scriptures to show from Scripture that Scripture alone is sufficient for life and godliness (notice the deliberate exclusion of the Pope, apostolic succession, church tradition). Be aware that the RCC church denies (and “anathematizes”) anyone who denies papal authority or church tradition as inspired! We must respond to this with:

Galatians 1:8-9 8 But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.

Well, that took longer than expected, let me give a clear, crisp and concise answer to the second major attack of RCC on Biblical Christianity:

Second, The Roman Catholic Church is attacking the Sufficiency of God’s Son. Wow, we could spend days and weeks and months proving biblically that Jesus Christ alone (notice, again, the deliberate exclusion of Mary, the pope, tradition, priests, indulgences, confession, rosary, etc) saves a person from hell. Permit me to give a few clear Scriptures:

Acts 4:12 12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."

John 14:6 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

Acts 16:31 31 And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household."

Romans 10:9-11 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; 10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."

Let it be known that when the RCC says that in order to be saved you must believe in Jesus PLUS anything else, that is clear-cut heresy. The disturbing reality of the RCC church is that it is so-called “Christianity” when, in reality, when you peel back the layers of tradition, popery, Mariolatry and other “olatries” you find a slide leading millions (and billions!) of souls to hell while thinking all the time that they are genuine “Christians.” Christian, be prepared. Trust in the supremacy of God’s Word and the sufficiency of God’s Son.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Peril of the Roman Catholic Church

This week in chapel at seminary I have been exposed to and learned about the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and the doctrine that it teaches. I have been burdened and disheartened and discouraged by the false and deceiving doctrine that is being taught in this religion. The sad part is, this RCC is indoctrinating millions and millions of people with false truth so that they think they’ll go to heaven when in reality they will wake up in hell (no purgatory).

So, permit me for the next few posts to get some of this stuff mingling in my brain out. I’d like to give seven RCC attacks on what the Bible teaches. And this will, then, reveal to us that Roman Catholicism is, indeed, false religious system in the dress of “Christianity.” Unfortunately, millions and billions of souls have no idea that they are deceived. Here are the attacks:

The Roman Catholic Church is attacking:

1. The Supremacy of God’s Words in the Bible
2. The Sufficiency of God’s Son
3. The Singularity of God’s Gospel
4. The Sovereign Grace of God
5. The Security of God’s Children
6. The Sanctity of God’s Church
7. The Severity of God’s Judgment

It is my hope that over the next few posts that I can elaborate more not only on the RCC doctrines and beliefs (and heretical teachings) on these issues, but also offer a biblical and sound rebuttal to equip you to evangelize with love and patience your Roman Catholic friends.

Hebrews 10:10-14 10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I need to say thank you to Colin Adams at Unashamed Workman who linked this magnificent quote from Spurgeon:

“Today there is not very much gospel about; the church has given it up; a great many preachers preach everything but living truth. This is sad; but it is a strong reason why you and I should teach more gospel than ever. I have often thought to myself - other men teach Socialism, deliver lectures, or collect a band of fiddlers, that they may gather a congregation; but I will preach the gospel. I will preach more gospel than ever if I can; I will stick more to the cardinal point.

The other brethren can attend to the odds and ends, but I will keep to Christ crucified. To the men of vast ability, who are looking to the events of the day, I would say, ‘Allow one poor fool to keep to preaching the gospel.’ Beloved teachers, be fools for Christ, and keep to the gospel. Don’t be afraid: it has life in it, and it will grow: only you bring it out, and let it grow.”
(Charles Spurgeon, quoted in Ryken and Wilson, Preach the Word, p205)

Great post here by my good buddy on church discipline in light of the meaning of 1 John 1:8-10. This is definately worth the read!
The Identification of a Man of God

I just want to bring one verse to our attention as we consider what it is that identifies a true man of God as revealed in God’s Word. God’s Word is absolutely clear and lucid. It is not ambiguous or unclear. Perhaps we have one of the clearest examples of this here in 1 Timothy chapter six.

Paul writes: 1 Timothy 6:11 11 But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

The first identification of the man of God is that he will pursue after the things of God. He flees from the things such as the love of money and the constant desire to get rich (vv 6-10). But what are these things that the man of God pursues after? Let it be known that this is a present imperative giving the idea that this is to be the constant pursuit.

  1. Righteousness – This is the same root word that we find in the NT for that great and theologically pregnant concept of justification. We are to pursue perfect righteousness (that is, forensically speaking, the righteousness that we have through faith in Christ which is imputed to us through Jesus’ death thus counting us righteous before Almighty God). Though the word for “righteousness” most often in Paul’s writings has the idea of righteousness in relation to salvation, here it most probably has the idea of moral and purity righteousness. We are to pursue that perfection which is clearly exemplified in the person of Christ and how He lived life on this earth thus reflecting the character of God.
  2. Godliness – The term here is used for reverence, respect, godliness or piety. Every place this term is used in the NT it always refers to piety towards God in a holy life. The Christian is to be pursuing hard after that Christlike character so as to be more conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 12:1-2).
  3. Faith – If the man of God is already a Christian then why is he to pursue faith? Have you ever wondered this? The man of God is to persistently and passionately pursue faith because it is through faith that one is saved. Not just in a forensic sense, but also faith in a trusting sense. The same word for faith and trust can be pistis in the NT. We are to pursue the constant faith trusting in Christ looking forward to that city which has foundations, whose builder and architect is God, as did Abraham (Heb 11:10). Let us be constantly pursuing that trust knowing that God is perfectly good in all his doings. As we can say with the psalmist, Psalm 119:68 Thou art good and doest good; Teach me Thy statutes.
  4. Love – The man of God is also to pursue love. Love is actively pursuing the welfare and benefit of others. This is the love that Jesus exemplified on the cross at Calvary for sinners. This is the love that Jesus demonstrated as he girded himself with a towel and washed the dirty feet of the disciples (including Judas who would betray him in a matter of hours). This is the love that Jesus demonstrated faithfully and graciously on behalf of sinners who deserve nothing but his wrath.
  5. Perseverance – The man of God is also identified by pursing perseverance. This is the kind of perseverance which is contained in what is known as the five points of Calvinism. The fifth point is the perseverance (or sometimes also termed as the preservation of the saints) of the saints. This means that the true believer in Jesus Christ will persevere to the end. He will continue to walk in Christ on earth. There will be hard times. Yes. There will be trials. Yes. There will be doubts and discouragements and detours at times. Yes. But the true man of God is identified by his perseverance and his pursuit of perseverance in the things of God.
  6. Gentleness – The final mark identifying a man of God is his gentleness. It is interesting that Paul puts this last on his list. Not because it is least important. But oftentimes Paul may emphasize a point or word by putting it at the end of the sentence. The man of God is known by pursuing gentleness. He is to be constantly pursuing gentleness. This is not in junction with what we find in our culture today. In fact, if I were to walk on a Friday night down in Los Angeles and ask people if a man ought to be gentle I can only imagine the kinds of responses I would receive (probably not gentle ones!). The man of God is to be pursuing gentleness for this is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).

The man of God is identified by these different marks. May we be the kind of man of God as laid forth by the Apostle Paul here in this one verse in 1 Timothy 6. Soli Deo Gloria.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Call me crazy but recently I have found joy in reading commentaries for pleasure. Crazy huh. But it's true. I love just picking up a commentary and reading it. So, this afternoon in my free time before youth group to relax, I picked up MacArthur's commentary on 2 Corinthians. What a marvelous quote here for you to chew on from as he deals with chapter 12:1-4:

"The true measure of a man of God does not lie in his claims of visions and experiences with God, or the force of his personality, the size of his ministry, his educational degrees, or any other human criteria. A true man of God is marked by h ow much he has suffered in the way against the kingdom of darkness, how concerned he is for people, how humble he is, and how accurately he handles the supernatural revelation found in God's Word (2 Tim 2:15). Like Paul, such men patiently endure the suffering and humiliation of this life, knowing that such "momentary, light affliction is producing... an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison" (2 Cor 4:17).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I am preaching tomorrow morning on Ephesians 2:1-10. I don’t think I have ever prepared a sermon before where I have had as much joy and excitement as I have experienced with this one. The text in Ephesians two is so rich, so abundant, so filled with jewels, pearls, diamonds and riches that I am bursting inside reading to let loose tomorrow morning. BEWARE!

The thrust of my sermon is this: We are so absolutely incapable of saving ourselves without the complete intervention of God in his mercy and grace bringing salvation to us which must result in a life lived in good works to the praise and glory of God.

The passage in Jeremiah is coming to light when he just couldn’t keep the Lord’s message in himself. He had to get it out:

Jeremiah 20:9 Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.

To God be the glory for this rich passage in His Word. My outline is as follows:

1. We are dead in sin (1-3)
2. We are helpless apart from God’s intervention (4-6)
3. We are made to demonstrate God’s glory (7)
4. We are saved by grace through faith (8-9)
5. We are saved resulting in a life of good works (10)

Pray for the Spirit to move in the morning as the gospel is presented!

Friday, November 23, 2007

A good quote summarizing the book of Hebrews:

"Believers in Jesus Christ, as God's perfect sacrifice for sin, have the perfect
High-Priest through whose ministry everything is new and better than under the
covenant of law" (see MacArthur Study Bible, p.1895).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Did you know? That in many places around the world there are three main religions. No one is excluded. You are either Muslim, Jewish or Christian. I know there are exceptions to this (such as India), but I'm generalizing to make a point. When I was studying in Israel for those two semesters one of the realities that I had to come to grips with is that, to the Israeli mind, Catholics are Christians. When I would talk to someone about Jesus being the Messiah, they would immediately follow that up with talk about Mary, relics, the saints, confessions, etc. I remember thinking to myself, "Why do these people think that we are all one religion?" Or put in another way, "Why do they clump us all together?"

Well, again, top news on is Warren Jeffs, the "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS. You can read the disturbing article here about him being sentenced to five years to life in prison. Why? Because he was accused (and found guilty) of using his religious influence over his followers to coerce a 14-year-old girl into marriage to her 19-year-old cousin.

My point in this post?

If I were a Jew living in Israel and had three people groups in my mind (Jew, Christian, and Muslim) I can honestly say that I would not want to be a Christian either -- if what I see on CNN or the News about "so-called" Christianity is what it's all about.

It is a shame that Christianity all over the world is so Godless and dishonoring to the Lord. It's a shame that the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestantism are all gelled together as if we are one big happy family agreeing on everything. To this, I am shamed.

I am very discouraged about the state of "Christianity" in today's culture. For the rest of this post, I am indebted to a college friend of mine, David Gundersen, who noted on his blog last week similar thoughts from his heart:

Referring to his semester he notes some obscurities:

I won’t mention them all, but at least one is the piercing and above-average sense of frustration (euphemism) I feel with more than a few insipid characteristics of the conservative evangelical community. This has almost eaten me alive at some points this semester and has spun me in a variety of directions especially as I think about our future. Often my thoughts have reflected the heart of the arrogant, hypocritical, stone-throwing critic, but I’m holding out hope that the Lord will use the conviction that’s weighing heavy on my heart to stir up the pure passion of the righteous, zealous, Spirit-filled prophet. It wouldn’t be right or safe to say much more at this point. I think I could articulate my thoughts with clarity, but the grace, gentleness, and balance might be a bit elusive. So I need to wait. Suffice it to say that the conviction currently being assembled in my heart will probably end up serving as the foundation for upcoming life decisions that may be different than what I previously expected. Or maybe the same decisions saturated with different values. Either way, the Spirit is painting a clear picture in my mind of the person I don’t want to be. I think I will be thankful for this once the paint dries, and hopefully even before then.

May we step up and be different than the world. May we be true representatives of authentic, biblical Christianity so that people know that these other cults are false and leading to hell and that the truth revealed in the Scriptures are the only way to heaven.
If this is what the world sees as "Christianity," then no wonder the secular world wants nothing to do with what we are offering them. If what they see is the "church" falling into these sex scandals - and the leaders, at that - repeatedly, we are no different than the world. Why then would they want to deny self, take up cross daily and follow Jesus? Why would they want to live life differently and give up drinking and smoking and sexual pleasures when the "church" lives just the same lifestyle as they do (from their perspective).

This is the frontline news on my AOL newsbar. The headline reads: "Sex scandal rocks famed Megachurch!"

It reads:

The 80-year-old leader of a suburban Atlanta megachurch is at the center of a sex scandal of biblical dimensions: He slept with his brother's wife and fathered a child by her.Members of Archbishop Earl Paulk's family stood at the pulpit of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church a few Sundays ago and revealed the secret exposed by a recent court-ordered paternity test.

Not only is that bad, but it continues noting:

In truth, this is not the first — or even the second — sex scandal to engulf Paulk and the independent, charismatic church. But this time, he could be in trouble with the law for lying under oath about the affair.

So we have here a method of evangelism by the archbishop here:

The archbishop, his brother and the church are being sued by former church employee Mona Brewer, who says Earl Paulk manipulated her into an affair from 1989 to 2003 by telling her it was her only path to salvation.

Wow. Sick. Disgusted. Heinous. Yes, and it continues...

"It was a necessary evil to bring us back to a God-consciousness," said the younger Paulk, explaining that the church had become too personality-driven and prone to pastor worship.The flashy megachurch began in 1960 with just a few dozen members in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta. Now, it is in the suburbs on a 100-acre expanse, a collection of buildings surrounding a neo-Gothic cathedral.For years the church was at the forefront of many social movements — admitting black members in the 1960s, ordaining women and opening its doors to gays.

So not only is the leadership falling into sex scandals, repeatedly, but they are ordaining women and welcoming gays into their church body. The leadership was convinced that the church members were falling into "pastor worship" and so it is a good thing that this happened to sober them up a bit.

How sad is this. Here are some applications for us:

1) Pray for and protect your leaders. They need your prayer!
2) A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough -- guard yourself from giving into the first (and seemingly littlest) temptation! For after the first, the rest of the decisions down this long and spiral road are easier and easier.
3) Recognize that we as pastors and leaders and teachers of God's holy word will be judged more severely (James 3:1).
4) Flee from sexual immorality (2 Tim 2:22).

Monday, November 19, 2007

I heard this song this morning at The Master's College Chapel and was taken away in worship to the very throneroom of heaven by these lyrics. I encourage you to watch the video of Hillsong leading others in worship with this song. As you do, follow along in the lyrics here below:

Lord of Lords by Hillsong

Beholding your beauty is all I long for
To worship You Jesus with my soul's desire
For this very heart you've shaped for your pleasure
The purpose to lift your name high

Hear and surrender in pure adoration
I enter your courts with an offering of praise
I am Your servant come to bring you glory
As is fit for the work of your hands

Now unto the lamb who sits on the throne
Be glory and honor and praise
All of creation resounds with the song
Worship and praise him the Lord of Lords

Verse 2:
The spirit now living and dwelling within me
Keep my eyes fixed ever upon Jesus' face
Let not the things of this world ever sway me
I'll run 'till I finish the race

Chorus 2:
Singing unto the lamb who sits on the throne
Be glory and honor and praise
All of creation resounds with the song
Worship and praise the Lord
Now unto the lamb who sits on the throne
Be glory and honor and praise
All of eternity echoes the song
Worship and praise him the Lord of Lords

Holy Lord You are Holy
Jesus Christ is the Lord
Chorus 3:
Now unto the lamb who sits on the throne
Be glory and honor and praise
Call all the saints to join in the song
Worship and praise him the Lord of Lords

Lord of Lords
Lord of Lords
Lord of Lords

Revelation 5:8 - 14
8 And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
10 "And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."
11 And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,
12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."
13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever."
14 And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped.
To God be the Glory!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tonight for our game time at youth group we are playing:

1. Everybody’s “IT” – It is the same as regular “tag,” except now everyone is “it.” So, when a person is tagged, he has to sit down and the last person who is “IT” wins! Should get them sweaty and tired after the first few minutes.

2. “Knots” – This is a the game where they all make a small circle to begin and put their hands in the middle. They have to grab on to another person’s hand (not their own) and the point of the game is to un-tangle so they can form a large circle. Yes, it can always be done without giving up.

3. “Line Soccer” – I will count off two teams and have them line up parallel to each other in our gym. Then I will number them off on each team. Then I will place a ball (or two, or three, whatever I decide) in the middle and call out a number. The person who has that number is to go to the middle and play one on one soccer against the other person and try to score in extra large goals. Meanwhile, the rest of the team who wasn’t called is playing goalie trying to keep the balls from going by.

Ah, the joys of being a youth pastor! :=)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Justification - "An instantaneous legal act of God in whcih he 1) thinks of our sin as forgiven and Christ's righteousnes as belonging to us, and 2) declares us to be righteous in his sight" (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 723).

Here is the link to Piper's great sermon at Evangelical Theological Society yesterday.
Today has just been one of those days when you think back on it and wish it could be that way every day.

This morning I woke up (late) and had a wonderful time in the Word. I found a verse and meditated on it as if I had never seen it before.

Psalm 119:130 130 The unfolding of Thy words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.

I love this verse. When I read it, I smiled and prayed through it and thought to myself, "This would be a wonderful verse to characterize what I see my ministry as." It is true that the unfolding (Lit in the Hebrew it is "the opening") of God's Words gives light. How true is that? Why do we miss this basic principle so often? Let us simply open the gates so that the truths of God's Word would come forth. That is my job to the youth. That is my desire. That is how I will receive light and how I can lead others whom I am teaching to receive light. The unfolding of God's Laws, it's that simple. I spent much time meditating on that verse this morning.

Then I took my wife to work (which is always sad). But then, I went to College of the Canyons ("COC") and met a good buddy of mine there and we played frisbee for about a good hour. Man, I am super out of shape. I was running around that football field trying to catch frisbees that he was throwing while gasping for air! Not really. But it is our custom to meet at COC (his name is "Geoffrey" too, oddly enough, though with the British pronunciation) to play frisbee on the football field. It was absolutely perfect weather today. It was in the 70's, blue crisp skies, gentle breeze. It was simply wonderful.

Then on our way out, we realized they were giving away FREE flu shots in the parking lot of COC. Now, when I see "FREE" in L.A., I hop all over it. So, Geoffrey and I both received flu shots, though he was very scared of the needle! Haha.

After receiving our safety and promised vaccinations that guarantee us to not get the flu this winter season (let's hope!), Geoffrey and I went to Jamba Juice (if you don't know what this is, well, it's only the best fruit smoothie place in the world!). At any rate, we got some smoothies and sat outside and talked and laughed and had a good time of brotherly fellowship.

Now, after you play an intense game of frisbee and get a flu shot, two men cannot simply make it on a "fruit smoothie." My wife, yes. Geoffrey and I, no. So, we went from Jamba Juice to Z-Pizza where we got some pizza and soda (Now we're talking!!) and had more wonderful laughs and talks.

And it's still only 1:00pm. See, now you know why I entitled the blog, "A good day." All glory to God!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Yes, Newsweek has an article entitled: "So Long, Gideons." The subtitle is: "The one thing travelers could reliably count on in their hotel rooms: a Bible in the bedside table. But like many traditions, this one may be dying.."

In the rooms of Manhattan's trendy Soho Grand Hotel guests can enjoy an
eclectic selection of underground music, iPod docking stations, flat-screen TVs
and even the living company of a complimentary goldfish. But, alas, the word of
God is nowhere to be found. Unlike traditional hotels, the 10-year-old boutique
has never put Bibles in its guest rooms, because "society evolves," says hotel
spokeswoman Lori DeBlois. Providing Bibles would mean the hotel "would have to
take care of every guest's belief."

Unfortunately, it is no surprise. Even more distressing is not the realization that they want to preserve space in the drawers by the hotel beds. No. They want to replace the Bible with other items. The article continues...

Edgier chains like the W provide "intimacy kits" with condoms in the minibar,
while New York's Mercer Hotel supplies a free condom in each bathroom. Neither
has Bibles. Since its recent renovation, the Sofitel L.A. offers a tantalizing
lovers' dice game: roll one die for the action to be performed (for example,
"kiss," "lick") and the other for the associated body part. The hotel's "mile
high" kit, sold in the revamped gift shop, includes a condom, a mini vibrator, a
feather tickler and lubricant. The new Indigo hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz., a
"branded boutique" launched by InterContinental, also has no Bibles, but it does
offer a "One Night Stand" package for guests seeking VIP treatment at local
nightclubs and late checkout for the hazy morning after.

The reason for hotels' shift in focus? Leisure travel is up, business travel
is down, and younger generations are entering the hotel market. Leisure now
leads business by more than 10 percent in U.S. hotel stays, according to travel
research firm D. K. Shifflet & Associates. With the lead in technology,
design and nightlife, the boutique market is where Generations X, Y and young
baby boomers want to be, says CEO Doug Shifflet. And with the boutique sector
booming (boutique hotel rooms have grown by 23 percent since 2001, compared to
only 7 percent for standard rooms), more traditional chains, which once catered
to business clientele, are now desperate to emulate.

Sofitel's brand, for example, is taking "a new direction," says Daniel
Entenberg, the "romance concierge" at the chain's flagship Los Angeles location.
He was brought in two years ago in an effort to reposition the entire company's
image. The chain once had Bibles in all guest rooms, but the corporate office in
Dallas recently removed them due to guest inquiries about why other religious
texts weren't available.

2 Timothy 3:1-4 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;

Read the full article here at Newsweek. And you can read Mohler's comments on his blog here.
Mark Dever, one of my great pastoral models, has a great article in the Baptist Press on being too relevant in our churches today. Here's a clip of the article:

"I would like to suggest that the most fundamental problem in the church is not that we are not relevant enough in relation to the world, but that the church is not distinct enough from the world. Our churches must reflect the character of God,"

And more...

"Instead of being directed by [visible] success, we should be directed by faithfulness. We should say, 'If the Lord doesn't like our product, we will change the product.' We shouldn't take the idea that if we don't have X number of conversions in our church, then we must be doing something wrong. I am glad Jeremiah didn't think that. And I am glad that Jesus Christ didn't think that. Let us remember that we are following the One who was crucified as a revolutionary."

I exhort you to read it and be challenged to stick to the Word as we do church ministry to the glory of God.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Proverbs 18:22 22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the LORD.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I gotta tell you, it’s not too often that I quote introductions from books. I am the kind of guy who likes to get right to the meat of the steak, or better yet, right to the heart of the issue. But I can’t pass up this introduction by Phil Ryken, Senior Minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church (that is, the old church where Jim Boice used to preach). At any rate, here is what he writes in the introduction of his massive Exodus commentary:

There are times when I am preaching that I have especially sensed the pleasure of God. I usually become aware of it through the unnatural silence. The ever-present coughing ceases, and the pews stop creaking, bringing an almost physical quiet to the sanctuary – through which my words sail like arrows. I experience a heightened eloquence, so that the cadence and volume of my voice intensify the truth I am preaching.
There is nothing quite like it – the Holy Spirit filling one’s sails, the sense of his pleasure, and the awareness that something is happening among one’s hearers. This experience is, of course, not unique, for thousands of preachers have similar experiences, even greater ones.
What has happened when this takes place? How do we account for this sense of the smile? The answer for me has come from the ancient rhetorical categories of logos, ethos, and pathos.
The first reaction for his smile is the
logos – in terms of preaching, God’s Word. This means that as we stand before God’s people to proclaim his Word, we have done our homework. We have exegeted the passage, mined the significance of its words in their context, and applied sound hermeneutical principles in interpreting the text so that we understand what its words meant to its hearers. And it means that we have labored long until we can express in a sentence what the theme of the text is – so that our outline springs from the text. Then our preparation will be such that as we preach, we will not be preaching our own thoughts about God’s Word, but God’s actual Word, his logos. This is fundamental to pleasing him in preaching.
The second element in knowing God’s smile in preaching is
ethos – what you are as a person. There is a danger endemic to preaching, which is having your hands and heart cauterized by holy things. Phillips Brooks illustrated it by the analogy of a train conductor who comes to believe that he has been to the places he announces because of his long and loud heralding of them. And that is why Brooks insisted that preaching must be “the bringing of truth through personality.” Though we can never perfectly embody the truth we preach, we must be subject to it, long for it, and make it as much a part of our ethos as possible. As Puritan William Ames said, “Next to the Scriptures, nothing makes a sermon more to pierce, than when it comes out of the inward affection of the heart without any affection.” When a preacher’s ethos backs up his logos, there will be the pleasure of God.
Last, there is
pathos – personal passion and conviction. David Hume, the Scottish philosopher and skeptic, was once challenged as he was seen going to hear George Whitefield preach: “I thought you do not believe in the gospel.” Hume replied, “I don’t, but he does.” Just so! When a preacher believes what he preaches, there will be passion. And this belief and requisite passion will know the smile of God.
The pleasure of God is a matter of
logos (the Word), ethos (what you are), and pathos (your passion). As you preach the Word may you experience his smile – the Holy Spirit in your sails (Philip Graham Ryken, Exodus. Preaching the Word, ed. R. Kent Hughes [2005], 13-14)!
Do we love our flocks like this?

I learned something new yesterday. I was listening to a sermon in my preaching class on 1 Thessalonians 2. He was referring to verse 6 which says:

1 Thessalonians 2:7 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.

Now Paul, in context, is reminding the Thessalonian believers as to how he ministered with and served alongside of them for a number of months and how they know what kind of fond affection Paul has for them (here in v.7 as well as a father to his children in v.11).

At any rate, there is just one word that I want to emphasize and, Lord willing, shed some light upon it. At the end of verse 7, Paul says that he was gentle among the believers there in Thessalonika as a “nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.” What is interesting if you look closely at your English version is that the word “mother” is in italics, signifying its absence from the original Greek text. Knowing this, then, it could be read more literally, “as a nurse tenderly cares for her own children.” But then what exactly does this mean?

Well, I did some research and found out that the Greek word trophos was a word used abundantly in ancient Greek literature, from Homer, to the LXX, Philo, to Josephus, to the Church Fathers. So, here is what I found.

According to BDAG, it seems that the most common meaning of trophos was a “nurse.” Now, in the ancient Roman world, when a mother who had children was sick, pregnant or disabled for some reason and inhibited from taking care of her own children for a time, she would get a “nurse” (or trophos) to look over her children in her absence. It was imperative for the mother to get a dependable, respectable woman who was well-known to the family and with the children. This trophos would, in essence, treat the children as if they were her very own children. So here is my correlation.

I wonder if Paul doesn’t have this idea in mind as he writes to the believers in Thessalonika. He’s not saying that he acted as a tender, loving, selfless mother to the church. I think what he is saying is that he has been entrusted with the church by the real ultimate authority (i.e. “God”). Hence what he is saying is that he proved to be gentle among them as a “nurse would tenderly care for her own children. Remember, the nurse would care for the children as if they were her own.

So, men, pastors, elders, overseers, saints, are we loving the people of God with this kind of affection as being entrusted with this wonderful and awesome responsibility of taking care of the children of God?
Your pastor and friend,
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
November 9, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

As I've been reading lately studying for an exam I'll be taking in a few weeks, I have come to appreciate, yet again, the profundity of the Old Testament. Longman and Dillard has an Introduction to the Old Testament with this as the last phrase of his introductory statement for Leviticus:

The book of Leviticus is often seen by the church as irrelevant to the
present day. In those few cases where it is considered significant, an
allegorical interpretation is used to "bridge the gap" between the time of the
OT and today. A close study of its contents, however, will reveal its rich
contribution to our understanding of God and the history of redemption without
recourse to allegory

I appreciate this statement so much. As I was remembering the book of Leviticus, this book helped me remember some of the key theological truths revealed in this masterful work:

1) The Holiness of God.

Leviticus 11:45 45 'For I am the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, to be your God; thus you shall be holy for I am holy.'" It seems as though this is a resounding chorus throughout the entirety of the book.

2) The Sacrificial system. The emphasis on sacrifice is not at all surprising since it is the most important activity of formal worship during the OT period (Longman and Dillard, 85).

3) The Priesthood. First of all, the teaching on priesthood in the book of Leviticus accentuates the overall theme of God's holiness. After all, the priests spend much of their time in the presence of the Holy One. Thus, as Longman and Dillard conclude: "Thus we may briefly summarize the main function of the priesthood according to the book of Leviticus: they were to protect the holiness of God in the camp" (p.89).

Let us bear in mind that the New Testament book of Hebrews reveals that Jesus Christ is the perfect high priest who offers himself as the perfect sacrifice:

Hebrews 9:26 - 28 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Praise God that Jesus is the ultimate High Priest. Praise God that He has given a mediator, an intercessor, a priest to intercede between us and God, and, by the perfect sacrifice of himself, has procured salvation eternally for all those who would believe upon Him.

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