Thursday, June 30, 2011

Some bold -- but true -- words from Mr. Spurgeon:

"If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord's will, but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumptions, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Augustine wrote:

"We believe, we maintain, we faithfully preach, that the Father begat the Word, that is, Wisdom, by which all things were made, the only-begotten Son, one as the Father is one, eternal as the Father is eternal, and, equally with the Father, supremely good; and tha the Holy Spirit is the Spirit alike of Father and of Son, and is Himself consubstantial and co-eternal with both; and that this whole is a Trinity by reason of the individuality of the persons, and one God by reason of the indivisible divine substance, as also one Almighty by reason of the indivisible omnipotence; yet so that, when we inquire regarding each singly, it is said that each is God and Almighty; an, when we speak of all together, it is said that there are not three Gods, nor three Almighties, but one God Almighty; so great is the indivislbe unity of these Three, which requires that it be so stated" (from the City of God, 11.24).
I had a handful of good and hard conversations this weekend at RESOLVED on complaining and the seriousness of it.

Paul writes in Philippians 2:14 "Do everything without complaining or grumbling" (Philippians 2:14 Πάντα ποιεῖτε χωρὶς γογγυσμῶν καὶ διαλογισμῶν).

The sin of complaining is in essence saying to God: "God—I deserve better than what you have given me; I am discontent with what you have granted me at this time." Complaining—whether verbally spoken or inwardly hidden—is just as heinous to God. It is, at the core, a distrust in the sovereignty of God and the sovereign provision of God at that particular moment. It is distrusting the goodness of God.

Furthermore, complaining is not delighting in the LORD. It is the opposite of: Psalm 37:4 —Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Rather than delighting in God, complaining exposes a hostility toward the active providence and involvement in our lives at a particular moment.

Some ways to deal with the sin of complaining in your own life can include the following (this is a partial not an exhaustive list):

1. Pray daily and ask God for the grace to help you overcome the temptation to complain.

2. Remember regularly what you really deserve, namely, the eternal judgment of God.

3. Daily counsel your own soul to delight yourself in the LORD and in His sovereign and all-wise provisions that He graces to you.

4. Ask yourself when you are tempted to sin by complaining what God may be trying to teach you at that particular moment.

5. Learn to trust in God in every situation that He brings into your life by thanking Him for what He has done, how He is involved, how He is sovereign, and then respond to that with a grateful, teachable, and humble heart.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

We came to Palm Springs, CA for the RESOLVED conference yesterday. Thirteen of us arrived at our hotel yesterday with plenty of time to check-in, then travel to the conference center for registration and then a quick dinner before session #1. When we arrived at the hotel in Palm Springs we found out that we had one king-bed hotel room reserved for the weekend which would have been a bit tight for thirteen people. The hotel was sold out as well as a sister hotel was sold out.

I prayed. Then I called a buddy to see if they had any extra room and they said no. Then the lady at the hotel here said there was another hotel down the road for $200 per night but that would be about $700 with tax for the weekend.

I began to search to see if I could find anything cheaper for half of the group and I came across a hotel just five minutes away for a room for $100. I called them and explained the situation and told them our situation and asked if they could do anything to help. They kindly said they would give us a deal for the three nights at $90 each night.

Then I texted some guys and asked to pray as I was going to speak with the manager of the original hotel and talk finances and see if they would pay for the additional expenses. She said that they felt sorry and that they would give us the original hotel for $50/night. That was over 1/3 of the price off!

In sum, paying for the original hotel at $50 per night and then the additional hotel for $90 per night comes to a total that balances everything out to what we originally planned to pay. God is good.

We all prayed together and thanked God for providing for us and changing our plans. Obviously, God wanted this to happen … and for that we are grateful.

Friday, June 24, 2011


2011 Schedule
8pmRick Holland


9amJohn MacArthur
11amAl Mohler
5pmJohn MacArthur
7pmPanel Q & A


11amCJ Mahaney
7pmSteve Lawson


9amRick Holland
11amSteve Lawson
5pmAl Mohler
7pmCJ Mahaney

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Here is what I was like before Christ (and you too!):

What were you by nature? Were you a black-hearted wretch, sold under sin, running after all manner of iniquity as a thirsty man pursues a cool drink, seeking always to quench the burning desires of your sinful appetites and lusts? Were you a religious bigot, a Pharisee of the Pharisees, full of self and self-righteousness, proud that you were not like other men? Were you utterly ignorant of God's truth, wandering for many years without a thought of Him? Were you a well-instructed sinner, knowing much about God without truly knowing God and transgressing against the very light you were given? How wretched, vile, and guilty we have been, and how much foulness we often find remaining in our hearts (Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker, A Portrait of Paul, 62).

Hard to admit but true. This describes who and what we were prior to Christ's saving us.
"The whole of our ministry must be carried on in a tender love to our people. We must let them see that nothing pleaseth us but what profiteth them; and that what doeth them good doth us good; and that nothing troubleth us more than their hurt."

—Richard Baxter.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I performed my first wedding a few days ago and at the reception I found myself in a conversation with a woman who went to Yale and took a class titled The Bible as Literature. Obviously, I was intrigued to hear all about the class and what she learned about the Bible from the class.

Much of what I’ve learned from my conservative seminary about liberalism, higher critical scholarship, and those who study about the text rather than studying the text itself became very real to me in my discussion with this woman. She told me how they read the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible) and really examined the different sources (e.g., J, E, D, P sources). Then she told me about how they read the poetic books (e.g., Psalms & Proverbs) and looked at the poetic structures and what that entails. Then she proceeded to share about the gospels and her perspective on the “interesting” stories that are recorded in the Gospel accounts. In fact, her professor told her that much of the information in the gospels derives from pagan mythology or other ancient religions.

In God’s sovereignty, I’ve been reading on these very issues for my PhD comprehensive exams in the near future. I’ve read books that speak of whether the NT Gospels copy from the pagan literature, whether the Pentateuch is comprised of many “sources” or not, the structure and meaning of the poetic books, and if the (supernatural) accounts in the gospels are mere fiction or really historical.

After dialoguing with her for some time on these—in reality, peripheral—issues, I asked her what she thought of the claims of the NT that God is infinitely holy, perfect, righteous, and good and that mankind is wholly imperfect, unrighteous, and wicked. I told her that the NT claims that the only way one can be saved is by forsaking self and all attempts of works-righteousness and clinging only and fully to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross as he suffered and died in the place of sinners by bearing the Father’s wrath for them that they deserve. This is only appropriated by faith, and faith alone, in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior which then will radically change the way the new Christian will live as he is now a slave to his new Master, Jesus Christ.

To all this, she replied with the conversation stopper: “yea, that part wasn’t that interesting to me.”

Saddened I drove home that night and realized that the once-so-great history of Yale has utterly forsaken the study of the text for the historical critical studies about the text and the endless barrage of questions about the text rather than reading the text and letting the text speak for itself.

It was a great conversation in that I could chat with her about the various issues but yet it was a sad conversation in that I realized, first, how far a divinity school can fall and, second, how blind sinners are to the truth of the gospel until God sovereignly opens blind eyes to the truth.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spent the morning in prayer for the Church that God has sovereignly called me to shepherd, Christ Fellowship Bible Church of St. Louis.

I echo the words of Paul:

Ephesians 1:16-19 — while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

Friday, June 17, 2011

From C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia:

One of the children learning that Aslan is a lion wants to know more...

"Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."

"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "and if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking they're either braver than most or else just silly."

"So then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about being safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."

Good reminder for all of us to remember that God is sovereignly awe-ful and eternally good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Worship is simply about value. The simplest definition I can give is this: Worship is our response to what we value most. That's why worship is that thing we all do. It's what we're all about on any given day. Worship is about saying, "this person, this thing, this experience (this whatever) is what matters most to me . . . it's the thing of highest value in my life." That "thing" might be a relationship. A dream. A position. Status. Something you own. A name. A job. Some kind of pleasure. Whatever name you put on it, this "thing" is what you've concluded in your heart is worth most to you. And whatever is worth most to you is—you guessed it—what you worship. Worship, in essence, is declaring what we value most."

—Lou Giglio
Brian Welch, former guitarist for Korn, tells his story, including the way our extraordinary God used ordinary means to bring him to himself:

HT: Justin Taylor

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

1 Peter 5:1-4 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

From this text we can see a few (of the many!) points regarding pastoral ministry:

1. The pastor is one elder amongst a plurality of men who lead the local church.

2. The pastor is to SHEPHERD the flock of God by leading, guiding, protecting, guarding, rebuking, disciplining, and restoring.

3. The pastor is to shepherd the FLOCK OF GOD by devoting most of His time to raising up the saved and regenerated individuals to maturity in Christ.

4. The pastor is to shepherd the flock of God AMONG THEM. The pastor is not to be overly concerned and preoccupied with all the Christians in the country but he is to *primarily* shepherd the flock of God which God has sovereignly given to him.

5. The pastor is to called to shepherd God's people voluntarily (=willingly, happily, eagerly, joyfully) and not under compulsion. The pastor must be a man who works hard and who does well "on the job" while, at the same time, doing his work eagerly, heartfully, joyfully, happily, and voluntarily.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

1. Its message is timeless and truly powerful
2. The Bible is the good news of salvation
3. It sets forth divine truth with clarity and certainty
4. It stands as the authoritative self-revelation of God
5. It exalts Christ as the Head of His church
6. It is the means God uses to sanctify His people
7. It rightly informs our worship and our walk
8. It brings depth and balance to one's ministry
9. It honors the necessity of personal Bible study
10. It makes my ministry dependent on God

(from John MacArthur, The Master's Plan for the Church, 306-18)

I'm in agreement with and am committed to these ten reasons to preach the Word!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in the early 20th century:

"Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community. In confession the light of the gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart. The sin must be brought into the light. The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged. All that is secret and hidden is made manifest. It is a hard struggle until the sin is openly admitted, but God breaks gates of brass and bars of iron (Ps 107:16).

Since the confession of sin is made in the presence of a Christian brother, the last stronghold of self-justification is abandoned. The sinner surrenders; he gives up all his evil. He gives his heart to God, and he finds the forgiveness of all his sin in the fellowship of Jesus Christ and his brother. The expressed, acknowledged sin has lost all its power. It has been revealed and judged as sin. It can no longer tear the fellowship asunder. Now the fellowship bears the sin of the brother. He is no longer alone with his evil for he has cast off his sin in confession and handed it over to God. It has been taken away from him. Now he stands in the fellowship of sinners who live by the grace of God and the cross of Jesus Christ. . . . The sin concealed separated him from the fellowship, made all his apparent fellowship a sham; the sin confessed has helped him define true fellowship with the brethren of Jesus Christ.”

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"If there be this day any power in the church of God, it is because the Holy Spirit is in the midst of her. If she be able to work any spiritual miracles, it is through the might of his indwelling. If there be any light in her instruction, if there be any life in her ministry, if there be any glory gotten to God, if there be any good wrought among the sons of men, it is entirely because the Holy Spirit is still with her."

Charles Spurgeon is right!
These are some photos of me and some old (really old!) Greek manuscripts for my PhD class — NT textual criticism. Quite a fun day in the library!

Manuscript 1957 (15th c. miniscule)

Codex Sinaiticus (4th c. AD)

P74 (3rd c AD; Rev 15)

Codex Vaticanus (4th c. AD)

Some weird guy who knows he's not a text critic but has fun looking at the old
manuscripts and seeing how God's Word has been preserved
through the centuries...
First, God encouraged my heart this morning with this:

Hebrews 7:25-27 — 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 ¶ For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

Second, pray for my presentation in my PhD module today. I'm giving a book review and leading a class discussion on who chose the gospels? Should be fun!

I have come near to God this morning in prayer asking Him to help me with the presentation. Please intercede for me. Thanks!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Today I preach my last sermon at Christ Community Church—where I've served as a pastor for five years. I'm preaching Psalm 145. My goal is to extol God, to exalt Christ and proclaim the gospel with all boldness & passion so that the Holy Spirit may edify the saved & draw His elect to salvation.

Psalm 145:1-3 I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Some read the Scriptures and conclude that one could lose salvation; that is, their name could be erased from the Lamb's Book of Life. They could go to this Scripture for their support:

Revelation 3:5 5 'He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

But is Revelation 3:5 really teaching that you 'could' lose salvation? Is it a potentiality? I have written up a brief write-up responding to this supposition by some scholars.

Read it below:

Can God Erase Your Name Out of the Book of Life?
Geoffrey R. Kirkland

Revelation 3:5 5 'He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

The context of Revelation 3:5 consists of the letter that Jesus commanded John to write and send to the Church of Sardis. They were a dead church though they had a reputation that they were alive (3:1). They did good deeds yet they were dead, lifeless, cold, and near extinction. God called them to repent and change their ways (3:3) lest He imminently come and destroy them (3:3b).

For the small few who do overcome (3:5a) God will clothe them in “white garments” and he will not “erase their name from the book of life.” Further, Christ says he will confess their name before the Father and before His angels (3:5b).

But the phrase remains: “I will not erase his name from the Book of Life.” Some advocate that this phrase means that Christ can possibly or hypothetically erase people’s name from the Book of Life. In other words: one could possibly lose his salvation. He could go from being in the Book of Life to being erased, and thus expelled, from the Book of Life. Is this what the text says? Can one really be erased by Jesus Himself from the Book of Life? The answer is an emphatic no for the following reasons.

The historical misunderstanding of “record books” in ANE cities. In ANE Greco-Roman cities, they had a “record book”. Every Roman historian noted this and every Roman city had this. In other words, the cities kept a register of their citizens, and when a man died his name was removed from the register; or if he moved away he was erased from the register of citizens. If he was a disloyal citizen, his name was removed from the register of that city (Ramsay, Letters to the Seven Churches, 281). This phrase in Revelation 3:5 is to draw the historical parallel with which everyone who read this letter would have been familiar.

The grammatical misunderstanding of the text. In the Greek, it reads: Ὁ νικῶν οὕτως περιβαλεῖται ἐν ἱματίοις λευκοῖς καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐξαλείψω τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῆς βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς καὶ ὁμολογήσω τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ἐνώπιον τοῦ πατρός μου καὶ ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀγγέλων αὐτοῦ. (lit translated: and I will never ever erase his name out of the book of life). The emphatic double negative (οὐ μὴ) is a way of saying that this could never—ever—happen! It’s not a hypothetical scenario where it could happen. Jesus says, in fact, the opposite. I shall never, ever—ever!—abolish your name from the Book of Life.

The rhetorical misunderstanding of the word “Name” (τὸ ὄνομα) in the Letter to Sardis. John is fond of using wordplays for rhetorical effect. The word “name” (τὸ ὄνομα) occurs in 3:1, 4, 5 [2x] and it escalates every time John uses it. In 3:1 they have a “name” that they’re alive (=reputation). In 3:4 there are a few “names” (=believers) in that dead church who have not soiled their garments. And in 3:5, Jesus says he will not wipe their “name” out of the Book of Life and finally and most magnificently, Jesus will confess their “name” before the angels in heaven. Jesus is not talking about erasing an individual’s name. He is talking about those “names” (=people) who are genuinely saved who have not defiled themselves like the rest of the church of Sardis.

The theological misunderstanding of losing one’s salvation. The Scriptures are replete with references that Christ guards his people until the end (Jude 24-25), that He will “perfect them until the end” (Phil 1:6), that “He is faithful” to bring them to glory (1 Cor 1:9), that “no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28). Therefore, the testimony of the rest of Scripture most emphatically and clearly reveals that a believer’s security rests not in the believer’s ability to keep himself saved but in God’s sovereign power to keep that individual saved.

Therefore, when Jesus says that he will not “erase their name from the Book of Life” it is not a threat of losing salvation. Rather, it is as if he says, ‘some petty kings might blot your name out of their books, but I will never (οὐ μὴ) blot your name out of My book.’ He is not saying that you can lose your salvation; He is saying the opposite. No matter what anyone else would do, Christ will not blot your name out of His book if you put your faith in Him.
Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!