September 2007

26 Sep 2007

Law and Grace are not opponents; they are teammates working together for the salvation of God’s people. The law leads to grace, which is only to be found in Christ. This is what Paul demonstrated as he answered the question: “Why then the law?” (Gal. 3:19) -Philip Graham Ryken

What a great quote from Ryken’s Reformed Expository Commentary on Galatians. It is not my favorite commentary, but contains many worthy things. Alas, my enjoyment was tempered by Mr. Ryken’s irritating treatment of Galatians 3:28 (a favorite verse for feminists although it has nothing whatsoever to add to the egalitarian case). It’s not that Pastor Ryken is an egalitarian, but he sure spends a lot of time looking over his shoulder. Sure enough, a search reveals that the Bayly’s already covered similar ground with him: “…five apologies, four qualifications, three reservations, two reproaches of those who venture further and one whimpered admission.”

Do “weak complementarians” see the train wreck coming in the PCA? The conductor surely isn’t a cad in a wife-beater.

For every Fosdick, there is an Erdman.

23 Sep 2007

When heresy rises in an evangelical body, it is never frank and open. It always begins by skulking, and assuming a disguise. Its advocates, when together, boast of great improvements, and congratulate one another on having gone greatly beyond the “old dead orthodoxy,” and on having left behind many of its antiquated errors: but when taxed with deviations from the received faith, they complain of the unreasonableness of their accusers, as they differ from it only in words. This has been the standing course of errorists ever since the apostolic age. They are almost never honest and candid as a party, until they gain strength enough to be sure of some degree of popularity. Thus it was with Arius in the fourth century, with Pelagius in the fifth, with Arminius and his companions in the seventeenth, with Amyraut and his associates in France soon afterwards, and with the Unitarians in Massachusetts, toward the close of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. They denied their real tenets, evaded examination or inquiry, declaimed against their accusers as merciless bigots and heresy-hunters, and strove as long as they could to appear to agree with the most orthodox of their neighbours; until the time came when, partly from inability any longer to cover up their sentiments, and partly because they felt strong enough to come out, they at length avowed their real opinions. -Samuel Miller from introduction to The Articles of the Synod of Dordt

14 Sep 2007

Revelation is designed not only to assure us of God’s final purposes, but also to increase our longing for him and the realization of his purpose. The sureness of that final bliss comforts the saints during times of temptation and persecution. It purifies our desires by directing them to God and his glory. And then the tawdry counterfeits of this world are seen to be what they are. We have eyes to see the beauties and joys of this creation as pointers to God and his goodness (Acts 14:17), rather than foolishly perverting created things into idols (Rom. 1:18-23). -Vern Poythress, The Returning King, p. 193.

08 Sep 2007

Presbyterian Pastor D. James Kennedy went to be with the Lord earlier this week.

A little personal history. I grew up in a liberal, mainline Lutheran denomination. Like probably most young people who grow up in such denoms, I stopped attending church in college (why bother?). After spending the first few years doing what was right in my own eyes, I started seeking spiritual direction — especially from someone who seemed to believe. I watched televangelists and therefore (not surprisingly) flirted with the Charismatic movement, had a fascination period with the end-times, and was even receiving materials from the Worldwide Church of God. Remember (the misnamed) Plain Truth magazine?

Amid a sea of Tiltons and Swaggarts on the tube, however, I was most impressed with the sensible pastors like (pre-divorce) Charles Stanley and D. James Kennedy. After leaving college, I went through a “Great Books” phase and was reading Augustine, trying to come to grips with the Biblical views on predestination. Then one day I came across Kennedy’s Truths that Transform in a Christian bookstore. Recognizing his name, I bought the book. That purchase more than any other is what led me into the Reformed Presbyterian orbit. As much as I wanted to believe in free will as popularly defined — that we can act inconsistently with our sinful nature — it just didn’t square with the Bible at all. Kennedy’s book explained monergism simply and clearly. So I got a job, looked up the nearest Presbyterian church in the yellow pages that wasn’t PCUSA — no more mainline churches for me! — found a church from some denomination I’d never heard of called the OPC, and the rest is history.

I eventually came to believe that Pastor Kennedy was too involved in politics. I’d get junk mail from him constantly and his shows became nothing but topical discussions of political issues. Still, the book I bought that day was as formative for me as his EE was for folks of the prior generation (plus I think Pastor Kennedy rededicated himself in recent years to preaching the Gospel).

I pray that a Reformed (or Reformational) network will one day grace TV, just like the one Catholics have. Yes, the internet has changed things, but the tube is something people watch. Searchers are often attracted to Christian programming, and unfortunately all they see is a lot of sorry word-faith stuff and Joel Osteen’s moralistic drivel. For many folks, the Trinity Network and Pat Robertson are the only things they ever associate with Christianity.

05 Sep 2007

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! -Rev 7:9-10

Every day people — immortal souls — come in and out of our lives, all in one of two classes: believers and unbelievers, wheat and chaff, sheep and goats, circumcised hearts and uncircumcised hearts. Some move away and we muse on whether we will ever see them again. We hope and pray they will join us in that vast throng pictured in Revelation 7 (and repent that we weren’t a better witness). All on this tiny globe hurtling through infinite space.

It’s far too vast to contemplate. Eventually one ends up back in the same spot:

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. -Psalm 131:1

01 Sep 2007

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, -Eph 6:17

In his latest post, Pastor Ron Gleason has a (sadly) witty anecdote:

More often than not a number of pragmatic reasons are put forward when it comes to choosing a local congregation for the family or individual. … Topping the list is almost invariably the statement that the music is great. … The music is loud, contemporary, upbeat, and cutting edge. Hands are raised and people sway back and forth with their eyes closed. I made a startling discovery at the Chattanooga, TN PCA General Assembly. You might not know this, so it is worth passing along for your spiritual edification. Here’s what I discovered: the Holy Spirit doesn’t move or work when you sing psalms. It is patently true. I was once a skeptic myself, but the GA that year removed all shadow of a doubt. I know empirically. Prior to our worship service one evening we sang a number of praise songs. Actually, the others sang, because I simply didn’t know them and I couldn’t keep up with when we were going to sing the same verse again — for the eighth time– and when we were going to sing the bridge, and…well, you get the point. As some of the people sang, eyes were closed, hands were raised, and there was a lot of swaying back and forth in near ecstasy. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not put off or out if people do that. But here’s where my discovery came —ich ben aufgeklärt!— when we finally got around to singing a psalm all the eyes opened, the hands when down, and the swaying ceased. I suppose that people thought that the Holy Spirit was watching and didn’t like what looked like dancing. After all, this was a gathering of Presbos.

So much for the Spirit working through the Word. This is a mystical age. We have all heard endlessly that faith isn’t mere assent. Right on. But if the three components of faith — knowledge, assent/agreement, and trust — form a three-legged stool, and you throw out the leg of knowledge… You’ll still end up on the floor.