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Friday, March 31

Fundamentalism and All Truisms

Although by some it could be considered a virtue, going back to fundamentals of the faith has brought with it baggage beyond the allowed limit for check-in. Fundamentalism has at its root a separation from everything “unholy”, which is large in part the culture we live in according to their definition. It harkens back to the OLD Testament when Israel was called to separate herself from the peoples around her, having nothing to do with them (cf. Ex 34:14).

What is the motivation of this separation? I believe it comes from pure motives of wanting to be holy as the Lord is holy (Lev. 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15). However, there seems to be a diminishing of the fact that where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17). What does this mean in the context? Paul is comparing his ministry with that of Moses’. There is a veil over the eyes of people when they read the Law. There is a lack of the quickening spirit of God. These are a finitude and a shadow of the true substance (Col. 2:17). The laws that constrain Israel to not eat and touch and congregate with non-Jews is done away with. The dividing wall between ethnicities and a separation from the pagan has been done away with.

Paul says he has become all things to all men so that he might win some. He clothes himself with the garb of a Jew one day and then as a Greek and then a slave and then as a freedman. He tells the Corinthians that they are allowed to eat meat sacrificed to idols insofar as they do not sear their conscience (1 Cor. 10:14-33; cf. Ps. 24). After all what is an idol? Wood (Is. 40:; 44:14-20)

God Sees the Heart, Even in Narration

Numbers 22
Balaak hires Balaam to curse the Israelites for him. He refuses to go unless the Lord tells him to do so. In fact, he says that even if Balaak were to give him a house full of silver and gold he would do nothing opposed to what the Lord has commanded. It seems that Balaam’s heart is in a much purer place than most pastors today. I spoke with a brother from Alabama at lunch who said that a pastor looked him in the face and told him that all he wanted was a bigger church and a bigger salary. Woe to us if this is our cry! 1 Tim. 6:3-10 has many words for us to heed. We must pursue the command of God and fear him first, for this is the beginning of wisdom. Everything else is folly, even if it smells spiritual.

What has caught my eye is v. 22. God tells Balaam to go to Balaak but to only say what he tells him to. So Balaam goes, but the Lord’s anger is kindled against him. It seems that God here is fickle. “Go. Wait, why are you going? Get back here!” However, there seems to be something to the story that the author intentionally leaves out. He is not oblivious to the fact that he just wrote a verse earlier that the Lord told Balaam to go. Rather, God is penetrating his gaze into the heart of Balaam.

We can say all day that we will only say what the Lord puts in our mouths, but when it comes to it, we balk or run into the abyss of money’s fleeting pleasures. God had to encounter Balaam before he was ruined by the lie of hypocrisy. V. 32 gives us a picture into what is happening in the heart of Balaam. 32 And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out cto oppose you because your way is perverse* before me. Although Balaam spoke with his mouth that he was devoted to the command of God, his heart was perverse. He is the picture of Ps. 62:4 - They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse.

Oh that we would be men who do not speak lies with our mouth as our hearts are pulled by the chains of unrighteous gain! Would that we encounter the true God on our way to destruction so that we too might be turned from our perverse ways. Would that he use talking asses to rebuke our folly. Would that we strip our proud vesture for humble robes. Oh Christ stop your people on the road to perdition and turn their hearts to you and may their feet not be swift to run in the sty of the world.

Thursday, March 30

More Questions on Islam

More Questions About Islam [Full Article]

Is there no part of the Qur'an which modifies these violent texts in the way that we would say our New Testament modifies the Old Testament?
In fact the reverse is true. Suppose in our Bible the New Testament came first and the Old Testament came later, that would be the position in the Qur'an. All the peaceful passages that are enjoined on Muslims occur in the chapters written at Mecca. They are tolerant toward Jews and Christians. But when Muhammad gets to Medina and sets up his city/religious state, the tone towards other groups changes rapidly. The statements about slaying the pagans and killing the Jews and others occur there.
Now in Islamic interpretation, all passages that are revealed later take precedence over those revealed earlier. This is known as the 'law of abrogation'. It means therefore that those passages that enjoin violence are actually the ones which are now acceptable.
What caused this change?
One needs to realise that at Mecca Muhammad is a despised prophet, he needs the help of all communities. But when he gets to Medina, he is now in the position of being a ruler, a legislator, a general. He has to further the Islamic community. For those who did not accept the new community - such as the Jews and Christians - it became highly dangerous, to the point of death.
Is it true that in Muslim countries Muslims who have converted to Christianity are not able to worship openly?
In Muslim countries where converts occur we need to remember the law of apostasy. In Saria, all four schools of Sunni law and Shi'i law teach that any adult male Muslim who rejects Islam, or becomes a Christian, commits the crime of high treason and that carries the death penalty. Some countries practise it - Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Sudan - but where countries do not practise it it is often practised by the communities and families.
In most countries if the death penalty is not applied endemic discrimination and persecution and marginalisation occurs. There is no freedom within Islam. It does not confer all the civic liberties either on converts, or on historic Christian communities in their midst.

Islam Wants to Control the West?

The following is another segment out of an interview with Sookhdeo.
Are you implying that there is a sense in which Islamic communities in the West wish to take control in the West?
Yes I am. Islam is based on power. It does not separate the sacred from the secular, and it has never really had an understanding of being a minority. It must exist within a majority context.
The issue for the West is 'how will Islam express itself?' Will it accept that it is a minority? Will it embrace the traditions of the country in which it finds itself and be loyal to it absolutely (whilst of course, keeping aspects of its own religion and culture)?
Or will it, in order to retain control of all religion and culture, set up alternative communities, which then want power for themselves in each geographical area, as well as wanting to be protected further afield by the law. I think this is the tension.
No doubt you are following the position in Australia where there have been about twelve churches burned. I gather four mosques have also been burned. The question increasingly is how Muslims in the West see the countries that they live in. What are their loyalty systems?
When they are a tiny minority, their response to their countries is 'we are loyal to you'. But as that minority increases and gains strength and self confidence, so it begins to change its allegiance. You can't just see it on the basis of what it is today, you have to think of what it will be five years from now.
And then you have to look at who is feeding that community: what are the ideological and theological and religious influences that come from the Middle East, from Pakistan, from other countries? Where do the mullahs stand? What is their training and what are their influences? You've got to look at a number of factors.
So what should our response be?
I think that as Christians we have to retain what I would call a society built on Judeo-Christian values. Modernity is not all bad, it allows for pluralism to occur. I believe that we should be arguing for the continuing development of a plural society. We need to say to Muslim communities: "we cannot give way to your demands". In Britain they are now asking for legal protection for their religion and their culture. We have to say no to that, they have to accept a common citizenship based upon individual equality, and not community-religious equality.
[Full Article]

Wednesday, March 29

Saved Through Childbearing

Dr. Andreas Kostenberger and Dr. Ben Witherington have been interacting on the above topic over the past few days. Check it out. It began with a post Dr. Kostenberger wrote on 1 Tim 2.8-15. Any thoughts??

How Shall We Respond to Islam?

I mentioned a seminar that will be taking place this weekend in Washington DC and encouraged those in the area to go. There are two articles I would like to direct you to. Although Rahman is a freed man now, there still lingers questions as to how we should respond and how we should even think about Islam.

Right now the polemic is that Islam is a peaceful religion. People would have you think that the suicide bombers are lunatics and “radicals”. The truth is that they are consistent. If martyrdom gets one to heaven (according to the Qu’ran) then what would keep someone from killing a bunch of infidels (which is virtuous in the Muslim faith) and being killed in the process (thus guaranteeing one’s entrance into heaven)? It’s not crazy if that’s what your religion teaches. The thing that needs to be evaluated is not the person’s psyche, but the religion.

Two Articles to Read:
- Sookhdeo on Islam
- "The Day Is Coming When British Muslims Will Form a State Within a State"

"The whole approach towards Muslim militants was based on appeasement. 7/7 proved that that approach does not work - yet it is still being followed. For example, there is a book, The Noble Koran: a New Rendering of its Meaning in
English, which is openly available in Muslim bookshops. "It calls for the killing of Jews and Christians, and it sets out a strategy for killing the infidels and for warfare against them. The Government has done nothing whatever to interfere with the sale of that book.

"Why not? Government ministers have promised to punish religious hatred, to criminalise the glorification of terrorism, yet they do nothing about this book, which blatantly does both..."

"There's already a Sharia Law Council for the UK. The Government has already started making concessions: it has changed the law so that there are sharia-compliant mortgages and sharia pensions. "Some Muslims are now pressing to be allowed four wives: they say it is part of their religion. They claim that not being allowed four wives is a denial of their religious liberty. There are Muslim men in Britain who marry and divorce three women, then marry a fourth time - and stay
married, in sharia law, to all four.

"The more fundamentalist clerics think that it is only a matter of time before they will persuade the Government to concede on the issue of sharia law. Given the
Government's record of capitulating, you can see why they believe that."

The Essence of Finitude

Psa. 39:4         “O Lord, make me know my end
                and what is the measure of my days;
                let me know how fleeting I am!
5         Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
        and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
        Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
6          Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
        Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
        man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

One of the main reasons people twiddle away their lives is the fact that they have not learned to number their days. They keep out of their vision the fact that they will return to dust. They will die either very quickly or a very slow way. Either way, they will cease from the earth and be consumed by the earth. Worms will eat their flesh and their bones will deteriorate every day once their heart stops pumping.

As David says, ”We are a mere breath!“ Go under the water. No matter how long you hold your breath, you cannot do it for longer than a few minutes. How foolish the man that thinks he can forever keep his breath in his lungs underwater. He will either die because of his pride or he will have to admit that he is unable.

So it is with the Lord’s parable of our finitude. My wife and I met a man yesterday who had heaped up wealth for himself. He had two Jaguar cars, a Lotus, a Blackberry, and a nice suit. What vanity and how passing! Before the world blinks once, he will be riddled with wrinkles and disease. As the Preacher has said, ”It is all vanity.“ a man gathers for the benefit of another. He leaves his inheritance for a people he does not know. How much energy is spent in the travails of being better than the neighbor rather than giving up for the sake of our neighbor.

I am sitting in a coffee shop and the nations are raging and plotting in vain. Not necessarily in battle lines against the Anointed, but do not be fooled. They are in rebellion against their Maker. They do not give praise and thanks to the one who has given them life and breath. What do we have that we did not receive (1 Cor. 4:7)? Nothing.

Oh! God, teach us to number our days.

Tuesday, March 28

The Lord's Hand and His Wisdom

Psa. 33:16 The king is not saved by his great army;
                a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17          The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
                and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Psa. 33:18         Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
        on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19         that he may deliver their soul from death
                and keep them alive in famine.
20         Our soul waits for the Lord;
                he is our help and our shield.
21         For our heart is glad in him,
                because we trust in his holy name.
22         Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
                even as we hope in you.
Eccl. 9:11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. 12 For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people...14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
In each of these texts there is a call to rest in the action of God. The king is not saved by the might of his army, though it appears that way. The horse is made ready for battle, but his legs do not stand on their own. The race is not to the swift, though a betting man will put all his money on him. Why? The unifying theme of each of these passages is the fact that we belong to the mercy of God. He gives the battle to whomever he wishes. He decides to love Jacob but to hate Esau (Malachi 1:2-3; Romans 9:13).

The paradox reveals itself on the bloody cross. Christ redeemed us from all lawlessness so that we might be freed to live lives of abandoned obedience. Titus 2 begins a list of qualifications for elders and commands to the older women and slaves in the congregation. There is a line drawn between the godly and the lawless. We are not called to step over the line by our own strength. Indeed, there is no pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps because they are chained to sin. More than this, we didn’t even see we were chained to sin because we were blind. (Is. 59:10) Even more than this, we didn’t know that we were chained because we couldn’t move because we were dead in our sin (Eph. 2:1)!

And so the wisdom of God foreordained Jesus to hang on a cross to cover our sin with the blood that oozed from the holes in his hands, feet, and side. He redeemed us. That is, he bought us (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23). He brought us forth from the dead giving vigor to our flesh to walk in obedience. God does not ask dead people to walk. He commands them! Notice that the active verbs belong to God - He gave, he redeemed, he purifies. We are the objects of this divine forbearance. Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow from his wounds.

Saturday, April 23, 2005 10:32 PM

Monday, March 27

Resting in God's Sovereignty

Prov 3.19         The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
                by understanding he established the heavens;
20         by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
                and the clouds drop down the dew.
21         My son, do not lose sight of these
                keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22         and they will be life for your soul
                and adornment for your neck.

        What are "these"? It is a referent to what precedes. The founded the earth and established the heavens (in wisdom). When you remember these truths then the following will result:
        1. Will walk securely ((foot will not stumble)) - v.23
        2. Will not be afraid when lie down ((sleep will be sweet)) - v.24

        This is what directly relates to trusting in God's sovereignty. There are other results the Teacher gives us in the way of exhortations. These exhortations are only possible in light of what God has already done.
        You will be able to give good to someone when they deserve it; you won't try to get the upper hand all the time (v.27). You won't plan evil against your neighbor (v.28). You will not plan evil against someone (v.29). You won't argue with someone for no reason (v.30). You will not envy the wicked (v.31).
        Another reason why we are empowered to do all these things revolves around the fact that God favors those who fear him (and keep his commands as a result, as evidenced in the proverb). YHWH's curse is on the house of the wicked. No matter how big and luxurious the house is, there remains a curse on it. Although it is white and dazzling on the outside, the life and living that go on inside are abominations - disobedient children, acquiescent parents, no discipline, vulgar language, sloth, gluttony, gossip, slander, scheming, and the like. This is a curse! But on the little, simple, ruddy house of the righteous his favor rests. He is not set against those who fear him. He works for them! He serves their good. Does this cause boasting in the righteous? Not at all lest they cease to be righteous! Verse 34 says that God favors the humble. That is, the truly righteous are those who understand that anything they have God has first given to them. There is laid up for us an inheritance of honor. This inheritance is mentioned in many ways...we will behold his face, have eternal life, live in houses constructed by GOD, rule over cities, kingdom and dominion (Dan. 7:27). This will all happen in the last day once the wheat and the chaff are separated, once those who fear and those who boast in self are marked. Why at the end? So that those who fear may be shown to be those who truly feared the Lord and not just offered lip service with hearts far from the Lord.
March 16, 2005 6:44 AM

Friday, March 24

Wake Up

I have been reading some of the news regarding Abdul Rahman’s plight in Afghanistan and a myriad of thoughts move through my head:

Even if Rahman is released clerics are calling on people to "pull him into pieces" . Say he is released. This does not nullify the fact that the majority of the Muslim people think he should have been executed. This is a man who changes his convictions. What does this say of the Muslim religion? It has been made quite clear that there is a clear distinction between the Muslim value system and that of the West. Even more is there a chasm between Islam and Christianity.
        Some might say that Christians are no better. After all the Crusades were sanctioned with the ad extra panta of Pope Urban II. HOWEVER, the Crusades and other atrocities promulgated under the banner “Christian” are diametrically opposed to Christianity. Men hungry for power and money superseded the teachings of Christ.
        Not so with the Muslim faith. It is being made clearer and clearer that Islam is a repressive religion that seeks to exterminate anyone who disagrees. And I would say that many people are not saying this because they are scared that they will be killed by some radical Muslims. It is clear that this is the mindset of most Muslims. Indeed, it is taught in the Koran. Why won’t more people say something? Because fear has crept in and the truth has been compromised.

One of the main problems is that Muslim equate the West with Christianity. They believe that everyone in the United States is a Christian and in need of conversion to Islam. Movies, music, and television shows from the West cause one to think that Christianity is a religion of license. Oh how I wish there would be a clear witness to the beauty of the Gospel to Muslims! I wish that there would be an open ear to the truth of Jesus.
        What is interesting is that the articles continue to portray the Afghan people as feeling that the West is forcing its morals (licentious freedom?) on them. The West is seen as the bully...In some ways it is. However, putting a man to death for his conversion will not prove to the bully that he can’t pull one over on the people.
        If they really wanted to get under the West’s skin, they would open up dialogues and debate with those of other ideologies rather than kill them. Truth would prevail. But could it be that the only way to get people to believe in the Muslim faith is by coercion?

I believe that God is fueling the flames of these things in order to show the major differences between Islam and Christianity. Rahman and so many other Christians in history refused to deny Christ - choosing rather to be pulled to pieces than deny the Savior of their lives. And so it must continue...the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.
The non-Christian is left to ask: What am I so convinced about that I would die for? Why will these people be willing to die for their faith?

And so we end with the Psalmists words:

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you! (Psa 63.3)

Links to Articles:
Fears Over Afghan Convert Trial 3.22.2006
"Judges to Rule" On Kabul Convert 3.22.2006
Mood Hardens Against Afghan Convert 3.24.2006
Afghan Convert 'May Be Released' 3.24.2006
Top Muslim Clerics: Convert Must Die 3.24.2006


A day that is far removed from the USA mindset, yet is branded upon the hearts of Argentines. I spent two years in La Plata, Argentina working with Campus Crusade for Christ. During my time there I fell in love with the Argentines - their culture, food, and people.

Today marks the 30-year anniversary of the military dictatorship that changed the face of Argentina. In just seven years (1976-1983), 30,000 people were tortured and slaughtered. Not many know about it - it has remained hush hush since the dictatorship fell. But the mothers who silently marched around Plaza del Mayo (in front of the President’s house) are finally getting their questions answered.

There is a movie worth seeing that will help in your education of this horror. It’s called The Night of the Pencils . In one night, seven students were stolen from their homes between 12:30-5 am. From August-October 236 university students were stolen from their homes never to be seen again - “deaspericidos” (disappeared). Endless rumors surround the torturing - where it happened, how it was done, etc. I have walked past one of the buildings it is thought to have taken place - now used as a classroom! Only Pable Diaz “reappeared”. The movie is based on his testimony.

The BBC has an article giving a brief history of the dictatorship.
Also: Argentina Timeline
"The Dirty War" (aka: the military dictatorship)

If you are fluent in Spanish, go to Gustavo Carbonell's site . There he shares some more.

A mis queridos Argentinos:
Espero que en este tiempo que no pongan su esperanza en el gobierno de esta tierra. Pero que las fallas de los seres humanos causen sus ojos fijar en la seguridad de Cristo Jesus. Gobiernos son por un tiempo. Sera un dia cuando el Rey de este universo establicera Su gobierno de paz y gozo (Psa 2; Dan 7 - especialmente v. 27). Eseperen en aquel dia...

Abdul Rahman and You

A good friend of mine sent this e-mail to me today. It was very stirring and I wanted to share it with you. I will link to the article mentioned below with some excerpts...

What would we say to this Afghan man, who has been open with his faith in Jesus Christ; or, at least has not openly denied his faith in Christ? Is he a fool? Or, has he been wise? Surely he is both. He is a fool in the eyes of men, but wise in the eyes of the Lord.

We do not know the whole story. Take a moment and read this short article. It will remind you again of the 'real war' we (and all God's children) are in as God's heralds/ambassadors and servant leaders in his Kingdom.
This Afghan man represents many in the nations who are daily faced with the question of "openly following Jesus Christ," or "quietly following Jesus in order to sustain their lives and societal peace."

This article does not represent all Muslims. That is, some Muslims might suggest this man should not be killed. But, I believe this article shows the nature, character, and rootedness of Islam. Islam is in a crisis, and has been.

What will we do in these days? Will we be like the Malaysian government, which is afraid to disagree with the unconstitutinal mandates of the Islamic courts in its country?

Will we, and the missionaries we send, be prepared to suffer and equip others to suffer like this man?

The people of Islam need to hear and see the love of Christ. That is a love which lays down its life for its enemies. May the Lord help this Afghan man (Acts 7:54-60), whether he lives or dies, in Christ, he belongs to the Lord.

Let us consider the "Sermon on the Mount," a great message of the Kingdom life/person:

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against falsely on _my account._ Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth...You are the light of the world...You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. _But I say to you_, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven...And when Jesus finished saying these these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. (Mt 5: 1 - 7:29, selections)

Presenting the Church Through Beatings

2 Cor. 11:1I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ...23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.

        There is a parallel between the work that Christ did by humbling himself and being obedient to the point of death on a cross (Phil. 2:8) and those who are sent out by Jesus to do his bidding (Matt. 28:18-20). In Corinth there were “outstanding” (ὑπερλίαν) apostles who boasted of their great insight and wisdom. This is much different from the ministry of Paul. He was beaten excessively and poured himself out (Phil. 2:17; 2 Tim. 4:6) for the sake of betrothing his congregations to the Lord. This is what Jesus did for his Church. Ephesians 5 tells us that Jesus loved her and gave himself up for her in order that (ἵνα) he might sanctify and cleanse her to present her on the Last Day holy and blameless.
        The kind of shepherding that is required is not super-apostleship, but sacrifice. Just as Christ did not avert pain and suffering, but chose this road so his servants would do the same for the sake of his Bride.
        This is why Paul can say that he is a “better one.” Not because he had excessive wisdom and insight, but because of the physical manifestations of his sacrifice for the sake of the Corinthians’ faith.

Thursday, March 23

Don't Just Sit There

If you haven’t heard, there’s a Christian in Afghanistan that is going to be killed because he has forsaken the Muslim religion and proclaimed faith in Jesus. I want to encourage some of my readers in the Washington DC area to take part in a march in from of the Afghan embassy:

From Matthew Hall:
Permits have apparently also been granted for a rally for Abdul Rahman to be held tomorrow in front of the Afghan embassy in Washington. If you’re anywhere near the Metro DC area, this certainly is the kind of cause that merits an hour of your day.

Friday March 24
Noon to 1pm
Outside the Afghan Embassy
2341 Wyoming Ave NW.
Washington DC

[HT: Matthew Hall ]

Polygamy & Terrorism

William Tucker provokes some thoughts on the link between polygamy and violence in a culture. Though I do not agree with his presupposition of evolutionary systems, I think he might be on to something.

Species and societies that practice polygamy end up with a bachelor herd, a gaggle of unmated males who are very unhappy with their lot. Competition among males becomes much more violent because the stakes are so highits all or nothing. The peaceful monogamous contract is gone.
When 18th- and 19th-century Europeans realized polygamy was common in the backward portions of the world, they had an easy explanation. Polygamy was a more primitive form of marriage. Advanced societies had evolved out of it. Then they discovered the hunter-gatherers and a different explanation offered itself. Polygamous societies had remained backward precisely because they were polygamous. Polygamy creates a huge inequality where all the wealthhowever little there may be of itand all the women are concentrated among the more successful men. (Think Saudi Arabia.) Societies bog down. Social advancement becomes very difficult.
Monogamy is not natural. Its a human construct. But I also happen to think it is the greatest social achievement in the history of mankind. Peaceful advanced societies never would have emerged without it.
So now the entertainment industry is going to start asking, What would America look like without it? Lots of luck.

Entire Article

More on Christian Polygamy

Yesterday I wrote briefly regarding the heinous claim of Christian polygamy. While I could rant from passage to passage in the Bible, I want to give a big picture of what marriage is. Yes, David had more than one wife and is heralded as a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13.14). What are Christians supposed to do with this?

He was indeed a man after God’s heart, but he also committed adultery. The fact is that he is not commended for his polygamy but for his pursuit of God. In other words David’s relationship with other women is not commended and should not be emulated. Why? Because the Scriptures make clear what was obscure before. God looked over the sins of the past (Rom 3.25).

[[NOTE: Any time you hear me speak of interpreting the Bible you must keep in mind that I want to look at the passages across a timeline. That is, God progressively revealed himself to his people. By virtue of our finitude we need to receive instruction in chunks. To try to swallow too much will choke us to death.]]

With the revelation of Jesus, mysteries from the past are manifested. He is our infallible interpreter.

When the Sadducees sought to trip Jesus up by asking him about marriage he confounded them (Mt 22.23-33). He taught that marriage would not be in effect in heaven. It is a temporary institution for us to reflect the glory and love of God. Why is it temporary? It is meant to be a testimony to Christ’s love for the Church. It is a reflection of a greater reality. Once the marriage takes place between Christ and his Bride, there will be no more marriage (contrary to Mormon teaching).

Related to this, it will be helpful to look at Revelation 19 and 21. This is a glorious picture of the consummation of the age. Verse 19.7 speaks of what it is going to look like:
                 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
                for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
                and his Bride (
γυνὴ) has made herself ready;

Notice that the Lamb does not have many wives - he has one. What a glorious picture! When Christ came to redeem his people, he came with the specific purpose of marrying his one Bride. He had his eyes set on one woman.

Again, in 21.9 one of the seven angels says to John, “Come, I will show you the Bride (νύμφην), the wife of the Lamb.” In this instance as well, Christ came to redeem his wife.

Marriage here on earth is given to point to a greater reality. This is hard for our culture to understand as marriage is nothing more than two folks living in the same house. The website I mentioned yesterday says that it is not trying to re-define marriage. Anything that promotes marriage to more than one wife most certainly is trying to re-define marriage! This was the purpose from the Garden of Eden. Jesus taught that the purpose is found in the Garden (Mt 19.4-6). God did not pull ribs from Adam’s side. He pulled one rib and made one woman to be Adam’s companion. This is what was intended from the beginning...but man is hard of heart and is not willing to accept the teaching without the Spirit of God. And so that’s why there is polygamy in the Scriptures. And that is why a Christian cannot affirm it. It is a picture of the beautiful marriage between the One Redeemer and his One Redeemed.

Wednesday, March 22

Christian Polygamy

I was amazed to hear that there was such a belief. I thought I would find only one site maybe two that affirmed such a teaching. This is no longer a teaching only held to by other religions but will need to be dealt with from the Scriptures to show its unbiblical basis.

I went to one site and it said: Polygamy is in the Bible. Polygamy is found throughout history. These facts prove that marriage's definition includes plural marriage. Polygyny is a far older traditional marriage than anti-polygamy.

Yes, there are those that practiced polygamy in the Bible. National war is also in the Scriptures, but Christians don’t advocate this now. This has to do with how one reads their Bible. To say that polygamy is in the Bible and is found throughout history is as ridiculous for someone to say that slavery has the same grounds!

How you read your Bible will affect the way you live. These groups are not taking into account the entire storyline of the Bible. They look at a section and justify a heinous contradiction because it is taken out of context. Read your Bibles rightly!

[Go to their website: TruthBearer ]

Giving and Manna

2 Cor 8.13 I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

        Before I mention anything, the first thing that must be secured in any church is the fact that devotion to Jesus is what giving is the result of. Verse 5 says that the Macedonians gave themselves first to the Lord, and then they gave their possessions to the brothers. Notice, they gave themselves and then their possessions. Themselves and then possessions. We must not start a sermon series on giving by saying that it is our Christian duty. NO! We must begin by urging people to be reconciled to God. To give themselves to God, first. Then, as they see what God sees, they will desire to make a difference.
        What is fascinating about this passage is that Paul equates giving to the needs of the Body to a miracle. Indeed, it is a miracle if we see people give anything! But notice the parallel between the one who abounds and the one who lacks to the manna in the wilderness. People were not sharing the manna with each other in the wilderness. They were commanded to gather only what was needed for their household. What is the connection that Paul sees?
        First, it is the fact that needs are met. There is no doubt about that that. Verse 14: so that their abundance may supply your need. When someone has and someone does not, there is a knee-jerk reaction in the heart of the believer. James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good* is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
        Second, the way which the need is met is incredible. Manna fell from heaven. It was given by the very hands of God. The need for food was met. In the Macedonian church, the need for food was met by the person who had food to give. This is not to draw a line between gifts given by God and those given by men. James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift is from above. Therefore, even the gift from a brother is from God. However, the mode by which it is met is astounding. Your hand is able to be the means God uses to meet another’ need - and vice-versa. Instead, of the man going out and gathering food off the grass (manna), your hand extends to his and he gathers from it!
        Oh! If the Church would believe this. We give ourselves first to God and then we give our stuff to others. This is true religion.

Tuesday, March 21

Becoming Like Him By His All-Surpassing Power

2Cor. 6:1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain...3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything...our heart is wide open...16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; 2 Cor. 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body* and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

        Today is the day of salvation (v.2). We are working with God to convince people of this reality and beauty that they can be temples of the living God. We urge people to press on towards cleansing themselves and bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God (7:1). This is how people receive the grace of God in vain. They are endowed with mercy upon mercy, teaching, the Body of believers, and yet they remain living without the reality of Christ in them (Col. 1:27). He is the hope of glory, yet to be revealed.
        Paul is not coy about teaching that God is in control of all things, even the strength in which we pursue holiness. However, he is not shy about saying that we work with God. This does not mean he is a synergist - believing that things happen when we “help” God and he “helps” us. He has already established in 4:7 that the surpassing power is not from us, but from God. What power? The power to proclaim Jesus as Lord (4:5) and to endure suffering and afflicting (4:8), and death (4:10). This is all to make Jesus look good - to look like the life-sustaining, hope-giving Savior he is. This is why we proclaim him; we do it in the strength that he supplies (1 Peter 4:11).
        Paul’s point in these chapters, indeed the whole book, is to spur the Corinthian church on toward perfected holiness. This is a goal that we will not reach in this life, but we must press on towards it. We are called to be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:15; Lev. 19:2; Eph. 1:4; 5:27). This is not a peripheral call for the Christian. This is essential to it. If we are saved by grace, the natural result is that we will pursue holiness because we want to be like our great God. We want to grow in our likeness to him because he will be glorified that way. Just like children want to grow up to be like their favorite sports or movie star and so emulate their mannerisms and language, so do children of God.
        How? We do it in the grace and mercy and power and strength that God pours out on us everyday. These things are in a measure that surpasses any weakness we have. Remember that the power in the jars of clay is all-surpassing. It supersedes our frailties and inabilities! Let us pursue perfected holiness everyday in the power he gives us from the Holy Spirit living within us until the the day he returns and we will be like him (1 Jn 3:2; Phil. 3:10).

Monday, March 20

Confidence In The Ministry of Reconciliation

2 Cor. 5 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
        This sums up the Christian life. Not that it is meant to remain ambiguous, but it is meant to sweep across our thoughts and practice. Paul tells the Corinthians that although the earthly tent they now reside in is wasting away, they know that they have a building from God that is eternal. They groan, but not in futility or in vain, but in joyful expectation. They are waiting for the redemption of their bodies from the sin-filled world. Although it is good to be with the Lord in spirit, this is not it. We are meant to be redeemed wholly - body and soul.
        Where does this confidence come from? Verse 5 tells us that the Spirit has been given as a guarantee for this reality to take place. Much like Romans 8:23, the Spirit groans as we wait patiently for this redemption and adoption by God. We do not lose hope of this reality, we are of good courage because of the agent of faith working confidence in us.
        However, the time has not yet come because the ministry of reconciliation has not been completed. God has entrusted his people with the message that men everywhere be reconciled to their Maker. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. We want men to no longer live to themselves - that is, in slavery to their temporary passions - but towards God. We have a great message to not only share, but impart for the sake of God’s Name and people’s everlasting joy.

Friday, March 17

Reformed Charismatics

Is this an oxymoron? Ministries like CJ Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace ministry has given viability to what it looks like to be Reformed and Charismatic.

Jeff Purswell of Sovereign Grace Ministries (Dean of the Pastor’s College) gave a talk in which he explains the contours of Sovereign Grace’s stance on the charisma/pneumatology. You can go here and download it for free. If you don't have an account with them, get a new account and follow the instructions. When you get to the payment instructions, put in the special code “Free Download”. You will be charged $0.00 for the download. Enjoy!

Note: This free download is only free until April 1st.

Wallace Reviews Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus"

I first heard Bart Ehrman on Fresh Air with Terri Gross on NPR. (Listen here.) I was disappointed in his critiques, not because they were critiques, but because they were hollow reasons to put no confidence in the Scriptures.
        Ehrman studied at Moody, Wheaton, and Princeton and is a premier text critic. He is writing for the main stream now - trying to get folks to question the validity of the Scriptures. Thankfully, Dan Wallace has critiqued Ehrman’s new book, Misquoting Jesus. More will need to be said from Christians as we respond to this eloquent, witty, and smart man who does not have a firm foundation for his critiques.

The review can be found here. May we read and re-read it so as to have a good answer why we can trust the Scriptures.

In sum, Ehrman’s latest book does not disappoint on the provocative scale. But it comes up short on genuine substance about his primary contention. Scholars bear a sacred duty not to alarm lay readers on issues that they have little understanding of. Unfortunately, the average layperson will leave this book with far greater doubts about the wording and teachings of the NT than any textual critic would ever entertain. A good teacher doesn’t hold back on telling his students what’s what, but he also knows how to package the material so they don’t let emotion get in the way of reason. A good teacher does not create Chicken Littles.

[HT: Ben Witherington] By the way, Witherington also posts some comments on the review and the book. Click on the link to go there.

Doctrine and Practice

1 Cor. 6:1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!...You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Paul has just finished chiding the Corinthians for their lack of disgust at the sin of the sexually immoral brother in ch. 5 and now he expounds on the fact that judgment is reserved for God yet there is an element of seeing what is wrong and right in view of God’s righteous decrees in the Word. The impact of Paul’s questions is penetrating...he cannot believe how stiff of neck and heart of mind they are to not know what needs to be when tense situations come up.
        Rather than setting out a list of what they should do, Paul is telling them that they need to be gripped in a new way by the power of the Gospel and the Spirit that dwells in them. They are acting as though they had no Spirit in them. They are letting sin go unpunished, destroying their witness in the world, propagating worldly interpretations of law and remedies for sin. They go to court, yet they will judge even angels. Why such fleshly actions?!?! It is due to the fact that they do not realize that the Spirit of God dwells in them. Verse 20 exhorts the Corinthians to have a new mind. They belong to God. As a result, they will glorify God in their bodies - sexual activity, law suits, forgiveness, purity in the Church, and their thinking.

Thursday, March 16

Purging In Order To Persevere

1 Cor 5:5 You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.*

Unlike in Israel, someone who was cut off from the people of God were allowed to enter anew. This is due to the fact that the mark of God’s people is not in the circumcision of the flesh, but of the heart. The sign of a believer is not having sin rule in the body. This is why Paul is adamant about having no leaven (or sin) among the people of God.
        There is a deep sickness that overtakes people when sin is present. Just like yeast causes the whole loaf of bread to rise, not just a section of the bread, so sin spreads like a virus that infects and affects every part of the whole.
        Therefore, we are to purge those in the community who are openly rebelling against God. It is our joy to cast out the brother who is caught in sin and hard-heartedness; because, ultimately, we want him to be restored to God. The ἵνα is so important for us to grasp. We deliver the sinner over to Satan so that his flesh (σαρκός) will be destroyed.
        Who would have thought that Satan is an agent of sanctification. Isn’t this the case in so many situations? Satan has in mind to sift us like wheat (Peter) or, better, to afflict us with boils, take away our riches and family, and cause deep pain (Job). In the end we come out as purified gold (Job 23:10). And although we fall seven times, we will be stood up (Prov. 24:16; Romans 14:4). This is the reason we deliver our sinning brother to Satan...so that he will be refined. Or in order to show that he was not of us (1 Jn. 2:19). In either case, the people of God cannot have sin present among them.
        It is important to note one more point in this chapter. We are not responsible for judging those outside the family. Our judging remains inside the walls of the family. This is something that Christians fail at time and again. We look at the world, Hollywood, the repulsively rich, and say, “How horrible! They shouldn’t do that. They shouldn’t have that.” We are told explicitly that WE shouldn’t do that and WE shouldn’t have that among us. How we fail, Christian! Let us be concerned with the household of God and not try to sanctify the world. Let judgment begin with us and the Lord will exercise his perfect justice on the unbeliever. May we be salt and light to the the world so that the darkness will continue to flee away.

Wednesday, March 15

The Varied Adjectives for Christians

1 Cor. 4
        Paul had a very clear understanding of who he was and who the Christ that he served was. There was no wishy-washy thinking when it came to Paul telling his disciples who he was and what he was sent to do. What is astonishing is the many titles he gave himself and how he understood who he was. Paul sees himself from three perspectives.

In Relation to God:
He is first and foremost an apostle by the will of God, ch. 1 verse 1. He is also a servant of God and a steward of the mystery of Christ. Seldom is the servant also the steward of his master’s dominion. This is not so when we serve God. We are at work to expand the Kingdom and to declare that King Jesus is indeed king of the entire universe. On the other side of the same coin, we are co-heirs with him. Daniel 7 goes into great lengths to explain how the entire creation will be given to the Son of Man. At the end of the chapter, the same dominion is handed to his servants. Therefore, we have been entrusted, as his servants, to have dominion over the earth (cf. Gen. 1:28f). We are not merely lackeys in the Kingdom, but we are entrusted with the glorious riches of God’s possession.
        This stewardship doesn’t merely relate to the seen, but also to the mysteries in Jesus. The mystery of Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27 - mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.) Not only is the mystery, Christ in you, but it is Christ himself! (Col. 2:2f - God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.) The Gentiles are fellow heirs with the chosen people of God (Eph. 3:6). The intimacy that is displayed in marriage as it reflects Christ’s love for the Church (Eph. 5:32). This mystery will also be “fulfilled” (Rev. 10:7). Sometimes Paul leaves “the mystery of Christ” ambiguous so as to envelope all the glories that are contained in the phrase (Col. 4:6f).
        One of the telltale signs that a man is a true steward is that he is trustworthy. And so Paul appeals to his integrity as a sign of his true stewardship of this grace.

In Relation to the World:
        They are a spectacle to the world (a freak show as it were; 1 Cor. 4:9). They are fools for the sake of Christ (v. 10) in order that their hearers might be wise. They are weak (v. 11) so their beloved will be strong. They are have a bad reputation (v.11) while their hearers are being honored. They are the scum (περικάθαρμα) of the world (v. 13); the price of expiation or redemption, Prov. 21:18, because the Greeks used to apply the term katharmata to victims sacrificed to make expiation for the people, and even to criminals who were maintained at the public expense, that on the outbreak of a pestilence or other calamity they might be offered as sacrifices to make expiation for the state.). They are the refuse (περίψημα) of all things (v. 13); It is used of a man who in behalf of religion undergoes dire trials for the salvation of others, Ignatius ad Eph. 8,1; 18,1; (see Lightfoot’s note on the former passage)!

In Relation to the Hearers:
        Although Paul uses such strong language to show how he is despicable in the eyes of the world, he shows the amazing contrast between who he is and how he is viewed. Because he truly is a servant and steward, he also qualifies as a father of his hearers (v. 15). They are strong because he has lowered himself and taken the pain of slander. He is a model for their faith (v. 16). That is, although they are presently strong, honored, and wise, they should become like Paul. What does this mean? They are to count all things as loss in comparison to serving God and stewarding his mysteries.
        There is a great disparity between who we are and how the world views us. Paul has shown that what the world deems valuable and wise, is actually worthless and ignorant. The Cross of Christ crucifies any boasting in who we are. We have received everything (v.5). That is, whatever we think we could boast in turns out to indict our insolent pride. Status: it was given to us. Money: the very strength to earn it was given to us. Wisdom: if based on the world, it is folly. Salvation: it has been given to us. Faith: it has been gifted to us. Perseverance: the Holy Spirit quickens our stale souls.
        Oh! That we would be gripped anew with humility in the free gift of faith and joy! That we would be foolish for the sake of Christ. That we would stop jockeying for position and honor. Instead, would that we press on towards Jesus. He was derided, mocked, and murdered. May we not scoff, but rest in his sufficiency to meet all our needs...even the need for rest.

Tuesday, March 14

Boasting in Leaders

1 Cor. 3
        People not only boast in their wisdom, but also in the wisdom of their leaders. Some brag about following Paul or Apollos or Cephas. This is ridiculous! Did any of these men die for the Corinthians sin?
        We act like elementary schoolchildren who cry out, “My daddy can beat up your daddy.” The question is: “Can you beat me up?” “Can you beat up sin?” We cannot boast in anyone - especially not ourselves, but only in Christ. We were hopeless. Dead. We had no place to turn because we couldn’t turn our heads. But God blew breath in our lungs, opened our eyes to the beauty of Jesus on the Cross. He filled our opened mouths with praise of our King. And we became his sons! Now we live in the power and joy of the Holy Spirit of Promise who has been richly poured out in our hearts.
        When we come to this reality, we understand that all things - and all men - are ours! There is not a hierarchy among men. There is one king. One Mediator. One Saviour. 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. All things belong to God. We are his possession.

A note about works:
        Some might argue that we are saved by faith and by the works that we perform as being a part of God’s new covenant. They argue that the Spirit empowers us to obey and do good works. This may sound right - especially in light of the “need” for good works. But in light of v. 15 I don’t think this stands. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. This man will be saved, although his work will be burned up. He will be saved, even if he does not have works to show for his life on earth.
        The initial problem I run into has to do with the fact that good works are a necessary evidence of our justification. This is not a theological treatise, but a metaphor Paul employs to reiterate the fact that salvation is by grace alone through faith, not by works. Why? So no one can boast!

Monday, March 13

Day-Old Doughnuts

Here’s a decent article on how our culture views women. Although I don’t agree with some of the verbiage used, I really appreciate the poignancy.

That our culture worships youth is not all that surprising of an observation. But it is sad to see what this misplaced worship has cost us. Because we have defined ideal womanhood as a giggling twit of a doughnut, women have begun to consider the very thing that Scripture identifies as their glory as a handicap. Rather than honoring their years, we have taught women to be embarrassed by them. Rather than directing the younger women to learn from the wisdom of the older women, we have convinced our older women to chase after the younger.

[Day-Old Doughnuts by Ben Merkle]

Our Faith Rests in the Power of God

1 Cor. 2
3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

There would be few Bible scholars who would disagree that Paul was the best exegete the Church has ever had. Few would argue that he saw things in the Scripture that others would never understand - the mysteries, the reasons, the explanations of God’s work in salvation-history. However, it was Paul himself who said that his speech and his message were not in words of lofty and profound wisdom. Instead, they were characterized by the Spirit and power. The reason behind all this is so that our faith might rest in the power of God and not the passing words of wisdom that men utter.
        We shouldn’t discount the words that men speak because Jesus said that every word we utter will be judged. Paul is not advocating some kind of babbling that has no rationale to it and thought. This would be a travesty indeed. If Paul were to write repetitions and bare emotion without reason his words would not have been recorded. They would have passed away when his lips ceased. What Paul is talking about here furthers his teaching from chapter 1.
        So many people lift up a teacher in the Church who seems to know all the deep secrets of Bible interpretation. They do back-flips through the Scripture just to show this wonderful new insight. Others don’t even use the Scriptures. They get a psychologist to visit their pulpit and tell people how they can be happy. They push the power of God aside in exchange for the wisdom of men.
        Woe unto us, brothers, if we ever diminish the Word of God for the sake of our reputation. We serve and are not to be pedestaled by people. We are to lift up, expound, and delight in the power of God - the Word of God as empowered by the Holy Spirit.
        The other trait of this reason lies in the fact that our faith is to rest in the power of God. It is like a tense child who is held by his mother. He gets riled up and cries, but when Mommy picks him up, he is calm and does not fear the world raging around him. Could this be the reason why so many men worry when they are in the pulpit? They are afraid what others will think - am I smart enough, did I convict, etc? We should be concerned about what we say, but not seeking the pats on the back others will give.
        We are called to preach and teach in such a way that our people can rest in the power of God. They can call God on their side in whatever fret they have. When their marriage is failing - they cry out to God, not some self-help book with ten steps. When their teenager has run away from home, they cry out for mercy. When they can’t pay their mortgage because they lost their job, someone is ill, their pay was slashed, they cry out for sustaining grace.
        Finally, lest we think we go to stand in the pulpit and say whatever is on our minds and say that we are trusting the Holy Spirit to give us the words we need, Paul says in verses 6-7: Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. We do teach with the wisdom of God - Jesus Christ our wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30). Take heart! The wisdom we impart will not pass away. If we are faithful to what the Lord has said in his Word, we know that the seeds we sow will grow to maturity. But we must preach from his storehouse and not sow seeds of our own understanding. Think, brothers, what you will say. But let there be a governor of the divine word to hedge you in from heterodoxy and lies.

Friday, March 10

Where is Wisdom?

1 Cor. 1
Corinth was a major port and business center in Greece. It was a thriving metropolis of culture and education. Mixed in all this were Jews and Gentiles. Jews held fast to their tradition and understanding of the Scriptures. Greeks held to their philosophers (“lovers of wisdom”).
        Paul draws the line in the sand with those who would oppose his teaching, and ultimately the Christ of God. Paul wants to make it clear that he is not trying to make a name for himself. He is seeking to lift Jesus up and show that he is more valuable than wisdom, knowledge, and strength. “For,” he says, “Christ sent me to preach, not with eloquent words to impress, but the Cross. This Cross I preach is foolish to anyone who thinks they have a better understanding of how God does things. The Cross is the power of God.”
        It is amazing to see the lengths that Paul will go to bring in the lost sheep of Israel. He risks famine, nakedness, sword, etc. all for the sake of preaching the Gospel of God. That is, when the lost sheep hear the voice of their Shepherd, they will come. They will recognize the power of God that is reflected in the words that come out of Paul’s mouth. How many preachers today are quoting the philosophers of this age! How many are seeking to impress with their great insight into the Scriptures! The point of God breathing life into dead people is that they might boast in the Lord (vv. 30-31). When Christ returns and calls his people to himself, no one will be able to say, “I am so glad I was smart enough to choose Jesus.” Or, “I am so glad that I chose to breath when I was dead.” What folly!! Christ came to seek and save the lost. Those who did not know their way. He came to transfer (move with his hand) people from the kingdom of darkness into his marvelous light (Col. 1:13).
        There is no boasting at the Cross of Christ. It is done away with. Therefore, heaven will not be filled with the wisest people, according to this world, but it will be filled with the praises of the humblest people in the world. Because wise people cannot praise anyone but themselves. Truly humble people cannot help but praising the riches given to them by Jesus.
        What glory is proclaimed from the pulpit! God did not ordain that quotes from authors be preached. He ordered the world in such a way that His Word would be lifted up and put on display for his people to recognize, delight in, and rejoice over while those who are perishing scoff, mock, and deride. The world says, “Jesus is a crutch for the weak.” Indeed, he is more than a crutch. He is a stretcher that carries us out of the burned house, takes us into the ambulance, and he breathes life into our crusted lungs. He brought that which was nothing into existence. Just as he formed Adam’s body from the dust and breathed life into his lungs, so he has done with everyone who cherish Jesus. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 28 God chose (action) what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that (the purpose) no human being* might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Wednesday, March 8

Who's To Blame?

USA Today offers an article that asks the question why students’ grades are not where they should be. Patrick Welsh proposes that it is students’ poor work ethic coupled with the school.

"Kids have convinced parents that it is the teacher or the system that is the problem, not their own lack of effort," says Dave Roscher, a chemistry teacher at T.C. Williams in this Washington suburb. "In my day, parents didn't listen when kids complained about teachers. We are supposed to miraculously make kids learn even though they are not working"...
"Schools play into it," says psychiatrist Lawrence Brain, who counsels affluent teenagers throughout the Washington metropolitan area. "I've been amazed to see how easy it is for kids in public schools to manipulate guidance counselors to get them out of classes they don't like. They have been sent a message that they don't have to struggle to achieve if things are not perfect.“


I would like to suggest that it is a combination of both with the parents added into the mix. Parents are abdicating the responsibility of parenting to the school system. Notice the sentence, ‘In my day, parents didn’t listen when kids complained about teachers.’ In a culture where we are asking 7-year-olds to be self-empowered, we have forgotten that they don’t even know what the ”self“ is. It has become a license to do whatever a child sees fit to do.

I understand that parents are intimidated to discipline their children. But he who withholds correction from his son truly hates him. Whether it is talking back or taking drugs, parents must be willing to be hated by the ones they love most.

Tuesday, March 7

Are Mega-Churches Evil?

John Armstrong has a thought-provoking post on parsing the critiques of the mega-church. I have too many times been critical of the mega-church for several reasons (one of which Armstrong points out below). While it is true that the possibility for superficiality is higher in a mega-church than a church of 100 people, it does not necessitate that. What are your thoughts? Before you comment, read the excerpt below (even better, go to the article).

Why do people attack megachurches? I am not completely sure but I know why I once did. I felt they were, generally speaking, not faithful to the gospel. I also felt that they lowered the standards for moral formation and discipleship. I do not see hard evidence that this is true at all. Most of those who attack the lack of gospel clarity in the megachurch do so because they believe that they alone, and their few zealous friends and followers, preach the gospel faithfully. They reason semething like this---if you preach faithfully you will not, in most cases, draw huge crowds (because so few are being truly converted today). So, these people conclude that these megachurch pastors do not preach the gospel as faithfully as I (we) do. This is not only patently false, it is rooted in unadulterated sectarianism and pride. Some of the biggest promoters of this mode of attack are themselves the pastors of large churches that draw thousands of smaller church pastors into their influence by constantly attacking the megachurch. (I know this since I have been in these very same circles and preached this very type of message, to my shame and deep regret!) I ask you, very seriously: "What true good does this do for expanding the kingdom of Jesus?" (emphasis original)

Friday, March 3

New Commentary Series

Smyth & Helwys publishers is coming out with a series of commentaries that seems promising. It is a little pricey, but they seem well-organized and thorough (literary structure, exegesis, historical context). Click the link above to go to download samples.

[HT: D. Griffiths]

Michael Sattler

May 20, 1527

The Reformation had just begun in Switzerland (1525). The Roman Catholic Church was losing power and sway over the people. Ulrich Zwingli was deciding how far reform should take the Swiss. His zealous proselytes began to push reform in accord with the Bible alone.

Despised by Luther, Zwingli, and the Roman Catholic Church the Anabaptists provided the framework for present-day Baptists in America. They affirmed baptism for believer’s only, church autonomy (not dictated by the state), priesthood of all believers, and were pacifists. The influence of the Anabaptists is most clearly connected with the Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites. The Anabaptists were tortured and killed because of their unswerving commitment to the Scriptures. Michael Sattler is a prime example of their commitment and Christ-like attitude.

Sattler’s Martyrdom:
The torture, a prelude to the execution, began at the marketplace, where a piece was cut from Sattler’s tongue. Pieces of flesh were torn from his body twice with red-hot tongs. He was then forged to a cart. On the way to the scene of the execeution the tongs were applied five times again. In the marketplace and at the site of the execution, still able to speak, the unshakable Sattler prayed for his persecutors. After being bound to a ladder with ropes and pushed into the fire, he admonished the people, the judges, and the mayor to repent and be converted. Then he prayed, “Almighty, eternal God, Thou art the way and the truth: because I have not been shown to be in error, I will with thy help to this day testify to the truth and seal it with my blood.
[The Anabaptist Story by William Estep]

Further Study:
The Schleitheim Confession
The Dordrecht Confession of Faith
The Martyr's Mirror
Dream Seeker Magazine
Position on War & Peace
Global Anabaptist Mennonite Enyclopedia Online [GAMEO]
"The Anabaptist Story" (essay)
Balthasar Hubmaier

Planning on Adopting?

Or know someone who is? With all the costs of adoption there is a ministry that seeks to help families by providing financial assistance: God's Grace Adoption Ministry.

From the site:
God's Grace Adoption Ministry, Inc. was established in 1998 as a non-profit organization dedicated to helping place orphaned children of the world into forever families. GGAM seeks to help Christian families overcome the financial burden of adopting children. GGAM believes that the placement of children into Christian homes ministers to their physical needs, but more importantly, influences their lives eternally for the Kingdom of God.

[HT: Bruce Keisling]

Thursday, March 2

John Piper is Writing Books About Bird Flu?

Go here.

Scrabble Fans

Here’s a documentary {I am linking to Cawley because he has some other links} on four men who are on their way to the Scrabble national championship. By the way, you don’t want to play me in Scrabble. Not because I am good, but because I take way too long to think of a word. I mean, all those squares, all those letters...it’s enough to make me go dyslexic! I see one square for Double and another for Triple...what do I do!?!?!

This one’s for you Big Willy Style!

[HT: Cawley Blog]

Pearl Jam to Release 8th Album!!

I am pretty excited about this! I thought they were done. But according to their web site it is due out May 2nd.

Wednesday, March 1

Unity & Diversity in Scripture and Tradition

Theologically, the unity of Scripture marks out clear limits of thought and behaviour beyond which individuals or ‘churches’ may not legitimately be called Christian. On the other hand, the diversity of Scripture demonstrates how no one sect or ecclesiastical tradition has a monopoly of the truth. One can become heretical by being either too broad-minded or too narrow-minded!
[C.L. Blomberg, “The Unity and Diversity of Scripture” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, 72]

This article lays out the unity and diversity found in the Old and New Testaments. It is extremely helpful in thinking through how the Bible is one book and not 66 books put together by some council. Instead, there exists a canon that is evidenced in the storyline of the Bible. I think the quote above could help us in our desire to see unity in the Body of Christ, realizing that there will also be diversity.

Dance Like a White Guy

This video is hilarious.

On a serious note related to this. Many folks know from experience that white people do not have good rhythm (obviously there are exceptions), but by me saying this should I be condemned as a racist? In other words, are there ways to evaluate a culture and people group without being accused of hating. For example, is it wrong to say that African Americans have better rhythm than Anglos? See my friend, Jonathan Christman's blog for some more thoughts behind this question.

Can Christians Cuss: More Scriptural Meditations

My wife and I try to read through the Bible each year, a practice that has deepened our faith and helped us understand the Bible better. Right now we are reading through the book of Proverbs.

We were chatting about what we have been learning during our reading last night and she reminded me that there is a great divide between the language of the unrighteous and that of the one who fears God. I would says she is right!

Consider this:

> “mouth” is used 44 times <
> “tongue” is used 19 times <
> “lips” is used 33 times <

Proverbs 12.18 - There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
10.21 - The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.
15.4 - A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
18.21 - Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
21.23 - Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
10.11 - The moth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
13.3 - Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
18-4 - The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook


Webster defines “rash” as “acting too hastily or without due consideration; made or done with reckless or ill-considered haste. The picture painted in 12.18 is like that of a man with a sword jabbing into the dark, not knowing what he is stabbing - could be an intruder or his child. However, the lips of the righteous will bring healing because of what the source of his words are - righteousness.

There is another picture of fruit (18.21). Words spring from some source. That is, they do not exist in and of themselves but depend on something else. This is what Jesus and James are referring to when they speak of the heart being the source for these words.

Finally, notice the huge divide that separates the righteous from the unrighteous. The unrighteous speak rashly and hurt people with their words. The righteous bring healing and life and build up the person. 18.4 fills the image that James is speaking about. Everyone has deep waters from which they pull their water (that is, words). The water that we pull from our wells will have effects on our hearers. Now the question for us is what kind of water source do we have. A Christian, by necessity of who he is, has a fresh spring water source. The wicked only bring more thirst when they pour out their treasures.
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