Monday, February 27, 2006

Boundless Love; Boundless Sin

From Sovereign Grace Ministries comes Songs for the Cross Centered Life, inspired by C.J. Mahaney's book of the same title.

I've been particularly struck by the 1st verse and last line of the chorus of the song, The Glories of Calvary (Steve & Vikki Cook © 2003).

♫ Lord, You’re calling me to come, And behold the wondrous cross.
To explore the depths of grace, That came to me at such a cost.
Where Your boundless love, Conquered my boundless sin, And mercy’s arms were opened wide.

. . . ♫ Lord, take me deeper Into the glories of Calvary.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Essential Culture for Theologians

Aussie brother, Benjamin Myer, has posted on his blog, Faith and Theology, the totality of his series, "Essential Culture for Theologians." It's a must-see list! Thank you, Benjamin!

Finding a Church Home - Resources

Looking for a church home? One where the gospel of the sovereign grace of the Lord is taught? Perhaps the following links will help you in your search.

Of course, these are resources only, and by no means take the place of the Lord's providential leading and direction. I provide them to assist you, and having not visited every one of them, I certainly cannot vouch for the teachings of every church therein listed.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Doctrine Has Consequences

One's doctrine, theology, matters! In the end, doctrine has its consequences.

Too Inclusive; Church loses building after members flee pastor's universalism
(Christianity Today, Tulsa, 02/09/2006)
"Carlton Pearson, a high-profile pastor who lost 90 percent of his church's 5,000 members after publicly teaching that everyone will eventually be saved, held the final service in his church building on New Year's Eve. With its property lost in foreclosure and sold to an investment company, Higher Dimensions Family Church now meets as New Dimensions Worship Center on Sunday afternoons at an Episcopal church. . . . Higher Dimensions' slide began about four years ago when Pearson began preaching a form of universalism that alienated his Pentecostal/evangelical followers. His "gospel of inclusion"—that Christ died for the sins of the world, and therefore the whole world will be saved—denied the classic Christian belief that salvation involves turning from sin and accepting God's forgiveness through faith in Jesus."

See also,
Carlton Pearson and Universalism, and The Gospel of Inclusion & Carlton Pearson.

More on the heresy of Universalism:
Four Kinds of Universalism, by John M. Brentnall
Discussion of Universalism, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
Critique of Universalism, The Christian Research Institute
Universalism Examined, by Matt Perman (Director, Internet & Radio, Desiring God Ministries)

For a Biblical treatment of Salvation (vs. Universalism):
The All-Sufficiency of Christ in Our Redemption, by John Hendryx (creator of
Definite Redemption: Jesus Christ Died for God's Elect, by J. I. Packer (from
Concise Theology)
For Whom Did Christ Die?, by John Piper

Friday, February 24, 2006

Heed the Calls for Renewal in Our Theology

Calling attention to the state of the evagelical church and the need for renewal in evangelical theology.

Above All Earthly Powers: Christ In A Postmodern World (2005), by David F. Wells
(An Interview with David Wells)

Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision (1999), by David F. Wells

God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams (1994), by David F. Wells

No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (1993), by David F. Wells

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (1995), by Mark A. Noll

Thursday, February 23, 2006

High Tea

Supreme Court Sides With Church in Hallucinogenic Tea Dispute (AP)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that a small congregation may use hallucinogenic tea as part of a four-hour ritual intended to connect with God. In their first religious freedom decision under new Chief Justice John Roberts, the justices moved decisively to keep the government out of a church's religious practice. Federal drug agents should have been barred from confiscating the hoasca tea of the Brazil-based church in New Mexico, Roberts wrote in the decision. See also,

Would this qualify for what the Brits call "high tea?"

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Prayer of Praise, Blessing and Thanksgiving

If you’ve ever wondered what to pray for, what to be thankful for, in short - what to speak to God about - then Psalm 103 is the answer for you. It outlines the fact that God is worthy of praise, has blessed us, met our needs, gave us compassion, forgiveness, healing, redemption, and satisfaction. In return, our reasonable service and response is obedience and thankfulness.

Think about it: The angels (Psalm 148:2, Revelation 7:11-12) and the creatures of nature (Colossians 1:16, Psalm 19:1, Revelation 4:11) where created to worship Him. And they do so despite the fact that they, unlike us, have not sinned and are not in need of His pardon. But we have sinned. And if, by His grace, we have been made His child, then we have been bought with a price, redeemed, with our sins removed so far from us that they are forgotten!

So let us get in the habit of opening and closing our days, as David did in Psalm 103, with our acknowledgement that the Lord is to be blessed, and thanked!

Psalm 103
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children,
18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

God: "This is What I Want . . . "

I was reading Pastor John Piper's November 3, 2002, sermon, The Absolute Sovereignty of God (which is part of his study of Romans), and I was struck with this thought:

In the study and pursuit of sound, Biblical doctrine, how often are we guilty of being, of doing, what John Piper said he felt the Lord telling him in 1979?

John Piper recounts that it was in 1979, when he began writing his book,
The Justification of God: Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23, that his study of Romans 9 showed him "a God so majestic and so free and so absolutely sovereign that [his] analysis merged into worship," and he felt the Lord telling him,
  • I will not simply be analyzed, I will be adored.
  • I will not simply be pondered, I will be proclaimed.
  • My sovereignty is not simply to be scrutinized, it is to be heralded.
  • It is not grist for the mill of controversy, it is gospel for sinners who know that their only hope is the sovereign triumph of God’s grace over their rebellious will.
Are we guilty of being, of doing, these things? If so, how have we, who can we, change this?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Prayer - What's It To You? To God?!

What a huge subject! One could easily spend months, years - a lifetime - studying prayer and never even begin to scratch the surface. From the Lord's Prayer to what is, how can we know, and how can we pray, God's will.

But if someone where to ask you, "What is prayer?," or, "What do Christians believe about prayer?," how would you answer them?
  • Would your answer be, "Prayer is the practice of the presence of God."
  • Would it be, "Prayer is asking things from God."
  • Would it be, as we're told in Question 98 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English, "Prayer is offering our desires to God [Psalm 62:8, Psalm 10:17] in the name of Christ [John 16:23] for things that agree with His will [1 John 5:14, Matthew 26:39, John 6:38], confessing our sins [Daniel 9:4], and thankfully recognizing His mercies [Philippians 4:6]."
  • Perhaps you'd give an answer similar to the great 17th Century English minister and Bible commentator, Matthew Henry, who said, "Prayer is the solemn and religious offering up of devout acknowledgments and desires to God, or a sincere representation of holy affections, with a design to give unto God the glory due unto his Name thereby, and to obtain from him promised favours, and both through the Mediator." (Henry, Matthew. Method for Prayer) (See also, book review).
  • Or would it be (as described by King David) the lifting up of the living soul to the living God - "Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul." (Psalm 25:1)
Needless to say, there is more than one "right" answer to this question.

What is your answer? What is prayer to you?

Readings: Sermon, Forget Not All His Benefits (John Piper, June 16, 1991)
Prayer and the Victory of God (John Piper, January 1, 2006)
Ryle, J.C.
Bunyan, John.
What True Prayer Is
Elliff, Jim. An Intimate Hour with God
Krejcir, Richard.
Why We Pray!
Pink, Arthur W. Prayer
Sermon, Prayer - The Forerunner of Mercy (Charles Spurgeon, June 28, 1857)