Tuesday, September 30, 2008

For the Honor of His Name

In class discussion last evening (I am currently teaching “Spiritual Life and Community” for Moody Extension School), one of the students made an insightful comment about modern evangelistic practices. She noted that the gospel is often presented as something that can add great benefit to an individual. The appeal to come to Christ is so that you may know that you have a spot reserved in heaven.

In the same context, another student mentioned the “prosperity gospel.” It is not too much of a stretch to see how the one has influenced the other. If old time crusade evangelism emphasized the assurance of heaven (a huge personal benefit, to be sure), the modern “prosperity gospel” removes the lag time for the impatient and provides the “riches of heaven” (mistakenly identified with financial gain) without waiting for the roll to be called up yonder. If heaven is all about you, then this life can be about you as well.

I thought of that discussion this morning as I read from Ezekiel 36. This is the New Covenant passage where God promises ultimate and final salvation and deliverance. Ezek. 36:22-36 provides a glimpse of God’s motivation involved in His saving work. Through His prophet He states that He is about to act for the sake of His holy name. His actions – which are of great benefit to those for whom they are intended – are not primarily for the sake of the people He loves, but for His own glory and honor.

Why did God save us? Why would He choose to save any of Adam’s race? Is His main intent to provide for us heaven as an eternal home? Or, does God bring salvation to His people for His own glory and honor? In Phil. 2: 5-11, Paul traces the work of Christ from eternity past through His condescension in human flesh to the consummation when all will proclaim Christ as Lord “to the glory of God the Father.”

Instead of “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” perhaps the truth is closer to “God loves His glory and desires that you should glorify Him too!”

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Speaking of Preaching...

Speaking of preaching, the onus is not only on the preacher. There is a discipline of hearing preaching. Read this helpful article in the online version of Christianity Today. I teach a class called "Spiritual Life and Community," and I intend to incorporate this article in my class notes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Does Your Pastor Preach Too Long?

"My Pastor preaches too long." This is a complaint often heard from those who sit in the pew. It is interesting that this seems to be an issue. Having read not a few sermons from the Puritans, I get the idea that time constraints were meaningless to them. But, we live in a different world. As the joke goes, most preachers do not need a clock, they need a calendar. Admittedly, there are those who preach for but a few moments and it seems like an eternity. Likewise, there are others who preach for a hour and one wonders where the time has gone.
John MacArthur writes on this topic in Pulpit Magazine. It is profitable for the preacher and the listener. Find the article here

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


While surfing, I found Denny Burk's blog. Denny is the academic dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate school associated with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. On his bio page, he lists this powerful statement:

I agree with Abraham Kuyper who said: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”

Monday, September 22, 2008

Teach Your Children Well, Part 4

Read an excellent article from Pulpit Magazine on "How (Not) to Raise a Pharisee." It is not for kids only, but for all who desire to avoid the hypocritical legalism that pervades some branches of our Christian faith.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Racist Voters

One of the beautiful things about living in the Youngstown, Ohio area is the entertaining political atmosphere. Two of our esteemed state representatives have weighed in on the importance of the presidential race. Of course, as elected officials from the Mahoning Valley, there is no question regarding where their political and party affiliations lie. However, they have thrown good sense to the wind in statements about the coming election. In their words, at least for people in the Valley, there are 1000 reasons to vote for Senator Obama, and only 1 reason not to: race. Read the statement here.

I would be naive to deny that race plays no factor in this election. Sadly, some who would normally vote Democrat will not this time because of race. But to make such a blanket statement as that above, Reps. Hagan and Lestson have dismissed any political or philosophical differences that one may have with Sen. Obama. Several of my coworkers refuse to vote for Obama because of his position on abortion. Their share the same racial heritage as the Senator's. Are they racist?
And could we not likewise say that the only reason people will fail to vote for McCain - Palin is because they are chauvinists?

I'm sure our forbears envisioned the election process as that which brings out the best in Americans. If they could see us now!


Speaking of Darwin and the Church of England, the whole subject of worldview comes into play. Darwinism and evolutionary theory flows from a naturalistic worldview. That is obvious. What is not so obvious is when a religious body (e.g. the Church of England), one that is expected to speak from a theistic worldview, endorses statements that contradict it's foundation.

Tim Challies posted a recent article about the "coming out" of Ray Boltz. Challies says it is all about worldview. His post is insightful, but some of the responses to the post are, to say the least, interesting. It demonstrates how far we have come in our resistance to calling sin by its name. It appears that many feel that Christians have but two alternatives: call sin sin and be haters, or be tolerant lovers of people.

Is it not possible to see sin in its hideousness and still love people? Apparently, Christians cannot love someone unless we agree with their lifestyle, regardless what our convictions may be.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Al Mohler is Right

Read Al Moher's blog here. He writes of a call for the Church of England to apologize for its misunderstanding and over-reaction to the writings of Charles Darwin. There was a time when churches would speak out against systems that tried to remove the Creator from His creation. I guess it is not "culturally relevant" to rage against the machine nowadays. What would J.C. Ryle think of his church today?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Is Nothing Sacred?

I do not intend to offend accordion players. Quite honestly, I am amazed at the dexterity needed to play that instrument. But, really, is this necessary? William Cowper may be rolling over in his grave.

Religious Right?

Thanks to Justin Taylor for pointing us to this post by Joe Carter about politics, conservatism, and the religious right.

Duet, Trio, Quartet, or More?

On today's blog, Dr. Al Mohler comments on the statement released by the Episcopal Bishops of California urging voters to defeat Proposition 8. This measure would add an amendment to the state's Constitution to clarify the definition of marriage as a union between heterosexual couples.
As usual, Dr. Mohler makes an insightful observation:

Society is strengthened," they argue, "when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment."
Note that the bishops simply refer to "two people who love each other." Why two? Once marriage is transformed from the union of a man and a woman into a union without respect to gender -- and on the claim that marriage is a "fundamental right" -- how can the number two be anything but arbitrary

To appeal to Scripture and tradition as the basis of a "one-for-one-for-life" (or at least that's the intent), is rather hypocritical. As Mohler observes, why is marriage defined as a couple, regardless of gender? Why not a trio or a quartet?

Certainly, it is no stretch of the imagination to attempt to endorse polygamy from Scripture. And if homosexual unions can be blessed because they "engage in a lifetime of disciplined relationship," could not the same be said for polygamists who are disciplined within their own system? In fact, polygamist sects should jump on this confusion in the definition of marriage. Maybe the pluralistic postmodern culture is ripe for a reopening of that issue.

Don't misunderstand me. I do not endorse polygamy (For an insider's account of the misery of polygamy, read Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamists Wife by Irene Spenser). However, by jettisoning Scripture and tradition, we leave ourselves no moral legs to stand upon.

Do we see a Pandora's box under construction? If same sex unions become the norm, then what is next? As Romans 1 indicates, sinful culture is usually not content to remain at a static level in its expression of depravity. Rather, culture spirals downward into further depths of sinful behavior.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Packer on Owen

Read this great review of a John Owen classic by J.I. Packer. I am wading through this book during my devotional time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


"Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD with slackness, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed"
(Jer. 48:10).
I do not want to traffic with those who wrench verses from their context. Proof-texting is a curse from which we are still trying to find redemption. I know that this refers to the destroyers of Moab, and the warning is that the sin of Saul in failing to utterly destroy Amelek not be repeated. Those who were to be the Lord's instrument of judgment on Moab were to do His bidding completely (by the way, Justin Taylor has an excellent article titled "How Could God Command Genocide." Read it here)
I had lately read this passage in my morning reading and it came back to my mind at our county fair yesterday. I saw a young lady wearing a tee shirt with this slogan blazoned across the back: "To do anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." The author of the quote was on the shirt but I could not read it and didn't want to stare.
This is a great slogan for ministry. What an unbelievable privilege it is to be called and gifted for ministry. If we do less than our best, we sacrifice, nay, we slander the gift that God the Holy Spirit has granted to us. Ministry is not for those who crave a life of wealth, ease, or comfort.