Monday, December 17, 2007

The Difference Between Jesus and Your PC

Merry Christmas!!! Tis the advent season! The time when those who know Him kick up their celebration of our Lord's incarnation a notch. Yes, we realize that Jesus was not born on December 25th, but for the Christian everyday is both Christmas and Easter! God has intruded into His fallen creation and provided salvation for His people. Glory be to God in the Highest!!!

How is it then that even believers in the Lord Jesus Christ confuse Him with ordinary Christmas gifts? Take, for instance, the personal computer. The vast majority of PC users don't really know how these blasted things work. Yeah we know some of the component names and the functions; but as for how or why they do what they do; but only the computer geeks and manufacturers have a real grasp. The rest of us only care that if we want info, pictures, music or e-mail it shows up when we request it. Who cares how the machine does it; just as long as it does it!

Unfortunately, too many professing Christians today are treating the King of Kings (the gift who truly keeps on giving) the same way. They don't really care about the "how", the "why", or the doctrines of the salvation of man; they just want to be saved. "As long as I make it to heaven, who cares about theology, hermeneutics or pneumatology. Covenant, schmovenant, just get me out of hell!!!"

Can you handle the truth? Jesus Christ is not a "salvation machine". You don't go to, type in Romans 10:9 and your personal information and get salvation delivered to your front door by FedEx overnight shipping. Having Jesus as Savior and Lord requires a relationship; a relationship that goes beyond just warm fuzzy feelings. Speaking of "warm fuzzy feelings"; remember when you first met your spouse? Remember how you wanted to know everything there was to know about them? How many spouses have written entire books that reveal everything about themselves that was important for us to know about him/her? I'm willing to bet that if they had we would have studied that book like our lives depended on it. Well, guess what? Our lives do depend on the book Jesus wrote for us.

Many will protest that they do indeed read the Scriptures. I'm talking about more than just reading the Scriptures. I'm talking about mining the Scriptures for all they are worth. I'm talking about absolutely making the Word of God the FINAL RULE of our FAITH and PRACTICE. Consider the following quote I read from a professing Christian. This woman was responding to the question: "What is our (the Christian's) stance on abortion"?

"Most of you are not going to like my answer...but such as life this is not a popularity contest! In the situation with a young child or rape ... I think at that time there are some instances where abortion is the answer...I know its wrong and the bible says Thou shalt not kill...But it also says he who is without sin cast the first stone"!

When she was challenged about this response (not by me, thank you very much!) she responded with this:

"Sir, I can really care less if you didn't like the answer that I gave, it was my OPINION. Who said it would be ok to have an abortion. I am not here to defend my feeling or thoughts. I am a realist and from a realist position I feel we know its wrong but at times some people are not focused on the act of sin and its result they are focused on the impact that the act of sin will make in their future...meaning if they have a baby from rape then this child may grow up not knowing the father or the criticism of others and there are so many negatives I can name...or if its a young child the impact of having a baby at a young age is a task in its self...especially if this young person is already living at home with their mother in an already crowded house. I didn't really have to justify my opinions however since you went there I decided to at least explain a little..."

I'm not questioning this woman's salvation; but I am certainly questioning her understanding of whom Jesus is and the importance of His Word in her life. Assuming she is saved, she certainly has not conformed her thinking to her Lord's. Perhaps she will someday. I only use these statements to illustrate the serious disconnect there can be between a person's profession and their practice. Of course, we're all guilty of it to some degree. I just hope, by the grace of God, to eliminate the vast majority of it in my life.

There is a huge difference between Jesus and your PC. With your PC, it's "garbage in, garbage out". With Jesus, it's "garbage (us and ours) in and: righteousness, justification, sanctification, glorification, provision, protection, peace, unconditional love, discipline, growth, adoption, wisdom, discernment . . . out"!

The single most important relationship we will ever enter into is that which we share with Jesus Christ. May we develop a ravenous appetite for Him and for His doctrines. That's all I want for Christmas. How 'bout you?

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Nothing. It's just the "prosperity gospel", in all it's insidious forms, that I hate. Why? Well, it's not because I think that money, good health and fruitful relationships are bad things. After all, as we all know, it's not money that is the root of all evil. It's the love of money that is the root of all evil. Trust me, I'm the guy who used to hold to the "pre-tribulational rapture". Not because I thought it jibed with Scripture; but because I have a low threshold for pain!

I have several problems with the "prosperity gospel". First and foremost, it just ain't biblical! Regardless of how many testimonies you may have heard to the contrary, the "prosperity gospel" is not the Gospel that courses throughout Scripture. It is a different gospel. One that the Apostle Paul calls for the pronouncement of "accursed" for it and its purveyors (Galatians 1:6-9). Ask yourself this question: What did mankind truly lose when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden? Yes, they lost the comforts of paradise. Yes, sickness now entered their experience. And, yes, all their increase would come through toil ans sweat. These things cannot be denied; but these were mere asides compared to the reality that they had now been cut off from their Creator. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve would walk and talk with Almighty God. Now, their fellowship was entirely severed. Consider this (those of you who have been fortunate enough to have had strong and loving relationships with your earthly fathers), what do you most cherish about your earthly father? What most readily comes to mind when you remember your childhood relationship with him? Is it, how much money he earned and spent on you; or, is it how vital his guidance, wisdom and support was to your growth and maturity?

The Gospel that pervades Scripture is about a loving, righteous and Holy God. Who, although He was spurned for the selfish pursuit of prosperity (a prosperity of knowledge and autonomy), sovereignly conquered sin and death redeeming a people to Himself through the precious and innocent blood of His only begotten Son.

The "prosperity gospel" misses this entire message. It indulges man's proclivity for selfish gain and personal well-being. The Word of God consistently warns us about the pitfalls of pursuing wealth and how riches become idols and enslave us. In fact it commands us NOT to pursue riches. Yet somehow the very same people who can't stop lying, who can't stop cheating, who can't stop buying bootleg DVD's, believe they can overcome the pitfalls of earthly prosperity. How foolish.

The second reason I despise the "prosperity gospel" is that it is predicated on twisted Scriptures.One of the favorites of the prosperity preachers is Mark 10:29-30.

" Jesus said, "Truly I say to you,there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake and for the gospel's sake,but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life".

This passage usually gets a few folks up and running around the building. The problem is, however, these preachers always make the "houses" and "lands" literal and the "brothers", "sisters", "mothers" and "children" figurative. These they say are the hundreds of brothers, sisters and "mothers", etc. "in Christ" that you will receive. And the "persecutions" you'll receive are just the misguided jealousy and backbiting other will do because of your blessings. How convenient.

My third reason for anathematizing the "prosperity gospel" is that it puts believers in bondage. When this "WMD" of a theology (it's unfounded, get it!)fails to work for people, what's the excuse? Usually, it' s the persons fault. Either they didn't have enough faith, or there must be some secret sin in their life. My personal favorite is that it's just not their season yet. If I see another church marquis with the message "Your Breakthrough is Coming" ever again, I think I might breakthrough it with a nice rock! Some people who really want to leave their false church are actually afraid to do so because they think they might miss their "breakthrough" if they leave too soon. And these predators in the pulpit know that they hold people with this type of message. It's down right satanic.

Fourth, the "prosperity gospel" leads believers to inadvertently contend against God.
The credo of this bastard gospel is that if one has faith one should never be sick or in want. This automatically places one in contention with God when He desires to glorify Himself through sickness, want or suffering. Remember John 9:1-3. . .

"As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him . . .'"

If the blind man had been sitting under the "prosperity gospel" he and his parents would have been binding satan and speaking sight back into his eyes. God's sovereignty and divine will would not have even been considered. The disciples and today's prosperity pushers assume sickness is due to sin. The truth is, sometimes God is glorified in sickness. A word to the predators: your arms are too short to box with God.

Lastly, the "prosperity gospel", even when it "works", gives a false sense of security. The Pharisees were prosperous; but Jesus called them "whitewashed tombs".
Solomon was prosperous; but he realized that it was all vanity, a "chasing after the wind" Dives was prosperous; but he woke up in Hades where he couldn't buy anything to drink. Oh, how much better is godliness with contentment. They're not called the "deceitfulness" of riches for nothing!

That's what this "reformed" guy has against the "prosperity gospel". I believe it is far more prosperous for us to pursue what the Westminster Shorter Catechism states is the "chief end of man". That is to glorify God and to enjoy HIM forever!

The question becomes (this is where the preacher begins to "whoop") . . .

Can you glorify God and enjoy Him forever, when you're sick and in pain?
Can you glorify God and enjoy Him forever, when you're broke and have not gain?
Can you glorify God and enjoy Him forever, when you're alone and your eyes are wet?
Can you glorify God and enjoy Him forever, when you're bank account is empty and you're deep deep in debt?
Can you glorify God and enjoy Him forever, when mother and father don't know your name?
Can you glorify God and enjoy Him forever, when wife and kids forsake you and the dog does the same?


Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!

P.S. What did Lazarus die of the second time, anyway?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Representin' for the Reformation

I've been hanging out over at The Black Church Page over the last week. Yeah, I remember what I said, but I figured I'm preaching to the choir over here. So, as I expected, I found some true opposition over there.

I opened a forum on Reformed Theology and as usual it got bogged down into a debate over election/predestination. Nonetheless, I do believe I did win a friend and found another reformed ally. If you would care to review the forum here's a link for you . . .

The Black Church Page Forum on Reformed Theology

I thought I'd just leave you with my semi-closing statement (the forum is still open if you would like to weigh in) from the forum and let you tell me what you think.

"As is far too often the case, this discussion which was to deal with the whole of Reformed Theology, has bogged down to a debate over 'election'.

As my opening quote indicates RT is about much more than just this hot-button issue. The central tenet of RT is not election, but the supremacy and sovereignty of God in ALL things. It also focuses on man's faithful worship of this triune, omnipotent and incomprehensible God in "spirit and in truth". As Pastor John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN says: "God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him".

How does RT compare with much of the church ( yea, even the "black" church) today. Here is what I have observed . . .

Modern Church: Increasing emphasis on personal health, wealth and materialism.
Reformed Theology: Emphasis on personal holiness and submission to God's sovereignty

Modern Church: Triumphalism/claiming earthly territory
Reformed Theology: Rejoicing in suffering which produces endurance, which produces character, which produces hope (Romans 5:3-5a)

Modern Church: Declining emphasis on the preaching of the Gospel
Reformed Theology: Insistence on the preaching of the Gospel persistently.

Modern Church: Increasing espousal of heresies ( deification of man, the denial of the deity of Christ, etc.) False prophecy
Reformed Theology: Emphasis of the Five Solas: Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone) Sola Fide (by Faith alone) Sola Gratia (by Grace alone) Sola Christus (Christ Alone) all for Sola Deo Gloria ( the glory of God alone).

Modern Church: Increasing "new" revelation
Reformed Theology: Contending "for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" Jude 3. Agreeing with the Apostle Paul that " even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed" Galatians 1:8. There is no "new" revelation.

Modern Church: Proliferation of female "pastors", "elders", "bishops", and even "apostles" .
Reformed Theology: Honors biblical standard for leadership in the church.

Modern Church: Lack of accountability for pastors/maverick preachers
Reformed Theology: High accountability through governing bodies.

Modern Church: Abandonment of confessionalism resulting in biblical illiteracy and doctrinal ignorance.
Reformed Theology: Strong, well established confessional history and doctrinal instruction.

Modern Church: Compromise with false religions (muslims particularly)
Reformed Theology: Firm denunciation of false religions.

Modern Church: Celebrity status of many Pastors.
Reformed Theology: Pastors castigated for uncompromising stance on biblical truth.

Modern Church: The church as a multinational corporation/ the pastor as CEO.
Reformed Theology: the church as the "house of prayer"/ the pastor as faithful servant and under-shepherd.

That's the short list of what I have witnessed.

I submit to you that a return to the foundational tenets of the historic Christian faith is what is desperately needed today. We have fallen from being the conscience of the nation to being the entertainment of the nation. As a pilot by profession, I travel widely and I frequently hear the world's impression of the church. We are more known for our conflicts, wife-beatings and world-likeness than for our flat-footed uncompromised preaching of Christ and Him crucified.

I believe this can only be because we have abandoned the principles we fought and died for during the Protestant Reformation. We have effectively been cut off from that history ( one of satan's most devious tricks). The average Christian can tell you nothing beyond the history of his own church (if that). What we fail to realize is that all our denominations are rooted in the Reformation. The great reformer,
Martin Luther, understood that when he translated the Scripture into the vulgar (common) languages he was opening a hornet's nest(denominationalism). But He fought for our right to be able to read God's word ourselves in our native tongues. But as is our way, we have turned this to a means toward our ends rather than God's ends.

As blacks we are still so wrapped up in our plight that we believe we hold the patent on suffering. We discount the persecution and suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters have faced long before our enslaved ancestors ever lived. They were fed to lions in the Roman Coliseum, disemboweled and broiled alive in the "iron chair". Their bodies were tarred, set aflame and used as human torches to light the emperor's courtyard. We dismiss the courageous stands of great men like Athanasius, Polycarp, Augustine, Wycliffe and Hus. God used these men to ensure that we'd have this faith that has sustained us through so much suffering.

As proud as we are of our black heritage, how many of us are familiar with Lemuel Haynes, a Calvinist black minister in the 18th century who argued vigorously against the slave trade. Haynes along with other 18th century black authors (Jupiter Hammon, James Albert Ukasaw Gronniosaw, Phillis Wheatley, John Marrant, Quobna Ottobah Cugoano and Olaudah Equiano) "found in calvinsm a tradition of exegesis that could be leveled against the slave trade and slavery". John Saillant, biographer of Haynes, states "early black calvinism was vigorously anti slavery" and Lemuel Haynes was its most prolific voice and writer.

Heart and Mind

Reformed Theology is both experiential and intellectual. It realizes no dichotomy between heart and mind. It's not puffing up the mind (even if fallible people do fall into that trap) leading to a cold, indifferent religion. It's about a mind nourished in the truth of the triune God, who He is and His unimaginable splendor, glory and holiness. All leading to an outpouring, from the heart, of unyielding worship, trust, obedience and love of Him who is infinite. RT recognizes that emotion is a good thing; but it must bow its knees to the truth. Truth is obtained through the mind.

When we enter into the presence of God in our churches on Sunday morning, we are not supposed to check our brains nor our hearts at the front door. I am confident that if any of you were to perform an objective and honest investigation of Reformed Theology, you will find a profound and revolutionary deepening of your walk with Jesus Christ.

If you are willing to accept my challenge, I have a suggested list of books (links) that will be indispensable in conducting your study . . .

History: Eusebius, "The Chuch History"

Not necessarily a RT book, but essential for understanding our roots.


1) "Knowing God" J. I. Packer

2) "Back to Basics" Douglas J. Wilson

3) "Grace Unknown" R. C. Sproul

4) "When Grace Comes Home" Terry Johnson

5) "The Death of Death in the Death of Christ" John Owen
Tough read. Not for the squeamish!

6) "The Holiness of God" R. C. Sproul

7) "Desiring God" John Piper

"Chosen by God" R. C. Sproul

9) "The Doctrines of Grace" James Montgomery Boice

10) "On Being Black and Reformed" Anthony Carter

11) "Holiness" J. C. Ryle

12) "Essential Truths of the Christian Faith" R. C. Sproul

13) "The Sovereignty of God" Arthur W. Pink

Special Bonus: Reformed websites/blogs (links):


In Submission to Sovereignty - My personal blog.

Ligonier Ministries

Non Nobis Domine (Not Unto Us, O Lord)

Blaque Tulip

Council of Reforming Churches"

Viva la Reformation!!!

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Subtle Sinfulness of Silence: The Remix

My regular readers will recognize that I have used the title of this post previously. I have been blogging for just over a year now, and I really thought "The Subtle Sinfulness of Silence" was one of my more original posts. Well, I have found that this is not truly the case.

I have just begun reading the indisputably classic Christian work "The City of God " by one of Church history's most revered fathers, Saint Augustine. In the very first chapter of this masterpiece I have discovered that my previous post was definitely not original and that it certainly was not the most thorough treatment of this topic. I imagine that if he were still among us former vice-presidential candidate,
Lloyd Bentsen might comment," Mr. Tolbert, I served with Saint Augustine, I knew Saint Augustine, Saint Augustine was a friend of mine. Mr. Tolbert, you are no
Saint Augustine".

For those unfamiliar with this seminal work, "The City of God" was Saint Augustine's apologetic for Christianity in the wake of the fall of Rome. It seems that blame for this great catastrophe was placed on Christians by the pagan citizens of this once great empire. They believed that their gods were punishing them because the Roman Christians refused to make sacrifices to their false deities. Saint Augustine authored "The City of God" in order to refute this false accusation. He argued the point that it was only the grace and mercy of the God of Christianity that Rome stood as long as it did (note to the pagans of the USA: those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it!)

Section nine of the opening book of "The City of God", is entitled: "Of the Reasons for Administering Correction to Bad and Good Together". In this section,
Saint Augustine reprimands Christians for remaining silent while their countrymen fall into sin. It is this section that put my little diatribe to shame.

"For often we wickedly blind ourselves to the occasions of teaching and admonishing them, sometimes even of reprimanding and chiding them, either because we shrink from the labour or are ashamed to offend them, or because we fear to lose good friendships, lest this should stand in the way of our advancement, or injure us in some worldly matter, which either our covetous disposition desires to obtain, or our weakness shrinks from losing . . . If any one forbears to reprove and find fault with those who are doing wrong, because he seeks a more seasonable opportunity, or because he fears they may be made worse by his rebuke, or that other weak persons may be disheartened from endeavouring to lead a good and pious life, and may be driven from the faith; this man's omission seems to be occasioned not by covetousness, but by a charitable consideration. But what is blameworthy is, that they who themselves revolt from the conduct of the wicked, and live in quite another fashion, yet spare those faults in other men which they ought to reprehend and wean them from; and spare them because they fear to give offence, lest they should injure their interests in those things which good men may innocently and legitimately use- though they use them more greedily than becomes persons who are strangers in this world, and profess the hope of a heavenly country . . . do often take thought of their own safety and good name, and abstain from finding fault with the wicked, because they fear their wiles and violence. And although they do not fear them to such an extent as to be drawn to the commission of like iniquities, nay, not by any threats or violence soever; yet those very deeds which they refuse to share in the commission of, they often decline to find fault with, when possibly they might by finding fault prevent their commission. They abstain from interference, because they fear that, if it fail of good effect, their own safety or reputation may be damaged or destroyed; not because they see that their preservation and good name are needful, that they may be able to influence those who need their instruction, but rather because they weakly relish the flattery and respect of men, and fear the judgments of the people, and the pain or death of the body; that is to say, their non- intervention is the result of selfishness and not of love".

"They are punished together, not because they have spent an equally corrupt life, but because the good as well as the wicked, though not equally with them, love this present life; while they ought to hold it cheap, that the wicked, being admonished and reformed by their example, might lay hold of life eternal. These selfish persons have more cause to fear than those to whom it was said through the prophet, 'He is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.' For watchmen or overseers of the people are appointed in churches that they may unsparingly rebuke sin. Nor is that man guiltless of the sin we speak of, who, though he be not a watchman, yet sees in the conduct of those with whom the relationships of this life bring him into contact, many things that should be blamed, and yet overlooks them, fearing to give offence, and lose such worldly blessings as may legitimately be desired, but which he too eagerly grasps".

Please don't get me wrong. I am not saying that our family and friends who sit under false teachers are "wicked" or that they don't have eternal life. Only God knows the heart of man. He knows who truly are His. But when a person places his faith more in a man's teaching than in the Word of God; or gives his pastor more praise than he does to his supposed Savior, there is sufficient warrant for concern regarding that man's salvation. I say, we (after having thoroughly examined ourselves-II Cor. 13:5) must err on the side of caution. We must tell them the truth . . . in love. That is, if you do love them.

It is clear that Saint Augustine was exhorting Christians to be more God-honoring and bold by confronting the pagans in their midst. This directive is even more valid in our present age. The most regrettable fact today, however, is that it seems to be more necessary within the Body of Christ(?). Those of us who have been graced to receive the Holy Spirit's gift of discernment and can see through the shenanigans of the Osteens, the Bynums, the Dollars, et al, must be more faithful to tell the truth to out family and friends who are blinded by the bat-guano that these false teachers are peddling.

If we refuse to do so, according to Saint Augustine (and Scripture backs him up), it is an indication that we also love this present life a tad too much, not holding it as "cheap" as we should.

Will they call you arrogant? You betcha! Will they say you are jealous? Count on it!
Will they cease fellowship with you? Quite possibly. Will they change? Not necessarily. The mere fact that these questions disturb us is evidence that Augustine was right about us. If the praise and favor of men holds that great a sway over us in this transient vapor of a life perhaps it is us who need to know the truth.

There's a cross for you to bear
Things to go through if you're going anywhere
For the things you know are right
It s the truth that the truth makes them so uptight
All the things you want are real
You have you to complete and there is no deal
Stand. stand, stand
Stand. stand, stand
You've been sitting much too long
There's a permanent crease in your right and wrong
There's a midget standing tall
And the giant beside him about to fall
Stand. stand, stand
Stand. stand, stand
They will try to make you crawl
And they know what you're saying makes sense and all
Don't you know that you are free
Well at least in your mind if you want to be

Stand, stand, stand "

"Stand", Sly and the Family Stone 1969

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Say 'ello to the Good Guys: Part III

I must immediately issue an apology to this weeks featured teacher. When I began this series of posts I stated that each of these teachers were "white". Well, Dr Ravi Zacharias is definitely not caucasian, he is of Asian descent. My apologies to Dr. Zacharias.

Dr. Ravi Zacharias is a profound apologist for the Christian faith. I was first introduced to him via radio on Dr. James Dobson's program, "Focus on the Family" in 1992. This program featured Dr. Zacharias' sermon, "I, Isaac, Take You, Rebecca". This sermon was particularly profound for me at that time because I was just a few short months away from marrying my lovely wife, Lisa. The impact of this sermon still resounds with me today after fifteen years of marriage and I try to remember to give a copy of it to anyone I know who is contemplating this huge step.

Dr. Zacharias is a prodigious thinker and a sincere lover of God's truth. I highly recommend his book "Jesus Among Other Gods"; and you must get your hands on his lecture "The Uniqueness of Christ" (his dismantling of a college professor who holds to the Eastern philosophy of the "both/and" is worth the price of the recording!)

Here's a brief biography of Dr. Zacharias from Ravi Zacharias Ministries Intl.

For thirty-four years Ravi Zacharias has spoken all over the world and in numerous universities, notably Harvard, Princeton, and Oxford University. He has addressed writers of the peace accord in South Africa, President Fujimori's cabinet and parliament in Peru, and military officers at the Lenin Military Academy and the Center for Geopolitical Strategy in Moscow. He has been privileged to bring the main address at the National Day of Prayer in Washington, DC, an event endorsed and co-hosted by President George W. Bush, and at the Pentagon. Additionally, Mr. Zacharias has spoken twice at the Annual Prayer Breakfast at the United Nations in New York, which marks the beginning of the UN session each year, and at the invitation of the President of Nigeria, he addressed the delegates at the First Annual Prayer Breakfast for African Leaders, held in Mozambique.

Mr. Zacharias was born in India in 1946 and immigrated to Canada with his family twenty years later. While pursuing a career in business management, his interest in theology grew; subsequently, he pursued this study during his undergraduate education. He received his Masters of Divinity from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. Well-versed in the disciplines of comparative religions, cults, and philosophy, he held the chair of Evangelism and Contemporary Thought at Alliance Theological Seminary for three and a half years. Mr. Zacharias has been honored by the conferring of a Doctor of Divinity degree both from Houghton College, NY, and from Tyndale College and Seminary, Toronto, and a Doctor of Laws degree from Asbury College in Kentucky. He is presently a Visiting Professor at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University in Oxford, England.

At the invitation of Billy Graham he was a plenary speaker at the International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam in 1983, 1986, and 2000. Mr. Zacharias has been a visiting scholar at Cambridge University, where he studied moralist philosophers and literature of the Romantic era. While at Cambridge he also authored his first book, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism (Baker Book House, 1994, 2nd ed.), which in 2004 was updated and republished by Baker as The Real Face of Atheism. His second book, Can Man Live without God (Word Publishing, 1994), was awarded the Gold Medallion for best book in the category of doctrine and theology. Deliver Us from Evil (Word, 1996) followed with an accompanying video series. Cries of the Heart (Word, 1998) was his fourth book. His first children's book, The Merchant and the Thief (Chariot Victor), was released in 1999, followed by The Broken Promise (Chariot Victor, 2000). Jesus Among Other Gods (Word, 2000) was nominated for a Gold Medallion. The first in a series of great conversations, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha was released by Multnomah in 2001, and the second, Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks with Oscar Wilde, in 2002. Mr. Zacharias' very personal response to the September 11th tragedy is Light in the Shadow of Jihad (Multnomah, 2002). Recapture the Wonder was released by Integrity Publishers in 2003 and I, Isaac Take Thee, Rebekah, a book on marriage, in February 2004 by the W Publishing Group. His latest work is Walking From East to West: God in the Shadows (with R.S.B. Sawyer) published by Zondervan (2006). Several of these books have been translated into many other languages including Russian, Arabic, Korean, and Thai.

Mr. Zacharias is listed as a distinguished lecturer with the Staley Foundation and has appeared on CNN and other international broadcasts. His weekly radio program, "Let My People Think," is broadcast over 1500 stations worldwide, and his weekday program, “Just Thinking,” began airing in November 2004. He is president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with additional offices in Canada, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Zacharias and his wife, Margie, have three grown children

Now listen to the man . . .

Can you handle the truth?

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Say 'ello to the Good Guys: Part II

I continue my hit parade of sound, biblical teachers this week with a profile of Pastor John Piper.

What stands out about this faithful preacher of God's Word is his intense passion for the supremacy of God in all things. To hear this man preach is to come as close to the beatific vision of God as a human being can be before the actual triumphant return of Jesus Christ.

My life has been irreversibly impacted by his books, "Desiring God", "The Pleasures of God", "Future Grace" and "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ". If you are at all concerned with deepening your walk with Jesus, you simply must read these works.

Here is a brief biography of John Piper from Desiring God Ministries . . .

"The ministry of preaching is the central labor of my life. My prayer is that through that ministry and everything else I do the great glory of our God and Savior Jesus Christ would be magnified as more and more people come to live out the obedience of faith more and more deeply."

John Stephen Piper was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee to Bill and Ruth Piper January 11, 1946. When John and his older sister were still small the Pipers moved to Greenville, South Carolina where John spent the rest of his growing-up years. His father was an itinerant evangelist who is still actively ministering through international radio and Bible courses. John has written a tribute to his mother, who died in 1974, in the booklet, "What's the Difference" (Crossway Books, 1990) which is also chapter one of the book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Crossway Books, 1991).

At Wheaton College (1964-68), John majored in Literature and minored in Philosophy. Studying Romantic Literature with Clyde Kilby stimulated the poetic side of his nature and today he regularly writes poems to celebrate special family occasions as well as composing story-poems (based on the life of a Biblical character) for his congregation during the four weeks of Advent each year. At Wheaton John also met Noel Henry whom he married 1968.

Following college he completed a Bachelor of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (1968-71). While at Fuller, John took as many courses as he could from Dr. Daniel Fuller, the most influential "living" teacher in his life. Through Dr. Fuller he discovered the writings of Jonathan Edwards, his most influential "dead" teacher.

John did his doctoral work in New Testament Studies at the University of Munich, Munich, West Germany (1971-74). His dissertation, Love Your Enemies, was published by Cambridge University Press and Baker Book House. Upon completion of his doctorate he went on to teach Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota for six years (1974-80).

In 1980, sensing an irresistible call of the Lord to preach, John became the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he has been ministering ever since. Together with his people, John is dedicated to spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.

John and Noël have four sons, a daughter, and an increasing number of grandchildren.

Now see for yourself:

This is what sound teaching looks like.

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!

Please visit and or contact these websites:

Michael Leach, Atlanta, GA (email)
website coming soon. Please email for more info.

Robert Benson & Anthony Carter, Atlanta, GA

Lance Lewis, Philadelphia, PA

Ken Jones, Compton, CA or
Ken Jones

Roger Skepple, Atlanta, GA

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Say 'ello to the Good Guys!

Lest we believing Christians give in to what I call the Elijah Syndrome
(see I Kings 19:1-18), I thought it would be beneficial to share with you some of those who faithfully uphold the blood-stained banner of true Christianity. I may have mistakenly taken for granted that most of you are familiar with the faithful teachers that I have referred to in this blog.

Although these teachers do have a wide following they are not all that recognized in the black church community. The reasons for this are many and I hope race is a very small part of those reasons. Yes, the teachers that I will highlight over the next few posts are white. This, however, is not intended to insinuate in any way that white preachers are more faithful than black preachers. It is my hope that now that we have greater opportunity and access to serious theological training, we will make even greater contributions to the "Queen of the sciences".

Albeit, on a stage that is not yet as widely known as that of these teachers, there is a growing number of strong, sound and reformed black preachers. Teachers such as: Michael Leach, Robert Benson, Anthony Carter, Lance Lewis, Ken Jones, Roger Skepple and many others are, by the grace of God, introducing many in the black community to the reformed perspective. With men such as these the future is bright for a resurgence (or should I say "surgence") of reformed theology among black Christians. I will make it a point to include links to the ministries of these and other black teachers at the end of these posts.

Now, to this week's featured teacher . . . Dr. R. C. Sproul.

Dr. Robert Charles Sproul was born in 1939 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, which started as the Ligonier Valley Study Center in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, more than thirty years ago. In an effort to respond more effectively to the growing demand for Dr. Sproul’s teachings and Ligonier’s other educational resources, the general offices were moved to Orlando, Florida, in 1984, and the ministry was renamed “Ligonier Ministries.”

Dr. R.C. Sproul is featured daily on Renewing Your Mind, an international radio broadcast that has aired for more than ten years with an estimated two million people tuning in every week on more than 235 radio outlets in the United States and throughout more than 40 countries. Dr. Sproul is a respected teacher, theologian, and pastor. He is currently serving as the director of Serve International, and as senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida. Dr. Sproul is ordained as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.

In addition, Dr. Sproul was the general editor of The Reformation Study Bible, which was also known as The New Geneva Study Bible, and he is the executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. As a prolific author he has written more than 60 books and scores of articles for national evangelical publications. Dr. Sproul has produced more than 300 lecture series and has recorded more than 80 video series on subjects such as the history of philosophy, theology, Bible study, apologetics, and Christian living. He signed the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which affirmed the traditional view of biblical inerrancy, and he wrote a commentary on that document titled Explaining Inerrancy.

Dr. Sproul holds degrees from Westminster College, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and the Free University of Amsterdam, and he has had a distinguished academic teaching career at various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, and Jackson, Mississippi, and Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Personally, I credit Dr. Sproul as being the vessel God used to lead me out of man(self)-centered religion into Christ-centered Christianity. I came to embrace reformed theology through his radio program and through his book "Grace Unknown". Also very worthy of your perusal are his books: "The Holiness of God", "Chosen by God" and "Essential Truths of the Christian Faith". I truly thank God for Dr. Sproul's relentless desire to "awaken as many people as possible to the holiness of God by proclaiming, teaching, and defending His holiness in all its fullness."

Here is a small dose of Dr. R. C. Sproul . . .

I hope this introduction to Dr. Sproul will inspire you to look deeper into his ministry. Please visit the Ligonier Ministries
web site

Be like the Bereans, Baby!

Please visit and or contact these websites:

Michael Leach, Atlanta, GA (email)
website coming soon. Please email for more info.

Robert Benson & Anthony Carter, Atlanta, GA

Lance Lewis, Philadelphia, PA

Ken Jones, Compton, CA or
Ken Jones

Roger Skepple, Atlanta, GA

Friday, September 28, 2007

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Well, you can't keep a good false teacher down. Just when you thought it was safe to put away your put away your replica of the Ark of the Covenant,
Juanita "No More Weeks" Bynum is back to fleece her sheep once again.

It seems that the "new face of domestic abuse" has a new scam, I mean, commission to intercede on behalf of the nations. And she needs you to fork over 200k to do it.

Take a look . . .

Can someone please tell me what advantage Bynum will have by praying before a fake relic of an abrogated ritual? The sad thing is that she will receive thousands of dollars from ignorant people who are absolutely oblivious to the fact that Christians now have the reality to which this outmoded Old Testament symbol pointed. His name is Jesus Christ. Not only is this whole threshing floor/ark of the covenant ritual unprofitable, it is blasphemous. It is an implicit statement that Jesus is not enough. We must simply cease rewarding these flim-flam artists for holding the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in complete and utter derision.

And how abysmally arrogant can one individual be to elect herself as "the" intercessor for the nations. I find it impossible to believe that Ahmadinejad over in Iran is seeking Bynum's intercession on his behalf.

"For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers . . . They must be silenced since they are upsetting entire families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not teach". Titus 1:10-11

If anyone out there is even giving one nanosecond's thought to actually supporting Bynum in this slap in the face to Jesus, I bid you to meditate on the words of the writer to the Hebrews in the ninth chapter:

Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.

For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place.

Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies,

having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;

and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship,

but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.

The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing,

which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,

since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;

and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance . . .

Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;

nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own.

Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,
9:28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."

Finally, may the God-breathed words of the Apostle Paul give many pause before they write that check:

"I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed"!
Galatians 1:1-6

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Holes in the Dike?

Until now I have been silent about the recent news coming from the false teaching front. You know, the beatdown of "Profitess" Juanita Bynum by her obvious WWE fan, soon-to-be ex-husband, "Bash-up" Thomas Weeks. The pending divorce of "Profitess" Paula White from her overshadowed husband, Randy.

Let me first state my obligatory denunciation of spousal abuse: I, in no way, condone or excuse this horrific and despicable act by any man upon his wife. When the accused is supposed to be the under-shepherd of God's people and an example it is especially disgusting.

That said, I can't help hoping that these events are but the beginnings of birth pangs for these and all the perverters of true Christianity. No, I do not hope that more of them receive physical beatings. I just hope that it becomes more and more undeniable that what they preach is truly snake oil. I hope that these wizards of Oz become exposed for the charlatans that they are. I hope that enough of their duplicitous lifestyles become such a public spectacle that their deceived minions will finally have to abandon their worship of them. A guy can dream can't he!

I wonder what would it take to make the duped flee? My mind reels at the possibilities: murder charges, arrest at a crackhouse, long established Republican voting record. But I realize that these Svengali's have their sheep so drunk on their kool-aid that even these "mistakes" would be excused.

Although these reapings within the ranks of heretics have had little effect on their followers; the unfortunate hardening of unbelievers is evident. A brief perusal of the internet will reveal the heyday unbelievers are having with these events. Among the more clever are statements like these: "if Bynum is supposed to be a 'prophetess', shouldn't she have seen this beatdown coming", "I guess Weeks never heard 'touch not my anointed and do my prohpets no harm'", "You mean to tell me God 'told' her to marry this guy, but He didn't 'tell' her to watch out for the left hook", "I guess Bynum's next book will be entitled, 'The Thrashing Floor'"(for those who aren't aware, on of Bynum's best selling books is entitled, "The Threshing Floor").

Using nothing but "worldly" wisdom, the unregenerate are able to discern the folly of these liars. And the eye of Christianity gets a little blacker. Yet, many of those professing to be "blood-washed, Holy Ghost-filled, blessed, sanctified and highly-favored children of God" remain clueless. It's a shame! It's a travesty! It's a sham! It's a mockery of a shame of a travesty of a sham!

I know, I know, I should be praying for the Bynums, Whites and their ilk. Believe me, I do. Want to hear it? Here it goes:

"Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Yes Lord God, dear Father, hallowed be Your name, both in us and throughout the whole world. Destroy and root out abominations, idolatry and heresy of all false teachers and fanatics who wrongly use Your name and in scandalous ways take it in vain and horribly blaspheme it. They insistently boast that they teach Your Word and the laws of the church, though they really use the devil's deceit and trickery in Your name to wretchedly seduce many poor souls throughout the world and in such persecution they believe that they render You a divine service. Dear Lord God, convert and restrain them. Convert those who are still to be converted that they with us and we with them may hallow and praise Your name, both with true and pure doctrine and with a good and holy life. Restrain those who are unwilling to be converted so that they be forced to cease from misusing, defiling and dishonoring Your holy name and from misleading your people. Amen"

Name and claim that!

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!

The prayer comes from Martin Luther's: "A Simple Way to Pray"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Turning Triumph Into Tragedy: The "Church"'s Abandonment of the Gospel

With all my talk about T.U.L.I.P.s and R.O.S.E.s lately, I somehow forgot to provide any follow-up regarding the recent 2nd annual Stone Mountain Conference on Reformed Theology. As I mentioned in my post leading up to the conference, the theme this year was: "Recovering the Gospel: The Crucial Need of The Church". I won't dare attempt to review the entire conference for you here; but if you would like to listen to the four presentations you may listen to them at the Southwest Christian Fellowship website.

I would like to focus on the last question that was addresses by the conference speakers (Pastor Michael Leach, Pastor Robert Benson, Pastor Roger Skepple and Rev. Anthony Carter) during the final Q&A session. Yours truly submitted this question and the responses to it accurately reflect how far too many "churches" have deviated from the mission given to it by the Lord Jesus Christ. My question was this: "Many professing Christians seem to believe that since they are saved they have the Gospel in their back pocket; it is a done deal. Now they believe that they must go forth and conquer and take authority for the Kingdom. Is this valid? How should we respond"?

Pastor Leach, in his response, stated that this idea is called: "Triumphalism". It also goes under the title of "Dominionism", "Kingdom Triumphalism" and "Kingdom Dominionism". Whatever the title, it is NOT Scriptural. This idea has as it basic tenet that the church is here to take over. As part of that taking over, Christians (having gotten the business of getting saved out of the way) are to go into society and take back the territory that satan has stolen from them. We are to go back into the sectors of business, education and government and show 'em how to do things God's way. It even goes much further. This "triumphalism" even goes to the extreme of preaching that the church holds the key to Christ's return and that all of Jesus' authority has been given to the church to use on earth while He reigns in heaven.

While we certainly are to glorify God in everything aspect of our lives, the triumphalist ideal gives new meaning to the old cliche: " give a n@!#$% a rope and he'll want to be a cowboy"! Proponents of the triumphalist doctrine such as, Earl Paulk and Rod Parsley, believe that the church will one day rule the world thereby allowing Jesus to return. The saddest part of this whole mentality is that while all this conquering and taking authority over the earth is going on; very little preaching of the Gospel and the conquering of personal sin is going on. Whatever happened to "small beginnings"? There is much more to be said about "Triumphalism". Consider this article:Kingdom Triumphalism.

Even more piercing was Pastor Skepple's response. Pastor Skepple stated that those who adhere to the triumphalist doctrine are preaching a gospel; but they are not preaching THE Gospel. And according to the Apostle Paul: "even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed"(Galatians 1:8-9). Skepple warned that "any movement that doesn't allow you to say what Paul says in this passage, you know is false".

Pulling no punches, Skepple further cited Romans 5:1-4:

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have* peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and exalt in hope of the glory of God.And not only that, but we also exalt in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;and perseverance, character; and character, hope."

Emphasizing that as Christians we are commanded not only "to rejoice in hope of the glory of God" but also to rejoice in tribulations, Skepple stated that "any movement that does not advocate or support exalting in tribulation, difficulty, hardship, trial, failure; any movement that does not allow for the exaltation in tribulation, you know is unbiblical . . ." Strong words . . . TRUE words!

Another unfortunate outgrowth of this triumphalist thinking has been the transformation of the church into the corporation. Churches now boast of not being churches but being businesses. Pastors have traded being under-shepherds for becoming CEO's. Inevitably, the church ceases to be house of prayer and spiritual healing and now becomes the clearinghouse of networking, finance, and economic empowerment. How quickly is the lesson of the children of Israel forgotten. In their frenzy for position and power these triumphalist followers blend the faith of Christianity with the savvy of Wall Street, just as the Israelites blended faith in Yahweh with the religions of the Canaanites. It's called syncretism and idolatry and God hates them both. So much so, that He sent His people into captivity under those they so wanted to be like!

I hear your objection, "God never rescinded His original mandate to man that he subdue the earth and have dominion over it". Nice try. First of all, triumphalism is an absolute perversion of the creation mandate. If you reread Genesis chapter one, you'll notice that this mandate is given prior to Adam's fall (it was Eve's fall to0, why do we keep leaving her out!:-)); therefore this mandate was issued to all mankind not just Christians. Every man and woman from Adam forward was supposed to be keeping this mandate. Marriage, procreation, Sabbath-keeping was intended for everybody. Christians do not have a monopoly on these things. Secondly, triumphalism is a self-glorifying theology. It desires the benefits of the Gospel without the suffering of the Gospel. It craves victory now without having to follow the steps of Jesus. Here is the truth: following Jesus inevitably leads to a crucifixion . . . ours! We claim to want to follow Christ, but when we get to the cross we suddenly want to take a detour. The Apostle Paul made it crystal clear: "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake . . ." (Phil 1:29).

We naturally want a crown without the cross, but the writer of Hebrews said,

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, 'MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.' It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline"?

According to Apostle Peter unjust suffering is the way to glory. The truth is, not many of us here in "persecution-free America" are worthy of it (me included).

We must return to the expository preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. True power exists nowhere else. The Gospel is THE POWER of God for salvation to everyone who believes . . . for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'the just shall live by faith'". Notice, "the righteousness of God" is revealed every time the Gospel is preached. How often do you think God's righteousness should be revealed? Notice, "the just shall LIVE by faith". "Live" here is an ongoing process. "Faith" is the fuel for the just person's living. How many times should we continue to hear the Gospel, even after we have been born again? Once for every sin we commit! That ought to cover it!

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

T.U.L.I.P. vs. R.O.S.E. (Part IV)

For whom did Jesus Christ die? That is the question. Did He die with no one in particular in mind? Did He just intend to put His sacred atoning blood up for grabs so that any "Joe" off the street could choose to treasure it or trash it? Or did He "foreknow", intimately know, each and every individual for whom He would make the supreme sacrifice? Did He sovereignly ordain that each person whom He foreknew would be granted the new birth and given the gift of faith? Let's look to Genesis.

In Genesis 3:15 we have what has come to be called, "the proto-evangelion". This is our LORD Yahweh's first pronouncement of the coming Messiah:

"And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."

It is evident in this passage that there are two "seeds", the "seed" of the woman (Eve) and the "seed" of the serpent (satan). For those of you who are jumping ahead and saying, "the 'seed' refers to Jesus!"; yes that is correct. But do I have to go get a Hebrew grammar text and demonstrate that "seed" in this context has a dual application? Don't test me, cause I'll do it! "Seed" refers to the woman's ultimate "seed", Jesus; and it also refers to each of the woman's offspring throughout time.

The two "seeds" from this point in Scripture forward are embroiled in an epic struggle. We observe this struggle as it is played out between: Abel and Cain, Jacob and Esau, Israel and everybody else. The "seed" of the woman being God's people and the "seed" of the serpent being those enslaved to sin and satan. I hear an objection coming, "we all are enslaved to sin and satan prior to salvation". This is true; but thanks be unto God we have received the "adoption as sons". So this "adoption" that we receive necessarily identifies us as the "seed" of the woman. Question: as with any parent who desires to adopt children, does God have the right to choose whom He will adopt and whom He will not? We find no fault in the couple who chooses to adopt child "A" over child "B". Why do we find fault if the ruler of the universe exercises the same right? The adopting couple chooses based on something they see in the child. God would find nothing in us to make us worthy of His choice, but does so based on His own sovereign will. Who chooses more wisely?

But who did Jesus die for? The "seed" of the woman or the "seed" of the serpent? The "seed" of the serpent by nature hate God. They detest His law. They would destroy Him, if they could. The Jezebels, the Manassehs, the Herods, the Neros, the Nietzsches, the Russells of history demonstrate this. Did Jesus die for them? Millions of the serpent's seed died never even having heard of Jesus? Whole barbaric civilizations came and went before Jesus was ever born and died in their sin knowing nothing of redemption. Did Jesus die for them? Could they make a "decision" for Christ never having heard of Him? What about those who were wiped out in the flood, did Jesus die for them? Those whose "every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5)? Such are the "seed" of the serpent.

The "seed" of the woman, according to Scripture have been chosen from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). These having been regenerated by the Holy Spirit are given the gift of saving faith (Eph 2:4;8-9). These have been granted repentance (II Timothy 2:25) and then place their trust in Jesus Christ alone for the salvation of their souls. For such, and such alone, has the LORD Jesus Christ shed His precious blood.

There is also much debate over the use of words like "all", whole", and "world" in Scripture. Many point to these words and argue that they indicate that God's intent in sending Jesus to the cross was for every human being to have the opportunity to be saved. Hogwash. Have you ever said (or heard some one else say) something like this: "the whole world is ___________" Did you mean that every human being (past, present and future) was doing "____________" including yourself? And if you did, how did you know? Words like these are often axiomatic, general terms that describe a perceived overall condition. The Bible sometimes uses axioms just like we do today. Consider the following examples.

"And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness"(Numbers 14:2). Did all the children of Israel complain? The babies, Moses' wife, Moses and Aaron themselves.

Picky you say? How about this one?

"The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him" (John 12:19). Had the entire world gone after Jesus? Obviously the Pharisees had not gone after Him. Are they not part of the entire world? What about the ancient aborigines in Australia?

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you"
(John 15:19). Did the whole world hate the disciples? Did the disciples hate the disciples? Did Jesus hate the disciples?

Get the picture? Words like those above when used regarding salvation refer to every kind of people. People of every single tribe and tongue and nation; but not every single member of every tribe and tongue and nation. When people try to apply these words to every single human being they habitually forget all those who died prior to Jesus' incarnation. As listed above, these people were long dead before Jesus came. How could they have been included in the "all", the "whole", the "every" or the "world"? Even if everybody since Jesus' death is covered, that leaves out a major chunk of humanity!

Since every single human being (past, present, and future) deserves death and hell, there's no sin in that. Some receive mercy, some receive justice, no one receives injustice. If you have been saved by Jesus Christ, rejoice! You have received mercy! If you think you had anything to do with it, you'll learn better in glory!

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!

P.S. I highly recommend "The Death of Death in the Death of Christ" by John Owen. It's a tough read, but you will be highly blessed. Trust me! :-)

Friday, July 20, 2007

T.U.L.I.P. vs R.O.S.E.(Part III)

Let's take a look at our Lord's high priestly prayer in chapter 17 of the Gospel of John.

Just prior to His betrayal and arrest, Jesus in chapter 17 prays for Himself, His disciples and all those who will trust in Him for salvation through the disciples' teaching. Let's consider some facts about Jesus and about prayer.

Fact #1: According to John 9:31,God does not hear the prayers of sinners (except the prayer of repentance). Jesus is the perfect and sinless Son of God. Therefore, Jesus' prayers would always be heard by God.

Fact #2: According to I John 5:14, we have this confidence that if we ask anything in accordance with God's will He will hear us. Jesus clearly proclaimed that He and His father are one and that He always does the will of His Father. Therefore, God always hears His Son's prayers.

Fact #3: I John 5:15 states that if indeed God hears us in whatever we ask (according to His will), we KNOW that we have the requests that we have asked of Him. As established by fact #2 Jesus always prays according to the Father's will; therefore, Jesus (above every other being in history) most certainly obtained every request that He has ever asked of His Father.

With the above facts in mind, let us consider John17:6-9, 20, 24.

17:6 "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

17:7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.

17:8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

17:9 I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.

17:20 "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;

17:24 Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

Jesus states in His prayer that He has made known the Father's name to those whom the Father had given Him. In verse 9, Jesus make it very clear that He is only praying for these same people. In fact to avoid any confusion, He further clarifies His request by stating He is "not praying for the world but for those whom You (the Father) has given me, for they are Yours". Now, some might argue that this prayer was made soley for the disciples. I think that upon further inspection this would prove too much. According to the facts listed above, restricting this prayer to the disciples only would mean that only they would ever be saved. Jesus makes misconstruing His words nigh impossible in verse 20 when He states, "I do not ask for these (the disciples) only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word . . ."

It is apparent here that Jesus is distinguishing between two different groups of people. One group consists of His disciples and those who would trust Him because of their teaching. The other group consists of the world, i.e., everybody else. It is also apparent that this high priestly prayer is basically a prayer for the salvation of the people included in the former group. In accordance with Fact #1 (above), the Father would definitely hear this prayer of Jesus because Jesus is not a sinner. In accordance with Fact #2 (above), The Father would also hear this prayer of Jesus because it was in accordance with His will. In accordance with Fact #3 (above), Jesus would definitely obtain His desire in this prayer be cause of its adhereing to Facts #1 and #2.

Without question, I believe that each and every person who is included in the group for whom Jesus did pray are the exact same persons for whom Jesus made atonement. What about the other group, the world?

Did Jesus go to the cross and make atonement for those whom He did not even care to include in His high priestly prayer? Jesus was certainly aware of the truths expressed in the facts listed above. If He intended to atone for the world's sin also, why did He leave them out of His prayer? Surely had He intended for the world to be saved, His prayer would have cinched it.

Conversely, it follows that the atonement of the world's sin was not the Father's will. If it had been His will, Jesus could not truthfully state that He and the Father were one and that He always did what the Father did. This is so because, nowhere in Scripture does Jesus ever pray like this for the world.

Did Jesus still atone for those for whom He did not care to pray but they still somehow end up in Hell? Based on the listed facts this is impossible. The Father would have heard, agreed with and granted Jesus' request for the entire world's salvation.

Did Jesus or the Father intend for the precious blood of Jesus to be shed for those that they knew had no chance in hell of getting to heaven? For this to be the case, the Father would have to intend to waste the precious, innocent and altogether holy blood of His sinless Son to a great degree. Consider, Jesus in addtion to atoning for sin also suffered the unfettered wrath of God while on the cross. The combined weight of all the sin of mankind and the wrath of God all endured knowing that it would be wasted on the vast majority of mankind. Is man so precious in God's sight that He would treat His perfect Son's blood as such a common thing? I think not. I believe that God is victorious in everything He does. Every drop of Jesus' precious blood was effective in bringing to salvation those He intended to save. Not a single molecule of it was wasted. If His atonement is just available, and only made it possible for whoever would take Him up on it; then there was always the possibility that no one would ever take Him up on it. I'm sorry, but I just believe God thinks more of His Son than that!

Jesus also identifies who His atonement is intended for in chapter 10 of John's Gospel. One of Jesus' famous "I am" statements was the He is "the Good Shepherd".
In verse 14 He states, "I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father know Me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep". In verses 26-28, Jesus told some of the Jews that they did not believe Him because they were "not part of my flock". He continued to say that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him and that He gives them, His sheep, eternal life . . .

The language in these passages is very exclusive. Earlier in the chapter Jesus makes it clear that He calls His own sheep by name (v.3-4)In verse 14, who is that knows Jesus? It is His own. Who is it that Jesus lays His life down for? It is the sheep. Matthew makes it clear in his Gospel that there are sheep and there are goats. In the end the sheep go on to eternal life with God, the goats go on to eternal damnation. So, who here wants to pitch his tent on the belief that Jesus intended to atone for the goats? Again, this absolutely smacks of treating the blood of Jesus as a common thing.

In my next, and hopefully concluding, post I will tackle Genesis 3:15 and the use of the words "all", "every" and "world" in Scripture. Study up!

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

T.U.L.I.P vs. R.O.S.E (Part II)

Well, now comes the big one . . . the “L”. "Limited Atonement". The very words send shivers up the spines of many. To reduce the shock some have renamed this tenet as: “definite atonement”, “particular atonement”, “particular redemption” and others. The bottom line is, who did Jesus die for?

But before we explore the possible answers to that ultimate question, let’s deal with some preliminary issues. First, why did Jesus give His life on the cross in the first place? The short answer is: in order to satisfy the just penalty of death and separation from God for sin. Second, was Jesus successful in this quest? In other words, has the penalty for sin been fully and completely paid/satisfied? I hope we all will agree He most certainly has done so. Third, does their remain any portion of this payment/satisfaction yet to be paid? The Reformed response is that there is absolutely NOTHING that must be added; Jesus + 0 = Salvation. Fourth, Jesus’ death on the cross was also redemptive for the Old Testament saints due to their looking forward in faith for the then coming Messiah. Therefore, Jesus’ victory on the cross is effectual for all eras: past, present and future.

With these issues in mind, I can conceive of only three options for the scope of Jesus’ atonement:

Option “A”: Jesus died for everybody on planet Earth. This position is known as “Universalism”.

Option “B”: Jesus died to make salvation “possible” for everybody. This is a major tenet of Arminianism.

Option “C”: Jesus died to absolutely guarantee salvation for only a portion of humanity. This is a major tenet of Calvinism.

No doubt, veterans of the Calvinist/ Arminian/Universalist debate are familiar with the texts each side uses to support their position. I will not post an exhaustive list of them here, but I will list a few for the Calvinist (and therefore, correct) argument. You “Arminians” out there may feel free to provide your texts in the “comments” section and I will promptly show you your error in response. As for any “Universalists” in our midst, I must dismiss you with one simple statement from our Almighty, All-Knowing Savior, “I tell you, many will come from the east and west and recline at the table with Abraham , Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. (Matthew 8:11-12). That doesn’t sound like salvation to me!

Matthew 1:21 states in regard to Jesus that, “ . . .He will save His people from their sins”. I derive two conclusions from this statement from the inerrant, infallible Word of God.

1) Jesus, being sovereign and invincible God, cannot fail in anything He attempts. If indeed He intended to save everyone and some one ends up unsaved; then Jesus has failed in this thing which He has attempted. But that is impossible because He is the sovereign and invincible God. Therefore, Jesus did not intend to save everyone.

2) If indeed, He will save His people from their sins and some people end up unsaved; then all people cannot possibly be His people. Therefore, Jesus did not intend to save everyone.

The Arminian will often point out II Peter 3:9 in response to verses like Matthew 1:21. This verse states: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance”. There are a couple of issues which must be understood with this passage. First of all, who are the “you”,the “any” and the "all" referred to in the verse? Speculation is unnecessary for who the "you" are as the answer is provided in the very first verse of Peter’s letter. In verse 1, Peter addresses those for whom his instructions are intended: “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours . . .” The “you” of chapter 3 verse 9 are these same people (and consequently all people throughout time) who have obtained this faith, no one else. The “any” in verse 9 has a referent, that referent is the “you” of the same verse. God is not willing that any (of “you”, you who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours, you of all eras) should perish . . . The "all", consequently, are of those referred to by the "you". Peter is quite simply addressing true Christians in this passage. And God will not allow true Christians to perish.

Second, there is the matter of God’s not “willing” that any should perish. On the surface it might be assumed that since God is not “willing” that any perish, then none should perish. Well, that leads us back to “universalism” which is patently false (previous discussion on Matthew 8:11-12). So there must be some caveat regarding God’s will. Dr. R.C. Sproul delineates this caveat for us in his, “Chosen by God”:

“In the first place we must understand that the Bible speaks of the will of God in more than one way. For example, the Bible speaks of what we call God's sovereign efficacious will. The sovereign will of God is that will by which God brings things to pass with absolute certainty. Nothing can resist the will of God in this sense. By his sovereign will he created the world. The light could not have refused to shine.

The second way in which the Bible speaks of the will of God is with respect to what we call his preceptive will. God's preceptive will refers to his commands, his laws. It is God's will that we do the things he mandates. We are capable of disobeying this will. We do in fact break his commandments. We cannot do it with impunity. We do it without his permission or sanction. Yet we do it. We sin.

A third way the Bible speaks of the will of God has reference to God's disposition, to what is pleasing to him. God does not take delight in the death of the wicked. There is a sense in which the punishment of the wicked does not bring joy to God. He chooses to do it because it is good to punish evil. He delights in the righteousness of his judgment but is “sad” that such righteous judgment must be carried out. It is something like a judge sitting on a bench and sentencing his own son to prison.

Let us apply these three possible definitions to the passage in 2 Peter. If we take the blanket statement, “God is not willing that any should perish,” and apply the sovereign efficacious will to it, the conclusion is obvious. No one will perish. If God sovereignly decrees that no one should perish, and God is God, then certainly no one will ever perish. This would then be a proof text not for Arminianism but for universalism. The text would then prove too much for Arminians.

Suppose we apply the definition of the preceptive will of God to this passage? Then the passage would mean that God does not allow anyone to perish. That is, he forbids the perishing of people. It is against his law. If people then went ahead and perished, God would have to punish them for perishing. His punishment for perishing would be more perishing. But how does one engage in more perishing than perishing? This definition will not work in this passage. It makes no sense.

The third alternative is that God takes no delight in the perishing of people. This squares with what the Bible says elsewhere about God's disposition toward the lost. This definition could fit this passage. Peter may simply be saying here that God takes no delight in the perishing of anyone.”

Wow, I know this is a lot to chew on. So why don’t I break here and let you digest this. I ‘ll see you next time with T.U.L.I.P. vs. R.O.S.E. (Part III)!

Be Like the Bereans Baby!!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

T.U.L.I.P. vs. R.O.S.E.

Well, it's good to be back! In case you hadn't noticed, I've been away for a while. I have recently returned from a wonderful vacation ( or as they say these days, "vay-kay") with my family. The high point (figuratively and literally) was our visit to
Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. Beautiful country out there and quite a thrill to see the monument up close and personal. For any of my readers in the Black Hills area, "thanks for your hospitality"

Back to cases . . . my pastor, Michael Leach, and I are currently discussing the "Doctrines of Grace" on our radio program "The Glory of the Gospel" ( Sunday mornings @ 9:30 on WNIV-970AM in Atlanta or on the 'net @ Of course this is still a heavily debated issue and we certainly cannot fully exhaust the topic on the radio. Over the next couple of posts, however, I would like to take a shot at the two most contested members of the T.U.L.I.P., Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement.

As you may know the chief question concerning the Doctrines of Grace is: how does a person receive salvation. Without going into all the history of how they came about, I will jump ahead to the doctrines themselves ( "TULIP: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture" by Duane Edward Spencer is a good concise history of the meetings that lead to the development of the doctrines). Here are the five points as described by the acronym:

T=total depravity
U=unconditional election
L=limited atonement
I=irresistible grace
P=perseverance of the saints.

As I stated, the most hotly debated members of the T.U.L.I.P. are the "U" and the "L". First the "U". The fact that God elects people to salvation should be rather plain. I can't list all the verses here, but I would challenge you to look up the words "elect" and "election" in a concordance and count for yourself how many times the people of God are referred to in this manner. So the real issue is, on what basis does God elect people to salvation. It is the testimony of Scripture and therefore the Reformed position that God elects individuals to salvation unconditionally and according to His own good pleasure. Opponents of this position generally argue that God foresees something in the individual that prompts Him to elect that individual to salvation. Basically the argument goes that God, with His omniscience, looks into the future and observes that the person will eventually be receptive to the Gospel. Or that God foresees great promise in an individual and on that basis elects the individual. These arguments are really a misinterpretation of Romans chapter 8, where the "golden chain of salvation" is described by the Apostle Paul. The misinterpretation centers on the meaning of the word "foreknew".

Thanks to the "Open Theists" among us, God's omniscience has become doubted by many professing Christians. But for the remaining faithful, God's knowledge of ALL things, past present and future, PERFECTLY is undisputed. However, in the case of Romans 8, it is not God's knowledge of things or events that is described. It is God's intimate knowledge of PERSONS that is extolled. Just as Adam's "knowing" his wife Eve leading to the birth of Cain and Abel, portrays intimate love; God's foreknowledge of those He has elected to salvation portrays intimate love of them. These verses do not describe God as foreseeing any particular action by His elected persons. They describe Him as intimately loving these person long before the foundations of the earth and having purposed to save them even before they have been born. As for any future promise they might have or good they might do, how could that possibly figure into God's decision? What do they have that God has not given them? Any promise they have is given to them by God, so how can that help them get elected? Jonah chapter 2 makes clear, salvation is ALL of God.

The great American ideal of fairness and equality leads many to ask, why doesn't God elect everyone to salvation. "In the interest of fairness; if God elects one, He should elect all". Don't ask God to be fair, you wouldn't want to see God when He's fair. Fairness demands that every human being that has ever walked the earth go to Hell. Don't pass "Go", don't collect 100 dollars, go directly to Hell! We are justly condemned sinners, God owes salvation to NO ONE. That He saves anyone is a testimony to His mercy and grace. Perhaps the following diagram will help illustrate:

Some sinners sent to Hell= JUSTICE/NO MERCY
Some sinners are saved= MERCY/NO JUSTICE
No sinner receives INJUSTICE

Justice requires a good judge to punish sin, God is THE good Judge. God is not embarrassed by His wrath and He is glorified by His perfect justice. He sovereignly chooses those in whom His glorifying, righteous wrath will be displayed. Mercy requires love and forbearance, God is love. God's love is glorified in His perfect mercy by granting pardon to undeserving sinners of His sole choice via the shed blood of His sinless son, Jesus Christ. No man will ever be able to accuse God of injustice. And no man will be able to boast that God chose him because of anything within himself.

I think that the main reason that so many can't come to grips with T.U.L.I.P. these days is that far too many of us subscribe to another acronym: R.O.S.E.

R= restricted sovereignty
O= obnoxious egoism
S= Sick in trespasses
E= extreme equality

As I've said before, most professing Christians will claim that God is sovereign. But for some odd reason, when it comes to our salvation (in their minds) God restricts His sovereignty and hopes and prays that people will "make a decision for Christ". Evidently, there are some people who God desperately wants to save, but He is helpless unless they exert their "free will" to accept Him. Sounds more like Sally Fields to me, "You like me, you really like me"!!!

It can only be Obnoxious Egoism that makes the creature believe that the creator would not overrule their hell bound will in order to save it. The constant refrain that states, "God will not violate your will" is blatantly false. Ask Abimelech, who willed to violate Sarah, but whose will God violated (Genesis 13). Ask Jonah who willed to go to Tarshish, but God violated his will and landed in Nineveh. Have you ever prayed for someone to be saved? What are you asking God to do, but to violate their will?

Contrary to the report of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2, which states that prior to salvation we are "DEAD" in trespasses and sins; R.O.S.E. subscribers must only believe that we are only Sick in trespasses and sins. Because the last time I checked, dead men don't do anything. They can't move , they can't breath, they can't eat and they certainly can't CHOOSE! The Bible, however, reports that God said to Adam and Eve that in the day they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil the would surely DIE. Not that they would get really sick, but still be able to reach out. Not that they'd get really sick, but would improve. No, they would die. And everyone that would come after them would be born spiritually dead. Unresponsive to God, out of fellowship with God, unable to please God. Not choosing the good, not knowing the good, not wanting the good. Therefore, if anything good was going to come from them or be chosen by them, God would have to bring them back to spiritual life FIRST=REGENERATION.

Extreme Equality suggests, once again, that if God offers this wonderful gift of salvation to one of us, He is somehow obligated to offer it to us all. That's as american as hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. God is SOVEREIGN. God would be just to send us all to Hell and start all over. Get over yourself.

God is the author and finisher of our salvation.

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!