Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Clark Pinnock, a Canadian theologian who has moved far from his evangelical roots, wrote:
I was led to question the traditional belief in everlasting conscious torment because of moral revulsion and broader theological considerations, not first of all on scriptural grounds. It just does not make any sense to say that a God of love will torture people forever for sins done in the context of a finite life.... It's time for evangelicals to come out and say that the biblical and morally appropriate doctrine of hell is annihilation, not everlasting torment. (Theological Crossfire: An Evangelical/Liberal Dialogue, 226-7)
Dorothy Sayers, who died in 1957, speaks a wise and faithful antidote to this kind of abandonment of truth.
There seems to be a kind of conspiracy, especially among middle-aged writers of vaguely liberal tendency, to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. One finds frequent references to the "cruel and abominable mediaeval doctrine of hell," or "the childish and grotesque mediaeval imagery of physical fire and worms." ...
But the case is quite otherwise; let us face the facts. The doctrine of hell is not "mediaeval": it is Christ's. It is not a device of "mediaeval priestcraft" for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ's deliberate judgment on sin. The imagery of the undying worm and the unquenchable fire derives, not from "mediaeval superstition," but originally from the Prophet Isaiah, and it was Christ who emphatically used it.... It confronts us in the oldest and least "edited" of the gospels: it is explicit in many of the most familiar parables and implicit in many more: it bulks far larger in the teaching than one realizes, until one reads the Evangelists through instead of picking out the most comfortable texts: one cannot get rid of it without tearing the New Testament to tatters. We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ. (A Matter of Eternity, 86)
by John Piper www.desiringGod.org
The Hound of Heaven and a Young Russian Agnostic
Andrea Wolfe, on staff with the CoMission office in Raleigh, North Carolina
tells the following story:
In the 1930's Stalin ordered a purge of all Bibles
and all believers. In Stavropol, Russia, this order was carried out with
vengeance. Thousands of Bibles were confiscated, and multitudes of believers
were sent to the gulags-prison camps-where most died, unjustly condemned as
"enemies of the state."
The CoMission once sent a team to Stavropol. The city's history wasn't
known at that time. But when the team was having difficulty getting Bibles
shipped from Moscow, someone mentioned the existence of a warehouse outside of
town where these confiscated Bibles had been stored since Stalin's day.
After the team had prayed extensively, one member finally mustered up
the courage to go to the warehouse and ask the officials if the Bibles were
still there. Sure enough, they were. Then the CoMissioners asked if the Bibles
could be removed and distributed again to the people of Stavropol. The answer
The next day the CoMission team returned with a truck and several
Russian people to help load the Bibles. One helper was a young man-a skeptical,
hostile agnostic collegian who had come only for the day's wages. As they were
loading Bibles, one team member noticed that the young man had disappeared.
Eventually they found him in a corner of the warehouse, weeping.
He had slipped away hoping to take a Bible for himself. What he did not know was that he was being pursued by the "Hound of Heaven." What he found shook him to the core.
The inside page of the Bible he picked up had the handwritten signature of his own grandmother. It had been her personal Bible. Out of the thousands of Bibles still left in that warehouse, he stole the very one belonging to his grandmother-a woman, who throughout her entire life, was persecuted for her faith.
No wonder he was weeping-God had powerfully and yet tenderly made Himself known to this young man.1 Such was his divinely appointed meeting with the sovereign Lord of the universe, the "Hound of Heaven" who had tracked him down to that very warehouse! Remember Jeremiah's words: "`Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?' declares the Lord. `Do not I fill both heaven and earth?' declares the Lord." (Jer 23:24).
The "Hound of Heaven" and You.
Jesus is truly the ever-present, all-seeing "Hound of Heaven." He can track us down wherever we're hiding! And once on the trail, he sets his heart with relentless zeal and undivided focus to the pursuit-a zeal that originally led him directly to the ignominy of a Roman cross!
Choosing to leave behind the luxuries of Heaven's golden palaces and the unrivaled joy of the Father's presence, Jesus willingly descended into the ghetto of this present world-the realm of sin and Satan-in order to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Through the brutality of his suffering, climaxing in his voluntary death, he secured a startling triumph over hostile forces arrayed in battle against Him (and us). Having earned a once-for-all victory for His people, and having been resurrected to an indestructible life, He has returned to Heaven and His Father, where he continues to seek and to save that which was lost (Heb 7:25). The young Russian man knows what this means. So does his grandmother. Do you?
You see, Jesus is still pursuing people through the message of the cross. The message of the cross rises above the myriad of voices and the noise in our culture, seizing our consciences by the throat and laying bare the depth of our selfishness and estrangement from God. If Jesus Christ was God Almighty incarnate, and His death was necessary to quell my rebellion, then I guess I know God's estimate of my sinfulness. "Oh wretched man that I am," says the apostle (Rom 7:24). But the good news is-for those who love Him-that all our filth has been transferred to Christ who willingly bore the guilt and pollution of our sin, death, and shame.
Thus, the message of the cross not only instructs me concerning the disastrous consequences of my rebellion, it also faithfully imparts the priceless knowledge of God's "other worldly," all conquering love-a love that changes "rebel" into "reconciled" and whose intensity can only be likened to a blood hound hot on the trail.
Like a major landmark enroute to the place where God lives, the cross shows you and me the way home into the arms of our Father. It does not repel us from Him; on the contrary, it leads us confidently into His presence. Surely if He would suffer to this extent for us, then He must love us thoroughly.
In short, the cross calms my agitated, nervous heart and is like a smiling, gracious butler, who sees plainly that I am not clothed properly, but who nonetheless incessantly pleads with me to enter God's home where the real party never ends. Through the cross God himself has provided the wardrobe appropriate for the festivities! He called our young Russian friend and now he calls you. Won't you come in?
Since there are some Arminians who are more godly than some Calvinists and some Calvinists who are more godly than some Arminians, what is the correlation between true knowledge of God and godliness?
The best of both groups have historically admired the godliness of those in the other group. Whitefield, the Calvinist, said of Wesley, the Arminian, “Mr. Wesley I think is wrong in some things; yet I believe...Mr. Wesley, and others, with whom we do not agree in all things, will shine bright in glory” (Wesley and the Men Who Followed, 71).
But the sad thing about our day, unlike the days of Whitefield and Wesley, is that many infer from this that knowing God with greater truth and fullness is not important, since it doesn’t appear to be decisive in what produces godliness. Those who know what the Bible says will be protected from that mistake.
Paul correlates knowing and doing in a way that shows that knowing profoundly influences doing. Fourteen times Paul implies that our sinful behavior would be different if we knew the truth more fully. For example,
You yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! Or do you not know
that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? (1 Corinthians
Flee from sexual immorality.... Or do you not know that your body is a
temple of the Holy Spirit?
(1 Corinthians 6:18–19)
Each one of you know how to control his own body
in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not
know God. (1 Thessalonians 4:4–5)
All godliness is owing to truth, that is, to God as he is truly known. Truth,
known with the mind and loved with the heart, is the way God produces all
godliness. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).
When a more godly person believes something erroneous about God, among other true things, it is not the error that God uses to produce the godliness.
And when a less godly person believes something true about God, among other false things, it is not the truth that his sin uses to produce the ungodliness.
There are various reasons why a person with a more true view of God may be less godly, and the person with a less true view of God may be more godly:
Therefore, let us humble ourselves. There are views so obscured by error that the God on the other side of the glass is not the true God. So the measure of truth in our views matters infinitely. But also, there is no guarantee that right thinking will produce right living. There is more to godliness than having clear views of God. Trusting him and loving him through those views matters infinitely.
1. The person with a less true view of God may nevertheless be more submissive
and more powerfully influenced by the smaller amount of truth that he has, and
the person with more truth may be less submissive and less influenced by the
truth he has. The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of truth) always makes truth an
instrument in his sanctifying influences, but he does not always do it in
proportion to the amount of truth present in the mind.
God’s revealed will is
that we grow in the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18), because in that way the
Spirit can make our holiness the manifest fruit of what we know of Christ, so
that Christ is more clearly honored (John 16:14). But the Spirit is free to make
little knowledge produce much holiness, lest those with much knowledge be
2. Two persons with radically different personalities and backgrounds
may have more or fewer obstacles to overcome in the process of sanctification.
Therefore, the one with fewer obstacles may respond in godly ways to less truth,
while the one with more obstacles may struggle more, even though he has more
3. A person with much truth may lag behind in godliness because there
are hindrances that arise between the truth in the mind and the response of the
heart to that truth. These hindrances may include loss of memory; ease of
distraction; blind spots that keep one from seeing how a truth applies to a
long-held pattern of behavior; mental disorders (mild or profound) that create
disconnects between thoughts and volitions; confusion and ignorance about the
way sanctification is meant to work; or hidden rebellion of the heart that
covers itself with a veneer of orthodoxy.
© Desiring God
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
God is worth our time, our efforts, our best, our minds, our hearts, our bodies, and our all. Today's church has reduced this to something very strange that is called "worship", but resembles that of a Saturday night program on the Las Vegas strip. The church has so diluted "worship" that true worship seems strange to most people. The "seekers" certainly do not know what true worship is, because in these Emerging or similar churches true "worship" has never existed.
Psalm 29:2 "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name."
If you are at all concerned about the about truly honoring God in "worth-ship" worship, then read on.
This was what Moses told Aaron after Aaron's two sons, Nadab and Abihu were struck down by God in the temple. Why did God strike the two upstanding young men to their death? They entered the temple and worshiped with "strange fire". The sin these two committed according to all we find in scripture is that they offered upon the burning alter "strange fire". THe command was that the alter would burn constantly without going out...the same fire all the time. Now, in Exodus 30:9 we see that they were forbidden from offering strange incense, but nothing concerning "strange fire". Could it have been the strange incense that created the strange fire? The claim is they brought the proper incense to the fire, but the fire was not right.
In Leviticus 10:3 "Then Moses said to Aaron, 'This is that the Lord spoke
saying, 'I will be sanctified in them that come near Me, and before all the
people I will be glorified...then Aaron held his peace.'"
God had never warned these two men nor can we find anything concerning this prior to this account. God simply made His judgement known on the spot when the "strange fire" emerges from the temple. What could this strange fire have been I have often wondered. Is God this specific about worship towards Him that He will kill someone for worshipping Him in a wrong way? Is this Old Testament account obsolete with the ushering in of the New Testament? What does God think about the so called "worship" that goes on in many churches today? What is true worship anyway? Is God really this serious about how we worship Him? If God an orderly God or does He just allow us the freedom to worship Him however we see fit?
God has told us here in the Old Testament that "I will be sanctified..." The Greek form of this is "hallowed" which is "holy". He alone is to be worshiped. He is to be worshiped correctly, not by any means we humans think we want to worship Him. He is not immused by the entertainment styles of worship today. He is not amused at all in the entertainment musicial worship of today's churches. So, how are we to worship as to not create this "strange fire" in the prescence of God Almighty? We need to be very careful in our quest to be relevant in church services. Creating worship services that are "user friendly" or "seeker friendly" is not biblical from what I can find.
"I will be sanctified." This means that God will have His people demean themselves and carry themselves so as to hold forth their acknowledgement of His holiness, so that by their carriage God may appear to be a holy God. If we are not willing to sanctify God with our worship, if we are not willing to make God's name appear to be holy, and if we are holding back His glory due Him, then God says He will demean us and carry Himself towards us so that by His actions He will make it very clear what a holy God He really is. God is not willing that we go through life living unholy lives while supposedly worshipping Him as well.
I have heard it often put this way, "He will be glorified in our life or He will
be glorified in our death..either way He will be glorified."
God is sanctified by the holiness of His people in their actions and worship towards Him by holding forth the glory of God's holiness. Remember that the saints of God snactify the Lord in their hearts by fearing God as a holy God with reverence to Him as a holy God.
God also sanctifies Himself in ways of judgement on those who do not want to sanctify His holiness or His name in holiness. Read Ezekiel 28:22 as God speaks. God wants His people to draw near to Him which is far better, but He will draw near to us as well in order for His sanctification to be fulfilled.
Now, dealing with worship in church these days we must realize that we are there to honor a most holy and righteous God. We are not there to feel better! We are not there to worship in whatever manner we fill we can! We are not there to let loose and be ourselves! When at worship we are there to lift up the holy name of God, Elohim and Adonai. We are to approach the throne of God in holy reverence with the highest fearful respect that God requires and deserves. God is not to be mocked, yet many thinking they are worshiping God are merely mocking the name of Christ with the entertaining games, rock n roll music, and flipent ways of worship. Music is not exclusive to worship.
You can worship in praise music, you can certainly worship in hymns, you can worship with only the message of God presented by the pastor, you can worship simply in prayer. Music is not the only act of worship. This seems to be an issue with churches today as the music must take up an hour of the service, then leave about 15 minutes for a very surface topical message that does little to sustain the listener for more than a one hour lunch on Sunday.
Something everyone needs to understand is that God killer two upstanding young men that were the sons of Aaron and Nephews of Moses for worshipping with a "Strange Fire"...what would we think if God treated those worshipping in the church today this way? We have the Word of God to stand firm upon. We do not have to wonder what direction we are to take. We do not have to wonder what the truth is. We can rest upon the truth that is found in the Holy Bible from our youth into eternity.
Be very careful presenting ourselves before God in holy worship to Him. Although Aaron's sons came with the right incense to present to God, but it was the strange fire that God was not accepted by God. Worship is not to be altered to be more seeker friendly folks. Worship is about God not the worshiper per say. Worship is our expression of bringing holiness to the name of God because He is worthy.
Each week we can go to church to hear glorious music, sing glorious music, and hear a wonderful message. Is it near the same "routine" each week? That is perfectly fine. There is nothing wrong with it being similiar week in and week out.
-Expository message each week
-Glorious Special music in service
-Focus on God not seekers or believers
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Worship in truth-worship in faith!
-Scott Bailey 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
"...the rise of the Nazi Third Reich, the death of Able, the boils of Job, even
the presidency of Bill Clinton and the horror of 9/11 were all providential
events." -Doug Phillips 2003
I know that today many of us are experiencing troubles that we never thought we would ever have to deal with. In such a time it is such a great comfort to know and understand that we serve a providential God. He works all things for good for those of us in Christ Jesus.
"Our love to God arises out of our want: His love to us is out of His
fullness." -C.H. Spurgin
God speaks through prevailing prayer! "He will call upon me, and I will answer HIm." (Psalm 91:15)
In the Webster dictionary it defines prevail as "to produce or achieve the desired effect; to be effective; succeed." How do we achieve this desired effect with God....by being in good fellowship with Him. In this way He speaks to us and answers our prayers. Something that we don't think about much is listening to God first and then pray based on what He said. This will change the perspective of our prayers. We might find that when we first kneeled down to pray it was all about us. However, after listening to God and meditating on His word, we direct the focus of the prayer on Him and His glory no matter what our circumstances are.
As Christian dads and husbands we must continue in a spirit of prayer at all times. Jesus said, "Men ought always to pray and not to faint..." (Luke 18:1) This does not mean we walk around with our hands folded, but just in each quiet moment whether it is short or long we can simply just speak to God about that moment...whatever that may be.
God assures us through His precious promises! "Whereby are given unto us exceedingly great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature." (2 Peter 1:4)
Many of us tend to forget the promises of God for some reason. We trod along daily without much thought of His promises. He has promised not to forget about us, yet we set around whining about how God has forgotten us. We are forfeiting the benefits of God by doing this. Memorize the promises of God on a daily basis.
Some of His greatest and most used promises are His protection and provision. His provision is every moment of our lives, men. He has not seen anything that shocks Him or catches Him by surprise. If you find yourself today without a job, He knew about it before the foudnations of the earth. This was not an event that caught Him off guard and now He must react to it.....He is working His perfect plan in our lives at all times. God never sleeps!
Review, reflect, and rely on the promises of God. This is what gives us men our assurance for our families success. He helps us at every turn of our lives.
Our personal peace in God is calming! "Peace I leave with you, my peace I
give to you." (John 14:27)
Guys we are all searching daily for meaning and purpose. We are searching for that personal peace. If we are not searching God's word for this peace then we will come up empty everytime. Our world is overrun with illicit sex, drug abuse, and even terrorism. These are unsuccessful attempts to find that peace. Real and lasting peace is found in Jesus Christ and only in Jesus Christ. He offers us this peace if we are obedient to His calling and trust Him for all the results of our lives. Guys our kids will turn out alright by God's grace inspite of us. We are all bent out of shape trying to make sure we do everything right. Dads we are simply to do as God would have us do and leave the results of our kids up to Him.
Jesus said, "My peace I give to you." (Joh 14:27) We need to accept His personalized peace in our lives today. This seems much easier to say than do, I know, but it is the only way.
God assist us through His providential power! "And we know tha tin all things God works for the good of those who love Him." (Romans 8:28)
All of us dads and husbands are subject to various trials, troubles, and testings just like anyone else. We are not exempt from this. As a matter of fact God has told us we will encounter various trials and tribulations. Why is it that we are constantly trying to escape them as though we should be put above everyone else on a cloud? The trial is not evidence that God hates us...He is shaping us as a tool for His kingdoms glory.
God works by helping His people through providential means. He works everything, good or bad, together for their benefit and His glory. We miss out on His benefits if we do not encounter trials and testings. This is when we see our God at His most powerful it seems. Bringing each us through these times as we labor and suffer through the pain is a means to display His massive providential power.
Often we will experience God's rescue of His saints. He uses His angels to assist us and rescue us many times. I can remember numerous times that I have been about at the end of my rope and ready to check out when this peaceful ringing in my head will calm me down so I can think rational and focus back on His promises to me. It is a battle, a struggle. This is not a cake walk, gentlemen. This is life as a Christian. (Psalm 91:11)
God is at work, guys! You can trust this statement. He has not forgotten any of us that are laboring here and it will not be a labor in vain.We can trust in His word at a time when the world seems to have checked out on His word, including the church. Sing His praises. Sing the Hymns of old and study the deep transforming testimonies that are embedded in those hymns. God inspired those like any other song written to Him. I encourage you to read the songs, read God's word and meditate on His promises for a successful life in Christ.
-Scott Bailey (c) 2007
King Solomon was such a man. Although he was king, Solomon did not take that position lightly. As God said He would give Solomon anything he asked for. With that opportunity I can only imagine the thoughts running through your minds as you read this. "Oh boy, I want riches, glory, honors galore, houses, land, cars, stuff, stuff, stuff...that is what I would ask for." King Solomon simply asked that God would grant him the wisdom to lead and advise His chosen people. He thanked God for trusting him with day to day judgements upon His people. Solomon did not ask for any possessions, honors, glory or anything of the such. Solomon even equated himself to a mere servant of the Lord.
I found four ideas rolled out before us in King Solomon's prayer that can be a guide for us when we set down to pray in the morning. By no means is this a system of praying or some magical list of do's. However, we can use Solomon's great example of praying selflessly to our most sovereign Lord.
1. Come to the Lord thankfully, full of praise, and with a sincerely humble heart. Picture in your mind that you are prostate before your almighty sovereignn God. He listens to the hearts of His people as they cry out to Him in humble adoration.
2. Pray to the Lord in true humility. We cannot come to God with an ounce of arrogance on our breath or it will be a sour stench to the nostrils of our most holy Lord. He is looking to favor those who's heart has the truth that flows freely, trust worthiness, humility, and honesty to pour out what God wants to hear. He is looking for that desire of an obedient heart...He can see straight through our outward actions to the heart. God is looking for those David like hearts...not perfection.
3. Come to God as we really are...servants of the most awesome Lord. It does not matter our title, whether that be President of this great country, president of a large company, King of some distant country, pastor of mega-church, house keeper, house wife, trashman, doctor or whatever the title....before our God we are all mere servants called out to serve Him. We cannot for one instance boast to this world or God of something we have done or said that is of our own power that is of any good to God. Our glory and honor rest in our Savior and Lord. Anything that is good and glorious that our energy has done was from the power of the Holy Spirit at God's instruction.
4. Ask how we can bless God's elect, His chosen people with our gifts, talents and life. This is all we have to offer...this empty vessel that needs to be filled with God's mighty power on a daily basis. Pray for wisdom, courage, strength, and knowledge that comes only from God Himself. When someone puts you on a pedestal, get right back down again. Never allow yourself to stay up on that pedestal for long or you will start to believe what everyone is telling you and somehow inch your way to feeling as though God cannot live without you. You will receive many praise from caring people, but always divert that praise to God immediately so that your head does not swell with greatness.
We need to all remember that obedience is what delights our Lord...obedience from His chose ones is the sweetest smell He loves. He looks all across our world looking for those souls that are His, with humble tender hearts, that want nothing less than to be obedient to Him regardless of the cost. Obedience will not be easy, glorifying, and many cases joyful....no matter, it is in pleasing our sovereign Lord with our obedience that is of most importance.
-Scott Bailey (c) 2008
I heard someone quote President John Adams,
"When women in our country become immodest, then our government and nation will suffer greatly."
How prophetic those words have been. To a great extent the war with Islam that America faces has been greatly inhanced by the trampy dress of our females and carrying on the way they do...this is directly forbidden in that religion. I have seen some very vile things on the internet and tv before and am convinced that many women (not all) today show no boundaries at all. They will do anything that makes them feel good, look good, and for the right amount of money. For us dads this poses a tremendous challenge for us to raise our daughters to be modest according to biblical standards. Yes, we are free...free to glorify God in our dress, actions, and attitude. Not bending to the way the world thinks a person should dress or conduct themselves..."it is no longer I that lives, but Christ lives in me..." This is not to say that girls should zip up in a suit from neck to toes or wear tent jumpers all the time. I believe they can be very beautiful in the way they dress without appearing to be a very "loose" person. Another quote I heard gave a very broad explanation of how women and girls should decide to dress for each day.
"Women's clothing should be tight enough so that we can tell they are a women
and loose enough for us to know that she is a ‘lady'." -Unknown Quoter
So, dads look out for your wife and daughters when they leave the house. Care enough about them to tell them if something needs to be changed. If they have something on that might make another man think these gals are wanting much more than just a quick hello, it is time to speak up. I know I battled this in our home at times, but our daughters are starting to understand the reason behind glorifying Christ with everything they do, say, and wear. It is a direct reflection upon the parents and especially on dads/husbands, but most importantly it reflects directly on the kind of God you serve...if us dads are not willing to speak up then who will?
I am challenging dads to help their girls to understand the purpose of modesty so it can help us guys to remain pure at heart and mind by not tempting us by dressing provocatively...beautifully is one thing, but trampy is another. Keep the mystery about how trully beautiful you are for your wedding night...this creates something special that you and your husband will never forget. This is how God's word does address this...
"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest dress..."
-Scott Bailey (c) 2007