Friday, May 27, 2016

What Most Christians Don't Know About Church Discipline

When it comes to church discipline, most in the church have no idea what it. The concept is very foreign to many Christians. In this video, Jonathan Leeman addresses what Christians may not know about church discipline.

Jonathan Leeman has written two excellent books on church discipline that I highly recommend:

Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus

The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline

Around The Web-May 27, 2016

3 Truths to Speak to Your Temptation by Tim Challies

The Gospel, The Law, and The Steve Miller Band-Quoting Muslim Cab Driver by Jared C Wilson

Thoughts on Godly Discipline and Instruction by Michael Boling

An interview with D.A. Carson, We Are Not Entitled to the World’s Respect

Eleven states say “no” to Pres. Obama’s transgender “directive” for public schools by Denny Burk

A sale on the book series New Studies in Biblical Theology and other books on Biblical Theology

John Piper, teaching from James 3:17-18, on what it means to meditate.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Review: Unparalleled by Jared C Wilson

Many believe that all religions are the same. Many also believe all roads will lead to God. It is communicated through the media and even in some schools. Some would even say that Mormonism and Christianity are the same. The truth is all religions are not the same. Not all roads lead to God except one road who said He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Jared C Wilson said that Christianity stands alone in regards to the religions of this world. Christianity has claims that are unlike any other religion. You could say that Christianity is unique when compared to world religions. Wilson explores the uniqueness of Christianity in his new book, Unparalleled.

Wilson tackles the claims of Christianity and shows his readers why they are different from world religions. He goes to the Bible, which is the best place to start, and defend why Christianity can make the claims it can. He tackles the doctrine of the Trinity, Jesus claiming to be God, how our God is a Personal God, and Jesus's death on the cross.

Wilson does deal with the Resurrection because Christianity would not be where it is in the world without it. Wilson wrote, "If Jesus didn't actually come back from the dead, Christianity is pointless." He echoed what the Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthian church:

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

No Resurrection means no Christianity. No other religion in the world was founded by a man who died then came back to life. All other religions were founded by a man who died and is still dead.

If you have read any of Wilson's books and his blog, you know he writes centered on the gospel with a little bit of humor. This book is no exception. I am happy to recommend this book to believers and non-believers to learn the unique claims of Christianity.

Thanks Baker Books for allowing me to review this book.

Not Going By The Book

Do you know anyone who are "book righteous?" You might be asking what does that mean. You know people that love their books, normally in its fiction books. They are the ones who have read every "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" book. They are the one who go see the movies based on those books then leave the theatre saying this is what's not in the book and they got this wrong. You might have some of those kind of people in your own home that will make you want Jesus to come back because they can't stop comparing the book and the movie.

We all know that movies based on books, or comic books, don't follow the story 100%. There are a few exceptions unless you are making a movie about the Bible. When it comes to the Bible there are not many preachers that don't go by the book. They preach random things that they think the text they are using supports it.

Some preaches don't like preaching verse-by-verse because they think it is cheating or there is no Biblical example. In the current state of our culture, this is no time for pastors to not go by the book. What I mean is, this is no time to not preach the whole counsel of God. Christians need the Bible just as a human being needs air. Pastors encourage their congregations to read the whole Bible, yet they do not preach through books of the Bible.

The Apostle Paul said to the Ephesian elders:

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:24-28).

Pastors do not need to shrink back from declaring the whole counsel of God. In our day and age, we need leaders in the church who are not afraid to preach the word with boldness and in grace and truth. We need preaching that will go by the book and not veer off into messages of their own minds.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Review: The Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges

If there is one author I can read over and over again, it is Jerry Bridges. I became a fan of his books ever since I read The Pursuit of Holiness. I have read almost every book he has written and hopefully will finish everyone of them.

Earlier this year, Jerry Bridges departed from this world to meet the Savior face-to-face. Many bloggers, including myself, wrote about how Bridges have influenced them. Many on social media posted their favorite quotes from him and he was even a trending topic on Twitter. After Bridges's death, I learned that he wrote one final book, which it was not called that at the time, but now it is. If there is one word to describe Jerry Bridges, it would be humble. He always made sure God's glory was magnified through his writings, the sermons he preached, and in the life he lived as he walked with Jesus. His last book happens to be on humility, which is called, The Blessing of Humility.

Bridges begins the book by saying humility is the second most frequently trait taught in the Bible. He wrote, "All other character traits, in one way or another, are built upon love and humility." No one is more qualified to teach (if there truly was one) about humility then Jerry Bridges himself.

Bridges taught that Jesus was the most humble man who walked the earth. He not only taught humilty, He also lived it. Bridges goes through several passages of scripture that teaches about humility in the Christian life. God also promises to give grace to the humble and exalt those who are humble.

Bridges uses the bulk of the book to go back to the beatitudes taught by Jesus on what it means to be humble. Every ounce of humility comes from a dependence of God in everything for the Christian life from the spiritual things to the most insignificant material object. In the last chapter of this book, Bridges reminds his readers on the gospel message. Being humble means depending on the grace of God in daily living and also knowing that our salvation is intact.

Bridges reminds his readers that the gospel is not just for unbelievers but for all believers which he addresses in great detail in his book, The Gospel for Real Life. In the last paragraph of the book, Bridges says that as we grow in the Christian life, we will become more dependent on the righteousness of Christ which is shown to us in the gospel as well as the Holy Spirit. Dependence on the righteousness of Christ and the Holy Spirit will lead us the humility.

I have that last paragraph underlined because these were Bridges's last written words that I am aware of. Bridges is a genuine believer who loved Jesus and the people he wrote to even though he had never met them, which he did count them as brothers and sisters in the Lord. I have always recommended books by Bridges and will continue to do so. I am delighted to recommend The Blessings of Humility for all Christians to read.

I want to thank Tyndale for allowing me to review Jerry Bridges's last book.

Podcast Wednesday: Harry Potter, X-Men, Cultural Engagement, and more

Russell Moore on the Am I Called Podcast speaking on Cultural Engagement and the Pastorate

Here Come The Mutants! X-Men Series Recap and Apocalypse Review from Pop Culture Ninja

The Reformed Library reviews Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Les Lanphere talks with These Go To 11 on if any subset of Christians can lay claim to the title "reformed"

John Piper answers a listener's question, “May I Have Two Wives?”

The Gospel Friends are back with Dr. Dre is a Medical Doctor that Makes Music in His Spare Time

Dave Jenkins and Heath Lambert on Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

When a Statement of Faith and Secondary Issues Collide

Every church has a statement of faith which normally describes what they believe with verse of Scripture to back it up. Most of them are very similar with a slight variation of wording. Most of them contain what they believe about the Bible, the Trinity, salvation, and other essentials to the Christian faith. We can all say, "Amen" because we believe in the same things.

However there may be some issue you encounter when it comes to a church's statement of faith that will make you question should you leave the church you are currently attending, or not joining this particular church that you are really interested in joining. Most of the issues raised normally come from secondary issues, but there are others that come from personal preferences.

The KJV only churches, for example. First, I do not oppose the KJV. I have been under a pastor that has used it as their main translation and people in my church use it. The problem comes when a church says they will accept the KJV as their main Bible. Here is an example of a statement of faith from an Independent, KJV only church:

We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the verbally and plenarily inspired Word of God. The Scriptures are inerrant, infallible and God-breathed and, therefore, are the final authority for faith and life. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament are the complete and divine revelation of God to Man. The Scriptures shall be interpreted according to their normal grammatical-historical meaning, and all issues of interpretation and meaning shall be determined by the pastor. The King James Bible shall be the official and only translation used by the church. (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21)

That final sentence sums it up about what translation should be used in the church. If you are not a KJV user, this would not be the church for you. What is even more interesting is the sentence prior to it that says, "The Scriptures shall be interpreted according to their normal grammatical-historical meaning, and all issues of interpretation and meaning shall be determined by the pastor." Say what? This is almost sounding like a cult. I hope I am not reading too much into this, but it sounds like all matters of interpreting what the Bible says comes through one man, the pastor. That should be a problem for those attending and those who are considering.

Perhaps one of the biggest issues when it comes to a church's statement of faith is eschatology, also known as study of the End Times. Some churches will hold in their statement of faith they believe that Jesus Christ will return one day, which we can all say, "Hallelujah." Normally, some churches do not put on their statement of faith if they hold either Premillennialism, Postmillennialism, or Amillennialism, however there are a few that do that.

In one church's statement of faith, they talk about their beliefs in the Bible, salvation, marriage, the fall of man, and others that I agree with. When it comes to their eschatology, they reveal they are Premillennial Dispensational church. You might be thinking, that is not a big deal because you have been with other churches that are the same way. I know I have as well. Then there a little clause that make us think twice about either joining or staying with a church like this:

We believe that the Bible unequivocally teaches the following doctrines, although we recognize that in some cases sincere and intelligent Christians hold different views. In order for unity to prevail within (our church)...we require that all those in positions of leadership and teaching must personally hold to the following basic precepts. However, if you disagree with some aspects of them, you are still welcome to be a part of our fellowship.

Notice the issue. You may not called to vocational ministry, but you aspire to be an elder or have the gift of teaching and want to lead a small group. If you hold to any other form eschatology, based on this church's statement of faith, you cannot. They will let you join but have nothing to do with leadership or teaching.

When it comes to joining a church, one thing you need to know is their statement of faith. Most churches are not restrictive when it comes to secondary issues, but there are others that are. How can a church promote unity if they are restrictive? I get being on the same page, but not everyone will be on certain issues such as eschatology or a Bible translation.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Your Sin Is Not What You Think

This was recently posted on The Gospel Coalition's website, which is adapted from John Piper's latest book, Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power:

The human heart hates a vacuum. We never merely leave God because we value him little; we always exchange God for what we value more.

We see this in Romans 1:22–23: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.” They became fools. This is the ultimate foolishness. This is the most foundational meaning of sin: exchanging the glory of the immortal God for substitutes—anything we value more than God. We look at the Creator and then exchange him for something he created.

My Definition of Sin

Underneath all the misuses of money, sex, and power is this sinful heart-condition—this depravity. My definition of sin is this: any feeling or thought or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all other things. The bottom of sin, the root of all sins, is such a heart—a heart that prefers anything above God; a heart that doesn’t treasure God over everything else, and everyone else.

Sin is the deepest, strongest, and most pervasive problem in the human race. In fact, once Paul has made clear the essence or root of sin (Rom. 1–3), he goes on to make clear in the following chapters the magnitude of its power in us. He speaks of sin reigning like a king in death (5:21); holding dominion like a lord (6:14); enslaving like a slavemaster (6:6, 16–17, 20) to whom we’ve been sold (7:14); as a force that produces other sins (7:8); as a power that seizes the law and kills (7:11); as a hostile occupying tenant who dwells in us (7:17, 20); and as a law that takes us captive (7:23).

Not Mainly Behavioral

This deep, strong, pervasive reality of sin in us defines us until we are born again. That miracle must happen, or the deep antagonism toward God will go on controlling and directing us forever. Jesus put it this way: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:6–7). By virtue of our first birth, we are merely flesh—devoid of God’s Spirit and life. But when we’re “born of the Spirit,” God’s Spirit gives us spiritual life and moves into us, and we have life in him forever.

That life comes with the light of truth. “Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12). Eternal life and true light are always together. We “live in the light” when the Spirit gives us life.

To underline the serious bondage we’re in before this new birth, Paul goes on to say, “Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom. 7:18). What we are apart from new birth—new creation by the Spirit of God because of Christ—is the embodiment of resistance to God. “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (8:7). Why can’t it? Because it doesn’t want to. We disapprove of God as supreme (1:28). We exchange him, because we prefer other things more.

So we must lay to rest forever the notion that sin is mainly what we do. It’s not: it is mainly who we are—until we are a new creature in Christ. And even then, it’s an ever-present, indwelling enemy to be put to death every day by the Spirit (7:17, 20, 23; 8:13).

Before Christ, sin isn’t an alien power in us. Sin is our preference for anything over God. Sin is our disapproval of God. Sin is our exchange of his glory for substitutes. Sin is our suppression of his truth. Sin is our heart’s hostility to him. It’s who we are to the bottom of our hearts. Until Christ.

What We’re Made For

Against this bleak description of the root of our problem when handling of money, sex, and power, what also becomes clear is that this distortion of our souls isn’t what we were made to be. We were meant to know God and to glorify and thank him (Rom. 1:19–21). We were meant to see him and, by seeing him, reflect his beauty. We were meant to do that not by exchanging him for something, but by preferring him over everything. We were to glorify God by treasuring him over all treasures, enjoying him over all pleasures, desiring him over all desires, prizing him over all prizes, wanting him over all wants.

The mark of the true Christian isn’t that sin never gets the upper hand—not that our desires are flawlessly Godward. The mark of the Christian is that at the root of our lives is this new treasuring of Christ over all things. He has assumed a place in our hearts that pulls us back again and again to renew our devotion to him as supreme. Christians have discovered that the indwelling Spirit magnifies the worth of Jesus above all things, and moves us to repentance when we fail to feel that worth as we ought. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Around The Web-May 20, 2016

God Was Placed in a Womb by Mark Jones

Why Legalistic Preaching Doesn't Work by David Prince

8 Arguments for Why You Should Be Anxious Today (and How the Bible Responds) by Justin Taylor

Preach the Word. Build the Church by Tony Merida

What is the Prayer of Faith? by Sinclair Ferguson

What is Jesus's Evangelism Program? by David Schrock

Albert Mohler on why the Supreme Court ruling on Same-Sex marriage last year will not deliver on its promise

Tim Keller, Michael Horton, and Alan Hirsch on how to teach God's law in an authority-adverse culture

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Resurrection Verified Jesus's Claims

To Christians, the resurrection means many important things. It means that those of us who are united to Jesus by faith will be resurrected just like He was. It means that God fully accepted the sacrifice for sins that Jesus offered on the cross and that it was infinitely more than sufficient to pay our moral debt. It means that Jesus now lives to lead, rule, protect, intercede for, and do good for His people who are still alive on earth. And it also means that God ratified, endorsed, vindicated, and confirmed all of Jesus's claims about who He was and what kind of authority He possessed.

Greg Gilbert, Why Trust The Bible?

Book Review: Jesus Called – He Wants His Church Back by Ray Johnston

Many people have some funny ideas about the church. Some look at it as just a nice building where Christians meet. Other look at it where dull and boring people come together to sing songs. There are still those who think the church is where a good show is put where you get a motivational speech to make you feel good the rest of the week.

Some pastors have said the church is need of a reformation where we go back to the idea of what the church needs to be based on the Bible. We need to be careful because some will start making the church not look like the one in the New Testament. Ray Johnston has written a book where is it a call to go back to what the church is suppose to be. The book is titled, Jesus Called-He Wants His Church Back.

I have to admit the title is catchy and a little humorous. As I kept reading this book, I begin to wonder if Johnston wanted the church to follow the New Testament model or go back to where it is all about the seeker. There are parts in the book where he addresses how the church uses language that outsiders will not know. My question is when did that become a bad thing. The Apostle Paul wrote words that were for the church. Each letter was addressed the church of the city or region. Yes, there could have been outsiders in the meeting while the letter was being read to the church, but his words were not watered down. I felt Johnston was making a pitch to make a church seeker-sensitive which we know is not Savior-sensitive at times.

Johnston does make some points in the book about living for Jesus, presenting the gospel to the lost, and even caring about the lost. I agree with Johnston on these issues. A church needs to care about the lost because Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).

In conclusion, while this book has some strengths, there are also some things in here that I cannot swallow. I believe a church should not think how they should cater to an outsider by not using theological words. Yes, they need to be explained because those who are saved do not even know what they are. I felt this book fell short of where I thought it should have gone.

Thanks Booklook Bloggers for letting me review this book.

Effectual Calling

When God called the world into being, the universe did not hesitate to comply with the command. God's desired effect in creation came to pass. Likewise, when Jesus called the dead Lazarus from his grave, Lazarus responded with life.

There is also an effectual call of God in the life of the believer. It is a call that brings about its desired effect, Effectual calling is related to the power of God in regenerating the sinner from spiritual death. It is sometimes referred to as "irresistible grace."

Effectual calling refers to a call of God that by His sovereign power and authority brings about His designed and ordained effect, or result. When Paul teaches that those who He predestined, He calls, and those whom He calls, He justifies, the call which he is referring is the effectual call of God.

The effectual call of God is an inward call. It is a secret work of quickening or regeneration accomplished in the souls of the elect by the immediate supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit. It effects or works the inward change of the disposition, inclination, and desire of the soul. Before the inward effectual call of God is received, no person is inclined to come to Him. Everyone who is effectually called is now disposed to God and responds in faith. We see, then, that faith itself is a gift from God, having been given in the effectual call of the Holy Spirit.

The preaching of the gospel represents the outward call of God. This call is heard audibly by both the elect and the nonelect. Human beings have the ability to resist and refuse the outward call. He will not respond to the outward call in faith unless or until the outward call is accompanied by the effectual inward call of the Holy Spirit. Effectual calling is irresistible in the sense that God sovereignly brings about its desired result. This sovereign work of grace is resistible in the sense that we can and do resist in our fallen nature, but irresistible in the sense that God's grace prevails over our natural resistance to it.

Effectual calling refers to the creative power of God by which we are brought to spiritual life. The Apostle Paul writes:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5).

We who were once children of wrath and were spiritually dead have become the "called out ones" by virtue of the power and efficacy of the inward call of God. In His grace, the Holy Spirit gives us eyes to see what we would not see and ears to hear what we would not hear.

Adapted from the Reformation Study Bible

Recommend Reading:

Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration by Matthew Barrett