Saturday, February 18, 2017

J.D. Greear on Being Chosen by God

Ephesians 1:3-14 is beautiful. It contains some many truths about God and the salvation He has given us. In this passage comes one of the most confusing doctrines in all of scripture and that is predestination. Has God chosen us based on our efforts, our future faith, or by His grace.

J.D. Greear addresses these things and more in this sermon:



Recommended Resources:

Two episodes from Doctrine and Devotion:

Election

Perseverance of the Saints


One Misunderstanding on Predestination

Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election by Sam Storms

Chosen By God by R.C. Sproul

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner

Friday, February 17, 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Book Review: The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel

James 1:27 says, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel believe that the church has been polluted by the world. If you think about, they are, in some ways, correct. We have churches that have adopted worldly tactics to draw people to their congregations and make no apology for it. Some pastors think that using the Bible to defend the Bible is a waste of time.

The church has also taken in some of the world's ideals. Some clergy will bless practices that are not in line with scripture. We use worldly philosophies outside the Bible to comfort our people instead of God's wisdom.

What should the church do? Can we recover from this? Goggin and Strobel have written a book as guide for how the church should leave the influence of the world and plug into the power of Christ. The book is titled, The Way of the Dragon or The Way of the Lamb. Basically, this book is a call for the church to return to reflect Christ and not embrace cultural ideals. We need to rediscover that God's grace is sufficient and His power is perfect in weakness. Once we have tapped into that power, we begin to look different from the world. The church is called to be "a peculiar people" (1 Peter 2:9, KJV) and not one that loves the world (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15).

Goggin and Strobel has written many things for their readers to ponder on. There is nothing heretical in what they have written and there are things I agree with. However, as I kept reading the book, I felt it was more story based than scripturally based. It seems each chapter was story after story as if they were trying to fill up the page to make the book more readable. Don't get me wrong, there are times when books have to be written in a way where the reader can understand where the author is coming from. Yet, I felt Goggin and Strobel kept losing me with all of the ongoing stories.

Thanks BookLook Bloggers for letting me review this book.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The 1689 LBC on Marriage

Marriage is to be between one man and one woman; neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time.

Genesis 2:24; Malachi 2:15; Matthew 19:5,6

Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and the preventing of uncleanness.

Genesis 2:18; Genesis 1:28; 1 Corinthians 7:2, 9

It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent; yet it is the duty of Christians to marry in the Lord; and therefore such as profess the true religion, should not marry with infidels, or idolaters; neither should such as are godly, be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresy.

Hebrews 13:4; 1 Timothy 4:3; 1 Corinthians 7:39; Nehemiah 13:25-27

Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity, forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful, by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.

Leviticus 18; Mark 6:18; 1 Corinthians 5:1

Adapted from the 1689 London Baptist Confession

Book Review: Katharina and Martin Luther by Michelle DeRusha

With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation coming this year, there will be a number of books and blogs on Martin Luther if they have not been written already. Many have wondered about the life of the man who had the courage to question the Roman Catholic church all those years ago, knowing the cost that he endured. While there have been numerous writings on Luther, according to Michelle DeRusha, there are hardly any on Martin's wife Katharina who was a nun. There are not many writings on the marriage between Katharina and Martin.

DeRusha has taken the liberty to write about what some may call an odd marriage between the Luther's in a book, appropriately titled, Katharina & Martin Luther. This is not an exhaustive biography on the Luther's but it does give you an idea of more in their background before they met each other and how they marriage was perceived by others. DeRusha took a look at Katharina's life as a nun and how it caused a great deal of trouble between her and her family. The same is true for Martin who wanted to practice law, but when he got out, there was some family issues.

The book goes with how they met and their marriage. During Luther's time, it seemed that marriage was held as a sacrament which was not the approach of either them especially Martin. They wanted their marriage to be as God intended which honored him and the joining of two people to become one flesh. The rest of the book talks about their children, the ones that were born to them and the ones they have adopted. Then the book concludes with Martin's death while he was a journey where his wife was not with him.

DeRusha's biographical account of the Luther's is a welcome edition to the growing number of books on Martin Luther. As mentioned, there are not a lot of books on the Luther's marriage so this is a good start.

Thanks Baker Books for letting me review this book.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Performance Music In The Church

A recent tweet from 9 Marks on Twitter asks the following question:

What are the dangers of performance music in a church gathering? Is there any role for “performance”?

Here is the response:

1. Performance music can focus our attention on the performers, or even on the music, rather than God.

2. Performance music can wrongly encourage a culture of passivity and entertainment. In many cultures today, especially in the West, we are used to being entertained: we see professionals acting on TV and in movies, we hear professional musicians on our iPods, and we have learned to expect entertainment even at church. But Christian worship is not fundamentally about being entertained. It’s about actively, personally engaging with God. When Christians gather to worship God they should not be passive consumers but active participants.

So does that leave any role for performance?

A small one, if any. While it seems that some performed music is within the bounds of addressing one another in song (Eph. 5:19), churches in the West today may do well to minimize performance and maximize congregational singing.

Music Monday: Traveler's Song by Future of Forestry

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Is Church Membership Taught In The Bible?

It seems a lot of Christians argue over the issue for church membership. Some say the Bible does not say anything about it while others do. Some have also said that church membership is just to keep an eye out on the people just to see if they are coming or not.

Most of the arguments have been over the Bible and church membership. Does the Bible really teach church membership? According to Greg Gilbert, the answer is yes. Greg recently addressed what the Bible said in the area of church membership over at the International Mission Board's website:

If you’re like most people, the word “membership” probably doesn’t cause you to well up with any deep spiritual emotion. For most of us, membership is something most associated with junk mail from credit card companies or a high-pressure sales pitch at a gym. When it comes to the church, perhaps it’s viewed as a bureaucratic tool for keeping track of people. Some consider it irretrievably Western—a faintly imperialist concept that really ought to be abandoned when we begin to plant churches in other cultures.

I understand that impression, especially given how many churches treat the concept and reality of membership. But what’s needed is to return to the Bible itself and see whether it talks about church membership, and if so, what the nature and meaning and purpose of that concept is in the first place.

Church Membership According to Jesus

The idea of church membership began to take shape in Matthew 16 and 18 when Jesus first began to constitute his church. There he gave the church the keys of the kingdom, which means that he gave it authority to speak in his name both to what the gospel is and who is rightly confessing the gospel.

If someone understands and confesses the gospel rightly, the church is given authority by King Jesus to say, “Yes, you’re a genuine believer in Christ,” and is, therefore, to be baptized and join in the life of the church. If not, the church also has the authority, granted by the King, to say, “No, you don’t understand the gospel, you’re not confessing it and living according to it, and therefore we will not continue to affirm that you’re a Christian.” That’s the power of the keys Jesus gave to the church, and that ability to affirm who is confessing the gospel rightly and who is not is the outline of what we mean by the term “church membership.”

Church Membership in the Book of Acts

You can see that reality casting its shadow in the story written in the Book of Acts from the beginning of the church. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the gospel and told people to be baptized. Then, in Acts 2:41, “three thousand souls were added to their number.” Even at the beginning, then, the first Christians knew who they were. The life of the church wasn’t just a matter of “come when you can.” There was a defined, recognized group of people who believed, were baptized, and were part of the number.

It’s not just that they knew each other, though. Those early Christians lived life together. They attended the temple together (2:46) as more and more were “added to their number” (2:47) until in Acts 4:4 the number had risen to five thousand (and that’s just counting the men)! To be a part of “the number” wasn’t just a lifeless bureaucratic reality, either. Acts 4:32 reports that they were “of one heart and soul.”

Amazingly, even with upwards of five thousand people in “the number,” that earliest church in Jerusalem continued to meet together. Acts 5:12 says that they were “all together” in a large place called Solomon’s Portico; 6:2 even says the “full number” of them came together in a business meeting to discuss how to care better for widows. And through all of this, those early Christians called themselves a church— that is an assembly, a gathering.

So, in the very first church in Jerusalem, even as large as it was, the first Christians knew who they were. There were those who were part of the number, and there were those who were not, and the dividing line between the two was baptism. A person would become a believer, the church would exercise the keys and say, “Yes, you seem to be a genuine believer,” then he or she would be baptized and thereby join the life of the church—its joys and pains and problems and solutions. That’s membership.

Church Membership throughout the New Testament

Membership casts its shadow in other places in the Bible too. It’s seen in Matthew 18, for example, where Jesus explained how the church is to use the authority of the keys to remove its affirmation of someone’s profession of faith. The end of that process is that the person is made an outsider. That is, they’re no longer one of “the number.”

First Corinthians 5 gives us a look at another similar situation in which Paul tells the church in 5:2 to “remove this man from among you.” Obviously, that doesn’t mean they are supposed to physically toss him out of the room or bar the doors against him. No, they wanted the man to attend the gatherings of the church, to hear the word, and repent. What it means to “remove” him is that they are to make it clear that they are withdrawing their affirmation of his claim to be a Christian. When you assemble, Paul told them, “hand him over to Satan.” That’s keys of the kingdom language: They are to transfer him out of the church (the realm of King Jesus) and into the world (the realm of Satan).

Sometimes, I think we assume that because all that we find in the New Testament happened two thousand years ago, the early church must have accomplished it in some way that’s more interesting—more organic—than the way we might accomplish it now. But apparently, they did it exactly like we might.

Deciding by Majority Vote

In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul returned to the situation he faced in 1 Corinthians 5 (in which he told the church to remove the unrepentant man from among them) and told the church to bring the man back into the number of disciples. The man repented and, therefore, should be restored. But look in 2:6. Paul said that the church took the action of disaffirming the man’s profession of faith “by the majority.” And how did they determine a majority? They counted! Apparently, the church voted, whether by voice or hands or ballot, and that vote was the church’s way of speaking and acting, of exercising the authority of the keys that had been granted to them by King Jesus.

The Boundary around God’s People

When you pull it all together, the important thing to see is that the Bible consistently talks about the church having a boundary. There are people who are in and people who are out. Definitively. There is “a number,” and a person is part of it or not.

What’s more, that reality is a formal and recognized relationship. Both the church and the individual Christian recognize that such a relationship exists, and the church acts in a formal way both to create and dissolve it. To create it, it baptizes (or recognizes a prior baptism). To dissolve it, it votes to “hand someone over to Satan.”

Membership Means Relationship

But still, the question remains: does the Bible ever explicitly talk about church membership? Yes, it does. It even uses the word. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul addresses a particular local church in the city of Corinth, explaining to them that instead of being divided and jealous of each other, they should be united. In the course of that argument he says in 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

There it is. All those shadows in the New Testament—of making someone part of the number, of putting someone out of the number, of life lived together in mutual commitment—those shadows point to this biblical image of the local church being the Body of Christ.

Membership Means Commitment

What that means is that membership is not a cold, lifeless word having to do with names on a list. It’s a flesh-and-blood, lively word that describes the parts of a body. That, after all, is what the word “member” means. It’s a fascinating image, really, because it captures vividly what it means to be part of “the number” of a church.

For one thing, it simply underlines the truth—which we see again and again in the Bible—that a local church has a boundary. Think about it. It’s actually very clear what is a part of your body and what is not. Maybe you wear a wedding ring. I do, and it almost never comes off my finger. It’s about as close to my body as anything can possibly be. You might even call it a regular, committed attender and participant in the life of my body. But I also know that it’s not a part of my body. What’s more, as close as that ring may be to my body, it doesn’t really share in my body’s life, its pleasure, or its pain. If I stub my toe, my ring doesn’t react. My finger does though.

Membership Is Not a Modern, Western Concept

The point and heart of church membership isn’t necessarily signing something, or having your name on a list or in a booklet. The point is a mutually recognized, formal relationship between a Christian and church in which both of them say—in a way that’s recognized by both—that “I am committed to you.” I will share your joy and your pain. I will take responsibility for you. I will love and care for you. That’s the meaning of membership. It’s not a modern, Western concept, but rather a deeply biblical reality born of the spiritual union between Christ and his church—the reality that each local church is the body of Christ, and we as individual Christians are members of it.


Sources:

Yes, The Bible Does Teach Church Membership, Part 1

Yes, The Bible Does Teach Church Membership, Part 2

Friday, February 10, 2017

Around The Web-February 10, 2017

The Fine Points of Calvinism by R.C Sproul

Seven Costs of Disciple-Making by David Mathis

The Illusion of the Perfect Pastor's Wife by Nikki Daniel

Why All Christians Can (and Should) Share the Gospel by Mack Stiles

A Simple Way To Pray Every Day by Nick Aufenkamp

Knowing Your Roots: The Place of Church History in the Christian Life by James Forbis

Jon English Lee reviews the book, Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Perspective

Why Do We Need a True and Better Priest? by Casey Lewis

Jeff Vanderstelt on how to be fluent in the gospel.



John Piper, Tim Keller, and D.A. Carson answer the question, "What would you say to a congregation that has lost its pastor due to moral failure?"

Book Review: God Among Sages by Kenneth Richard Samples

In today's culture, many people have compared Jesus with many religious leaders. Others have even said that Jesus is a step above the rest but was like any other religious leader. There are times when others have tried to disapprove the Biblical Jesus by saying he was just a good man who died for a noble cause.

Kenneth Richard Samples examines the claims of Christianity about Jesus and also tests them in comparison to some key religious figures in his book, God Among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader. The book begins with Samples looking at the Biblical and historical claims portrait of Jesus Christ. He starts off with looking at what religious leaders and organizations say who Jesus is. Next, Samples looks at Jesus's awareness that He was God. Samples took passages in Scripture that showed parallels between Yahweh (the Hebrews name for God the Father) and Jesus. Samples goes on to address Jesus's life as God incarnate along with the characteristics He displayed on earth.

Samples then dives into the one of the most critical claims of Christianity and its importance, the Incarnation. This doctrine separates Christianity from all the others because no other religion holds that their god became a man. Samples addresses challenges throughout the centuries regarding who Jesus is.

There are four chapters in this book when Samples takes four key religious leaders to see where they compare and contrast to Jesus. Those leaders are Krishna, Gautama (Buddha), Confucius, and Muhammad. The book concludes with looking at the world religions through a Biblical point of view.

I felt Samples did an excellent job with this book. With some many in our world thinking Jesus is just like other religious leaders, this book will be a useful tool in equipping the saints.

Thanks Baker Books for letting me review this book.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Spiritual Partners in Marriage

The Christian faith involves much more than matters of doctrine relating to the church. The apostles wrote letters teaching things pertaining to God, humanity, Christ, salvation, and much more, showing believers how to love God and other people. Paul and Peter included in their letters instructions for parents, children, and spouses, teaching us how to apply the gospel to family life.

This is what we find in 1 Peter 3:1–7. Peter exhorts Christian wives to submit to their husbands, even if they do not know Christ. Why? So “they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives” (1 Pet. 3:1). Christian women are to live out the gospel before their unsaved husbands. Wives are to put more emphasis on character development than on hairstyles, jewelry, or clothes (vv. 2–4). If they honor God in this way, they will be spiritual daughters of their mothers in the faith of old, such as Sarah (vv. 5–6). And the wives’ submission is to be out of fear not of man but of God, who saved them by his grace.

Although Peter devotes more words to women in this passage than he does to men, his few words to men here hit home with all Christian husbands. That is because of the way God created men and women. Wives want to be loved and understood by their husbands. So Paul commands Christian men to love their wives “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25). Peter commands Christian men, “Live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel” (1 Pet. 3:7). What does it take for a husband to understand his wife? Considerable love and energy spent in listening to her words and heart. Most men are physically stronger than their wives. Peter enjoins them to use their greater strength to love and defend their wives, never to abuse them.

Why does Peter place such difficult demands on believing husbands? Because their wives are their fellow heirs of God’s saving grace that brings eternal life (v. 7). Christian husbands and wives are spiritual partners. In addition, Peter warns of adverse effects of Christian men failing to understand and honor their wives; they risk hindering their own prayer life (v. 7).

Marital relationships are very important to God. In the home, above all, believers are by God’s grace to live out the gospel before their children and a watching world. We have been saved by such lavish grace. It is our great privilege to exhibit this grace within marriage.

Robert A. Peterson from the ESV Women's Devotional Bible

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Podcast Wednesday: Reality, Indiana Jones, Human Dignity, and more

Doctrine and Devotion deals with the perseverance of the saints

Popcorn Theology deals with the new thriller, Split

What Human Dignity Means For the Church from Russell Moore

Equipping You In Grace talks with Greg Koukl on The Story of Reality

Reading the Bible Existentially from Renewing Your Mind

Head Colds and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull from the Regular Reformed Guys

John Piper on How Do I Pray The Bible

This is a video from the Table Podcast over at Dallas Theological Seminary where Dr. Darrell Bock, Dr. Scott Horrell and Dr. Michael Svigel discuss the differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics.

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