Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Thought on Upcoming Election

What troubles me is that our founders knew that this marvelous experiment in liberty would only work if this nation was made up of an informed and godly population. When it started, that was largely the case. Several generations later, it is hard not to notice that the scales have definitely tipped the other way. Most Americans are not informed and are not godly. Candidates are able to get away with profoundly shallow and empty argumentation - and yet the masses cheer. No matter who ends up in office, we, the church, need to continue being the church - preaching the gospel, expositing the Word of God, encouraging people to disciple and love their families, and pushing Christians to enter into the public sphere with a fully functioning Christian world and life view. The Scripture tells us in Proverbs 8:36 regarding God's wisdom: "All those who hate me love death." Psalm 34:21 says, "evil shall slay the wicked." If our nation continues to commit collective suicide, we must raise up a mighty generation to step into the gap when they are gone. Our mission is still the same - and it is not yet finished:
Matthew 28:18-20 "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Creation and Evolution

Creation versus Evolution. It is one of the most important battle-fronts in Christ's church today. While the age of the earth was once considered to be settled around 6,000 years, that notion has been challenged by evolutionism for the past 150+ years. Why is time so important to the conflicting worldviews of biblical creationism versus naturalistic evolutionism? Because time to the evolutionist functions like magic. If I was to tell someone that tomorrow this earthworm will be a human being, they would laugh at me and rightly so. For some strange reason in our day, if I was to tell someone that in millions of years this earthworm will be a human being, people nod and call that "science." 

The weakness of the Christian church in our day is due largely to its biblical illiteracy, theological indifference, and its familial collapse. Fathers, generally speaking, do not lead or educate their families (contra Deut. 6:4-9; Psalm 78:1-8; Ephesians 6:4; etc.). Children are sent off to the government schools where they have materialism, naturalism, and evolutionism pumped into them. In summary, here is what has happened: Biblical authority has been challenged and abandoned by our culture. These challenges have made their way into the church as well. The primary challenge is deep time. The world has been demanding for some time now that we find somewhere to cram these millions and billions of years into the biblical text. Sadly, many prominent churchmen have obliged. Now we have the gap-theory, the framework hypothesis, and the day-age theory regarding the true meaning of Genesis 1's days of creation. What do all three of those compromised positions have in common? They allow for millions and/or billions of years. The church, instead of standing its ground upon the infallible Word of God, has chosen to sell its birthright for a mess of pottage. Jude 3 commands us to contend for the faith, but we've allowed the enemy to make a huge hole in the ship. That ship is now dangerously close to sinking in America. 

The fact is, there are very solid and biblical answers to the challenges of evolutionism and all that accompanies it: materialism, naturalism, secularism, atheism, etc. There are many excellent apologetical works being produced by great theologians and Christian natural scientists all over the world. Answers in Genesis is a group whose materials we have encouraged people to use for a long time now. Creation Ministries International is another such group. Their DVD called Evolution's Achilles Heels is the single best refutation of evolutionary ideas I have ever seen. The fact is, evolutionism is a house of cards. It is really not science at all. Evolutionism is an expression of man's rebellion against the authority of God. It is philosophy, a worldview and nothing more. It is based upon no observable or repeatable evidence. And its philosophical underpinnings such as atheism, materialism, and naturalism render science non-justifiable anyway. The only reason we can do science and expect regularity in nature is because of the biblical doctrine of providence. Atheism has no way of explaining or accounting for anything that is needed for science to be possible. But let's just grant the other side the Christian property of science for the moment. Evolution is still false. The sacred cow for it is deep time. The idea is: given enough time, anything is possible. But if the universe is only 6,000 years old, then evolutionism cannot possibly be true. Of course, as Christians, we would point out that given an infinite amount of time it would still not be possible. How can the infinite complexity of life come from non-living matter? How did consciousness originate? How did sex differentiation and reproduction by copulation evolve slowly and gradually? How can unintelligent and non-directed impersonal laws account for the voluminous amount of information contained in the double-helix of a DNA molecule? Why are the majority of point mutations fatal to the organism that experiences them? Why is no new genetic information ever added to the genome of any living organism by mutations if that is supposedly the mechanism by which new physical features are added to less complex organisms? How can there be any objective morality at all in an atheistic universe? How can there be concepts, abstractions, laws of logic, laws of reason in a world composed only of matter? How is induction possible when there is no rational basis for believing in the uniformity of nature over time in an atheist universe? These are questions which spell the death-knell to evolutionism. 

The insistence of deep time and the almost constant mockery of any idea of a young earth has shamed many Christians into silence and compromise. The reason this is so devastating to the Christian church is plain: The Biblical text is plain and simple to understandThe days of Genesis chapter one are twenty-four hour days. The earth cannot possibly be much older than 6,000 years if the Bible is true. Does it now make sense why this would be a major attack-point for the enemy? Do you see what is at stake here? If we give away natural history to the secularists, biblical authority is badly compromised and undermined. Sadly, that is exactly what has happened on our watch. And this, dear friends, is why so few will listen to the church's calls to repent and come to Christ. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

We do not use the church calendar. A response to a counter-argument...

“But where has God’s Word commanded us to preach straight through books of the Bible? And who is some pastor or session to impose 5 years’ worth of Sundays through Romans upon your conscience?”
For those who make this argument, it is a simple category error. We who believe in the Regulative Principle of Worship, namely that God alone instructs us how to glorify and enjoy Him, are arguing that there is freedom where the Word of God has not given us explicit direction. The fact is: The Bible does not tell us what to preach when. It is also a gross historical error to assert that “the Church has always marked time through an annual cycle in the life of Christ.” The church calendar was very a long time in developing and there are many different versions of it. Ought we to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15th? How about the Calendar of Saints? At any rate, when proponents of the church calendar try to reverse the argument against us who hold to the Regulative Principle of Worship, the argument becomes unintelligible. How can the practice of biblical freedom regarding what passages of Scripture we preach on ever be construed as a violation of conscience? You are, in fact, comparing apples and oranges. Think of it like this: One man is in prison and another is free. Someone then asks: "Who do those police think they are to shut that man up in prison?" And then another man asks, "Who do those police think they are to impose freedom on that other guy?" The first question would get a response. The second question is, well, just weird. It would be like walking up to someone walking down the street in town on a Saturday afternoon and asking them: "How does it feel to have your conscience violated by the police who are imposing freedom on you?" The person would likely be rather bewildered by such a question and rightly so!
Proponents of the church calendar are arguing for restriction where the Bible gives us no such restrictions. This is a violation of conscience – clearly. To argue that by exercising freedom where the Scriptures do not impose specifics we are violating people’s consciences is quite simply wrong. No one’s conscience is violated when Scripture is being followed correctly. That’s the entire point of the Regulative Principle of Worship. The idea that we as a session would impose things upon the people of God which He has not commanded us such that they were left scratching their heads with their consciences wounded thinking, “Should we really be doing this?” is almost more than I can bear as a shepherd. The church calendar is not biblical. Its proponents know this. This is why they will offer nothing from Scripture to support it. Individual churches are free to emphasize and preach and teach on certain parts of God’s Word as they see fit and as their congregations’ pastoral needs would indicate because God has left them free in this matter.
For those who think their creativity or traditions are on par with Scripture, God gave us a haunting warning of His stance toward those who do in worship that “which He had not commanded them.”
Leviticus 10:1-3 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. [2] So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. [3] And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the Lord spoke, saying: 'By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.' " So Aaron held his peace.
Deut. 12:32 Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.
It is also important to note that if you accept the argument as laid out at the beginning as a justification for using the church calendar, the same argument can be used to justify almost anything you want. You could make up feast days, festivals, and church calendar days for anything you wanted since no biblical commands or examples are needed to justify them. Anyone who objected that we need some biblical rationale for our practices could then be answered with the above argument. And then: We could have a "Balaam's Talking Donkey Feast Day." And a "David presenting to Saul 100 Philistine Foreskins Day." As long as we have the same normal elements of worship, we're good, right? And on what possible grounds could proponents of the church calendar object - in principle? Friends, we need to learn to think one step past an initial argument and recognize what, if accepted, it logically leads to.
Sola Scriptura!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Men Without Chests

C. S. Lewis wrote in his book The Abolition of Man:
And all the time — such is the tragi-comedy of our situation — we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive', or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity'. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful. 
My greatest concern is that my generation and the one rising under us is retreating from the battle-lines with their tails tucked between their legs. Those who have been raised on a steady diet of: "The only absolute is: Thou Shalt Not Offend Anyone For Any Reason, Lest Thou Be Labelled Uncool By the World" seems to be all but silent on the key issues before us. It is disheartening to see the compromise on the issue of homosexuality, the indifference to the issue of abortion, and the lack of concern for sound doctrine. What has happened to manliness, conviction, courage, strength, and boldness? Men need to have messages. Men need to have something to say. Christian men need to have "chests." Lewis was a master wordsmith when it came to illustrating profound truths like this one. It is a bit frightening to note that Lewis penned these words in 1943 - right in the middle of World War II. He was speaking of "men without chests" back then. What image would he have used if he lived today?

We, the Christian church, have no one to thank but ourselves for the mess we see today. Our children have had relativism, evolutionism, scientism, atheism, and statism pumped into them for several generations now through the government school system. We actually thought we could offset that by sending our kids to youth-groups once a week and by taking them to church for an hour on Sunday mornings. And we are shocked that young people are not outraged by the wholesale murder of unborn children through abortion. They are undiscerning and easily deceived by church-growth gurus and hucksters. As long as the person looks cool, is popular, and is charismatic, they jump up and shout "amen!" no matter how unbiblical the doctrines they preach might be. We find them more offended by and concerned with the "tone" of people who condemn homosexuality than they are with the filth of the sin itself. God forbid someone stand up and condemn sexual perversion with any degree of pathos and vigor. Such are dismissed as unloving and even as un-Christlike. Such are the actions of men without chests. What are the young men of the rising generation going to do in the face of these clearly defined battle-lines: homosexuality, abortion, and the exclusive claims of the gospel of justification by faith alone? Sadly, it seems that most are blissfully unaware that such lines even exist. Such was the plan of the social engineers all along. They want to produce "men without chests" because such are easier to control and govern. They want to produce men who melt into puddles on the floor at the first sign of a debate or argument. They want men who have no guts, no conviction, no courage to stand their ground and fight for truth and righteousness.

And so I want to encourage parents and pastors everywhere: Labor to produce men with chests. Labor to produce Christian people of conviction and strength. You only have your precious children for a very short time. Speak to them about the battles of your day and encourage them to stand and fight armed with the Word of God, the gospel of Christ, and divine love. Pastors especially must recognize what J.C. Ryle wrote long ago: "The pulpit is the place where the chief victories of the Gospel have always been won." Every time you step up to your pulpit to address the people of God, remember that you are a leader. Remember that you are the mouthpiece of God during that moment. Remember that your text in God's Word is where the power of God is located. Remember that you must understand the times in which you live. Do not be content to feed people fluff because it "preaches good." Give them meat and solid food. Labor to produce men with chests who will be strong in the Lord and who will, in the power of God's might, change the world. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

There is no "gay" or "LGBTQ" "community"

                The surest way to guarantee you will lose a debate is to allow your opponent to define the terms, parameters, and worldview that will lie beneath your conversation. If we let them do this, then our opponents have won the argument before it even starts. While they pretend to be neutral, they are not. While they tell us to be open-minded, they are not. We must recognize that those insisting the loudest to us that we must be open-minded are in fact the most closed-minded people on earth. They are dogmatically committed at the outset of all their dialogs and debates to their worldview and value system, and they grant to them the highest immunity to correction or revision. When Christians engage the world of unbelief around them, they must learn to obey this simple passage of Scripture while doing so:
1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”
                As we defend and present the faith, it is foundational that we “sanctify the Lord God in our hearts” while we are defending and presenting that faith. We begin committed to the propositions of God’s Word and we proceed committed to the propositions of God’s Word. We must not let the opposition attempt to sneak in their worldview undetected.
In the debates over homosexuality, the Bible, the church, and the Christian faith, those in favor of same-sex marriage and of affirming God’s blessing upon homosexuality in general speak quite frequently of “the gay community,” or “the LGBTQ community.” This is a subtle and often undetected Trojan horse which enters into these discussions. Christians must object to the use of such terminology. There is no “gay community.” Nor is there an “LGBTQ community.” Human beings cannot be defined by a particular sin. Please think about this previous sentence. I will restate it. Human beings cannot be defined by a particular sin. Here is the non-Christian, anti-Scriptural presupposition at play in such labels: God creates people who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and etc. And therefore, there are “communities” of such people who are homosexual by nature. They are normal because God created them that way and they cannot be anything other than what God made them to be.
How are we to handle the person who says, as Matthew Vines does, “same-sex attraction is completely natural to me,” and further tells us that this sexual orientation is something he was born with and which cannot be changed? We stand upon the authority of the text of God’s Word. We say to such people: There is no “gay community.” There are no “gay people.” Your same-sex attraction is sinful and must be stopped. God creates males and females. They are designed as compliments to one another. Genesis 2:18 “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” The word translated “comparable” is the Hebrew word: negeth. It means: “an opposite correspondence to.” When it comes to sexuality, the Biblical worldview is clear: Men are created to be married to one woman and to have sexual intercourse with one woman, and vice-versa. The fact that individuals sometimes experience same-sex attraction is due to the same cause of the desire to commit adultery, idolatry, theft, envy, coveting, and murder. That reason is: the advent of sin into the world (Romans 1:18ff, 5:12-19). The Scriptures identify same-sex attraction as a sin – Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Leviticus 18:22; 20:13. Thus, it is entirely anti-Scriptural and irrational to speak of a “gay community” in the same way it would be to speak of a “murderers community.”
Since the fall of man, people experience the desire to commit many different kinds of sin. Some of those sinful desires are sexual in nature. People experience perverted desires. But why call anything “perverted?” We do this because of the standard set forth in God’s Word. Sex is a privilege, not a right. Sex is the privilege of married people only. The word “marriage” is defined by God as well and it is not subject to modification or change:
Genesis 2:24-25 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. [25] And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
                As a pastor, I encounter people who have various struggles with various types of sin. Some struggle with stealing. Would it make much sense for me to “affirm” such individuals as part of “the thieving community?” Would it not strike you as odd if there were kleptomania conferences, seminars, workshops, coffee-houses, and bars devoted to overcoming klepto-phobia? Of course. And so what are we to do with people who come to us and ask, “What about all the people in the gay community? Don’t they need pastors and loving churches too?” The answer of course is, ‘yes, they do.’ But no pastor and no church ought to affirm them in behavior which is prohibited by the Word of God. A “loving” pastor and church will call such individuals to repentance and faith in Christ. No one denies that same-sex attraction is a real phenomenon, just as the desire to commit adultery, to covet, and to steal are real phenomena. But what I do deny is that people must be mastered by those desires. It is the Word of God which defines human gender, sexuality, and marriage, not our desires. Our desires must conform to what our Creator says is right, not the other way around.

                And so I urge all Christians not to allow proponents of same-sex relationships either inside or outside the walls of churches to smuggle in the idea of there being a “gay community” or an “LGBTQ community.” Human beings are not defined as the specific sins they commit. And to allow them to get away with doing so is to lose the debate before it starts.