Thursday, May 19, 2011

Communion Meditation- God the Giver

As we eat this Communion meal let us remember that communion with God is to be known and then to know . God first knows us, we are known by Him, and then we can know Him. We thank Him for revealing Himself to us and then drawing us into sweet communion with Him, His Son and His Spirit.

This is also true of the brotherhood. We seek to understand and then we can be understood. We always give first and then we receive.

This is true of our children. We give them to God and then He gives them back to us.

God gives to us and then we can give to Him. He brings us into the body of Christ as a gift and then we can give to one another. God has given to each of you and brought you here to give yourself back to Him. Furthermore, He brings us here so that we learn to share this Table fellowship with one another. This is the fellowship of the saints that reveals the glory of God to the world. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Exhortation- Simple Faith

Today is another blessed day in God’s Kingdom. We formally receive two new children into the Kingdom of God, trusting that God will be as faithful to them as He has been to us.

We also take a look at Psalm 128 which pronounces blessings on those that fear the Lord.

Our faith is not complex. It does not take a mastery of logic to figure it out. If you fear God, then you will be blessed. That blessing will flow to your wife and to your children and to their children.

Today is also my son’s eighteenth birthday. Happy Birthday Zach! And I must say that I have been deeply blessed by God in him. And by God’s grace, Zachary and my other children have been blessed by the fear of the Lord of their mother and father. We have believed God for them and God has been faithful to us to make them faithful to Him. Fear God and He will not disappoint you.

Take hold of God’s promises. Confess when you fail to believe them and when you fail in following His commands in the way you treat your wife or husband, children or parents. God is quick to forgive, cover over sins, return the years the locust has eaten and then grant you blessings. We earnestly desire God’s blessings and they start here in confession, repentance and forgiveness.

Biblical Manhood- A Recent Talk

This talk is titled Biblical Manhood. I may be a bit hard-pressed to present to you what a Biblical Man looks like. The specimen is getting more and more difficult to locate and there is some concern that he may, in fact, be extinct. But I will try to describe him to you so that if you happen to see one you may notify the authorities that the report of his demise is slightly pre-mature.

In fact, I think the Biblical Man is not extinct. He is rare but he exists. I suppose he ought to be on the endangered list. If you find one, then make sure you stick close to him, take notes, learn his ways and makes sure he reproduces before we lose his particular strain of DNA. Our churches are full of progesterone but we really need the testosterone of the Biblical Man. Let us see if we can find one.

Where are the Biblical men of our day?

Men like Noah, who withstood the ridicule of the people because God had spoken and built a boat for 100 years while everyone laughed him to scorn. Noah, who was fruitful, multiplied and filled the Earth.

Men like Abraham who went out not knowing where he was going. Abraham, who pursued five kings and overthrew them all, then paid his tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of Yahweh.

Men, like Moses, who led the people out of Egypt, and in the name and Spirit of the Living God, destroyed the great giant kings Og, King of Bashan and Sihon, King of the Amorites. Moses who fell on his face before the Lord interceding for even a stubborn and rebellious people.

Men like Joshua, the son of Nun, who foresaw victory when others predicted defeat. Joshua, who was not afraid of the giants but simply saw a bigger target, knowing that his God would give him victory.

Men like David, a shepherd boy who killed a lion and a bear protecting his Father’s sheep. David, the killer of Goliath, the enemy of God. David, who soundly defeated all of God’s enemies. David, who like our Great High King, was a ruler and defender of God’s people.

Where are our Biblical men of today? Have they all become like gentle Jesus, meek and mild, an invention of the American psyche, the Jesus who is tenderly and sweetly calling? But where do we see this meek and mild Jesus in the pages of Scripture? We are told that Moses was the meekest man in the Earth and as we turn to Moses we do not find weakness and gentility but we find boldness as the herald of God, strength of word and of action. We need men like him.

And a greater prophet has arisen, one like Moses from among the brethren. He is Jesus the Son of God.

Where are men like Jesus, who even as a youth was found in the Temple doing His Father’s business? Jesus, who called the Pharisees a brood of vipers and white-washed tombs. Jesus, who drove the money changers from the Temple with a whip, overturning their tables in a righteous angry zeal. Jesus who said to Peter, Get behind me Satan! Jesus, who told the woman at the well that her live in man was not her husband. Jesus, who withstood insults, suffered ridicule, and set His face to the cross because of the joy on the other side, and perfectly accomplished the Father’s will. Where is this meek and mild Jesus? The Jesus of the Bible is a man, a man full of boldness, strength, decision, perseverance, fortitude and fearlessness. Would that we had such men as Him.

And the men He trained were also bold and strong. Through the power of the Spirit, they proclaimed the truth of Christ in the face of enemies, fearing God rather than men.

Men like bold Peter who preached the first Christian sermon, calling men to repentance, reminding them that they had crucified the Lord Jesus. Peter who preached the gospel, even to Gentiles. Where are such bold men today, men with chests, willing to stand against the tide, to preach unpopular truths, to call men everywhere to repentance?

Men like Stephen, a man full of the Spirit of God, who faced his accusers and boldly proclaimed both God’s covenant faithfulness and Israel’s stubborn rebellion. Stephen who paid the price with his own life.

Men like Paul, many times persecuted for proclaiming the truth of the gospel, the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ over all men everywhere. Paul, the aged, the chief of all sinners, who withstood the beasts at Ephesus.

A biblical man is fearless in the face of opposition because his one great fear drives him ever onward. He has learned that to Fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He has also learned that the fear of man is always a threat to this great wisdom.

Peter learned this lesson and was forced to repent at the admonishment of St. Paul. He wilted under the pressure of the Jewish men from Jerusalem, choosing their wisdom over God’s. Paul rightly confronted Peter because He saw that the gospel of freedom in Jesus was at stake.

Men, we are not unlike Peter. We long to be the true servants of Jesus, standing fast in the midst of a crumbling Christian culture that is increasingly compromised. We are told to mind our business and to play along, to play nice. This is not only true in politics and in American Christianity but it is also true within the ever emptying shell of the Modern American Evangelical Christian culture.

We are evangelicals, the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches and The Evangelical Presbyterian Church. An evangelical emphasizes salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual.

But the authority of Scripture is under fire, and evangelicals are capitulating to the pressure of the unbelieving culture to play nice. They tell us that we should not make sharp distinctions. We should not preach an exclusive gospel of Jesus. We should not speak against the sins of homosexuality, the grotesque nature of abortion on demand, the inclusion of Muslims as the people of our God, and lately not even the scary prospect of eternity in hell for those who reject Jesus Christ.

Is it any wonder to us that our conservative politicians capitulate in all of these areas when Christ’s Church, itself, is unable to stand with Jesus and the Bible on such topics? Our politicians are simply a mirror into the soul of the Church. If you do not like what you see in them, you must realize that what we see in them is us.

We need to stop worrying so much about what is going on in Washington Monday through Friday and focus on what is going on in our own churches on Sunday morning.
Once we get a critical mass of Biblical men back in our churches, then we can have some hope for Biblical men in the corridors of power. Until we do this, our fight in Washington will continue to look exactly like what it is, a losing battle.

The crumbling authority of the Scripture has been accompanied by an ever increasing incursion of the world into the Church. We now worship in multi-purpose facilities rather than churches. Our music, dress, and speech has become worldly in an attempt to win the world. This is justified by a weak appeal to Scripture, ‘I have become all things to all men.’ A more accurate version would be “when in Rome, do as the Romans”, and we look more and more like them.

God calls the world to the Church. He does not call the church to the world. We are told to go out into the world and make them disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God and then bring them into a holy church, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, the bride of Christ. But, instead, we invite them in to the church on their own terms to a Church that looks just like their computer screens, pulsing out sounds and images of entertainment that do not fully transform the person into Christlikeness.

I am thankful that you and I are here to push back. We have been pushed and are being pushed. As your church grows and even as it has success in bringing in new members or gaining new converts, the pressure will mount. ‘Do not be so dogmatic. Do not be judgmental. Do not be so exclusive. Do not be intolerant.’

But God calls us to dogmatism. Judgment begins in the household of God. Jesus is the only way to the Father and God hates sin and stands against those who will not submit to the Lordship of Christ.

Jesus is in heaven, ruling heaven and Earth at the right hand of the Father and all men, everywhere, will submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus, and you and me, have real enemies, those who hate God, His Son and His Spirit. We call upon God to rise up and defend us and we are to stand and fight with Him until every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Naughty Tongue

Wisdom from Proverbs

Proverbs 17 has a general theme about those who cause strife and division and those who follow peace and wisdom. There is much here for maintaining peace in a home but also in a particular congregation.

Consider v. 4, a wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.

We tend to condemn the one of false lips. He ought not to be speaking things that are untrue. Thus, also with the one of a naughty tongue, stirring up strife in the brotherhood. But who is this warning to? It is to the one who listens to false lips. If you listen to and give heed to false lips, the Bible calls you an a wicked doer! Beware what you listen to!

The Bible also condemns you if you are one who likes to hear questionable bits of information about your neighbors. If you do not like to gossip so much but you do like to listen to the local gossip, that one lady in your church who just cannot resist telling all the latest scandalous news, the Bible calls YOU a liar!

Do not give false lips and gossip an ear to sound off. They corrupt not only the speaker but the hearer, too. In fact, the fact that you want to hear such things shows that the corruption has already found a place in your heart. Confess. Repent. Turn away the person of a false and naughty tongue.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Fine Art of Preaching- Blackwood

"The preacher's aim should be to guide the hearer to the place where he will see a certain truth and perform a certain duty."

Preaching truth without application falls short. "Yes, I see the Bible declares that truth, now tell me what to do about it."

Preaching application without truth undermines one's authority. "I hear what you are telling me to do but why must I do so?"

Some preachers assume the Holy Spirit will automatically make application without him having to take the effort. Not so, nor is such a man a true preacher.

Some preachers assume they can simply proclaim the truths they have accumulated for themselves, oftentimes even from the Scriptures, without grounding these truths in specific texts. But a thoughtful congregation will want to hear, "Thus saith the Lord" before he commits to submit to such application.

True Authority

Another good quote from The Black Swan.

"We no longer believe in Papal infallibility; we seem to believe in the infallibility of the Nobel, though."

I would want to take a Protestant twist on this. I do not believe in the infallibility of the Pope, either, but I do believe in the infallibility of the Bible. And I would further say that the infallibility of the Bible enables me to take great courage over the presumed authority of the Nobel, whether in Science, Literature or any other discipline.

I am still of the opinion that the Queen of the Sciences is Theology. All disciplines must bow to her.


In the book Black Swan by Nassim Taleb, he quotes Locke on the definition of a madman as "someone reasoning correctly from erroneous premises."

This is a helpful definition for many reasons. Our standard madman "one who continues to do the same things while expecting different results" is certainly a cousin of the madman arguing well from false premises.

The latter madman continues to do this over and over, expecting his hearers to agree with him, even while he produces no new arguments and fails to realize that he, himself, is arguing in such a way that he can never be right,no matter how sound his argument.

This is why being ground in presuppositional apologetics is so vital. We often find ourselves listening to men of the world, men of science, presenting valid and beautifully crafted arguments that fail to convince us of their truth. And what is worse, many Christians then fall to the temptation to participate in these arguments, applying the false premises, in an attempt to convince the opponent.

But a man who is only willing to apply true premises is the only one that come up with the consistently correct answers. Incidentally, this is why deductive reasoning is always superior to inductive reasoning.

So, where do we start? Where are our infallible first principles, first premises? Of course, they are in the only place were we can find ultimate and infallible authority, God's Word, the Holy Bible.

There is a third madman and he is our Christian brother, "one who argues using the premises of his opponent in an attempt to convince him that he is wrong."

The Christian brother who simply borrows the unbeliever's premises for a moment to show him how quickly they devolve into absurdity is not mad. He is wise. But the Christian brother who has adopted the premises of unbelief should just as soon hit himself in the head with a hammer as assume he can convince an unbeliever of truth by using the tools of unbelief.

But how can we start with the Bible if we have to prove the Bible is true in order to convince men to believe it? That is just the point. He has first principles, too, and he makes no attempt to prove them, spontaneous creation, evolution, survival of the fittest, the good of mankind. And when you push him to prove them, he has no place to turn.

But we simply admit that our first principles are God's specific revelation to us. We start there without embarrasment or apology and we move towards man's response to God. We are willing to appeal to our authority and they are unwilling to appeal to their authority.

Let us not be like these madmen, appealing to good arguments with false premises but standing on the Word of God, let us learn to argue faithfully from true premises.