Thursday, July 31

Rapture in 2011?

Harold Camping seems to think so....again! - you can read about it here.

Please do not tell me that this is a classic case of dispensationalism gone a muck. This is where a literal hermeneutic turns into a psychic hermeneutic. It is sad when those who take eschatology to an extreme end up making those of us who look and long for the victorious and triumphant return of Christ to this earth look silly and pompous.

This should remind us of a few things here:

There are some things about eschatology that we do not understand. Right?

Date setting and irresponsible speculation forces us to read something into eschatological texts that are not there.

Let's be sure to be prudent and biblical when teaching about our Lord's return.

Looking for the Rapture is much different than setting dates for the Rapture. Knowing that our Lord could take us home as an imminent event that could happen at any time should produce in us an awareness and reality about the brevity of our own life and an expectation of a glorious eternity!

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Friday, July 25

The God Who Forgives (Psalm 103:8-10), Part 6

8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
In my estimation, this refrain is one of the major themes in the Old Testament and in all of Scripture. When critics say there is no gospel in the Old Testament, I would point them to this refrain. It’s repeated 9 times explicit and it occurs in the law, history, poetry, and prophets—focusing on the way God interacts with sinners. David presents the truth of the gospel in verses 8-10 and then provides application for us and then returns in verses 13-14 to more doctrine.

“Merciful” is always used of God and no one else. This word “incorporates two concepts: first, the strong tie God has with those whom he has called as his children (Ps 103:13). . . .The second concept is that of God’s unconditioned choice (hanen grace). God tells Moses that he is gracious and merciful to whomever he chooses (Ex 33:19)” (TWOT Lexicon). Thus his mercy (1) creates an unbreakable family tie with those it touches and (2) is initiated by His sovereign choice.

His graciousness focuses on his unconditional compassion. He shows us favor inspite of ourselves. What more good news could we have asked for? The Lord who owes us nothing gives us everything.

Next, the idea that God is slow to anger goes against everything some liberal critics would have us believe about God especially in the OT. There are some who would draw a strict dichotomy between the loving Jesus in the New Testament and the angry God in the Old Testament. However, this should not be. D.A. Carson says,

Somehow they think [God] runs on a short fuse, never very far off from an outburst that can wipe out a nation or two. . . . [God, however,] delays judgment. On the first signs of genuine repentance, he turns from wrath, for the Lord is ‘slow to anger, abounding in love.' It is almost as if God is looking for reasons to be as forbearing as possible.
God has an overflow of covenant love. This is love unlike any love we know. A love that cannot end because it is sealed by God with a covenant. Paul says, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.“ The strength of this love proceeds from the gospel and the death Christ died on the cross. Further, there’s enough love for everyone who will come. What hope for sinners! There’s not a sin that falls out of the reach of God’s love. If you are here today and the power of sin overwhelms you, lay your sin at the cross and rest in his covenant love!

9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever. 10He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.

Verses 9 and 10 really parallel each other and say similar things. David says the Lord will not chide. Chide is a word that’s unfamiliar to us but simply means God will not bring a legal case against us and in verse 10 “He does not deal with us according to our sins.“ These are true not because God looked over our sin but because our punishment was received upon Christ. It’s for this reason that God will not accuse us because Christ has already been accused.

Then David says God‘s anger is temporary with believers because Christ absorbs all the eternal wrath that was due us. This is the truly amazing suffering of the cross. It’s not the physical torment which is what we often focus on. We think if people truly understood how painful his death was then they would see Christ. But that’s not the case. If people truly understood how dark and perverse their own hearts were and how repulsive their sin is to a holy God and how much anguish Christ suffered bearing our wrath on the cross, then they might see. May the Lord open our eyes to these truths!

It’s when we minimize our sin that we minimize the gospel. For Christ there could be nothing more unbearable than being separated from His Father and being placed under His wrath. Who could have planned such an escape except God?

Soli Deo Gloria

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Wednesday, July 23

The God Who Forgives (Psalm 103:7), Part 5

7He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
Example: OT, physical redemption from Egypt (v. 7)
David provides an example from the OT. This focuses on the theme of rememberance. God’s working in the OT was done specifically so that future generations would see what was done in the past and have their faith strengthened for the future (Numbers 15:39; Deuteronomy 4:10). He has not kept His identity secret. The amazing thing is God would have been God had he left us to ourselves and never gave us a revelation but “he made known his ways.” The word “ways“ is the word commonly used through the Psalms for the law. So David is saying that God has given us a revelation of his redemption in His word particularly through the example of Moses and the children of Israel in Egypt.

Not only does God reveal himself to the Church in the Old Testament, He continues to reveal himself to us today. It is thus implied that we are commanded to seek after the knowledge of God. David commands us in Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.“ Think of the chidlren of Israel before their redemption from Egypt. They had grown up hearing about God but had never seen his powerful hand at work. After their redemption from Egypt they had experienced God. When we see ”the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6) and the scales fall off our eyes, we too can say we’ve seen God experientially.

Oftentimes the physical redemption of Israel in the OT is used as a stepping stone for a better understanding of the spiritual redemption God provides for his people. David used something intensely personal in Israel‘s history in preparation for the major theme—the Gospel Uncovered.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Saturday, July 19

Missions Trip to Mexico City

For many, the thought of going on a short term missions trip is old hat and perhaps something that they have done several times. For novices like me, it exposes the fact that I have not been outside the United States since I was five on a vacation to Canada. So needless to say I was pumped about this trip and excited that my church graciously allowed me to do this. I'm visiting with our missionaries Sam and Jamie Hornbrook who have served with Baptist-Mid Missions for the past seventeen years here in Mexico City.

Yesterday, after my arrival, Sam took me to one of the saddest examples of religious idolatry you will ever see - The Basilica to the Virgin of Guadalupe. This site would be the Mecca of Roman Catholicism and unbiblical Christianity here in Mexico. I've posted some pictures of this to show you the sad truth of our lost world that walks in darkness outside of Jesus Christ.

Relics for sale! Can you believe this?

Please pray for me as I preach tomorrow in Spanish for the first time in a while. I'm having a great time down here ministering to the Body of Christ in Mexico.

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Thursday, July 17

Monergistic or Synergistic Regeneration? Sproul Explains

While returning from a luncheon appointment with a young man in our church, I tuned in to R. C. Sproul's Renewing Your Mind radio broadcast and was pleased to hear him addressing a commonly misunderstood and frequently attacked doctrine--the doctrine of monergistic regeneration.

Sproul's explanation of God's sovereign work of regeneration within the sinner is not only the best explanation I have heard of the doctrine. A listen would be well worth your while.

To whet your appetite, here are a few quotes from Sproul's address:

"What we're saying here is that rebirth is a monergistic work, not a synergistic work. That it is done by God, and by God alone."

"A dead man cannot cooperate with his resurrection. Jesus did not go into the tomb of Lazarus and say, 'Lazarus, let's discuss this. And I need you to help me overcome the dreadful implications of your recent demise.' Lazarus was helpless and hopeless because he was dead."

"The work that is done in bringing a person from spiritual death to spiritual life is something that only God can do. Now after He changes that heart of stone; and after He brings us alive, then are we involved? We must believe; we must repent; we must seek after the things of God. But the point is, we won't do that, because we can't do those things until first the initiative is accomplished by God--whereby God changes the disposition of our hearts; quickens our souls so that now we respond by embracing Christ and fleeing to Him."

"Regeneration precedes faith. If regeneration is the beginning--if it's the first step--then obviously it comes before the second step. It's not like dead people have faith, and because they have faith God agrees to regenerate them. But rather, faith is the fruit of this action God performs in our hearts. 'While you were dead in your trespasses and sins,' Paul says in Ephesians, 'you were quickened.'"
To listen to Sproul's explanation of the historic doctrine of monergistic regeneration, click HERE ... and hear how God is glorified in His sovereign work of salvation. Soli Deo Gloria!

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Wednesday, July 16

The God Who Forgives (Psalm 103:6), Part 4

David begins with an offering of personal praise and continues by offering praise for the gospel and more specifically for REDEMPTION.

6The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
Foundation for Praise: Righteousness Provided (v. 6)
Again David uses the personal name for God and so continues the pattern. In case we tend to see our redemption impersonally David labors to change our mindset. The praise for redemption is made possible because God has worked a righteousness and justice for us.

The word “work“ appears almost insignificant. However, one commentary notes, “When used of God, the word [“work“] frequently emphasizes God’s acts in the sphere of history. These contexts stress one of the most basic concepts of OT theology, i.e., that God is not only transcendent, but he is also immanent in history, effecting his sovereign purpose” (TWOT Lexicon). David‘s first comment is about the way in which God provides the redemption—stepping in soveriegnly and effectively. God is not one who has great plans but cannot effect them. David proclaims in Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that he pleases.“

The first thing the Lord works for his people is a righteous. They cannot provide this for themselves. This is an alien righteousnes which means it comes from outside of themselves. We know from the testimony of Scripture that it comes from Christ himself. When the Lord has a people estranged by their sin, he steps in and provides exactly what’s needed—a righteousness from His own Son. "The right Man on our side" is Christ.

The second thing the Lord promises is justice. So all of our received slights and wrongs; all crimes unpunished or unknown. All wrong doings will be judged rightly. There’s no deals with this Judge. Because of the seriousness of sin, there can be no letting it slide. That’s why Christ came to pay the penalty for those who would believe. Either Christ payment is accepted or the payment will be made eternally in Hell but justice will be satisfied.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Monday, July 14

The God Who Forgives (Psalm 103:3-5), Part 3

David is preparing us to see the Lord by describing what He has done. He establishes firmly it’s God who is the one worthy of praise because only God could do these things.

3who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
God Forgives Sin & Heals Disease
Notice the expanse of what David is saying, “God forgives all of your inquity.“ The word includes both our depravity and guilt—which excludes nothing. This is not like some contests where some restrictions apply.

Are we starting to feel the weight of what’s being said? The Puritans had an acute understanding of sin and how our sin related to God. One Puritan writes in his prayer:

Blessed Lord Jesus,
Before thy cross I kneel and see
The heinousness of my sin,
My inquity that caused thee to be
’made a curse,‘
the evil that excites the severity
of divine wrath
Show me the enormity of my guilt by
The crown of thorns,
The pierced hands and feet,
The bruised body,
The dying cries.
Thy blood is the blood of incarnate God,
Its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought.
Infinite must be the evil and guilt
That demands such a price.

Sin is my malady, my monster, my foe, my viper,
Born in my birth,
Alive in my life,
Strong in my character,
Dominating my faculties,
Following me as a shadow,
Intermingling with my every thought,
My chain that holds me captive in the
Empire of my soul.
Sinner that I am, why should the sun give me light,
The air supply breath,
The earth bear my tread,
Its fruit nurish me,
Its creatures subserve my ends?
Yet thy compassions yearn over me,
Thy heart hastens to my rescue,
Thy love endured my curse,
Thy mercy bore my deserved stripes.
Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths
Of humiliation,
Bathed in thy blood,
Tender of conscience,
Triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation (“Precious Blood“ Valley of Vision).

We have to understand the magnitude of our sin. I would submit that anything done apart from the motivation of God’s glory is sin (Romans 3:23). So when we tell a white lie we are falling short of God’s glory and when someone lives a good life apart from the gospel (Prov 21:4), she falls short of God’s glory. We can see then how serious our condition is. Our entire being is made up of sinfulness. So much so, in fact, that Isaiah says “our righteousness are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). That’s what’s forgiven when David says, “All our inquities.“

Next he says God “heals all your disease.“ This can be a physical sickness but it’s can be also carry the idea of grief or the mental anguish caused by sin and the grief we experience because of that. I am inclined to favor the latter as David’s primary meaning because it’s this kind of grief which the Lord universally heals now and it’s this grief that Christ took upon himself on the cross. One commentary points out Is 53:10 which speaks of God putting Christ to grief. It’s the same word. So just as our griefs are healed by Christ so Christ is given our suffering and grief on the cross. The Lord will one day heal both are physical and spiritual disease when we see him face to face.

4who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
God Redeems us from Pit & Protects us with Covenant Love
The idea is God saves us from the trap we were in like a shepherd who rescues his sheep from the brambles. However, to continue the analogy the shepherd not only rescues his sheep, but he continually guides, prods, and protects his sheep. The motivation David says is God’s covenant love.

5who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
God Satisfies with Good & Renews Youthful Vigor
What’s the one thing everyone’s looking for? Satisfaction. That’s why America attracts so many people. We are a country where the pursuit of happiness is a possibility. Here David says the Lord provides the ultimate satisfaction. What’s the good promised? According to Romans 8:28-29 it’s “[Being] conformed to the image of his Son.“ For every man then the only lasting satisfaction and happiness comes in knowing Christ.

Here David ends his prologue of praise. We’re finished looking at the postcard and now David takes us to see the reality. It looked magnificent on the postcard but now we’ll see it firsthand.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Driscoll On Fundamentalism

While reading the recently-released Young, Restless, Reformed, I stumbled upon Mark Driscoll's intriguing comments regarding Fundamentalism. The following is an excerpt from page 146:

"I'm not a fundamentalist. I don't think they're any fun at all. I'm a missionary. Fundamentalists avoid culture. Missionaries study it an effort to reach people. If I were going to China to be a missionary, no one would complain. They wouldn't say, look at that, Mark's wearing Chinese clothes. He's speaking Chinese words. He's listening to Chinese music. Gosh, what is that guy? A liberal? No, he's in China.

"The truth is that Seattle is as lost and pagan as China. And if we're going to send missionaries to China, we have to send missionaries to Seattle. We need to give them the same freedom that we do missionaries in China.

"Fundamentalism is really losing the war, and it is in part responsible for the rise of what we know as the more liberal end of the emergent movement. Because a lot of what is fueling the left end of the emerging church is fatigue with hard-core fundamentalism that throws rocks at culture. But culture is the house that people live in, and it just seems really mean to keep throwing rocks at somebody's house."

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Thursday, July 10

MacArthur's Surprising View on Christians Dating Unbelievers

The following was taken from the Grace To You website. It is a brief excerpt of a transcript in which John MacArthur is addressing issues pertaining to women, marriage, and dating.

It would be helpful to get the entire context of MacArthur's talk before making a judgment on his view. You can access the entire talk HERE.

How many of you could give testimony that you were saved first and through you your husband was saved...put your hand up. Higher so we can all see. Yeah, see, there's an unbelieving husband sanctified by a believing wife. Now if God says let that kind of relationship be a beautiful thing so that they can get saved, if a marriage can work to an unbeliever, certainly a friendship could, right? Even a roommate.

You say, "Well, what about dating? What about dating an unsaved person?" The Bible doesn't say anything about dating period. What about dating an unsaved person? I would say it's more important to why you wanted to then whether you did or not. Wouldn't you? Why do you want to date an unsaved person? Well, this is a person that I care about, this is a person that I know, this is a person that I'd like to come to Jesus Christ. So what's a date except a time to be together as a friend. Good. If you say, "Well, I like his looks...woo‑woo‑woo." All you're going to do is ask for trouble, right? I mean, if you can keep it platonic I think you've got something to go on.

You say, "Well I want to get him saved and I like his looks, too." Then date him, bring him to church. I don't think the Bible says that we're to totally cut off...I think we would be very very legalistic to say that a Christian should never ever under any conditions date a non‑Christian. You know, one of the most revealing things that ever happened to me was the time I dated a non‑Christian. I did that twice. I'll never forget either one of those girls. One of them went out and she started to smoke. And you know, that's not a big thing but if you don't smoke it's not a good thing, it's just "puffff" you know. And she thought, and I was embarrassed, you know, kind of. And I thought, "Boy, you know, that's, you know." One guy says, "Nothing worse than a woman who smokes. Who likes to lean down and kiss a girl and smell a Camel?" Anyway. But the other one was a girl that was obvious after about five minutes what her intentions were. And, you know, little Johnny the pastor's son know, but those were my two experiences. And out of that I made this personal determination...I'm going to date Christian girls from here on. I think maybe God may have even a better purpose than you dating an unsaved person, of course.

And there are times, for example, I can name three or four people that are saved directly as a result of a Christian girl who really cared about them from a spiritual standpoint. And as a friend they met at school, they went out together and the girl took the initiative to present Christ and the young man was saved. We cannot discount that possibility. Again I say, it's a question of motive. If the reason you go out is just purely the physical attraction, I think there's a possible danger. If you can allow for the spiritual dimension, a legitimate friendship. Maybe you could give yourself a guideline here, you that are still in this position. I don't think that I would be anxious for my own daughter to date a non‑Christian that she didn't know. Right? I'm not too sure I'd let her date anybody she didn't know, but a non‑Christian that she really did not know, I'd rather that it be somebody that she knew and had met and cared for as a person so that there was enough of a relationship so that they could have an evening together without it deteriorating. I think that may be some kind of a guideline.
For the record, the aforementioned surprised me. I must admit that I depart from MacArthur on this point for the following reasons:

1) It can be used by young people as rationale for entering a deeply loving and meaningful relationship they cannot consummate in marriage without sinning.

2) It fails to address the dangers of one giving his/her heart and affections to someone who does not share their view of and affection for Christ. It's not like we are talking about one's view of or affection for a Toyota vs. a Dodge. We are talking about our view of the all-consuming glory of the One who owns us--and our affections. If that unbelieving date is not for Christ, he or she is against Him (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). No unbeliever is neutral when it comes to Christ.

3) It does not give adequate weight to the Scriptures regarding the holiness of affections (see James 1:8; 4:4; 4:8; 1 Corinthians 15:33-34; 2 Corinthians 6:17; 1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 John 2:15-17).

4) It does not take into account our society's purpose for dating. It's not friendship; too often it's using someone to fill a need in one's life. At best, contemporary dating is--and I don't intend to sound crude--test-driving a potential mate.

5) It seems to give too much weight to personal and corporate (i.e., "everybody raise your hands...") experience rather than the principles of Scripture. It (and I want to be careful here) almost seems as if MacArthur is using an "I did it ... and many of of you did it ... and it worked out into a beautiful thing" pragmatic approach.

For clarification sake, I will make one final point: I am not calling for an ultra-fundamentalist kind of separation from the world in an isolationist, legalistic sense. I am attempting to apply biblical wisdom and principles to the societal madness we call dating.

HT: Chris Whited

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Monday, July 7

The God Who Forgives (Psam 103:1-2), Part 2

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
How would you start off a Psalm if the point was to offer encouragement to someone struggling and depressed with their sin? David starts off praising the Lord. This fits in nicely with the general pattern of scripture. All of our life should be God-glorifying (I Corinthians 10:31). The Lord’s prayer begins with praise (Matthew 6:8-13). So David’s Psalm starts off with praise.

This praise overflows out of his own life expereince and is very personal to David. He cries out, “Bless the Lord oh my soul!“ This last phrase suggests the praise comes from the inner most part of David.

So this is not an arm-chair theologian speaking to us about God impersonally. This is the David who murdered a man, numbered the people; the David who was chased by Saul for many years, betrayed by counselors and friends, and involved in extended family turmoil. He is praising the Lord because the Lord has saved him despite who David was apart from God’s grace.

It’s also very personal because David uses the very personal name for God—Jehovah that focuses on God as our personal Redeemer. We’ll see this name sprinkled through out the Psalm.

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
David has already alerted us that beginning with praise is important but he adds to this idea by suggesting praising the Lord allows us not to forget what he’s done for us. This is a significant motiff through out the history of Israel. The Lord is constantly commanding his people to remember what he’s done for them in the past which is supposed to give their faith strength for the future (Numbers 15:39; Deuteronomy 4:10).

When David commands us “Don’t forget!“ It’s not the forgetfulness of the loved grandparent who has Alzheimer and has things slip from their mind. It’s the forgetfulness of a teenager whose parents have given them strict instruction on when to return home and the child willfully ignores their command. David is saying, “Don’t ignore what the Lord has done!“

Not clearly seen in the English, “benefits“ is ominious in a way because the word can be negative or positive depending on its grammar. Negatively, the word carries the idea of retribution for an enemy and, positively, a show of favor. Clearly David is praising the Lord for showing favor. But it’s as if David is hearkening back to the blessing and cursing passages of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). He’s saying, “Don’t ignore what the Lord has done for his people but for those who are his enemies there is only wrath.“

My father was in the Navy and stationed on a ship for a lot of those years so often times he would be deployed for months at a time. He would always bring us stuff from the places he visited. We might get a postcard from here a soveinire from there. Well David brings us a postcard of something beautiful—Christ and the Gospel. He is wetting our appetite for what’s to come.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Children's ESV Study Bible

If you are a parent who struggles with what kind of bible to purchase for your children then you and I have a lot in common. For a few months I have been debating what kind of bible to purchase for our seven year old daughter Hannah. I cannot recommend to you enough the ESV Children's Bible.

Spanning the ages of elementary to junior high, this is unlike many children's bibles that you see on the market today. Absent are the many cheesy and shallow applications of biblical truth to a child's life. Present is a strong gospel presentation at the end of the bible with a strong adherence to the doctrines of grace along with some good helps with a child's progressive sanctification. You will appreciate the fact that the editors of this children's bible have avoided the use of shallow man-centered theology and emphasize the sovereignty of God along the person and work of Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that God uses this to grow our daughter into His likeness for His glory.

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Sunday, July 6

The God Who Forgives (Psalm 103), Part 1

I had the opportunity to preach at my church, Emmanuel Bible Church, which was a blessing and intimidating. I know I haven't blogged in a long (OK very long time!) but over this next week I will be post excerpts from my sermon and will Lord willing continue blogging on a more regular basis. You can listen to the audio of my sermon here.

I invite you to join me in court where a man sits on trial. He has committed a grusome crime. He was charged with murdering a man. Let’s find a seat in the crowd and listen as the jury gives its verdict.
The foreman stands. The crowd is quietly tense. The foreman unfolds a piece of paper which will either aquit or condemn this man. There’s complete silence.

The foreman speaks, “Concerning the charge of first degree murder. The jury finds the accused guilty.“ The word “guilty“ rings through the courtroom. The crowd cheers and weeps at that word.

The judge quiets the courtroom. “Order please!“ The gavel rings loudly. “I would like to say some closing words. First, I want to applaud the jury for their verdict. I agree with their findings. Second, the sentencing is as follows. This crime must be punished by death.“ The previous noise was only intensified.

“However, someone has come forward to take our crimanal‘s place. This Man will receive the death sentence. He will be the guilty. I further order the court clerk to scratch the guilty man’s name from the record and in his place record this Man’s name, Jesus Christ.“

You probably filled in the blanks but David the accused not only murdered the man but slept with his wife who bore a child through their sin. This man is the author of our Psalm. However, this is not only David. It’s Everyman. It is you and it is me. You could leave the charges blank and fill in any of our sins. What then does David offer as relief for those living under this verdict? David offers a pattern of praise focusing primarily on the gospel.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Thursday, July 3

GARBC Takes Faithful Stand on Literal Hermeneutic - 2008 Resolution on Israel

Dr. John Hartog III did an absolutely outstanding job on defending and articulating a defense of a literal hermeneutic in a recent resolution regarding our association's stand with Israel and firm conviction that there is a future fulfillment and an unconditional covenant made with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3) that is yet to be fulfilled. Take a look and let us know what you think!

As a result of God’s sovereign choice, the people of Israel are beloved for the sake of the patriarchs (Romans 11:28). God entrusted them as a people with His oracles (3:2). He adopted them as sons; He revealed to them His glory; He brought them into a covenantal relationship with Himself; and He blessed them with the Torah, the temple service, and the promises (9:4). Also, the people of Israel are the ones through whom the Messiah, Who is over all, entered into this world according to the flesh (9:5).

These gifts of God to Israel and His sovereign election of this people are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). Thus, God most certainly has not cast them away (11:1), nor has He renounced His promise that the Land belongs to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob forever (Genesis 13:15; Exodus 6:8).

In light of these Biblical truths, we reaffirm our steadfast adherence to our Articles of Faith that express our shared belief “in the sovereign selection of Israel as God’s eternal covenant people” (Article XVIII).

Recently, on May 8, 2008, the Jewish people of the modern State of Israel celebrated the 60th anniversary of their independence as a nation. In response to these celebrations, we, the messengers of the churches in fellowship with the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, meeting for our 76th Annual Conference on the campus of Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa, during the days of June 24–27, 2008, congratulate the people of Israel for their sixty years of industry and tenacity.

In six short decades, Israel has become a leader in various sectors of manufacturing, banking, technology, and arid agriculture. All the while, Israel has defended herself against aggressions close at home and from censures coming from afar. These constant difficulties in no way diminish Israel’s accomplishments but instead heighten the magnitude of her achievements. Israel has done so much, with so little, against so many, in so short a time. Indeed, this is a cause for celebration.

We also commend Israel’s desire to be a free, sovereign, and prosperous country that guarantees religious freedom for all of its citizens and provides a secure homeland for all those who wish to emigrate from the Jewish Diaspora. We concur with our American president, George W. Bush, who declared before the Israeli Knesset on May 15, 2008, that “we consider it a source of shame that the United Nations routinely passes more human rights resolutions against the freest democracy in the Middle East [i.e., Israel] than [against] any other nation in the world.”

Many of us have traveled extensively throughout the country of Israel, and we wish to express our gratitude for the ways in which the Israeli government has preserved and protected the holy sites and the archaeological remains. We appreciate the ease of travel, the modern amenities, the sense of security, and the ease of accessibility that we have found on our pilgrimages to these places of Biblical and historical interest.

Furthermore, we resolve to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6). We will pray in response to the current political unrest, terrorist attacks, and border disputes. Most importantly, we will pray for the spiritual needs of both the Jewish and the Palestinian peoples of Israel, “for neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Romans 10:1; Galatians 6:15, 16).

By faith, we look forward to the prophetic future when the Jewish people “will be regathered in the Holy Land and, after the completion of the Church, will be saved as a nation at the second advent of Christ,” when He shall return to this earth as the deliverer out of Zion “in power and great glory to sit upon the throne of David and to establish the millennial kingdom” (Articles XVIII and XIX; Isaiah 9:6, 7; 59:20; Matthew 24:30; Luke 1:32, 33; Romans 11:26). No one will bring hurt or destruction anymore upon God’s holy mountain, because “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). How we eagerly anticipate this future age of messianic bliss!

Meanwhile, we will worship our great, trustworthy God, Who will fulfill these prophecies. He will do so not because the church, Israel, or the nations deserve such blessings, but because He has determined to sanctify Himself among the nations and before Israel by demonstrating His faithful love. We will testify to the love of Christ for all peoples, and together with Saul of Tarsus we will exclaim, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! . . . For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33, 36)

Approved by the Messengers in the annual business session. Signed by the National Representative on behalf of the Council of Eighteen.
To: His Excellency Sallai Meridor, Ambassador of Israel
3514 International Dr. NW
Washington DC 20008

[This resolution was approved unanimously on June 25, 2008 by the messengers to the 2008 GARBC Conference in Ankeny, Iowa.]

I find it interesting that this vote was "unanimous"....meaning that Kenneth (who was present at the meeting) must have voted favorably for this resolution!

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Wednesday, July 2

"The Day of the Lord" and Dispensationalism

Here's an interesting irony.

Amillennialists actually take something literally that Dispensationalists don't--the Day of the Lord.

For the Dispensationalist, the Day of the Lord cannot refer to a literal day, but only to an extended period of time. Why? Because of what 2 Peter 3:10 says:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
For the Dispy, that's a problem. 2 Peter 3:10 clearly states that on the Day of the Lord, several things happen. First, the Lord comes like a thief (this is explained more fully in the Olivet Discourse--Matthew 24 & 25 and alluded to in Acts 2:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, and Malachi 4:5).

Second, the heavens will pass away with a roar and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, exposing earthly works (implying a divine judgment).
Then appears to be the key word for the Amillennialist because it denotes a relation between events and a rapid succession in those events--all within the context of a literal day.

For the Dispensationalist, the rapid succession of these events (all occurring within a literal day) creates a significant problem (which they explain away by stating that "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years..."). There's no time for a seven year tribulation. There's no mention of multiple judgments and resurrections. There's no thousand-year millennial kingdom.

So how does one solve a problem like 2 Peter 3:10? You don't take the word day literally ... but symbolically, leaving ample time for seven years of tribulation, multiple returns, judgments and resurrections, and a thousand year reign of Christ upon earth.

Amillennialists, I'm sure, find this very ironic!

P. S. -- Although it's entirely possible that I have failed, I have attempted to accurately represent both eschatological views. Because you--our readers--are well-informed and well-versed in eschatological minutiae, please feel free to correct any erroneous thinking!!

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Tuesday, July 1

Is Family Planning Biblical? Continued...

Brother Hank has written another great article on family planning that I commend to you. In it he writes,

God created marriage for a purpose: to glorify himself in Christ. Included in that overarching purpose are many other intimately connected purposes such as unity, relationship, procreation, pleasure, spiritual growth, gospel testimony, protection against sin, etc. So, in any consideration of family planning, it must first be understood that these are indeed God’s purposes. God is the one who made sex unitive. God is the one who made sex pleasurable. And God is the one who made sex procreative. In seeking to find our purpose in family planning, we must take great care never to undermine God’s purposes in the process.
What is God's purpose for sex? Have you ever thought about it? Have you ever considered it from that perspective?

Sex was created for God's glory, and therefore how God will be glorified when we use His good gift within the confines of marriage (male and female) in accordance with all of its purposes. So what are God's purposes for sex? [This is not an exhaustive list.]
  1. Unifying a husband and a wife (Genesis 2:23-24)
  2. Procreation (Genesis 1:28)
  3. Pleasurable/Satisfying (1 Corinthians 7:1-3)
  4. Protecting (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
If these are biblical purposes for sex is it appropriate to separate one purpose from another? If I separate the unifying, pleasurable and protecting aspects of sex from the procreative aspect of sex, have I caused unbiblical divorce in the doctrine? It appears to me that I have. We can't emphasize one purpose above another or our doctrine becomes unbiblical in some form. We must hold them all together in unity.

Most Christians would agree that sex is given in marriage as a unifying, pleasurable and protecting gift from our gracious Lord, but would not see procreation in the same light. They would view it as an option, a choice, a possibility or even an inconvenience. I don't think it is and I don't think the Bible views it as such either.

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