Saturday, November 18, 2006

White/Spong Debate Mp3s/CDs and Pulpit Crimes Book Now Available!

You can purchase the White/Spong debate as mp3s or CDs:

click for mp3s

click for CDs

The DVDs are not available yet, but you can buy them from this link when they are ready:

click for DVDs (D.V., ready on Monday, Nov. 20)

You can buy the Pulpit Crimes book from the Alpha & Omega website now as well:

click for the book

A "Pulpit Crimes Package" is forthcoming.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Disembarking

This is probably my last post until I hit land again. We should arrive in Tampa in about 6 hours or so.

All our sessions have been concluded and we’re all preparing to pack up and disembark in the morning. This isn’t to say that discussion is over, nor are we done posting here. A few pictures are probably in order, and there are topics to follow up on. Of course being reminded that we are ambassadors to the King will ensure a lasting impact of this conference as we engage our small world and our local churches with what we’ve been blessed to receive.

The 2007 Alpha & Omega cruise is only 11 months away, and there is even more to look forward to, and though the cruise itself will be shorter, the training will be more intense.

More people to thank than a few: The fine folks at Sovereign Cruises for putting this together, for all the gentlemen who gave of their time to teach from the Word of God, for all the gracious brethren whose sweet fellowship will be savored, and for Marie and Laura for contributing to this blog.

Stay tuned, and God bless!

The King and His Ambassadors – James White

Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah. [Psa 24:7-10 ESV]

Both God and Christ are referred to as King in the Scriptures, but what is Kingship? What relevance does this concept have in our western democracy? How are we to understand this when we no longer have a king? Are we to transfer this title to the next best thing, say that of a President or Prime Minister or some other high governmental position? What would subjects of the Crown in Great Britain have to say about this? Surely it’s just an historical position and there is no inherent authority in the office. Other times in Scripture His kingship is connected with being Creator, so again how would this authority relate to a society that views God as a non-creator in a post-Darwin age? Finally, we have our own individualism to contend with, and we even have trouble with concepts of community, much less willingness to acknowledge that we are joined to the body of a sovereign king and our position is as his *servant*. Everyone’s opinion is equal in a society of individuals – the “opinion” of a neophyte is just as valid as someone with experience, though it is contrary to Scripture to place that same neophyte in a position of authority.

Instead of trying to understand the Scriptural picture of God and His authority, his Creator-hood, His sovereignty, the view of God is diminished and he becomes a powerful … equal and a perfect … gentleman. Christ is no longer a King himself, but a left-wing advocate of social justice with long hair. The Christ who summons His enemies before Him and banishes them from his sight, the One whose enemies are made a footstool, the One who commands armies, and the One who has a Law that he applies equally to all – becomes the very things we reject about Him when we neglect His Kingship, and allows for the pessimistic dispensational view that not only is Christ not in control, but Satan is in control.

But the church is not a western democracy. It’s a monarchy, whose King is worthy to be King, not by election or popularity. A church with no King has no leader, no purpose, no definition, and no direction; ultimately, no Gospel.

We are Ambassadors to the King. What is an ambassador, then? He is a representative proclaiming the message entrusted to him. The message that we don’t have the authority to decide what the message is: it’s foolish to edit it thinking ourselves wise, criminal to sugar-coat it, and treason to alter it. No one starts out with the intent of becoming a traitor to that calling, but we must be aware of the slip.

[There is a lovely Spurgeon quote to insert here; I just don’t have it handy.]

We see so little in this world; our perspective is limited. Should there be any reason to say that Christ has lost control and lost authority based on our limited experiences?

It shouldn’t matter where the crowd is going if you are convinced you are on the errand for your King. Be faithful and forge ahead. Perform the task given to you; guard the message entrusted to you.

The King and His Ambassadors- Speaker: James White

Psalm 24:7-10
7 Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
8 Who is the King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O gates,
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
10 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory.

- we speak much of kingship in our hymns, but today the idea of monarchy is almost laughable- the idea that there is a king who has absolute rule over his subjects is unpopular

Psalm 95:1-7a
1 O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
3 For the LORD is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
4 In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
5 The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
7 For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand

- these verses show the authority that God has as God- He has the right to do with His creation what He will- He raises up what He desires and tears down what He desires- as God's kingship is connected to His identity as Creator, it is little wonder that the secular, Darwinist spirit of the age rejects God's kingship as well as His creatorship (Spong is an example of this)
- we are very individualistic- we tend to read the Scriptures through the lenses of our society- although there is an individual aspect to God's Kingdom (we must each believe, we each are accountable before God for our sins), this gets overemphasized in our society, and in the church, today
- we tend to think that just because we are equal before God means that each of our opinions are equal
- instead of believing God as King, we make Him into our equal, a gentleman who would never force His will on us
- the idea of Christ as King is even more unpopular- our society sees Him as nothing
but a leftist do-gooder

- "Sad to say, much of Christendom is blind, or nearly so, to the Scriptural emphasis on the present kingship of Christ. Historic Lutheranism, from the Protestant Reformation to the present day, has stressed Christ's saviourhood rather than His kingship. It is characteristic of Fundamentalism to do likewise. The usual Fundamentalist is diligent in urging sinners to accept Christ as their personal Saviour, but he seldom tells them that they cannot possibly receive Christ as Saviour without at once acknowledging Him as king. The modern Dispensationalist goes so far as to say that Satan is in control of this present world. He overlooks the obvious fact that the only three passages of Scripture which denominate Satan "the prince of this world" assert that Christ by His death defeated Satan as prince of the world. With a view to His impending death Jesus said: "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out";46 "the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me";47"the prince of this world is judged".48 Karl Barth has insisted that it is folly to say that the kingdom is now present. According to him, Scripture teaches only that the kingdom has come nigh. Its actual arrival awaits a future crisis.

"And Modernism, which is in reality a denial of historic Christianity, while putting considerable emphasis on Christ's kingship, divorces it from the substitutionary atonement, which according to Scripture constitutes its foundation. God declares in Isaiah: "Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many";49 and, after saying that Christ "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross", Paul proceeds: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name above every name".50 By severing Christ's kingship from its Scriptural foundation Modernism has transformed it into an air-castle. It cannot be denied that the present kingship of Christ is slighted, and even denied, by a great many who profess Christianity. - Westminster Theological Journal 11:1 (Nov 1948) p. 22

- the church is not a democracy- we don't have the right to decide how God's kingdom is run- we want to know what "the Bible means for me" but the truth is that divine truth has been true long before we existed and will exist long after we are gone- the Bible is not a magical talisman to satisfy our whims
- is Christ's Kingdom marked with confusion? it is not, although it may appear that way- however, much of what calls itself Christ's Kingdom is not Christ's Kingdom
- manmade gospels that do not proclaim Christ as kurios (Lord) leave men without a leader and will result in confusion

Titus 2:11-15
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

- one's belief in the above passage tells us how orthodox a group is- Christ is not dependent on us to accomplish His will- He uses us as an act of grace, but He does not have to- He doesn't need our permission for anything
- Christ is not merely trying to accomplish salvation, He is actually doing things- He even gets to determine what good deeds we do!

Ephesians 6:18-20
18 With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

"First, every true minister of Christ is engaged upon royal business. He is doing business for the King of kings, the great Lord of all. He does not come in his own name, nor in the name of any Church nor in the name of any earthly
potentate; but he comes in the name of him who made heaven and earth, and who governs all things by the word of his power. I will, therefore, listen to him, even though he may be an illiterate man, for he is the servant of God. If it was really the gospel of Jesus Christ that I heard, little would it signify to me whether the lips that uttered it spoke in such tones as the golden-mouthed Chrysostom used of old, or in plain and rugged language like that of Simon Peter. It was his Master who sent him, and it was his Master's business to choose whom he would as his ambassador; therefore let me see the Master in the man, and hear the Master's voice in the gospel which his servant preaches; and let me bless God both for the gospel and for the man who preaches it, and let me pray that, since he has royal business to do, he may have grace to do it rightly"- Spurgeon

- where does the church hear Christ's voice? in His Word- Christians are given a love for His Word- when one does not have this love, he will not stay orthodox for long

Hebrews 13:17- "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you."

- whenever A&O goes to witness to Mormons or the like, there is a requirement that those who help are a member of a Bible-believing church- this is not sacerdotalism, it is a needed guard against loose-cannons and the immature, those that are not in submission to Christ's command to be part of a local church and in submission to one's elders
- the authority one has is only commensurate to the faithfulness of the delivery of the message of Christ
- God holds us accountable to the preached Word as if God was speaking Himself
- the presence of an authoritative ambassador is not needed when you no longer have a King from which you want to hear
- is our resolution to be a faithful ambassador for Christ, and is our resolution to be one who helps our elders be the best men of God they can be?
- we can be so focused on the narrow, negative things that we forget Christ is on His throne
- analogy of woven rugs- on one side, they are beautiful, but on the other side it is a mess of threads
- one of the greatest things we can have as Christians is balance- this does not mean we are in the middle or compromising- what it does mean is that we approach things with both boldness and grace, with firmness and love

Topic: Prostitution -- Speaker: Don Kistler

Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. [Pro 23:23 ESV]

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. [2 Tim 4:2]

The verse in Proverbs instructs us with a positive command (buy truth) and a prohibition (do not sell it). But what does it mean to “buy truth”? Does it mean we ought to invest our money in various programs in the church? How does that result in procurement of truth? The truth of the faith is worth whatever means we have available, and generally this includes time and energy more than finances.

Truth is found in the Scriptures and any church wherever the Word of God is faithfully preached, yet in our consumer culture we have people leaving their churches, or hopping between them, for a variety of reasons. People leave for better music. More children’s programs. Or any other particular felt need or special program. Unbiblical reasons. And seldom is the reason because the truth isn’t preached in the pulpits, though that’s rare enough in today’s church. What else do these reasons indicate other than a lack of yearning for the truth?

The skill to discern the truth is necessary, for the heart has many suitors. Without the discernment in the marketplace of ideas, we will end up buying junk.

Paul instructs Timothy to guard the deposit entrusted to him. The church has turned to worldly methods of marketing, and compromised the message for the sake of palatability, but the Scriptures mention neither of these things; instead we are told to guard it. We can neither improve the message or the method – we ought not think ourselves wiser than God if we can come up with something demonstrate a modicum of “success” with the new spin or new method. In Christ’s parable of the talents, the master did not praise the servant for success, but faithfulness.

In the history of the church, pastors were often persecuted for preaching sermons that today would be called “irrelevant.” Phillip Henry, English Puritan, preached through one sermon at gunpoint.

There came a time when even the congregation of Jonathan Edwards could no longer tolerate the truth, and fired him. Though he was gracious, and even offered to fill their pulpit at his own expense and without recompense, they rather locked the doors of the church than meet at all while they had no pastor.

Today, many in the church will choose inspirational truths over Gospel truths, and thus compromise the word of God. They want to be relevant to the culture, or perhaps the compromise occurs because there is a desire for respectability in academic circles. Continuing in compromise will ultimately lead to nothing at all, which is a shame, because the liberal, even without the truth, never compromises their position.

Unashamed of the Gospel (Cowardice Under Fire): Steve Camp

II Timothy 1:6-18

6 For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,
10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.
12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
13 Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
15 You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.
16 The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains;
17 but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me--
18 the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day--and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.

1. Renew your gift (v.6)
- the heart of faithful service is using our gifts for God's service
- it is not finding the "right man" or "right woman" for the task, it is using our gifts for God's Kingdom
- "kindle afresh" or "fan the flames"- Paul is telling Timothy to continue using his gifts so as not to let them atrophy due to neglect or abuse
- "charisma"- I Peter 4:10-11 "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."
- ministry is using our spiritual gifts in the power of the Holy Spirit in service to God and His creatures for the glory of Jesus Christ and the edification of His church

2. Rely on God's provision (v.7)
- because of God's grace, we have no shame or fear in the Lord's coming, and any spirit of timidity is not from the Lord

- the Spirit gives us power:

Ephesians 1:18-20
18 I pray that (the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places

- the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that allows us to live a life that is abundant and overcoming
- the love that the Spirit gives is agape love- it is neither sensual nor selfish but is self-sacrificial- it is not based on the loveableness of the one loved

John 15:12-13 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one (Q)lay down his life for his friends."

I John 3:1a- "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God"

I Peter 1:22- "Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart"

Ephesians 2:4-5 "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)"

Ephesians 4:32- "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

- this is how high the bar is set for forgiveness- instead, we usually set the bar to where we have "arrived" and where we are not vurnerable- example of Christian schools having conduct codes against immodesty, drinking, and drugs, but not against pride, selfishness, and bitterness
- all of this takes godly discipline- it places our priorities in the right order- it allows us to focus on every part of our lives so that we do not become proud or selfish

3. Right view of suffering (v.8)
- holiness demands a cross while happiness is merely convenient
- "It is impossible to read II Timothy with dry eyes"- John Stott
- even though no one stood with Paul in this persecution, the Lord stood with him, and that is what mattered

- we are promised suffering- Paul asks Timothy to join him- are we willing to give up all our rights and priveliges for the Gospel?

II Timothy 2:3- "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus."

- "The saints have no hell but what they suffer here on earth; sinners will have no heaven but what they have here in this poor, troublesome world"- Spurgeon

- the greatest trials a Christian has are more precious than all the world's riches

I Peter 4:12-16
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory (E)you may rejoice with exultation.
14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;
16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

Isaiah 53:3-5
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.

Hebrews 12:1-3
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Psalm 73:25-28
25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

4. Remember your calling (v.9-10)

Titus 1:1-3
1 Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,
2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
3 but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior

- "We are a love gift from the Father to the Son"- John MacArthur

- our salvation is not based on deeds done in the body because it was granted to us in Christ from eternity past

I Peter 1:3-5
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

John 10:27-29
27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

5. Recognize your duty (v.10-12a)

- Paul was commanded to be an apostle- we are commanded to use the gifts God has given us

I Timothy 1:1- "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope"

6. Rest in His sovereignty (v.12b)
- are we content in how God is ordering our lives?
- it is the confidence that God is not only omniscient but omnipotent

Psalm 121:1-4
1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

- it wasn't Paul's divinely revealed theology that guarded his salvation, it was the One who revealed it to him

7. Retain the standard (v.13-14)
- the standard is sound doctrine
- we often forget that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit- we may not have forgotten the sword, but have we forgotten the Swordsman?- we need to be doctrinally sound and precise, but we need to guard it through the Spirit's power
- Satan's biggest strategy to attack the church is not fighting directly against it but attempting to join it

8. Remain in godly relationships (v.15-18)
- we need to pursue righteousness with the same vigor we flee from sin
- we need our brothers and sisters to encourage and admonish us to continue this race

I Corinthians 15:33- "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals.'"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

David King- "Body Count or Head Count" Or "The Danger of Bodily Decapitation"

Col. 1:9-20

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him.
17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Introduction: it is because of the spirit of lawlessness in our age that our view of the church has been affected- we have become focused on numbers rather than discipleship- however, we are not commanded in Scripture to grow in numbers but to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ

1. Christ's headship is declared- v.18

a. the uniqueness of Christ's person: who Christ is is pivotal in how Christ's Church is built- He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (if we don't have Christ as Creator, we can't have Him as Savior)

b. the uniqueness of Christ's headship: Matthew 16- the church is built upon the reality of who Christ is in Himself, as shown in Peter's confession of "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"

c. the reality of Christ's headship: the body shares a common life- Col. 3:4- "When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."- therefore we are one body in Christ, and our life comes from Christ

2. The nature of Christ's headship explained

a. Christ is the organic head of His body: there is a life-giving union present, as the body of Christ is a living organism

b. Christ is the administrative head of His body: He rules over the lives of His people in every aspect

3. What are the practical implications of Christ's headship

a. This tells us what a Christian is: Christ's life has been communicated to him, and he lives under His administrative rule

b. The measure of growth in Christ is determinded by the actual submission of my life in every area to the word of Christ

i. If Christ is our organic head, then any dependence on human strength and wisdom for the life and ministry of the church is a denial of His organic headship: he grows deeper into the truth that Christ is our all in all

ii. If Christ is our administrative head, then any intrusion of human authority into the life of His church is an insult and offense to His headship: Christ alone is head of His church

example of the Covenanters in 17th Century Scotland, who were persecuted and killed for declaring that Christ alone was head of the church, not any earthly magistrate, ruler, or authority

we are in danger of witnessing the decapitation of Christ as head of the church today as well- we must not let human wisdom or methods take the place of Christ in the administration and life of the church

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

An Evangelical Homosexual's Apologetic

Bishop Spong’s position is rather unusual in that he doesn’t even have to actually deal with the Scriptures themselves. However, there are a number of homosexuals who happen to be classical theists, believe Scripture is the inspired Word of God, and consider themselves evangelicals. How would they address the passages that Christians use to defend conservative views of homosexuality? What kind of smokescreens and barriers are put up to confuse the issue and justify their actions?

Romans 1:18-32 is the full context, but for brevity, the crux of the conservative argument is in these two verses: “… God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men …” [Rom 1:26-27 ESV].

The homosexual’s interpretation of this passage attempts to narrow the scope of application such that they convince their opponent that it’s not talking about them at all.

They do not suppress the truth [v. 18].
They do honor God [v. 21].
They do give thanks to God [v. 21].
They don’t claim to be wise [v. 22].
They don’t worship images [v. 23].
They don’t serve a creature [v. 25].

And without these reasons, how can God be giving them up to something dishonorable? Besides, the Christian must assume that homosexuality is *unnatural* when clearly, for a homosexual these are natural; it is only unnatural for a heterosexual to engage in homosexual acts and essentially “play around” with homosexuality.

Carry this idea through the rest of the passage, though. Is it consistent to insert one’s own idea of what is natural into the passage? Certainly, if it is okay to be homosexual, then it follows that it is okay to also be a covetous person. It’s certainly natural for most people. How about an envious person, or a gossip? Perhaps the haughty and the disobedient to parents also get a pass, since they are only doing what is natural to them, as long as neither they suppressing the truth or bow down to idols. No, these are all descriptions of sinful people, and denying this is suppression of the truth. “Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” [Rom 1:32 ESV]

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” [Lev 20:13]

Surely the Old Testament law no longer applies to anyone. Here in Leviticus we have all kinds of laws that aren’t obeyed. Is a menstruating woman still unclean for seven days [Lev 15:19]? Is it still illegal for men to shave their beards [Lev 21:5]?

The problem with such arguments is that many Christians have little understanding of the relationship of Old Testament law to New Testament believers. They are unable to make distinctions between moral, civil, and ceremonial, nor fully understand what Jesus meant when he said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” [Mat 5:17 ESV].

Lev 19:34 – Love your neighbor as yourself
The moral law reflects God’s holiness and God’s holiness is immutable. It did not change between the previous dispensation and the present one. The objections raised in the other Levitical quotations I presented are both instances of ceremonial law. If all the OT law were to be inapplicable, so too would other parts of the holiness code, such as the command to love your neighbor as yourself [Lev 19:34], which Christ himself quoted to summarize the moral law.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What is At Stake?- Speaker: James White

Dr. White (who is feeling fine now and will be wearing his kilt tonight despite the cultural narrowness of unicalman) just delivered an excellent lesson on not making the word of the cross void, or empty. Here are my notes, which I hope will be edifying to you all.

1 Timothy 4:16- "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."

- we need diligent daily discipline to apply doctrine to our lives, and we live in an age where this is all too lacking in the church- we can have the perfect TULIP garden so to speak, but we need to apply these things to our own lives

- there is a tendency for one's concern for life and one's concern for doctrine to become unbalanced, and either extremem is deadly- on one hand we have those who would say "Let's just dialogue and share our own opinions and not offend anyone and just talk about feelings"- on the other side you have those who become so caught up in one particular doctrine that it becomes an end to all matters and the other important parts of the faith are ignored

- watching one's life and doctrine closely requires perseverance because we will come upon resistance- men want their ears tickled, men want to tell us we need better programs or CEOs or motivational speakers

- a person who does not examine himself is a hypocrite- to examine oneself does not take away from the sufficiency of Christ, but it is tied to such admonitions as "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!" (2 Cor. 13:5) and "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead" (James 2:26)

- Titus 2:11-14 should be central in our understanding

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

- the Gospel can be perverted into something that is not the gospel- an example of this is the mentality of "walk an aisle, fill out a card, join the church, then your ticket is punched and you are going to heaven" that is so prevalent in "evangelicism" (whatever that means anymore)

1 Corinthians 1:17-25
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.
18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written,
"I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE."
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;
23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

- there is a way whereby we, while still talking about Jesus and the cross, can empty the cross of its power

- here Paul is talking about the means of proclamation- he says we are not to use "cleverness of speech." or "wisdom words"- in Corinth, there were people who would spend their time in rhetoric competitions in which the goal was to use words to move people's emotions and persuade them as a result

- Paul says the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing- the Greek here is "moronos," which is where we get our English word "moron"- because of this, no wonder we try to come up with programs and seeker-sensitive tactics (especially when a certain church wants to boost their numbers or be "culturally relevant")

- Paul knew what people wanted to hear- he wasn't ignorant of the times- like today, you can imagine people saying "Get with it Paul! Didn't you say 'be all things to all people' yourself? You need to be relevant, attract a crowd"- but Paul says that we "preach Christ crucified"

- Jews sought for signs, and the Greeks sought after wisdom- Paul could have had, like the "traditional" and "comtemporary" worship services of today, a "signs service" and a "wisdom service" but he didn't- that wasn't the way God commanded

- the means God has chosen is the preached Word- if we really believed this, we wouldn't be reaching for man-made methods- it is the power of God for those who are being saved- Christ is the power and wisdom of God to the called, to those God has elected and given to Christ

- the stumbling of the Jews and the crushing of the wisdom of the Greeks is God's means of humbling men- the rough edges of the Gospel are there for a reason purposed by God- it is meant to call sinful man to repentance- [I was reminded of an article written by Alan Colmes (a non-believer) on the church that said it was not something to be feared, saying that we really don't take things like hell and wrath and judgment seriously- sadly, he is right- we need to not be afraid of hardship and rejection and preach the Gospel boldly and leave the results to our sovereign Lord]

Tradition Trafficking: Burk Parsons

Hopefully Sean(brigand) will post more of the debate notes soon (he took more thorough notes than I did), but in the meantime I will post my notes from Burk Parsons conference session. Also, please be in prayer for Dr. White, as he is feeling somewhat ill as a result of exhaustion/the swaying of the boat (ironically he normally likes the waves). You could pray pre-emptively for the rest of us as well :) I hope these notes will edify you on this Lord's Day afternoon.

(Scriptures taken from the NASB)

Col. 2:1-10
1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,
2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself,
3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.
5 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.
6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

Parsons began with a clever version of the first lines of Ham;et's famous soliloquy to the effect of "To preach or not to preach, that is the question." I was laughing so much that I didn't get the exact words written down, so I guess that's one more reason you will have to buy the audio of the conference...

too many preachers are consumed with themselves- he gave an example of an incident he heard from a brother who described their former pastor as "giving them his heart"-in contrast, he referenced the placards that appear upon some pulpits: "Preach Jesus"

people tell us Reformed people that we delve too deeply into the "mysteries of God"- but Paul tells us to delve into the things of God, albeit not any deeper than what God has revealed to us in His Word

1 Cor. 2:6-10
6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;
7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
9 but just as it is written,
"THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM."
10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.

Romans 16:25-27
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,
26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;
27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

Galatians 5:25, Romans 12- as Reformed people, we particularly need to walk circumspectly and make sure our "head knowledge" becomes "heart knowledge" and our "heart knowledge" becomes "life knowledge"

as Luther said before the Council of Worms, our conscience is held captive by the Word of God- and we need to not only proclaim sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) but toto Scriptura as well (the totality of Scripture)

we may proclaim sola Scriptura, but "we need to be careful that the fine line between text and commentary in our study Bibles doesn't get erased"- when the Reformation Study Bible was being compiled, someone wanted to put some of the Reformed Confessions in it, but Parsons did not think that would be a good idea- while confessions are a good thing, he said, they should be published seperately from our Bibles- they should only be remembered as far as the traditions in them are "traditions" in the Word of God- as A. A. Hodge wrote, confessions only bind the minds of men insofar as it holds to the Word of God

Parsons spoke on Christ's view of tradition, and he went to a passage that the majority of the readers of this blog should be quite familiar with, as it is one used in answering Catholics on the issue of tradition:

Mark 7:1-13
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem,
2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.
3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders;
4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)
5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?"
6 And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
7 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'
8 "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men."
9 He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.
10 "For Moses said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER'; and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH';
11 but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),'
12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother;
13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that."

here, Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for binding their man-made traditions upon the hearts and lives of their followers, and he calls them hypocrites for doing so, as they add to their guilt by telling their followers to not do what the Scriptures command them to do

as for the true people of God, Parsons said, "you give to them what God really did say, for only then will they believe it"

John 10:1-5
1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.
2 "But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.
3 "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 "When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 "A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."

we also see this sovereign, captivating voice of Christ in Psalm 23- in verse two, David says "He makes me lie down in green pastures"- Parsons said "Jesus breaks our knees"- this gives us the ability and humility to follow Christ "in paths of righteousness for His name's sake"

Jesus leads His people, and he leads at the forefront- Hebrews 12:2- when it says Jesus is the "author and perfecter of faith," the Greek includes the words "Ago" (meaning "I lead") and "Arche" (which means chief)

(as a side note, next time I hear about Christ "proclaiming liberty to the captives" I will probably hear "FREEEEDOM!" as Parsons noted briefly from Braveheart, that favorite movie of certain theologians, that William Wallace led his army in front, but Edward led his men from the back

Friday, November 03, 2006

Opening Statement: James White

Fundamentally speaking, what is Biblical Christianity, and what aspects of Biblical Christianity cannot be compromised? Without such a definition of terms, all distinctions become meaningless. Can a Muslim Imam, for example, deny that there is only one God, and further deny that Mohammed is his prophet?

God is the creator of all things, and man is created in God’s own image. God interacts with his creation personally and can communicate with his creation, and because of man’s nature, man can also communicate with God.

God has a purpose in creation and that purpose, the purpose of everything that exists, is to Glorify God.

We start with theocentric presuppositions, not anthropocentric.

How has God revealed himself? He has revealed Himself in creation, and all that creation reveals His glory and beauty when the truth isn’t suppressed. He has revealed Himself through the law that is written on man’s heart that comes with being made in God’s own image; the law that reflects God’s holiness.

Christians have always believed that the Scriptures are the Word of God. It is Bishop Spong’s assertion that the Bible is *not* God’s Word, though Jesus himself believed it.

Male and female roles were a result of creation, not evolution, and have a purpose. There exists a mutuality and reciprocity between male and female that doesn’t exist between either male/male or female/female relationships. Paul exalted marriage and commanded men to love their wives and give their very lives for them. God has always protected marriage in his law; Moses was a step down. “He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”” (Mat 19:8 ESV)

[Read Romans 1:18f, emphasizing v. 32]
Suppression of the truth brings these sins. This is an expression of their rebellion; this is bad news. You can’t skip the bad news, because without any bad news you don’t have any context for understanding the Good News. You have a long list of sins here, homosexuality being only a part. What about disobedient to parents? This is a laughable thing in our society, but according to the Scriptures this is a serious sin and deserves God’s wrath. It is deception to think that all you have to do is tip your hat to God, then you can live however you like. There is no Good News then at all.

It’s misrepresentative to say that God is a big mean ogre when he is actively redeeming people. He’s making a people of His own who *honor* His law and His truth, he’s changing people’s hearts. Why take out a heart of stone and give a new heart if in fact it wasn’t depraved? The people of Corinth were guilty of the very same sins, but they didn’t continue in those sins. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:11 ESV) Every sin, including homosexuality, was represented by the congregation there in Corinth, but they turned from those things and turned to Christ. They did not demand that Christ adopt their standard of morality and demand from God his blessing anyway. You can’t go around saying that God made you a covetous, or hateful, or [insert sin here] Christian, and I was just made that way, without being responsible for that sin. If we accept this kind of perspective, Jesus Christ died for nothing; without a sin, there’s no penalty for sin, and without a penalty for sin, there was no reason for Christ to die as an atoning sacrifice. The message is beautiful; it’s a beautiful call of grace preached to everyone no matter their station in life nor their past sin. But if you agree with God, and agree with Him you must, then grace is all-sufficient for all who repent.

Opening Statement: John Shelby Spong

Rev. Spong opened with a joke about how he always wanted to know how it felt to be Daniel in the lion’s den when he posed the question to the audience to find out their pre-supposed position in the debate before launching into some background about his experiences as a youth in North Carolina. His mother was described as a fundamentalist, and he himself grew up reading the Scriptures.

Beginning the discussion from historical grounds, he claimed that many believers are instructed specifically to not view the Bible critically or with any scholarly insight, and it was once true that Christians were not allowed to even read the Bible for themselves, but that all changed when Tyndale translated the Bible into the vernacular. This leads into his support that our understanding of the Bible is constantly changing.

We used to understand from Scripture that women were inferior to men, and we were taught to look down on and hate other religious traditions. From his background, he spent most of his energy hating the Jews, who were often referred to as Christ-killers. Sunday School lessons even supported this, because he’d never met a good Jew there. He remained ignorant of Jesus’ ethnic identity as a Jew.

Homosexuality wasn’t a part of his background because that was never discussed in his hearing until he was 18 or so, perhaps because his society didn’t allow those issues to be visible. When it was mentioned, it was slighted; as a sickness to be cured or else pitied when it couldn’t be. Persecution was justified in light of the prejudices supported by Scripture, and what we end up doing is looking at homosexuals as less than human.

His black friends challenged his racism. His daughters challenged his sexism. He is very pleased to boast that 40% of his church’s clergy is female, and especially that a female bishop is now at the head of his denomination.

He believes that out of each faith tradition, he can find something to strengthen, or rather *expand* his faith.

Out of his experience he finds that homosexuals are neither mentally ill or morally depraved. Homosexuality is not a choice one makes for himself because they simply awaken to it. Nor is it evil, nor is it unnatural, since it is present in nature. No more evil than redheads. Or freckled people. Or obese people. Besides, who would choose to be beaten up by their friends or alienated by their family? Who chooses to be left-handed?

By the time Rev. Spong retired his position, he had 35 openly homosexual clergy serving in New Jersey, where 31 of them were living openly with their partners. No one ever complained about their behavior, but he couldn’t say the same with the heterosexual clergy.

Rev. Spong believes that the Bible is not competent to make proclamations of judgment against homosexual behavior, just like it can’t make those kinds of statements against menstruating women, or that all epileptics were demon-possessed. Rather, this debate is about the battle between the love of God and the prejudice of man.

[End of Rev. Spong's opening position]

Topic: Impersonating a Shepherd -- Speaker: Tom Ascol

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. [Acts 20:28 ESV]

From the very beginning, we have had impersonators pretending to act the shepherd and lead people astray, putting into the minds of people to doubt the veracity of the Word of God. The serpent in the garden of Eden took on that role, falsely, and said, “Did God *really* say … ?”

God’s people have always been warned against false teachers and prophets. They will come, and they will destroy the people. Because of the seriousness of the role, God had made it a capital crime in Israel to act as a false prophet and to tell the people something other than what God had said. In the eyes of God, these were the worst kinds of criminals. Without the proclamation of the truth, people will die. Now, though the church does not bear the sword to punish the wicked, this does not mean this pulpit crime is any less serious.

Positively, God uses elders to protect and care for His people, and has described Himself as a shepherd (see Ps. 23). It is a matter of stewardship for elders – these people belong to God, and elders are charged to care for His sheep comprehensively. With this authority, comes great responsibility; and by authority, we mean a vested authority as opposed to an inherent authority. So, this does not mean the elder is a member of a superior class of Christians; he is chosen from among his brethren. It’s an office which there is no right to apply an authoritarian regime, and the elder cannot exercise authority beyond the spheres given to him by God.

Paul instructed the elders to take heed to the flock, but how does an undershepherd take heed? How does he treat the sheep? With disdain, or with patience? He is to consider the needs of the people of God. When he sees the flock under his care in the beginning stages of apathy, he is to call them again to consider their first love. Whether the flock is strong or weak; mature or inexperienced, the elder is to pay attention to their needs.

The elder is also to take heed of himself. The man is more important than the ministry, yet many ministers neglect the man. Every pastor needs a pastor, but a lone ranger is just a man setting himself up for a fall. Even the apostle Paul himself (often considered a lone ranger evangelist) desired and received ministry from others. The pastor must strive in his own Christian walk as a disciple of Christ, because to be more dedicated to the ministry than to Christ himself is to deny Christ. So why is it such a neglected duty among pastors? More gifted, intelligent, [insert desired trait here] men -- better men than us -- have fallen by neglecting this duty.

You can be a Christian without being an elder, but you can’t be an elder without being a Christian. This seems obvious, but discipleship is the priority in the life of an elder. It’s not at all in competition to his work as an elder, but an integral part of it. He is called as an example, an example of zeal for the lost, an example of one who pursues humility. A man who doesn’t believe he is called to be himself holy will have a lot of difficulty in convincing others that they are called to be holy.

It’s very easy to preach compared to the mortification of your own sins. You can’t neglect your own soul. Your condescention and labor is small compared to Christ who came from heaven and died for the souls of the church. They are God’s possession; they are Christ’s purchase, and His bride.

May these notes bless the readers,
Sean

Topic: Treason -- Speaker: James White

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
(2Ti 3:12-4:5, ESV)

The ministry is a high calling, but beware of those who falsely claim to be an ambassador, or of those who abuse that position. The ambassador doesn’t have the authority to change the message on the fly because it isn’t his authority from himself. He represents the king, but isn’t the king himself. He has an obligation to deliver the message, and deliver it accurately. He knows that his life may be in danger simply for delivering it, and certainly this is a motivation for changing it. Men desire to be accepted by other men. It’s much easier to affirm everyone and include everyone – but even these are just buzzwords that have little meaning beyond “whatever we’re doing is okay.” This is simply man’s rationalization to preach an inferior Gospel.

There are many folks in the pews of our churches even who want to play the game of religion, but don’t want to be reminded of their own pet sins. The temptation is there to heed these individuals – especially when they are members with clout, either socially or financially. Offending them can take away both members and cripple programs should their support fail. These possibilities inevitably pass through the mind of the messenger in the pulpit. But if that messenger preaches the whole Word, they’ll eventually get to those sins, and potentially offend everyone.

Please recognize that the message delivered from the pulpit will be delivered in the very presence of God. If we think ourselves so wise as to edit it, then we set ourselves in a position that we know better how to proclaim it than the God who charged us with its faithful proclamation. No, rather, it’s changed because of the fear of man, and not of God. Why do we fear the creatures more than the Creator, unless of course we do not believe we are actually in the presence of God. Be convinced of His nearness. If God doesn’t meet with His people, then all we do in worship is empty. If God is so humanized, familiarized, and buddy-ized, to the exclusion of everything else, one thing we neglect to realize about God is his holiness, and no concern for God’s holiness. Certainly, reproving someone isn’t fun, but if you have been around someone long enough, their sins will surface, but it is much easier to gloss over these sins and get them to like you.

God hasn’t called anyone to preach one quarter of the Gospel. It’s like a parent dealing with a teenager: “Clean up the backyard, take out the trash, vacuum the floor, and we’ll go out to dinner.” All the teenager hears is, “dinner.” Is that what the parent said? Or, if told to give the message to their younger sibling, and tell them to take out the garbage only, did they do their job? No, it’s disobedience against the parent; likewise when dealing with Scripture, it’s disobedience against God, and God is not honored.

If you’ve never felt uncomfortable in church, you might never have even been to church, or at least one that doesn’t preach the whole counsel. Any kind of acceptance that leaves the sinner on the path to Hell, then at best it’s a band-aid on a severed jugular. “Stay where you are and add Jesus to your life” is not the Gospel at all. Men everywhere are commanded to *repent* and believe.

I pray these notes are of service to the readers,
Sean

An Awesome Beginning- The Centrality of Preaching, Speaker: David King

(This is a combined blogging effort of MarieP and Chef_Cis [aka Laura], and all Scripture quotations are from ESV because Cheffy don't have NASB on her puter. All references to Skyman or Sky are referring to David King.)

Skyman was the first to speak last night, and his topic was the Centrality of Preaching in the Establishment and Life of the Church. "The Kingdom of God will not spread any further than the centrality of preaching is furthered."

Starting with Acts 20:17-28, talking about Paul's manner of ministry, Sky's key passage was Acts 20:26-27, which is a vindication of Paul's ministry and why he was vindicated:

"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God."

Sky pointed out how Paul claims to be innocent of the blood of all men, because he has faithfully proclaimed Christ to them. And he said, "The pulsebeat of Paul's burden was to publish abroad the news of his crucified Lord and His mighty resurrection from the dead."

Paul preached incessantly from the Scriptures, as Skyman pointed out in Acts 17:2, "And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures", and even if he was mocked, ridiculed and and shown no respect, it doesn't matter - he is innocent of the blood of all men since he preached the "objective truths that cluster around the Lord Jesus, and all the sufficienecy and perfection of His sinless life...the only hope of sinners."

Sky began to show us of three areas about preaching that draw from the standard of God's Word:
1. centrality of preaching
2. the man who would preach
3. the message he is to bring

In discussing the Centrality of Preaching in the Establishment and Life of the Church, Skyman quoted Calvin about how God uses the preaching of the Word to reach humble hearers that hearken to the pastors that are sent to us.

A solid statement(possibly slightly paraphrased), "Faith and convictions must be informed by the Word of God...must also be normed by the Word of God."

Skyman's first point on the centrality of preaching concerned what preaching actually IS. In the Greek, the NT has 2 root words for preach or preaching or preacher. They are kerux (kerusso is the verb) and euangelizzo. The first means "herald" or "preacher" or with the meaning of "to proclaim". the second is more along the lines of "one who brings the good news", or an evangelist. Both are part and parcel of preaching, and they are tied together in Scripture, both in descriptions of Christ's ministry (Luke 4:18-19, Is 61:1-2, Luke 8:1) and the apostles' (Acts 8:4-5 & numerous others).

The means by which God has chosen to spread the Gospel is through humble and somtimes weak and frail preachers of the Word- not through massive campaigns or great speakers

skyman quoted from Leon Morris, who wrote that Paul's mission wasn't to administer rites but to preach the Gospel

the faithful preaching of the Word causes men to quit putting their trust in man's works but in the power of the cross

the Kingdom of God will not spread any further than the centrality of preaching is furthered

This next quote I think is all Skyman, but he might've been quoting someone, I'm missing attribution, if so: "What is the great means for the extensaion and expansion of the kingdom of God from inception to consummation? By humble and weak and frail and feeble men, preaching the Word of teh true and living God. The great means ordained of God for the spread and establishment of His kingdom. Any other means attempted is an intrusion on the will of the King Himself."

Mark 4:3- "Listen! A sower went out to sow"- our greatest blessing isn't from learned scholars who sit around saying how learned they are- it is from farmers who sow the seed of the Gospel, throwing seed upon the earth

the man who would preach

2 Cor. 5:20- "Therefore, we are ambasadors for Christ, God making an appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."

not only are they ambassadors of Christ, they are men of prayer- prayer is a constant reminder that we are utterly dependent on God

manner of life and preaching are connected- Acts 20:18-21

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Cor. 12:10

The message the kerux bears is not his own - it is the message of Christ (Mark 1:4)

Final comments by Skyman:
We walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit...imputed righteousness is the foundation of personal righteousness.

The greatest crime of the pulpit is to withhold Christ from sinners.
The greatest failure of the pulpit - to fail to hold out Christ as the only saviour to sinners.

(end of current post...may add to it later)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Prequel

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle the events as they happen during the 2006 Alpha & Omega Pulpit Crimes Conference and Cruise.

How have crimes been committed in the pulpit? The doctrines of sin and repentance have been neglected, entertainment is preferred over substance, fear of men reigns when the Scriptures are tread lightly so that no one is offended, or certain Scriptures are avoided altogether. What ends up being taught is not the whole counsel of God, even worse, it results in a gross mishandling of God's Holy and infaillible Word.

How can we recognize it? What do we do about it? Who suffers?

May His Word be proclaimed clearly -- without compromise and without shame in the pulpits of our churches, and may Christ reign over His body.

God alone be glorified during this conference and cruise. Join us here for the live team blog fest beginning November 2!

Sean