Excitement & Alarm with Today’s Reformed Camp

14 09 2006

An exciting and alarming by-product over the increased excitement in reformed theology is the intense individual identification with the reformed theological framework. Of course this is exciting because reformed theology is by in large biblical. However, there are some contemporary trends that are alarming.

For example, when I hear a sermon by a well known contemporary preacher quoting Calvin, Luther & Spurgeon more than the Bible I become concerned. I listen to a guy referring to what Calvin said as if it is authoritative and binding in my life. I need to listen to what Calvin (or anyone for that matter) says because it reflects what God says.

Reformed heroes are not our authority the Bible is. I know that guys do not intend to do this but they end up elevating the dead guys with nice lettuce (hair) to a position of authority, thereby circumventing one of the great Solas of the reformation (Sola Scriptura). And in so doing we create our own little protestant Magisterium. Again I know this is not the intention but what else am I to conclude when guys repeatedly appeal to men as their authority to make their homiletical points?

The preacher is called to ‘preach the word’ (2 Tim. 4.2). This is done by giving the meaning of the text (according to God) to the hearer with personal application. This is not accomplished by quoting and interacting with theologians for 45 minutes while giving a courteous tip of the hat to the text by simply reading the passage.

So to preachers: are you primarily providing and reinforcing theology or are you primarily there to operate on hearts by giving your hearers the word of God?

And to those who sit under the preaching ministry of another: Are you primarily there to learn more about the reformed heritage and concepts or are you primarily there to have your heart operated on by the sacred scalpel of truth (Heb. 4.12)?

The faithfully preached word will provide and reinforce theology and illicit passion in the life of the Christian. My fear is that, even with good motives, some today are not being clear and faithful with the Bible as their ultimate authority and means by which we are sanctified. So I challenge myself and others to ensure that our theology and emotions are derived from the text and not the other way around.

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Defending Calvinism by Spurgeon

11 09 2006

Spurgeon said “Calvinism is the gospel and nothing else” Read the context of this quote below:

If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, “He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord.” I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. “He only is my rock and my salvation.”

Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, “God is my rock and my salvation.” What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here.

I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.

I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.

(Charles Spurgeon, A Defense of Calvinism)





Any Volunteers?

5 09 2006

Does God ask for volunteers for gospel ministry? David Hegg in his helpful book Appointed to Preach, says:

When it comes to putting men into pastoral ministry, the evidence shows that God drafts those He intends to use in leadership. Far from calling for volunteers, God descended upon Moses, upon the prophets, the disciples, Paul, and a host of other men down through history. The idea that God is waiting for men to come to him and sign on as leaders in his kingdom may appeal to our modern sense of nobility, but it just won’t stand up to the evidence of Scripture.” (p. 17)

I really appreciate this picture that Hegg draws here. I remember as a new Christian looking around at the pastors that God had surrounded me with. I remember guys who were apathetic, compromising, and less than zealous in their post.

I visited The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville and Dr. Danny Akin, who was at Southern at this time, articulately said just what I needed to hear: “Many pastors should not be pastors.” He went on to exhort all of the men who were in attendance with a quote from Spurgeon where the Prince of Preachers said: “Do not enter the ministry if you can help it.” Akin rightly continued exhorting those in attendance : “if you can do anything else than do it!”

This was helpful for me in trying to integrate what I was seeing in ministry from what I was reading in Scripture. It is always good to have my leash tugged by the Word of God. God has gone through great lengths to eradicate any confusion as to what kind of man is supposed to lead his flock.

Here is just a brief job description for a pastor:

desire the post (1 Tim. 3.1)

be above reproach, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach (1 Tim. 3.2)

not pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money (1 Tim. 3.3)

be a leader in his home (1 Tim. 3.4)

be disciplined (1 Tim. 4.7)

be a good example of a believer for a believer (1 Tim. 4.12)

be committed to public exhortation and teaching (1 Tim. 4.13)

be absorbed in ministry and clearly making progress (1 Tim. 4.15)

be paying close attention to his life and his doctrine (1 Tim. 4.16)

be persevering (1 Tim. 4.16)

be impartial (1 Tim. 5.21)

be continually pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness (1 Tim. 6.11)

be fanatical about personal sanctification (1 Tim. 6.14)

be unashamed of Jesus’ gospel (2 Tim. 1.8)

be willing to suffer (2 Tim. 1.8)

be strong in grace (2 Tim. 2.1)

be committed to discipleship (2 Tim. 2.2)

be captivated by the risen Savior (2 Tim. 2.8)

be committed to his flock (2 Tim. 2.14)

be diligent & conscientious in the study (2 Tim. 2.15)

be fleeing from youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2.22)

be pursuing righteousness, love and peace (2 Tim. 2.22)

not be prone to arguing (2 Tim. 2.24)

be kind to all (2 Tim. 2.24)

be able to teach (2 Tim. 2.24)

be patient when wronged (and you will be!) (2 Tim. 2.24)

be committed to gentle correction (2 Tim. 2.25)

be scared to death of offending Jesus (2 Tim. 4.1)

be committed to preaching the word of God (2 Tim. 4.2)

always be ready (2 Tim. 4.2)

be correcting, admonishing, encouraging> all patiently and doctrinally! (2 Tim. 4.2)

be sober (2 Tim. 4.5)

be doing the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4.5)

be loving the flock of Christ (Acts 20.28)

and the fuel of it all:>> be loving Jesus Christ preeminently! (John 21.15-17; Jam. 1.12)

Any volunteers?

For the sake of the glory of God, the good of the church, and the preservation of your own sanity, if you are not being fitted by God to carry out such a ministry then please do something else!

On the other hand, if you are being shaped by God for such a work, know that God has always and is now drafting, sustaining and fueling men and thanks be to God!

It is so good this way, for it is in such a system the man of God will not rely upon himself to lead the church but upon the church’s very head, the ultimate Senior Pastor, Jesus Christ himself who will forever outrank everyone.

O’ may pastors fear and love Jesus until we see him!

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Spurgeon on Gospel carving

23 08 2006

Phil Johnson posted a great read from Theodore Ledyard Cuyler (1902) detailing some first hand interaction with Charles Spurgeon. If you are a Spurgeon fan you will enjoy the article.

Here is a pregnant quote that is so good I had to share it…

“Some modern divines whittle away the Gospel to the small end of nothing; they make our Divine Lord to be a sort of blessed nobody; they bring down salvation to mere possibility; they make certainties into probabilities and treat verities as mere opinions. When you see a preacher making the Gospel smaller by degrees, and miserably less, till there is not enough of it left to make soup for a sick grasshopper, get you gone with him! As for me, I believe in an infinite God, an infinite atonement, infinite love and mercy, an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure, and of which the substance and reality is an Infinite Christ.”

Two thoughts:

1) Who would even think of giving soup to a grasshopper?

2) I don’t think Spurgeon here (infinite atonement reference) is announcing that he is a universalist (i.e. that Christ died for and satisfied divine wrath for all people) but rather that the value of the atonement is infinite, so as to give certain and infinite praise to Christ.

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Christianity Today highlights Calvinism

21 08 2006

sept-ct-cover.jpgIn the upcoming edition of Christianity Today (CT) the current popularity of Reformed Theology will be highlighted in an article entitled Young, Restless, Reformed.

I am definitely looking forward to reading this article (minus the corny picture of Edwards as a homeboy and a soap opera reference with caviler intimations)

Consistent with their history of highlighting what is popular in the evangelical movement CT will highlight this growing theological trend in the church.

 

Once could have seen this coming when they interviewed Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, when he said, “The two hot theologies today are Reformed and emerging.”

Reformed Theology is growing and this is a good thing. It is great to see the popularity surrounding the writings of the reformers and the puritans.

This is particularly encouraging if you look at what has happened historically with the increase in this solid, biblical or reformed theology. In a word: revival.

We of course are familiar with the great number of folks born again when Martin Luther and the reformers were used by God to herald the glory of Christ through the recovery of the doctrine of justification. But who can forget the great harvest of souls that were won through the reformed preaching and writing of Baxter, Bunyan and Owen?

Consider also in our own country when in 1729 the Westminster Confession was accepted in the colonies, and then early in the 1730’s God uses the preaching of Jonathan Edwards to unsettle callous hearts with the gospel. In 1740 George Whitfield arrives in the colonies to stoke the flames kindled by Edwards. Then also early in the 1800’s the Second Great Awakening begins with a great outpouring of the Spirit of God upon those who are preaching, specifically preaching the doctrines of grace. We also see Princeton Seminary open in 1812 to accommodate and accelerate this revival of preaching.

Read the rest of this entry »





Hating Evil by Spurgeon

7 06 2006

"Ye that love the Lord hate evil."—Psalm 97:10.

THOU hast good reason to "hate evil," for only consider what harm it has already wrought thee. Oh, what a world of mischief sin has brought into thy heart! Sin blinded thee so that thou couldst not see the beauty of the Saviour; it made thee deaf so that thou couldst not hear the Redeemer's tender invitations. Sin turned thy feet into the way of death, and poured poison into the very fountain of thy being; it tainted thy heart, and made it "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked."

Oh, what a creature thou wast when evil had done its utmost with thee, before divine grace interposed! Thou wast an heir of wrath even as others; thou didst "run with the multitude to do evil." Such were all of us; but Paul reminds us, "but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." We have good reason, indeed, for hating evil when we look back and trace its deadly workings. Such mischief did evil do us, that our souls would have been lost had not omnipotent love interfered to redeem us.

Even now it is an active enemy, ever watching to do us hurt, and to drag us to perdition. Therefore "hate evil," O Christians, unless you desire trouble. If you would strew your path with thorns, and plant nettles in your death-pillow, then neglect to "hate evil"; but if you would live a happy life, and die a peaceful death, then walk in all the ways of holiness, hating evil, even unto the end. If you truly love your Saviour, and would honour Him, then "hate evil." We know of no cure for the love of evil in a Christian like abundant intercourse with the Lord Jesus. Dwell much with Him, and it is impossible for you to be at peace with sin.

"Order my footsteps by Thy Word,
And make my heart sincere;
Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
But keep my conscience clear."





The Humble King

3 06 2006

-below is a meditation by Charles Spurgeon that I found particularly encouraging…enjoy!!-

"He humbled Himself."—Philippians 2:8.

JESUS is the great teacher of lowliness of heart. We need daily to learn of Him. See the Master taking a towel and washing His disciples' feet! Follower of Christ, wilt thou not humble thyself? See Him as the Servant of servants, and surely thou canst not be proud! Is not this sentence the compendium of His biography, "He humbled Himself"?

Was He not on earth always stripping off first one robe of honour and then another, till, naked, He was fastened to the cross, and there did He not empty out His inmost self, pouring out His life-blood, giving up for all of us, till they laid Him penniless in a borrowed grave? How low was our dear Redeemer brought! How then can we be proud?

Stand atthe foot of the cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed; see the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, still gushing with encrimsoned rills; see hands and feet given up to the rough iron, and His whole self to mockery and scorn; see the bitterness, and the pangs, and the throes of inward grief, showing themselves in His outward frame; hear the thrilling shriek, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it: if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him. You were so lost that nothing could save you but the sacrifice of God's only begotten.

Think of that, and as Jesus stooped for you, bow yourself in lowliness at His feet. A sense of Christ's amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt. May the Lord bring us in contemplation to Calvary, then our position will no longer be that of the pompous man of pride, but we shall take the humble place of one who loves much because much has been forgiven him. Pride cannot live beneath the cross. Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice.

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