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April 11, 2014

I found just a couple of minor Kindle deals today: God’s Not Dead by Rice Broocks ($4.99); Heaven booklet by Randy Alcorn (free). In case you missed them, you may want to go back and browse the long list of excellent deals from Monday and Tuesday.

Sex After Christianity - This is an important essay on sex after Christianity. “Same-sex marriage strikes the decisive blow against the old order. The Nation’s triumphalist rhetoric from two decades ago is not overripe; the radicals appreciated what was at stake far better than did many—especially bourgeois apologists for same-sex marriage as a conservative phenomenon.”

Platt on Heaven Is For Real - David Platt goes off on Heaven Is For Real and other heaven tourism books.

Sovereign God - Paul Miller’s article on God’s sovereignty is a good one. “What does it mean to say that God is sovereign? The refrain has become so common, almost clichéd, in Reformed writing and preaching that it sometimes slips away from the reader or listener without lodging meaning in the mind.”

Light Signatures - Can you identify these cities by their nighttime light signatures?

Happy Birthday Jake - Be sure to read Greg Lucas’ letter to his son on his twenty-first birthday. (And if you haven’t done so you, consider reading his book Wrestling with an Angel.)

Bible Balance in Christian Ministry - Church leaders ought to read this one about Bible balance in ministry. “Many errors in the church are not ones of substance, but degree. It is possible for a pastor to lead his church poorly while teaching wonderful things. How? By giving those good things disproportionate emphasis in the life of the body.”

The two poles could sooner meet, than the love of Christ and the love of the world. —Thomas Brooks

Brooks

April 10, 2014

So how many people go to your church? This is question nearly every pastor faces at just about every conference he attends. I’ve written about the question before but, having spent the week at Together for the Gospel, and having been part of many conversations, it seems like a good time to revisit it. It usually doesn’t take long for a conversation with a pastor to progress to that point. For the pastor this can be a moment of pride or humility, freedom or shame. And somehow it is a question that always seems to come up. And it comes up for those who are not pastors as well; you begin to talk about your church and the other person inevitably asks that same question. So how many people?

I’d like to make the same two-part proposal I made a few years back: Let’s stop asking, “How many people go to your church?” And when someone asks us that question, let’s not feel obliged to give a direct answer.

We all pay lip service to the reality that we cannot necessarily measure the health of a church by its size. We all know that some of the biggest churches in the world are also some of the unhealthiest churches in the world. The history of Christianity has long-since shown that it is not all that difficult to fill a building with unbelievers by just tickling their ears with what they want to hear. We also know that the Lord is sovereign and that he determines how big each church should be and we know that in some areas even a very small church is an absolute triumph of light over darkness. And yet “How big is your church?” is one of the first questions we ask.

Why is this? I don’t know all the reasons but I’d suggest at least two. First, I think our question betrays us and shows that in the back of our minds we equate size and health. Somewhere we make the connection between big and healthy, between big and blessing. We exacerbate the problem when we ask and answer this too-easy question. Second, we just haven’t taken the time and made the effort to form better questions. Instead, we gravitate to the easy one.

April 10, 2014

I am seeing only a couple of new Kindle deals today: Matthew Henry Day by Day by Randall Pederson ($2.99); Advice to Sufferers by John Bunyan ($0.99).

His Strength, Our Weakness - Randy Alcorn says, “God uses my weakness and inadequacy not only to build my character, but also to manifest his strength and grace to me and through me.”

Comparison Is the Thief of Joy - The title is the most important part of the article, I think: Comparison is the thief of joy.

Exotic Pets - It’s a bit off the beaten track for what I usually share with you, but I quite enjoyed this article on exotic pets.

A Great Expedition - “I wanted to put together a practical list for leading our wives better on this glorious expedition. Now, some of these tips will work better for some couples than others so feel free to find what works for you and to mix and match. This will be a process of trial and error, but it is worth the struggle to grow spiritually.”

9 Things About the Rwandan Genocide - Joe Carter: “This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the beginning of the campaign of genocide in Rwanda. Here are nine things you should know about one of the most horrific seasons of slaughter in modern times…”

10 Key Events - This is good stuff from JT: “The following are ten key events that took place in the relationship between evangelicals, fundamentalists, modernists, and neo-evangelicals during the 20th century in North America.”

It is insulting to a man to call him a fool, but I question whether any man is saved unless he has called himself a fool. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

The False Teachers
April 09, 2014

A few weeks ago I set out on a new series of articles through which I am scanning the history of the church—from its earliest days all the way to the present time—to examine some of Christianity’s most notorious false teachers. Along the way we have visited such figures as Arius, Pelagius, Joseph Smith, and Ellen G. White. Today we will look at the life and legacy of a man who assumed and further developed theological Liberalism and paved the way for what became known as Progressive Christianity. His name is Marcus Borg.

Marcus Borg

Marcus BorgMarcus Borg was born in 1942 to a Lutheran family in North Dakota. After high school he went to Concordia College in Minnesota determined to become an astrophysicist but soon changed his major to math and physics, and then again to political science and philosophy. As a young man he experienced great doubts about his Christian faith and decided to pursue postgraduate studies at Union Seminary in New York City and here he was heavily influenced by W.D. Davies, a man who laid the groundwork for what has become known as the New Perspective on Paul. After graduating from Union he moved overseas to Mansfield College, Oxford University, where he earned his Doctorate of Philosophy.

In 1979 Borg became a member of the faculty at Oregon State University, a position he would hold until he retired in 2007 as Distinguished Professor in Religion and Culture and the Hundere Endowed Chair in Religious Studies. However, his career as a professor would be overshadowed by his career as a writer and public figure, and his leadership in what has become known as Progressive Christianity, an updated form of theological Liberalism.

Borg is a gifted writer who is adept at popularizing difficult concepts and his prose is attractive for its lively and meditative style. One person he has influenced writes, “Almost single-handedly among progressives, Borg has opened up new avenues of experience and thought for lapsed Christians or nonbelievers interested in re-visioning the Christianity of their childhood. He writes clearly and concisely about the meaning of wisdom, compassion, justice, the kingdom of God, and life as a journey of transformation. His books boldly take us into fresh fields of wonder, mystery, and passion in regard to Jesus, God, the Bible, and the Christian way.”1

His most significant contributions have been as a scholar whose focus has been on the person and work of Jesus Christ. He has written or edited more than twenty-five books, and the great majority of them have been focused on Jesus. He also led two nationally-televised symposia—one focused on Jesus and the other on God—, served as national chair of the Historical Jesus Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, and has made regular appearances on PBS and other television networks. His bestselling book is Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, and it is in this book that he most clearly lays out his convictions. He draws on his own journey, from a childhood, childish faith in Christ to the development of what he considers a deeper, richer, and more plausible set of beliefs based on a historical rather than fabled Jesus. He teaches here that the Christian life is not meant to be rooted in dogma or creed, but in compassion and community.

In 1985 Robert Funk founded the Jesus Seminar, a group of 150 critical scholars who were tasked with re-examining the traditions surrounding the historicity of Jesus, and in particular, his deeds and his sayings. Among these scholars was Marcus Borg. The scholars employed social anthropology, history and textual analysis to attempt to reconstruct Jesus’ life and to separate the historical Jesus from what they take as myth. They famously used a voting system that relied on colored beads to represent whether one of Jesus’ deeds or sayings was authentic. Of the over five hundred sayings of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, they determined that only thirty-one were authentic with the rest being possibly authentic, doubtful or completely inauthentic. Over their many meetings and through much dialog they eventually determined that Jesus was a mortal man who, like the rest of us, had been born of two parents, that he did not perform miracles, that any healings attributed to him were merely psychosomatic, that he did not die a substitutionary death, that he was not physically resurrected, and that the post-resurrection sightings of Jesus were merely visions.

April 09, 2014

Moralism Is Not the Gospel - Mohler: “In our own context, one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this — the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.”

Internet Porn and the Decline of Faith - Joel Miller: “Since the early 1990s, there has been a significant uptick in Americans abandoning their faith. After crunching the numbers, one researcher says contributing factors such as upbringing and education only explain part of the increase. What about the rest?” Could it be related to porn?

When Does Christian Get Saved? - Justin Taylor asks Jim Orrick, professor of literature and culture at Boyce College, when in Pilgrim’s Progress Christian gets saved.

Grumbling and Complaining - Lore Ferguson: “My heart has been a grumbling one recently. I could give you a few reasons I think why my grumbling is necessary or warranted, but the truth is that even talking about those situations would invite more grumbling.”

How the Secret Police Tracked My Childhood - I really enjoyed this article from the BBC: “Fighting the system used to be dangerous anywhere in Eastern Europe. For one protester from a small Romanian village it was disastrous - and also for his family, whose every word was recorded by the secret police. Carmen Bugan, who found the transcript of her childhood, tells their story.”

Nothing that man can present to God by way of sacrifice can ever purchase the blessing of forgiveness.C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

April 08, 2014

Together for the Gospel is fast approaching, and I want to let you know about an event we are calling The True North Luncheon @ T4G. This is a time to get together to talk specifically about gospel advance in Canada. The event is intended for Canadians, or for people who are interested in joining the work in Canada, or for people who are simply interested in learning more about the church in Canada. If Canada is on your mind, or if Canada has been on your mind, you ought to come.

The event will take place on Wednesday April 9th from 12:30pm - 3:00pm (which falls during the conference’s lunch break). It will be held at Immanuel Baptist Church, which is at 1121 S. Clay St., just a 10-minute drive from the conference venue. We’d ask for a $5 donation to cover the cost of a Chick-Fil-A lunch which will be provided for you.

We’ll follow a simple format: We will have a fellowship lunch, and then a panel discussion that will be followed by an open Q&A. Panelists will include: Clint Humfrey, Paul Martin and myself (with others to be announced). Ryan Fullerton, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, will be hosting and leading the panel.

If you have a question, please leave it in the comments section below, and we’ll try to answer it for you.

RSVP

If you would like to come, please RSVP to Keith Hanson at khanson@ibclouisville.org. He can also help you if you’ll need transportation to and from the conference venue.

April 08, 2014
Taking God at His Word

Kevin DeYoung is quickly becoming one of my go-to authors. One of his strengths as an author is taking difficult concepts out of the academy and bringing it to those of us who do better reading at a more popular level. He did this in Why We’re Not Emergent, the book that introduced us to him, and has done it in most of the books he has written since. His newest book, Taking God at His Word, is all about the Bible and about loving the Bible and, once again, it is targeted at the general reader.

He begins in Psalm 119, David’s long love song dedicated to the Bible. He begins here because David’s love for God’s Word, and David’s awe of that Word, is exactly where DeYoung wants the reader to be by the time he has finished this book. This means he starts with the application, so to speak, and then works to the information and the defense—an interesting and rather helpful way of going about things. He wants us, like David, to believe the Bible, to feel love for the Bible, and to do what the Bible says.

In the second chapter DeYoung turns to 2 Peter 1 to look at the nature of the Bible as God’s inerrant revelation of himself, given through the agency of human beings who received and transmitted those words. There is nothing more steady and sure than this Word. “You do not need another special revelation from God outside the Bible. You can listen to the voice of God every day. Christ still speaks, because the Spirit has already spoken. If you want to hear from God, go to the book that records only what he has said. Immerse yourself in the word of God. You will not find anything more sure.”

Over the next four chapters he uses the acronym SCAN to highlight four essential characteristics of the Bible: Sufficiency, Clarity, Authority, and Necessity.

Sufficiency. The Scriptures contain everything we need for knowledge of salvation and godly living. We don’t need any new revelation from heaven.

Clarity. The saving message of Jesus Christ is plainly taught in the Scriptures and can be understood by all who have ears to hear it. We don’t need an official magisterium to tell us what the Bible means.

Authority. The last word always goes to the word of God. We must never allow the teachings of science, of human experience, or of church councils to take precedence over Scripture.

Necessary. General revelation is not enough to save us. We cannot know God savingly by means of personal experience and human reason. We need God’s word to tell us how to live, who Christ is, and how to be saved.

This is to say that God’s Word is enough, clear, final, and necessary.

April 08, 2014

There are lots of Kindle deals today! Exalting Jesus in Matthew (a commentary) by David Platt ($2.99); Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler ($2.99); Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper ($2.99); HCSB Study Bible ($2.99); The Measure of Success by Carolyn McCulley ($2.99); Manhood Restored by Eric Mason ($2.99); Gospel-Centered Teaching by Trevin Wax ($2.99); Truth Matters by Andreas Kostenberger ($4.99); Stop Asking Jesus into your Heart by J.D. Greear ($2.99); The Lion and the Lamb by Andreas Kostenberger ($0.99); Christless Christianity by Michael Horton ($3.99); 

Together for the Gospel - The Together for the Gospel conference begins today, which is why I’m on my way to Louisville right now. You can watch it live beginning this afternoon.

English is Crazy - Yes it is. This poem explains.

31 Days of Purity Ebook - If you want to have the 31 Days of Purity in ebook format, visit the link and have at it.

Inerrant Word - InerrantWord is a new web site from John MacArthur dedicated to the always-important subject of inerrancy. It is part of the lead-up to next year’s Shepherds’ Conference Summit on Inerrancy.

Whisperings - Here is some counsel for pastors and church leaders who find themselves the subject of gossip.

Fall in Love Again - This is a good one from Paul Tripp.

Stop Forgiving Those Who Don’t Want Forgiveness - David writes about those who say they forgive others, even when they don’t want forgiveness. “I understand the motive, and also the desire to present an attractive witness about Christian forgiveness to the world. But it’s not a faithful witness to God. It does not reflect how God forgives, which is to be our pattern and model. Here’s why: God does not forgive those who do not want forgiveness.”

Scanning and Skimming - You’ll want to give this one a quick skim. “Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say.” I put it at the end of today’s links just to make you feel guilty…

The truth of our Lord Jesus Christ is what is worth living for, and what is worth dying for. —W. Robert Godfrey

Godfrey