31 December 2013

For the Sake of Our Salvation

John Calvin
The gospel illumines us by bearing witness to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the lively image of God his Father. God in himself is invisible, but for the sake of our salvation he presents himself to us in the face of his only-begotten Son. In him, in fullest measure, is all our righteousness, wisdom, power and holiness. How can we discover God's light unless he brings it close to us? We have no wings to fly above the sky. Christ, however, who is the Father's image, is also the Father's brightness, and we are led by him to salvation. In the same way all our strength is said to reside in God. Without him we can do nothing; with him we can do everything. How, then do we become strong? Only as Christ imparts strength to us. It is the same with righteousness and holiness. We are defiled and corrupt, abhorrent to God and utterly worldly, until our Lord Jesus Christ becomes our sanctification and purges our stains by his blood. Christ illumines us when, through the testimony of the gospel, we know him as he is, and as the Father has given him to us.

– John Calvin, "The Light of the Nations," in Songs of the Nativity: Selected Sermons on Luke 1 & 2, trans. Robert White, (The Banner of Truth Trust: 2008), 174.

Further Reading
Name of All Names
Strangled and Burned: Remembering William Tyndale
A Pastor Responds to Desiring God on the Issue of Same-Sex Attraction

27 December 2013

This 'n' That

photo credit: fensterbme via photopin cc
Well, it's confession time: it is noon on Friday and I just now realized that it's Friday. Which means that I just now realized that I needed to post your weekly This 'n' That. The good news for me is that (hopefully) you all are still recovering from the holiday, cleaning up, running to the store to replenish all the food your family ate over the past few days, and standing in line to return those wool socks that grandma sent you. If this is true, then perhaps you won't notice that this week's compilation is a bit thin.

I hope you all had a peaceful and worship-filled Christmas. I was blessed to spend the days leading up to Christmas with family, and to spend Christmas evening with dear friends. In spite of a difficult year, God has been good and gracious to open my eyes to the countless blessings around me, and He has been faithful to show Himself to be sovereign and generous. We truly serve an awesome God, do we not? I love Him, don't you?

And so, though this week's list of links is short, perhaps you can spend the extra time reflecting back over the past year and thanking God, not only for the joyful moments, but for the trials and the sanctification that your good Father allowed in your life. With that, I hope you enjoy your final 2013 week in review (kind of):

25 December 2013

Come, Worship the King

photo credit: Wonderlane via photopin cc
Today we remember and celebrate, not simply the birth of a child, but the birth of the King, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May we bow before the One who came to save His people from their sins (Matt 1:21). May we worship the One who humbled Himself in obedience to God that men may be saved. May we live to serve the One who gave His life for sinners, just as He Himself came to serve (Matt 20:28).
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:5–11)
And as we praise Him for His first coming and for His magnificent work of salvation and promises of eternal life for those who repent and believe upon Him, may we not neglect to anticipate His second advent, when the Lord who once came humbly as a babe will return in great glory and judgment.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev 19:11–16)
Merry Christmas to you all.

Further Reading
The King Is Born
For Unto Us a Child Is Born
Come, Let Us Adore Him

24 December 2013

For Unto Us a Child Is Born

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
(Isaiah 9:6–7)

22 December 2013

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
(Luke 2:8–14)

20 December 2013

This 'n' That

photo: Chiot's Run via photopin cc
I am no fan of yard work. This includes raking leaves. Especially raking leaves. I'm convinced it is one of the most futile tasks a man (or woman) may undertake. But, *somehow* my neighbor's yard ended up leaf-free and my yard ended up, well, leaf-full, so I decided to see what I could accomplish in a couple of hours yesterday afternoon.

After what seemed like about five hours (but really only was 90 minutes or so), I found myself getting fed up. Here I was hunched over like Quasimoto trying, seemingly in vain, to rid my backyard of these leaves. It felt like the more I raked, the more they multiplied. The occasional gusts of wind weren't helping either. All I could think about was finishing what I started so that I could go inside and enjoy a hot cup of tea.

photo: HerpShots via photopin cc 
Then suddenly, I heard unusual rustling behind me and I turned to see a doe and two fawns strolling through the yard. They paused and looked at me. 'Mommy' took a good, long look to ensure that I'd bring no harm to her babies. After a minute or so, she and one of the fawns took off across the yards, but the other remained. It looked at me and began walking right toward me, hesitatingly of course, but as though it knew that I wasn't holding anything more dangerous than a cheap rake from Big Lots. Eventually it scampered off to find its mother, but all I could do was stand and smile and whisper a thanks to God. His gracious glimpse into His magnificent creation on a uniquely warm December afternoon gave me just the boost I needed to finish my tedious task.

I wish I'd had my phone handy so that I could have snapped a photo to share with you. At the same time, it was one of those moments that would have been ruined had I been fiddling with a smart phone, and so I am thankful for the simplicity of it. My brief encounter with God's gentle creatures not only brought praise to my lips for the mere occasion, but also for bringing to remembrance the promises of His provision. If God cares for these simple animals, will He not care for His own children? Indeed He will and He does. We serve such a marvelous God! I love Him, don't you?

So, if I've inspired you to engage in some kind of yard work, please do (weather permitting), but not before you first enjoy your week in review (kind of):

19 December 2013

Ring, Christmas Bells (Repost)

Source
Many no doubt are familiar with the Christmas tune known as the "Carol of the Bells." Upbeat and light, it seems to exude the anticipation of the season. The song has an interesting history, though, of which most likely are unaware.

Also known as the Ukranian Bell Carol, this song originally was written in 1916 by Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych and was entitled "Shchedryk." The song in its original form had nothing to do with Christmas. Written to celebrate the coming new year (which at that time in the Ukraine was celebrated on 13 January), the original lyrics tell "a story of a swallow flying into a household to sing of wealth that will come with the following spring."1 In the 1930s, Peter Wilhousky altered the lyrics to what commonly is heard today when "Carol of the Bells" is sung during the Christmas season. In 1947, Minna Louise Hohman composed more "nativity-based" lyrics, and that version of the song (which happens to be this writer's favorite) is commonly known as "Ring, Christmas Bells."2 Enjoy.

18 December 2013

Ladies, Pull Up a Chair and Join Us at Naomi's Table: Radio Interview

I recently had the privilege of speaking with Amy Spreeman, co-host of the wonderful women's radio ministry, Naomi's Table. Our conversation will air live today, December 18, between 1:00–2:00 p.m. EST, or you can tune in to the podcast at your convenience once it is posted.

So, ladies, please pull up a chair and join us at the table!

Listen to the live show or access the podcast here.

17 December 2013

NoCo90: The Arrival


If you have an idea or suggestion for an episode of NoCo90, contact No Compromise Radio at their  website, on their Facebook page, or via email at: info [@] nocompromiseradio.com.

Additional Resources
NoCo90: Does Faith Save? Jesus Saves
NoCo90: The Misuse of Matthew 18
NoCo90: I Wasn't Led

Doomsday Prophet Harold Camping Dies at 92

Harold Camping, the controversial radio preacher best known for his false and failing prophecies regarding the rapture of the church and the end of the world, died Sunday at his home according to a statement released by Family Radio. He was 92.

The official statement reads in part:
Yesterday, Sunday, December 15th, at around 5:30 p.m., Harold Camping passed on to glory and is now rejoicing with his beloved Savior! 
On Saturday, November 30th, Mr. Camping sustained a fall in his home, and he was not able to recover from his injuries. He passed away peacefully in his home, with his family at his side.
(Source

15 December 2013

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.
(Micah 5:2)

O Little Town of Bethlehem


Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1–7)

Stille Nacht (Silent Night)

13 December 2013

This 'n' That

I'm available for ghostwriting. I know how to cite sources.
Photo: Wikimedia
Everybody knows that a megachurch's best bet for making a scandalous controversy disappear is to address the issue in a brief, vague statement that is posted in an obscure corner of your church website. And for those who did not know this, well, you learn new techniques everyday. This statement should blame all 'citation errors' on the megapastor's ghostwriter and/or the 'research assistant'. This absolves the megapastor of all responsibility for said errors, even though he has placed his name on the publication as the sole author.

Here is what all of this comes down to, though. No, Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll have not handled this situation as many think they should have. But let me ask you this: Does this surprise you? If it does, I can only assume that you are completely unfamiliar with the force that is Mark Driscoll. If it does not surprise you, then why are so many Christians in such a tizzy? Is it really helpful for one to get all riled up over such a thing? I would argue that it is not.

Instead, may we as Christians keep our focus upon Jesus Christ. May we call out error and sin with firmness and integrity. May we not let our proclamation of the gospel be marred by a sinful heart. May we not give the appearance that such a small thing as the latest Driscoll debacle has stolen the joy that is ours in Christ Jesus. And at this season above all seasons, let us not dwell upon men, but upon the grace, mercy and goodness of our Lord, who humbled Himself to leave Heaven and come to this earth to live among men and to die for those who are His. Let us fix our eyes on this God-man, Jesus.

With that, even though it's a busy time of year, I hope you'll find a few minutes to grab a Christmas cookie and try not to get crumbs in your keyboard while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 December 2013

11 December 2013

Name of All Names

Source
"There are many names for Jesus. The Bible is full of them. He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, the Ancient of Days. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Anointed One, the Messiah. He is the Prophet and the Priest. He is the Savior, the Only Wise God our Savior. He is our Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. He is the Almighty. He is the Lord. He is the Door of the Sheep, the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. He is the Lamb, the Lamb Without Spot or Blemish, the Lamb Slain from before the Foundation of the World. He is the Logos, the Light, the Light of the World, the Light of Life, the Tree of Life, the Word of Life, the Bread that Came down from Heaven, the Spring which, if a person drink of it, he will never thirst again. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the Resurrection, the Resurrection and the Life. He is our Rock, our Bridegroom, our Beloved. He is our Redeemer. He is the One who is Altogether Lovely. He is the Head over all things which is his body, the church. He is God with Us, Immanuel.

But above all, he is Jesus. Jesus.

We love him for that name, because his name means 'Jehovah is Salvation' and he came to save his people from their sins."

– James Montgomery Boice, The King Has Come: The Real Message of Christmas, (Christian Focus Publications: 2008), 61–62.

Further Reading
Give Thanks with All of Your Heart
Scared Millennials, 'Churchy' Phrases and Authority
The Lord Reigns

08 December 2013

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18–21)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel


Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name 'Immanuel,' which translated means, 'God with us.'"

And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

(Matthew 1:22–25)

What Child Is This?

Beth Moore's 'Twelfth Month Redemption'

Popular SBC Bible teacher Beth Moore offers a lesson in how one ought not interpret Scripture. The following is an online video devotional that Moore posted on her blog on 5 December 2013:


There is a lot in this 17-minute video that could be criticized. For one, it seems that Moore still is under the impression that God is speaking to her personally, perhaps in a similar way in which He allegedly taught her about 'Sabbath moments' and playdates at the zoo. What may be more concerning, however, is the approach to Scripture that Moore takes in this teaching.

She tells her viewers that she used a search on Bible Gateway to find every instance of the 'twelfth month' in Scripture. Then she looked up these passages and found that many of them described some type of reversal in circumstances. This, she concludes, must mean that God offers reversals of fortune in the twelfth month of the year. Thus, everyone who has had a difficult and trying 2013 needs to pray that God would redeem the year in this final month of December. Moore's attempt to universally apply a principle that God redeems an entire year in the twelfth month is pure manipulation of the biblical text that could lead many of her devoted followers into despair if they find that such a reversal does not happen to them.

In this brief video, Moore takes her followers to two passages from 2 Kings and from Esther. An examination is only needed of the 2 Kings passage to demonstrate Moore's error:
Now it came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he became king, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison; and he spoke kindly to him and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babylon. Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes and had his meals in the king's presence regularly all the days of his life; and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life. (2 Kings 25:27–30)
To begin, Moore brushes aside the fact that, for the Jews in Israel at this time the 'twelfth month' actually was March, not December. Already she has disregarded the basic grammatical-historical approach to Scripture interpretation. She ignores the obvious in her teaching: that these verses describe a historical event. This passage is descriptive and not prescriptive. But what is even more grievous is that she uses these verses to turn her followers' focus onto themselves. Have you had a difficult year? Pray that God will redeem this year for you. Why is this so disconcerting (aside from the obvious narcissism involved)? Beth Moore misses an opportunity to point her viewers to Christ.

06 December 2013

This 'n' That

photo: Steven | Alan via photopin cc
I originally intended to share with you an update on Escalator Church, but have decided to wait and reflect on something a bit more serious and thus, more sincerely joyful. I was reading Psalm 93 this morning and could not help but pause and thank the Lord for His majesty and His might. Friends, our Lord is king and sovereign over all! Do we stop often enough to attempt to comprehend that truth? May these words cause you to praise and exalt Him this day, for nothing is more powerful than the Lord:
The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
The floods have lifted up their voice,
The floods lift up their pounding waves.
More than the sounds of many waters,
Than the mighty breakers of the sea,
The LORD on high is mighty.
Your testimonies are fully confirmed;
Holiness befits Your house,
O LORD, forevermore.
(Psalm 93:1–5)
After that, there really is nothing more I can say! So take a seat and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

05 December 2013

Of Mefferd and Driscoll and Integrity

Screenshot: YouTube
This may not be the post that many are expecting. No doubt a majority of readers clicked on this article for one primary reason: they are familiar with the recent controversy surrounding Mark Driscoll, radio host Janet Mefferd and public accusations made by Mefferd that Driscoll plagiarized in more than one of his published books. Except for the initial interview with Mefferd (which has since been removed from the internet,) the Seattle megachurch pastor has remained seemingly silent in the face of these ongoing accusations of plagiarism.

Mefferd, however, was quite vocal, presenting on her blog and radio show multiple examples of evidence that Mark Driscoll did indeed plagiarize, not just ideas, but in at least one of his books word-for-word paragraphs from other authors. As far as the evidence shows, Driscoll is guilty of the charges laid against him. Whether one agrees with her initial approach or not, it cannot be denied that Janet Mefferd did indeed present an airtight case. It seems impossible at this point that Driscoll would be able to deny that he is guilty of lifting the words and work of other men and using it in his own publications without the proper attribution or citation. This is an issue of integrity, and for this sin Driscoll needs to repent. Scripture teaches that men in the role of pastor or overseer are to be 'above reproach'. Thus, due to the combination of these latest findings and for other unsettling reasons, Mark Driscoll appears unfit for pastoral ministry as prescribed by the Word of God:
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:1–7) 
The audio and PDF evidence, however, has since been removed from Mefferd's website. Many noticed yesterday that the links were no longer accessible and that Mefferd's Twitter feed had been scrubbed of any mention of Driscoll and the plagiarism controversy. (Another site has made the PDF evidence accessible here.)

03 December 2013

Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly

photo credit: Savio Sebastian via photopin cc
The Word of God is a spring of living water, a deep mine of costly treasure, a table with all sorts of food, and a garden with a variety of pleasant fruits. It contains the church's charter with all of her privileges. It has precepts for the Christian's reformation, and precious promises for her consolation. If the saint is afflicted, it can hold his head above water and keep him from sinking when the billows go over his soul. There are cordials rich enough to revive the most fainting spirit. If the saint is assaulted, the Word is his armor. If the soul is unholy, the Word can sanctify it. This water can wash out all the spots and stains. If the soul is an heir of hell, this Word can save it. This Word is deposited as a special treasure into the hands of the children of men, that they might obey God's will and know the Just One.

01 December 2013

Sunday Morning Praise

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

(Luke 1:26-38)

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus


Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

29 November 2013

This 'n' That

Well, it's Black Friday. I don't know what you've been doing, but I've been shopping since 3:00 AM. Why? Because nothing says 'happy holidays' like exhausted shoppers with over-extended credit cards. Nothing says 'Christmas cheer' like grabbing that last 'it' toy off the shelf. Nothing says 'let's celebrate the birth of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ' like more stuff.

photo credit: optikfluffel via photopin cc
If you suspected I was fibbing about my Black Friday shopping, you'd be correct. After all, I hate shopping on a regular day, so why would I want to do it with thousands of other people in the wee hours of the morning?

I just don't understand Black Friday. I don't understand why it now starts on Thursday night, and I don't understand the allure of getting those deals. I mean, you do realize that a lot of stores probably hike up the prices a few days before and then mark them back down so that fabulous deal you're getting is really the same price it would have been a couple of weeks ago, right? And you do realize that the only thing you're probably guaranteed of obtaining today is a shopping bag's worth of germs, don't you? Yeah, enjoy that.

As for me, if I have to shop, I prefer to do as much as possible online. And I've spent all week shopping for these stories for you, so I hope that you grab a leftover piece of pie, pour a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

28 November 2013

Give Thanks with All of Your Heart

We thank You, Lord, for the beauty of Your creation.
As you give thanks today, whether you are surrounded by family or eating alone, and whether your circumstances are filled with joy or plagued by sorrow, remember that the Lord is good in all that He gives to His children. In affliction and pain as well as in gladness and comfort, He is good.

Whether this year has found your family strengthened or split apart; whether sin has ravaged relationships or Christ has undergirded them; whether the bills are paid with confidence or doubt, the Lord is kind. He always provides for those who are His and His promises are sure and certain.

If we are in Christ we are thankful that we know to Whom we offer our thanks. We are thankful that we can rest in His sovereignty and trust in His perfect providence. We look around us at the wonder and beauty of His creation, and we thank Him for the blessing of allowing us to enjoy it each day. We are thankful for each sunrise, each singing bird, each raindrop and each unique flake of snow. We are grateful for His common grace and for putting on display His power and His divine nature.

26 November 2013

NoCo90: 'The Corridors of Time'


If you have an idea or suggestion for an episode of NoCo90, contact No Compromise Radio at their website, on their Facebook page, or via email at: info [@] nocompromiseradio.com.

Additional Resources
NoCo90: God's Revelation Is Not Deficient
NoCo90: Faith Healing Frauds
NoCo90: Donate Buttons and Christian Begging

25 November 2013

The Quest for 'More' Denigrates the Sufficiency of the Word

Dr. John MacArthur; photo courtesy of Grace to You
It is not at all hard to find examples from church history of groups and individuals who believed God was speaking directly to them apart from Scripture. But surely in two thousand years of history the quest for this kind of personal prophecy has never been as widespread and as pervasive as it is today.

Church history also reveals that since the canon of Scripture was closed, virtually every "prophet" who ever spoke a "thus saith the Lord" has been proved wrong, recanted, or gone off track doctrinally. And since the apostolic era, every movement that has depended heavily on extra biblical prophecy has ultimately digressed from the true faith, usually falling into serious corruption or heresy.

This is precisely why the sufficiency of Scripture—sola Scriptura—is such a crucial doctrine. If the written Word of God truly is able to give us all the wisdom we need for complete salvation, and if it is able to make us adequate, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:15–17)—then is there really any necessity for additional "prophecies" in the life of the believer? Does God need to say more to us than He has already said? This is a question advocates of modern prophetic revelation would do well to ponder carefully.

24 November 2013

Guest Post: Genuine vs. False Assurance

I'm excited to welcome back Hariton "Harry" Deligiannides as a guest blogger here at Do Not Be Surprised. Harry serves as an elder at Bethlehem Bible Church in West Boylston, MA. He already has blessed us with the articles, "Bible Study in a Morgue?", "Whispers and Campaigns Do Not Preach the Word," and "Apostasy and the Perseverance of the Saints." I'm certain you'll enjoy this latest article as well!

Genuine vs. False Assurance

photo: Lel4nd via photopin cc
I grew up in an Arminian evangelical church. Arminian because I was taught that I had the free will to make a decision for Christ, that I could take the first movement toward God on my own. The problem with that is that unless the Spirit of God regenerates a spiritually dead person, a spiritual corpse cannot make any movement toward God.

I knew in my head that I was a sinner and that only Christ could save. I used to say that I was saved at the age of 11 when I accepted Christ into my heart and prayed the sinner’s prayer. Then I rededicated my life to the Lord the summer after I graduated high school before I went off to college.

As I grew in my understanding of the doctrine of salvation, I changed my testimony to saying that God saved me that summer after graduating high school and not at the age of 11. Why? Because that is when I surrendered to Him as my Lord. It was then I really began to grow in Christ and have a desire to serve Him.

I remember a couple of summers ago I was at a Christian camp with my family. During lunch one day, one of the camp counselors sat at our table, so I engaged her as I often do and asked her testimony. She shared a typical evangelical Arminian testimony that she accepted Christ and then later rededicated her life. So I encouraged her to reconsider that maybe when she 'rededicated' her life is when the Lord truly saved her.

So, what is the basis of our assurance of salvation? Is the basis of our assurance a prayer we prayed or a rededication of our lives? What about those who truly are assured of their salvation, but they are not truly saved? They have a false assurance! There are many in this category. Or what about those who are truly saved but have doubts about their salvation? Let’s examine both categories and the basis of their assurance.

Sunday Morning Praise

Thanks to God

22 November 2013

This 'n' That

photo credit: tlindenbaum via photopin cc
As I wander through day-to-day life, I'm always on the lookout for blog fodder. This week was no exception, though I gleaned my material early, on Sunday in fact. Here in the Midwest, some brutal storms swept through on Sunday afternoon and evening. Like many others, I found myself sitting in the basement, waiting for the tornado warning to expire as I prayed for God's protection. Several things crossed my mind in the time that I waited in the underground.

First, it occurred to me anew just how good and right and just it would be if God, in His perfect providence, decided not to spare my family and I or our possessions. I found that the thought, and the real possibility that such a thing could happen, tested my trust in Him. It thus urged me to alter my prayers, not just that evening, but from that point forward, to reflect a desire for Him to strengthen my confidence in His provision even more than He already has in recent months. For all of this, and for His ultimate protection through the literal storm, I am profoundly thankful.

My second thought was this: what is Gloria Copeland doing right now? I had this thought because in the past, Copeland has taught that it is man who controls the weather. Yes, that's right. Ken and Gloria Copeland rebuke tornadoes.


So where were the Copelands when at least six people were killed by multiple tornadoes this past Sunday? Where were the Copelands when Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, killing what now is being reported as nearly 5,000 people? And where are the 'open-but-cautious' charismatics in rebuking and condemning this kind of nonsense in their own movement? Such a teaching reflects the idea of positive confession, that man's words have power to create, destroy and control. This doctrine is not only absurd, it is utterly dangerous.

God controls the weather. He controls the storms, the typhoons, the hurricanes, the droughts. He controls the climate and ultimately, He is in control of the final fate of this earth. That is why we place our faith and trust in Him. That is why we do not rely on ourselves or on our fleeting circumstances, but only God. How gracious He is and how blessed we are to have such a powerful and personal God.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's some cold weather headed my way this weekend, and I'm going to go see if I can find a chill-rebuking spell to scare it away. If that doesn't work, maybe I'll just make a pot of chili instead. While I'm busy doing that, I hope you take some time to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

20 November 2013

God's Providence Extends to the Smallest Things

Photo: Monergism.com
God's providence extends to the smallest things, to the sparrow and to the hairs of our heads. He governs every particular passage in our lives. This should teach us to look up to heaven for permission, power, and perseverance in all the affairs of life. We should not do anything in which we cannot expect God's guidance, and this, so we can trust him for a blessing upon all that we do.

One way or the other, God will provide for his children. If we could live by faith as we should, we would not worry about anything, for God has promised liberally to provide for us, and if we could believe, he will not be less than his Word. He does suffer his children to lack a few outward things, but it is always for their good. God always gives us patience to suffer and to wait for the time of his deliverance. God often allows his children to come to great extremities and desperate estates, yea, even to the jaws of death itself, as Hezekiah, Job, Jonah, David, Daniel, and the three children. He allowed his disciples to be overwhelmed with water before he took notice of it. The Father suffered his only Son upon the cross: 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'

When it comes to pass that all natural and ordinary means fail, we must look to a more durable and constant help—God's own good will and power. When we have experienced his helping hand, we are able to rely more confidently upon him in all adversities. His power is seen in man's weakness. God is never nearer than in our extremities. He allows these to test us that he might exercise his grace in us. We should not be dismayed, though we find ourselves in the most forlorn estate. Every man's life is a struggle, but in our extremities our graces are strengthened.

– Richard Sibbes

Further Reading
Scared Millennials, 'Churchy' Phrases and Authority
Pope Francis: 'When We Encounter the Cross, We Turn to Mary'
Apostasy and the Perseverance of the Saints

NoCo90: Sinner's Prayers and Regeneration


If you have an idea or suggestion for an episode of NoCo90, contact No Compromise Radio at their  website, on their Facebook page, or via email at: info [@] nocompromiseradio.com.

Additional Resources
NoCo90: No Free Will in Heaven
NoCo90: Faith Healing Frauds
NoCo90: Donate Buttons and Christian Begging

Delivering a Distorted Gospel to Congress

The anti-poverty group 'Circle of Protection' has ensured that the false gospel of social justice is disseminated to all members of the U.S. Congress. The Christian Post reports:
Source
Over the course of the 16-day-long government shutdown last month, members of the 65 denominations and relief and development agencies composing the coalition, publicly read the nearly 2,100 Bible verses pertaining to poverty and justice and vowed to reinforce the Scripture's messages to their Congressmen and women.

Beau Underwood, the Director for Campaigns and Advocacy at Christian social justice group Sojourners, said that as the government shutdown looked imminent, many of the Circle of Protection's members began discussing how Christians ought to respond to it.

"All of our organizations are non-partisan and none of us wanted to be seen as really prodding along either political party because that's not what we're called to do—we're called to be faithful witnesses in the public square—and so through those conversations arose the idea of 'What if we just stayed on message?'" Underwood told The Christian Post.

The edition of the Bible the group decided to mail to Congress members highlights each Bible verse discussing justice and poverty. It also includes a 64-page section that profiles the challenges faced by immigrants, refugees, widows, and other oppressed people to whom the Bible calls its adherents to reach out.
(Source)
The 'Poverty and Justice' Bibles were donated by the American Bible Society, which "finds the edition a particularly helpful tool at reminding Christians that concern and action to help others is a central message in book." As evidenced by the American Bible Society's website for this publication, it has been endorsed by such Emerging Church leaders as Rob Bell and Shane Claiborne.

15 November 2013

This 'n' That

Source
As I pondered what to write for this post this morning, it occurred to me that the options floating around in my head all shared one common theme: complaint. Grumbling, murmuring, whining, bellyaching. So many words, all the same sin. Okay, so what if the 'handy man' (using the term loosely) who was at my house yesterday was a total jerk? So what if he claimed to be a Christian only five minutes after cussing and blaspheming the Lord Jesus Christ? Can I find anything praiseworthy in that? Yes—before he left the house, he had heard the Gospel. Or rather, the Gospel had been shared in his presence. Whether his arrogant ears were opened long enough to actually hear it or not is dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is easy to complain and gripe about the inconveniences of one's situation. It is even easier, and perhaps a bit more justifiable, to lament the propagation of error in the name of Christ that is so prevalent in today's world. Ultimately, however, the Christian must return to the words and promises of Christ. This world will get worse and worse. No matter what the dominionists or the politicians tell you, it is not in the plan for this passing world to once again reflect the conditions of Eden. At least, not at the hands of men. One day this world will be destroyed, not because of those water bottles you forgot to recycle, but because of God's judgment (2 Peter 3:10) and a new heavens and a new earth "in which righteousness dwells" will come (2 Peter 3:13). Oh, and that is why the Christian rejoices that this world is not his home, and that is why the one who loves Christ looks forward with joy and anticipation toward eternity. The one who hates his sin looks forward to that day when there will no longer be any sin, and the one who despises the darkness cannot wait for that day when every hour is illuminated by the light of the Son.

With those thoughts in mind, push aside your gripes of the week and take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

14 November 2013

Free to Obey God

Photo: GTY
The very purpose of grace is to free us from sin—"so we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Grace is much more than mere forgiveness for our sins, or a free ride to heaven. Grace certainly does not leave us under sin's dominion. Saved by grace, "we are [God's own] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). Grace "[instructs] us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:12). This is the very reason Christ gave Himself for us: "That He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14).

Yet it seems there have always been those who have corrupted the grace of God by turning it into lasciviousness (Jude v. 4). They characterize grace as total freedom, but they themselves are enslaved to corruption (2 Peter 2:19). Thus they nullify the grace of God (Galatians 2:21).

"The true grace of God" (1 Peter 5:12) does not offer freedom from moral restraint. Grace is no sanction for sin. On the contrary, it grants the believer freedom from sin. It frees us from the law and from sin's penalty, but it also liberates us from sin's absolute control. It frees us to obey God.

– John MacArthur, The Truth About Grace, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 92–93.

Further Reading
If Not for Amazing Grace
Affirming Sola Scriptura
Lydia's Conversion and God's Irresistible Grace

11 November 2013

Scared Millennials, 'Churchy' Phrases and Authority

Source
Many so-called 'millennials' grew up with commercial catch phrases like Burger King's® infamous motto 'Have it your way.' In fact, this blogger's fifth grade science teacher had a sign at the front of his room that read, "This isn't Burger King. You cannot have it your way. You have it my way or you don't have it at all."

Authority. It is something that human nature rails against, yet intrinsically all men know it exists and ultimately appreciate it. Without an authority to submit to, men lack boundaries, and where there are no boundaries there is relativism and chaos. Without authority, anything goes, and it will not be long before everything goes straight down into a quagmire of sin and darkness.

For the Christian, there is one ultimate authority, and that is God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. By the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the Christian is able to live in willing and obedient submission to the authority of his Lord and Savior. The Church is those who have been called out and saved by God. As the Church gathers together each week in various small 'c' churches, the authoritative Word of God is taught so that those who have been saved by God may come to know Him better and live godly lives, walking in a manner worthy of the salvation that they have been given. This weekly gathering, this time of worship through teaching, prayer and praise, prepares the Christian to walk into a hostile world and share with that world the most offensive message available: the Gospel.

10 November 2013

Pope Francis: 'When We Encounter the Cross, We Turn to Mary'

Though it is used in perhaps more materialistic marketing endeavors than any other symbol, the cross is far more than a piece of silver or gold hanging around a person's neck. It is more than a sign splattered across the back of a t-shirt. It is even more than a piece of wood hanging in a church sanctuary.

photo credit: shaggy359 via photopin cc
The cross, in spite of the world's overuse and abuse of it and its symbolism, lies at the very heart of Christianity, for it was upon a blood-spattered cross that the sinless One, the perfect Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, died for sinners. It is where the wrath of God for the sins of men was satisfied. It is where one man, the God-man, who had lived a life of perfect obedience to God, gave His life so that many may live.

The cross brings us to our knees in a humbling awareness of our unworthiness. The cross lifts our tear-stained faces to the sky as we gaze upon the One who suffered and died in our place. The cross causes great songs of praise and thanksgiving to come forth from unclean lips, lips that have been purged and cleansed by the blood that drips from that same cross. Oh, the cross. The wonderful, glorious, precious cross.

Though He no longer hangs on that cross, when we approach this massive tool of execution we are brought before the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a willing and obedient substitute for unworthy sinners. How can we not thank Him for His sacrifice? Consider our Lord's words in the garden of Gethsemane the night before His murder:
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 
(Matthew 26:36–44, NASB) 

Sunday Morning Praise

E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come


Peace be to you, and grace from Him,
Who freed us from our sins,
Who loved us all, and shed his blood,
That we might sav├Ęd be.

Sing holy, holy to our Lord,
The Lord, Almighty God!
Who was and is, and is to come,
Sing holy, holy Lord.

Rejoice in Heaven, all ye that dwell therein,
Rejoice on earth, ye saints below,
For Christ is coming, is coming soon,
For Christ is coming soon.

E'en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come,
And night shall be no more;
They need no light, nor lamp, nor sun,
For Christ will be their All!

08 November 2013

This 'n' That

I am of the opinion that the best sermons are those that are easily illustrated by the use of cheesy 80s songs. Let's face it, your congregation is far more likely to remember a sermon series entitled 'Don't Walk Like an Egyptian' than they are an untitled sermon series that's simply based on those same boring books of the Bible. Don't you agree?

No, that's not me.
One of my morning runs this week reminded me of this fact. A lot of thoughts pass through my mind as I embark on my usual few miles through the local streets. And on one particular day this week, I found myself running against a rather strong wind. Yes, Bob Seger fans know where I'm going with this. It's okay, I'll give you a moment to hum the song silently to yourself.

Done? Okay. Any pastors who may be reading can use this idea free of charge. Just think of the sermon title: 'Does life have you running against the wind? Jesus is wind resistant.' The proof text for the sermon would obviously be Mark 4:39. And Seger's song is catchy enough that any third-rate praise band ought to be able to cover it at least moderately well.

I've made a similar suggestion in the past using Matthew Wilder's 'Break My Stride' and I think the 'Against the Wind' sermon series would be just as successful. I just hope Rick Warren or Perry Noble don't steal these ideas before I have a chance to market them. While I work on that, why don't you take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

07 November 2013

04 November 2013

Commit Your Works to the Lord

photo credit: caese via photopin cc
The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives.
Commit your works to the Lord
And your plans will be established.
The Lord has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of evil.
Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.
By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for,
And by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil.
When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Better is a little with righteousness
Than great income with injustice.
The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

01 November 2013

This 'n' That

Well, Pope Francis has attained everyone's ultimate goal: to have 10 million Twitter followers. That's right, while some other poor, pathetic, less spiritual souls still can remember the day that they were elated to hit 100 (social media really does feed our ego, doesn't it?), the champion of ecumenism is going strong. On 27 October, the pope tweeted his gratitude:
Source
And while there's no doubt that some of those 10 million followers do not follow because of their admiration for the pope (for example, I follow @Pontifex just out of curiosity), there is even less doubt that the majority of those followers do admire and even revere this mere man who touts a false and damning gospel.

What does this mean for us? It means that the mission field, dear Christian, is huge. It also means that the mission field for you very likely is not in a third-world country, but in your neighborhood. You who are bold on the Internet, are you bold at the bus stop as well? I say these things as an admonishment to myself as much as to my readers. May we pray for boldness to preach Christ in every place, not just where it is most convenient and comfortable for us.

Once you've said that prayer, before you step out into the real world, take a few minutes to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

31 October 2013

Godliness in Heart and Life

photo credit: Chiceaux via photo pin cc
Discipline is a metaphor from wrestlers contending for a prize. It is a resolution to put forth full strength and power. Paul challenged Timothy to godliness at all cost. We must follow our heavenly Captain with the greatest industry, and be labourers not loiterers. Lay aside any hindrance, for godliness is not to be a side-business, but a main business.

God is our chief good and portion. Godliness is worshipping in the heart and life according to his revealed will. We must give him our love, highest joy, deepest sorrow, strongest faith, and greatest fear. The fear of God should stand at the door of our heart to examine all that goes in, lest the traitor, sin, should steal in. Godliness is the worshipping of God in the inner workings of the heart and the outward actions of the life. Heart-godliness pleases God best, and life-godliness honours him most.

In a godly man's heart, though some sin is left, no sin is liked; in his life, though sin remains, yet no sin reigns. His heart is suitable to God's nature and his life answerable to God's law. The life of godliness lies mostly in his heart. Discipline gives godliness precedence in all of his actions. Whatever is left undone, this business is sure to be done. He allots time every day for his spiritual duties with the utmost power. Whoever is displeased, or whatever is neglected, he will take care that God is worshipped.

Godliness is the errand for which man is sent into the world, to serve his Master before himself. Godliness takes precedence the first of the day. As soon as he is awake he is with God. Like the lark, he is up early, singing sweetly to the praise of his Maker; and often, with the nightingale, up late, singing the same pleasant tune. Earthly callings must give way to heavenly. He gives God the cream of all his affections. He loves God without measure.

– George Swinnock, as quoted in Voices from the Past, ed. Richard Rushing, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009).

Further Reading
Conquering by the Spirit of God
Blessed to Be in the Body
The Lord Reigns