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Archive for June, 2011

Recent circumstances have reminded me again of the importance of the biblical warnings.  Here I have in mind those passages of Scripture that warn saints that they must continue in the faith or else be damned.  Colossians 1:21-23 is one such example.

Typically, when these passages are considered, the tendency is to immediately jump on the Arminianism vs. Calvinism ship and debate the matter long into the night, focusing largely on the question, “Can a Christian lose their salvation?”  The issue, of course, is tremendously important, but what is often forgotten is the more immediate point of the passage itself.  After answering the larger theological question, arriving no doubt at a Reformed conclusion (wink, wink), we often fail to return to the text and ask ourselves the more pastoral or practical question, namely, “How or when should the warnings be used?”

For here’s the thing.  If Paul was an Arminian, he wasn’t afraid to tell Christians that they must continue or else.  And conversely, if Paul was a Calvinist, he wasn’t afraid to tell Christians that they must continue or else.  Either way, the warnings are employed, and they’re employed fairly often.

I draw your attention to this because it isn’t uncommon for Christians to lose sight of this fact.  We tend to shy away from unsheathing these potent warnings because we think that Christians shouldn’t be warned in this way.  Therefore we fixate ourselves on the more nebulous question, “Is the person really born again?”  Perhaps they’re not.  Perhaps they are.  Sometimes sinful saints and sinful pagans are hard to distinguish during certain periods of their life.  But rather than trying to figure out if so and so is born again, maybe it’s time to carefully and wisely warn the person that the deeds of the flesh are obvious, and that those who live in such a way will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19; Eph 5:5).

Remember that the warnings are also part of God’s word and part of the apostolic approach to dealing with Christians.  The right use thereof can prove to be a vital means in steering wandering sheep back onto the narrow path.  Even today I heard a story of a pastor I know who sat down a young man heading towards destruction (the party life, etc.).  The pastor soberly warned him that if he continued living this way, he would be doomed.  And today, having crossed paths with my wife, he told her that this particular pastor expressed to him exactly what he needed to hear.  It shook him to the core and he repented.

So let us not forget that Paul was a Calvinist who warned Christians that they must continue in the faith or else be damned.

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How might you answer these questions?

Is God pleased with our owning things?
Is God pleased when we take materials from the earth and produce things?
Is God pleased when men employ others for work?
Is God pleased with commercial transaction?
Is God pleased with men making a profit?
Is God pleased with the idea of money?
Is God pleased with inequality of possessions?
Is God pleased with competition?
Is God pleased with borrowing and lending?

In his lecture “Business for the Glory of God: The Bible’s Teaching on the Moral Goodness of Business,” Dr Grudem answers each in the affirmative.  And he answers them, I might add, with great pastoral care and biblical fidelity.  This is really helpful stuff.  If you’ve never thought through the subject of business or work or the basic tenets of capitalism, you’ve got to give this a listen.  It will transform your thinking and give you a greater appreciation for the depth and relevancy of God’s Word.

Actually, this is the first lecture of three related messages delivered at the 2010 Clarus Conference.  The others are equally as interesting and helpful.  Just consider their titles:

“Business Ethics: Working, Buying and Selling According to God’s Moral Standards.”

“The Bible’s Solution to World Poverty: 50 Factors within Nations that Determine their Wealth or Poverty.”

I especially enjoyed the message on nations and poverty.  I have a brother-in-law from Ethiopia.  Having come to learn more about that poverty stricken nation, many of the principles outlined in Grudem’s lecture made me think about that ailing country.  Oh, if the leaders of this world would only look to Christ.

Must Listen Factor: High.  Everyone can benefit from the messages

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: About an hour each

To Download: Click picture.  BTW, the messages by Randy Alcorn are good as well.

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The latest issue of Scientific America headlines:

The Physics of Intelligence
Evolution has packed 100-billion neurons into our three-pound brain
Can we get any smarter?

If we believe that chance exquisitely laced these neurons together, then I sure hope so.

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Speaking of science, it’s popular these days to talk about the incompatibility of science and religion.  I hear it all the time.  But imagine Adam being told by God to subdue and exercise dominion over the earth.  Wanting to obey his Maker, Adam immediately begins working on the various sciences- detailing material properties, figuring out chemical reactions and what not.  After a couple days of research, he stumbles upon a helpful formula.  Can you imagine him looking up from his research and exclaiming, “Aha!  I’ve unearthed a great scientific discovery!  Oh, wait!  Oh, no…  That means God doesn’t exist!!!”

Wouldn’t his conclusion be absurd?

But is it any different for us these many eons later?

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Today I listened to a message by Professor John Lennox, entitled, “Is Anything Worth Believing In?”  If ever there’s a man that speaks like Ravi Zacharius, it’s got to be this guy.  He sounds a lot like him, which of course is meant as a compliment.

While the message touched on a number of issues, the central thrust focused on the so called problem of science and faith.  It was a fun listen.  Very engaging.  Helpful at many points.  There are a couple small glitches here and there, but on the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the lecture.  So if you’d like to hang out with a thoughtful and interesting speaker for an hour and half, this would be worth your time.

Must Listen Factor: Moderate

Difficulty: Moderate to High

Length: 90 minutes

To Download: Click Picture.  Sign up if necessary and download the audio.

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The workshops at this year’s Gospel Coalition National Conference have been good.  And a few have been outstanding.  Of the some 35 or so sessions, I’ve listened to about a third.  So maybe there’s a few more gems just waiting to be unearthed.  I’m hoping, anyway.  Regardless, here are a few stand outs.  None of them are “Must Listens,” but neither are they low to moderate.

Training the Next Generation of Pastors and Other Christian Leaders – Panel Discussion: R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Mark Driscoll, David Helm, Don Carson and Ligon Duncan

A fascinating round table discussion involving a few of evangelicalism’s bigger movers and shakers.  If you listen to nothing else, check out Dr. Mohler’s understanding of the relationship between the seminary and the church. Start at 11:19.  I very much appreciated his perspective.  And to reiterate something I’ve already said, I really respect this man.  He’s a good godly leader.

Link

The Feminist Mistake – Mary Kassian

A theologically compelling and historically interesting recounting and appraisal of the feminist movement.  Very good stuff!

Link

Power Through Weakness – Tim Savage

A good exposition of the idea “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Link

What Should a Local Church Look Like? – Tim Keller, Crawford Loritts, and Mark Dever

How can a conversation between these three guys not be interesting?  Need I say more?

Link

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I am not a Rick Warren aficionado.  I don’t have the foggiest idea what he does on Thursday afternoon, nor do I listen to his sermons (I’ve heard one).  I’ve never read any of his books.  And I don’t follow his tweets.

This means that what I’m about to say concerning John Piper’s interview is strictly limited to what I heard in this interview.  I’m judging it solely on the basis of the content found therein.

So let’s start with the big question.  Is Rick Warren, based on what he said in this interview (3rd time’s a charm), a heretic?  No.  Not at all.  He’s a conservative, monergistic Evangelical.  And for that, I’m extremely thankful.

Let’s back up now.  The interview was very interesting.  Piper covered a lot of subjects, touching on everything from limited atonement to Scripture to hell to prevenient grace to the sovereignty of God.  Rick Warren answered the questions forthrightly and often with Scripture.  There weren’t any howlers, on Warren’s part.  His understanding of the New Heavens and New Earth might be a little quirky, but then again, he said that he hadn’t studied the issue at great length.  Fair enough.  For the most part, Piper and Warren could heartily agree (although I suspect that Piper communicates doctrine differently than Warren, not to mention emphasizes it more).

Clearly Pastor Warren is a man who likes to boil things down into succinct and often pithy statements.  For example, he said towards the end of the interview,

“I believe there are two great themes in scripture: Salvation and stewardship. You know, I believe that one day we’ll stand before the Lord and he’s going to ask a couple questions.  The first one is, “What did you do with my son Jesus?” That’s it, “What did you do with my son Jesus?”… The second one is the question of stewardship which is, “What did you do with what I gave you?”

Is that how you would put it?  Perhaps not, but it’s certainly clear and biblical.

Much more could certainly be said, but I’ll leave it to you to make up your own mind.  But as for myself, I’m thankful that America’s most well known pastor isn’t a flaming liberal.

Must Listen Factor: Moderate.

Difficulty: Moderate to High.  A certain measure of theological acumen will be required to grasp the subtleties in this interview.

Length: 90 minutes

To Download: For some reason, the audio file is a wave file.  So it’s like 1 gig.  Uhg.  Not sure why they did that.  Anyway, I watched the interview- a truly rare moment for me.  You can find it here: LINK.

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