Saturday, August 12, 2006

An Ode to Gene Autry (Again)

Back in the saddle again... what a great tune. Probably the theme song of my pal Chuck's e-store! Well, I am glad to be back in mine again. Had a great week studying that tricky Romans 12 passage about "burning coals on the head" - turns out it is not that tricky. And Ecclesiastes (the book, not the beauty) simply sings as Soloman brings the third big section to a close...

And I commend joy, for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.

All in all, I can hardly wait until tomorrow! That is why I wrote this! I get to preach again!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dr. Geoff Adams Has Gone to Glory

Dr. Geoffrey A. Adams
Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology

Dr. Adams arrived in heaven last night. His long fight with cancer finally over.

His lengthy and faithful ministry included pastoring for 12 years as well as teaching at Toronto Baptist Seminary from 1954.

While I was never a student of Dr. Adams, I was an ardent admirer. He was the first of the "old guys" within our circle of churches to learn my name at those early FRPS meetings. In fact, I could never recall his name, so somehow I got into the habit of calling him "Doc." He didn't seem to mind.

Doc Adams was always asking about "the new work in Toronto" and seemed to take real delight in the Lord's growth and grace to us. The last time I spoke with him was just several weeks ago on the phone. He was still arranging preachers for vacant summer Sundays at Jarvis - from his bed.

His transfer to glory is not a shock due to his poor health, but yet another death reminds us of how unnatural it is for people to stop living. We were created to live. Praise the Lord that Dr. Adams is living like never before... with Jesus!

UPDATE: Ian has some more insights on Dr. Adams as well as early funeral information.

#2 - Clint has written a moving tribute here.

To God be the Glory...

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A Few Things...

Tim and Julian are off at WorshipGod06, a conference hosted by Bob Kauflin and Covenant Life Church. While I wish I was with my pals, I am glad Tim is posting reports on his blog.

Josh has a great post on preaching leprosy... well, not exactly that, but you need to read this very Carsonesque word.

We had our second Couples' Night last night - it was great to be with so many of our married folk from GFC. There is a certain joy just in all being together. I would say something about me talking less... but somebody may agree.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Billy Graham Interview in Newsweek

I mentioned to someone a couple of months ago how Billy Graham had altered his views on the Gospel - they were in complete disbelief. This is really nothing new and has been well-documented over the past 10 years or so, but the recent Newsweek article demonstrated yet again his confused soteriology (doctrine of salvation).

"A unifying theme of Graham's new thinking is humility. He is sure and certain of his faith in Jesus as the way to salvation. When asked whether he believes heaven will be closed to good Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or secular people, though, Graham says: 'Those are decisions only the Lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won't ... I don't want to speculate about all that. I believe the love of God is absolute. He said he gave his son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have.' Such an ecumenical spirit may upset some Christian hard-liners, but in Graham's view, only God knows who is going to be saved: 'As an evangelist for more than six decades, Mr. Graham has faithfully proclaimed the Bible's Gospel message that Jesus is the only way to Heaven,' says Graham spokesman A. Larry Ross. 'However, salvation is the work of Almighty God, and only he knows what is in each human heart.'"

Obviously these statements are entirely contradictory. You cannot believe that "Jesus is the only way to heaven" and that practicing Jews, Muslims and Buddhists will also get there without Christ. The exclusivity of the Saviour is often defended by those of Graham's persuasion by saying something like, "The Jew's salvation is still based on Christ and the merit of His work, even though that particular Jew never expressed personal faith in Christ (or in some cases even had any knowledge of Christ)." This deserves a very large hoogly all around.

One only need read the New Testament book of Romans from start to chapter 10 to see what I mean:

"if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? [3] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."

These things are not that hard. And don't buy the nonsense that you are "not nuanced enough" in your understanding or that you are some primitive "fundamentalist/literalist." Those are just smokescreens (otherwise described in the Bible as submerging by their sinful thoughts what men know in their hearts to be true) and attempts to get your eyes off of the Bible.

No one questions that Billy Graham has been used of God. Nor is anyone I know questioning his integrity, love for God or attempt to remain faithful. I, for one, would certainly question to what degree he has been used... I still think Whitefield was far more mightily used of the Lord in real conversions (but that is another post). No, the issue here is whether his representation of the Biblical data concerning how men are saved is correct or not... and it is not.

Earlier in the interview, we read this:

"If he had his life to live over again, Graham says he would spend more time immersed in Scripture and theology. He never went to seminary, and his lack of a graduate education is something that still gives him a twinge. "The greatest regret that I have is that I didn't study more and read more," he says. "I regret it, because now I feel at times I am empty of what I would like to have been. I have friends that have memorized great portions of the Bible. They can quote [so much], and that would mean a lot to me now."

Even more than being able to quote Scripture, perhaps Graham would have been forced to think through his own understanding of salvation more intensely, and would have avoided these disappointing statements later in life.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Mainline Christianity is Dead: And Why that is A Good Thing

Like many of you, I was on the hunt for some group of people to worship with on my summer vacation. Our first Sunday away, we decided to attend a small church close to the family cottage that is a part of the Presbyterian Church of Canada.
Some might immediately wonder why we chose a PCC church – after all, they are not exactly your prime example of Gospel life! But I was hopeful there might be some good and I also like to take my family outside of their normal experience once in a while.

But I was not prepared for the absolute folly that would take place.

A brief sketch of the morning service: We entered the small 100+ year old sanctuary to the sounds of a small band (guitar, drums, piano and vocalist) singing some choruses and more modern songs. The minister was on vacation so one of the church women got up to lead the service after the singing. She announced several times that Sidney would be preaching... but it turns out it was Cindy.
Before the preaching, however, another woman came down the aisle asking my son if he wanted to go with her – if you know my son, you might guess what happened next: “Sure!” he said in a loud voice. “Where are we going?” – well, to the front they were going, then without so much as a “Bye” they were out the side door! One of my daughters got roped into going to this children’s service and when asked about it afterwards she replied matter-of-factly, “It was dumb! There was no Bible story, no lesson or anything. She just told us that bullies are bad and then we played Pin the Smile on the Bully!”
We sang some more songs – two grand hymns that I am convinced no one there understood – and some horrific songs about political justice, how everyone is our brother and how we should smile at green grass. (I am not exaggerating!) Some time around here I noticed the picture of a cigarette pack on the front of the bulletin... right there on the bench by the flowers. A few read (in the worst sense) prayers were scattered about.
But the worst was yet to come. The preaching.
I have never heard or seen anything like it. This woman, in the space of 35 minutes, told us how she simply had to watch her soap opera every day, that she was divorced, that her parenting philosophy was to “let each person do their own thing,” that once she had quit her job and jetted off to some cruise line to “find someone to harbour with,” something about “butt scratching” that was visually modeled for us, that lust was okay as long as we didn’t act on it, that the reason David sinned with Bathsheba was that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, that his sin was something we could learn from, “although I’m not sure if it was God’s plan, that’s not for me to decide,” that R-rated, sexually explicit movies can be good to watch if they show us the terribleness of sin, and on and on it went.
It was evident she had absolutely no concept of the Biblical doctrines of sin, punishment, atonement, the flesh, sovereignty, holiness, sanctification or even how to pronounce the name “Uriah!”
Lest you think I am being picky, let me just add that this amounts to a very small sampling of what went on!
Which takes me to my point – mainline denominations like the PCC are dead and this is why: God is not there. End of story.
God will not come down to a place where His supremacy is denied, His Word is mishandled, His Name is mocked, His presence is not sought, His holiness is forgotten, His Son is ignored, His created gender distinctions are not honoured, His Gospel is not preached, and His reality is considered trivial. That is what you get in mainline churches and that is why they are dead.
Now I know there are exceptions... but I stand with Lloyd-Jones when I ask, “Why would you even want to be a part of such a group? What possible reason is there to remain unequally-yoked?” Real Christians and real Christian churches that are in mainline denominations owe it to the clarity of the Gospel and the purity of Christ’s church to come out from among them. Leave your buildings behind if need be. Big deal. Do you think we shall stand in heaven one day and hear God complaining that we let a really nice old building get away from us?
And I would be so bold as to suggest that if you find yourself in a dead church like I have described, then it is time for you personally to leave. You are wasting your life and endangering your spiritual walk.
Churches like this do more harm than good.
The Bible was read at this church, but the way it was handled taught that it was irrelevant to life. And the preaching was entirely void of Christ. In fact, the word “Jesus” was only pronounced two times all morning – in the song Shout to the Lord. This was moralism to the 100th degree!
A Christian, a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ will shrivel and wilt in this kind of hoogly-infested nonsense. Wake up, friend, and get out. Get to wherever the Word of God is preached and lived and spend half your day Sunday driving there if need be. There is no substitute for a real church filled with real Christians.
A few modern songs, Powerpoint and microphones are no replacement for genuine worship, Gospel preaching and real prayer.
Our family prayed for several days that God would save the folks in that church and bring true revival. That is their only hope. But if He will not revive, then I pray He will put it to rest – for these well-intentioned wolves will kill the sheep if they keep playing church.

Obsessed by one thing .... Jesus!

First Presbyterian Jackson MS: Obsessed by one thing .... Jesus!

An excellent Spurgeon quote that must be read in full!

HT: Lig Duncan at T4G Blog.

Expository Thoughts » A new home and a new series

Expository Thoughts » A new home and a new series

The guys at Expository Thoughts have launched a new site - looks great!

Holy Kissing

Derek Thomas has a fun but important post over at Reformation21 on how to implement "the holy kiss" in our day. You GFC'ers will see that I am not out in left field with all this "greeting one another" stuff!

"The “holy kiss” was meant to signal more than affection. It demonstrated a bond of the most intimate nature. It said, “we belong to each other as God’s family.” It is a fundamental need that will take effort on the part of Christians to foster and grow. It ought to be encouraged. It accounts for the feebleness of much of the modern church."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

There... and Back Again.

This is what I had to look at every day the last two weeks...

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