Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's is all about me... Isn't it?

Most in the church today think that the gospel is all about them. Sure, they may not say it in so many words, but they really do believe it. This can be borne out by how they live and what they do.

The fact is that the gospel is about what happened within historical time 2000 years ago. It is redemptive history worked out in the life and death of Christ. To many, the gospel is man's response to the gospel or God's regenerative work in the believer today.

Whenever the apostles are preaching the gospel in the book of Acts, they are preaching about historical events. They never make our responses to the gospel, the gospel itself! To the apostles, the gospel is always what transpired in history, in measured time, in the verifiable acts here on earth two millenia ago.

The problem with making the gospel anything but the historical events of the Christ, is to remove the validity of the gospel. The gospel has no meaning outside of its objective historical setting. Without the historical events the gospel does not exist!

However, many treat their own experiences with the gospel as the gospel itself, and preach that as the "gospel." This way they rob the gospel of its objective nature, making it equal to just another self-help program. By preaching their own experiences as the gospel, there simply remains no reason for anyone to follow this "gospel" since which person's "gospel" will they follow?

The fact is that many people change after converting to some or other religion. If a changed person is the evidence of the religion, then we have a problem. How will we gauge which religion to follow? Do we test the change in each person to see who changed the most?

No, if we have to test religions by their subjective experiences, then which experiences should we test by? This will reduce the gospel to a case of pragmatism.

The fact is that we need to test by objective criteria. Criteria that can be verified. Experiences are unverifiable since we have no way of testing the internalization of anything!

The real gospel is historical, fully documented and can be tested. That is why our experiences should never be treated as the gospel, but rather the life and events of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Our lives can only speak of the work of the gospel in us, not of the gospel itself in its completeness.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Best Bible Software (IMHO)

I see that some of our Christian blog writers recommend Bible Study Software such as Logos Bible Software.

When I look at the pricing of this software it simply takes my breath away! I wonder what Luther, Calvin and the Puritans did without this software?! Poor guys had to do it the hard way!

I looked at the price for the Gold Edition in my own currency (R11 399.00/$1379.95) and I almost fell off my chair! This is e
xactly the edition that I would like to have myself, but at that price I'd rather do a root-canal at the dentist! The Gold Edition has almost everything that any serious Bible scholar could need. Yet, this is a price that is totally out of my league without some kind of sponsorship.

However, there is light at the end of this pricing darkness!

e-Sword Home

e-Sword is free, and it is good. It includes many different free versions of the English translation, such as the ESV, ASV, CEV, Message, KJV and several more. It further includes the Majority Greek NT, Scrivener Textus Receptus, Westcott-Hort, Hebrew OT, Septuagint, Vulgate and also many foreign language translations.

Further, some of these texts are coded with Strong's numbering system.

There are also many Commentaries available. There are commentaries like Clarke's Commentary, Barnes, John Gill, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Matthew Henry, Robertson's Word Pictures, etc.

e-Sword also includes Dictionaries, such as Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions, Easton's, ISBE, Nave's, Strong's Bible Dictionary, Thayer's Greek Definitions, etc.

There are also some Graphics available. It includes the American Bible Society Maps, Classic Bible Maps, Ancient Mediterranean Maps and even NASA Satellite Images.

Then there are the Extras. This would include the Ante-Nicene Fathers, All of Grace by Spurgeon, Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus, Concerning Christian Liberty by Martin Luther, Creeds of Christendom and History of The Christian Church by Schaff and many more.

There are also some Devotions included and finally some STEP Libraries such as collections by A.W. Pink, J.C. Ryle and John Bunyan.

In my opinion, e-Sword is one of the best Bible Study Software products to be found. If the price of e-Sword is considered, then I would say it is the best deal you can find on any Bible Study Software! The reason for saying this, is that it is FREE software! Yes, you read correctly! It is free.

I have been using e-Sword now for many years. Probably from about early 2001, and I have been more than happy with this software.

It is easy to use and easy to configure. Starting with e-Sword is simple, even for someone that is not very computer literate. It is also advanced enough to satisfy a regular computer user.

In my opinion, you cannot go wrong when using this software!

e-Sword Home

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Body Piercing Saved My Life

Tim Challies did a very interesting review of Andrew Beaujon's book, Body Piercing Saved My Life.

Although Beaujon is not a Christian, he has been attending Christian concerts and events, since this is a subject that intrigues him. Read the commentary by Challies to see how Beaujon views Christian contemporary music.

I would like to comment on something that Challies wrote,
"On a more minor note, he [Beaujon] often focuses undue attention on the music itself rather than the lyrics. While music is no doubt important, and while we should clearly attempt to bring before God music that is excellent, he expends little effort in examining lyrics. Many Christians, as much as they love a good melody, wants songs that speak of the great truths of the Scriptures more than they want songs that are memorable or even musically superior. There are two dimensions to songs and he seems to give preeminence to the wrong one. "

I don't disagree with Challies entirely, since in principle he is right in saying that "
Christians, as much as they love a good melody, wants songs that speak of the great truths of the Scriptures more than they want songs that are memorable or even musically superior." What I do disagree with is the word "many" that he starts his sentence with in this case. I am personally not so sure that there would be many modern Christians that would think like that.

From my experience with the church I have seen a very different dynamic in the church. It seems to me that many Christians--whether my many is more or less than Challies' many is disputable--are more interested in the entertainment value in the Christian music they listen to than the actual words being sung. I have noticed this even concerning worship music, to the point that I am calling it worshitainment. I have written about this already (Worship at a price, Big words and worshitainment and most recently Praising God down!).

Churches have become so worshitainment centered that it would be almost inconceivable that they would use so-called "boring" music with good Biblical words that speak to the soul. Please, believe me when I say that I have nothing against good professional sounding music, modern or old! That is not the point! What I do have a concern about is that many Christians think that the music is the worship. To them, the sound and the vibe it gives is the worship. It all comes back to the entertainment value intrinsic to the music.

Sure, there are churches out there where the Christians are more concerned about the actual words of their worship. However, many times they are at the opposite side of the spectrum, where the music itself has no real value. The fact is that our worship is about the words and the meaning they convey, yet that meaning may have different vehicles by which they are conveyed. The vehicle may be writing, preaching, or even in song. The fact is that in each of these cases we must ensure that the vehicle that conveys the message is a good vehicle.

My point is that there are Christians out there that do believe that the lyrics of our songs are important. However, there are also others that find it more convenient to be titillated by music, rather than actually use their brains to think about what they are singing!

Just thinking...
Polemical Commentary on
the State of the Church

Monday, November 20, 2006

Jesus and Satan joining hands in fighting HIV/AIDS?

It keeps on happening! Satan wanting to join forces with Jesus in fighting a so-called evil. The problem with this is that the reasons for doing so between our dear Lord and the fiend of hell are diametrically opposed to each other.

Christ came to bring deliverance to the elect. Satan wants to bring bondage. Christ brought us the light. Satan only brings light-less darkness of oppression. Christ's deeds are done with the good of mankind in mind. Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy!

So, if these two kingdoms--the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness--are so irreconcilable, how is it that some of the church's so-called leaders think that it would be acceptable to join forces with the devil to fight any scourge on earth?

It seems that Rick Warren thinks that it would be acceptable to link the cause of Christ with the cause of the devil!

Warren, the senior teaching pastor at Saddleback Church in California, has invited U.S. senator Barack Obama to speak to Warren's church on Dec 1, 2006.

Now, for those who do not know who Obama is, as a state legislator he stood for abortion through the complete term of pregnancy while opposing parental notification. He also opposed all bans on partial-birth abortion. He also supports the homosexual agenda including so-called "hate crimes" against homosexuals, which may in due course be used to silence the clergy on this issue. He even opposed the right of life for babies who survived failed abortions.

Is this the type of person that Warren wants to associate with?

Discernment goes a long way in doing what is right with the right people. However, when we start joining forces with the forces of darkness, it shows our own lack of discernment and indeed our lack of understanding our Biblical mandate!

Read more about this episode in the continued Warren saga here.

Just thinking ...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Praising God down!

Modern, especially Charismatic, churches seem to have this notion that we have to continually sing louder in order to bring God down into the service. There is this idea that we have to sing in tongues or at least make a lot of noise in order for God to inhabit our praises, thereby joining us in our services.

This happened in church today. People were making a lot of noise when the worship leader took control of the situation and announced that we weren't there yet. We were then told to sing in tongues and to lift our voices even higher for God to inhabit our praises.

(1)  When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 
(2)  And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

(Ac 2:1-2)

Scripture seems to be so different from the concocted ideas that the church can come up with at times. The disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem until the promise. When the promise came, it wasn't because they conjured Him down! He came in His own time. The amazing thing was that they weren't jumping up and down shouting at the top of their lungs in order to ensure His arrival! "They were sitting!" This indicates a very relaxed atmosphere in which no one was forced to do anything to bring God down into the house!

It will also not help to quote verses from the Old Testament! The Old Testament (OT) had very different "mechanics" than the New Testament (NT). In the OT there was a physical place where God dwelt and showed Himself. The Temple!  This is where God came down to, in order to visit the people. In the NT it is very different. Whereas in the OT, God showed Himself at various times in the temple, in the NT there is no longer a physical temple where we must go to meet God! Now, the Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), and He does not take up residence at various times in the Christian's life, but rather He indwells the Christian at all times.

It seems to me that the evangelical church has gone so far down the road towards seeking the next experience that it will get up to almost any kind of shenanigans to make those experiences real. Whether these methods are Scriptural or not, do not seem to deter them from seeking the next big thing.

To them, especially if they are charismatic, worship has undergone a tragic metamorphosis. It has happened so often that people would exit the church saying that worship wasn't good that day and that it did nothing for them.

A pastor was once waiting at the door of the church he pastored at the end of the service, and when a visitor walked out he asked the visitor how he enjoyed the service. The visitor answered that he enjoyed the sermon, but the worship did nothing for him. Hearing this the pastor answered him by saying, "Well I am glad to hear that. We didn't come here to worship you!"

The problem with this neo-evangelicalism is that it has become very self-centred and selfish in its motives. This church has become obsessed with itself, thinking that it is the center of the universe. It has forgotten about the Creator of the universe to the extent that it has denied Him His rightful place, and in the process usurped the throne of the King of kings.

If the church's aim is to move from experience to experience, it will never grow up to full maturity in Christ. If the only thing that can keep it going is adrenalin, then it surely has lost its way. Adrenalin does not strengthen the spirit of man. It simply gives a momentary feeling of invincibility and then fades away.

What will help the spirit to be strengthened is to daily spend time in the study of the Scriptures and to meditate on it.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
(2 Tim 2:15)

We are supposed to work at learning the truth of the Scriptures and to live thereby. These neo-evangelicals are forever looking for short cuts to growing in Christ (sanctification). The fact is that there are no short cuts. There are no easy ways to be sanctified in Christ. If it all depended on following ten steps and five songs at the top of our voices we would be back to serving the law in order to gain acceptance before God! If our sanctification depended on recipes to follow, it would be the same as following the law in order to secure that sanctification.

The fact is that acquiring sanctification cannot be acquired in a moment when that adrenalin shoots through our veins. Sanctification takes a lifetime of glorifying God in everything we do and living out the Word that we study each day!

If the church wants reformation, it certainly is going about it the wrong way!

It is time the church moves back to the basics and stops seeking grand schemes to get highs on adrenalin.

The neo-evangelicals surely are experience-adrenalin junkies!

May it find deliverance!

Just thinking...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

He loved us

In this is love, not that we have loved God
but that he loved us and
sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
(1 Jn 4:10 ESV)

In our Westernized understanding of everything, today was no different. The theology of the self and of self-esteem and all things subject to self, when the Bible is being read today, instead of reading the Bible from the viewpoint of writer, we force our modern concepts onto the Bible.

It is no different with our verse here today (1 Jn 4:10). In a sermon today, this verse was used to demonstrate that God loves all human beings indiscriminately and evenly. Of course, emphasis is put on the fact that it was not we who "loved God but that he loved us." The "us" is seen as any human being, whether saved or not!

Further, it was opined that God has already given us His love. It now depends on us to receive it and only then could we experience it.

The fact is that this verse is not saying that at all!

The book of 1 John is full of terms like "us." It is clear that when the apostle John wrote 1 John he was making sure the readers would understand that the information contained in the letter was specifically meant for them as Christians.

What John was trying to teach his readers was that they were not the ones who loved God first. The fact is that all of us are dead in our trespasses until God sheds His love abroad in our hearts. John was telling them that God was the one that reached out to them and not they to God. God was the initiator in this love expression (v9).

It is not us who must receive God's love. It is God that must unveil His love and pour it out on us. God's love is not simply an offer on the table that in order for it to take effect, we have to actually take hold of it first! God's love is not like a $100 bill put on the table that we have to appropriate first before it becomes part of us. No! God's love is like a fresh outpouring of rain that cannot be avoided. It is poured out on us.

It is God's love that seeks us out. We cannot and will not seek it out, since we are under the wrath of God while we are without Christ.

(9) What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
(10) as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;
(11) no one understands; no one seeks for God.
(12) All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
(13) "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips."
(14) "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
(15) "Their feet are swift to shed blood;
(16) in their paths are ruin and misery,
(17) and the way of peace they have not known.",
(18) "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
(Rom 3:9-18 ESV)

Just thinking...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Some Objections to the Biblical Doctrine of Election

There are many objections to the Biblical doctrine of election.

Some of them are handled here.

Just thinking ...

ECUSA doomed by its heretical leader

The Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) is now in a complete free-fall into heresy. They have chosen a presiding bishop for the USA that is leading the pack down the swift path to hell.

Their new leader, a woman, Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori, believes that God makes people gay and that Jesus is not the only way. "If we insist we know the one way to God," she said, "we've put God in a very small box."

Read more here.

Just thinking...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Proud Dad!

I am always proud of the accomplishments of my children. Sometimes the accomplishments are tiny, yet I will still praise my kids for the small things they do well. Like when my son bowls a better ball in cricket than before, or my daughter gets 1% more in her Sepedi (a black South African language) test.

However, I am currently particularly proud of both my children.

This past weekend (Oct 28), my son, Jason (9yrs), participated in a gymnastics competition with several clubs attending. This was also the first time that Jason competed in 6 instead of 4 events. They did not perform the vault as usual, and therefore did 3 extra events that they previously did not perform.

Apart from the usual events of vault (excluded this time), floor, high bar and parallel bars, they added the pommel horse, rings and handstands.

In the overall results, my son received a silver medal, and in the individual events he also won the rings. With the handstands the kids had to stand on their hands for 25 seconds. In this event he completed the mandatory 25 seconds and was given a score of 9.8 for execution.

So, for my son it was a good weekend. We are so proud of him.

On October 18, 2006, my daughter, Nicole (11yrs), did her UNISA (University of South Africa) piano exam. The results arrived yesterday. She received an over-all score of 90% and as a result made it onto the university's Roll of Honour. I am sure you can imagine how proud we are of her accomplishment. I just wish I can get her to practice her piano more than one day per week.

Well, that is enough bragging for now!

Proud Dad!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Is John Piper Bad?

A little lightheartedness.

Just thinking...

Reformed Rapper

HT: Justin Taylor

Curtis Allen raps "Unstoppable" at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Just thinking...

How the Reformation Changed the World

Dr. Peter Hammond from Frontline Fellowship has written some very insightful articles on the Reformation and how it affected our world.

They are:

You can also buy his compact little book, The Greatest Century of Reformation here. It is a great little book and is a very quick read. It would be ideal for someone who is new to the Reformation.

Just thinking...
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