Saturday, December 27, 2008

John Piper resources: download for free now!

I mentioned John Piper's resources here before, and was reminded again of John's resources by Nicholas Batzig.

In my opinion you'd be hard-pressed to find better Christian resources for growth in the knowledge of God or how to live your life to the fullest for God, than the resources
of John Piper made available at Desiring God.

John's general Resource Library can be found here. You can also make use of his various RSS Feeds and Podcasts and/or Email Subscriptions.

John also has sermons available. Many sermons are available in text, audio, and video.

Apart from the many other resources, apart from his online audio sermons, I would reckon his books to be the top resource at Desiring God. Most of these books can be downloaded as PDF.

Just to remind you, all the resources I mention here are FREE! All you have to pay for is download time. Isn't that great!

Friday, December 26, 2008

NCT Friday: Israel in the New Covenant era

When it comes to Israel, many in the church today believe that God still has some special plan for them, and that we must just be patient to see God's work in Israel in some future time.

Of course, to some, if you do not constantly stand up for the "rights" of the nation of Israel, then you are either a heretic at best, or at worst you are a communist or even an Islamic jihadist!

I would like to bring several articles, written from a New Covenant Theology (NCT) perspective, to your attention, that deal with the issue of Israel in the New Covenant era.

Today's Israel: Is God On Her Side?
Romans 9-11: Israel, Unsubmitted to God's Righteousness
Israel: An Unbelieving People
Romans 11: A New Covenant Perspective
Abraham's Four Seeds
The Church and Israel

First NCT Friday.
Next, NCT Friday: NCT contrasted with Covenant Theology & Dispensational Theology.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day is almost gone!

Christmas Day is almost gone at the time I am writing this! A whole month of expectation comes before this day. For some, even longer. Yet, the expectations of most people is about the holiday, the gifts, the time off work, parties, and many other earthly prospects.

For most, that is how far their thinking goes concerning Christmas. That really is a shame! Christmas is so much more than holidays, gifts, etc! If that was all Christmas was about, it would be such a waste! All those millions spent over the Christmas period! For what? For good times and parties?! Surely money can be spent on much better issues than parties and gifts?!

"(4) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, (5) to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. (6) And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. (7) And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (8) And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. (9) And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. (10) And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. (Lk 2.4-12 ESV)"
Christmas is the outflow of a belief in a historical event that happened around 2000 years ago. That belief is that Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, was born into this world through the virgin Mary. That belief does not stand all by itself. If that were all it was, then God would have accomplished nothing apart from showing up to show us His face.

No, the purpose of God's visit to this planet is much bigger. Jesus came to reveal the truth to this world. Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for many (Mt 20.28). That was the purpose of His coming. Jesus came with the express purpose to die on that cross of Calvary! (Lk 24.26) His purpose was to make a propitiation for God's people, to be the sacrifice that turns God's wrath away from sinners that so gravely deserve God's wrath. Jesus came to atone for the sins of His people.

We must remember that when we celebrate Christmas, we cannot celebrate Jesus as He was at His birth, but as He is now! He is the slayer of the last enemy, death! He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the King of kings!

We must remember that He came for a purpose. A purpose of salvation for His people! Why should we continue to think of Him as that baby in the manger when He is the King of kings. Let us celebrate not only His birth, with the cuteness factor, but worship Him as the only wise God. Christmas led to His death on a cross. However, He is risen and is seated at the right hand of the Father.


Let us celebrate and worship Jesus as the great victorious KING!
"Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, (2) for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.' (3) Once more they cried out, 'Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.' (4) And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, 'Amen. Hallelujah!' (5) And from the throne came a voice saying, 'Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.' (6) Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, 'Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. (7) Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; (8) it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure'-- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (9) And the angel said to me, 'Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.' And he said to me, 'These are the true words of God.' (10) Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, 'You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.' For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (11) Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. (12) His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. (13) He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. (14) And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. (15) From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. (16) On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (17) Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, 'Come, gather for the great supper of God, (18) to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.' (19) And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. (20) And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. (21) And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Rev 19.1-21 ESV)"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Discounts on Calvin's Institutes for 2009 reading schedule

For those that want to read through John Calvin's Institutes in 2009, you can find some discounts here.

You can also find other places to buy yourself a copy of the Institutes here.

JOLLYBLOGGER needs your prayers

Please pray for the JOLLYBLOGGER, David Wayne. He has just recently discovered that he has cancer, and today at 11:00, American EST, he will undergo surgery.

You can find out more at his blog.

Hell's best kept secret

This is a long video. About 52 minutes.

Laugh it up with NT Greek


HT: James White

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fighting error in the church

If I've heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times. We should just love other Christians. It doesn't really matter what they believe, as long as they are sincere. It has become a truly hackneyed response by those who just don't seem to care for the truth. To them, standing for the truth is an otiose effort in light of the fact that we must love God. They just don't like loving God with their minds, though!

Jay Adams, from the Institute for Nouthetic Studies wrote a short summary of how the NT sees fighting for the truth and standing against false teaching.

I think that one of the main problems we have with people who say that we should not point out error in the teachings of others, is that they love reading the Bible devotionally, yet they never actually STUDY the Bible. Perhaps if they spend the time and effort to study the Bible, and not just treating it as a 30-day devotional script, they will start realising how important standing for the truth and against false teaching really is in the NT!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Zondervan author disses ESV

Whether it is so or not, I wouldn't know, but it seems that Zondervan, via Mark Strauss (PhD), an author of Zondervan, dissed the ESV translation.

Is this sour grapes from the NIV crowd at the amazing growth of the ESV? Perhaps I am seeing it all wrong.

However, I am with the ESV crowd!

BTW, I have been waiting for the ESVSB (ESV Study Bible) to arrive in South Africa, and now that it has, I realise that I can't afford it. When I buy a Bible, I buy the bonded leather edition, because the leather edition is beyond my budget. I don't buy the hardcover, since I have found that hardcover editions fall apart after a while.

Anyhow, prices of the bonded leather edition range from around R900 ($87) to about R1099 ($108). This is just too pricey for me. So, for now, I will have to sit out on the ESVSB.

Of course, if there is anyone out there that would be willing to bless me with the ESVSB, it will be greatly appreciated.

Recital of Hebrews 9-10

The preeminence of Santa

I have finally reached my 500th post! So, this is a milestone for me! I definitely am not like some of the other guys out there that blog every single day. And, I am not talking about people that write little ditty lines! I am talking about people that blog significant posts everyday! I just don't know where they get the time. One person like this is Tim Challies. Check him out!

But now, back to my post!

"15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything
he might be preeminent.
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."

(Col 1.15-20)

For those who do not live in caves on Mars, I am sure that most, if not all, of us have noticed images and trinkets of all things Christmas almost everywhere. I believe it is quite understandable that these 'things' that supposedly represent Christmas are made up mostly of Santas, Christmas trees and other symbols of modern day Christmas.

When you go shopping you will hear, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, or some other singer belting out some Christmas song, just so that shop owners could keep you in the Christmas 'mood.' Don't get me wrong, I love these songs, especially when I hear a good rendering of 'Oh, Holy Night,' such as that by David Phelps!

Christmas has become a time of spending and being extravagant. Some people make collections of Santa Clauses, or baubles, or whatever. And for those that are not Christians it is understandable. That is what Christmas is to them!

So, for these people Santa, or at least the idea of Santa, is preeminent.

My problem is with those that are Christians, who go so nuts during Christmas, they have many Santas all over the house, many that can play silly irritating tunes when a button is pushed. Further, they have Christmas trees and other Christmas paraphernalia all over. Yet, if you want to find anything at all that they are actually Christian, it would be hard to find. Maybe something small, tiny, or even minute may be found.

The celebration of Christmas, in fact, has nothing to do with Santa and Christmas trees or Christmas lights. Commercially it might. However, for Christians, Santa should have no meaning. The Santa symbol is merely there to create artificial joy!

The central issue of Christmas is Christ, only Christ and nothing but Christ.

"9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.10 And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"(Lk 2.9-14)

The Christmas story is not about Santa and gifts. It is about God, stepping into the plane of human existence, taking on the shape of a man, to reveal to us the truth about ourselves and about God. It is the story of one of the most momentous occasions ever to happen on earth.

Christ came to earth with the purpose of dying for His people. By making Santa and gifts and lights more important than Christ we tarnish the memory of the God-man that walked the earth, who died, rose from the dead and returned to the Father. We, in effect, minimise the importance of the coming of Christ to earth. By making Santa more important than Christ Himself, in typical human rebellion, we tell God that His greatest gift is just not good enough!

With your house full of Santa and Christmas trinkets, you want to shout at me that you are a Christian and that Christ is important to you! Yet, your santaphernalia prove you wrong! In the second most important Christian season of the year, all you have to show is Santa! Where is Christ in your world?

The fullness of deity dwells in Christ. Why be so taken with Santa, who is a figment of man's imagination? All thing were created by Christ. "[A]ll things were created through him and for him." "He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." Why do we allow a common image of a man to become so preeminent in our lives during this time? Above all things, Christ should have preeminence!

We simply cannot do all things to the glory of God, when He does not get all the glory! If Santa is the preeminent one in your house right now, it is time to rectify the situation. Glorify Christ!

Santa should not have the preeminence. Christ alone should have preeminence in your life as a Christian.

Let's make Christmas about Christ! Start today!

Here are two videos by John Piper on Christmas.

NCT Friday: What Is New Covenant Theology?

What is New Covenant Theology (NCT)? Haven't heard of it? Then this post is for you! Don't like it? Then this post is for you! This post is for you whether you are ignorant or misinformed about NCT!

And, who better than one of the grandfather's of NCT, John Reisinger.

Here is a four part series by John Reisinger on the question, "What is New Covenant Theology?"
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

First NCT Friday.
Next, NCT Friday: Israel in the New Covenant era.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reading through Calvin's Institutes in 2009

Reformation21 is going to read through John Calvin's The Institutes of the Christian Religion in 2009.

There are 3 blog posts of importance at Reformation21 concerning this adventure in 2009:
Why read through Calvin's Institutes in 2009? by Ligon Duncan.
All at sea with Calvin? by Iain D Campbell.
In praise of John Calvin's Institutes by Derek Thomas.

HT: Martin Downes

Calvin's Institutes can be found online for free at CCEL.

For those that prefer a book in hand, it is widely available for purchase online:
North America
Amazon - $23.76
Christianbook - Hardcover - $14.99

Amazon - Hardcover - £13.99

Kalahari -
Hardcover - R408.81
Take2 -
Hardcover - R265
Augustine Bookroom -
Hardcover - R180

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book giveaway for Christmas

Don't we all just love Christmas!? At least I do, for the real reasons. And, don't we all just love books!? Again, I do. Now, if you had a chance of getting $260 worth of books for free, wouldn't you grab the opportunity?

Well, here's your chance! Trevin Wax will be drawing a name from the proverbial hat on Christmas day this year, to find out who the blessed winner is of those amazing books. Simply go to his blog, Kingdom People, at this post, and follow the entry rules. Voila! That's it!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Discipline your child for heaven

We forget that disciplining our children is not just about stopping a certain behaviour, but more about shaping a child to follow God and serving Him in obedience.

Russell Moore wrote an excellent article called The Eschatology of Parenting. For those with children, or thinking of having children, read this as a reminder what Christian disciplining of children is about.

Here is a short quote:
"A parent who will not discipline a child for disobedience, or who is inconsistent in doing so, is teaching that child not to expect consequences for behavior.

"In short, a parent who will not discipline is denying the doctrine of hell."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lisa Miller's gayatribe in Newsweek refuted

See it here!

NCT Friday: NCT and the Mosaic Law

"In keeping with one of the emphases of the John Bunyan Conference, we are going to look at this subject as it relates to the law. Really, this is the specific area of concern handed to anyone studying the larger picture of the Divine schema -- it just works out that way in that it is such a pivotal matter from the point of view both of Scripture and of the competing systems of theology today. Your view of the law winds up shaping your entire hermeneutical grid.

"So, what is the status of Mosaic law since the coming of Jesus Christ? In what way(s) did He affect it, if at all? Still more specifically, how did the revelation which Jesus brought relate to that of Moses? Does Moses' law remain the final court of appeal in questions of ethics? What bearing does it have on ethical and behavioral issues which face the new covenant believer?

"Within this discussion Matthew 5:17-20 looms large. Indeed, out of this pivotal statement of Jesus the whole New Testament theology of law grows. In this passage Jesus specifically disclaims any conflict between Himself and Moses and enthusiastically affirms His harmonious relationship with the older revelation. But the exact nature of this relationship is what we must determine."

Many Christians do not know how to treat the law, especially the Law of Moses, or as some would put it, the Moral Law.

Fred Zaspel starts clearing up the issues in his article New Covenant Theology
and the Mosaic Law: A Theological and Exegetical Analysis of Matthew 5:17-20

First NCT Friday.
Next, NCT Friday: What Is New Covenant Theology?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jesus bore witness to the truth!

For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice. (Jn. 18.37)

With the evanjellycal church in the state its in, it is difficult to imagine how the church still exists.

Many, if not most, of the
evanjellycal church think that Jesus came to make them rich, to give them goose bumps, give them a good time and that The Shack is a great book for evanjellycal christians (lowercase 'c' intended) to read.

For these people truth is not all that important, as long as you are nice to people and tolerate them. To them, what we believe is not that important. It is what we do, they say!

However, the truth is so important to God, that He sent Jesus to bear witness to the - gasp - truth!

When Jesus said that He would not leave us alone to our own devices, what did He say about sending the Holy Spirit? He called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth!
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. (Jn. 14.16-17)

But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. (Jn. 15.26)

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (Jn. 16.13-14)
If you want to find out what is important to a person, just listen to what He prays for. This is true about Jesus too! Even while praying Jesus highlighted the importance of the truth of His Word.
17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word. (Jn 17.17-20)
If the truth of the God's Word is so important to Jesus, how is it that so many evanjellycals simply ignore it? It is God's truth that sanctifies us, not our own truth!

It is the great human disaster that drives people to assess their own truth as greater than God's, and then still to claim that it is God's truth all along! It is sin that drives them to it! If we ignore God's truth and do not deem it as important as God deems it, we're living in sin and need to repent. It simply means that we are then completely out of step with God!

If we hold our own ideas and 'truths' as more important than God's truth then we are idolaters!

Idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God!
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,
21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5.16-24)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas cheer!

This is very shocking! Read it and wonder where the world is going. Christ has no part in this Christmas!

HT: GraceRemarx

D.A. Carson sermons

Here are two lists of audio sermons by D.A. Carson:
List One
List Two
List Three

HT: Nicholas Batzig

Ever heard of Christmas?

That's Christmas! from andy pearce on Vimeo.

HT: Adrian Warnock

Baby food for Christians

HT: Dan Phillips

Friday, December 05, 2008

NCT Friday: Common FAQ

"It is obvious that God’s laws relating to the theocracy of Israel and their sacrificial system have changed with the change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. But it is wrong to assume that there is some category of law (like 'moral law') that is unchangeable. Instead we should see that our holy God changed His holy law in many ways when He made the New Covenant. Some of these changes seem minor, like changes regarding laws about what we are allowed to eat or the kinds of plants we can plant together in our gardens. But some of these changes are enormous as we have just seen regarding what and how we give to God; His law regarding divorce; and how God wants us to view 'holy days.'"
You can read more at the FAQ called "Commonly Asked Questions About New Covenant Theology" by Steve Lehrer and Michael Adams.

Please note that this is a link to PDF file. You will find free PDF readers at Foxit or Adobe.

First NCT Friday.
Next, NCT Friday: NCT and the Mosaic Law.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Who will you worship this Christmas?

Santa, or Christ? Or, Santa Christ?

When Christmas rolls around every year, things become whacky! The question is, "Who will you worship this Christmas?" If your answer is Christ, are you sure?

Sinclair Ferguson wrote a very compelling article:
"For one thing, in our worship at Christmas we may varnish the staggering truth of the incarnation with what is visually, audibly, and aesthetically pleasing. We confuse emotional pleasure -- or worse, sentiment -- with true adoration.

"For another thing, we may denigrate our Lord with a Santa Claus Christology. How sadly common it is for the church to manufacture a Jesus who is a mirror refection of Santa Claus. He becomes Santa Christ.

"Santa Christ is sometimes a Pelagian Jesus. Like Santa, he simply asks us whether we have been good. More exactly, since the assumption is that we are all naturally good, Santa Christ asks us whether we have been 'good enough.' So just as Christmas dinner is simply the better dinner we really deserve, Jesus becomes a kind of added bonus who makes a good life even better. He is not seen as the Savior of helpless sinners."

Continue reading "Santa Christ?" here.

John Piper on abortion

John Piper has spoken on the issue of abortion many times. The fact is that too few pastors even dare to tackle the subject. Apparently, it is too political. Since when is the violent dismemberment of a human being too political?

You can find John's sermons on abortion here. Many of the sermons are available in sermon notes, audio and video.

John Piper on the gospel

John Piper shares the crux of the matter concerning the gospel as part of promoting the Gospel Coalition.

Introduction to the Gospel Coalition

It would be tremendously beneficial to the church in South Africa if something like this, with men of such calibre existed here!

Friday, November 28, 2008

LIFECHAIN tomorrow!

This is a cross-post from my blog BiblioPolit.

Back in March, 2008, we were part of a LIFECHAIN, to protest peaceably against abortion in South Africa.

Tomorrow we will be doing it again!

It will be on the corner of Hendrik Verwoerd and the Old Johannesburg Rd in Centurion (Pretoria, South Africa).

We will start at 09:00 until 12:00. See this map for directions. Everybody is welcome to join us and to hand out leaflets and protest peaceably with posters.

See some of the photographs below from our March 2008 LIFECHAIN.

You will notice that there were all kinds of people present!

NCT Friday: Introduction

Since I believe in the system called New Covenant Theology (as opposed to Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism), I have thought that it would be good to make something related to New Covenant Theology (NCT) available every Friday.

Today, as the first offering, I would like to point you to a short article which defines NCT.

"New Covenant Theology (NCT) describes how the unfolding plan of salvation in Scripture is to be understood. It focuses on the relationship between the Old and New Covenants. It views the nation of Israel as a picture of the people of God but not the believing people of God. It understands the Mosaic Covenant to be a legal covenant that demands perfect obedience in order to receive the promised blessings. It views the Ten Commandments as the essence of the Mosaic law and not the essence of all of God’s law. It views the New Covenant as a new and better covenant that replaces the Old Covenant. New Covenant Theology differs from both Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism."

To learn more, visit the links on the page edited by David White called NCT - Useful Free PDF's and Web Resources. What I am posting here is David's updated page from Facebook. The first edition can be found here. I had to remove the previous link to Geoff Volker and Mike Adams' article "Defining New Covenant Theology," since it is no longer available. If you know where I can get hold of that article, please let me know!

If you really want to learn about New Covenant Theology without becoming contentious, there are 2 very good NCT Facebook groups to join: New Covenant Grace, and Discover New Covenant Theology.

Next, NCT Friday: Common FAQ.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Read better!

Tim Challies, once again provides us with something worthwhile to read and make us better at something. He provides us with 10 tips to read more and better:
  1. Read
  2. Read Widely
  3. Read Deliberately
  4. Read Interactively
  5. Read with Discernment
  6. Read Heavy Books
  7. Read Light Books
  8. Read New Books
  9. Read Old Books
  10. Read What Your Heroes Read
To find out more on each point, read Tim's post, "10 Tips to Read More and Read Better."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

International Museum of the History of the Reformation

The International Museum of the History of the Reformation in Geneva is now open!

HT: Michael Dewalt

Is your child thinking of becomng a pastor?

What would these people have said if they saw Paul's ministry?

HT: Dan Phillips

Why our first parents were punished so severely

I have been reading the City of God by St. Augustine. I have to admit, for me it is not an easy read. It is an enjoyable book, but for me, it is going slow. Augustine was one of the great minds of his time, and this mind (i.e. my own) is no match for Augustine. I constantly have to keep my mind in overdrive. Yet, it remains enjoyable.

The book is available online at CCEL, in the same translation of the book in my hand. It can also be downloaded from the online page in PDF format, but then you need to be registered (for free) as a member.

Anyway, Augustine, concerning the reason for the harsh punishment on Adam and Eve for their sin, says the following:
"Therefore, because the sin was a despising of the authority of God,—who had created man; who had made him in His own image; who had set him above the other animals; who had placed him in Paradise; who had enriched him with abundance of every kind and of safety; who had laid upon him neither many, nor great, nor difficult commandments, but, in order to make a wholesome obedience easy to him, had given him a single very brief and very light precept by which He reminded that creature whose service was to be free that He was Lord,—it was just that condemnation followed, and condemnation such that man, who by keeping the commandments should have been spiritual even in his flesh, became fleshly even in his spirit; and as in his pride he had sought to be his own satisfaction, God in His justice abandoned him to himself, not to live in the absolute independence he affected, but instead of the liberty he desired, to live dissatisfied with himself in a hard and miserable bondage to him to whom by sinning he had yielded himself, doomed in spite of himself to die in body as he had willingly become dead in spirit, condemned even to eternal death (had not the grace of God delivered him) because he had forsaken eternal life. Whoever thinks such punishment either excessive or unjust shows his inability to measure the great iniquity of sinning where sin might so easily have been avoided." (Book XIV, 15)

I am not in complete agreement on this.

I can see why Augustine would say that the punishment was so severe. To Augustine, the severity of the punishment is the inverse of the ease with which God's command could have been kept, i.e. Because it should have been so incredibly easy for our first parents to refuse to eat from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen 2:17), God decided to punish them very harshly.

Augustine's idea doesn't necessarily follow, since I am not so sure that the Biblical data points this way. James in his NT book says the following:
"(10) For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. (11) For he who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law." (Js 2:10-11)

According to James, it is not the level of difficulty in keeping the law that is important, but the One who gave the law. It is not even the individual commandment within the law, but the One who gave that commandment. James highlights the fact that the One who said 'Do not commit adultery,' is the same One who said, 'Do not murder.' So, it is the importance of the Lawgiver that should draw our attention, not the individual commandments of the law.

Granted, the first law only contained one commandment: "Don't eat from THAT tree!" However, the severity of the punishment on mankind, not just on our protoparents, has nothing to do with the ease of keeping the law, but with the Lawgiver Himself.

So, this gets us somewhere.

In October 2005, in a blog post I entitled "What is the Gospel? What is the foundation to the Gospel?," I wrote the following:
"God is an infinitely holy God, and His justice therefore demands infinite vindication before the righteousness of God. Without an infinite payment (which only Christ could fulfill), only an eternal payment by sinners could even begin to vindicate the holiness of God."

When we sin, no matter how "small" the sin, we are sinning against a holy God. Since God is infinite, we have to agree that His holiness is also infinite. Therefore, the punishment for sin against infinite holiness must be commensurate with the holiness that was infringed upon. Remember, sin is not merely the breaking of the law. It is disobedience against a infinitely holy God! Propitiation for sin against infinite holiness cannot be a simple slap on the wrist! That would be a gross misunderstanding of who God is!

So, the reason our protoparents, and through them us, were punished so severely, is that the payment for their sin had to be an infinite payment to satisfy the wrath of an infinitely holy God.

Thank God for sending Jesus, that He could be "the propitiation for our sins!" (1 Jn 4:10) Only an infinite sacrifice could satisfy infinite holiness!

Where can you buy The City of God?
Amazon US - $12.44
Amazon UK - £9.23 RSA - R199.71 - $12.99

Friday, November 14, 2008

The transformation of evangelicalism

Transformation is not always good. There are times when transformation is actually bad.

When the apostle Paul wrote in Rom 12:2 that we should "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of [our] mind[s]," he meant that our transformation should lead to become more like Christ. Yet, the transformation of evangelicalism is not towards becoming like Christ, but rather like the world.

Dan Phillips has written an interesting commentary on the recent American presidential elections, with some warning attached to the evangelical church:
"But all around, you find "evangelicals" enamored with trying as hard as they can to sell off their birthright to be more acceptable to the world — the kin of Tony Campolo and Brian Maclaren and Jim Wallis and the like.

"What we see, all too often, are professed Christians with an unclear, edgeless Gospel, little or no clue as to how to apply the Bible to life — but a burning desire to fit in with the Christ-hating world."


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Forever young!

The world wants to be forever young. Unfortunately, it seems that the church is unashamedly on the same quest!

Carl Trueman wrote an excellent commentary on the forever-young syndrome:
"In some ways, today's world is the very antithesis of earlier ages. I always found sixteenth and seventeenth century paintings of children to be somewhat creepy: adult heads on tiny, immature bodies, as if the artists had no real concept of youth and childhood that allowed them to depict faces as such. Strange, isn't it, that the airbrushing techniques so often used in today's glossy magazines seem designed to have precisely the opposite effect: to place young heads on bodies that we know are much older. The concept of old age is perhaps slowly but surely being airbrushed out of representations in the popular media.

"Numerous incidents over recent years have brought the sad effect of all this home to me. As a professor at university and seminary, I have had too many run-ins with students who act like five year olds and, when held to account, express all the pouting resentment that one comes to expect from a generation that demands respect but refuses to put in the time and effort to earn it. You see them on the blogs, screaming their abuse and demanding to be heard, carrying on their tirades long after the threshold of Godwin's Law and any semblance of decency or credibility has been passed for the umpteenth time. They have achieved nothing - but they demand that you respect them!"


HT: Frank Turk

Monday, November 03, 2008

Worldview Course: the Truth Project

I am planning to run a worldview course in the beginning of 2009, in Pretoria, South Africa. It is called the Truth Project, and it is a DVD-based worldview tour. My plan is to run the course from around the 2nd or 3rd week in January. It is a 13 week course, and the lessons can be seen at the bottom of this post.

This is probably the best I have seen on the subject of worldview, and I did attend a Truth Project leader’s training seminar in Johannesburg with the presenter of the series.

I am sure we all know the importance of a Biblical worldview, and while this course will take up some of your time, I can guarantee that it will definitely not be time wasted.

Further, because this is a DVD-based course, it will be held in my own house, or someone else’s house. Each lesson is +-1 hour long, and we will also have time to discuss what we heard in that lesson.

If you are interested, please let me know so that I can start planning. Please feel free
to pass this invitation to others whom you think may also want to attend a course like this around Pretoria.

The course is designed for around 12 people at a time, so first come first served.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Snappy quotes that show Biblical illiteracy

I was busy on Facebook, when I discovered the profile of someone I knew some time ago. In her profile I saw that her favourite book is The Shack (also see this review), and that her favourire quote is "Religion seeks to define an infinite God. By definition, it is doomed to failure."

Of course, quotes like these seem very spiritual and they have a sense of mysticism to them, in which the one who quotes it seems to say that God is greater than the boxes we try to put Him in.

Naturally this goes well with that age old saying: "Don't put God in a box!"

Now, what would happen if we discover that God was indeed in a box? Or, rather, God's revelation of Himself is the box within which He wants us to think of Him. Is God, in His person, His grandeur, His glory, His magnificence, His power, His ability, in a box? Never! How can the Infinite be cast within the finite?

Yet, this is not the issue, is it? People who quote or make quotes such as "
Religion seeks to define an infinite God. By definition, it is doomed to failure," want to create a sense of greatness about their incredible knowledge about God, that He is so big, that we could not possibly define Him. They want everybody to fall into that illusion that God cannot be defined, therefore, we should not even try!

The problem with this scenario, is that it is a non-Biblical idea. The fact is, God can be defined. He defined Himself in His self-revelation to mankind in the Bible! The fact that God revealed Himself to us, in itself should tell us how important God deemed the fact that He can be defined! However, we do not do the defining of God; He defined Himself in His revelation to us!

I know it is true that "religion" cannot define God, but quotes such as the above hardly ever mean what they say on the face of it! There is usually some assumed meaning that the "quoter" is trying to convey. That is usually the meaning that has no Biblical warrant.

While it is true that religion cannot define God, this quote has that hidden transmission that tries to convey the message that we should put our doctrines aside, because they could not possibly define this infinite God! Yet, the fact is that God revealed Himself in those doctrines we hold so dear.

The problem with quotes like these is that they appear to convey the truth. It catches a lot of people off guard, and because it seems to convey the truth, they accept the message of the quote as truth.

Where will this lead us? This is a one way street that eventually leads to heresy! Since God is not defined, there can be no doctrines that limit what we believe about Him. As a result, we end up no longer believing in God, but 'god.' It is no longer god worthy of a capital letter, since it becomes a creature of our own making! This is no longer the God that revealed Himself to us in the Bible, but an image of our own making that we have carved in our own minds. This, God Himself has prohibited in the 2nd commandment: "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God."
(Exo 20:4-5)

When we start making God in our own image (god), then we have an inferior god that is worthless. This is the kind of god that Elijah mocked the Baal worshippers about: "Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened."(1 Ki 18:27) That is the kind of god that is created by little quotes like those above.

That is the kind of god we end up with in books like The Shack. It is not the God revealed in the Bible, but a god made in the minds of men. This is a god that has no power or influence outside the mind of the believer. This is NOT the God of the Bible!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Boettner's Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

Almost 3 years ago I wrote a short post giving the heads up for Loraine Boettner's book, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination.

If you do not know what the Reformed doctrine of predestination is all about, simply revisit that post!

The Cares of this Life: Trust in God

GOD'S UNSHAKABLE KINGDOM from Randy Rohde on Vimeo

Monday, October 27, 2008

Preacher's slip of the tongue

Every now and again a preacher gets tongue tied, and when that knot comes undone, he will have a slip of the tongue.

HT: Joanna @ Crazy Christian Clips

9Marks Nov/Dec eJournal is available!

The 9Marks eJournal for Nov/Dec 2008 is now available. This edition is all about counselling in the church. It is also available for download in PDF format.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Another review of The Shack

Stephen Yuille wrote a very good review on the The Shack. In his review he writes:
"Whenever I get a book, I immediately glance at the recommendations. To be honest, I’m looking for names like Don Carson, J. I. Packer, R. C. Sproul, Sinclair Ferguson, John Piper, etc. – not because I think these men are infallible, but because I trust their discernment. Well, I didn’t find any recommendations from these men, but I did find one from Kathie Lee Gifford. You may think it’s unfair of me to say this, but I offer it for what it’s worth: a recommendation from Kathie Lee Gifford doesn’t instill confidence – not in me, anyway!...

"Young is unrelenting in his attempt to humanize God. In so doing, he crosses a line. Where is the awe and reverence? Where is the appeal to think great thoughts of God? Where is God’s glory and majesty? Where is God’s holiness? All of these things are trivialized by Young’s depiction of God triune as Elousia, Jesus, and Sarayu."

Continue the review here.

HT: Tim Challies

Gerald Hiestand also wrote a good review of the book:
"There are two fundamental difficulties I have with Young's 'anti-power”' motif. First, Young's portrayal of God is out of step with much of the way God is portrayed in Scripture. It's difficult to square Young's pacifistic Trinitarian portrayal with the God of Genesis 6, the Christ of Revelation 19, and the Holy Spirit of Acts 5. And it’s at this point that Young's theodicy falls short. The Scripture doesn't allow us to distance God from violence and coercion. The deeper question of theodicy is not simply how a good God can allow death and destruction, but how a good God can cause death and destruction. Young's book assumes the happiness of humanity is the highest good. The Bible does not affirm this."

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

Studying Grudem's Systematic Theology

I can just imagine the impact that the Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover, Alabama, must have experienced!

800 of its members have read through Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. Just imagine the impact if all churches did that! Just imagine when truth once again abounds in the church! Just imagine if my own church did that! I suppose that will be like wishing upon a star...

HT: Tim Challies

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Lawsuit against ESV Study Bible project manager

Without further a-do, read about the lawsuit here.

Serious stuff, huh!

Here in South Africa I have to wait until November!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Heretical Carlton Pearson loses church

Carlton Pearson, who used to be a top notch word-of-faith preacher with a 6000 member church has lost his church (members and building). This happened after he started preaching an inclusive gospel in which he declared all people will go to heaven.

I wish this would be the route of all heretical churches, but alas, we live in a sinful world! If only they would repent of their gross sin and return to the truth of the gospel!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology MP3s

For those who have Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, you can find the MP3 series by Wayne based on this Systematic Theology, here.

Using words of grace

Paul Tripp gives us food for thought on the words we use.

Formerly gay

Related to my earlier post on Ray Boltz coming 'out,' declaring that he is gay, visit the formers:
"a place of fellowship for those who have found healing from same-sex attraction -- or are on that journey -- and their supporters."
It is a
"haven where you will find encouragement and where we can share thoughts, testimonies and concerns. As iron sharpens iron, let us strengthen and edify one another as we face the day-to-day challenges of living in a world that is growing increasingly hostile to those who stand on the truth of God's Word, which says that homosexual acts are sinful."

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Covenant Journal website

A new online journal has seen the light:
"New Covenant Journal is devoted to proclaiming the excellencies of the Lord Jesus Christ and the New Covenant in His blood. Its ambition is to express how Jesus Christ is the story of sacred Scripture, and how His sovereignty and grace should shape our beliefs and behaviors. Specifically, we desire to persuade Christians that what has come to be called New Covenant Theology (NCT) is the best way to understand the Scriptures (indeed, the way the Bible interprets itself)."

You can visit the
New Covenant Journal here.

Ray Boltz reveals he is gay!

An article on 12 September in the Washington Blade, an LGBT newspaper, revealed that Ray Boltz, singer of Christian hits such as 'Thank you,' 'Watch the Lamb' and many more is gay. Boltz's divorce from his wife was finalised earlier this year.

Boltz, in the article said that he does not "want to be a poster boy for gay Christians." I have one question on that statement. Would we ever talk of being poster boys for fornicating Christians, or perhaps for adulterous Christians?

Go figure!

HT: Justin Taylor

Tim Challies has written a very good short commentary on this issue. He writes:
"There are essentially two ways that humans can understand the world. The first way is the way we all understand the world until the Holy Spirit intervenes in our lives and gives us new eyes to see. This worldview is I-centered. I am the center of my own universe and the arbiter of all truth. I may not vocalize things in just this way and may not even think them quite like this, but it is ultimately what I believe. I believe that I am capable of looking at the world and understanding the way it works—who God is, who I am, the relationship between us, and so on.

"The other way of seeing the world is God-centered. Here I acknowledge God as the center of all that exists and the arbiter of all truth. Everything that is true and everything that is knowable has its source in Him. Thus I can only interpret the world properly by rightly acknowledging God. This is, obviously, the biblical worldview. It is God who tells me who He is, God who tells me who I am and God who declares the terms of the relationship between us."

Read more about what Tim wrote here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Western Christianity

Stephen J. Nichols wrote a book called "Jesus Made in America: A Cultural History from the Puritans to the Passion of the Christ." The book opens up American, and indeed Western, Christianity, and shows that even while it runs very wide across American society, it actually is only an inch deep.

Collin Hansen wrote a review of the book here.

As a foretaste, here is an excerpt from the review:
"'Today's American evangelicals may be quick to speak of their love for Jesus, even wearing their devotion on their sleeve, literally in the case of WWJD bracelets,' Nichols writes. 'But they may not be so quick to articulate an orthodox view of the object of their devotion. Their devotion is commendable, but the lack of a rigorous theology behind it means that a generation of contemporary evangelicals is living off of borrowed capital.'

"Nichols's declension narrative begins with kind words for the Puritans. He shows how Jonathan Edwards, the Connecticut pastor who preached 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God' in 1741, paired deep devotion to Jesus Christ with meticulous theology. He introduces readers to Edward Taylor, another Puritan pastor serving on the colonial American frontier. In between raids by neighboring Native Americans, Taylor wrote breathtaking poetry extolling his love for Christ in rich theological language. As Nichols's story unfolds, Westminster Theological Seminary founder J. Gresham Machen emerges as another hero who defended the historic creeds as they testified to Jesus."

R.C. Sproul has also written an article about the condition of the modern church in America, and of course the whole of the western church.

Sproul wrote:
"I've often wondered if Luther were alive today and came to our culture and looked, not at the liberal church community, but at evangelical churches, what would he have to say? Of course I can't answer that question with any kind of definitive authority, but my guess is this: If Martin Luther lived today and picked up his pen to write, the book he would write in our time would be entitled The Pelagian Captivity of the Evangelical Church.

"Luther saw the doctrine of justification as fueled by a deeper theological problem. He writes about this extensively in The Bondage of the Will. When we look at the Reformation and we see the solas of the Reformation-sola Scriptura, sola fide, solus Christus, soli Deo gloria, sola gratia-Luther was convinced that the real issue of the Reformation was the issue of grace; and that underlying the doctrine of sola fide, justification by faith alone, was the prior commitment to sola gratia, the concept of justification by grace alone."
You can read Sproul's article, "The Pelagian Captivity of the Church" here.

Baby preacher

Babies and toddlers can sometimes be so cute. Yet, sometimes, there hides something deeper, underneath all the cuteness, in situations like the one below.

What seems cute, may actually be more of a commentary of how things stand, than have anything to do with a baby's cuteness.

Kids learn from adults, and if this kid learnt from the preachers at this church, then I can just imagine what is being preached there. Lots of shouting and emoting, but probably no real content.

Anyhow, depending on who watches the video, it could either be cute and funny, or tragic.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lakeland Revival: Not so much!

The Lakeland Revival has been going for a while with Todd Bentley at the helm.

Well, it seems that all is not well in paradise, so to speak! Todd and his wife are having marital problems and are separating.

From an article by Marsha West:
"What did Fresh Fire Ministries know and when did they know it? I'm talking about Todd Bentley's marriage, which is in shambles. According to the statement posted on the Fresh Fire website it would appear that the board of directors have known for quite sometime:

"'Undoubtedly the pressures and the burden of the Outpouring, which approaches 144 days on August 23rd, have helped to create an atmosphere of fatigue and stress that has exacerbated existing issues in their relationship (emphasis added). We wish to stress however, that the Outpouring is not 'to blame' for the current chain of events and that in effect we have no interest in blaming anyone, but rather we deeply covet your prayers for Todd and Shonnah and for Fresh Fire Ministries during this time.'"
Continue reading Marsha's article here.

Bill Randles has written a very probing PDF article on Todd Bentley and the "revival."
"What we are seeing in the so-called Lakeland revival, did not come like 'a rushing mighty wind' out of heaven (cf. Acts 2:2). Rather it is the direct result of several 'streams' that have converged over the last twenty years. The roots of Todd Bentley's experienced based revival, are manifold. They include the Kansas City Prophets of the late 1980's and early nineties, John Wimber's Vineyard movement, South African Evangelist Rodney Howard Browne, the Toronto Blessing, and the subsequent Pensacola Revival which led directly to Lakeland Florida and Todd Bentley. A major common denominator, which runs through all of these streams, is an emphasis on an experience called spiritual drunkenness!

"There can be no denying that Bentley is a direct result of the so called Kansas City Prophets. He himself defers directly to two of these prophets openly, in spite of the moral collapses of both of them. Bentley calls a Bob Jones a mentor, and a seer. Jones had to leave the ministry after having to confess to using his prophetic office to disrobe women. But to Bentley, Jones is a spiritual father. It was Jones' teaching that encouraged false prophecies in the church by encouraging 'young prophets' that they need not be 100% accurate, and that it was a good thing that the accuracy was so low, otherwise there would be a whole lot of Ananias's and Saphirra's!"
Continue reading Bill's article here.

You can also read more about Todd and the Lakeland Revival expose here.

Finally, here is a humorous, yet sad account of what is going on at Lakeland.

28 Aug 2008 - Do we desperately need closure from Tod Bentley? Jan Markell thinks so! ( I do too!)
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