Hiding in the shadows of knowledge

Our knowledge can never, and will never overshawdow our sin. To often we view Christian life as a mental ascension to a few essential truths. This is such an incomplete view of the life we are called to. I know this entry will seem really basic and kind of no-brainer but maybe it is something you and I need to stop and think about.

First of all Christian life does certainly involve some sort of mental ascension. The Lord takes your fallen mind, and your wicked way of thinking and turns it towards Him and his truth. It is His working in your heart and mind that cause this "mental ascension." On the flip side we often will take the knowledge we have obtained concerning Christ and His gospel and become puffed up in our own estimate, and actually hide behind the knowledge as if it is the knowledge itself that saves us. The knowledge of the Lord doesn't save us by any means, it is only His blood on the cross that will save us. If I sat at a train station and said "I know that train is going to Georgia" that knowledge unapplied will by no menas get me to Georgia. I could even go further as to have a knowledge of the entire rail system, and I could know everything about the locomotive, I could be devoted to watching it, and washing it and waving at it and calling it good, yet if I am not on the train no matter how much I know, I go nowhere.

To often we pursue new knowledge without ever putting an application to the knowledge we already have. Even worse is that we often in our hearts will devote all of our energy to the pursuit of scriptural knowledge so as too avoid the application of what we already know. I hear people write on the web about the hypostatic union of something or other, I confess I don't what they are talking about, but too many times these same people who have a vast abyss of knowledge haven't even taken time to talk to their neighbor. We will hide behind intellect or the quest for Godly knowledge as an excuse not to apply what we already know. For instance I have been in a park reading my bible and heard many people walk by, I do not even look up and say hi, let alone share with them what I have read. I hide in that bible so as to avoid obedience to the things I already know. I am not by any means against studying the scriptures to know them to the very core, it is a noble task that we all should engage in. My point is simply that knowledge unapplied is really no knowledge at all.

Lets come out from the shadows of the things we are seeking to understand, and lets not seek any deeper truth until we have applied the truth we already know.

Thats all for tonight


Stuck in the "Slough of despond..."

Despondent -- Feeling or showing extreme discouragement, dejection, or depression.

Slough -- A place of deep mud or mire.

If you have recently read John Buyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" you will surely remember the main character's encounter with the slough of despond. This was one of his first difficulties he experienced after setting out on his pilgramage. John Bunyan must have authored this from his own experience and I am sure each of us on our own pilgramages have at least at one time encountered the slough of despond. My question is why?

The apostle Paul encourages us with his espitle to the Phillipians to be joyful in all circumstances and he cleary had every right to command that to us. He being locked in prison was still able to avoid despondency and find joy in Christ. I wish we could just avoid that terrible slough but I find to often we find ourselves neck deep in the mud and mire and in danger of drowning in doubt and despair before we will even recognize that anything is wrong.

What is it that can keep us from wallowing in the mud of despondency? Is it not God's grace that destroys despondence and brings us complete contentment. God has freely given us grace according to His own purpose, and the fact that he has given us that grace leaves us with no rational reason to be despondent. Do you, despondent one, remember that grace which God has showered upon you? Can you see those pierced hands that prove the love of God toward you?

Too often the mud of that wicked slough has covered mine own eyes and I cannot see those nail pierced hands, and I cannot even be sure that they exist and at that point I am so near drowning that I fear there is no salvation from what surely awaits. However, when the Lord empowers that lsst breath to somehow form the cry "Abba, Father." At that moment the strong hand of the Lord plucks me out of the slough and rains His cleansing grace upon me to was the muck that covered my soul. The blood of the lamb purges me of the faithless filth the drove me into that slough and I rejoice. With vision restored and soul cleansed I am free again to serve the living God.

I need to go, but I will you this, call out to God to shower His grace, which we desprately need, upon us daily. This way we can will always see clearly enough to avoid the slough of despond. If the mud even starts to build on your eyes was no time walking further until your vision has been cleared.

That is all for today. Please comment if you have any thoughts.


What's the issue with fundamentalism

Most users of sermonaudio likely consider themselves fundamentalists, and it is a badge people seem to wear with pride. I too, wear the "fundamentalist" title but must admit I see some serious problems with Christian fundamentalism as it is exercised today. I will just outline 3 problems that plague most fundamental churches today.

1. The cheapening of Grace -- While in my estimate Deitrich Boenhoffer was off base on various theological issues there was one point that he hit dead on, that being the modern church has perverted what is free grace into being cheap grace. Too often fundamentalist churches reduce salvation to a sinners prayer, a pat on the back, and boom welcome to heaven. I don't doubt that this method is effective, certianly many Christians have said a prayer like that and I don't doubt they were saved at that point. However I also do not doubt that there are many people who have said that prayer and call themselves Christians that know nothing of the Lord, and have by no means been indwelt by His spirit. To often we who are reformed in our thinking and abhor the thought of trying to earn your way to heaven will go to the opposite extreme and speak of salvation like it is mearly a flame retardent suit that we put on when we say a certain prayer. Works are the evidence of saving faith and we can and must expect works out of Christians, else the evidence shows they are no Christian at all. Certainly we fundamentalists are dead on when we say that we are saved not by works but by grace and that no work is going to earn grace, but grace that yeilds no fruit is cheap, and is not grace at all.

2. Legalism -- Typically anyone who is not a fundamentalist, will make the claim that fundamental Christianity is legalistic. While ture fundamental Christianity is by no means legalistic the typical fundamentalism we see in today's "conservative" church is highly legalistic. In an effort to get rid of sacramentalism we have created our own legalism. We will reject everything which doesn't fit within our scope of Christianity and deem it heretical. For instance we take a 18 year old who is attempting to witness by writing music and turn around and tell them that the music they write comes straight from the pit of hell. C.H. Spurgeon (often the fundamentalist hero) said that he loves imprudence in a young believer. He loves when they will try anything to worship. (See sermon "Church Increase" I think) Yet the legalistic fundamentalism has successfully quenched many young peoples drive to serve God in a way that is real to them. The legalistic fundamentalist has no memory of the Lord's work in them. They forget who they were when they were young Christians attempting to worship the Lord.

3. Backlash -- I am not sure what else to call it. To often we fundamentalists will overcompensate when correcting errors in doctrine. For instance in rejection of the Catholic church's hyperveneration of Mary, fundamentalists often downplay the magnitude of her obedience, and her role in the life of Christ. In refuting Arminianism many fundamentalists will downplay the role of a John Wesley or George Whitfield and their role in the spiritual renewal in England.

Maybe it is time for us who claim to be fundimental to take a good hard look at ourselves, our sucesses in Christ, and our failures. It is long past time for many fundementalists to be zealous for Christ as opposed to fundamentalism as they know it.

Thats all for now.


Radical Islam

Is radical Islam really so wicked? I suppose if I were ever thinking about running for a government office the following entry would be used against me, because a lot of what I will say is going to sound awful if taken out of context. I have a few words of praise for the fundamental radical Islamic militants who blew up our trade centers and the pentagon as well as the crash in Pennsylvania, plus the recent bombings in London and Egypt. These people know what they believe, and they are willing to forsake everything to act upon this belief. This makes these terrorists admireable, in a twisted way. While we know as Christians that the perpetrators of radical fundemental Islam have a brutal eternity waiting for them I would be willing to say that the eternity of the life long church goer who has no relationship with the Lord will be far worse.

Revelation 3:16
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

In our society we are often pummeled with so much media and converstation that is all focus on making us see things in a certain light, and we too often let down our guard and begin to become the people the media is creating us to be. We see images of the aweful terror inflicted by hellbound Islamic militants and we end up with rage in our hearts. We build up all this pride in our country (not a bad thing) but that pride very quickly becomes self righteousness and we find ourselves dragged into sin by the work of suicide bombers. We don't see ourselves become rage filled self rightous people, but that is the result of suicide bombings, it is a masterpiece of satan.

Still I say that the peaceful false professor of Christianity is more of an abomination than the violent hate filled militant who blows himself and others up for the promotion of his demonic religon. How could anyone make the claim I just made. The radical militant does more to show the supremecy of Christ and glory of God than the hypocritical false professor. The death and destruction cause by "Allah" makes Jehovah's righteousness shine even brighter. It is like putting a diamond on a black cloth. The black backdrop makes the diamond to shine, so too does all the iniquity of the world committed by non-christians make the true righteousness of Christ shine. On the flip side while a professing Christian may only be a little black speck of iniquity in comparison to the vast cloth of the militant, that little speck as attached itself to the diamond. Instead of bringing Christ and his church glory as the black backdrop does, this false Christian taints what should be a spotless diamond.

Professors of Christianity who have no desire for the Lord and the things of God certainly have more of a negative impact on Christs church than the radical islamic militant. Is it more shameful that a militan would blow up 80 people, or that a unbelieving pastor would preach a gospel contrary to that of Christ and thus lead his congregation and their families to the pit, all while feeding the poor and doing community service.

I know this is a kind of brutal rant, but give me some feedback and leave a comment if you think I am of base or on track.


The State of Our Union

I made the comment in the last post about how an understanding of God's sovriegnty helps us to understand the state of our union, the condition of our nation. I have been thinking about this for awhile now and I have come to realize that we have been duped by the "religous right." Are we so foolish as to believe that we control the destiny of this nation. I remember hearing the rejoicing of Christians around the country when Bush was elected president, and I also was happy about it. Everyone said "God's man is in office." Duh, in this nation every president since George Washington was God's choice. The real test would have been rejoicing if John Kerry had been elected. Clearly if we see God's sovriegnty over government as meaning that he chooses the powers that be for his purposes then whomever gets put into office we should willingly accept because it is the will of God. This is why we must submit the the authorities that be, because they are the Lord's instruments of justice.

So this all begs the question, should we vote? Absolutely! Why? The Lord has given us an oppurtunity to take part in carrying out His will in a way that many people around the world don't get. It really is no different then questioning if we should preach considering those who will be saved are predestined to heaven. Of course we should preach, it is God's will that we be a part of His work of saving souls, and it is gracious of Him to give us the command to make disciples and to see the fruit of His work on the cross right before our eyes. What a blessing it is to be included and used in carrying out God's will.

Back to the "religous right" for one minute. This past election cycle the whole election seemed to hinge on the "moral majority." Afterwards you heard the liberals saying that the democratic party needed "born again" and that they need to seek their "Christian roots." In the mean time the republican party has basically stamped itself the party of God, and we are foolish if we ignore the level of corruption that exists on the right side of the isle as well as the left. After the last election the "religous right" has become puffed up, believing that their morality has earned them power. We know that power is given and taken away by the Lord based on His own desires not our claimed righteousness. I know I am ranting, but I get tired of the inconsistancy of fundementalists when it comes to government, if you are a fundamentalist you must also apply that to your view of the government, and somehow we all seem to be a little more pelagian and have a little higher view of our selves when November 2 rolls around.

Thats all, I quit for today.


Pharoah's Hard heart

Romans 9:18
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

I know I have been hit a little on election and predestination in the last post and it isn't my desire to keep hounding on this doctrine, but it is important that we take a look past just what predestination is. It is important that we make the mental ascension, or acknowledgement of God's sovriegn election because it is foundational to a true understanding of grace. Beyond this we must look at what application this doctrine has in our day to day life.

We all remember when the Lord used Moses to deliver His people from bondage. The Lord performed many signs and wonders and after each sign Pharoh would not respond righteously, as the scripture say the Lord hardened His heart. I know that when I read this story it is almost tiresome to read because Pharoh rejects the plea of Moses over and over and over again, and the Lord continually hardens Pharoh's heart. The Lord had predetermined Pharoh's actions for the purpose of His own glory and the deliverance of His people. What then by way of application can we garner from Moses and Pharoh.

1. Calm Reaction to the rejection of Christ's Gospel

We Christians too often feel the need to save souls and when witnessing and explaining the simple gospel will get frustrated at its rejection. Sometimes we wonder how people just cannot see the truth. Moses simply continued performing the tasks God gave him without questioning the Lord's intent. So are we called to witness and make disciples and to contine in doing so regardless of the results.

2. Understanding the state of our Union

I know this seems like an odd statement to make, but I think too often we sacrafice some of our basic Christian belief and behaviour by claiming some kind of allegiance to a politcal party or movement. I proper understanding of God's authority in Government would make us realize that he has His players in place for His purposes. Pharoh was ruthless to the Hebrews, but the Lord allowed it, in fact he intended it. Therefore when the talking heads of the moral majority say it is not God's will that Hillary be president so vote for so and so don't listen. God's will is going to be done, wether it is performed by the immoral or moral. The hardened, or softened.

3. Freedom from fear.

If God has called you His, and He is in complete control then neither death nor life nor angels nor demons... nothing at all can separate you from Him.

There are more which intend possibly to share later, but I have to go for now.


Election and why people reject it

I have been doing some thinking about predestination and God's sovriegnty. Looking at the scripture God's election and predestination seem to me to be an obvious doctrine. Why then do some, and even myself in the past choose to reject this doctrine?

Clearly if you take the doctrine of predestination to its logical conclusion you will begin to see that man has no power and that God has infinite power. You will begin to see that all things that have ever happened were forordained by the Lord. While this is a tough pill for human reasoning to swallow it is nonetheless the truth of scripture.

As humans our natural tendency is to reject a God that would act against our will, because we think "not God's will, but mine be done." We to often define fine God with our own human reasoning. We may say that God is love, therefore he would never let any perish, but we are putting our definition of love on God and therefore attempting to limit Him to human logic.

The sole reason people would ever reject any sort of predestination cannot be scripture, because the scripture clearly teaches otherwise. The sole reason is because people have the misconception that they have power and that God is merely a passive judge, and not an active player. He is in their eyes only active when they ask Him to be by prayer and petition.

I have to get back to work, maybe I will continue this later.


Back Again

It has been two weeks since my last post so I am well overdue. This past week my wife and I were on vacation, a mini honeymoon and it was excellent. Anyway onto what the Lord has taught me in these past few days.

Mark 10:21
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

When the bible speaks of love, especially when used as a verb it means to seek to do one good. You could replace "I love you" with "I seek to do you good." Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and loved him. He sought to do him good and proceeded to tell him to sell everything. We know that the ruler left feeling upset and unhappy. How often do we desire the blessings of God only to be met with a "sell everything" response?

I know that when the Lord convicts me of sin I can confess it and repent, or I can put off confession and repentance, or and this is where most believers struggle, I can confess but fail to repent. Now when you go to prayer and there is a nagging sin that is constantly entering your consciousness that is the Lord "seeking to do you good" and telling you to sell everything. The one thing that you know you must confess and repent of is the one thing that is keeping you from that communion with God. Don't mess around, confess and repent. I have found myself in this situation the past few weeks and my sin is regarding finances and honesty and I could not commune with the Lord until I confessed to him, and just as importantly repented and came clean. At the moment of repentance the consequences of the sin (which often are realized after repentance) were insignificant in comparison to the renewed communion with the Lord. The believer's desire must be comfort with the Lord and not with the world. In my case I clung to a sin that left my life comfortable yet it gradually destroyed my relationship with the Lord. The longer I put off repentance the harder my heart became and in turn I committed more and more sin.

Is the Lord "seeking to do you good" by convicting you of something you need to change in your life? If so immediate response to Him is necessary. Prolonging the response leaves you with a heart that is hardened to the things of God.


Television Filters??

I heard an advertisement on the radio yesterday for the local cable company and after about one minute of thought I found it to be beyond ridiculous. Buckeyecable system is now offering filtering controls so that parents can control what their children watch. Of course this feature is at an added cost. They must really be concerned about the impressionable minds of the toledo area children right? Dead wrong. This service is a product meant to make money, and the key to selling any product is to create demand for it. What is the only way to create demand for a product that filters morally offensive material. That is to create morally offensive material. Now I understand that internet filters are legit because of the vast material already existing on the web, but cable systems already control all the content that is fed through the cable meaning that they send you the channels (and charge you for them) and then make you pay to filter them. The whole time this goes on the average unsuspecting persons views the cable system as taking a step to combat the moral decline of the area's children. Cancel the cable, read you bible, pick up a book, go help someone, anything.