Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christ at Work!

It is a huge blessing to work for a company that sponsors employee network groups, including a Bible Study Group. We occasionally have guest speakers who come and share from God's Word.

This post is a way to 'open the vault' so to speak and share this treasure of Biblical wisdom from some of the guest speakers to the Bible Study Group since early 2008. These recordings worked best for converting into mp3 audio (unfortunately several others could not be converted due to technical issues).

Click the play button on the left of each item to listen here, or download the mp3 files by right-clicking and selecting Save-File-As.
Beginning in 2011, I hope to add other similar 'Christ at Work' posts that feature visitors to the Bible Study Group.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Will God ever answer my prayer?

Ever feel like that? Today's Spurgeon devotional was perfect (subscribe here)! If you are a child of God, your Heavenly Father promises to answer your prayers. Be encouraged by this, as I was:

"Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you," Isaiah 30:18a

God often delays in answering prayer . We have several instances of this in sacred Scripture. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day--he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophenicia was answered not a word for a long while. Paul besought the Lord thrice that the thorn in the flesh might be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it should be taken away, but instead thereof a promise that God's grace should be sufficient for him. If thou hast been knocking at the gate of mercy, and hast received no answer, shall I tell thee why the mighty Maker hath not opened the door and let thee in? Our Father has reasons peculiar to himself for thus keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show his power and his sovereignty, that men may know that Jehovah has a right to give or to withhold. More frequently the delay is for our profit. Thou art perhaps kept waiting in order that thy desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if he keeps thee waiting thou wilt see thy necessity more clearly, and wilt seek more earnestly; and that thou wilt prize the mercy all the more for its long tarrying. There may also be something wrong in thee which has need to be removed, before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps thy views of the Gospel plan are confused, or thou mayest be placing some little reliance on thyself, instead of trusting simply and entirely to the Lord Jesus. Or, God makes thee tarry awhile that he may the more fully display the riches of his grace to thee at last. Thy prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while shall be fulfilled to thy delight and satisfaction. Let not despair make thee silent, but continue instant in earnest supplication.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Global Day of Prayer for Sudan

At this historic juncture for the people of Sudan, the World Evangelical Alliance is asking Christians to observe a global day of prayer on December 5th, 2010.

The people of Sudan have experienced terrible loss of life and suffering in the last half century as a result of prolonged civil war and unrest.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended that war but now peace is threatened again as Southerners prepare to vote in a decisive referendum on January 9th, 2011.

Whether the people decide to separate or remain united, the nation will be changed forever. (from the World Evangelical Alliance)

Last week a close friend returned from a two week mission trip to Sudan. Jared Chasteen shared with the Bible study group that Sudan, the largest country in Africa and one of the most poverty-stricken, is on the verge of devastating war.

Today Jared is asking ministry partners to pray for Sudan. "Generally, I have mixed feelings about 'Days of Prayer' - we should be praying for Sudan EVERY day," Jared said. "But I think they can be helpful reminders for us to pray with a special focus for important issues."

Jared also shared this MSNBC Video which featured actor George Clooney traveling to Sudan to raise awareness of the huge issues there.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

May the Lord work mightily in Sudan to call to Himself a people for His Name and glory!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thomas Watson - a call to action!

In our family devotions Monday, we read parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. Then I came across this over lunch.

This is in Thomas Watson's introduction to his commentary on the Beatitudes. It's a call to action, Christian!
May the Lord grant that while you have an opportunity, and the windserves you, you may not lie idle at anchor, and when it is too late beginto hoist up sails for Heaven. Oh now, Christian, let your loins be girt,and your lamps burning, that when the Lord Jesus, your blessed Bridegroom,shall knock, you may be ready to go in with Him to the marriagesupper,which shall be the prayer of him who is,Yours in all true affection and devotion,Thomas Watson

Watson's work on The Beatitudes can be read online here or purchased here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nathan Clark George in Concert December 19th!

Just wanted to let you know about a free Christmas concert featuring Nathan Clark George on December 19th at Redeemer Presbyterian in Overland Park, KS.

I have had opportunities to see Nathan in concert when he comes to KC, and here is what I learned:

  • NCG is a great performer. He likes to get the audience involved! This feat is especially noteworthy given he is a Presbyterian performing in a Presbyterian church - ha ha! Nathan has great rapport with the audience and his fellow musicians on stage and is the opposite of the stereotypical pop star. He is 'down to earth' yet 'heavenly minded' (Col 3:2).

  • The setting is warm and intimate regardless of the weather outside (ala 'Let it Snow').

  • The music is top notch professional and fun. There is a good mix of timeless hymns, new arrangements of lesser known songs, and brand new creations. This is music everyone will enjoy, regardless of age or gender or race!

  • Best of all the message of the music is first and foremost Christ-exalting and often Scripture set to music.

  • The concert is free but I believe there is a love offering and opportunity to purchase CD's.

Treat yourself and your loved ones to this concert and enjoy you will be as excited as me the next time you hear news of Nathan Clark George returning to Kansas City.

New to Nathan Clark George? Here is a short bio from Nathan's website:
Award winning singer/songwriter Nathan Clark George has been touring with his music for over a decade, including 4 years full-time in an RV with his family, encouraging a multi-generational vision for the family and the Kingdom of Peace. His discography delivers compelling musical presentations of Scripture along with transparent snapshots of life. Also included is a DVD featuring a full-length concert, as well as a documentary of Nathan and his family and their lives on the road. Most recently, he is excited to be one of the featured artists on the upcoming release from Ligionier Ministries, My Cry Ascends, performing the beautiful compositions of time-honored Psalms and hymns by Greg Wilbur. It is Nathan’s desire to encourage the thoughtful and meaningful approach to corporate worship embodied on this new project, and he looks forward to introducing several of the selections in his upcoming concerts.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Missions on the Mind

From reading Scripture, it is clear that the Lord is very passionate about the nations and wants to be known among them. He's been stirring my heart to missions once again. We had a Missions Emphasis week at FCC Nov 7th through the 14th. At the Bible Study at work, November is 'Let the Nations be Glad!' month (Psalm 67:4-5). This stirring continued last night as we attended an International Student Festival at Park University. I will hit the highlights of each in the order they occurred.

Pastor Tim kicked off the FCC Missions Emphasis week in the 11/3 midweek service. He shared some amazing stats about how the nations are coming right to our doorstep like no other time in history. Our church is located mere miles from a Hindu Temple and a Muslim Mosque (unthinkable 10 years ago). There are 66 countries represented in the NE part of KC and 22,000 Muslims live north of the river. America is wasting her prosperity over the last few decades and is no longer the leading sender of missionaries (Korea now has that honor). The challenge was given from John 4:35, where Jesus said, "Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest." We were also challenged to pray about how we can, as families and as a church, partner in the Gospel (Phil 1:5)

Conrad Mbewe, the Spurgeon of Zambia Africa, visited FCC Sunday and gave a wonderful sermon from Galatians 3:10-14. He powerfully proclaimed that the world is under the curse of the Almighty God because of sin, and there is a great need for the reversal of that curse. Praise the Lord, the remedy is Jesus Christ! Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal 3:14)

The next day, I got to hear Conrad preach in an executive presentation room in the public corporation where I work! While speaking at a luncheon in KC, Conrad preached Christ from Ecclesiastes via video-conference to Sacramento, Boston, Toronto, and Montreal (over 100 employees heard a clear Gospel presentation)!

Rich Casebolt enjoys a conversation with Conrad after the luncheon.

On Wed, Nov 10th we heard fromMarty Zide in the mid-week service. Marty ministers at the Midwest Messianic Center in St Louis, to reach our Jewish neighbors there. He shared about evangelism, mostly concepts that are appropriate regardless of who you are sharing with: 1) Know the Gospel, 2) Listen, listen, listen! 3) Trust the power of the Gospel, 4) Use the Word of God, 5) Use Illustrations, and 6) Pray, pray, pray!

Rich Casebolt joined the Bible Study at my work on Nov 11th. It was a more intimate group than when Mbewe was there and more interactive. We talked about the Gospel and missions with a man who has faithfully served in Thailand for the last six years! Jason Dawson (UrbanReformation) a mutual friend of Rich and myself was also there. Without my knowledge he sneaked this creepy photo of me with his phone. Makes me laugh! His picture of Rich did not turn out well at all.

November 13th was the FCC Men's breakfast. It is a time I will never forget. We skyped in a call with Ken Heizer, our missionary to Italy. I enjoyed hearing his simple missions strategy of pouring his life into relationships with the Italians and living out the Gospel with his large family before these lost people.

That same morning, we also heard from a Wycliffe recruiter. Pat (I forget his last name) shared with us of the great need for completing the work of Bible translation. 2,000 languages are yet to have the Word of God translated (not even a verse) in their own language.

This picture puts things into perspective. I was surprised to learn about the number of roles/positions available through Wycliff (not just Biblical translator/scholar). Education and literacy advancement also goes hand in hand with Bible translation, for example.

The last speaker at the Men's Breakfast is a living legend: Frank Drown. As the men mulled into the auditorium and formed lines to get our food, I wondered who the older man was who was sitting down. Turns out it was 88-yr-old Frank Drown who only a couple of days earlier emerged from the hospital with a brand new pacemaker! I will never forget the challenge he gave to the men there. First of all he was very funny. He told of how it took him and his pregnant wife five days of walking in the mud to get to the village where they served as missionaries. "How many of you guys could do that? Bunch of wimps!" He was so engaging and had the undivided attention of all. Often his voice would falter as if he was about to cry. He was so joyful to be holding up a translation of the Bible in the native language of the Indian people in Equador that he had ministered to for thirty years! Later he shared that had recovered and buried the bodies of his friends, those who lost their lives at the hands of the Waodani people (Ecuador) in 1956 . You can read more about this experience here. Frank shared how he just completed a book about this and will be available soon.

Here is Frank's wife Marie, holding the Quichua Bible open to John 3. She shared with me an unexpected insight about John 3:14 (this Bible features a picture of the serpent on the pole) and the significance that the snake had in that culture. It was cursed and therefore this people group would appreciate how Jesus became a curse for sinners when he was lifted up on the tree.

I called Aimee after we were dismissed and was so overwhelmed I could hardly get out the words! The message is simple but powerful: What am I doing to make Christ known among the nations?

I will close with one more guest speaker at our BSG at work. Dr. Jeremy Farmer just happened to be passing through Kansas City during our mission month. So he agreed to come and share with us. Jeremy was a seminary professor at Northland International, teaching Biblical languages and Old Testament. But God has called him to move his family across the world to reach the Loatians in Cambodia! Get to know the Farmers on their website, SolidJoys. He shared a similar message to the one I heard from him at Countryside a year and half ago. He traced the theme of the Gospel from Creation to Christ. Wonderful testament to the unity of the Scriptures and a great way to avoid the familiarity of Jesus command in 'The Great Commission' in Matthew 28:18-20.


So how do I make sense of all this? Just a couple of thoughts.

  • God has a big picture of redeeming this fallen world. The remedy for the curse, left by Adam in the garden is salvation in Jesus Christ. He is calling a people to Himself from every tribe and tongue (Revelation 5:9). What about me? What am I doing to fulfill the Great Commission? As a believer, we are called to either go or send.
  • Second, not everyone is called to go overseas. We are to be faithful in the sphere of influence where God has placed us. But we need to keep God's grand design in mind. His Kingdom involves not just the nation of Israel, and not just Christians in America, but the Nations! The nations in many ways are coming to us. Am I being faithful in the opportunities that He has given me, with my time, my money, my prayer life?
My wife and I have the privileged of being 'friendship partners' with two Chinese students from Park. ISI is a great way to partner in the Gospel by showing love to international students!

We attended a ceremony Friday night that featured performances from Mexico, Mongolia, China, Thailand, and many others. It also featured a Flag Ceremony where representatives from over 60 nations paraded their country's flags. We need not look far to find people from across the globe that are right here in Kansas City. We need to pray about how to show love to them, and how we can get involved in their lives to gain a hearing for the Gospel.

"Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest." --John 4:35

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The case of the stolen camera

We recently found our lost digital camera. It was under Adriana's bed and was left on draining the batteries. The following seven pictures stored on it's SD card indicate who the perpetrator might have been.

Exhibit A - this is taken in our utility room. Note the height at which this was taken. Hard to imagine the one taking the picture is taller than two feet.

Exhibit B - Myles revealed this looked like his 'monster guy' (his 6-armed stuffed alien buddy)

Can you see the smile?

Exhibit C - this picture is not included because it is too gross. It is an inside view of kitty's bathroom

Exhibit D - not sure what this is but Myles pointed out some numbers in it.

Exhibit E & F - the most condemning evidence are these two pictures. No one else in the family has these little hands.

Exhibit G - hard to tell but you can see the carpet below through what appears to be fingers.

Can you tell who this mystery photographer is?
I can now write a blog by texting from my phone! WHO KNEW? Problem being: Why would I ever WANT to do a thing like that?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The week in pictures

Thought it was time to post some pictures of the eventful week.

We took a walk at the English Landing Park on Sunday. Gorgeous warm day in November! Aimee and Adriana joined us but elected not to appear in the pictures!

On Monday, Conrad Mbewe spoke at State Street for the Bible Study. His VISA situation working out was an answer to prayer, as was his stirring Christ-centered message from ... Ecclesiastes 1! Over a hundred employees in the US and Canada got to meet Conrad via video-conference.

Here he is chopping it up with Rich Casebolt about church-planting. Rich, having spent the last six years in Thailand, would later speak to the BSG on Thursday.

This week I received my John MacArthur ESV study Bible. If you are not on GTY's mailing list, you missed out! Sign up and you will get a monthly offer for a free CD or other resource. This generous ministry often gives copies of MacArthur's books!

Aimee started her once a week job at Mom's Day Out (daycare). Myles was excited to meet new friends and sport his new Spiderman lunchbox; pictured with his typical arsenal of gestures!

Not without it's challenges, the week also produced this new hairdo. While he came out acting as if nothing had happened we soon learned he had found the razor and played barber to the tune of a giant chunk out of his already short hair! Here is the mugshot.

Great week, though. A friend gave me the book Radical by David Platt and I can't wait to read it. Having heard some of the sermons it was based on, I look forward to reading this call to examine 'the American Dream' in light of Scripture and the radical demands of Christ.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Extra Biblical Literature on Halloween Candy

Here are some recently discovered writings on the proper dividing of the spoils for Halloween candy (posted on this blog). Certainly not inspired, but quite humorous (compare to Leviticus)...

From the Book of Davidicus

3 Of the spoils of your wandering, you shall devote a tenth of the firstfruits to your father. But take heed that you devote what has chocolate, so that he shall be pleased with what he receives.

4 Of the Reese's®, you shall devote them all, likewise the Snickers®. But take heed, lest you try to test your father and give him Skittles® instead of M&Ms®, and thereby incur his disfavor.

5 Of the Pixi Stix®, and the Sweet Tarts®, and the Kandy Korn®, you shall give him no part, for they are an abomination unto him. But of the Nestle Crunch® and Krackel®, you shall give him a portion, as a peace offering.

6 Lest you grumble because of the nuts in the flesh of your spoils, you may offer the bars that contain them unto your father. Mr. Goodbar® is favored, as are the Peanut M&Ms®. Almond Joy® hath nuts, Mounds® don't.

7 You shall reserve the choicest fruits: the special darks, and the truffles, for an offering to your mother, who bore you, who brought you to life. And it is under her rule as to when you are able to eat the remainder.

8 And on the day of cleansing, the last day, all the bags shall be opened, and I shall say unto you, "How on earth did we get so many Tootsie Rolls®?" And all that remains will be cast into the bin.

9 And if any acceptable offerings are found that have been left to rot, or get that white crusty stuff on the chocolate, I shall say to you, "How is it that you have hidden this from my eyes, and have not even eaten it?" And your father shall not be pleased with you.

HT: Joel

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wish I had a GAP Shirt, and Other Thoughts on Prayer

Not long ago, my wife and I met a lady (neighbor to some church friends). She wore a 'GAP shirt' with small print that read, "God Answers Prayer". I was amazed by the way she used the shirt as a conversation-starter, in order to witness for Christ! I wishI had that shirt right now, because I want to shout from the rooftops that my God answers prayer!

God has been teaching me to go to Him in prayer confidently (Heb 4:16) and expectantly. I see this both in His Word and in experience.

I have seen this in the Gospel of John, especially in Jesus words in chapters 14-16.
  • Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)
  • If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
  • You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16)
  • In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:23-24)
  • In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf (John 16:26) (bold mine)

Then in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes Himself perfectly clear:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)

We should go to God in prayer persistently, like the persistent widow in Luke 18.

God answers prayer! I also have seen this in my life on many occasions.

Not much time to write despite the day off, but let me just share that I am finding this to be true in my own life recently. Just today I am seeing specific prayers answered! I must confess the sin of prayerlessness; far too often I have prefered a book on prayer to prayer with the Living God! But, He is gracious and His Holy Spirit faithful to convict me on this. It is amazing that when we are humbled and corrected, we can be brought back into fellowship with the God of the Universe, then He gives us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4)!

God answers prayer!

Of course, I am not implying that God is a cosmic genie at our beckon call, or that if your prayers are not answered we are somehow lacking in faith. But we should ask ourselves like Francis Chan asks in this message, 'Do you know God? Are you known by Him? Does He answer your prayers?'

We also need to make sure our prayers are directed to the One True God, the One revealed in the Scripture. Jesus said that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). The One True God is not the Mormon god, or the god of Mohammed, or any other false god. He is the One who reveals Himself through Scripture. He is the One that answers my prayers! Wow, what a thought! A brother just shared this quote.

"The Alpha and Omega knows who you are and what you care about. That’s as famous as you’re ever going to be." -Jon Acuff

Finally, consider your motives. Are you praying selfishly? (James 4:1-8) Jesus says that we are to pray for the Father's name to be 'hallowed'(Matthew 6:9-15). That is, we are to pray for His name to be revered and lifted up as it is, three times holy! Are we praying for His will or are we just praying that we will find the nearest parking spot?

So start with God. Meditate on His majesty and holiness and Sovereignty. Then in humility ask for His will to be done in any given situation, and for Him to get glory for His Name! This morning I was brought low before the Triune God of the Scriptures. Within hours He powerfully answered my prayer! Will write more on the specifics of that request later, but just wanted to encourage the brethren to always go to Him and ask Him for your every need and for the needs of others, but mostly for His name to be exalted (Psalm 67)! It is inconsistent at best (blasphemous at worst) to claim the name of Christ, the one who created and sustains the Universe, and yet to disbelieve He will answer our prayers!

God Answers Prayer!

Francis Chan at the Desiring God 2010 Conference

Christian, take some time to check out this sermon! Watch it on this blog or go to DesiringGod to watch/listen/read ...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Run to Christ!

Some friends and family members have requested prayer for ailing loved ones. Please let me encourage you to run to Christ! This hymn is awesome; may it remind you to keep your eyes focused on Christ, the Eternal Giver of Life!

click here to listen

I Run to Christ
Text by Chris Anderson; Tune by Greg Habegger

I run to Christ when chased by fear
And find a refuge sure.
“Believe in me,” His voice I hear;
His words and wounds secure.

I run to Christ when torn by grief
And find abundant peace.
“I too had tears,” He gently speaks;
Thus joy and sorrow meet.


I run to Christ when worn by life
And find my soul refreshed.
“Come unto Me,” He calls through strife;
Fatigue gives way to rest.

I run to Christ when vexed by hell
And find a mighty arm.
“The Devil flees,” the Scriptures tell;
He roars, but cannot harm.


I run to Christ when stalked by sin
And find a sure escape.
“Deliver me,” I cry to Him;
Temptation yields to grace.

I run to Christ when plagued by shame
And find my one defense.
“I bore God’s wrath,” He pleads my case—
My Advocate and Friend.

Great hymn! By the way, Chris shared how this hymn is getting attention among the leadership at Chuck Swindoll's church! You can find the words and music to I Run to Christ and other great hymns at

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thief in the Night!

Two things are for certain: 1) Jesus WILL return, and 2) this movie is quite entertaining!

My pastor mentioned this movie from the pulpit, pointing out its enormous influence on evangelicalism and the way we view Revelation. He also said you can see it online and check out the cheesy acting and 'far out' outfits! So when Aimee had Sophia for the evening and Adriana was doing homework, I did what any good dad would do with his 4-yr-old and watched a movie about the end of the world.

We enjoyed the drama and the comedy (and awful singing) and had lots of discussion about what our new resurrected bodies will be like (force fields Myles, really?) He was pretty bummed that he can't take his 'monster guy' stuffed pillow with him to Heaven!

No matter what your view on end times (Christians disagree on the details/timing/sequence of the Second Coming, but agree that He will indeed return!), this is a helpful movie because we all need to examine our life view of eternity and we're all called to respond to the call to forsake our sin and give our life to Christ. I love the blood transfusion analogy (in the movie a guy gets bitten by a cobra--check it out!)

My pastor doesn't teach 'pre-tribulation rapture' so I can't endorse that view, but still, this is a fun movie to see and actually has a pretty good Gospel message! If you can get past the horrible short-shorts worn by shirtless MEN, you will be fine!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Read the New Testament before year end! New Excel Tool

Ever read through the New Testament? If not, or if it's been a while, ... it's now easier than ever! In fact, CCW has a reading plan that will take you through it in 90 days!

I thought it would be cool to put this 90-day plan in a spreadsheet (CLICK HERE) with the following features:
  • Input a start date and all dates auto-populate so you know what to read on what date
  • Check-boxes (for you 'box-checkers') so you know what passages you have read*.
Download this file (Microsoft Excel) today! If you get started by October 3rd you can have the New Testament read by the end of the year!

Soli Deo Gloria!

*Note: checked boxes are not meritorious toward salvation (i.e. Titus 3:5, Eph 2:8-9), however the Scripture is God's chosen instrument for revealing Himself to sinners (Rom 10:17) and causing growth in the believer (2 Tim 3:16)!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I am a hole-riddled, long sunk wooden boat ...

Tony Felich is my brother-in-law's pastor at RPC. Great stuff!

If the sea represents the righteous, just, and holy standard of God, I am a hole-riddled, long sunk wooden boat on the bottom. I never could float on this perfect sea, I was never sturdy enough to stay atop the waves for even a moment. From the time I have existed there was no other possibility for me but to sink under the weight of the water with my countless holes and gashes. There was never time for any water to be scooped out before sinking, my structural devastation was just too far reaching and catastrophic. The speed and immediacy of the engulfing water never gave opportunity to devise a plan for escape. In my condition, self-rescue from the crashing, crushing weight of sea was impossible.

Click here to read the whole thing. You will be glad you did!

Video - The Gospel Song

A friend shared this video on FB. It's amazing! Beautiful animations describing Christ's substitution for sinners.

HT: Jason

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What is the Bible About?

Great video featuring Tim Keller. Is the Bible a list of things God doesn't want us to do? I was stirred to worship Christ, who is written about in every page of the Bible.

HT: Erik

Friday, August 6, 2010

Free Mp3 CD from D.A. Carson - The God Who is There

Now you can learn about God from the smartest man of our time! All you pay is shipping to get the entire seminar on Mp3 for FREE! The following is from Monergism's website, about the offer ...

Description: With the generous permission of The Gospel Coalition, Monergism Books is giving away for free this incredible seminar by Don Carson.

From The Gospel Coalition blog: On February 20-21 and 27-28, 2009, Don Carson presented a 14-part seminar entitled “The God Who Is There” at Bethlehem Baptist Church’s North Campus in Minneapolis. This series will serve the church well because it simultaneously evangelizes non-Christians and edifies Christians by explaining the Bible’s storyline in a non-reductionistic way.

The series is geared toward “seekers” and articulates Christianity in a way that causes hearers either to reject or embrace the gospel. It’s one thing to know the Bible’s storyline, but it’s another to know one’s role in God’s ongoing story of redemption. “The God Who Is There” engages people at the worldview-level.


1. The God Who Made Everything
2. The God Who Does Not Wipe Out Rebels
3. The God Who Writes His Own Agreements
4. The God Who Legislates
5. The God Who Reigns
6. The God Who Is Unfathomably Wise
7. The God Who Becomes a Human Being
8. The God Who Grants New Birth
9. The God Who Loves
10. The God Who Dies—and Lives Again
11. The God Who Declares the Guilty Just
12. The God Who Gathers and Transforms His People
13. The God Who Is Very Angry
14. The God Who Triumphs

About the Speaker
D. A. Carson (PhD, University of Cambridge) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author or editor of more than forty books.
Click here to order!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Confession is not Propitiatory

Huh? Some might wonder what that means! This is the title of an article a friend sent me today. It basically means that merely saying you are sorry (even repenting) for an offense against God does not make everything better; it does not satisfy the required justice.

Had a discussion in Bible Study today about this very thing. The topic of the study was how God is our Judge. He has every right to be our judge as the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Someone mentioned how He forgives and that He's not all about Law. This is true, but I feel like I failed to clearly communicate that the only basis for His forgiveness of rebellious enemies of God (Rom 5:10) like us, is the Blood of Christ. This article, sent in God's perfect timing, explains perfectly what I was trying to spit out! It answers a question we should all have, and that is, 'What do we do with all our guilt?' It includes a great Spurgeon quote and a beautiful Christian song. Please read! Confesion is not Propitiatory

HT: Ryan

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Facinating facts about Spurgeon

I bet you didn't know some of these facts about Charles H. Spurgeon. Below are a from this article by Eric W. Hayden, a former pastor of Metropoliton Tabernacle, where Spurgeon preached for 38 years:

  • Charles Haddon Spurgeon is history's most widely read preacher (apart from the biblical ones). Today, there is available more material written by Spurgeon than by any other Christian author, living or dead.
  • One woman was converted through reading a single page of one of Spurgeon's sermons wrapped around some butter she had bought.
  • The New Park Street Pulpit and The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit—the collected sermons of Spurgeon during his ministry with that congregation—fill 63 volumes. The sermons' 20-25 million words are equivalent to the 27 volumes of the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The series stands as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.

Praise the Lord for powerfully gifted men like Charles Spurgeon! Read the rest of the article (click here) to learn how many times Spurgeon preached before the age of 20 (hint: if you guessed 500, think higher!) ... and many other interesting facts.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Free audio of Joni Eareckson Tada/PRAY for her!

Just wanted to share this offer to get a portion of Joni's new book on Pain and Suffering free!

Also, please continue to pray for Joni as as she is battling breast cancer and yet continuing her ministries. Remarkable lady!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Can you be a Christian and be free from persecution?

A friend sent this video with the disclaimer: "This will jack you up." Indeed it did.

Three Scriptures come to mind.
  • Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:11)
  • Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12)
  • Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:31-33, cf Matthew 10:16-33)
Ask yourself what I'm asking myself right now. Am I willing to be persecuted for being a follower of Christ? If I'm not being persecuted now, why not? Sure, we live in America, but there are subtle forms of persecution that make us silent (i.e. the religion of 'tolerance'). Certainly we should not seek persecution, but what is hindering me from living a godly life in Christ Jesus which will ultimately lead to persecution? Should I not be more fearful of my Father in heaven than to be looked at sideways by someone who is offended by the Cross of Christ?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How important is the local church?

Our culture doesn't put a high premium on the local church. Many people look at church as something you 'do' or 'go to' on Sundays. But if you read the New Testament the emphasis is much more pronounced. This article by David Doran clearly and powerfully demonstrates the Biblical necessity for a Christian to be plugged into a healthy local church.

In fact, he goes as far to say that service done in and through the local church is a believer's primary responsibility.

Although we live in a day that focuses almost exclusively on the believer’s personal relationship with God, we cannot forget that every genuine believer has been saved and placed into the Body of Christ. It may seem radical, but I would like to suggest that service to God in the local assembly is every believer’s primary obligation in life.
Parents, consider that you can't raise your children the way God intends apart from the local church (Eph 6:4). In fact, the good works we are called to do (Eph 2:10), our marriage, our parenting, careers, indeed all of the aspects of our life are to be reflections of the importance we place in the local church. Doran says this much better:

Marriage and family are temporal concerns that should not supplant our devotion to Christ (including our service for Him). God does not keep this planet spinning for the advancement of our careers, pursuit of our life goals, or the enjoyment of our families. The world continues on because the mission of Jesus Christ has not yet been fulfilled, and that means the mission should be our supreme concern. All of these other things are good gifts from the Lord for our enjoyment and a means by which we may glorify Him, but when they become the supreme concerns of our life they can become idolatries. (emphasis mine)

Please check out this short article. It is well written and clearly communicates Biblical truth.

Is Purgatory a Biblical Doctrine? Part 3

Scripture Against Purgatory

Having defined Purgatory, and examined the Scriptures used by Roman Catholicism to justify a belief in Purgatory, we now turn to consider the Biblical evidence against it. There are primarily three arguments used by the Reformers to clearly demonstrate that purgatory is not only absent from Scripture, but is contradictory to it.

1) Only two soul-states are given in Scripture (Heaven/Hell)

Consider this quote: “The Bible always describes the state of the dead in terms of two conditions not three. The Bible knows of heaven and hell, the place of the righteous and of the wicked after death, bliss and torment, but of no third place. In the Lord's parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus in Luke 16, again the beggar is in paradise and the rich man in torment. This is the alternative. If there is a third it is astonishing that the Bible never says anything about it.”

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'

"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' (Luke 16:19-31)

2) Death is described anticipated in glorious good news, not a passageway into suffering and torment.

Scripture clearly teaches that when the believer dies, they are in the immediate presence of Christ. “The apostle Paul said, ‘I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better’ (Philippians 1:23). Paul is saying that the very moment after physical death occurs, he will be with Christ. … Moreover, for believers ‘to be absent from the body’ is to be ‘at home with the Lord. (2 Cor 5:6-8) (Rhodes, p 239)”

“The Bible often openly and emphatically asserts the glorification of the Christian's soul at the moment of death. (Phil 1:23, 2 Tim 4:7,8; 1 Cor 15:55) Could Paul possibly have meant that Christ has removed the sting of death, but that death ushers the believer into perhaps centuries of suffering for his sin? (Rayburn)”

Consider also this line of reasoning by Ron Rhodes (p 237)

“Consider what Roman Catholics are saying in regard to the doctrine of purgatory. Let’s say you are a good-hearted Catholic, and you do all the things required of your Church throughout life. You regularly attend Mass, you work hard to maintain sanctifying grace in your soul by being faithful, and you confess your sins to a priest when you do wrong. You are always careful to participate in the sacrament of penance after committing what you think may be a mortal sin. … You do all this and more, in keeping with what your Church tells you. When you die, you will likely still have to go to purgatory before being granted entrance into heaven. Throughout someone’s lifetime he or she could attend over a thousand Masses and still die not fully purified from sin. Protestants respond that this hardly seems like the “good news” of the gospel (Ephesians 2:8,9).

So we have seen that the Scriptures describe two places in the afterlife, heaven and hell. We have seen that in the Bible, death for the believer is described as a glorious passageway into the presence of Jesus, not a portal to suffering. But most importantly, this belief that we can suffer to pay for our own sins in this life or in purgatory, is an affront to the Gospel of the blood of Christ, which is sufficient to cleanse us from our sin.

3) Purgatory is a rejection of the sufficiency of Christ’s complete and perfect work on the Cross for our sins.

From a scriptural perspective, when Jesus died on the cross He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus completed the work of redemption at the cross. No purgatory is needed for those who trust in Christ. In His high priestly prayer to the Father, Jesus said, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4 NIV, emphasis added). First John 1:7 (NIV) says, “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (emphasis added). Romans 8:1 (NIV) says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (emphasis added).

We are cleansed not by some alleged fire of purgatory but by the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:14). Jesus “Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2). It is through Jesus’ work on the cross that we are made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). The apostle Paul spoke of this life as “not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:7-9). It is through this wonderful work of Christ on the cross that believers are “blameless,” and hence are in no need of some alleged purgatory (Jude 1:24; see also Ephesians 1:4).

Rhodes then points to a key verse to share with Roman Catholics who argue for purgatory.

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)

“In other words, no further purging is necessary because Christ has perfected ‘for all time’ those who have believed in Him. That which is already perfect ‘for all time’ needs no further purging. There is no need for purgatory for those who have truly trusted in Christ as Savior. (Rhodes, 239)”

Our sins are cleansed in the blood of Christ at the moment He died for us, absorbing the Father’s wrath on our behalf. As the Reformers point out, “The notion that we must satisfy for our sins by paying the price for them, enduring punishment for them, was an insult to the perfection of the redemption of Christ, of his sufferings for our sins, and assumed the fundamentally erroneous notion that we could pay for our sins -- even their temporal penalties -- if we had to.” Rayburn continues, “It is crucial to the entire biblical teaching of salvation and of Christ's redeeming work to understand that for the man or woman who is in Christ by faith, "there is, therefore, now no condemnation." As the author of Hebrews puts it in 1:3, "After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the Right Hand of the Majesty in heaven!" The work was finished. Or, as the same author has it later, "Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." [Heb 10:13-14]

As the Scripture says it in a hundred different ways, we are healed by his stripes, not ours; the chastisement of our sin fell on him, not us. There is no sense in which the afflictions of believers, in this life, "pay" for their sins in the sense that they remove the guilt or penalty of those sins. They are only chastisements by which we are taught to love and fear God. They are discipline not satisfaction. They have no virtue to remove guilt or to remit penalty. Christ alone, the infinite and infinitely perfect sacrifice, can do that!

This is not just a doctrine where the Protestants disagree with Roman Catholics. It hits at the very center of the Gospel. As Sauer puts it, “purgatory must lead men away from God because it leads men away from the cross.”

We must put our complete and total trust in the Perfect Work of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only basis for our entrance into Heaven. Purgatory does not exist. If it did, the Holy Spirit would have been sure to include it in the Scriptures.

We have seen how the few Scriptures that are used in support of purgatory do not hold up in light of Scripture as a whole. We have seen also, that there are many passages which contradict the concept of Purgatory (Romans 8:1, Hebrews 10:13-14, Hebrews 1:3). Finally, we have seen that the idea of Scripture denies the sufficiency of the Perfect, once for all cleansing from sin that Christ’s death on the Cross brings to the believer. Please listen to this plea by Joe Mizzi.

Perhaps up till now you have hoped to go to a place of suffering to undergo cleansing from sin. The opportunity to experience purification and complete forgiveness is now, while you are still living. God is compassionate and He really forgives and cancels the debt of all those who turn to Him by faith. Look to Jesus the Deliverer, whose death on Calvary is a full and adequate payment for the sins of His people. His blood was not shed in vain; it actually purifies the soul from all defilement. Do you believe in purgatory? I hope you will affirm, 'Yes, I believe in God's purgatory. My purgatory is the Lord Jesus Christ!"

I close with the words of the great hymn, Jesus Paid it All:

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Isaiah 1:18

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)”

-Rev. Dr. Robert S. Rayburn, Roman Catholicism: Purgatory (Sermon preached at Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) on March 15, 1998
-Dr Joe Mizzi; Purgatory

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What is this 'little faith' business?

The good doctor sets us straight on what Christ means in Matthew 6:30 by 'O you of little faith'. Man, this was helpful to me:

What then is this condition which is described by our Lord as being 'little faith'? ... We can say ... in general that it is one which is confined to one sphere of life only. It is faith that is confined solely to the question of the salvation of our souls, and it does not go beyond that. It does not extend to the whole of life and to everything in life. This is a common complaint among us as Christian people. On the question of the salvation of our souls we are perfectly clear ... We have seen ... that the only way of deliverance is in the Lord Jesus Christ ... And we believe on Him, and have that saving faith with regard to the present and to all eternity. That is saving faith, the thing that makes us Christians, and without which we are not Christian at all. Yes; but Christian people often stop at that, and they seem to think that faith is something that applies only to that question of salvation. The result is, of course, that in their daily lives they are often defeated; in their ordinary lives there is very little difference to be seen between them and people who are not Christian. They become worried and anxious, and they conform to the world in so many respects. Their faith is something that is reserved only for their ultimate salvation, and they do not seem to have any faith with regard to the everyday affairs of life and living in this world. Our Lord is concerned about that very thing. These people have come to know God as their heavenly Father, and yet they are worried about food and drink and clothing. Their faith is confined; it is a little faith in that way; its scope is so curtailed and

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, ii, p. 127

On a side note, I am thrilled to have found MLJ's Sermon on the Mount at a Book Sale over the weekend at our church. What a blessing! An 'antique-roadshow-esque' bargain at $2! I don't expect to sell it at auction, but the spiritual treasure is incalculable!

Is Purgatory a Biblical Doctrine? Part 2

Today we consider our look at the Roman Catholic (RC) doctrine of Purgatory, and whether it is a Scriptural concept. We will consider a few of the main texts used to establish the text as Scriptural.

Matthew 12:31-32

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31-32 ESV, emphasis mine)

The Catholic Church focuses in on this last phrase, “either in this age or in the age to come” as evidence for the case for purgatory. “Roman Catholics sometimes reason that if certain sins like blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven in the 'age to come,' then other sins may be forgiven in the 'age to come.' The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (Rhodes, 247-8)"

I was happy to hear this verse came up in our discussion, because there is a rather simple response. Rhodes summarizes:

When this text says that the sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this age or the age to come, this is simply a Jewish idiomatic way of saying that the sin will never be forgiven. This becomes clear in the parallel account in Mark 3:29: “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (emphasis added). Hence, there is no support for the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory to be found in these verses. (Rhodes, 248)

James White adds, “Jesus is not, then, referring to the possibility of cleansing in the future, but is instead speaking of an "eternal sin," one that has no forgiveness whatsoever. If the Roman interpretation of Matthew 12 is valid, *then Mark's rendition is not.* Obviously, this cannot be, hence, it is the Roman interpretation that must be rejected. (White, Online Debate).”

Luke 12:59

I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.

This same concept is also found in the parallel passage in Matthew 5:26. “Some Roman Catholic theologians such as Ludwig Ott believe this parable lends support to the doctrine of purgatory, teaching a “time-limited condition of punishment in the other world.”

Rhodes’ response is given here (p 249-50): “The Roman Catholic interpretation is completely foreign to the context. That Jesus is referring to a physical prison during earthly life and not a spiritual prison in the afterlife is clear from the previous verse: “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison” (Matthew 5:25) Jesus is simply giving a practical teaching about reconciliation of human conflicts and the avoidance of situations that naturally lead to anger and personal injury (see Matthew 5:21-26).”

So this passage is referring to a physical prison, not a spiritual one after death. Not only that, but the idea of a prison-like purgatory, Rhodes points out, is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture that Christ on the cross paid for all the consequences of our sins. We will see many passages in the next section.

For now, let us look at the next verse used in support of the RC idea of purgatory.

Revelation 21:27

But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

RCs interpret this as supporting the doctrine of purgatory, for “only completely pure souls [can] be assumed into Heaven (Apoc. 21:27).” (Rhodes, 252)

We see again that purgatory is being read into the passage when it is not there. “It is true that “nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into” God’s kingdom, but that does not thereby mean that purgatory is the instrument through which people become purged of uncleanness. … our cleansing and purging from sin is based entirely on the finished work of Christ (1 John 1:7, Rom 8:1). (Rhodes, p 252)

1 Cor 3:10-15

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Ludwig Ott tells us that the Latin fathers took 1 Corinthians 3:15 “To mean a transient purification punishment in the other world” Vatican II described purgatory as a place where the souls of the dead make expiation “in the next life through fire and torments or purifying punishments.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes purgatory as a place of “cleansing fire.” (Rhodes, 244)

James White offers this excellent resource on the passage we’re now considering. In it, he gives a thorough exegesis of the passage. Then he gives several reasons why it cannot be used in support of purgatory. Finally, he responds to the misuse of the passage by many leading RC apologists, especially Robert Sungenis. Here is the section listing the arguments against purgatory in 1 Corinthians 3.

First, the passage is about Christian workers, not all the Christian faithful.

Next, the passage says nothing about the purification of individuals. Works are tested in this passage. Rome teaches souls are purified from the temporal punishment of sins by suffering satispassio in purgatory: but there is nothing about temporal punishments, satispassio, or suffering of individuals for their sins, in this passage. All these are extraneous to the text itself.

Further, the insertion of the Roman concepts into the passage turns it on its head. Remember, those with works of gold, silver, and precious stones (i.e., Christian workers who had godly motivations) appear in this passage: their works are subject to the same testing as the others. If this “fire” is relevant to purgatory, then are we to assume that even those with godly motives “suffer”? Are there no saints involved in building upon the foundation?

But most telling is this: the fire of which Paul speaks reveals. It does not purge. If this were the fire of Rome's purgatory, it would not simply demonstrate that gold is, in fact, gold, or hay is truly hay. The sufferings of purgatory are supposed to sanctify and change a person’s soul, enabling them to enter into the very presence of God! If this passage supported Rome's position, it would speak of purifying the gold, making it more pure, spotless, precious, and ready for God's presence. It would speak of the fire removing wood or other "impurities" from a person's soul, not simply telling us that the works a Christian minister did were or were not done with God's sole glory in mind. But the text speaks of a revelation of the quality of a man's work, which is wholly incompatible with Rome's use of the passage.

Modern Roman Catholics have started to move away from the term “fire” (though this was, inarguably, what attracted the attention of Rome to the passage in the first place), and seek to focus more upon the suffering of a loss, so that only the second group is seen as being relevant to purgatory. Of course, this is made possible by the constant repetition of the assertion, “Rome has never officially declared the meaning of this passage, nor that there is fire in purgatory, nor that purgatory is a place, nor that we experience time in purgatory...” etc and etc. The fact that one can go into history and determine with great clarity what was taught and believed only a few centuries ago does not seem to matter.

Finally, it should be noted that in Roman Catholic theology, a person sent to purgatory has already been judged to be in need of further purging (sanctification) before entering into the presence of God. Yet, there is no mention of such a judgment here; in fact, most RC interpretations see this as the judgment itself. (White, 1Cor3)

There are several other obscure passages (i.e. 2 Tim 1:18, Col 1:24) used in defense of purgatory, however most are again ‘read into’ the passage as we have seen, so no space will be given for them here. We will instead turn to the passages which contradict the idea of suffering in a transitional state so that a ‘saved’ child of God can be purged of sin before being accepted into Heaven.

Tomorrow we will turn the to the Scriptures which contradict the idea of Purgatory.

-White, James; An online debate
-White, James; 1 Cor 3:10-15: Exegesis and Rebuttal of Roman Catholic Misuse

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is Purgatory a Biblical Doctrine? Part 1

I have several Catholic friends. They’re good peeps. In fact, I’ve never met a truly devout Catholic who was not sincere and zealous for good works, to my own shame. I share many beliefs with my Catholic friends; things I get excited about like the deity of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, and a belief in the bodily return of Christ and the Resurrection to name a few.

I owe this post to a Catholic friend, who agreed to meet and consider some doctrines of Catholicism in light of Scripture. We begin this journey to simply answer the question, “What do the Scriptures say?”

I don’t remember why ‘purgatory’ was the first topic chosen but it is, to me, a good start because a) I feel purgatory is a doctrine grossly lacking in Scriptural evidence, and b) it clearly demonstrates the divide between Roman Catholic (RC) teaching and the Gospel of faith alone.

Introduction/Roman Catholic position on Purgatory

To begin, let us describe what we mean by Purgatory. According to RC teaching:

Purgatory may be defined as “a place or state in which are detained the souls of those who die in grace, in friendship with God, but with the blemish of venial sin or with temporal debt for sin unpaid. Here the soul is purged, cleansed, readied for eternal union with God in Heaven.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” The Roman Catholic teaching on purgatory was pronounced as Church dogma in A.D. 1438. (Rhodes, 233)

So to summarize, purgatory is a temporary hell for “saved” Christians who die while they still have not worked off the ‘temporal punishment’ for sins committed after baptism, so that one can enter heaven (sins can be forgiven through penance but still require temporal punishment). My friend told me that ‘very righteous’ people can forgo purgatory; people like saints. Purgatory brings my friend comfort because if she were to die before she had a chance to go to confession for a given mortal sin, this offers hope that she can pay for this sin through purgatory and not be eternally lost. I see no hope in suffering centuries of suffering in hell after the many pains and suffering here on earth. Even worse, this is a denial of the sufficiency of the Cross of Christ, (more on that later).

First, let us consider the Scripture used by the RC church to defend this doctrine. Then we will look at Scriptures that contradict the view.

Scripture in support of Purgatory

There is no clear Scripture supporting the view of Purgatory. Catholic apologists lean to tradition, not Scripture, in defense of the concept of purgatory, because Biblical evidence is lacking. Consider the Catholic Encyclopedia:
"In the final analysis the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is based on tradition not Sacred Scripture." (Sauer)
As Dr Rayburn, who preached a sermon on purgatory at Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) on March 15, 1998 adds:
Roman Catholic writers have tried to argue for purgatory from a few biblical texts, but those arguments are contrived and even they put little weight on them. The fact is, the entire doctrine is without biblical warrant. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray and what to pray for, he mentioned nothing about prayer for the dead. He said nothing, nor did the prophets and apostles about purgatory, about indulgences, or about the church's authority to remit punishments being suffered by the righteous dead in purgatory. All of this is completely lacking from the Bible and that, surely, is important. For these are not small matters to have been omitted from Holy Scripture. (Rayburn)

Nevertheless, tomorrow we will examine some of the main texts used in favor of a view of purgatory: Matthew 12:31-32, Luke 12:59, Revelation 21:27, and 1 Cor 3:10-15. Go to these passages and look them up along with their contexts. See if you ‘see’ purgatory in them. We will examine them in detail tomorrow.

Below are some of the sources I will use in putting this argument together. Disclaimer: I don't claim this as a scholarly work. I only have one book on the topic besides the Bible, though I have found some helpful sources online (sources below). I trust this look at the Scripture will be profitable nonetheless.

-Rev. Dr. Robert S. Rayburn, Roman Catholicism: Purgatory (Sermon preached at Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) on March 15, 1998
-Rhodes, Ron; Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics
Sauer, James; Purging a Problem

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Is America God's Chosen Covenant Nation?

Nothing very profound this morning. Was just reading Jeremiah and thinking about how many people look at America as God's chosen covenant nation and apply many of the passages meant for Israel to the United States (i.e. 2 Chron 7:14).

These lines are to me striking. If God judged His own covenant people of Israel, how much more will He severely judge America, that has so much sin!

“How can I pardon you?
Your children have forsaken me
and have sworn by those who are no gods.
When I fed them to the full,
they committed adultery
and trooped to the houses of whores.
8 They were well-fed, lusty stallions,
each neighing for his neighbor's wife.
9 Shall I not punish them for these things?
declares the Lord;
and shall I not avenge myself
on a nation such as this?
Jeremiah 5:7-9

They do not say in their hearts,
‘Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives the rain in its season,
the autumn rain and the spring rain,
and keeps for us
the weeks appointed for the harvest.’
25 Your iniquities have turned these away,
and your sins have kept good from you.
26 For wicked men are found among my people;
they lurk like fowlers lying in wait.
They set a trap;
they catch men.
27 Like a cage full of birds,
their houses are full of deceit;
therefore they have become great and rich;
28 they have grown fat and sleek.
They know no bounds in deeds of evil;
they judge not with justice
the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper,
and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
29 Shall I not punish them for these things?
declares the Lord,
and shall I not avenge myself
on a nation such as this?”
Jer 5:24-29

America is not God's covenant people. Certainly there are a few that He has chosen out of Her, but we cannot expect the blessing of God because some of our founders were God fearing men (though many were deists and Universalists). Tim Juhnke preached a helpful message on this topic, and John MacArthur of course has written 'Can God Bless America?'

The point of this is that we should not set our hope in America, but in Christ who alone can save us from the thing that is most fearful: the wrath of God against sin. God's chosen nation is His church (1 Peter 2:9).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Download A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God audiobook for free!

I am downloading the audiobook of A.W. Tozer's Pursuing God, free in July from ChristianAudio. Click here for details. If you want to skim the book before downloading, you can read it online here.

Here is a quote to spark your interest:

How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of 'accepting' Christ . . . and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him. This is set before us as the last word in orthodoxy, and it is taken for granted that no Bible-taught Christian ever believed otherwise. Thus the whole testimony of the worshiping, seeking, singing church on that subject is crisply set aside. The experiential heart-theology of a grand army of fragrant saints is rejected in favor of a smug interpretation of Scripture which would certainly have sounded strange to an Augustine, a Rutherford or a Brainerd. (pp. 16-17)

I have heard Tozer quoted countless times so I look forward to hearing this classic.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Completely Done song by Sovereign Grace

he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
(Ephesians 1:5 ESV)

I'm working on a post about the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory; hope to post here soon. In the meantime here is a song that has taken on increasing significance as I have studied Scripture that tells of the perfect, once for all, complete sacrifice of Christ. One that does not not require our effort in purging ourselves of sin in this life or in an intermediate state of torment after death.

Enjoy the video here complete with lyrics, which I will also post below. If that is not enough, Sovereign Grace makes the song available for a free download here.

What reason have I to doubt
Why would I dwell in fear
When all I have known is grace
My future in Christ is clear

My sins have been paid in full
There’s no condemnation here
I live in the good of this
My Father has brought me near
I’m leaving my fears behind me now

The old is gone, the new has come
What You complete is completely done
We’re heirs with Christ, the victory won
What You complete is completely done

I don’t know what lies ahead
What if I fail again
You are my confidence
You’ll keep me to the end
I’m leaving my fears behind me now
from Sovereign Grace Worship

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Humanist Religion and the Origin of Life

This entire article is great, but please consider MacArthur's words here:

When I encounter people who think evolutionary doctrine trumps the biblical account of creation, I like to ask them where their belief in the Bible kicks in. Is it in chapter 3, where the fall of Adam and original sin are accounted for? In chapters 4-5, where early human history is chronicled? In chapters 6-8, with the record of the flood? In chapter 11, with the Tower of Babel? Because if you bring naturalism and its presuppositions to the early chapters of Genesis, it is just a short step to denying all the miracles of Scripture—including the resurrection of Christ. If we want to make science the test of biblical truth rather than vice versa, why would it not make just as much sense to question the biblical record of the resurrection as it does to reject the Genesis account? But "if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! . . . If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable" (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

Monday, June 21, 2010

God provides salvation

This morning, I am once again amazed at the unity of Scripture: God has provided a way of salvation to a people He has chosen in His mercy and grace. We all are guilty of His divine wrath, which will one day be poured out in a terrible display of cosmos-shaking destruction. But the passages I am looking at this morning shout the glorious praises of the One who provides shelter from His wrath.

King David, who lived one thousand years before Christ, looked forward to the Gate of Righteousness:

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:19-24)

How would a holy and just God overlook our sin and forgive us while still remaining just and righteous? Three centuries later, the prophet Isaiah looked forward to the Suffering Servant, who would be crushed on our behalf.

Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.
53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Isa 52:13-53:12

So when David said, "Open to me the gates of righteousness, ... This is the gate of the Lord" he was referring to Jesus Christ, who said of Himself:

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 10:9, 14:6)

Another passage I read was in the very last book of the Bible, Revelation 22:14:

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

How are these robes washed? Pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps? Self-improvement? Impossible.

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil. (Jeremiah 13:23)

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

We are cleansed only by the blood of the Lamb, who was slain! As the opening verses of Revelation proclaim, "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood. (Rev 1:5)

Finally, the first chapter of Matthew announces His coming to Joseph, and the angel instructs him:

"You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)”

As we heard about in a sobering 'Father's Day Message' the Universe will one day be utterly destroyed (not by global warming or a nuclear holocaust). In an absolute dissolution, de-creation, the cosmos will shake as the Day of the Lord comes crashing out of Heaven. Read Matthew 24:29-31 and Revelation 6:12-17.

Do you know the One who alone can protect against this day of Judgment? Repent and believe the Gospel!

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike