Here's today's sermon on the Ascension (texts -- Acts 1:1-11 and Daniel 7:9-14)
Living in Light of Two Ages
From the recent discussion going on over at Augsburg 1530, it sure doesn't look like the LCMS will be bringing back Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz. In fact, the replacement LCMS/KFUO host has been talking about a sermon series on sex (given during Lent). Boggles the mind.
Lets hope Todd and Jeff reappear soon with a listener-sponsored program which is no longer beholden to the LCMS/ABlaze folk. To read all about it, Click here: Augsburg1530
Be forewarned, the "Evangelical Manifesto" is coming next week. According to a news release, "the declaration, scheduled to be released Wednesday in Washington, encourages Christians to be politically engaged and uphold teachings such as traditional marriage. But the drafters say evangelicals have often expressed `truth without love,' helping create a backlash against religion during a `generation of culture warring.' `All too often we have attacked the evils and injustices of others,' they wrote, `while we have condoned our own sins.' They argue, `we must reform our own behavior.'" We'll see who signs it, and whether or not it is clear about the two kingdoms. I won't get my hopes up. Click here: 'Evangelical Manifesto' Ponders Politics - AOL News
Here's a great review of Rev. Danny Hyde's latest book on the Belgic Confession, With Heart and Mouth. Click here: With Heart and Mouth « Green Baggins
The URCNA finally has its own website. Not much to look at, but sure better than nothing! Click here: URCNA.ORG
Finally, the proprietor of this blog has been known to enjoy a good beer on occasion. That is why I appreciate lists such as the one which can be found here. Nothing better than a good beer. Nothing worse than a bad one. Click here: The world's 10 most disgusting beers - St. Petersburg Times
Everybody panic! There's a blood moon a-coming! Must mean that Jesus is coming back in 2015. That year solar and lunar eclipses will occur about the same time, near the fall Jewish feast days. That will keep all the prophecy pundits busy. Click here: Blood moon eclipses: 2nd Coming in 2015?
Here is a very helpful (and rather long) list of biblical passages which fly in the face of dispensationalism. Thanks to Monergism for posting this. Too bad the list is not taken from the ESV--its KJV! Nevetheless, this is great to give to someone re-thinking their eschatology. Click here: DISPENSATIONALISM – CATEGORIZED SCRIPTURE LIST
National Geographic recently published a very nice pictorial book on Bible history--apparently, it is quite beautiful. Too bad they got Genesis 22 wrong. I didn't know that Eid al-Adha is a "biblical holiday." You know . . . the day when Abraham sacrificed Ishamael on Mount Moriah. Have to add that one to the church calendar. Click here: The Washington Times, America's Newspaper
No surprise that Muslim converts to Christianity face great pressure and are often persecuted--even in the UK. Usually, they are not persecuted by the police called to protect them. But in this case it was the police who called the ex-Muslim a "crusader" and then ordered him to stop calling them. Meanwhile, the vacant house next door burned down. Now the UN is involved. Oh, that will fix everything! Click here: British Muslim 'bullied' for converting to Christianity -Times Online
Ken Samples continues his Academy series entitled: "A Little Lower than the Angels: The Christian View of Man." Ken's lecture will be entitled, "The Enigma of Man."
The Academy is held @ Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, the lecture is free of charge, and begins @ 7:30 PM. For more information, Click here: Christ Reformed Info - The Latest News
Synod rejects the error of those . . .
III Who teach that God's good pleasure and purpose, which Scripture mentions in its teaching of election, does not involve God's choosing certain particular people rather than others, but involves God's choosing, out of all possible conditions (including the works of the law) or out of the whole order of things, the intrinsically unworthy act of faith, as well as the imperfect obedience of faith, to be a condition of salvation; and it involves his graciously wishing to count this as perfect obedience and to look upon it as worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For by this pernicious error the good pleasure of God and the merit of Christ are robbed of their effectiveness and people are drawn away, by unprofitable inquiries, from the truth of undeserved justification and from the simplicity of the Scriptures. It also gives the lie to these words of the apostle: God called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of works, but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Tim. 1:9).
This particular Arminian error may be the most pernicious, since it appears to come close to the truth, but nevertheless bases the ground of our salvation upon an act of the creature, not in the decree of God and the merits of Christ. This argument is often presented by more capable Arminian theologians.
In this instance, the Synod Dort rejects the error of those who argue that God determines the way of salvation (faith in Christ, not good works), but who at the same time also argue that God’s purpose does not involve the individuals themselves who are to be saved. In other words, God’s purpose in election is to limited to determining how people are to be saved, not who will be saved. To put the matter yet another way, God chooses a method of salvation, not the individuals he will save.
In the particular error being rejected by the synod, God is said to regard the act of believing (faith) as the ground for the imputation of righteousness to those who believe. This is frequently associated with consistent Arminianism and the governmental theory of the atonement, found in writers such as John Miley. As set forth by the Arminians, the act of faith is itself regarded as righteousness by God, because God has decreed to regard faith as though it were righteousness. Those who hold this view reject the notion that it is the alien righteousness of Christ (the ground of our justification) which is imputed to the believer, through the instrument of faith.
This formulation enables the Arminians to use the language of “justification by faith," as well as the term “imputation.” But these terms have been re-defined so that they mean something radically different from what is taught by the Reformed and Lutheran confessions.
The primary error involved is that the ground of salvation is now located in the action of the creature. The sinner is said to able to exercise his or her free will to embrace the gracious plan of salvation God has chosen. The sinner is able to trust in Christ alone (their faith is regarded as justifying righteousness), and willingly rejects the sinful attempt to earn heaven through good works. Notice, however, that although orthodox language is used throughout, when push comes to shove, the fundamental Arminian assumption remains–namely, that fallen men and women are saved because of something they do (exercise faith), and not because of something God does (elect specific individuals whom he chooses to save, who are unable to exercise faith, and who are "dead in sin").
A variant of the Arminian position can be seen in throughout contemporary American evangelicalism whenever it is argued that God has done everything possible to provide for your salvation by sending Christ to die for your sins. But unless you “appropriate” the death of Christ, and unless and until you make Jesus your “personal-Lord-and-Savior,” the death of Christ is of no avail. As Moody famously put it, God has voted for you, Satan has voted against you, so it is your vote that determines where you will spend an eternity!
Sadly, such a view reflects American egalitarian culture and democratic optimism, but completely undermines the biblical doctrine of grace alone (sola gratia). Ironically, those holding this view can boldly affirm sola fide, (since we are justified by faith alone), and yet at the same time must reject sola gratia, (since God’s action is always in response to what the creatures does with his or her own free will). In this sense grace is strictly potential and available, but is not an effectual and saving act on God’s part.
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away.
666 and the Mark of the Beast
If you are a futurist and believe that the beast of Revelation 13 is not connected to the Roman Empire of the first century and remains yet to be revealed at the end of the age (i.e., during the seven-year tribulation period, as dispensationalists teach), then you will not look at the mark of the beast through the lens of the New Testament and the historical situation when John was given his vision. Instead, you will understand this mysterious mark as something still hidden in the future. And given the breakneck pace of the advance being made in all forms of technology, it is only natural that futurists would see John’s reference to the mark of the beast as somehow connected to the technological advantage by which the beast and false prophet will enslave the inhabitants of the world and deceive them into worshiping the Antichrist.
As futurists see it, when John speaks of the mark of the beast, he’s essentially predicting that some future form of technology will be utilized by Antichrist to dominate and control the world’s population. According to Peter and Paul Lalonde, “The Bible says that the mark of the beast and its accompanying technology will be installed by the antichrist–not as an end in itself, but as a means of managing the new world order that is even now being created” (Peter LaLonde and Paul LaLonde, Racing Toward the Mark of the Beast, Harvest House Publishers, 1994, 148).
The futurist approach to Revelation is misguided because it pushes off into the distant future what was already a serious threat to Christians in the first century (emperor worship), by ignoring the historical context for the visions of Revelation 13 and 17. Instead, John’s comments about the mark of the beast should be seen against the backdrop of the imperial cult and the worship of the Roman emperor. The emperor’s blasphemous image was everywhere in John’s world (Asia Minor), from coins to statues identifying various emperors as deities in most major cities ( cf. S. R. F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor, Cambridge University Press, 1984). John’s reference to the mark being placed upon the back of the hand or the forehead makes perfect sense in light of the wide-spread first century practice of branding or tattooing slaves–a mark of shame and subjugation (Caird, The Revelation of St. John, 173).
To read the rest of this article, Click here: Riddleblog - The Mark of the Beast
Rev. Danny Hyde (pastor of the Oceanside URC) has written a very helpful essay on Christ's descent into hell. Rev. Hyde covers biblical-theological and historical issues.
Highly recommended! Click here: http://www.cpjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/hyde.pdf
My list of "The Best of the Christian Classics" would probably not include stuff written by "Uncle Bud," "Anonymous," Arthur Zepp, and William E. Blackstone (who makes the list because he's described as the "Hal Lindsey of the 1800s"). Yes, Edwards and Whitefield also make the list, but for all the wrong reasons. Click here: Best of the Christian Classics
Here's an interesting admission. PETA has euthanized nearly 85% of the animals it has "rescued" since 1998. I thought animals had "rights." Click here: PETA and Euthanasia | Newsweek Newsweek: Management | Newsweek.com
So, the dreaded T-REX tasted like chicken. For all of its ferocity and many teeth, Tyrannosaurus was actually a big chicken. No, not that kind of chicken. Genetic research has now shown the dreaded beast (and far and away the biggest plastic dinosaur of my youth) is closely related to the "little red hen" kind of chicken. The wimpy front legs (arms?, wings?) should have given it away sooner. Click here: FOXNews.com - Study: Tyrannosaurus Rex Basically a Big Chicken - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology
Our church administrator sent this to me. I wonder if the moral to the story is that I need to buy a hat. Click here: Balding penguin's wetsuit lets him swim again - Science- msnbc.com
The Thirteen in a Series of Sermons on Joshua
From Christopher Hitchens to Richard Dawkins, any atheist worth their salt will appeal to God’s command to Israel to slaughter the Canaanites as the prime example of why they cannot believe that God exists. If God was truly good, they reason, he would never command such a horrible thing. But as we have seen during our study of the Book of Joshua, this is a false dilemma. Throughout the account of what is known as the Conquest–when Israel enters the promised land and defeats the Canaanite tribes living there–it has been clear that the inhabitants of Canaan knew full well that YHWH is the true and living God. They knew full well that the land of Canaan was YHWH’s to give to his people Israel, with whom he had made covenant. Repeatedly, we have seen how the Canaanites continued to reject YHWH and his promise to save all those who call upon his name. Instead, they chose to worship and serve false gods tied to the worship of the earth and its creatures. The Canaanites were given ample time to repent. Some did and were sparred and even became partakers of Israel’s covenant with YHWH. And so when Joshua leads Israel to victory over the Canaanite tribes, wiping them out to the last man, God is warning the whole earth–including people like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins–that his judgment is soon to come upon the whole earth.
As we continue our series on the Book of Joshua, we move into Joshua chapters 9-11, in which Joshua describes the changing military situation in Canaan. The increased resolve on the part of the Canaanites to oppose Israel is the consequence of Achan’s sin and Israel’s defeat at Ai. When tiny little Ai routed Joshua’s men, a number of Canaan tribes who had previously feared YHWH and his covenant people were watching. Five Canaanite tribes now decide to band together in opposition to Israel’s conquest of Canaan. The citizens of Shechem were simply absorbed into Israel–likely because of their ancient ties to Abraham and Jacob. The citizens of Gibeon were so afraid of YHWH and Israel’s army that went so far as to deceive Joshua and the leaders of Israel so that Israel would make a covenant with them. But in Joshua chapter 10 we read of five defiant Canaanite kings (called “Amorites”) who band together to attack Gibeon, because the Gibeonites made a treaty with Israel. The Gibeonite defection from their alliance with the other Canaanites tribes–who will not bow the knee to YHWH–cannot be tolerated.
The opening two verses of chapter 9 describe the changing military situation in Canaan in these terms. “As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel.” As we saw last time, this alliance was the bitter fruit of Achan’s sin and God’s covenant curse upon Israel. The rest of Joshua 9:3-27 describes how the Gibeonites–one of Israel’s neighboring tribes–realized that their people (the Hivites) were about to be wiped out. Having heard of Israel’s decisive victories over the Amorite kings Sihon and Og, the Gibeonites lie about being Israel’s neighbors. They pretend to come from a distant land and then make a treaty with Joshua.
To read the rest of this sermon, click here
This one (from Rod) cracked me up . . .
A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk -- even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.
As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.
He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do?' bumper sticker, the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'Follow Me to Sunday-School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally...I assumed you had stolen the car."