Archive for the ‘Gospel’ Category

Sometimes One Just Shakes One’s Head

June 28, 2011

Such as when one reads from Darryl Hart that “Maybe Mark Driscoll should turn Seattle into the Jerusalem of the Pacific Rim before setting up shop in Portland … .” What is he thinking?

I certainly don’t agree with Driscoll on everything (in fact, I almost certainly disagree more with him than with Hart in general), but Portland could use more godly churches – they could use more of the gospel. I assume this is some kind of joke to Hart, but the gospel shouldn’t be a joke.

If Portland was known as a place where no one tells his neighbor or brother, “Know the Lord,” for they all know him, then there would be a reason not to plant a new church there. But that doesn’t describe Portland, much though I wish it did.

Likewise, it is true that Seattle still can use more gospel preachers. Hart’s absolutely right that people don’t hear “Seattle” and think “gospel” like they do when they hear about the so-called “Bible Belt.” Nevertheless, there is a pressing need for more evangelization in Portland, and if Driscoll’s church is going to provide that, wonderful!


Don’t Mention God’s Law, Because It’s About the Gospel!

April 7, 2011

True antinomians would simply deny that God’s law has any force. Homiletic antinomians would make a comment like the title of this post. Those who have been influenced by a Lutheran division between “Law” and “Gospel” may even go so far as to suggest that preaching God’s law is actually detrimental to preaching the gospel.

At least, that’s the sense I got from a recent post at the Confessional Outhouse. According to the author, “Zrim,” preaching a sermon against abortion (a rather heinous violation of the sixth of God’s ten commandments) “goes a fair distance to alienate people from the gospel” (emphasis mine).

Yes, Zrim, people may not want to follow a God who has a law like God’s law. People may be turned off by God’s commandments. They don’t love God’s law, they hate it. Preaching repentance and faith is harder than just preaching faith. We get it.

But the gospel that Christ preached was a gospel of repentance and faith. If we want to preach the gospel Christ preached, we are going to have to preach against sin, even if that alienates people. Sorry if that bothers you, but that’s how it is.

I know, I know. I’ve dealt with Zrim before. His response is that he just meant that we shouldn’t bring politics into church. But Zrim has it backwards. We shouldn’t identify something like abortion primarily as political, but as moral. It is first moral and afterwards political. In America today (unlike America 100 years ago) it is a matter that has become politicized. But just because something has become politicized doesn’t mean preachers can’t or shouldn’t preach about it.

Indeed, the politicization of an issue may coincide with an increased need to preach on that very issue! The fact that people may be unhappy to hear the preaching is simply the cost of standing up for what is right. The Bible never tells us to avoid preaching about sins that are well-loved in a community or society. Quite the contrary: in the midst of a society full of fornication, John preached that fornicators have their place in the lake of fire.

And moreover if a particular political party chooses to support what the Bible teaches, and another particular political party chooses to reject what the Bible teaches, that does not make the Bible’s teachings fundamentally “political.” If one political party caters to evangelicals, that doesn’t make evangelicalism fundamentally “political,” even though it may make it a political issue.

The issue of abortion is fundamentally a moral issue. It’s not like the difference between a Chevy or a Ford or the Yankees and the rest of major league baseball (I realize that some people may disagree with me about whether the New York Yankees are a moral issue). It’s not simply a popularity contest. Political candidates may appeal to that issue, but fundamentally the issue is a moral issue. It is right for ministers to preach about it, and frankly in a society full of that abomination, it is hard to understand how ministers could properly perform their role without preaching about it (they will have to answer to God, not me, about that).

I would agree with Zrim if his point is that a church shouldn’t hang banners supporting the New York Yankees up in a church in Boston, because it will alienate people without a good reason. One’s sports allegiance is less important than the Truth. But preaching God’s law regarding abortion isn’t like rooting for the Yankees in Boston. Preaching God’s law is a duty of Gospel ministers. Men, like the Bayly brothers, who preach against abortion should be praised, not criticized, for doing so.


Frame on the Law/Gospel Distinction

March 15, 2011

Frame writes:

So the definitions that sharply separate law and gospel break down on careful analysis. In both law and gospel, then, God proclaims his saving work, and he demands that his people respond by obeying his commands. The terms “law” and “gospel” differ in emphasis, but they overlap and intersect. They present the whole Word of God from different perspectives. Indeed, we can say that our Bible as a whole is both law (because as a whole it speaks with divine authority and requires belief) and gospel (because as a whole it is good news to fallen creatures). Each concept is meaningless apart from the other. Each implies the other.

For those who have been spending a lot of time listening to the White Horse Inn, I think Frame’s article (available here) may be a challenging and important counter-point.

Thanks to Ronald W. Di Giacomo and Steve Hays for bringing this to my attention.


Your Hell is Too Small, Mr. John H. Armstrong

March 4, 2011

To John H. Armstrong, author of the book, “Your Church is Too Small,” and to those who buy into his way of thinking, my response is “Your hell is too small.”

What do I mean by that? I mean that you are too quick to assume that people don’t need to hear the gospel. You figure, “if they call themselves Christians, who am I to judge?” But in the process you lose the chance to convict them of sin and exhort them to repentance and faith in Christ.

By accepting their Christian professions despite their idolatry or other serious and unrepented-of sin, you are not doing them any favors. You may make a lot of friends for yourself (and that will be your reward) but you are not showing them love.

We love our fellow humans and we don’t long for hell to be as large as it is. But on the other hand, we need to be realistic and to keep in mind that there will be many who are now saying “Lord, Lord,” who will be there. It’s not loving to tell someone with a treatable disease that they are fine, even if they don’t want to hear about their disease.

Mr. Armstrong, you may think that my definition of the church is too small, but I’m afraid I must tell you that your definition of hell is too small. If I’m wrong, I’ve shared the gospel in vain. If you’re wrong, you’ve failed to share the gospel with those who need it. If there’s any uncertainty about who is right, I suggest you come over to my side.


Gospel Poetry

November 15, 2008

The following video provides some Gospel poetry. It is in a fairly modern style – what would be considered “frestyle rap.”

I am not sure the context where this came from and I don’t even know the name of the man bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel. This is a good message, and it may be a way that message of Christ can reach people that the sort of stuffy academic arguments that I tend to present here on my blog may not.

It’s not the only gospel poetry out there. Long ago, Ralph Erskine provided this gospel poetry, which perhaps may provide some material for other folks like the rapper/evangelist in the video clip above:

But still say you power to believe I miss
You may but know you what believing is
Faith lies not in your building up a tower
Of some great action by your proper power
For Heaven well knows that by the killing fall
No power nor will remains in man at all
For acts divinely good; ‘rill sovereign grace
By powerful drawing virtue turn the chase
Hence none believe in Jesus as they ought
Till once they first believe they can do nought
Nor are sufficient even to form a thought
They’re conscious in the right believing hour
Of human weakness and of divine power
Faith acts not in the sense of strength and might
But in the sense of weakness acts outright
It is no boasting arm of power and length
But weakness acting on almighty strength
It is the powerless helpless sinner’s flight
Into the open arms of saving might
‘Tis an employing Jesus to do all
That can within salvation’s compass fall
To be the agent kind in everything
Belonging to a prophet priest and king
To teach, to pardon, sanctify, and save
And nothing to the creature’s power to leave
Faith makes us joyfully content that he
Our Head our Husband and our All should be
Our righteousness and strength our stock and store
Our fund for food and raiment, grace and glore
It makes the creature down to nothing fall
Content that Christ alone be all in all.

Praise to our King!


H.T. to Take Away the Stone (link), where I first saw this.

Voddie vs. Feminism

September 9, 2008

I found the presentation provided by Pastor Voddie T. Baucham, Jr. to be solid. Later, I found this link to more information about him (link).

The presentation follows:

One gospel preacher pitted against Kyra Phillips (of CNN’s Newsroom) and Margaret Feinberg (an “evangelical speaker”). One does not envy his position. Nevertheless, Pastor Baucham wisely stuck to advocating Scripture.


King on Repentance

August 2, 2008

Pastor King provides an excellent discussion on the importance of repentance.

It’s less than 15 minutes long. It’s specifically geared toward those who consider themselves Calvinists, but it is also relevant to Arminians, Semi-Pelagians, Pelagians, and in fact every man. Listen carefully – try to pay attention for a quarter hour.


Two Reasons I’m not a Romanist

July 12, 2008

Because (1) you can do everything Rome tells you to do and still perish, and (2) the religion of Rome makes no promise to be the unique way to heaven. (link) Now, obviously, these are not the traditional doctrines (pre-Vatican II), but I don’t think I could be a Sedavacantist for other reasons.

Warning: the priest in the video uses some ironic bad language in establishing point (1), and actually goes so far as to claim that atheists and Hindus will probably get to faster than him (an idea that I’ve never seen dogmatically defined anywhere in the documents published by the Vatican).

Second Warning: undoubtedly there are going to be folks who call themselves “Catholics” who disagree with this priest. Of course, 99% of them are not priests themselves. Regardless, even if someone will say that this priest just misrepresents “Catholicism,” then the question is how those who make that claim feel qualified to make it?

I think the answer to that question is intuitive: that we exercise judgment (personal judgment) and appeal to a higher authority. Eventually, though, appeals to higher authority run out. Where’s the stopping point? For the Reformed believer, the answer is – essentially – Scriptures. We accept the Scriptures on faith, and they are the authority by which we determine whether our churches are right. We do that, because Scripture is of greater authority than men – even than the men of the church. We could accept our churches on faith, but then we’d have no protection in the event that our church apostatized.

Since God has not promised to keep individual churches (even the church at Rome) from apostasy, it seems more reasonable to put our faith only in that which is deserving of it, namely the Word of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments: because by trusting the Bible we are trusting God who communicated clearly in it.


Short Response to so-called Evangelical Universalism

May 14, 2008

There is a new book out, entitled “The Evangelical Universalist.” Its premise appears to be that Christ will save everyone, and that he will do so through the preaching of the gospel. (link to review/author interview) While one can appreciate the softness of heart that would motivate such a conclusion, it is not a Scriptural conclusion.

That there is a hell, a place of eternal death and corruption, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched is taught clearly in Scripture, from the very lips of Jesus (Mark 9:43-48, relying on Isaiah 66:24).

Moreover, Paul clearly states that those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will be punished with “everlasting destruction” (ολεθρον αιωνιον) in 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

While we must preach the gospel without regard to how many God chooses to save, we may be touched in our empathy for our fellow sinners and spurred on to spread the gospel, by the fact that those who do not repent and believe will perish forever and by our knowledge that the means to their salvation is the preached Gospel of Christ.

Therefore, we should call all men to repentance from sin and faith in the risen Lord, by whom alone there is victory over death.


Catholics vs. Muslims

April 1, 2008

By now you should be aware that a recent report is out that indicates that there are more Muslims than Catholics. This should Catholics who have been playing the numbers game (1 billion members cannot all be wrong …) a bit of pause.

At least one Catholic, however, has pointed out that this comparison is not completely fair, since “Islam” is actually a collection of many different sects. The largest of those sects is still (so far) smaller than Catholicism. Likewise, if we were to combine Catholicism with the other sects of Christianity, Christians (they say) are still more numerous.

My response is this:

a) The way Muslims are multiplying by having large families, the only ways that they are not going to outnumber all kinds of Christianity is by mass deconversion from Islam (preferably to faith in Christ and salvation of their souls);

b) Since when does Catholicism claim to be just another sect of Christianity? Hasn’t Catholicisms claim traditionally been to be the only authentic Christianity? It seems a little ad hoc to start including Protestants and Orthodox folks in the mix in order to outnumber Muslims; and

c) Numbers don’t matter. I should know, I’m a Reformed Christian. The true faith has often been the minority faith. Remember that this was the case even within Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha. Recall that there only about 7000 believers in all of Israel at that time, and the rest of the world was in darkness and unbelief. Recall as well how few of the Jews believed on the Lord Jesus even when He was in their midst, especially among the religious leaders.


We are already facing a clash of cultures as Muslim populations expand in Muslim-majority countries and in Christian-majority countries. What both such countries need is the gospel of Christ: the message that men are saved from their sins only by grace through faith alone in Christ alone. But so does a lot of what calls itself “Christian.” A lot of “Christians” need to repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

Calling people to faith in Christ, preaching that gospel, is this blog’s raison d’etre,

May God’s kingdom be increased,


%d bloggers like this: