Sunday, August 31, 2008

More Love to Christ

I wanted to share this sermon! The Spirit truly exalted Christ through my pastor in a powerful way in this message! Or, in other words, Christ preached peace by the human instrument of my pastor (this is a truth that has been expounded multiple times from the pulpit recently, and I find it fuels my prayers both for the preacher and us as hearers)!

From Romans 5:20-21, the preeminence of loving Christ and the superabundance of God's grace over sin... Samuel Rutherford's letter read at the end brought me to tears...

More Love to Christ- James Williamson

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Andrew Fuller Conference: Thomas Wilcox and His A Choice Drop of Honey From the Rock Christ- Stephen Yuille

The Christocentric Piety of Thomas Wilcox

- little known about him except for what we know from the sermon at hand- he could say with John the Baptist, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30)
- this is not the same Thomas Wilcox who addressed the British Parliament and was imprisoned in the 16th century
- Wilcox was known to preach to and alongside a broad range of Christian believers
- was grieved by the wind of doctrine in his day that would add to the righteousness of Christ

- a call to examine oneself
- a call to battle despair
- a call to look to Christ

- examine if one is self-sufficient and looking to one's own righteousness
- "Christ is a Rock who stands higher than righteousness and sin, and hony drops from Him that satisfies one's soul"
- a heart is humbled and bruised by the Spirit applying the law to sinners
- when a heart is bruised, it is ready for faith as the Spirit shows him his need for Christ and causes him to look to Christ for pardon, grace, and salvation
- "Nature's spinning must be unraveled before Christ's righteousness can be put on"

- despair because of doubt causes people not to close with Christ
- it is Christ's entrance into God's presence that promises a sinner may enter into forgiveness
- sanctification, while helpful in analyzing one's faith, should never become one's foundation for assurance

3 potential misapplications of the Puritan doctrine of assurance
- introspection- can become a gloomy self-evaluation
- despair- anxiety can be thought of as a sign of piety
- moralism- God's grace can become trivialized and forgotten

call to consider Christ
- applying Christ's blood
- seeking Christ's presence
- prizing Christ's righteousness
- contemplating Christ's priesthood

- "Keep not sin in the conscience but apply Christ's blood immediately"
- two-fold value of Christ's blood: justification before God and sanctification by application
- Christ is in union with His people by indwelling them by His Spirit
- two part of Christ's priesthood: oblation and intercession
- Christ's intercession in heaven is the promise that all the things gained by Christ's death and resurrection are ours
- "Rejoice in the ruins of thine own righteousness"

PDF's of the entire text of Wilcox's sermon are found here:

A Choice Drop of Honey from the Rock Christ #1
A Choice Drop of Honey from the Rock Christ #2

Friday, August 29, 2008

Andrew Fuller Conference: FREE mp3s now available!

I will still type up my notes, but here is a link to the free mps3s!!!


Andrew Fuller Conference: The English Calvinistic Baptists of the 17th Century, An Overview- Dr. Malcolm Yarnell

although Baptists are a people of the Book, we must look at their history to see their context among congregations

those who would become General and Particular Baptists came to an understanding of believer's baptism while in communion- then the separation took place over Reformed theology (which wasn't a clean break)

Exemplar: Christopher Blackwood (1605-1670)

-was a Conformist early on
-left the parish church for a General Baptist church after his conversion to Baptist views on baptism
- became a pastor at that church but left when his co-pastor declared that he believed in universal redemption

- in his treatise on divine worship ("The Storming of Antichrist"), he explained that believer's baptism is worship after the commands of Christ
- argued that Presbyterians, Independents, and Congregationalists could learn from one another without compromising on baptism
- lived in Ireland during the persecution, though he cried out for his persecuted brethren in England
- pure worship, liberty of conscience, importance of the local church were his main concerns

Blackwood's 6 marks of a Christian church ("6 Marks Ministries"...?):
- regenerate church membership
- agreement and covenant
- right dispensing of the Word and sacraments
- profession of the faith
- ministry (faithful oversight)
- church discipline

- said paedobaptism tears down the difference between church and the world
- held a Calvinistic understanding of the Lord's Supper
- held a Biblical view of church discipline, which was for the benefit of both the disciplined and the church

- the use of the 5 points in finding how "Calvinistic" a 17th Century Baptist was is very difficult (I would have liked to hear more about why this is the case)
- was primarily a pastoral theologian who had an invitational and duty-faith/duty-repentance way of preaching
- was not as concerned with the ordo salutis as he was in preaching grace and salvation in Christ alone
- affirmed predestination of both salvation and reprobation, although his view was different than Calvin's (I would have liked to have known more about the differences)
- was ultimately motivated to exhort Christians to proclaim the Gospel rather than the 5 points
- free proffers of grace and well-meant offer of the gospel exhorted men to come to Christ

(It was interesting to have Dr. Yarnell as the first speaker, and his presence there was encouraging. I certainly benefited from his contribution! He must have learned a lot about how Particular Baptists were concerned about both the glorification of God and evangelism! Yarnell is the one who wrote about Calvinists in the SBC back in 2006. Tom Ascol gave some helpful critiques on his blog, and there was a brotherly interchange. Yarnell was also alongside Dr. Ascol as they sought the passing of a resolution on regenerate church membership at the SBC annual meeting this year; it passed but was weaker than they had hoped. And no, Yarnell didn't wear a cowboy hat to the conference...)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How Deep the Father's Love for Us

While Jerry Vines and I would disagree on some important issues, there is one important truth that he brought out in his chapel message on John 3:16 that has been a cause of much meditation and praise, especially over the past few months.

He brought out that God's love for sinners is unfathomable, and we cannot plumb the depths of it. The distinction between God's general, benevolent love and God's particular, redeeming love notwithstanding, I don't think any person holding to the Doctrines of Grace would disagree with Vines' statement (I can't really fathom God's benevolent love either...). Who can fathom God's love for sinners? That Christ should leave the glories of heaven and die for the guilty and vile, actually procuring the salvation of God's elect? And He did it all such that nothing in our hands we bring, only to His cross we cling! And He didn't have to do it! Nothing in us could ever commend ourselves to Him! What love! What amazing love!

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr's, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

©1995 Kingsway's Thankyou Music
Words and Music by Stuart Townend

(For a Reformed Baptist exposition of John 3:16, listen to this one by James Williamson).

Monday, August 25, 2008

History of the Reformation

Austin Walker of the Maidenbower Reformed Baptist Church in Crawley, England delivered a series of lectures this past weekend on the History of the Reformation. I heartily recommend these to you!

Scripture: The Final Authority
Justification by Faith Alone
Calvinism and the Worship of God
The English Reformers and the Church of England
The Anabaptists and the Radical Reformation

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Minister's Bible

(I was about to say something about the title of this Valley of Vision prayer being too narrow, but then I remembered this post by Dan Phillips.)

O God of Truth,
I thank thee for the holy Scriptures,
their precepts, promises, directions, light.

In them may I learn more of Christ,
be enabled to retain his truth
and have grace to follow it.

Help me to lift up the gates of my soul that he may come in
and show me himself when I search the Scriptures,
for I have no lines to fathom its depths,
no wings to soar to its heights.

By his aid may I be enabled to explore all its truths,
love them with all my heart,
embrace them with all my power,
engraft them into my life.

Bless to my soul all grains of truth garnered from thy Word;
may they take deep root,
be refreshed by heavenly dew,
be ripened by heavenly rays,
be harvested to my joy and thy praise.

Help me to gain profit by what I read,
as treasure beyond all treasure,
a fountain which can replenish my dry heart,
its waters flowing through me as a perennial river
on-drawn by thy Holy Spirit.

Enable me to distil from its pages faithful prayer
that grasps the arm of thy omnipotence,
achieves wonders, obtains blessings,
and draws down streams of mercy.

From it show me how my words have often been unfaithful to thee,
injurious to my fellow-men,
empty of grace, full of folly,
dishonouring to my calling.

Then write thy own words upon my heart and inscribe them on my lips;
So shall all glory be to thee in my reading of thy Word!

Arthur Bennett, ed. Valley of Vision (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 190.

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's the Gospel, stupid!

I ran across this interesting article this morning:

Young evangelical backs out of convention prayer

There is a lot there to discuss: Should Christians lead prayer in an interfaith environment? Would Strang's presence really be an endorsement of Obama? What is the relationship between a Christian and politics? Is there room for any sort of Christian co-belligerence?

But the one thing that struck me was how, at least in the reporter's view, religious topics were focused on issues like abortion, political party, the environment, and other so-called "shared values." Missing was the truth that what makes Christians different is the Lord who owns and empowers us. We believe that God the Son came to dwell among us as a man, died on the cross for sinners, rose from the dead on the third day, now rules and reigns in heaven, will one day return to judge the living and the dead, and the only way a sinner can be made right with God is to repent and believe in Christ alone for salvation. And that's the power of God unto salvation!

I am not saying we as Christians should be unconcerned about things like abortion. James 1:27 says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." Pastor James is going through James in Sunday School (no he didn't write it...), and he just taught an excellent lesson on this verse.

That being said, I was especially reminded of the centrality and power of the Gospel in two recent sermons.

At Southern Seminary's opening convocation, Dr. Mohler preached an excellent message entitled The Year of Living Dangerously.

And I have linked to this one by Pastor Jim already, but in case you haven't yet heard it... The Early Church's Influence on Society:

The world is at times afraid of us, but they are afraid of us for all the wrong reasons. The world's afraid of certain religions. They're certainly afraid of fundamentalism right now. They're afraid of Islam because Islam might kill them. They're afraid of us because they're afraid we're going to take away their so-called political or social liberties. They're afraid of Pat Robertson and Dr. Dobson not because they see God is with them but because they perceive them as anti-this and anti-that and pushing their morality upon others. They have unfounded fears that if Christians have their way, we'll lock everybody up that disagrees with us, etc., etc. You've heard it all.

But brethren, I'm asking when was the last time that our gatherings produced in a soul that sense that God is real and powerful and active and on the move in the lives of God's people. Somebody has the experience that we read about in 1 Cor., where an unbeliever comes and the secrets of his heart are exposed and he falls down and says, "God is of a truth among you." When was the last time that happened in church? When was the last time something like that came close to happening in our midst?


Is your expression of Christianity easily explained away? A cultural, pleasant, acceptable, costless form of Republican Christianity. You may read the Bible on occasion, listen to some Christian music, quote Jesus every now and then, have a Jesus poster up. That's not what I'm asking. I'm asking has your heart ever been pierced? Have you ever come under a conviction of your sin? Have you ever cried out, "What must I do?" Have you ever repented? Have you ever clung to Jesus the way a drowning man clings to a life preserver? Have you ever committed yourself to a group of God's people? Are you devoted to God's doctrine and worship, to prayer, to the breaking of bread? Have you ever parted with your goods, denying yourself for the sake of the kingdom of God and the people of God? And if not, why not?

Well I'll tell you why not. Most likely you have a religion of your own making. You may have turned over a new leaf, but you've never been converted. It's what you've done and what you want, and that's what your Christianity's all about. And, my friend, it produces no wonder, it produces no awe, it produces no fear. It produces no awe or wonder in you, it doesn't produce any in your family, it doesn't produce any in the church, it doesn't produce any among the people of the world. They see you, and you're just like them!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Seeing the Elephant (of Kettering)

And it won't cost me blood, toil, tears, and sweat either (well, at least not literally).

I have not read much in the way of Andrew Fuller, but I decided to take advantage of a great deal on a set of his complete works and give him a read! I bought this three-volume set for $63.59 from the Lifeway bookstore on the Southern Seminary campus. You can also buy it for $66.99 from CVBBS. Spurgeon called him the greatest theologian who ever lived, so I am looking forward to it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Better to go to the house of mourning...

I was checking my email and ran across this Yahoo headline. Besides the fact that this article deals with the Unreached People Group of the Day, I was struck by something else, something much more personal.

My uncle, aunt, and two cousins spent a great deal of their lives in Peshawar, the town in which this attack took place. My aunt and uncle worked with relief organizations, such as Mercy Corps and Afghan Aid, in various countries throughout their lives, including Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Haiti, East Timor, and Kiribati. I have always loved to learn about other countries, and I would look forward to the times when they would return to the States and bring with them pieces of the cultures they lived in: clothing, purses, rugs, toys. Their modest farm in Knifley, KY (pop. 150) could easily have been mistaken for an art gallery or international museum, including both treasures from overseas and artwork created here in Kentucky by relatives. While they were living in the States, my aunt taught at a nearby college and helped with some local history projects. Their involvement in both worlds also expressed itself in their ability to cook for us a fragrant, spicy meal of curries as well as hearty venison sausage or squirrel stew (yes, I liked it a lot...) I also have memories of the family coming to my school to do presentations. I have fond memories of times we traveled together to New Jersey to visit family and of a trip my dad and two aunts and grandmother took to Seattle. I even have a video from when I was 12 where my cousin (on my mom's side) and I had made my bedroom into a library and my aunt was visiting at the time (I've always been a librarian at heart...)!

But there is the sad side of this story. On Dec. 8, 2002, my younger cousin (then just a few weeks shy of 18) shot and killed my aunt and uncle at their farm here in Kentucky. It is ironic, as they had been in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, and here it was that the greatest danger came to them at home and from their own son. There is a complex number of reasons of why this happened, many of them emotionally charged, but it boils down (very strikingly so) to the neglect of Eph. 6:4- "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." While they showed the outward appearance of being religious (they went to church, would attend my family's church when they visited, sent their kids to Bible camp), in the home they acted differently. Unfortunately, they taught my cousins that there were no absolutes, that we must be "tolerant" of all religions and philosophies, and that it is through experience and not through rules that we find the best pathway of life.

The real tragedy is that, for all my aunt and uncle did, for all the humanitarian efforts they made, for all the places they traveled to, they lived and died without Christ. I remember once, before I was converted, looking at a collage of pictures and photos and seeing a rendering of (what men think looked like) Jesus. Even then, I wondered why they had a picture of Him when they never really talked about Him.

Th Lord gave me many opportunities to witness to my aunt and uncle and cousins. While the church the family attended was PCUSA, I got the impression that they were far more liberal than their church. I remember praying for them fervently and seeking to be a witness in both word and deed. I was sharpened theologically and spiritually as I would interact with them and study on my own such things at the exclusivity of Christ, the authority and inerrancy of the Bible, and faith in Christ versus works righteousness. After my aunt and uncle were murdered, as my family and I stayed at a long-time friend's house in case my younger cousin came for us too, I asked myself, "Did I say enough? Why weren't they converted?" While I had not yet grasped the truth of God's sovereign election, I knew two things, and they were what comforted my soul in those dark, cold weeks of mid-December: 1. I couldn't convert them. It was my job to pray for them and be a witness. 2. I had done my job.

Eccl. 7:2-3 says, "Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better."

This was true in my case. I took note that outward religion divorced from a living, breathing relationship with Christ is meaningless. I saw that one can be moral before the eyes of society and yet in the secret of one's home live a completely opposite life. I learned the importance of redeeming the time and speaking to others about Christ and eternity, for life is but a vapor. And I experienced the loss of unconverted loved ones, something I will have to face in the future, unless God does an amazing work.

I will leave them to God, but that does not take away the sadness I feel upon occasion when something reminds me of my aunt and uncle. I have had multiple opportunities to witness to my cousins. The younger is in prison for life without possibility of parole until 2028. The older is cynical, confused, undisciplined, and worldly. But my heart goes out to them, and I pray that they will turn to Christ, for He alone can satisfy their souls and save them from eternal destruction. They are not outside of God's reach...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Two Books Coming Soon from Calvary Press

The first book is entitled From the Garden of Eden to the Glory of Heaven: God's Unfolding Plan and How it Relates to Christians Today by James Williamson. This is an excellent book written from a Reformed Baptist perspective on the covenants of Scripture and how they fit together and point to their ultimate fulfillment in Christ and His Kingdom. And if that sounds like a shameless plug, that's because it is one! The author happens to be one of my pastors! Seriously, it is a book that is written in such a way that both seminarians and non-seminarians alike will greatly benefit from reading it.

The second book is Womanly Dominion: More than a Gentle and Quiet Spirit by Mark Chanski. Apparently, the real title was forgotten: Womanly Dominion: In a Passive Pink-Powder-Puff World. But I think that will be my only disappointment with this book! I had the rich blessing of attending the conference he taught on the subject, which I have linked to before and is found here.