Monthly Archives: August 2006


Christians are persecuted.

We debate doctrine, we debate about "the imputation of Adam's guilt", we debate about this and about that. Don't misunderstand - some of these are important debates because they affect our understanding of Christ and His cross.
In another part of the world, only a month ago four Christians were deported from Saudi Arabia. Their crime: “preaching to Muslims, planting churches and gathering ladies and gentlemen together for prayer.”

Plainclothes security police arrested the four men at their Friday morning worship service in Jeddah’s Al-Rowaise district on June 9. At 11 a.m., more than 20 officers descended on the rented room where approximately 250 Eritreans and Ethiopians were worshipping, Wendewesen said.

Armed with wooden clubs and guns, the policemen took seats offered them by the worshippers and stayed to listen to the sermon. After the service, the officers flashed ID cards and escorted the four church leaders to offices of the Ministry of Interior.

The next day, authorities transferred the Christians to a civil police station where they were beaten and forced to sign a 10-page document.

While these men were in prison, they say that that their only distraction from the miserable conditions were the Muslim who were curious about Christianity.

Imprisoned, beaten and tortured for preaching the Gospel - their response was to preach the Gospel.

"And the high priest questioned them, saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men."


I've covered a lot about the "Solas" on my "what I belive" page and never even started TULIP! The "Solas" ended up being much more defining for me as a Christian, but it was TULIP I first learned about. As with many people, the aspect I had the most trouble wrapping my brain around was the "U" part.

Here's the "short story"

  • T - total depravity of man
  • U - unconditional election
  • L - limited atonement
  • I - irresistable grace
  • P - perseverence of the saints

Every week I get a commentary in my email box from White Horse Inn and this week's segment is on Roman's 9:10-21. When I first started looking at Reformed teaching this was a toughie. In many churches, the issue is so charged that they just don't deal with it; this was the church I grew up in. My dad says, "it upsets people."

Why is "election" so difficult of a thing to wrap your brain around? I think (this is just my opinion) that it comes from pride.

As humans, we want to "do" and it is part of who we are that we want to be independent; we want to be able to "do" for ourselves.

But before we know God, we are dead in sin; as dead as Lazarus was in his tomb and we can no more walk out of our death on our own than Lazarus could. And it's not just that we can't - we can't even try without God's calling us. "Election" is the term used to describe God's choosing of us. It is unconditional because there is no condition that we (as humans) are able to meet on our own, before God chooses us.

Here's what we don't like: what about free will? If it's God that "elects" us, how can we have the free will to choose Him?

The "U" teaches that we can't.

The Bible teaches that we are chosen; and that His choosing of us allows us to accept Him.

Acts 13:48
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

John 10:26
but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.

Ephesians 1:4
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

Ephesians 1:11
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

(I'm not at home today, so don't expect any interaction from me...until after midnight (eastern)


I made a statement in a commen box about my infallible God using fallible men
I am convinced that God purposefully uses very imperfect human beings - because they are imperfect - our imperfections put the glory where it belongs: on Him.
This is a repost from a while ago:
As I read through the Bible, I’m sometimes puzzled (yet comforted) at how imperfect the people are that God chooses (or even creates) to use.Tonight, I read the story of Samson.An angel of God came to a barren woman and told her that she was going to conceive a son - she should abstain from alcohol and all fermented beverages and that her son would be a Nazirite.(This means that God planned ahead for this very imperfect man to be born so that God could use him to begin the deliverance of the Israelites from the Philistines.)

The Nazirite vows included prohibitions against
- touching dead bodies,
- cutting one’s hair,
- consuming grapes in any form (including grapes, raisins, vinegar and wine); this does not include drinking strong drink that does not come from grapes - vodka is ok.
- following the rest of the Jewish Law

So, how did Samson do with all of this?

The first thing we read about Samson (after his birth) is that he wanted to marry a Philistine woman (in defiance of Jewish Law)

The second thing we read is that he killed a lion with his bare hands, but he didn’t tell anybody. A while later, he went to marry the Philistine girl and stopped to look at the corpse of the lion he had killed. Bees had made a nest in the body and Samson put his hand in and took the honey to eat (this is a violation of the vow to not touch dead bodies)

Next came Samson’s wedding feast. The Hebrew word used tells us that there would have been lots of wine involved…another violation.

He made up a riddle that nobody could have known the answer to (because he broke a vow and didn’t tell anybody), he let his wife’s nagging, pouting and whining get the best of him and he told her the answer - and she promptly told her fellow country-men. So he killed the guys and gave his wife to one of his groomsmen.

After a “cooling off period”, he went to her father’s house, with the intent of “going into her room” - but alas, Samson had given her away! He retaliated against the Philistines for his own move by setting fire to their fields. They were (in the words of Jack Bauer) “upset”. Samson’s own people tied him up and gave him to the enemy (with friends like Samsom…).

The Lord’s timing wasn’t right, so he empowered Samson to kill a bunch of men and escape - and Samson lived in the land of the Philistines for 20 years. At one point, our man Sam went to spend the night with a prostitute and “somehow” the word got out, but Samson escaped again, with a great show of strength.

It is my opinion that Samson was not the brightest candle in the chandelier.

He fell in love with Delilah and she asked him where his strength came from. He lied to her and she did what he had told her would take away his strength - and of course, it didn’t. They did this three times! And he didn’t catch on! Finally, the fourth time, he told her the truth and (big surprise) she did it and Samson was caught.

This time, the Lord’s timing was right and Samson brought down the temple.


All of this tells me that God uses the very imperfect - and sometimes plans the imperfect to be used.

Samson broke his promises - but God used him.
Samson wasn’t very bright (or maybe it’s just that love is blind) - but God used him.

I believe that it is because of our imperfections that God’s glory shines through…and through and through.

I don’t want to be afraid that my imperfections make me unusable. I’m not a member of the “I’ve lived a better life than you” club.

But I want God to use me and I want God to be glorified, either in spite of my imperfections or because of them.


I was just reading an article on the three uses of the Law and the author made a point about the Ten Commandments being good - but they are written in the negative. He gave one example.

QUESTION: How would you write the Ten Commandments in the positive?

Here they are, for memory's sake (in red), with my "positives" in between:

"You shall have no other gods before me."

Put God first in your life and you won't go wrong. Worship the Lord you God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. Make no room for other gods...

"You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Keep your mind's eye and your heart focused on God. Be aware of anything that could become something that is worshipped.

"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Respect the Lord's Name - He is your Creator, your Healer, your Life! There is nothing (NOTHING) that you deserve and even your very breath comes from the Lord. Respect the Lord's Name.

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Rejoice in Christ! He is your Sabbath rest! If you are in Christ, you have entered into the rest that is in Him - no longer bound to the works of the Law, you may look forward to the final rest, beyond the grave.

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

This one is a "positive" and it bears saying again. Confront their sin - Biblically, gently, and with honor.

"You shall not murder.

Respect human life. Love the people you have contact with. Love is patient and kind; love is humble and polite. Love is more concerned with what is right, not with who is right. Love holds short accounts and lets grudges go. Love mourns at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

You shall not commit adultery.

Be faithful - in the big things and in the small things.

"You shall not steal.

Get what you need honestly. Work hard.

"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Be honest in all things. Even if what you say doesn't agree with others, if you are faithful to your own beliefs, you will be honored.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's."

Be content with what God has given you. "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."


This one takes some explaining - This photo is taken at Meijer Garden, in the children's garden. This is a series of fountains and pools in the shape of the Great Lakes - the garden provides boats (you can see one at the very top) that will go all the way from "Lake Superior" to "Lake Ontario". The blue squiggles inside the state outline are the major rivers in Michigan.

My son has a t-shirt that says "Michigan: America's High Five". In this photo you can see the "mitten" outline of the lower penninsula.

This says "BLUE" to me, because in Michigan, you are never more than 6 miles from a natural body of water.


The last repost - and all of the old "pages" are now posts!

Sola Scriptura
Solus Christus

If we believe that Scripture is our only infallible and ultimate authority for faith and things of faith, it follows that all other theology must flow from Scripture. When when theology comes from extra-Biblical writing and/or historical writings and/or tradition and cannot be backed up by Scripture, the theology must be discarded.

Solus Christus - Christ alone. By Christ's finished work on the cross, alone, are we saved.

There is no other mediator (or mediatrix) (1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus...

There is no other Redeemer (or redemptress) (Hebrews 9:15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. )

John Calvin said in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, "Christ stepped in, took the punishment upon himself and bore the judgment due to sinners. With his own blood he expiated the sins which made them enemies of God and thereby satisfied him...we look to Christ alone for divine favour and fatherly love!"

The Heidelberg Catechism, Question 30 asks, "Do such then believe in Jesus the only Saviour who seek their salvation and happiness in saints, in themselves, or anywhere else? They do not; for though they boast of him in words yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Saviour: for one of these two things must be true that either Jesus is not a complete Saviour or that they who by a true faith receive this Saviour must find all things in him necessary to their salvation."


From White Horse Inn...

"No Condemnation: Romans 8:1-17."

(12-17) "So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."

In Romans, Paul not only imforms us that salvation by grace alone is not permission to sin. "Fire insurance" is not the road to heaven.

On the other hand, we cannot be perfect and those who claim to have no sin - lie. In this life we cannot attain perfection.

But God demands perfection of those who cannot be perfect. How can this be?

This is the beautiful part of salvation by grace - unmerited favor.

We are not perfect, but we have perfection. This perfection isn't something we earn or something we grow into. The perfect righteousness that we have, we are given through the blood of Christ.

(There is a "debate" and I have a post growing on it, about whether or not this is "Christ's righteousness" that is "imputed" to us, or whether or not this righteousness is our own faith that has been given to us by God - that is reckoned as righteousness. That is for another day...)

Our faith is reckoned as righteousness! This doesn't happen after a lifetime - God grants us saving faith, through that faith comes God's grace. Right at the beginning of our Christian walk!

Many religious people believe that the best motivation for holiness is fear of punishment and hope of reward. Sermons often become either pep talks that attempt to cajole the people into following God because of the practical benefits, or scolding in which they’re brow-beaten for not gaining victory in Jesus or surrendering every area of their life. Paul starts at neither of those points when he wants to lead believers into the new obedience that results from the life in the Spirit, choosing instead to announce all over again the heavenly verdict that calms our fears and allows us to love God instead of resent him for the very first time in our lives.

How true! I remember the "do's and don'ts" of growing up. I remember the pastor scolding a couple (dating, not married) from the pulpit for holding hands in church.

I also remember (as an adult) striving for "sanctification" - the one you have to work for!

Paul tells us that we are righteous! Not because we are so good, but because Christ is so good.

Our faith brings perfection - not our own, because we cannot be perfect; not in this life. Christ is the only perfect being that ever walked this earth and it is His perfect sacrifice that wiped out our debt, leaving us free.

THAT is the "good news!"

This is another repeat...

By Grace AloneBy God’s grace alone are we saved. Without the grace of God, we are nothing, can do nothing, can be nothing - but lost. I’ll let God speak for Himself.

I’ll start with the greeting of Paul, to his spiritual siblings

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 1:3)

By grace, we are chosen in Christ (Romans 11:5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.)

By grace, and nothing of ourselves, we are saved. (Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—)

Even the works that we do are not our own, it is the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10 No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me)

We are dead, but for grace (Ephesians 2:5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.)

I’ll leave you with this, the closing of Paul to the Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 5:28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Amazing Grace

lyrics by John Newton, 1779

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come.
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the vail
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

This is a "repost" - as I'm learning what I do and don't like about this blog, I'm finding that some of the "pages" should be "posts". So, this is now a post - and I'm deleting the page.Scripture alone.

I’m going to start with what I believe to be true, starting with the “Five Solas”.

I am pretty new to Reformed Theology, but once I got my mind wrapped around the idea that what I grew up with had more problems than what I wanted to deal with, I embraced this. I also chose one of the more liberal Reformed demoninations (on purpose).

Anyway…my belief about Sola Scriptura is that the Holy Scriptures are our final authority. It is not that we don’t recognize any other authority - we recognize our spiritual mentors, pastors, etc. But all of the other authorities are measured against Scripture.

Paul praised the Bereans for examining what he said against Scripture; we do the same. We don’t have our Scripture interpreted for us through man - the man is judged against Scripture. If they don’t agree - Scripture wins.

If a person tells me that something is permissible, but the Bible says that it is not - the Bible wins (example: homosexuality).

If a person tells me that something is not permissible, it is up to him to show me in the Bible where the law comes from (example: having a drink with dinner).

If a person is teaching a doctrine that is not in the Bible, that doctrine is rejected (Tongues as the sign of the New Covenant).

I’m not such a big fan of Martin Luther, but this is what he said, “Unless I am overcome with testimonies from Scripture or with evident reasons — for I believe neither the Pope nor the Councils, since they have often erred and contradicted one another — I am overcome by the Scripture texts which I have adduced, and my conscience is bound by God’s Word.”

I also have problems with parts of the Reformed confessions (as does my church) and the confessions are not my authority, the Bible is. However, when they put things in a better way than I can come up with, I’ll quote them. The Belgic Confession says, “We believe that [the] holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein…Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures nor ought we to consider custom or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God… Therefore, we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule”

In short, every authority, every standard and every message must be examined against the Scriptures. There is no man, no tradition that has more authority than the Word of God.