Friday, April 28, 2006

Safely Home

Caleb Sims, who I wrote about last week, passed away at around 4pm today. He is now in the arms of his loving Savior.

Please keep the Sims family in your prayers.

Great Scott! The Discerning Reader is back, and it's, um, discerning again

Looks like Tim Challies has resurrected the Discerning Reader website. Don't have all the details, but just excited to see it back.

HT: The Irvins. (Sorry Carla.)

Seeker Sensitive Spurgeon

Excerpted from Spurgeon's book Advice for Seekers.

Section 1: Do Not Try To Save Yourself

If you think about it, God's value of heaven and yours are very different things. His salvation, when he set a price upon it, was to be brought to men only through the death of his Son. But you think that your good works can win the heaven which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, procured at the cost of his own blood! Do you dare to put your miserable life in comparison with the life of God's obedient Son, who gave himself even to death? Does it not strike you that you are insulting God? If there is a way to heaven by works, why did he put his dear Son to all that pain and grief? Why the scenes of Gethsemane? Why the tragedy on Golgotha, when the thing could be done so easily another way? You insult the wisdom of God and the love of God.

There is no attribute of God which self-righteousness does not impugn. It debases the eternal perfections which the blessed Saviour magnified, in order to exalt the pretensions of the creature which the Almighty spurns as vain and worthless. The trader may barter his gold for your trinkets and glass beads, but if you give all that you have to God it would be utterly rejected. He will bestow the milk and the honey of his mercy without money and without price, but if you come to him trying to bargain for it, it is all over for you; God will not give you choice provisions of his love that you do not know how to appreciate.

The great things you propose to do, these works of yours, what comparison do they bear to the blessing which you hope to obtain? I suppose by these works you hope to obtain the favour of God and procure a place in heaven. What is it, then you propose to offer? What could you bring to God? Would you bring him rivers of oil, or the fat of ten thousand animals? Count up all the treasures that lie beneath the surface of the earth; if you brought them all, what would they be to God? If you could pile up all the gold reaching from the depths of the earth to the highest heavens, what would it be to him? How could all this enrich his coffers or buy your salvation? Can he be affected by anything you do to augment the sum of his happiness, or to increase the glory of his kingdom? If he were hungry he would not tell you. "The cattle upon ten thousand hills are mine," he says (Psa 50:10). Your goodness may please your fellow-creatures, and your charity may make them grateful, but will God owe anything to you for your gifts, or be in debt to you for your influence? Absurd questions! When you have done everything, what will you be but a poor, unworthy, unprofitable servant? You will not have done what you ought, much less will there be any balance in your favour to make atonement for sin, or to purchase for you an inheritance in the realms of light.

You who are going to save yourselves by reforms, and by earnest attempts and endeavours, let me ask you, if a man could not perform a certain work when his arm had strength in it, how will he be able to perform it when the bone is broken? When you were young and inexperienced, you had not yet fallen into evil habits and customs. Though there was depravity in your nature then, you had not become bound in the iron net of habit, yet even then you went astray like a lost sheep and you followed after evil. What reason have you to suppose that you can suddenly change the bias of your heart, the course of your actions and the tenor of your life, and become a new man? "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" (Jer 13:23). Are there not ten thousand probabilities against one that as you sinned before you will sin still? You found the pathway of evil to be so attractive and fascinating that you were enticed into it, and you will still be enticed and drawn away from that path of integrity which you are now so firmly resolved to tread.

The way to heaven by following the law given at Mount Sinai is very steep and narrow, and it takes only one wrong step for a man to be dashed to pieces. Stand at the foot and look up at it if you dare. On its brow of stone there is the black cloud, out of which lightning leaps and the blast of the trumpet sounds loud and long. Do you not see Moses tremble, and you will dare to stand unabashed where Moses is fearful and afraid? Look upwards, and give up the thought of climbing those steep crags, for no one has ever striven to clamber up there in the hope of salvation without finding destruction among the terrors of the way! Be wise, give up that deceitful hope of salvation which your pride leads you to choose and your presumption would soon cause you to rue.

Suppose you could do some great thing, which I am sure you cannot, and it were possible that you could from now on be perfect, and never sin again in thought, or word, or deed; how would you be able to atone for your past delinquencies? Shall I call for a resurrection in that graveyard of your memory? Let your sins rise up for a moment, and pass in review before you. Ah, the sins of your youth may well frighten you; those midnight sins; those midday sins; those sins against light and knowledge; those sins of body; those sins of soul! You have forgotten them, you say, but God has not. Look at the file! They are all placed there, all registered in God's daybook, not one forgotten-all to be read against you in the day of the last judgment.

How can future obedience make up for past transgression? The cliff has fallen and though the wave washes up ten thousand times, it cannot set the cliff up again. The day is bright but still there was a night, and the brightest day does not obliterate the fact that once it was dark. The self-righteous man knows that what he is doing cannot satisfy God, for it cannot satisfy himself; and though he may perhaps drug his conscience, there is generally enough left of the divine element within the man to make him feel and know that it is not satisfactory.

To believe what God says, to do what God commands, to take that salvation which God provides-this is man's highest and best wisdom. Open your Bible. It is the pilgrim's guide, in which God describes the glory yet to be revealed. This is the one message of the gospel, "believe and live." Trust in the incarnate Saviour, whom God appointed to stand in the place of sinners. Trust in him and you shall be saved.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What Is Our Relationship to the Law (Pt 1)?

Probably my single biggest disappointment about Phil Johnson's old blog was that he was never able to get around to answering the question "What is the relationship between New Testment Christians and the Old Testament Law?" I know he had some thoughts about it, and he started to talk about them, but then he got sidetracked and never returned.

At my church, we are going through Hebrews right now, so this topic is of much interest to me.

In any case, my buddy Sojourner wrote a whole series of articles last week about whether we as Christians are responsible for keeping the Sabbath. I made a couple of comments there, but I decided to hold back on that until he had finished his series.

His series is now finished, and he's off to TFTG, but I've been busy and haven't had time to put my thoughts together.

Now I don't have to, because Daniel has tackled the subject with much greater gusto and depth than I could probably muster right after downing a 6 pack of Coke Classic.

His premise is simple: what was once written as a defense of orthodoxy (WCF & LBCF) is now being used as a law unto itself.

To be continued...

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Time of Testing

Note: Blogger ate this post when it was originally published, so no one saw it. I will have to update when I have time. We would still appreicate your prayers, however.

Would appreciate your prayers today.

We are taking our son down to be tested for Aspergers (a sort of high-functioning Autism). An official diagnosis should open the door to some more treatment options for us.

The testing will last well into the afternoon, and the little guy will probably be tired when it's all done (not to mention he's missing his nap).

And, to top it all off, I have a Greek test tonite.

Any & all prayers would be appreciated.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Back to the Debate Blog--Centuri0n vs. The War on Easter Guy

If you haven't visited this past week, you're missing an interesting exchange between Frank & Brian Flemming, one of the architects of the "War on Easter."

Both sides have also set up posts on their respective blogs for comments. Frank's is here; Brian's is here (warning: there is at least one attempt at foul language in the thread).

Update 2:
I thought Frank was doing pretty well, but the folks on Brian's blog didn't seem to think so. So I decided to try discussing some of the issues with them. You can keep up with my progress (or lack thereof) on the comment thread there.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ten Simple Pleasures

From the Buggy tag earlier this week.

Ten Simple Pleasures
Spending time with my wife
Playing with my kids, especially "tickle"
Reading (Bible, books, and blogs)
Listening to music
Talking about God with other believers
Eating a home-cooked meal
Playing chess (though only recently)
Drinking Coca-Cola
Being thankful for the Lord's blessings and His grace

As a bonus, here are some complicated pleasures:
Trying to learn languages (Greek & Spanish)
Playing chess against the computer (and the computer-like brain of BugBlasterLasker)
Studying the Bible
Reading anything written prior to about 1900, or by any member of Triablogue

I'm gonna tag:
All the members of TOOT
My long lost friend Hemsch (are you still alive, Dude?)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Heartfelt Birthday Wish

If you get a chance, head over to this link today, and wish Caleb Sims a Happy 7th Birthday.

He has seen more hardship in his seven years of life than I in my five and thirty, and he may know more about trusting Jesus than I ever will.

(The direct link to his guestbook is here.)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Quote of the Week (and it's only Monday!)

"Friends don't let friends go to Hell without challenging their damning delusions, it seems to me."

--Dan Phillips, in the comments on Pyromaniacs: Resurrection not essential? (More of Those Wacky Academics!)

Friday, April 14, 2006

The So-Called War on Easter

Sad, or just plain pathetic?

Centuri0n linked to this site earlier, but it had been flooded with so many hits that it was down most of the day yesterday. Now that it's back up, here are a couple of comments.

Frankly, it's hard for me to take anyone too seriously who denies that Jesus even existed. That said, I find the tactic they are using both interesting & enlightening.
Ask your parents if the Santa exists.
Ask them if the Easter Bunny exists.
Now ask them if Jesus exists.
The answer to all three is no.

Not to resurrect the big Santa debate from Frank's blog, but I will say that for people who have not really thought through why they celebrate Santa & the Easter Bunny, this may very well have some of its intended effect.

Despite their laughable status, however, they are on the right track. In 1 Cor 15, Paul says this:
    12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (ESV)

The cross of Christ is the key to Easter. And if we shy away from proclaiming it, we have conceded half the battle to these jokers.

For more information, here is their FAQ and the press release.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

You'll Want to See This

Turk Takes on HK Flynn, Homeschool Mom, for five rounds of questions.

Calvinism vs. Free Grace on the book of James--winner take all!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

Congratulations to the National Geographic Society!
An authenticated 4th century document is a great find.
No sarcasm in this comment--it's a really cool thing.

The problem comes when National Geographic tries to expound upon the religious implications of their find. It's then that you get statements like "The Gospel provides an alternative view of the Jesus-Judas relationship and evidences the diverse theological beliefs that circulated among early Christians."

Let's break that down, shall we?

an alternative view of the Jesus-Judas relationship
Can someone say Da Vinci Code? Look, I like conspiracy theories as much as the next guy, but you gotta have at least a shred of credibility to pull them off. The real conspiracy here may be that the Society is gonna charge people 22 bucks for a hardbound edition of this text.

evidences the diverse theological beliefs
This is news? Look, I don't expect anyone from National Geographic to read the Bible or take it seriously, but you readers should, and when you do, it won't take long to see that this was an issue even while the Bible was still being written. See Gal 1:6-9 and 1 John 2:18-26 for just a couple of examples of this (from the top of my head). There are plenty more, I'm sure.

that circulated among early Christians
Can the folks who believed in the Gospel of Judas be considered Christians? I don't think so. They were Gnostics, meaning that they believed in "secret knowledge" that was only available to a select few individuals. The true path to salvation was hidden to all but a select few. (Some think Calvinism teaches the same thing, but we'll save that discussion for another post). The Bible, by contrast, presents a picture that the all the information is there, but for whatever reason (depending on your view of depravity, free-will, etc.), men don't accept it. However you slice it, the way to God is found in the Bible; it's all there--there's no need for hidden texts or special revelation (back, you rabid Calvinists! A new heart is a separate issue from what I'm talking about here).

Here's a little taste what you'll find. Let me warn you, though, don't read this with others around--your laughter might be so loud that it could turn into a CLM! (Career Limiting Move--for those of you who have never been a Schwabbie.)

SCENE 1: Jesus dialogues with his disciples: The prayer of thanksgiving or the eucharist

One day he was with his disciples in Judea, and he found them gathered together and seated in pious observance. When he [approached] his disciples, [34] gathered together and seated and offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, [he] laughed.

The disciples said to [him], “Master, why are you laughing at [our] prayer of thanksgiving? We have done what is right.”

He answered and said to them, “I am not laughing at you. are not doing this because of your own will but because it is through this that your god [will be] praised.”

They said, “Master, you are […] the son of our god.”

Jesus said to them, “How do you know me? Truly [I] say to you, no generation of the people that are among you will know me.”


When his disciples heard this, they started getting angry and infuriated and began blaspheming against him in their hearts.

When Jesus observed their lack of [understanding, he said] to them, “Why has this agitation led you to anger? Your god who is within you and […] [35] have provoked you to anger [within] your souls. [Let] any one of you who is [strong enough] among human beings bring out the perfect human and stand before my face.”

They all said, “We have the strength.”

But their spirits did not dare to stand before [him], except for Judas Iscariot. He was able to stand before him, but he could not look him in the eyes, and he turned his face away.

Judas [said] to him, “I know who you are and where you have come from. You are from the immortal realm of Barbelo. And I am not worthy to utter the name of the one who has sent you.”

Oh, Barbelo. Now I get it (yes, that is sarcasm).

Don't take my word for it, though. Read the whole thing online (or at least as much as is out there--at one point 17 lines are missing). You can also Download the download a PDF copy from National Geographic, or read it from their page (cool Flash effects--wish I could do something like this on my page!).

So what's the bottom line? If anything, it makes Christianity's claim stronger. It's almost unfair to put the four Biblical gospels up against something like this--it would be like my five-year old playing Michael Jordan in basketball, or me trying to beat Bugblaster at chess--it's just sad.

As far as responding to those around you, I can't do better than quote James White here:

So should someone come up to you at work going, "Hey, Bob, I know you are a Christian, but how about that Gospel of Judas! Sure throws your Bible into a tailspin, doesn't it?" just smile and respond, "Hey, I heard about that. I've been wondering all morning how a work of fiction written more than a century after the fact by a writer seeking to promote a completely different religion than that of Christ and the Apostles that doesn't have a shred of historical foundation to stand on could possibly get so much major air time.

Gospel of Judas links

National Geographic links
Main Page

Explore the Document (Can't say enough about the awesome graphics!)

Download the English translation of the text (in PDF).

Other links

Layman's guide to Gospel of Judas from Christian CADRE. (HT: Peter Chan).

James White's take. (White echoes my thoughts by encouraging to read it for yourself.)

Pastor Rod has a nice writeup plus a roundup of additional links (Rod & I disagree about lots of stuff, but I'm happy to stand with him on this; I'm also interested to see his answer to the comment "How do we know the real Bible is true and the Gospel of Judas isn't?" People you know and some you work with probably have that same question, so take note).

Update 04/13/06
James Swan wins the award for funniest comment on the Gospel of Judas.

The Immigration Issue: Finally, some light found!

Kudos to Tom Ascol, who has brought some much needed light to a discussion that thus far seems filled only with heat (read lots of hot air).

One thing that has been missing from this discussion is the biblical issues involved. As he always does, Tom reminds us that political issues have spiritual implications, and that they are not always as black-or-white as one might think. He concludes with a hope for Congress and an admonition for churches.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Fido's quote of John Owen summarizes why I believe in Limited Atonement.
HT: Dan Phillips

(I think it was easier to arrive at this for me than for most, and that may be because of growing up with a father who was involved in law enforcement. If we understood anything, it was distinctions between justice, mercy, and grace, & the letter vs. spirit of the law).

Let's look at it briefly

John Owen says that Christ died for either:
1) Some of the sins of all men.
2) All the sins of all men.
3) All the sins of some men.

Limited atonement doesn't mean Christ's blood wasn't sufficient to pay for the sins of all sinners; instead, it asserts that Christ's blood pays for the sins of all believers. In other words, it saves everyone it was meant to save.

But the tipping point for me, I think, was this: if Christ paid for sins of any man, how is a just God justified in having a man also pay for those sins himself? If Christ's blood is truly sufficient to save whosover will come, why is it not able to save some?

The answer, given the nature of God's justice, and the language of justification in the NT, is that Christ died only for those he saves. Anything else would be a cosmic miscarriage of justice.

Monday, April 03, 2006


My wife told me last night that one of my kids said, "Momma, why does Daddy like playing on the computer more than he likes playing with us?"


You'll be seeing less of me online; now you know why.