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Evangelist, Baptist, Husband, Father, Mid-30's.

Monday, June 5, 2017

7 Things You Need to Know About the Newest Planet or Solar System JUST Discovered by NASA

Introduction

With the plethora of new telescopes that are capable of reaching out to the stars in the Milky Way there are no lack of astronomers making statements that sound certain about their uncertain discoveries. The study of the stars and their satellites is definitely an interesting pursuit, one that has valuable benefits for mankind, but also one that can be used to waste a whole lot of money, and even the lives of those who devote themselves to it.

When you hear of the newest planet or solar system or star, it is important to remember these 7 things:

1. God Created It

The primary purpose of the stars, exoplanets, and moons is to “declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world (Psalm 19:1-4).” Skeptic Dr. Michael Shermer paraphrases Psalm 19:1 magnificently when he says, “A Hubble Space Telescope photograph of the universe evokes far more awe for creation than light streaming through a stained glass window in a cathedral.”

God created the stars, in their vast expanse and impossible number, with a Word (Genesis 1:14-19) on the fourth day. It is estimated that in the known Universe (Latin - single phrase) that there are enough stars for every person on earth to personally own 11 trillion of them. There are no lack of stars/planets/satellites in the universe for astronomers to discover and research, each tells a story of God’s creative power. Carl Sagan got it right when he said, “There are far more galaxies than people.”

God’s creation is far grander than anything mankind can produce. Astronomy is merely seeing God's creation after he created it.

2. Mankind Discovered Something About It

What mankind has discovered about exoplanets and solar systems heretofore has been entirely confined to the Milky Way Galaxy, a galaxy of nearly 100 billion stars. There are an estimated 100 billion more galaxies to explore, though Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field estimates that as a severe underestimation, if technology and theology allow.

So far the exoplanets discovered by astronomers all tell an interesting story, not a single one has been boring. Some are gas giants, others as small as earth, some are superheated past the temperature of lesser stars, others are supercooled, some rotate, others are tidally locked, some orbit on their star’s equator, others orbit around their star’s poles, some may have been stars once, others may be collapsed gas giants, some have stars as sister satellites, others are so far from their star that if you were standing on the exoplanet you couldn’t discern your star from the starry backdrop, etc.

But what mankind has discovered is currently, drastically, limited by technology. Mankind does not know the molecular makeup of most of the discovered exoplanets, nor even what they look like, and many of the details, such as temperature, atmosphere, and physical attributes are nothing but hypotheses presented by the astronomer or reporter as fact. Anytime you see a picture of a supposed planet that looks like Earth, it is because an artist drew up a picture of an earthlike planet and slapped a name on it of a dim spot on a star trillions of miles away. If technology allows us to see the true pictures of these planets I have no doubt we will be less bored than ever, and enjoy pictures of alien landscapes beyond our imaginations. But they won’t look like Earth, that’d be boring.

3. God is Demonstrating His Creativity Through It

In a universe where no snowflake, no human, no star is exactly the same, God demonstrates his vast creativity. In a universe where a gas giant can orbit its star in 36 hours and exist at 7,800 degrees farenheit (Planet KELT-9b) and another will have its first birthday in about 154,000 Earth years (GU Piscium b has a 160,000 year lap around its star), we see the vast creativity of our Creator. Each of our ~200 billion galaxies has a uniqueness and detail that should make us see the awesome mind of our God.

Not only is its topography, location, temperature, composition, speed, and appearance different, but it even has its own name. “God determines the number of the heavenly bodies; he gives to all of them their names (Psalm 147:4).”

4. God is Sustaining It

KELT-9b, mentioned above as a 7800 degree gas giant, should not exist. The temperatures, radiation, and gravity of its host star should have put an end to it long ago. But what is impossible with stars is possible with God. Likewise, Earth, even in her supposed “Goldilocks Zone” wouldn’t exist for a moment if she were not constantly and totally tweaked by the Sustainer of the Universe.

“He upholds the Universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).”

5. It is Not in the Goldilocks Zone

Gliese 581d is a planet the right distance from its star for the temperature to sustain water…but if there is water it needs a greenhouse type atmosphere, and it is 8 times the mass of Earth, and its star 1/3 the brightness as the sun, and it has 0% the rotation axis of Earth…in other words, it is tidally locked. Earth exists in what many astronomers call the “Goldilock’s Zone” where conditions are “just right” to sustain life. When you hear of a planet being a Goldilocks planet, look at what they mean, usually they mean that one of a million conditions has been met. Hardly a sustainable planet. In other words, don’t buy a one-way ticket to Gliese 581d.

For another example, Earth has a magnetic field that is likely caused by a molten core, where-as Mars lacks this magnetic field and will never be habitable. Neither will any other planet ever meet the necessary life sustaining aspects of Earth, whether this is by design or by consequence it is true.

6. It has been Fatally Affected by Sin

While history has allowed many people to watch stars die, no observable planet has yet met its demise observed by human eyes. That may soon not be the case. Astronomers believe WASP-18b has crossed the event horizon which will end in it being consumed by its host star, as it spirals in a theoretically unsustainable diminishing orbit into the star WASP-18.

All of the exoplanets previously observed and to be observed, and even those that will never be observed by human eyes have an expiration date. Whether they are being consumed by their host, or blasted into smithereens, or will face the purifying fire of the end of the age, they will not exist forever.

So why do stars/planets/humans die? Death is a result of the broken Universe, a universe which has been ravaged by futility, not willingly, but because death entered into the cosmos through sin, the sin of one man Adam, and perpetuated by every human to come after him. Death and decay is the consequence of sin, which ravages everything, and desperately calls for relief, even in the stars groaning (Romans 8:19-22).

7. Redemption is Needed and Coming

But the Creator has not subjected his creation to futility for naught. A New Heaven is hoped for, a recreation of the fallen Universe. Through the cursed death of Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection God is “reconciling to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:20).”

The cosmos currently exists in a state of bondage to the law of sin and death. But a time is coming when all things will be placed under subjection to the reigning king, Jesus Christ, at which time all who hope in the Son of God will be set free from their bondage to corruption.

Conclusion

The planets in this solar system were called of old, “Wandering Stars”, because if you plotted your course and placed your hope in them, they would lead you astray. Their paths are unpredictable without computer processing, and the traveler who hoped to navigate his path by them would meet with a difficult journey and may arrive in a place he did not intend or hope to go.

But Jesus Christ is fixed forever on the Throne of Grace, set your eyes upon him, and spend your time studying him and his word. The exoplanets and other heavenly bodies have their purpose in showing you the glory of God, but they are not the end goal of your existence or your salvation. There is one name given under the stars by which we must be saved, there is salvation in no one else. Look to Jesus, and be saved.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Portuguese Gospel Tract

We have recently moved, the hardest part was leaving our wonderful church and the work they were doing in Brazil. We went through much translation effort and design to make sure the following tract was biblical and accurate. Now that our new church is going to Haiti instead of Brazil, we want to make sure that this Portuguese tract is preserved and made available to others doing work in Portuguese speaking nations.

This tract is based on the American English "Pop Quiz" tract. Either tract is free to use in its entirety without permission. Any edits must be approved prior to printing/distribution.

Front

Pop Quiz

Verdadeiro ou Falso
1. Eu mantenho Deus em primeiro lugar no meu coração.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
2. Eu não tenho adorado (venerado) Dinheiro, Natureza, ou Imagens.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
3. Eu nunca usei o nome do Senhor em vão.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
4. Eu sempre honrei o domingo - dia para descansar.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
5. Eu sempre escutei meus pais, sem falhar.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
6. Eu nunca senti ódio em meu coração.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
7. Eu tive apenas pensamentos puros sobre pessoas bonitas.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
8. Eu nunca roubei nada.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
9. Eu sou verdadeiro em toda declaração que eu faço.

Verdadeiro ou Falso
10. Eu nunca desejei as coisas dos outros.

Back

Instruções

(Por favor, leia o outro lado primeiro)

Conte cada afirmação “verdadeira”.
Cada “verdadeira” recebe 1 ponto.

Converta sua pontuação em porcentagem dividindo por dez.
100% = Passou            90% ou Menos = Falhou

Se você não conseguiu, não vai impedi-lo de se formar para a série seguinte, ou de ganhar seu certificcado; este é o exame de admissão para o céu, uma nota negativa é a sua condenação ao inferno.  Estas perguntas são baseadas nos 10 Mandamentos, o fundamento do julgamento da justiça de Deus.

Seu destino está escrito na Bíblia quando diz; “Não sabeis que os injustos não herdarão o reino de Deus?  Não se deixe enganar ; nem os devassos, nem os idólatras, nem os adúlteros, nem homens que praticam a homossexualidade, nem os ladrões, nem os avarentos, nem bêbados, nem maldizentes, nem roubadores herdarão o reino de Deus.”

Pergunta Crédito Extra

Verdadeiro ou Falso
Deus enviou o Seu único Filho para morrer na cruz por meus pecados, para que eu possa ser perdoado. O que é exigido de mim para receber esse perdão é se arrepender de ( por sua vez, a partir de ) meus pecados e confiam em Jesus Cristo para foi os meus pecados e entregar-me ao Céu.

Resposta: Verdadeiro

Se você se Arrepender de seus pecados e Confiar em Jesus Cristo ressuscitado, o verso seguinte será verdade para você : “Mas vocês foram lavados, mas fostes santificados, mas fostes justificados em o nome do Senhor Jesus Cristo e pelo Espírito do nosso Deus .”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Daughter of Mordecai

In the wonderful biblical book of Esther are many godly lessons to be learned. As a father of three boys and two girls and having a third girl stay with us temporarily, I noticed something in Esther that I had never seen before: I noticed the fatherly role of Mordecai and the things he taught Esther in her youth that blessed her and her people when she became an adult.

In Mordecai we have not only a righteous man who stands for the truth, stands against (in refusing to physically stand) evil, and who rests on the providence of God, but we also have a great example of a biblical father. We see him teaching Esther obedience, compassion, prayer, and courage, among other things.

Mordecai Stepped up to Raise Esther

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 2:27).” We see Mordecai stepping up to raise the orphaned Hadassah (later called Esther) in the death of her parents, who are Mordecai’s uncle and aunt.

He was bringing up Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother…Mordecai took her as his own daughter. ~Esther 2:7
Mordecai Cared for Esther

Mordecai not only stepped up to take care of Hadassah, but he stepped into the biblical role of father, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).” He was much older than Hadassah, and so perhaps he might have thought that it would have been better to turn her over to a younger Hebrew family, but as we see later in the book, he trusted in the divine providence of God, and perhaps, he thought, she had come into his house for a reason.

Mordecai loved and cherished and cared for Hadassah. When the king of Persia sought out a new beautiful young queen, Hadassah was gathered into the citadel. During her time of preparation, one year, to meet the king, the Bible tells us, “Every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her (Esther 2:11).”

In his love for her, he looked after her safety and made sure she was being taken care of. Mordecai had raised Hadassah to walk in the way she should, and he had done a good job.

Let’s look at some things that Mordecai had taught his daughter.

A Meek and Obedient Heart

The time in which Mordecai and Hadassah lived in Persia was a very dangerous one. And to make matters worse, Haman the Agagite held onto a 550 year old family feud with the family of Kish, which just so happened to be Mordecai and Hadassah’s great-grandfather many times removed. Haman greatly desired to put an end to the Jewish people. For this reason Mordecai felt it wise for Hadassah to conceal her genealogy.

Mordecai commanded Hadassah to keep quiet in this matter (Esther 2:10), and she did. This was not the first or only time that Hadassah had obeyed Mordecai, she was obedient in this very important matter because she had been brought up in obedience.
Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him.
~ Esther 2:20
Obedience in the small things will be translated to obedience in the large things. Beloved, it is not a stretch of the imagination to see that if your child listens to you in your living room when you command them to put their shoes away, that it might save their life in a busy parking lot when you command them not to step off the curb, and it certainly will save their soul when they hear the command of God to obey the gospel of grace (cf 1 Peter 4:17).

Hadassah was quite possibly the most beautiful woman in Persia, she was well liked by everyone she met, she had her own entourage; she most certainly could have chosen to disobey Mordecai seeing as her political position was higher than his, but her strength bowed to Mordecai’s will, and it saved not only her life, but the lives of countless others.

Hadassah loved, obeyed, and respected her father.

A Respectful Demeanor

When Hadassah meets the eunuch who has charge over her, she wins his favor. We see in Esther 2:15 that the would-be-queens who go to meet the king are allowed to bring something with them, but Esther, in her trust in God, chooses to bring nothing special with her, except that which her Eunuch, Hegai, instructs her to bring. She respects his wisdom and position, and though she knows she has God’s favor and needs to bring nothing to meet the king, she respects Hegai and takes what he advised.

Because of this, she not only won the respect of Hegai, but also that of everyone who saw her (Esther 2:15). This was in no small part because of her respectful heart and demeanor. And where did she learn these things? From her father, Mordecai. Esther was kind to everyone, not just those that could benefit her, this was not something that could be taught with words, undoubtedly Esther learned this through watching her father interact with others.

It ought to be every Christian’s goal to be “well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:7).” The Christian ought to live a life of kindness, generosity, respect, and love. Surely the message of the cross is offensive and the Christian will be hated for it, but the only offense of the Christian ought to be message of the cross, not of a failed and offensive character (cf also 1 Peter 2:11-12).

Hadassah, just as all Christians, could show grace to a lost and worldly people because of a complete trust in God to grant mercy or mete out justice according to his infinite wisdom.

Trust in God

The maidens who appeared before the king of Persia had the option of asking for accompaniment into the king’s court. Some have speculated that this may have been music to show their prowess in dancing, or an expensive wine or perfume to seek to sway the king’s heart, or an important escort such as a prince or politician to show the king their importance. But Hadassah chose none of these things, she trusted in God that he would go before her and grant her favor in the eyes of the king. While Hadassah was very beautiful, she knew the Proverb, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).” Hadassah knew that if she won the king’s favor with her beauty, then in time when the years had eroded away at her beauty and figure, the king might replace her for a younger woman. Instead, Hadassah trusted God and met the king with her true and lasting beauty, the beauty of her spirit. Peter would write five hundred years later, “Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quite spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:3-4).”

Hadassah undoubtedly won the heart of the king through her respectful and pure conduct (Esther 2:17).

Purity

As we sit in the 21st century it is easy to think that sin is easier to find than it ever has been. We have television that brings wanton immorality straight into our homes, we have the internet that with just a keystroke can open up destructive things that will scar our souls for a lifetime, we have sexualized culture in every facet. But beloved, things were no easier for Mordecai and Esther. Sin has always been treacherous and abundant, and no temptation has appeared in the 21st century that has not always been common to man.

This is abundantly clear in the twelve month waiting period before a maiden would meet the king. These girls were locked away in the citadel with no men but eunuchs to guard them. It has been accurately surmised that the yearlong wait was partly meant to filter out the girls who were pregnant when the king’s decree was made. And while the Bible does not say so, I suspect at least a few girls were disqualified from meeting the king because of the wait.

Mordecai had trained up his daughter in such a way that she was chaste, pure, and worthy to marry a king.

Graceful and Submissive

One of the reasons that the king was in search of a new wife was because his previous wife had been contentious and disobedient. It must have been a tremendous relief to him to meet Esther in her submissive and graceful demeanor. “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels (Proverbs 31:10),” and “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all (Proverbs 31:29).”

Fathers, did you know, or more importantly does your son know, that Proverbs 31 is not written to teach women how to act? It is written to a son to instruct him on the value of a virtuous wife. I pray that I will raise my daughters to be a blessing to their husbands as they exhibit grace and embrace submissiveness and that my sons will not be destroyed (Proverbs 31:3) by worldly women.

I pray that they will reach out to the poor, speak for the mute, and open their hands to lift the downcast up to see Jesus, to love mercy, seek justice, and walk humbly with their God (Proverbs 31:9,20, Micah 6:8).

How to Read People

When Haman gains the ear of the king he devises a plot to wipe out all of the Jews in the Mede-Persian Empire, which for all intents and purposes included every Jew alive at the time. When Mordecai learns of the plot, he is obviously driven to despair and tears his clothes, dresses in sackcloth, and heaps ashes upon his head. Hadassah, oblivious to the danger, sought to comfort her father by sending him new clothing to wear. When Mordecai refuses, Esther realizes that something important is happening. She did not press him to change clothes, or cheer up, but instead listens to him and hears his distress.

From her position, it would have been very easy for Hadassah to have assumed Mordecai was overreacting or being ungrateful to her husband the king or sought to press him to end his lamentations (cf Nehemiah 2:2). Mordecai had probably taught her the proverb, “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda (Proverbs 25:20).” So instead of fighting Mordecai, she empathized with him, and accurately identified that she needed to invest more time and effort into his current situation.

Hadassah knew how to read Mordecai, and knew that his distress was important to him, so she made it important to her, and in so doing she saved many lives, including her own.

Compassion

When Hadassah learns of the plot to exterminate the Jews she acts and in so doing saves not only the lives of her people, but also her own life. A case could be made that she acted only out of self preservation and not a compassionate heart. But that does not stand up to scrutiny, for by Esther 8:3 Hadassah is safe from harm, but she once against entreats the favor of the king to save her people. She puts her own life in danger (Esther 4:11, 8:3) to intercede for her people, even when her life is quite secure.

Mordecai had taught her well to love God and love people, and to make sacrifices in order to help, protect, and even save others. May we, like the Messiah Jesus, be teaching our children that it is “More blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).” May we, like the Apostle Paul, be willing to sacrifice everything for others (Romans 9:3). May we, like Christ, do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than ourselves, looking not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 4:3-4).

Let us set the example for our children, as Mordecai did in adopting Hadassah and raising her, and then pray for them that they would be imitators of us as we are of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Prayer

The most important lesson that Mordecai taught Hadassah was how to pray and seek God. When the disciples approached Christ they did not ask him to teach them how to walk on water, or turn water into wine, or multiply fishes, or heal the sick, or even to raise the dead, they asked him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). Beloved, if you teach your children only one thing, teach them how to come to God (John 14:6) and know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent (John 17:3).

When Hadassah was faced with impossible circumstances she did not despair for her life, but turned to God in prayer and fasting, and entreated all of the Jews in town to likewise fast and pray for her (Esther 4:16). Hadassah did not suggest a menial prayer at mealtime, she called for a three day fast of food AND water. Three days without water is nearly fatal, but without God’s favor the Jews would surely die. Hadassah took her entreaty to God very seriously, and found faith, favor, and courage in God’s providence. For after all, if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?

Courage

Finally, in Hadassah’s life we see a tremendous amount of courage. She takes her life in her hands when she walks uninvited into the presence of the king, not once but twice (Esther 5:1, 8:3-5). She had replaced an unsubmissive wife and so contextually she was in far more danger than most in stepping into the king’s court without being summoned, but the necessity outweighed the risk and she put on strength (Proverbs 31:25) and accepted the danger. She told her father, “If I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16).”

I imagine a five year old Hadassah sitting on her grey-haired father's lap and him telling her, “Fear not those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear God who can destroy both soul and body in Hell (Matthew 10:28)." Esther put away her fear of man and kings, she took courage in the providence of God, and knew that God does not believe in coincidences and had not put her in the palace for no reason (Esther 4:14), but that she was to, as William Carey put it 2300 years later, “Expect great things from God, and attempt great things for God.”

Courage is something that God can muster out of nothing, but more often it is a character trait trained through years of practice. Young David did not rush out to meet Goliath without a character of courage that had risked life and limb earlier in his life (1 Samuel 17:34-36). Certainly Hadassah had not decided to be courageous for the first time in the king's palace, but Mordecai had raised her up to walk in courage and know that it was God who walked before her, and who commanded angels to guard her in all her ways (Psalm 91, especially Psalm 91:11). Hadassah was trained in courage, so when great courage was required of her, she was prepared to rise and meet the challenge.

Conclusion

Mordecai was undoubtedly proud of the things his daughter accomplished through the sovereignty and working of God. But beloved, I doubt he was surprised by them. He had ingrained these things in his little girl from the time she could understand his words, and probably even before that. He had trained up his child in the way she should go, and when she was older and a queen in a hostile and strange land, she did not depart from the statutes of God.

Take Mordecai’s example, step up to be the father your children or the children in your house (church, community, etc) need. Care for their needs, see that they are safe, and bring them up to fear God and be used by him in the way in which he has prepared (Ephesians 2:10). Teach them to respect others, to show empathy and compassion, to obey your commands so they will obey God’s commands, to submit and trust to God’s will, how to pray, and how to be strong and courageous. Teach your boys, and even your girls, to laugh in the face of danger (Proverbs 31:25).

You have come into your childrens’ lives for just such a task as this. And who knows, perhaps you and God are preparing them to see nations saved and the name of Jesus lifted high as his peace is published throughout a foreign and hostile land.

In closing, Esther means “Star” and I believe it refers to God shining his righteousness and steadfast love through her. I am also apt to say that it is a partial fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever (Daniel 12:3).”

May it be, and may your name and the names of your children be forever remembered in regards to your faith in the living God who loved us and gave himself for us, and by the many that you and your family turn to righteousness, just as Mordecai and Hadassah are remembered and immortalized in the Book of Esther and in the hearts of millions of Persian Jews who were saved from the snare of the evil one. May your family be a starry cluster trained up in the way in which they should go.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

God is Pleased to Cut Down Some to Warn Others – Josh Duggar

Josh Duggar is back in the news, and this time the sin he has been discovered in, and confirmed, is after his supposed conversion to Jesus Christ. It is a devastating fall and it is bringing disgrace upon the name of Christ, hurting the church, and crushing his family. It is a terrible and sad sin, but dear believer, God is using all things for good to those who love him and are called according to his purposes.

I pray that one of God’s purposes in the midst of this seeming irredeemable sin is to bring Duggar to repentance. I know that one of God’s purposes in exposing Duggar is to warn the church that secret and unrepentant sin is serious and dreadful.

It was said by Jonathan Edwards, “God is pleased to cut down some to warn others.” His original context is concerning death in young age, however, it is also very apt when a believer is caught in horrifying sin. Now, I am not confirming that Josh Duggar is a born-again follower of Jesus Christ, but it is not place to judge his salvation. That is the job of his close friends, his pastor, and his elders, and ultimately Jesus Christ, but based on his profession of faith, I hope he is a true believer in the Way.

Regardless, if we want to benefit spiritually from his fall, we must assume that he believed he is born-again, and also understand that is possible for believers to fall. The “Slippery-Slope” argument is sound, Josh Duggar did not choose to sin in a minute, his sin started in childhood, was nurtured through pornography, and blossomed in adultery; sin unchecked in the believer is more than capable of escalating to the levels that it has in Josh Duggar’s life.

Consider Ananias and Sapphira, there is scant evidence that they were true believers, but beloved, I submit that there is NO evidence that they were not. When their greed and deceptiveness manifested in lying to the Holy Spirit and they were cut down look at the response of the church, “Great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things (Acts 5:11).” God cut down Ananias and Sapphira as a warning to believers and unbelievers alike that he takes sin seriously and the consequences are dire.

The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was found out almost immediately, Duggar on the other hand has concealed his sin for months and years. Paul warns, “The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later (1 Timothy 5:24).” Beloved, search your heart, which sin in your life are you successfully hiding from the world? Be sure that it will come to light sooner rather than later, and beloved, it behooves you to deal with this sin sooner than later!

It could be that right now Ananias and Sapphira are in the agony of Hell crying out in warning to you not to come to this place of torment. Do not rest on the solace that they may be in Heaven praising the exceeding grace of a risen Saviour. When you pass into eternity, let there be no question in anyone’s mind concerning your salvation. There is no-one alive who can tell you where Ananias and Sapphira are spending eternity, and there are many who worry that if Josh Duggar stepped out of this world today, he would face God in his terrible fury. The warning from God in Ananias, Sapphira, and Josh Duggar is this: Be sure your sin will find you out.

Be sure your sin will find you out.

The sins into which Josh Duggar has fallen publicly are all sexual sins. Molestation, pornography, adultery. These sins are rampant today in and out of the church. Truly the days are evil. Dr. Kevin Leman, in his book Sheet Music, notes an interesting phenomenon regarding sexual sin; that unconfessed, hidden sin is impossible to repent of. He specifically relates this in the context of unwed couples engaging in fornication, that regardless of how much each wants to stop sinning and abstain from fornication it is impossible as long as the couple is the only two who know of the sin. Only once a pastor, parent, or friend are told, asked to pray, and keep the couple accountable, do the couple start making righteous decisions and stop their sin. Paul pleads with you, "Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, who you have from God (1 Corinthians 6:18-19)."

To flee from sexual sin requires light. Believer, if you are caught in sexual sin, you must tell someone who will keep you accountable and encourage you to repent of your sin. Tell your wife, your pastor, a close friend, tell someone. Depending on your sin their response may be judgment, but beloved, it is far better to be judged by a brother this side of eternity than by God, or to be found out like Josh Duggar. James exhorts you! “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20).” Employ a Christian brother to bring you back from your sin. Most likely, no matter how terrible your sin is, you will be met with empathy and a willing heart to help you if you bring the sin to light. Regardless, sexual sin requires light, and hiding it in the dark will never benefit your spiritual condition.

Look at the sinners in Ezekiel’s day hiding their sin, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us (Ezekiel 8:12)…”

Likewise Jesus warns, “This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed (John 3:19-20).

Let Josh Duggar be a warning to you. Your sin will find you out. Dear reader, first make your calling and election sure, are you in the faith? Confess your sin to Jesus Christ and look to his work on the cross as your salvation, thank him that he saw fit to save a wretch like you. Second, repent of your sin! Take drastic measures to repent and be forgiven. Look to Caleb in the movie Fireproof when he destroys and disposes of his computer. Tell someone, tell your wife, your pastor, someone, and seek godly counsel to help you overcome and defeat your sin.

Paul promises, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).”

Josh Duggar has been cut down for your sake. Be thankful for this warning and repent of your sin. Stop trying to hide it; it might be revealed today, or it might be revealed on the Day of Judgment, but it will be revealed, that is sure.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Three Reasons Frozen was Not a Good Movie

Introduction

I bought into the hype of Frozen, I’ll admit. The songs posted on Facebook, the constant references, the frenzy of interest…I had to watch it…and I liked it…at first. But then I watched it twice more (with kids!) and then thought about it, and realized that it’s not just not a good movie, it’s actually a bad movie that could have been epic.

I usually don’t write about things like this, but when you’re a writer in a drought you jump at the chance to write about anything. And this is something big, something that will have long lasting effects on the culture, and something that will pass for a good movie, when, if you think about it, is really not.

Summary

If you can’t read more than a few sentences because of your Facebook/Twitter addiction, then let me sum it up for you.

Frozen would have been a good movie if:
1. Olaf knew what summer was
2. Hans didn’t reveal his plan too early
3. There had been a contiguous story

So for my reader’s with attention spans, let’s get started with ways Frozen could have been better:

1. Olaf should have known about summer

There is definitely a hilarity and endearing quality to a snowman who dreams of summer. When Kristoff says, “I’m guessing you don’t have much experience with heat”, then “I’m gonna tell him”, and finally, “Somebody’s gotta tell him”, he stumbles upon what could have been an epic character crisis of a snowman who wants to love people and help his friends, but in so doing, would ultimately seal his doom (no-one could have foreseen his salvation at the hands of Elsa in the original version).

Imagine the internal struggle of a snowman who recognizes he must choose between either the complete ruin of summer-loving people or suicide. As it stands, Olaf’s naïvety only makes for a trite joke that is too easily rectified at the end of the movie. If it were done right, it would have put Tolkien’s Smeagol/Golum struggle to shame, but alas, it was not.

I even rewrote the song to perfectly encompass this drastic plot twist,
Winter’s a great time to stay in and cuddle,
But put me in summer, and I’ll be a…
Conflicted Snowman.
If only snowmen could foresee consequences like men should be able to.

2. Hans should have held onto his secret until the princess was actually dead

Prince Hans was a smart and laudable fellow for most of the movie, he even seems to have had a feasible plan in place for gaining a kingdom. His complete and unexpected turn to diabolicalness was far too fast and far less of a letdown than it was meant to be. Princess Anna is clearly having feelings for Kristoff midway through the movie, but in genuine loyalty to her betrothed, stands firm with Hans. Let’s say Hans was as diabolical as they want us to believe (though most of the movie does not square with his turn), then we would have to assume he thinks things through and is smarter than the average supervillain.

Prince Hans, in a good movie, would have kissed Anna, except only to the horror of everyone it would not have cured her frozen heart. Hans then easily could have said, “This is why we unfortunately cannot trust the love/magic advice of trolls.” and moved towards marriage of his “beloved” Anna, only to inherit the kingdom rightfully when hypothermia took his royal bride. Or in a better love story, Hans’ kiss does nothing, Kristoff connects the dots, rushes to her aide, and then the movie ends the way it does with Anna sacrificing herself for her sister.

As it stands, Prince Hans loses his future, the kingdom, and the movie for his impatience and lack of forethought by announcing to the world that he had married Anna before she died…but he announces her death before she actually dies. This ruined the movie because a diabolical supervillain would have thought this through, and would have left the audience guessing/wondering for a lot longer, with a more fulfilling reveal, and therefore a more fulfilling movie.

But that would have required a contiguous story.

3. A Contiguous Story

If there is one place where Frozen is a failure, it is in the lack of a streamlined story. It’s like the writers had a brainstorming session, liked everything that was proposed, and shoehorned it ALL into the movie.

The opening scene with the ice-cutter song is clever and engaging, but utterly useless in furthering the story. It lends to the idea that Kristoff was born to ice-cutters, adopted by trolls, and became an ice-cutter? It’s foolhardy and useless. Then move to the King and Queen, who come across as loving parents…who lock their daughters in the castle. In other Disney movies they would be the villains. Their death is awkwardly quick, but extremely convenient to the plot. Then Anna is scorned for falling in love with a man in a day, but nobody bats an eyelash when she kisses Kristoff after only a few days. I’ll admit, I glazed over these plot holes the first time I watched because my imagination wanted this to be a better movie than it was.

But where it gets glaringly bad is in the almost stories that are told. One person saw an attempt to force homosexuality on the viewers. Another saw a seemingly Christian theme of self-sacrifice and redemption. While there are supporting details for both, neither exists, because neither is clearly expressed, fleshed out, or corroborated. If the writers were trying to say that homosexuality is a trait that one is born with, that can’t be hidden, and is best expressed in small/controlled doses, they failed because it is in direct opposition to Elsa’s “Let it Go” song. If they were trying to say, “True love has no woman than this; that she lay down her life for her sister.” they failed because either Hans or Kristoff or Olaf could have broken the curse as quickly and completely without a sacrifice, and that is in direct opposition to the exclusivity of Christ.

Frozen is a muddle of stories that have little in common with each other. For the most part the characters are bland and unimaginative, and they were written to sing rather than tell a good story. The songs, standalone, are well written and catchy, but placed in the context of the film, the songs do not support the plot and are thus wrecked. Definitively “Let it Go” is the moment Elsa embraces the evil within herself, but when she turns back to good at the end of the movie, this song is effectively reneged, and thus is not the ballad of unbridled expression it is meant to be. Likewise, Anna and Hans’ love song is invalidated by Hans being a poor planner, a bad fiancé, and a born failure.

Conclusion

Frozen is somewhat fun and has memorable music with some endearing characters, but it contains such lazy writing and continuity that it ultimately is a forgettable and bad movie. Hans is too quickly and conveniently exposed as evil, and no-one really believes he’s as evil as the writers intend him to be; Olaf is a naïve sidekick who is far less thought provoking and silly as first impressions indicate.

But this is the quality of movie we accept now, our short attention spans require out-of-context ballads to keep us entertained, and we don’t care if there are massive plot holes or wrinkles, so long as the scene changes quickly enough and we can giggle over mildly (and in one case, wildly) inappropriate jokes.

Beloved, as you seek to redeem the time, consider if such poorly executed movies are worth your brain power or the dulling of your discernment, or decreasing your appreciation of drama. Find a good movie to watch or read a book or spend some time with people. In fact, it reminded me of a great quote from Robert Murray McCheyne’s biography (a book worth reading!), don’t let this be you,
Not a trait worth remembering! And yet these four and-twenty hours must be accounted for. - RM McCheyne

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lessons from the Snowflake

I was recently in search of a gift for a friend. I didn’t really know what I was looking for, but I had two criteria that I was hoping to meet.

1. It had to be appropriate for the Christmas Season.
2. It had to be theologically significant.

I felt that either of these criteria would be easy to meet, but combining the two seemed perhaps a little daunting. Within a few minutes I found a beautiful set of snowflake earrings, and thought to myself that the first criteria was certainly met, and that the second criteria, though lacking, was present.

I then set out to find a good quote, poem, song, whatever about snowflakes to include with the present. As I searched, I was woefully disappointed at the lack of theologically significant statements about snowflakes, and as I searched, my own understanding was opened to how truly neat these little creations of God are, and how much they tell us. It led to my own prose about the snowflake, shared at the end of this article.

For your edification and encouragement this Christmas, I’d like to give you some lessons from the snowflake.

Purity

Fresh snow is the epitome of whiteness, it covers every scar, every blemish, every mark on the landscape. Ray Comfort uses a great analogy of the purity of snow by stating that a white sheep in a green field looks brilliant, but a white sheep in a snowy field is revealed to be a dingy and imperfect grey. Similarly, if we compare ourselves to anything other than God and his revealed law, we can make ourselves look quite good, but compared to the perfection of God, our impurity is revealed.

Therefore snow shows us two things about God, first that we are imperfect, but gloriously it shows us also that we may be washed, covered, and all of our blemishes erased and purified by the work of Jesus Christ. God said so in Isaiah 1:18,
Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow.
And revealed in Revelation 7:14,
“They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Beauty

Wilson A. Bentley is renowned for his work in snowflake photography. In his lifetime he captured 5,000 snowflake images long before digital cameras or digital microscopes were invented. He captured the beauty of snowflakes far better than I ever could,
I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design…
When we look to the stars we see beautiful designs, in our everyday life we see beautiful sunsets and landscapes, and when we look at the minutia of the snowflake we see that God is a master craftsman, working on every scale, and creating and recreating beauty that mankind can only dream of replicating. And while I know of no verse that succinctly captures this thought, it is surely found in many biblical themes, and consider that God does it on grand scales every day, he asked Job 38:22,
Have you entered the storehouses of the snow?
Complexity

At first glance, a snowflake looks rather unassuming, but as Bentley found, they are miracles of design. Each one has an architecture, a symmetry, a purpose, and a means for growth. They are tiny miracles full of intricacy that take far more than a glance to appreciate.

Likewise God is a God of intricacy, we see it in mankind, in creation from the largest star to the smallest snowflake, and especially in the Word of God. A seemingly simple passage of scripture contains more depth than all of the writings of men. Above all, the intricacy of the Creator himself must be considered; one of the reasons Heaven will last forever is because we will need an eternity to plumb the depths of our infinite God.

Proverbs 25:3 states that the heart of men has the heavens for height and the earth for depth, how-much more then is the complexity of God.

Uniqueness

Wilson A. Bentley postulated that no two snowflakes were alike. I remember reading a study which mathematically estimated the number of people required to have a physically identical person, and while I can’t find the study, the number was in the hundreds of Trillions. Snowflakes are less complex than human beings, so it is entirely plausible that two identical flakes have fallen, but they are so unique that the chances of you or I ever seeing a duplicate flake is impossible. Bentley looked at 5000 flakes and didn’t even come close. Recent scientists have catalogued between 35 and 41 individual types of snowflake, each made up of multiple quintillion molecules (that’s 1000000000000000000 molecules) each of which has exponential possibilities in uniqueness.

For their beauty and complexity, God still manages to make each individual snowflake unique in its own ways. No two galaxies, no two stars, no two people, no two snowflakes are exactly alike, God is the God of incredible imagination and creativity. And he made you and I.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
- Psalm 139:13
Resplendence

Resplendence is my favorite word. It is the act of shining. The snowflake falling in the dark has lost much of its purpose and glory. Yes, it still does many things that are glorious, but it fails to refract light, it fails to shine, and its glory is diminished.

It mirrors much of the purpose of man. Mankind is meant to reflect its Creator. Unlike snowflakes, we are created in his image and his likeness. Our primary purpose in life is to show the world Jesus, to be resplendent in his grace, to shine his power, forgiveness, justice, and love, and to make him known. A person living in the dark, outside of his light, has lost much of their purpose and glory.

The snowflake reminds us to reflect the Light of the world, and because of his work in us, he will be glorified in us and through us.
At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. – Ephesians 5:8
(And related, another snow verse, the coolness of snow is refreshing when much work is required, which Proverbs 25:13 equates to the refreshing nature of a faithful messenger. Be a faithful messenger publishing his mercy to the world.)

Fleeting

Finally, beloved, the snowflake reminds us that we live a short and doomed existence. The largest snowflake on record measured over a foot in diameter, yet there is no picture of it, for it melted before a camera could be found. Every snowflake that has ever fallen will melt someday, just as we all have an appointment with death.

Your lifespan, in your eyes, is a bit longer than a snowflake's, however in God’s eyes and the grand scheme of things your life is equated to a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14). You are terminal, you have an expiration date, and you have an appointment with Judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Drought and heat snatch away the snow;
so does Hell those who have sinned. - Job 24:19
Conclusion and Invitation

But beloved, God has provided a remedy, he has defeated death, cleansed sinners, covered them, and recreated them. He sent his own Son from Heaven, he created for him a body to inhabit, he set him as the standard of purity. In him was life, and the life was the light of men, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Jesus of Nazareth was not just reflecting the light, he was the light. And yet when the world saw his light, they did not know him, and they loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. But in his great love, he willingly went to a cross to face the just condemnation that sinners deserved, he substituted himself and faced the penalty of death though he had never sinned. He laid down his life that others may live, and then he took it back up again, the Lamb slain to wash men in his blood.

Pray with David,
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. – Psalm 51:7
And God will hear you and we will rejoice with Paul,
You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
– 1 Corinthians 6:11
And then we will reflect his light,
…Proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:10
Beloved, you were created to demonstrate that God is powerful, creative, pure, a Saviour, and capable of recreating mankind to show his glory. You only have one life, and it will soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will last.

Finally, if you have been washed in the blood, then encourage someone today that they are worth far more than snowflakes, and that you appreciate them and the work God is doing in them. Below is the poem I wrote to my friend, feel free to use some or all of it to bless someone else. Above all, tell them of the soul cleansing blood that was shed on Calvary.
I thank God for you,
For your Purity
For your Beauty
For your Complexity
For your Uniqueness
For your Resplendence
For driving us together

I have fallen for you.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Evidence Against Sye Ten Bruggencate

Introduction

I have long worried about the evangelism community being like sheep without a shepherd, or a ship without an anchor tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, and by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Many of these evangelists had their start in following the method of evangelism invented by Ray Comfort where he asks, "Would you consider yourself to be a good person?" (Example) is a fantastic, biblical method, and is founded in solid truth in what he calls, "Hell's Best Kept Secret". But unfortunately many evangelists weren't drawn to this method because it was biblical, but because it was a method that seemed like it would win the world.

Of course, scripture teaches a clear slide into apostasy, where the world at the end will have practically no Christians, so Ray Comfort's method of presenting the gospel did not win the world (many souls, yes, but the world, no) and many evangelists, instead of admitting they could not win the entire world for Christ, sought out different and increasingly wicked methods to reap supposedly better results. Mark Cahill, for example, abandoned biblical teaching, teachers, and evangelists by embracing the idea that a simple prayer or choice can save a person. Others have fled to the political realm, many of these have rejected the return of Christ, and thus have made shipwreck of their faith. Others have wandered into HyperCalvinism, of waiting for people to come to Christ as God calls them apart any efforts of his saints. Others embraced the law and the Sabbath to say that God will bless you if keep his laws to the best of your ability. Some others even became atheists because they saw no results from the methods they were using, and because of the wicked draw of their own sinfulness. Some dove into evidentialism and made sinners the judge over God. And this list could go on and on.

The latest in these wicked methods is that of Sye Ten Bruggencate's "Presuppositional" Apologetics. It is in quotation marks because his method is not presuppositional, but that is what he calls it. Many examples will be given throughout this article, but the basic premise is that because absolute truth exists, things can be known, and that logic exists, there must be a God. It is reasonably a good foundation, but it ends there, not even mentioning Jesus or his gospel.

This article will prove to you that Ten Bruggencate's apologetics is a worthless evidential model, that he has ignored historic and useful presuppositional training, that he is in serious error concerning the Biblical teaching on knowledge and deception, that he fellowships with the American Vision cult, and that he has shown cult-leader-like tendencies, and has, through lack of gospel preaching, denied Jesus Christ. He is an enemy of the gospel and has deceived even the elect, and is doing severe damage to their ministries and the gospel witness they bear. Finally, this article will encourage you to use true presuppositional apologetics and to preach Christ and him crucified.

Foundation of Presuppositional Apologetics
and Ten Bruggencate's Departure


Presuppositionalism is found throughout the Bible (see esp Romans 1:16-32, Acts 14:15-17, Acts 17:18-31), it says that the Bible is true and sin exists and that all men need a Saviour. It says, "All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one (Romans 3:10)." and "I (Jesus) told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins (John 8:24)."

Presuppositionalism is the correct way to do apologetics. I recommend Greg Bahnsen's book, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended for an extrabiblical look at this method (I will loan you my copy so you do not have to support AV, my copy was free because the cover is damaged).

One of my major problems with Sye is that his method is not presuppositional, it is evidential on the fact that logic is not made of matter, or that you can be absolutely sure that absolute truth exists. Visit Sye's website, http://proofthatgodexists.org/, and see all of the evidence he uses. (I am not against evidence, but it must be based on the presupposition that evidence points to God, and I encourage you to realize that fact when you're using evidence). See this video of him using logic and knowledge as the evidence of God. "God is the necessary precondition of knowledge." Even the atheists he debates see that he is using evidentialism (see @ 1:38 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcwfvZHYQJE)

Pay attention especially in that video that Ten Bruggencate completely relies on the man he is debating to be able to understand and see God's evidence. He says, "I'm not trying to prove to you that a god exists, I'm trying to expose that you know this God and that you are without excuse for your sin against him." Bahnsen would freak out on Sye at this point, Bahnsen is clear that (p.51),
The man who follows the "wisdom" of the world...is unable to know the things of the Spirit and he cannot have the spiritual discernment to judge for the truth as long as he is steeped in unbiblical presuppositions...Fallen man is incapacitated from seeing things as they really are; he has incapacitated himself by suppressing rather than presupposing the revelation of God...Having the spirit of the world manifest in his reasoning, the unregenerate is unable to understand the things of God's Spirit.
Ten Bruggencate utterly misses the spiritual side of apologetics, that fallen man is blinded. There are no lack of Bible verses to this effect, let me share a few with you, "sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me (Romans 7:11." Paul said that prior to his conversion, he had, "acted ignorantly in unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13)." He makes a damning statement to Sye's evidentialism when he states, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)."

Sye comes across as yelling at a blind man (or woman; See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQbL-dhuuCA) in a maze every time the blind man bumps into a wall (see also @ 2:50 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcwfvZHYQJE). This is why Paul writes to Timothy, "And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:24-26)."

There is no gentleness in Sye's argument, nor any effort in his videos to get to the gospel. His website is devoid of a gospel message, and in my extensive research though it, I did not even see the name Jesus used. It ends with a declaration that arriving at the intellectual acquiescence of God's existence is his goal. His website sends you to the Disney Channel (which accidentally gets closer to the gospel than Sye ever does, see The Gospel According to Disney) if you select a certain link on his website, because he's only interested in debate and has no care if you go to Hell or not or if Jesus receives the glory or not (I base this on the evidence of what he makes public). He does no better than those who convinced Anthony Flew to be a deist, as many walk away from Sye maybe convinced in the evidence of God's existence, but unless they repent of their sin against the God who has blinded their minds, and put their faith in Jesus Christ, they will go to Hell. That is not victory. In fact it may be worse for this opponents (Luke 11:24-26).

Recently an atheist monument was setup in Florida, and granted, it does humorously look like a toilet, but Sye, instead of preaching the gospel, attempted to place a toilet seat upon it (see Atheists Unveil Monument) adding unneeded offense, quarrelsomeness, and argument. Thank God that Eric Hovind stood up and preached Christ and him crucified, for Christ is not without a witness.

Finally, Sye Ten Bruggencate fellowships with some of the most wicked heretics operating today, the Federal Visionists at American Vision, and the gospel deniers at Crown Rights Media. Seven years ago when many current evangelists were being trained by Ray Comfort, the idea that a person is saved by their baptism would have lead to outcry and the idea that Christ returned almost 2,000 years ago and is waiting for the world to become perfect would have been scoffed at and the errant people called to read their Bibles. But as evangelists are swept along by every wind of doctrine, these strange and blasphemous things are accepted (compare Thoughts on the Covenants). This Presbyterian heresy is prevalent today and is destroying ministries and suppressing the gospel. Therefore I warn you to flee from Sye's evidentialism and preach the gospel to a lost and dying world.

The Gospellessness of the Message

Dan Phillips says what is missing in Sye's message better than I can; he says masterfully,
Sye seems to focus on utterly destroying the unbeliever and his worldview, period. Winning the unbeliever to a God-centered worldview (conversion) does not seem to be the priority.

You see very little appeal, very little bridge-building, very little outreach. Paul's concern that he might win as many as possible (1 Cor. 9:19-22) isn't at the fore.
A lack of gospel preaching is one of the most dangerous things a preacher can do. If we are evidentialists or presuppositionalists, or we have everything else wrong, we cannot get the gospel wrong (Philippians 1:15-18, esp 18).

One of the most dangerous debates that is lauded today is the Greg Bahnsen versus Gordon Stein debate. There has been a lie perpetuated that this is one of the most crushing defeats of atheism in modern times. If you listen to the audio or read the transcript you'll see that no-one wins this debate, because Bahsen utterly balks on preaching the gospel. In fact, Stein comes closer to the gospel in his mockery of it.

I searched and searched for a video of Ten Bruggencate sharing the gospel, and I had many of his supporters looking as well. Granted, he does occasionally come close, but he is yet to preach a solid biblical presentation. I can share three semi-gospels with you that I have found, but the most clear is Sye's video, "Pray for Franco", this is a weird, unbiblical, muddle of Pelagianism (don't choose Hell) and HyperCalvinism (If God is speaking to your heart & I hope you're a sheep). No presentation in scripture of the gospel assumes that a person is elect or not before commanding them to repent, see especially Acts 17:30, "He commands all people everywhere to repent..." Notice as well that Sye emphasizes other things over salvation, such as salvation of knowledge and reasoning. The gospel is hard to find in Sye's preaching, and when it is found, it's only a portion of the gospel, which is no gospel at all.

This is a common problem in the Federal Vision movement, they cannot preach the gospel well because they do not know the gospel nor practice sharing it. See two videos by Federal Visionists where the gospel is destroyed and their own souls are forfeit, Joel McDurmon and Gary DeMar.

The goal of every Christian is to properly preach Christ and him crucified. This message saves some, and it hardens others, but it is the central theme of most importance in the Bible. When I asked Sye to do a better job of preaching the gospel, he asked me to stop being a jerk (his ad hominem attack proving that he does not care about the purity of the gospel). Dan Phillips writes one of the most damning things against him, "Often, Sye takes a phrase and simply repeats it until he's kicked off a show or his hearer walk[s] away in a rage." No Christian should EVER consider that a victory, for the offense of the cross, not our own impudence, should be the reason people walk away and rage against us.

Impact on Others

Sye is having a terrible effect on others as well. Tony Miano is a great gospel preacher, but when he uses Sye's method, and never gets to the gospel. I would never have believed that Miano would press someone so hard with evidence that they would walk away without hearing of the Saviour. But here are two examples where he has, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL6N_VJFpXE & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvnC23UvtMM.

An ardent supporter of Sye Ten Bruggencate is Richard Mailly, during our conversation the man mocked the gospel and called me a minced curse word. Towards the end of our discussion he proclaimed, "Sye Ten Bruggencate is my master. I follow no other!" Surely he was being facetious, but this is the quality of person who is born from the arrogant evidentialism of Sye Ten Bruggencate, a man who has no reverence for the gospel or respect towards its ministers.

A dear friend of mine who sees merit in Sye's methodology made an excellent point recently, that it is "only useful for atheists." I would argue that it is useful for no-one, but this is an excellent point, that the brand of apologetics (not presuppositional) which Sye has adopted does not do well with the contrite. See the above video with Franco where Sye had no idea where to go when someone was humble. If your method cannot work in more than one situation, it is tremendously lacking. Look at the presuppositionalism in the Bible, it works for Jews and Gentiles, for wise and religious, for indignant and humble. Be prepared to give a reason for the hope that lies in you, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Many of those who have grouped to Ten Bruggencate have followed his rejection of  evidentialists to such an extreme as to cut ties with great godly ministries. One of these people attacked one such ministry by saying Sye had taught her not to use "stupid arguments about bananas or the complexity of the eye." The ministry she is speaking of preaches the gospel often and boldly, and gains audience with many by using the incredible complexity of God's creation. Sye has gone so far as to call these ministries blasphemous. They are only using the vast corpus of creation to show the grandeur of God, and then to call them to repentance in the Living Christ, and yet Sye's followers are against them.

Finally, Sye is a divider of the brethren to the extent that he has one major characteristic of a cult-leader. Most cult groups encourage radical disengagement from family and friends. Criticism and truth is not the friend of the cult-leader, so cutting them off is absolutely necessary. When confronted by a Christian, Sye called for everyone who followed him to not follow his critic, and he went after supposed friends with a vengeance. One person only questioned whether Sye was right to say evidentialists were blasphemous, and he was instantly cut off from fellowship. It is cultic and it is dangerous, and I implore you to flee from Sye Ten Bruggencate and call him to repentance in the Living Christ and to hope in the saving work of God, and not in his vast intellect which is able to crush blinded atheists and make them twice the sons of Hell as himself.

Conclusion

There is nothing right about Sye Ten Bruggencate, he has bastardized presuppositional apologetics and has bastardized the gospel. He is a gangrene in the body and is destroying the fellowship and cohesion of brothers. He is so clearly an antichrist and cult-leader that if you name the name of Christ, you must flee from him, for, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19)."

Learn proper presuppositional apologetics aright, that the Bible is true, God is holy, men are not, and all are in desperate need of the forgiveness purchased by Jesus Christ on the cross and affirmed in his resurrection. Call all men to repentance and faith in the Living Christ.

Avoid the wickedness of Federal Vision, do not fellowship with those who think they are saved by their baptism. You do them no favors by pretending they are brothers, and for you, bad company ruins good morales. Never let a Christian tell you who you can and cannot be friends with, especially when they are bringing wounds rather than kisses (Proverbs 27:6). Emulate Jesus Christ in saying, "those whom I love, I reprove and discipline (Revelation 3:19)."

Judge ministries based on their adherence to the Bible, not on their results, for remember, Jeremiah had no converts, Noah had eight, and Jesus Christ could only count one-hundred-twenty prior to Pentecost. Mankind will go from bad to worse, this is no concern of yours, preach the gospel in season and out, plant and water seeds, and pray that God gives them the growth (1 Corinthians 3:7).

Above all, know and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). This is the central theme of scripture, you must get it right, for if you miss it, your life and ministry will be counted complete loss. For further reading, see my article "What is the Gospel?".

Finally, something that edified me in the long hours of writing and researching this is a thought by Keith and Kristyn Getty who exhort us,
"Our call to war: to love the captive soul,
but to rage against the captor;
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole
We will fight in faith and valor
When faced with trials on every side
We know the outcome is secure
And Christ will have the prize for which He died
An inheritance of nations"

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Versus Obsolete: Thoughts on the Covenants

Introduction

Historically, the doctrine of the covenants has sent many Baptists to their death (drowning, burning, beating) and it has sent many Presbyterians to Hell. It is not something to be taken lightly, and we must admit that there is a vast difference between the belief that there is one Covenant (Covenantalism) and at least two major Covenants (Dispensationalism). This article will seek to define and repudiate the heresy of Covenantalism, drawing all readers to a firm belief in the New Covenant of Grace.

Definition

According to the Covenantal document, the Westminster Confession of Faith (hereafter WCF), the singular Covenant is expressed in two dispensations, "This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel (WCF Chapter VII, Para V)..." The covenant was administered through sacrifices, circumcision, and the like under the law, but under the gospel, they are administered through the preaching of the Word, and in Baptism and the Lord's Supper (WCF Chapter VII, Para VI).

The result of the law and the gospel, according to this anathema religion, is "full remission of sins, and eternal salvation (WCF Chapter VII Para V)..." They conclude by saying, "There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations (WCF Chapter VII Para VI)."

The simplest definition of Covenantalism is that the covenant is between God and men, under works it was circumcision, and under grace it is baptism.

The Dispensational document, the Bible, utterly refutes this Papist heresy by clearly differentiating between two Covenants, a covenant of works, and a covenant of grace. The primary places to find these are John 10, Hebrews 7-8, 2 Corinthians 3, Jeremiah 31, and Ezekiel 36; discussion of the covenants is not at all limited to these chapters, but is best expressed in them. Portions of each chapter will be quoted in this article, and I encourage you to read each in its context and entirety.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews puts it this way,
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
__when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
__and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
__on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
__and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
__after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
__and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
__and they shall be my people. - Hebrews 8:8-10
Note that there are two primary things happening, that two covenants are clearly expressed, and that the First is unable to save, and the Second makes a perfect salvation between God and his people. This is a direct quote of Jeremiah 31:31-34, but I quoted it from Hebrews in order to point out that the author here calls the first Covenant faulty (Hebrews 8:7) and obsolete (Hebrews 8:13), and the new covenant better (Hebrews 8:6).

The Old Covenant was conditional between men and God, but the New Covenant is conditional between the Father and the Son, for Christ says "I give [my sheep] eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand (John 10:28-29)."

Dispensationalism, defined most simply, is that the Old Covenant was a covenant between God and man, which man always fails, and the New Covenant is a covenant between the Father and the Son, which the Son fulfills perfectly.

The Sign and Seal of the Covenants

Covenantalism and Dispensationalism take another radical departure when the sign and seal of the covenants is discussed. The WCF states, "Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ...to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life (WCF Chapter XXVIII Para I)."

The Bible refutes this by saying "when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)..." and "the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30)." and "circumcision is not outward and physical...circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit (Romans 2:28-29)." and "And I will give you a new heart, and a new Spirit I will put within you (Ezekiel 36:26)."

The sign and seal of the Old Covenant was circumcision, the seal of the New Covenant is the Holy Spirit and the sign is a new heart. The Covenantal view of an outward and physical sign is modern day Judaising, placing people under bondage and works by requiring adherance to the (misrepresented) law in order to be saved. Furthermore, the unforgiveable sin is Blasphemy of the Spirit, of attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to unclean spirits. Covenantalism seems to commit this sin unashamedly, by claiming that men seal themselves into salvation with a mere ritual.

The Application

Covenantalism is called, "The ministry of death" in 2 Corinthians 3. The Apostle Paul expands stating, "the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me (Romans 7:10)." The Covenant between God and men is perfectly upheld by God, who cannot break a Covenant. If men do good, they will be blessed, but a single sin results in their cursing. This Covenant is therefore weak and useless, for the law made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:18-19). It is obsolete, and its only use is to show men their need for a better hope (Hebrews 7:19): the guarantor of a better Covenant (Hebrews 7:22).

Jesus Christ has made us sufficient to be ministers of a New Covenant, the ministry of the Spirit, not the ministry of condemnation, but the ministry of righteousness (2 Cor 3:6-9). Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17, Hebrews 4:15), suffering completely for our sin, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). For the Old Covenant brings curses to cursed humanity, but Christ brings blessing to an unconditional covenant for men, because he fulfilled all of the conditions.
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith." But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. - Galatians 3:10-14
Invitation

Dear reader, if you are bewitched into the soul damning doctrine of Covenantalism, then I implore you to come out of her, to flee from the terror of Sinai to the glory of Zion and the city of the living God, to look not to your own works or covenant making, but to the perfect obedience of Christ who saved a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue because of the Covenant he made with his Father, which is partaken of by faith, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and expressed in the power of reborn life.

If you stay, then heed this terrifying warning and be sure that your end is eternal damnation, "How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29)?" There is no salvation in the Obsolete Covenant, in fact it has passed away, so seek the Son while he may be found, place your faith in his faithfulness, not your own, and receive his blessings as he received your curse.

Dispensationalists, stand against this resurging Presbyterian heresy, your forefathers did and tasted death for it, their light momentary affliction preparing for them an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Cor 4:17). Obadiah Holmes, Baptist minister in 1651, received 30 lashes and nearly died at the hands of Covenantalists, yet his words to his persecutors are left to encourage us, "You have struck me as with roses. Although the Lord hath made it easy to me, yet I pray God it may not be laid to your charge." Do not consider Covenantalists your brothers, or be surprised when they show no fruit of the Spirit, for they have embraced a law that has cursed them and a veil lies over their hearts that only Christ can raise.

Above all, look to the perfection of the New Covenant which has made the Old Covenant obsolete and shown its weakness and uselessness. Look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.