31 May 2012

Assurance: Every Believer's Birthright

by Phil Johnson

was listening to a sermon by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones not long ago in which he pointed out that assurance is one of the most prominent subjects in the New Testament. Virtually every New Testament epistle was written to address some doubt, answer some question, settle some uncertainty—all of them aimed at stimulating or reinforcing the assurance of believers. Scripture encourages us to have assurance. It is not inherently brash or presumptuous to be confident in your faith.

Shortly after reading that comment by Lloyd-Jones, while doing some research on a totally different theme, I had occasion to review The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Trent was the Roman Catholic Council that was convened in the mid-1500s in order to hammer out an official response from the Roman Catholic Church to the Protestant Reformation.

And let's be candid: the Protestant Reformation had embarrassed the whole Roman Catholic hierarchy in a major way, because in addition to the many doctrinal errors and patently unbiblical and extrabiblical teachings the Reformers challenged, they also shone the bright light of biblical truth on centuries of exploitation of Papal power, gross corruption of the priesthood, spiritual abuse for material profit (including the sale of indulgences and the sale of church offices and political favors for money). Underneath all of this was the most shocking kind of moral rot that went right to the top in the Papal hierarchy. The Roman Catholic Church was totally corrupt.

The council of Trent cleaned up or papered over some of the more obvious exhibitions of rank clerical debauchery. At the very least we could say that Trent somewhat subdued the unbridled corruption of the medieval priesthood, after generations of abuse and corruption that were the hallmark of the priesthood right across Europe.

One other thing that the Council of Trent accomplished was this: They gave clear definition to certain Catholic doctrines that had always been rather hazy and abstruse—such as the doctrine of justification.

But fundamentally, the Council of Trent was a backlash against Protestant teaching.

The popes and bishops of the 16th century were not at all eager to convene a council to discuss the areas of church life and doctrine that needed Reform. It took years to get the council going. Meetings stretched out over about thirty years' time. The bishops convened in fits and starts, working more or less halfheartedly for the first couple of decades. Only in the council's final stages did they show any enthusiasm for the work. By then, they were so eager to antagonize the Protestants and their doctrines that they cranked out document after document pronouncing anathemas on the Reformers.

And in the process (mainly, I think, because they were more interested in countering the Protestants than they were in clarifying biblical truth on the issues they dealt with), they got major points of doctrine wrong in every set of decrees they issued.

For example, in their decree on the doctrine of justification (Council of Trent, Sixth session, chapter 9), they said this: "It is not to be said, that sins are forgiven, or have been forgiven, to any one who boasts of his confidence and certainty of the remission of his sins." In other words, while we can know with certainty that God does forgive sins, no individual can say with any settled certainty—based on faith alone—"My sins are forgiven." Even the priest's declaration of absolution is only good until the next time you sin.

The Council of Trent went on to draw this conclusion: "No one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God."

That's why no faithful Roman Catholic can ever really be sure of his or her salvation, even though they have thousands of priests in thousands of confessionals every day telling people that the sins they confess to the priests are forgiven. Those priests are giving people a deadly false assurance, and even Rome's official doctrine acknowledges that.

But Scripture says this (1 John 5:13): "You may know that you have eternal life." "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:15). "Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar" (1 John 5:10). We're supposed to "be . . . diligent to make [our] calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10). Far from saying what the Roman Catholic Church says, that it's sinful—even damnably evil—to be certain that our sins are forgiven and we have received the grace of God—Scripture says, "do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward" (Hebrews 10:35).

Scripture everywhere commends and encourages assurance. Nowhere are we taught to live in a state of perpetual doubt about our personal standing before God. Never does the Bible suggest that we should rely on the false promises of a mere man in a confessional booth who can never offer anything more than a kind of temporary absolution; a spiritual bait-and-switch offer that can never usher anyone into the true rest that is the birthright of those whose faith is authentic.

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Two marriage myths, busted

by Dan Phillips

As I continue in my announced intent to share a few bits of Biblical wisdom on marriage, it seems good to start by dispelling a couple of myths. Call me a Biblical "mythbuster."

First: it takes two to create marital problems. No, it doesn't. It only takes one.

It feels embarrassing even to have to say that, it's such a Biblically obvious point — but the notion of necessarily democratically-shared liability is so widespread that some air-clearing is necessary.

I think I'll call this the Democratic Causality Myth. How do I know it's a myth? The same way I know anything really important: the Bible. Didn't you read 1 Peter 2:19-20?
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.  20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
There you go: it is possible to suffer, not only in spite of doing good, but precisely for doing good. Peter expressly envisions a relationship where Party A causes suffering to Party B, and the latter not only did not "have it coming to him," but was specifically doing what he ought to be doing.

Peter's not done with that theme. Note that he says in 3:14a, "even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed." There it is again: suffering precisely because one had done what was right.

Of course, we could add a heap of Scriptures, and they'd take us back to our Lord Himself, amid the Beatitudes: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:10).

The assumption that all suffering must be immediately traceable to some specifically causative wrongdoing is simply not Biblical. It is to join hands and nod along with Job's divinely-discredited friends, as they doggedly pursue the etiology of Job's suffering, sure that he'd brought it on himself somehow.

So if we grant this for all of life, is there some force-field that un-trues the truth when it comes to marriage? Is it only in marriage that we must always split blame for suffering 50-50? I'd like to see that logic diagrammed.

Now let me hasten to say (if it isn't too late to "hasten") that the odds are that there never has been a troubled marriage involving one 100% flawless saint and one 100% culpable reprobate. And anyone who was trying to help a troubled couple would be a fool to overlook the wisdom of Prov. 18:17. We sinners being what we are (sinners, and rationalizing ones at that), the odds are that both parties in a struggling marriage have sin-patterns to deal with. You, the person in a troubled marriage, should start with that assumption.

But really — a woman's husband commits adultery. You immediately begin to search for what she did to bring this on herself? On what Biblical warrant? Even if you can find twelve things she did wrong as a wife, does that make his sin of adultery to any degree her fault? A man's wife incessantly tongue-lashes and emasculates him. First thing you do is start listing off his failure as a leader? On what Biblical warrant? Even if you can find twelve things he did wrong as a husband, does that make her sin of verbal assaults to any degree his fault?

Where was I when the Bible was changed (A) to relieve parties of 100% culpability for their own sin, and (B) to empower mere mortals to cause other mortals either to sin or do righteousness?

Let me also hasten to say that if you are in a troubled marriage, and your immediate thought is "Aha! I knew it! This proves I'm in the right!", you're not catching what I'm throwing. What I'm throwing, when we combine it wth the terrifying human capacity for rationalization of the most outrageous sins, is that you should start with the thought that you may be the one in the wrong.

In fact, let me develop that. Let's say a marriage is troubled. (Readers: "A marriage is troubled." Nice.) Let's say the biggest problem is a selfish, lazy man who is in no way a picture of Christ's sacrificial love for His church (Eph. 5:25ff.). You imagine the specifics. Let's say he agrees with his wife that they have a troubled marriage. Let's say she tries to talk to him about his behavior (the porn, the late nights out away from home night after night, whatever).

He retorts "It takes two to tango, honey. We've got problems, that means you've got problems. Let's talk about your problems."

What if she does have problems? What if she doesn't? It doesn't make any difference to his sin. Maybe she's sweeter than a ripe peach. Maybe she's a sour-mouthed, nasty, merciless harridan. What does that have to do with anything? He is contributing sin to the marriage because he is contributing sin to the marriage. Insisting on starting with her behavior, and hiding behind the democratic myth, is a sheer red-herring.

And in case I haven't made this clear, I am writing to you. I am not writing to your spouse. You (and I) need to own your (and my) sin, period, and not race for cover behind the democratic causality myth.

Second: an occasional knock-down, drag-out fight is good for a marriage. This is a great idea... well, apart from that whole thing about it being totally dead-wrong.

The Proverbs book has a long (60+ page) chapter on what Proverbs specifically, and the Bible as a whole, has to say about marriage. I tackle this particular myth in the course of that study. To wit:
Perhaps you have heard the conventional wisdom that fighting is healthy for a marriage, that a little “clearing the air” (by means of a fight) is actually constructive and helpful. I have come to be absolutely convinced that this is a lie, and harmful one at that. A married couple should never fight.

By “fight,” of course, I do not mean “disagree,” nor do I mean have lively discussions nor debates. It is probably not only impossible, but positively undesirable that disagreements never take place in a marriage of two redeemed pilgrims on their way to—but not yet arrived at—the Celestial City. (More on that, later.)

Probably any couple knows when a disagreement becomes a fight. When lines are drawn up, tempers flare, hurtful accusations are hurled, and verbal blows are exchanged, a disagreement has degenerated into a fight. One opponent seeks to defeat the other, at almost any cost. Victory becomes the only goal. (p. 210)
This is followed by a sidebar, "Why Christian couples should never fight each other," Biblically detailing individual sets of reasons why neither husband nor wife should ever participate in a fight with the other. The reasons center around the Biblical description of what it means to married in general, and specifically what it means to be a husband or a wife. You can't be doing what God calls a husband or wife to do, and at the same time give yourself to fighting your spouse.

(And yes, I'm aware that clever minds can come up with valid "what-ifs" ["What if my husband is carrying a vial of deadly virus and intends to wipe out the population of Encino?"] — if a "what-if" that probably accounts for about 0.0001% of actual marital fights constitutes a valid exception.)

So. We can't assume that every marital problem has a 50-50 split. We can't solve our problem by trying to destroy our mate and force him or her to our will by verbal blunt-force trauma.

What should we do?

Next time.

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30 May 2012

The Case for Gay Marriage (1 of 3)

by Frank Turk

Yes: fine. We will beat you to death with this topic.

I enjoyed the last two weeks' discussion so well that I wanted to do it again on a related topic -- a very closely related topic.  What I wanted to do was to compare and contrast the generic, secular view of monogamy and marriage to the Christian view of monogamy and marriage -- starting today with the secular view of marriage as exemplified by one video or essay by a secular person making the case for secular marriage.

Except -- get this -- I couldn't find one.  I can't find any examples of people from the secular side of the map making the case for marriage in a way that, frankly, didn't seem like a parody.

So here's the deal: in the comments today, I am taking suggestions -- and only suggestions -- for the best in class for essays by secular writers which make the case of secular marriage.  Post your link like this:
<a href="http://url.com">Essay or Book Title Here</a> by Author Name.
Type that in the comments with your link suggestion, and it will become a live link.  All negative comments will be deleted.  All caterwauling will be deleted. All spam, of course, will be deleted.  TUAD's comments will be deleted preemptively because I just don't have that kind of patience this week.  Mind your manners.

If we can find any secular cases for marriage, we'll talk about that.  If we can't, we'll talk about that.  This week: ball's in your court.

UPDATED: After 5 comments, I realized that my request is not clear enough.  The title of this post is "The Case for Gay Marriage."  Let me put it bluntly: there is no credible religious case for gay marriage.  That means that somehow, the secular definition of "marriage" excludes (at least) the necessity that the people involved in any specific marriage need to be in male/female alignment.

I'm looking for the secular argument that makes marriage into the arrangement which the advocates for gay marriage are advocating for -- that is, what it is so that anyone would actually want to do that.  

The resources listed so far (8:00 AM central time) are stellar.  Please think about the topic and add your suggestions.

29 May 2012

Your marriage matters

by Dan Phillips

Though I've written often on marriage (like, oh, I don't know...say, this and this and this and, somewhat famously, this), I am returning to it from a number of angles, Lord willing. My hope is both to help couples, and to give an "assist" to fellow-pastors.

Here I just have a simple point to make: your marriage matters. Say, look; that's even the title!

"Matters" to whom? Well:
  1. It matters to God. Really, if I'm writing to actual Christians, we should be able to stop with this one, shouldn't we? You took vows invested with meaning He'd given to them, and He cares about that (Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21-23; Pss. 61:8; 76:11; Prov. 20:25; Eccl. 5:5). He is invested in your marriage. He invented it, it's His institution, and you entered into it. It's an institution He cares a great deal about, and into which He has built great meaning (Eph. 5:22ff.). So, really, you think you can just tolerate your contributing to an unhealthy, non-optimal, cludgied-up marriage, and have that be OK with God? Seriously. Wake up.
  2. It matters to your spouse. You promised that man, that woman, that (s)he could trust you absolutely. Brother, you promised to lead and love and sacrifice, as Christ did for the church. Sister, you promised to respect and to subordinate yourself, as the church should do towards Christ. You told this person, "Though all else fail you, you can count on me. You can forget about looking for sex or love or devotion anywhere else. I'm your man/woman." You promised to make that the most important human relationship in your world. You think you can walk that promise back, and it has no harmful consequences? Seriously. Wake up.
  3. It matters to you. In more ways than you can think, it matters to you. Let's just start with the boneheadedly obvious: supposing you're in a marriage that is other-than-humming, and there's something you can do about it. But you're not. Why? You were going to get going on that when, exactly? When life really starts? Dude, sister, news flash: it started. When you get to Heaven? That's stupid. When the kids are grown? That's stupid, hateful, and irresponsible (see below). But really: you took public vows before God and everyone to make this the most important human relationship in your life -- and you're inattentive or neglectful towards it, or you tolerate in yourself a pattern of sin or fleshly indulgence that harms it? And you think that doesn't matter? Seriously. Wake up.
  4. It matters to your children. This is the saddest part. We all say we think it's the saddest part -- even people who tolerate and even cultivate marriage-harming sin in themselves pay lip-service to caring about The Children, while their lives show they care a whole lot more about unrepentantly indulging their flesh in this or that way. But kids see, they notice, they take note, they know at some level, and they are harmed. Not merely discouraged, distracted; harmed. Home should be a safe, healthy, Christward place for them. They get their ideas about marriage by watching yours. Suppose they see in you (we're not talking about your spouse, just you) a high doctrine of Scripture and swelling words about Christ, but a pattern of tolerating ongoing sin in yourself? You think that's not an eloquent and harmful lesson? You think they can just walk it off? Seriously. Wake up.
  5. It matters to your church. Maybe not right away, because it is possible to put on a good face for an hour or two a week. But you can't be giving yourself to godly, Spirit-led worship and service with a bunch of relative strangers if you're not obeying the great and the second commandment (see numbers 1 and 2, above) at home, can you? Does that make any kind of sense? Seriously. Wake up.

I plan to say a lot more with a lot more specifics. If you want a lot of Biblical study and content and counsel, you can get a head start right here, as perhaps some readers could attest. We won't be duplicating that content, but those are the woods in which, God willing, we'll do some picknicking.

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26 May 2012

When the Preacher Gets Personal

A word about "individualism" and true evangelical convictions

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. I was reminded of the following excerpt because of something Paul Washer said on Saturday at the Reformation Montana Conference. The excerpt is from "The Warning Neglected," a sermon preached at London's Metropolitan Tabernacle on Sunday morning, 29 November 1857.

n religion men love far rather to believe abstract doctrines, and to talk of general truths, than the searching inquiries which examine their own personal interest in it. You will hear many men admire the preacher who deals in generalities, but when he comes to press home searching questions, by-and-by they are offended.

If we stand and declare general facts, such as the universal sinnership of mankind, or the need of a Saviour, they will give an assent to our doctrine, and possibly they may retire greatly delighted with the discourse, because it has not affected them; but how often will our audience gnash their teeth, and go away in a rage, because, like the Pharisees with Jesus, they perceive, concerning a faithful minister, that he spoke of them.

And yet, my brethren, how foolish this is. If in all other matters we like personalities—if in everything else we look to our own concerns, how much more should we do so in religion? for, surely, every man must give an account for himself, at the day of judgment. We must die alone; we must rise at the day of resurrection one by one, and each one for himself must appear before the bar of God; and each one must either have said to him, as an individual, "Come ye blessed;" or else, he must be appalled with the thundering sentence, "Depart, ye cursed."

If there were such a thing as national salvation; if it could be possible that we could be saved in the gross and in the bulk, that so, like the sheaves of corn, the few weeds that may grow with the stubble, would be gathered in for the sake of the wheat, then, indeed, it might not be so foolish for us to neglect our own personal interests; but if the sheep must, every one of them, pass under the hand of him that telleth them, if every man must stand in his own person before God, to be tried for his own acts—by everything that is rational, by everything that conscience would dictate, and self-interest would command, let us each of us look to our own selves, that we be not deceived, and that we find not ourselves, at last, miserably cast away.

C. H. Spurgeon

25 May 2012

Another approach

by Frank Turk

[HOST]: What do so many of the churches have against homosexuals?

[FT]: I’m not sure what you mean.

[HOST]: I wrote a book about the gay rights movement because I was appalled by the oppression and the discrimination against homosexuals in my America. What about your church’s approach to homosexuals? Is it a sin? Are they going to Hell?

[FT]: Do you believe in Hell?

[HOST]: You can’t really answer a question with a question, Frank.

[FT]: No, but I also can’t answer a question I’m not sure I understand. You asked me if homosexuals are going to Hell – as if that’s an option, one possible outcome. Do you think it’s a possible outcome for anyone to go to Hell?

[HOST]: Well, I’m not a Christian. I don’t think in those terms.

[FT]: So why does it bother you that someone else might? See, here’s what I’m thinking: If I sat here and told you that I think, after our time here, that you’re going to Jupiter unless you agree with me, you’d think it was funny – even though I might honestly believe it, and going to Jupiter, even if possible, is an utterly unpleasant thing – too much gravity, no air, no water, no food. If you don’t agree with me, you’re going to Jupiter. Does that worry you?

[HOST]: No, but …

[FT]: yes?

[HOST]: That’s absurd. That’s minimizing my question for an absurd comparison. I’m asking you if you think there is anything morally wrong with Homosexuality.

[FT]: Yes, but you’re doing it by asking me about the ultimate consequence. That is: what happens to a homosexual? That’s a pretty scary way to ask me if I think homosexuality has some kind of moral value – right or wrong.

[HOST]: Well, let’s ask it that way, then: does Homosexuality have any moral value?

[FT]: Yes.

[HOST]: {pause} That’s it?

[FT]: Well, I think we agree on that statement – you do agree it has some kind of moral value, yes?

[HOST]: But we would disagree on the kind of moral value it has. In my view, there’s nothing wrong with it.

[FT]: So when two people of the same sex are in a relationship, and one of them has a sexual relationship with a third person who is also of the same sex, there’s nothing wrong with that?

[HOST]: {sigh} Of course not. Of course not – I’m not talking about infidelity, but homosexuality.

[FT]: You’re saying, then, that homosexual infidelity is not homosexuality? I’m not sure that makes any sense. Homosexuality is only monogamous behavior between two people of the same sex?

[HOST]: You’re still being a little coy – I’m not sure you’re being honest with me.

[FT]: I think I’m being brutally honest – and maybe a little unloving, but there’s a point that needs to be made here if we’re going to talk about the moral value of practice or inclination: it’s not fair at all to whitewash a thing in order to justify it. Look: at the root of your original question, you want to know why Christian people say Homosexuals are going to hell. Now, as it turns out, Christians are an odd lot because we also think heterosexuals are going to hell – Larry Flint, Hugh Hefner, Larry King, anyone you know who cannot stay faithful to their marriage, anyone who will not get married but sleeps around, people attached to porn rather than a spouse, etc. And most specifically: us. The thing we are really saying is that people are going to hell. So we can’t whitewash heterosexuality in order to justify it. And for you to set up homosexuality as the only thing we’re worried about in terms of sin is not entirely above-board.

[HOST]: Wait – you think everybody is going to hell?

[FT]: Do you believe in Hell?

[HOST]: {laughs, annoyed} you’re changing the subject. Just a simple yes or no: is everyone going to hell?

[FT]: Yes and no. Yes AND no.

[HOST]: OK – explain that.

[FT]: In my view – which is, it seems to me, the historically most-common Christian view – God is going to judge all people. Everyone – at the end of all things, God is going to judge the living and the dead. The Bible says the books will be opened and the lists of what we have done in our lives will be accounted for. And it also says that when we are under that kind of scrutiny, nobody can stand before the judgment of God – so in that sense, every single person is in danger of going to hell.

[HOST]: really.

[FT]: Yes. Unquestionably – because look: the world is the way it is because people want it to be this way. Here’s what I mean: we probably don’t want it to be as utterly disappointing as it is, but we all continue to do the things which we know, at some level, are wrong in spite of them being wrong. The piling up of that, day after day, makes the world the kind of place it is. It’s the kind of place where children die both of malnutrition and parental abuse. It’s the kind of place where people die old and alone. It’s the kind of place where hearts are broken, and life savings get wasted on stupid investments, and mothers are killed in car accidents, and sons and fathers are killed in war. It’s a place where people commit suicide.

The world is the way we have made it, and while we can find some good things in it, we all know that the problem of evil exists. And the problem of evil is us – not something apart from us.

[HOST]: and in your view, that means we are all going to hell?

[FT]: It means, for sure, that we all deserve it. And let me be clear about this: the problem at its root is not that we make other people suffer for our own desires. It is that God is offended by our disobedience toward him. The real, greater problem is that there is a God, and we don’t do what he wants us to do: we do what we want to do, and we love ourselves more than we love him.

[HOST]: So your religion is that everybody goes to hell?

[FT]: Nope – I said the answer is Yes AND No. Yes: we all deserve to go to Hell. But as it turns out, God will not stand for it and has done something for the sake of this disobedient and willful race of creatures we call mankind. We all deserve Hell, but Jesus Christ saves men from Hell.

[HOST]: So does Christ save homosexuals from hell?

[FT]: Well, do you believe in Hell? Because that’s not much of a question if you don’t believe in Hell.

[HOST]: Let’s say I do.

[FT]: I don’t want to put works in your mouth.

[HOST]: In your view of it, since you believe in Hell, does Christ save Homosexuals from Hell?

[FT]: Yes.

[HOST]: {pause} … and? … But?

[FT]: But what? Look: if we were talking about sex in general here, and I said to you, “everyone who has unprotected, serial casual sex will eventually get an STD – and the worst case is like Africa where AIDS is ravaging the population,” what would your reaction be? Either you’d believe that this is likely, or you’d doubt that the cause has that effect, right? Now: if you believe the cause has that effect, you have to ask: “so how can we be saved?” The state of things causes you to look for a solution – if you believe in the cause and effect. In this hypothetical case, the cause is causal sex and the effect is life-threatening diseases. And when you ask, “how can we be saved?” the answer can strike at any part of the problem. One solution would be to permanently keep all people segregated from each other so that there is no chance of sex ever – and that’s a pretty terminal solution. Not likely to catch on, prolly. Another solution is to somehow clean up the sex act so that there’s no disease involved – some sort of protection or vaccination or other form of attacking the actual diseases. Self control might be a solution – the idea that I can keep myself from doing stupid things with my body. But at the end of it, it seems to me that if we are honest, the solution can’t come from ourselves – because we are naturally the cause of the problem.

We need a solution. In fact, because the problem is not clinical, we don’t need a diagnosis and a treatment: we need a savior. And Jesus is that savior – for the heterosexuals, for the greedy, for liars, and to make sure I don’t discriminate against anyone, for the homosexuals.

[HOST]: So Jesus is the savior from Hell.

[FT]: Yes. If you believe in that sort of thing. If not, you shouldn’t be offended. The Apostle Paul said that if Jesus Christ did not die and raise from the dead, our faith is joke, and our so-called “Gospel” is a lie – we’re not to be admired, but pitied as utterly hopeless. If you don’t believe that Hell is a real place, and Jesus actually died for sin so that people don’t have to go there, then me or anyone telling you that homosexuals or republicans or anyone is going to hell shouldn’t upset you.

So do you believe in Hell?

24 May 2012

Answering basic questions about homosexuality; or, Why I will never be a big conference headliner, I guess

by Dan Phillips

I lifted these questions from the Keller video that the best and greatest of all known Franks has featured twice:
 What do so many of the churches have against homosexuals? And what about your church’s approach to homosexuals? Is it a sin? Are they going to Hell? There are many evangelicals who say that it is listed as a sin in the Bible, and these people are going to Hell.

Are committing homosexual acts sin [sic] against God? Committing homosexual acts will get you to go to Hell?
Is it really that hard to give a straight, comprehensible, Biblically faithful answer to those questions? Let's try. Ahem.

My brief answer in 3... 2... 1...

Yes, homosexuality is a sin; and yes, people who pursue homosexual desires will deserve Hell, and they'll be sent there righteously and justly and deservedly by the holy God. Sin, after all, is a violation of God's laws. Sin is what God says it is. Sin isn't what the latest Gallup poll says sin is.

But I hasten to say that Jesus Christ delivers people like you and me from both the guilt and the grip of sin. Homosexuals, liars, thieves, self-absorbed narcissists, idolaters of all stripes and brands — the whole lot of us: Jesus came to save exactly such people. When a person says he is a homosexual, he brands himself as just the sort of person Jesus came to deliver. The gospel is the message about just how Jesus does that, and that's what I'd like to explain, if you'll give me a moment to do so.

Now the longer version:

It's difficult to answer a question about "churches," so let me go straight to your second question: my church's approach to everyone who doesn't know Christ is to tell them the truth about Jesus, to tell them what they need to know about God and themselves. And let me answer your other questions, if I may, then return to this topic.

Yes, homosexuality is a sin. Yes, if people commit homosexual acts, they absolutely do deserve Hell. Every evangelical — not just "many" — should say precisely that, because evangelicals are supposed to believe in the Bible, and that is what the Bible says. There is no way to pursue homosexual desires and imagine that you can expect anything from God but well-deserved wrath, judgment, and condemnation.

Having said that, let me take a step back and say that "sin" is any want of conformity to the will and nature of God. Sin is rebellion against God's Lordship. It is refusal to do what God commands, or insisting on doing what God forbids, or rejecting what God enjoins. It had its birth in Adam and Eve's insane desire to "be as God." Every sin is an attempt to be God instead of God.

All such attempts are doomed from the start, because there is in fact only one God, and He won't give up the throne. He will absolutely and certainly judge every rebellion against Himself. If He did not, He would not only not be a good God, He wouldn't even be a sane God. And really, if you'll think about it, how scary is that?

Since that is what sin is, we can easily see that homosexuality is not the only sin. It is one of many. But I do not see great groundswells of support and sympathy and rationalization being built for rapists, child molesters, or murderers. Some sins are popular and winked-at among people, some aren't. Sex outside of marriage, wrongful divorce, lies and the like are in the former category, and now homosexuality is forcing its way there as well, with the help of slick PR, a complicit media, and "useful idiots" among the religious.

But the Bible is perfectly straightforward: all such things as these, popular or unpopular, bring the wrath of God (Eph. 5:5-6; Col. 3:5-6). What God says is right and wrong reflects God's holy nature; it isn't the result of His having taken a poll of the sinners frolicking below.

It is important to understand that this sin-brush paints us all. I may not be driven by perverted desires to have sex with someone of my own sex. Instead, I may be driven by perverted desires to try to be god in some other way, by other sexual expressions that violate God's laws, or by living my life in materialism or self-entertainment or self-indulgence, whiling away every spare moment in video games or fishing or watching wrestling or attending political rallies to save the country, and never bowing my knee in submission to the Lordship and absolute centrality of God. Sin comes in many varieties, and you and I have bought and consumed and advocated and proselytized for it.

See, that's where Jesus came in. He came and lived the life we should have but didn't, and died a death He shouldn't have had to die but did, that we might be freed not only from the penalty of sin, which is Hell, but from the power of sin — which is the life we all live, apart from Him.

So I don't want to play down homosexuality, or play it up. It is a repulsive outrage against God's design, and there is nothing good to be said for it. But trying to be a god unto myself is also a repulsive outrage against God's design, and there's nothing good to be said for that, either. I would hardly be loving to people or to God if I tried to soften or alter those truths.

The only thing I can say that is good and hopeful is that Jesus came to bring transformation, freedom, forgiveness and redemption to sinners of any and every category.

But He has nothing to offer to anyone who insists on disagreeing with God about the definition and horridness of sin, and who thus refuses to come to Christ for deliverance — nothing to offer, that is, other than the fearsome assurance of God's final and inescapable judgment, which is a topic He returned to over and over again.

Which is why we do that, too, insofar as we're faithful to Him.

I think that does it, doesn't it? And if a dim bulb like me can do it...?

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23 May 2012

Compare, Contrast, Caterwaul (2 of 2)

by Frank Turk

Last week, I put up two videos to compare and contrast -- with the requirement that the readers of this blog (somehow watching videos has now made you "readers"; nice work, internet), find something good to say about both videos.  These are the videos right here, for reference:

First, from John Piper:

Second, from Tim Keller:

Before we get to the red meat here (such as it is -- I think it's not what most people would say that it is), let me say that the one thing I expected absolutely happened, and that is that some people couldn't find anything edifying in the work of people whom they have decided (for right or wrong) to abhor.  That should be instructive as a stand-alone point without any further deep-diving into the content of these two videos, but it won't be -- because they will all hide behind DJP's lack of enthusiasm toward the Keller video [which is not motivated by a pre-condition of disdain] and say, "see?  Even someone with good intentions toward Keller ought to have a hard time finding good things in this video.  Ergo, Keller should [insert denunciation of Keller here]."

That, of course, also speaks for itself.

So here's the thing: what's the point of contrasting these videos at all?  Why do it?  The first reason is found here, in an old post by me on the subject both of these videos are treating.  Both of these videos are wildly successful at overcoming the question of guilt by association which true Christians face at the hands of violent and moralistic posers.  Whatever you may think about the approach of both these videos, they both understand that the real person of Jesus has to speak to the real person of the sinner in order for the real sin to be made clear and the real reconciliation to take place.

The reason that is important is that we don't live in the 1920's anymore when people, as debased as they were, at least knew that there was a difference between men and women which ought to be in some way understood as necessary.  The topic is homosexuality and public life.  See it plainly: this is not about the right to privacy, and to do what you will behind closed doors, but about how one sort of lifestyle must be treated publicly, by all people, as dictated by the law.  It is frankly never going to go away until Christ returns or Western Civilization goes the way of the Medo-Persian Empire.  This arrangement and all the permutations of it now created by "science" (a topic for another day) are stuck with us, and we must learn how to speak to it and speak to the people who believe in it as dearly as they believe in happiness.

That said, let me first offer my very small and incidental critique of the Piper video out of the way. Dr. Piper's video is plainly made to speak to those who are believers, or those who think they want to be believers, and therefore uses the Bible in a way which, it seems to me, that only believers can receive.  Here's what I mean by that: it's irrefutable that Dr. Piper spells out the essential case for the sinfulness of homosexuality in completely-certain terms, and does a fatherly job of saying these things graciously and seriously.  He takes the listener from the provocative basic case to the right and true applications of those things -- but he puts every argument up on the theological shelf (except maybe one -- the part about self and sex) where the unbeliever, it seems to me, can't reach it.

Now, I say that guardedly because it also seems to me that this video is intended for believers who are trying to reason through this issue and not, as the Keller video is, a presentation to a hostile audience.  We say things in Sunday school which are intended for a different kind of people than the average person you might sit next to on the airplane, or find at the NYU or Columbia Student Center.  So the approach is warranted, and it is not a shortcoming as much as it is a feature of the context of the video.

That said, the context of the Keller video is much different.  He's not speaking to believers at all -- regardless of what some of them might present as a self-identification.  He's speaking directly to the lost, and fielding their questions about our faith and our beliefs about God.  So as a primary virtue of this video, let's be honest: he's got a platform here that nobody at TeamPyro is likely to ever get.  Additionally, his host is plainly interested in Dr. Keller as an example of the Christian faith -- not just a religious person or someone with a with moral opinions or good advice.  And let's face it: this fellow hosting puts the issue on the table plainly: is homosexuality a sin?

From that perspective, Keller says some really great things in this video:
  • The definition of Love is to give yourself up for people who are actually opposing you, actually your enemies.
  • Is homosexuality a sin?  Yes.
  • Is it the only sin?  No.
  • Greed is a more-insidious sin because it is harder to identify -- but it tells us about how sin works. "What sends you to hell is your own self-righteousness."
  • Gay people have a different view of sexuality (vs. the Bible) in the same way that the Hindu has a different view of who or what God is -- these are the same sort of thing.
And the reason these are great things to say is that they take the assumptions of the lost people listening and turn them completely inside-out, pointing them back at their own lives and moral standards to see what they ought to see -- namely: some truth about themselves.

That's what's good about this video.

What's really, deeply disappointing is the real failure of Dr. Keller to get seriously biblical on this subject.  For example, when he reasons, "I think it's unavoidable ... that you read the Bible and the Bible has reservations, the Bible says homosexuality is not God's original design for sexuality," he doesn't really connect to what God explicitly says about this sin. He does himself a disservice in speaking to the question he was asked because what he then says sounds more like his opinion and his assessment rather than something objective and therefore compelling.

Let's face it: the question David Eisenbach asked was not, "what is the moral reasoning behind Christians decrying homosexuality?"  It in fact was, "Is there really condemnation by God for those who are homosexuals?"  And the right answer -- which Keller kinda gives -- is "Yes, and no."  Yes: clinging to any sin rather than to Christ will get you to Hell.  No: Christ forgives the repentant, the forlorn, those who are broken by their own brokenness before God.  In all seriousness, this is the glaring difference between the Piper video and the Keller video:  Piper makes it absolutely clear that we are not just dysfunctional or that we fail to thrive when we do things God has "reservations" about.  He makes it clear we are headed toward a judgment by God because we have done wrong to God.

Worse still, I think, is that Keller says this: "Will greed send you to hell? No.  What sends you to hell is self-righteousness, thinking that you can be your own Savior and Lord. What sends you to Heaven is getting a connection to Christ because you realize you're a sinner and you need intervention from outside. That's why it's very misleading even to say, 'homosexuality is a sin,' because all kinds of things are sins ... which nonbelievers hear as, 'if you're Gay you're going to hell for being Gay."

That statement, it seems to me, does far worse damage than bold-face vilification of gay people -- because it misses the point about sin.  What the Bible says, plainly, is that we are sinners because we want what we want, and out of our hearts comes all manner of things which show we are sinners.  The Law and its prohibitions really tell us more about what we are by comparison than saying, "geez, you're not going to thrive."  We do the things we want to do because of who we are.  As Piper so eloquently put it in his video, "In other words, if you know that it's wrong, and you say, 'I don't care that its wrong, I don't care what God says, I am doing this anyway,' that's an indication that you're not going into the Kingdom of Heaven," and then, "the idol that you have is yourself."

Lastly, making this only about sin as a diagnosis of a failure to thrive forgets this biblical truth: all kinds of people thrive.  One complaint from the Old Testament of Israel to God is, "hey: where is your justice?  Why do those who scoff at you and hate you do so well in this life?"  It's disingenuous to say that sin is about God's assessment of what will allow us to thrive when eventually we have to account for the problem of evil and the problem that in every case, and relating to all kinds of sin, people who are guilty seem to also get away with it and do pretty good.

So there you have it.  There are some other things I could say here which would line out other faults I perceive in this video, but this is already longer that you can read during coffee break.

So should we now start campaigning for Pastor Keller's trial at the next session of his presbytery and see to it that he is removed from leadership?  Is that really the answer we're looking for here -- to drum out the guy who is encountering unbelievers and giving them some sort of grain of truth when they ask him hard questions?  Because while I will be the first one to say I think Keller did not deliver the actual Gospel in this video, he did deliver some of the fundamental truths necessary for the Gospel to people who probably actually heard them for the first time -- and by "heard" I mean, "listened, and had to think again about what they were hearing."

If we had to draw lessons here, one of them ought to be about us -- those of us who are not getting invited to the Veritas forum to speak to unbelievers.  What we ought to ask ourselves is this: how come Paul and Tim Keller get invited to their respective versions of the Aeropagus, but we are stuck here on our blogs?  One self-congratulatory answer is that there is woe to us when everybody thinks we're fine fellows -- and I think that answer can be undone by thinking about Keller's implication of self-righteousness.  Another answer is this: maybe we are people who haven't mastered love of neighbor even though we know it's the second greatest commandment.

What I think we have to do with this video is not to tear it to shreds and walk away satisfied with our own apologetic Kung Fu: I think we have to read it for what it does well, and then do better.  We should seek the chance to do what was done here, and then do it better.

That is: unless we don't care about lost people as much as Keller does.

22 May 2012

The missions of the two Joshuas: a study in parallels and contrasts

by Dan Phillips

Recently I went through the books of Joshua and Matthew in my daily reading, and noticed an interesting parallel/contrast in missions.

Note the opening words of Joshua. Yahweh says this to the newly-minted general:
"Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.  3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.  4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.  5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.  6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.  7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.  8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Josh 1:2-9)
We could enumerate the elements like this:
  1. Moses is dead
  2. I (own the earth and) have given you land in Canaan as your possession
  3. (Exercise My dominion by) driving out or killing all the inhabitants, and take the land
  4. Be careful to learn and do My commandments, and
  5. I will be with you
Some 1400 years later another "Joshua" comes along. He also gives a commission, and this commission is also occasioned by death. However, in this case, the death was His own, and death was not the last word. Also, in this case it is not He who receives the commission with Yahweh's authority, but He who gives the commission with Yahweh's authority.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.

 18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:16-20)
Note the similarity and contrast in the elements.
  1. I have died -- and risen again
  2. All authority in heaven and earth has been given Me, and therefore...
  3. (Exercise My dominion by) making students from all nations
  4. Be careful to teach them to keep My commands, and
  5. I will be with you
The two "Joshua's" had missions that were at the same time very similar, and very different.

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21 May 2012

A Word for Would-Be "Vision Casters"

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "A Young Man's Vision," a sermon preached at a special Thursday-evening event at London's Metropolitan Tabernacle on 16 April 1868.

any visions have led to the most disastrous results. When Napoleon had a vision of a universal monarchy over which he should preside, with the French eagle for his ensign, he drenched the lands in blood.

Many visions have been wretchedly delusive. Men have dreamed of finding the fairy pleasure in the dark forest of sin. Carnal joys have danced before their eyes as temptingly as the mirage in the desert, and they have pursued the phantom forms to their misery in this world, and to their eternal ruin in the next. Mistaking license for liberty, and madness for mirth, they have dreamed themselves into hell.

Many dreams have been enervating—sucking the life-blood out of men as vampires do. Men have passed from stern reality into dreamland, and while seemingly awakened, have continued like somnambulists to do all things in their sleep.

Many pass all their days in one perpetual daydream, speculating, building castles in the air, thinking of what they would do—if, and vowing how they would behave themselves—suppose. With fine capacities they have driveled away existence: as their theory of life was born of smoke, so the result of their lives has been a cloud. The luxurious indolence of mere resolve, the useless tossings of regret—these have been all their sluggard life.

C. H. Spurgeon

18 May 2012

You Can't Have True Unity in Christ Without a Fight

by Phil Johnson

    love the idea of unity built on a gospel foundation, but the success or failure of that idea hinges on our understanding of and commitment to a true, unadulterated, biblical understanding of the gospel. We know from both Scripture and the hard-fought lessons of church history that not everyone who says he is committed to the gospel really is. Not everyone who claims to stand with us in affirming gospel truth is really interested in doing the work of the Great Commission. Not everyone who signs an evangelical confession of faith actually preaches the gospel.

Some people who use a lot of gospel words actually peddle a different gospel that is nothing like the apostolic message. Invariably, the very same people who openly advocate (re)imagining Christianity also seek mainstream acceptance. The Emergent(ing) Church Movement melted down as a movement, but it hasn't gone away. Multitudes who thought the emergents' New Kind of Christianity was a Truly Great Idea have simply been dispersed back into the large shallow end of the evangelical community—where hardly anyone is willing to engage in any kind of controversy to stanch their influence.

But if we truly want any kind of gospel-based unity, we have to be willing to defend the gospel together. The gospel is not only the ground on which we unite with other believers, it is also ground we must earnestly defend against false teachers. You cannot achieve true unity unless you vigorously pursue both of those goals.

I'm just sayin' . . .

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17 May 2012

Right now, this is where I am

by Dan Phillips 

Most of you who care (and many of you who don't) know I'm here in Houston, TX, pastorizing and very happy about it. What most of you don't know (because I haven't said) is that I've been without my family -- and not so happy about that!

This BTW is why it was especially dear to me that Frank Turk and his terrific family took the pains to be here with me on the Sunday when I was installed as pastor. It took some sting out of my family's necessary absence to have longtime dear friends here with me and my new friends.

My dear wife and youngest sons remained in Sacramento, selling the house and finishing up various necessities. They've been working like crazy day and night, so's to reunite here in Texas. Meanwhile, I've pastored and house-hunted... and house-purchased! Using iPhone pictures and working with a terrific local agent, I was able to purchase a house near a lake. In fact, here's one of the neighbors I met from a distance the other day:

I think that's a water moccasin. He disappeared into the water before I could say "Howdy." Texas has 'way more venomous snakes than California. In California, if it didn't have a rattle, it was friendly. Not so much, here. But I digress.

So all that to say that I don't have a post for you today, because today is the day when my family is finally to arrive! The cats arrived by jet a couple of weeks ago, the furniture arrived last Wednesday and was unloaded with the help of a wonderful bunch of folks from church, and my family's driving here today.

What I'll be doing is mowing, shopping, arranging, tidying, and basically getting ready for a moment I've been looking forward to since March 9, when the sight of my family waving goodbye was one of the saddest sights I've ever seen. God's been good to Valerie and me, holding us up and being with us. But we are really looking forward to being back together, and today is that day, DV.

Pray for them as they travel, and be good in the meta.

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16 May 2012

In Case You Plan to Be in Finland in Mid-July

by Phil Johnson

Denmark's an option, too:

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Compare, Contrast, Caterwaul (1 of 2)

by Frank Turk

When I ran into these older videos last week, I knew I would be blogging about them this week because of the topical nature of the subjects they cover.  What I did not remember (saying I did not know this would be false, but I always hope for the best) is that Satan controls my scheduled work load, and when I have a great blogging subject like this I wind up having more work than 5 people can accomplish, and my blogging takes a back seat.

So here's the deal:  This is the first of a 2-part post.  Today I'm posting two videos by well-respected men speaking on the same subject, and here's my ground-rule for keeping the comments open: you must find all the good things from these videos this week -- because there is something good in both of these videos.  Negative comments will simply be deleted without any warning or recourse.  Next week we'll talk about whether or not one of these videos is better than the other, and in what way, and what the other video can teach us both from a positive example and from its shortcomings.

First, from John Piper:

Second, from Tim Keller:

Mind your manners.

15 May 2012

Decisions, decisions: choosing to serve the Lord

by Dan Phillips

I've remarked before (notably here, and in all these posts) that I think some highly-caffeinated Reformed types don't help The Cause much when they pick apart just about every word that comes out of most Christians' mouths.

Another example is the use made of Joshua 24:15 — "And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

Popularly, two clauses are singled out from this verse: "choose this day whom you will serve," and "as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." The popular use is to call people to decision, to call them to decide for Christ, to choose to serve Him.

Hypercaffeinated Calvinists (imho) retort with a sneer that this is "decisional regeneration," or "decisionalism," or something like that. Forced to expand, they point out that Joshua is not saying "Choose whether or not you will serve Yahweh." Rather, he is saying, "If you will not serve Yahweh, then choose what false god you will serve."

Fair enough, as far as it goes. That is what the verse says. And anyone who's read the whole eighth chapter of TWTG, which is devoted to the Biblical doctrine of regeneration, knows that I don't see the Bible as teaching that new birth is caused by a human decision.

But don't humans make a decision? Is it helpful simply to dismiss the whole thought? I mean, dude, bro — what is repentance, if it doesn't involve a decision? What is faith? Don't we say that it has a volitional element? And what is the volition, if not the faculty that chooses? Don't we teach that we're all born heading south, and we have to do a 180? Isn't a reverse direction — though enabled by a work of sovereign grace — a decision?

Even putting all that aside, I don't even think the exegesis of this text stands up as a hypercaffeinated Calvinist critique.

Isn't context an important element of exegesis? Hypercaf critics do do a better job that popular Christians, in that they go back to verse 14, read all of 15, and note that the specific words are not a call to choose whether or not to serve Yahweh. Fair enough, as far as that goes.


Keep reading. Read verses 16-27, and what do you see?
16 Then the people answered, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods, 17 for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed.  18 And the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God."

 19 But Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.  20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good."

 21 And the people said to Joshua, "No, but we will serve the LORD."

 22 Then Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD, to serve him." And they said, "We are witnesses."

 23 He said, "Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel."

 24 And the people said to Joshua, "The LORD our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey."

 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem.  26 And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.  27 And Joshua said to all the people, "Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God."
The people retort that they will serve Yahweh. Joshua replies that they won't be able to, because of their fickleness. They insist that they will serve Him. So Joshua formalizes this declaration, indicating his approval — first saying "you have chosen the LORD, to serve him" (v. 22).

In other words, they did choose Yahweh, in response to Joshua's challenge. They did choose Yahweh.

And, in conversion, so do we.

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14 May 2012

Pop Quiz

A Practical Example Showing Why Doctrine Is Important
by Phil Johnson

ere's a set of talking points the Jehovah's Witnesses hand to their door-to-door teams to instruct them on how to foment doubt about the deity of Christ. Some lazy JW saw an article I wrote on the deity of Christ and as a kind of shorthand reply, he e-mailed me a copy of the handout he was given by his church.*

I wonder how many evangelicals would be prepared to give an answer.

*The misspellings and typos in the document are all exactly as they appear in the original.

Good Points For Field Service


  1. Why is he called the "firstborn" of all creation? Col. 1:15, Rev.3:14
  2. Why did he say that he did not come of his "own initiative" but was sent? John 8:42, 1 John 4:9
  3. Why did Jesus not know the "day and the hour" of the Great Tribulation but God did? Matt. 24:36
  4. Who did Jesus speak to in prayer?
  5. How did he "appear before the person of God for us"? Heb. 9.24
  6. Why did Jesus say "the Father is greater than I am"? John 14:28, Php. 2:5, 6
  7. Who spoke to Jesus at the time of his baptism saying "this is my son"? Matt. 3:17
  8. How could he be exalted to a superior position? Php. 2:9, 10
  9. How can he be the "mediator between God and man"? 1Tim. 2:5
  10. Why did Paul say the "the head of Christ is God"? lCor. 11:30
  11. Why did Jesus "hand over the Kingdom to his God" and "subject himself to God"? 1 Cor. 15:24, 28
  12. Who does he refer to as "my God and your God"? John 20:17
  13. How does he sit at God's right hand? Ps. 110:1, Heb. 10:12, 13
  14. Why does John say "no man has seen God at any time"? John 1:18
  15. Why did not people die when they saw Jesus? Ex. 30:20
  16. How was Jesus dead and God alive at the same time? Acts 2:24
  17. Why did he need someone to save him? Heb. 5:7
  18. Who is reffered to prophetically at Prov. 8:22-31?
  19. Why did Jesus say "that all authority has been GIVEN to me in heaven and on earth"? Matt. 28.18, Dan. 7:13, 14 (similar)
  20. Why did he have godly fear? Heb. 5:7
  21. How could he learn obedience and be made perfect? Heb. 5:8-9
  22. Why would an angel be able to strengthen him or angels minister to him? Luke 22:43, Matt. 4:11
  23. Why would Satan try to tempt him if he KNEW that he was GOD? Matt. 4:1-11
  24. Jesus when sent to the earth was made to "be Lower" than the angels. Heb. 2:7. How could any part of a God Head EVER be lower than the angels?
  25. Then if Jesus was the sameas God, who was he being tempted to rebel against? could God be tempted to rebel against himself? Matt. 4:1
  26. Near the end of his earthly life, Jesus cried out "My God, why have you forsaken me?" Matt. 27:46 Can God desert or forsake himself?
  27. Heb. 5:8 says that Jesus learned obedience! To whom would he obey if he was GOD? And Does God need to LEARN anything?
  28. God's justice is strickly perfect. Ex. 21:23-25 for example. The ransom price was one perfect human for another. An imperfect man's life would be too low. Ps. 49:7 If Jesus was the same as God, the ransom price paid by a God would have been too high. Adam was a perfect MAN and the ransome price was a perfect MAN, not higher nor lower.

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