The Local Congregation Is Enough

Pastor Jared Olivetti writes:

To fight the danger, let’s hold onto this truth: If there was never another conference, retreat, podcast or seminar, God working through your faithful, local congregation would be everything you need to grow to spiritual maturity. Such events are much like special meals. Perhaps a few times in your life you’ll have a meal you could never forget. Maybe it will be a special feast or a date night at a restaurant you really can’t afford. Those meals are blessings to be enjoyed–but they aren’t what sutains you. You are physically alive because of the normal, everyday meals you eat at home. Even if you don’t remember what you made last Friday for dinner (or what was made for you), you were fed and nourished and sustained by that meal. Such it is with our church family.

Read the rest of the article here.

Why Theology Matters

There they were, talking theology again. It seemed like every time I went upstairs to the second floor of Lincoln Hall, I would find those four guys discussing theology. Travis Campbell was one of them. You can see him here discussing 10 Undisputed Facts About Jesus. As they would discuss theology, I would stand there and listen as long as possible. But truth be told, most of it was over my head.

They discussed things like predestination, the sovereignty of God, election, and man’s free will, or lack thereof (depending on how you define free will). I had a great deal of respect for the men who were in those debates, many have gone on to fruitful ministries.

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Exit Strategy: How One Church Left the PCA

I applaud the men of Reformed Presbyterian Church (GRPC) in Greeneville, Tennessee. They recently led their church out of the PCA with a congregational vote that was unanimous. They recount the reasons why they did so in an article on The Aquila Report where they answered Honorably Retired pastor Larry Ball’s article about their departure. TE Ball wrote saying that the church should have consulted with the presbytery before doing voting to leave the denomination. The elders of GRPC reported that they did consult with other members of the presbytery, but did not consult with the presbytery itself. Then they gave their reasons for leaving.

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Would It Matter?

I love the simplicity of this church building. It’s nothing fancy. It’s on the same road where my dad lives outside of Brenham, TX, in Washington County. You can see that the paint is peeling, and the parking lot is mostly grass. The building doesn’t have central air, given the window units on the side you cannot see. I’m sure it has that old-church smell to it like a lot of churches do. You may know the smell I speaking of. Most members of old churches don’t notice the smell. They have grown use to it. It’s the smell of “old.” It shows that they haven’t updated anything in many years, no new paint, no new carpet, nothing new at all.

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Racism Is Sin

From R. Scott Clark in his article The Gospel is the Remedy for Racism:

Hyphenation died with Christ. I understand that there remain sociological and historical realities but in Christ there are no “Barbarian Christians” or “Greek Christians” or “Jewish Christians.” In Christ we have a new identity. This is why Paul’s appeal to baptism here is so powerful. It is a ritual death, just as circumcision was a ritual death. In baptism we were outwardly identified with Christ’s death. In death one’s ethnic heritage is superseded by a greater fact: one is dead. A corpse had an ethnic identity but death changed all that. In death we all become what we were to begin with: dust. There is no Greek dust or Scythian dust or Jewish dust. There is just dust. So, in baptism, outwardly, all that distinguished us from one another is made of no account and those who (sola gratia) believe, and who (sola fide) have apprehended by faith alone Christ and in him all that baptism signifies, have been given a new identity. They have been included into a new, multi-ethnic, multi-national society, the visible church.

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Do We Tremble?

It was another one of those interchanges on Facebook that caught me by surprise. An acquaintance posted a piece about women in the church, taking on the roles that only men should fill. I suggested that what needs to happen is a return to the biblical roles of men and women as described in Scripture. The acquaintance passed that off as being too simple for such a complicated situation.

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Good Hope is a Hope That is Drawn From Scripture

J.C. Ryle:

It is not enough to have good feelings about the state of our souls. We may flatter ourselves that all is right, and that we are going to heaven when we die, and yet have nothing to show for our expectations but mere fancy and imagination. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things.’–‘He that trusted in his own heart is a fool‘ (Jer. 17:9, Proverbs 28:26).

I have frequently heard dying people say that ‘they felt quite happy and ready to go.’ I have heard them say that ‘they felt as if they craved nothing in this world.’ And all this time I have remarked that they were profoundly ignorant of Scripture, and seemed unable to lay firm hold on a single truth of the Gospel! I never can feel comfort about such people. I am persuaded that there is something wrong in their condition. Good feelings without some warrant of Scripture do not make up a good hope.

The Real Reason “Engaging the Culture” Doesn’t Work

I really enjoyed reading Dean Abbott’s article “Engaging the Culture” Doesn’t Work Because Christian Beliefs Are a Mark of Low Status over at Patheos. He makes some great observations concerning this misguided movement. My regular readers know that I am not a fan of those who call for us to engage the culture (ETC) because what often happens is that the church ends up looking more like the culture rather than the culture looking like the church.

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Quotes and More

In the comments section of The Demise of the PCA, Alec wrote the following:

Have you heard of Matthias Loy? He was a faithful Lutheran in Nineteenth Century at the time when the Lutherans were facing the issues the Presbyterians faced 50 years later with the troubles that came to a head at Princeton. Dr. Loy wrote the following in his autobiography:

“The history of the Church confirms and illustrates the teachings of the Bible, that yielding little by little leads to yielding more and more, until all is in danger; and the tempter is never satisfied until all is lost. It seems but a small concession that we are asked to make when an article of our confession is represented as a stumbling block to many Christians which ought therefore in charity to be removed, but surrendering that article would only lead to the surrender of another on the same ground, and that is the beginning of the end; the authority of the inspired Word of our Lord is gradually undermined.” The Story of My Life

I thought it was a great quote, making the point of denominational and seminary drift, along with the church. When we will not stick to the truths of the Bible, we all drift, which we must not do. This is one reason I appreciate the creeds, like the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Heidelberg Catechism. These two documents help keep us grounded in what the church has concluded to be the important doctrines of the faith.

But given all that, I couldn’t help think of Alec’s quote when I read what John Newton preached back in 1779, concerning the passage “speak the truth in love,” from Ephesians 4:15.

The Bible is the grand repository of the truths that it will be the business and the pleasure of my life to set before you. It is the complete system of divine truth to which nothing can be added and from which nothing can be taken with impunity. Every attempt to disguise or soften any branch of this truth in order to accommodate it to the prevailing taste around us either to avoid the displeasure or court the favor of our fellow mortals must be an affront to the majesty of God and act of treachery to men. My conscience bears me witness that I mean to speak the truth among you.

Amen and amen.

 

Calvin’s Warning

Calvin, writing on the roles of men and women given in Scripture, writes the following:

“Therefore, with respect to external civil organization, the man is the image of God because Jesus Christ is his head. And then the woman is below him, such that she cannot say that she has an equal position, for that would constitute an arrogance which would overturn all order and civic policy.”

This is from his sermons on Genesis.