Doctrine and History are Essential for Christianity

J. Gresham Machen shows the importance of realizing that our faith is a faith rooted in history and that history leads to doctrine. For Christians, doctrine and history are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other and you cannot have true the Christian faith without history and doctrine.

…the message of the resurrection was not isolated. It was connected with the death of Jesus, seen now to be not a failure but a triumphant act of divine grace; it was connected with the entire appearance of Jesus upon earth. The coming of Jesus was understood now as an act of God by which sinful men were saved. The primitive Church was concerned not merely with what Jesus had said, but also, and primarily, with what Jesus had done. The world was to be redeemed through the proclamation of an event. And with the event went the meaning of the event; and the setting forth of the event with the meaning of the event was doctrine. These two elements are always combined in the Christian message. The narration of the facts is history; the narration of the facts with the meaning of the facts is doctrine. ‘Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried”— that is history. “He loved me and gave Himself for me” — that is doctrine. Such was the Christianity of the primitive church.

Machen is showing the necessity for sound doctrine in the Christian faith. Liberals, and in our day progressives, always seek to subvert biblical doctrine with their own doctrine. I use to think that liberals were trying to do away with sound doctrine. Machen helped me see the they are not. They are trying to do away with biblical doctrine for their own doctrine. In light of 1 Timothy 4:1, we can see the true reality: Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.

My point: we will be drawn to one doctrine or another. Either we look to biblical doctrine, or man’s doctrine. The first is rooted in the nature of God, the latter in the rebelliousness of man.

Advertisements

Photo of the Week: B&B in the Hill Country

Heidi and I had the wonderful opportunity of staying in a B&B this past weekend, so I could preach at a church in the hill country. For those who don’t know Texas, the hill country is the area around Austin and San Antonio that is known for its…hills. I know most people who have never been to Texas think of it as a flat desert with a skeletal cow’s head, and a funky cactus. But Texas is a large place, with lots of variety. The hill country is one such area. It is rocky, hilly, filled with cedars, lots of cactus, lots of deer, antelope, and other exotic animals. There are only two bad things about the hill country. The first is the lack of rain, and when it rains, it has a tendency to flood in low-lying areas. Heidi and I got a taste of that when we drove across an area with less than a foot of water. It took us into the on-coming lane, but thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic.

The other bad thing about the area is the influx of Liberalis Californius. This is a species that has migrated this way after destroying its own homeland area through socialistic tendencies, making their own area so unpleasant to live in, they have to migrate to Texas in order to spread their ill-gotten policies. Some how, they fool themselves into thinking that they can live the same way in a new place and get different results.

But alas, enough commentary. This is a photography post, and therefore, demands pictures! Here they are!


 






 

Photo of the Week: Downtown Bristol…Again!

My favorite all-time downtown is Bristol, TN/VA. I never grew up thinking that I would ever have a favorite downtown, but Bristol clearly is the only one I ever think about going back to on a regular basis. Every time Heidi and I travel to the area, we have to go downtown, walk around, and enjoy the setting. Here are a few pictures to help give you a glimpse.

By the way, it is actually my second post on Bristol’s downtown. Here is the first.


 


 



This is my favorite small-business owner in downtown Bristol. He owns the cigar shop.

Kevin DeYoung On Biblical Social Justice

“My less-than-exciting conclusion [on studying Biblical social justice] was that we should not oversell or undersell what the Bible says about justice. On the one hand, there is a lot in the Bible about God’s care for the poor, the oppressed, and the vulnerable. There are also plenty of warnings against treating the helpless with cruelty and disrespect. On the other hand, justice, as a biblical category, is not synonymous with anything and everything we feel would be good for the world. Doing justice means following the rule of law, showing impartiality, paying what you promised, not stealing, not swindling, not taking bribes, and not taking advantage of the weak because they are too uninformed or unconnected to stop you.

So for simplicity sake, let’s take biblical “social justice” to mean something like “treating people equitably, working for systems and structures that are fair, and looking out for the weak and the vulnerable.”

Read entire article here.

Signing the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel

I decided to sign The Statement on Social Justice & The Gospel. After hearing Dr. James White discuss it on his show, The Dividing Line, and reading some of the other statements by people I trust and admire, like Samuel Sey and Darrel B. Harrison, it is important to support the statement given what is at stake. Simply put, the social justice movement is an attack on the gospel itself, the Bible, and the church.

Continue reading

Against the Generic “god”

“I am the way the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John Calvin, in his commentary on John 14:1-6, points out that many people will mention God only, but never refer to Christ in their religion. In doing so, they will be easily blown about by every wind of doctrine.

Calvin writes:

Proud men are ashamed of Christ’s humiliation, and, therefor, they fly to God’s incomprehensible Divinity. But faith will never reach heaven unless it submit to Christ, who appears to be a low and contemptible God, and will never be firm if it (does) not seek a foundation in the weakness of Christ.

This reminds me of one woman who was facing death, who refused to actually look to Christ and be saved. It was gut-wrenching because both my wife and I tried to help her see the need to trust in Christ alone for salvation. She would not have Christ. She was far too comfortable with the generic god of her faith, even telling this god that she wanted to live for 10 more years. Sadly, she didn’t have 10 more weeks.

Continue reading

Machen: Definition of Paganism

From Christianity and Liberalism, J. Gresham Machen defines paganism as the following:

Paganism is that view of life which finds the highest goal of human existence in the healthy and harmonious and joyous development of existing human faculties. Very different is the Christian ideal. Paganism is optimistic with regard to unaided human nature, whereas Christianity is the religion of the broken heart.

Machen is not saying that Christianity ends with a broken heart, but that it starts with a broken heart because those who become Christians have a consciousness of sin, whereas pagans do not. We can see paganism all around us. We see it in the exaltation of the human spirit, and the self. We see the priests of it everywhere, from Joel Osteen, to Zig Ziglar, to Oprah, all proclaiming the goodness of man. It’s in our schools, universities, work places, entertainment, and homes. And in the midst of it all, we cover it up with our prosperity.

Continue reading

Social Justice Seeks to Make the Gospel Relevant, Which is Why It’s Another Gospel


Darrel B. Harrison wrote in a Facebook post that Jesus doesn’t call us to become social-justice warriors in order to fix the problems of the world. Fixing the problems of the world was never Christ’s intent. It was His intent to save sinners. He will fix those problems, but not until His second coming.

While reading that post, it occurred to me that the reason so many are trying to latch on to becoming social-justice warriors within the church is because they think that it gives legitimacy to Christianity. No longer is Christianity an embarrassment to them. It’s now a religion that can fix the problem. But that is not true Christianity. It is simply the old whore of liberalism with a new dress and lipstick. It is another religion all together, as Machen showed in his book Christianity and Liberalism.

Continue reading

Only “Orthodox” Would Do

It’s interesting that the original name for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church was actually the Presbyterian Church of America. Don’t confuse that with the denomination of today, the Presbyterian Church in America. The latter denomination would not arrive on the scene until the 1970s. The former was getting underway in the early 1930s.

But the new denomination, and the new name wasn’t to be. The former denomination, the Presbyterian Church USA, took the new denomination to court, saying that the name was too similar to the old name. The court agreed and the first PCA had to change their name.

They tossed around many names: The Evangelical Presbyterian Church (which now exists), The Presbyterian and Reformed Church of America, The North American Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church of Christ, the Protestant Presbyterian Church of America, and the Free Presbyterian Church of America.

Continue reading

Midweek Photo: Industrial Sherman

The following are from the industrial area in Sherman, TX. Old building always make good subjects. I would love to take the following building and fix it up into a house or apartments.



Maybe we could hide a church in this one. But definitely turn it into apartments.


This one has future art studio written all over it.

“We Need More Programs!” Understanding the Theology of Glory



Those are words you often hear in churches that are in decline. It doesn’t matter what size the church is, when there is a perceived threat of extinction due to loss of numbers, the go-to solution is very often the creation of more programs. The theory goes that the more programs a church offers, the more it will attract people to the building, and the more evangelism will take place. This belief is centered upon the secularist mantra: “If you build it, they will come.”

Entire church complexes are built under this belief.

Continue reading

Machen’s View on the Bible in Schools


 

It has been my belief for some time that the worst thing Christians can do in order to turn the tide in our country is to put prayer or the Bible back into government-run and private schools.

The problem with doing so, is that you give the atheist, the cultist, the pagan, the Arminian, free reign to do with prayer and the Bible as they see fit. Placing the word of God into the hands of the enemies of the faith is no answer to the problem of cultural decay in America. They will simply turn the Bible into a screed against Christianity. If you doubt this, see Satan’s treatment of God’s word in his temptation of Christ found in Matthew 4.

Continue reading

2 Seconds of a Three-Hour Movie — Matt Chandler on How We View Our Lives

From Matt Chandler’s Book, Take Heart, quoted on the Wee Flea.

Saint Augustine, the fourth-century bishop of Hippo, said that to be human is to have your face pushed up against a stained-glass window. You see some color, but you see a lot of glass fragments. It is only given to God and those who are with him to be back far enough to see the whole window. To put it differently, to tell God the Father that he should do things differently is to step into a three-hour-long movie for two seconds, and then step back out and lecture the director on the storyline. That’s what it’s like. You just don’t know, and he— the fountain of life— does.

This helps keep God’s sovereignty and our limited ability to understand it, in perspective.

The Sabbath and the NFL

Another great quote from R. Scott Clark. This time, he shows the NFL has been a danger to the Christian family longer than same-sex marriage. The NFL defiles the Sabbath.

The Sabbath is just as basic to the creational pattern as marriage (Matt 19:4, 8; Mark 2:27). In that regard, the NFL has been a threat to the family and to Christian piety rather longer than same-sex marriage. Before the 1950s, college football was king and professional football was more like a semi-pro league. In the 1950s, however, professional football moved to Sundays to fill television time and the rest, as they say, is history.

In view of that, I wonder if the LORD has given His church over to the problems of same-sex marriage because we were not faithful in the first things, honoring Him on the LORD’s day. Instead of engaging in the idolatry of the NFL, let us worship the Triune God alone.

Fundamentalist and the Sabbath

Too funny not to share, from R. Scott Clark:

The fundamentalists (used here in the post-Machen sense of the word) think that creation refers entirely to the length of the creation days. In their approach to Scripture, the main thing for which Genesis is good seem to be to establish the age of the earth by adding up the chronologies and to refute 19th century geology and paleontology. They spend hours defending “creationism” while breaking the Sabbath at the creation museum (open from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Sundays).

It never occurs to them, that the Sabbath/LORD’s Day, was actually given before sin entered the world. God set it aside for a purpose and a reason, yet so many think He did away with the day in the New Testament. I’m sure the LORD of the Sabbath, Christ Himself, will have something to say to that.

Believing Every Word of the Bible, While Denying What It Actually Says

From Randy Alcorn’s Poor Interpretation Lets Us “Believe” the Bible While Denying What it Actually Says:

Historically, theological liberals denied Scripture, and everyone knew where they stood. But today many so-called evangelicals affirm their belief in Scripture, while attributing meanings to biblical texts that in fact deny what Scripture really says. Hence they “believe every word of the Bible” while actually embracing (and teaching) beliefs that utterly contradict it…

…We rightly call upon people to read their Bibles, but it seems many spend much more time reading INTO the Bible than reading OUT of it. So nearly everything they read becomes merely an echo of what they already think or what most people around them are already saying. God gave us His Word to teach, rebuke, correct, and train our thinking (2 Timothy 3:16), not so we could interpret it away into something that’s just a mirror image of our preferred beliefs.

Turning Away So Soon!

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel (Galatians 1:6).

John Calvin writes in his sermon on Galatians 1:6 the following:

In fact, what Paul says here about the Galatians is far too much in evidence today. Those who have been taught the gospel become discontented after three years [or so] if they do not have some novelty or other, for they have ‘itching ears’. Many vain people backside because they are not content with the truth in the gospel. They always want to be moving house [as it were] because they need some new thing to feed their foolish imaginations. Others grow dissatisfied when they see that the gospel has not brought them any of this world’s goods. There are even some who turn away when they find that they may well be persecuted, and have many enemies. Thus, you can see how many desert our LORD Jesus Christ, not just as one generation succeeds another, but even as those who appear to be His followers turn and rebel after three, or perhaps ten years.

The question and battle for all of us: are we satisfied with Christ as He is presented in the gospel? Or do we want more?

Continue reading

Photo of the Week: Upstairs, on the Right


I pointed to one of the windows, upstairs on the right.

“See that room?”

Heidi said that she did.

“That’s the room where the LORD made me His own.”

We were driving across North Texas and I took a bit of a detour to show Heidi the house. In that room, upstairs on the right, is where I came to know the LORD back in November of 1990. I can’t remember the exact day, but I do know it was probably about 2 or 3 in the morning. It’s what I did when I got off work from the newspaper. I would go home, eat a quick meal, go upstairs to my bedroom and read the Bible. I couldn’t get enough of the Bible, to the point that it was causing me problems at the newspaper, and even my family.

My brothers would say, “Timmy found Jesus.” Or “Timmy got religion.”

Christ found me.

Continue reading