Rob Bell is up and about again with a new documentary on how he became enlightened and became a heretic at the same time. He thinks that being a heretic is a good thing, but alas, this just shows his foolishness. Brett McCracken reviews Bell’s documentary along with another movie about another heretic entitled “Come Sunday,” and does a good job of showing that both these men have nothing to offer but a powerless message.
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.
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.
“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.
I’m preaching through 1 Peter and decided to read Calvin’s Sermons on Ephesians for the corresponding passage dealing with wives submitting to their husbands. I love reading commentaries from men of Calvin’s generation in helping me understand how the text has been viewed in history given that our culture is so completely inundated with the idolatry of the individual, also known as radical feminism.
I was going to use the following quote but decided that it was too controversial in nature. Heidi told me it was what we call a “parachute illustration.” That comes from a fellow pastor, Grover Gunn, who used an opening sermon illustration that was so horrifying in its description that, I didn’t hear the rest of his sermon. That illustration involved a man who was parachuting with a group of others and his job was to film everyone else. As they were descending, one after another pulled their chute and he continued to fall. After the last of the group opened his chute, the view from the camera became erratic, and it started spinning. The man who was filming the others, forget to put his shoot on before jumping out of the plane. He fell to his death. But alas, the camera survived and we have this horrible story to share with our congregations.
Here is a gracious fact: “We receive support from the palace” (Ezra 4:14). Both the upper and the lower springs from which we drink are fed by the great King’s eternal goodness. In every moment we have been supplied with food and clothing.
Sometimes we have been reduced to a pinch. Then through our infirmity, fermented with the irritability of our unbelief, we ask, “What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?” (Matt. 6:31). Still we have lived in the land and we have been fed. It has been especially gratifying to receive a loaf of bread from our Father’s hand. You have known poverty, but there has been a special sweetness in the daily bread that has been sent in answer to prayer. Although we do not drink water from the rock (Ex. 17:6) or find daily manna (Ex. 16:4), God’s providence still produces the same results, and we are fed and satisfied.
— Charles H. Spurgeon
A.W. Pink defines the sovereignty of God in the following way:
“What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35).
“To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psalm 115:3).
“To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is ‘The Governor among the nations’ (Psalm 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the ‘Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords’ (1 Timothy 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.”
“…it appears more fully how incomparable is God’s goodness towards us; for He sanctifies us, who are by nature polluted; He chose us, when He could find nothing in us but filth and vileness; He makes His peculiar possession from worthless dregs; He confers the honor of the priesthood on the profane; He brings the vassals of Satan, of sin, and of death, to the enjoyment of royal liberty.”
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!
Our reliance on God in adversity is a principle method of glorifying Him. Active service is good, but the passive confidence of faith is not one jot less esteemed in God’s sight.
The words appear to embrace and fasten on the LORD with a confident grip of faith that is not to be relaxed. The personal pronouns lay hold on the LORD’s faithfulness. We need grace to have our hearts fixed in a firm belief in God! The figure of a rock and a fortress may be illustrated by the fortress of Gibraltar, often besieged by enemies but never wrested from its defenders. Ancient strongholds, though far from impregnable by modern warfare, were important in those remote ages. Fleeing to the mountains, feeble bands felt secure. Note the singular fact that David asked the LORD to be his rock, because He was his rock. Let us learn from it that we may pray to enjoy in experience what we grasp by faith. Faith is the foundation of prayer.
Charles H. Spurgeon, from The Treasury of David, Psalm 31:2.
It is only gross ignorance of the requirements of God’s law which makes people undervalue the Gospel. The man who has the clearest view of the moral law, will always be the man who has the highest sense of the value of Christ’s atoning blood.
J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, Chapter XII, 28–34.