Tuesday, November 28, 2006

These Childish Dissipations

These childish dissipations!(John Newton's Letters)

Writing to a worldling, John Newton says--If you were to send me an inventory of your pleasures; how charmingly your time runs on, and how dexterously it is divided between the coffee-house, play-house, the card-table, and tavern, with intervals of balls, concerts, etc.; I would answer, that most of these I have tried over and over, and know the utmost they can yield, and have seen enough of the rest, most heartily to despise them all. I profess I had rather be a worm crawling on the ground, than to bear the name of 'man' upon the poor terms of whiling away my life in an insipid round of such insignificant and unmanly trifles! Alas! how do you prostitute your talents and capacity, how far do you act below yourself--if you know no higher purpose of life than these childish dissipations!

Grace Gems (choice electronic books, sermons & quotes)


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Whatever Your Hands Find to Do

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
- Ecc_9:10

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do," refers to works that are possible. There are many things which our heart findeth to do which we never shall do. It is well it is in our heart; but if we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart, and talking of them; we must practically carry out "whatsoever our hand findeth to do." One good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we "find to do" day by day. We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we never shall have any time but time present. Then do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God. Endeavour now to bring forth fruit. Serve God now, but be careful as to the way in which you perform what you find to do-"do it with thy might." Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do to-morrow as if that could recompense for the idleness of to-day. No man ever served God by doing things to-morrow. If we honour Christ and are blessed, it is by the things which we do to-day. Whatever you do for Christ throw your whole soul into it. Do not give Christ a little slurred labour, done as a matter of course now and then; but when you do serve him, do it with heart, and soul, and strength.

But where is the might of a Christian? It is not in himself, for he is perfect weakness. His might lieth in the Lord of Hosts. Then let us seek his help; let us proceed with prayer and faith, and when we have done what our "hand findeth to do," let us wait upon the Lord for his blessing. What we do thus will be well done, and will not fail in its effect.

C.H. Spurgeon


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Systematic Theology - Prolegomena

I probably should have started with these notes, these are the notes from the first lecture.

Doctrine – We live in an time when doctrine is despised. “Doctrine divides,” “no creed but Christ” are battle cries of many in this time in Church History.

What is Doctrine- Any teaching that is found in Scripture, particularly one that summarize what the Bible teaches on a certain topic. (Creeds)

Christianity does not exist without doctrine. Believe in Christ and be saved. Who is Christ, believe what about Him? Why Christ not Buddha etc.

Everyone has a set of doctrines they believe, even if they say they don’t believe in doctrine, that is their doctrine.

True and False Doctrines- The more true doctrines we understand and believe the more we will be growing in the grace and knowledge of God. Any false doctrines we believe will hurt us if we try to live by them.

Different types of doctrines

Essential – If you deny these you are not a Christian.
Non-Essential – you can deny but still be a Christian
E.g. Church Government,
Cardinal Doctrine – These are very important. To deny these may be saved but your treading close because, these mess with the essential to some degree.
E.g. The inerrancy of Scripture. Free Grace stuff.
Tertiary and peripheral- Should the pastor wear a robe. Church Sports programs, etc.

Orthodox – right belief
Heterodox – Still a Christian but has some bad doctrine.
Heresy - Non–Christian belief.
Apostate – Denied the faith

Systematic Theology- Any study that answers the question, “What does the whole Bible teach us today” about any given topic. -Wayne Grudem-

Systematic Theology – Evangelical systematic theology is the comprehensive study and coherent organization of what can be known, primarily from Scripture, (theology’s only final and ultimately authoritative source) and secondarily from any and all relevant sources, about God and His relation to the created universe, in a manner that is understandable and applicable to contemporary audiences, the end that God’s people are strengthened and satisfied in Him, to the praise and glory of His name. –Bruce Ware-

Other disciplines-
Apologetics- Presuppositional, and Evidential
Historical Theology – Syncronic and diachronic
Philosophical theology – Platonic, Aristotelian, etc
Ethics- descriptive and prescriptive

Exegesis- What does this passage say? (1 Cor.14:37)

Biblical Theology- What does this book, genre, or author say? Progressive Revelation (1 Cor. 11:5)

Systematic Theology – What does the whole Bible say? (Exodus 15:20)

Important aspects of Systematic theology -Comprehensive, Coherent Organization, from God’s revelation, Applicable to today’s Christian, for the glory of God.

Puritan Definition- The science and art of living unto God

Orthodoxy affects Orthopraxy- Theory effects practice.

Why Study Systematic Theology- Why not just keep reading the Bible for the rest of our lives without systematizing it?

1. The great commission tells us to teach people to obey all that he commanded. What did he command? We must know what we are to teach the world.
2. It benefits our lives, by overcoming wrong ideas we hold, and we begin to see the total weight of truth.
3. God gave us teacher to help us understand the word of God, and some of them are systematic theologians.
4. There are many challenges to the Christian worldview, and if we know it we live unguarded to the wolves in sheep’s clothing. The Mormon’s boast that they baptize a Baptist Church every month.

Where to start- Two axioms since Christian follow Christ we start with two presuppositions that Christ held.
1. The Bible is true, and is the Absolute Standard for truth.
2. The God of the Bible exists and is the only true God.

Have we proven these? No but if we don’t start with these we are not really doing Christian theology. As we build the theology we can then test it to the real world, in doing this we will see that these that Christianity is true therefore showing the necessity that our axioms are true.

Transcendental argument for God’s existence- No other worldview besides the Christian one is completely logically consistent nor can stand up to the test of experience with the real world.

Organization of the truths. How do these truths relate and do they build upon each other?

Jigsaw puzzle- You must use all the pieces and you cannot alter any of them.

Typical areas of systematic theology.

Bibliology- The Doctrine of the Word of God
Theology Proper- The Doctrine of God
Anthropology- The Doctrine of Man
Harmatology- The Doctrine of Sin
Christology – The Doctrine of Christ
Soteriology- The Doctrine of Salvation
Ecclesiology – The Doctrine of the Chruch
Eschatology – The Doctrine of Last things or the future.

Some objections to systematic theology-
1. You can’t make the Bible fit into a nice neat system.
But this assumes that there is no system to God’s knowledge?
Does any of God’s knowledge contradict any other of His knowledge. If they don’t contradict they must agree and synthesize. This is what we are seeking.

2. Systematic theology is just taking a framework and trying to make the Bible fit into it. (Eisegisis) This objection has it backwards, but has a legit caution in it.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

I am currently teaching through Grudem's Systematic theology at our church. Here are some notes on the inspiration of Scripture if anyone is interested and if they make any sense to you.



Authority and Inspiration - Directly related, Authority is based on inspiration

What is your authority on matters of truth? (Positive test for truth)

Evangelicalism is set apart by it’s use of scripture as its foundation.
The entire Christian system is based on the authority of Scripture. If it is not inspired then it is not our final authority, because we will have to judge it with something else.

What will be our judge if scripture is not? What will we use to test and see which scriptures are true and which ones are in error. Science, Reason, Look within ourselves.

Verbal and Plenary Inspiration.
Verbal – Word for word. Not basic ideas
Use the analogy of the secretary
Plenary-full; complete; entire; absolute; unqualified

We believe in the Verbal Plenary understanding of Scripture because

1.) It’s what the Bible claims for itself.
2.) We are convinced by the internal witness of the Spirit.
3.) Other evidence which is useful
4.) The words of Scripture are self-attesting

Objection, this is a circular argument
Objection, this theory implies dictation.

It is what the Bible claims for itself
1. Thus saith the Lord is all throughout scripture
2. God spoke through the prophets, (p. 74)
3. II Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God Breathed”
a. Theopneutos – “breathed out by God”
b. Not one section or word is not breathed by God
c. Breathed out is metaphor for “speaking the words of scripture
d. 2 Pet. 1:21 not by the will of man

4. This covers Old and New testament
a. 2 Pet. 3:16 N.T. writings are called “graphe”

1Co 14:37 If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord.

Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come.

We are convinced by the internal witness of the Father

1Co 2:14 Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.

This does not mean that the natural man cannot understand the words of scripture, but that he cannot receive them. (Rom. 1)

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.
Does this mean that the other men could audibly hear his voice?
This isn’t audible hearing it’s internal

This conviction though, never comes apart from the scripture but always through it..

This is not a Gnostic Gospel nor is it private.

2Pe 1:20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation.

Other Evidence is useful but not finally convincing
-24000 Manuscripts of the New Testament alone
-Internal Evidence, 66 books by 40 authors over 2000 years and they give one perfect non-confliction message
-when something is true there tends to be evidence, but some blinded eyes will not see it.

1:5 We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to a high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture (1Ti_3:15). And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts(Isa_59:21; Joh_16:13, Joh_16:14;1Co_2:10-12; 1Jo_2:20, 1Jo_2:27).

The words of Scripture are self-attesting

This means the words of Scripture judge everything else, nothing judges it.

-There is not higher authority? Where will you go to prove the Bible but the Bible itself. Man’s reason (those scripture never violate true reason) Science. Internal feelings.

Objection, this is circular argument.

How do we know the Bible is the true authority?
Because it says it is the true authority
How do we know that that is a true statement.
Because the Bible is the true authority

Axiom- That foundational belief with cannot be proven by any other foundation. If is proven by something else then what it is proven by is truly your axiom.

Every belief system has an axiom that cannot be proven.

We cannot know anything as true unless it is proven by science.
Then this statement cannot be true because it has not been proven by science.

Transcendental argument- It is the only belief system that makes sense of the world as it really is.

Objection, The verbal and plenary understanding implies dictation

Dual authorship – We can tell what was written by Paul and what was written by John because of different styles.

How can we have this if we have verbal inspiration?

Read Clark,

A. Because of this to disobey or to disbelieve any word of Scripture is to disbelieve God Himself.

Truthfulness of Scripture
God cannot lie
Therefore the word of God contains nothing that is not true
God’s words are the standard for truth
i. “your word is truth”
ii. Not your word is the truth as if the word lines us to some external standard
No fact will ever contradict the Bible, if there is a fact that contradicts the Bible it is a misinterpreted fact or misinterpreted scripture.
Boettner P. 35

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Misdirected Worship

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me."
-Exodus 20:2-3-

A very favorite book among Catholics is entitled, "The Glories of Mary, Mother of God." It's author is St. Alphonsus Liguori. The translator dedicates the work to Mary, "the Queen of Angels and of Men," with "all veneration and respect," and says it is "designed to increase the number and fervor of her worshipers." Here is the table of contents:

How great should be our confidence in Mary, Queen of Mercy.

How great our confidence should be in Mary as our mother.

The great love borne us by Mary our mother.

Mary is the refuge of repentant sinners.

Mary is our life, since she obtains us the pardon of our sins.

Mary is our life, because she obtains our perseverance.

Mary renders death sweet to her servants.

Mary is the hope of all the children of Adam.

Mary is the hope of the sinner.

Mary's readiness to assist those who invoke her.

The power of Mary to defend those who invoke her in temptations.

Necessity of Mary's intercession in order to obtain salvation.

Mary is a powerful Advocate.

Mary is a compassionate Advocate.

Mary is mediatrix of peace between God and sinners.

Mary is ever watchful to support our miseries.

Mary preserves her servants from hell.

Mary succours her servants in purgatory.

Mary conducts her servants to heaven.

The greatness of Mary's mercifulness and goodness.

The sweetness of the holy name of Mary in life and in death.

In "The Psalter of the Virgin" we find the last two Psalms of David thus thrown into parody, and applied to Mary instead of Jehovah: "Sing unto our Lady a new song: let her praise be in the congregation of the just. Praise our Lady in her holiness; praise her in her virtues and miracles; praise her, you choirs of patriarchs and prophets; praise her, you army of martyrs; let everything that has breath praise our lady!"

(William S. Plumer, "The Ten Commandments" 1864)