Lest we forget

April 22nd, 2011

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (John 19:16b-19)

He paid the price for my sins in those horrible hours of that day. His blood and my sins (past, present and future), nailed in agony to the cross that I deserved so richly. That I might be righteous before the Father and with Jesus in paradise for eternity.

Both the suffering and the result are truly beyond comprehension. Yet it was done within the plan of the Father, executed by evil and eternally condemned men. And all for the Glory of God in the redemption of the redeemed who were given to Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4).

What overwhelming sadness and joy combined.

Thank you, Lord. And come, Jesus, come…

Soli Deo Gloria!


110+ Days with Prof. Horner

April 21st, 2011

Some time ago I reviewed Prof. Horner’s somewhat unique Bible reading program. In brief, it involves reading one chapter from each of 10 lists of bible books each day. So you read 10 chapter per day. The 10 lists of books is a division of the 66 book of the Bible along roughly genre and subject lines (eg. Pentateuch, gospels, psalms, etc.). When reaching the end of a list, one simply starts that list again. The lists are of different lengths so that chapters read are always juxtaposed differently in subsequent readings. The original post and description is here.

After 110 days (1100 chapters – equivalent to the entire Bible), I am in complete agreement with Prof. Horner when he says that it will change your life.

What do I mean by that?

First, the amount of Scripture you are reading. Most people who hear of the system think that reading this amount daily is overwhelming. Having used other reading plans I certainly thought this before starting. However, the system of reading multiple books seems to completely remove this problem. He states that you will not consider it a lot after a month, and after 3 months you marvel at how you read less before. Right on both counts. I was starving for more and didn’t know it, irrespective of other types of ongoing Scriptural and theology study.

Next, he states that it will change you. Right again. You simply can not be immersed to this degree in Scripture without it unconsciously being assimilated into all other areas of your life. In his book Knowing God, A. Pink states that one of the most important activities for the Christian is being ‘soaked’ in Scripture.  This methodology accomplishes that, seemingly with effort.

Next, you will wonder how you ever read less of the Bible daily. Right yet again. Once established as habit you ‘can not’ comfortably do less. If fact, it seems like you should do more. The increased volume feeds an incresed hunger.

Next, you quietly develop contextualized cross-referencing that is amazing. Your memory increases and the combination of Old and New Testaments makes the entire Bible come alive. This is truly wonderful.

What about so many threads or stories happening at once? Can you keep track? I wondered about that, but it has proven to be a non-issue. About 50% of the books, such as Wisdom literature and most Psalms, have relatively independent chapters, so ongoing story context is not a problem. For the others, I simply scan the last paragraph of the previous day’s chapter before starting the new one. It takes about 20 seconds and I then continue with the thread refreshed in my mind for the next piece. As I said, a non-issue.

All this is to say that so far the system is all that is claimed and more. As Professor Horner suggests, give it a try for a month and see. You may be surprised and you have so much to gain.

A mentioned in my previous post on the program, I am tweeting a few verses that strike me in the course of each days readings. They are posted in the blog sidebar and at http://twitter.com/DoctrinesOGrace.

Soli Deo Gloria.


Giving Offence to God – Part 3

April 20th, 2011

Finally, with all the peripheral groups dealt with, we come to the reason for this set to posts and the real question at hand.

2. The unbeliever actively praying.

Worldly sense would say that this person is actively ingratiating themselves to God by this act of supplication. You could say “Surely this brings blessing to this person?”.

First, their status before a Righteous and Holy God. As with all human beings (past, present and future), this unregenerate person is in open rebellion against God in two ways: 1. by not acknowledging Him as God, creator and sustainer of all that is (see Rom 3:20 below) , and not worshiping Him accordingly: and 2. by not believing in His son as their sole saviour. Their failure is this regard results is their being wicked, as in our verse from the previous post

The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,  (Prov 15:3a)

Or even more pointed

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; (Prov 21:27a)

Notice that their are no caveats or exceptions. The wicked are always an abomination to the Lord. That means that their state makes everything they do an abomination to Him. Outside of salvation in Christ, can anyone be righteous in anything before God? No, not one (Rom 3:10b).

So, we have a person who is in active rebellion against what his Creator requires of him, who actively denies that Creator’s sovereignty and Son, approaching God in a way that He has reserved for believers.

Let us think back in the Old Testament to Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron (Lev 10:1-2). What happened to them when they inappropriately performed what the Lord specified. Right! – the Lord put them to death. So, the Lord clearly takes a very dim view of those who approach Him inappropriate and with the wrong attitude of submission and worship.

Since, as mentioned above, the unregenerate person is inherently and completely tainted by sin, all that they do is similarly tainted and can not please God. Their rebellion is reflected in the essence of who they are and thus in everything that they do. Moreover, their execution of actions that are reserved for believers, who are pleasing to God, is an even greater affront to the Lord.

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (Prov 28:9)

In conclusion -> This individual is putting themselves at further enmity with God by performing this act of supposed worship – digging the hole deeper, so to speak. They are incapable of acceptable worship or supplication in their spiritual condition and their attempt to approach God is an affront.

Unpleasant though it sounds, this is the biblical message, and it glorifies God by demonstrating His absolute, unwavering righteousness and justice.

Every unbeliever is called by all of creation around them to acknowledge the sole and total sovereignty of God. There are no exceptions.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Rom 1:20)

They are further called to repent of their worldly self and turn to His only son Jesus Christ.

Only then are their worship and supplications acceptable to God – becoming a living sacrifice and a pleasant aroma to the Lord (Num 15:13).

For the Glory of God alone.


Giving Offence to God – Part 2

April 19th, 2011

So, the big question is, what about the unbeliever who is doing the praying. They are, after all, praying for good things.

As mentioned previously, their prayer is being used by God for both the benefit of the elect and the sanctification and definite redemption of His creation. Does this count as redemptive credit to the unbeliever, in some way bringing them closer to salvation?

The short answer, to steal a phrase from Paul, is “May it never be!”. In other words – absolutely not. In fact, quite the opposite, as we shall see.

Actually there are two groups to consider here: unbelievers passively in the audience and the unbeliever praying.

1.The passive unbelieving attendee.

First, this is not the ‘yet unsaved’ member of the elect. They were dealt with in the Part 1 post.

This is the other passive unbelieving attendees.

The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but he loves him who pursues righteousness. Prov 15:9

Since all of the fallen, that is all of mankind throughout all of the ages since the Fall, are at enmity with God, in active rebellion against Him, and serving Satan, nothing in this situation affects their status. The wicked are all those who are not redeemed.

However, that is not to say that they do not contribute to God’s program of redemption, but only that this contribution (since God uses all things to the benefit of His program) does not benefit their status before Him. The only thing that can change that is salvation.

Further, since this situation, like all of creation, confronts them with the sovereignty of God, they are herein implicitly commanded to acknowledge His sovereignty. Their denial and failure to do so is an ongoing affront (wickedness) to Him.


Giving Offence to God – Part 1

April 1st, 2011

In a post some time ago I said “Now, in reference to apparent good verbal acts of the unsaved, these are good in the natural sense. They can not, however, appear good to God since their root does not emanate from God.” I would like to follow this train of thought a bit further. Fasten your set belts please, as the going may get a tad rough.

Let me pose a scenario: You are visiting a group of friends or family, and you sitting down to a meal together. Or you are at a large, primarily secular gathering where a meal is being served. Countless other scenes are possible in your memory I am sure. In line with modern inclusiveness and in deference to you or other ‘religious’ folk in the room, the non-Christian leader says a prayer for the meal and all who are in attendance.

Now let us look Biblically at the attitude of God to and efficacy of this praying.

We know that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). First, this covers the believers in attendance. This is not qualified and is irrespective of the current circumstance. It is also exclusive. That is, God works in the interests of His elect only. As such, they are blessed. I think that I would even extend this to any yet unsaved elect in attendance, since they are headed for the Lord, so to speak.

Next, “all things work together for good” is inclusive of all circumstances working for the ongoing sanctification and redemption of the elect in God’s purposes. So we have not only individual benefit to the elect but also to the Lord’s “purposes” in creation. This would included the benefit to the earth of eventually being released from the effects of the Fall, under which it continually suffers. Again, this is irrespective of circumstance or in this case who is the active agent in the scenario.

So God uses all circumstances for the good of His elect and His creation, all in the movement forward of His program.

Since He is absolutely sovereign in all things, there are no surprises or variances to Him. His program can not be thwarted and even the worst scenario will be used in the interest of the elect and towards Heaven.

Next, the sticky part…


Powerful verses

March 30th, 2011

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.'” (Jer 23:16-17 ESV)

What a couple of verses!

This could have been spoken and written today. How many places can you think of that it applies, both inside and outside the church?

Even with just the Solas Christ alone, as documented in the Scripture alone in mind, comparison to the world inside and outside the church sure gives lots of application…


Bible verses along the way…

March 19th, 2011

In the course of following Prof. Horner’s Reading approach, I will tweet some of the verses that strike me as I go. It is interesting how the juxtaposition of readings adds context and insights…

The latest Tweets will be shown in our left sidebar. I should also note that all verses will be quote from the ESV Bible version, which is what I have adopted for this type of reading.

Please follow us on Twitter!


Keep Your Greek – A Book Review

March 18th, 2011

So, you know a usable amount, or a lot, of NT Greek. You did the basic grammar courses, added a syntax and exegesis course, and maybe a related preaching or teaching course. Lots of sweat and a little inspiration. And voila, usable Koine Greek (hopefully).

We all agree that this is invaluable if not vital do quality study, preaching and teaching of the Word.

Now the real challenge begins. Retaining a language that you do not actively speak every day means deliberately keeping it up. But how?

Keep Your Greek

Keep Your Greek

Keep Your Greek, Strategies for Busy People by Constantine Campbell was created to address this problem.

This book was not created in the vacuum of the academic study. Each chapter of the book was created through a blog post and associated blog comments (some of which are included in most chapters). I followed this process online and the result is a timely compendium which hits the mark.

The book is clearly writen and addresses each issue concisely. There is lots of (Greek geek) humour and a point of view that those using Greek will appreciate. In short, it does the job in an engaging fashion, which is half the battle.

It is not that this book contains a lot of surprises, since there is little new under the language learning sun. However, it pulls together most of the tips and tricks appropriate to Kione under one roof. This is uniquely useful and encouraging.

The main requirement, as expected, is ongoing, consistent effort. No surprise there, but the encouragement is appropriate.

Along with the expected suggestions (keep your vocabulary up, practice parsing), there are a couple of strategies for retention and increased usability that are not as often suggested:
– skim reading, as you would in English, to practice getting the ‘just’ of the text. This is rarely suggested for this type of language work, especially for the less advanced.
– varying reading speed deliberately.

Lastly, there is a section on recovering your dormant Greek.

Overall, this is a useful, engaging and most of all encouraging look at a problem shared by most serious bible students. It is a welcome addition. Constantine Campbell is to be commended.

I should close by mentioning that Zondervan gave me a copy of this book for review. Irregardless, I would likely have purchased it and my opinions would be the same.


Bible Reading Plan

March 16th, 2011

Yikes, another Bible reading plan! At first blush that was my reaction as well. Had it not been for an intriguing comment on another Reformed blog I would likely have dismissed it summarily with a polite yawn.

That would have been most unfortunate, and I am very thankful that the Lord prodded me appropriately.

The plan in question is called Professor Horner’s Bible reading plan. It has a web site and a facebook page if you Google for it.

In a nutshell, it proposes that one read one chapter from each of ten lists of Bible books each day – that is 10 chapters from 10 different books, daily. The ten book lists cover the whole Bible and are chosen by the good professor to reflect various New and Old Testament divisions and areas of importance.

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But it works!

Each of the lists are different lengths, so over time the juxtaposition of books and chapters read daily changes. The result is a unique contextualization.

Here is the original article.

I made one modification. Acts was on a list by itself, while Romans was grouped with other Epistles. Given the Reformed doctrinal significance of Romans, I moved it to join Acts. This increases the frequency of Romans somewhat.

Here is a speadsheet of my version, which makes it easier to follow the program. Notice that the days have numbers, not dates, so you can start any time.

My opinion after 75 days -> his predication about the effects are both correct and wonderful. It is very profitable.

Try it…


Caution for the un-Reformed…

January 2nd, 2011

Found this at The Light Hearted Calvinist. I just love it…Enjoy…