Session 1 – Prologama

June 14th, 2010

We begin with an examination of our pre-suppositions, the lay of the land so to speak. These are some of the terms and concepts that we will need going forward.

– examine the basic terms (eg. theology, doctrine)
– what is theology
– what types of theology are there and why
– the justification for studying theology

Christian Beliefs – no reading required
Bible Doctrine – pages 1-32

Audio/Video – sorry none in place yet.

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Basic Theology @ TWN

June 14th, 2010

We are offering our first most formal seminar/course this Summer.

Basic Christian Doctrine aka Systematic Theology 101

A foundation examination of the doctrines defining essential Christianity, Orthodoxy and heterodoxy. The course is mainly aimed at Christian believers. The teaching is Reformed in theological flavour.

We will spend about one session on each doctrines, covering the material over 12-14 weeks.

Each session will be instructor lead with associated discussion. Additional optional discussion may be available locally on Friday evenings as part of our regular Colossisns 3:16 gatherings.

Text: Bible Doctrine by Dr. Wayne Grudem (ISBN 0310222338)
Optional substutute: Christian Beliefs by Dr. Wayne Grudem (ISBN 0310255996)

Since the sessions are is Wednesday evenings and a couple of people can not fit that in their schedules, we will be experimenting with recording the lecture portion in audio or possibly video for posting here. This would allow anyone who would find it profitable to ‘attend’.

It is an experiment. Our intent is to encourage and strengthen fellow believers and to glorify our Lord.

If you are a believer in Ottawa, Canada, and wish to attend, please email us.

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Seeker Friendly People – Beware!

March 29th, 2010

Anyone who has read this site, or more especially my ThoughtPaths site know my option of the seeker friendly, emergent church.

Last Summer (2009) I came across this clip by Rev. Al Martin. It was big hit at the White Horse North.

Enjoy and take heed…

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Luther didn’t wear a mask

October 31st, 2009

On October 31, roughly 492 years ago, when he brazenly tacked his 95 “points for discussion” to the church door, Martin Luther wasn’t wearing a mask or disguise.

Today is Halloween for most western countries (maybe eastern too) and at its root in 2009 it is a celebration of commercial sales and promotional success.  It will be feared by many in the Christian community, but the fear of the demonic is largely miss-directed towards the past when it should be directed toward the present dangers of the monetary idols that drive Halloween and similar events of the 21st century. Those are much more soul damming than what is focused upon in the past.

So, what about my opening statement?

Martin Luther did what he did not because he was trying to split or destroy the church but because he wanted to bring it back to the truth of Scripture. Division only occurred because the church could not turn back from its path away from the truth and into the world – a division that continues today.

Luther was driven by the work of the Spirit, showing him that all of the apparent means of salvation and sanctification available to him outside of the Word and Christ alone were not only insufficient, but potentially or presently corrupt – of the flesh not the Spirit.

He came to this state and his subsequent actions as himself, Martin Luther, plain and simple. All the rest that followed – reformer, crusader, divider et al – were by-products, and in terms of him, irrelevant.

If we are in the Beloved –  signed, sealed and delivered from before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4) – then is it not our role also to come as ourselves? By that I mean that we stand, as Paul, for Christ and Him crucified, and nothing else, driven by the compulsion of the conviction given to us through a heart turned from the world by the work of the Spirit applying the grace of God. No props and no add-ons.

Yet in the reality of modern life, plans, actions, activities and such, we often stand for and present conviction in the things of the world. Some of those things may be wonderful things – church, family, good work – but they are not Christ and Him crucified alone. As such, they are completely irrelevant to our place in eternity and to the singular message which we are to champion.

Let us remain focused (even obsessed) with the only legitimate conviction, that of our faith in Christ and His truth in the Gospel, that we will be driven as Luther was, to the Word and its Truth beyond all else. Let us not wear a mask of the world as we walk in it.

And to Him be all the glory…

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Reformation Day or Halloween?

October 30th, 2009

This time of year brings a strange situation that I have puzzled about for years – the non-starter of Reformation Day in almost all Protestant denominations and churches.

Fact -> If the pivotal event of Reformation Day had not occurred (by God’s grace, of course), then each and every single person in all Protestant denominational churches would today be a Roman Catholic or a non-believer, or both.

Fact -> Not only does Reformation Day and the events thereof go largely unnoticed and uncelebrated in most churches of 2009, but the church seems much more concerned with Halloween silliness than with any awareness of the events that shaped their church history (and still does).

What does this mean? What does it say about the church today?

I have, over the years, attended a number of churches – mostly Baptist and mostly Reformed to one degree or another. With one exception, they have proceeded to ignore the Reformation almost completely, as if the work of the Reformers of the 1500 and 1600s was largely unrelated to their freedom from Rome and their beliefs.

I have no explanation other than intellectual hubris and entitlement of the first order, and I just don’t understand it.

They look hither and yon for alternatives to Halloween, running about in many case with great anst over things are for the most part meaningless. At the same time, they ignore that which formed the foundation of their beliefs and which would provide something to celebrate in the Lord.

I can only attribute the phenomena to a subtle man centered philosophy that will concentrate on almost anything of flesh rather than celebrate the reality of spirit that has shaped the church.

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You hav’ta serve someone

October 18th, 2009

Remember that line? If you are old enough, you will recall that  it is a song from Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks album several decades ago. And he was correct. So, this begs the question-  who you will server?

Some churches say – the church and you are sanctified through that glorifying work.

Society for the most part says – the community, with  secular sanctification gained by good works for your fellow man.

Post-modern Society seems to say – yourself, assisting the social order by actualizing your own talents to the fullest for the common good.

But all of these beliefs are Biblically dead wrong, because they hing upon a subtle but fatally incorrect assumption. They assume that by definition man has a good nature. From this they infer that given the proper environment, sociological support and other appropriate conditions, he will develop and work to the common good in a way that can be consider fundamentally pleasing. This foundational good is assumed as a  birthright, often referred to as “innocence”. It also usually assumes no absolute standard of truth by which to objectively judge these matters, treating them a evolving and fluid.

But of course we do have a standard of absolute truth in the inerrant Word of God, provided by the sovereign Creator of all that is. What, then, does the Bible say about this?

“as it is written
THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”
Romans 3:10-12

“For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
Isaiah 64:6

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

In other words, the society assumption of intrinsic good, which, if provided with the correct support, will cause society to evolve towards perfection, is based upon the exact opposite of the true nature of man.

As part of Adam’s seed, men (and you too, ladies) are by nature fallen. This fallen state means that they are tainted through every particle of their being. This does not mean that they can not to good things that help society and people, but it does mean that since every action or even intent is overshadowed or tainted by sin, no action or intent can please God – no even one! Even the most seemingly righteous act is “like a filthy garment” (Isaiah 64:6) from the viewpoint of the Lord. It offends him by definition and is deserving of only punishment. Admittedly stern stuff, yet the message of Scripture.

Ss long as a man is unregenerate, he can not act in an untainted manner. As such, since all that he is and does in unacceptable to God can not be acceptable to serve Him, it must by definition serve the only other thing left, world of flesh (there is no middle ground). And who is the Prince of the Air (Ephesians 2:2) and Prince of this World (John 14:30) but Satan. Thus, we have the fallen, unregenerate as the unconscious bond servants of Satan. Pretty scare indeed! This is the default position of all of man as their birthright, not the good nature that society would like to believe in.

In order for this predicament to be altered, external action is required. It is like a blind man, who does know that he is blind or have any idea that there is in fact a sense of sight. Until he is given vision, not only can he not see but he has no desire to see. For fallen man, since his actual nature is an anathema to the things of God (that is, the opposite of the world), man by definition will actively reject the things of God because they fly in the face of what he is. He can not be otherwise since it would be against his nature.

The result for men, when confronted but the truth is “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…” 1 Corinthians 1:18. And worse, this “foolishness” will often be expressed as animosity since it threatens who they are.

That is the state of the unregenerate – all men by birth.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

This is the only answer – the proactive replacement of the nature of a man by God.  Once that is in place, though the individual is still in the world they are not of the world.

“…As it is, you do not belong to the world…” John 15:19

The result is a turning towards Christ by nature, just as surely as the old nature resulted in a turned away.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27.

The predisposition is now turned 180 degrees, and the individual wants to, yearns, is driven to follow Christ by their very nature. What was foolishness is now perceived as wisdom, with great rejoicing.

We now serve Him and can not do otherwise. Our nature is now, as Paul expresses it – “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

It is true that “You hav’ta serve someone”. Let us rejoice that for us it is Christ Jesus. May all the Glory be to Him!

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Nothing but Christ, and Him Crucified

October 13th, 2009

Paul said “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2.

Where do you put your faith and testimony? Not on Sunday, while in the church, but in the ongoing moments of the day, walking in the world. And the underlying question is “What exactly saved you?”.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 20:2

One is saved by truly believing in the work of Christ on the cross and thereby being crucified in him.

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

That being so, our salvation is solely based in that and its implications alone. This is the root of the one true Gospel of Christ, which alone saves us in our true conviction in it. You are saved by true belief in the plain, simple Gospel message of who Jesus is, what He did and what that means (Philippians 2),  and your subsequent calling upon the name of our Lord – nothing else.

That is very straight forward, but the problem is that fallen people line in total inability to truly believe because they are of the world and the Gospel message is an anathema to their basic nature. They can not do other than reject the Gospel message. They are unable to have faith or truly believe in anything except the world and serve the one of the world, Satan. Yes, it is that black and white.

To believe, one must be changed by the proactive action of the Holy Spirit, acting at the behest of the Father from before the foundation of the world, to change the people of the His choosing (Ephesians 1:4).

So, here we are as believers, sealed and delivered in Christ, once for all eternity. Yet I will ask again “What do we boast in and focus upon in the small moments of ongoing life? What is the testimony of who we are are and what we say and do?”

“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death” (Revelation 12:11).

Our boasting, our reason d’etre, must be only of  “Christ and Him crucified”. That is our only source of life. Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is the only belief and testimony that matters – rejoicing in what it has made possible. Our fellowship as believers is at its root a celebration of that, all that it implies, and nothing else. And this should be clear in our meetings and our fellowship.

We have nothing else to boast about –  not our faith, our decision, church, organization, programs, strengthened marriages, families and family values, entertainment, performance, good works or any other of the trappings of  modern “Christian” life. Nothing at all – for to boast of those things is to quietly steal away some of the reality of the the accomplishment of Christ. It is to demean His work and ennoble ours as men.

When He said “It is finished” (John 19:30), what was finished had nothing to do with who we were, are or ever can be, or of what we might bring to Him as men (and that means you too, ladies). It was all about God and His plan.

And this will be harder, not easier, as time goes on “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” 2 Timothy 4:3. This time is clearly evident even now.

All of this is not pie is the sky, some grand idealism. It is exactly and precisely what the Lord has called us to as True Believers – the literal translation of “Saints” in modern translations of Scripture.

My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You;
And my soul, which You have redeemed.”
Psalm 71:32

Let this be our attitude, our mantra so to speak, as we walk through life – all of it – and as we meet together. This alone, irrespective of the activity or place, brings glory to God and brings Him joy. In this we remember His precepts and commandments as He wishes.

Soli Deo Gloria

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What’s in a name?

October 11th, 2009

As those meeting to study, read psalms and Scriptures, and sing met we thought back to the original White Horse Inn. We often felt that the spirit, though not the danger of that time, was reminiscent in the present gatherings. The group has become affectionately and unofficially referred to as The White Horse North.

The groups and their activities have no affiliation with any one church body. This is deliberate, so that believers seeking to learn the great Reformed truths and to bring glory to our Lord in the way of the Reformation may participate irrespective of their church affiliation. There is also no connection to any other organization of similar name.

What we have is just a work of simply and humble obedience to His command that our function be to gather to the praise and glory of His name.

The Future:

Where this leads, only our Lord knows. Our only goal is to draw closer to and glorify Him.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Regulative Principles

October 11th, 2009

A couple of verses that we have discussed before to start…

“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42.

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16.

And there are numerous others addressing the assembling of the beloved in Christ.

The question is, are these regulative for the gathering of believers now? And what precisely are they describing?

As I stated in a a previous article, my interest in this was initially focused by several articles in the Canons of Dordt. In those sections it is pointed out that the believer can draw great assurance in the fact that they are assured of there standing before God by the very beliefs that saved them – in Christ and Him crucified (in the words of Paul), and not necessarily in other outward signs. Further, it is pointed out that believers should continue to diligently avail themselves of the ‘Means of Grace” that were provided by the Lord in support of their justification, sanctification and assurance.

In the two verses quoted above we find a Scriptural proscription not only for the assembling of the Saints, but even more for their ongoing life in Christ. I am more and more convicted that these specifications from Scripture are both regulative in nature and exclusive in scope. Moreover, there are no alternatives specified in Scripture.

The obvious counter argument is that these were culturally based, for those times alone, and thereby can be redefined today for modern times. However, I do not see any specifics of times and culture in them that would indicate that. In fact, the terms used are sufficiently general to define a model for life as opposed to some specific actualization of that cultural venue. That said, I reject that argument.

Next, am I implying a narrow reading of the principles that would imply a specific instrumentation (a big issue today) or style of hymnody? Not at all. Though I think that there are some restrictions implied, we are not talking about an RPW (Regulative Principle of Worship) which demands the accapella singing of KJV-only Psalms. In its restrictiveness, I think that would defy the regulative principles implied here just as much as many emergent approaches most certainly do.

We are talking about an ‘attitude’ model as much as anything else, and the actualization falls naturally from that, not the other way around.

What is that model? Well, let me close this post by parsing the verses above for the implied components:

1. devoted to the Apostles’ teachings – for us, the Scriptures
2. fellowship – notice that is fellowship in the teachings
3. breaking of bread (communion, not dinner)
4. prayer
5. Word dwell richly within you, (the Word) teaching and admonishing in
5.1 songs
5.2 hymns
5.3 spiritual songs
all rejoicing in thankfulness to God.

There you have it – a gathering focused upon the Lord in every way, directly and primarily through the Scriptures and things drawn from them – always looking up so to speak. Not a single word about anything at all of man – no mention of programs, books about programs and self-actualization, etc., etc.

These plus a few others that expand upon them embody the sole regulative model in Scripture and thereby the regulative model for God’s people, the beloved in Christ – a model for all time.

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Keeping Our Focus on Christ

October 7th, 2009

“I sometimes feel as if what we need most is a sense of proportion in our presentation of the truth; a new sense of where the center of gravity in the gospel lies; a return to the ideal of Paul who determined not to know anything among the Corinthians save Jesus Christ and him crucified.”…”because in your own conviction that alone is the remedy which you can honestly offer to a sinful world.” Geerhardus Vos, in “A Sermon on 1 Corinthians 5:7” (October 1, 1902; Princeton Theological Seminary).

How often do we forget, in our teaching and preaching, that this is the only message of merit? Too often I would venture.

We teaching and preach with good intention, about seemingly relevant and timely subjects, often well received and applicable. Yet in the real world that we belong to in the Beloved, those are just backdrops for the message of Christ and the cross.

Not to say that we should not teach and preach on every day, useful topics and applications, but the real message should always be there in the forefront, for all else rests upon it.

When we speak of life, what life is there outside of Christ? The answer, of course, is none. So all practical or topical exchanges have to lead back to the centrality of Christ and the cross.

In preparing and delivery any message to God’s people, this should be central in our thoughts and should punctuate the message. Again, though we know this and even when we see it as central to our lives, there is can creep in a tendency to get lost in another peripheral subject of interest and practical use. But there is nothing more practical that Christ and the cross.

As Christ and the cross are the central point of the both the Scriptures and of Redemptive history (past, present and future), the fulrum of it all so to speak, let us not only live but teach with this as our center.

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