Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Review of It’s Good to Be a Man

In other words, the book is not Christian at all – but an idolatry of strength, dominion and power. Which, strangely enough, is exactly what Baal worship is.
If you are attending a congregation that is promoting or teaching this, flee and find a church.

Reforming Anthropology

Michael Foster and Dominic Bnonn Tennant’s book, It’s Good to be a Man (Canon Press, 2021), hasan innocuous title, and yet their book comes loaded with a view of themselves as men, Christianity as a masculine religion, and world dominion as a masculine pursuit, that reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of themselves, the church’s mission, their neighbor, and finally God. They aim to call their male readers to what they have settled on as the full measure of the stature of manliness, an understanding shaped by their experiences and theological convictions, Foster’s sharpened within his denomination. They anticipate the transformation of the world through planting churches so that “God’s name will be great throughout the nations.” On the surface, nothing might seem amiss. Don’t we all desire that the ends of the world be reached? But the question is “Reached with what?” According to Foster and Tennant, the gospel…

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A Pastor’s Treatment of His Wife (Miller)

I love this a lot, and Miller is right on the money.
When was the last time you heard a pastor speak like this?
When we started viewing women as trouble-makers by nature, to be suppressed and silenced, instead of co-heirs of eternal life, we opened the door to so many men who should never be in the pulpit.

The Reformed Reader

(This is a re-post from May 1, 2017)

A pastor’s marriage is a very important part of his life and ministry. It should be obvious that a pastor must be an excellent Christian example of what it means for a husband to serve, cherish, nourish, and love his wife in a humble, Christ-like way. Samuel Miller (d. 1850) gave some outstanding advice along these lines:

As a clergyman ought to be the most pious man in his parish, to go before all his people in the exemplification of every Christian grace and virtue, so he ought to make a point of being the best husband in his parish; of endeavoring to excel all others in affection, kindness, attention, and every conjugal and domestic virtue.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some clergymen, who preach well on the duties of husbands and wives, are, notwithstanding, austere, harsh, tyrannical, and unkind…

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I Believe in the Holy Spirit

Bill Gothard, Purity movements and the Holy Spirit

My Only Comfort

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.
33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
34 “And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to…

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Toil and Rest

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-by7yf-118be64

When mankind fell, enmity and disharmony entered creation. We are restless and at war – with each other, with our spouses, with creation, with the ground, and with God Himself.
But Christ has promised rest – He will take that enmity upon himself and bring us rest.

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The Meaning of Christmas

From the archives.

My Only Comfort

It’s inevitable this time of year.  People seem obsessed with “putting Christ back into Christmas”.  They seem to mean by this that we should put Nativity scenes up instead of Christmas trees, and that we should rant incessantly about spelling the holiday “Christmas” instead of “xmas”. Soon we will be asked to share memes if we agree that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Even now, perhaps there are some that are concerned that I might be taking too light a view on changing Christmas to “xmas”.  No, I’m not. “X” is simply a Greek chi, and for 2,000 years it has stood for the name “Christ.” Everyone relax.

I agree that at many times the holiday seems overdone, vain and aesthetically offensive. Christians are not immune to this charge.  There are only so many times that you can hear “Jingle Bell Rock” or “Mary did you know?”

On…

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Grief

There is something sneaky about grief. It creeps up behind you while you are weeding the garden or watching the hummingbirds and it bashes you over the head.
Or it sneaks into your pores and hides in the nooks and crannies of the soul only to come out of hiding when you aren’t occupied with anything else.
The song over the speakers in the grocery store. The coffee shop that you used to go to. The street you used to walk down. The hymns you used to sing…

It is so painful and so brutally honest that MostPeople hide from it, bury it, will offer their souls to just make it stop…

But wisdom walks with grief. Wisdom weeps and cries out. Wisdom takes grief out of hiding and turns it this way and that…not to find a solution, but just to grieve.

Grief is the B-side of love. Only those who love much grieve much.
Wisdom sits with grief, not trying to learn, not trying to manage, not trying to overcome – just sits with it…
When we sit with grief, it has a way of pointing us somewhere else. It reminds us that we were not made for this world and this is not how it is supposed to be.
And we are powerless to do anything about it. And so we cry out to a Saviour who hears us, who has conquered death, who walks with us through the dark valleys…
Everything else seems to fade away.
We still eat. We still vote. We still have our opinions about viruses and vaccines. We still have our experiences and personalities.
But suddenly they don’t seem all that important anymore.

Grief is the B-side of love. And when one sits with grief, everything except love is stripped away.
But only if you sit with it without trying to learn anything from it.
Growth comes from the rain of grief coupled with patience.
Take time to grieve.
Every plant has its own pace. Let the rain do its work.

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Complementarianism’s Existentialism Feeds Gender Confusion

Excellent stuff here. He nails it exactly.

Practically Known Theology

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:29

by John Ellis

We are all existentialists now. As a society, owing to luxuries like free time and access to lots of food (luxuries denied the vast majority of humanity throughout history), we are freed up to engage in navel-gazingly wondering what makes us a man or a woman. For some reason, conservative white Christians in this country spend an inordinate amount of doing just that: reading books about true masculinity and true femininity, attending conferences dedicated to the topic, and arguing incessantly about the virtue of our preferred parameters for what is masculine and what is feminine. The guardians of true masculinity and femininity even have a name – complementarians. By engaging and, hence, legitimizing navel-gazing gender…

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We Are Never Saved by Our Good Works…Period.

Guest post, by Christopher Campbell

 

There are some today who say that our good works play a part in our “final justification” before God when Christ returns. But the Heidelberg Catechism expressly denies this teaching. Heidelberg Catechism Question 62 asks, “But why cannot our good works be the whole or part of our righteousness before God?” and answers in this […]

We Are Never Saved by Our Good Works…Period.

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Judging God in a Time of Covid-19 — Tim’s Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another

For “Megan” – thank you for your comment. This might help answer some of it. I will add my response when I can…

via Judging God in a Time of Covid-19 — Tim’s Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another

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April 2, 2020 · 7:40 am

The Ordination of Women: Why not?

I enter this discussion with fear and trembling. I recently commended a wonderful article from our friend Rachel Green Miller concerning Priscilla. In that article, she repeated several times that she is NOT advocating for the ordination of women to office. I agree with her. I find it sad and disheartening that she has been bullied and hounded so fiercely that she has had to withdraw from social media for suggesting that women and men are equally gifted to teach theology. But history, scripture and simply observation of our times prove her correct. Bullying, insults, reviling, threats, contempt and hatred have no place in theological discussion. Christ has nothing to do with Belial.

The fact is that women and men are equally filled with the Holy Spirit and members of Christ’s anointing (See Heidelberg Catechism Q and A 32 for an excellent summary of what it means to be filled with the Spirit). The preaching of the gospel came to the rich and poor, bond and free, male and female, Jew and Gentile. All who believed on His Name were filled with the Spirit, united to Him, and thus were the firstborn of God and heirs according to the promise (see Galatians 3 and 4).

To men and women both were given the gifts of the Spirit. Some women are very gifted in theology, in writing, in speaking, in advocacy, in insight, in organization. Biblically speaking, there is no difference in the gifts given to men or the gifts given to women. They are all given by the free grace of the Holy Spirit, according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 12. This is called “The Communion of the Saints”. For an excellent summary of that doctrine, I would direct you to Heidelberg Catechism #55.

In fact, this is so important that I will simply put question 55 here:

55. What dost thou understand by the “communion of saints”?

First, that believers, one and all, as members of the Lord Jesus Christ, are partakers with Him in all His treasures and gifts; secondly, that each one must feel himself bound to use his gifts readily and cheerfully for the advantage and welfare of other members.

Notice the emphasis in this 500 year old catechism on the universality of ALL the gifts. Believers, one and all, are members of Christ and partakers with him of ALL his treasures and gifts.

Why then do we not just ordain women to office? Isn’t it a contradiction between the Reformed confessions and the Reformed books of order?

This is what I would like to address.

First, I would like to stress those things that are NOT the reason. It is not because men are natural leaders. Many who are called to preach are not natural leaders. Many are introverts and far more comfortable in their study than leading any group. And many women are gifted with leadership.

It is not because women are more easily deceived. This is not the meaning of 1 Timothy 2, which I will address in its proper place. Adam also ate the fruit, being deceived by sin (compare to Romans 7) and through him the human race fell. There is nothing in scripture that teaches that Eve’s sin was imputed to every woman. The consistent teaching of scripture is that through one man sin entered the world and death by sin. I will address what the deception of Eve is further on.

It is also not because of the order that God has placed in the home. God has certainly not placed all women under the authority of all men, either in the church or in the home.

The reason that we do not ordain women has to do with what the office of bishop or elder actually is. It has to do with representation.

And that goes back to the nature of our salvation.

Jesus told Nicodemus that in order to see the kingdom of God he must be “born again by water and the Spirit.” In Adam, the human race fell. Every man, woman and child is born under the death penalty already, and there is nothing that they can do about it.

When you understand the problem, then you understand the impossibility of the cure. The problem is our first birth. We were born into the world spiritually dead, in bodies that were born dying because of the guilt of Adam already put on our account before birth.

And the only cure is a new birth with a new head of a new race. Nicodemus understood the impossibility of that far better than the revival preachers of the modern era. It isn’t fixed by walking down the aisle, by persuasion, by an act of the will, or by anything else that we as human beings are capable of doing.

We must “crawl back into the womb” and be born again under a new covenant head. And how can this be? Only by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. When we believe on Christ, we are “ingrafted” into him, our New Covenant Head, the second Adam. The same spirit that dwells in him dwells in us and so we are truly flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.

Therefore, we are no longer under the curse of Adam for now we are in Christ, the firstborn, the heir to the throne of David according to the flesh.

(1Co 15:21-22) 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.

Again, the Heidelberg Catechism:

20. Are all men then saved by Christ as they perished in Adam?

No, only those who by true faith are ingrafted into Him and receive all His benefits.

But where does this faith come from? Is it the natural result of skilled persuasion? Once again, we must understand the nature of the problem. In Adam, we are not just a little off. We are not naturally pretty good people who just have some problems to work out. We are dead in trespasses and sins. We have an incurable disease. The exhortation to believe on Jesus Christ is exactly like preaching to dry bones (Ezekiel 37). Unless the Spirit “breathes” upon the bones, they will remain dead no matter how skilled or how eloquent or how learned the preacher is.

This is why Paul wrote:

(Rom 10:14-15) 14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!”

God has placed the salvation of the world in only one place: the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our great prophet, priest and king. He is, even today, ruling over all things and proclaiming the gospel of peace throughout the world.

To be sure, he is not walking among us according to the flesh, but he has sent preachers throughout the world proclaiming his word from ordinary pulpits every Lord’s day.

And some of these preachers are eloquent and wise. Some are rustic and simple. Some are erudite and polished. Some are colloquial and uncultured. But if they are “preaching”, then they are “sent.” And if they are sent, then they are representatives of Christ given to His Bride, the church.

If they are not “sent”, then they might be doing a lot of things, but they aren’t preaching.

The reason is this: The only way for anyone to be saved it to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. To that end, he has sent apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4) to build up the church. The ministry of the word is a representative ministry. When a preacher is sent to proclaim the word, he no longer is acting on his own capacity. He is representing Christ.

For this reason, Paul said to the Ephesians that Jesus came and “preached peace” to them. Jesus never went to Ephesus in the flesh. But he did go to Ephesus in the spirit, in the person of his ministers of the word.

So Christ chose 12 apostles, all of whom were men. They all came from every background, every social class, every education level, because faith will never come through the flesh. But they were all men because they were called to represent Christ as the groom to the church as his bride.

The great picture on Sunday morning is Christ breaking bread for his bride. The minister of the gospel is on one hand the bride of Christ, like everyone else in the congregation. But on the other hand, when he is breaking bread, administering the waters of baptism, or preaching the word, he is representing Christ himself.

Which is why Paul said, “Who is sufficient for these things?”

If we forget that, and think solely in terms of “who is a good, educated, learned, skilled leader”, then we are thinking in terms of the flesh, and denying that one must be born again by the Spirit.

I know that is a big jump to make for this culture. Perhaps an illustration from scripture would help.

Naaman was a Aramean general. He was very skilled and a feared and respected warrior, trusted and honored by the king. But he had leprosy and he could do nothing about it.

Through the witness of a little servant girl, he heard about a man in Israel that could cure leprosy. He came to Elisha, the man of God.

Elisha didn’t even go out to meet Naaman. Instead, he sent his servant with a message. “Dip in the Jordan seven times and you will be clean.”

Naaman was furious at the message. “Aren’t the rivers in Aram far better than the Jordan?”

Naaman was thinking in terms of the flesh. He was thinking that God had found a secret about the water of Jordan that he was telling him about, but leaving the decision as to whether it was true or false in the hands of Naaman.

But Naaman thought that the water in Syria was just as good. Elisha’s god didn’t know what he was talking about. If the secret lay in the water, then why not use Syrian water? It is better than Jewish water.

But the secret wasn’t in water. It was in the power of God. God had freely chosen to heal Naaman, but he connected that healing to a means – the River Jordan.

And so today, God has promised healing, faith, salvation – but has connected it to one thing. The preaching of the representative of Christ. It isn’t in the eloquence. It isn’t in the skill. It isn’t in the knowledge.

It is in the power of God alone.

The deception of Eve, then, is this. She thought that the secret of life and wisdom was in the tree and that God was wrong in forbidding them from taking it. She saw that it was good for food. It was desirable to make one wise. God was wrong.

But the secret of the tree wasn’t in the tree. It was in the command of God. Salvation doesn’t come because I do the right thing, make the right choices, live a better life, fix a few problems. Life was represented in the Tree of Life. But Eve thought that she had a better way. This was her deception.

Eve thought she could fix things by taking action. This was her deception. Paul’s warning was to the church of all ages. Eve was deceived. The problem in the church is not that “men are in charge”; nor is it that “women have taken over”. The problem is only one: mankind is dead in trespasses and sins, and there is only one cure. Jesus Christ crucified according to the gospel preached among you.

Adam rebelled and wanted to be god. He wasn’t deceived the same way as Eve. And death entered the world.

In order for me to live I must be born again, and this only comes when the spirit blows. And that spirit is not coerced, forced, manipulated, bought, or commanded. He blows where he wants to blow. He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.

And so to illustrate this for all time, he has called weak and foolish men to represent Christ to the bride. He doesn’t call the most gifted, the most educated, the best leaders, the most eloquent statesmen. He calls the ordinary man, and puts his spirit on him and calls him to represent the Groom. Through the proclamation of the word, the Groom calls the Bride to himself.

10 “My beloved responded and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along.

11 ‘For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone.

12 ‘The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.

13 ‘The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!'” (Sol 2:10-13)

The deception of Eve plays out in every era. That salvation somehow comes through the flesh. We get better ideas, better skills, better leadership and that will somehow cause people to be saved. We flock to the next mega-church to the next guy who has a better idea on how to be saved from sin.

If salvation comes from making the right choices, then the one who can convince us to make better choices by skill and charisma is the one to follow, whether they are man or woman.

But if salvation comes only by faith, and faith is a gift of God, then we must go to where he is promised to meet with us. Where the Groom is feeding his Bride.

‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts. (Zec 4:6)

It has to do with representation, not sex, skill or charisma. The Lord Jesus must proclaim peace to us or there is no salvation. For this reason, God generally doesn’t call the most gifted, the most eloquent, or the most wise. Calvin writes,

“…This is the best and most useful exercise in humility, when (Jesus) accustoms us to obey his Word, even though it be preached through men like us and sometimes even by those of lower worth that we. If he spoke from heaven, it would not be surprising if his sacred oracles were to be reverently received without delay by the ears and minds of all. For who would not dread the presence of his power? Who would not be stricken down at the sight of such great majesty? Who would not be confounded at such boundless splendor? But when a puny man risen from the dust speaks in God’s name, at this point we best evidence our piety and obedience toward God if we show ourselves teachable toward his minister, although he excels us in nothing. It was for this reason, then that he hid the treasure of his heavenly wisdom in weak and earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7) in order to prove more surely how much we should esteem it (Institutes, Book 4, chapter 3)

Like the girl in Naaman’s day, everyone should point the Naamans of the world to Christ, but that is different than preaching. Preaching is representing the Groom before the Bride.

How shall they preach except they be sent?

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