Monday, December 17, 2007

Herniated Disc - and Micro-disctectomy Surgery

Hello my friends,

I have been neglecting the Reform-Shire website for quite some time now.  I have been off from work about the same amount of time due to a herniated disc in my lower spine.  It has caused quite a bit of pain in mostly my right leg radiating down to my foot.  I have been taking pain medications to get me by until my surgery which is tomorrow morning at the Kansas Spine Hospital. 
Although this has been quite painful, I have found some wonderful blessings.  I have been able to spend quite a bit of time with the family and a friend from out of state, especially during this Christmas season.  I'm especially grateful of my wife who has been so kind to me and has showed me how much she cares for me.  I don't think very many guys get to see their wives in action like I have at this stage in our marriage.  And we got to celebrate our 20th Anniversary together last Wednesday night.
I have prayed in the past that I could be more like the Apostle Paul, and maybe I've gotten a small taste of what Paul experienced physically.  As he remarked about the "thorn in the flesh".  But, at least I have the hope of surgery to rid me of my pain, where Paul had his hope in heaven.  I think I could learn to live with the pain, but I'll take the surgery since it is available.  :-)

Grace and Peace to you All and have a Merry CHRISTmas!!!

 
Chris
www.Reform-Shire.blogspot.com
Coram Deo!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

O Great God

Here is a great song and some wonderful words. I hope you will enjoy lifting these words of praise to the "O Great God". Click this link to listen to the song: "O Great God"

O Great God


Words and music by Bob Kauflin
As recorded on Valley of Vision

Lyrics

O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore

I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven’s joys
Then Your Spirit gave me life
Opened up Your Word to me
Through the gospel of Your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace

Help me now to live a life
That’s dependent on Your grace
Keep my heart and guard my soul
From the evils that I face
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heaven
Glorify Your Name through me


© 2006 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI).

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 17

Outside of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no hope for all of mankind.

Romans 4:25
25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

1 Corinthians 12-23
The Resurrection of the Dead
12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

Ephesians 2: 4-10

4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I don't see how there is anything more I can say, since scripture says it here so clearly. that I have nothing to do or to offer in my salvation, and all my faith is a gift from God because of His Mercy and because of His Grace, because of Christ death burial and Resurrection. And as far as I can tell it sounds to me that Christ is currently reigning in the heavenly realm.

Grace and Peace,
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!
____________________

His Resurrection
Lord’s Day 17
45. What benefit do we receive from the “resurrection” of Christ?
First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of the righteousness which He has obtained for us by His death.[1] Second, by His power we are also now raised up to a new life.[2] Third, the resurrection of Christ is to us a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.[3]
[1] Rom 4:25; 1 Cor 15:15-20, 54-55; 1 Pt 1:3-5, 21; [2] Rom 6:5-11; Eph 2:4-6; Col 3:1-4; [3] Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 15:12-23; Php 3:20-21

Thursday, October 25, 2007

UNITY!!!

Unity is a buzzword that has been going around for some time now, but I have been hearing it more frequently these days and how terrible it is that we as a church are divided.

Anyhow, I have been putting my brain to the test of trying to understand this notion of "the church is not united as Jesus had intended."

I would like to challenge that notion.

Lets look at John 17:11b
Holy Father,(AG) keep them in your name,(AH) which you have given me,(AI) that they may be one,(AJ) even as we are one.

The Restoration Movement and the Campbellites have used this passage as their banner of truth for saying that the church is divided and needs to be united back to the Bible. I can truly appreciate the idea, and I think they should be commended for wanting Unity.

But, I think this misunderstands what Jesus was praying for, and it also lessons the power of Christ as the head of the church.

I will grant you that there are obviously many denominations... and within those denominations there are different slants or peculiarities that they have held as being important when in fact these things are secondary issues.

But, these many denominations does NOT mean that the church is divided as a BODY of Christ. It truly IS one!!!!

Look at it this way... if Jesus prayed that He wanted us to be ONE... You better believe it that we are indeed ONE. He is still the head of the church and we are still the body.

Of course I'm talking about the "invisible church" and not so much these many organizations, denominations, and sects that have segregated themselves. But, it seems to me that there were many small churches from the very beginning. They couldn't all meet in big church buildings like we have today.

Anyone who is a true believer, and any true church believes in the essentials of the Christian Faith... And especially when we are all united in Christ through the Holy Spirit. We are all ONE.

Look at it this way... When we hear about martyrs around the world and Christians being thrown in prison for their faith. How important does my denomination or congregation mean to me when I'm in prison with a Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Seventh-Day Adventist, or Assembly of God, etc. Those things seem to be less important, and our bonds as Brothers, and Sisters in Christ seem to be the only thing we have left. And in those moments, we see that we really truly are ONE in Christ.

Now, that we in America are not for the most part (yet) having to deal with being imprisoned for our faith in Christ, I can see an advantage for having many denominations.
I know you're thinking I've lost my marbles... but I haven't... hear me out.
1) Some denominations excel in traditions (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reformed churches, etc.) We can learn tons from these churches about our history and the depths of scripture for those that have stayed loyal to scripture.

2) Some denominations we can see have a heart for those who are lost and are not stuck with traditions but tend to embrace the concept of being a family and caring for each other. They tend to focus on evangelism and growth more than those belonging to the 1) category. (Baptists, Christian Churches, etc.)

3) Some Churches excel in doing outreach ministries or they invest a lot of time, money and resources into missions in the community and/or around the world.

So, if you have a bent towards any of these it would be likely that you would feel at home somewhere in one of these denominations. Just like someone might want to go to a church where they speak the same languge.

Another advantage to having the many denominations is we make each other dig into God's Word and we challenge each other to "know what we believe, and why we believe it". And that drives us to understand God's Word and to study it more dilligently. After all iron sharpens iron.

I see that there are many blessings to be found in each denomination and I'm not certain I would want any one of them to change because they after all maybe functioning how Christ wants them too. Someone has to be the foot. Someone has to be the hands. Someone has to be the heart, lungs, nervous system, stomach (Baptists - Fried Chicken), etc. Not all the parts of the body do the same function but they are still part of the same body.

Well, that's my take on the whole UNITY thing. I know that we as believers can do a better job of showing the world on the outside that we are really United it is important that they understand it, because in Christ we truly are... ONE!

Grace and Peace,
Chris Allen
E Pluribus Unum - Out of many ONE
Coram Deo!!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Heidelberg Catechism

Hello friends,
It has been a challenging few weeks in all aspects of life, but God continues to show me how much I depend on Him daily in every compartment of my world. Whether at Church, work, home, interacting with friends and family, I find myself sometimes thinking... "There is absolutely nobody to talk to these days. Nobody has the time to talk about theology, or the church or the Bible, or any of these things that are always running through my mind."

Although, I do love to talk about my family and how blessed it is to have these wonderful gifts from God (6 children). It is the former things that I long to share the most.

Anyhow, during those moments I see how much I depend on God, and I see somewhat how a person might want to become a monk... but that thought quickly leaves my mind as I am someone who needs the encouragement and love of my wife, family, and of a brother or a sister in Christ. Maybe this is an area of weakness? But, that's why I depend on Christ since I always come up short anyways.

When it comes to those who are not believers I have come to appreciate their friendship, even though they may not be interested in Christ at this moment... I can still be a friend, without any ulterior motives to maybe convert them later, but just to show them love, the same love that Christ showed to all. So, I hope that I can be ready to give an answer to those who ask about the hope that I have, and I pray that I can give an answer with gentleness and respect.

Grace and Peace,
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

_____________________
Lord’s Day 16
40. Why was it necessary for Christ to suffer “death?” Because the justice and truth [1] of God required that satisfaction for our sins could be made in no other way than by the death of the Son of God.[2]
[1] Gen 2:17; [2] Rom 6:23, 8:3; Php 2:8; Heb 2:9, 14-15
41. Why was He “buried?”
To show thereby that He was really dead.[1]
[1] Isa 53:9; Mt 27:59-60; Jn 19:38-42; Acts 13:29; 1 Cor 15:3-4
42. Since, then, Christ died for us, why must we also die?
Our death is not a satisfaction for our sin, but only a dying to sin and an entering into eternal life.[1]
[1] Jn 5:24; Rom 7:24-25; Php 1:21-23; 1 Thes 5:9-10
43. What further benefit do we receive from the sacrifice and death of Christ on the cross?
That by His power our old man is with Him crucified, slain, and buried;[1] so that the evil lusts of the flesh may no more reign in us,[2] but that we may offer ourselves unto Him a sacrifice of thanksgiving.[3]
[1] Rom 6:5-11; Col 2:11-12; [2] Rom 6:12-14; [3] Rom 12:1; 2 Cor 5:15; Eph 5:1-2
44. Why is it added: “He descended into hell?”
That in my greatest temptations I may be assured that Christ my Lord, by His inexpressible anguish, pains, and terrors, which He suffered in His soul on the cross and before, has redeemed me from the anguish and torment of hell.[1]
[1] Ps 18:5; 116:3; Isa 53; Mt 26:36-46, 27:46; Heb 5:7-10

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 15

Hello Friends,
Here I am in Baltimore, Maryland on business travel. While I here, I have been blessed to be able to reconnect with my friends and classmates from Covenant Seminary. I was also able to attend a Bible study at their church.

Grace and Peace,
Chris
Coram Deo!!!
__________________

His Death
Lord’s Day 15

37. What do you understand by the word “suffered?”

That all the time He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race;[1] in order that by His suffering, as the only atoning sacrifice,[2] He might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation,[3] and obtain for us the grace of God, righteousness, and eternal life.[4]

[1] Isa 53; 1 Tim 2:6; 1 Pt 2:2-4, 24, 3:18; [2] Ps 22:14-16; Mt 26:38; Rom 3:25-26, 5:6; 1 Cor 5:7; Eph 5:2; Heb 10:14; 1 Jn 2:2, 4:10; [3] Rm 8:1-4; Gal 3:13; Col 1:13; Heb 9:12; 1Pt 1:18-19; [4] Jn 3:16; Rom 3:24-26; 2Cor 5:21; Heb 9:11

38. Why did He suffer “under Pontius Pilate” as judge?

That He, being innocent, might be condemned by the temporal judge,[1] and thereby deliver us from the severe judgment of God, to which we were exposed.[2]

[1] Lk 23:13-24; Jn 19:4, 12-16; Acts 4:27-28; [2] Ps 69:4; Isa 53:4-5; Mt 27:24; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13

39. Is there anything more in His having been “crucified” than if He had suffered some other death?

Yes, for thereby I am assured that He took upon Himself the curse which lay upon me,[1] because the death of the cross was accursed of God.[2]

[1] Gal 3:13-14; [2] Deut 21:22-23; Php 2:8

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 14

Hello to all.

I'm sitting here in my hotel room in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I have just visited the Memorial site in memory of the bombing of the Murrah Building at 9:02am on April 19, 1995.

It is an amazing thing to see. It's hard to believe that it was that long ago. I remember my son and I traveling from Memphis to Wichita the weekend following that disaster and I remember going to downtown OKC and seeing what was left of that building and seeing all the other buildings that had been affected by the blast. I remember seeing all the windows all around that were all gone and some of the surrounding buildings were ruined too. Apparently 16 other buildings were torn down after that due to the extent of the damages making buildings needing to be demolished.

Today it was hard to picture where the building was but there was a placard/sign that showed where the building was located.

Click this link if you would like a virtual visit. It is absolutely beautiful to see at night.

Grace and Peace,

Chris

Coram Deo!!!

________________________________

His Incarnation

Lord’s Day 14

35. What is the meaning of “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary?”

That the eternal Son of God, who is and continues true and eternal God,[1] took upon Himself the very nature of man, of the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary,[2] by the operation of the Holy Spirit;[3] so that He might also be the true seed of David,[4] like unto His brethren in all things,[5] except for sin.[6]

[1] Jn 1:1-4, 10:30-36; Rom 1:3-4, 9:5; Col 1:15-17; 1 Jn 5:20; [2] Mt 1:18-23; Jn 1:14; Gal 4:4; Heb 2:14; [3] Mt 1:18-20; Lk 1:35; [4] 2 Sam 7:12-16; Ps 132:11; Mt 1:1; Lk 1:32; Rom 1:3; [5] Php 2:7; Heb 2:17; [6] Heb 4:15, 7:26-27

36. What benefit do you receive from the holy conception and birth of Christ?

That He is our Mediator,[1] and with His innocence and perfect holiness[2] covers, in the sight of God, my sin,[3] wherein I was conceived.[4]

[1] 1 Tim 2:5-6; Heb 2:16-17, 9:13-15; [2] Rom 8:3-4; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 4:4-5; 1 Pt 1:18-19; [3] Ps 32:1; 1 Jn 1:9; [4] Ps 51:5

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 13

Hello everyone....

I have been quite busy lately and trying to get back into the routine of keeping the website/blog up-to-date. I've been having some challenging correspondences with fellow members of my church and pastors.

It is surprising how many churches in our local area are changing their format or even their whole name to a new progressive and contemporary style and look. No longer is it acceptable to be associated with a denomination like Baptist. Or even the name of Messiah is too controversial and not contemporary or friendly enough for our "seekers" out there. They will do whatever it takes to cater to the "felt needs" of those outside the church. The ironic thing is, however, this has caused a lot of the other surrounding churches to experience growth. The growth is because many of these people came from these churches making the changes. These churches have decided to abandon it's heritage, and it's association with the older members of the church and the very people that helped to bring the congregation to where it is. But, most importantly, they have left Jesus outside knocking on the door, as in Revelation 3:20:

Revelation 3:20 (New International Version)

20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

These churches are supposed to be having church inside and doing these new "cutting edge" things to reach lost people.... but, all the while, Jesus is on the outside of the church knocking at the door, but they are presenting a different Jesus, or a different Gospel, which is no gospel at all.

Grace and Peace,
Chris

Coram Deo!!!

______________________

His Deity

Lord’s Day 13

33. Why is He called God’s “only begotten Son,” since we also are the children of God?

Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God,[1] but we are children of God by adoption, through grace, for His sake.[2]

[1] Jn 1:1-3, 14, 18, 3:16; Rom 8:32; Heb 1; 1 Jn 4:9; [2] Jn 1:12; Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:6; Eph 1:5-6; 1 Jn 3:1

34. Why do you call Him “our Lord?”

Because not with silver or gold, but with His precious blood,[1] He has redeemed and purchased us, body and soul,[2] from sin and from all the power of the devil, to be His own.[3]

[1] 1 Pt 1:18-19; [2] Acts 2:36; 1 Cor 6:20, 7:23; 1 Tim 2:5-6; Tit 2:14; 1 Pt 2:9; [3] Col 1:13-14; Heb 2:14-15

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Heidelberg Catechism - Lord’s Day 12

Take note to the pointing to His Diety and His humanity. And how all things are pointing to Him and mad possible by Him and through Him. A friend of mine had beautifully presented Him as our High Priest in the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 10:11-12
11Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
She pointed out as Hebrews here does that all the sacrifices before did not take away the sins. But, they could only point to the one True Sacrifice that can take away ALL Sins once and for all. The Priests before were also having to offer a sacrifice for themselves as well. But Christ did not need a sacrifice for Himself but He was the High Priest that performed the only sacrifice that could be offered to take away our sins and that was of Himself. And this time there were no more sacrifices to be made and Christ our High Priest SAT DOWN at the right hand of the Father. He sat down because there is nothing more for the High Priest to do. Just like Christ said on the cross. "IT IS FINISHED."
Grace and Peace,
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!
_______________________
His Title
Lord’s Day 12
31. Why is He called “Christ,” that is, Anointed?
Because He is ordained of God the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit[1] to be our chief Prophet and Teacher,[2] who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption;[3] and our only High Priest,[4] who by the one sacrifice of His body, has redeemed us,[5] and ever lives to make intercession for us with the Father;[6] and our eternal King,[7] who governs us by His Word and Spirit, and defends and preserves us in the redemption obtained for us.[8]
[1] Ps 45:7 [Heb 1:9]; Isa 61:1 [Lk 3:21-22, 4:18]; [2] Deut 18:15 [Acts 3:22]; [3] Jn 1:18, 15:15; [4] Ps 110:4 [Heb 7:17, 21]; [5] Heb 9:12, 10:11-14; [6] Rom 5:9-10, 8:34; Heb 9:24; 1 Jn 2:1; [7] Zech 9:9 [Mt 21:5]; Lk 1:33; [8] Ps 2:6; Isa.61:1-2; Mt 28:18-20; Jn 10:28; 1 Pt 2:24; Rev 12:10-11, 19:16
32. But why are you called a Christian?
Because by faith I am a member of Christ[1] and thus a partaker of His anointing,[2] in order that I also may confess His Name,[3] may present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him,[4] and with a free conscience may fight against sin and the devil in this life,[5] and hereafter in eternity reign with Him over all creatures.[6]
[1] Acts 11:26; 1 Cor 12:12-27; 1 Jn 2:20, 27; [2] Joel 2:28 [Acts 2:17]; 1 Jn 2:27; [3] Mk 8:38, 10:32; Rom 10:9-10; Heb 13:15; [4] Rom 12:1; 1 Pt 2:5, 9; Rev 1:6, 5:8, 10; [5] Gal 5:16-17; Eph 6:11; 1 Tim 1:18-19; [6] Mt 25:34; Eph 6:12; 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 3:21

Friday, August 10, 2007

John MacArthur - Defends the Gospel

I am very thankful for John MacArthur defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Grace and Peace,
Chris

Coram Deo!!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Charles Finney - Repost

I thought I would re-post this article about Charles Finney in light of the recent broadcast by the White Horse Inn.
If you would like to hear this broadcast go to the link on the right column or to: www.whitehorseinn.org
Grace and Peace,
Chris

Coram Deo!!!

Pelagianism

Sadly, this low view of God's sovereignty and a low view of God's foreknowlege that has slithered its way into the church, specifically the churches of America. Charles Finney was a big proponent of this heresy, even in the face of the numerous church councils that have regarded this as a Non-Christian view or a Non-Biblical view. Even the Roman Catholic Church did not accept the view of Pelagianism. But, this doctrine makes us feel better about evangelism and our coming to faith. If we can get them to like us maybe they'll like our Jesus. We give people what they want to hear, and not what they need to hear. I wonder if this is where pragmatism sneaks in. Whatever "works" and gets the quick results that we are wanting to achieve.
Grace and Peace
Chris
Coram Deo!!!





Pelagianism



Pelagianism derives its name from Pelagius who lived in the 5th century A.D. and was a teacher in Rome, though he was British by birth. It is a heresy dealing with the nature of man. Pelagius, whose family name was Morgan, taught that people had the ability to fulfill the commands of God by exercising the freedom of human will apart from the grace of God. In other words, a person's free will is totally capable of choosing God and/or to do good or bad without the aid of Divine intervention. Pelagianism teaches that man's nature is basically good. Thus it denies original sin, the doctrine that we have inherited a sinful nature from Adam. He said that Adam only hurt himself when he fell and all of his descendents were not affected by Adam's sin. Pelagius taught that a person is born with the same purity and moral abilities as Adam was when he was first made by God. He taught that people can choose God by the exercise of their free will and rational thought. God's grace, then, is merely an aid to help individuals come to Him.
Pelagianism fails to understand man's nature and weakness. We are by nature sinners (Eph. 2:3; Psalm 51:5). We all have sinned because sin entered the world through Adam: "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned" (Rom. 5:12, NIV). Furthermore, Romans 3:10-12 says, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” Therefore, we are unable to do God's will (Rom. 6:16; 7:14). We were affected by the fall of Adam, contrary to what Pelagius taught.
See also Semi-Pelagianism.


Condemned as a heresy


Pelagius has been condemned by many councils throughout church history including the following:




  • Councils of Carthage (412, 416 and 418)



  • Council of Ephesus (431)



  • The Council of Orange (529)



  • Council of Trent (1546) Roman Catholic



  • 2nd Helvetic (1561/66) 8-9. (Swiss-German Reformed)



  • Augsburg Confession (1530) Art. 9, 18 (Lutheran)



  • Gallican Confession (1559) Art. 10 (French Reformed)



  • Belgic Confession (1561) Art. 15 (Lowlands, French/Dutch/German Reformed)



  • The Anglican Articles (1571), 9. (English)



  • Canons of Dort (1618-9), 3/4.2 (Dutch/German/French Reformed)1.


_______________
1. The list of councils was taken from http://public.csusm.edu/guests/rsclark/Pelagius.htm

The Disturbing Legacy of Charles Finney


Here is the article about Charles Finney, written by Mike Horton of the White Horse Inn.

Please leave a comment... Thanks, Chris


Issues, Etc.

Articand book excerpts used in and referred to on Issues, Etc.


The Disturbing Legacy of Charles Finney

by Dr. Michael Horton

No single man is more responsible for the distortion of Christian truth in our age than Charles Grandison Finney. His "new measures" created a framework for modern decision theology and Evangelical Revivalism. In this excellent article, Dr. Mike Horton explains how Charles Finney distorted the important doctrine of salvation.



Jerry Falwell calls him "one of my heroes and a hero to many evangelicals, including Billy Graham." I recall wandering through the Billy Graham Center some years ago, observing the place of honor given to Charles Finney in the evangelical tradition, reinforced by the first class in theology I had at a Christian college, where Finney’s work was required reading. The New York revivalist was the oft-quoted and celebrated champion of the Christian singer Keith Green and the Youth With A Mission organization. He is particularly esteemed among the leaders of the Christian Right and the Christian Left, by both Jerry Falwell and Jim Wallis (Sojourners’ magazine), and his imprint can be seen in movements that appear to be diverse, but in reality are merely heirs to Finney’s legacy. From the Vineyard movement and the Church Growth Movement to the political and social crusades, televangelism, and the Promise Keepers movement, as a former Wheaton College president rather glowingly cheered, "Finney, lives on!"

That is because Finney’s moralistic impulse envisioned a church that was in large measure an agency of personal and social reform rather than the institution in which the means of grace, Word and Sacrament, are made available to believers who then take the Gospel to the world. In the nineteenth century, the evangelical movement became increasingly identified with political causes-from abolition of slavery and child labor legislation to women’s rights and the prohibition of alcohol. In a desperate effort at regaining this institutional power and the glory of "Christian America" (a vision that is always powerful in the imagination, but, after the disintegration of Puritan New England, elusive), the turn-of-the century Protestant establishment launched moral campaigns to "Americanize" immigrants, enforce moral instruction and "character education." Evangelists pitched their American gospel in terms of its practical usefulness to the individual and the nation.

That is why Finney is so popular. He is the tallest marker in the shift from Reformation orthodoxy, evident in the Great Awakening (under Edwards and Whitefield) to Arminian (indeed, even Pelagian) revivalism. evident from the Second Great Awakening to the present. To demonstrate the debt of modern evangelicalism to Finney, we must first notice his theological departures. From these departures, Finney became the father of the antecedents to some of today’s greatest challenges within evangelical churches, namely, the church growth movement, Pentecostalism and political revivalism.

Who is Finney?

Reacting against the pervasive Calvinism of the Great Awakening, the successors of that great movement of God’s Spirit turned from God to humans, from the preaching of objective content (namely, Christ and him crucified) to the emphasis on getting a person to "make a decision."

Charles Finney (1792-1875) ministered in the wake of the "Second Awakening," as it has been called. A Presbyterian layover, Finney one day experienced "a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost" which "like a wave of electricity going through and through me ... seemed to come in waves of liquid love." The next morning, he informed his first client of the day, "I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause and I cannot plead yours. "Refusing to attend Princeton Seminary (or any seminary, for that matter). Finney began conducting revivals in upstate New York. One of his most popular sermons was "Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts."

Finney’s one question for any given teaching was, "Is it fit to convert sinners with?" One result of Finney’s revivalism was the division of Presbyterians in Philadelphia and New York into Arminian and Calvinistic factions. His "New Measures" included the "anxious bench" (precursor to today’s altar call), emotional tactics that led to fainting and weeping, and other "excitements," as Finney and his followers called them.

Finney’s Theology?

One need go no further than the table of contents of his Systematic Theology to learn that Finney’s entire theology revolved around human morality. Chapters one through five are on moral government, obligation, and the unity of moral action; chapters six and seven are "Obedience Entire," as chapters eight through fourteen discuss attributes of love, selfishness, and virtues and vice in general. Not until the twenty-first chapter does one read anything that is especially Christian in its interest, on the atonement. This is followed by a discussion of regeneration, repentance, and faith. There is one chapter on justification followed by six on sanctification. In other words, Finney did not really write a Systematic Theology, but a collection of essays on ethics.

But that is not to say that Finney’s Systematic Theology does not contain some significant statements of theology.

First, in answer to the question, "Does a Christian cease to be a Christian, whenever he commits a sin?", Finney answers:

"Whenever he sins, he must, for the time being, cease to be holy. This is self-evident. Whenever he sins, he must be condemned; he must incur the penalty of the law of God ... If it be said that the precept is still binding upon him, but that with respect to the Christian, the penalty is forever set aside, or abrogated, I reply, that to abrogate the penalty is to repeal the precept, for a precept without penalty is no law. It is only counsel or advice. The Christian, therefore, is justified no longer than he obeys, and must be condemned when he disobeys or Antinomianism is true ... In these respects, then, the sinning Christian and the unconverted sinner are upon precisely the same ground (p. 46)."

Finney believed that God demanded absolute perfection, but instead of that leading him to seek his perfect righteousness in Christ, he concluded that "... full present obedience is a condition of justification. But again, to the question, can man be justified while sin remains in him? Surely he cannot, either upon legal or gospel principles, unless the law be repealed ... But can he be pardoned and accepted, and justified, in the gospel sense, while sin, any degree of sin, remains in him? Certainly not" (p. 57).

Finney declares of the Reformation’s formula simul justus et peccator or "simultaneously justified and sinful," "This error has slain more souls, I fear, than all the Universalism that ever cursed the world." For, "Whenever a Christian sins he comes under condemnation, and must repent and do his first works, or be lost" (p.60).

Finney’s doctrine of justification rests upon a denial of the doctrine of original sin. Held by both Roman Catholics and Protestants, this biblical teaching insists that we are all born into this world inheriting Adam’s guilt and corruption. We are, therefore, in bondage to a sinful nature. As someone has said, "We sin because we’re sinners": the condition of sin determines the acts of sin, rather than vice versa. But Finney followed Pelagius, the fifth-century heretic, who was condemned by more church councils than any other person in church history, in denying this doctrine.

Finney believed that human beings were capable of choosing whether they would be corrupt by nature or redeemed, referring to original sin as an "anti-scriptural and nonsensical dogma" (p.179). In clear terms, Finney denied the notion that human beings possess a sinful nature (ibid.). Therefore, if Adam leads us into sin, not by our inheriting his guilt and corruption, but by following his poor example, this leads logically to the view of Christ, the Second Adam, as saving by example. This is precisely where Finney takes it, in his explanation of the atonement.

The first thing we must note about the atonement, Finney says, is that Christ could not have died for anyone else’s sins than his own. His obedience to the law and his perfect righteousness were sufficient to save him, but could not legally be accepted on behalf of others. That Finney’s whole theology is driven by a passion for moral improvement is seen on this very point: "If he [Christ] had obeyed the Law as our substitute, then why should our own return to personal obedience be insisted upon as a sine qua non of our salvation" (p.206)? In other words, why would God insist that we save ourselves by our own obedience if Christ’s work was sufficient? The reader should recall the words of St. Paul in this regard, "I do not nullify the grace of God’, for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing." It would seem that Finney’s reply is one of agreement. The difference is, he has no difficulty believing both of those premises.

That is not entirely fair, of course, because Finney did believe that Christ died for something—not for someone, but for something. In other words, he died for a purpose, but not for people. The purpose of that death was to reassert God’s moral government and to lead us to eternal life by example, as Adam’s example excited us to sin. Why did Christ die? God knew that "The atonement would present to creatures the highest possible motives to virtue. Example is the highest moral influence that can be exerted ... If the benevolence manifested in the atonement does not subdue the selfishness of sinners, their case is hopeless" (p.209). Therefore, we are not helpless sinners who need to,’ be redeemed, but wayward sinners who need a demonstration of selflessness so moving that we will be excited to leave off selfishness. Not only did Finney believe that the "moral influence" theory of the atonement was the chief way of understanding the cross; he explicitly denied the substitutionary atonement, which

"assumes that the atonement was a literal payment of a debt, which we have seen does not consist with the nature of the atonement ... It is true, that the atonement, of itself, does not secure the salvation of any one" (p.217).

Then there is the matter of applying redemption. Throwing off Reformation orthodoxy, Finney argued strenuously against the belief that the new birth is a divine gift, insisting that "regeneration consists in the sinner changing his ultimate choice, intention, preference; or in changing from selfishness to love or benevolence," as moved by the moral influence of Christ’s moving example (p.224). "Original sin, physical regeneration, and all their kindred and resulting dogmas, are alike subversive of the gospel, and repulsive to the human intelligence" (p.236).

Having nothing to do with original sin, a substitutionary atonement, and the supernatural character of the new birth, Finney proceeds to attack "the article by which the church stands or falls"— justification by grace alone through faith alone.

Distorting the Cardinal Doctrine of Justification

The Reformers insisted, on the basis of clear biblical texts, that justification (in the Greek, "to declare righteous," rather than "to make righteous") was a forensic (i.e., legal) verdict. In other words, whereas Rome maintained that justification was a process of making a bad person better, the Reformers argued that it was a declaration or pronouncement that had someone else’s righteousness (i.e., Christ’s) as its basis. Therefore, it was a perfect, once and-for-all verdict of right standing.

This declaration was to be pronounced at the beginning of the Christian life, not in the middle or at the end. The key words in the evangelical doctrine are "forensic" (legal) and "imputation" (crediting one’s account, as opposed to the idea of "infusion" of a righteousness within a person’s soul). Knowing all of this, Finney declares,

"But for sinners to be forensically pronounced just, is impossible and absurd... As we shall see, there are many conditions, while there is but one ground, of the justification of sinners ... As has already been said, there can be no justification in a legal or forensic sense, but upon the ground of universal, perfect, and uninterrupted obedience to law. This is of course denied by those who hold that gospel justification, or the justification of penitent sinners, is of the nature of a forensic or judicial justification. They hold to the legal maxim that what a man does by another he does by himself, and therefore the law regards Christ’s obedience as ours, on the ground that he obeyed for us."

To this, Finney replies: "The doctrine of imputed righteousness, or that Christ’s obedience to the law was accounted as our obedience, is founded on a most false and nonsensical assumption." After all, Christ’s righteousness "could do no more than justify himself. It can never be imputed to us ... it was naturally impossible, then, for him to obey in our behalf " This "representing of the atonement as the ground of the sinner’s justification has been a sad occasion of stumbling to many" (pp.320-2).

The view that faith is the sole condition of justification is "the antinomian view," Finney asserts. "We shall see that perseverance in obedience to the end of life is also a condition of justification. Some theologians have made justification a condition of sanctification, instead of making sanctification a condition of justification. But this we shall see is an erroneous view of the subject." (pp.326-7).

Finney Today

As the noted Princeton theologian B. B. Warfield pointed out so eloquently, there are throughout history only two religions: heathenism, of which Pelagianism is a religious expression, and a supernatural redemption.

With Warfield and those who so seriously warned their brothers and sisters of these errors among Finney and his successors, we too must come to terms with the wildly heterodox strain in American Protestantism. With roots in Finney’s revivalism, perhaps evangelical and liberal Protestantism are not that far apart after all. His "New Measures," like today’s Church Growth Movement, made human choices and emotions the center of the church’s ministry, ridiculed theology, and replaced the preaching of Christ with the preaching of conversion.

It is upon Finney’s naturalistic moralism that the Christian political and social crusades build their faith in humanity and its resources in self-salvation. Sounding not a little like a deist, Finney declared, "There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else. When mankind becomes truly religious, they are not enabled to put forth exertions which they were unable before to put forth. They only exert powers which they had before, in a different way, and use them for the glory of God." As the new birth is a natural phenomenon for Finney, so too a revival: "A revival is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means—as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means."

The belief that the new birth and revival depend necessarily on divine activity is pernicious. "No doctrine," he says, "is more dangerous than this to the prosperity of the Church, and nothing more absurd" (Revivals of Religion [Revell], pp.4-5).

When the leaders of the Church Growth Movement claim that theology gets in the way of growth and insist that it does not matter what a particular church believes: growth is a matter of following the proper principles, they are displaying their debt to Finney.

When leaders of the Vineyard movement praise this sub-Christian enterprise and the barking, roaring, screaming, laughing, and other strange phenomena on the basis that "it works" and one must judge its truth by its fruit, they are following Finney as well as the father of American pragmatism, William James, who declared that truth must be judged on the basis of "its cash-value in experiential terms."

Thus, in Finney’s theology, God is not sovereign, man is not a sinner by nature, the atonement is not a true payment for sin, justification by imputation is insulting to reason and morality, the new birth is simply the effect of successful techniques, and revival is a natural result of clever campaigns. In his fresh introduction to the bicentennial edition of Finney’s Systematic Theology, Harry Conn commends Finney’s pragmatism: "Many servants of our Lord should be diligently searching for a gospel that ‘works’, and I am happy to state they can find it in this volume."

As Whitney R. Cross has carefully documented, the stretch of territory in which Finney’s revivals were most frequent was also the cradle of the perfectionistic cults that plagued that century. A gospel that "works" for zealous perfectionists one moment merely creates tomorrow’s disillusioned and spent supersaints. Needless to say, Finney’s message is radically different from the evangelical faith, as is the basic orientation of the movements we see around us today that bear his imprint such as: revivalism (or its modern label. the Church Growth Movement), or Pentecostal perfectionism and emotionalism, or political triumphalism based on the ideal of "Christian America," or the anti-intellectual, and antidoctrinal tendencies of many American evangelicals and fundamentalists.

Not only did the revivalist abandon the doctrine of justification, making him a renegade against evangelical Christianity; he repudiated doctrines, such as original sin and the substitutionary atonement, that have been embraced by Roman Catholics and Protestants alike. Therefore, Finney is not merely an Arminian’, but a Pelagian. He is not only an enemy of evangelical Protestantism, but of historic Christianity of the broadest sort.

Of one thing Finney was absolutely correct: The Gospel held by the Reformers whom he attacked directly, and indeed held by the whole company of evangelicals, is "another gospel" in distinction from the one proclaimed by Charles Finney. The question of our moment is, With which gospel will we side?

(Reprinted by permission from Modern Reformation.)

Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are from Charles G. Finney, Finney’s Systematic Theology (Bethany, 1976).

Dr. Michael S. Horton is Member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and cohost of the popular White Horse Inn radio program.

Tapes on: Theology of Glory Versus Theology of the Cross/ Reformation Theology vs. Evangelicalism



http://www.issuesetc.org/

Management Techniques Incorporated has provided this article archive expressly for Issues, Etc. The articles in this archive have been formatted converted for internet use, by Management Techniques, Inc.
Contact MTI webmaster

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Heidelberg Catechism

Of God the Son and our Redemption His Name
Lord’s Day 11
29. Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,” that is, Savior?
Because He saves us from all our sins,[1] and because salvation is not to be sought or found in any other.[2]
[1] Mt 1:21; Heb 7:25; [2] Isa 43:11; Lk 2:10-11; Jn 15:4-5; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Tim 2:5
30. Do those also believe in the only Savior Jesus, who seek their salvation and welfare from “saints,” themselves, or anywhere else?
No; although they make their boast of Him, yet in their deeds they deny the only Savior Jesus;[1] for either Jesus is not a complete Savior, or they who by true faith receive this Savior, must have in Him all that is necessary to their salvation.[2]
[1] 1 Cor 1:12-13, 30-31; Gal 5:4; [2] Isa 9:7; Mt. 23:28; Jn 1:16; Col 1:19-20, 2:10; 1 Jn 1:7

Monday, July 23, 2007

Who Is This Jesus?

Here it is my first sermon in the main auditorium or sanctuary. I went a whole 57 minutes. If you dare to endure... click this link. Thank you to all who have been praying for me and have been encouraging me.
Grace and Peace to you all.
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pope: Other Christians not true churches

Please Look at the article at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070710/ap_on_re_eu/pope_other_christians;_
ylt=Ak2Ndz64nYzyPuwVlIOw1Yms0NUE
It is also pasted at the bottom of this posting>>>

Isn't it interesting how the RCC (Rome and the "infalable" Pope of THE Non-Church) is calling the TRUE Church the "Non-Church"?
This sort of thing causes all kinds of problems with the rest of the church. With the World's view of us as Christians or what the Pope is calling the "Non-Church", and if the world takes sides with the people that open their arms to all religions???
Isn't it funny that the "True Church" (according to the Pope) is the same church that embraces Islam and the infalable Pope John Paul II proclaimed the Quran as "The word of God".
Talk about persecutions coming from all sides!!!!Not good.... not good at all!!!!!
I would love to hear John MacArthur's comments about this. But no worries mates:Romans 8:33-3933Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."[
l] 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Bring it on Pope Benedict! Lets start another Reformation.I'll stand with Luther:"Unless I am convinced by Sacred Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen."This is why we have got to be strong on the Gospel. We have to be strong on the doctrines of the church. God is sovereign, not the Pope.We should be talking about election, Christ and Him crucified, those chosen in HIM before the foundations of the world!Here I stand.... Is anyone going to stand with me??
Grace and Peace,
Chris
Coram Deo!!! (Before the face of God)

Article below>>>
________________________________
Pope: Other Christians not true churches
By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer Tue Jul 10, 8:49 AM ET

LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy - Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches.
Benedict approved a document from his old offices at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that restates church teaching on relations with other Christians. It was the second time in a week the pope has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that modernized the church.
On Saturday, Benedict revisited another key aspect of Vatican II by reviving the old Latin Mass. Traditional Catholics cheered the move, but more liberal ones called it a step back from Vatican II.
Benedict, who attended Vatican II as a young theologian, has long complained about what he considers the erroneous interpretation of the council by liberals, saying it was not a break from the past but rather a renewal of church tradition.
In the latest document — formulated as five questions and answers — the Vatican seeks to set the record straight on Vatican II's ecumenical intent, saying some contemporary theological interpretation had been "erroneous or ambiguous" and had prompted confusion and doubt.
It restates key sections of a 2000 document the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, "Dominus Iesus," which set off a firestorm of criticism among Protestant and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation."
In the new document and an accompanying commentary, which were released as the pope vacations here in Italy's Dolomite mountains, the Vatican repeated that position.
"Christ 'established here on earth' only one church," the document said. The other communities "cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense" because they do not have apostolic succession — the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ's original apostles.
The Rev. Sara MacVane of the Anglican Centre in Rome, said there was nothing new in the document.
"I don't know what motivated it at this time," she said. "But it's important always to point out that there's the official position and there's the huge amount of friendship and fellowship and worshipping together that goes on at all levels, certainly between Anglican and Catholics and all the other groups and Catholics."
The document said Orthodox churches were indeed "churches" because they have apostolic succession and that they enjoyed "many elements of sanctification and of truth." But it said they lack something because they do not recognize the primacy of the pope — a defect, or a "wound" that harmed them, it said.
"This is obviously not compatible with the doctrine of primacy which, according to the Catholic faith, is an 'internal constitutive principle' of the very existence of a particular church," the commentary said.
Despite the harsh tone of the document, it stresses that Benedict remains committed to ecumenical dialogue.
"However, if such dialogue is to be truly constructive, it must involve not just the mutual openness of the participants but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith," the commentary said.
The document, signed by the congregation prefect, U.S. Cardinal William Levada, was approved by Benedict on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul — a major ecumenical feast day.
There was no indication about why the pope felt it necessary to release the document, particularly since his 2000 document summed up the same principles. Some analysts suggested it could be a question of internal church politics, or that it could simply be an indication of Benedict using his office as pope to again stress key doctrinal issues from his time at the congregation.

Chris
http://www.reform-shire.blogspot.com/
Coram Deo!!!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

CIY - Christ In Youth Conference

Hello,

This is just some reflections on my recent experience at a Christ In Youth (CIY) Conference in Savannah, Georgia. This is the big event of the year where thousands of high school teens from all around the country will converge at various locations around the U.S. The experience for the kids is quite enjoyable as they get to hear some music that is similar to what is being played on Christian Radio Stations and some other praise and worship songs that are currently popular at Christian Churches around the country. Each year the theme is the focus of the event for the week. This year the theme was called "ONES... Because we were never meant to be alone".
You can imagine that this theme is something that all teenagers can relate to. Look at this introduction to the conference in the Student Magazine:

"First up...you are going to have to purposely invest in yourself. We encourage you to pour yourself into worship and discussion opportunities. We were never meant to be alone. Learn to live in community this week- take time and invest in your friends and your youth group. (God has a way to take that investment and use it to impact your life.)"...

It continues...

"Most importantly...listen for God. Maybe it's been a long time since you really felt close to God. Maybe you are not even sure what you are looking for this week. Whatever your current spiritual condition, enter into this week with a sense of expectation. Expect that God will move in your life. Expect that your friendships will deepen. Expect that your youth group will grow closer. Expect that God wants to speak to you. Endeavor to listen.
-- The CIY Conference Team"

I'm not sure if I follow what they are meaning with all that expectations of God. It sounds very "Charismatic" and this is just a sample as to the depths this conference went concerning the deep penetrating and mostly hidden hurts, frustrations, pains, troubles, and overall mess their life seemed to be in. If it didn't seem so before they came... the emotions of the conference brought those things that were hidden or suppressed to the surface. Each day had a specific focus.

Day 1: Identity - The kids decorated or designed actual masks that were to display how they tried to portray themselves to other people like their friends. At the evening worship time the kids were to go forward and throw these masks in a garbage can, as if they were throwing away this false image. "I had trouble throwing mine away because I wanted to be like Jesus, the apostles, and some great church leaders like Augustine and Luther... But, I did it anyways"

Day 2: Injured - This time the kids focused on the pains that have been caused by others

Day 3: Isolation - This is about barriers that kids put up around them as a reaction to the pain that they have endured.
The kids wrote their pains on plexi-glass windows that were about 4ft. wide by 8ft. tall.

Day 4: Influence - This is how they can make a change in their relationships with others and be an influence in improving or repairing those relationships and ultimately being an influence to hopefully establish a relationship between those around us and Christ.

There were also some elective classes being offered and I attended one for the adults called "Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture". It was lead by the leader (Johnny) of the worship band called "Foundation Red" who is also an employee of CIY and a director of the conferences. He presented some statistics of the influences on teens today and how much time they spend with some type of electronic media stimulation. A lot of the problems that teens are facing were among a lot of the discussions. The main question being asked is "What can we do to reach more teens in today's society with all this electronic media".

I very much appreciated this question because I love to hear the desire to evangelize.
However, the focus, like the theme of the conference, was too often on the symptoms of the problem. And thus the solutions being expressed around the room were geared towards treating the symptoms. I expressed my concern with just putting the band-aid on wounds instead of preventing the wounds in the first place. I said... "What if we were to go back to presenting the Gospel. It is the Gospel that points everyone to the "root" of the problem and that is Sin. Everything in the bible is about God's Holiness and what He has done to repair that relationship that has "Isolated" us from Him."
I'm not sure, but I don't think anyone thought going back to the Gospel was a good idea. But, it wasn't my idea, I got it from the Bible.

On Thursday evening, I was helping backstage after the band had finished the start of the evening worship and they were waiting to go back out on stage after the preaching was done.

I ended up talking to Johnny. I told him that I appreciated him, especially that there was more to him than being a band leader and playing a guitar, and that he really took it seriously about evangelizing kids and reaching them for Christ. We talked about the conference this week and he asked how the kids were doing with such heavy lessons everyday. I told him that it was indeed a very heavy emotional conference but the conferences tend to be that way anyways.
I told him that it was impacting the kids a lot to talk about these deep hurts and emotions.
But, I also told him that I may just be too devoted to the Gospel that it seems that it should be the main focus of reaching these kids above anything else that they do. I told him that from studying Church History, the people who did some of the greatest things for Christ and reaching the lost... weren't "trying" to "DO" anything. (i.e. Calvin, Luther, Spurgeon) They were just trying to be faithful to God and His word and more specifically, the Gospel.

I don't know if I hit any kind of nerve or anything with that but I sure felt like God was pushing me to say what I felt needed to be said and it was just a split second opportunity to be back stage to help with moving the large plexi-glass windows to behind the stage. I don't know if anything can come out of my conversation with this Brother in Christ, but maybe it was for me to grow, or maybe for me to encourage a dear brother, or who knows. But, I was truly blessed to have been able to speak a concern of mine that I have been holding for sometime and God just opened the door... and all I had to do was walk through.

This week was enjoyable and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing God's word with these teens. The music was enjoyable and I love the worship band experience, although I wouldn't be comfortable with this kind of "Worship Service" to honor and worship God back at the home church. I had some really wonderful theological conversations and discussions about the Church as whole with some of the pastors, youth coaches, and this CIY staff member.

Grace and Peace,
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

CJ Mahaney gives his testimony at the Desiring God Conference for Pastors.

A friend sent me the link to this testimony of CJ Mahaney. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Heidelberg Catechism

Hello,

I'm sorry that it has been so long since I have posted on my blog. I have been away attending a week long youth conference in Savannah, Georgia with Christ In Youth (CIY.COM). It was a nice week but it was also a frustrating week. But I'll try to write more about that later.
Below is another part of the Heidelberg Catechism about God's Providence.
When I look back on my life and see how God has orchestrated things and events in my life, there is no way that I would be where I am today if things would have gone the way the I thought they should. I praise God that he doesn't allow me to mess things up anymore than I already do. If I had held the keys for one second on the providence of my life and not God. I surely would have ruined everything. Thank You Lord for being sovereign over EVERYTHING!!!

Grace and Peace,
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

__________________________

Providence

Lord’s Day 10

27. What do you understand by the providence of God?

The almighty, everywhere-present power of God,[1] whereby, as it were by His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth with all creatures,[2] and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought,[3] fruitful and barren years, meat and drink,[4] health and sickness,[5] riches and poverty,[6] indeed, all things come not by chance,[7] but by His fatherly hand.[8]

[1] Jer 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-28; [2] Heb 1:3; [3] Jer 5:24; [4] Acts 14:15-17; [5] Jn 9:3; [6] Job 1:21; Ps 103:19; Prov 22:2; Rom 5:3-5; [7] Prov 16:33; [8] Mt 10:29; Eph 1:1

28. What does it profit us to know that God created, and by His providence upholds, all things?

That we may be patient in adversity,[1] thankful in prosperity,[2] and for what is future have good confidence in our faithful God and Father, that no creature shall separate us from His love,[3] since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.[4]

[1] Job 1:21-22; Ps 39:10; Rom 5:3; Jas 1:3; [2] Deut 8:10; 1 Thes 5:18; [3] Ps 55:22; Rom 5:3-5, 8:35, 38-39; [4] Job 1:12, 2:6; Ps 71:7; Prov 21:1; Acts 17:24-28; 2 Cor 1:10

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Heidelberg Catechism


I love how John 1 tells us about the beginning from the New Testament and how creation is from Christ and pointing to Christ and His awesome power and His Glory. And everything in the Bible points toward His coming. Just as it is noted here that John the Baptist will be the herald..."Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."

John 1
The Word Became Flesh

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

Below is a good message preached by John Piper called the Pleasurses of God. This message focuses on God's Good Pleasure in Creation.

The Pleasure of God in His Creation

I hope you will enjoy it.

Grace and Peace,

Chris Allen

Coram Deo!!!

_______________________________________

The Order of Creation

by R.C. Sproul
In the Creation of the world, God made man in His own image. The term “man” is used generically, as we see that man was created male and female. In the order of Creation, mankind was given dominion over the earth. In this regard, Adam and Eve served as viceregents for God. Eve shared in this dominion; if we regard Adam’s dominion as a kind of kingship over creation, we would see Eve as his queen. Nevertheless, it is clear from the order of Creation that Eve was placed in a position of subordination to Adam. She was assigned the role of “help meet.”
Several issues that relate to this Creation order have been brought into bold relief by the feminist movement. For instance, the New Testament passages that call wives to submit to their husbands and men only to lead in the church have been greeted with vociferous protests. Calumnies have been launched against the apostle Paul for being a first century chauvinist, while others have sought to historicize and relativize these rules by arguing that they were merely culturally conditioned customs relevant to the first century but not to the modern world. It also has been argued that the principle of submission denigrates women, robbing them of their dignity and relegating them to the level of inferior humanity.
With respect to the last point, the erroneous assumption made is that subordination means inferiority or that subordination destroys equality of dignity, worth, and value. Sadly, male chauvinism has often been driven by this very misconception, with men assuming that the reason God commands their wives to be submissive to them is that women must be inferior.
That this inference is patently false is seen in our understanding of the persons of the Godhead. In the economy of redemption, the Son is subordinate to the Father, and the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father and the Son. This does not mean that the Son is inferior to the Father, and the Holy Spirit inferior to both Father and Son. Our understanding of the Trinity is that the three persons of the Godhead are equal in being, worth, and glory. They are co-eternal and co-substantial.
Likewise, in an organizational hierarchy, we do not assume that because a vice president is subordinate to the president that the vice president is inferior to the president as a person. It is obvious that subordination does not translate into inferiority.
The question of whether the subordination of wives to husbands in marriage and of women to men in the church is merely a cultural custom of the ancient world is a burning one. If indeed these matters were articulated as cultural customs and not binding principles, it would be a serious miscarriage of justice to apply them transculturally to societies where they don’t belong. On the other hand, if they were given as transcultural principles by divine mandate, to treat them as mere cultural conventions would be to do violence to the Holy Spirit and to rebel against God Himself.
In other words, if the biblical passages merely reflect the chauvinism of a first century rabbinic Jew, they are unworthy of our acceptance. If, however, Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and if the New Testament is the Word of God, then the charge of chauvinism must be leveled not only at Paul but at the Holy Spirit Himself - a charge that cannot be leveled with impunity.
If we are convinced that the Bible is God’s Word and its commands are God’s commands, how can we discern between customs and principles? I’ve written about the matter of culture and the Bible in my book Knowing Scripture. In it, I mention that unless we conclude that all of Scripture is principle and thus binding on all people of all times and places, or that all Scripture is simply a matter of culturally conditioned local custom with no relevance or necessary application beyond its immediate historical context, we are forced to discover some guidelines for discerning the differences between principle and custom.
To illustrate the problem, let us see what happens when we hold that everything in Scripture is principle. If that were the case, then radical changes would have to be made in evangelism. Jesus commanded His disciples to “Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals . . .” (Luke 10:4a). If we make this text a trans-cultural principle, then we must engage in barefoot evangelism.
Obviously there are biblical matters that reflect a historical custom. We are not required to wear the same clothing that biblical people wore, or pay our tithes with shekels or denarii. Things such as clothing and monetary units are subject to change.
One of the chief considerations in determining the question of principle or custom is whether the matter involves a Creation ordinance. Creation ordinances may be distinguished both from old covenant laws and new covenant commands. The first consideration concerns the parties to the various covenants. In the New Testament, the covenant is made with Christian believers. For example, Christian believers are called to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. But that mandate does not extend to non-believers, who indeed are warned not to participate in the sacrament. Likewise, there were laws in the Old Testament that applied only to the Jews.
But we ask, who are the parties to the covenant of Creation? In Creation, God makes a covenant not simply with Jews or with Christians, but with man qua man. As long as humans exist in a covenant relationship with the Creator, the laws of Creation remain intact. They are reaffirmed in both the old covenant and the new covenant.
If anything transcends a cultural custom, it is a Creation ordinance. Thus, it is a dangerous business indeed to treat the matter of subordination in marriage and in the church as a mere local custom when it is clear that the New Testament mandates for these matters rest upon apostolic appeals to Creation. Such appeals make it crystal clear that these mandates were not intended to be regarded as local customs. That the church today often treats divine rules as mere customs reflects not so much the cultural conditioning of the Bible but the cultural conditioning of the modern church. Here is a case where the church capitulates to the local culture rather than being obedient to the transcendent law of God.
If one studies an issue such as this with care and is not able to discern whether a matter is principial or customary, what should he or she do? Here a principle of humility comes into play, a principle set forth in the New Testament axiom that whatever is not of faith is sin. Remember the old adage, “When in doubt, don’t”? If we are over-scrupulous and regard a custom as a principle, then we are guilty of no sin - no harm, no foul. On the other hand, if we treat a principle as a custom that can be set aside, we are guilty of disobeying God.
Creation ordinances may be modified, as the Mosaic Law did with regard to divorce, but the principle here is that Creation ordinances are normative unless or until they are explicitly modified by later biblical revelation.

Dr. R.C. Sproul is chairman of the board and president of Ligonier Ministries. This article has been reprinted from Tabletalk magazine, May 1999, with permission of Ligonier Ministries, P.O. Box 547500, Orlando, FL 32854, phone 800-435-4343.


______________________________

Of God the Father and our Creation

Lord’s Day 9
26. What do you believe when you say: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?”
That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who of nothing made heaven and earth with all that in them is,[1] who likewise upholds, and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence,[2] is for the sake of Christ, His Son, my God and my Father,[3] in whom I so trust as to have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul;[4] and further, that whatever evil He sends upon me in this troubled life, He will turn to my good;[5] for He is able to do it, being Almighty God,[6] and willing also, being a faithful Father.[7]
[1] Gen 1-2; Ex 20:11; Job 38-39; Ps 33:6; Isa 44:24; Acts 4:24, 14:15; Col 1:16; Heb 11:3; [2] Ps 104:2-5, 27-30, 115:3; Mt 6:30, 10:29-30; Acts 17:24-25; Eph 1:11; Heb 1:3; [3] Mt 6:8; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 8:15-16; Gal 4:4-7; Eph 1:5, 3:14-16; [4] Ps 55:22, 90:1-2; Mt 6:25-26; Lk 12:22-31; [5] Acts 17:27-28; Rom 8:28; [6] Gen 18:14; Rom 8:31-39, 10:12; [7] Num 23:19; Mt 6:32-33, 7:9-11

Sunday, June 03, 2007

More on the Trinity

I found this article below written by James Boice (awesome Preacher) posted on Steve Camp's Website just after I had posted last week's Heidelberg Catechism. How timely this is since we were looking at the Trinity. I hope you like it and look at some of the other articles on Steve Camp's website as well as his titled Audiance of One he is well written and studied. He is known for his music and now for his biblical, theological insight. If you would like to know more about business of Contemporary Christian Music from his perspective check out his The 107 THESES he wrote similar to Martin Luther's 95 Theses about the Roman Catholic Church.

Grace and Peace,
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

______________________________
Your Weekly Dose of Gospel...the doctrine and the nature of the Trinity
by Dr. James Montgomery BoiceThe important point is not whether we can understand the Trinity, even with the help of illustrations, but whether we will believe what the Bible has to say about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and about their relationship to each other. What the Bible says may be summarized in the following five propositions:1. There is but one living and true God who exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. We have already looked at this truth in general. We will see it more fully when I talk about the full deity of the Son and Holy Spirit in books two and three in this volume. Here we note a plurality within the Godhead that is suggested even in the pages of the Old Testament, before the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ or the coming of the Holy Spirit upon all God's people. The plurality may be seen, in the first instance, in those passages in which God speaks about himself in the plural. One example is Genesis 1:26. "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' " Another is Genesis 11:7. "Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language." A third is Isaiah 6:8. "And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' " In other passages a heavenly being termed "the angel of the Lord" is, on the one hand identified with God and yet, on the other hand, is also distinguished from him. Thus, we read: "The angel of the LORD found her [Hagar] by a spring of water in the wilderness. . . . The angel of the LORD said to her, 'I will so greatly multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered for multitude.' . . . So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, 'Thou art a God of seeing' " (Gen. 16:7, 10, 13). An even stranger case is the appearance of the three angels to Abraham and Lot. The angels are sometimes spoken of as three and sometimes as one. Moreover, when they speak, it is the Lord who, we are told, speaks to Lot and Abraham (Gen. 18).A final, startling passage is Proverbs 30:4. The prophet Agur is speaking about the nature of Almighty God, confessing his ignorance of him. "Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth?" Then comes, "What is his name, and what is his son's name? Surely you know!" In that day the prophet knew only the Father's name, the name Jehovah. Today we know that his Son's name is the Lord Jesus Christ.2. The Lord Jesus Christ is fully divine, being the second person of the Godhead who became man. This, of course, is where the crux of debate on the Trinity is to be found; those who dislike the doctrine dislike it primarily because they are unwilling to give such an exalted position to "the man" Jesus.Such reluctance is seen first in the teachings of Arius of Alexandria (died A.D. 336). Sabellius, mentioned earlier, tended to merge the persons of the Trinity, so that Father, Son and Holy Spirit were only temporary manifestations of the one God, assumed for the purposes of our redemption. Arius, whose main work was done just after Sabellius, went to the other extreme. He divided the persons of the Trinity so the Son and the Spirit became less than God the Father. According to Arius, the Son and Spirit were beings willed into existence by God for the purpose of acting as his agents in redemption. Thus, they were not eternal (as God is), and they were not fully divine. Arius used the word divine to describe them in some lesser sense than when applying it to the Father. In more recent centuries the same error has been espoused by Unitarians and by some modern cults.But it is a great error. For if Christ is not fully divine, then our salvation is neither accomplished nor assured. No being less than God himself, however exalted, is able to bear the full punishment of the world's sin.The deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is taught in many crucial passages. We read "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" (Jn. 1:1-2). That John 1:1-2 speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ is clear from John 1:14, in which we are told that the "Word" of verse 1 "became flesh and dwelt among us." Similarly, Paul writes, "Have this mind among yourselves, which you have in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:5-8). The words "did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself" do not mean that Jesus ceased to be fully God in the Incarnation, as some have maintained, but only that he temporarily laid aside his divine glory and dignity in order to live among us. We remember that it was during the days of his life here that Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (Jn. 10:30), and "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn. 14:9).3. The Holy Spirit is fully divine. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who most clearly teaches the nature of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of John, Jesus compares the ministry of the coming Holy Spirit to his own ministry. "And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him" (Jn. 14:16-17). This understanding of the Holy Spirit is supported by the fact that distinctly divine attributes are ascribed to him: everlastingness (Heb. 9:14), omnipresence (Ps. 139:7-10), omniscience (1 Cor. 2:10-11), omnipotence (Lk. 1:35) and others.4. While each is fully divine, the three persons of the Godhead are related to each other in a way that implies some differences. Thus, it is usually said in Scripture that the Father (not the Spirit) sent the Son into the world (Mk. 9:37; Mt. 10:40; Gal. 4:4), but that both the Father and the Son send the Spirit (Jn. 14:26; 15:26; 16:7). We don't know fully what such a description of relationships within the Trinity means. But usually it is said that the Son is subject to the Father, for the Father sent him, and that the Spirit is subject to both the Father and the Son, for he is sent into the world by both the Son and Father. However, we must remember that when we speak of subjection we do not mean inequality. Although related to each other in these ways, the members of the Godhead are nevertheless "the same in substance, equal in power and glory," as the Westminster Shorter Catechism says (Q. 6).5. In the work of God the members of the Godhead work together.It is common among Christians to divide the work of God among the three persons, applying the work of creation to the Father, the work of redemption to the Son and the work of sanctification to the Holy Spirit. A more correct way of speaking is to say that each member of the Trinity cooperates in each work.One example is the work of creation. It is said of God the Father, "Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands" (Ps. 102:25); and "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). It is written of the Son, "For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible" (Col. 1:16); and "All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (Jn. 1:3). It is written of the Holy Spirit, "The spirit of God has made me" (Job 33:4). In the same way, the Incarnation is shown to have been accomplished by the three persons of the Godhead working in unity, though only the Son became flesh (Lk. 1:35). At the baptism of the Lord all three were also present: the Son came up out of the water, the Spirit descended in the appearance of a dove and the voice of the Father was heard from heaven declaring, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Mt. 3:16-17). All three persons were present in the atonement, as Hebrews 9:14 declares. "Christ... through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God." The resurrection of Christ is likewise attributed sometimes to the Father (Acts 2:32), sometimes to the Son (Jn. 10:17-18) and sometimes to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:4).We are not surprised, therefore, that our salvation as a whole is also attributed to each of the three persons: chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood" (1 Pet. 1:2). Nor are we surprised that we are sent forth into all the world to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt. 28:19).Threefold RedemptionAgain let me note, although we can say meaningful things about the Trinity (on the basis of God's revelation of them), the Trinity is still unfathomable. We should be humble before the Trinity. Someone once asked Daniel Webster, the orator, how a man of his intellect could believe in the Trinity. "How can a man of your mental caliber believe that three equals one?" his assailant chided. Webster replied, "I do not pretend fully to understand the arithmetic of heaven now." The doctrine of the Trinity does not mean that three equals one, of course, and Webster knew that. It means rather that God is three in one sense and one in another. But Webster's reply nevertheless showed a proper degree of creature humility. We believe the doctrine of the Trinity, not because we understand it, but because the Bible teaches it and because the Spirit himself witnesses within our heart that it is so.
posted by SJ Camp at
5/28/2007 06:41:00 AM 2 iron sharpening iron Link This Article