Jan 14

Essential Theological Video and Audio

Video:

Steven Lawson – We Buy the Truth

William Schnoebelen and David Carrico – The Occult Power Of Music

Audio:

Brian Borgman – Self-Righteousness vs. Self-Reality

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Jan 16

J. C. Ryle – Our Hope

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“Good hope through grace.” 2 Thess. 2:10

“The hope of the ungodly shall perish.” Job 8:13

“For what is the hope of the godless, when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?” Job 27:8

“I hope,” is a very common expression. Everybody can say, “I hope.” About no subject is the expression used so commonly as it is about religion. Nothing is more common than to hear people turn off some home-thrust at conscience, by this convenient form of words, “I hope.” “I hope it will be all right at last.” “I hope I shall be a better man some day.” “I hope I shall get to heaven at last.” But why do they hope? On what is their hope built? Too often they cannot tell you! Too often it is a mere excuse for avoiding a disagreeable subject. “Hoping,” they live on. “Hoping,” they grow old. “Hoping,” they die at last—and find too often that they are lost forever in hell!

I ask the serious attention of all who read this paper. The subject is one of the deepest importance, “We are saved by hope.” (Rom. 8:24.) Let us, then, make sure that our hope is sound. Have we a hope that our sins are pardoned, our hearts renewed, and our souls at peace with God? Then let us see to it that our hope is “good,” and “living,” and one “that makes not ashamed.” (2 Thess. 2:16; 1 Pet, 1:3; Rom. 5:5.) Let us consider our ways. Let us not shrink from honest, searching inquiry into the condition of our souls. If our hope is good, examination will do it no harm. If our hope is bad, it is high time to know it, and to seek a better one.

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Jan 16

Ray Ortlund, Jr. – How the Bible Is One Big, Divine, Holy Story of Marriage

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Eternity in the New City

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:1–5a

One of the amazing things about the Bible is the grand scope of its vision. It begins with the creation of the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1), and it ends here with the re-creation of it all as a new heavens and a new earth. The Bible is nothing less than a history of the entire cosmos. And at each horizon of this grandeur is marriage: first the marriage of Adam and Eve, and now the wedding of the Lamb with his bride (Rev. 21:9).

Now the conflict is finally past, the victory is won, and peace descends. The sea disappears from view, for “the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt” (Isa. 57:20). It was from this seething mass of restless mankind that the beast arose (Rev. 13:1). And the angel said to John, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages” (Rev. 17:15). But now the people of God need no longer brace themselves against the buffeting waves of this sea of human hostility, for the danger simply is not there anymore. A settled order of human shalom finally reigns.

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Jan 15

Erik Raymond – A Tip for Husbands

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Being a pastor I get to talk to a lot of husbands. They want to have a good, healthy, happy marriage. Many of them are angling for a way to gain an advantage and show their wife that they love and care about her. But in my experience guys can run a little low on creativity and surprise. Doing the same things over and over again are nice and reassuring, but it can also be stale and kind of predictable. Here’s an idea that I’ve seen work well, and it’s easy. Consider it some garlic in your meatloaf.

Write some notes. That’s it. Write some notes to your wife.

(Now, I should clarify that I am advocating here for actual words on actual paper written by your actual hand. Texts, emails, and other electronic communication have their place, but they are different from what I am suggesting here.)

Here are some reasons why:

It shows you care. This makes sense, right? Your wife finds a note, and it stops her in her tracks. She pauses, picks it up, and reads it. You just injected your love, appreciation, and care for her. Interrupting your wife’s day with a pop-up ad of your appreciation and love is not a bad idea.

It’s personal. When you write out a note, you are doing so with your personal words in your personal handwriting. There is something unique and special about seeing and reading the words of the one whom we love. Take some time and (legibly) write out a note.

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Jan 15

Gregory Cook – Blessed Be Assyria: Implications of Nahum’s Allusion to Babel

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Introduction

The diminutive and oft-neglected book of Nahum prophesied the fall of the capital of the Assyrian Empire. In Nahum’s lifetime, Nineveh stood as the most ostentatious, feared, and impenetrable city in the world. Decades of pillage had poured gold, silver, cedars, and slaves into the city.2 Three generations of kings used these spoils to expand, gild, reinforce, and arm the capital.3 Yet, Nineveh’s glory proved short-lived.

Nineveh’s prominence in Scripture leads many to exaggerate its importance in Assyria’s history. The city is mentioned in the tenth chapter of the Bible and then is the subject of two entire books. Despite such notable attention, Nineveh served as Assyria’s capital for less than a century (705 BC–612 BC). For most of Assyrian history it languished behind Ashur and Calah. Still, at a time when Nineveh was not yet the capital, the author of Jonah stated, “Now Nineveh was a great city to God” (Jonah 3:3; my literal translation; unless otherwise noted, biblical translations are mine). Its birth merited mention in the Table of Nations. Many centuries later, Nahum would declare its demise.

The nature of this demise is the focus of this article. In Nahum, God revisited an ancient judgment upon an ancient city. What follows will contend that the prophet framed the downfall of Nineveh using imagery from the Tower of Babel. Contrary to the understanding of most commentators, Nahum did not primarily prophesy the slaughter of the Assyrians—he promised their dispersion. This dispersion began the fulfilment of Isaiah’s Assyrian benediction: “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance” (Isaiah 19:25 KJV; italics original).

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Jan 14

R. C. Sproul – The Value of Scripture

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The value of Scripture in the life of the believer lies in its source and its function. In his exhortation to Timothy, Paul commended Scripture to Timothy by saying, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

When I was a little boy, there was a fellow in our community who was a couple of years older than me, and he was something of a bully. He made fun of me and called me names, which hurt my feelings. Sometimes I came home crying to my mother and told her what the other boy had said to upset me. My mother had a favorite response to this. As she wiped away my tears, she said, “When people talk like that about you, son, consider the source.”

That little bit of sage advice from my mother was a principle that I learned to a much more intense degree in the academic world. One of the rules of scholarship is to track down in your research the sources for the information you have to make sure that those sources are reliable. Scholars have to “be careful not to take anything at face value, because credibility is directly tied to source. They must analyze, examine, and use the critical apparatus at their disposal to track down the real sources.

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Jan 14

Michael Kruger – Five Myths About the Ancient Heresy of Gnosticism

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In the world of biblical studies, at least among some critical scholars, Gnosticism has been the darling for sometime now. Especially since the discovery of the so-called “Gnostic Gospels” at Nag Hammadi in 1945, scholars have sung the praises of this alternative version of Christianity.

Gnosticism was a heretical version of Christianity that burst on the scene primarily in the second century and gave the orthodox Christians a run for their money. And it seems that some scholars look back and wish that the Gnostics had prevailed.

After all, it is argued, traditional Christianity was narrow, dogmatic, intolerant, elitist, and mean-spirited, whereas Gnosticism was open-minded, all-welcoming, tolerant and loving. Given this choice, which would you choose?

While this narrative about free-spirited Gnosticism being sorely oppressed by those mean and uptight orthodox Christians might sound rhetorically compelling, it simply isn’t borne out by the facts. So, here are five claims often made about Gnosticism that prove to be more myth than reality:

Myth #1: Gnosticism was more popular than traditional Christianity.

Time and again we are told that Gnostics were just as widespread as orthodox Christians, and that their books were just as popular too (if not more so). The reason they did not prevail in the end is because they were oppressed and forcibly stamped out by the orthodox party who had gained power through Constantine.

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Jan 13

J. C. Ryle – 5 Ways to Spoil the Gospel

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There are many ways in which the faith of Christ may be marred and spoiled, without being positively denied. And here we venture to think is the very reason that so much religion called Christian, is not truly Evangelical. The Gospel in fact is a most curiously and delicately compounded medicine, and a medicine that is very easily spoiled.

You may spoil the Gospel by substitution . You have only to withdraw from the eyes of the sinner the grand object which the Bible proposes to faith — Jesus Christ; and to substitute another object in His place — the Church, the Ministry, the Confessional, Baptism, or the Lord’s Supper, and the mischief is done. Substitute anything for Christ, and the Gospel is totally spoiled! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.

You may spoil the Gospel by addition . You have only to add to Christ, the grand object of faith, some other objects as equally worthy of honour, and the mischief is done. Add anything to Christ, and the Gospel ceases to be a pure Gospel! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.

You may spoil the Gospel by interposition . You have only to push something between Christ and the eye of the soul, to draw away the sinner’s attention from the Saviour, and the mischief is done. Interpose anything between man and Christ, and man will neglect Christ for the thing interposed! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.

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Jan 13

Mark Jones – What If I Don’t Want to Pray?

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Few aspects of the Christian life can cause God’s people more guilt than a lack of personal, private prayer. Few disciplines in the Christian life are as difficult as private prayer. And this struggle doesn’t just exist for immature Christians or those very weak in faith. The testimonies of even some great Christians verify that prayer is difficult.

“Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer.” — Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“There is nothing that we are so bad at all our days as prayer.” — Alexander Whyte

“There are times in my life when I would rather die than pray.” — Thomas Shepard

Consider these words from John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, whose godliness, knowledge of the Scriptures, and powerful preaching were well-known to all who knew him.

May I but speak my own experience, and from that tell you the difficulty of praying to God as I ought; it is enough to make you . . . entertain strange thoughts of me. For, as for my heart, when I go to pray, I find it so reluctant to go to God, and when it is with him, so reluctant to stay with him, that many times I am forced in my prayers; first to beg God that he would take my heart, and set it on himself in Christ, and when it is there, that he would keep it there. In fact, many times I know not what to pray for, I am so blind, nor how to pray, I am so ignorant; only (blessed be grace) the Spirit helps our infirmities (Romans 8:26).

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Jan 12

John Owen – Directions for Mortification

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Set faith at work on Christ for the killing of thy sin: His blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls. Live in this, and thou wilt die a conqueror; yea, thou wilt, through the good providence of God, live to see thy lust dead at thy feet.

But thou wilt say, “How shall faith act itself on Christ for this end and purpose?” I say, sundry ways:

(1) By faith fill thy soul with a due consideration of that provision which is laid up in Jesus Christ for this end and purpose, that all thy lusts, this very lust wherewith thou art entangled, may be mortified. By faith, ponder on this: though thou art no way able in or by thyself to get the conquest over thy distemper,44 though thou art even weary of contending and art utterly ready to faint, yet there is enough in Jesus Christ to yield thee relief (Phi 4:13)…In thy greatest distress and anguish, consider that fullness of grace, those riches, those treasures of strength, might, and help that are laid up in Him for our support (John 1:16; Col 1:19). Let them come into and abide in thy mind. Consider that He is exalted and made a Prince and a Savior to give repentance unto Israel (Acts 5:31), and if to give repentance, to give mortification, without which the other is not nor can be. Christ tells us that we obtain purging grace by abiding in Him (John 15:3).

To act faith upon the fullness that is in Christ for our supply is an eminent way of abiding in Christ, for both our insition and abode is by faith (Rom 11:19-20). Let then thy soul by faith be exercised with such thoughts and apprehensions as these: “I am a poor, weak creature, unstable as water. I cannot excel. This corruption is too hard for me and is at the very door of ruining my soul. What to do I know not. My soul is become as parched ground and an habitation of dragons. I have made promises and broken them; vows and engagements have been as a thing of naught. Many persuasions have I had that I had gotten the victory and should be delivered. But I am deceived, so that I plainly see that without some eminent succor48 and assistance, I am lost and shall be prevailed on to an utter relinquishment of God. Yet though this be my state and condition, let the hands that hang down be lifted up and the feeble knees be strengthened. Behold, the Lord Christ that hath all fullness of grace in His heart, all fullness of power in His hand, is able to slay all these His enemies. There is sufficient provision in Him for my relief and assistance. He can take my drooping, dying soul and make me more than a conqueror…He can make the dry, parched ground of my soul to become a pool and my thirsty, barren heart as springs of water. Yea, He can make this habitation of dragons, this heart, so full of abominable lusts and fiery temptations, to be a place for grass and fruit to Himself (Is 35:7).”

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