Dec 03

Essential Theological Video and Audio

Video:

Paul Washer – This is War

Gonz Shimura – Age of Deceit: Fallen Angels and the New World Order

Audio:

Brandon Braun – We Submit

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Dec 03

Callie Joubert – A Critique of Scientific Explanations of Belief and Unbelief and the Conflict between Evolution and Creationism

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Introduction

Psychological and neuroscientific research have established an unquestionable truth: all religious belief and behavior depend on a functioning brain. But so do, for example, bodily movements, breathing, sleeping, eating, and loving someone. However, under the influence of Darwinism, materialism, and/or atheism, what a brain is and does led far too many people to accept the following questionable logic: perceiving, thinking, believing, knowing, loving, or reading depends on a functioning brain; therefore, the brain is a perceiver, thinker, believer, knower, lover, or a reader. To see what is questionable about the logic is to consider what a belief, and believing something or someone, is. If it is not what these researchers think it is, then not only is the interpretation of their research results conceptually confused; their logic is also unintelligible, as I hope to show it is.

Notwithstanding these problems, scientific efforts to explain belief formation have increased over the last two decades (Connors and Halligan 2015; Seitz and Angel 2012; Sugiura, Seitz, and Angel 2015). Most remarkable and bewildering about these efforts are the explanations of belief in God,1 atheism, and the controversy between evolutionists and creationists. This will be explained in the following paragraphs.

In the first place, while some scientists think that religious beliefs are caused by brain dysfunction, such as epilepsy (Dewhurst and Beard 2003; Persinger 1983), others attribute religious beliefs to a “God module” (Ramachandran and Blakeslee 1998, 175−177, 179−188) or “God gene” (Hamer 2004) in the brain that has evolved over millions of years.

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Dec 03

William Plumer – What is the Difference between Justification and Sanctification?

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The answer is that they do not differ in their importance. Both are essential to salvation. Without either we must perish. Indeed God has inseparably joined them together. Christ Jesus is always made sanctification to those, to whom he is made righteousness. Nor do they differ in their source, which is the fiee grace and infinite love of God. We are justified by faith, and our hearts are purified by faith. Faith is the instrument of justification. Faith is the root of sanctification. In justification sin is pardoned, in sanctification it is slain. In justification we obtain forgiveness and acceptance; in sanctification we attain the victory over corruption, and obtain rectitude of nature. Justification is an act of God complete at once and forever. Sanctification is a work of God begun in regeneration, conducted through life and completed at death. Justification is equal and perfect in all Christians; sanctification is not equal in all, nor perfect in any — until they lay aside the flesh. In justification God imputes to us the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification he infuses grace, and enables us to exercise it. Justification always precedes sanctification. Sanctification always comes after justification.

A late writer says, “Justification and sanctification DIFFER,
1st. in their causes. Justification comes by the righteousness of Christ; sanctification by the agency of the Holy Spirit.
2nd. In their effects. The effect of justification consists in our external restoration to the favor of God, and the bestowment on us of a covenant title to eternal life; that of sanctification, in the removal of our inbred corruption, and the renewal of the divine image in the soul.
3rd. In their locality. Justification is an act of God, done amid the solemnities of his court in Heaven; sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit, wrought on the dispositions of our inner man on earth.

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Dec 02

Thomas Boston – The Crook in the Lot

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“Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which He has made crooked? ” Eccl. 7:13.

A just view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment under them; and that view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense; for it is the light of the world alone that represents them justly, discovering in them the work of God, and consequently, designs becoming the Divine perfections. When they are perceived by the eye of faith, and duly considered, we have a just view of afflicting incidents, fitted to quell the turbulent motions of corrupt affections under dismal outward appearances.

It is under this view that Solomon, in the preceding part of this chapter, advances several paradoxes, which are surprising determinations in favor of certain things, that, to the eye of sense, looking gloomy and hideous, are therefore generally reputed previous and shocking. He pronounces the day of one’s death to be better than the day of his birth; namely, the day of the death of one, who, having become the friend of God through faith, has led a life to the honor of God, and service of his generation, and in this way raised to himself the good and savvy name better than precious ointment. In like manner, he pronounces the house of mourning to be preferable to the house of feasting, sorrow to laughter, and a wise man’s rebuke to a fool’s song. As for that, even though the latter are indeed the more pleasant, yet the former are the more profitable. And observing with concern, how men are in hazard, not only from the world’s frowns and ill-usage, oppression making a wise man mad, but also from its smiles and caresses, a gift destroying the heart. Therefore, since whatever way it goes there is danger, he pronounces the end of every worldly thing better than the beginning of it. And from the whole he justly infers, that it is better to be humble and patient than proud and impatient under afflicting dispensation; since, in the former case, we wisely submit to what is really best; in the latter, we fight against it. And he dissuades from being angry with our lot, because of the adversity found in it. He cautions against making odious comparisons of former and present times, in that point insinuating undue reflections on the providence of God: and, against that querulous and fretful disposition. He first prescribes a general remedy, namely, holy wisdom, as that which enables us to make the best of everything, and even gives life in killing circumstances; and then a particular remedy, consisting in a due application of that wisdom, towards taking a just view of the case: “Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which He has made crooked?”

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Dec 02

Erik Raymond – When Sin Keeps You From Prayer

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The other day I preached on prayer and received a helpful comment from a church member. They mentioned the way in which sin keeps them from prayer; and how, over time, the guilt over sin makes it quite difficult to pray. I think this is a problem for many of us. Here are some thoughts to navigate a path of prayer through the fog of guilt.

Remember that sin will always keep you from prayer.

Just like sin against others affects our relationship with them, so to, sin puts a stress on our relationship with God. It is a breach. Like Adam and Eve hiding from God behind the fig leaves, we are ashamed and likewise hide. We may hide behind our schedules, work, family responsibilities, recreation, or even ministry — but we do hide. It is important therefore to see how sin affects our relationship with God. Prayerlessness is always a manifestation of sin and its effects. We should never be content to sit in a season of prayerlessness but rather to recognize why we are in it and labor to remedy it.

Remember that prayer will lead you out of sin.

It is ironic that prayer is actually the rescue chopper from the captivity of sin. It’s the only way out. Like making contact with a Search and Rescue Team, prayer discloses our location and position. The way out of the spiraling pattern of sin is to confess it and repent. We remember that when we do this God forgives us (1 John 1:9). Sin, at its core, is pride. Prayer, at its core, is the expression of humility. The only way out of sin is to humble ourselves before God, embrace reality, and plead for mercy and grace. Our hearts are tricky and quite deceptive (Jer. 17:9). We will tell ourselves that we can’t pray because we haven’t been praying. Our flesh will rage against humbling ourselves before God in prayer. This is where we must remember the basis of our access.

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Dec 01

Jason Allen – 10 Tips for Leading Kids to Christ

A photo by Ben White. unsplash.com/photos/lVCHfXn3VME

My greatest stewardship in life is not training a generation of students at Midwestern Seminary. It is training my five young children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. I feel the weight — and glory — of this stewardship daily and find immeasurable fulfillment and joy as I see my children taking steps toward Christ.

I am sure many Christian parents feel the same way I do—awestruck by the opportunity and responsibility that is ours. In fact, my wife Karen and I are often asked about building a Christian home and rearing children who grow up to follow Christ. We will be the first to admit that we are far from accomplished. On the contrary, we just keep plugging away, seeking the Lord’s grace in our children’s lives, as in our own.

This is definitely not an article about “success, and how we have achieved it.” Rather, as the old adage goes, we are beggars telling other beggars where we have found some bread. If you are seeking to influence little ones toward Christ, you might find these ten tips helpful:

1. Remember, children do not have to become like adults to be saved; adults have to become like children. When Jesus made this point in Matt. 18, he was not referring to spiritual innocence. Rather, he commended a spirit of humility, dependence, and deference—virtues which are common in children and essential for whoever would follow Christ.

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Dec 01

Sam Crabtree – Parents, Let Your ‘No’ Be ‘No’

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Although the Bible says things that are mysterious or hidden (like “a time, times, and half a time,” Daniel 7:25), it also says things that seem blatantly obvious (for instance, “where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,” Proverbs 14:4).

Among the seemingly obvious things, Jesus says, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’” (Matthew 5:37). It is straightforward, yet many people, including parents, fail to practice it consistently. As a consequence, we witness trouble — on domestic flights, in church hallways, and at restaurants — wherever children are testing whether the parents’ no really means no.

Consequences ensue when a parent says, “No, you may not…” but the child delays, or fusses, or whines, or simply disobeys, and the parents bow to it. Understanding yes and no are profound prerequisites for experiencing and appreciating mercy and grace, and there’s nothing we want more for our children.

1. Rewarded behavior becomes repeated behavior.

First, when the child’s whining results in his getting what he wants, the parent has rewarded the whining. According to natural laws God has designed into the universe, rewarded behaviors are strengthened, not weakened. Those parents will get more of what they reward — whining, delaying, fussing.

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Nov 30

Michael Boling – Plans for 2017

2017 Calender on the red cubes

As 2016 has started to wind down, I have started to reflect on what has transpired both personally and in regards to this blog. Additionally, plans for 2017 have been dancing around in my head, at least some ideas of what I believe God is leading me to accomplish in the coming year. Some of these plans will result in some changes in less of some things and more of other things. Let me share with you how I see things shaking out at this point in time.

1) Different approach to books and reviews. In 2016, I found myself constantly behind with my book reading. Call it far too many books to tackle, a lack of available time due to both personal work load and increased demands at work, or perhaps just not very many interesting books, I found myself reading far fewer books this year. In 2017, I plan on being very picky as to what I spend time reading. In fact, unless it is a new release that demands attention, I will spend more time reading some classic works I have acquired over the past couple of years.
At this point, I plan on tackling a number of Puritan works and there are some new releases concerning some of my favorite topics that have been released or are scheduled to be released in the coming weeks that will occupy my time at least into the first few months of 2017.

2) A study on the book of Jude. This oft neglected book has been something I have for a long time now wanted to tackle. While short in length, it is chalk full of interesting information that I believe will be increasingly relevant to our time in history. I need to acquire some books and do some studying of Jude so expect this study to hit the blog around March 2017.

3) A study on Psalm 119. Outside of being the longest Psalm and the longest chapter in Scripture, this particular Psalm talks quite a bit about the importance of obeying the laws of God. Given the vast confusion on that issue (i.e. the never ending debate on law and grace), I think a study of Psalm 119 is in order. I am not sure when that study will hit the blog, but I anticipate a late Spring/early Summer timeframe.

4) A renewed commitment to daily Bible reading and family worship. I have to humbly admit I have not spent as much time lately reading and meditating on God’s Word as I would like. Additionally, while we have made a few valiant (or not so valiant) attempts at consistent family worship time, that element has not shall we say been a resounding consistent success. In the past few weeks, we have done much better at taking time on Friday evening to study as a family. It has been a bit haphazard at times, but all good habits must start somewhere, no matter how bumpy the beginning.

5) Re-start the study on the Sabbath. This year I started a study on the Sabbath and wrote a couple of posts on the subject, hinting around at a more developed discussion on the topic. As with some other things I had wanted to do, this hit the proverbial back-burner. I hope to kick back into gear this study, even if it is just a little at a time.

6) Spend more time with my family. Part of the underlying reason for being a bit pickier on what books I read is while I absolutely love reading, it takes time and that is time that is taken from spending quality time with my family. Our daughter turned 15 this year. My wife and I recently discussed the fact we need to spend more time getting our daughter exposed to and involved with more activities. Not just so she can be “doing” stuff, but to for starters, to encourage her to be involved with things for which God has given her a gifting such as photography and her renewed desire to ride horses. If I am neglecting her growth as a young women by spending time with my nose in a book or writing a blog post/article, I have my priorities all wrong as a father. If I neglect spending time with my wife to read or write an article, I have my priorities all wrong as a husband. Admittedly, my priorities have been in the wrong place on numerous occasions this year. To address that misplaced focus, I will be more dedicated to family, even if that means that riveting book I have been reading needs to stay on the desk for a day or two or if I have to take a pass at writing about something.

7) Pray more. I really struggle with praying. Maybe it is because I just don’t know what to say or I think what I am saying is not eloquent enough. Whatever the reason, spending more time in prayer is a goal for 2017.

8) Get in better health. Now I am not significantly overweight; however, I am becoming more attune to the fact I need to eat better and I need to exercise more consistently. My workplace allows for paid time to exercise and I need to take more advantage of that benefit. It will mean extracting myself from the computer, not always easy to do when the bosses are wanting multiple tasks completed yesterday. It might also mean joining a gym. My wife and I have discussed rejoining the local YMCA and our daughter is excited about that possibility so that might be a viable option. We have started to be more mindful of eating more healthy food options, but we do slip up from time to time. A better overall approach to health is definitely going to be a major focus in 2017.

9) Unlock the final shackles of debt. We are not that much in debt, but any amount of debt is too much in my humble opinion. There are a few bills that will be put behind us in the very early part of 2017, thus freeing us up to do some things we have put off for some time to include some home improvement projects.

We shall see where God ultimately leads me in 2017. Plans may change from what I have listed here today and that is fine. If a study on Jude of Psalm 119 does not come to fruition and instead, I spend some wonderful time with my daughter and wife, I will label that a smashing success of a year.

Nov 30

Andrew Snelling – Sifting Through Layers of Meaning

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According to science textbooks, a series of rock layers covers the earth, representing many eras over “millions of years.” Do these charts have any connection with reality?

Most Christians who grew up in church heard Sunday school lessons about Adam in the Garden of Eden and Noah on the Ark, surrounded by bunny rabbits and dairy cows munching happily on grass. As they grew up, however, images of the “earth shaker” Seismosaurus or sea monsters like Mosasaurus shattered these simplistic scenes of life on earth before the Flood.

Meanwhile, science class and natural history museums presented a different picture. Colorful scientific charts depicted a thick stack of rock layers full of dinosaurs and other creatures that supposedly lived millions of years ago — the geologic column. Given this conflict, churchgoers had a choice to make. At one extreme, some denied that dinosaurs existed altogether, and they called the geologic column a lie. On another extreme, some abandoned the Bible, choosing what appeared to be science over God’s Word.

But there’s a third option. We can—and should—embrace both the Bible and the science, including fossils and the sequence of rock layers portrayed in the geologic column. Scientists have made many exciting discoveries about rocks that are observable and repeatable. We can use these to help us reconstruct the past without accepting the labels for “millions of years,” which are based on faulty assumptions.

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Nov 30

Brad Hambrick – 19 Possible Motive-Triggers for Pornography

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Often triggers and motive are treated as two distinct things, and there are differences. But those differences are more akin to two sides of the same coin than apples and oranges. In this post you will examine the things that trigger your sexual sin and the motives attached to those triggers.

As you identify the trigger-motive for your sexual sin, we also want you to begin to see how you are treating your sin like a friend, ally, refuge, etc… These insights are essential for repentance to make sense as a central part of change. Unless we see how our sin seeks to replace God in our life, then our need to be made right with God comes across as if God is unduly hung up about our sexuality.

“Your struggle with sexual addiction doesn’t start with your behavior. It begins with what you want, what you live for (p. 6).” David Powlison in Sexual Addiction

1. Boredom (Sin as My Joy)

When boredom is our trigger to sexual sin, then sin has become our joy. When there is a moment to be filled with something of our choosing, we pursue sin to fill the void rather than God or any of His legitimate pleasures. We begin to lose our appetite for godly pleasure like the child who eats sweets stops wanting healthy food. Even as they feel sluggish from the ups and downs of sugary “treats” they fail to connect this to their diet but go instead for another sugar high as the “obvious” solution.

“Sex is not ultimate… Idols begin as good things to which we give too much importance, and few things slide over into idolatry with greater frequency or greater power than sex. We allow a good gift of God to supersede the God who gave it. Sex is good, even great, but it’s not ultimate (p. 61).” Tim Challies in Sexual Detox

Read Nehemiah 8:9-12. God is a God of great joys and pleasure. Too often we view God as so serious that we believe “fun” must be in His opposite direction. When God called Israel to repentance through Nehemiah and Ezra, He asked them to express their repentance in celebration. If the motive of boredom leads you to sin, then allow this passage to challenge your view of God.

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