Monthly Archives: August 2014

Gospel Reality Check

“A church with a creed or confession has a built-in gospel reality check. It is unlikely to become sidetracked by the peripheral issues of the passing moment; rather it will focus instead on the great theological categories that touch on matters of eternal significance” (Carl R. Trueman, The Creedal Imperative, 168).

Reaching the Millennials: An Interview with Thom Rainer, Again

 Reaching the Millennials: An Interview with Thom Rainer from Preaching Magazine, Vol. 27 No. 4

Preaching: You mentioned church starts. It seems that a lot of the best and brightest young ministers coming along are saying, “I’m not going to inherit the problems of a previous generation of churches. We’re starting fresh with new churches.”

Rainer: You’re absolutely right. I have one son of my three who is involved in a church plant. These millennials, these young adults, many of them are frustrated with church as usual, with local church actions, business and what they perceive as irrelevancy. So they’re starting churches.

Yet I would have a challenge for some millennials as well. Keep planting churches, have that attitude; but we’ve got about 400,000 established churches in the United States that we cannot give up on. I would say not only start churches, but prayerfully go into these churches to try to revolutionize them even if it takes a lifetime of ministry, because we’re not planting enough churches to sustain the fall off of the established churches. I hope we’ll see both groups rise up, more church planters and more church people as millennial leaders going to established churches to turn them around [CCS, underline added].

Reaching the Millennials: An Interview with Thom Rainer

 Reaching the Millennials: An Interview with Thom Rainer from Preaching Magazine, Vol. 27 No. 4

Preaching: You mentioned that probably as many as 85 percent of this generation are not Christian. You’ve taught evangelism; you are an evangelist yourself in terms of sharing the gospel. How do churches go about seeking to evangelize the millennial generation?

Rainer: Here’s the irony: This is the smallest generation of Christians, we think, in America’s history. We could begin to lament that reality and say there’s absolutely no hope. The irony is that this is the greatest opportunity to evangelize [CCS, underline added].

Conviction of Sin

“In all genuine conviction of sin, the great burden of pollution and guilt is felt to consist not in what we have done, but in what we are–our permanent moral condition rather than our actual transgressions [i.e. our estate of sin and misery]. The great cry is to be forgiven and delivered from “the wicked heart of unbelief,” “deadness to divine things, alienated from God as a permanent habit of soul.” “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Rom. vii. 24; Ps. li. 5, 6. It hence necessarily follows that original sin, as well as actual transgressions, deserves the curse of the law. Everything condemned by the law is under its curse” (A.A. Hodge, The Confession of Faith, 116-117).

Also see Question XXVIII from The Shorter Catechism:

Question: Wherein consists the sinfulness of the estate whereinto man fell? 

Answer: The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin, together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.

WCF. VI. Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof – 5-6. Q&A

Blogging through and answering the questions from G. I. Williamson’s The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes for personal review and comprehension.

WCF. VI. Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof.

Sections 5-6.

1. Is the believer both “the old man” and “the new man”?

No. A believer is not two persons. A believer is only “the new man.”

2. Prove this to be correct from Scripture.

Colossians 3:9-10, Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. Also, see 2 Corinthians 5:17.

3. What does “perfectionism” teach?

“Perfectionism” teaches on the absence of all sin when a believer becomes a new creation in Christ (or at the least they teach on the absence of all known and/or conscious sin).

4. What does “antinomianism” teach?

“Antinomianism” teaches that a believer may indeed sin, but he will blame-shift and deny responsibility for sinning, claiming it is the influence of the “old man or nature within me,” thus denying that Christians ought to stive to be perfect. “Antinomian” literally means anti-law; “antinomianism” demonstrates it is anti-law because it shirks personal responsibility before the Law of God, e.g. The antinomian thinks: It isn’t my fault that I just committed this sin! That sin flowed from the old man or nature within me.

5. Give a Scripture reference to refute “perfectionism.”

1 John 1:8, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Also, see 1 John 1:10, James 3:2, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 7:14-25, and Psalm 51.

6. Give a Scripture reference to refute “antinomianism.”

“Certain expressions of the apostle Paul may be quoted in what can be made to seem to support this view. He says, for example, “it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Rom. 7:17). . . . But putting this construction on these statements of Paul is false because it overlooks completely the ways in which Paul “takes the blame” for this situation. “I am carnal,” he says (7:14). “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (7:18). Paul does not pretend that he can blame his sins on “the old man” a though they were not his. He does indeed inform us that his sins arise from the motions of his old nature as they survive in him. Yet he clearly indicates that he must fight against them and continue doing so until they are wholly destroyed. So the antinomian ends up saying the same thing the perfectionist says: “I have no sin.” In this he deceives himself and shows that the truth is not in him. For both the remaining corruption, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin” (78-79).

7. What is the difference between the status of the indwelling sin in the unregenerate man and the regenerate man?

The difference between the status of the indwelling sin in the unregenerate man and the regenerate man hinges upon dominion: the unregenerate man is under the dominion of sin, but the regenerate man is under the dominion of Christ, therefore he is not under the dominion of indwelling sin. “The true state of the case is this: in an unregenerate person corruption rules, but in a regenerate person the Spirit of God and the law of God have dominion (Rom. 8:7-14)” (79).

8. What pernicious error is suggested (and condemned) in Rom. 6:1-2?

The pernicious error suggested and condemned in Romans 6:1-2 is antinomianism, i.e. “the most wicked though of all . . . which suggests that sin is somehow less heinous if it is committed by a Christian.” “We might rather,” Williamson says, “that sin is much more heinous if it is committed by the Christian” (80). See Romans 6:1-2: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

9. Why is sin more heinous in a believer than it is in an unbeliever?

Sin is more heinous in a believe, Williamson says, because there is greater reason for the believer to overcome sin, e.g.:

  • A Christian has strength that the non-Christian does not have;
  • A Christian has knowledge that the unbeliever lacks;
  • A Christian, most of all, has the realization of the terrible consequences of sin because he has seen what it cost the Saviour to blot them out.

10. What is “willful sin”?

“Willful sin” is the antinomian practice of sinning–living in sin–because one is not concerned with overcoming sin.

Apostate by Kevin Swanson (Parker, CO: Generations with Vision, 2013)

With a sobering subtitle–“The Men who Destroyed the Christian West”–this book accomplishes a few things. First, excluding the chapter on Aquinas, the author walks through the past 400 years of Western Civilization and identifies key Apostates, from Descartes to Locke to Rousseau to Bentham to Emerson to Marx to Darwin to Nietzsche to Dewey to Sarte, and then the author applies the Biblical principle of judging a tree by its fruit. The end result–a very bleak 200+ pages that follow the demise-trajectory of the West. Second, while providing this high overview of the West’s demise-trajectory, the author observes/comments several times that this rebellious-apostate experiment is about to end; the West is most certainly running on fumes, i.e. “The heyday of humanism is long gone. This experiment with godless materialism is almost over” (154). Thus, a society that sows death will eventually reap death, and we are most certainly in the latter reaping stage, e.g. the great wars from the prior century, legalization of on-demand abortion, etc. Third, the West is going to crash and burn, however, the author encourages Christians to prepare, engage, and build the next Christendom: “If we train our children in the knowledge that is rooted in the fear of God, and in the firm hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then our children will be the ones motivated and equipped to rebuild our broken-down systems. Our children will plant gardens in the ashes of what used to be called “Western Civilization” (301).

Social Theory

“A biblical social view maintains the delicate balance between the individual and his society. The state cannot provide human relationship and community. Without the covenant bodies of family and church society will err to the side of either anarchy or tyranny. In a humanist social situation, anarchy and tyranny play off each other until the system unravels. Four hundred years ago, the church took about 10% of a family’s income, the state took 5%, and the family itself retained about 85%. Today, the church gets 1-2%, the state takes 60-75% [This may be a little high, but I suppose it depends on how one calculates it, e.g. some countries have in addition to set tax rates a tax on capital gains. However, he isn’t off by much. And to think, the prophet Samuel warned Israel, when she demanded a king, that a king would take a “tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants” (1 Sam. 8:15).], and the family retains a paltry 30%. The relative importance of family and church in people’s lives is fairly minimal, thanks to the influence of Rousseau, Marx, and Dewey. Contrary to what Dewey believed, the true prophet of God speaks only what God tells him to speak. The salvation message preached must be the gospel of Christ, and the church elders are held responsible for “preaching the Word.” The family and church are the fundamental social units, and the family is responsible for the education and upbringing of children (Eph. 6:4, Deut. 6:7, 1 Tim. 5:8). Then, the state is responsible for prosecuting crimes like murder and robbery (Gen. 9:6, Exod. 21:1-5). This is the biblical social theory rejected by John Dewey” (Kevin Swanson, Apostate, 164-165).