Saturday, May 31, 2008

Two New Books of Interest

Here are 2 new books that look interesting:

Where Do We Go From Here is a new evangelistic booklet from John Blanchard and Evangelical Press.


Heirs with Christ
by Dr. Joel Beeke.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Our All-Satisfying God

Today my family noticed that a bird's nest built on our porch contains a baby bird. I am sure most of you have noticed this event in your lifetime. When the mother bird flies to the nest with food, the nestlings stretch out their necks as far as they can with their mouths open wide for the food. They are completely dependent on their mother and know that when she is near their hunger will be satisfied. It was also providential that this morning I read the following phrase from Psalm 81:10, "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it."

This quote was in reference to God delivering His people from the land of Egypt. They were completely dependent on Him and He had promised to protect them from their enemies and satisfy their every need. Psalms 81:11 tells us, however, that the people did not listen to God or obey Him. God then says "So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices" Psalm 81:12.

Do we not act like this in our lives? God tells us to open our mouths and He will fill them. He tells us to "taste and see that the LORD is good" Psalm 34:8. Peter even refers to this in 1 Peter 2:3. God tells us to depend on Him for He will satisfy the deepest longings of our soul. Why do we go after those things that will not truly satisfy? John Piper has written and preached much about this phenomena. In his book A Hunger for God, he writes the following:

The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. . . . The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.
The writes of Hebrews tells us to "lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" Hebrews 12:1. These "encumbrances" are not necessarily wrong in themselves; they just hinder us from running the race. They prevent us from obtaining the best God has for us which is Himself. Let us not allow anything to keep us from the all-satisfying God. Let us pursue and desire God in a way that we have never desired anything else. God is our treasure (Matthew 13:44). God is our pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46). As the old chorus goes, "Lord, you are more precious than silver. Lord, You are more costly than gold. Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, and nothing I desire compares with You." May that be the prayer of our hearts. God promises that if we open our mouth wide - He will fill it and He will satisfy us with Himself.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The New Jerusalem

In Isaiah 25, we read the following statement:

The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain, . . .
Isaiah 25:6-10
What a glorious hope believers have as seen in these verses. One day when believers from every tribe. tongue, people and nation have been called (Rev. 5:9), God will prepare a banquet for His own who are now on the mountain of Zion - the new Jerusalem (Rev. 19:9). He will swallow up the one thing that swallows all of us, death (1 Cor. 15:54) forever wiping away every tear that they have (Rev. 7:17, Rev. 21:4). All His people will rejoice in the consummation of their salvation for which they have been waiting. John Owen in hearing of one his books soon to be published right before his death said this, "I am glad to hear it; but, oh brother Payne, the long wished for day is come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done, or was capable of doing, in this world."

As believers, we should all look forward to this day. Do you look forward to the time when you will be able to worship God without the weaknesses we have now? If yes, then you will enjoy worship of God now on this earth even with our frailties and weaknesses. You will enjoy the fellowship with other believers now. You will be anticipating the consummation of your salvation as those in Isaiah 25. If you don't enjoy these things now on earth, how can you say you look forward to an eternity filled with these things? Every week we have a foretaste of what it will be like forever. Let us remember the words of John:

Beloved now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as His is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:2-3)

Even so come quickly Lord Jesus (Rev. 22:20).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Word more precious than Gold

The Word more precious than Gold
- a hymn by John Newton-

Precious Bible! what a treasure
Does the word of God afford!
All I want for life and pleasure,
Let the world account me poor,
Having this I need no more.

FOOD to which the world's a stranger,
Here my hungry soul enjoys;
Of excess there is no danger,
Though it fills, it never cloys:
On a dying Christ I feed,
He is meat and drink indeed!

When my faith is faint and sickly,
Or when Satan wounds my mind,
Cordials to revive me quickly,
Healing MEDICINES here I find:
To the promises I flee,
Each affords a remedy.

In the hour of dark temptations
Satan cannot make me yield;
For the word of consolation
Is to me a mighty SHIELD:
While the Scripture-truths are sure,
From this malice I'm secure.

Vain his threats to overcome me,
When I take the Spirit's sword;
Then with ease I drive him from me,
Satan trembles at the word:
'Tis a SWORD for conquest made,
Keen the edge, and strong the blade.

Shall I envy then the miser,
Doating on his golden store?
Sure I am, or should be wiser,
I am rich, 'tis he is poor:
Jesus gives me in his word,

Psalms 19:8-11

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hymns about God

Here are a few stanzas from the hymn "Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise" written by Walter Chalmers Smith (pictured). This hymn was based on the prayer of Paul in 1 Timothy 1:17. Read through it and count how many attributes of God are mentioned.

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render; O help us to see
Tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee.

In these short three stanzas, I count, in the ballpark, about 20 attributes of God, plus or minus. While not every hymn or song we sing will contain this many, the fact is that our songs of praise to God should be about God - His attributes, His character, His nature and His works of creation, providence and salvation. Let the music that God has gifted us with be used to proclaim His name until "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" Habakkuk 2:14.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Prosperity of the Wicked

I believe that every Christian has at least once in their life asked the question "why are the wicked prosperous?" Psalm 73 gives us this exact question this time asked by the psalm writer, Asaph. Asaph begins by acknowledging that God is good to the "pure in heart," but admits that he "was envious of the arrogant" as he "saw the prosperity of the wicked" Psalm 73:1-3. Asaph, in Psalm 73:4-12, tells of how the wicked display their wickedness yet still seem to prosper, display satisfaction and seem content. In Psalm 73:13-16, he writes of how he has sought to walk in righteousness, even in vain at times for the sake of those who looked up to him yet when he ponders the prosperity of the wicked, "it was troublesome in my sight."

In verse 17 we see that glorious word "Until" signifying that he came to the realization of some truth about this troublesome pondering. Several things of interest can be noted in his realization.

  1. This realization occurred when Asaph "came into the sanctuary of God" Psalm 73:17. What a great encouragement for us to remember that when we don't understand something we should seek the presence of God. Let us not allow our doubts to keep us from Him. As we will see Asaph's questions were answered beginning in God's presence. I believe that this also shows the importance of our attendance with God's people on the Lord's Day. God meets with His people as they worship Him.

  2. Asaph realized that the wicked really never get away with anything. Psalm 73:18-20 tells us that "Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!" They will become as the fading images in dreams when God is aroused. This realization should remove any envy of the wicked.

  3. Asaph then repents of his envy admitting his ignorance and senselessness (Psalm 73:21-22). He writes this:

    Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
    Psalm 73:23-26
    Asaph begins to see what he has instead of what he doesn't. God is continually with him. Like a loving Father, God takes him by the hand and guides him with counsel. After that God will receive him into glory. He realizes that God is what he truly desires and God is what he has. God is his portion and strength forever! What a change in attitude! What an exercise in faith.

  4. Finally, Asaph concludes with these words in Psalm 73:28, "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good . . ." He has moved from envying what he thought was the good of the wicked to knowing that the nearness of God is his ultimate and true good. The first answer to the the first question of the Westminster Catechism includes "enjoy Him forever." John Piper reminds us that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." God is our good. There is no better. There is no best. Let us remember this the next time we are tempted with the soul destroying and poison covered good to which the world calls us.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Sinfulness of Sin

In Numbers, Chapter 25, one can read the account of the people of Israel already turning to the gods of their neighbors even before entering the land of promise - in this case the people of Moab and the god Baal of Peor. Also God gives His response to these actions of the people. It reads:

While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor” Numbers 25:1-5.

God commanded Moses to execute those who had bowed the knee before Baal. The Lord had also sent a plague as well which only ceased when Phinehas executed a man of Israel and a Midianite woman in the act of adultery. Phinehas is praised and his act the reason that God turns back His anger against the people. What are we to think of this? Don Carson writes that the pluralistic culture that we live in would consider the act of God and Phinehas's execution of this man and woman to be "primitive barbarism." But he reminds us also that the agreed to covenant of Israel included capital punishment for adultery and idolatry.

I believe that this story shows the absolute sinfulness of sin. So horrid that it is hard to find words to describe it. God hates it and He must punish it to remain true to who He is. God told Adam and Eve at Creation that disobedience to the one command they were given would bring sure death. Because of their disobedience sin entered the world resulting in death. The New Testament gives us the same idea. Paul tells us in Romans that "the wages of sin is death," Rom 6:23, and James also tells us sin brings forth death, James 1:15. The Bible tells us that all people are all guilty sinners before God. They are already dead spiritually, they will die physically and will face the wrath of God forever. No sinner will escape the wrath of God on sin.

But, what about Christians who promote forgiveness and eternal life? God can't just forgive as some tell us. He is holy, righteous and just. He can't tolerate sin. It is totally opposed to His nature. Well, even for Christians, their sins must be judged and punished. The last part of Rom 6:23 as quoted above says, " but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." The wrath of God on believers has been poured out on Jesus Christ. That is what the glorious Gospel is all about. Those who repent and confess their sins and put their hope in the work of Jesus Christ as their subsitutionary sacrifice receive forgiveness and eternal life with God. God, in His love and mercy toward sinners, credits to Jesus the sins of those who believe and He credits to believers the perfect righteousness of Jesus. When God looks at the believer, He sees the righteousness of His Son. The believer can only stand before God in Christ.

Sin is serious. Those who died in this Biblical account deserved death, as do we all because we all sin. All who sin have earned death. While the church today does not carry out captial punishment for these same sins or any sin, those who practice them are still deserving of the wrath of God and will not enter the kingdom of God. But God gives grace to sinners in Christ. He gives to those who believe what they don't deserve because Jesus took what they did deserve. God will judge every single sin with wrath. The only question is whether the individual will bear it or will Jesus bear it . Who bears your sin?

Read more about this glorious Gospel.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Heavens and God's Glory

King David writes in Psalms 19:

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
Psalms 19.1-6

Do you see the glory of God in the sky? Here are two tools that will allow you to see better than we ever have in history, but still less than is out there, the glory of God in the Universe.

WorldWide Telescope - This is brand new and I believe it requires one to download some free software. Check out the requirements before downloading.

Google Sky

When viewing these images, it should bring us to a state of awe concerning our Sovereign Almighty God. As with any modern day natural history education, there are many presuppositions in the comments presented.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ESV Study Bible Update

While I regularly read the NASB version of the Bible, I also read the ESV Bible. I enjoy the creativity of Crossway in their many different covers, Bible sizes and text formats. While the NASB follows a strictly literal translation, the ESV follows an "essentially literal" philosophy of translation while also putting importance on "clarity of expression and literary excellence" which allows the text to flow more naturally. This makes the ESV a good overall Bible for both study and devotional use - especially with children (8th Grade Reading Level). I also like the fact that the publisher is a not for profit organization. One day I may switch over completely.

Anyway, I am looking forward to the upcoming ESV Study Bible. Here is a preview of the Introduction to the Gospel of Luke. I am a sucker for good maps.

Monday, May 12, 2008

An Evangelical Manifesto

A group of Christian leaders have put together what they call An Evangelical Manifesto in order to try and give the term "evangelical" a more definite meaning again. Here is the introduction as well as a video of the roll out last week:

An Evangelical Manifesto is an open declaration of who Evangelicals are and what they stand for. It has been drafted and published by a representative group of Evangelical leaders who do not claim to speak for all Evangelicals, but who invite all other Evangelicals to stand with them and help clarify what Evangelical means in light of “confusions within and the consternation without” the movement. As the Manifesto states, the signers are not out to attack or exclude anyone, but to rally and to call for reform.

As an open declaration, An Evangelical Manifesto addresses not only Evangelicals and other Christians but other American citizens and people of all other faiths in America, including those who say they have no faith. It therefore stands as an example of how different faith communities may address each other in public life, without any compromise of their own faith but with a clear commitment to the common good of the societies in which we all live together.

For those who are Evangelicals, the deepest purpose of the Manifesto is a serious call to reform—an urgent challenge to reaffirm Evangelical identity, to reform Evangelical behavior, to reposition Evangelicals in public life, and so rededicate ourselves to the high calling of being Evangelical followers of Jesus Christ.

Some feel that the statements in the manifesto are still too broad. Read it and see what you think.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mr. Stand-fast Crosses the River of Death

When Mr. Stand-fast had thus set things in order, and the time being come for him to haste away, he also went down to the river.

Now there was a great calm at that time in the river; wherefore Mr. Stand-fast, when he was about half-way in, stood a while, and talked to his companions that had waited upon him thither; and he said, "This river has been a terror to many; yea, the thoughts of it also have often frightened me. Now, methinks, I stand easy, my foot is fixed upon that upon which the feet of the priests that bare the ark of the covenant stood, while Israel went over this Jordan. The waters, indeed, are to the palate bitter, and to the stomach cold; yet the thoughts of what I am going to, and of the conduct that waits for me on the other side, doth lie as a glowing coal at my heart."

"I see myself at the end of my journey, my toilsome days are ended. I am going now to see that head that was crowned with thorns, and that face that was spit upon for me. I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith; but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with him in whose company I delight myself. I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and wherever I have seen the print of his shoe in the earth, there I have coveted to set my foot too. His name has been to me as a civet-box; yea sweeter than all perfumes. His voice to me has been most sweet; and his countenance I have more desired than they that have most desired the light of the sun. His word I did use to gather for my food, and for antidotes against my faintings. He has held me, and hath kept me from mine iniquities; yea, my steps he strengthened in his way."

Now, while he was thus in discourse, his countenance changed, his strong man bowed under him; and after he had said, "Take me, for I come unto thee," he ceased to be seen of them.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Death of Christianity in Britain

This is a sad commentary on the state of Christianity in Britain. Once the bulwark of Christian faith, practice and missions, Britain has now become a place that missionaries are being sent. Will America follow suit? Let us pray for a true revival in Britain and in America.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Gift of a Second

In Acts 16, we have the wondrous account of Paul and Silas on their missionary journey in Philippi. After Paul had cast out the demon of the slave-girl, thereby costing her masters their profits, both Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison. The jailer was commanded to “guard them securely” whereby he threw them into the “inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks” (Acts 16.24). This jailer had been given a task that, if he failed, would probably cost him his life; this had happened to the guard of Peter shown to us earlier in the book of Acts (Acts 12.19). We now come to the miraculous event of God sending an earthquake which opens the doors of the prison and loosens the chains. After this, even the Bible tells us, “When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors were opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped” (Acts 16.27). It is easy to understand this response when we consider the importance the Philippian leaders had placed on guarding Paul and Silas. The jailer realized he was responsible for any escaped prisoners and might as well go ahead and take his life.

So we see the jailer with his sword positioned to take his life. One second more and the sword will be thrust into his body. He will commit self-murder sending his soul to the pit of hell to endure the eternal wrath of God. End of story- right? But wait. Acts 16.38 tells us that Paul cried out with a loud voice telling the guard not to hurt himself because the prisoners were still there. We read further in the passage that the jailer went to Paul and Silas in fear and trembling asking them what he must do to be saved. We then see that they explained the gospel to him, and that night, the jailer and his whole household believed and were baptized. They were filled with great joy upon their faith. Quite a remarkable story.

What amazes me is that this jailer was one second from hell. He had made the decision that it would be better to take his life. He had decided that he would be happier to take his life than endure the consequences of allowing the prisoners to escape; however, we come to one of the “But God” moments found so often in Scripture even without it being said. What can we learn from this story? I see three key points.

One, the jailer was one second from hell, but he was then snatched from the fire like a brand. Friend, we must never give up on any person. We do not know who the elect are, but we are instructed to preach the gospel to all. Although it may become frustrating telling them again and again and seeing no movement at all, this story shows us that we must never give up. One moment this man thought he would be better off killing himself. The next, God had opened his eyes to his desperate need for salvation. He had been regenerated in the twinkling of an eye. God had prepared everything we see in Acts 16, ultimately bringing this man the gospel and salvation.

Second, we must see the mercy of God in giving this man another second of bodily life and then saving him. Every day God is merciful and slow to anger to sinners who don’t deserve anything but His wrath. If you are reading this as one who has never trusted in the work of Jesus Christ alone for salvation, God has granted you the gift of a second, but he does not guarantee the gift of another. You must flee to him now. Do not say that you will come later. The sword may already be at your chest. Hear and believe the gospel, and then rejoice.

Third, who is the one in your life shouting to you with the loud voice as Paul did to this jailer? Do you hear your friend, family member or Pastor shout to you the words of life each week? That person urges you to believe in the Lord Jesus, clearly showing you your only hope. He presents to you the same Gospel that Paul told the jailer who believed and rejoiced greatly. Please listen and believe as the jailer did. Pray that God would open your eyes to see. Come to this person shouting the good news to you, and he will tell you how to be saved. If you are a believer, remember the one who shouted these words of life to you. Thank God for that person. Resolve to be that person in another’s life at every opportunity.

So how do you view a second of time now? What a marvelous gift of mercy a second of life is. It is the difference between life and death, yes even between heaven and hell. Never take for granted one second of time that God gives you. While some may call it common grace, it was special to this jailer. I tend to think he thanked God daily for this merciful gift of a second. If you are a believer, may you also thank God who does “abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Eph 3.20-21).

Monday, May 5, 2008

Unlimited God

A few days ago, I was reading in Numbers 11 about when the Israelites began complaining about only having manna to eat. God told Moses that he would send them meat enough for a whole month to eat until it came out their noses and became loathsome to them! Then Moses ask God this question and heard this reply from God:

But Moses said, "The people, among whom I am, are 600,000 on foot; yet You have said, 'I will give them meat, so that they may eat for a whole month.' "Should flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to be sufficient for them? Or should all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to be sufficient for them?" The LORD said to Moses, "Is the LORD'S power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not" (Num. 11.21-23)

Even Moses had unbelief at times. It reminds me also of Jesus and His disciples when He fed the multitudes. God's answer is amazing. "Is the Lord's power limited" or literally it reads "Is the Lord's hand short?" He has unlimited power to do anything beyond what we can ask or think. Moses had seen the great Exodus and God's power through it, yet for a moment he doubted.

We too have seen the mighty work of God if we are a believer in the raising of our dead self to life - as much of a miracle as Jesus raising Lazarus. We really have no reason to ever doubt God. We should also be encouraged that since there is nothing too large for God to do, we can ask Him to do those things which we can't see how they will happen. This is especially true for those things which he tells us to do in His Word. If God makes us a promise in His Word, He has the unlimited power to keep it. We must remember, however, that God sometimes has a different purpose outside of our plans. The three Hebrew children when threatened to be thrown into the fiery furnace unless they bowed to the image of the king, professed,

"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. "But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (Daniel 3.17-18)

They knew God had the power to save them from the furnace. They knew that God might not choose to save them. But these two thoughts did not deter them from doing what was right. Even if things don't go our way, let us still hold firm to our faith that God's power is not limited and He will do His holy purpose. Let us not yield to unbelief. We will trust Him and believe that He does all things for the good of His children. For that reason, "let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Heb. 10.23).

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Prayer for a Revival

Saviour, visit thy plantation
Grant us, Lord, a gracious rain!
All will come to desolation,
Unless thou return again;
Keep no longer at a distance,
Shine upon us from on high;
Lest, for want of thine assistance,
Every plant should droop and die.

Surely, once thy garden flourished,

Every part looked gay and green;
Then they word our spirits nourished,
Happy seasons we have seen!
But a drought has since succeeded,
And a sad decline we see;
Lord, they help is greatly needed;
Help can only come from thee.

Where are those we counted leaders,

Filled with zeal, and love, and truth?
Old professors, tall as cedars,

Bright examples to our youth!
Some, in whom we once delighted,
We shall meet no more below;
Some, alas! we fear are blighted,
Scarce a single leaf they show.

Younger plants - the sight how pleasant,

Covered thick with blossoms stood;
But they cause us grief at present,
Frosts have nipped them in the bud!
Dearest Saviour, hasten hither,
Thou canst make them bloom again;
Oh, permit them not to wither,
Let not all our hopes be vain!

Let our mutual love be fervent,

Make us prevalent in prayers;
Let each one esteemed thy servant
Shun the world's bewitching snares;
Break the tempter's fatal power,
Turn the stony heart to flesh;
And begin, from this good hour,
To revive thy work afresh.

----- John Newton

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Young, Restless, Reformed - Collin Hansen

I just finished reading the book Young, Restless, Reformed - A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists by Collin Hansen. The book centers around Hansen's journey over American during the last 2 years interviewing and talking with leaders of the growing Reformed movement. The book is well written making it an easy read. My interest was peaked while reading due to the recognition of many of the names in the book.

While Hansen interviews many of the proponents of Reformed Theology, he also interviews some who oppose it giving it the journalistic flair. Another component of the book is that while Hansen interviews many of the big names in the movement, he also talks with students associated with these well know churches. He finds out their background and how they came to this theology. Each chapter deals with a specific location he has attended to do an interview, but he works other details in as well.

One chapter of interest to me with that of the revival of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention. Hansen begins focusing on the recovery of Southern Seminary and its Calvinistic foundation as seen in the Abstract of Principles. He discusses the effect of this doctrine on the churches with significant attention to one larger church in particular. Again as in most chapters, he quotes from both pro and con.

There is one chapter on John Piper and his influence on this move to Reformed ideas. Another chapter deals with Jonathan Edwards and his influence felt even today. I enjoyed reading what Hansen thought as he held some of the original manuscripts of Edwards. The remaining chapters focused on what I would call "charismatic Calvinists." He interviews leaders in the Sovereign Grace churches as well as the Act 29 Network of churches (of which I confess I had never heard) and mentions several times the influence of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology.

In summary, it was good to read of a younger generation that is moving toward a more Biblical view of salvation. While Hansen had interviewed many lesser known individuals, most of these were associated with these big churches and ministries. Therefore, after reading the last chapter, I was a little disappointed, because I felt Hanson had left out many of those who have always promoted a Reformed view or those of smaller churches glorying God in their work and worship no matter how difficult. These had been overlooked. But, Hansen relived this disappointment in the Epilogue. I will close this blog by quoting from that section:

For nearly two years, I traveled across the country and talked with the leading pastors and theologians of the growing Reformed movement. I sat in John Piper's den, Al Mohler's office, C.J. Mahaney's church, and Jonathan Edwards's college. But the backbone of the Reformed resurgence comprises ordinary churches like those I saw in South Dakota --- churches used by God to do extraordinary things. Armed with God's Word and transformed by the Holy Spirit, these churches' leaders faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ week after week, through tragedy and triumph. . . . Hunger for God's Word. Passion for evangelism. Zeal for holiness. That's not a revival of Calvinism. That's a revival. And it's breaking out in places like Emery, South Dakota.

Book Information

Title: Young, Restless, Reformed - A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists
Author: Collin Hansen
Cover: Paperback
Pages: 160
Dust jacket: No
Indexes: Subject
Publisher: Crossway
Year: 2008
ISBN: 1581349408

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Continual Presence of God

This morning I read the following from the book of Numbers:

Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning. So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night Num. 9:15-16 (NASB) Emphasis added.

The presence of God was continuously with the people. When they woke in the morning with the cloud to when they laid down at night with the pillar of fire, they were always reminded that the God of their deliverance was with them. I can only imagine the great comfort and peace this must have brought to their minds. As believers today, God has promised to do the same for us. He promised and has sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Before His ascension, in Matt. 28.19, Jesus said that "I am with you always." The Hebrews writer tells us that ". . . for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," Heb. 13.5.

We too have the promise that God will never leave us, desert us or forsake us. We have His presence continually and always with us. That is a comfort beyond any that this world may offer. In all circumstances and through every Providence, He is with us working for our best. With David we can also say, "In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety" Ps. 4.8. God is with us and in control

I must imagine, however, that there may have been some in the camp who hated the cloud and fiery pillar. They did not want to be in the presence of God because they loved their sin and desired to revel in it. How true that is even today of those who flee God, suppress His truth and seek what they believe is joy. Paul tells us in Romans 1, however, that since creation His invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature has been clearly seen. He says "that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them" and that they are without excuse. He writes that these people profess to be wise, but in reality have become fools giving worship to things of the creation rather than the Creator. He finishes chapter 1 by writing that these know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things (sin - breaking God's laws) are worthy of death.

I must ask as you read this. Which group do you belong? The one that desires and rejoices in the continual presence of God or the one that would rather not ever be in God's presence. If you are in the latter and continue in your sin, you will get your desire for Jesus will one day say to you "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt 25.41). What terrible words to ever hear. But you still have hope, read and hear the gospel here, believe and follow Jesus.