Sunday, April 29, 2007

2007 Browns Draft Coverage


The Browns were faced with a tough choice: a potential franchise quarterback or a cornerstone left tackle. The question came down to Joe Thomas or Brady Quinn. Their answer? Yes!

The Browns got Joe Thomas at 3, a solid, popular pick with the fan base. And then Quinn started dropping like a stone. Not an indictment on him so much, but not a lot of teams needed a quarterback. Miami took Ted Ginn from Ohio State, an overrated burner instead of Quinn and that may bite them later. I love that Thomas went fishing rather than sitting around waiting to see where he got picked. Hopefully we just got two major building blocks for the next 5-7 years!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Back Home!

And happy to be here. A few thoughts.
  • This year's Toledo Reformed Theological Conference seemed sparsely attended. I think that having it so close to the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology in Grand Rapids hurts, it is back to back weekends so many people had to choose one or the other, and frankly there were "bigger" names in Grand Rapids (but the conference was in no way better!)
  • The difference between a conference with one Bapist and a bunch of Presbyterians versus one with mostly Baptists was clear. The music in Toledo was more contemporary, the talk more preaching than teaching, more evangelistic and less scholarly. It was a nice contrast if you got to go to both.
  • Both churches are huge!
  • I am horribly disillusioned that Steve Camp drives a white mini-van.

Toledo Reformed Theological Conference
Tom Ascol
Christ Knocking

The reason people don’t love Jesus Christ is they don’t know Jesus Christ. The reason we don’t love Him more, is we don’t know Him better. The better we know Him, the more zealous we will be for Him. If we are going to be passionate about Christ we need to be mesmerized by who He is and what He has done in a fresh way.

How does Christ present Himself in Revelation chaper 3, the church at Laodicea
Rev 3: 14-22

Used and misused by those who doubt the sovereign grace of God in salvation. How do we respond to those who suggest impotence on the part of God in salvation? You must look at the rest of the Bible as it deals with effectual calling. The ability and desire to open that door must come from above.

The letter is addressed to a church, to a local church.

The Laodicean church is a wealthy church, but it was in a bad way. Nothing obvious perhaps. They have forgotten that all that they have comes from God, and that is a dangerous attitude.
They were self-dependent
They were also self-deluding. They were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. (Study deceived, deception and see how often we are warned about being deceived)
They are neither warm nor cold, they are lukewarm.
Spurgeon: They did not opposed the Gospel, but they also didn’t defend it
(that was about the fiftieth Spurgeon quote this weekend!)
Their lack of zeal makes Jesus want to puke them out of His mouth.

That is the diagnosis, what is the cure?

The first step is to agree with Him about our condition
The second step is to depend upon Himself, not on ourselves. You figured our how to live without me, but you need to return to dependence on Me. Quit trusting yourself and your attainments.
- We must cultivate in ourselves and our churches, a sensitivity to Jesus. What would happen if Christ withdrew His presence? Would we notice or are we just too busy to miss Him if He were gone?
Don’t misunderstand His chastening. Jesus chastens those He loves.
Repent and believe, with zeal, red hot passion. The Laodiceans were passionless. Value what He values, change your direction.

He not only gives them a prescription, He encourages them (v. 20) to open the door and He will dine with them. The eternal Son of God will dine with them. He is both the eternal Son of God, and meek and humble at the same time.

He knocks to gain access to His own people, this is one of His churches. (these aren’t unbelievers, this is not new communion, this is renewed communion that He seeks). They are so lethargic that they don’t even hear Him.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is never preached without a call of the Gospel, repent and turn away from your sins.

Christ stands outside of His own church, excommunicated not by a vote but by neglect.
Yet He still pleads with them, if anyone, ANY ONE, opens the door I will come in and dine with Him. Any individual.

Toledo Reformed Theological Conference

Don Kistler
1 Corinthians 1:26-2:5

Throughout Paul’s ministry to reminds us that the Gospel is what is important, the power is in the message, not the messenger.
Paul told Timothy the method and the message were fixed. The method is to preach, the message is the Word.
His calling was to preach, to declare the whole counsel of God. My job is to make my people prepared so that when they go out, they might fight their own battles.
Paul never sought to be balanced, he was pretty one tracked. Not big into signs, not really wise, just Christ crucified.
He didn’t want to know anything put Christ crucified.
Where are the pulpits where Christ crucified is the central theme (try Pellston, MI)
The Old Testament leads up to Christ, the New Testament ordinances are celebrations of Him.
The first thing people want to do when they get saved is study eschatology, and they don’t even understand Christology!
The Bible is not a self-help book primarily. There is much that is helpful, but it is primarily about Christ.
We cannot know God without knowing Christ.
If we take the time to slow down and look at the Bible, it will boggle the mind.
What does knowing Christ make us to be?
It makes us crucified to the world
Knowing Him as High Priest
It brings us humility

To know this requires knowing Christ as the second person of the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the work of Christ as a mediator, justification by faith alone, etc.
The person and work of Christ, that should be the focus of our ministry

What Christians around the country are woefully ignorant of: What is God like, and who is Christ and what has He done

What is wrong with being an educated, wise appearing preacher? People are sheep and we have as big a rock star mentality as the rest of the world. If one man can convince you by his gifts of his argument, then someone else can come around who is more persuasive can convince them of something just the opposite.

How ironic that the Living Gospel is the testimony of a dead Redeemer.

When we become passionate about Christ, we will become dispassionate about other things.

Toledo Reformed Theological Conference

Steven Lawson
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep (part 3)

(Buckle Up!)
(verses 19-21 He is not the Son of God because He casts out demons, He casts out demons because He is the Son of God)
John 10: 27-30
Perhaps no other truth sweetens other truths like the doctrine of eternal security.
Eternal security was the bait that drew Spurgeon’s soul to Christ. He feared committing his life to Christ and be unable to finish it. All who start the Christian life complete the Christian life.
If I found Him, He would not give me a temporary salvation, but an eternal life that could not be lost.
It is not a matter of us holding onto Christ, but of Christ holding onto us.
What good is it to be redeemed on the cross if in the end you die lost. What is the point of being effectually called and born again if in the end you die lost.
This is one of the signature texts in the doctrine of eternal security
The power of the shepherds voice (v. 27)
My sheep hear My voice
Those who are not His sheep do NOT hear his voice (v. 26)
They know my voice and I know them, to know them means He loves them
They follow me. That is the response of the sheep to the voice of the shepherd and they will always follow me.
They will not, they cannot, be diverted to another voice. They hear His voice and no other voice. Every other voice is foreign to us and His drowns the others out.
The permanence of eternal life (v. 28)
I give eternal life to them, before which we were dead in trespasses and sin.
Eternal life speaks to the quality of life
i. A Life not of this world, a spiritual life not of this world. Abundant life.
ii. New birth: The life of God in the soul of man (Whitefield)
iii. It is a life unlike any other. The word “eternal” in John’s Gospel is coupled with “life”. Not just getting man out of hell and into heaven, but getting God out of heaven into man.
Eternal life speaks to the duration of life
i. It is a never ending life, can never be undone.
ii. If you can be saved for five years and lose your salvation, you didn’t have eternal life, you had five year life.
The present tense of eternal life (v. 28)
Not that in the future I will give eternal life, I will give NOW eternal life, at the moment of regeneration. Heaven comes to us before we go to heaven.
Present Tense: John 3:15; John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:47; John 6:54; John 17:3
Eternal life is not about a place, it is about a person. Being in heaven is not what makes you secure, Satan fell from heaven.
The protection from eternal perishing (v. 28)
And they shall never perish, a linking thought
Perishing: to be eternally lost in an eternal hell, under the wrath of God. It doesn’t mean extinction or annihilation, away from the God of love and with the God of wrath. You can only hope that you could escape God in hell. He is omnipresent.
The preservation by Christ’s hand (v. 28)
And no one will snatch them out of my hand
Christ holds all His sheep omnipotently in His hand
No one, not false teachers, not temptations, not even ourselves
If you are one of His sheep you would never want to be released and never can be released.
He personally holds us in His hand. There is no guardian angel watching over us, it is Christ holding us, watching over us, placed there by the Father.
There is nothing you can do to be placed in His hand, and there is nothing you can do to be released
The preservation by the Father’s Hand (v. 29)
My Father who has given them to Me is greater than them all
Held jointly by both the Father and the Son.
He holds us, and upholds us, and establishes us
Even after He puts us in the Son’s Hand, He never lets go of us. We remain His permanent possession.
The partnership of the Godhead (v. 30)
I and the Father are one. Not one person (Modalism), but one. One in substance, one essence, one nature, one aim, one purposes, one goal, one mission, one will, one work, one enterprise
The Arminian fractures and divides the Godhead
i. The Father looks down the tunnel of time to see who would accept Christ, and then chooses those sinners as His. I will choose those who will choose His Son. Christ will die for all, the Father will choose those who believe, the Holy Spirit will woo those who hear the preaching.
ii. The Father works with one group, the Son with another group, and the Spirit with a totally distinct third group
But the Bible teaches that I and the Father are one.
i. The unity of the Godhead argues most powerfully to argue for the doctrine of Particular Redemption/Limited Atonement.
ii. That is why we baptize in the name of the Trinity.

Salvation is pictured in 1 Peter as an ark, and there is only one door, sealed from the outside by God almighty.
We are not bragging on ourselves, we are bragging on the Lord.
The Passion and Priority of Worship: The Glory of Christ (Heb 2:9-18)
Steve Camp
The Crowned Servant (Heb 2:9)
He is sufficient for all things, for creation, salvation, justification and sanctification.
He must increase and I must decrease
We see Him (revelation) lower than the angels (incarnation) crowned with glory (coronation) suffering death (humiliation) tasting death (justification) (he was firing these two fast for me to type up)
Written to young Jews being seduced back into legalism
Jesus is the firstborn, the preeminence, greater than all.
Our society is fascinated by angels.
Philippians 2:6-8 Poured Himself out, in submission
Jesus will never be all you need until He is all you have
The Captain of Salvation (Heb 2:10)
To be made perfect in suffering
Only He has walked the path that none other can
We shouldn’t be surprised when a unbelieving world acts like an unbelieving world.
Christ the Sanctifier (Heb 2:11)
He set Himself apart from glory to the cross so that we may be set apart from this world.
He is not ashamed to call us brothers.
But are we ashamed to call Him our Lord?
Christ the conqueror of Satan (Heb 12:14-15)
We all share in flesh and blood, so He also took what was common to us (flesh) but foreign to Him.
The cross was not the defeat of the Son of God by Satan. It was Christ crushing the head of the serpent.
Many preachers on TV are offering us what Satan offered Christ, all prosperity and no cross.

Toledo Reformed Theological Conference

Tom Ascol
Jesus, our High Priest
Hebrews 4:14-16
There is one mediator between man and God, you can’t go to God without Jesus Christ. All this God talk is gibberish. If you don’t have Jesus Christ, all this talk about how religious you are, how spiritual you are.
What does a mediator do? Brings together parties that have been estranged, and seeks an acceptable resolution.
By our nature we come into the world as God’s enemy.
What does Jesus do for His people? He does the work of prophet, priest and king.
In the Old Testament we see men appointed to act in these roles, but they were but types and shadows of the Christ to come.
The truths about Jesus our High Priest

Hebrews written to Jews who had come to Christ. They knew the rituals and rites of Judaism that seem so foreign to us, ceremonies setting the stage over centuries to prepare the way of Christ.
Heb 5:1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
Heb 5:2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.
Heb 5:3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.
He ordained that there would be human priests to carry out his sacrificial system. But the Old Testament priestly system was inadequate, it could not do what only Christ could do. The one offering the sacrifices was a sinner himself and needed to atone for his own sin.

Jesus is an exalted High Priest (v. 14)
Jesus as the great High Priest has gained access not to a physical holy of holies, but of the heavenly holy of holies, the real presence of God, gaining entrance by His own blood. (Heb 6:19-20, 9:24)
Those who are in Christ have Him as High Priest, because it was not the blood of bulls and goats that He shed, it was His own perfect blood.
The temple veil was torn in two, from top to bottom.
He must be both God and man, He must be human (Heb 2:17). Someone from among us to represent us, but what He accomplished was more than what any mere man could accomplish, even a perfect man could not do it, only a man who was also deity, who was also God.
Something infinite became finite
Every high priest in the Old Testament era died, but our High Priest, having tasted death has conquered death once and for all.
Jesus is a sympathetic High Priest (v. 15)
We don’t have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with us
i. To suffer for us, but also to suffer with us.
ii. As a real man, He felt the full weight of human temptation
iii. He triumphed over every temptation of life, greater temptation that we could ever experience. How could He without a sinful nature truly understand temptation. Because He never gave in, only He understand how tempting sin is.
Because He resisted all, He is able to provide help in our times of need.

- Let therefore hold fast
- Let us come boldly
- Not irreverently, flippantly.
- Because He has experienced everything we have, His is not a throne of judgment, it is a throne of grace. We can cast ourselves on His mercy.

Toledo Reformed Theological Conference


Saturday Morning Session
Steve Lawson
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep (part 2)
John 10:7-18

Another great sermon from Lawson, he is quite a preacher. This conference is more preaching than academic, but that makes sense given all the Baptists here versus the Presbyterians in Grand Rapids.

The shepherd was the most familiar occupation in ancient Israel, due in large part to the nature and geography of the land. The land is rough and rocky, rising 3000 feet above sea level, of little use for anything other than the raising of sheep.
Two different sheepfolds
- verses 1 to 6, the community sheepfold, where many flocks mingled, guarded by a doorkeeper and called out by their shepherd by name.
- verses 7 A different sheepfold. A small sheepfold, built by the shepherd for only his own flock.
The first guarded by the doorkeeper, the second by the shepherd himself.
The first they are called out, the second they are brought in.
The first, the elect and the non-elect, the second only the elect sheep.
The central themes of verses 7-18
- The exclusive claim of Christ
- The excellent character of Christ
- The eternal covenant with Christ
The exclusive claim of Christ (v. 7-10)
The great “I AM” statement. Jesus takes this name to Himself, a declaration of His deity, of His authority.
In ancient times, the shepherds slept in the doorway of the sheepfold. He would be the door, the sheep would pass through him to enter and there was no other way to get into the sheepfold.
He alone is the door, the access to heaven. He is not “a” door, one of many ways to God, He is the way, the only way, a exclusive path. He is the door for the sheep, and only His sheep. No goats get in.
“ALL” who came before Me are thieves and robbers. All who preceded Jesus and all who have come since are liars, thieves.
(What does a door do? A door opens and closes. It allows access and it bars access. He is not a doorman at a fancy hotel, with a tuxedo and a top hat, who tips his hat as he lets people in.)
The gate is wide and there are many who find it that lead to destruction (there is plenty of room in hell) and narrow is the gate and few find it that leads to salvation
(When the wolves come, only those in the sheepfold will be saved for the shepherd will save them. Those who are not protected by the shepherd have no defense from the ravenous wolves)
They will be saved from hell, from the wolves, from God Himself and His wrath.
(Presenting the Gospel again)
The sheep go in and out. The out and out Christian is an in and out sheep. They come in at night, through the Good Shepherd, for protection but they go out in the day. Only the shepherd can lead the sheep to green pastures and still waters, the wandering sheep will never find it on their own.
False shepherds come only to steal, to fleece the flock, to take. The Good Shepherd comes to give. What does He give? In a nutshell He gives life, life abundantly. Abundantly: to have more than is needed (Matthew 14:20)(Eph 1:8)(Rom 5:17)
Have you received the second blessing? Are you kidding? The second blessing is to realize that you received all you would ever need in the first blessing.
The excellent character of Christ (v.11-15)
The GOOD shepherd. So noble, so superior, so infinitely good.
Why is He so good? Because He lays down His life for the sheep.
The false shepherds kill the sheep, the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. (1 Cor 15:3)Gal 1:4)(Matt 20:28)(Gal 2:20)
The hired hand does what he does for pay, not for love. He is not concerned about the sheep. The Shepherd lays down His life, His concern is for them, not Himself.
I AM the Good Shepherd. I and I alone. I know them, not just about them, but He KNOWS them. Depart from me who work iniquity, I never knew you.
Only a shepherd could love sheep.
One of the distinguishing marks of Biblical theology is the intentional death of Christ for His sheep. He did not lay down His life for those who are not His sheep. He died not to make salvation possible, but to accomplish salvation. He laid down His life for all those chosen by and given to Him by His Father in heaven.
The eternal covenant with Christ (v. 16-18)
The covenant between the Father and the Son. Before time began I chose the sheep and gave them to the Son, before the worlds were created.
I have other sheep, not of this fold. The elect not of the Jews, the elect Gentiles. Notice the certainty with which they respond “I must, they will” I must bring them and they will listen. Spurgeon “I love God’s shalls and wills” Men break their word. With God, they SHALL come. If God says the shall come, they will come. Can God make me a Christian, yes!
It doesn’t ask for consent, it gives it! You say, I don’t want to be saved, Christ says you shall!
He did not die as a martyr, he gave Himself as a Savior. He laid down His life on His own initiative.

When the wolves come, the Good Shepherd stands in the door and says you can’t have them, these are Mine!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Toledo Reformed Theological Conference


General Session

Friday Evening


Steven Lawson had perhaps the best talk of the evening, quite a rousing sermon on the first 6 verses of John 10 (with the rest to follow) Pastor Lawson preached a rock solid, Gospel focused, no holds barred, unapologetically Calvinist sermon. Good stuff, and you can believe that when I finish the life of Abraham in Genesis and start preaching through the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to John, when I hit chapter 10 I am going to borrow liberally from Pastor Lawson's materials! If you buy any CDs from the Toledo Reformed Theological Conference, this is the one to get!


Steve Lawson
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep (part 1)

His golfing is like his preaching, it is long, to the right and usually gets him in trouble.
(He sounds kind of like President Bush the Senior)

John 10:1-6
Jesus reveals Himself as the Good Shepherd of our souls. He guides and guards us. Feed us and leads us, even lays down His life for us. Examples of the shepherd image in the Old Testament...

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd
Psalm 78:52 But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
Psa 100:3 Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Isa 40:11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
Jer 31:10 "Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.'
Mic 5:4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.
Mic 7:14 Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, who dwell alone in a forest in the midst of a garden land; let them graze in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old.
Eze 34:11-12 11 "For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness

Nine key features

1. Note the false shepherds (v. 1). He begins by identifying the Pharisees to themselves, God’s indictment. The do not come the lawful way, they come to steal and slaughter. All you corrupt the Gospel of Jesus Christ are thieves and robbers, the children and grandchildren of these robbers. It will be this way until the end of the age.

2. The sheepfold. There are two sheepfolds. The first one is the community sheepfold in town, with many different flocks of sheep. The second in verse 7 and on, it is out of town, the countryside sheepfold. The community sheepfold here is Judaism. (Thieves and robbers can’t break into heaven, and it isn’t the church because the shepherd lead them out of the sheepfold.) The sheepfold represents all dead religion. All true sheep must be and will not be left in this sheepfold.

3. The true shepherd (v. 2) Contrasted with the false shepherd. The true shepherd comes in a different fashion, he comes in the door, legally and in the right fashion. He is the true owner of the sheep, His sheep are His possession because the Father gave them to Him. He lays down His life for them.

4. Note the door. He, singular, who enters by the door is the true shepherd; those who do not are false, plural false shepherds. There are many false shepherds, but only one true shepherd. The others are breaking in, self-appointed saviors of the sheep.

5. The sheep. Verses 2-4, sheep mentioned four times. Who are these sheep? The ones within Israel who hear the shepherds voice, called by name, led out by the shepherd and follow the shepherd wherever He leads them, they are His own sheep. Those given to Him by the Father from all eternity, the elect sheep, the chosen sheep, chosen before time began. They, we, are His inheritance from the Father. But not everyone in Israel is one of His sheep. There are elect sheep among Israel but also from among the nations. See John 6:37. They were given long before the sheep heard His voice. It is not necessarily a compliment to us to be called sheep: wayward, easily led astray, defenseless. Isa 53:6. (Not everyone is a sheep and not every who claims to be a shepherd is a herald of the true Shepherd)

6. The doorkeeper. Verse 3. To Jesus, the doorkeeper opens the door. Who is the doorkeeper? Two possible answers. It could be God the Father or the Holy Spirit, who vouches for the genuineness of the Shepherd to the sheep. Or it could be John the Baptist, the one who was the voice crying in the wilderness. The latter is preferred by Steven Lawson.

7. The shepherds voice (v. 3). Why do the sheep follow Him? They hear His voice and know His voice. The sheepfold is full of sheep, from all manner of flocks, led by all sorts of shepherds. In the morning comes the one true Shepherd, presents Himself to the doorkeeper and the doorkeeper recognizes Him and gives Him access. He calls them by name, individually, one at a time. When He calls them, they hear Him and the others who aren’t called don’t hear Him and ignore Him and go about their business. But those who hear their name called, while the others keep grazing, oblivious, they hear His voice and lift their heads and follow. The effectual call of the Shepherd for His sheep, called by name by His voice. It is a vast flock, a huge number, but it is a finite number. 2 Peter 1:9 . Every use of the Word call in the epistles refers to the effectual call to the sheep to the Shepherd. He called us, what did we provide? We provided the sin.

8. The shepherds leading. Leads them besides still waters, in the green pasture, He leads them out. He doesn’t leave them in dead religion. He leads them out to a place where they may be fed and nurtured. He leads us by His Word, His voice.

9. The strangers voice. As they are led out of town by the shepherd, many other voices will call out to the sheep, trying to seduce them to go back to the other sheep (v. 5) A stranger they will not follow. They will flee from them, from every other perverting shepherd because they do not know their voices. The voice of Tillich, Bultmann, the voice of the Pope, the voice of Brigham Young, the voice of Muhammad are the voices of strangers and His sheep will not follow. Why does God allow false prophets? To pull the tares out of the sheep, to purify the church, to draw away those who are not His sheep away from those who are. Pink said that the man of the world can listen to preachers, one preaching truth and one falsehood, and he cannot tell. But the child of God can will immediately recognize the falsehood of vile teachers. Hearing the voice is not the same as making an emotional decision, joining a church, hearing an audible voice. You hear that you are a great sinner and Christ is a great savior. (Again, a Baptist preacher declaring the Gospel, not assuming we are saved!) Go to the Shepherd and there you will find life and life abundantly.


Toledo Reformed Theological Conference
General Conference
Friday Evening

Philip DeCourcey
Our loss for His gain

(i wasn't sure what to expect from Pastor DeCourcey, I figured he was filling in because they couldn't line somebody else up, but he was pretty good. Kind of repetitive in places, and gesticulated a bit too much, plus he sounds like Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons so it was hard to understand him at times, but all and all pretty good! Ye moost have feeeth!)

"Treat your guns like you would an Irishman, always assume they are loaded!"

Philippians 3: 1-11

The church, and not only the world, need to grow in appreciation of Jesus Christ. Pray to know the One he knows. Rejoice, indeed boast in Christ Jesus.

If Christ is everything, then everything for Christ.

We will not purse Him passionately if we don’t prize Him passionately

I lost nothing, I gained everything.

- Paul’s evaluation
Salvation is an exchange, profit into loss and loss into profit

In developing a passion for Christ we will expose anything in our life that takes the shine off the glory of our Savior.
Christ is not comparative, Christ is superlative.

- Paul’s devaluation
Paul is appraising his life afresh
Paul liquidated any value he placed on himself
Anything that hinders progression must be discarded
Christ is the treasure and anything that hindered appreciating Him was trash to be tossed aside

He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose

- Paul’s reevaluation
Paul knew what he wanted and was willing to pay any price for it
On that day of final judgment he wanted to be found cloaked in the righteousness of Christ. Paul revels in what he has in the Lord Jesus Christ. Being found in Him on that day.

Building a passion for Christ begins in justification, and everything else builds on that. I can be no more saved or no more loved at any point than I was at the time I was saved.

Christ is what counts tomorrow, but He is also what counts today.
To know Him, that is what really counts today. Do we really know the value of His imputed righteousness? We ought to develop that relationship? Paul knew Christ but he wanted to know Him better. He was not just a series of theological propositions. Studying the Bible is not an end to itself. We study the written Word so that we may have a conversation with the Living Word. Knowledge of the text does not replace knowledge of Him (but how are we to know Him without knowing His Word?) Multiple comments on how Christ was more that a series of theological propositions, not sure if that was a shot at the crowd or what...
(man, during the last break Camp was putting a hurtin’ on the snack tables!)

Toledo Reformed Theological Conference
General Session Friday
Tom Ascol
The Cross Our Only Boast
Galatians 6:11-18
Addressing the problem of false teachers. Trusting Jesus was not enough, they must also keep the Old Testament ceremonies.
Faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone+NOTHING
(Dr. Ascol starts off right away by addressing unbelievers in the audience, which is great. It is easy to assume that those at a conference like this would all be saved, but you can never assume that and never should stand in the pulpit without calling sinners to repentance)
We are all born legalists and have that tendency always within us.
Gal 3:2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
Is grace but the threshold into right relationship with God, faith gets you in but works get you on? That thought keeps us from treasuring Jesus Christ.
For a Christian the cross of Jesus Christ is everything.

There are some things that we love to talk about. There is something everyone glories in, that we can talk quickly and joyfully about. But what do we take the greatest joy in, boast the most about? For the Judaizers it was performance.
The Judaizers added to the Gospel by requiring new Gentile believers to be circumcised, so that “they may boast in your flesh.” (v. 13). Their boast was in their performance not in the cross of Christ.

But not even those who are circumcised keep the Law.

Their keeping of certain ceremonies meant nothing
Gal 6:15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
Keeping circumcision means nothing, not being circumcised means nothing.

It would be a mistake to assume that because we are here at a Reformed Christian conference, that we are freed from legalism or that we are freed from sin. (Tom is presenting the Gospel again. That is the sign of a true soul winner, a true evangelist!)

To any degree that we allow our performance to be part of the foundation that God finds us forgiven, we are not valuing Jesus Christ and His cross.
We you are having a good day, you will feel good about yourself, and the opposite when you don’t do devotions or witnessing. The basis cannot be in our performance.

Legalists boast in their performance, Christians boast in the cross of Christ.
Christ’s cross work saves us. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. If you sin, someone has to die.

Behold the Lam of God! Here He is, the perfect sacrifice!

How does the cross save a sinner?
By Christ dying in the place of sinners. He loved me and gave Himself for me, and His death has completely paid my sins.

Read Pilgrim’s Progress. You might be able to get into heaven without reading it by why take any chances?!

We should glory in, rejoice in, boast in the cross for what it has done for us but also for what it has done to us.
Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Three crucifixions in verse 14
- The cross of the Jesus Christ
- The world’s cross
- The Christians cross

( I suddenly feel woefully inadequate in my preaching…thanks Tom)

The cross of Jesus Christ changes how you view yourself and what is important and valuable to you. The world is crucified to us. We are crucified to the world.

Not just the justification but the sanctification

Richard Baxter: When your flesh would have it’s pleasure, remember Him who’s flesh had no pleasure…

Everything good thing that has come to us was bought for us on the cross of Jesus Christ

Toledo Reformed Theological Conference


Preconference Afternoon Session


Steve Camp
A Passion for the Gospel

The Gospel is not an offer, the Gospel is a command.
Deny oneself and take up the cross of Jesus Christ
God is not an impotent spectator in the glory of salvation

The Heart of the Gospel
Romans 3:21-26


Through the law comes the recognition of sin. It is an injustice to divorce the law from the Gospel. Under the law we stand condemned. But under the righteousness of Christ we receive forgiveness of sins in the redeeming of Christ on the cross.

The punishes and is the justifier
This passage contains all five solas of the Reformation

- Sola Scripture
The cross declares the Word of God (v. 21)
Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—

The Old Testament is not an inferior revelation
He took the wrath of the law for us. That is the good news of the Gospel.

- Sola Fide
The cross defines salvation as the work of God (v. 22)
Rom 3:22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

Two types of religion, human achievement and divine achievement. Every other religion are based on a system of works righteousness. It is hard to give up boasting in the flesh.

The work of God in man, not the work of man before God.
Salvation defines faith, salvation is defined by faith

- Soli Deo Gloria
The cross demands the justice of God
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
No matter what we do, our righteousness is as filthy rags before God.
We love our sin, and hate to leave it behind. It is heart rending to part with our sins, like a divorce.

- Sola Gratia
The cross distinguishes the grace of God
Rom 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Salvation is an unearned blessing, flying in the face of Roman merit. Justified= declared righteous. It is a matter of imputation, our sin imputed to Christ and His righteousness imputed to us. He was treated as if He lived our life and we are treated as if we lived His.
The good news is not a system it is a Savior.

Solus Christus
The cross displays the satisfaction of God
Rom 3:25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
The merits of the cross reach backward as well as forward.
Sins do not go unpunished.
Propitiation: To avert wrath, to avert anger.
God doesn’t love the sinner and hate the sin. God hates the sin and the sinner.
We can’t just say God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,
The Gospel doesn’t begin with the love of God, it begins with God Himself, a holy and just God.
God didn’t turn His back on Christ because He couldn’t look on sin. Christ was forsaken, but God didn’t turn His back because He couldn’t look on sin, on the cross Jesus was face to face on our behalf as a propitiatory sacrifice on our behalf.

The cross demonstrates the Righteousness of God
Christ as the spotless lamb was sacrificed for us. He went as High Priest on our behalf into the Holy of Holies on the cross. When the sun went dark, the wrath of God poured out on Christ for all the sins that would ever be committed by all who would ever believe.
“Vicarious penal substitutionary atonement”
My God, My God why have You forsaken Me
He didn’t turn away because He couldn’t face sin, He looked on Christ and saw every sin, and Christ drank the cup and God was satisfied.
When He declared “It is finished” He satisfied the Law.
The emphasis is not will a sinful man come to God, but will God come to a sinful man, and the answer is in the cross.
The Gospel is not an offer it is a sovereign command

The Cross delights the person of God
Rom 3:26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Why? Because He enjoys all the glory.
He is enough, complete in Christ

Toledo Reformed Theological Conference
Preconference Afternoon Session
Don Kistler
A Passion for Obedience
Titus 2: 11-15

Christ came to do the will of the Father. Compliance removes the charge of force. He agreed to be crucified to make propitiation for the sins of His people. He knew full well what awaited Him, nothing in His earthly ministry was a surprise to Him, and still He said “yes”.

Infinite suffering in a finite amount of time.

You do not believe because you are not of My sheep.
We obey His voice in His Word, and if we are His sheep we obey Him. (John 10)
When our hard hearts are softened, we hear His voice and do what He says for no other reason other than He said so.

We gather together if we are His sheep because He says to. Anyone who regularly forsakes sitting under the ministry of His Word casts doubt on that persons claims to be a Christian. If they do not hear His voice with regularity, they will forget what His voice sounds like and follow other voices.

If we keep His commandments. If we are not keeping His commandments we cannot know that we are following Him, and then casts doubt on whether we are His sheep at all.

Titus 2:11
God gave Christ and Christ gave Himself. He is both the giver and the gift. Gave Himself to God and for us.

There are only two things we need to be saved from:
- Sin. His name is Jesus because He came to save His people from their sins.
- The wrath to come. If we deal with 1, we don’t have to deal with 2.

Sanctification (v. 14)
He is purifying us for Himself.
He didn’t purify us so He can redeem us, that is Roman Catholicism.
He redeemed us so that He could purify us.
He gave Himself for us so He could redeem us, so that He could purify us for Himself, so that we would be zealous for Him.

Three damnable heresies
1. We must add our faith to be saved. Faith is not a meritorious work. We are not saved by faith, we are saved by Him. Our sin is removed, His righteousness is added.
Hell without God would be heaven to a sinner.
2. Repentance is a work, and therefore repentance is not necessary for salvation. We must obey, but our obedience has no merit.
3. We don’t have to do good works. A faith without good works is dead.

We are saved from something to something else, from sin to good works. No one saved from this without that.

Toledo Reformed Theological Conference




Another great talk, by the perennial Steve Camp. Steve has a unique passion that is infectious. Saw Tom Ascol from Founders this morning as well, he looks taller on the internet!


Steven J. Camp
A Passion for Prayer

-.Colossians 1: 9-14

Six elements
1. The fervent in prayer (v. 9a)
a. Ephesians 1:16
b. Pray on no matter what, even when you think your prayers have gone unanswered.
c. We pray with contrition, with a broken and contrite heart. A broken heart before God is never unfruitful.
d. God still speaks today, though His Spirit, by His Word.
e. Does God hear the prayers of everyone? Job 27:8-10, Proverbs 15:20, John 9:31
2. Filled with His Word, filled with the knowledge of His Will (v. 9b)
a. Col 2:3, Col 3:10, Col 4:12
b. Prayer is one of the great pastoral callings and labors.
c. For the Christian, the Scripture provides absolutes
d. Satan doesn’t want to attack the church, he wants to join it. Filling it with error.
i. Knowing God’s will
1. Spirit filled Eph 5:17-18
2. Sanctification 1 Thess 4:3
3. Submissive 1 Pet 13, 15
4. Suffering 1 Pet 4:19
5. Sacrifices, Living Romans 12:1-2
6. Shepherd God’s People 1 Pet 5:2-3
7. Steadfast in faith Heb 10:35-36
8. Sovereignly Content 1 Thess 5:16-17
9. Supplication 1 Thess 5:17
10. Saying Thanks 1 Thess 5:18
3. Faithful to walk worthy (v. 10a)
a. NOT legalism
b. Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
c. Not being judgmental on superficial issues, but holding ourselves to the standards of Christ.
d. Fruit-bearing in every good work (v10b), fruitlessness is not an option, not a works righteousness, but true fruit of regeneration
e. Fully increasing in the knowledge of God (v10b)
i. No one lives greater than his view of god
f. Fortified for joyous long-suffering (v. 11)
g. Forever thankful to God (v12a)
i. Psalm 34
4. Fit for the inheritance
a. Spurgeon, if you knew how depraved I am , you wouldn’t compliment me so.
b. We are great sinners, but He is a greater Savior! I love Him much because He has forgiven much.
c. An imperishable inheritance
5. Freedom from Sin (Camp is going overtime as usual!)
6. Forgiveness of sin

The office of pastor is open only to a few, but the prayer closet is open to everyone.

Toledo Reformed Theological Conference
Excellent talk from Don Kistler, an excellent speaker, not flashy, with a dry sense of humor that I appreciate. Some thoughts from this morning below...
You know you are at a Reformed Theology Conference….

When you see an attractive young woman with a T-shirt that says: “Calvinism. This T-shirt chooses me.”

Good times!


What are you passionate about? Is our passion properly focused on the One who is worthy of our passion, our desire?

Passion is not feelings. Passion is stronger, less fleeting.
Don Kistler
A Passion for Christ

- 1 Peter 1:22-2:8

True Christian strives but do not succeed to have God’s esteem for Christ and Christ’s desire to honor the Father. The character, the goal of a Christian.

God is passionate about His Son Jesus Christ.

To you who believe He is precious (He is an honor)
If He is not precious to you, you are not a Christian.
1Pe 2:8 and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

The Bible never offers Christ to sinners as Savior and Lord. He must be Lord to be Savior. He is always referred to as Lord and Savior.

Christ is precious because He is precious to God.


There are a lot of people that are passionate about a Christ that doesn’t exist!
He must be the revealed Son of God that we are passionate about.
You cannot have a Christ of your imagination, of your choosing. You cannot have half a Christ.
He saves His people from their sins, not in their sins.
False religions are passionate about the false gods, and are often more passionate about their false gods than many Christians are about the real God.
“if you have the true religion why have you never been to my door?”

We have to take all of Christ or we can have none of Christ.
If Christ is precious His Word is precious
If Chris is precious His church is precious
If Christ is precious His ordinances are precious.
His law is as precious as His grace (Amen!)

If He is precious, we want to know Him more so we may esteem Him more

We show that Christ is precious to us by hating anything that is displeasing to Him.

That is the question: Is Christ precious to you?

What will the Browns do?

Probably something dumb

The draft is tomorrow and in about a day the Browns will make their pick, probably the second overall selection.

I would love to see them take Joe Thomas out of Wisconsin, or even drop back a few spots, get extra picks and STILL get Thomas. I am terrified they will take Quinn, who has never impressed me and especially with his self-serving campaigning to be the top pick. Calvin Johnson would be huge but I doubt he will be available. Adrian Peterson is a gifted athlete but one who seems to attract freak injuries. Even freak injuries seem to hit certain people more often than others. PLEASE take Thomas and built around him. Give the QB, whoever he is and the RB, whoever he is some time and holes to run through and we will have a better team for the long term.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Off to Toledo!

Time for week two of the Reformed theology conference marathon. On tap this weekend, the Toledo Reformed Theological Conference. This year the theme is "Developing a Passion for Christ" Speakers include Steve Camp (a perennial at Toledo), Don Kistler from Soli Deo Gloria books, Steve Lawson and Tom Ascol from Founders Ministries. Should be great stuff! Hopeful I will have the time to jot down some thoughts during the day...

Monday, April 23, 2007

The "Prophet" thinks the Nicene Creed is confusing?

In advance of the mormonism miniseries on PBS, they released a brief video clip (about 10 minutes long) on the Religion and Ethics page. It gives a quick overview of mormonism, and more importantly gives a fair amount of time to critics of the mormon church. One of the oddest parts was listening to Gordon Hinckley (it looks like he is at a General Conference perhaps) describe the Nicene Creed as confusing...

"Personally, I cannot understand it. To me the creed is confusing."

One of the most basic statements of the Christian faith is confusing? The modern day reigning prophet on earth is unable to understand it? Here it is, I guess I don't find it all that confusing....

I believe in one God,the Father Almighty,maker of heaven and earth,and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ,the only begotten Son of God,begotten of his Father before all worlds,God of God, Light of Light,very God of very God,begotten, not made,being of one substance with the Father;by whom all things were made;who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven,and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary,and was made man;and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;he suffered and was buried;and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,and ascended into heaven,and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;and he shall come again, with glory,to judge both the quick and the dead;whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son];who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;who spake by the Prophets.And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;and I look for the resurrection of the dead,and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

That is easy to understand if you read and understand the Bible.
He is sounding a little doddering. The interview was mostly with Dallin Oaks, who still is an excellent communicator. I am pretty hopeful for the four hour version, that it won't be a puff piece and demonize Christians who witness to mormons as meanies picking on the poor, defenseless mormons.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Final Session
Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology - Grand Rapids, MI

I didn't take a lot of notes, I was a bit groggy from all the driving and the preaching. Good stuff but it was a lot to absorb all at once. Ligon Duncan preached on The Sufficient Word and it was excellent. Now for a day of my own preaching (I would rather listen to Dever, Duncan and Carson!) and then a week of work and back at it next weekend at the Toledo Reformed Theological Conference!

A few other thoughts...

  • Again it was nice to see so many younger people in attendance. Everyone seemed very engaged and I saw lots of note taking.
  • The sessions proved that we can, and should, prepare for worship and indeed engage in worship in a serious, solemn manner. No praise brands, no power point, just people singing the great hymns of the church with a brass quintet and organ accompaniment.

The Sufficient Word

Ligon Duncan

2 Timothy 3: 14-17

Live by the book (verses 14-15)
Live by the book because it comes right out of God’s mouth (verses 16-17)
- Inspired
- Sufficient for salvation

God’s Word is contains the whole counsel of God regarding:
His own Glory
Man’s Salvation

The most important thing to remember about the sufficiency of Scripture is to recognize what Scripture is. God’s Word is adequate to do what He intends it to do.

It is an act of the highest worship to hear the Word of God proclaimed.

Evangelism and edification
Salvation and sanctification
Faith & life

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Afternoon Seminar
Mark Dever
John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation
Very interesting talk from Dr. Dever on the role of John Calvin in the Protestant Reformation. I picked his talk and my friend Rick went to D.A. Carson's seminar on recent challenges to the authority of Scripture. I figured Dever's talk should be good and besides, Baptists gotta stick together!
John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation

Mark Dever

A.D. 1536
John Calvin settle in Geneva. 27 years old Published First edition of his Institutes in November. Became public lecturer in religion along with Farrel (sp?) to teach Protestantism. Sought to excommunicate any who failed to reject Rome and was kicked out of Geneva.
The 21 articles of the Geneva Convention. Number one, the authority of the Word of God. “The Bible comes first”

Prior to this: Rome recognized the Bible as wholly true, as well as the deuterocanonical Apocrypha. The Vulgate, Latin, became the official Bible of the church. Laity was forbidden to read the Scripture. “Holy Scripture should be a secret in some places” Translation into the language of the people was forbidden in response to the Lollards. It was considered abuse to give people the Word in their own language.

Reformation: removal of Apocrypha, reestablish the authority of the Scripture, reject apostolic tradition as divine revelation.

Priests did not give Mass with teaching from the Scriptures. Studies focused on teachings of Anselm et al and priests often Biblically illiterate.

How was the Scripture related to the church?

Four sources of authority: Scripture, tradition, reason, experience.

Luther pitted the Scripture against tradition to cleanse the Scriptural authority. Calvin preached every Sunday morning, Sunday night, plus every weekday (not Saturday) That is the ministers God, to give the people God’s Word.

Five Reformation answers to Five Roman questions:
Which came first, the Bible or the church? Rome holds the church preceded the Bible. Calvin disagreed obviously. Scriptural authority is not granted to it by the church. God’s people have never made God’s Word, God’s Word has made God’s people.
Is the Bible enough? Sola Scripture. Calvin: The scriptures are the sole rule of perfect wisdom. The core understanding of Calvin and all of the Reformers. The Bible is clear in all means necessary for salvation. Sola Scriptura is not a Protestant belief, it is a Biblical belief.
What is the ministers job? Chiefly is a minister of the Word and the teaching of the understanding of the Word, the centrality of preaching. The sermon is the center of worship. Romans think they get God’s grace through their mouth, Protestants know we get God’s grace through our ears. Encourage your pastor, this is his main calling, the preaching of God’s Word.
What did the Bible teach? The Gospel! To offer and set forth Christ to us.
Who should understand the Bible? The perspicuity of Scripture. Calvin started out writing prefaces to Bible translations in the vulgar languages. Everyone can and should understand the Scriptures. Facilitating the reading of Scripture for those who are “humble and uneducated”. The reading of Scripture does not undermine the office of minister.
Dever's strongest admonition: " Find a church where the Bible is regularly taught and join that church." Truer words have rarely been spoken.

Saturday Afternoon Session


Philip Ryken

The Accessible Word


Very good talk this afternoon on the accessiblity and perspicuity of the Word of God by Philip Ryken....


Afternoon Session
Philip Ryken

The Accessible Word

Sola Scriptura, the Bible alone. Our only guide of faith and practice, not the pope, not the church, not the individual.

The spread of the Reformation was accomplished by giving the people the Word in their own language, rather than in Latin which separated the people from the Word of God.

Tyndale: put the Bible into the people’s hands. When the Bible is read it can be understood: the perspicuity of Scripture.

The publication of the Bible is a matter of life and death.

The perspicuity of the Bible is still under attack today by the Roman church (Why else would we need an infallible teaching magisterium of the church)

The attack from the emergent church movement. Inerrancy, authority are meaningless, only the utility is important.

Claiming we have a clear Word from God makes us intolerant, and quite possible dangerous.

Objections to the perspicuity of Scripture
The nature of God Himself, God is a transcendent mystery and cannot be understood..
The role of the church. The church must make the Bible clear. The Roman argument.
The humanity of Scripture. Human language intrinsically fallible.
The variety of interpretations.
Scripture itself. The Bible claims itself to unclear (the Ethiopian eunuch)

Perspicuity of Scripture: It’s central message of salvation in Christ is accessible to anyone. The scripture is able to make you wise. The Bible can and should be read by all people everywhere.

Not all parts of the Bible are equally clear, but those Scriptures required for salvation certainly are clear to anyone. Peter struggled with some stuff written by Paul, but understood fully those needed for saving knowledge.

His sheep recognize His voice, but goats do not. The problem is not with the Bible but with the scoffer.

Two main reason why we can be sure the Bible is sufficient.
The character of God. The Scriptures bear the imprint of God. God is a speaking God, all throughout the Bible. He speaks so that we can know unto salvation.
The Bible itself says it is clear. Jesus and His apostles treated the Word of God as clear and unambiguous. Jesus responded to the temptations of Satan in the wilderness with Scriptures.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14
Deu 30:11 "For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.
Deu 30:12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?'
Deu 30:13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?'
Deu 30:14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

Psa 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

2 Kings 22: 8-13
2Ki 22:8 And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, "I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD." And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.
2Ki 22:9 And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, "Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD."
2Ki 22:10 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it before the king.
2Ki 22:11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.
2Ki 22:12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying,
2Ki 22:13 "Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us."

Philadelphia Reformed Theological Conference - Grand Rapids, MI
Q&A section
Ligon Duncan: The role of historical context in Biblical interpretation
- Our suppositions about the context should not dominate the text itself. The Word is clear.
Carson: What is a good book on the life of John Newton
There is not a great one out, but a new book is coming out, associate pastor at Reformed Baptist church of Little Rock, Todd Murray. The letters of John Newton.
Carson: regarding Matthew 11:11 doesn’t it say that Moses and John the Baptist are equal, not that John is greater.
No. It SAYS none are greater than John the Baptist.
Dever: The role of extrabiblical archaelogical evidence in the reliability of Scripture.
Not dependent on that, but claims are made in space and time. Historical events are historical.
Carson: Does it not suggest that God’s Word is not entire propositional, shouldn’t we change our epistemological assumptions?
Lengthy answer, you cannot pit one locus of revelation against another. You cannot marginalize propositional truth against experience.(Review of Biblical Literature) Don’t devalue propositions
Duncan: Isn’t it a circular argument to say you believe in the Bible because of what the Bible says?
No. The Bible has a unique quality, it is self-authenticating. The Bible authenticates it’s own truthfulness to those who read it. Let the Bible authenticate itself, pick it up and read it. (Carson: two types, a vicious circular argument: self-defeating and a circular argument, which ultimately all human reasoning falls into)
Carson: Discuss God’s contingent knowledge, how would could have been impacts our preordination.
Contingent knowledge, or middle knowledge. God’s knowledge is so exhaustive that He knows all that has and will happen, but also what Sodom would have done if the miracles of Christ had been done in that city. Good is always creditable to Him, evil never is. No event falls out of the purview of His sovereignty. Stick that in your sovereignty pipe and smoke it. (Dever the God we worship has suffered in the man Christ Jesus, He has involved Himself in a remarkable way) Read Jesus in Matthew 23, Jesus was not a tolerant man.
Dever: Can you say more on the role of postmodern relativism in the emergent church market?
Gracefully passes on to Don Carson…The label emerging church is increasingly covering more and more churches. Used to be VERY post-modern, that is less true now. Includes Openness Theology, New Perspectives on Paul. Anything moving away from confessional Christianity is labeled emerging. Don’t make postmodernism the whipping boy. Thoughtful Christian should be neither modernist or postmodernists. Postmodernism itself is shifting. New generation of soft post-modernism. (Dever I would largely agree with Don)
Carson: Does McLaren turn the Gospel of Jesus Christ on it’s head,
Newest book focuses on the teachings of Jesus, not on the atonement or cross of Chris (The Secret Teachings of Jesus) Theologians trying to be creative, and not anchored. Earliest days, not “the Gospel of Matthew” they were called “the Gospel according to Matthew”. The canonical Gospels are really passion narratives with extended introductions. Recommends Peter Bolt, “The Cross from a Distance” Pseudoepigraphical Gospels have no passion. (Crossway, Only One Way, the Sermon on the Mount cannot be rightly understood in the absence of the cross)
Duncan: The Old Testament is God’s Word, but not all of it’s commandments are upheld today. i.e. homosexuality
Old testament law for New Covenant Christians (Christopher J.H. Wright). Sexual ethics are clear and consistent throughout the Bible. Paul uses the Septuagint to argue against homosexuality. (Carson Why is the Bible consistent in some areas (sexuality) and less so in other areas. Categories of sexuality cannot be dumped into food laws)
Ligon: Can you tell us a good commentary from a postmil perspective.
Uses Hoekema’s four views on Revelation. How do you approach the whole book of Revelation (idealist, historicist, futurist William Henderson More than conquerors, Clouse The Meaning of the Millennium Four Views) The Puritans wrote more on the book of Revelation than any other New testament book. Most puritans were postmillennial. Greg Beale, hermeneutics of Revelation.
Dever: Working inside the Beltway how do you deal with people who are wired, reading newspapers of the importance of the Bible. Serious about preaching sermons to adult. Speed and volume of information does not speak to the truth of that information. I

More blogging from the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology
Excellent talk this morning from Don Carson. He is kind of frenetic, I wanted to hit him with some ritalin at one point, but he of course knows his stuff. Below are my outline notes I typed while he was speaking....
The Revealed Word
D.A. Carson

God is a talking God, a speaking God.
Isa 40:6-8

1. God’s Words are not the locus of God’s revelation
- Great events; exodus, Resurrection, burning bush
2. God’s Words are crucial to every locus of His revelation
- Burning bush interesting, but when God speaks it comes to life.
3. God’s Words are crucial to the revelation of the Word Incarnate
- Apostles were witnesses of the Word.
- In words, in the Old Testament, in these last days in the Incarnation. From words that are written to The Word. The climax of revelation is in the Incarnation.
4. God’s Words are not exclusively linear, propositional, instructional etc.
- Many literary forms in the Word of God.
- God is a colorful God.
5. God’s Words are crucial to the revelatory function of preaching
- Not merely unpacking the Biblical text
- Not just instruction, should be a meeting place with the Living God.
6. God’s Words must be borne along by the Spirit of God to effective
- Not merely absorption.

Man does not live on bread alone.
Deut 17: 18-20

You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.

Matt 11:16-30
· Portrait of a discouraged Baptist
· Portrait of a defended Baptist
· Portrait of an eclipsed Baptist

Matthew 11: 16-19
The dissatisfied: Don’t like John because he is to ascetic. They don’t like Jesus because He isn’t ascetic enough.

Matthew 11: 20-24
The smug.
Underlying theological principles
1. God owes salvation to NO ONE.
a. That is why He was not required to do miracles on Sodom
2. There are degrees of blessing and cursing.
3. God has contingent knowledge
a. What has been, is and will be, but also what would have happened under different circumstance. What did happen and what did not happen.What would have been.

The great heritage of the English speaking world. God holds us responsible for the heritage we have received.

Matthew 11: 25-30

Three steps of understanding revelation
They are taught by God
Taught by the Son, revelatory grace.Those taught alone find rest

Night one from Grand Rapids

Opened up with Ligon Duncan addressing the truthfulness of the Word. The atmosphere was great. There were a number of musical pieces by a brass group, and there are few things more rousing than several hundred committed people of God singing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God". Dr. Duncan focused his talk on John 17:17...

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Two major points. The Bible is true and truth matters. Simple statements but needed in our day and age. I am not sure that the audience there last night needed to hear it as much as the church at large, but hopefully as we scatter to our respective church homes we can carry that message with us. Something else very encouraging was the number of young people there last night. The audience was predominantly my age or older, but there was a noticeable contingent of college age or so young adults. More later as time permits, I have a number of notes from last night I want to jot down.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Heading to Philadelphia (via Grand Rapids!)

I am off this afternoon to Grand Rapids to attend the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. The focus this year is on the Word of God, the conference series being titled: The Word: Above all Earthly Powers.

On the docket this evening...Ligon Duncan, The True Word.

Should be good stuff. I hope to post a few thoughts on the conference as time and wireless connections provide.
Jon Modene, at it again!

Ever now and again I check out Sermon Audio to see the latest incoherent anti-Calvinist rants from Jon Modene of Maumee Valley Bible Baptist Church. Ever since the infamous duo of sermons, one calling R.C. Sproul a heretic and the other an attack on Reformed Baptist that made you wonder if he had the faintest idea what makes one "Reformed", his sermons are "must listens". Now he has rolled out a sermon on the heresy of Lordship Salvation. Read his blurb....

The Reformed faith demands that all Christians have 'saving faith'.

The Reformed hermeneutic demands that saving faith produces Lordship Salvation. Lordship Salvation? It never produces 'Carnal Christians'. It instead produces 'Persevering Saints' (who are, sadly and ironically never assured of their own salvation).

Remove 'Lordship Salvation' and the chain is broken.

The Apostle Paul knew something about carnal Christians. And he knew about the power of the Law - not to save but to help bring us to Christ.

Anabaptists know that they can't 'Make Jesus Christ Lord' of anything. He is already Lord and Creator and Sustainer of everything.

I am only a few minutes into listening to this "sermon" but he has already demonstrated an utter lack of understanding of the Lordship position. Now well-meaning Christian brothers have disagreements over this issue, but at least both sides usually understand each other. It is both amusing and instructive to listen to "sermons" like this as they demonstrate the caricature that those who are both not Reformed and uninformed about Reformed theology create about those of us that are and do.

Note that Jon Modene has been challenged from Scripture by a number of individuals across the blogosphere, and his few attempts at response quickly sputtered out and he went silent. He has pretty strong convictions when no one calls him on his claims!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


This YouTube clip is hillarious! The batter, Rod Allen, gets plunked by a pitch and takes off after the pitcher. The pitcher takes off running and Allen chases him all over the outfield. As the players intermingle at one point Allen looks confused because he can't figure out which guy is the pitcher! Priceless stuff!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Merely the first step...

Some are hailing today's Supreme Court decision as a victory for life. I don't share that opinion, at least not as a victory. True, the hideous practice of infanticide known as partial-birth abortion has been in large part outlawed, but the fact remains that tomorrow babies will be slain in the womb by other methods. This is a tiny victory, but the real work is just starting. There can never be a claim to victory in the fight to outlaw abortion in America until every unborn child is given the chance to be born. God grant that we wipe the abomination of abortion out of our collective memories.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A sure sign that this is our year!

The Tribe beat the White Sox, 2-1, today lifting their record to 6-3 overall, 4-2 in the toughest division in baseball, the AL Central. What is really cool is that they did it by getting only one hit. The hefty lefty, C.C. Sabathia, now at 3-0 on the season, struck out ten today. Kind of a weird win, but I will take it. Any win is a good one, and especially a win over a division rival. If we can just get Victor Martinez healthy and once Pronk starts hitting, it is going to be lights out for the rest of the AL Central!

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Dr. Falwell is at it again. He recently declared that those who hold to limited atonement are guilty of holding a heretical teaching. Tom Ascol at Founders Ministry has a penetrating commentary on this ridiculous claim on the Founders Minstry Blog.

This must mean that he and Liberty believe that those who hold to particular atonement to be heretics. Among the countless numbers of people whom he would brand with the H-word are many who would make any evangelical Who's who list (including Bunyan, Owen, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Carey, Boyce, Mell, Dagg and Lloyd-Jones, to name but a few of the dead ones). I find this sad.

Does Jerry Falwell and Liberty University really judge John Piper to be a heretic? If we take his words seriously, as surely we ought if we are to honor him, then he believes that Al Mohler, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, D. James Kennedy, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, Tom Nettles, Wayne Grudem, Sinclair Ferguson, James White and Fred Malone teach heresy.

I for one don't care to be labeled as holding heretical views by Dr. Falwell, who holds a position of prominence in the Christian world. If he is serious about this claim, he should name names and publicly speak out against contemporary Christians in the SBC as heretical teachers. If he does not, he should repent and recant, and apologize. I won't hold my breath waiting for the apology.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pyromaniacs: You say you want to be a teacher? Oy!

Dan Phillips has done a great service to those who read these words, giving the appropriate recognition of how we should take the role of teacher with the utmost of soberness. Too often the pulpit is seen as a place for storytime, for the telling of jokes and tales, of entertainment or of self-improvement. But if a man is going to stand in front of his flock, and open the Word of God, he better darn well know that it is not just the souls in front of him that he is responsible to, it is God Most High as well. If one enters the pulpit without a level of fear and trembling under the weight of the responsibility he is accepting, he is in danger of condemnation. The pulpit is no place for a showman or snake oil salesman, but rather a place for the proclamation of the truth of God revealed.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Where have we heard this before?

Mitt Romney, claiming to be a lifelong hunter, turns out to have hunted maybe a couple of times in his life. No licenses can be found, leading to his claim that he hunted rabbits in Utah where they don't require a license. According the the AP story, Romney joined the NRA last year as a Life Member and doesn't even own a gun.
His staff refused Friday to provide details about his hunting history, including whose gun he used, with whom he hunted and whether he hunted in Utah as a college student or as an adult. He does not own a firearm, despite claiming to earlier this year.

Hmm, a Massachusetts politican pretending to be Johnny-outdoors. Sounds like John Kerry regaling us with tales of deer hunting, crawlin' around on his belly with his trusty double-barreled shotgun. No one bought Senator Kerry's story and likely won't buy Romney's either.

Now that's a pulpit!

I have been preaching behind a rickety lectern in the 9 months or so since I have been called as pastor of Grace Community Church. It is serviceable, but it is difficult when the top suddenly shifts and I have to grab my Bible and notes so they don't fling on the ground, or try to surreptitiously try to tighten the wingnut that holds the top of the lectern in place. But now....

My dad, who has an amazing talent in woodworking, built me a pulpit. Keep in mind that he has never built anything quite like this. Bookcases yes. Dictionary stands yes. Giant cabinets yes. Corner china cabinets, hope chests, all sorts of stuff yes. But this is quite a bit different, since this pulpit is built exactly for me. The dimensions are built for our church, the stand inside is set at just the right height for where I like to read from. I pray that if it is God's will, that I spend the rest of my days proclaiming the Word of God to His people from that pulpit, and that someday that some or all of my sons also declare the revealed, perfect Word from behind that same pulpit.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Where is the part where I feel sorry for these men?

Miami sex offenders live under a bridge

Because of laws that require pedophiles to stay a certain distance from schools, some sex offenders who cannot afford cheap housing have moved under a bridge. Five men. The only five offenders who are known in the state of Florida to be "forced" to live outdoors (in Florida). The article lists these men whining about the noise of cars and the difficulty in charging the GPS tracking devices that they are forced to wear. No mention of course of the children that these men sexually assaulted. No mention of the lives ruined, trust betrayed. I don't understand when it became chic in journalism to spotlight the plight of criminals with no mention of the people that they hurt.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Springtime in Northern Michigan!

We have gotten nearly half a foot of new snow in the last few days. It is going to be a pretty chilly Easter Sunday. It is hard to have an Easter Egg hunt when the eggs are buried under 6-8 inches of snow!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Holy Week or Snowy Week?

A mere five days from Easter Sunday, and while the rest of the country is gazing at flowers in bloom and preparing Easter Egg hunts on verdant lawns, Northern Michigan is preparing for...

A winter storm!

Looks like up to 6-10 inches of snow over the next 24-36 hours, with gusting winds. Should be a great way to start Easter weekend!

Northern Michigan: Where winter abates for three months so tourists from downstate can come clog our roadways!
This must be that "socialization" that my poor homeschooled kids are missing...

NEW ORLEANS — Five fifth-grade students face criminal charges after authorities said four of them had sex in front of other students in an unsupervised classroom and kept a classmate posted as a lookout for teachers. The students were arrested Tuesday at the Spearsville school in rural north Louisiana, authorities said. Two 11-year-old girls, a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year old boy were charged with obscenity, a felony. An 11-year-old boy, the alleged guard, was charged with being an accessory.

"After 44 years of doing this work, nothing shocks me anymore," said Union Parish Sheriff Bob Buckley. "But this comes pretty close."

I am glad to know that this sort of behavior "comes pretty close" to shocking Sheriff Buckley. If that is what the public school advocates mean by socializing, I think I will just keep my kids at home. Are we to the point yet where anyone is still outraged by this?
What is truth?

John 18:37-38 37 Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." 38 Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, "I find no guilt in him. (ESV)

What is truth and where is it found? How do we find that which is true? Is truth something that we discover on our own, by our own power and investigation? If we search hard enough, pray hard enough truth will reveal itself to us? Or is truth something that is revealed to us by He who is Truth?

Examine these words, from the September 1978 Ensign magazine (the official magazine of the mormon church) by then "Prophet" Spencer Kimball...

Again, I offer the assistance of the Church, but I will not push this matter upon you nor force it. You are mature, you have a good mind, you have a strong background, and the seeds of truth were sown in your life in your youth. All the powers of earth and heaven cannot bring this knowledge to you. It cannot be hoped for nor purchased. It must come by a careful, honest, and sincere investigation. The Church stands ready to furnish such assistance as you may require.

Note the focus here. You have to find truth. The mormon church can help. Truth comes by investigation. No power on earth or heaven can bring this knowledge to you. Think about the ramifications of that statement. Christ cannot reveal truth to you. You must discover it by your own investigation.

Now compare that to what the Bible says. Look at the experience of Paul. I would hazard to say that in his case, it WAS a power in heaven that revealed truth to him. Or later in Acts, Lydia. The Scripture tells us that "One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. " (Acts 16:14 ESV) Lydia heard what Paul was saying because the Lord opened her heart. Not because she sincerely investigated. Never, as far as I am aware, does anyone come to a knowledge of God by their own sincere investigation. The focus in mormonism is shown once again to be on the earthly church organization. The focus of the Christian is on Christ, revealed in His inerrant, infallible Living Word. We are His sheep, and His sheep hear His voice.