Archive for September, 2008

Pastor’s Forum and Men’s Conference with Rick Holland

Our church is hosting a Men’s Conference October 10-12 with Dr. Rick Holland from Grace Community Church in CA. The conference is free and men can sign up here.

We will also host a Pastor’s Forum (lunch provided) with Rick that same Friday. If you would like to attend, please let me know as as soon as possible (see contact info).

Huntsville is located in North Alabama and is under two hours from Chattanooga, Nashville, and Birmingham.

Excellent New Book on Marriage

If you’re like me, you often find yourself putting your marriage on cruise control. In recent weeks, God has used a really helpful book to break me out of my comfort zone and challenge me to be a godly husband to my wife. That book is Tying the Knot Tighter by Martha Peace and John Crotts, and it is my privilege to recommend it to you.

Tying the Knot Tighter consists of 120 pages divided into 19 short chapters which cover just about everything the Bible says about marriage. Topics include the importance of prayer, the biblical roles of a husband and wife, communication with your spouse, and how to resolve conflict in your marriage.

My favorite part of the book is that it lists out a series of extremely convicting questions at the end of each chapter. When my wife and I sit down to work through it, I read the next chapter aloud, we talk through the questions, and then we spend some time praying together. It has been a tremendous blessing for both of us. In addition, each chapter ends with two recommended resources for readers who want to dig deeper in a particular area.

Whether you are facing significant challenges in your marriage, or you simply need to be spurred on to be a more faithful partner to your spouse, this book is a great resource. It is true to the Scriptures, easy to read, and extremely practical. If you are married, or hoping that some day you will be, I highly recommend this book.


What Do Paedobaptists and Pre-tribulationalists Have in Common?

More than you might think. In a stunning new development which may prove embarrassing to theologians in both camps, a recent report claims that paedobaptists and pre-tribulational dispensationalists often use the same form of argumentation for their respective positions. Co-authored by Rich Ryan and Chris Pixley of Expository Thoughts, this report claims that rather than relying on clear exegetical evidence for their views, many paedobaptists and pre-tribulationalists often rely instead on inferential arguments based on their ecclesiology. See the comment thread under this post for what many believe was the original catalyst for this study by Ryan and Pixley.


Expository Thoughts founder Paul Lamey was said to be inconsolable when confronted with the findings of the report. “It just can’t be,” Lamey mumbled, sipping his coffee at the breakfast table and staring blankly at a fax from Pixley. “Maybe I need to rethink this whole issue.” Sources close to Lamey and his thriving Alabama church say the young pastor was due to preach 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 this Sunday morning, but the elders have contacted Tim LaHaye to fill the pulpit in Lamey’s absence.


Meanwhile, the report is said to have caused “shock waves” in the reformed community, leading some paedobaptists to a new openness regarding the possibility of a pre-tribulational rapture. Rumors out of Florida say that R.C. Sproul has found the report “interesting,” and that he was recently seen tucked away in a corner of the library at RTS in Orlando reading Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth. According to one eyewitness, Sproul was nodding with what appeared to be “thoughtful but cautious approval.”

Revelation Commentaries

Over the past month I have written 5 sermons from the Book of Revelation.  In a “perfect week” I have time to read all the commentaries i own on the particular passage I’m preaching on (after i have done my exegesis, word study work, etc).

Here is the priority order I’ve given these resource books if i don’t have time to read all of them during a particular week.  For this article i have placed the commentaries into 3 general categories.  These three categories assist me in different aspects of my sermon preparation.

Exegetical helps:

1. R.L. Thomas (in my opinion the best work available)

2. R Mounce

3. A.T. Robertson

4. D Aune

5. G.K. Beale


Expositional helps: 

1. S Kistemaker

2. J MacArthur

3. A. Johnson

4. Jamison, Fausset, Brown

5. L Morris

6. J Walvoord

7. W Hendrickson

8. C Feinberg


Application helps:

1. C Keener

2. W Barclay

3. M Wilcock

4. W Wiersbe

5. Ironside

6. M Wilson

7. A Barnes

New worship CD review

I have recently enjoyed listening to a new worship album so much that i wanted to bring it to our readers attention.  Patrick and Amy Fata helped lead the praise and worship time at my former home church in Indiana and they have just released another CD.

The CD is entitled “EXALTED LORD.”  Eight out the ten songs were written by the musicians.  In this regard they are a lot like Keith and Krysten Getty.  The lyrics are God-centered and Biblical.  I especially appreciate the seventh track that talks about glorifying the Lord in the midst of trials and difficulty.

The music is fresh and very enjoyable.  You can listen to some of the songs for yourself before purchasing the CD at 

“You’re the shining Light appearing to Saul, the fourth man in the fire.  Creator, Rebuilder, You are the Justifier. 

You’re the Sun of Righteousness with healing in your wings; the Lord of Lords, our blessed hope, the King of Kings.

Exalted Lord, reigning high, over earth, over sky; Exalted King, on your throne, glorious grace and mercy shown. Exalted Christ, crucified, defeating death to bring us life. Savior, Friend, so much more, exalted Lord.”

Lyrics from the song “Exalted Lord”

Understanding Dispensationalism

If you want to understand clearly the core distinctives of dispensationalism, I have the perfect book for you—Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths by Michael J. Vlach (Theological Studies Press, 2008). Regardless of where you land on the spectrum of continuity vs. discontinuity—and regardless of whether you consider yourself a dispensationalist, a covenant theologian, or something in between—Vlach’s book will help you understand this theological system better than any other. For my review of Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths over at Pulpit Magazine, go here. To purchase this book, go here or here. To become really confused about what dispensationalism is all about, go here.

Revelation 20 Made Too Simple

One of the key disagreements between amillennialism and premillennialism is whether the thousand years of Revelation 20:1-6 is present or future. According to the amillennial interpretation, this thousand-year period is the present age which extends from the first coming of Christ to His second coming. In contrast, premillennialism teaches that the thousand years of Revelation 20 is future and will take place immediately after the second coming.


In his book End Times Made Simple, Samuel Waldron argues for the amillennial view. In doing so, he spends three chapters on Revelation 20, starting with a discussion of various hermeneutical issues which he believes “must take center stage and precede the detailed study of the passage” (p. 85). According to Waldron, understanding and applying these hermeneutical principles is crucial to an accurate interpretation of this controversial chapter.


The first hermeneutical principle cited by Waldron involves the historical context of Revelation 20. According to Waldron:


The first and most basic principle of biblical interpretation is known as grammatical-historical interpretation. Simply stated this fundamental principle says that the Bible must be interpreted in terms of the normal grammatical meaning of the language and in a way that makes sense in light of the historical context of the passage. The original sense of the words for the original author and readers is the true sense (p. 85).


At this point, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, this is the primary reason I am a premillennialist. [Incidentally, as an experiment, try applying Waldron’s grammatical-historical method to Ezekiel 36 and see where it leads you.]


But Waldron continues by insisting that a commitment to the grammatical-historical approach poses a significant problem for the premillennial interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10. Why? Because the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation to local churches in the first-century province of Asia which were being persecuted for their faith. According to Waldron:


A credible interpretation [of Revelation 20:1-10] must exhibit a clear line of connection with this historical context. Since the premillennial interpretation of this passage asserts that this passage has to do with a drastically different and far distant period of time after the return of Christ, it faces up front a problem with the principle of historical interpretation (p. 86).


According to Waldron, then, Revelation 20:1-6 cannot be interpreted as referring to a time period after the second coming of Christ if it is to “exhibit a clear line of connection” with the historical context of the Apocalypse.


This, of course, raises an obvious question: What about a passage like Revelation 20:11-15? Waldron certainly agrees that the judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15 will take place in a “far distant period of time after the return of Christ.” But doesn’t that make him guilty of violating the principle of grammatical-historical interpretation in precisely the same way that he accuses the premillennialist of doing with Revelation 20:1-10? Doesn’t his interpretation of Revelation 20:11-15 fail to exhibit a clear line of connection with the historical context of the Apocalypse, at least according to his own logic?


To further illustrate the problem with Waldron’s logic, let’s apply this same argument to yet another vision in the Apocalypse—Revelation 21:1-8. In this passage, the apostle John describes his vision of the new heaven and the new earth, a vision which Waldron correctly interprets as a description of what will happen in the distant future, after the second coming of Christ. But couldn’t a hyper preterist argue that Revelation 21:1-8 has been fulfilled in the present age by using Waldron’s logic? In other words, couldn’t a hyper preterist say:


A credible interpretation of Revelation 21:1-8 must exhibit a clear line of connection with the historical context of the book of Revelation. Since the futuristic interpretation of Revelation 21:1-8 has to do with a drastically different and far distant period of time after the return of Christ, it faces up front a problem with the principle of historical interpretation.


Put simply, the historical background of the book of Revelation presents no more a problem for the futuristic interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6 than it does for the futuristic interpretation of Revelation 21:1-8. I fully realize that there are legitimate arguments that can be made against the premillennial view of Revelation 20, but this simply isn’t one of them.

Biden on Abortion

In an interview yesterday on “Meet the Press,” Roman Catholic Joseph Biden said this about the abortion issue: “I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society.”


Can you imagine someone saying this about slavery in the 19th century? “I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that black people are created equal and should have the same rights as everyone else. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society.”

God’s Priorities for Your Prayer Life

Do you ever wonder what kinds of priorities should be reflected in your prayers? Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 6:9-13 where He exhorts us to pray for:


1. The Manifestation of Divine Glory (9)

2. The Coming of God’s Kingdom (10)

3. The Provision of Physical Needs (11)

4. The Cleansing of Daily Sin (12)

5. The Blessing of Spiritual Protection (13)

Baptism in Acts 2:38 (Part 4)

Consequently, was baptism necessary for the Jews to be saved in Acts 2:38? Yes and no. Yes, in that it was a necessary expression of faith in response to the gospel, and no, in that the physical act itself had no saving power.


A helpful analogy is found in Romans 10:9–10. In this passage, the apostle Paul writes that one must confess Jesus as Lord with his mouth in order to be saved:


If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation (Rom 10:9–10).


In one sense, we face the same initial difficulty here in Romans 10:9-10 as we do in Acts 2:38—the straightforward reading of the text at least seems to indicate that one must respond to the gospel with some kind of external act in order to be saved. But is the actual movement of one’s lips necessary for one to be saved according to Romans 10? Yes and no. Yes, in that it was a necessary expression of faith in response to the gospel, and no, in that the physical act itself had no saving power. In terms of baptism in Acts 2:38, then, as F.F. Bruce writes, “the reception of the Spirit is conditional not on baptism in itself but on baptism as the expression of repentance.”


To illustrate, suppose there were three men standing together in the crowd on the Day of Pentecost. In response to Peter’s exhortation to repent and be baptized, the first man says, “I repent and believe in Christ,” and he truly does. So he gets in line, and he is baptized. This man is forgiven and receives the gift of the Holy Spirit.


The second man says, “I repent and believe in Christ,” and he also truly does. While he is in line to be baptized, however, he has a heart attack and dies. Is this man forgiven? Did he receive the gift of the Holy Spirit before he died? Yes, absolutely, because conversion is ultimately a matter of the heart. He truly repented and believed, and therefore He was truly forgiven. [Keep in mind Acts 10:44-48, where Cornelius and the other Gentiles were clearly regenerated by the Holy Spirit prior to be baptized in water.]


But the third man says, “I repent and believe in Christ,” and yet when it comes time to be baptized, he refuses to publicly declare his allegiance to Christ. Is this man forgiven? Did this man receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? No, because his refusal to be baptized in the name of Jesus reveals an unrepentant heart that is unwilling to believe in Christ and become His disciple.


This article was adapted from chapter 6 of A Biblical Critique of Infant Baptism (The Woodlands, Tex: Kress Christian Publications, 2008).

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