04 August 2015

Gurnall on why many formerly orthodox people drift from truth

by Dan Phillips

The man could have been a Pyro!

 In giving counsel how to inflame the heart with a love for truth, William Gurnall wrote this:

Too often, we've seen men who begin more or less Biblically orthodox, who then drift further and further from the safe haven of God's Word. William Gurnall suggests one reason why.

Likeness is the ground of love. A carnal heart cannot like truth, because it is not like to truth. Such a one may love truth, as he did Alexander, Regem non Alexandrum; ‘the king, not the person that was king:’ truth in its honour and dignity, when it can prefer him, but not naked truth itself.

How is it possible an earthly soul should love truth that is heavenly? An unholy heart, truth that is pure? O it is sad indeed, when men’s tenets and principles in their understandings do clash, and fight with the principles of their hearts and affections!

When men have orthodox judgment, and heterodox hearts, there must needs be little love to truth, because the judgment and will are so unequally yoked; truth in the conscience reproving and threatening lust in the heart, and that again controlling truth in the conscience. Thus, like a scolding couple, they may a while dwell together; but taking no content in one another, the wretch is easily persuaded to give truth a bill of divorce at last, and send her away, as Ahasuerus did Vashti, that he may espouse other principles, which will suit better with his corrupt heart, and not cross him in the way he is in.

This, this I am persuaded hath parted many and truth in these licentious days. They could not sin peaceably while they kept their judgments sound; truth ever and anon would be chiding them; and therefore, to match their judgments with their hearts, they have taken up principles suitable to their lusts. But, soul, if truth had such a power upon thee, to transform thee by the renewing of thy mind into its own likeness, that as the scion turns the stock into its own nature, so truth hath assimilated thee, and made thee bear fruit like itself, thou art the person that will never part with truth; before thou canst do this, thou must part with that new nature, which by it the Spirit of God hath begot in thee. There is now such a near union betwixt thee and truth, or rather thee and Christ, as can never be broke.

We see what a mighty power there goes along with God’s ordinance of marriage, that two persons, who possibly a month before never knew one another, yet their affections once knit by love, and their persons made one by marriage, they can now leave friends and parents for to enjoy each other; such a mighty power, and much greater, goes along with this mystical marriage between the soul and Christ, the soul and truth, that the same person, who, before conversion, would not have ventured the loss of a penny for Christ, or his truth, yet now, knit to Christ and his truth by a secret work of  the Spirit new forming him into the likeness thereof, he can bid adieu to the world, life, and all, for these.

As that martyr told him that asked whether he did not love his wife and children, and was not loth to part with them, ‘Yes,’ saith he, ‘I love them so dearly, that I would not part with any of them for all that the Duke of Brunswick is worth,’ whose subject he was; ‘but for Christ’s sake and his truth, farewell to them all.’
[William Gurnall and John Campbell, The Christian in Complete Armour (London: Thomas Tegg, 1845), 222–223. Broken into paragraphs]

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02 August 2015

Liberty not licence

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 12, sermon number 689, "Temptations on the pinnacle."
"Holy Scripture is full of narratives of temptations; expect, therefore, Christian, that your life will be as abundantly garnished with them as a rose with thorns."

Brethren, it is a precious doctrine that the saints are safe, but it is a damnable inference from it, that therefore they may live as they list. It is a glorious truth that God will keep his people, but it is an abominable falsehood that sin will do them no harm.

Remember that God gives us liberty, not licence, and while he gives us protection he will not allow us presumption.

I knew a person once when I was a child, I remember seeing him go into a country wake in a little village where I lived, though he was a professed Christian, going to spend the evening in a dancing booth, and with others drinking as other men did, and when I in my warm zeal said to him, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” his reply was, “I am a child of God, and I can go where I like and yet be safe.”

And though for the moment I knew not what text to quote to answer him, yet my soul revolted from the man ever afterwards, for I felt that no child of God would ever be so wicked as to take poison in the faith that his Father would give him the antidote, or thrust himself into the fire, in the hope that he should not be burned.

 If God sends me trouble he will yield me deliverance from it, but if I make trouble myself I must bear it. If Providence permits the devil to set me upon a pinnacle, even then God will help me, but if I throw myself down and go in the very teeth of Providence, then woe unto me, for I give proof by my presumption that the grace of God is not in me at all.

30 July 2015

"Thank God for the blood of Jesus; but...."

by Dan Phillips

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Dan back in February 2011. Dan discussed various ways that the phrase "Thank God for the blood of Jesus" is misused and abused.

As usual, the comments are closed.
Jarring title? Hear me out.

As I drove to work the other day, I prayed. I was thinking about how short I fall in every area of my life: as a father, as a husband, as a Christian, as a churchman, as a blogger, as a friend, as a brother, as a citizen....

Then I said, "Thank God for the blood of Jesus" — and immediately cringed to hear myself pray it.

"Cringed"? Why? How could such an absolute core-truth of Christianity bring a wince, a recoil?

Simple: because I've heard that sort of talk used so often by folks whose concern is to paper over their ongoing, deliberate, unrepentant sin. I've heard Jesus' blood adduced to explain why it makes sense to grant a glorious eulogy to a man who apparently died an open, unrepentant homosexual clergyman; to rationalize ongoing open violence to the fifth commandment; to tut-tut open defection from the Word of God.

And so that is the background against which those wonderful words make me cringe. Listen: Jesus did not shed His blood on the cross to make us feel okay about our ongoing, deliberate, unrepentant sin. Jesus did not shed His blood to make sin okay; He shed it precisely because sin is not okay, has never been okay, will never be okay.

So what about my prayer, my praise? I went on to think just how much I needed and still need the blood of Jesus, all the time, even while striving as hard as I might (as opposed to yielding to sin, like the horrible examples I mentioned). I thought, What if God said "You pick the area of your life that I can judge you on. Pick your strongest, best, most consistent area"? What then? Easy. I'd be doomed, instantly doomed, forever doomed. No sooner would the test be distributed than I'd hear "All right, pencils down. Test over."

We're not talking about ongoing, deliberate, unrepentant sin here, either (on this subject). We're just talking about the weakness, shallowness, inconstancy, inconsistency, and fleshly carry-overs that plague believers. The ongoing reality of Romans 7:14-25. Do we need the blood of Jesus there? Oh, yes, I think we do. I know for a fact we do.

Now here's the final, biting irony: I have this fear that many of those who thank God for Jesus' blood as I mentioned — because of how good it makes them feel about their ongoing, deliberate, unrepentant sin — have not yet been touched by that blood.

Why? Because that same blood that purchases forgiveness also purchases freedom (Romans 3:27; Ephesians 1:7; Matthew 1:21; Hebrews 9:14). When we die with Him, we die to sin's lordship (Romans 6). If we are still under that unbroken domination, that lordship, we've not died that death. Though we are never and in no way justified because we do battle with sin, justification is the beginning and cause of a lifetime of such a battle. The battle is not a component, but it is an effect.

So thank God for the blood of Jesus.

Not because His blood makes my sin okay, but because His blood makes me okay with God, and delivers me from sin's guilt and power.

29 July 2015

How to Avoid Spiritual Suicide

by F. X. Turk

This is going to be the last post of my summer vacation from hiatus, and it was originally going to be on the topic of how the family has been redefined, given the state of current events.  However, let me say that the most enjoyable part of taking a summer vacation from hiatus is the feedback from the readers, on and off line.

The down-side of that is that many of the wrong sort of readers also feel like they need to let me know they are still at it.  However, that down-side helps me remember why I am on permanent hiatus in the first place: Jesus never called us to be virtual slaves to people who are more interested in arguments than truth, but he did call us to be members of the body of Christ, which involves being in real relationships with real people and finding out that our theology is only as good as the love it can create in all situations from the worst of sins to the hardest of life's trials to the joyful moments when God's blessings are evident.

To that end, I have a few words until we meet again. If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, do me a favor and find common ground in Christ by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had: when he existed in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be held onto, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross!

If that's not the foundation of your theology, reconsider it immediately as this is the Jesus who rose from the dead, and we are to be imitators of him.  Imitating another Jesus is spiritual suicide.

How do we know?  Because as a result God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

So then, my dear friends, just as this has always been about you personally whether I have been blogging or on hiatus, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish even though you live in a crooked and perverse society.  Shine as lights in the world by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ we will all have a reason to boast -- that none of us ran in vain, and none blogged in vain, and we are found faithful in that final day.

26 July 2015

Believing what we cannot comprehend

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 48, sermon number 2,787, "Christ's triple character."
"The Romanist has his infallibility in the Pope; where have I mine? In Christ; for, whatever he said is infallibly true; and I also have infallibility in this Book." 

If anything be but in the Bible, I never for a single moment think of questioning it. Miracles? Strong historical statements? I believe them all; I can almost go as far as the old woman who said that she not only believed that the whale swallowed Jonah, but that, if the Bible had said that Jonah swallowed the whale, she would have believed it. It says nothing of the kind, but I would go even to that length if it were a clear, positive statement of the Scriptures.

This is my Master’s Book, and I accept it all. I say, sometimes, that there are things in it that I do not understand, but then I do not want to understand everything. I do not see what good it does to have such a wonderful understanding. I would sooner not understand some things, because it gives me the more reason to show reverence to my God by believing what I cannot comprehend.

If I could comprehend God, he would not be a God to me. If I could understand all that he tells me, I would feel sure that he had either left something out of his revelation, or that there must be some mistake somewhere, for the infinite things of God cannot be grasped by finite beings. There, then, is our infallibility.

Some have gone off to bold blatant infidelity in order to get something sure; and others have turned to Popery in the attempt to get something sure; but as for us, we cast our anchor down where the cross stands above the surging billows; and there we rest. Christ says, “I am the truth.” We believe that, and we take every word he says as being infallibly true, and so we secure absolute certainty.

That is a great thing to have in these unsettled times, and a comfortable thing to have in these disturbed times. It is a very practical benefit, too; for, when we have once made up our mind thoroughly upon any point, we can say, “That is so; now we do not need to keep on bothering and questioning about that matter, and we can go on with our work, and also seek to make advances in the divine life.”

23 July 2015

The proper meaning of the word "church"

by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Frank back in October 2007. Frank offered his thoughts on the Biblical implications of the word "church."

As usual, the comments are closed.
We have this funny word in our Christian vocabulary that appears in our Bibles – namely "church". Webster's dictionary says this about where we get that word:
Middle English chirche, from Old English cirice, ultimately from Late Greek kyriakon, from Greek, neuter of kyriakos of the lord, from kyrios lord, master
Which, you know, is interesting because we use "church" in the translations of the Bible in English to represent the word "ecclesia," not the word "kyriakon" – that is, it is possible that we mean the same thing by saying "church" when the NT says "ecclesia," but the word "church" doesn't come from the word "ecclesia."

Now, here's what I'm not equipped to do here: I'm not equipped to criticize guys (and women) who have spent their lives studying Greek who all agree that "church" is a fine word in English for the Greek word "ecclesia," I accept that this is the word we are going to use and, frankly, ought to use.

What I'm thinking about today is what we mean by using this word.

The over-arching theme of this series, btw, is that the believer needs the church. You need it. Part of that, of course, is that it needs you, and I have beaten that almost to death. But I was reminded of this theme this weekend as I listened to Dr. MacArthur preach broadly and enthusiastically at DGM's national conference on the theme "Stand," meaning a call to the perseverance of the saints.

At the end of his life, from a prison cell, probably through some kind of amanuensis, Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy a letter which we receive in Scripture as 2 Timothy. So this letter, whatever else we want to make of it, is Paul's last word to a young man he loved dearly and had discipled in the faith apparently from the start of the young man's faith.

Paul knew Timothy's family – his mother and grandmother, who were themselves Jewish women who had accepted Christ. And if we read Timothy at all, Paul has the highest confidence and love for Timothy – like Titus, Timothy is called Paul's "true son" in the faith.

And in that, Paul's last words to Timothy are important to us as we have to believe that he wrote these things as a farewell.

But as Paul writes, we find some very troubling things in his words. All of Asia, he says, has forsaken him for false teachers; Demas has decided that the world looks pretty good and the Gospel not so much. So in that environment, you'd think Paul would give Timothy the advice any wise man would give: run away from the bad guys and go find someplace else to start a new church – because we have to run away from false teachers, and a church with false teachers is a church where it is necessary to leave.

You'd think.

Instead, Paul calls Timothy to stand firm in the truth and preach and teach what is right in spite of fads and the tastes of men.

He didn't tell Timothy, "Dude, my method landed me in jail, so you have to try something different. Check with Demas as he has found a nice job in the world -- obviously he knows something I don't." He told Timothy to not change and not adapt and not go his own way, but instead to "endure suffering" and "continue in what you have learned" and "depart from iniquity" and so on -- but not to leave the church.

We are not called out of the church to preach the Gospel – we are called out of the world and into the "ecclesia" to preach the Gospel. Standing firm for the truth is standing where? Whatever "ecclesia" means, and whatever "church" is supposed to mean in its place in English, it is something we are called into in order that we may demonstrate who God is and what He has done.

21 July 2015

The Planned Parenthood fiasco: a few questions only we would ask

by Dan Phillips

I take it you're all familiar with the Planned Parenthood should-be PR nightmare. (If not, you could for instance check out Denny Burk's site, such as here and here and here.)

I won't add to or rehash all that. I just have a few observations presented as questions.
  1. Have pro-aborts shifted the threshold of abortability from viability to marketability?
  2. If what Planned Parenthood is selling is sold as human parts, then what was it that they killed?
  3. Given Planned Parenthood's presence in the body-marketing industry, should it be renamed "Planned Igorhood"?
  4. Or, since (A) the still-heard rationalization for abortion is "It's her body," and (B) Planned Parenthood is marketing the part of "her body" that they extracted, so that (C) Planned Parenthood, by its "logic" (?!) is selling women's bodies, should they be renamed "Planned Pimphood"?
  5. Since they are selling these poor victims as humans (even intact, God grant us repentance) does that signal a shift? That is, abortion was always premised on "It's not a human being until it's  born." Is it now, "It's not a human being until it's born...or aborted?"

Ponder those, and feel free to share profligately.

Notesee here, for a Biblical study regarding abortion.

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