Saturday, February 21, 2015

THIS BLOG IS NOW A BOOK

The analyses that have been posted on this blog have been put into book form (ebook), complete with preface, introduction, conclusion, and four appendices. 

Here is a video to introduce the book:

video

Here is a link to Amazon, where that book can be acquired: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00TRSRM98

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BALMORAL BIBLE CHAPEL, SAVING FAITH VERSUS FALSE FAITH (SERMON ANALYSIS 8)

November 2011

This is the third sermon by Mr. Fox to review, and the eighth from Balmoral Bible Chapel. We listened by podcast.

Mr. Fox, Balmoral Bible Chapel, May 22nd, 2011, Saving Faith Versus False Faith. 

Summary: (Mr. Fox begins with some announcements, then prays.) Turn with me to John 8.31-36. (He reads from there.) How many of you enjoy political debates? More and more, they are becoming nothing but sound-bites. The essence of true debate is for it to yield great benefit to those who listen. I have to thank the Lord for false teachers who try to air condition hell or tell us when the day of judgment is. They set such a dark curtain in order for the true light to shine. Last week we found ourselves hearing the debate that Jesus had with his adversaries. And we read that many believed in him as he said certain things. What things? He has been teaching about being living water and true light. In light of that, many believed in him. There’s truth in this word concerning unity. The word is not just the Old and New Testaments. Jesus is the Word. Jesus placed a stamp of certification on the Old Testament. The whole word is profitable. Three things from our passage: (A) the importance to continue in the word of Jesus Christ; (B) you will know the truth; (C) it is the truth that will set you free. This order cannot be changed around. We find Jesus making a distinction between true and false disciples. The fruit of discipleship is a manifestation of obedience. It’s not a condition. Both true and false disciples will profess belief in Christ. It’s not how people begin that counts, but how they continue that will distinguish them between having a possession of faith and a profession of faith. When trials come, those in Christ, through faith, will not be shaken. They will persevere. Those who hold fast, in time, bear fruit. Jesus tells his disciples that the one who endures to the end will be saved. We forget to tell people who come to Christ that you have a real enemy in yourself, in the world, and in the heavens. We will not be found amongst those who deny his word. We see that some believed Jesus to a certain point. Their discipleship was not genuine. It’s important to know the difference between saving faith and false faith. I don’t have the time to unpack this for you. True saving faith will have a profession and possession of faith. We want to find ourselves wrestling with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Remaining is the fruit of the disciple. Nothing else will set you free. Now to John 6.37-40. (He reads from there.) Continue in the word, know the truth, and you will be set free from yourself, sin, and the power of the enemy who comes in those who are enslaved in darkness. Christianity is not a game, but a life and death issue. I think we’ll leave the matter there. Let’s pray.   

Remarks: In this sermon many verses are quoted (not all mentioned in the summary) that support the gist of the passage chosen by Mr. Fox to preach on. This is done, however, at the expense of explaining the passage particularly. The doctrine of perseverance is in both the passage and the sermon. But something more must exist in the passage than the general idea that it is necessary to be found at last among the saved! One can make a verbal profession while having no faith in one’s possession. A sinner’s prayer, a raised hand, and a signed card are no proof of a sinner getting saved. This is what Mr. Fox is anxious to warn about. And this warning is very necessary in our Billy Graham ‘decision’-making milieu. So this is no ‘feel-good’ sermon. We are thankful for that. The jokes that Mr. Fox had prepared to let fly in his preliminary remarks are jettisoned (for the wrong reason, but we are thankful just the same.)

This sermon, like the two others we have listened to from this pastor, is a blunted arrow poorly aimed. The title promises that saving faith and false faith will be contrasted. But there is no hint of contrast in any of the three points introduced. Can anyone find a contrast there? First point: the importance of continuing in the word: no contrast found. Second point: you will know the truth: no contrast there. Third point: the truth will set you free: nothing again. Or can any of these points be legitimately contrasted with each other? No, continuing in the word does not contrast with knowing the truth or being set free. Try any other configuration that you want, using these three points, and you will find no contrast. Not only is there no contrast shown in these points, whether considered singly or together, but then after the points are introduced, they are abandoned to make way for the general idea that one must persevere! There seems to be no reason for anything that is done in this sermon. The title is ignored. The points are there we not why. And the pastor goes all over the Bible in search of perseverance, and then teaches nothing about it!

Here is a suggestion of what might be done, with little effort, if any respect for the title were retained and exercised. We suggest one point. Saving faith sets us free to serve God; false faith keeps us in bondage to serve sin. There is a contrast that serves the title. Saving faith and false faith are at odds. That is what the title tells us; therefore why not tell us how and why this is so? For example, in what ways may the freed spirit serve his Maker? In what ways must the captive spirit serve his lusts? In what ways do these two spirits butt heads in the world? Address questions like these, and the sermon opens up to show the characteristics of both kinds of faith, not to mention the characteristics of each people on either side. By this kind of faithful treatment of our title, the saints can be blessed and warned to persevere, and the unconverted can get convicted for their lack of proof that their faith is of the persevering sort. These thoughts were prompted from just a few minutes of consideration for what the passage actually contains, and the reading of just half of what Matthew Henry offers up in commenting upon it. Yet this pastor has virtually nothing to say in this sermon except statements like these: the whole word is profitable; some believed in Jesus to a point; and Christianity is not a game. Can things get more uselessly elementary than this? And when he tries to say something more profound, he comes up with terms like ‘manifestation of continuance’ and ‘condition of continuance.’ He can’t explain these odd terms because he can’t understand them himself. Like Mr. Doeksen who departed from Deer Park Alliance, he seems to be imitating this overrated wannabe-scholar by the name of John Piper, which is a sure way to become obscure and irrelevant! If you can’t do the job in your own skin, it is certain that you will fail in the skin of another! If Mr. Fox had chosen a straight and simple route like the one we so painlessly gleaned and intimated above, he would not so heedlessly fall into the sin of preaching false security to his hearers (which is the very opposite of his intention: to preach a doctrine of perseverance.) “We will not be found amongst those who deny his word,” he says. What he should say is, “How many amongst us will be found to deny the word we profess to be saved by?!” And then, “How many of us deny God’s word every day and in how many ways? Here, let me show you what these ways are…now what does this say about us? about you?” That is the sort of content and tone that should naturally emerge if the doctrine of perseverance were applied. Mr. Fox does not persevere in this sermon. He does not persevere to make his points handmaidens of his title. He does not persevere to preach his points. He does not persevere to preach what he finally decides to preach on: the doctrine of perseverance. He does not persevere in the principal work that he thinks God has called him to execute.

Conclusion: “I don’t have time to unpack this for you,” says Mr. Fox about the difference between saving faith and false faith. Isn’t that your job, Mr. Fox? Isn’t that what the title of your sermon promised us you would do? Shouldn’t we expect you to unpack something from your chosen theme? “We forget to remind those who come to Christ that you have a real enemy in yourself, in the world, and in the heavens,” he says. Did you tell us anything about these enemies in this sermon? No, you said nothing about them; so the sin of forgetting is mostly yours because you, as the pastor, should lead by example. “We want to find ourselves wrestling with the teachings of Jesus Christ,” he says with seriousness. Does he not tell us something like this in every sermon? But have you wrestled with anything at all, Mr. Fox? If Christianity is not a game, then surely the pulpit must be something more than a mascot! We must be found wrestling, we must be found wrestling, he says, but in three sermons in a row the man who needs to wrestle most has done nothing to honor his title, his text, his points, or the theme he ends up talking about! The reason for this dishonor must be that he did not wrestle in his study and closet: not with his books and not in his prayers. But the more fundamental reason for his botched work may be the fact that his vocation has no call from God to back it up.

Once again, we have to ask, in wonder and with a wry face on, how those persons in this congregation who know better can be satisfied with a pastor who can teach nothing more than the most dreamy, apathetic souls in church already know! Mr. Fox is earnest; but zeal without aptitude for teaching is just one proof (and the only one we need) of a professed calling that has no divine backing. Not all that profess to be called are in possession of a calling. Not all that profess to be called are called to prophesy. There is this idea pervading churches of all kinds at this time, and which has pervaded the Brethren assemblies from their inception, probably, that he who desires to teach the Bible is ‘apt to teach.’ Desire to teach does not fulfill the qualification of aptitude that the Bible says an elder must have. Aptitude to teach means more than a desire to teach; it means that you have ability. This man has not the aptitude; he is not able. Therefore he is doing a thing for which he is not called, even the greatest thing for which a calling is most necessary. “I’ve been discipling for a long time,” this pastor assures us. With material like this? Successfully? We should wonder about that. We are very eager by this time to move on to examine the next church. But we have said something; we have more warrant at the close of this analysis than Mr. Fox has at the close of his sermon, to say, that ‘we’ll leave the matter there.’

But just one defense of our criticism before we store this analysis. Mr. Fox says that he’s thankful to live in a country where the worst that can happen to a Christian, in regards to persecution, is criticism. Since this analysis is nothing but criticism, and since it comes from a Christian quarter and therefore cannot be classified as persecution but only reproof and correction, he should be extremely thankful to receive our criticism and to take all that we have said to heart. Now we can move on. And we insist that we have nothing against this man except that his pulpit duties cannot be shown to be the outworking of that characteristic of aptitude the apostle Paul reveals the called man must be in possession of. “A bishop [an elder] then must be…apt to teach” (1 Timothy 3.2.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

CHARLES WOODBRIDGE, THE NEW EVANGELICALISM (BOOK REPORT 29)

GABOURY’S CRITICAL BOOK REPORT


Charles Woodbridge, The New Evangelicalism (Greenville, South Carolina: Bob Jones University Press, 1969), 62 pp.


That Christian who has read little or no theology from eras previous to the 20th century is probably part of The New Evangelicalism. The term is not a putdown. It was coined by a spokesman for the new approach: Boston pastor Harold Ockenga. “In a formal statement he has declared: ‘The New Evangelicalism has changed its strategy from one of separation to one of infiltration’” (p. 14.) This new strategy is not biblical: “Had Moses been a New Evangelical, he probably would have reasoned thus: ‘Would it not be better for me to infiltrate Egypt rather than to separate myself from it? Would it not be more profitable if I disregarded God’s command and remained in Pharaoh’s court as a witness to the glory of God?’” (p. 13.) Here is the qualification: “Ministers of the gospel may certainly accept invitations to preach, even in strange and unexpected places, provided that they do not put themselves under the sponsorship or auspices of false teachers” (p. 41.) The new evangelicalism strategy is the same old pragmatism that the Jesuits used: “the teaching that the end justifies the means utilized in the attainment of the end” (p. 31.) The root cause of this pragmatic approach is the idea that “a new system of thought and practice is needed in setting forth the message of salvation” (p. 16.) The biblical methods of old are deemed insufficient. Dr. Woodbridge sketches the story of this new evangelicalism, proves his thesis against the new way, and names the guilty parties, just as the apostle Paul used to do.

New Evangelical magazines include World Vision, Christian Life, Moody Monthly, Christianity Today, and Eternity. These magazines, by promotion and publication, are connected to heretical beliefs in their effort to achieve their desired end. “Over against the teaching of the Word of God, some of the New Evangelicals now imply that in dealing with heretics the test is no longer doctrine but love. We must be less concerned about the theological errors of unbelieving ministers and more concerned about exhibiting love toward them” (p. 24.) This is to adopt “the ‘soft line’ of appeasement rather than the Biblical ‘hard line’ of repudiation” (p. 25.) The peer pressure to adopt the soft line is indeed great, since even Billy Graham has adopted it. “In the Los Angeles Graham crusade, the honorary chairman was none other than Bishop Gerald F. Kennedy of the Methodist Church” who, in a book called God’s Good News, “eloquently denies the deity of Christ” (p. 39.)

“Frankly, if you do not genuinely believe the Bible, or if you lack implicit faith in the accuracy, finality, and complete validity of the Word of God…this message may seem to you to be strange, exaggerated, or irrelevant” (p. 9.) Beware, New Evangelicalism is “a false doctrine which seems to have a fascinating appeal to theologically unwary or academically ambitious souls” (p. 21.)

The author’s affiliations (see back cover) may be irreconcilable with this book’s message.

Content: A- (New Evangelicalism defined, exposed, and refuted.)
     Style: A- (Concisely communicated.)
    Tone: B  (Quaint but true.)
                      
Grading Table: A: a keeper: reread it; promote it; share it.
                        B: an average book: let it go.
                        C: read only if you have to.

Monday, October 21, 2013

JONATHAN EDWARDS, SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD AND OTHER WRITINGS (BOOK REPORT 28)

GABOURY’S CRITICAL BOOK REPORT


Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and other Writings (1700’s; Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2000), 314 pp.


The selection contains four sermons, An Essay on the Trinity, and the Freedom of the Will. This is a very odd selection. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God is as mighty a sermon as the title promises. And it was mightily used by God to awaken sinners: “Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little time! your damnation does not slumber” (p. 16.) The Presence is felt in that sermon more than in the other three, though all are good. The essay on the trinity, by today’s standard, is also good, but it does not compare well with so much else that Edwards has written. The rhetoric is complicated, and it is a real pain to decipher.

The Freedom of the Will must be about as abstract and esoteric as any theorem in existence. I have little doubt that Edwards is right and the Arminian is wrong. But who is sharp enough to follow Edwards down such narrow corridors of reason? Like most philosophy, this must be gotten through only by the stubborn reader. Who can labor through this without leaving so many parts unknown? The difference between Necessity and necessary, and between impossible and Impossibility, are these necessary to state and possible to fathom? (p. 125.) About Edwards’ philosophical subtleties, John Erskine says this in his Advertisement (1774) to Edwards’ History of Redemption: “the abstruse nature of the subject, or the subtle objections of opposers of the truth, led him to more abstract and metaphysical reasonings.” (He is not speaking there, of the History of Redemption, though.) Edwards’ Freedom of the Will is the domain of “divines, metaphysicians, and logical writers,” as Mr. W. the Editor calls them in a note (not in this edition.) This being the case, do we not require the full disclosure of what Edwards worked so hard to prove before we can hope to grasp more than a few slivers of what he meant? When Volume One of Edwards’ Works providentially came into my hands, I discovered that I had struggled to understand the Freedom of the Will with only part of the treatise to read! Thanks Nelson Publishers!

Over twenty percent of the Will is missing in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and other Writings by Thomas Nelson Publishers. There is no indication of omission in the Publisher’s Preface, and none in the Introduction—yet the Will’s Preface, its Footnotes, even vast Sections of the grand Treatise itself, and the Appendix, and even the Conclusion—are all omitted! On Nelson’s final page, it says, The End, as if to cause the impression that we’ve just read the full version. With something as important and hard to comprehend as the operation of man’s will, by which our choice for evil or good is made in consequence to eternity, what are we to make of Nelson’s deletions? Even the conclusion is dropped from the Farewell Sermon, which is where Edwards extends his love to that guilty, ungrateful congregation that dishonorably voted him out. It’s as if this selection of abridged material is painstakingly calculated to give the reader a low opinion of Edwards. I recommend Hendrickson’s edition of his Works.  

For help in understanding Edwards’ treatise on the will, I recommend the essay by William Cunningham: Calvinism, and the Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity. This may be found in The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation (1862.)  

Content: ? (This Nelson Royal Classic is a royal rip-off.)
     Style: ? (Nothing is so disorienting as omission.)
    Tone: ? (Abridgments are ugly; beguiling Publishers, uglier.)
                      
Grading Table: A: a keeper: reread it; promote it; share it.
                        B: an average book: let it go.
                        C: read only if you have to.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

CONFIRMING THE WITNESS OF CHRIST (SERMON SKETCH 17)

(Because of the wretched state of Red Deer’s pulpit space, it is now, as predicted by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3, the time to ‘pluck up that which is planted…a time to break down…a time to weep…a time to cast away stones’ and even ‘a time to refrain from embracing.’ And it is certainly more ‘a time to speak’ than ‘a time to keep silence.’ Be that as it may, the wrecking ball of negative criticism should be followed by the laying down of truth. To this end, we introduce the sermon sketch as an intermittent blog feature. As the term ‘sketch’ implies, this kind of post, in distinction from the usually lengthy analysis, will be pithy. The source for each sketch will be indicated at the bottom of each post.)

Confirming the Witness of Christ

“Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you” (1 Corinthians 1.6.)

Introduction. The most gifted church is not always the healthiest. The Corinthian church was first-class. But it was one of the worst in all Greece. Gifts are no good, even evil, unless consecrated to the service of God. He who buries his ten talents may expect to be given over to the tormentor. We must judge men, not by their talents, but by the use they make of them. Some Corinthians could work miracles. Now the church needs no such support. Therefore God has left us without extraordinary gifts. But we must use the gifts we have to confirm the testimony of Christ Jesus.

(1) The Testimony of Christ Jesus. That this world is fallen is the first truth in theology. God might justly have left the world to perish. But being full of mercy, he determined to send the Mediator to restore it, and save the elect of God. Beginning with Abel, God sent forth a priesthood of testifiers. Enoch walked with God, Moses climbed the steep sides of Sinai. During the times of the judges and kings, truth ran in a shallow stream. Next came a Nathan or Elijah, then the eloquent Isaiah and the soaring Ezekiel. Behind these came the minor prophets. God might deluge the world with water. But never would he extinguish the flame of testimony. The stream of man’s wickedness and of time may be crossed by stepping-stones of testimony, from Noah to Abraham to Moses, and so on. The last stepping-stone is Jesus Christ. John speaks of Christ as ‘the faithful witness’ (Revelation 1.5.) Now, then, I am not dishonoring my Master by calling him a ‘witness.’ He is the last witness, the greatest witness. Christ witnesses directly for himself. Jeremiah and Daniel spake only what God had revealed to them. Christ’s testimony was uniform. We cannot say that of any other, whether Noah, David, or Abraham. These were certainly good testifiers. But sin has left a plague-spot upon them all. Sin never contradicted Christ’s testimony. Further, Christ’s testimony was perfectly full. Other men gave testimony to parts of truth. There was more of God revealed by Christ than in the works of creation and in all the prophets. He testified to all God’s attributes: to God’s mercy by healing the lame; to his power by stilling the wind; to his justice by languishing on Cavalry. I bless God that there are so many denominations. We have different men to defend different kinds of truths. Christ defended and preached all. And mark, Christ’s testimony was final. He said finis to the canon of revelation. All who come after him are confirmers of his testimony.

(2) The Testimony of Christ is to be Confirmed in You. The best confirmation of gospel truth is inside the Christian. I love ‘Paley’s Evidences.’ But I never need them for my own use. The witness inside me defies all infidelity. Says John Newton, life is too short to be spent reading contradictions of my religion. O, says the Christian, do not tell me there is no power in religion, for I have felt it. Otherwise, I would never have changed. Sometimes persons come asking me to confirm the truth outside of them. I cannot do that. I want them to have the truth confirmed in them. Try religion yourself, and you will see its power. O, it is a blessed thing to trust in the Lord. It is also our business to so live that we might be the means of confirming the truth in others. Wicked men do not read the Bible; they read Christians. With a careful eye they watch how they live. O, may you have grace to live in such a way that the world will find no fault in you.

Selection from Conclusion. “Now, my friends, to close…If you can die without fear, or repining, or remorse, knowing that you are forgiven—if you can die with the song of victory on your lips, and with the smile of joy upon your countenance, then you will confirm the witness of Christ.”

{This sermon by C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) is sketched by M. H. Gaboury.}




Thursday, October 3, 2013

DONALD D. CROWE, CREATION WITHOUT COMPROMISE (BOOK REPORT 27)

(One’s level of piety, whether devotional or practical, depends much on knowledge being either learned or misconceived. In these analyses we have made mention, occasionally, of books that either help or hinder the grand object of piety. It seems natural, consequently, to supplement the analyses, now and again, with correlating book reports.)


GABOURY'S CRITICAL BOOK REPORT


Donald D. Crowe, Creation Without Compromise (Brisbane, Australia: Creation Ministries International, 2009), 296 pp.






Evils like eugenics, abortion, infanticide, and genocide are more acceptable from the standpoint of believing that man is an evolved ape than from the view of man being made in the image of God (p. 17.) If ‘survival of the fittest’ is the method by which man came into his own, then why not continue to exploit the weak? (p. 239.) A Darwinian struggle for existence involves no matter of right or wrong (p. 266.) “The survival of the fittest necessarily involves the death of the less fit” (p. 265.) Therefore it remains relevant and necessary to weigh the theory of evolution against the biblical account of creation, to decide for one of the other, and to promote the truth. 

The theory of evolution still lacks the fossil evidence that is needed to back it up (p. 88.) Not only this, but it has no answer as to how the universe came from a speck, how randomness came to order, how inanimate matter came to life, or how life proceeded to intelligence (p. 276.) Darwin admitted that complexity coming about by natural selection to be an absurd proposition (p. 103.) In his most influential book may be found many suppositions just on one page (p. 100.) If a hypothesis (like the theory of evolution) seems uncertain, it is wise to maintain our position (for creation, p. 142.)

The present immoral situation that we are in came about through a gradual dismissal of biblical content. Supernaturalism was first set aside, then the moral system (p. 256.) Donald C. Crowe would convince us to take the Bible seriously, not only on matters touching the supernatural and moral, but the cosmological and scientific as well. That the Bible was ‘not written to tell us how the heavens go, but how to go to heaven’ is an apology that he considers a compromise (p. 202.) Moreover, he believes that the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 are to be taken as if they yield to us a detailed record of transpired years from the days of Adam to Abraham. This is why, I suppose, that he is able to pigeonhole the scattering that occurred at the tower of Babel at ‘about 2242 B. C.’ (p 22.) In short, he defends the chronological scheme of Archbishop Ussher (p. 62.)

It is true that the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 present a more ‘interlocking format’ than does Matthew 1, which makes it more problematic to justify hidden years between persons (pp. 67, 68, 179.) But William Green (1890), strongly criticized by Mr. Crowe, would have us consider (in Evolution and Antiquity by J. D. Thomas, p. 59) that the impression we get from reading the narrative concerning Abraham is that the persons carried through the Flood had passed away long before Abraham was born. Was the death of Noah and the birth of Abraham really separated by just two years, as Mr. Crowe insists? (p. 63.) It doesn’t feel like it when you read the life of Abraham in Genesis. That the Bible does not ‘state a date of creation’ is a statement that Mr. Crowe will not bear (p. 288.) The man is so wild with zeal to convince us of a certain, precise, inspired chronology that he unleashes insupportable allegations against Green, Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, and even C. H. Spurgeon.  Maybe Spurgeon asserted, in one sermon or other, the existence of ‘pre-Adamite humanoids,’ as Crowe alleges on page 244. But do ‘races of creatures’ (p. 243) have to mean ‘humanoids’? Spurgeon speaks there of ‘races of creatures’ created by God ‘before he tried his hand on man.’ We might disagree with that. But the quote on page 243 does not support what Crowe alleges on page 244. Because Green points out the names that are omitted from the genealogy of Matthew 1, does that amount to the passage being ‘abused in order to discredit Genesis’? (p. 60.) Was it Green’s object to abuse Scripture in order to discredit Scripture? Really, what Crowe approves of on the next page, in the words of Henry Morris, is not far from what Green contends: that Genesis 5 contains “the only reliable chronological framework we have for the antediluvian period of history.” Does a ‘framework’ mean an exact delineation of years? Does Henry Morris intend for us to take what he says that way? Or is Crowe just fishing for support where none can be found? When Hodge asserts that the Church has been forced to accommodate scientific discoveries, does that mean that Hodge is guilty of destroying Genesis? (pp. 115, 116.) An allegation like that does not accord with calling Hodge a great defender of the faith (p. 109.) Moreover, the quotes that are gathered from the works of Hodge do not contain the concessions to evolution that Crowe alleges. I do not see from these quotes any evidence of Hodge being a ‘piecemeal accommodating apologist’ (p. 124.) As far as I can see, Hodge maintains the same ground as the man that Crowe finds no fault with: R. L. Dabney. Though Warfield sometimes concedes too much to evolution (pp. 158, 174), is it fair to put incriminating words in his mouth? From page 163: “‘The Bible tells us nothing about the mode of creation’ is little more than a euphemism for ‘I do not accept what the Bible tells us about the mode of creation.’” No source is cited for this, and calling the statement a euphemism for not accepting what the Bible says is unfair. If one does not believe that the Bible teaches a certain thing, then it is hardly an issue of not accepting what the Bible says about it. The lack of proof for Crowe’s many allegations begs another criticism regarding yet another ‘quote.’ If you claim that H. G. Wells wrote that inferior races ought to be exterminated, would it not, considering the seriousness of the charge, be kind and prudent to cite the original work in which the statement was made instead of relying on secondhand sources? (p. 268.)

After all of his ranting and raving against Spurgeon, Green, Hodge, and Warfield, Mr. Crowe attempts An Exegetical Study of Genesis, which I did not find compelling at all. It did not come close to convincing me of Crowe’s very particular Creation Without Compromise. I found it not only unconvincing, but confusing also.

It is true that “Christianity has no place for random chance; evolution has no place for God’s design” (p. 25.) But Crowe’s Creation Without Compromise is not the book that I would recommend for showing the truth of this. In this book may be found a store of facts by which to expose the falsehoods of evolution and to highlight the truthfulness of the biblical account. It contains enlightening facts on the characters and events that helped to occasion Darwinism, like the writings of Darwin’s grandfather and the death of Darwin’s daughter (pp. 84, 89, 91, 159.) The liberal scholar’s contradictory use of Scripture is nicely shown (p. 169.) The contents of Darwin’s Origin of Species are neatly summed up (p. 97.) There is more than one instance of wit: “While the ‘dogmatic agnostic’ may be an oxymoron, it is not an endangered species” (p. 87.) And our interest is heightened by the mention of some old books in which the great controversy between evolution and creation was waged when still in its infant stage (pp. 194, 195, 197.) But the author of Creation Without Compromise is often unfair, frequently nasty, and his exegesis is muddling and uneventful.           

Content: B (An attempt to establish creationist boundaries.)
    Style:  B (Commonplace.)
   Tone:  C (Overconfident, condescending, and slanderous.)
                           
Grading Table: A: a keeper: reread it; promote it; share it.
                        B:  an average book: let it go.

                        C:  read only if you have to.

Monday, September 30, 2013

BALMORAL BIBLE CHAPEL, BELIEVE AND GROW (SERMON ANALYSIS 7)

October 2011

This is the second sermon by Mr. Fox to review, and the seventh from Balmoral Bible Chapel. We listened by podcast.

Mr. Fox, Balmoral Bible Chapel, September 18th, 2011, Believe and Grow. 

Summary: (Mr. Fox begins by touching on his past; he then reads part of Psalm 78; he follows that up with a word on the nature of the Church and the responsibility of discipleship; then he reads from John 20.30, 31; and then he goes over some basics on the apostle John.) What we want to do now is to look at John’s life after the cross, after the resurrection. This is a great time of reformation in Israel. Judaism is coming to a close. John is witnessing the Holy Spirit being poured out on Pentecost. He’s part of all of this. John begins to see the older apostles dying, one by one. But he’s journeying through that in faith. Many are coming to Christ, and trusting in his sacrifice, but many are not. Eventually John is put into a pot of boiling oil. During all this persecution, he is a faithful example of suffering. Praise God! He is the only apostle to die of natural causes. So he is sent to an island. There he gets an incredible revelation. I want to connect an important dot for you: John was a man who made disciples; he taught, baptized, and taught others how to make disciples. One of his disciples was Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. John tells him in that letter to expect persecution. Polycarp gets tied to a stake and lit on fire. But nothing happens to him. He goes on proclaiming the praises of God, the wonderful works of Jesus. Finally, they hit him with a spear to shut him up and kill him. That brings us back to John, my favorite pastor. (He reads 1 John 2.1.) That’s the heart of the Father. Back to John 20. The signs recorded there are for our benefit, that we might believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and have life. To believe is to trust that Jesus is the Christ, that he is sent by the Father as the Messiah that the Old Testament prophets pointed to. It’s in his name alone that we have life, salvation. Jesus Christ is God. None but God could redeem us or justify us. None but God can make us holy. None but God can bring us to heaven. (He closes with an exhortation to study and teach at home, then says a prayer.) 

Remarks: The only positive points we can come up with are these: Mr. Fox reads the Bible with seriousness and enthusiasm; he states that faith means trust; he stresses that faith must be in Jesus Christ alone; and he mentions a string of doctrines near the end. If the sermon were good enough to be called tolerable, we could devote more time and space to speaking positively.

For content, spirit, form, and method, this sermon is one of the most poverty-stricken that we have ever heard. In a word, this sermon is worthless.

The content. Was the apostle John a disciple of John the Baptist? Maybe he was, but where did Mr. Fox get the proof? He didn’t get it from the Bible. He states the opinion so matter-of-factly that persons knowing no more than Mr. Fox does might simply receive the dubious dogma as a biblical fact. And what if someone decides to check this assertion out by the Bible? He will find that the Bible says no such thing and he will be tempted to doubt the religion that Mr. Fox professes. This is why opinions that are biblically insupportable need to be tempered. Stating opinions from the pulpit as if they are facts taken straight from the Bible, even on minor matters, can cause unbelievers to become more skeptical and cynical than they already are. They will doubt some particulars, and on good grounds, and then they will resolve to continue disbelieving the Christian message. A mistake like this on the beginnings of John is not a large doctrinal fault. But it goes a long way toward making a listener suspicious. Why should a listener be comfortable believing anything Mr. Fox has to say? He has no reason to. We found two sources on the internet for this opinion on John: allaboutjesus.org and Wikapedia. (We do not, of course, mention Wikapedia as a reliable source for interpretation of sacred truth; we mention it because it seems that Mr. Fox may have used that secular site to get some of his sermon material from.) We did not find this opinion about John among the commentators that we resort to: like Matthew Henry, Albert Barnes, and Adam Clarke. We did find it in Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown, where it is dogmatically stated, but without reference to the Bible because the opinion cannot be found there. What about the apostle John being dipped into hot oil without suffering any harm? This ‘anecdote’ can be found on Wikapedia too, which mentions Tertullian for a source. John Foxe, in his Acts and Monuments, gives the story as a legend that may be true. He’s a bit of a heavyweight. But usually, when you find this story being shared in a reputable book, it is presented as a legend, not a historical event. And that is the safest way to handle extra-biblical, sensational anecdotes that touch on biblical characters, themes, or doctrines. State mere opinion as fact about some subject in the Bible, and what happens? People listening to you believe it, the opinion spreads, and what may be merely legendary begins to loom as large as biblical truth. Is that not how the cult of Mary began? Begin to throw opinions out as facts, and the thin edge of the wedge has begun, and heresies will follow through the gap. Both Albert Barnes and Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown are very careful to give this story out as legendary. No matter which way we lean, either this way or that, a story like this must be shared with reserve and qualification. Mr. Fox does not exercise any caution. What about Polycarp being lit on fire and ‘nothing happens to him.’ This is a misrepresentation of how the story is generally related. No doubt Mr. Fox gives it out like this in order to parallel with, and build on, what he believes happened to John in the notion of boiling oil. Even Wikapedia (which we never recommend as a source to go to for confirmation of any sacred matter) is more careful than Mr. Fox is. There it says that Polycarp was stabbed when the fire failed to touch him. This agrees with John Foxe’s communication on the same: the flames encircled his body like an arch, and so the executioner was ordered to put him to death by piercing. (John Foxe probably gets carried away when he adds that the blood came out so much as to extinguish the fire.) What should be especially taken note of is that the way Mr. Fox presents the story of Polycarp confirms what we warned of above: an opinion given out as a fact is the thin edge of the wedge for more of the same; it is the avenue making way for more. Mr. Fox does not stop with stating the doubtful story about John being dipped in oil and not suffering harm from it. The temptation is to build on this, to go a little further for effect. And this is probably why we get the strange spin from him on the martyrdom of Polycarp. Just look at how these ‘accounts’ are presented by Mr. Fox. The apostle John is dipped in oil and ‘nothing happens.’ And so Polycarp is lit on fire and ‘nothing happens to him.’ Do you see the progression of sinful assumption here? Mr. Fox encourages his crowd to read Commentaries. But he does not mention any. Maybe he’s too embarrassed to say who is sources are. Either this pastor reads good Commentaries carelessly (not minding the provisos), or he reads to receive whatever uncritical Commentaries have to say. In either case, he ends up preaching uncritical remarks from the pulpit. What we have said so far could leave the impression that this sermon contains actual content, albeit of doubtful legitimacy. In truth, there is almost nothing in it. The history of himself, his own sons being sons of thunder, the notice of his mentor’s death, the word ‘church’ being reserved for persons, not buildings: this is pretty much what the sermon consists of, and all of this space-filling, time-consuming information has nothing at all to do with the title of the sermon: ‘Believe and Grow.’ And if you are going to give out your testimony, even in part, is it not a good idea to tell us something more significant about it than that you were picked up by a Presbyterian bus and brought to church? Should such vacuous biography convince anyone that you got saved? There just isn’t any content in this message: not in the testimony, and not in what follows it. We have encountered this often by now: pastors talk a lot about what they aim to say, but they end up saying nothing. There can be no idea in this pastor’s head that his job is to wrestle with a text of Scripture in order to get some substance out of it. The idea should be there, for this is what he tells his listeners to do: “to wrestle with the things that the Bible teaches concerning the book of John.” Those are his words exactly. What kind of Bible-school could have been content to send a man out to teach who has not even learned that the Scriptures must be mined? The doctrines he tacks on at the end are so disconnected from the rest of the sermon that we wonder why they even appear. There is no sense of progression here, no connexions, no reason, no content, and the result is a confusing mess. Almost any man with a wee bit of talent for speaking, any man, saved or unsaved, could give us, without any study, more biblical truth than what this sermon contains. This pastor gives us nothing. How can the Holy Spirit use a message that has nothing in it?

The spirit. The spirit of this sermon is like the juvenile, immature atmosphere that swirls around the campfire at your conventional Bible-camp for teenagers. There you might hear someone read a verse, and then remark, ‘That’s the heart of the Father.’ Mr. Fox, this is no acute observation. The whole Bible is the heart of the Father. Another error of the spiritual sort is committed when the meeting at the mount of transfiguration is brought up. Peter wanted to raise tabernacles, or booths, there. But maybe it wouldn’t be hip enough to use biblical terminology. So let’s have Peter say something like, ‘Let’s just camp here.’ Yes, and maybe they should have cracked open a twelve-pack or even a two-four! Maybe they might have put some steaks on the bar-b! That’s what Mr. Fox’s street-style is suggestive of, and what it may yet come to if he doesn’t get sanctified. At some other point in the sermon, he remarks, ‘How’s about the suffering in the garden?’ Yes, how’s about it, Mr. Pastor, how’s about actually telling us something about the tormenting event that led to the death that you claim to be saved by? How about doing some work on your sermon so that death can be elevated in the eyes of the people who have come before you to receive Communion? How about becoming a trained, serious, holy pastor of souls? How about that? Another fault is committed when he goes on about who his favorites are. The apostle John is his favorite pastor. The apostle Paul is his favorite theologian. And the theology of Paul trumps that of J. C. Did you know that? When I heard this comment, my first impression was that there must be some pastor going by those initials in the congregation. But then I began to wonder. Is that possibly a reference to Jesus Christ? I have since learned that J. C. for Jesus Christ is popular shorthand among churchgoers these days. The Analyst must get out more, for he did not know this! That is an amazingly telling anecdote! Is that where churchgoers are at, spiritually? We can be so familiar with the Saviour of our soul that we may refer to him by an acronym now?! Oh, he must be on the same level as Pastor Dan, Pastor Shane, and those guys! What a marvelous revelation! It must be so easy to get a high place in heaven when the Person who decides on whether you get there or not is your bosom-chum! Now, having John for a favorite pastor, Paul for a favorite theologian, and to maintain that the theology of Paul trumps that of our Lord, what does this remind us of? (Let’s pass quickly over the fact that to put the sayings of Jesus and the writings of Paul in competition with one another is a false dichotomy since the Spirit is the underlying Author of all Revelation.) We stated in the first analysis that Balmoral has, to our appearance, a babe in its pulpit. And here is more evidence that he is in fact no more than a babe, and possibly something less. His emphasis on who his favorites are reminds us of the baby Corinthians when they were choosing favorites: “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1.12.) Mr. Fox, “was Paul crucified for you?” (verse 13.) If you are truly saved by faith in Jesus Christ, take heart, little Corinthian, for “all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas” (3.21, 22.) You are on the verge of idolizing John and Paul. And, “Ye have not so learned Christ” (Ephesians 4.20.) The spirit of this sermon is babyish and irreverent. By the pastor’s way of speaking, you get the feeling that if he met Jesus, he would, instead of falling down to worship, punch him on the shoulder, and exclaim, ‘J. C., how’s it going, dude!’ And maybe after punching him on the shoulder, he would take Jesus aside to discuss who the best theologian is. Try addressing the Lord Jesus Christ as ‘J. C.’ at the second coming and see how far you get into God’s kingdom! Let’s wait and see if the Lord’s theology is ‘trumped’ on that day! (If the pastor means to denote some peer by the acronym, we apologize for making an issue out of nothing. We both hope and doubt that the apology is necessary.)

The form and method. A pastor should preach his text, or announce that preaching will be trumped by testimony today, or fold his testimony into the sermon somewhere, succinctly. To have your testimony (if we may call it that) take up more than half your sermon, what is this done for? Because you have nothing to say? Because you have no real sermon on ‘believe and grow’ after all? It seems like this pastor went all over his imagination and disreputable commentaries in search of sermon material, then scattered these bits pell-mell and then called the grubby pile a sermon: fait accompli. The first sermon of his that we reviewed was ordered like so: speech about being a pastor; textual context; reading of passage; preaching; prayer; preaching. This one is ordered like so: testimony; reading of passage; chat about Balmoral; preaching; chat on family worship; prayer. He has no fixed idea on how to order a sermon. It’s like he got his methodology, not from a reputable Bible college, but from a commercial for Bits N’ Bites: ‘every handful is whole new ballgame.’ When there is no rational arrangement to guide an effort, the production will look like an object created during a fit of madness. The sermon doesn’t even begin until minute eighteen! Then, not only does nothing of consequence happen, but the sermon lasts for nine minutes, at which time it is entirely abandoned to make way for another chitchat! Now that should seem like madness to anyone who cares for order. When there is no order, there is no flow, and therefore no reason to proceed from one subject to another. This makes the pastor appear ridiculous. For instance, after telling the story of Polycarp, he says, “This brings us back to John chapter 20.” No it doesn’t. It brings us nowhere. He’s just jarring into another disconnected segment: reaching for the next piece from his bag of Bits N’ Bites. There is no order because no good sermon prep was done. That’s what it comes down to. This pastor fails to show up for work, as it were. He might as well be absent for all the good this sermon can do. Just look at the nonsense that happens when a sermon has nothing to say: “I want to connect an important dot for you: John was a man who made disciples.” Does anyone in church need a dot like that connected? Who in the whole wide world, except for a few jungle natives, needs that dot connected? This is what we mean when we say that this sermon is about nothing. It is absurd enough to laugh at. But we reprove ourselves for laughing. The pulpit is in a bad way! That’s no laughing matter. The elemental cause of this disaster is whatever training center this man was unleashed from. Do professors really tell their students to go about any order at all in the construction and delivery of sermons? What are they thinking, anyway, giving out licenses to preach to men who have no idea how to command a pulpit? The professors, whoever they are, cannot be very fit men themselves.

Conclusion. There is some talk here about the need to press into Christ and to make disciples. But what these acts imply is never told. There is some talk, too, on the necessity of study. But the only thing we get on that is the poor example Mr. Fox sets. What an insult to be told to study by a pastor, who not only does not do it himself, but who has no idea how! The people are told to go out and learn. But being taught nothing about how that may be done, what will happen but some disorganized aimless effort? When there is no teaching from the pulpit, how will your disciples learn and make disciples? To call this sermon ‘believe and grow’ is an insult to these very words. You would think, or even hope, that some of the more mature saints in this church would rise up, raise a ruckus, and get this man relieved from his charge. That would be the responsible, merciful thing to do. A mature congregation would have him sit in the pew for instruction purposes. Pulpit work has become a sideshow, and few persons realize it. We are not required, you know, to be so gracious as to believe this man was called by God to pulpit-speak. The Bible is not that gracious. We do not have to exceed the Bible in grace. “A bishop then must be blameless…apt to teach” (1 Timothy 3.2.) Mr. Fox may be a fine family man, a nice guy, and charming to all, but the one thing he is not is the thing a bishop must be: ‘apt to teach.’ There must be some precious few souls in this church who are being tortured by sermons like this one. To patiently endure without saying something is a terrible sin to the pastor and to the body as a whole. If someone is working, say, in the oil industry, but he’s not cutting the mustard, then he gets told that he should move on and get into something his capabilities and talents can handle. Why shrink so much from doing the same here? A major qualification for the ministry is aptitude for teaching. The Bible tells us so. The Bible should be obeyed, especially when it is most uncomfortable to do so. There is some talk in this sermon about martyrdom. Would this message encourage a saint to die for his faith? Would it show anyone what the gospel is? A sermon called ‘believe and grow’ should accomplish both of these things. It does nothing. Like when John was in the oil and Polycarp was in the fire, ‘nothing happens.’ This pastor may be a saved man. But we will raise a question just in case. If faith without works is dead, and he is failing this badly at his greatest work, is his faith dead or alive? It is easier to suppose him saved if we can leave out of consideration his ministerial work. If we must consider it a work, then what shall be said about his faith, for can his faith be proved by this work? If we accept that he has not been truly called to do what he’s doing, then we at least might know his Christianity by other fruits than ministerial. Moreover, we have a right to know more about his faith than what he tells us in his testimony before we believe it to be genuine. It’s not wrong to desire more than nothing. Listener, go back and listen, please, to the beginning of this sermon. Listen close to this man’s testimony. See if there is even one doctrine there; see if you can detect a conversion there; see if you can call that talk a testimony of faith. Go and listen, and you will not find any mention of repentance, faith, justification, redemption, cross, or blood there; you will find nothing like that in there at all. There is nothing there but a ride to church and a divorce. Is he called by God to do what he is attempting but failing to do? There is nothing to convince us that he is called, nothing in the content, nothing in the spirit, nothing in the form, and nothing in the method by which the form is discharged. Is he a saved man? We wish so. But there is nothing to convince us of that in this sermon, not by the testimony, and not because of any content or spirit. No good can be done for this man’s soul by being as nice to him as he himself comes across. There is a time to be nice; but this is a time to refrain from doing so. We must let honesty have its way once the examination has yielded its deductions. No one should get upset when proofs on calling and salvation are desired and asked of him. We should all be blessed to receive queries that compel us to self-examination. If someone is upset on Mr. Fox’s behalf, then that person should ask himself if it’s a good idea to discourage someone from examining his present standing with God. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

C. H. SPURGEON, REVIVAL YEAR SERMONS (BOOK REPORT 26)

(One’s level of piety, whether devotional or practical, depends much on knowledge being either learned or misconceived. In these analyses we have made mention, occasionally, of books that either help or hinder the grand object of piety. It seems natural, consequently, to supplement the analyses, now and again, with correlating book reports.)

GABOURY'S CRITICAL BOOK REPORT


C. H. Spurgeon, Revival Year Sermons (1859; Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), 96 pp.




What strikes me right away is the Calvinism of Spurgeon’s preaching, very conspicuous in these five sermons, and in the Publisher’s Introduction. His emphasis on that System he justifies by an appeal to the meaning of Scripture. Concerning ‘dead in trespasses and sins,’ he forcibly expounds, “When the body is dead it is powerless; it is unable to do anything for itself; and when the soul of a man is dead, in a spiritual sense, it must be, if there is any meaning in the figure, utterly and entirely powerless, and unable to do anything of itself or for itself” (p. 52.) There is total inability in that point, total depravity. And this one point is sufficient to direct us to the other four. I think that is what Spurgeon is getting at when he says, “But once get the correct view, that man is utterly fallen, powerless, guilty, defiled, lost, condemned, and you must be sound on all points of the great gospel of Jesus Christ” (pp. 53, 54.) That System is of the gospel. Spurgeon would say, and did, “Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else” (p. 16.) The Holy Spirit is not shy to use such inflexibility to cause revival.

How does a young preacher preach, sometimes as much as ten times in a week, and put together sermons of this caliber for the preaching? One thing, he was loyal to a theological scheme that he believed with all his heart to be correct: “The faithful minister must be plain, simple, pointed, with regard to these doctrines. There must be no dispute about whether he believes them or not” (p. 83.) The foundation and framework he never had to adjust; he worked on a solid floor enclosed in partitions already erected. That saves a lot of time. “After revising his early sermons for publication many years later, he wrote, ‘I was happy to find I had no occasion to alter any of the doctrines’” (p. 17.) Even on limited atonement, the most inflammatory point of all, he is shamelessly direct: “Nor do I think we can preach the gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross” (p. 16.) But still, as the case should always be, Spurgeon’s call to sinners was universal: “Oh, sinner, thy life is short, and death is hastening. Thy sins are many…Turn, turn, turn, I beseech thee” (p. 96.) Not surprisingly, he adds, “May the Holy Spirit turn thee.” A preacher confirmed in the doctrine of total depravity cannot help but accent a need for the Spirit.

Revival Year Sermons is full of meaningful content. There is doctrine and uncompromising evangelism here, but also a good bit of history and experience. More particularly, there is an instructive speech on sovereignty and responsibility, those two ‘apparently contradictory’ terms; advice on how to preach sin; encouragement for the called; fiery entreaties for those who might be called; and everything lit up by the ‘five great lights which radiate from the cross of Christ’ (pp. 12, 13.)

Content: A (First rate sermons.)
    Style: A (First rate illustrations.)
   Tone: A (First rate communication.)
                       
Grading Table: A: a keeper: reread it; promote it; share it.
                         B: an average book: let it go.
                         C: read only if you have to.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A VIEW OF GOD'S GLORY (SERMON SKETCH 16)

(Because of the wretched state of Red Deer’s pulpit space, it is now, as predicted by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3, the time to ‘pluck up that which is planted…a time to break down…a time to weep…a time to cast away stones’ and even ‘a time to refrain from embracing.’ And it is certainly more ‘a time to speak’ than ‘a time to keep silence.’ Be that as it may, the wrecking ball of negative criticism should be followed by the laying down of truth. To this end, we introduce the sermon sketch as an intermittent blog feature. As the term ‘sketch’ implies, this kind of post, in distinction from the usually lengthy analysis, will be pithy. The source for each sketch will be indicated at the bottom of each post.)

A View of God's Glory

“And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory” (Exodus 33.18.)

Introduction. Moses could not have asked for more. This is the highest elevation that faith ever gained. Did Moses not wonder at himself for asking so much? Where did such faith come from? It was by communion with God. Had Moses not received grace through communion and intercession, this petition might have been too large for him to carry to the throne. Do you want faith like this? Be much in secret prayer. Refer to verse 13 where Moses asked God to show him the way. He asked for a lesser favor before he requested greater. Build on your past petitions. Faith can scale the walls of heaven. She is a giant grace. Be like the beggars who don’t give up asking.

(1) The Gracious Manifestation. It is likely that Moses, with all his knowledge of the Most High, had a vague idea that divinity might be seen. Subtler than the secret power of electricity is the existence we call a spirit. We could just as soon bind the winds with cords as to behold spirits with our eyes. No form passed before Moses. He looked from behind a covering and saw, not a person, but an attribute. What attribute will God show Moses? His justice? His holiness? His wrath? His power? Will he bring Moses’ sins to remembrance to show that he is omniscient? No; hear the still small voice—“I will make all my goodness pass before thee.” Ah! the goodness of God is God’s glory. Consider the goodness of God in creation. Who can tell it? The ravens peck food from his liberal hands. The fishes leap. Every insect is nourished by him. And while man lives and dies as a flower, the Lord does not forget him. And then, think of his sovereign goodness toward his chosen people. See your name in God’s book of predestinating, unchanging grace! Then come down to the time of redemption, and see your Saviour bleeding and agonizing. O my soul, there were drops of goodness before, but O, rivers now! God’s goodness is ‘past finding out.’ I would invoke all creation to be vocal in his praise. God’s goodness is not all that Moses saw. There was something more. God said, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” There is sovereignty. God’s goodness without his sovereignty does not completely set forth his nature. God has the right to save any one in this chapel, or to crush all who are here. Put goodness and sovereignty together and see God’s glory. Sovereign grace is the glory of the gospel.

(2) A Gracious Concealment. God said to Moses, “Thou canst not see my face and live.” Robert of Normandy lost his sight when his brother passed a red-hot copper bowl before his face. Some doctrines, if we understood them, would scorch our eyes out. The sinner can’t see God’s face while clothed in his own righteousness. He must be cast into the fire of hell. The saint can’t see God’s face and live, not because of moral disability, but because of physical inability. I wonder if even the saints in heaven see God. We can leave that till we get there. Certainly, no man on earth can see God’s face and live. All we can see are the ‘back parts’ of God.

(3) The Gracious Shielding. Moses had to be put in the cleft of a rock before he could see God. O, my soul, enter into the hole in Jesus’ side. That is the cleft of the rock where you must abide and see God. Precious Christ! may I be found in thee when the world melts away!

Selection from Conclusion. “There is an hour coming, when we must all, in a certain sense, see God. We must see him as a Judge…I pray God deliver you from hell…if you have no hiding-place, woe unto you. See you that cleft in the rock, see that cross, see that blood. There is security…only there.”


{This sermon by C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) is sketched by M. H. Gaboury.}


Friday, September 13, 2013

GAY PRIDE PROGRESS IN REDNECK CITY

There has been little visible opposition to gay pride progress in our city. There had been more if all the letters to papers had been published. Mine to the Express was denied. The article that follows is an amplification of that unpublished letter. While doing research for this article, I stumbled upon the best thing that I have ever read by a gay guy concerning gay aggression. Here is the link, from a site called pfox.org:


Now to my article, preceded by a little clip in order to supply some context. Have any of our pastors addressed the recent homosexual goings on in this city? I suppose that some of them are accepting of unrepentant gays for church members, just as many of them are accepting of unrepentant adulterers and fornicators for the same. At least they are consistent.



Red Deer Express, August 14th, 2013. Gay pride in a redneck city seems like a queer idea and a perfect storm. But it’s just a queer idea. While I’m not in favor of promoting violence against queer persons, it would be encouraging if rednecks would at least frown upon queer associations. Is it still permissible to frown at those who celebrate what to God is an abomination? If the queers have their way, even frowning at them will be outlawed. Notice the progression. They get a proclamation from the mayor. Next, according to event organizer, Kristol Gallivan, they must ‘come up with bylaws’ (end of article, not pasted in here.) There was no resistance to their gay pride fruit float. But tolerance must be forced. That is the way queers operate. They call themselves queer, but they don’t want to be called queer. The laws protect them, but they want bylaws too. They are tolerated, but they whine about intolerance. Why?
                                      
Queers don’t want to feel like exceptions in the crowd. They want to feel at ease walking hand in hand. They want open kisses without criticism. They want to flaunt their Heinz 57 lifestyles like Texan women do their hair. By suppressing an already tolerant community, they hope to gain enough courage to do it all. If they could get away with it, many of them would, I think, go so far as to coerce non-queers into queer participation. From where do I get a notion like that? I get it from inspired history and human psychology. Modern queers are in harmony of spirit with the queers of old. “And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them” (Genesis 19.5.) Queers, deep down, want proof of allegiance by mutual participation. Thanks to God, there are fewer of them than there are of us. The record from Genesis is not surprising in light of human psychology. What do drunks want but everyone to join in? What do drug addicts want but addicted friends? What do fornicators want but open marriages? What is peer pressure but a kind of force? You are a queer thinker if you believe that queers don’t want everyone to dip into their lifestyles. Such promiscuous participation would go a long way toward making them feel that their abominable acts are okay. Then they would not second-guess their queer gestures in public. Then they would handhold, kiss, pet, and set new standards in public for everyone.

Thankfully, a proclamation from the mayor, a reception in a bar, a multi-faith service sanction, and an unobstructed fruit float is not a forceful enough foursome to coerce intimate knowledge of queerdom. The queers who pounded on Lot’s door were unsuccessful against the angels of God. And their modern partners in crime, we should pray, will be unsuccessful due to God’s grace unto salvation. May gay pride progress regress by God’s regenerative act upon gay sinners. This ought to be our prayer if we believe that fire and brimstone, if it doesn’t get you here, will get you Hereafter. That goes for queers, rednecks, and every sinner in between. Jesus may have walked among every kind of sinner. But he participated in no kind of sin. Unlike our mayor, he did not honor sin with a proclamation. He faced it head on with a denunciation: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4.17.) That sounds as intolerant as the edict in Leviticus 18.22.


Forget about pushing for bylaws to conform society to sin. Non-conformity to God’s law calls for the bylaw of repentance. Repent, turn to Jesus for justification and forgiveness, and join the Higher Society of Heaven. Join the angels of God who resisted gay aggression.