Matthew R. Perry

Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

A Global Flood Resounds a Gospel Message, Part I: The Epitome of Sin

In biblical creationism, Darwin, Evolution, global flood, Humanism, Noah on February 17, 2009 at 9:40 am

Once again, look at Genesis 6:5 as well as Genesis 6:11-12:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. . . . Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.

Clearly this is a bleak picture—we see the greatness of man’s wickedness not just in action, but also “the intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Wickedness. Evil. This passage captures the imagination, doesn’t it? What does this look like? Yes, the earth was “filled with violence” and “corrupt.” But the violence was simply a symptom of a greater cause, being “the intentions of the thoughts of his heart” being evil.

What is the essence of evil? I believe that Jesus helps inform us of the essence of the evil found here. In Luke 17:26-27.

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

So what are we seeing here? Is the “evil” and “wickedness” simply heinous violent acts? No, but that is ultimately the result if left unchecked. Where did it stem? “They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark.” In other words, they were continuing on as if nothing would change. They lived life, even the mundane things of life, without God in the equation. Just as 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do, do to the glory of God.”

Darwin fell into this mindset when he listened to his mentor, Dr. Charles Lyell, who claimed like Sagan that everything would continue on as it always had with no change and, ultimately, no judgment or accountability for what you said, did, or thought. The essence of sin is living your life without God in the equation.

Many Christians are like this, but they add God onto it. They have their preferences about how their Christian life should be, how their church should be done, and elevate their preferences up to essentials and then believe God blesses those perceived “essentials.” Many believe that if they are Christians and they have certain convictions, they should be seen as necessities for everyone else–even what they are not expressly outlined in Scripture.

We must be careful not to live as Christian atheists — having Christ in name only, but living as if He did not exist.

A Global Flood Resounds a Gospel Message (Introduction)

In biblical creationism, Evolution, global flood, Humanism, Noah on February 16, 2009 at 3:23 pm

You would be surprised at how controversial this biblical event is among those who claim to be Christians. But did you realize that every ancient culture in biblical times had a story about a widespread flood? Dr. Duane Gish in his book Dinosaurs by Design said that there are 270 such stories, most of which share a common theme and common characters. Even flood legends in China where Fuhi, his wife, and three sons and three daughters escaped a flood, leaving them the only ones alive on earth. A similar story even comes from Hawaii. (For more about this, read this article.)

Yet many disagree as to whether this really happened. Many in our schools who hold to Darwinism (and scientists such as Carl Sagan) not only believe the earth is eternal, but also believe that everything existed as it always has with no cataclysmic interruptions (known as utilitarianism). Therefore, to believe in this, they say, is to believe in a fairy tale. Darwinism and their man-made theories seem to them much more plausible.

Even though many inside and outside the church many question whether the flood happened and whether there was a literal ark to hold every kind of animal, many inside and outside the church may (if that first issue is resolved) question its relevance today. Sure, it makes a nice story—many pieces of children’s literature tell us to “be good like Noah” who is sitting on a tiny little boat with a few animals. It really misses the entire point of this event and even makes Christians wonder if there is any purpose to this.

This global flood resounds a global message—a gospel message. This is a worldwide flood delivering a worldwide judgment of God. By rejecting this account, you reject a vivid and vibrant picture of the urgent need for seeing our sin and its consequences, but also the great mercy and deliverance God provided. This, in essence, is the gospel. And I pray that you walk out of here seeing the goodness and mercy of our God who provides mercy, deliverance, and even Himself. And I pray that you will also see the great and devastating consequences of what happens when you reject and rebel against His Word.

Read with me if you will Genesis 6:5-14:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. [6] And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. [7] So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” [8] But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

[9] These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. [10] And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

[11] Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. [12] And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. [13] And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. [14] Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.

(Tomorrow: The Global Flood Shows the Epitome of Evil!)

A Plan to Rescue Sunday (Pt. 2 of Stop Dating the Church Review)

In church, Josh Harris on February 14, 2009 at 9:36 am

In my previous post, I reviewed the first few chapters of Josh Harris’ (pictured left) wonderful book, Stop Dating the Church (and Fall In Love With the Family of God).

In this post, I wish to review and comment on Chapter Six of this book, simply entitled Rescuing Sunday. Rescuing Sunday from what? He suggests that we rescue Sundays from ourselves.

Think about it: many times our Sundays begin with waking up late, having self-centered focuses coming into the sanctuary, distracted worship, sporadic listening to the sermons, then leaving as quickly as possible. No wonder many of us receive so little for our services.

Harris noted:

“We need to see Sunday with new eyes. Of course, in one sense it’s just an ordinary day–twenty-four hours during which the sun rises and sets. But when your heart begins to beat for God’s glory and God’s people and you begin to glimpse His longing to visit you, Sunday changes. Actually, it becomes something extraordinary. Something sacred. Something essential.”

How Do We Prepare for Sunday Worship Meetings?

“We need to get our hearts ready” (105). Not just clothes, hair, and kids–our hearts. And this begins on Saturday night, not Sunday morning. How?

  • Get adequate sleep on Saturday night. He echoes Piper’s sentiment in that we should turn off the TV on Saturday nights and not Sunday mornings. Do away with the distractions. Get up early to spend time with God in His Word and in prayer.
  • Remember that worship services do not exist for your entertainment. “Don’t live by your feelings in this moment. Instead, focus your mind on the truth of what you sing and the Person to whom you’re singing. God is observing and receiving your worship. In the light of the wonderful, gracious God He is, give it your all” (110). Listen to the sermon, for that is an act of worship to hear the Word of God.
  • After the meeting, look to love and encourage those around you. He quotes Piper again, who encourages his people to come “on the lookout for God and leave on the lookout for people” (113). The Puritans called Sunday “a market day for the soul,” a way to stock up for the week ahead.
  • During the Week, do what the Word says. Harris commented on a man from his church who went to a Starbucks on Monday mornings to review the notes he took from Sunday’s sermons to see what ways he could apply the Word (see James 1:22-25). We need to have our hearts actively engaged in God’s Word so that we may plug in His Word that rests in our hearts.

There are many who say, “Church is optional. I don’t need church to worship God.” Not according to His Word (Hebrews 10:19-25). We need one another to pray for us, keep us accountable, and to bear our burdens as we walk in Christ Jesus. There is a prolific number of “one anothers” in the Scriptures which speak to how Christians need one another.

"Stop Dating the Church" by Joshua Harris (Book Review)

In church, Josh Harris on February 12, 2009 at 4:26 pm

While I realize this book is nearly five years old (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2004, 138 pp., $12.99), I just now finished it. I could not put this book down for some very personal reasons. It’s full title is “Stop Dating the Church and Fall in Love with the Family of God.” It’s a book on commitment to a local church, which Harris contends is not only helpful, but a biblical mandate. Harris is the pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Gaithersburg, MD.

We live in a consumeristic age. The leading question for many, especially when it comes to church is, “What can this do for me?” In his first chapter titled, “Can This Relationship Be Saved?” he notes ways that you can spot a church-dater:

  • Me-centered attitude: “We go for what we can get–social interaction, programs, or activities. The driving question is, “What can the church do for me?” (15)

Independent: Christians go because of duty, but “we’re careful to avoid getting involved too much, especially with people. We don’t pay attention to God’s larger purpose for us as a vital part of a specific church family. So we go through the motions without really investing ourselves.” (16)

Critical. Harris points out that we are “short on allegiance and quick to find fault with our church.” The result is a “lover with a wandering eye, always on the hunt for something better.” (16)

The next chapter is a beautiful picture of the church being his bride, one that is cherished. “If Jesus loves the church, you and I should, too. We can’t use the excuse that the church has messed up too many times or that we’re disillusioned. Jesus is the only person who has the right to disown and give up on the church. But He never has. And He never will.”

In the following chapter, “Why We Really Need the Local Church,” Harris makes the case against a solitary Christianity. We cannot pursue godliness or holiness alone. He quotes Piper in that “Sanctification is a community project” (50). We are living stones in the Temple of His body.

In Chapter Four, “Join the Club,” Harris outlines what passionate involvement in a local church entails and how it builds up your commitment to Christ.

  1. You join.
  2. You make the local church a priority.
  3. You try to make your pastor’s job a joy.
  4. You find ways to serve.
  5. You give.
  6. You connect with people.
  7. You share your passion.

In Chapter Five, “Choosing a Church,” look at the ten questions you ask yourself when choosing a local church.Is this a church where God’s Word is faithfully taught?

  • Is this a church where sound doctrine matters?
  • Is this a church in which the gospel is cherished and clearly
    proclaimed?
  • Is this a church committed to reaching non-Christians with the gospel?
  • Is this a church whose leaders are characterized by humility and
    integrity?
  • Is this a church where people strive to live by God’s Word?
  • Is this a church where I can find and cultivate godly relationships?
  • Is this a church where members are challenged to serve?
  • Is this a church that is willing to kick me out?
  • Is this a church I’m willing to join “as is” with enthusiasm and faith in
    God?

In a later blog, I will discuss the last two chapters. But do we see Harris’ heart in that commitment to a community of believers is not optional, but essential in your sanctification? If you believe these few notes I have written are penetrating, buy this little book and recognize that “faith was never meant to be a solo pursuit.”

Oh, and Josh Harris blogs!

In Praise of Darwin by Secularists and the Vatican?

In biblical creationism, Creator, Darwin, Darwinism, Evolution on February 11, 2009 at 1:21 pm

A secularist group called the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” is starting an ad campaign in praise of Charles Darwin during the time of his 200th birthday (February 12, 2009).  The group urged people to “evolve beyond belief.”  We should not be surprised by this media blitz of this group and others like it.  It just reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said centuries ago:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  [21] For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  [22] Claiming to be wise, they became fools,  [23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles (Romans 1:20-23, ESV).

Given how there is no conclusive evidence to Darwin’s theory of macro-evolution (one species evolving into another), this is another example of how science and academia have exchange the religion of Christianity for the religion of Darwinism.  We look at the same evidence with different presuppositions. 

Also, the Vatican just released a statement that Darwin’s theories are not in opposition to the Genesis 1 account.  Richard Owen writes:

The Vatican has admitted that Charles Darwin was on the right track when he claimed that Man descended from apes.

A leading official declared yesterday that Darwin’s theory of evolution was compatible with Christian faith, and could even be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. “In fact, what we mean by evolution is the world as created by God,” said Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The Vatican also dealt the final blow to speculation that Pope Benedict XVI might be prepared to endorse the theory of Intelligent Design, whose advocates credit a “higher power” for the complexities of life.

Organisers of a papal-backed conference next month marking the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species said that at first it had even been proposed to ban Intelligent Design from the event, as “poor theology and poor science”. Intelligent Design would be discussed at the fringes of the conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University, but merely as a “cultural phenomenon”, rather than a scientific or theological issue, organisers said.

Intelligent design a mere “cultural phenomenon”?  The Vatican said this? 

We must beware of taking man-made theories and cultural baggage to the text of God’s holy Word and re-interpret it.  Given that God created the heavens and the earth and all things in it, we must realize that science must submit to the Scriptures, not vice versa. 

Psalm 33:6
    By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
        and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

Rev. 4:11
    “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
        to receive glory and honor and power,
    for you created all things,
        and by your will they existed and were created.”

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Tozer on the Danger of Meaningless Words

In Church Life on February 11, 2009 at 11:18 am
A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) was a plain-spoken pastor who spoke the penetrating truth of the Word of God without compromise or apology. His legacy was not only in two of his classic works, The Pursuit of God, and Knowledge of the Holy, but in his insistence that our relationship with God go beneath the external surface of religious ritual.

Today’s Tozer Devotional deals with how Christians use certain religious words without thinking:

At the risk of shocking some tender-minded persons, I venture to list here a few words and phrases that to millions of evangelical Christians have no longer an identifiable content and are used merely as religious sounds without any relation to reality. They have meaning, and they are good and sacred words, but they have no meaning as used by the speaker and as heard by the listener in the average religious gathering. Here they are: victory, heart and life, all out for God, to the glory of God, receive a blessing, conviction, faith, revival, consecration, the fullness of God, by the grace of God, on fire for God, born again, filled with the Spirit, hallelujah, accept Christ, the will of God, joy and peace, following the Lord–and there are scores of others.

We have reared a temple of religious words comfortably disassociated from reality. And we will soon stand before that just and gentle Monarch who told us that we should give an account of every idle word. God have mercy on us.

Are there any we can add to the list?

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The Future of Evangelicalism (Hewitt Interviews Mohler)

In Apologetics, evangelicalism, Facebook on February 10, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Hugh Hewitt conducts an interview with Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary regarding the future of evangelicalism. You can read the transcript here.

I would like to bring out some important quotes from this interview. Hewitt asked Mohler if he was surprised by how evangelicals voted:

I was not surprised by the time we got there, Hugh. I am surprised somewhat given the big picture, looking over the last two or three years, if you just look at the Evangelical voting patterns in the years 2000, 2004, and then jump to 2008, clearly something happened. And I think the biggest explanation there is a generational change. I think we’re really looking at the fact that you’ve got a significant number of Evangelicals voting in 2008 who were in middle school or earlier than that in the year 2000, then in 2004. And clearly, there’s a new agenda here. There are some new interests, some new concerns, and this is a new challenge for us, I think.

Hewitt later asked Mohler about his blogging and use of Facebook:

I Twitter all day long, and I’m on Facebook with thousands of friends that are mostly in that age cohort. You know, like one of my students said to me, if you’re not on Facebook, you don’t exist. Now he meant that just as a word of help, in other words, to say we’re looking at a generation here for whom social media are the main means by which they communicate. This is their accountability. It used to be that people feel like they had to call everyone to stay in touch. Every once in a while, in prehistoric days, they might actually write a note, letter or a postcard. But these days, it’s all check the website, check what your friends are doing on Facebook, and make sure you’re keeping in touch.

Hewitt asked Mohler’s view on the Proposition 8 election result that upheld traditional marriage in the California constitution. Hewitt asked, “Is this the last victory for the pro-marriage agenda?

I’m definitely confirming that, but not…I wouldn’t put it in the fact they don’t care. I wouldn’t say that. I would say that what you have is a group of younger Evangelicals, and I disagree with them on this, Hugh, and they know it, a group of younger Evangelicals, many of whom simply don’t think that’s the right fight to fight. . . . And so it’s not that they don’t care. But you know, I was just talking to an Evangelical leader in Massachusetts who said look, he said my high school seniors have never known a time since they’ve been in high school or middle school that same sex marriage wasn’t legal in this state.

They touch on a wide array of issues that is well-worth the read.

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Hershael York Has a Podcast

In podcasts on February 9, 2009 at 9:56 am
Hershael York, professor at Southern Seminary and pastor of the Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY, now has a podcast of both his Sunday morning and Sunday evening services. 

Dr. York is a gifted expositor of the Word and has been so very helpful to me in various areas of ministry.  He will come to Boone’s Creek Baptist Church (where I pastor) to conduct some revival services from Sunday-Tuesday evenings, May 3-5 at 7:00 p.m.

York is the author of Preaching with Bold Assurance which deals with exposition that is not just informative but engaging.  Very helpful book.

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Apologetics: For Whom Is This Area of Study?

In Apologetics on February 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm

When ministers begin to introduce the function of apologetics to their people, many (myself included) feel the need to make the obligatory joke that this is not the study of apologizing for what you believe. This is a study of defending what you believe and why you believe it (coming from the Greek apologia which means “in defense of”).

I began to think on the role that apologetics plays in the life of our church and culture. After reading 1 Cor. 2:9-15, I began to understanding the main beneficiaries of this area are.

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
[10] these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. [11] For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. [13] And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
[14] The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. [15] The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. [16] “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Notice verse 11: “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Trying to speak about the things of God to someone who does not have the Spirit of Christ in Him will fall on deaf ears. How do we receive the Spirit? When the Spirit moves on our hearts to repent and turn from sin, we surrender to Jesus Christ by faith in His death, burial and resurrection for our sins. Then we are no longer are own, but Christ reigns through the Holy Spirit. We now have a heart that is sensitive to the leading of God (Ezekiel 36:26-27), but we also now have a connection to God through the Spirit.

Given how the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is only through the indwelling Holy Spirit that anyone can “discern” (v. 14) the Scriptures. The natural person will not accept them, no matter how well-crafted those arguments are. “We have the mind of Christ” (v. 16), therefore Christians are able to receive the things of God in a right manner.

I say all this to say, the area of apologetics is not ultimately to convert non-believers, but to strengthen believers and to plant seeds in the hearts and minds of non-believers.

What think ye?

Weekend Spurgeon: The Heavy-Hearted Christian

In C.H. Spurgeon, prayer on February 7, 2009 at 11:51 am

“He understands what heavy hearts we have sometimes, when under a sense of sin. Satan says to us, “Why should you pray? How can you hope to prevail? In vain, thou sayest, I will arise and go to my Father, for thou art not worthy to be one of his hired servants. How canst thou see the king’s face after thou hast played the traitor against him? How wilt thou date to approach unto the altar when thou has thyself defiled it, and when the sacrifice which thou wouldst bring there is a poor, polluted one?” O brethren, it is well for us that we are commanded to pray, or else in times of heaviness we might give it up. If God command me, unfit as I may be, I will creep to the footstool of grace; and since he says, “Pray without ceasing, “Though my words fail me and my heart itself will wander, yet I will still stammer out the wishes of my hungering soul and say, “O God, at least teach me to pray and help me to prevail with thee.”

(C.H. Spurgeon, The Golden Key of Prayer in the collection 12 Sermons on Prayer, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1978, pp. 8-9.

To read the sermon in its entirety, go to this Spurgeon Gems link (pdf file).

To read more Spurgeon, go to Phil Johnson’s site, Spurgeon.org.