Religion Saves: Birth Control, Sexual Sin and Dating

Religion-Saves-Birth

893 questions posted. 343,203 votes cast. Nine controversial subjects. The resulting sermons were then reformatted and expanded in the book, Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions, released in June, 2009, through Crossway and RE:Lit.

This post will be dealing with three subjects from the book: Birth control, sexual sin, and dating.

Birth Control

Method or use of birth control is a subject that is almost always sure to bring up a great deal of heated discussion. For Catholics, to use any form of birth control would be unthinkable. At the risk of oversimplifying, it strikes me that many Catholics would believe that to use any method of birth control would actually be an attempt to thwart the sovereign will of God (this is certainly the impression we got from reading some Catholic literature on the subject).

For Protestants, however, there’s a great deal of debate on appropriate methods. In this chapter, Driscoll addresses five types of birth control: None, natural, non-abortive (barrier methods), potentially abortive, and abortive murder.

When reading, I was struck by how, with few exceptions, gently this subject was handled. Because there is a great deal of contention surrounding the various birth control that exist, it is one that requires delicacy. This is not something that Driscoll has historically been known for, but he did very well. [Read more…]

Sunday Shorts (09/06)

Dr. Albert Mohler on the TNIV Announcement

TNIV

Dr. Albert Mohler responds to the recently announced discontinuation of the TNIV translation of the Bible:

The controversy over the TNIV divided the evangelical community. Regrettably, in many cases the controversy produced more heat than light. Nevertheless, this was not always the case. This controversy brought strategic attention to crucial questions related, not only to the NIV family of translations, but to the entire project of translating the Bible into the English language. Furthermore, the controversy was directed to very real disagreements about the meaning of gender and language. These are issues of great theological, biblical, pastoral, and moral importance.

Read the full article here.

American Vice: Mapping the 7 Deadly Sins

Just when you thought you’d seen everything, the folks over at Wired actually mapped out the hot spots of the “7 deadly sins.”

It’s actually pretty neat, so check it out.

New Book from Desiring God: The Power of Words and the Wonder of God

From Desiring God:

John Piper, Sinclair Ferguson, Mark Driscoll, and other leaders from Desiring God’s 2008 national conference examine the life-altering power of our words and their impact in sharing the gospel.

Words carry immeasurable significance: The universe was created with a word; Jesus healed and cast out demons with a word; rulers have risen and fallen by their words; Christians have worshiped through words of song, confession, and preaching. Even in our technological age, politics, education, business, and relationships center on words. Since the tongue is such a powerful force—for good or evil—we are wise to ask: What would homes, churches, schools, even the public square be like if we used words with Christian intentionality and eloquence?

The Power of Words and the Wonder of Godseeks to answer this difficult question. In these chapters, derived from Desiring God’s 2008 national conference, John Piper, Sinclair Ferguson, and Mark Driscoll team with worship pastor Bob Kauflin, counselor Paul Tripp, and literature professor Daniel Taylor to help readers harness their tongues and appropriately command their silences for the glory of God and the ministry of the gospel.

In case you missed it

Here  are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Defending Organized Religion: Reviewing Why We Love the ChurchA review of Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck’s latest collaboration, Why We Love the Church

Act Like Men A brief look at Paul’s admonishment to men in 1 Corinthians 16:13, and a stern warning to little boys who wear man-pants

Reading Different TeamsWhy blogger review programs are extremely helpful for developing a more “diverse” palette in reading.

Joshua Harris Killed by Evil Beanbag

“In the end there, that was me being killed by evil.”

HT: Evangelical Village

God and the Weather: Interpreting Providence

providence

Because I’d not had the opportunity prior to embarking on 15 hours of travelling (I’m now basking in a cozy hotel room in Weybridge, Surrey, UK), I thought I’d offer some of my own thoughts on the issues surrounding the recent controversial statements made by Pastor John Piper about the Tornado that struck the Minneapolis Convention Center.

There are a few things that we can say unequivocally:

  1. God is sovereign over all things—Nations, governments, circumstances, people and even the weather. Absolutely nothing happens on this earth without either His direct intervention or His permission, be it good or bad. This is the (admittedly oversimplified) doctrine of Providence. The books of Ruth and Esther are specifically about God’s providential (unseen) hand. Psalm 147:8, 16-18, Job 37:3, 6, 10-13, Jeremiah 10:13, and Amos 4:7 all speak to His sovereign rule over nature.
  2.  

  3. Because God is indeed sovereign over all things, there is no such thing as a “random event,”according to Scripture. “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and a create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things,” says the Lord in Isaiah 45:7 (see also Lamentations 3:38 and Ecclesiastes 7:14). There are only events we understand and events we do not. However, while we may not understand the purpose of an event, God most certainly does (see Deut. 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God…”) But we have to remember that God permits all things for the good of all who love Him (see Rom. 8:28).
  4.  

  5. All sin is unacceptable in the eyes of a holy God. Murder, lying, blasphemy, pride and sexual sin (including, but not limited to, fornication, adultery and homosexual practice) are all equally wrong in the eyes of God. And all who fail to repent will stand to give an account before God for their sins. This is what Jesus was warning of in Luke 13:1-5—Disastrous events in this world foreshadow the judgement that is to come, and unless we repent, we too will fall in that judgement. That’s a big deal, gang!

That’s what we can say.

Here is what we cannot:

We cannot offer a definitive interpretation of a providential act of God, like the recent tornado. To do so goes further than we are permitted by Scripture. We can offer what we think may have been the reason, and I believe that was Piper’s intention.

Further, there are some who would call it a random act. And with all due respect, there is no Scriptural support for such an idea whatsoever. To do so is nothing short of a denial of God’s sovereignty, which, if taken away, removes our reason for trusting Him. Because we know that He is in control of all things, for the good of His people, we can trust Him.

God knows why He, in His providence, sent the tornado to Minneapolis. And He knows why He also sent one to Vaughan, Ontario the next night.

But we do not know the specific reason with certainty, but we do know that this tornado was sent for “the good of those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

John Piper: The Tornado, the Lutherans and Homsexuality

UPDATE (08/25): For my thoughts on interpreting providence, read God & The Weather.


Central Lutheran's broken steeple

Wednesday, a tornado touched down in Minneapolis, Minnesota, much to the surprise of everyone (including weather forecasters). The tornado directly hit the convention center and the Central Lutheran Church at the exact time that delegates of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America were debating the acceptance of openly practicing homosexuals into the pastoral ministry of the church.

The next day, John Piper offered some possible insights into this occurrence in a post titled The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality. This post has caused a lot of controversy over the last few days, but there are a couple of very relevant pieces we need to look at. In his original post, Piper writes:

I saw the fast-moving, misshapen, unusually-wide funnel over downtown Minneapolis from Seven Corners. I said to Kevin Dau, “That looks serious.”

It was. Serious in more ways than one. A friend who drove down to see the damage wrote,

On a day when no severe weather was predicted or expected…a tornado forms, baffling the weather experts—most saying they’ve never seen anything like it. It happens right in the city. The city: Minneapolis.

The tornado happens on a Wednesday…during the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s national convention in the Minneapolis Convention Center. The convention is using Central Lutheran across the street as its church. The church has set up tents around it’s building for this purpose.

According to the ELCA’s printed convention schedule, at 2 PM on Wednesday, August 19, the 5th session of the convention was to begin. The main item of the session: “Consideration: Proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality.” The issue is whether practicing homosexuality is a behavior that should disqualify a person from the pastoral ministry.

The eyewitness of the damage continues:

This curious tornado touches down just south of downtown and follows 35W straight towards the city center. It crosses I94. It is now downtown.

The time: 2PM.

The first buildings on the downtown side of I94 are the Minneapolis Convention Center and Central Lutheran. The tornado severely damages the convention center roof, shreds the tents, breaks off the steeple of Central Lutheran, splits what’s left of the steeple in two…and then lifts.

In his post, Piper offers his thoughts on the specific purpose of this providential act of God, with some strong biblical support. [Read more…]

Sunday Shorts (08/09)

Plant a Church or a Campus?

Over at Evangelical Village (another blog I occasionally contribute to), Matt is asking a very important question: What are the benefits of planting a church versus planting a campus (ie multi-site)?

Weigh in on the discussion here (although ignore the second comment; it’s just weird).

35 Reasons Not to Sin

The Harris Brothers (founders of The Rebelution) stumbled across 35 reasons not to sin. They’re well worth thoroughly reading and meditating upon. Here’s one of that I found particularly revealing:

Because sin glorifies God only in His judgment of it and His turning of it to good use, never because it is worth anything on it’s own.

Read the entire list here.

The Gospel in 10 Words or Less

Trevin Wax, Kevin DeYoung and 10 others are attempting to summarize the gospel in 10 words or less. The approach each is taking is very interesting, with some summarizing the entire storyline, with others addressing specific doctrines that make the good news good news.

Read the responses here.

Out of the Archives: Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

memoirs-carson“Ordinary” pastors don’t usually get press. They don’t speak at conferences. They don’t write books. Their ministries are on the whole fairly average. They work hard, they faithfully serve the flock God has entrusted to them, and generally go unnoticed.

Tom Carson was, by all accounts, an ordinary pastor. Yet, he was a most extraordinary man.

Tom worked in the most difficult missions field in Canada (Quebec), striving to make in-roads for the Gospel with its Francophone population… Read the rest of this review.

In case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Everyday Theology: “God wants your best life… Now!” God doesn’t want you to be happy, healthy and wealthy at the expense of your holiness.

Making Assumptions Exploring the dangers of making assumptions about the character of God.

Daniel Akin on Preaching Great questions you need to ask when preparing to preach from Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Up the (Willow) Creek: Bill Hybels The first post in a series reflecting on the recent Willow Creek Leadership Summit and the challenges made by the faculty

Making assumptions…

Generally speaking, it’s unwise to make assumptions about a person or situation. While on occasion, our assumptions turn out to be correct, they most typically wind up being hurtful or creating an unrealistic expectation.

And about no one is it more critical to not assumptions than God.

Yet, we do it all the time.

When we understate our sin, we make an assumption about God—that being, that He doesn’t really care all that much.

When we do what God commands out of obligation or fear of punishment, we make an assumption about God—that He’s capricious and mean-spirited, looking down on us and just waiting for us to screw up. And when we do, oh, boy…

Reading the parable of the ten minas in Luke 19:12-27 reminded me of this: [Read more…]

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit & John Bunyan

john_bunyan

John Bunyan

Pretty much since the moment I became a Christian, I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly it means to “blaspheme the Holy Spirit.” How does that happen?

A few days back, I was once again reading Matthew 12:22-32, which deals with this issue. Here’s the story so you have some context:

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, a he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someoneenter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not withme is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man l will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (emphasis mine).

Jesus casts out a demon, and the people begin asking if He is the Messiah. The Pharisees say that Jesus performs miracles by the power of Satan, rather than by the power of God the Holy Spirit. Essentially, they say that he’s practicing witchcraft (something punishable by death according to Old Testament law).

I’ve read this story probably a couple dozen times at this point, but when I read it this time, it was like a light was turned on in a dark room. To blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to continually and stubbornly reject His work and testimony concerning the identity of Jesus. To reject His work as that of Satan’s, and to unrepentantly reject God and His commands is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. And those who persistently & unrepentantly resist the Spirit and salvation through faith in Christ, will not be saved. A troubling thought, to be sure.

So, can a Christian blaspheme the Spirit?

No.

The testimony of John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, sheds some light on why this is so. [Read more…]

Reflections on the Old Testament

A short time ago, I completed my read through the Old Testament. After I told Emily that I’d finished, she asked me a great question: “What do you take away from it?”

Anticipation.

Throughout the Old Testament, we read of men and women who try to pursue God on their own terms and fail. Who pursue things other than God and it destroys them. And we see the hopelessness that comes from trying to follow the Law apart from faith in Jesus Christ.

The Law and the Prophets teach us one thing: We are completely incapable of following the Law. And even if we conform morally, our hearts become proud and we trust in our moral conformity rather than in the God who gave us His Law!

So when we don’t follow the Law, we sin. And when we do follow the Law, it shows us just how broken and evil we really are.

But in the midst of that, there’s so much hope.

Salvation will come.

God has not left us in the darkness of our rebellion.

He has not left us in our pitiful moral conformity.

The Lord will come (Zech. 14:5) and will be king over all the earth (Zech. 14:9). “And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:1b).

God is coming, and His herald will come before Him to prepare the way… “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” (Mal. 3:2).

Dave Ramsey – Town Hall for Hope

On April 23rd, 2009, Dave Ramsey hosted the Town Hall for Hope. Over one million people in 6,000 locations were given the real answers about where the economy is going and how we can find hope in the midst of what many media outlets have dubbed “The Great Recession.”

You can watch the Town Hall for Hope in its entirety below:

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more about “Dave Ramsey – Town Hall for Hope“, posted with vodpod

The Persevering Prophet: My Heart is Sick!

PP-Heart

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9)

Jeremiah defines the depravity of man in a way that is surpassed by few other passes in it’s uncompromising honesty:

The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick!

There is nothing more deceitful than the human heart—the center of our will and desires. We want, what we want, when we want it, consequences be damned!

Me, I have a horrible sweet tooth. I love sweet things, and when I eat something sweet, it’s like something in my mind says, “You should have more of this; it’s awesome!”

I try to restrain, and often fail. I try to avoid, but doesn’t help me in the least that my mother owns a bakery, dang it. Sweets aren’t good for me; they cause me to gain weight rapidly; they can lead to diabetes… all this stuff is serious. But, dang it, I want them, and I would not restrain myself were I left to my own devices.

This is the deceitfulness of the heart. It tells me that bad things are good for me. It makes morally neutral things gods. And we consume, we indulge, we capitulate to whatever the desire we have is, and we worship our false god. [Read more…]

The Persevering Prophet: Harsh Language

PP-Language

Reading through the first several chapters of Jeremiah, I am struck by the harshness of Jeremiah’s preaching. Throughout the book, there is a palpable hatred of sin, that is expressed with incredibly strong language.

Before I continue, if you are offended by such language, you may not want to read this post (perhaps this light-hearted one instead?), as I’ve pulled together some of the more intense examples from the early chapters of the book of Jeremiah.

Within the book’s first five chapters, we see the following extremely intense words preached by Jeremiah: [Read more…]

The Stupidity of Idolatry

The other day, in reading through Isaiah, I was struck by the emphatic, repeated warnings about the absolute stupidity of idolatry. Isaiah 44 in particular illustrates this point with this biting passage:

The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” (Isa. 44:12-17, emphasis mine)

This is how ridiculous idolatry is in the eyes of God: We are so foolish that we will take a tree, chop half into firewood, and worship the other half.

We would rather worship a “god” that we knowingly create, rather than the One who created us.

[Read more…]

Sunday Shorts (05/10)

SIN: Resolved 2009 Conference

From Resolved.org:

Resolved 2009 will focus on sin. What is sin? How bad is it? Where did it come from? How can I be saved from it and its consequences? Is it possible to stop? Our 5th Resolved Conference will explore these questions and provide biblical answers.

John Owen wrote, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” Join us at Resolved ’09 as we rally to understand and battle sin.

The conference will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N Avenida Caballeros, Palm Springs, CA 92262.

To register, visit Resolved.org

50,000 Shoes in 50 Days

Julian Smith wants you to help get 50,000 shoes for children in developing nations:

There are 13 days left to reach the goal.

Did you know…

…that you can get read several of John Piper’s books online? This is just one of the great ways that Desiring God is blessing the Christian community at large. Go and read some, and if you like what you read, purchase a copy in their store.