Posts Tagged ‘5ptsalt


Unfounded Statements about Sabbath Keeping.

I just read the following statement from D. L. Moody that illustrates how so much error has been allowed to continue in the church:

The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. The fourth commandment begins with the word remember, showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote this law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?

Few seem to question statements like this, but instead, well-meaning but misguided people continue to perpetuate ideas like this by repeating them without examination. Consider these statements with me one by one, and ask yourself whether you could support them with plain and unambiguous texts of Scripture.

1. “The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since.”

If the Sabbath was binding in Eden, then God must have commanded Adam and Eve to “observe the Sabbath” by ceasing from their normal activity on a day he had sanctified. I have searched the early chapters of Genesis trying to find that commandment. In reality, God’s rest from his creating activity on the seventh day was an ongoing rest. All the activity in which he is now involved, which, by the way, was not suspended on the seventh day in which he rested from his creative activity, involves his work of providence, in which he governs all his creatures and all their actions. He has not ceased to rest from his work of creation. Though he has ceased from one activity, he is very active in another. I can’t find any command for Adam and Eve to enter into that rest.

So, perhaps you can help me find the verse which “bound” Adam and Eve to keep the Sabbath in the garden.

You might also want to ask from what Adam was to rest since he was never involved in arduous
labor until after he fell into sin. Earning his bread by the sweat of his brow was part of the curse that resulted from his sin.

Additionally, why is it that in the thousands of years that passed between Eden and Sinai do we not find a single commandment to observe the Sabbath or hear of anyone who was condemned for failing to observe it?

If it is still binding, why is there not a single commandment in the New Testament Scriptures for new covenant believers to observe it? One would think that such an important commandment would be mentioned at least once. No such commandment exists.

2. “The fourth commandment begins with the word remember, showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote this law on the tables of stone at Sinai.”

This does not take into account the fact that there are occasions when the word “remember” is forward looking. For example, when Moses was instructing the Israelites concerning the feast of unleavened bread, he said to them before they ever left Egypt, “Remember this day in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. . . .(Exo. 13:3). When he spoke these words, they were still in Egypt. Would anyone argue that this exodus had already occurred because Moses told them to “remember” it?

3. “How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?”

The answer to this question is simple. The fourth commandment was the ceremonial sign of the Old Covenant (see Exo. 31:17). It was intended to endure as long as the covenant endured of which it was the sign. Since the Old Covenant has been superceded by the New Covenant, the Old Covenant sign, the Sabbath, has been superceded by the New Covenant sign, the communion cup. In addition to this, the other nine commandments are repeated as a part of Christ’s law; the Sabbath commandment is not.

The Jewish Sabbath pointed to two Old Testament events, both of which pointed forward to the redemptive work of Christ. One was God’s completion of creation (Exo. 20: 9-11) and finds its fulfillment in Jesus’ establishment of the New Creation. The other was God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage (Deut 5:15), a type of the our deliverance from sin’s bondage. Both these types find their fulfillment in Christ, the New Covenant believer’s “Sabbath rest.”


Hiding Behind Mama’s Skirt

Have you ever witnessed children taunting other children until someone begins to retaliate? Then, they run and hide behind their mother’s skirts. At times, there are people in the religious [I say religious, not Christian] blogging community who act just like these children. Today, I challenged a blogger named Joel Taylor at concerning a scathing indictment he had made against Tullian Tchividjian. Of course, there was the usual charge of heresy. Anyone who disagrees with Joel is a heretic. Based on Pastor Tchividjian’s tweet that was the basis of these accusations, Joel pronounced, “Tullian doesn’t want you to mature in Christ. He doesn’t want you to do anything, just continue ‘just as you are’ – and he calls that sanctification! being made holy!” Perhaps Tullian has shared this with Joel in private. It certainly isn’t evident from what he wrote in his tweet. Joel called Pastor Tchividjian’s tweet an “antinomian lie from hell.” Then he alleged, “Tullian is leading people to Hell and damnation with an antinomian lie.” According to Joel, “the brutish stupidity of this man’s theology needs to be made public.” Now, as I have stated before, there are elements of Pastor Tchividjian’s statement of his theology with which I would not agree and admittedly, I haven’t sat under his ministry every Sunday, as Pres. Obama sat under the “preaching” of Jeremiah Wright, so that I am well acquainted with all that he teaches.

Additionally, I should say I am not a defender of Pastor Tchividjian or of New Calvinism. I simply wanted to comment on what Pastor Tchividjian’s tweet said and what it did not say. This was his tweet.

“Just as I am without one plea” is just as true for sanctification as it is for justification.”

Now, I find no difficulty with this statement as it stands. By the very nature of “tweets,” one cannot say everything that needs to be said about a particular doctrine in a tweet. If all that Joel extrapolated from the tweet were actually Pastor Tchividjian’s position on sanctification, then Tullian is a bad dude indeed. Can you imagine a pastor so vile that he doesn’t want the people under his ministry to mature in Christ? Now, where in this tweet does Pastor Tchividjian state that God doesn’t require obedience from his people? Where does he state that it doesn’t matter if believers remain unsanctified?

The reality is, the tweet says none of what Joel has claimed. One question I asked at Joel’s blog was if we have a plea to offer God that would recommend us as good candidates for sanctification, what would that plea be? Can we argue that we are not quite as sinful as others? I don’t think so. The reality is, if God doesn’t sanctify us, there is no hope of change.

J.C. Ryle wrote,

3) For another thing, if we would be sanctified, our course is clear and plain—we must begin with Christ. We must go to Him as sinners, with no plea but that of utter need, and cast our souls on Him by faith for peace and reconciliation with God. We must place ourselves in His hands, as in the hands of a good physician and cry to him for mercy and grace. We must wait for nothing to bring with us as a recommendation. [To me that sounds very similar to Pastor Tchividjian’s tweet]. The very first step towards sanctification, no less than justification, is to come with faith to Christ. We must first live and then work.

(4) For another thing, if we would grow in holiness and become more sanctified, we must continually go on as we began, and ever be making fresh applications to Christ. He is the head from which every member must be supplied (Ephes. iv.16.) To live the life of daily faith in the Son of God, and to be daily drawing out of His fulness the promised grace and strength which He has laid up for His people—this is the grand secret of progressive sanctification.

Joel thinks people need to be warned against those who would harm the church. That is why I am warning you about him. No one is well served by wild accusations of heresy. I have no question about Joel’s sincerity. No doubt, he believes he is doing God a favor in opposing these horrible heretics, but if he wants to oppose something, he needs to take issue with what people actually state, not with what he imagines they believe.

I have no problem if someone wants to dissect a theological statement and then comment on its fallacies. But, to read into a statement a meaning that was never intended only divides God’s people and obscures real issues.

Oh, by the way, instead of interacting with my comments, Joel hid behind Mama’s skirt and deleted all of them. Why not be a man and discuss real issues? The only answer I can imagine is you know you don’t have answers to real questions. I wrote to congratulate him on his show of courage. He hasn’t answered me.


Keep me near the Cross!

As I traverse the world of blog, I continue to encounter stern warnings against the practice of “gospel contemplation.” Though I must confess my ignorance concerning all the ways in which this term has been employed in the recent past, I have difficulty imagining how the practice of focusing one’s attention on the redeeming activity and dying love of Christ could be in any way damaging to a person’s life and experience or harmful to the church as a body. I have also come away with the impression that those who have opposed this practice are of the opinion that this practice is an innovation of “new Calvinists” and other miscreants who roam the land.

It appears to me that the practice of gospel contemplation, or to phrase it another way, the practice of contemplating Christ and his redeeming work, is as old as the gospel itself. The apostle Paul wrote, “but may it never be that I should boast except in the cross (by that I think he meant the gospel) of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14). It sounds as if he continued to believe the gospel message exerted a life changing power in his life as a Christian, don’t you think? When I was a young man (that has been a year or two), our youth group used to sing,

Turn your eyes upon Jesus;
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.

When I read the words of those who speak so malevolently against gospel contemplation, I wonder in what capacity they would imagine the writer of this little chorus was urging us to turn our eyes on Jesus. Perhaps he wanted us to consider Jesus the great moral teacher or Jesus the revolutionary. Somehow, I always thought I was being urged to fix my attention on the one who loved me, and gave up himself for me.

In her hymn “All for Jesus” 1871, Mary D. James wrote,

Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside;
So enchained my spirit’s vision,
Looking at the Crucified.

It almost seems to me she was describing what it is like to contemplate the gospel.

Somehow I don’t think the apostle Paul was talking about flowers, trees, butterflies and beautiful sunsets when he wrote, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8).

I can’t imagine anyone who claims to be a Christian suggesting that there is anything wrong with contemplating the gospel, the most God glorifying message ever spoken. Admittedly, if someone should suggest that obedience to Christ isn’t important as long as we think a lot about the gospel, we would have to take issue with them, but I don’t believe that is the issue. It seems to me the issue is rather how obedience to Christ is to be effected. Does true, God-honoring obedience occur simply because we have decided to knuckle under, grin and bear it and try to obey the commands of Scripture? Or does it occur when we are so overwhelmed by Christ’s dying love for us that we can no longer go on living to ourselves but must live to the glory of him who loved us and gave himself up to death for us?
Let’s ask the apostle Paul about the key to his indefatifable service for and obedience to Christ. Paul, how is it that you continue to refuse to live for your own pleasure but persist in walking in obedience to the revealed will of Christ? His answer, “For Christ’s love overwhelms and constrains me, for by this we judge that if one died for all, then all died, and he died for all so that those who live would no longer go on living to themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor. 5 : 14-15). Now my question is, where is Christ’s love for his people most resplendently displayed if not in the gospel? Are we, unlike the apostle, to be motivated by something other than Christ’s love? If our motive is to be the same as his, where should we focus our attention if not on the redeemer and his work?

Not long ago I read the post of a dear lady who wrote that her husband had urged her to move away from the foot of the cross and get on with living the Christian life and serving the Lord. It almost seems as if these people are suggesting we are sending people to a hill outside Jerusalem to gaze up at a cross. You don’t have to “leave the foot of the cross” to get on with obeying and serving Christ. If you are a believer, the gospel pervades your entire being. If you want to love your wife in a way that will please and glorify God, you must do it “as Christ loved the church and gave up himself for it” (If you want to learn to forgive those who have grievously offended you, then your pattern is God’s redemptive action in forgiving us for Christ sake (Eph 4:32, Col. 3:12-13). If you would worship God in accordance with the perfect pattern of heavenly worship, your song will be, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain and has redeemed us . . .” (Rev. 5:9).

I am old enough to recall a time when the church used to sing hymns like “Near the Cross” by Fanny Crosby. No one thought she meant we were to kneel immobilized at the foot of the cross, but that we were to press forward both in our individual lives and in our corporate mission mobilized and motivated by an overpowering sense of Christ’s unspeakable and self-sacrificing love for us. As we sang the following words, we prayed that we would never abandon preaching its message, and never stray from or outlive the overwhelming and life-transforming power of God’s redeeming love for us in Christ. Here is what she wrote:

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.


In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.


Tradition, Trivialities, or Truth

I just visited the blog of a nice young man who truly seems to have a desire to be on the right side of things, but often fails to think through his blogs before he posts them. I left a response to the following, but since he seems to be hesitant to post anything that disagrees with his positions, I have decided to answer him here.

After citing a passage from Nehemiah to support his point, he wrote the following:

Notice the following:

All the people gathered together in a central location.

Ezra the priest took with him the Word of God to the wooden podium, or pulpit, which was built specifically for the purpose of preaching from it.

Ezra entered that pulpit and stood, with the Scriptures, and preached while standing above (higher up than) the congregation.

Many today will say the early church would not recognize today’s pulpit/audience style. Yet the apostles would certainly be familiar with this passage in Nehemiah, demonstrating it not only recognized, but practiced in Scripture. Indeed, Jesus Himself customarily went to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood before an audience and read from the Scriptures. Luke 4:16.

Let us be careful not to adapt methods and methodologies without diligent biblical study and prayer. At the same time, let us be careful who we listen to when non-traditional methods of teaching and preaching are proposed.

Actually, the text says he “customarily” went to the synagogue, not that he “customarily” stood to teach. Jesus, at times, taught in a sitting position. In fact, in the Luke 4 passage he cited, though Jesus stood to read, he was sitting when he taught the meaning of the passage he had read. I can’t recall a single mention of a pulpit in the entire N.T. Scriptures. I’m not seeing a pattern of standing in a pulpit above people for teaching or preaching. From a pragmatic point of view, I have no problem with it, but making it a pattern is altogether different.

Have we nothing more important to discuss than posture and pulpit or no pulpit for teaching and preaching? Let’s talk about truth, not trivialities.


Decree versus “Existence”

Just today I read a short post in which the blog owner stated that the church has been in existence from eternity since God had predestined her existence from all eternity. I asked him if he also believed in eternal justification. He replied, “Absolutely not.”

It seems to me that if one is going to argue that the church existed from eternity since its existence was decreed from eternity, one must also argue that the elect have been declared righteous from eternity. Of course, this is contrary to the Bible’s teaching. The Scriptures teach that we are justified through faith, not justified before we ever had being.

Now the issue here is not whether the existence of the church and the justification of God’s elect people were absolute certainties from all eternity. All that God has decreed will certainly come to pass. The issue is whether all that God decreed actually “existed” in eternity. It seems to me that if everything in God’s decree actually “existed” in eternity, there would be no need to execute that plan in time.

Permit me the following analogy: The decree of God is like an architectural blueprint. Since it is God’s architectural plan, it needs and will have no alteration. Often with blueprints, changes must be made because the architect has lacked the foresight to predict problems that might arise to necessitate an alteration in his plan or because of a lack of resources necessary for the execution of that plan. Neither of these factors comes into play to prevent the execution of God’s plans. His “blueprint” is certain to come to fruition because he has taken all possible obstacles into account (indeed the very obstacles themselves are decreed by him) and possesses abundant resources necessary for the execution of his plan. Still, the blueprint is not the reality; it is only a plan. It would be wrong to suggest that proposed structure “existed” simply because a plan had been drawn. One could find no shelter from the heat, cold, or rain in the plan. One cannot move furniture into the plan. However well-drawn the plan may be, it is still only a plan and the reality that is envisioned by it does not yet exist.

In time, specifically in the work of Christ, God executes his eternal decree and accomplishes the work of redemption. This I would liken to the construction of the building. When, and only when, the house is completed can we actually say that it exists. The work of Christ objectively accomplished everything the Father had decreed for his chosen people. While we were still enemies of God, we were reconciled to God by Christ’s death. Reconciliation can only occur when both aggrieved parties put away their hostility. Jesus’ work not only satisfied the Father’s holy wrath toward the believer but also guaranteed that the elect sinner would lay aside his unholy hostility toward God. No one can add anything to this house Jesus built. It stands complete as it is. Still, it is as yet uninhabited.

The application of redemption in calling and regeneration moves elect sinners into the house God planned for them from eternity. Now we become partakers of all the accomplished benefits of Christ’s redeeming work.

The reality is, the church did not “exist” in eternity, though its existence was an absolute certainty due to the immutability of God’s decree.


Are you positive?

There is no question we are to stand against certain doctrines, trends, activities, etc., but should our lives be “defined” by our stand against something? This certainly was not true of the apostle Paul. He wrote, “For to me to live, is Christ. . . .” “This one thing I do, . . . .I press toward the mark. . . .” That defined his life. Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” That defined his life.

People who are for something are winsome and winning others to the path of truth. People who are always hunting heresy, usually where it does not exist, appear bitter, caustic, and censorious. One gets the idea that if they could, they would burn those with whom they disagree at the stake.

One of my professors gave me what I believe was sage advice. He said, “If a venomous viper crosses your path, kill it; but don’t spend your valuable time snake hunting.”

We don’t need to waste a great deal of time teaching people what counterfeit bills look like if we have taught them to recognize a genuine bill. If people know the truth, they will spot error in a heartbeat.

Our friend Dan Cartwright over at “born4battle” has written a great post on “heresy hunting” this morning that you ought to read.

We both agree there are battles we must fight, and at times the dust of battle can obstruct our clear vision of the goal. We must be negative at times, but let’s not let that “define” us.