Friday, September 19, 2014

Reverence and Solemnity: Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship, part 6 of 8

Furthermore, the Biblical requirements of regeneration and uprightness limit who is to be set up as an example in public worship.  Pastors, song leaders, choir members, and all others involved in any leadership capacity in the corporate worship of the holy Trinity must be regenerate and holy people, as both the song writers and worship leaders in the psalter were godly men such as David and Asaph. Vocal or musical skill is certainly valuable—to “play skilfully”[1] is a command alongside of “sing” (Ps 33:3; cf. 1 Chr 15:22; 2 Chr 34:12)[2]—but it is by no means sufficient.  Holy and skilled men—not merely skilled men—are to lead the congregation of the saints in their worship.[3]
All of the psalms were written by “holy men of God” (2 Pet 1:21).  Does this fact teach the church that she should not sing hymns composed by unregenerate and wicked men, any more than churches should have the sermons of such men read from their pulpits?  David Cloud notes:

All of . . . [the] influential contemporary worship musicians are radically ecumenical and the vast majority are charismatic in theology. . . . All are enemies of a separatist Biblicist stance. . . . Contemporary Christian Music is a jungle of end-time apostasy . . . led by “another spirit” (2 Cor. 11:4). . . . There is something deeply and inherently wrong with music that is comfortable in the midst of the most wretched heresy and apostasy.  And that is exactly where Contemporary Christian Worship is most at home. (pgs. 1-2, Directory of Contemporary Worship Musicians, David Cloud.  Port Huron, MI:  Way of Life, 2014)

Indeed, if choir or individual “special music” cannot be done skillfully, it ought not to be done at all.  In any case, congregational singing in the church—which is far easier to justify from the commands of Scripture than having one or a few sing and the rest listen—is at the very least equally “special music” to such solos, duets, and choral singing.  Indeed, in light of the ease with which one can fail to personally offer the words of such music to the Lord while listening to it, the argument can with much greater ease be made that congregational song is definitively more special than “special music.”  Simply playing music without words in worship, even if the sound itself meets Biblical criteria, cannot be justified in the assemblies of the Lord—none of the psalms, and nothing else in Scripture, provides warrant for instrumentation without words in the worship of God (short musical interludes between sections of a song with words being a justifiable exception with exegetical support from the signification of Selah, [LXX, diapsalma, “musical interlude” (LSJ)] Ps 3, 4, 7, 9, etc.)
            It is important to note that the singing of solos in the church of God is a recent practice popularized by D. L. Moody’s associate Mr. Sankey:

Mr. Sankey’s . . . solo singing in public worship is quite a new thing . . . The words are plain and pleasant, but nothing extraordinary;  often not to be compared to those of our well-known church hymns.  The music is generally pretty and pleasant, but little more” (pgs. 475-476, A Century of Gospel-Work:  A History of the Growth of Evangelical Religion in the United States, W. F. P. Noble.  [Philadelphia, PA:  H. C. Watts, 1876])

The innovations of Moody and Sankey were not received without opposition; for example, the great Southern theologian R. L. Dabney, discussing both the newness of solo singing in the evangelical church and the reduction in theological content in Sankey, noted:

We conclude with a word touching the office of Mr. Sankey, “singing the gospel.” The Jewish temple service had its chief singer. It will be a curious result if [Moody and Sankey’s] modern movement should develop this function into a new and prominent branch of the ministry unauthorized by the New Testament. Singing is unquestionably a scriptural means of grace, and good singing is a very efficient one. But in order that the church may retain the blessing of good singing, the privilege which Mr. Sankey and his imitators claim, of importing their own lyrics into God’s worship, must be closely watched. . . . The most that can be said of Mr. Sankey’s developments . . . is . . . that they exhibit no worse traits than a marked inferiority of matter and style to the established hymnals of the leading churches. The most danger thus far apparent is that of habituating the taste of Christians to a very vapid species of pious doggerel, containing the most diluted possible traces of saving truth, in portions suitable to the most infantile faculties supplemented with a jingle of “vain repetitions.” What shall we gain by giving our people these ephemeral rhymes in place of the immortal lyrics of Moses, David, Isaiah, Watts, and Cowper, so grand in their rhythm and melody, so pure in taste, and above all, so freighted with compact and luminous truth? “The old wine is better.” (Pgs. 94-95, Discussions by Robert Lewis Dabney: Evangelical, Robert L. Dabney, ed. C. R. Vaughan, vol. 2. [Richmond, VA:  Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1891].)

Third, it is clear that worship is not to conform to culture or to men’s desires, but is to be distinctly different, set apart, or holy.[4]  Believers must regulate their praise by Scripture alone (Deut 12:32) and recognize that “strange fire” in worship is everything “which He commanded . . . not” (Lev 10:1)—whatever is not commanded in worship is forbidden.[5]  The Lord warns His people not to be snared into looking at what the wicked do, and then saying, “even so will I do likewise” (Deut 12:30) in worship.  On the contrary, Scriptural worship is to be distinctly set apart and different from that of heathen, unbelieving culture.  Consequently, the “contemporary worship” philosophy—which is nothing less than taking the sound and style of this world system, which is under the control of Satan (Eph 2:1-3), and offering it to God—is an abomination in His holy sight.  Musical styles created by the world to glorify the devil, lust, and every sort of wickedness—such as rock, jazz, blues, country-western, pop, and rap[6]—can by no means be acceptable to that holy King who demands purity, solemnity, and reverence in His worship.  True church growth does not come by offering the Head of the church false worship, nor by turning the Father’s house into a house of merchandise through marketing and promotion techniques (Jn 2:16), but through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word as unified, holy, self-sacrificial disciples boldly preach the gospel to every creature.  Consequently, pleasing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so that heavenly fire and supernatural efficacy attend the proclamation of the gospel, will lead to far more genuine church growth than will blaspheming the Father and grieving the Spirit through false worship and man-made marketing techniques.  Godly music will drive demons away and please the Holy Spirit, while ungodly music will summon demons and cause God the Holy Ghost to depart (1 Sam 16:23; cf. 1 Chr 25:3).  Do you regulate your worship by Scripture alone, and consequently reject all worldly and fleshly worship?



This entire study can be accessed here.


[1]           NG´…gÅnŒ …wby¶IfyEh, “Do well in playing a stringed instrument.”
[2]           It is noteworthy that the specific commands for skill are for those leading in singing (1 Chr 15:22) and those playing instruments (2 Chr 34:12; Ps 33:3).  In congregational song every person is to sing, whether he has a good voice and vocal talent or not.
[3]           What place, then, can unconverted and ungodly children have in a “children’s choir” that is set before the church?  How can those who are not holy because they are yet unconverted—and who are not skilled because they are children—lead the church in worship?  Such children may be cute and funny as they sing out of tune, and having them sing before the congregation may get parents who themselves hate the Lord Jesus but care about their children to visit services.  But are cuteness and funniness a substitute for obedience to the regulations of worship set forth by the holy Head of the church?
[4]           After all, the root idea of the sanctify/holy (vdq/a‚gioß) word groups in the Old and New Testaments is to be set apart, to be distinctly different.
[5]           That is, the Regulative Principle of worship, concerning which see http://faithsaves.net/ecclesiology.
[6]           Musicians, marketers, and students of these types of music know that their songs are ungodly and against Jesus Christ and the Bible.  Rock stars and those who study such music openly declare that its goal is “to change one set of values to another … free minds … free dope … free bodies … free music” (The Rolling Stone Interviews, 1971).  “Rock music . . . is anti-religious, anti-nationalistic and anti-morality” (John Lennon).  “‘Rock-and-roll,’ itself a blues-music term for sex, suggested rebellion and abandon as much as it did a new style of music when it first jarred adult sensibilities in the 1950s” (U.S. News & World Report, October 28, 1985).  “If any music has been guilty by association, it is rock music. It would be impossible to make a complete list, but here are a few of the ‘associates’ of rock: drug addicts, revolutionaries, rioters, Satan worshippers, drop-outs, draft-dodgers, homosexuals and other sex deviates, rebels, juvenile criminals, Black Panthers and White Panthers, motorcycle gangs, blasphemers, suicides, heathenism, voodooism, phallixism, Communism in the United States (Communist Russia outlawed rock music around 1960), paganism, lesbianism, immorality, demonology, promiscuity, free love, free sex, disobedience (civil and uncivil), sodomy, venereal disease, discotheques, brothels, orgies of all kinds, night clubs, dives, strip joints, filthy musicals such as ‘Hair’ and ‘Uncle Meat’; and on and on the list could go almost indefinitely” (Frank Garlock, The Big Beat). “Sex, violence, rebellion—it’s all part of rock ‘n’ roll” (John Mellencamp, Larson’s Book of Rock).  “Rock ‘n’ Roll . . . is . . . demonic. . . . A lot of the beats in music today are taken from voodoo, from the voodoo drums. If you study music in rhythms, like I have, you’ll see that is true . . . I believe that kind of music is driving people from Christ. It is contagious” (Little Richard). “[T]he sudden mingling of so many different tribes produced new variations [of music] like candomble, santeria, and vodun [demonic religion] . . . and out of this severing came jazz, the blues, the backbeat, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll—some of the most powerful rhythms on the planet. . . . It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment when I awoke to the fact that my tradition—rock and roll—did have a spirit side, that there was a branch of the family that had maintained the ancient connection between the drum and the gods [demons]” (Mickey Hart, drummer for The Grateful Dead). “Pop music revolves around sexuality. I believe that if there is anarchy, let’s make it sexual anarchy rather than political” (Adam Ant, From Rock to Rock).  “Many rock performers grew up with country and western music, and its characteristic forms and sounds are close to the ensemble sound of rock—instrumental combinations and techniques are closely parallel. . . . The division between country-and-western and urban pop has now blurred almost to vanishing” (William J. Schafer, Rock Music).  “As a country artist, I’m not proud of a lot of things in my field. There is no doubt in my mind that we are contributing to the moral decline in America” (Jacob Aranza, More Rock Country).  “The overwhelming theme of country music is triangle relationships. In addition, lost loves, broken homes, and the glorification of liquor frequently pervade the lyrics of the songs” (David Cloud).  “The origin of the word ‘jazz’ is most often traced back to a vulgar term used for sexual acts. Some of the early sounds of jazz were associated with whore houses and ‘ladies of ill repute’” (http://www.jazzhistory/introduction).  “‘Jazz’ (also called ‘jass’ in its early days), like ‘rock and roll’ a couple of generations later, had its origins as a slang term for sex; the word's risqué roots no doubt boosted its popularity in that age-old search by hormonal, rebellious young people looking for edgy, exciting new ways to express themselves and, if at all possible, worry their parents as well” (Larry Nager, Memphis Beat).  For more information, and original sources for these quotations, see “The Character of Rock and Roll Music,” “Country Music,” “Is There a Connection Between Rock Music and Voodoo or African Paganism?” “Jazz,” and other articles on music in the database at http://wayoflife.org, published by Way of Life Literature.  Quotes above are taken from the Fundamental Baptist CD-ROM Library, ed. David Cloud.  London, Ontario: Bethel Baptist Church/Way of Life Literature, 2003).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gospel Troubles

I sympathize with the troubles of fundamentalists with the so-called gospel centered.  However, I likewise puzzle over the inconvenient trouble of fundamentalist association with false gospel.  They lose their moral authority to confront evangelicals.  Before you branch out with exposure and repudiation of false gospel elsewhere, do so closest to home.

I ask myself, "What's worse?"  It's a troubling question, because in a sense, who cares?  They're both bad.  To me, the fundamentalist problem is worse.  I hate it more.

To start, however, I draw your attention to Matt Recker, pastor of a fundamentalist Baptist church in New York City, who wrote a series of blog posts at Proclaim and Defend, the online flagship of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, entitled:  "New Evangelicalism and New Calvinism: The Same Disaster" (seventh and final post with links to previous six parts).  This series was linked at SharperIron, where further discussion occurred (here and here at least) with Matt Recker himself involved in the dialogue.

I'm not laying this all on Matt Recker, a Bob Jones University graduate.  He's just the one talking here. And as I said, I sympathize with him.  He's dealing with legitimate issues with new Calvinism and evangelicalism, and their troubles with the gospel.  However, the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship has not separated itself from its gospel trouble.  It's head wagging to me.   How could there be such myopia?  And I say it's worse because the history of fundamentalism has been posed to me again and again here as about protecting Christianity from gospel destroying error.  And yet they can't admit the stinking problem among their own people.  They should start there.

If you are not going to deal with your own people or group or fellowship (whatever) and in a strong way, then you really can't branch out to others. This comes across as political or not caring about it in a principled or doctrinal way.  And I'm talking about the relationship of the FBF with Clarence Sexton and everyone in his orbit.  Jack Schaap preaches at Sexton's Baptist Friends conference.  John Vaughn, president of the FBF, is there too.  There is no way that conference should have received even a whiff from Vaughn, as it relates to the gospel and fellowship.  But Sexton is still coming to the national conference as a main speaker. And Crown College still has the Curtis Hutson Center for Local Church Ministries there on campus. Curtis Hutson was as responsible as any fundamentalist leader for changing the definition of repentance to an unbiblical one.   First in his 1986 booklet, "Repentance: What Does the Bible Teach?", Hutson denied that repentance means to turn from sin (p. 4), rejected that it is sorrow for sin (p. 8), and taught that it means “a change of mind that leads to a change of action” (p. 16), so he concluded that repentance is  merely “to change one’s mind.”

Earlier this year, a fundamentalist blog has marked me for my teaching about salvation.   If you read the article and the comments, you should be amazed at the teaching there (consider this comment as a sample).  It represents a false gospel popular among many fundamentalists, and promoted by Lou Martuneac, who is firmly accepted among many fundamentalists.  This becomes very confusing to many fundamentalists all over the world.

These fundamentalists teach that a believer can and will live in habitual sin, that is, sin as a lifestyle. They count the perpetually sinning person as being saved, because salvation is a free gift.  You will not hear them teach that repentance is necessary for salvation.  They purposefully leave out the Lordship of Christ until after someone is already saved, not before or as any understanding of Jesus' identity even to believe in.  They water down conversion to the extent that it is not the gospel anymore.  And again, Lou Martuneac both supports this, associates with it, and defends it.  He has written a book, entitled In Defense of the Gospel, with some of the most convoluted exegesis, if you could call it exegesis, of scripture in order to do so.   I haven't reviewed Lou's book per se, because it would take almost an entire other book to undo its problems.  This is rampant among many fundamental Baptists.   So it is no wonder that men are confused about the criticism of certain evangelicals, when they know this kind of teaching is heavily in their midst.

I write this, not because I think that evangelicalism is better off.  I write it because anyone who does care about the gospel has trouble with what he sees in both evangelicalism and in fundamentalism. False gospels are all over the place and should be opposed everywhere they exist.

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On another front of gospel troubles and the evangelical gospel-centered movement, the Detroit Baptist Theological blog and Ben Edwards has posted about "Gospel Issues and Weighing Doctrines."  The post considers a journal article on the subject written by D. A. Carson.  I posted this comment:

Kent Brandenburg says: 

Your comment is awaiting moderation. 

September 16, 2014 at 8:41 pm 

Hi, 

I don’t know of anyone who has written on this subject online or even period more than me. Here is one of the one stop shops: 

http://jackhammer.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/the-essential-doctrine-doctrine-is-just-being-assumed-with-no-proof/ 

But there are many more from me. And we deal with this in our book, A Pure Church, because you’ve got to understand unity to understand purity and separation. This is completely exegetical and should be of interest to exegetes. 

http://pillarandgroundpublishing.wordpress.com/a-pure-church/ 

The Bible really does have a lot to say about it, and that’s what I explored in my articles. I think people did read and have read them. 

Why suddenly is this such a big subject? From my understanding fundamentals were a move right, in essence, saying, “We will not give in here, because if we do, there will be no Christianity left”—something like that. Fundamentalists wanted to protect truth. “Gospel” is a move left, a big move to “unify,” to reduce everything to the smallest amount necessary. And now there is a discussion about whether same-sex marriage is a non-essential. I find an earlier iteration of the latter in the Pharisees attempting to reduce the law down to the greatest commandment. Reductionism says “fail” all over it. Someone takes the part of God in saying what’s important and what isn’t, and usually you need a Sanhedrin-like organization to do that. Hey, how about TGC? Or BJU? 

I think we should stop trying to meld it down to essentials, since the Bible doesn’t. Just because Paul makes an argument about bodily resurrection doesn’t follow that we should reduce truth to the smallest common denominator.

It’s interesting or funny, but I think that some type of triage is used as to whom is serious or not serious with an argument, and it doesn’t relate to the Bible, as much as it is, who is important in the circle who makes the decision about what’s important? And usually it’s pragmatic, about book sales, crowd size, or academic prowess.

I could have added articles about 1 Corinthians 15 (here, here).

You'll notice my comment wasn't published on the site as of September 16 at 8:41pm, when a few comments were published afterwards.  Why would Detroit not publish my comment?  Why?  Why wait?  Is it false?  They promote D. A. Carson and other evangelicals, but won't publish that comment.  That possibility was why I in fact wrote the last paragraph in the comment.  And then it comes true!!!  Are my arguments not legitimate arguments?  Are they not exegetically sound?  Is there a reason why this "gospel issue" is a brand new emphasis against the normal meaning of scripture?

I read Dan Phillips and own and have read both his books, but anyone who reads him knows he listens to rock music, has no problem with rock music in a church service, is a rock drummer himself, and regularly promotes movie theater attendance.  Yes, I guess I'm a cultural fundamentalist (smiles). And the other published comment after mine comes from someone promoting his position on "true ecclesiology" and unity being one regional church per region.  What I'm saying is, we should understand why those wouldn't be moderated (smiles again).  And D. A. Carson spent a lot of time in fellowship with Mark Driscoll, not hindering his errors at Mars Hill.  In other words, in the same stream as Detroit?  Wait a minute?

Perhaps after they are done "moderating," they'll publish it.  Would I do the same thing to Dave Doran?  Of course not.  Why do they?  I don't know.  One should know.  That's the proper way of dealing with just another human being.  Explain why.  I do comment there periodically.   In the end, God is going to judge them, me, all of us.  His truth will stand.  God is the ultimate Moderator.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

More About Prayer VII

You can get to links to previous parts of this series here.

*************************

Prayer is a basic spiritual discipline in and for the Christian life:  Bible reading or study, church attendance and involvement, and prayer.  So we want Christians, our church members, including baby believers, to understand what prayer is and how to pray.  On the other hand, who cares? Just pray whatever you want, and leave it at that.  We don't want to get too technical, because then people may not pray.  So just go ahead and have them pray however they want without criticism.  If they get criticized for their prayers, they might just stop praying.  If someone is in fact a Christian, he will want to know how to pray.  The disciples asked Jesus how to pray. Believers want to know.

Does what I've been writing here clash with historical teaching on prayer? Am I inventing something new here?   I recognize that what sticks out in this series is how we pray for the sick and how we pray for the lost according to scripture.  How do we see this presented as we move back, for instance, before keswick to examine commentary on prayer?  I'm going to offer some quotes here that support what I'm saying, but the better overall approach here is to see what men taught about these things in general. When churches are praying today, they are praying for particular lost people to be saved and specific people to be healed.  Is that a common teaching of old?

The Sacred Books of the Old and New Testament, Recited at Large, written in 1739, says on p. 934:

By the prayer of faith, we must necessarily understand prayer accompanied with a persuasion wrought by the impulse of the Spirit, that God would raise up sick:  not with that faith only which is a persuasion of the general promises of God made to the whole church; since there is no such absolute promise in the Gospel, that God would grant health to the sick upon our prayer. . . . [A]s I said before, prayer grounded upon the belief of the promises of the new covenant, or upon that faith which is common to all Christians, cannot warrant the obtaining of health, or of any other temporal blessing in particular.

I've read this as a common historical interpretation of James 5:13-16, that is, that the healing of this passage is within the realm of a sign gift, a miraculous healing not for the age in which we live.  I'm not saying I agree with the interpretation, but the passage is not used as a proof text here for a prayer for healing.  The belief is that there is no promise for a prayer for healing, so there is not basis for a faithful prayer for healing.  What is written in the above quote is exactly what I've been writing.  The following is a prayer for the sick compiled by William Paley in 1823:

O ALMIGHTY God, merciful and gracious, who in thy justice didst send sorrow and tears sickness and death into the world, as a punishment for man's sins, and hast comprehended all under sin, and this sad covenant of sufferings,-- not to destroy us, but that thou mightest have mercy upon all making thy justice to minister to mercy, short afflictions to an eternal weight of glory; as thou hast been pleased to turn the sins of this thy servant into sickness, so turn, we beseech thee his sickness, to the advantage of holiness and religion, of mercy and pardon, of faith and hope, of grace and glory. Thou hast now called him to suffer.  Lord, relieve his sorrow and support spirit, direct his thoughts and sanctify his sickness, that the punishment of his sin be to him school of virtue.

This is a prayer for the sick that is not a prayer for healing.  Historically, Christians prayed like this for the sick and depended on God's providence for healing.  Again, I've not said that they didn't pray for the sick.  Ezekiel Hopkins wrote a practical exposition on the Lord's prayer, and in praying for daily bread, in 1710 he wrote the following:

[We pray for] All the means that God's providence hath appointed to preserve life and health, and to recover health when it is decayed and impaired.

I would ask you to notice the words, "the means that God's providence hath appointed."  This is not a prayer for someone to be healed, but for God's providence.  You may think that God's providence will occur anyway.  That's true, but God still wants us praying in these times and this is how you pray.

Thomas Mangey in his practical discourses on the Lord's prayer in 1717 wrote:

In short, we should so pray for the conveniencies of a frail mortal life, as to receive them from God's Hand with thankfulness, and to give them up with submission and in both together imitate holy Job; the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

So we pray to give them up the conveniencies of a frail mortal life with submission like Job did.

Richard Baxter (1615-1691) wrote the following about prayer in A Body of Practical Divinity (p. 302):

If God hath promised you the thing prayed for, you may believe that you shall receive it: otherwise your particular faith is a fancy, or a believing of yourselves, and not a believing God that never promised you anything.

In the same book (p. 303), the following is recorded about praying from Baxter for a particular lost person:

A godly man may pray for wicked relations or others with more hope than they can pray for themselves, while they remain ungodly:  but yet not with any certainty of prevailing for the thing he asketh; for it is not peremptorily promised him.  Otherwise Samuel had prevailed for Saul, and Isaac for Esau, and David for Absalom, and the good people for all the wicked; and then no godly parents would have their children lost; no nor any in the world would perish, for godly persons pray for them all.

Thomas Watson wrote, "To pray in Faith is to pray for that which God hath promised; where there is no promise we cannot pray in faith."

If you look at all the passages about prayer, you see that the faith is based on knowledge that God will answer, that He will give you what you are praying for.  Faith is based on knowledge.  You know because He has promised.  The knowledge is in the Word of God.  And so you pray for what you read in scripture that God wants you to pray for.  The Bible is sufficient. It is good enough for prayer. Perhaps the better question is, do we want what God wants?  Are His desires our desires?  Do we really trust Him?

Several books were published between 1500 and 1830 on the Lord's prayer.  When you scour those books, you don't read, "Pray for individuals to be healed," or "Pray for individual men to be saved." No.  You do read what I've been proposing here in this series on prayer.  It was in the late 19th century and 20th century that we get the explosion of the types of prayers that fit with a Charismatic understanding of prayer, praying for things that God has not promised He would provide or answer. These are the prayers that I have labeled the full court heaves for which people have invented the "no answer."

It has been intimated that with this series I have somehow swerved outside the bounds of Christian teaching, that this is a far cry from what others have said in the past.  It is just the opposite.  What I'm saying is the tenor and direction and instruction of the past.  More so, it is gleaned from the exposition of scripture.  However, history does not clash with what I am saying, but with the modern way of praying that must have arisen from something other than scripture and church history.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Reverence and Solemnity: Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship, part 5 of 8

V. Applications of the Fact that Reverence and Solemnity
Are Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship

            The fact that reverence and solemnity are essential aspects of Biblical worship has tremendous consequences for the practices of Christ’s earthly congregations.  First, it is evident that “worship” that is not solemn and reverent, but is superficial, foolish, thoughtless, vapid, flippant, trivial, and irreverent is in the highest degree offensive to God.  The Father seeks for true worshippers, and “they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:23-24).  Jehovah delights in His true children crying “Hosanna to the Son of David” in His temple (Mt 21:15), but those who do not worship Him in spirit and truth, but instead profane and defile His worship, He destroys (1 Cor 3:17).  False worship is idolatry, and idolaters will be tormented with fire and brimstone forever and ever (Rev 21:8).  The Lord Jesus hated false worship so much that at both the beginning and end of His earthly ministry He violently drove out from the temple those that profaned the pure worship of the Father (Jn 2:13-17; Mt 21:12-17; Mr 11:15-18), so that “his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Jn 2:17).  The Lord Jesus was so zealous for pure worship that He made a whip and beat out of His Father’s house those that defiled it (Jn 2:15), In this jealously for holy worship Christ was in full agreement with His Father, who sent fire from heaven to burn up those that failed to worship properly (Lev 10:1-2) dealt in pitiless fury to slay utterly those that profaned His temple (Eze 8), and eternally torments in hell those who offer Him false worship (1 Cor 6:9-11; Rev 14:9-11; 21:8).
            The facts above are most relevant for those who are members of true churches—the kind the Lord Jesus started in the first century—historic Baptist churches.[1]  Only such churches have the special presence of the holy Trinity in their midst (cf. Mt 18:17, 20).  What fearful judgment such churches should expect from He whose eyes are as a flame of fire if they corrupt pure worship (cf. Rev 2:5, 16, 20-23; 3:1-4, 14-18)!  However, other religious organizations in Christendom, from the liturgical and hierarchical to the worldly megachurch, even if they do not possess the special presence of Christ found in His true congregations, nevertheless will face the judgment Christ will pour out on all idolaters.  Therefore let all the world take heed to the Biblical mandate for reverent and solemn worship, and flee with horror from everything that deviates in the least from such worship.
Second, note that it is absolutely essential to have grace if you are to worship or serve God acceptably.  Only through grace can you serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear—consequently, God commands you to have grace (Heb 12:28).[2]  Your prayers and praise must be with grace in your heart if they are to be acceptable (Col 3:16). The only way of true access to the Father is through the Son and by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18; Col 3:17; 1 Tim 2:5; Jn 14:6), so if you are unconverted, you are utterly unable to worship God and offer Him true service.  Only regenerate people will enter into the New Jerusalem to worship God forever and ever, and only regenerate people are those true worshippers that can worship the Father in spirit and truth now (Jn 4:23-24).  They only have fellowship with the Father and the Son through the Spirit (1 Jn 1:3; 2 Cor 13:14).  If you are unconverted, you cannot please God in any way, you have no Mediator to bring you into the Father’s presence, no Spirit to assist you in your coming, and consequently you face the awful and immeasurable wrath of God against you for your sin in Adam, your sin nature, and your innumerable personal transgressions (cf. Rom 8:8-9; Tit 1:15-16).  Ought you not immediately turn from your sin and flee to Christ, that you might receive mercy through His blood, the imputation of His own perfect and everlasting righteousness to your account so that you can stand perfect before the legal tribunal of God, and the freedom from the bondage of sin under which you so awfully lie (Mr 1:15; Jn 3:16; Rom 5:1)?
            Are you regenerate?  Then sensibly recognize, and all the more because your formerly blind eyes have been opened, and your formerly insensible heart of adamant has been softened, how necessary grace is for your to worship your Triune Redeemer acceptably!  Do you not know by experience the truth of Paul’s statement:  “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Rom 7:21)?  Do you not see your indwelling sin the more awfully active the more you seek to approach the Lord in true reverence and godly fear?  Is it not especially active when you engage in your especially holy duties?  How, then, can you worship the Lord in solemnity and reverence, when sin clings to even your most zealous and holy thoughts and deeds, so that you deserve nothing more than to be thrust into the depths of hell for the most holy act of worship you have ever done in your life?  “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (Ps 130:3). What, then, is the answer?  Grace—“But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Ps 130:4).  You have in the Lord Jesus a perfect High Priest who bears the iniquity of your holy things, that you may be accepted before Jehovah (Ex 28:38).[3]  Then let grace be of infinite sweetness to your soul, the rejoicing of your renewed heart, and your constant dependence in all your acts of personal and corporate worship before your Lord.
            What is more, you must not only be regenerate, but also have an upright heart, for if you regard iniquity in your heart, the Lord will not hear your prayers or accept your worship (Ps 66:18).  As a believer, you are individually the temple of God (1 Cor 6:19-20), even as the corporate assembly is His temple also (1 Cor 3:15-20; 1 Tim 3:15).  You must be a clean and holy temple if your individual worship is to be acceptable.  You must individually be a clean and holy temple the whole week if your part of corporate worship on the Lord’s Day is to be acceptable (Is 1:13-15).  If you cannot lift up holy hands (1 Tim 2:8) because your hands are stained with sin, or stained with the blood of the unconverted to whom you refused to give the gospel (Ac 20:26-27; Eze 33:8), do you think the Lord will be pleased with your worship?  Can you pray reverently to the King of heaven because you have a regenerate and upright heart?



This entire study can be accessed here.


[1]           See “Bible Study #7:  The Church of Jesus Christ” at faithsaves.net/Bible-studies/, and also the resources at faithsaves.net/ecclesiology/ for the identifying marks of true churches.
[2]           That is, “let us have grace” is a hortatory subjective, which “is used to urge someone to unite with the speaker in a course of action upon which he has already decided” (pg. 464, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Wallace), and which consequently bears an imperatival notion—for only through grace can men worship acceptably with reverence and godly fear:  e¶cwmen ca¿rin, di∆ h∞ß latreu/wmen eujare÷stwß twˆ◊ Qewˆ◊ meta» ai˙douvß kai« eujlabei÷aß.
[3]           Cf. “Christ our High Priest, Bearing the Iniquity of our Holy Things,” Horatius Bonar (http://faithsaves.net/soteriology).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The NFL: Moral Relativism and Violence Against Women

The National Organization for Women, I noticed, is calling for Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, to resign his position.  They've got to have something to do, so this seems as good as anything to them.  The issue is getting a lot of attention because of the Ray Rice video now that is all over the media worldwide.  Ray Rice had knocked out his fiance on an elevator. He admitted it.  But now the world sees the punch in action.

Actually, I couldn't see the punch on the video, because Rice's hand moved so quickly.  I was certain he punched her because she turned into a rag doll.  But everyone already knew that.  Rice had admitted it.  They had already seen Rice drag her out of the elevator.  However, once they saw the punch in action, there was a reaction from the world.  They wanted greater punishment for Ray Rice than he received, now that they had seen the video.

Years ago, going door to door, I ran into a household where the wife was abusing the husband.  She was physically abusing him.  She was stronger.  He was emaciated, and she kept him docile and under control through physical abuse and various medications.  I talked to this man many times, because I cared about him, but there are women who beat up men.  I've read about it since then.

Before Rice cold-cocked his fiance (now wife), you could see her hit him twice.  It looked like she physically attacked Rice.  Rice warded off these punches, and then hit her once.  One time.  And it looked like it wasn't a big punch for him, just a quick, powerful jab, that put her down and out.

Let's say that this was a same-sex couple, someone like Michael Sam and his boyfriend.  Let's say his boyfriend punched him twice and he sloughed off both punches, and then with a quick, sharp jab, he knocked out his boyfriend on an elevator.  This would not be news.  There would be no uproar.  It would make no difference.  There wouldn't even be an arrest.  It was fisticuffs.  Sam's punch was provoked.  He couldn't be charged because he got punched twice, and the retaliation was self-defense. Self-defense.  We know this is how it works.

Supposedly, we live in an egalitarian society.  A woman can be President, Secretary of State, your Senator or Congressman.  Women are the equals of men.  This is supposed to be real.  This is supposed to be what women want.  They want to be treated equally.  For instance, if a woman punches a man, women want men to be able to punch back, because women deserve to be treated like men.  Equally.  True, right?

Wrong.  Women want it both ways.  They want to punch without being punched.  In other words, they want a selective egalitarian society.  Not exactly egalitarian, more slanted toward them.

Don't get me wrong.  I want women to be protected.  I just don't think women should have it both ways.  If they can punch, all things being equal, then they can get punched too.  Just because the man is more powerful and can knock her out with one punch shouldn't matter in an egalitarian society.

My problem is with egalitarianism.  This is what it turns into.  If you can't judge women to be lesser than men, weaker than men, of a different role than men -- in other words, complementarian -- then you have to be fine with men and women having fisticuffs and more women ending up hurt.  You've got to make up your mind here.

Violence against women is a product of moral relativism.  We want our women at West Point.  There is obviously a different standard for those women -- wink, wink.  But they're dressed up the same and subject to the same criteria -- wink, wink.  It really isn't happening, but this is what is talked about, when in the real world it isn't happening and it will never happen.  Why?  Because women are different than men. There is absolute truth and goodness.  It's bad when women are given the role of men.  When we make truth and goodness relative, then women are going to get hurt, which they are in many numbers of ways.

One more thing.  This is also a product of evangelical and fundamentalist churches where women dress like men. They have male hair cuts.  They wear blue jeans.  The churches have day care so that women can be bread winners.  The women are career oriented.  The churches allow all this because of pragmatism.  It is all over society and the churches are not stopping it, even the complementarian ones.   These churches are actually nihilistic in this way, because there is no truth, no way to determine truth.  So they let their women act and look like men, trangressing biblical teaching, meanwhile trying to keep this complementarian stance that is actually learned through actions and appearance.  So the moral relativism is accepted by the churches.  And those churches attack someone like myself for having that stand and talking about it.  However, the churches are being ruined and will be destroyed because of it.

Why isn't it "violence toward people" that is the issue?  Why does it make difference whether it is a man or a woman?  All of this blows the cover of egalitarianism.  This is God's world, which is why people still don't really believe it.  And they are showing that by singling out violence toward women. Of course, we abhor violence toward women, but moral relativism is a cause, if not the cause, of violence toward women.