Category Archives: Faith

Books for Sale (Updated)

 

I’m clearing some much needed space, so have listed these books on Ebay. Click the title of each to go right to the Ebay page.

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The Poetical Works of William Cowper, 1881

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Log College by Archibald Alexander, 1851

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Dr. Gill’s Commentary (1852)

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The Works of Charles Dickens, Cleartype Edition (15 volumes)

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The Pulpit Commentary (23 volumes)
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Holman Old Testament Commentary Set (20 volumes) 

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Holman New Testament Commentary Set (12 volumes)

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament (10 volumes)

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Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament 

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Hendrickson New Testament Commentary (12 volumes)

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History of the Christian Church by Sheldon (5 volumes)

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Reformation Commentary on the Scripture: Volume 10 (Galatians, Ephesians)

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A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (4 volumes)

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Lands and Peoples: The World in Color, 1948 (7 volumes)

 

Why “Adding to the List of Sins” Kills Joy and Stifles Witness

grudem-podcastIn his Systematic TheologyWayne Grudem writes:

“The sufficiency of Scripture reminds us that nothing is sin that is not forbidden by Scripture either explicitly or by implication.

Whenever we add to the list of sins that are prohibited by Scripture itself, there will be harm to the church and to the lives of individual believers. The Holy Spirit will not empower obedience to rules that do not have God’s approval from Scripture, nor will believers generally find delight in obedience to commands that do not accord with the laws of God written on their hearts. In some cases, Christians may repeatedly and earnestly plead with God for “victory” over supposed sins that are in fact no sins at all, yet no “victory” will be given, for the attitude or action in question is in fact not a sin and is not displeasing to God. Great discouragement in prayer and frustration in the Christian life generally may be the outcome.

In other cases, continued or even increasing disobedience to these new “sins” will result, together with a false sense of guilt and a resulting alienation from God. Often there arises an increasingly uncompromising and legalistic insistence on these new rules on the part of those who do follow them, and genuine fellowship among believers in the church will fade away. Evangelism will often be stifled, for the silent proclamation of the gospel that comes from the lives of believers will at least seem (to outsiders) to include the additional requirements that one must fit this uniform pattern of life in order to become a member of the body of Christ.”

 

The Future of Evangelicalism: Seven Questions

parkstreetchurchIn his book The Surprising Work of God, Garth Rosell claims “the future of evangelicalism, to put it succintly, depends largely on what answers the worldwide evangelical movement is prepared to give to seven important questions.” (p. 220). I’ve listed the seven questions and Rosell’s answers (answers which were “absolutely clear and unequivocal” to evangelicals from Jonathan Edwards to Billy Graham) below.

1. What is our ultimate authority?

-The Bible

2. What is our primary purpose?

-To bring glory to God and to serve the common good

3. What are our most important goals?

-Worldwide evangelization and the spiritual renewal of the church and the culture

4. Where is our ultimate loyalty? 

-To the Sovereign and triune Lord of the Universe

5. What is the foundation of our hope?

-Christ’s spotless life, atoning death on the cross, and glorious resurrection

6. To what theology do we subscribe?

-“Historic orthodoxy,” the faith once delivered to the saints (as taught in Scripture and reflected, albeit imperfectly, in the historic creeds and confessions)

7. Into what community have we been called?

-The Christian church

The Solution for Racial Prejudice

The Surprising Work of God: Harold John Ockenga, Billy Graham, and the Rebirth of Evangelicalism by Garth M. Rosell.

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“In America we have the peculiar condition of the presence of many racial groups, intermingling in economic and social life. Into our country have been poured the accumulated hatreds of the ages,” Ockenga lamented, “until racial prejudice is one of the greatest problems and sins of our country.” There is “no excuse for the treatment which the predominant Nordics in America have accorded to other racial groups. No stain is darker upon our shield of justice than the treatment of the negro.”

Yet “all of mankind,” Ockenga continued, “are members of the same human family.” We are united in our sinfulness we are all of one blood, we all bear the image of God, and we all stand in need of salvation. Through his work on the cross, Christ “has broken down the middle wall of partition” so that there is no longer “Jew or Gentile, black or white, bond or free, but all men are one in Christ.” “Herein rests the great truth of the Christian family. Whereas, humanly speaking, we are all members of the human family through birth; we through the new birth become members of the Christian family.” Christ’s redemption “is the secret of the regeneration of the world, and it is the solution for race prejudice.” 

Quotes taken from a sermon by Harold John Ockenga entitled “Race Prejudice” preached at Point Breeze Presbyterian Church on October 14, 1934. 

Machen and Ockenga

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On May 8, 1931 J Gresham Machen gave the charge to Harold John Ockenga upon his installation at Point Breeze Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. His advice?

 

 

1. Preach fearlessly.
2. Don’t be afraid of controversy.
3. Center your ministry on Christ.
4. Know your Bible thoroughly.
5. Open yourself to science, literature, philosophy, and art.
6. Be confident that you are secure in the hands of the sovereign God.

Rosell, Garth M. The Surprising Work of God: Harold John Ockenga, Billy Graham, and the Rebirth of Evangelicalism, p. 69.

The Single Best Reflection I’ve Heard On Ferguson

hill-2014-fprofTheon Hill is assistant professor of communication at Wheaton College. We attended university together where we served on a student council together for a year. I’ve always had the utmost respect for Theon–apart from being smart and articulate, he’s a genuinely kind person.

So I was excited to hear that he gave a talk last night at Wheaton College entitled “Reflecting on Ferguson.” I listened to it earlier today and it’s the single best thing I’ve heard on the topic to-date. Let me encourage you to take the time to listen. Whether you see systemic racism or personal responsibility as the primary issue in play during this cultural moment; whether you trust commentary from FoxNews or MSNBC; whether you vote Democrat or Republican, you’ll benefit from the talk.

Here’s a brief overview:

(1) The nature and reality of systemic racism. What is it’s foundation? How does it materialize in culture today?

(2) The nature of personal responsibility. What role does personal responsibility play in this discussion?

(3) What can the church do? Where do we go from here?

Theon’s talk begins at 42:20 and ends at 1:19:50 (a Q&A session follows). The sound quality is poor, so headphones may help.

You can listen to the talk here. 

 

 

10 Lessons Learned Along The Way

Today is my birthday. Reflecting on the last decade or so, here are ten lessons I’m learning.

1. Few things will serve you as well as an insatiable curiosity. Cultivate curiosity. Ask lots of questions. Spend time with lots of different kinds of people who are a lot different than you. Read widely. Ask for book recommendations from people you admire. Don’t be afraid to tackle any topic. 

2. Serious study is so valuable not simply for knowledge acquisition, but because it teaches you how to think.

3. Leadership is about doing hard things. A good leader protects others by making the hard decisions, having the hard conversations, and executing the difficult tasks. The essence of leadership is not public notoriety, but quiet service.

4. Looking for God’s kind providence in your past will cultivate worship and keep you from bitterness.

5. If you don’t have good friends who are in their 60s and 70s, you’re missing out on a remarkable gift.

6. One of the most undervalued assets in life is a broad and deep relational network. Prioritize people even over tasks. Life is about people. Ministry happens with people. Relationships will change you in a way few other things will.

7. Cultivating a relationship with God will keep you from sin, keep you dependent, and keep you prayerful. Ignoring God will result in sin, make you independent and proud, and cause you to be prayerless.

8. Other Christians (and groups of Christians) are almost never as bad as you think. Take time to listen and understand “the other.”

9. Almost nothing is better for you spiritually than being a member of a church that treasures Jesus and celebrates his Gospel every Sunday. As a general rule, spend as much time at church as possible.

10. Family first. Laugh, play, pray, spend time together. Life is too short to not spend time with your family.

Mercy For All

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The sun is just rising above the mountains that surround Kathmandu, Nepal and I’m enjoying the cool temperatures and beautiful view with a cup of Nepali tea while meditating on Psalm 130 by reading it again and again and listening to a beautiful arrangement of the psalm.

The Psalm makes much of the depth of God’s mercy. In the face of humanity’s astounding willful rebellion, God has made a way for a holy God and sinful people to be reconciled through Jesus. I’m reflecting on the countless ways I’ve seen the depth of His mercy in the face of my sin. How can I not agree with the Psalmist—“if you would count everything that I’ve done wrong, who could stand?”

“But with you there is forgiveness (v.4).” For the soul aware of their sinfulness these words practically spring from the page with life-giving hope. Because of Jesus, He doesn’t count my sins against me!

“O praise Him, hallelujah, my Delight and my Reward; Everlasting, never failing, my Redeemer, my God” (Psalm 62).

Mercy in Kathmandu

I’ve seen worship-inducing evidences of deep mercy the last few days as I’ve spent time with my brothers serving as pastors here in Nepal. In the face of overwhelming opposition, seemingly endless hostility, and Hindu fervor at every turn, these men are heralding the rich mercy of the one true God. How do they persevere when things seem so bleak (Nepal is less than half a percent Christian)?

They are merciful because they have been shown mercy (Matt. 5:7).

One brother was a witch doctor known throughout the region for his healing powers. One day he contracted an illness that he couldn’t heal and threatened to heal his life. He healed others, but he couldn’t heal himself. A merciful Savior, who knows our frame, used this to bring him to Christians and then to Jesus. Mercy.

When another brother was 8 months old, he was dropped in a fire that severely burned his face and body and caused him to lose an arm. He now pastors a church in the mountains near the border of China, and he and his wife recently had their first baby—a girl—with a face so beautiful it took my breath away. Mercy.

Several of the other brothers have fathers who served as Hindu priests—or they themselves used to be Hindu priests. Some used to do animal sacrifices, another even human sacrifice. Now their sacrifice is a broken and contrite spirit. Mercy.

Mercy Anew

As the sun rises on the 10/40 window this morning, there is new mercy. This mercy is resounding across the lands. It is breaking barriers, shattering opposition, and working astounding miracles of new birth. We shared it with our Hindu cab driver last night. Even as I type this, a pastor friend from Iowa is sharing it with a Nepali man over tea. We who have tasted of the sweet mercy of Jesus, and every day experience it’s newfound depths, how can we not freely, eagerly, joyfully, confidently, winsomely, brokenly share the good news: “you were dead in your sins…but God, who is rich in mercy…”

A wonderful, merciful Savior has mercy for all.

Does This Sound Like Your Church?

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Ezra Reading the Law in the Hearing of the People by Gustave Dore

The scene of corporate worship described in Nehemiah 8 sounds exactly like my church. I didn’t realize it, indeed, I hadn’t even thought of it before; but I was profoundly moved with the realization yesterday while reading the passage.

What an incredible thing the body of Christ is! Spanning the globe and across time, it worships with a stunning continuity, because it worships the one and only true God, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

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“All the people came together…and Ezra opened the Book…

Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.

Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.”