Monthly Archives: October 2017

Review of To a Thousand Generations by Douglas Wilson part 1

In his book, To a Thousand Generations, Douglas Wilson starts off in the preface talking about how within his church they receive into membership those who baptize their infants and those who believe one must wait until a profession of faith. He mentions how this book doesn’t represent his church as a whole but that its a book that the elders of their church has allowed for publication as they wrestled with the issues.

Central to their churches understand of this, they allow both kinds of families into membership because they consider membership by family and not by individuals within that family.

This is a quote from the preface:

“As a part of this cooperationa greement, we have stated the following in our Constitution: “Because of our commitment to the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3), and because of our shared commitment to the practice of household membership as outlined in our Constitution, these differences have been procedurally resolved between us. We have agreed to work together in this way until such a time as the Lord brings us to one mind on the subject of baptism.” Our assumption is that we are to strive for likemindedness. The cooperation is not based upon an uneasy silence, but rather on a frank and charitable discussion.” -Douglas Wilson, Preface of To a Thousand Generations

I want to comment on this in the spirit of being frank. Frankly, I like and agree wholeheartedly with this. We should be striving within the church to be of one mind. We should be fully convinced in our own minds while also being able to discuss and dialogue about all kinds of issues, always keeping the centrals of the faith central. If we run or hide from discussing these matters then we are merely being lazy or waiting for worse things to happen.

It is a sign of courage when someone can listen to another argument without getting defensive or emotional. To reason back and listen and understand the issues is one of great work but worthwhile work. We need more of this. We need more listening and dialogue. We need to strive to be of one mind on all sorts of issues, and we must be willing to be wrong, as well as being willing stand up if we are right.

We stand on God’s word. So we aren’t striving to just follow someone with better arguments. We are striving to know and understand God’s word better. We are striving to follow it and listen to it. So if someone demonstrates something Biblical to us, we must be willing to submit ourselves to God’s voice through his word.

Part of striving to be of one mind means we can’t just hold onto something because we like it or don’t like the other side. We must prove it Biblically. We must reason with Scripture. Our lives must be conducted in this light.

So my task won’t be to tear down arguments, but also build up my case as well. For that is striving to be fully convinced in our own minds as well as striving with one another to be of likemindedness.

May God grant us grace in this endeavor.

Note: As I continue to read, I also am seeing that this task of trying to write daily, while studying the issues more in depth, and then commenting and wrestling, will be difficult. I may not have much to say at times, and may not talk about the issue for a while. This is because I want to prayerfully work through this and not rush through it. So, as a way of preparing anyone who may read this, and as a way of not giving myself too much of a burden, I may work through this much slower, and perhaps take a few months or a year. But I pray it will be a blessing, mostly for myself and my family, but to anyone else who may read.


Baptizing the Infant

As I mentioned before, my wife and I have moved. We moved far away from where we once were and are attending a church far different than the one we previously were. This is always bound to happen since all people are different. However, when I say different I mean doctrinal. One of the differences is in regards to infant baptism.

In the spirit of this difference, and in wanting to better understand why they baptize their infants, I want to go through a book I was given called To a Thousand Generations: infant baptism – covenant mercy for the people of God by Douglas Wilson. Douglas Wilson is a man I have great respect for. I have learned much from his writings on all sorts of issues, and have come to be a more joyful Christians because of it. There have been three men whom I’ve never met who’ve done far more for me than I can express gratitude to God for. Paul Washer preached the gospel to me. John Piper gave me the big doctrinal direction of my life. And Douglas Wilson has taught me how to live life.

All that to say I respect these men whom I’ve never met, and owe a great debt to them. And as I address Wilson’s book on infant baptism, it is with great respect I do. I do not believe that this book I was given is all there is to say, nor does it represent the church I attend as a whole. But it’s a small book, easy for my to manage as I continue to settle in up here, and it’s a great place to start since it is by a man I have learned much and owe much.

I also must say on the outset that I’ve not wrestled with this issue as much as perhaps I should have. Maybe the arguments will be persuasive enough, being derived from God’s word, to convince me that I ought to baptize my son. I feel pretty convinced in my own mind but I’m always willing to submit myself to the word of God if it can be shown that I am in error on any doctrine of mine.

This will be both a journey and a wrestle and arguing. May God bless my time as I work through the book and the arguments within it.


Spiritual Worship and Fearing Man

As I’ve been writing about, being a living sacrifice, I want to add one thing.

As a sacrifice, I must not fear man. Not only should I have no fear of man, but that my fear of God should be far greater than fearing anything or anyone.

If I am to be destroyed for God, if I am to be offered up as a sacrifice, then I must not fear what others think. I am God’s. I am for His pleasure. In fact, we are to be symbols that ought to cause fear in others. We are heirs of God’s kingdom, and that king will put all his enemies his feet.

We must not pretend, as we offer up our spiritual worship, that we must somehow make God appealing to unbelievers. Our job is to make unbelievers appealing to God. We will be fools, but the opinions of men who don’t serve a holy God are futile. Instead of fearing what others may do or think we must keep Gods thoughts more on the forefront of our minds. Remember, God hates the wicked. These men who hate God can’t do anything to us. But when God hates a man there is nothing that won’t stop Him from pouring out his wrath.

Let us not kid ourselves. As living sacrifices we will be detestable to the world. We are alive and yet symbols of death, for we died with Christ and are killing our flesh and losing our lives for Him. We are the aroma of death to those who are perishing, as Corinthians says. Living sacrifices offer up everything they are, have, and do to the one whom they are a sacrifice for. Living sacrifices seek to please and serve the one for whom they are a sacrifice. In offering up our bodies we are offering up all our actions and deed. We are seeking holiness in thought, word, and deed. And this is worship.

This means worship is our entire lives. It’s not once a week. It’s every second of every day.

So we must not fear man because it is man who ought to fear God. If we fear man we know neither the love of God nor do we believe the truth that God will put all his enemies under his feet. We must keep the truth on our tongue and in our mind. God will rule this world entirely, and any fear of man is wasted time and wasted energy. Man is fleeting and passing, and will be judged by his maker.

Are you obeying your love, Lord, and Master? Are you a living symbol of death, a pleasing aroma to your God? Is everything you do aligned with the character of God as demonstrated in His word?

As characters in His story, we need to know who we are. And if we are what we should not be, then we must repent, trust in Jesus to make us what we are not, and seek to be what we are not.


Spiritual Worship 3

So let me summarize and then embellish and muse a little more from the past two days.

To summarize, I’ve been writing about worship. I’ve written about how worship can be made to anything that we present our bodies as sacrifices to. I also wrote about Romans 12 and how it defines worship. It defines worship that is spiritual as the action of presenting our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.

Now to muse more on this.

This is how we are to worship God: With our bodies on an altar. A sacrifice always involves a body. Its a body being prepared to be cut and bled and burned. Most of the time the body has to be prefect before it’s going to be dismembered and burned. God wants perfect bodies to be destroyed essentially. To be offered up to him. Men and women were to burn the fattest and best calve or goat or sheep. They were to offer only the best. God would only accept the destruction of the best, not of the worst.

There is no offering up the worst. That may be more practical to us, since the best would be of more use to us, but God doesn’t work that way. He wants you to destroy the best. He wants you to offer up the best.

Our spiritual worship is us offering up ourselves, our bodies, to be destroyed for God. And our bodies are only perfect because of the mercies of God that gave us Jesus Christ who washed us clean and removed spot, wrinkle, and blemish from us. So, our spiritual worship is resting upon the mercies of God, trusting His mercy is sufficient to make us clean and make us acceptable to himself, and offering back up that which God has declared righteous to Him so that it would be destroyed.

We are not deserving of God’s mercy. We’re the lame and blind goats. We’re the men with crushed testicles who cannot go into worship God. We’re the lepers. And yet God declares us to be something else. And by faith, though we don’t see it, we trust that Christ has done it, and so we offer our bodies to be destroyed.

A living sacrifice is a sacrifice that isn’t your typical sacrifice. However, it’s still a sacrifice. This means we will not be killed but we still must be destroyed. We still must be a sign to others of something other than what we are. We must be symbols of God’s holiness. We must be symbols of God’s righteousness. We must be symbols of God’s wrath.

This means that all of our lives, every area and aspect of our lives, is worship unto God. All of our time. All of our breaths. All of our eating, and drinking, and playing, and resting, and working.

This is what I mean when I said that we cannot divide up the spiritual and the physical yesterday. Both exist and both are different and distinct, but both are Gods, belong to God, and are good. We are living bodies, which is our physical state. However, a sacrifice typically dies, yet we are to be living sacrifices. Therefore, sacrifice is a spiritual thing now, not a physical one. And, this spiritual sacrifice is your daily physical life being lived out before God. Which is why Paul says, this presenting your body as a living sacrifice is spiritual worship. Paul is noting the distinction. Your worship is not killing animals, it’s you dying. However, its not dying physically but in a spiritual sense. Killing the old man, and offering up yourself to God every moment you live as though you are doing holy work unto the Lord.

Therefore, worship isn’t singing songs to God. That is apart of worship. But just as much apart of worship as is sleeping. Just as much apart of worship as is painting toenails, and working out biceps. Paul is tapping into all of life. All of our life is to be one big burnt offering of ourselves to God. And that burnt offering is to be holy and blameless. But that burnt offering is only acceptable, holy, blameless, because of the mercies of God by the blood of Jesus Christ.

This means your work is just as much as worship as your praise. Your hair color, clothing, and attitude are just as much worship as your prayers. Your eating, drinking, and fellowship are just as much worship as Bible reading.

But this also means that your bible reading, prayers, and praise can be a false sense of security of salvation. These things can be substitutes for true worship. God spoke and said, “these people praise me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” He also said that, “you search the scriptures thinking in them you have life, but it is they that point to me.” He also said, “when you pray, do not pray as the pharisees, who love being seen by men.”

These actions done by us may also be done because we idolize the praise of man, or believe that by doing these things we will somehow get something from God.

This is why the Reformation was so important. The Reformation set things right again. Men began to realize that we cannot earn God’s favor, God’s favor is bestowed upon a person freely by His choice. When God’s people realize this, when they realize they aren’t trying to earn anything from God but have been already given, their motivations to work, act, and move and worship are much greater and further reaching.

Our spiritual worship is presenting our bodies as living sacrifices for the reason of demonstrating our love of God because of the mercy He has freely given us. We don’t work diligently according to God’s command because we want God to accept us as children. We do it because God is our Father, and we desire to demonstrate our love, and it pleases us to please the Father.

If you have ever thought that worship is just a Sunday thing, then you’ve thought wrong. The coloring of your toenails may be worship. Working out may be worship. The key difference between it being worship or not worship is this: did you paint your toenails for God honoring reasons? Did you work out for God honoring reasons?

In order to know this, you need to know the one who has loved you far greater than you deserve as a sinner. You need to be saturated in His word.

Start small. Figure out how to honor God in Bible reading. Figure out how to honor God when you gather together. Start obeying where you know you need to start obeying God. And from them work out. You may have tons of areas of disobedience. You may have tons of areas of life you’ve never considered that should be apart of offering yourself up to God. Start with the most important ones first, and then work further out to least important ones.

But it must be iterated that the least important ones are still apart of your spiritual worship.


Spiritual Worship 2

Yesterday I wrote about worship. I want to continue to muse on worship, probably say some things terribly, but I want to try and think more clearly and thoroughly about this. For as we read in Romans 12:1, spiritual worship is us presenting our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. If we want to worship God, the we must be presenting our bodies to God, and we must make sure our bodies are holy and acceptable. If our bodies are not holy and acceptable, then we must not fret for that is why Paul appeals by the mercies of God, because we too appeal to God by the mercy He gave us by the death of Jesus Christ, our savior and second person of the trinity.

Worship ought to be central to our lives. It must be what we seek to do and Romans 12 is telling us what worship is. Yesterday I wrote about what other things we may be presenting our bodies to instead of God. Both good and bad things. Now we need to define things better, because I didn’t do a good job at that.

So we need to notice some things. In Romans 12:1 it says “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” First, is that Paul is appealing to the people he is writing to, and he is calling them brothers. These people are not unbelievers or nonbelievers. He is writing to those who are followers of Jesus Christ.

This is important because in our age today I have spoken with people and Christians who think that everyone is really one of Gods children. This is false. A child does what the father does, which is why Jesus called the pharisees children of Satan. So no unbeliever or idolater can ever worship the triune God.

The second thing we need to notice is that the word therefore means that Paul is basing what he is about to say on everything else he said. Paul is chapter 1-11 basically laid out a clear and in depth theology of the gospel. So Paul is basing what he’s about to say upon the gospel and truths that he just wrote.

The third thing we need to notice is Paul is appealing to them by Gods mercy, and he’s appealing they do these things by Gods mercy. The Christian cannot do anything apart from the mercy of God, and Paul is both saying he’s appealing to them by Gods mercy and that they need to do these things by Gods mercy.

The fourth thing we need to notice is that their spiritual worship is these things Paul is appealing for them to do. Spiritual worship is to do this thing he is talking about.

The fifth thing is what I’ll be focusing upon is the section about presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.

The first thing I want us to notice about this part is that we are presenting our bodies. We are presenting all that we are. Our bodies is apart of our worship. Worship isn’t just ethereal thought and feeling stuff. Worship has to do with hands and toenails and eyelashes. Worship has to do with hand grips, facial hair and muscles. All of our body is apart of worship. There is not one aspect of us that isn’t apart of worship.

The second thing we need to notice is that what we are presenting our bodies as is a living sacrifice.

Talk about an image. God gives us an image. The image of a sacrifice. An image of an animal being placed upon an altar, sliced, killed, bled out, and burned. But this body isn’t going to just be dismembered, but it’s going to remain alive. That is a living sacrifice. That is the image. A body that is cut up, and burned, and yet remaining alive.

The third thing we need to notice is that we are presenting living bodies as a sacrifice, which are to remain alive, and which are to be holy and blameless. These bodies of ours ought to be holy and blameless. They ought to have no spot or wrinkle or blemish. No defect. No imperfection. Perfectly holy, perfectly blameless.

There is a blending of spiritual and physical. They cannot be separated. And that is central to this. Worship isn’t to be divided up. But more on that tomorrow.

 

 


Spiritual Worship

Your life doesn’t belong to you. You don’t belong to you. You belong to someone else. You belong to God. And if you don’t believe and trust and obey the one you belong to, then you are enslaved and belong to someone else. You are a child of Sin.

It’s important to know who you belong to because that will dictate what you worship. If you belong to God then you will desire to worship God. If you are enslaved to sin and a child of Satan, then you will worship anything that is fleeting and decaying.

But what is worship?

Romans 12:1

[1] I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (ESV)

Here is an answer. Worship is presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. That is spiritual worship. What you are presenting your body as a living sacrifice to. Maybe it’s money, your lusts, a friend or your family. Maybe you present your body as a living sacrifice to your job, career, hobby, or marriage. What is it you are presenting your body as a living sacrifice to? Notice a living sacrifice is something your doing every moment. Your doing it with every breath, every thought. You are living, and your life is being sacrificed for something. Is it for God or is it for something else?

If it’s to something else then you are an idolater. It can be good things you use your life for. It can be for evil things you use your life for. Whatever it is, if it’s not God you are a living sacrifice for then you are an idolater.

Often, it’s the good things that Christians are giving their lives for. The danger is our worship being masked as for God but truly it is for something entirely else. Our hearts are deceitful and wicked.

I’ve seen a church that is a living sacrifice for evangelism. It works and moves and breaths in every way it can to evangelize. This sounds like a good thing, the only problem is our aim in life isn’t evangelism. Our aim in life is to love God with everything. Apart of loving God may be evangelism, but it’s not the central thing.

What happens when evangelism to the world becomes the spiritual worship of a church, the thing it sacrifices itself for, is that the truth about God begins to fade, and what God accomplished becomes diminished, and soon people entering the doors is far more important than those people loving God.

It’s the problem the pharisees had. They ended up loving their regulations more than God, and soon they ignored parts of scripture  because they wanted to worship God the way they wanted to.

God wants us to love Him with all that we are. He requires all of us. This means we must take the first steps in orienting our lives in accordance with His word. But this cannot be done apart from the mercies of God. This cannot be done apart from His grace and forgiveness for our sins.

This is why Paul in Romans appeals to us by the mercies of God. It is only by the mercy of God that we can even begin to love Him. And God demonstrated His mercy to us by Jesus Christ, who took on our sin. We have committed grievous sins against a holy God, and we deserve wrath. But Jesus bore that wrath and took the place of His people. Trust in His work and join the fellow saints in being under the mercies of God.

 


The Movement You don’t care about

Nearly 500 years ago there was a movement that was taking place all over the world. This movement was so important that 500 years later people would still be talking about it, though not as many people as should be talking about it. This movement had such a dramatic effect on the world that if it were not for that movement our world would not be what it is. We breath the expired C02 of this movement. It permeates everything we are. Yet little appreciation and study is given to this movement.

As I said earlier, there are people still talking about the movement, but they are few. No doubt the amount of people talking about it are as few as the number of fingers on a two fingered giant.

The movement I am talking about is known as the Reformation. It was a time when men and women were not allowed to read the Bible in their native tongue. It was a time when priests read and preached in Latin, a language known to none but the priests. It was a time when men and women were starving for the pure milk of God’s word, and instead being fed the dry dust of a coffin.

The Catholic Church was feeding itself and making itself fat with the coins of the people, while the people believed in the empty and devouring words of the Catholic Church. For hundreds of years the pope wielded the power of the state.

The Catholic Church had power and wealth and was building itself up while the children of God were hungering for solid food and in need of pastors that loved them. The corruption in the church was widespread and recognizable.

It was 500 years ago that many men and women began to stand up against the corruptions of the Catholic Church. When the Bible was finally set free to be read by the common people (not allowed before the reformation), this is how the Catholic Church lost its grip. Soon God’s Word shined the hypocrisy and lies and false beliefs of the Catholic Church.

Christians and nonchristians alike have benefited from the Reformation. If it were not for the Reformation, perhaps the world may still be under the tyrannical rule of a false gospel and been under the rule of the Pope.

So this October, especially October 31st, remember this is 500 years after the Reformation. Remember that you owe it to the Reformation that you have the Bible in your hand.


Don’t Forget the Author

A character in any book can pretend they will do what they want to do, but as any author knows, those characters ultimately are under the control of the author.

Sometime this past month I said I could write everyday. I thought I could write everyday for the next month or year even. I’ve gotten close to it before, so why not?

Well, I want to say first that most of everything I said is still true. We must aim high. We must set goals and shoot for it. The loser isn’t the person who hasn’t reached the goal, the loser is the one who hasn’t made one and even tried to reach it.

But, I have to add that one must never forget God. There was some pride there in what I wrote and said. I knew I could. I definitely could. But, I’m not the author of my story. My life isn’t being written by me, contrary to what the world wants you to think. Your story is being written by God. You may be a good or a bad guy. Look at the Bible. All the characters are God’s characters. Which character are you?

Are you the faithful Abraham? Maybe not, he did tried to save his own neck by giving his wife away as though she were just a sister. Are you the giant? No one wants to be beat by a snotty little kid.

The gospel can be summarized as this: Are you the people saved by Jesus Christ or the people who hate or disbelieve Jesus?

Anyways, this blog post isn’t suppose to be one of those blogs. I was talking about how I went days without writing. Long story short is: God happened.

He gave me an eye that started to hurt and lose vision. It was the next day after my blog that my eye got so bad that everyone started noticing me with this red eye. People wanted to know if I was dying or if I was going blind. Constantly asked if I was okay.

Half the time, I could only think about how it hurt, and how I’m funny for thinking that I can do anything I want to. Thankfully I know what character I am in God’s book, but even those characters who receive eternal blessing get disciplined, and I’m not sure if my eye problem (called iritis) was discipline but it certainly made it hard to write.

I was going to write everyday, but God wouldn’t have it. I would have failed anyways, but I was reminded that my life is not in my hands but His.

So my eye has gotten better (after a few weeks). Vision is still blurry but it’s getting better.

Maybe I will actually be able to write daily. Let’s see what God wills and if I will be disciplined enough.


Update and Goals

My family and I have moved nearly 3300 miles away from where we once were. I’ve been on a hiatus of sorts because of that, but I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things. Not really because many people read this, but because I need to write and think more than people need to read. And for those of you who do actually read I really thank you kindly. You are doing the hard part. Actually reading what I write and giving up time to see what I have to say is more than I deserve. So this quick note is for those who stick around. Thank You.

In connection with that update I want to write quickly my goals. Now goals are things we need to set that should make sense, be practical, but also push us. It should be something we can actually do. Not with ease but within reasonable effort. So I’m setting some goals for this blog that I am writing down mostly for myself but also so that if anyone wants to they can hold me to my goals.

Goals also may not be obtained, but it is better to try and fail than to not try because you might fail. So here I am, setting goals that I can actually accomplish but will probably fail in hopes that with more work I will eventually meet my own goals.

My goal is to post a post a day. They may be short or long, they might be meditations or random notes, but I desire them to be useful, both for myself in thinking and for others in reading.

May the glory of my Lord Jesus Christ shine ever more in this world and in the world of the internet.