Archive for October, 2010


Prays Mill Baptist Church

Every year during the fall, the air becomes crisp, the days shorter, and the end of October is marked by a celebration known to us as Halloween. However, on October 31st – something greater than Halloween should be recognized – especially by the protestant church. In the year 1517, on October 31st, a man named Martin Luther nailed a document to the Castle door in Whittenberg. That single document, known to us as The 95 Theses, literally sparked the great Reformation and led to the intense hatred of Martin Luther by the Pope and all of Rome.

The Catholic Church was guilty of perverting the message of grace by offering the forgiveness of sins through the sale of indulgences. Martin Luther had seen enough. After being saved by the grace of God, he was moved by the Holy Spirit to take a stand against the teachings of Rome. That passion was based upon his love for Holy Scripture.

Luther’s love prompted the sacrifice of himself

In order for us to understand the magnitude of Luther’s stand in 1517, we must understand the religious climate and rule under which Luther lived. He was involved in the Catholic religious system. All persons within the Catholic Church were forced to submit to the Pope and his rule or face excommunication – or even death! Luther’s love for the Word of God (which he called the external Word) prompted him to reject the indulgences and false sense of forgiveness provided by the Catholic Church. When Luther said, “Here I stand…” it was a pure stand of opposition – not one of selfish ambition. Luther never intended to receive fame, spark a reformation, or get his name “tagged” on thousands of blog sites in the years to come! Luther was motivated by a love for the Word which drove him to stand up in the face of a powerful giant – even if it cost him everything. Even if it cost him his life.

Luther’s love prompted the sacrifice of his time and energy

Luther’s deep love produced rigorous labor in the Word. Martin Luther was not a lazy man. No man can lead a reformation while approaching ministry casually. Luther’s love for the Word of God produced labor that shaped the German language and enriched it with his translation of God’s Word. Luther did not have the ability to utilize Logos or any other computer program in his translation work. Intense and unwavering labor was the product of Luther’s love for God’s Word.

“Sunday 5:00 a.m. worship with a sermon on the Epistle, 10:00 a.m. with a sermon on the Gospel, an afternoon message on the Old Testament or catechism. Monday and Tuesday sermons were on the Catechism; Wednesdays on Matthew; Thursdays and Fridays on the Apostolic letters; and Saturday on John.”1 Although times have changed since the 1500′s, it should be noted that Luther was passionate about preaching the Word. It drove and powered his desires. Luther called the Word of God – “The external Word” – and that External Word dominated Luther’s passions.

“In 1522 he preached 117 sermons in Wittenberg and 137 sermons the next year. In 1528 he preached almost 200 times, and from 1529 we have 121 sermons. So the average in those four years was one sermon every two-and-a-half days.”2 It should also be noted that Luther’s preaching was not the same message warmed up each week. His preaching was the byproduct of his intense study which took place each day. Martin Luther translated, wrote, and preached without modern “helps” that are available through computers, the internet, and the thousands of commentaries that we have available to us at the click of a button. When it comes down to it, Martin Luther was a “work horse” who lived to preach the Word – and as a result – we are still talking about him today. Luther’s life has left a mark on the world and it has also provided writings that are still worth reading. John MacArthur once said in a sermon – “You cannot just role out of bed and lead a reformation.”3 I believe he is correct. Luther did not just wake up and seek to lead a reformation. The Reformation was the byproduct of relentless study and passionate preaching straight from the Word of God.

Luther’s love prompted the proclamation of God’s Word

Luther called the Word of God the “external Word” because it was outside of man and his ability to mold it into something of his own thinking. God’s Word was not the product of man – it was the divine revelation of God. Therefore, Luther would often refer to it as the external Word in order to make that point. Luther was not a secluded theologian who only came out of his office for personal pleasure. Luther spent years faithfully preaching and teaching the Word to people. It was not enough to study, translate, and write for Luther! He had a burning desire to preach the Word of God. “Luther was one of the greatest preachers in the history of Christendom … Between 1510 and 1546 Luther preached approximately 3,000 sermons. Frequently he preached several times a week, often two or more times a day.”4 Luther put emphasis on the Book! He loved it and he preached it! “Luther had one weapon with which to rescue the incarnate Word form being sold in the markets of Wittenberg. He drove out the money changers—the indulgence sellers—with the whip of the “external Word,” the Book.”5

Luther’s love prompted the Reformation

The goal of Martin Luther was not the Reformation. However, God used a man who had an intense and unwavering love for Him to spark it. How did Luther come to know God and His love? It was through the Word of God – the divine revelation – the external Word – that God revealed Himself to Luther. It changed Luther from a religious Catholic scholar to a man who loved God and became saturated with His Word. This spark turned into a flame that roared through Wittenberg and through the world liberating our worship from the rule of the Catholic system and spreading the Word to the common person. It was not a superficial love or a selfish love. It was a genuine love for God that was rooted in a Book – the Word of God! October 31st 1517 should always be remembered. It changed the Luther and it changed the world – for the glory of God.

We should be forever grateful that God raised up a man who would risk everything to stand up against the perverted teachings of Rome. Today, we experience ultimate religious freedom. It wasn’t the case in 1517! Although Pope Leo X called Luther “a wild boar (pig)” – he should be remembered as a faithful soldier of the cross who sparked something greater than Halloween known to us as the Reformation!

Luther wrote, It is vain to rely on salvation by letters of indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity (#52 of 95).6

Pastor Josh Buice

*You can see why we miss Pastor Josh…

Our church is looking for a Pastor. I hope and pray God sends us a man that fits these qualifications.

The first and principal duty of a pastor is to feed the flock by diligent preaching of the word. It is a promise relating to the new testament, that God would give unto his church “pastors according to his own heart, which should feed them with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15). This is by teaching or preaching the word, and no otherwise. This feeding is of the essence of the office of a pastor, as unto the exercise of it; so that he who doth not, or can not, or will not feed the flock is no pastor, whatever outward call or work he may have in the church. The care of preaching the gospel was committed to Peter, and in him unto all true pastors of the church, under the name of “feeding” (John 21:15-17). According to the example of the apostles, they are to free themselves from all encumbrances, that they may give themselves wholly unto the word and prayer (Acts 6:1-4). Their work is “to labour in the word and doctrine (I Tim. 5:17); and thereby to “feed the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers” (Acts 20:28): and it is that which is everywhere given them in charge.

This work and duty, therefore, as was said, is essential unto the office of a pastor. A man is a pastor unto them whom he feeds by pastoral teaching, and to no more; and he that doth not so feed is no pastor. Nor is it required only that he preach now and then at his leisure, but that he lay aside all other employments, though lawful, all other duties in the church, as unto such a constant attendance on them as would divert him from this work, that he give himself unto it—that he be in these things labouring to the utmost of his ability. Without this no man will be able to give a comfortable account of the pastoral office at the last day.

It is incumbent on [pastors] to preserve the truth or doctrine of the gospel received and professed in the church, and to defend it against all opposition. This is one principal end of the ministry, one principal means of the preservation of the faith once delivered unto the saints. This is committed in an especial manner unto the pastors of the churches, as the apostle frequently and emphatically repeats the charge of it unto Timothy, and in him unto all to whom the dispensation of the word is committed (I Tim. 1:3-4, 4:6-7, 16, 6:20; II Tim. 1:14, 2:25, 3:14-17). The same he giveth in charge unto the elders of the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:28-31). What he says of himself that the “glorious gospel of the blessed God was committed unto his trust” (I Tim. 1:11) is true of all pastors of churches, according to their measure and call; and they should all aim at the account which he gives of his ministry herein: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:7). The church is the “pillar and ground of the truth;” and it is so principally in its ministry. And the sinful neglect of this duty is that which was the cause of most of the pernicious heresies and errors that have infested and ruined the church. Those whose duty it was to preserve the doctrine of the gospel entire in the public profession of it have, many of them, “spoken perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Bishops, presbyters, public teachers, have been the ringleaders in heresies. Wherefore this duty, especially at this time, when the fundamental truths of the gospel are on all sides impugned, from all sorts of adversaries, is in an especial manner to be attended unto.

Sundry things are required hereunto; as—(1) A clear, sound, comprehensive knowledge of the entire doctrine of the gospel, attained by all means useful and commonly prescribed unto that end, especially by diligent study of the Scripture, with fervent prayer for illumination and understanding. Men cannot preserve that for others which they are ignorant of themselves. Truth may be lost by weakness as well as by wickedness. And the defect herein, in many, is deplorable. (2) Love of the truth which they have so learned and comprehended. Unless we look on truth as a pearl, as that which is valued at any rate, bought with any price, as that which is better than all the world, we shall not endeavour its preservation with that diligence which is required. Some are ready to part with truth at an easy rate, or to grow indifferent about it; whereof we have multitudes of examples in the days wherein we live. It were easy to give instances of sundry important evangelical truths, which our forefathers in the faith contended for with all earnestness, and were ready to seal with their blood, which are now utterly disregarded and opposed, by some who pretend to succeed them in their profession. If ministers have not a sense of that power of truth in their own souls, and a taste of its goodness, the discharge of this duty is not to be expected from them. (3) A conscientious care and fear of giving countenance or encouragement unto novel opinions, especially such as oppose any truth of whose power and efficacy experience hath been had among them that believe. Vain curiosity, boldness in conjectures, and readiness to vent their own conceits have caused no small trouble and damage unto the church. (4) Learning and ability of mind to discern and disprove the oppositions of the adversaries of the truth, and thereby to stop their mouths and convince gainsayers. (5) The solid confirmation of the most important truths of the gospel, and whereinto all others are resolved, in their teaching and ministry. Men may and do ofttimes prejudice, yea, betray the truth, by the weakness of their pleas for it. (6) A diligent watch over their own flocks against the craft of seducers from without, or the springing up of any hitter root of error among themselves. (7) A concurrent assistance with the elders and messengers of other churches with whom they are in communion, in the declaration of the faith which they all profess …

It is evident what learning, labour, study, pains, ability, and exercise of the rational faculties, are ordinarily required unto the right discharge of these duties; and where men may he useful to the church in other things, but are defective in these, it becomes them to walk and act both circumspectly and humbly, frequently desiring and adhering unto the advices of them whom God hath intrusted with more talents and greater abilities.

(John Owen, Works, vol. 16, pp. 74-75, 81-83).

I am posting this because some people assume they know what I’m about and what I believe and 9 times out of 10 they are wrong. Many people that I associate with have been taught a wrong view of what “Calvinism” really is and apply that opinion to me. I hope that through this post and maybe a couple of more people will see that I’m not an enemy and I’m not out to convert anyone to any theological system, but at the same time I will defend what has been revealed to me as truth. To give an example of why I feel this is necessary I was recently informed that a friend of my daughter is not allowed to come to our house because her mom is afraid I will “brainwash” her. And yet this parent (that I see on a weekly basis) has never said more than “hi” to me. Mr. DeYoung says in this particular article exactly what I hope I would say if ask the question “Why are you a “Calvinist?”

“Here are the two most important things you need to know about the rise of the New Calvinism: it’s not new and it’s not about Calvin. Of course, some of the conferences are new. The John Piper–packed iPods are new. The neo-reformed blog blitz is new. The ideas, however, are not. “Please God, don’t let the young, restless, and reformed movement be another historically ignorant, self-absorbed, cooler-than-thou fad.”

And while I’m praying: “Please God, don’t let the New Calvinism ever, ever be about the New Calvinism.” Don’t get me wrong. I’m not afraid to be called a Calvinist. I’ve read the Institutes multiple times, most of Calvin’s commentaries, and was voted “Calvin Clone” by my peers at seminary. I thank God for Calvin. But if the New Calvinism is to continue as a work of God, which I think it has been, it must continue to be about God. Young Christians have been drawn to Calvinism not because they were looking for Calvin or an “ism,” but because they were drawn to a vision of a massive, glorious, fall-down-before-Him-as-though-dead kind of God who loves us because He wants to.

The influence of Calvinism is growing because its God is transcendent and its theology is true. In a day when “be better” moralism passes for preaching, self-help banality passes for counseling, and “Jesus is my boyfriend” music passes for worship in some churches, more and more people are finding comfort in a God who is anything but comfortable. The paradox of Calvinism is that we feel better by feeling worse about ourselves, we do more for God by seeing how He’s done everything for us, and we give love away more freely when we discover that we have been saved by free grace.

I’d like to think that we are Calvinists because of what we see in the Bible. We see a God who is holy, independent, and unlike us. We glory in God’s goodness, that He should save miserable offenders, bent toward evil in all our faculties, objects of His just wrath. We rejoice in God’s electing love, which He purposed for us before the ages began. We are grateful for God’s power by which He caused us, without our cooperation, to be born again and enabled us to believe His promises. We take comfort in God’s all-encompassing providence, whereby nothing happens according to chance, but all things—prosperity or poverty, health or sickness, giving or taking away—are sent to us by our loving heavenly Father.

As Calvinists and Christians, we praise God for His mercy, shown to us chiefly on the cross where His Son died, not just to make a way for us to come to Him, but effectually for us such that our sins, our guilt, and our punishment all died in the death of Christ. We find assurance in God’s preserving grace, believing with all our might that nothing—not even ourselves—can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. We delight in the glory of God and in God’s delight for His own glory, which brings us, on our best days, unspeakable joy, and on all other days, still gives purpose and order to an otherwise confusing and seemingly random world.

What draws people to Reformed theology is the belief that God is the center of the universe and we are not, that we are worse sinners than we imagine and God is a greater Savior than we ever thought possible, that the Lord is our righteousness and the Lord alone is our boast.

The attraction of the New Calvinism is not Calvin, but the God Calvin saw—not some new fad, but something old with new life blowing through it from the Spirit of God.”

Here are few links to articles that captured my attention this week that I think are worth your time to check out as well……….

The Forgotten Sin-What Worldliness Looks Like–Phil Johnson

Depravity Biblically Defined–Josh Buice

Arminianism–J.I.Packer

John Piper’s Exposition From The Third Lausanne Congress