“Survive the Great Chastisement(???)”

I always thought that the Gospel would rescue me from the wrath of God.  According to this site I, along with all of orthodoxy, am wrong.  

You thought you could find eschatological answer in Scripture? All you really need to do is follow the above link.  You will find everything from the “holy rosary” to “the excorcist” on this page. 

It does not get much stranger, and it could not be further from the truth of God’s Word.  It is really sad to see what men have made from what has given us in His word. 

Resist the Devil

 James 4:7

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

In v.7b James commands that we resist the devil.  This should be quite obvious to u, because if our goal is to submit to God through humility then we must resist the devil.  In order to be wholeheartedly submitted to God then it only makes sense that we must resist His archenemy.  We must place ourselves under the authority of God and to do that it is necessary that we refuse to bow unto the temptations of the devil. 

At this point we might ask ourselves, “Why would James lump his readers who desired friendship with the world in with the devil?”  He does this, through this text-box-2.JPGcommand, because being a friend of the world and being associated with the devil are really the same thing.  They both represent a life that is opposed to God.  A person who desires the things of this world above God has joined Satan’s rebellion.  This is why James lumps those who desire to be a friend of the world (v.4) in with the devil.  It was the devil who rebelled against God.  He was so foolish that he left the direct presence of God’s glory in order to pursue his own glory.  Those who desire friendship with the world are committing the same sin that the devil is guilty of.  To be a part of such a foolish rebellion can only be a result of the ungodly “earthly, natural, [and] demonic” wisdom that James spoke of in 3:15.  If we fall into this demonic wisdom we too will eventually find ourselves pursuing our own glory rather than God’s; we will desire the friendship of the world rather than God.  This is the exact sin that James is attempting to rid from his readers.

James’ command did not come without any assurances.  James makes it clear that if we resist the devil then he will flee from us.  We can be sure that in Christ Jesus we have the power to overcome whatever power the devil does have on this earth.  However, apart from Christ this battle would be lost.  This means we must submit to Christ, and use the tools that he has left for us, in order to resist the devil.  The cheif tool that has been provided for us is God’s word.  In fact, this is the very tool that Christ himself used against the devil when he was being tempted in the desert (Luke 4:1-13).  If we are going to resist the devil it is vital that we follow the example of Christ, and use God’s word as our cheif tool.

For the Christian it is clear that if we resist the devil he will flee from us.  John Calvin put it this way, “And, doubtless though he repeats his attacks continually, he yet always departs vanquished.”  However, if you do not submit to God and humble yourself before him you are not a Christian and you have no hope of resisting the devil.    

The New GBCB.org

Recently the Elders at our church asked me to put together a new church website.  Here is the finished product.  I would love to have your feedback; in fact the person who provides the best idea (or even correction) will receive a free copy of Phil Johnson’s lecture on the Trinity given at this year’s Brandon Biblical Theology Conference.  You can contact me via e-mail, through the website itself, or on the comments section of this blog. 

Submit (pt. II)

continued from yesterday…

 No one can be saved without submitting to God as Lord.  A person who goes through life saying that they believe in Jesus, but live their lives never submitting to Him is not truly converted.  In this example the person who lives this way proves by his action that he is not converted.  If this person truly believed what the Gospel teaches then he would have submitted to God rather than pursue his own desires.  A person like this is double-minded and not completely devoted to God. Remember what James has to say about people like this.  In 1:7 James said that the double-minded man should not expect to receive text-box.JPGanything from God.  In 4:8 he says that the double-minded need to purify their hearts.  Continuing in the teaching of James, 4:4 teaches that is someone pursues the pleasures of this world they are the enemy of God, and adulterers against God.  I say all of this because I think scripture is clear, we must submit to God otherwise we will be his enemy.  Without submission to God we will remain soldiers of Satan’s rebellion and we will be slaves to our own sinful desires.  But through submission to Christ we will be set free to finally pursue true joy in God.  This is what the Christian life is all about; unfortunately there are many who do not understand this. 

I have spoken with many people who reject the Gospel because they want to do whatever they want.  They do not want to submit to the Lordship of Christ. These people claim to want freedom, and consequently they never submit.  The sad thing is that they are enslaved to their sin, and by rejecting Christ they have rejected their only chance at freedom.  As Christians we must understand, and make it obvious to the world around us, that those who choose to submit to the Lordship of Christ are the ones who are truly free to pursue their own joy.  Free to pursue a joy that is found only through submission.  In 1 Peter 1 the apostle Peter describes this pursuit of joy through submission with such clarity that it is clear the Holy Spirit was working through him to write those words. First look at vv. 6-9:

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Now look at Peter’s exhortation in vv.13-16:

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Here Peter shows us that the pursuit of our joy in Christ must be accomplished through obedience (i.e. submission). We must not be ignorantly enslaved to the former lust for pleasure that we had. Frankly, the people that we have been reading about in James chapter 4 had no idea what this teaching of Peter’s was.

Recently I was watching a TV show; it was a pretty typical cop show all about some special unit of the FBI trying to hunt down criminal masterminds.  This specific episode was about a particularly heinous crime against children.  In the end they were able to capture the criminal by luring him into a trap.  The reason that this trap worked was because they new the criminal would not be physically able to resist the temptation.  The criminal even new it was probably a trap, yet he could not resist.  After the show was over I realized that what I had just seen was not all that far from the truth.  There are millions of people all around us every day enslaved to sin. Their members wage war within themselves, they lust and do not have, the commit murder, they are envious and cannot obtain, they are enslaved to their sinful pleasures, they are the enemies of God, and there is not a thing that they can do about it. 

When you compare that with what has been made available to us through submission to Christ Jesus it is easy to see why Peter called our joy inexpressible.  We have been made free; free to be what God created us to be; free to experience the amazing joy that only God can supply; free to resist sin and glorify God.  We are free, and that freedom comes through submission to the Lordship of the Lord Jesus.  This is why James’ command in 4:7 is “Submit therefore to God.”

If you have never submitted to Christ I would implore you to do so.  Your very life depends upon it.  If oyu are a believer who has submitted to Christ, but you are struggling with sin let me encourage you to daily re-submit yourself to Christ.  If you are struggling with ongoing sin you are seeking joy through sin, rather than through God. Nothing good can come of that.  Let me implore you one final time with the words of Peter (1:13-16): 

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Submit

I said yesterday that I was going to continue the conversation on the Lordship debate, and that is exactly what I am going to do.  As is true with any theological debate we need to look to Scripture to see what it says about a particular issue.  What I want to do today is look at James 4:7a. 

Submit, therefore to God…

It may not seem like this verse has anything to do with this topic, but I believe that it does.  If we take a close look at the context of this passage we will see several important things.  We fisherofmen.JPGsee that James is, in this section, writing to individuals who have identified themselves with the Church, but are committing adultery against God (4:4).   This is why James calls them adulteresses in v. 4 and brothers in v. 11.  They identified themselves as Christians, but it was quite clear that the jury was still out on many.  These people needed to take a serious look at their own lives, and this is what James forces them to do in vv. 1-6 of this chapter.  Here in v. 7 James begins a list of commands that run through v. 10.  These commands are a call to repentance, and if followed would lead to a life that is positioned in such a way so as to receive God’s grace (see v.6 & v.10).  With all of this in mind we find ourselves in v. 7. 

The first command that James give to those who need to repent (either back unto the salvation they first accepted, or unto this salvation for the first time) is to Submit.  This is the one and only conclusion to the good news of God’s grace that we find in v.6.  As I already mentioned there are ten commands in this block of verses, but all ten are not of equal importance.  The two commands that bookend this section are “submit to God,” and “humble yourself in the presence of the Lord.”  These are the two commands that sum up this entire section of verses.  Submission to the Lordship of the Lord, and humility in the presence of the Lord are the two commands that go hand in hand.  These two commands are the key to receiving God’s grace because they are necessary elements of repentance.  We will look at humility later, as I continue my posts on James, but for now we will just look at submission.   But before we move on I do want to point out some areas in which there is overlap in these two concepts.  Just in a few words I think that these two concepts both involve understanding who God is, and obeying Him because of who he is.  We cannot submit to God unless we humble ourselves before him, and at the same time we cannot truly be humble before God unless we have submitted to Him. 

For now let me focus back in on submission.  Man’s submission to God, Christ in particular, is at the very heart of the gospel.  Again we find ourselves in Romans 10:9:

…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…

Here the apostle Paul makes it clear that we must confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts.  The key for our subject is what the mouth is confessing.  The mouth must confess that Jesus is Lord.  I think that we are accurate if we summarize it this way, we must submit to Christ as our Lord in order to be saved.  Of course, this conclusion that I have gleaned from the text is the very question at hand.  Here is how John MacArthur summarized it:

No one can be saved without submitting himself to God, willingly coming under His sovereign authority as Lord, to follow His will no matter what. Submitting to God is obeying His Word about Christ and the fullness of the “gospel of God” (Rom 1:1), as well as submitting to Jesus as Lord and God (Rom 10:9-10). [MacArthur, J. (1998). James (204). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.

Leave your finger here, we will pick this up tomorrow.

My Introduction into the Lordship debate

Last week a big discussion broke out at Team Pyro about the Lordship debate. It was interesting to see what came of that discussion, and also who came out for that discussion (Over 400 comments!). Quite frankly, this is an issue that has always baffled me to a certain degree. It is not because I do not understand the issue, or because I do not have a stand on the issue. I understand the issue, and I have a stand on the issue. What baffles me is that there is a debate. Maybe it would be helpful if I explained how I was introduced to the Lordship Debate.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college I began to develop a burning desire to read about and study theological issues. This all came about because of a professor of mine. He told me that if I did not make myself into a “reader” and engage my mind in theological issues I would never be able to shepherd a church. I took that to heart, and that summer I got my hands on everything I could read. That was the summer that I was introduced to John Piper, and consequently Jonathan Edwards. The next semester my class schedule included a class on the book of Romans (which by the way was very helpful to me). I knew that this class would be interesting because the professor was an old school firmly established classical dispensationalist. I knew that there would be things that I would disagree with, because I held myself to be more of a progressive dispensationalist. I had, and have, a lot of problems with a dualistic view of salvation.

As we progressed through the class it was very interesting to see things from my professor’s point of view. After we went through Romans 9 I remember thinking that “nothing can top that.” I was wrong. The most surprising part of that class, and possibly my entire collegiate career, was that I had a disagreement with my professor over Romans 10:9. I honestly could not believe it. Here is the passage:

“…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Never in my wildest dreams would I think that there would be a debate within evangelicalism over this verse. But again, I was wrong. This was my first exposure to the “Lordship Debate.” I had never heard someone say that a person does not have to submit to the Lordship of Christ in order to be saved. But that was exactly what my professor said. This professor was (and is) a dear and faithful man who I have respect for. This is why I hope that he did not see my jaw drop to the ground when I heard him say that a person did not have to submit to the Lordship of Christ in order to be saved.

Despite never having heard of this issue before I knew immediately what side of the issue I was on. In my mind Scripture is clear; especially in the aforementioned Romans 9 passage. Yet there is still a group of people who would vehemently deny what they call “Lordship Salvation” because they view it as involving works. To be frank this view goes much deeper than just this issue. In my opinion this view is rooted in an incorrect soteriology. Let me try to briefly explain. To the “no-Lordship Camp” it would be a human work to submit to the Lordship of Christ, and thus it cannot be a part of salvation. However, to the “Lordship Camp” salvation is a divine work of God by which the Holy Spirit gives us a new birth and a new ability to repent and believe; thus submission to the Lordship of Christ is a human action that is the result of Divine re-birth. I know that in some ways I have built up a straw man and blown him down; however this straw man is accurately based on my personal experiences with the “no-Lordship Camp.”

If you think that I have dealt with your position unfairly then I will gladly accept biblical arguments, and I will engage in conversation on this issue. I plan on putting some notes up on this issue again tomorrow. This is an important issue because it gets to the very heart of how an individual is saved. This makes it even more important that we depend on Scripture to guide us through this issue.