Making it plausible or unthinkable

Al Mohler has completed posting a six part series on abortion which is the edited transcript of the sermon he gave on Sanctity of Life Sunday. excellent message excellently presented.

here are the links to the parts for some weekend reading.

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5
part 6

and here is an excerpt from part 5 that reinforces Benjamin’s points in his comments to this post.

Abortion is a Gospel issue because the extinguishing and termination of a life within the womb is not merely homicide, it is robbing God of His glory – the glory that rightly is His, displayed in every single human life.

Abortion is an act of defiance against the Creator. Is it an act of violence against this unborn child? Yes, it is an act of violence that leads even to homicide against this child. But it is also an act of defiance against God. It is the willful act of denying God His glory. God made this human being in His image. Before the person even was formed in the womb he was known by the Creator, and before he or she was formed, he or she was loved by God.
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Abortion is a Gospel issue because it is such a graphic sin that it points us to the very heart of the human rebellion of God against sin and it points to the very heart of why we so desperately need Christ.

You know, there may be someone reading this today, there may be someone reading this ten years from now – and you are someone who has experienced an abortion. There may be someone who has experienced not only one, but multiple abortions. There may be someone here who is haunted by empty footsteps. The sight of every stroller and crib brings a pang of conscience.

I have good news for you. I know who you are. You are a murderer. I have good news for you. I know who you are. You are a sinner. I have good news for you. There is a savior. I have other news for you. You are in the company of fellow murderers.

You see, the story of the Bible, the story of the Gospel is that when Jesus Christ was sent by the Father, those Jesus was sent to save, killed him. Jesus himself told the parable of the wicked tenants within the vineyard. Because of their wickedness – a picture of our human wickedness – when the vineyard owner sends his own son, the tenants killed him!

I want to tell you, if you have yourself chosen abortion, if you have experienced abortion – you are a murderer. But you are in the company of fellow murderers with blood on our hands because sinful humanity killed the sinless Son of God.

If that is where the story ended, then death would have its victory, sin would have its victory, and that would be the end of it. We would have nothing to say and we would just go home and live out whatever remains of our lives in the despair of a people who know no hope.

But that is not where the story ends, because that is where the Gospel turns and tells us that even in light of the fact that we are sinners beyond even our own imagination to understand our sin, even though we rob God of His glory, even though we do everything we can and everything within our power to do new ways of doing evil, even though the Apostle Paul makes clear – “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – God loved us so much! It was His purpose in the very beginning before we ever existed. He knew us and He loved us, before we were formed in the world He had a plan for us and He sent His Son, to die on the Cross, to shed His blood, to pay the penalty for our sin, to pay a price that we could not pay, to die in our place, and yes, by that one death, to accomplish salvation for sinners.

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congratulations to John MacArthur

John MacArthur is celebrating 40 years at Grace Community Church this weekend. Congratulations to him and thanks to God who has enabled and empowered John to do what he has done so well for so long.

John MacArthur’s New Testament commentaries have been invaluable to me as I have taught the books of Romans, Hebrews, I Peter, Ephesians and Phillipians.

Moralistic therapeutic deism

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism–the New American Religion. If that isn’t a fair name for our prevailing cultural belief system, then I don’t know what is.

this is an article from 2005 that I just found courtesy of Chris Turner who I found courtesy of Steve McCoy. (isn’t web surfing on Friday evening fun?)

check out these excerpts and then go read the whole thing this weekend. Good stuff.

As described by Smith and his team, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these: 1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.” 2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.” 3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.” 4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.” 5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.”

That, in sum, is the creed to which much adolescent faith can be reduced. After conducting more than 3,000 interviews with American adolescents, the researchers reported that, when it came to the most crucial questions of faith and beliefs, many adolescents responded with a shrug and “whatever.”
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The casual “whatever” that marks so much of the American moral and theological landscapes–adolescent and otherwise–is a substitute for serious and responsible thinking. More importantly, it is a verbal cover for an embrace of relativism. Accordingly, “most religious teenager’s opinions and views–one can hardly call them worldviews–are vague, limited, and often quite at variance with the actual teachings of their own religion.”
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In the end, this study indicates that American teenagers are heavily influenced by the ideology of individualism that has so profoundly shaped the larger culture. This bleeds over into a reflexive non-judgmentalism and a reluctance to suggest that anyone might actually be wrong in matters of faith and belief. Yet, these teenagers are unable to live with a full-blown relativism.

The researchers note that many responses fall along very moralistic lines–but they reserve their most non-judgmental attitudes for matters of theological conviction and belief. Some go so far as to suggest that there are no “right” answers in matters of doctrine and theological conviction.
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As Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton explained, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism “is about inculcating a moralistic approach to life. It teaches that central to living a good and happy life is being a good, moral person. That means being nice, kind, pleasant, respectful, responsible, at work on self-improvement, taking care of one’s health, and doing one’s best to be successful.” In a very real sense, that appears to be true of the faith commitment, insofar as this can be described as a faith commitment, held by a large percentage of Americans. These individuals, whatever their age, believe that religion should be centered in being “nice”–a posture that many believe is directly violated by assertions of strong theological conviction.
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This is not the God who thunders from the mountain, nor a God who will serve as judge. This undemanding deity is more interested in solving our problems and in making people happy. “In short, God is something like a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist: he is always on call, takes care of any problems that arise, professionally helps his people to feel better about themselves, and does not become too personally involved in the process.”
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Consider this remarkable assessment: “Other more accomplished scholars in these areas will have to examine and evaluate these possibilities in greater depth. But we can say here that we have come with some confidence to believe that a significant part of Christianity in the United States is actually [only] tenuously Christian in any sense that is seriously connected to the actual historical Christian tradition, but is rather substantially morphed into Christianity’s misbegotten step-cousin, Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”

They argue that this distortion of Christianity has taken root not only in the minds of individuals, but also “within the structures of at least some Christian organizations and institutions.”

How can you tell? “The language, and therefore experience, of Trinity, holiness, sin, grace, justification, sanctification, church, . . . and heaven and hell appear, among most Christian teenagers in the United States at the very least, to be supplanted by the language of happiness, niceness, and an earned heavenly reward.”
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This radical transformation of Christian theology and Christian belief replaces the sovereignty of God with the sovereignty of the self. In this therapeutic age, human problems are reduced to pathologies in need of a treatment plan. Sin is simply excluded from the picture, and doctrines as central as the wrath and justice of God are discarded as out of step with the times and unhelpful to the project of self-actualization.
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We now face the challenge of evangelizing a nation that largely considers itself Christian, overwhelmingly believes in some deity, considers itself fervently religious, but has virtually no connection to historic Christianity. Christian Smith and his colleagues have performed an enormous service for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in identifying Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as the dominant religion of this American age. Our responsibility is to prepare the church to respond to this new religion, understanding that it represents the greatest competitor to biblical Christianity. More urgently, this study should warn us all that our failure to teach this generation of teenagers the realities and convictions of biblical Christianity will mean that their children will know even less and will be even more readily seduced by this new form of paganism. This study offers irrefutable evidence of the challenge we now face.

emphasis added

photo phridai

Here is the uncropped version of this picture that was the first one I posted on this blog. I am entering this uncropped version in a photography contest.
shasta daisy

and it is basketball season
Royals v. BCSdefense

reboundthe rebound 2

while we are on the topic of preaching

Here are John MacArthur’s ten reasons for preaching the word.

first the intro paragraph:

Faithfully preaching and teaching the Word must be the very heart of our ministry philosophy. Any other approach replaces the voice of God with human wisdom. Philosophy, politics, humor, psychology, homespun advice, and personal opinion can never accomplish what the Word of God does. Those things may be interesting, informative, entertaining, and sometimes even helpful—but they are not the business of the church. The preacher’s task is not to be a conduit for human wisdom; he is God’s voice to speak to the congregation. No human message comes with the stamp of divine authority—only the Word of God. How dare any preacher substitute another message?

then the list. Go over there to read the rest of them.

2. Because It Is the Good News of Salvation

4. Because It Stands as the Authoritative Self-Revelation of God
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6. Because It Is the Means God Uses to Sanctify His People

moving day

january 28th was Pulpit Magazine’s moving day. they are now integrated with the shepherd’s fellowship website. Go check it out and update your blogroll/bookmarks.

ten conclusions about preaching

if you have been following Adrian Warnock’s blog over the last month, you have seen his round up of old posts regarding preaching. These have been excellent.

He has now summarized ten conclusions about preaching. Here are a few of them, but go read all ten.

1. Expository preaching should be defined as preaching that seeks to explain the main point of the portion of the Scripture selected.
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7. Preaching is entirely dependent on the supernatural and sovereign activity of the Spirit, who equips both preacher and hearers for what is an impossible task and makes the words of the Bible live in its hearers hearts. Preaching needs to be passionate, emotive (though not necessarily emotional), and bring about a holy moment of experiencing the presence and voice of God through His Word.

8. Preaching God’s Word is the primary way He has ordained for people to be saved, taught, equipped, matured, and encounter God. It is the hope of the church, and a restoration of true preaching has always accompanied true revival.

9. Our preaching should be targeted at and have something relevant for each of our different audiences — the unbelieving visitor, the backslidden, the new Christian, the mature Christian, and church leaders in the congregation. But, ultimately we are accountable to an audience of One before whom we must give an account.