Monday, November 2, 2009

Pray for Pentecost to Repeat!

It's a truism to say that every revival of religion that the Church has ever known has been, in a sense, a kind of repetition of what happened on the day of Pentecost. It has been a return to that origin, to that beginning. It has been a reviving.
— D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
In his fifth installment on Revival available at One Place the Doctor preached a powerful sermon on what happens during a time of revival; the Holy Spirit falls upon a body of people and they are confronted with the glorious and powerful presence of God as well as given a profound sense of the witness of the Spirit.

Download or listen to Revival (Part Five) today. It's free! (And listen to sermons 1-4, too!)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

How a Calvinist [D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones] Helped Me Affirm My Wesleyanism

The late Welsh Calvinistic Methodist preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), is one of the major reasons for my Wesleyan thought today. Back in the 90’s I was undergoing a minor crisis of sorts. As an ordained elder in the Church of God (Anderson) I kept wondering about my foundations. I believe every church affiliation needs to have a solid reason for its existence. One thing that kept pestering me was the question, “What reason keeps us from just being Nazarenes?” (Yes, I realize the Church of God predates the Church of the Nazarene; however, them seem to be the larger blip on the radar in the evangelical world than us.)

I bought Lloyd-Jones' book, The Path to True Happiness. While Lloyd-Jones, himself, died in 1981 his sermons continued to be printed in different books. This collection of sermons dealt with John chapter two. Lloyd-Jones unfolded his conviction that Christians should seek a deeper experience with the Holy Spirit. In the book he spoke of the Wesleys and Whitefield and their intense desire for a deeper relationship with God. True Happiness made me hungry for “experimental” Christianity as the Doctor called it during his life. (We could call it “experiential” Christianity today.)

He pointed me to an interest in John Wesley. Though I’d been a Wesleyan all of my theological life I’d never taken the time to study Wesley for himself. That pursuit to origins led to this blog—previously known as Fetter Lane—and my purchasing the 14 volume works of John Wesley.

A hunger for Great Awakening—revival—began to stir in my soul. The desire for the “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” [2 Cor 11.3 ESV] minus all of the fads that contemporary evangelicalism seemed obsessed with took prominent place in my thinking.

Adding his famous and watershed book Joy Unspeakable to my library helped increase that hunger. Lloyd-Jones believed the deeper experience of God could be looked at in different ways, including:
Baptism with the Holy Spirit. He believe this often was subsequent to salvation and it filled one with power for evangelism and a great assurance of salvation through a direct and immediate witness of the Holy Spirit to the human soul. Lloyd-Jones didn't straitjacket the experience by saying what phenomena would occur during the reception of the mighty Spirit of power but he emphasized the result.

Sealing of the Holy Spirit. Lloyd-Jones believed this often occurred after the initial experience of salvation. He believed the Authorized (King James) translated it correctly:

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Eph 1.13-14)
Obviously this made him very different from contemporary Calvinists! He was different: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a Calvinistic Methodist. He loved Puritan Thomas Goodwin, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards and Awakening Welsh ministers Daniel Rowlands and Howel Harris. Lloyd-Jones spoke of the personal experiences of Thomas Aquinas and Blasé Pascal that forever changed their lives. He increased my hunger for direct knowledge of God and the unction [anointing] of the Holy Spirit.

While the Doctor didn’t persuade me to abandon my Arminianism he did encourage me to think and act like the Wesleyan I professed to be! That’s how this great Calvinist helped me affirm my heritage. I believe I should emphasize the Wesleyan contribution to our Church of God Faith and the need to seek a new Great Awakening for our day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Church of God (Anderson) Goes Swimming in Postmodernism

We now have curricula written from the postmodern standpoint. The Journey material has a postmodern biography to explain where it's coming from, what it addresses. I still contend that we need to dump much of the 19th-21st century thought and focus on 18th century Wesleyan Awakening. Of course, I'm a self-professed dinosaur who believes much of contemporary evangelical focus is fraught with spiritual peril.

No, I'm not emerging.

When One Minister Opposes Another

John answered, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us." But Jesus said to him, "Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you." (Luke 9:49-50 ESV)
Sometimes the worst critics of a minister are other ministers! It happened in John Wesley's life. He, his brother, Charles, and George Whitefield were charged with fanning the flames of "enthusiasm"—emotional outbursts, sometimes extreme, from the British populace. Such things were frowned upon by the proper Anglican Church. Consider this entry from Wesley's Journal, dated Wednesday, September 21, 1757:
After an hour with a few friends in Truro, I rode forward to Grampound, a mean, inconsiderable, dirty village. However, it is a borough town. Between twelve and one I began preaching in a meadow, to a numerous congregation. While we were singing, I observed a person in black on the far side of the meadow, who said, "'Come down; you have no business there." Some boys who were on a wall, taking it for granted that he spoke to them, got down in all haste. I went on, and he walked away. I afterward understood that he was the minister and the Mayor of Grampound. Soon after, two constables came and said, "Sir, the mayor says you shall not preach within his borough." I answered, "The mayor has no authority to hinder me. But it is a point not worth contesting." So I went about a musket-shot farther and left the borough to Mr. Mayor's disposal.
Why the minister/mayor of Grampound opposed Wesley the Journal does not reveal. For whatever reason Wesley was rebuked and he thought it not worth the fight to stay.

This is shaky ground; on the one hand a minister has an obligation to protect the flock from danger, heresy and discord. On the other hand he must be careful not to quench the Spirit. It isn't always the easiest thing to discern or a preacher may be sure he is protecting his flock when, in fact, he is attempting to stop a move of God unaware.

Let us who have ears to hear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. We wouldn't want to end up opposing another John Wesley.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is an Arminian a Mad Dog? Civility in Discourse

In a short essay entitled "What is an Arminian?" John Wesley summarizes his contemporary condition that self-confessed Arminians found themselves in:
To say, "This man is an Arminian," has the same effect on many hearers, as to say, "This is a mad dog." It puts them into a fright at once : They run away from him with all speed and diligence ; and will hardly stop, unless it be to throw a stone at the dreadful and mischievous animal. (x. 358)
Why is it so easy to be so uncivil in society today? Yes, the stakes are high but does this give us excuse enough to engage in it? Calvinists do themselves no favors if they continue to call Arminians/Remonstrants "semi-pelagians" because it will do nothing to secure for themselves a willing audience open to the Reformed view. I believe caustic names are used when one person believes another won't listen so the opposition is simply written off and dismissed with a label.

John Wesley had an interesting take on being wrong. In his Sermons on Several Occasions, he confessed:
But some may say, I have mistaken the way myself, although I take upon me to teach it to others. It is probable many will think this, and it is very possible that I have. But I trust, whereinsoever I have mistaken, my mind is open to conviction. I sincerely desire to be better informed. I say to God and man, "What I know not, teach thou me!"

Are you persuaded you see more clearly than me? It is not unlikely that you may. Then treat me as you would desire to be treated yourself upon a change of circumstances. Point me out a better way than I have yet known. Show me it is so, by plain proof of Scripture. And if I linger in the path I have been accustomed to tread, and am therefore unwilling to leave it, labour with me a little; take me by the hand, and lead me as I am able to bear. But be not displeased if I entreat you not to beat me down in order to quicken my pace: I can go but feebly and slowly at best; then, I should not be able to go at all. May I not request of you, further, not to give me hard names in order to bring me into the right way. Suppose I were ever so much in the wrong, I doubt this would not set me right. Rather, it would make me run so much the farther from you, and so get more and more out of the way.

Nay, perhaps, if you are angry, so shall I be too; and then there will be small hopes of finding the truth. If once anger arise, Eute kapnos, (as Homer somewhere expresses it,) this smoke will so dim the eyes of my soul, that I shall be able to see nothing clearly. For God’s sake, if it be possible to avoid it, let us not provoke one another to wrath. Let us not kindle in each other this fire of hell; much less blow it up into a flame. If we could discern truth by that dreadful light, would it not be loss, rather than gain? For, how far is love, even with many wrong opinions, to be preferred before truth itself without love! We may die without the knowledge of many truths, and yet be carried into Abraham’s bosom. But, if we die without love, what will knowledge avail? Just as much as it avails the devil and his angels!

The God of love forbid we should ever make the trial! May he prepare us for the knowledge of all truth, by filling our hearts with his love, and with all joy and peace in believing!
Excellent advice; gentleness brings a much more willing audience to listen to a new point of view.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Revival

We have a special blessing offered from the Internet today! Part one of a sermon on revival preached by the late Welsh Calvinistic Methodist, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, is online for free listening or download in .mp3 format! Anyone familiar with his watershed book Joy Unspeakable knows that The Doctor defined "revival" was when a group of people were filled with the Holy Spirit at the same time. (He also called it the sealing or the baptism with the Holy Spirit, etc.) Lloyd-Jones believed it was subsequent to salvation but, unlike Wesleyan Methodists, he didn't believe it was entire sanctification.

To download it for free one must register (for free) and will be given a download link. In part one Lloyd-Jones—a physician before he became a preacher—speaks of the church's need to diagnose properly its malady so it can know the method of treatment to correct it. Though he preached this sermon 50 years ago in 1959 it is still as urgent today. I'm eagerly awaiting part two that will be made available next Sunday!

(John Piper wrote an assessment of Lloyd-Jones and his belief in the baptism with the Spirit. You may find it here. Also, you may refresh your soul with a chapter from Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Blessing. It's called "A Superabundance of Blessing" and may be read here.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Humility to Avoid Schism

I ran across a fascinating letter from John Wesley to Howell Harris; from what I can gather the English Arminian Methodist, Wesley, was attempting to prevent a doctrinal dispute on Christian Perfection between himself and the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist, Harris. Wesley self-deprecatingly speaks of himself in the letter dated August 6, 1742:
Brother, is thy heart with mine, as my heart is with thy heart? If it be, give me thy hand. I am indeed a poor, foolish, sinful worm ; and how long my Lord will use me, I know not. I sometimes think, the time is coming when He will lay me aside. For surely, never before did He send such a labourer into such a harvest. (xiii. 159)
Wesley betrays no presumption that the ministry the Lord gave him was his by right or worth; the Anglican priest from Epworth makes himself of no repute and praises in wonderment the grace of God. It's a beautiful letter of humility. Let us all learn to use such virtues lavishly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rethinking Warner: Wiggle Room in the Church of God (Anderson)

I grew up in a pastor's home. My father was and is an ordained elder in the Church of God (Anderson), a Wesleyan-holiness Church; as a teenager I immersed myself in the early literature of my group (often called "the church of God reformation movement"). I, myself, responded to God's call and was ordained an elder of this Assembly in 1995.

One distinctive characteristic of the Church of God (Anderson) is an official position against having official positions, at least in a creedal sense. As two verses of Charles Wesley Naylor's heritage hymn put it in The Church's Jubilee:
The Bible is our rule of faith, and Christ alone is Lord,
All we are equal in His sight when we obey His word;
No earthly master do we know, to man-rule will not bow,
But to each other and to God eternal trueness vow.

The day of sects and creeds for us forevermore is past,
Our brotherhood are all the saints upon the world so vast;
We reach our hands in fellowship to every blood-washed one,
While love entwines about each heart in which God’s will is done.
The rationale for anti-creedalism was the conviction that since no creed could contain the entirety of the biblical record an official statement of beliefs would be "sectarian", divisive and wrong.

From the Church of God's website:
The stories and teachings of the Bible are not to be creedalized. We would not abbreviate the Bible and its teachings into a sixteen-sentence statement or expand it to a five-volume index of faith. We do appreciate short statements that are affirmations by a group or an individual. We can never suggest, however, that those statements adequately summarize the Bible. Nor are such statements wisely used as a basis to determine orthodoxy or membership in the church. Though we are tempted to make the Bible a list, a prescription, or a proposition, we remind ourselves that it is instead the Book of Life that vibrates with the stories of real persons and the living God.
And, as the late John W.V. Smith wrote:
The Church of God reformation movement was more than a series of emphases, however. It was a crusade to open the door of all truth. Some of the specific content of this truth was lifted up and proclaimed, but the limits of truth were never defined. That was left open, for God was still at work among his people and who could say when the boundaries of his revelation had been reached?
In theory we are a self-correcting institution. Daniel Sidney Warner biographer and friend, Andrew L. Byers, wrote the following in 1921:
The true church of God, comprising all Christians, has in her normal state under her divine head certain essential characteristics which make her exclusively the church, the whole and not a part. These might be expressed as follows:
  1. Possession of divine spiritual life. If the church does not possess this she is not Christ’s body and therefore not the church. She must know the Spirit of God.
  2. Disposition to obey all Scripture and to let the Spirit have His way and rule. This constitutes her safety in matters of doctrine and government.
  3. An attitude receptive to any further truth and light. This safeguards against dogmatism and a spirit of infallibility and intolerance, against interpreting Christianity in the light of traditions and old ideas.
  4. Acknowledgment of good wherever found and the placing of no barrier that would exclude any who might be Christians. This makes salvation, a holy life, and a Christian spirit the only test of fellowship, and disapproves all human standards of church membership and fellowship.
***
It is not assumed that Brother Warner was right on every point of doctrine or in every application of a Scriptural text, but that the movement, in addition to being based on correct Scriptural principles otherwise, possesses that flexibility and spirit of progress by which it adjusts itself as God gives light.
Fellow heritage hymn writer Charles Wesley Naylor put it bluntly concerning his friend, Warner:
In hundreds of instances he misinterpreted and misapplied texts, as do all who use his method. We have been compelled to reject a very large portion of his exegesis because it has proved to be unsound.
Byers reiterates:
[The church of God] does not assume to possess all the truth, but stands committed thereto, holding an open door to the entrance of any further light and truth.
So, historically the Church of God hasn't claimed to know everything and has claimed to be open to rethinking doctrine. However, it makes for some problems. Saying, "The Bible is our rule of faith" is noble and right but who decides what is the Faith that has been once and for all delivered unto the saints? With no written creed things hang a bit into theological ambiguity.

An old adage says, "The Constitution means whatever the Supreme Court says it means." In my affiliation ordination is proffered on the state level. In truth, for an ordination candidate the Church of God's doctrine is whatever his respective state's credentials committee says it is (and whatever the committee will allow in theological "diversity" before declaring a deal-breaker). One state may ordain a person that another state may reject. It's subjective.

I'm not arguing for a creed; I'd rather not straitjacket myself with a document produced by an ad hoc committee and debated/amended/ratified by an assembly. Also, as an amillennial Wesleyan-Arminian I don't live in fear of my ordination being yanked. Still, how much wiggle room exists for divergence of opinion? Byers stated that it existed in theory but does it in practice? What is a deal-breaker? What if an otherwise "orthodox" minister in the Church of God becomes convinced...

...that dispensational premillennialism is correct?
...that Scripture forbids women elders?
...that Footwashing is not an ordinance along with Baptism and Communion?
...that entire sanctification is not a second work of grace?
...that tongues are not known historical languages but "angel talk" to be used today?
...that John Calvin, not Jacobus Arminius, had the right idea about predestination?

Decades ago the Church of God had a large debate on how to understand the book of Revelation; was Frederick G. Smith right? Was Otto F. Linn correct? Amazingly enough, near a hundred years ago my group had a controversy over the possible sinfulness of wearing neckties!

Russell Raymond Byrum, writer of the immensely popular Christian Theology and former professor of theology at the precursor to Anderson University, was put on a "heresy trial" 1929. Though he was vindicated of the trivial charges he resigned from his position. It isn't always easy to deviate from the standard line.

How much wiggle room exists in the Church of God? If one is experiencing heat in one state for a doctrinal position should he flee to another state jurisdiction that will accommodate (or at least tolerate) his view?

My state of West Virginia has adopted the nationally produced Credentials Manual (2007 Revised Edition). It isn't terribly helpful in this instance because it leaves things in unsaid ambiguity and tension. The Manual reads in part:
Each candidate for ordination is to write theological statements on 14 issues to be reviewed by the credentialing committee. They are as follows:

• The nature and revealing activity of God;
• The nature and saving mission of Jesus Christ;
• The Holy Spirit's cleansing and gifting work in the believer's life;
• Ordinances of baptism, Lord's supper, and feet-washing;
• Human nature, sinfulness, and destiny;
• Salvation;
• Holiness;
• The nature of the church and church membership;
• The mission and role of leadership in the church;
• The nature and authority of the Bible;
• The kingdom of God;
• The second coming of Jesus Christ and related events.
The Manual then reads:
Although the Church of God movement honors theological freedom within the bounds of biblically based belief, those to whom vocational credentialing is granted are expected to hold persuasions that are in general agreement with the teaching tradition of the Church of God movement.
I understand the wiggle room given in the Manual. It gives the credentials committee breathing room on a case-by-case basis and it saves us from being "creedal", if you will. But I find it disingenuous and essentially worthless of merit.  It doesn't resolve the questions, does it? What is "general agreement"? Can a person get 12 of the 14 topics "right" and still "pass"? Surely the doctrine of the Trinity is more cardinal in agreement importance than, say, footwashing.

What saith the Scripture? What saith the state's credentials committee?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Church Growth the Wrong Way



Can a seeker-sensitive mega church pastor be a caricature of himself?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Doxology of Praise

Thursday was devastating to my nerves. Dad successfully underwent a 5 bypass open-heart surgery. The first two trips my family visited Dad in the ICU following his surgery he was sleeping with a ventilator tube stuck down his throat. At 10 PM we were overjoyed when Dad was without the tube and awake as he talked to us in a raspy voice. I confess it's difficult to see a loved one looking so vulnerable as he's wired to monitors and has tubes protruding from his body. Mom asked if we could sing. In low tones we praised with the Doxology, sung countless times by countless Christians and one of Dad's favorite songs:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

My sister tried to sing but she choked up; instead, Melissa silently mouthed the words as she cried and held her hand up in praise to God.

It was one of the most holy, most sacred moments I've ever experienced. We worshiped.

Never forget the power of worship in Awakening.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Don't Ask Why or How God Could Let This Happen

The great Calvinistic Methodist, the late Reverend Doctor D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones of London's Westminster Chapel, preached a great sermon on how sin ruined mankind's thinking process concerning spiritual things. Specifically, Lloyd-Jones addressed the issue of questioning God in times of disaster; the 20th Century preacher said it's the wrong question to ask.

You can listen to the Doctor's sermon by registering (for free) and then downloading the two part mp3 files to The Choice Facing Humanity. There are plenty of other free Lloyd-Jones mp3 downloads there, too, so enjoy this late orator of God. It may take you a few moments to get used to his Welsh brogue but I find it engaging.

By the way, anyone interested in Great Awakening who hasn't read his book, Joy Unspeakable: Power and Renewal in the Holy Spirit has missed a treat. One doesn't have to accept all of his conclusions (he was a Calvinist, not a Wesleyan) to glean great food for thought.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Character of a Methodist

While this is specifically addressed to Methodists this tract written by John Wesley is good reading for anyone who confesses the name of Christ. This text comes from the website of The Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church:

THE CHARACTER OF A METHODIST by John Wesley

"Not as though I had already attained."

TO THE READER [Preface]

1. SINCE the name first came abroad into the world, many have been at a loss to know what a Methodist is; what are the principles and the practice of those who are commonly called by that name; and what the distinguishing marks of this sect, "which is everywhere spoken against."

2. And it being generally believed, that I was able to give the clearest account of these things, (as having been one of the first to whom that name was given, and the person by whom the rest were supposed to be directed), I have been called upon, in all manner of ways, and with the utmost earnestness, so to do. I yield as last to the continued importunity both of friends and enemies; and do now give the clearest account I can, in the presence of the Lord and Judge of heaven and earth, of the principles and practice whereby those who are called Methodists are distinguished from other men.

3. I say those who are called Methodists; for, let it be well observed, that this is not a name which they take to themselves, but one fixed upon them by way of reproach, without their approbation or consent. It was first given to three or four young men at Oxford, by a student of Christ Church; either in allusion to the ancient sect of Physicians so called, from their teaching, that almost all diseases might be cured by a specific method of diet and exercise, or from their observing a more regular method of study and behaviour than was usual with those of their age and station.

4. I should rejoice (so little ambitious am I to be at the head of any sect or party) if the very name might never be mentioned more, but be buried in eternal oblivion. But if that cannot be, at least let those who will use it, know the meaning of the word they use. Let us not always be fighting in the dark. Come, and let us look one another in the face. And perhaps some of you who hate what I am called, may love what I Can by the grace of God; or rather, what "I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus."

THE CHARACTER OF A METHODIST

1. The distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not his opinions of any sort. His assenting to this or that scheme of religion, his embracing any particular set of notions, his espousing the judgment of one man or of another, are all quite wide of the point. Whosoever, therefore, imagines that a Methodist is a man of such or such an opinion, is grossly ignorant of the whole affair; he mistakes the truth totally. We believe, indeed, that "all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God;" and herein we are distinguished from Jews, Turks, and Infidels. We believe the written word of God to be the only and sufficient rule both of Christian faith and practice; and herein we are fundamentally distinguished from those of the Romish Church. We believe Christ to be the eternal, supreme God; and herein we are distinguished from the Socinians and Arians. But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think. So that whatsoever they are, whether right or wrong they are no distinguishing marks of a Methodist.

2. Neither are words or phrases of any sort. We do not place our religion, or any part of it, in being attached to any peculiar mode of speaking, any quaint or uncommon set of expressions. The most obvious, easy, common words, wherein our meaning can be conveyed, we prefer before others, both on ordinary occasions, and when we speak of the things of God. We never, therefore, willingly or designedly, deviate from the most usual way of speaking; unless when we express scripture truths in scripture words, which, we presume, no Christian will condemn. Neither do we affect to use any particular expressions of Scripture more frequently than others, unless they are such as are more frequently used by the inspired writers themselves. So that it is as gross an error, to place the marks of a Methodist in his words, as in opinions of any sort.

3. Nor do we desire to be distinguished by actions, customs, or usages, of an indifferent nature. Our religion does not lie in doing what God has not enjoined, or abstaining from what he hath not forbidden. It does not lie in the form of our apparel, in the posture of our body, or the covering of our heads; nor yet in abstaining from marriage, or from meats and drinks, which are all good if received with thanksgiving. Therefore, neither will any man, who knows whereof he affirms, fix the mark of a Methodist here,--in any actions or customs purely indifferent, undetermined by the word of God.

4. Nor, lastly, is he distinguished by laying the whole stress of religion on any single part of it. If you say, "Yes, he is; for he thinks 'we are saved by faith alone:'" I answer, You do not understand the terms. By salvation he means holiness of heart and life. And this he affirms to spring from true faith alone. Can even a nominal Christian deny it? Is this placing a part of religion for the whole? "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law." We do not place the whole of religion (as too many do, God knoweth) either in doing no harm, or in doing good, or in using the ordinances of God. No, not in all of them together; wherein we know by experience a man may labour many years, and at the end have no religion at all, no more than he had at the beginning. Much less in any one of these; or, it may be, in a scrap of one of them: Like her who fancies herself a virtuous woman, only because she is not a prostitute; or him who dreams he is an honest man, merely because he does not rob or steal. May the Lord God of my fathers preserve me from such a poor, starved religion as this! Were this the mark of a Methodist, I would sooner choose to be a sincere Jew, Turk, or Pagan.

5. "What then is the mark? Who is a Methodist, according to your own account?" I answer: A Methodist is one who has "the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him;" one who "loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength." God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul; which is constantly crying out, "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee! My God and my all! Thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion forever!"

6. He is therefore happy in God, yea, always happy, as having in him "a well of water springing up into everlasting life," and overflowing his soul with peace and joy. "Perfect love" having now "cast out fear," he "rejoices evermore." He "rejoices in the Lord always," even "in God his Saviour;" and in the Father, "through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom he hath now received the atonement." "Having" found "redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of his sins," he cannot but rejoice, whenever he looks back on the horrible pit out of which he is delivered; when he sees "all his transgressions blotted out as a cloud, and his iniquities as a thick cloud." He cannot but rejoice, whenever he looks on the state wherein he now is; "being justified freely, and having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." For "he that believeth, hath the witness" of this "in himself;" being now the son of God by faith. "Because he is a son, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into his heart, crying, Abba, Father!" And "the Spirit itself beareth witness with his spirit, that he is a child of God." He rejoiceth also, whenever he looks forward, "in hope of the glory that shall be revealed;" yea, this his joy is full, and all his bones cry out, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten me again to a living hope--of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for me!"

7. And he who hath this hope, thus "full of immortality, in everything giveth thanks;" as knowing that this (whatsoever it is) "is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning him ." From him, therefore, he cheerfully receives all, saying, "Good is the will of the Lord;" and whether the Lord giveth or taketh away, equally "blessing the name of the Lord." For he hath "learned, in whatsoever state he is, therewith to be content." He knoweth "both how to be abased and how to abound. everywhere and in all things he is instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need." Whether in ease or pain, whether in sickness or health, whether in life or death, he giveth thanks from the ground of his heart to Him who orders it for good; knowing that as "every good gift cometh from above," so none but good can come from the Father of Lights, into whose hand he has wholly committed his body and soul, as into the hands of a faithful Creator. He is therefore "careful" (anxiously or uneasily) "for nothing" as having "cast all his care on Him that careth for him," and "in all things" resting on him, after "making his request known to him with thanksgiving."

8. For indeed he "prays without ceasing." It is given him "always to pray, and not to faint." Not that he is always in the house of prayer; though he neglects no opportunity of being there. Neither is he always on his knees, although he often is, or on his face, before the Lord his God. Nor yet is he always crying aloud to God, or calling upon him in words: For many times "the Spirit maketh intercession for him with groans that cannot be uttered." But at all times the language of his heart is this: "Thou brightness of the eternal glory, unto thee is my heart, though without a voice, and my silence speaketh unto thee." And this is true prayer, and this alone. But his heart is ever lifted up to God, at all times and in all places. In this he is never hindered, much less interrupted, by any person or thing. In retirement or company, in leisure, business, or conversation, his heart is ever with the Lord. Whether he lie down or rise up, God is in all his thoughts; he walks with God continually, having the loving eye of his mind still fixed upon him, and everywhere "seeing Him that is invisible."

9. And while he thus always exercises his love to God, by praying without ceasing, rejoicing evermore, and in everything giving thanks, this commandment is written in his heart, "That he who loveth God, love his brother also." And he accordingly loves his neighbour as himself; he loves every man as his own soul. His heart is full of love to all mankind, to every child of "the Father of the spirits of all flesh." That a man is not personally known to him, is no bar to his love; no, nor that he is known to be such as he approves not, that he repays hatred for his good-will. For he "loves his enemies;" yea, and the enemies of God, "the evil and the unthankful." And if it be not in his power to "do good to them that hate him," yet he ceases not to pray for them, though they continue to spurn his love, and still "despitefully use him and persecute him."

10. For he is "pure in heart." The love of God has purified his heart from all revengeful passions, from envy, malice, and wrath, from every unkind temper or malign affection. It hath cleansed him from pride and haughtiness of spirit, whereof alone cometh contention. And he hath now "put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering:" so that he "forbears and forgives, if he had a quarrel against any; even as God in Christ bath forgiven him." And indeed all possible ground for contention, on his part, is utterly cut off. For none can take from him what he desires; seeing he "loves not the world, nor" any of "the things of the world ;" being now "crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him;" being dead to all that is in the world, both to "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life." For "all his desire is unto God, and to the remembrance of his name."

11. Agreeable to this his one desire, is the one design of his life, namely, "not to do his own will, but the will of Him that sent him." His one intention at all times and in all things is, not to please himself, but Him whom his soul loveth. He has a single eye. And because "his eye is single, his whole body is full of light." Indeed, where the loving eye of the soul is continually fixed upon God, there can be no darkness at all, "but the whole is light; as when the bright shining of a candle doth enlighten the house." God then reigns alone. All that is in the soul is holiness to the Lord. There is not a motion in his heart, but is according to his will. Every thought that arises points to Him, and is in obedience to the law of Christ.

12. And the tree is known by its fruits. For as he loves God, so he keeps his commandments; not only some, or most of them, but all, from the least to the greatest. He is not content to "keep the whole law, and offend in one point;" but has, in all points, "a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man." Whatever God has forbidden, he avoids; whatever God hath enjoined, he doeth; and that whether it be little or great, hard or easy, joyous or grievous to the flesh. He "runs the way of God's commandments," now he hath set his heart at liberty. It is his glory so to do; it is his daily crown of rejoicing, "to do the will of God on earth, as it is done in heaven;" knowing it is the highest privilege of "the angels of God, of those that excel in strength, to fulfil his commandments, and hearken to the voice of his word."

13. All the commandments of God he accordingly keeps, and that with all his might. For his obedience is in proportion to his love, the source from whence it flows. And therefore, loving God with all his heart, he serves him with all his strength. He continually presents his soul and body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God; entirely and without reserve devoting himself, all he has, and all he is, to his glory. All the talents he has received, he constantly employs according to his Master's will; every power and faculty of his soul, every member of his body. Once he "yielded" them "unto sin" and the devil, "as instruments of unrighteousness ;" but now, "being alive from the dead, he yields" them all "as instruments of righteousness unto God."

14. By consequence, whatsoever he doeth, it is all to the glory of God. In all his employments of every kind, he not only aims at this, (which is implied in having a single eye,) but actually attains it. His business and refreshments, as well as his prayers, all serve this great end. Whether he sit in his house or walk by the way, whether he lie down or rise up, he is promoting, in all he speaks or does, the one business of his life; whether he put on his apparel, or labour, or eat and drink, or divert himself from too wasting labour, it all tends to advance the glory of God, by peace and good-will among men. His one invariable rule is this, "Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."

15. Nor do the customs of the world at all hinder his "running the race that is set before him." He knows that vice does not lose its nature, though it becomes ever so fashionable: and remembers, that "every man is to give an account of himself to God." He cannot, therefore, "follow" even "a multitude to do evil." He cannot "fare sumptuously every day," or "make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof." He cannot "lay up treasures upon earth," any more than he can take fire into his bosom. He cannot "adorn himself," on any pretense, "with gold or costly apparel." He cannot join in or countenance any diversion which has the least tendency to vice of any kind. He cannot "speak evil" of his neighbour, any more than he can lie either for God or man. He cannot utter an unkind word of any one; for love keeps the door of his lips. He cannot speak "idle words;" "no corrupt communication" ever "comes out of his mouth," as is all that "which is" not "good to the use of edifying," not "fit to minister grace to the hearers." But "whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things areas justly "of good report," he thinks, and speaks, and acts, "adorning the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in all things."

16. Lastly. As he has time, he "does good unto all men;" unto neighbours and strangers, friends and enemies: And that in every possible kind; not only to their bodies, by "feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those that are sick or in prison;" but much more does he labour to do good to their souls, as of the ability which God giveth; to awaken those that sleep in death; to bring those who are awakened to the atoning blood, that, "being justified by faith, they may have peace with God;" and to provoke those who have peace with God to abound more in love and in good works. And he is willing to "spend and be spent herein," even "to be offered up on the sacrifice and service of their faith," so they may "all come unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."

17. These are the principles and practices of our sect; these are the marks of a true Methodist. By these alone do those who are in derision so called, desire to be distinguished from other men. If any man say, "Why, these are only the common fundamental principles of Christianity!" thou hast said; so I mean; this is the very truth; I know they are no other; and I would to God both thou and all men knew, that I, and all who follow my judgment, do vehemently refuse to be distinguished from other men, by any but the common principles of Christianity,--the plain, old Christianity that I teach, renouncing and detesting all other marks of distinction. And whosoever is what I preach, (let him be called what he will, for names change not the nature of things,) he is a Christian, not in name only, but in heart and in life. He is inwardly and outwardly conformed to the will of God, as revealed in the written word. He thinks, speaks, and lives, according to the method laid down in the revelation of Jesus Christ. His soul is renewed after the image of God, in righteousness and ion all true holiness. And having the mind that was in Christ, he so walks as Christ also walked.

18. By these marks, by these fruits of a living faith, do we labour to distinguish ourselves from the unbelieving world, from all those whose minds or lives are not according to the Gospel of Christ. But from real Christians, of whatsoever denomination they be, we earnestly desire not to be distinguished at all, not from any who sincerely follow after what they know they have not yet attained. No: "Whosoever doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." And I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that we be in no wise divided among ourselves. Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thine? I ask no farther question. If it be, give me thy hand. For opinions, or terms, let us not destroy the work of God. Dost thou love and serve God? It is enough. I give thee the right hand of fellowship. Ii there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies; let us strive together for the faith of the Gospel; walking worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called; with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; remembering, there is one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called with one hope of our calling; "one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Sentimental Side of John Wesley

Methodism's leader could be curt. He once wrote in his Journal a terse review of a new book by William Law dated October 23, 1739:
In riding to Bradford I read over Mr. Law’s book on the new birth. Philosophical, speculative, precarious; Behemish, void, and vain!
He had opinions and he held them strongly. However, the Anglican priest had a soft side to himself, too. Consider this description of the man (not written by Wesley) from his published Journal:
Robert Southey, one of Wesley’s biographers, gives us a glimpse of his love for children. “I was in a house in Bristol where Wesley was. When a mere child, on running downstairs before him with a beautiful little sister of my own, whose ringlets were floating over her shoulders, he overtook us on the landing and took my sister in his arms and kissed her. Placing her on her feet again, he then put his hand upon my head and blessed me, and I feel as though I had the blessing of that good man upon me at the present moment.”

We are indebted to the daughter of Charles Wesley for the following glimpses of the man in his family relationships. She was aware that her famous uncle had been represented as stern and stoical. “It behooves a relative to render this justice to his private virtues and attest from experience that no human being was more alive to all the tender charities of domestic life than John Wesley. His indifference to calumny and inflexible perseverance in what he believed his duty have been the cause of this idea….”

His nephew was attracted in early life to an amiable girl of low birth. This was much opposed by his mother and her family, who mentioned it with concern to John Wesley. Finding that this was the chief objection, Wesley observed, “Then there is no family, but I hear the girl is good.” “Nor any fortune, either,” said the mother, “and she is a dawdle.” Wesley’s niece continues, “He made no reply, but sent my brother fifty pounds for his wedding dinner, and, I believe, sincerely regretted he was crossed in his inclination (as she married another). But he always showed peculiar sympathy to young persons in love.
This is a side of the man from Epworth that I enjoy; let us never wrong Wesley by losing his humanity in his legacy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

David Sebastian: An Inconvenient Truth About Alcohol

I've noticed an alarming familiarity that conservative evangelicals have today with alcohol. It's a monumental shift from the evangelical Christianity of an earlier day. It's not an improvement.



Church of God educator, Dr. David Sebastian, Dean of Anderson University's School of Theology, wrote a thoughtful position paper on the consumption of modern alcoholic beverages and his conclusions based upon a Scriptural study on the topic. His paper, "An Inconvenient Truth About Alcohol" can be downloaded here.



Also, well-known evangelical preacher, John MacArthur, preached in great detail on the difference between "wine" as consumed in the biblical times verses the modern variety of alcohol today. The hyperlinks to the sermons are listed below. I think these sermons are very helpful but, unfortunately, I think MacArthur was hesitant to say Christians just shouldn't drink, period. Well, I'll say it: Christians just shouldn't drink, period. MacArthur seems to call for abstinence without flat-out saying it. Well, I'll say it: Christians should abstain from alcohol.



Be Not Drunk with Wine, Part 2

Be Not Drunk with Wine, Part 3





Thursday, August 13, 2009

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Last night at the annual campmeeting of the Church of God (Anderson) in West Virginia Dr. David Sebastian, Dean of Anderson University's School of Theology, led us in a prayer. It is attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.
If a person can pray that prayer—honestly—then he is seeking holiness and purity of heart. That is Awakening Theology in action.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

David Sebastian: Wrestling with God

The West Virginia Ministries of the Church of God began her annual Rippling Waters campmeeting last night with evangelist Dr. David Sebastian, Dean of Anderson University's School of Theology. He preached from Genesis 32.21-30:
So the present passed on ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp. (22) The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. (23) He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. (24) And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. (25) When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. (26) Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." (27) And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." (28) Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." (29) Then Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him. (30) So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered." (ESV)
Sebastian took us on a brief tour of Jacob's life, explaining that the patriarch was a conniver and deal-maker who had to come to an end of himself and be changed; he did so at the hands of God.

This encounter changed his name from Jacob (Hebrew meaning: "to take hold of the heel" or "supplanter/deceiver") to Israel ("who prevails with God")

Sebastian applied this to our lives; a person will not rest in God until he surrenders his life to God.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

We Have a Hope!

Today I did what I did not want to experience: I preached the funeral of a man, 70 years young, not only my worship leader at church but also a dear friend. The sickness that God used providentially to take him to Glory lasted only two weeks.

While this is a hard time for me, his family and our church we do "not grieve as others do who have no hope." [1 Thess 4.13b] No, because Dave was a Christian believer it was a joyous occasion as we celebrated his homegoing. In the words of William Schell:
Have we any hope within us of a life beyond the grave
In the fair and vernal lands?
Do we know that, when our earthly house by death shall be dissolved,
We’ve a house not made with hands?

Blessed hope we have within us is an anchor to the soul,
It is both steadfast and sure;
It is founded on the promises of Father’s written word,
And ‘twill evermore endure.

Since we’ve walked the straight and narrow way,
our path has ever shone Brighter, brighter day by day;
Hope within our hearts assures us it is better farther on,
It is brighter all the way.

Life will end in joyful singing, “I have fought a faithful fight.”
Then we’ll lay our armor down;
And our spirits, freed from earthly ties, shall take their happy flight,
To possess a starry crown.

We have a hope within our souls,
Brighter than the perfect day;
God has given us His Spirit, and we want the world to hear it;
All our doubts are passed away.
In Christ we do have that hope. That's why the congregation could mingle laughter with tears.

No money can buy this hope but, thanks be to God, it's free.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Source, The Areas and the Answer to Temptation


THE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION

Noah Webster (tempt) — "To incite or solicit to an evil act; to entice to something wrong by presenting arguments that are plausible or convincing, or by the offer of some pleasure or apparent advantage as the inducement."
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13-15 ESV)
Desire turns to lust when a person takes that desire (often moral or amoral, in and of itself) and twists/depraves it into a selfish/illegitimate expression.

THE AREAS OF TEMPTATION
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)
The Desire of the Flesh. This means that your appetites, feelings or desires from within that can beckon you to sin.

...a food desire can tempt you to be a glutton
...a sexual desire can tempt you to be a fornicator or adulterer
...an emotion of anger can tempt you to toward physical or verbal abuse
...a feeling of loneliness can tempt you to lash out at others

The Desire of the Eyes. This implies a self-centered, selfish temptation to have what you see, without consideration to God and others.

The Pride in Possessions. (lit. “pride of life”) You are enticed to pat yourself on the back. It is a temptation to think you have done something all by yourself, a lure to be an arrogant soul who doesn't thank God for your blessings.

THE ANSWER TO TEMPTATION
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV)

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:12-14 ESV)

Monday, July 27, 2009

How to Give Glory to God

Noah Webster (glory): “Brightness; luster; splendor”

(splendor) “Great show of richness and elegance; magnificence”

I. God is literally Glorious


1 Timothy 6:16 ESV who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Moses with God
Exodus 33:18-23 ESV Moses said, "Please show me your glory." (19) And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. (20) But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." (21) And the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, (22) and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. (23) Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen."

Isaiah with God
Isaiah 6:1-5 ESV In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. (2) Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. (3) And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" (4) And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. (5) And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"

Peter with Jesus
Matthew 17:1-4 ESV And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. (2) And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. (3) And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. (4) And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah."

Mark 9:6 ESV For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.


John with Jesus
Revelation 1:10-18 ESV I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet (11) saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea." (12) Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, (13) and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. (14) The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, (15) his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. (16) In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (17) When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, (18) and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

II. Obviously we cannot bring literal glory to him but we can bring figurative glory to him because praise is glory.

Christ defines praise as Glory
John 5:44 ESV How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

The Saints’ prayers are sweet-smelling, as it were
Revelation 8:1-4 ESV When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (2) Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. (3) And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, (4) and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.

Psalms 141:1-2 ESV A Psalm of David. O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! (2) Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

1. We give glory to God when we praise him

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!" (1 Chronicles 16:29-31 ESV)

Noah Webster (ascribe): 1. To attribute, impute, or set to, as to a cause; to assign, as effect to a cause; as, losses are often to be ascribed to imprudence.

2. To attribute, as a quality, or an appurtenance; to consider or allege to belong; as, to ascribe perfection to God, or imperfection to man. Job 36. Psa 68. 1 Sam 18.
2. We give glory to God when we tell the truth

Joshua to Achan
Joshua 7:19 ESV Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me."

Pharisees to blind man healed
John 9:24-25 ESV So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, "Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner." (25) He answered, "Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see."

3. We give glory to God when we live righteously as ambassadors before sinners

Matthew 5:14-16 ESV "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. (16) In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Statement of Faith

I believe that all 66 books of the Protestants' accepted Bible canon were written without error.

I believe this collection of books is the only Word of God. Any other sacred text from any other religion is spurious.

I believe the Bible is historically and theologically accurate.

Therefore,

I believe in one God, the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I believe that Adam's sin in the garden of Eden plagued the rest of mankind with spiritual separation from God.

I believe that God the Son became the sinless God-Man, Jesus Christ, when he was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin named Mary.

I believe the death of Jesus Christ on a cross and his resurrection from the dead offers us forgiveness of sins by trust and surrender to him.

I believe Jesus is the only way to heaven; all other ways/religions/roads lead to a literal and never-ending hell.

I believe that Christians are to surrender to the Holy Spirit for a deeper work of grace called by different names: Christian Perfection, Perfect Love, Entire Sanctification, Full Salvation, etc.

I believe that, aided by grace, Christians can live free from deliberate sinning in deed and in thought.

I believe that salvation can be lost/forfeited by apostasy or sinful rebellion.

I believe there is only one Church, God's Church, of all born-again Christians wherever they may be. The Church of God shouldn't be divided but unified in doctrine and mission.

I believe that every Christian should seek the Face of the Lord for revival, for Great Awakening for himself, his church, his community and the world.

I believe that there are two ordinances of the Church: Believer's Baptism (credobaptism, usually by immersion) and Holy Communion.

I believe that Christ will return for the Day of Resurrection and Judgment; all humanity will go either to heaven or to hell. I believe in the amillennial schema of Eschatology.
In short, I am a Low Church Wesleyan Methodist Credobaptistic Amillennialist.