An Introduction to Intelligent Design

Posted by: David Carroll

This is the Sunday School Lesson I taught June 28, 2009 in Steve Wherry’s class.
Listen to the mp3 Audio here.

ID is a movement that is both old and new. It is biblical.

These verses speak to God’s general revelation of himself in His creation.

Romans 1:20 (NKJV)
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse

Psalm 19:1-3 (NIV)
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Those are wonderful and familiar verses to most Christians. You probably haven’t seen this next one used in this context.

Job 12:7-10 (NKJV)
But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?

Job is supposed to be the oldest book in the Bible, so you can see that the argument for God’s creation has been around for a long time.

Modern ID movement

Its modern form has come about in the past 30 years and has received increasing media attention with the battle over teaching evolution in schools. The media associates the ID movement with Christian fundamentalists who are trying to repackage Biblical Creationism under the guise of Intelligent Design. This is supposedly in response to the 1987 Supreme Court prohibition against teaching Creationism in public schools.

However, the first ID scientists were actually motivated by the inability of modern biology to explain the origin of the digital information encoded in the DNA molecule well prior to the 1987 ruling. And many physicists during the 60’s and 70’s, including Fred Hoyle who coined the famous “Big Bang” quote, had increasingly been persuaded by the evidence of a finely tuned universe ideally suited to support the existence of life.

There is however an interesting tension between the ID movement in science and Christians who believe the Genesis account of creation literally. The ID people do not advocate any particular designer or even refer to God at all. That is not their interest. This tension is not to say that ID is not a friend to Christians who believe the Bible Creation story. Their scientific arguments and rational thinking are a refreshing respite from the bulldog like evolutionists whose primary motivation appears to be to eliminate God.

Richard Dawkins in 1986 said living systems “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” But he wrote a whole book called “The Blind Watchmaker” to prove that this was only an illusion and that evolution and natural selection could explain all of it.

So the bottom line is that the Christian Creationist can greatly benefit from the ID scientists work.

As a philosophical argument, ID goes back to Plato and Aristotle.

The teleological argument (known as the argument from design) is an argument for the existence of God based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, and design in nature.

Teleology: study of causes

19th Century: Watchmaker analogy

William Paley said that if you were walking through the woods and saw a smooth stone on the ground, no big deal, just a river stone formed by the forces of nature.

But if you saw a watch on the ground, you would immediately know that this was made by a watchmaker because of its complexity. Since a living organism is more complex than that watch, it too must be designed.

Age of Enlightenment, Darwin, Origin of Species (1859)

Up till then, almost everyone believed that God created. Atheists had no plausible creation story, eccentric. During a trip to the Galapagos islands, Darwin developed his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Darwin observed that variations would randomly occur in a species. For example he observed that some birds (finches) had long beaks and other ones had short stout beaks. On some islands one beak style would predominate and on other islands another beak style would predominate.

On one island there were a lot of predators and a short stout beak was good to have because it helped the bird to fight. On another rocky island, a long curved beak was helpful to fetch tiny bugs out of crevasses in the rock.

He proposed that this adaptation was due to a natural process of selection. He observed:

  1. There were heritable variations within the population
  2. Scarcity of food (not all would survive)
  3. Some were better suited than others to survive/reproduce

Competition ensues and you have this idea of “survival of the fittest.” An ill suited critter would not survive to the age of reproductively.

So you have adaptation over many generations. He imagined that eventually these small changes can add up to creating entirely new species. Note the lack of any need for intelligent guidance in this process. This simple idea, a plausible explanation for the complexity of life, has fueled the growth of Naturalism and Atheism ever since.

At bottom, evolution is a purposeless, unintelligent, material cause with no need for God at all.

Further supporting the idea of evolution was the observation of similarities between the species. If you look at an x-ray of the upper limb of a crocodile, a bird and a human, you will notice that all three have five digits for “fingers” and two bones in the forearm. The study of homology says that these sorts of similarities are evidence that we have all descended from some common ancestor.

We should ask what else could explain these adaptations and similarities. Could it be that it was good design, worthy of being duplicated by an intelligent designer for functional response? Could it be that a living organism looks designed because it is designed?

Engine of Change?

Darwin well understood that Natural Selection could accomplish nothing without some sort of engine of variation to produce the new biological structures.

Watson and Crick, 1953, the DNA molecule

Before the discovery of modern genetics, nothing was known about the engine of change.

There is enough information in the gene pool of two medium brown mutts to create through selective breeding in one man’s lifetime everything from a Great Dane to a miniature poodle.

From Small Changes to All Changes

Once you get used to nodding your head in agreement with the idea that evolution explains the drift in populations guided by natural selection, then it is no big deal for these small changes to keep going until a new species occurs.

But there is one problem with that. We have been breeding plants and animals since biblical times. What is our experience however? All breeding hits limitations. You can only get an ear of corn so big. You can never get a dog to be as big as a horse. Furthermore, when you reach these limits, we find that the animals or plants have weaknesses. Why can’t a mule have any offspring? Breeding does not create new information, rather it loses information. You can’t go backwards with a miniature poodle and get back to a medium brown mutt even less so a Great Dane.

Random Mutation

What is the cause of modifications that can create new biological structures? The only known source of is said to be mutation due to radiation. A mutation is the result of a mistake which occurs when a cell makes a copy of its DNA for cell division. Genes specify how a protein is built (long chain folded) function follows form. A mutated gene makes a mutated protein, a broken part. These broken parts can make disease, cancer, organ failure, and even death.

Mutations are either harmful or neutral at best. Supposedly, in rare cases, a mutation can be beneficial. As it turns out, some mutations can be inherited by offspring.

Since we all are supposed to have evolved from a single celled animal. Think about the amount of new biological information necessary to create all these new structures, organs, brains, eyes, flight, circulatory systems, respiratory systems, waste removal systems, and reproductive systems.

All of this had to result from trillions of trillions of tiny beneficial random mutations preserved through their offspring. Furthermore, we don’t see any beneficial mutations occurring today. Mathematicians are increasingly expressing doubts that random mutations could possibly produce this vast amount of new genetic information in the length of time available to the evolutionary process.

How does the first living thing get started?

This is beyond the scope of this article but let me just mention that if there is no reproducing going on, then there is no cell division, hence no engine of change. Without that engine, Natural Selection has nothing to act on. Evolution does not explain the origin of life.

The Simple Cell

And what about that simple cell we started with? How complex is it?

“Although the tiniest bacterial cells are very small, they are actually a microminiaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery made up of a hundred thousand million atoms far more complicated than any machine made by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world.”

Michael Denton, Evolution a Theory in Crisis

Irreducible Complexity

Michael Behe wrote Darwin’s Black Box in which he explains the idea of irreducible complexity with a simple mousetrap which has five parts: hammer, spring, catch, holding bar, and a platform. He asks how many mouse could this trap catch if it were missing one of it’s parts?

In order for the mousetrap to function, it needs all five parts. And if it were to evolve, then each part along the way must be beneficial until the whole thing can come together. He maintains that biological systems are far more complex and are also irreducibly complex.

Non-viability of transitional forms

Two lizards had some little babies. They noticed their scales were a bit fuzzier than normal. Then these fuzzy scaled lizards passed on these traits to their offspring and the scales continued to mutate to more feather like things. You see, these are the pre-cursor to wings. But the feathers are getting so long now, they are getting in the way when they. They can’t yet fly but they can’t run very well either. They can escape predators nor can they compete for food.

What does natural selection do? This is the problem with transitional forms for complex features. Until some primitive if not complete functionality is there, there is advantage. This is known as the non-viability of transitional forms.

Transitional Fossils

“The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, must be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graded organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

Charles Darwin

Transitional Fossils, 150 years later: have they found them yet? No.

Do you notice any fish today growing little stumps, legs, so they can crawl up on land? Are there any reptiles developing feathers today? We should be able to see this sort of evidence if evolution is occurring today. Why don’t we see half formed organs instead of complete ones?

Stephen Jay Gould knew about the absence of transitional fossils and invented the idea of “punctuated equilibrium” to explain this absence. The basic idea is that there were periods of extreme biological changes that occurred over short periods of time which precluded the build-up of a fossil record due to lack of time.

What is his primary evidence for his theory? The lack of evidence

What do we actually find in the record? We find a sudden appearance of a vast number of highly complex organisms (known as the Cambrian explosion) then stasis. What model does this best fit?

Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV)

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Jeremiah 10:12 (NKJV)

He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.

Psalm 33:6 (NKJV)

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

Psalm 111:2 (NKJV)

The works of the Lord are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them.

Psalm 111:4 (NKJV)

He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; The Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

Psalm 77:12 (NKJV)

I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds.

Psalm 115:16 (NKJV)

The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men.

Acts 17:23-25 (NKJV)

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

Acts 17:28 (NKJV)

for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.

Resources

http://www.shrinkster.com/lhh
Amazon book list

http://www.shrinkster.com/3tr
10 questions to ask your biology teacher

http://www.creationscience.com
Walt Brown, In The Beginning

http://www.youtube.com/user/IllustraMedia
Lots of videos

Joshua Chapter 1

Posted by: David Carroll

Hear the class lesson on mp3.

It applies to what’s happening in church right now.

Offense not Defense

Posted by: David Carroll

The book of Joshua is about the Israelites taking the land. It is a book about warfare. As Christians we talk a lot about spiritual warfare but do we really practice it?

Remember when Jesus was at Caesarea Philippi? It’s up near the Golan heights, where the tribe of Dan was. Caesarea Philippi was the center of pagan worship. Jesus said in Matthew 16, while he was pointing to the temples of pagan worship, “upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Who is doing the defending in that verse? Gates are for defense. They were the gates of hell. Hell was defending against the church! The church of Jesus Christ is to be in an offensive posture not defensive. But we tend to act like we are prisoners of war.

Joshua teaches us about victory and how to get it. A Christian does not work towards victory, he works from victory! Jesus Christ already won the victory when he rose again from the dead. That’s our guarantee of success.

Respect for God

Posted by: David Carroll

My friend Michael Earls commented on my last post and expressed appreciation for my respect for God. (Hi Micheal, good to hear from you!) I’ve been thinking about respect for God. First let me say that respect for God is a a rare thing in today’s world and I know Michael too respects God. So many people have no respect for God because they do not believe in Him. Or if they do believe in God, he is not occupying much place in their thoughts. So I really appreciate Michael noticing that and it is something everyone should take a step towards. But respect for God is not a final destination rather it is just a step or a move towards God. Although God is worthy of respect because respect has the meaning of being honored and esteemed, somehow respect does not rise to the level of adequately describing my attitude toward God.

What attitude then glorifies God? I’d like to say that I love God but even that sounds like too much like me giving something to Him. (I do love Him, I’m just trying to find the attitude that really glorifies God.) You see God is the source of everything; He is always the giver and never the receiver as if He needed anything from us. I might say and do in fact fear God because of his holy righteousness. That’s good and true too certainly in the sense that God is all-powerful and all-knowing. (Don’t you fear someone who could squash you in an instant and moreover knows all your secrets?) Let’s see, how about grateful…yes that works too because of God’s great mercy. Mercy is the part that keeps God from squashing me or making me pay for all those dirty dark secrets that only He and I know about.

But someone did pay. God paid. God absorbed the righteous wrath of God against my sin. Wait a minute. Did I say that right? God paid God’s penalty? Yes of course, Jesus Christ paid it all. And all the while God the Son was hanging on that cross suffering for my sake, it was God the Father in heaven pouring out his wrath. That way he is both just and the one who justifies. God’s wrath was spent not withdrawn.

How do I know all this is true? Of course I got it all out of the Bible. But God provided proof by raising Jesus from the dead. The ressurection is the proof that God is satisfied.

That’s why respect, love, fear, and gratefulness as attitudes toward God don’t seem enough. Oh they are necessary and right. I suppose gratefulness comes the closest because it describes my receiving instead of my giving. But when I talk about God and see His work in everything around me including in the budding forth of spring foliage and flowers, I am delighted. Delight, yes that’s the word. I am really delighted and soul-satisfied when I consider God. And I am not giving him anything in my delight rather I am soaking it all in: His love toward me, his mercy toward me, his goodness all around me, his magnificence in his creation.

He made me and he made you to delight in his glory!

On Cue

Posted by: David Carroll

I was out walking in the forest last week (March 23) and took this picture of a ridge and a ravine. The weather was delightful and you could tell the forest was waking up from it’s winter slumber.

DSC40_0165

Nine days later (yesterday April 1) I was walking the same trail and took a picture of the same ridge (below).

DSC_0313

Now I was standing a litte further up in the second shot but you can tell it is the same location by examining the roots of some of the trees hugging the ridge.

The astonishing thing I’m sure you notice is the difference in green foliage. A little rain, a little warmth, longer days and the program kicks in to high gear. I say program because that is what it is, it does this every year automatically. Such astonishing beauty and unbelievable and complex innerworkings of sap rising and photosynthisis. I’m glad I got to see this as I ponder God’s unfathomable excellence in His design for life.

Psalm 8:1,3–4

O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?

 

He made the wind and the waves stand still!

Posted by: David Carroll

Jesus can heal the sick and he does it through a touch or just a word. I’ve been healed and I am convinced that it was by faith and through the prayers of God’s people. (I am overwhelmed with gratitude when I think of how many people were praying for me!) But there are those who would say that when people get healed they simply want to give God credit when actually time or medicine actually did the work. In my case, time and medicine certainly were the means of God’s grace, but it was a miracle how God revealed where the real problem was because I went through two surgeries fixing something that evidently was not the problem. Go here to read more about that. But that’s not the point of this post. Healing could be dismissed by naysayers as wishful thinking.

WavesWhen Jesus and the disciples were out on the sea of Galilee during the storm about to be swamped by the waves, Jesus was sound asleep in the stern of the boat. (It takes a real peace of mind to sleep in a situation like that!) Anyway, the disciples who were scared to death, wake Jesus to inform him of their plight. After rebuking their little faith, he “rebuked” the storm by saying “Peace, be still.” And immediately there was total calm. Now you’d think these guys would be relieved by now, but the Bible records that now they were exceedingly afraid. Think about what they have just witnessed! A man stands up in a boat and commands vast amounts of energy and matter to stand still. That got their attention. In fact the Bible says they exclaimed “What manner of man is this!?” That’s the point: Jesus is no mere man. He is the God-Man. Jesus is not just the Son of God, he is God the Son. He is the Logos, the Word of God who spoke everything into existance.

Continuing with the series, you can listen to the audio of the second Sunday School lesson on Jesus Miracles from the book of Matthew here. (right click on the link and choose “save as” to download the mp3 file)

Miracles

Posted by: David Carroll

It has been a long time since I taught Sunday School and last weekend I got the chance to teach for several Sundays in a row. I was a bit anxious about teaching again after my hiatus but I have been praying about when I would start full time again. So this opportunity to teach as a substitute for a few weeks is really an answer to prayer. What is an answer to prayer if not a miracle? Speaking of miracles, that is what I am teaching on. Beginning in Matthew 8, Jesus performs a series of miracles mixed in with some teachings. I really like this section because there is so much action. Jesus is showing his muscle which is his complete authority over everything including human sickness, demons and even nature itself.

So in keeping with the podcasting I have done in the past, I am posting the audio of the first lesson on Jesus’ miracles here. Sorry about the recording quality, I inadvertantly set the mic switch on high gain boost so there are some pops in the audio.

Needless to say, I really am enjoying digging into God’s word and the discipline has been good for me. Thank you Lord!

Listen to the audio of the first lesson on Matthew Chapter 8.

Cure for stress

Posted by: David Carroll

Things around here have been a bit stressful, not bad, just a bit overwhelming when thinking about all that I need to get done over the next few months. Times like this can make you feel guilty for procrastinating which tends to make the stress even worse. It is important to have some times of refreshing during such a period, something that makes the worry melt away even for only a few hours.

I know two things that accomplish this. One is prayer. Prayer that admits your own fraility and inadequacies and lays your burdens on Jesus. It is not that the prayer itself makes you feel better although it certainly helps. Rather it is that prayer actually works. God answers prayer.

James 5:16 (NKJV)

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

The second thing that works is worship and fellowship. Go to church and love and be loved by the brethren. Sweet fellowship and worship can accomplish wonders for the weary and stressed out soul.

Psalm 84:1-2 (NKJV)

How lovely is Your tabernacle,  O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Psalm 84:10-11 (NKJV)

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.

I sat with dear friends from my old Sunday School class tonight and sang and worshiped and I could feel my worries melt away. That’s what I call times of refreshing. Jerry Vines preached the last of four Wednesday nights we call Awesome August. He preached on the importance of Church and my own experience of being refreshed totally underscored and validated the message.

Acts 3:19 (NKJV)

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

Img003Johnny Hunt preached last Wednesday night. It was the next to last night Bethany was home before we took her back to Birmingham for her Junior year in college. Johnny is a dear friend and gifted preacher. Bethany was baptised by Johnny back in 1997. What a great message Johnny preached on perseverence as the proof of our faith. God has given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness. Johnny preached on the following text.

2 Peter 1:1-11 (NKJV)

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

You can listen to the mp3 here.

Spiritual Reformation

Posted by: David Carroll

Time to reform my inner life, that is to form again into what it should be. I may look OK on the outside but that’s only because I can prop it up and build quick facades so that no one notices what’s behind. It’s time to work on the inner man. That means I might start to look like a “construction zone.” Like my body has been in tatters and I am now starting to exercise and make it stronger, healthier, my spiritual disciplines are in tatters too and I need to begin to exercise it and make it stronger, healthier. Just like the goal for my physical reformation is stamina, strength, and flexibility I could describe the goal for my spiritual being in the same way but that would be superficial and ignore the most important thing. Jesus is the focus of spiritual reformation; Christ-likeness is the goal.

What does Christ-likeness look like? I think it looks like obedience on the outside. But that is not what it is on the inside. Obedience is the manifestation, what you see as a result, not what causes Christ-likeness. Obedience simply makes me look like the scribes and the Pharisees.

Matthew 5:20 (NKJV)

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

So, what does Christ-likeness look like on the inside? It looks like thoughts, affections, choices, rest, peace, desire, love and all that. But still, it is not the source. The Holy Spirit of God is the source and it is His work. That’s called grace. Grace is not so much like resting in a tub of warm water; it is more like standing under an invigorating waterfall. Grace is not so much what God has done for me but more what God is doing for me and continues to do for me. Piper calls that Future Grace.

So although I am to do all things He has commanded me, I must not forget that He is master over everything in heaven and He will be with me every step of the way. So when I decide to do a command He is right there with me and He has all the resources under his power.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Some advice on debating theology

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Peter 1:2a (NKJV)
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father

Paige Patterson, while preaching on this verse at Southeastern Seminary, said:

While it may be a healthy exercise to wrestle with the doctrines of election, sovereignty and free will, theological debate must not distract Christians from fulfilling the Great Commission.

If you're a more ardent advocate of Calvinism than you are of Jesus as an answer to men's souls—and the way you tell that is by what you talk about most—then you are out of step with the clear teachings of the Word of God.

Two thousand years we've been talking about this, it's the only reason you build cafeterias and coffeehouses on seminary campuses, and nobody has come up with an explanation that will satisfy anybody else. Under such conditions, is it not better to say, “God, in your greatness, you have done and thought and acted in ways too transcendent for me to embrace.”

Good advice. I need to talk less about why people get saved and start doing more of the how.

Romans 10:13-14 (NKJV)

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

Evangelicalism

Posted by: David Carroll

Historians David Bebbington, Mark Noll, and George Rawlyk have identified four characteristic marks of "evangelicalism":

  1. a stress on conversion,
  2. a focus on Christ's redeeming work as the core of biblical Christianity,
  3. an acknowledgment of the Bible as the supreme authority,
  4. an energetic and personal approach to social engagement and evangelism.

(from Chrisitianity Today)

God's choice or mans?

Posted by: David Carroll

Commenters on my previous post on Irresistible Grace raise a good question regarding salvation. Is man responsible or is God? Also, who is the originator of salvation, man or God? Anyway I’ll say up front that the answer in my opinion is that it is God who is both responsible from beginning to end and it is God who originates salvation. Now let’s see if I can be consistent with the idea that man has to make a choice without being compelled to do so irresistibly.

I see God as responsible for my salvation because I cannot find heaven without him. In fact I don’t even know of it’s existence without him. And now that I am aware of it and believe that he has secured it for me, I am still just along for the ride without anyway of getting myself to heaven without him.

I see God as the originator of salvation because it was his idea and not mine. He offered it first as a free gift which I could accept through faith. This was his design for such a transaction and not mine. But notice the requirement: my acceptance or rejection of that free gift. He decreed that I should glorify him by requiring my exercise of faith. My faith in him does not glorify me—I only love him because he first loved me. This is the synergism that glorifies God, not because man may choose rightly thereby completing the transaction but because the choice gives God glory, praise, honor and adoration from his creature whom He in turn makes happy in Him.

I will even say that the faith I have has come from him. How could it not? He is the creator! All I know is that God has somehow made man’s ability to make true free will choices compatible with his sovereignty. And we are called upon to make a choice to repent and have faith in God which has real consequences in both positively and negatively. That seems to me to be the emphasis of the Bible in all of its warnings (including Jesus’ pronouncement regarding blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). He wanted it that way because faith is the only thing that accords with grace and faith is what gives God glory.

Romans 4:16a (NKJV)
Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace

Romans 4:20 (NKJV)
He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God

There is a glorious mystery in all of this. One has to believe two apparently incompatible things simultaneously: 1) God is sovereign and knows everything past present and future. 2) man is created by God in His own image and thus has been given a free will with the responsibility to make a choice to trust in Him or not. This means God both knows the choice man will make and yet man must still make it freely. I cannot reconcile this and the Bible does not seem to worry one wit about helping me to do so.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts."

Irresistable Grace

Posted by: David Carroll

Irresistible grace is the fourth point of the five points of Calvinism. It means that according to God’s sovereignty, those whom he has chosen from before the foundation of the world will be subject to an irresistible call from God at some point in their lives and will exercise their faith in Him because of His working of grace in them apart from any movement of their own will. (I probably should look that up and get an exact definition but this is my understanding of it anyway.)

Let me say up front that I know and hear gladly many preachers who believe this doctrine including John Piper, John MacArthur, Al Mohler and many others. But I have a problem with irresistible grace.

First of all I find within myself the ability to resist and the ability to exercise my own free will to choose good or bad. When I came to Christ, I came under much duress within my own heart. I don’t believe I was being dragged but I certainly believe I was being wooed not out of fear but out of a desire. But it was a tremendous internal struggle of the will. So unless I am a deceived robot, then I find within myself immediate evidence to reject this doctrine. However, the Biblical support for this doctrine comes from such verses as:

John 6:37,39,44 (NKJV)

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

I believe the Bible is verbal and plenary (word for word and sufficient) inspired word of God. There is no way I would argue with the clear words of scripture, and even less with Jesus’ very own words. But do these words confirm the doctrine of irresistible grace? Not necessarily. Firstly they show a loving God who woos and draws people to Himself but this wooing and drawing is not necessarily irresistible. Secondly, they are compatible with a sovereign God who foreknows those will choose to come to Jesus. For the Calvinist however, God’s choosing is not based on foreknowledge but rather on his sovereign decree.

But there is a more pernicious problem I have with this doctrine of irresistible grace. That problem comes from Jesus warning regarding the unpardonable sin:

Matthew 12:31-32 (NKJV)

Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Those are strong words and regardless of exactly what “blasphemy against the Spirit” is, the consequences are undeniable. No forgiveness means no heaven which means eternal separation from God, otherwise known as hell.

Now, lest anyone start worrying about whether they have committed the unpardonable sin or not, I am told by almost every commentary I have read on this verse that if you are worried about it then you don’t need to be worried about it. In other words, the mere fact that you express concern over it means that you have not been guilty of it. This means that blasphemy against the spirit is spiteful and willful and therefore is not concerned in the least with such action.

The problem this verse presents to the doctrine of irresistible grace is that one word unpardonable. (I know that word is not in the verse but it is a convenient term for “will not be forgiven him, either in this age or the age to come” which sounds even worse to me).

Follow me here. You must agree that the elect who will one day not be able to resist the drawing of God could not possibly commit an unpardonable sin. Why? Because they would not be elect if they did. So what does this say about those who are not elect, the ones who will certainly be able to resist God, which for the Calvinist is everybody else. If they are non-elect then they are by definition already unpardonable, regardless of what sin they will commit.  So if the elect will find God’s grace irresistible, then why is Jesus even making such a stern and dire warning not to do something that cannot be done by one group and would not matter anyway to the other? It would make Jesus into a terrorist striking fear into people unnecessarily.

No doubt the staunch Calvinist has already thought out a way to reconcile this dilemma, but I have never heard it. And if it is similar to the way they redefine the “whosoever wills” then I probably won’t understand it anyway.

I believe in election because that is a clear doctrine in the Bible. The question is what is it based upon? Foreknowledge or sovereign decree. I’ll write some more about that later. So does that make me a four point Calvinist? No, because I have a problem with the idea of Limited Atonement too but I’ll write about that one some other time as well.

What about the Apocrypha?

Posted by: David Carroll

My daughter Bethany asked me the other day why the Apocrypha is not included in our Bibles (meaning our protestant Bibles since of course it is included in the Catholic Bible). My answer was not very deep but I told her that these books were written during the inter-testamental period in the 400 years of silence. The silence refers to a period of time when God was not speaking to prophets. The other part of my answer to her was that none of the apocryphal books were quoted as scripture in the New Testament. At that point I had exhausted my entire knowledge of the subject.

You know that children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers.

John J. Plomp

I was not really satisfied with the extent of the answer I gave to her so today, I did a little investigating and learned a few things.

Did you know:

  • It is in the apocrypha that the Roman Catholics find their proof text for the doctrine for purgatory [2 Maccabees 12:46] which speaks of prayers for the dead.
  • The council of Trent in 1546 officially made these books part of the Canon of scripture.
  • That same council pronounced that anyone who did not recognize these books as scripture as anathema (removed from the body of Christ)
  • Hebrews 12 makes some allusions to some historical events that are documented in the apocrypha. (but there is not “it is written” or “thus says the Lord” type of language)
  • The early church fathers were not in agreement on the apocrypha, some such as Jerome completely denying their authority as scripture.
  • The apocryphal books were Jewish books and so would come under the authority of “God’s chosen people” who were given responsibility for the Old Testament scriptures. [Rom 3:2] “to them were committed the oracles of God.” Consequently it would not be the domain of the Church to determine the Old Testament canon. And in fact, these books were never “laid up in the temple” and the Jews did not consider them to be part of scripture included in the Law, Prophets and Writings.
  • Jesus spoke of all the prophets in:

Luke 11:50-51 (NKJV)
that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple.

  • it is interesting to note that Abel and Zechariah are bookends for the Jewish scriptures. The order of of the Jewish books are from Genesis (first book) to 2 Chronicles (last book). In essence, Jesus is excluding any prophets that might have occurred after Zechariah.
  • The only reason given by Catholics for the inclusion of the Apocrypha is the infallible authority of the Roman Catholic Church magisterium to proclaim on such matters. This excludes and is against another reasons to reject the apocrypha including historical evidence of the early church, and even precludes any blatantly obvious historical errors that might be found in these books.
  • In fact the book of Judith which is an apocryphal book, claims that Nebuchadnezzar ruled from Nineveh which is by every historical and scholarly evidence completely untrue. Also this same book claims the second temple was rebuilt a century prior to when it actually was. Granted supposed contradictions and errors are just the sort of thing atheists use to discredit the Bible but none of the supposed errors atheists can come up with are unexplainable or could not be reconciled with further unknown information. The errors in Judith are so blatant as to be impossible to dismiss as only “apparent error.”

So as a protestant, what exactly is the criteria for knowing what is scripture? It is not the authority of the church but rather it is the book’s prophetiticy. That is is the book inspired by God to a prophet of God. We do not determine canon, God does. The way he does this is by speaking to his prophets. A prophet is a spokesperson for God. Now, God chooses his prophets but it is up to us to discover which books are prophetic. It is interesting that for all the books in our Bible, each book was immediately recognized for it’s prophetical content by the author’s contemporaries, not by someone centuries later.

The Jews had already discovered the Old Testament canon for us making that part easy. How was the New Testament canon discovered? My understanding is that the New Testament is written by first hand apostles of Jesus. In other words those who had direct contact with Jesus or were transcribing for those who did. These men were apostles and as such were confirmed by signs and wonders. They did miracles. And the epistles and gospels were passed around by the contemporary early believers as holy writ.

But really the New Testament Canon is another question for another day anyway. But that’s my short answer like I would have given my daughter Bethany if she asked the question. Perhaps I’ll investigate more later and write another post on the subject.

Unshackled

Posted by: David Carroll

Sh1Wednesday, I was set free. Doc says I can go without the neck brace. Freedom is a wonderful thing but scary too I found out. I still walk around like I had the  brace on and I am scared to turn my head too much. It’s weird, almost like I want to put it back on for comfort. Delaine tells me I snored last night too and I have not been snoring. I knew immediately what it was, my chin was being held up keeping my jaw from dropping which kept my mouth shut and kept me breathing through my nose. So now do I put it back on when I go to bed just to keep from snoring?

Ahh but I got to drive today…for the first time since driving to the hospital on Dec 13. (Except for that little emergency when Delaine got locked out of her car at Walgreens, about five minutes away, and I bravely drove to rescue her). Got my hair cut (great to visit with you Marilyn!), got Toby’s bath done, and picked up my prescription. And I finally have a few new twenty dollar bills in my billfold. I found out something interesting, if you can’t drive, you don’t need any cash. I’ve had the same single five dollar bill in my billfold since my surgery. Now I’m flush with cash! (It goes fast).

Toby and I went for another long walk whilst listening to Rush. I took the twin walking poles and really tried to kick up the pace a bit. Oh, and by the way, I asked Doc about how much exercising I could do and found out all that (light)weight lifting I’ve been doing was a bad thing (because the vertebra fusion is still trying to take). So no more weight lifting for another month. But I can do all the walking I want to, so I figured I could at least get the arms in on the act with the walking poles. Besides they make you feel like an Olympic cross country skier.

The main thing is the Lord is good and his word is sweet and I am grateful to his healing hand on my body.

Proverbs 3:7-8 (NKJV)

Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

Speaking of being free from my neck brace, I have been freed from something else too. I have identified myself with Christ who died and was raised from the dead. So I reckon I am freed from sin’s power over me and one day I will even be freed from sin’s presence.

Romans 6:7-11 (NKJV)

For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Faith comes by hearing

Posted by: David Carroll

In the previous post, I talked about the requirement of salvation which cannot be earned or purchased. That requirement is faith. Faith includes and is evidenced by all sorts of things like obedience, childlike trust, and most of all desire to be delighted in Jesus Christ. But how does that faith come? First of all it is a gift from God but it comes through the mind by hearing the word of God preached. Someone must tell you the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom which is Jesus Christ who is the King. When you understand and receive that good news gladly and move toward it desiringly then you are exercising God’s requirement which may cost you but that cost is not a work, it is only more evidence of your faith.

Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Gaines275That’s what I am going to do today is hear the word of God preached in a clear and understandable way. There will be singing and praise too. But it will all be focused on God and Christ. That’s what we call worship. Then after the word is preached there will be many who will feel desire and faith welling up in them and an invitation to come to Jesus will be given. As a Deacon I’ll go back and counsel with one of those who come and explain more of what is happening to them. And whether they are exercising faith for the first time or whether they are already believers, I’ll test them to see whether their faith is based on their trusting Christ and him alone. If it is not, I’ll go through another gospel presentation to give them one more chance to do that.

Salvation is free, but there is a requirement

Posted by: David Carroll

You cannot earn salvation from God. Why? Because He has already purchased it through the death of Jesus Christ, God the Son. God offers salvation freely to those who come and and receive it. But you cannot have it if you will not come.

Why does God not offer salvation for some sort of special offering or force us to earn it in some way. It is because God will not share his Glory with anyone. To earn or work is to be owed a debt or a wage. God has already fully paid the price.

But still there is a requirement. There are teachers who today say that all that is required is to believe in the gospel and that there is no cost to you. This is false teaching. It is true that you must believe and it is true that you cannot work for salvation thus you cannot earn it.

But there is a requirement and we might as well call it a cost but the cost is not to purchase or earn anything. The cost is to have a change in your thinking, a change of mind, a change in what you desire, a change in what you thirst for.

Revelation 22:17

Let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires to take the water of life without price.

Notice that you must thirst for the water of life and you must come and desire it. All these are requirements. But notice that there is no price you could pay for this. It is free because the price has already been paid. The crucial element is desire for God and a coming to him. Then finally drinking the water of life in.

What is required is anything that gives God glory and what is not required is anything that gives you glory. That is why it is by grace through faith we are saved because this way God is glorified.

Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

The Bible in some verses say that you must repent and believe to be saved. But isn’t the repentance part a work?

Acts 3:19
Therefore repent and turn that your sins may be blotted out.

Repenting is not the same as works. It is a misunderstood word that most people think means to feel sorry for your sins. But the word means to have a change of heart or a change in the way you think about the world. It means to agree with the way God sees things. Is this not part of desiring God? Yes, it is one of the requirements that gives God glory. To not repent and think God’s thoughts after him, would make you a rebel in the kingdom.

There are a lot of requirements actually, becoming like a little child, taking up your cross and following him, obeying him, being born again. All of these things are in essence the same thing. They are the essence of faith in Jesus and trust in Him as Lord and Savior. They are all expressions of that desire for him to be satisfied in him for all that you need.

My notes from listening to a sermon entitled “Joy Recovered” by John Piper

Memory Verses

Posted by: David Carroll

I have been memorizing scripture for more than twelve years now on a regular basis. Most of the time it has been part of a small group accountability effort. I cannot overestimate the value of memorizing scripture for the impact it will have on your walk with God. It affects so many areas of the Christian life to have a verse ready for any situation, witnessing, counseling, meditation, encouragement and fighting sin.

I wrote a Pocket PC application to help me organize and practice the memorization process a number of years ago. And of course it still works like a charm. However, I rarely if ever carry it now since I use a Windows Mobile Smartphone which handles all of my email and contacts better than the Pocket PC did. But the SmartPhone interface is not conducive for scripture practice because of the keyboard and small screen.

So I had the idea of putting together a web-based version similar to my previous incarnations of the Verse Memorization program. I just have the basics of it working and there are a few bugs yet. The look and feel of it really need a lot of work but it is usable. Still to do are the ability to modify the categories and add new verses. But I have a huge database already of several hundred verses that should be enough to get me back started practicing them as a part of my daily disciplines.

You are welcome to give it a try yourself. Click on the “Verse” menu item above and you will be taken to an initial page of verses laid out in a table. There is a dropdown box to choose one of my own crazily organized categories to change the verses selected. Then find a verse you want to practice and click the “Practice” hyperlink. That will give you a modal dialog box with the rest of the instructions there. Words that start with “quotation marks” do not work like they are supposed to yet.

Update 2/6/2006 1:50PM : I fixed a couple of bugs and dressed up the look a bit.

Another Update 2/6/2006 11:59PM : I noticed the the instructions on the practice dialog page did not tell you that you could press the spacebar when ever you get stuck on a word. In fact pressing the spacebar will one word at a time complete the whole verse for you. I corrected the instructions.

The Stages of Eternal Life

Posted by: David Carroll

I was listening to another Piper Sermon this morning and I knew I needed write this down and study it and make it part of my own understanding to share with others. I listen to Piper sermons devotionally because his words draw me to Christ in a tearful, making me love so much more, and that is such a good thing.

But there is more to the motivation for writing these particular notes. Piper is a Calvinist and I am maybe a three point Calvinist. So in the intramural debate between Christians on this subject we would be on opposite teams but at the same school. What I heard in this Sermon was a list of the Stages of progression to Eternal Life. And these stages necessarily include how a person gets Eternal Life in the first place. Everything he said, I could agree with completely even given my three point Calvinist stance. (I don't like using that term to describe me but it makes my point most plainly in this context.)

Stage 1. Eternal life is in Christ.

John 1:4
In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

John 14:6
Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life."

If we are going to find Eternal Life, we must look to Christ and find it in Him.

Stage 2. Eternal life comes to us through the word of Christ.

John 6:68
(Peter talking to Jesus) "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life"

John 1:1,14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God ... and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us

We can only know about Eternal Life through the words of Christ, and what he taught.

Stage 3. In the hearing of the words of eternal life, God draws people to Christ.

John 6:44
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him

This is the wooing and drawing of God, without which no one would by nature choose Him.

John 5:40
But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

Some will resist this wooing even though they have heard the words.
God must give you a measure of faith to be able to see Jesus and who He really is.
Is that regeneration, or we still talking about God's drawing, beckoning people?

Stage 4. We receive eternal life through believing in Christ.

When we hear the words of life, and use that measure of faith that God has given us to act on God's drawing power, and believe in Jesus, we receive him into our lives and with him we receive eternal life, because he is eternal life.

John 15:5 (NKJV)
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

It is the vine that has the sap of life which can course through the branches giving them life. If the branches are not attached to the vine, they are dead.

Stage 5. In believing we have eternal life NOW, not just in the future.

John 5:24 (NKJV)
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

This is not a future event but an event that occurs at the moment of hearing Jesus' Word and believing it. In the above verse, both words that speak of possessing eternal life and passing into life are present tense not future!

Stage 6. This eternal life is a personal relationship with God the Father and God the Son.

John 17:3 (NKJV)
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Eternal Life is not an insurance policy against death and hell. Eternal Life is all about knowing God and Jesus intimately. And that does not happen in an instant. It will take an eternity to know the fullness of God.

Stage 7. Eternal life is not interrupted at death.

John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.

Stage 8. Eternal life will be made complete when our bodies are raised from the dead and reunited with our spirits.

John 6:40 (NKJV)
And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

There is a period of time when we will not have our new ressurected bodies if we die before the rapture. We will enjoy the presence of Christ in heaven in our spiritual bodies.

Romans 8:23 (NKJV)
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

We will eagerly wait in heaven for that day when we are reunited with out perfected ressurected bodies.

Stage 9. Eternal life will last for ever and ever.

Have you ever worried about getting bored in heaven? Don't worry, it will take an eternity to discover all the beauty, majesty, wonder, and splendor of God and all that He is. And it will take an eternity to fully grasp the depth and height and width and breadth of God's Love.

Emerging Church's McLaren dissappoints on the homosexual question

Posted by: David Carroll

I don’t want to pick on homosexuals for their particular sin. I have plenty of my own sins that although different, nonetheless make me a sinner. The big difference would be my remorse for my own sin since I do know that they are indeed sins. For the homosexual activist, their conduct is not sin. I think that is the big dividing line. After all, to repent means to have a change of mind toward agreement with God.

I’ve been blogging a post from time to time expressing my curiosity with the emerging church. Brian McLaren, the apparent senior leader for the emerging movement, writes in his own blog: (whole post here)

Frankly, many of us don't know what we should think about homosexuality. We've heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say "it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us." That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren't sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.

“No position has yet won our confidence?” what about the position of scripture which is clear as a bell. This sort of accommodation of current culture without speaking the truth in love seems to be false teaching to me.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

The motive of answered prayer

Posted by: David Carroll

PrayerI have been praying for my own healing, imploring, asking, claiming promises. I hurt and I ask for God to remove the hurt. I need and I ask God to supply the need. I want and I ask God to make me happy. I work and I ask God to make me successful. I share my faith with another and I ask God to give the increase. I hear about others who need prayer and I intercede for them.

A couple of entries ago I spoke of Don Whitney and asked that you pray for his battle with cancer of the colon. Keeping up with his blog, I was very encouraged that he was able to preach last Sunday night. I am asking in a similar way that I be able to teach this Wednesday night. In the meantime, I’ve down-loaded some of his sermons on his site to listen to.

One of the sermons I listened to was called “The Motive Needed for Answered Prayer.” I believe his message will have and already has had a profound impact on my prayer life. Using scripture to make his argument, he concludes that the chief motive for our praying to God for anything should be to glorify Him and His name. That means praying like this. Lord I am asking that you heal me of my current affliction so that your name might be glorified. But If your name would be more glorified by not healing me, then that is what I desire. That’s how Jesus prayed in his darkest moment in the garden of Gethsemane hours before he was tortured and crucified. But Jesus taught us to always be concerned with “Hallowing” God’s name first and foremost.

Psalm 37:3-4 (NKJV)

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.    

This has always been one of my favorite memory verses but I never have tied that delighting myself in the Lord was in essence the same thing as wanting to see Him glorified. That is God’s highest motive and desire that He be glorified among the people.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV)

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us that "man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever." For me, these two scriptures form the basis of statement. So how do I tie this in to a prayer life that desires God’s glory first and foremost above all my requests? I think Andrew Murray answers this well in his book “With Christ in the School of Prayer”

Desire for the glory of the Father is not something we can arouse and present to our Lord when we prepare ourselves to pray. Only when the whole life in all its parts is given up to God's glory can we really pray to Christ's glory, too. "Do all to the glory of God," and "Ask all to the glory of God." These twin commands are inseparable. Obedience to the former is the secret of grace for the latter. Living for the glory of God is the condition of the prayers that Jesus can answer.

Andrew Murray

Added a new Devotional Entry

Posted by: David Carroll

Just added a new entry in the Devotional Section: The Protoevangelium (First Gospel)

Pray for John Piper

Posted by: David Carroll

I am still catching up on my blog reading and just now found out that John Piper has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will have a radical prostatectomy (complete removal of the prostate) in early February. Again, I find it uplifting spiritually as with Don Whitney below, to see the reaction of a particularly Godly man to such news. (HT: Justin Taylor)

Piper wrote a letter to his church of which I am only going to quote the second half which is the half that shows the sweet and Godly attitude of his complete trust in Christ.

This news has, of course, been good for me. The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness. The news of cancer has a wonderfully blasting effect on both. I thank God for that. The times with Christ in these days have been unusually sweet.

For example, is there anything greater to hear and believe in the bottom of your heart than this: “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)?

God has designed this trial for my good and for your good. You can see this in 2 Corinthians 1:9, “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” And in 2 Corinthians 1:4-6, “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God . . . If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation.”

So I am praying: “Lord, for your great glory, 1) don’t let me miss any of the sanctifying blessings that you have for me in this experience; 2) don’t let the church miss any of the sanctifying blessings that you have for us in this; 3) grant that the surgery be successful in removing cancer and sparing important nerves; 4) grant that this light and momentary trial would work to spread a passion for your supremacy for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ; 5) may Noël and all close to me be given great peace—and all of this through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.” I hope God will lead you to pray in a similar way

See, If you are like me, you are already smiling and uplifted in confidence in our Lord because of this man’s scripture saturated prayer.

I want to quote from a scripture he referred to only in a glancing way because it has an important impact on my present situation.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I have been blogging about my affliction but I want you to know, it is light and it is just for a moment and everything else about this passage is true for me right now.

Devotion Section

Posted by: David Carroll

I have been reworking the devotion section of my site. As you may know, I started this Blog as a way of reading through the Bible in one year and staying accountable to my students for the commitment by blogging a devotional on something I read each day. I did 324 devotions that year so I fell a bit short but enough for a good start on an entire year's worth of bible devotions. So to complete the year, I need to do another 41 devotions. I've got the setup almost like I want it. So far there are place taker devotions titled "New Devotion" scattered throughout where I failed to post back in 2003. So I'll be working on New Devotions to fill in the gaps from time to time. My goal is to get far enough ahead so that someone could get started on reading the Bible through in a year (you don’t have to start on January 1)

So today I wrote the first devotion of the missing ones: A very good place to start. You can also click on the Reading Plan Button to see how that works too. It has a table of links that take you to Bible Gateway.com to present you with the four sections of scripture you are to read each day.

Later, I’ll post some more about how to use the devotion section or make it more intuitive at the same time.