Monthly Archives: November 2014

God does not care about what you do

Not in the way you think.

I had preached and posted about this a few years ago, but several conversations recently have made it seem like God’s will for me to write about God’s will again.

First off, I recommend reading Just Do Something, by Kevin DeYoung. The title almost says it all, but if you are curious, you should read it. Or you can read this review by my brother, Mark.

It seems that most Christians talk about God’s will in an unbiblical way. This is my observation (so I may be observing wrong, and this is my limited experience) of how Christians talk about God’s will: they take stories like God telling Noah to build an ark, or Gideon laying his fleece, or David getting direction through Urim and Thummim, and figure that Christians must make decisions today in similar ways.

My first challenge to this kind of thinking is to humble yourself. Stop thinking that everything is about you. Stop thinking that even your life is about you. I plan to do a few posts on this issue, but that is all I want you to think about right now. God told David to go fight the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 30. Plain and simple. If God tells you to do things in similar ways, then you are claiming to be a prophet. If you claim to be a prophet, fine. That is another discussion for another day. See how many bible-believing Christians you will fellowship with if you claim to be an authoritative prophet who gets authoritative commands from the God of all authority, the way David needed to go fight Amalek (he needed to go fight or he would be sinning).

The other problem with connecting those stories to how you make decisions is that the Bible is redemptive history in a way your life is not. God preserved Noah’s family, Israel’s army, and David’s kingship so that Jesus would be born of a virgin 2000 years ago. You are not a part of that story on that level, are you? So, please, stop thinking that God gives you direction in the way He gave Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Jesus direction in the Bible. God does not give direction in that way anymore. I say this as a continuationist. I believe God can give prophetic words on any given day. But all the direction given to His people in the Bible was to get us to the cross and resurrection. So God does not give direction like that anymore.

I promise you that freedom from the bondage of “figuring out God’s will” or “hearing God’s voice”, and in turn becoming more gospel-centered, will bring you much more joy than you ever prayed for.

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Classic Mark Dever

Marvin Olasky, of World Magazine, recently interviewed Mark Dever. Watch the interview here. I am thankful for the way the Lord has used Mark in my life. If nothing else, you should listen from the 18:30 mark. They spend about 15 minutes or so talking about the 9 marks of a healthy church.

 

Are we a holy nation?

I could be wrong, but it seems many Christians in America find spiritual identity in America. Not that they would say “to be American is to be Christian,” but they say things like, “we need to repent of homosexuality/abortion/social injustices/etc.” If you are living in unrepentant sin, then yes, repent by God’s grace. But if you are not living in unrepentant sin, please do not confuse people about who the Church is.

I could also be wrong on this, but it also seems many Christians in America think there is something inherently holy about the nation of Israel. Not that they would say “Jews will be saved regardless of whether they have faith in Christ or not,” but they say things like, “we need to keep our eyes on Israel…we need to be sure to support Israel.” Three thoughts on these two issues:

  1. There is only one “holy nation.” It is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2.9-10). Trust in Christ and God will consider you righteous and holy for all of eternity. That is the nation you want to be a part of, period.
  2. The nation of Israel is doomed. God entered into a real covenant in real history with them, called the Law of Moses. As long as a Jew chooses to remain a part of that covenant they are doomed, because the only way to be saved there is to be perfect. Jews need to get out of that covenant and enter into the New Covenant. They need to “get out” of earthly Israel and become a part of Spiritual Israel.
  3. Every other nation on earth is doomed. God earlier made a covenant with Adam (many would call the covenant of works, call it whatever you want). Ever since then, all of Adam’s descendants are “in Adam.” All human beings need to get out from under that covenant head and  get a new covenant Head. They need to “get out” of the old creation and enter a new creation.

The answer to all these issues is the Person and work of Jesus Christ. All you need to do is repent and believe in Him, and you will be saved! You will be holy! Are we a holy nation? Depends on what you mean by “we”.

Open vs Closed vs Close?

Joe Thorn wrote a series of posts several months ago about Lord’s Supper issues.  One of the issues he addressed was Open vs Closed Communion. You can read the whole post, and get a link to the entire series here.

For quick reference: open communion is the practice that allows any true believer to partake of the Supper. Close communion is the majority Baptist practice that allows only believers who have been immersed in water as a believer to the Table. Closed communion is the practice that allows only members of your own local church to partake. I hold to close communion (the second one). But all three practices are widespread; all three are viable positions; all three would want to bar a professing Christian who is living in open, unrepentant sin from the Table; all three are driven by love for God and love for brother; all three, BTW, are Baptist positions, as you have to hold to certain Baptist principles for these debates to even make sense!

I actually just want to pick a fight with the way this debate is sometimes framed. I think Joe Thorn was half-joking, but he frames open communion as if open is automatically more inviting and loving and gracious by saying, “We’re open, come on in.”  I realize these are the historical terms. But in our contemporary culture, you must understand that the world automatically thinks ‘open’ is better. It automatically demonizes any stricter position. And I cannot help but think many in the Reformed Camp try to overplay the “open” card on some things, since we are so often seen as close-minded in most things.

But on the open vs close vs closed issue, I could just as easily say I prefer biblical communion to open or closed communion. I could just as easily say I prefer narrow-road communion to wide-road communion. But I choose not to demonize other positions if I can help it. Just be careful to always try and present other views as fairly as possible.

Just for kicks: on this issue, do you, Baptist, actually think there were any un-baptized believers who took the Lord’s Supper in the Bible? Do you think God overturned the principle from Exodus 12, that only those who took the covenant sign could take the covenant meal?

So yes, we’re open! Come on in! Anyone– and I mean anyone– who is baptized as a believer can partake!