Thursday, December 04, 2008

David Allen Answers Questions

Today I got to go listen to David Allen field some questions from students over at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the fellow who falsely labels Dr. James White a hyper-Calvinist, and that accusation, along with other statements he made at the recent John 3:16 Conference, have caused all sorts of questions to be raised. He was gracious enough to allow studens to ask him those questions and he attempted to answer them. He was very gracious, humble, and charitable. I was trying to take notes, and sometimes when a person was asking a question, I could not figure out what the question was, because they were so convoluted with the "back story" to their questions. So I give him credit for trying to answer questions in which it was hard to figure out what the question actually was. I think only one questioner was not a Calvinist, so it was mostly Reformed folk who showed up. But, despite his charity, I must say that in the end, he gave a lot of double talk. Most of the questions had to do with his rather uncharitable past comments about Calvinists, and so the students were wondering how he reconciled that with his otherwise "can't we all just get along" attitude. And I could never really figure out his answers, because they came from both sides of his mouth. A step towards 5-point Calvinism is a step away from the gospel, but there is room for them in the SBC. How does that work out? Well...I couldn't tell from his answers.

Other thoughts, collected from my notes.

He told the story of town in which there was a non-Calvinist SBC church in the same area as two Calvinist SBC churches, and that the Calvinists were telling people at the first church that they should leave that church because it wasn't preaching the full gospel. Dr. Allen says this is wrong. Or, as I interpreted it, it is wrong to warn people to flee from a burning building. A student asked if such a nasty tactic by those Calvinists was any different than Dr. Allen's saying that a step toward 5-point Calvinism is a step away from the gospel. His answer is that it's not the same. We can all claim that another view-point is wrong (as Dr. Allen is doing), but it is wrong to tell people to leave the churches where that wrong view-point is being preached. Or, again in my interpretation, it is okay to tell people that their building is on fire, but it is wrong to warn them to escape from it. All this just amounts to double-talk to me.

Dr. Allen, while deploring the fact that many of his fellow non-Calvinists falsely equate 5-point Calvinism with hyper-Calvinism (they are not the same, he rightly says), he does point out that one cannot become a hyper-Calvinist without first being a 5-pointer. The one thing that links 5-pointers with hypers is the belief in limited atonement. And history has shown that hypers started out as regular 5-pointers. So a student said that hey, this can go the other way, too. You can't be a Univeralist without first being a non-Calvinist. The one thing that links regular non-Calvinists with Universalists is the belief in unlimited atonement. History has shown that all Universalists started out as non-Calvinists, and history has shown that there have been a lot more Universalists than hyper-Calvinists. So that nullifies Dr. Allen's silly point. No, Dr. Allen says, it doesn't because that's not really the same thing or something...I don't know...blah blah blah double talk. It's okay for him to make certain types of arguments, but not for Calvinists to do the same.

One more thing. You may have noticed that I have kept saying "non-Calvinist" rather than "Arminian". That is because David Allen says that he is not an Arminian. But he's not a Calvinist either. Fine. Though I wonder how it is that a "4-point Calvinist" is a "classical/moderate Calvinist" while a 4-point Arminian is not an Arminian at all. Just wondering.

Unfortunately, there was no real biblical discussion because most of the questions were of a "don't you think your comments are mean?" nature. So not really questions of biblical interpretation, you see.

But then again, if you have listened to David Allen's presentation at the John 3:16 conference, then you know there wasn't a lot of biblical discussion there, either.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sola Conference and Other Random Ramblings

Greetings, young and old. I am excited to learn that there is an annual conference held in the DFW area that talks about the Reformation "solas", and that the next one (in February 2009) will be featuring Dr. Stephen Lawson and Dr. James White. And it's free! So register now and be prepared to hear good stuff! I have met and listened to both men speak before (and I have their autographs of course), and I look forward to seeing them again. Dr. Lawson is a great preacher in the vein of John MacArthur, and Dr. White is probably the greatest theologian that Reformed Baptists have. Read all about it at

The wife and I seem to be getting sick. Sinus pressure and pain, sore throat, drainage, that sort of thing. And just in time for the busiest week ever for retail! Oh, the pain, the pain.

I really want a Gibson Les Paul robot guitar (the wine red one) and a Digitech RP500. Nay, I need them. For the Lord's work.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Autograph for the Day - John Piper

If you have read the last couple of posts, then you will see how today's entry needs no explanation. By the way, the book that was signed, Spectacular Sins, is a great book and you all should read it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Back from Desiring God

Well, the Desiring God conference (see last blog post) went great. It was a real blessing. You know how lots of times most people refer to their church service schedule as "worship, and then the sermon", as if worship only consisted in singing songs and not in hearing the living and active Word of God preached? Well, as you can tell from the way I worded that last sentence, I hate that false dichotomy. It is all worship. There is worship in the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and then there is the worship of hearing the preaching of God's Word. Anyway, I say all of this because listening to John Piper's sermons this weekend in Austin was a very worshipful experience. As he talked about Job's suffering and God's sovereignty over all things, there were so many glorious truths brought out that made my soul shout within me "Thank you, Lord! Thank you for your mercy! Thank you for being so valuable! Thank you for your wisdom!"

All of the sessions from the conference are already available at in written, audio, and video formats. Check them out! It is all very encouraging to the soul.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Getting Ready for Desiring God

Well, I'm excited as all get out because soon and very soon I will be leaving for Austin to go the the regional Desiring God conference. John Piper will be speaking on "Job: When the Righteous Suffer", which is a topic very near and dear to my heart. When it comes to Christians suffering from afflictions and depression and so forth, John Piper is the best at shepherding hearts. Other good conservative Christians either never address the topic in too much depth, or they generally chalk it up to faithlessness or unbelief. But not Piper. He fully recognizes the reality of the suffering of the righteous. He can reprove and rebuke when necessary, but he also knows that it is not always necessary. And the neat thing is that John Piper also seems to be the most joyous person there is! He is so joyful and has marked his ministry on joy, yet he also understands suffering so well. I am very excited about this conference.

I do pray, as we prepare to leave, that God will keep my focus on Him as my joy and as the only focus of my worship, and that I am not a man-worshipper. I am very excited about seeing John Piper in person, in a celebrity sort of way. I do not think that in itself there is anything wrong with that. But it can be very easy to focus my excitement on Piper himself, and not on the word of God that Piper will be speaking. Keep my heart pure, Lord.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cigar Review: CAO America: Potomac

I just had a cigar so good that I had to write about it. I used to be a regular cigar smoker but that sort of fell by the wayside. I have been trying to get back into the godly habit by having a cigar every month or so. And I just had a great one. It is a new cigar from CAO called America. The particular one I got was the Potomac, their name for the America that is 5 x 56 in size.

The look of this cigar is what made me want it. It is really neat looking. It is made with two different colored wrappers. The main one is a dark brown, but then there is a layering of a light brown that spirals around it. Just really neat. Just see the attached picture.

Now, the look alone wasn't the determining factor. If it had been a neat looking Helix, for example (which tastes terrible), I wouldn't have purchased it. But I like CAO and have never had a bad CAO cigar. But the neat look combined with the trustworthy name cinched the deal for me. And the price wasn't bad at all. I don't remember how much I paid, but I am sure it was less than $7. Maybe around $6. CAO has always been good on price. Other brands that taste as good are often much more expensive.

The CAO website describes this cigar as full-bodied. I've never been good at determining that sort of thing myself, because it is a rather subjective determination, but I will go with that. It was full-bodied (certainly full of flavor!) but it didn't make me sick to my stomach, as full-bodied cigars often do, especially if I haven't smoked any cigars in a while, which is the case now. But the flavor! Oh wow! It was very cedary and almost sweet. In fact, when the wind would blow the smoke back in my face, I thought it smelled like Drew Estate's Kahlua cigars. There was no harshness or bitterness to it at all. You know how good smelling things often smell better than they taste? For instance, I put sugar in my coffee to make it taste the way it smells. Candles taste terrible. And sometimes cigars just don't taste as great as they smell. But this tasted great in every way. Not a negative drop of smoke touched my tongue. And if you are patient and skinny-fingered enough to let it burn to the last half-inch, then you get the best taste. Pure, straight-on flavor. My my my.

I recommend that you buy yourselves a box of these cigars, invite me over and give me some, and we can smoke and talk theology. That is, after, what Heaven will be like.

Thank you.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Where Have I Been?

I've been in internet limbo. Our apartment was robbed back at the beginning of June, and our computer was one of the things taken. But today I got it back, praise the Lord! So I'm back online. Yay.

Say, for you techie readers out there...Apparently the thief deleted all of my documents and pictures from my computer. I know that unless new stuff hasn't already been saved onto wherever those things were saved then they are still there. I have seen some programs online that allow you to recover those things, but they cost money and the free demos only allow you to restore files so small as to be useless demos. Do any of you know how I can restore anything that may still remain for free?

I will say that none of my music was erased and I am very glad for that because there was a lot of money and time put into that.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Autograph for the Day - Fred Malone

I met Fred Malone at one of the Southwest Founders Conferences. He was very nice and nicely autographed my copy of his excellent book on baptism. Paedobaptists hate this book and spew forth much vitriol against it without ever actually tackling the arguments. I think it's out of print now, but buy it if you can. You can't have mine, though.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Autograph for the Day - Ken Gentry

Nothing fancy about this. I ordered the excellent book God Gave Wine by Ken Gentry from his website so he signed it. Nothing personal. Good book, though.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Autograph for the Day - John MacArthur

I recently got to see John MacArthur preach here in the Arlington area. His sermons was a condensed version of his "Tale of Two Sons" sermon series, the book of which he was promoting. It was awesome. This man is a Preacher. My wife said it was the best sermon she'd heard in a long time. Anyway, the esteemed Dr. MacArthur signed my John MacArthur study Bible (in a way that makes it seem not like a blasphemous autograph in a Bible). Take a look!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Review of In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life by Sinclair B. Ferguson

In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life by Sinclair B. Ferguson, published by Reformation Trust (Lake Mary, FL: 2007), is a collection of articles originally published in Table talk and Eternity Magazine. The central theme of these articles is, obviously, our Lord Jesus Christ. I could perhaps title this review as Meeting Christ…Again, because this book introduces us to Jesus all over again. The chapters are short, just about four pages each, and are rather introductory level, but they tell us words about Christ that we need to be reminded of over and over again, no matter how far along we are in our Christian development. The chapters are arranged in six sections, each dealing with a different aspect of Christology.

The first section, titled “The Word Became Flesh” deals with the questions of the deity and humanity of Christ, and of His role as servant and conqueror. Due to the shortness of the chapters, you will not find an exhaustive apologetic defending the deity of Christ, or like issues, but you will be provided with many Scripture references to support the orthodox position, which Ferguson takes. Ferguson briefly answers the question of why Jesus had to be a man. Short as the answer is, it is fully Scriptural and satisfying. He does not engage in philosophical speculation but always refers the reader back to the Scriptures. This section serves as an excellent Biblical introduction of just who Jesus really is.

Part two, “The Heart of the Matter” goes from telling us Who Christ is in an introductory manner to telling us what He has done. An overview of the book of Romans explains reconciliation and justification in very clear, well-defined terms, showing how all of it is through Christ alone. Ferguson walks us through Hebrews, pointing out its Christ-glorifying messages on how Jesus is central in the history of redemption. Exposition is given on Jesus’ roles as High Priest and King.

“The Spirit of Christ,“ the third section, moves to a discussion of the Holy Spirit, but in keeping with the Christological focus of the book, ties the Spirit to Christ. Dr. Ferguson explains about the Holy Spirit’s relation to Christ and how the Spirit is given from Christ. He also tells us why knowing about such things matters. He says, “it implies that Jesus bore the Spirit throughout His life in order to give us the same Spirit He bore. The Spirit He gives to us is the very same Spirit who accompanied and sustained our Lord Jesus throughout the whole of His ministry” (p. 78). In this section, we learn about revival and spiritual gifts, all the while keeping the focus on Jesus.

In part four, we are shown “The Privileges of Grace”. We learn of our union with Christ, and of the oft-neglected but very sweet doctrine of our adoptions as sons of God and co-heirs with Christ. We are pointed to Christ’s words on the sovereign and monergistic work of God in regenerating our hearts. Ferguson teaches us of Jesus’ fulfillment and perfection of all the Old Testament types and shadows. He instructs us on the nature and work of faith, and finally, of our total assurance which can only be gained by trusting in Christ alone.

Part five, “A Life of Wisdom,” begins to look more at our practice as Christians. Part of Biblical wisdom is to “be what we are”, that is, to live according to our professions and to be what God has turned us into. Ferguson shows us from the Bible how we are to live, to be discerning, and he tells us about our liberty in Christ, all of which are very practical issues. This section ends with an article on contentment, which is where wisdom leads us.

Finally, in section six, “Faithful to the End”, Ferguson continues with more practical articles on our lives with Christ. I hate to use the word “practical” because all of the Bible is practical. But I use it in the technical sense of “pertaining to our actual practice”. I am digressing from the summary a little bit to ride my own hobby-horse here, but I really, really refuse to say that any part of the Bible is not “relevant”. I hate that word. And I’m sure Dr. Ferguson does as well, because he shows how doctrine is important to all of life. I don’t know if that was his intention in what I’m referring to, but it came through nonetheless. After speaking of Satan’s tendency to whisper to us that God doesn’t really love us after all, he writes, “What is our defense? Here is Paul’s: ‘God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Rom. 5:8). Let the cross silence the Devil’s slanders and convince you of the wonder of God’s love” (p. 199). The cross is so important for every reason. We must not think that the cross is just an elementary level topic and that we move on from there to bigger and better doctrines like how to get healthy and wealthy. We must always come back to the cross. Elsewhere in this section, Ferguson writes, “Only an understanding of how the gospel method works can provide an adequate foundation and pattern for dealing with sin” (p. 218), and “when we understand the ’glorious exchange’ principle of the gospel of grace, then we begin to make some real advances in holiness” (p. 221). So we see that all doctrine is practical. And thus ends my digression. Back to the book (though my digression is a logical conclusion after reading this excellent work, so I wasn’t straying too off-topic). Ferguson writes of the place of suffering for Christ, of the need for leaders to first be servants, and the nature of temptation. In a chapter on apostasy (specifically dealing with the apostasy passages in the book of Hebrews) Ferguson miraculously manages to say in just a couple pages what it takes most people to say in whole volumes. Here is a writer who knows how to choose his words carefully. There are no wasted phrases here; all is of benefit to the reader.

The book concludes with Sinclair Ferguson’s account of a deceased friend of his who may or may not have inspired the title of this book with his life, which was lived in Christ alone. Thus Ferguson ends this excellent book with an encouragement to live our lives in Christ alone, in light of all that has been said.

For students of the Reformation, the title of this book is immediately recognized as being one of the five sola slogans, but this book is about more than just that one. All of the solas run throughout this work, and I would imagine that this was not intentional on Ferguson’s part, but was just a natural byproduct of him being so thoroughly biblical in thought. Where we glory in Christ alone, we must necessarily glory in God alone. Much of the book is given over to grace and faith. And sola Scriptura is seen in Ferguson’s constant use of and reliance on Scripture. And when speaking on mortification of sin, he writes, “ The first thing to do is to turn to the Scriptures. Yes, turn to John Owen (never a bad idea!) or to some other counselor dead or alive. But remember that we have not been left only to good human resources in this area. We need to be taught from ‘the mouth of God’ if the principles we are learning to apply are to carry with them both the authority of God and the promise of God to make them work” (p. 217). I would recommend that you read this book with the Bible in one hand so that you can look up and meditate upon all the references that he provides. I am sure that this will be a rewarding experience as you are reminded from Scripture of the gloriousness of Christ.

Speaking of that, this book would be excellent for a small group study, as I have recommended to my own Bible study group. A whole evening could easily be spent examining and discussing all of the Bible passages found in just one chapter.

The chapters of the book often end in applicatory questions or statements that cause the reader to think about what he has just read and apply it to himself. And these aren’t just missiles sent into the consciences of those outside “our camp.” These were written for Reformed audiences, so the questions zing at us. For instance: “Do you know the Christ of the Gospels? Or have you fallen into the trap to which Christians (especially, perhaps, Reformed Christians) who love doctrine and systematic theology are sometimes susceptible (unlike John Calvin, it should be said): fascination with dogmatic formula at the expense of love for the Savior’s person?” (p.67). This isn’t just choir preaching.

I can’t really think of anything negative to say. I found nothing in the theology to disagree with. The writing style is very interesting and engaging, much the way R. C. Sproul speaks. If I were to offer any negative criticisms, I guess it would be that the chapters are just too short. Now I understand that this was intentional, as the chapters were originally just little magazine articles. Nevertheless, perhaps a bibliography at the end to lead the reader to more literature on the topics talked about would be very useful. Ferguson whet my appetite for more on just about everything he wrote about. So yes, I would ask for some sort of recommended reading list. Also, this book uses end-notes instead of footnotes, and I hate that. But I guess that is the publisher’s fault and not the author’s.

In all, I must say, what an excellent book! I am now eager to look for other works written by Ferguson, as this was my first substantial exposure to him. As Dr. Ferguson says of the atonement, so all of this book “is theology of the most exalted and mind-stunning nature” (p. 55).

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Heresy Row

There is a certain part of Arlington that I used to live in that I noticed had more than its share of heretical congregations in a very small area. I present a map for you here.

1 = Unity church
2 = Unitarian
3 = Christian Science
4 = Mormon

There is also a Russellite Kingdom hall about a mile north of this map. And there is a Campbellite church of Christ in amongst the three-in-a-row, and you can consider them as part of the heretical mix, too, if you like. Fun, huh? Maybe it's some sort of zoning law. Cults have to stay in a certain area, or something. huh.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Notes to Galatians 1:6-10

I now continue with my paraphrased notes to the book of Galatians. Again, these are gathered from Luther, Calvin, Gill, and MacArthur, with no attempt to say who said what since most of the time they said the same thing. Whoopee.

Galatians 1:6-10

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.


that you are so quickly
That which takes long to build may be quickly undone.

deserting him
May be Christ or the Father. Luther prefers “Christ.”

a different gospel
The devil never calls his work error. He disguises it as truth. It is likely that the Judaizers said that Paul did not give the whole gospel and they were teaching the rest of it.


not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
The Judaizers were obviously not denying the gospel openly, but were subtly adding to it, which destroys it. This is more dangerous. Anything other than faith alone is a false gospel. Adding works is a perversion of the gospel. It is all Christ or nothing.


But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

We are all subject to the Word of God. Paul would rather curse himself, his co-workers, and the angels than let the gospel be overthrown. How should the false teachers escape the curse of God if even the angels would not?


now I say again:
He repeats this for the more solemn confirmation of it.

If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
If you do not accept the gospel, you will be cursed. The false teachers should be left to the judgment of God.


For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?
Paul does not please men with his doctrine of depravity. He preaches to please God and ascribe to Him glory.

Or am I trying to please man?
By teaching the works of man, the false teachers please man.

If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Paul does not please man as he did before conversion. He was obviously not pleasing to the non-Christians who were persecuting him. To please man and be a servant of Christ is incompatible.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Personal Testimony

Lately I've been thinking a lot of my "personal testimony", or the story of how I first came to Christ. Upon becoming Reformed, the idea of testimony has changed some. So instead of thinking of it all as my own subjective experience, I prefer now to talk about the objective reality of what happened some 2000 years ago in Israel. My testimony is that second person of the Trinity, very God, came down in human flesh and lived the perfect life I could not live, and paid the punishment of sin that I deserved. But I know that when you ask me for my personal testimony, you are already assuming that what I just said is true, so you want to know of the specific time in my life when the benefits of that death of Christ were applied to me.

Well, that is tricky, because I'm not really sure. I will give you the facts as I remember them. They are few. I am not sure exactly how they all piece together. I'm just saying what I know.

I will start of by saying that my parents were (and are) good and Godly parents. My father was a preacher, and the message of the need for salvation and the way of salvation through Christ alone was always preached, not only in the church, but in our home, too. My parents never assumed that us kids were saved by virtue of being their children. They always prayed for our salvation and preached about salvation to us.

Now then. We lived in Lubbock, TX, so I would have been five or younger. I recall that my sister was vacuuming and that she yelled at me for a reason that I do not remember, but I do remember thinking at the time that it was a very stupid reason, and so I got angry. So I went off into my bedroom alone to fume and be angry, and out of nowhere the thought popped into my head that I needed to pray to God for forgiveness of my sins and for Jesus to be my Savior.

And that's all I remember, really. I don't know if I told my parents about it. I don't think so, but probably not out of any embarrassment or anything like that. When I was a kid, I just kind of thought that my parents knew everything, whether I told them something or not, so I probably thought that they just knew I was a Christian now. But I don't really know. I was baptized when I was eight years old, so it took me that long to make a public profession of my faith.

Now when you look at some of these facts: that I was so young, that the day and time is not emblazoned in my memory as if a "Damascus Road" experience had happened to me, and that it took me at least three years to submit to baptism--you add all these up, and you may think that maybe I wasn't saved at all. I have often thought about this. I have decided two things. First, I do think that God saved me at that time. Secondly, even if that isn't the time that I was saved, I know I am saved now. And that is the important thing. I may not know when true faith first was implanted into my heart, but I know I have it now.

For many people, that would be the end of the personal testimony. But it is not for me. I think my testimony is more than just the account of when I was born again and first exercised faith. My testimony includes all of the highs and lows of sanctification along the way. I probably think this way because my testimony is rather short and unexciting (though it is exciting to me that God saved me!) But you know what I mean. I wasn't in a prison cell, strung out on drugs, with a bunch of illegitimate children. I was a little kid. A sinner, a sinning little kid. But I didn't have as many years to accumulate sins as a person who isn't converted until later in life. But that doesn't matter, because sin is sin. Sin against an infinite God is infinitely wicked, so I was deserving of infinite punishment. My salvation was just as miraculous as the salvation of a prisoner on death row.

But I have run out of time for now, so I will give the rest of my autobiography of faith at a later date.

Monday, February 25, 2008

More Photos of Our Covenant Children

This is Isabella chatting in #prosapologian, Home of the Most Unique Christian Fellowship on Line Anywhere!
Isabella is getting into vigorous debate on #prosapologian.
Here is Lilly, as sad as can be that she has to wear the halo thing until her stitches from her recent spaying are removed.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I Think You'll Like This One...

This is a picture of me as a child, dressed up in my Ghostbuster gear. Except for the t-shirt and waiting-for-a-flood sweatpants, which is how I always dressed.

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Home Town Exploded Today

The place that I lived in longer than any other place would be Big Spring, TX. I think the population is around 23,000. It's not very big, it is economically depressed, and really is a lame place to live. Anyway, they have a big oil refinery there, and it exploded today. Only 4 people were injured, but it was big. People all over town and even in towns many miles away heard and/or felt the explosion. It even made national news! We're famous now!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Watch and Discuss

Check this out. It is a King James only preacher. But don't let that deter you from watching this video. You will laugh. You will cry. You will hurl. It will generate discussion. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

DVD Giveaway is offering another DVD giveaway contest. If you enter the contest through the link below, it will automatically re-enter me! So do us both a favor by entering the contest by clicking the link below. Thank you!

February Giveaway

Monday, February 11, 2008

Notes to Galatians 1:1-5

As I mentioned a few days ago, my Bible study group has started an examination of Paul's letter to the Galatians. In preparation for these studies, I have been reading four commentaries on Galatians. These are by Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Gill, and John MacArthur. I have been taking notes as I read. I present the fruit of my notetaking here. Unless I use direct quotes, I have not written down who says what. That is mostly because most of the time they are all saying the same thing, so my paraphrases speak for more than one of them. Sometimes I do use direct quotes because it just seemed better than to come up with a paraphrase. There will be a repetitive feel to this because, as I said, most of the time they all say pretty much the same thing. But I just wanted to present all that I noted. Here we go.

Galatians 1:1-5

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.


Paul, an apostle—Paul asserts his apostleship, which was probably under attack by the false teachers. They were apparently insinuating that Paul was not a true apostle. Paul’s purpose in declaring his apostleship is to enforce his doctrine.

not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—Paul’s apostleship rests on a higher title than the calling of man. It was given to him by the Father and the risen and exalted Christ, Who gives us righteousness and victory. The same God Who raised Christ from the dead commanded Paul to make known that exertion of His power.


and all the brothers who are with me,
Paul writes not on his own, but on behalf of the brethren with him. He was not alone in his defense of the gospel. Perhaps the concurrence of so many brethren might soften the Galatians to instruction.

To the churches of Galatia:
Though false teachers were present, he still refers to the “churches” of Galatia--there were still godly men there. Though swerving from the faith, they were still honored with the name of “churches”. From this we learn that we must not imagine that churches will be perfect.


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Only God gives grace and peace, which comes not through the law, which only condemns us. Jesus is the only way to God, grace, and peace. He is very God. MacArthur writes, “Since it offered no grace and provided no peace, the law system being taught by the lying Judaizers is attacked even in this simple greeting.” Without Christ, neither grace, nor any real prosperity, can be obtained.


who gave himself for our sins

No merit of ours is enough to save us. Only the blood of Christ is sufficient, and so sufficient that it covers the worst of sinners. In Christ alone, atonement for sin and perfect righteousness must be sought. MacArthur: “The heart of the gospel is Christ’s willing sacrifice of Himself for our sins.” Jesus did not give possessions, but Himself.

to deliver us from the present evil age,
All of our good works cannot save us out of this evil world. Only God can do that, praise be to Him. MacArthur: “Jesus’ death was a rescue operation.” Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice to save His people from the damning power of this world. The “world” refers to men separated from the kingdom of God and the grace of Christ. Christ died for our sins, in order to redeem us from the world.

according to the will of our God
This salvation is of God’s will, not our own free will. It is God Who mercifully willed this. MacArthur: “Salvation is thus removed from the will of man and is buried deep in the sovereign decree of God (John 1:12-13).” The original fountain of grace is the purpose of God, not anything in us or done by us.

and Father,
He is our Father through Christ.


to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
We should always give thanks to God when speaking of Him. Every memory of the mercy of God ought to cause us to ascribe to Him glory. Paul was writing this epistle to acknowledge that God is worthy of glory forevermore. The “to whom” that we give glory is both the Father and Christ.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

New Blogger

My brother-in-law has just started a blog, so please go visit it at

What joy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An Introduction to Galatians

In the Bible study group that I attend, we recently started a series on Galatians. At the last meeting, I delivered an overview of the book, which I present to you now. In coming sessions we will be going through the epistle, passage by passage. To bone up for those studies, I have been reading commentaries on Galatians and taking notes. In future posts I will provide the fruit of my note-taking. In the meantime, here is my overview of Galatians.

When you read the book of Galatians, one impression that is quickly made is that Paul is angry with the Galatians. He expresses frustration with the churches in some of the other epistles, but he seems much angry when writing to the Galatians. For on thing, there are no complements in this letter as there are in his other letters. He has a brief greeting, and then gets on the business of castigating his readers. We must ask ourselves why Paul was so angry. What would get this saint so upset? The answer, as we see in 1:6-7, is that the gospel was being perverted. There is nothing more important than the gospel, which is the matter of the salvation of our souls. As Jesus asked in Matthew 16:26: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” False teachers, called Judaizers, had come into the churches of Galatia telling them that faith alone in Christ alone was not enough to be justified, but that one also had to be circumcised and follow the Old Testament ceremonial laws. This was an undoing of the gospel of grace. Paul offers some very strong statements that reveal the seriousness of this issue. We will look at four of those statements.

First, Paul says that those who would preach such a false gospel should be damned, or accursed (1:8). He would say such a thing because the gospel is a matter of life or death. Should anybody accept the false teaching of the Judaizers, they would be damned because they would be rejecting Christ alone as their salvation. It would be better, Paul is saying, that the false teachers should be damned than should the Galatians. We also see that these false teachers should be regarded as unbelievers, that they should be excommunicated from the church. Again, this is because they are teaching a soul-damning heresy.

The second strong statement that we will look at is in 3:1, where Paul refers to his readers as foolish. Strong words coming from an apostle! I would not want to be called a fool by such a great man of God. The Galatians were being foolish because they were rejecting that which is a matter of objective fact. He says, “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.” As Peter says in 2 Peter 1:16, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” But the Galatians were rejecting the facts of the gospel. They were being ignorant of gospel doctrines. Such ignorance, such foolishness, leads to the ready acceptance of heresies. We learn from this that doctrine isn’t just for theologians and preachers. It is incumbent upon all Christians to learn the doctrines of the Christian faith, or else they will be “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes“ (Ephesians 4:14). We must know what we believe and why we believe it, or else we are fools.

The third strong statement is the most shocking, for it is very graphic. After discussing the Judaizers insistence on circumcision as being necessary for salvation, Paul wishes that “those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves” (5:12)! He is saying, in essence, “You want to cut off that foreskin? I wish that you would go all the way and cut the whole thing off!” This is about the worst thing that you can say to a man. Why would Paul use such language? Because adding any works to our justification emasculates Christ. By adding to His work on the cross, it is as if we were saying that His work was insufficient. The Judaizers would agree that Christ was necessary for salvation, but not sufficient. We must add our work to His. But as Paul says in 5:2, accepting circumcision as a prerequisite for justification makes Christ valueless. What was the need for Christ to humble Himself and came in human flesh and die on the cross if we can be saved by keeping the law? We make a mockery of Christ and His death.

Finally, Paul says that those who walk after the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God (5:21). To say that anybody will not go to Heaven is a very unpopular thing to say, especially in our present day and age. After hammering home the point that justification is by faith alone in Christ alone, Paul then goes on to talk about how we ought to live in 5:13-6:10. He had been saying that good works add nothing to our salvation, but then he tells us to do good works. He says that those who live wickedly, as in the descriptions in verses 19-22, will go to hell. Is he contradicting himself? Is he undoing all that he had said before? No, he is not. He is merely showing us what a justified person looks like. We must remember the old Reformation formula: it is not that faith plus works equals salvation, but that faith equals salvation plus works. Notice that Paul says that all of the good works are fruits of the Spirit (v.22). The Spirit indwells us at the moment of our justification and afterwards--not before. The word “fruit” signifies that something comes before it. In this case, our justification precedes the fruit, the good works. But if you do not produce this fruit in your life, if instead you demonstrate that you are walking by the flesh, then that is an indication that you are not justified. For a justified person--one who is saved by faith alone and not by works--will inevitably produce good works. A lack of good works indicates a lack of faith. So Paul is not contradicting himself. He is merely showing us what a person who is justified by faith alone looks like. And those who do not look like that, he sternly reminds us, will not inherit the kingdom of God.

What can we learn from these four strong statements? First, knowing that the gospel is a matter of life or death, we should endeavor to understand it and get it straight as soon as possible. This is not an issue we could postpone until a later date because we never know when death will come for us. We must believe in Christ for salvation now. It is the number one priority of our lives.

Secondly, to avoid being foolish, we should read and meditate upon the Scriptures daily, for doing so will “make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). We need to know the doctrines that the Bible teaches and believe them.

Third, we must be careful to add nothing to the work of Christ for our justification. We must be able to always honestly give glory to God alone. I say “honestly” because no Christian would ever say that his salvation is not wholly from God, but when pressed on the details you will find that some form of human work gets squeezed in. No Christian would ever say, “My salvation was 95% God’s work and 5% mine” but their actual beliefs would suggest otherwise. Many attribute their salvation, not to the predetermined plan of God, but to their own free-will decision. This would suggest that perhaps they are smarter or more receptive to spiritual things than their neighbor who has heard the same gospel but has rejected it. This allows for pride to creep in and rob God of the glory that is rightly His. After all, John 1:13 says that those who are saved “were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Even our faith, which we exercise, is not of us, but from God: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this [your faith] is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Anything that would add to this grace of God is an affront to Him and to His Christ.

Our final application is that we should examine our lives to see if the fruits of the Spirit are present. Do we have “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (5:22-23)? If not, then we should seriously question whether or not we have placed true faith in Christ. If our lives are characterized by “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (5:19-21), then we need to repent and run to Christ in faith, trusting Him alone to save us from these sins. Living a good life and avoiding these listed sins will not save us. Only Christ can save us. But if we live wickedly then we demonstrate that our faith in Christ is not true faith. Having walked down and aisle or being a member of a church does not save you. Only faith in Christ. And having saved you, Jesus will transform your life so that you have the fruit of the Spirit. Look for this fruit in your life.

Album of the Year for 2007

Wow, it's been a whole year since I last posted. But now I'm back, baby, ready to rock and roll!

Well, 2007 over and it is time to name the album of the year. Five great albums were released this year.

Megadeth released United Abominations, which is more of Dave Mustaine's riff-writing genius. This album is in the same vein as The System Has Failed, though I don't think it is quite as good. But a great album nonetheless. Get your head banging.

Velvet Revolver put out their second CD, Libertad. The band sounds more cohesive than on their first album. The CD kicks of with "Let it Roll", a great rocker. The songs are rather eclectic, with a hidden track at the end that is good old saloon country music. Also this year, Slash released an autobiography, which is excellent. All guitar players will love it, especially. I got to see Velvet Revolver in Dallas a few months ago, as they tour for this album. A great show. That was my second time to see them, and they are great. They played "Patience" and I nearly cried. A great band. Slash is awesome. A great album.

Jonny Greenwood scored the soundtrack to the movie There Will Be Blood. I have not seen the movie, but I understand it to be one of the worst anti-Christian stereotypes of the year. Oh well. The music is great. Jonny Greenwood is a genius. It is what you might call "classical" music, chamber music. But it is very beautiful and haunting. That the guitar player from Radiohead who almost wasn't allowed in the band could turn around and write such great music is amazing. This is pretty music. Great to fall asleep to.

I really wanted this next album to be the album of the year. Unfortunately, the actual album of the year, to be revealed below, came out the same year. But a very close second place goes to The Good Life's Help Wanted Nights, the follow-up to 2004's appropriately titled Album of the Year. This is probably The Good Life's best release so far. Singer/songwriter Tim Kasher is just beautiful. Man, I wanted this to be album of the year. My only complaint is that this CD is too short. I want it to go on for hours and hours. The first song, "On the Picket Fence", I heard played live a few years ago. During a break in their sets, the band would leave the stage while frontman Tim Kasher played a few songs all by himself. Sometimes he played songs he'd just written. This was one of them. It's good to hear it again.

But The Good Life's Help Wanted Nights just didn't get to be 2007's best album. Unfortunately, some band decided to give a big middle finger to the record industry by releasing their new album in download form online for a price of the buyer's choosing. They later released the album in physical CD form, and it didn't come out in the US until January 1, 2008. So I thought of considering this a 2008 release just so The Good Life could be the winners. But that would be cheating because the music was released online, and on CD in other countries, in 2007. This band is, of course, Radiohead. In Rainbows is their 7th full-length LP, and I have been unable to stop listening to it. It is just awesome. Guitar seems a bit more prevalent on this album than on their past few, so that is pleasing to us guitar players. There is actually very little artificial drum beats (except for the first song), and more of actual drumming by Phil Selway. Thom Yorke's voice is as beautiful as ever. This is just a brilliant album. To be listened to over and over again. It is the best album of 2007. And maybe it will be the best album of 2008 as well.