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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Monday, October 31, 2005

Reformation Day - Sola Scriptura

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional

Verses for the Day

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Proverbs 30:5-6
Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Romans 1:16-17
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

Daily Scripture Reading - Psalm 19

Puritan Catechism
Question #4 - What is God?

Devotional Thoughts

“The Protestant Reformation: Where Is It Today?”

Reformed Theology has been defined by the great Presbyterian pastor James Boice as “theology solidly based on the Bible itself.” He goes on to say:

Reformed Christians hold to the doctrines characteristic of all Christians, including the Trinity, the true deity and true humanity of Jesus Christ, the necessity of Jesus’ atonement for sin, the church as a divinely ordained institution, the inspiration of the Bible. The requirement that Christians live moral lives, and the resurrection of the body. They hold other doctrines in common with evangelical Christians, such as justification by faith alone, the need for the new birth, the personal and visible return of Jesus Christ, and the Great Commission.

But the specifics, the signature beliefs of those who are reformed in their theology, he defined as the commitment to the doctrine of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, the Doctrines of Grace, and the cultural mandate to work to bring people to Jesus Christ the Lord.

Many others have rightly summarized the great truths and foundation of the reformation as the Five Solas. Sola, the Latin word for alone, is a distinctive term in Reformed Theology.

Our church and ministry, in the reformed tradition, agrees with James Boice and readily identifies our belief in the doctrines of grace and the five solas of the reformation. So let us take a look now throughout the week at these Five Solas. What are the Five Solas? How do we relate to them today? How are we actively carrying on in the spirit of the reformation? Answering these questions will tell us where the reformation is today.

Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone

As we have seen illustrated by these great men, we agree that the Scriptures are the sole, the only, infallible authority for matters of faith and practice. Our church along with those who are historically reformed and baptistic, find at the very beginning of its confession of faith the following statement regarding the Word of God:

Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689 - The Holy Scriptures

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience. Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God so much that man is left without any excuse, they are not sufficient to provide that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation.

And we agree with the following statements that help us define the doctrine of Sola Scriptura:

Charles Spurgeon (from a Treasury of David, commentary on Psalm 19:7)

The law of the Lord is perfect;" by which he means not merely the law of Moses but the doctrine of God, the whole run and rule of sacred Writ. The doctrine revealed by God he declares to be perfect, and yet David had but a very small part of the Scriptures, and if a fragment, and that the darkest and most historical portion, be perfect, what must the entire volume be? How more than perfect is the book which contains the clearest possible display of divine love, and gives us an open vision of redeeming grace. The gospel is a complete scheme or law of gracious salvation, presenting to the needy sinner everything that his terrible necessities can possibly demand. There are no redundancies and no omissions in the Word of God, and in the plan of grace; why then do men try to paint this lily and gild this refined gold? The gospel is perfect in all its parts, and perfect as a whole: it is a crime to add to it, treason to alter it, and felony to take from it.

The Cambridge Declaration: A Statement from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith.
In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word "evangelical." In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional. It embraced the essential truths of Christianity as those were defined by the great ecumenical councils of the church. In addition, evangelicals also shared a common heritage in the "solas" of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.

Today the light of the Reformation has been significantly dimmed. The consequence is that the word "evangelical" has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning. We face the peril of losing the unity it has taken centuries to achieve. Because of this crisis and because of our love of Christ, his gospel and his church, we endeavor to assert anew our commitment to the central truths of the Reformation and of historic evangelicalism. These truths we affirm not because of their role in our traditions, but because we believe that they are central to the Bible.

Sola Scriptura: The Erosion of Authority. Scripture alone is the inerrant rule of the church's life, but the evangelical church today has separated Scripture from its authoritative function. In practice, the church is guided, far too often, by the culture. Therapeutic technique, marketing strategies, and the beat of the entertainment world often have far more to say about what the church wants, how it functions and what it offers, than does the Word of God. Pastors have neglected their rightful oversight of worship, including the doctrinal content of the music. As biblical authority has been abandoned in practice, as its truths have faded from Christian consciousness, and as its doctrines have lost their saliency, the church has been increasingly emptied of its integrity, moral authority and direction.

Rather than adapting Christian faith to satisfy the felt needs of consumers, we must proclaim the law as the only measure of true righteousness and the gospel as the only announcement of saving truth. Biblical truth is indispensable to the church's understanding, nurture and discipline.

Scripture must take us beyond our perceived needs to our real needs and liberate us from seeing ourselves through the seductive images, cliches, promises and priorities of mass culture. It is only in the light of God's truth that we understand ourselves aright and see God's provision for our need. The Bible, therefore, must be taught and preached in the church. Sermons must be expositions of the Bible and its teachings, not expressions of the preacher's opinions or the ideas of the age. We must settle for nothing less than what God has given.

The work of the Holy Spirit in personal experience cannot be disengaged from Scripture. The Spirit does not speak in ways that are independent of Scripture. Apart from Scripture we would never have known of God's grace in Christ. The biblical Word, rather than spiritual experience, is the test of truth.

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.

We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Always Reforming

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional

Introduction for the Week
Always Reforming
A Scriptural Examination of the Five Solas of the Reformation

In 1384, John Wycliffe, the morning star of the reformation, died of a stroke in Lutterworth, England. His life, until its end, was the beginning of a recovery of the Scriptures and the Gospel from the corrupt and power hungry Church of Rome.

Wycliffe broke with tradition by refusing to claim that the Church was the final authority in matters of faith. In 1378 he authored The Truth of Holy Scripture in which he claimed that the Bible alone was the authority for believers. He stated that church councils, tradition, and even the Pope himself were to be held accountable to the authority and teaching of Scripture.

He also proclaimed that every Christian should be able to read the Bible for himself! This was novel, for the church not only controlled and interpreted the Bible for its members, but only the clergy were even allowed to own or read Bibles! Wycliffe’s answer was to publish the Bible in the everyday language of the people.

Wycliffe went on to say that the office of Pope was an invention of men and not based on Scripture. He said that the Pope was indeed the antichrist, exalting himself in the place of Christ the Lord. Further, he stood up against the doctrine of transubstantiation – the idea that at the offering of the mass, the Eucharist, that the priest offered Jesus again as a sacrifice for God’s people and that the people then ate bread and wine which was literally the physical body and blood of Jesus.

As Wycliffe continued in the teachings and tradition of Augustine his greatest contribution to the world was the Bible translated into everyday language.

John Hus carried on the teachings of Wycliffe after his death. Hus, from Bohemia, not only encouraged the translation of the Word of God into the language of the people, but he preached in the language of the people instead of in Latin. He wanted the gospel to be heard and believed by those to whom he preached.

Hus also rejected the power and authority of the Pope, and while at a meeting to discuss his views in 1415 was arrested and burnt at the stake for his “heresy.” The council also took the opportunity to proclaim Wycliffe a heretic, even though he had been dead for almost 40 years. In fact, they dug up his bones and burnt them in contempt for his teaching and its influence on Hus.

At the end of Hus’ trial, when asked if he would appeal to the Pope for mercy, he responded, “I do affirm before you all, that there is no more just or effectual appeal, than that which is made unto Christ. Who is a higher judge than Christ?” When the chain was wrapped around his neck, binding him to the stake, he cried out, “My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake, and why then should I be ashamed of this rusty one?” As Hus was dying, being burned alive at the stake, he proclaimed, “What I have taught with my lips I seal with my blood. You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.”

The name Hus, means literally “goose.” In the 100 years from 1415 to the early 1500s another man came on the scene, a man whose family crest was the picture of a swan. That man was Martin Luther.

In the years between Hus and Luther there arose another figure of great importance, William Tyndale. He learned Greek so that he might translate the Word of God in the New Testament from the original language into English. You and I have our Bibles today because of the perseverance and hard work of William Tyndale. His English New Testament is perhaps the most important book ever published in the English language.

Tyndale, while in attendance at a meeting with priests and bishops said that he "defied the Pope and all his laws" and vowed that "a plough-boy would know more of the Scriptures than they." He was condemned as a blasphemer and heretic and burnt at the stake.

As the Word of God spread, and God continued moving upon men to proclaim the truth of the gospel, on the Eve of All Saints Day, October 31, 1517, (Reformation Day) exactly 488 years ago this week, a momentous and incredible event took place at the Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in fulfillment of Hus earlier prophecy. There this Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther, the swan, challenged the leaders of the church that had burned the goose to a debate. He did so in the form of a protest.

Luther had long been studying the Scriptures and having been regenerated by the Spirit of God was given understanding as to what the Scriptures taught about sin, salvation, and especially about the justification of lost sinners by faith alone in Jesus Christ. He came to see, as had Wycliffe and Hus, that the sole authority for the church was the Word of God.

Describing his own conversion, Luther wrote:

At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In this the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’.” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives, by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.

As Luther reacted against and protested the selling of indulgences (money paid to the church for the forgiveness of sins) and many other abuses by the church – things that he saw the church doing that clearly contradicted the teachings of Holy Scripture – he made a list. His list of 95 offenses or abuses, which are referred to as Luther’s 95 Thesis was an indictment of the church and many of its tradition and practices.

In challenging the church, he wanted a public debate, and so took and nailed his list to the church door at Wittenberg. He made a public protest by posting this in such a way. It was a public statement about the condition of the church and its relation to the truth of Holy Scripture.

In response he was put on trial and challenged to recant of his thesis, which the church court saw as heresy. He challenged their ultimate and infallible authority to interpret the Word of God for the people. At this trial, know as the Diet of Worms, Luther stood his ground. In fact, his final reply to the command to recant was an absolute appeal to the authority of Scripture alone as his guide in matters of faith. Luther was asked by the court:

Do you wish to defend the books which are recognized as your work? Or to recant anything contained in them? . . .

He concluded his reply by saying:

You demand a simple answer. Here it is, plain and unvarnished. Unless I am convinced by Scripture or by plain reason (for I do not accept the authority of popes or councils, for they have often contradicted each other), my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.. God help me. Amen. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.

As history unfolded around him, this date and time at that church door have become the spark that brought FIRES of renewal to the church and freed to gospel from the clutches of the cultic church controlled by Rome and the Pope. This spark, this birth of a protest against the abuses of the Church, is known to us today as the Protestant Reformation.

This turning point in history, has given us many rich traditions and doctrines. The foundation of the Reformation of course is the doctrine of justification by faith alone. This truth sprung forth from the cornerstone, the conviction that God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures, was itself the sole infallible authority for life and faith, for salvation and Christian living, for the church and the world.

In remembering today this great event of the past, I want this week to take a brief look at some of those essential doctrines, those fundamental truths that the reformation has given to us.

I have titled this look at history and the present “Semper Reformanda.” The term means “Always Reforming.” We, who carry on in the debt of those great reformers who have gone before us, believe that the truths taught and proclaimed during the time of the reformation and since that time, are truths that must be upheld. We also believe that adherence to Reformed Theology means at the very least that we follow their example and are ourselves always reforming, always offering ourselves as a living sacrifice to God so that He through His Word might conform us to the image of His Son by the renewing of our minds.

As we study the Scriptures this week, I have given a format for family worship which includes a verse for the day, study of the Puritan Catechism, quotes from the London Baptist Confession of Faith and The Cambridge Declaration, time in the Word, devotional thoughts, several notable quotes from a few Reformers and Puritans that highlight the distinctive doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, recommended Scriptures for further study and meditation, and recommended songs to sing to God’s glory.

For today, you can listen to this sermon online for free. It was preached on October 31, 2003 - REFORMATION DAY - and provides a sermon that most of this devotional material was taken from. Listening to the message will put each days devotional in perspective as it relates to the history of the Protestant Reformation and our understanding of the Biblical basis for the Five Solas of the Reformation.

(The hymns are taken from our church hymnal, "The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration". Note for Church Members: If you do not have this hymnal at home, you are free to take one home from church for use during the week. These hymns also appear in most hymnals available today and the words to these hymns are also listed in the links to the music at the Cyber Hymnal.)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Phillip's Phunnies

A merry heart does good, like medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

I thought I would meld my last two Saturday posts and come out with comics about sports! These made me laugh, so I hope they put a smile on your face too.

Here we remember that on any given afternoon, any team might beat any other team. Unfortunately, I spent the last week cheering for a team that failed to play like a team that made it to the World Series! I have never rooted for the Houston Astros before this last week. I don't think I will ever root for them again. This had to be the most boring world series ever. On the plus side, the very first world series game played in Texas was the longest world series game ever played. So even while the team from Texas lost, we still saw that things are always bigger in Texas!

Now we are back to football. Here Snoopy represents the NUMBER 1 RANKED University of Texas Longhorns. And Woodstock represents all the other teams they will play this year.....I guess a poor schedule against weak teams proves a great bowl game at the end of the year!

And now we leave the wide world of sports for a moment and spend a minute thinking about that which I love the most!! No, not country western music....my little red haired girl! Thankfully I do not have to worry about forgetting her beautiful face as I see her everyday!! Though we do have a few favorite country songs.

And finally, not sports, not sappy, just a laugh.



Friday, October 28, 2005


TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional

Verse of the Day – John 10:10
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Daily Scripture Reading1 John 5

Puritan Catechism
Question #3 - What do the Scriptures principally teach?

Devotional Thoughts
Just as Jesus is the door and the shepherd, the one who really cares about us and provides security and help and comfort for us, we are learning that there are thieves out there! There are those who would harm the sheep and try to creep into the fold unnoticed. In many commentaries this thief is Satan and his attempts at harming believers or rendering their witness ineffective. The thief can also be anyone or anything that damages our relationship with our Heavenly Father! While I do believe the devil is a thief, I also believe that we can be thieves ourselves - we can rob ourselves of joy and peace and comfort! How? Try worry, stress, fear, lack of faith, etc. The thief can also be others, or circumstances, anything that weakens our faith.

The thief will be contrasted with Jesus in the next few verses, but for now let's look at what the thief does to the flock. If he can get in and gain access to the sheep he will do three things.

First he will steal. Thieves steal - that's why they are called thieves! And know this, one isn't a thief because he steals! He steals because he is a thief. The thief steals. But what does he steal? There is an idea here that the thief will take away one of the sheep, to remove it from the flock to be kept or maybe even killed and eaten!

Secondly, the thief would come to kill. This word means precisely "to sacrifice", to take a sheep and offer it as an offering to God or to a false god in an act of worship. The only reason really to steal a sheep would be because one could not be afforded or bought to meet the requirements of worship. So the thief seeks to steal it and kill it!

Thirdly, the thief destroys. This word means "to lose", to send away or cause to get lost. This represents the sheep who are led astray and find that they are lost, away from the flock and alone, weak, fearful, and vulnerable.

Spiritually, all of these have application. Whatever or whoever serves as the thief (self, Satan, others), the thief steals our joy and peace and love and truth. The thief separates us from the rest of the flock with guilt and shame - the accusations alone in our hearts are enough to drive us away from accountability and discipleship.

The thief also kills. This is to take the believer and devour or consume him with guilt, depression, confusion, and hurt feelings. The thief works against us by killing our hope or our faith by sacrificing us on the altar of self service and convenience.

The thief also destroys. We find that we get lost easily when we take our eyes of the Shepherd! We are prone to wander. Unable to find the way or to find God's will - all of these are schemes of the devil to keep us from our potential! Satan and self do not want us to witness or grow, so we find that we are being robbed, sacrificed, and led astray by false teachers, false doctrine, or false beliefs over and over. We have to learn how to stand firm against these assaults and to overcome.

We have to remember that no matter how we feel there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ. There is no person, place, circumstance, behavior, or thought that can make God stop caring for us! Also notice that the stealing, killing, and destroying often takes place outside of the fold and away from the flock! Satan loves to corner us away from other believers. If he can get us alone he can drive us to distraction with fear, confusion, and worry. That's precisely why fellowship and corporate worship are so important.

Just as the thief brings destruction and death, Jesus lets us know that He brings the opposite. In contrast to the thief, He brings life! As a matter of fact if Jesus was ever to be called a thief it would be because He came to steal the hearts of men!

Jesus does not bring death, destruction, or despair. He does not lead us astray or rob us. He gives us life. Just as if we were lying in the Valley of Dry Bones (from Ezekiel 37:1-14) He has come to prophesy to us, to proclaim the Word of Truth, the gospel of God that brings eternal life. He calls us to life, regenerates us and gives to us salvation. Even while we are dead in sin His Spirit comes to us and calls us to life beckoning us to come and see that the Lord indeed is good and forgiving.

He gives us life when we are spiritually dead just as one day He will give us new physical life whether we have died physically or not - He will either raise us from the dead and give us incorruptible, glorified bodies, or He will change us where we stand when Jesus comes back! In every aspect of our existence He indeed gives us life.

Where once there was despair and sadness we are alive emotionally. We can experience joy and peace, hope and patience! Where there was once decay and destruction (depravity) we now have freedom and power! While we were dead in darkness now we walk in the light.

Matthew Henry says of this life, "we might have life, as a criminal has when he is pardoned, as a sick man when he is cured, a dead man when he is raised; that we might be justified, sanctified, and at last glorified." We are given life through Christ. He is our life, we now exist to please and glorify Him alone! We have been pardoned, cured, and raised - and we must praise Him for the work that only He can do and has done.

You see, we cannot pardon ourselves, we cannot cure ourselves, we cannot raise ourselves. G.K. Chesterton said that those who believe wholeheartedly in themselves are those who are mad! Insane! Only the insane believe in themselves with no inhibitions. Those of us who have our mental faculties are very aware of our limitations. We can't do it alone, we can't live life without Christ. He must live through us if we are to really live!

Jesus hasn't come only to make us alive, He has called us to life from death and to light from darkness. But more than that (YES MORE!!) He has come to give to us abundant life! This new life is better, blessed, and beautiful.

This speaks of a better life in that life now is better than it ever could have been before Christ became part of who we are! Now we have forgiveness and pardon. We are made righteous before God because we have the breastplate of His righteousness with which to guard our hearts! We also have the ability to love unconditionally, to give sacrificially to God and others, to be patient and kind. We have a better life because we have God living inside of us! Life with Christ cannot even be compared to life before Christ!

This speaks also of a blessed life. According to Ephesians 1:1-14, we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ and the list Paul gives there in Ephesians tells us that we have been blessed with: His choosing of us, His making us holy and without blame, His predestining us to our adoption by God, His acceptance of us in the Beloved, His redemption of us, His forgiveness according to the riches of His grace, His wisdom abounding in us, His will being made know to us, His gathering together of all those in Christ, His inheritance that now is ours, His use of us to praise Christ, His sealing of us with the Spirit, and His glorification of us one day soon! Indeed we are blessed simply to be right with God and no longer His enemy!

This also speaks of a beautiful life. We abound in grace and love and mercy and peace. We have things now that we never could have had before - God is pleased with us! We live to His glory and we are loved and accepted and belong to His family and can never be taken away from Him. The beauty we have reflects the beauty that we can now recognize in Him, in His Word, and in His creation. He made all the things we can see and experience to glorify Himself and we can glorify Him too by simply looking for the beauty that so often we pass by in a rush!

To sum up the abundant life we must realize that this has nothing to do with possessions or things - this word is not used to say we will be rich, comfortable, or abounding is "stuff!" It is a word that means that we can now have a capacity for life that before was not available to us. Again, it speaks not of things, not of "stuff", but it speaks of "capacity". The life He has given us is just the starting point. Now we have a greater capacity for living. He is ours and we are His and with Him NOTHING is IMPOSSIBLE!

He gave us life when we were dead and even today promises us a capacity for living that is beyond our imagination - most Christians live in despair and defeat I believe because they don't realize that this "life" is not the norm. He gives us a greater capacity for living, loving, overcoming, and knowing Him!

So today look out for the thief. Whether it be Satan, others, circumstances, or even self, look for those things that would contribute to our getting confused as to the will of God and would bring harm to our spiritual walk! Those who are false teachers, who come in over or through the wall, these are emissaries of the evil one sent by him to accuse and confuse us as to God's will and way! And don't become separated from the flock! A lone sheep makes a quick meal for the wolf!

Thank God for the life He has called you to. Think about all that might not be if it weren't for His giving His life for yours! Thank Him for life! Let’s explore the impossibilities at which God laughs. The impossibility of the lost getting saved and the sick being healed, the things that we "feel" couldn't happen that God wants to do - if we would only believe Him and live as He has called!

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Be Saved

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional

Verse for the Day – John 10:9
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 John 4

The Puritan Catechism
Question #3 - What do the Scriptures principally teach?

Devotional Thoughts
As has already been established, Jesus is not only the shepherd, He is also the only door to enter God's kingdom. He says it again for good measure and then tells us why He is the door. He serves as the Way to the Father so that we might "be saved."

We use that term a lot in the church but how often do we really stop and think about what it means. If we have "entered Christ" then we are saved! Saved from what? Saved to what? Saved, why? Saved, how? Those are the questions we will answer today.

We are saved from a number of things when we believe in Christ. First we are saved from sin. Because Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and He imputes His righteousness to us now God is able to declare us righteous (justified) and we are right with God. He has taken away our sin and imputed to us His rightness with God. He saved us by taking our sin upon Himself on the cross – the death He died was OUR death - the one we should have died as a result of our sin. (Rom. 6:23) So now we are saved from (freed from) sin (Romans 6).

Secondly we are saved from death. The wages of sin is still death, but because the price for our sin has been paid we never have to fear death! We may die physically, but that is simply a transformation as we step into life in the spiritual realm face to face with Christ. But we will never die spiritually – we will not die the eternal death in hell that the lost will. The death we are saved from is referred to in Scripture as the Second Death. To be separated from the goodness and grace of God and to suffer the agony of dying forever! (This could also be termed being saved from judgment or wrath!) In examining this closely we see that since we are saved from the wrath of God, we are literally saved from God's justice. We are given mercy and favor (grace) instead of justice and wrath.

Thirdly we are saved from self! We now have the power from the Holy Spirit to be self-controlled or better said, Spirit-controlled, so that we can overcome temptation and sin and truly live a victorious life! We are saved from everything wicked and awful that we were without Christ.

Fourth we are saved from bondage. Before we entered Christ we were bound in sin. Another term is to be dead in sin. There was no spiritual life in us at all. We were dead to God and would never have even thought to come to Him unless He had called us by His Spirit to salvation. (1 Cor 2:14; John 6:39, 44). In essence to be saved is to be free! Truly free. In reality our freedom is nothing more than slavery to Jesus! Now we are bought at a price and belong to Him for all eternity.

If we are indeed saved, we now know what we are saved from – but what are we saved TO? We are saved to His glory for His good pleasure. He saved us because He wanted to save us! It glorifies Him to show His love and mercy through our salvation. Actually, the Old Testament talks about it being HIS salvation.

We are also saved to eternal life - now we can live forever in the presence of God because our sin debt has been paid and we are counted righteous in His sight! The thing that separated us from the Heavenly Father has been removed and we have been reconciled to Him just as He wanted.

Our eternal life is secure from before we are even born - all of us will live forever somewhere! But because of Jesus now we can be sure that our eternal life is lived in His presence, with Him in the new heaven and earth instead of separated from Him in the lake of fire!

Jesus saved us to good works as well! We have the power daily to do what is right because He has given us freedom to chose obedience to His Word and His will whereas before we were bound to sin. He produces through us the works that glorify Him! He lives through us on a daily basis to help us BE right with God moment by moment.

We have been saved to fellowship (although I do think that we will be surprised by two things when we get to heaven - the people who are there who we thought never had a chance, and the people who aren't that we expected to see)! Our ability to fellowship carries us through trials and hardships and gives us reason to rejoice with one another at all that God has done for us! You cannot enjoy true fellowship unless you are serving God with brothers and sisters in Christ. The lost offer no fellowship and no godly counsel. They provide no encouragement of help in true times of need, because they do not know our Father - and even if they are blood related, they still aren't family as much as other believers are and can be! There is a friend closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

To continue our list, we are also saved to carry out a mission - and that mission is to spread the good news of the Gospel to as many people as we possibly can. We have purpose in our lives, not the least of which is proclaiming the salvation that has been secured by the sacrifice of our Savior!

I know there is much more, but today I will let you finish the list - what else can you think of that we have been saved TO?

Now let us answer the final two questions: why are we saved and how are we saved? We are saved because God loved us so much that He created us to have fellowship with Him - and when Adam and Eve sinned and broke that fellowship, God's plan to redeem us was simple - He would send His Son to die in our place, to pay the penalty for our sin and to give us His rightness with God.

His desire for fellowship saw Him plan this out long before He even created us. He knew we would fall, and He knew what it would cost Him to redeem us and He still created us and loved us enough to carry out His eternal plan!

The how is as simple as can be. We are saved when we are regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:1, 5-6; Ezek. 11:19) and then converted, justified, and adopted. All of this happens as we answer His call and turn from our sin (repent) to Christ (believe) in faith. We are called by grace through the Spirit of God and respond with the faith He has given us. He saves us, we don't save ourselves - and He continues to save us! We are saved, we are being saved as we grow to be more like Him day by day, and we will be saved. Eventually our bodies will be redeemed as well as our spirit! (see also Eph 1:3-4; 1 Peter 3:18; Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 5:30-31; Acts 11:18; Gal. 1:1-9, 11; Rom. 8:15; and 1 John 3:1).

Jesus tells us that we will be saved if we "enter" the proper door, namely, Him! He is the Way, Truth, and Life, and none of us can hope to ever come to the Father unless we come through Christ. And once we are saved and part of His sheep fold, then we can come and go and find pasture!

The implication here is that we are now free! We can come and go as we please, whereas before we were bound to sin and to sin alone. Now we have been given our freedom to "roam" the Kingdom and go wherever we want! Indeed, finding God's will is not nearly as difficult as we make it - if we are walking by faith in obedience to the Word of God and following the direction of the Holy Spirit, then we can do whatever we desire, for to delight in Him is to find Him giving us the very desires of our heart! (Not the object of desire, the desire itself!)

He also tells us that as we go and come we will find pasture. He is talking here about being spiritually fed and growing in grace. I want to look at several ways that we are fed as we "go in and out to find pasture." We are fed spiritually by the Word, by pastors and teachers, and by fellowship with others.

The first on our list is obvious. We are fed by the Word of God. It is to be to us like food as we must have it to survive. From it comes our faith and our desire to do His will. From it comes the instruction as to what His will is and will continue to be. The Word tells us how to be safe, be saved, and be fruitful. In it we find His blueprints for our life, day to day. The Bible serves as an owner's manual (written by our Creator and given to us so that we can "run" the most efficiently and as long as possible!).

Secondly we are fed by pastors and teachers. The Church is the Body of Christ to which has been given leaders to “plant and water” , to grow us and equip us to live our lives by faith and in a manner that serves as salt and light in a tasteless and dark world! The job of a pastor is to feed (equip, teach, instruct, encourage, counsel, motivate, care for, rebuke, etc.) the flock of God. As a matter of fact the Bible is plain in telling us that the pastor of your church is actually God's gift to that church! (see Eph. 4:11-16). And we are also fed by others who teach us, whether through tv or radio, or by books or tapes - there are many good teachers out there who can give us a steady diet of truth! (see our links for some of the best on-line teachers).

Thirdly, we are fed and nourished by fellowship with others. There is a great need in our day for believers to realize that the Spirit of God has gifted them to minister to others in the body of Christ! (boy, there's a whole other study on spiritual gifts!) Many times we fail to see that the trials we have faced and endured or have fallen to are there for us to share with others to "save" them from the same mistakes or to sympathize with them as they face the same kind of hardships that we have had to endure! There is great encouragement and strength in sharing our Christian walk with others - that is precisely why we are COMMANDED not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together for worship regularly (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Because of Christ, we are free to go in and out and are promised that we will find pasture. We will be fed many times and many ways, most of all we are fed by His love for us as He walks side by side with us and often even carries us through this life! Today, be thankful to God for the things He saved you from when He accepted you in His Son. Today - BE SAVED!

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Thieves and Robbers

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional

Verse for the Day – John 10:8
All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 John 3

The Puritan Catechism
Question #3 - What do the Scriptures principally teach?

Devotional Thoughts
Jesus is the only Door, or entrance into the Kingdom of God – so if we are to enter it must be through Him. Remember, Jesus has already told us that those who would try to enter the fold some other way were simply trying to infiltrate the fold to harm the sheep. They are thieves and robbers.

There were many and continue to be many who are thieves and robbers, those who attempt to subvert the faith of Christians and who fight against God's people. They had come before Christ, and they came while He was on the earth, and they continue to this day to walk among us. They are those who would steal away our joy and peace and fellowship. I want to look at these thieves and robbers to see their characteristics and their objectives. Jesus refers to those who came before Him and tried to play the role of prophet or Messiah. Jeremiah wrote about them in chapter 23:21-22. They were "prophets" who claimed to speak for God but never listened to hear what He had to say! There is a lot of that going on in America today - men (and women) who claim to be preaching the Word of God who don't even know the voice of God.

I also think that the phrase "came before" can mean that they put themselves above Christ. They placed themselves in the position of most importance to the spiritual lives of those in their care. They claimed to serve Christ but in truth served self. If a "minister" places more importance on himself, his needs, or his teaching than on Jesus Christ, then that minister is a thief and a robber. They will steal from us our joy, peace, faith, and love.

Another category of thieves and robbers are those who steal from God's flock to build their own. They are the denominations and groups that believe that they are the only way to Christ! We all know them, those who claim that their church is right and every other church is heretical and cultic. While it is true that Christ is the only way to God I do not believe that God has ordained one group or one denomination to serve as the only way to Christ! He uses all of us who are saved and His body is diverse! (there are key doctrines a church must hold to in order to be a true church, but there are also doctrines which we can disagree on from time to time and still fellowship together and serve God together!)

Satan fell when he exalted himself and said that he would be "like the Most High." He wanted to play God! Those who place themselves and their interests before God and Christ are those who will rob us and steal from us spiritual truth and blessings. We are to exalt Christ. If we have anything to boast about it is only that He loves us and has chosen us to be His own. It is all about Him!

It is very interesting to me that there are many who try to subvert the church but Jesus says that the sheep of His fold don't listen to the false teachers! The "sheep did not hear them." The true elect, those who believe in Christ, will not be misled by these robbers and thieves. God will protect them and lead them away from those who would destroy faith and hope. That also means that all those who claim to profess Christ and then run off into the cults and form strange groups with false doctrines are not His sheep! Did you hear that? His sheep abide in Him. They remain. Those who are not His sheep stray, leave, and fail to come back.

Jesus is teaching the crowd and us that there will be those who try to steal from us and rob us of our faith, hope, and the fruit Christ produces in us. They will destroy our witness if they can - but He is also saying that His sheep are protected and know His voice and flee from the stranger whose voice they don't recognize. That is why we must learn to listen to Him however He chooses to speak to us. He won't mislead us - but the thieves and robbers can't wait for their chance to cause us to stumble - be on guard. Over and over the Bible tells us to "watch" and to "stand fast." We must learn to watch out for the deception of the devil and the trickery of the lost. And we must learn to stand firm no matter the trials we face. He is there with us - lean on His everlasting arms!

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I AM the Door

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional

Verse for the Day: John 10:7
Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I Am the door of the sheep’.

Daily Scripture Reading: 1 John 2

The Puritan Catechism
Question #3 - What do the Scriptures principally teach?

Devotional Thoughts
Even in light of the fact that the crowd did not understand what Jesus was attempting to teach He starts again by telling them about Himself and themselves in a word picture about sheep and the shepherd. He “said to them again” - He began to restate what He has just taught. He was determined to make a point to them and to us about Himself, our need for Him, and our relationship to Him!

The statement that follows is even more specific than the earlier statements about the door to the sheep fold. Before He had said that there was one door and that the shepherd came in by the door while thieves and robbers came in by other ways. He had told them the shepherd came through the door to care for the sheep and lead them out to pasture, but now He is being even more specific.

He tells them that not only is He the shepherd but He is also the only Door! Of course the phrase He uses is deep and rich in meaning. He said "I AM!" This phrase alone identified Jesus as God. He is God in the flesh. Just as God in the burning bush told Moses that His name is "I AM", so even now Jesus uses the phrase to describe Himself - "I Am the door" He said.

Jesus isn't just the shepherd who enters by the door, He is actually and factually the ONLY DOOR into the sheepfold that represents God's Kingdom. If you want to gain entrance into His Kingdom there is but ONE WAY and that Way if Jesus. He is the only door, the door to the sheep fold where His children are at rest in His care.

Once again we see that either Jesus is a madman and a liar, or He indeed is the only Way to salvation. For those who claim that Jesus never claimed to be God or to be the only way to heaven, those people just have not read the Bible with any understanding. And those who have read it and still don't believe try to explain it all away. Theological liberals (those who don't believe the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God) will tell us that Jesus never really said most of what is recorded in the Scriptures. They say that the disciples just made it up to influence other people. HA! Either God is true or a liar, and He can't be both! And either Jesus is everything or nothing of what He says He is – all or nothing.

Jesus IS THE ONLY WAY TO SALVATION. There is NO OTHER WAY. No other religion. No other Savior. No system of good deeds and faithful works. It is either Jesus alone or we are all doomed to hell forever! He is our redeemer or irrational. He is divine or He is demonic. He is truth or a lie. He is the door into God's kingdom or He is a trap door to insanity, false faith, and destruction. By God's grace, I believe what He said! How about you?

So if Jesus is not just the shepherd but the very door itself then we must strive to make Him known! Our goal as His children each day is to know Him more and to make Him known more to others! He is the Way. Do we respond to others as if eternity depends on it? Think about it - for all those who would ignore us or hate us or mistreat us, the lost are all dead and bound in sin, captives to their own fleshly desires and slaves of the devil. Why should we be hurt when they lash out against those of us who are free and at peace with God? See them for what they are. Lost and doomed sinners. And give them what they really need, an invitation to to be reconciled to God through Jesus.

Today, remember, He really is the only door. The only way to God and salvation. And you belong to Him alone. Our salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. Lonely to be so alone? NO! Forever in the presence of God because He alone died for YOU! And that is enough!

Bible Reading For Further Study
Read these verses and find out if the 'I Am" refers to God or to You!

Recommended Songs for Worship

Monday, October 24, 2005

Missing the Point

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional

Verse for the Day: John 10:5-6
Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.

Daily Scripture Reading: 1 John 1

The Puritan Catechism
Question #3 - What do the Scriptures principally teach?

Devotional Thoughts
As Jesus continues with the illustration about the shepherd and his sheep He lets us know those who belong to Him will not follow strangers. Those who are false professors and false teachers will not be able to draw the true sheep away from their shepherd.

The sheep know the voice of their shepherd - after all, He calls them by name, individually. He leads them out to pasture and cares for all their needs. So when a stranger comes along and tries to persuade the sheep to follow him, the sheep know and refuse.

Jesus goes as far as to say that when the sheep hear the voice of the stranger they run the other direction. They flee. True believers have no desire to confront the stranger or expose him, their only thought is to get away because the stranger is not the shepherd and therefore is not trustworthy!

When we come across false teachers and we recognize that they are not followers of Christ, we don't need to stick around and try to duke it out theologically - we should flee and warn others about the danger! Too many Christians today are looking for a fight! Jesus didn't fight – he loved, exposed, warned, preached, led, and forgave - but He NEVER fought! Even while they mocked Him and killed Him He did not offer resistance! I truly believe that too many believers today are far too combative in their witnessing and their relationships! We are salt and light as we love, stand firm, and flee wickedness! We are not super-christians who are called to fight and claw and scratch and attack. We are ambassadors of reconciliation between men and God!

We need to learn to relax, and if we hear the voice of a stranger we are called to flee (get away) and warn others. That's it! Not fight and devour and kill and expose. Just flee and warn. Even Michael the Archangel did not fight against Satan - he stood aside and proclaimed "The Lord rebuke you!" Only the Lord can and has defeated Satan. We simply need to turn him over to God, he is stronger and smarter than we are. He is powerful and sneaky, but he is also defeated! Ask God to rebuke him and get on with your life and ministry!

The lesson is simple. Your parents taught it to you as a child. "Don't talk to strangers!" If you hear a teacher or so-called believer and you don't recognize His voice in them get away and warn others! And hopefully by now we are able to hear His voice day to day. Remember, sometimes it takes time to listen! Also be very careful, the things we expose ourselves to emotionally, physically, and even spiritually will affect our ability to listen and discern. We can harm our hearing! If we play with strangers and listen to what they teach and embrace "dialogue" with them to further the cause of truth we are in danger of losing our ability to hear their voice and recognize that they are strange and false! Listen to His voice and then you will easily hear the voice of the stranger when he appears!

The crowd Jesus was speaking to totally missed what He was teaching. He was trying to show Himself as the true, good shepherd and believers as the sheep in His fold. As He used the illustration of the shepherd and the sheep the people simply did not get it! They failed to understand what He was communicating.

Jesus will go on in the rest of the chapter here to explain further how He is the shepherd, and the gate to the fold. He will expand on what He is saying in order that the crowd might get the point, but for now we simply have this commentary from John. The people did not understand what he was saying.

That is the chief danger we face in preaching and teaching the truth of God's Word. There will be those who just don't understand; the gospel will do them no good if it is not understood. As a matter of fact, in the parable of the sower, Jesus taught that the seed that fell on the wayside was the Word that was not understood and as a result Satan came and snatched away the truth that had been taught. To hear and misunderstand is to be hardened to the truth!

We must strive to present the gospel with what we say as well as with what we do and how we live, that way all confusion should be put away so that the gospel message can be heard and understood by our hearers! We must be clear, and even if we do all we can, people still will not understand at times. After all, they misunderstood Jesus here! His sheep hear and know His voice. His sheep follow Him and flee from strangers. So if someone just doesn't understand the Word of God and follows after every false teacher and newfangled doctrine presented by unsound theologians, then we have Biblical evidence that they are NOT His sheep! His sheep know Him and follow Him! And His sheep are wary of false teachers and strangers. They don't fall for it, at least not for long!

The key to understanding Him is understanding His Word. Express to Him your desire to know Him and His Word. Read His Word today and work at understanding! Look for the truth He would have for you today, and don't settle for shallow understanding. Search for the deep things in the Word. Read past the surface and find Jesus on every page of your Bible - the Word after all is simply God's way to present to us Jesus! Today, don't lean on your own understanding, trust Him and His Word. He will not fail you and He surely will never mislead you!

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Eat, Don't Argue

A Tract from Charles H. Spurgeon
Sword and Trowel

TWO learned doctors are angrily discussing the nature of food, and allowing their meal to lie untasted, while a simple countryman is eating as heartily as he can of that which is set before him. The religious world is full of quibblers, critics, and sceptics, who, like the doctors, fight over Christianity without profit either to themselves or others; those are far happier who imitate the farmer and feed upon the Word of God, which is the true food of the soul. Luther's prayer was, "From nice questions the Lord deliver us." Questioning with honesty and candour is not to be condemned, when the object is to "prove all things, and hold fast that which is good;" but to treat revelation as if it were a football to be kicked from man to man is irreverence, if not worse. Seek the true faith, by all manner of means, but do not spend a whole life in finding it, lest you be like a workman who wastes the whole day in looking for his tools. Hear the true Word of God; lay hold upon it, and spend your days not in raising hard questions, but in feasting upon precious truth.

It is, no doubt, very important to settle the point of General or Particular Redemption; but for unconverted men, the chief matter is to look to the Redeemer on the cross with the eye of faith. Election is a doctrine about which there is much discussion, but he who has made his election sure, finds it a very sweet morsel. Final perseverance has been fought about in all time; but he who by grace continues to rest in Jesus to the end, knows the true enjoyment of it.

Reader, argue, if you please, but remember that believing in the Lord Jesus gives infinitely more enjoyment than disputing can ever afford you. If you are unsaved, your only business is with the great command, "Believe!" and even if you have passed from death unto life, it is better to commune with Jesus than to discuss doubtful questions. When Melancthon's mother asked him what she must believe amidst so many disputes, he, knowing her to be trusting to Jesus in a simple-hearted manner, replied, "Go on, mother, to believe and pray as you have done, and do not trouble yourself about controversy." So say we to all troubled souls, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him."

The Good Shepherd - Week 2

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional

A Study of Jesus the Good Shepherd
John 10:1-15

Introduction for This Week's Devotions

Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. He is the only Way to the Father. He came for those who need Him. As such, what exactly has Jesus come to do for us? Some today say that He is bound to serve us and give us health, wealth, and happiness. Some say that He gives us forgiveness so that we can live however we want without consequences. Some even say that He came just to be an example of how to be a good person. But He did come to actively seek and actually save. So what are we saved from? And what are we saved to? How are we saved by Him? Why does He save us?

Once He saves us, are we guaranteed health, wealth, and happiness? Can we really expect an abundant life, full of “stuff” to the overflowing? Is He really there just to serve our every whim and do whatever we ask “in Jesus’ name”? It is as simple as “name it and claim it – blab it and grab it?”

Of course NOT. The abundant life has nothing whatsoever to do with things. It has everything to do with our new found “capacity” for living! As you study this week, you will find answers to the questions I have listed. You will also learn more about Jesus. Let us reason together from the Word and dispel many myths that have invaded the church. Let’s expose the lies. Let’s reveal the intentions of the thieves and robbers who come only for sin and self! And let us see Jesus as our Savior, and our Lord. For He is both, and indeed, cannot be one without the other. He is Lord. Are you obeying Him? He is the Savior. Has He saved you?

As we learn what Jesus has to say about Himself (I AM) and about His sheep, we will also look at those who he describes as thieves and robbers. He teaches us how to tell who the Good Shepherd is and who the bad shepherds are! I am including a devotional written from John 10:5-10 this week that will continue the idea that Jesus is “The Door.” I have given a format for family worship which includes a verse for the day, study of the Puritan Catechism, time in the Word, devotional thoughts, recommended Scriptures for further study and meditation, and recommended songs to sing to God’s glory. And I have given a link today for a sermon by Jonathan Edwards titled, "How to Know if You are a Real Christian."

This week's Puritan Sermon is by Jonathan Edwards, titled How to Know if You are a Real Christian and is linked from one of our recommended sites - Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings. The title page has the sermon broken up into several points. It can be read all at once or you can take a section or two a day and meditate on this sermon throughout the week.

(The hymns are taken from our church hymnal, "The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration". Note for Church Members: If you do not have this hymnal at home, you are free to take one home from church for use during the week. These hymns also appear in most hymnals available today.)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saturday Sports Edition

Yes, today we will devote the space usually used for our Phunnies to a serious topic. Sports! My favorite sport is baseball! I did in high school play football (duh, I'm a sixth generation native Texan). I started in ninth grade as a right guard on offense and a nose guard on defense. Then in tenth grade I played second string quarterback and first string defensive corner back and safety. I was #10. Then in practice one day I got tackled out of bounds into a fence and an elbow injury ended my football career. Then I spent time throughout high school and college coaching basketball and track, and serving as an public announcer for football games.

I grew up rooting for the Dallas Cowboys, but ever since the day that man from Arkansas came to town and fired Coach Landry, I now pick my pro football team on a weekly basis - whoever plays the Cowboys is my team of the week!

But the reality of it all is that I am really a Texas Ranger fan. Texas has not ever made it to the World Series, as my wife reminds me often.

She being from Chicago is a lifelong Cubs fan, and I have even been known to root for them justifying the notion that it is okay for one to have an American League team and a National League team. In rooting for Texas and the Cubs I have frequently been hostile to the Houston Astros. I have never been a fan of any team from Houston!

Well, I have made an exception. You see, the Houston Astros are going to the World Series. And they are playing one of the chief rivals of the Chicago Cubs - yep, it is the Astros against the White Sox. Interstingly, one of the higher ups in the White Sox organization said this week that even if they win the Series they will still be second to the Cubs. I heard my wife say, "Amen!" So for the near future, I am an Astros fan!


One last note before getting on with the day, I do enjoy watching a college football game from time to time. Not religiously, but every so often (in other words, when I have the time!). And this weekend, the national focus is on the oldest rivalry in Texas college football. The University of Texas Longhorns are playing the Texas Tech Red Raiders. I served for a time at 2 churches in West Texas near and in Lubbock. And now we live 15 minutes from Austin - the capital of the greatest Nation (errr, State) in the world. And I am expecting the Longhorns to whip the Raiders. They are favored, and I am behind them!


FINAL SCORE: Texas 52 - Tech 17

Friday, October 21, 2005

His Own Sheep

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional

Verse for the Day: John 10:4
And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

Daily Scripture Reading: Galatians 5-6

The Puritan Catechism
Question #2 - What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify him?

Devotional Thoughts
Once again Jesus reiterates this thought about the sheep and their shepherd. The sheep KNOW HIS VOICE. He brings them out to take them "out to eat" in the pasture he has chosen and prepared for them to graze in. He leads (not drives) them to their destination - and all along the way the sheep willingly follow because they recognize their shepherds voice.

He leads the way, they follow. Jesus takes us down the narrow way and through the straight gate, and we are to follow. If we are His sheep, we will; if we aren't His then we won't know to follow because we won't hear or obey His voice.

This is such an example of the relationship Jesus has with each of us. He knows us by name, He talks to us often, He leads us where we need to go, and He makes every preparation for us to be fed and nourished while we are with Him. He leads so that we have the opportunity to follow (or not if we disobey).

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on this passage says that the 2 keys to the passage from the sheep's viewpoint are a discerning ear and an obedient heart. We must hear and recognize His voice and we must obey Him. There is a lot of preaching and teaching and ministry taking place today that is not His! (remember Matthew 7 - many say Lord, Lord and do many wonders but He doesn't know them!) We must take the time to know His voice among all the many voices that present themselves as His throughout the world.

What are some practical things we can do to ensure that we are listening to HIS voice and not another's?

1. Acquaint ourselves with His Word. Jesus will never "tell" us something that is contrary to the Word of God - never!! So we must know His Word. None of us can know it all - the Word seems to grow deeper and deeper the more we learn of it. But we must be growing in our knowledge of His Word. Then we become familiar with Him and the Way He does things. This step is accomplished several ways, personal Bible study, a good solid church, radio and tv ministries that we know are of Him! There are so many different ways we can feed on His Word and become accustomed to it!

2. Obey what we have learned. What good is it to learn to discern God's Word but not to obey what we hear? Many though do this. The Bible says that they are always learning but never coming to a true knowledge of the truth and that they have an outward form of godliness but deny any power available to true believers. G.K. Chesterton has said that we fail most miserably when we believe in ourselves! If we believe in ourselves then we are idolaters - we worship self! We aren't called to believe in ourselves; we are commanded to believe in Christ. Obedience to the Word we know is the first step to maturity and a sign of true belief. As we obey the Word we come to understand more of the Word so that we can obey it as well.

3. Learn to identify the false teachers. We do this just as bank employees learn to identify counterfeit currency. In training they are given only real money and are told to learn how it feels and looks. They become so familiar with the real thing that when a fake one comes along it stands out immediately. Likewise we are to be so familiar with truth that the lie stands out to us immediately. Yes the devil is a counterfeiter - he fakes God's miracles - but if we know the real thing then the fake will be obvious. (Just a note - if a stronger or more mature Christian warns you about an activity or a teacher LISTEN to that brother or sister! Too often I have seen Christians wreck their lives and make bad choices after another believer warned them and told them what to do or what to avoid. Yet the immature believer went ahead and disregarded the counsel of another - how foolish!)

4. Walk with Him daily by faith. Then your faith will grow day by day. If you want to follow Him, listen to what He says and go where He leads. Following is just as simple as choosing to lay aside your will and listen to someone else's!

So today - learn to listen and follow - exercise a discerning ear and an obedient heart! Know His voice!

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

BONUS - The Treasury of David
by Charles H. Spurgeon
Psalm 23
(It is recommended that the reader take a small section of this work each day and meditate on the truths gleaned from Holy Scripture - today focus on the sections on verses 5-6).

Thursday, October 20, 2005

By Name

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional

Verse for the Day: John 10:3b
and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

Daily Scripture Reading: Galatians 4

The Puritan Catechism
Question #2 - What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify him?

Devotional Thoughts
Jesus not only talks to us as our shepherd - He also calls us by name! Can you remember a time when you ran into someone you knew that you knew but had trouble recalling their name. You know, you smile and talk kindly to them because you know you know them and you try so hard to remember who they are! Hopefully they remember you or else you have a nice conversation and neither of you knows who the other really is!

Thankfully, even though Jesus rules the universe, He always recalls our name! He knows who we are and He will never (He cannot ever) forget who we are. The Book of Psalms even tells us that our names are carved into the palms of God's hands! He cares so much about us and loves us so much that He does call us by name.

This is also significant of a special, intimate relationship. He knows us and calls us! He talks with us. He cares about us and our lives. No matter how small we seem or our needs seem in the scheme of things - God calls out to us BY NAME!

Do you ever feel forgotten? Alone ? Like no ones cares or even cares to care? Like you are a nobody, worthless and abandoned? Well, no matter how you feel you must understand that He knows you, He never leaves you, and He calls you by name. Sure you can't see Him, that is why salvation requires faith, but you can know without a single doubt that He is there! At times we just need to inform our feelings of the truth.

And not only does He care and call us by name, He also leads us out! We will look later at what happened when the sheep left the fold but for now it is important to notice that the shepherd LEADS the sheep. The shepherd is not a cowboy! He doesn't drive the sheep like a herd of cows. He doesn't use a whip and loud noises to direct his flock. The shepherd simply and gently leads the way.

The sheep trust the shepherd. They know Him. He calls to them by name, they hear His voice and want to be where He is, so they follow. He leads, they follow. That is the Christian life summed up. He doesn't whip, drive, beat, herd, or yell - He just simply leads the way. And if we know Him and hear His voice we follow wherever He goes. Wherever that may be we are safe because He is there with us, before us, leading us. We are safe, secure, protected, provided for, encouraged, motivated, and fed - we are loved.

But notice, in order to follow, we, the sheep, must know where the shepherd is, we must listen for His voice and when we hear it we must follow wherever He leads It is a matter of faith. Every day we must believe, trust, obey, and follow our shepherd. That is the only way to please Him, to get fed and watered and find rest. With Him.

Today listen once again for His voice. When you hear it, be willing to follow wherever He leads. He expects you to follow today - will you? No Fear. No Worry. Just Faith. Just Jesus! Follow Him as He calls you personally by name today! Bask in His amazing love for you. (If you are not in the Word, you won’t hear His voice!)

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

BONUS - The Treasury of David
by Charles H. Spurgeon
Psalm 23
(It is recommended that the reader take a small section of this work each day and meditate on the truths gleaned from Holy Scripture - today focus on the sections on verse 4).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

His Voice


Verse for the Day: John 10:3a
To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice;

Daily Scripture Reading: Galatians 3

The Puritan Catechism
Question #2 - What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify him?

Devotional Thoughts
Today, I want to focus on this small part of the verse we are looking at, the part about the sheep hearing His voice. John has already recorded the fact that Jesus said that the shepherd entered the sheep fold by the door - those who would come through or around the walls were obviously there for other reasons than to help or feed the sheep! But the paid hireling or doorkeeper would let the shepherd in through the door to tend the sheep in the pen. Some would be tired or hurt or sick, or just in need of some love and attention. The shepherd entered and the great thing was that He talked to His sheep and the sheep heard His voice! As we continue in this verse tomorrow we will see other aspects of the shepherds care, but for now let's just look at the sheep hearing His voice.

The shepherd talks to His sheep. To some there are words of comfort, to others they are words of humor, fun, or encouragement. To some of the sheep, the words needed are soft and gentle, but to others they are energetic and motivating. Some might need scolding. Some healing. But through it all, no matter the words that the shepherd speaks they are all words of LOVE!

Jesus has for us today the words we need. Whether words of discipline or words of praise. Encouragement, motivation, inspiration, tender care, healing, relief. Words of hope, joy, peace, or excitement. He has the words we need for whatever we will face today. He knows the trials and the battles - the failures and the victories. He is very aware of our every need.

Today, He is speaking to us His sheep. Do you hear His voice? Or is the noise of work or family, responsibilities or "priorities" drowning out His voice? Can you hear Him? He IS talking to you right here in His Word! If there is anything that is louder to us than His voice then we need to re-adjust our receiver! His voice should always be present, comforting, guiding, healing, encouraging, and if it is not present then we must lay all else aside until we hear Him!

If Jesus is talking to you don't you want to hear what He has to say? So how do you listen? Listen through the routines of life. Listen through the storm for the calm. Above all else, just listen to His Word. He speaks and the sheep hear His voice - we need to hear Him whenever He chooses to talk through the Word or prayer, another Believer or circumstances. LISTEN.

That is the true key - He is talking so we must make AN EFFORT to listen. We must strive to hear Him no matter what other noise we encounter. His words are the words of life. They open doors (or close them), they heal and lift up, they make us ready and willing to fight for truth and to obey His commands! Whatever you do today - STOP AND LISTEN! Listen for His voice throughout the day. And if you don't hear Him - STOP!!!!! Really. Stop and listen. Get away from the noise and confusion of life and tell Him you want to listen (just like Samuel in the Old Testament - "speak Lord").

When He is with us (always) He talks to us. His Word can even be hidden in our heart to protect us from the danger of sin! I wonder what He has said that we have missed because we weren't listening? Make the effort - make the time - listen to the shepherd today. He loves talking to His sheep through His Word!

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

BONUS - The Treasury of David
by Charles H. Spurgeon
Psalm 23
(It is recommended that the reader take a small section of this work each day and meditate on the truths gleaned from Holy Scripture - today focus on the sections on verse 3).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

NEW Sermons Available Online

The Greatest Reform of All

1 - The Protestant Reformation: Where is it Today? - Selected Scriptures
2 - Principles of Reformation - 2 Kings 22 (King Josiah)
3 - Commencing Reform: A New Creation in Christ - 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:17-24
4 - Commencing Reform: The Means of Grace - Ps 19:7; Rom 1:16; Isa 55:10-11
5 - Continuing Reform: Sanctification - John 17:17
6 - Continuing Reform: Perseverance - Matthew 24:13
7 - Completing Reform: The Redemption of the Purchased Possession - 1 Cor 6:19-20

Keep watching this space! These messages will come in handy in 2 weeks when the daily devotions around REFORMATION DAY (October 31) will cover some of the material presented in these sermons.

Download these messages for FREE now at TIME in the Word on Sermon Audio.


By the Door


Verse for the Day: John 10:2
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

Daily Scripture Reading: Galatians 2

The Puritan Catechism
Question #2 - What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify him?

Devotional Thoughts
As we learned yesterday, those who would enter a sheepfold over or through a wall instead of through the only door were there to cause harm. They were robbers, thieves, or killers! Predators who wanted to harm the sheep. But now Jesus tells us that the one who enters by the only door is the shepherd.

The shepherd and his helpers come through the door to assist the sheep, to feed them, to lead them out to pasture, or to care for the wounded or sick sheep. They come in the obvious entrance and the sheep know who they are. There is no secrecy or surprises! The ones who care for the sheep simply do what is natural to do their jobs.

Think about our application here. It is the One who does the obvious that cares for us. If, in our spiritual lives, our pastor, deacons, elders, church members, or family members aren't honest and up front with us then we become suspicious. They try to get around the truth or bypass the obvious for the obscure - more than likely then they are deceptive and sneaky - they are there to do harm for their own benefit. This is true in the church as well as in our lives. Those who would use the gospel for selfish gain are not honest and hide things about themselves, their past, and their ministries. A minister of the gospel must be open, accessible, and beyond reproach - otherwise they have disqualified themselves from God's standard for His ministers (see 1 Tim. 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9).

Our shepherd is Jesus. He will enter by the door - He will simply do the obvious when leading us. That is why many in our churches today can't seem to find God or His will for their lives - they aren't listening to Him. Instead they are being sidetracked by false shepherds who try to make the Christian life complicated. It isn't complicated. Jesus Himself said that His yoke was easy and His burden light. If our Christian life is not easy and light then we are trying to live the wrong Christian life. Someone has climbed over the wall and is leading us astray!

The gospel is simple: repent and believe, turn from your sin to Christ in faith. The shepherd is accessible. He is right where He is supposed to be. And He does the obvious. He doesn't want to hide His will from us. The Word makes His will quite plain. We must look for it though, and we will find it where it belongs, it is obvious! As a matter of fact if it seems that we are far away from God then guess who moved!? It wasn't Him! He never changes. We will learn in the next few days our role as sheep and the role of our spiritual authorities - Christ as head of the church, and the elders (pastors) He has appointed to minister to Him and His in the church! But for now know this, He is coming in the door to care for us. He will enter through the plain and predictable door, just as He always does. If you can't seem to find Him, you're not looking in the right places!

Look for Christ to come in to your life today - into every single part of your day. He will be obvious but we must look for Him, and when we find Him in those everyday situations we must share Him with all around us!

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

BONUS - The Treasury of David
by Charles H. Spurgeon
Psalm 23
(It is recommended that the reader take a small section of this work each day and meditate on the truths gleaned from Holy Scripture - today focus on the sections on verse 2).

Monday, October 17, 2005

pastorway and the Puritan Board

Presented in Five Acts

ACT I - My Exit as an Administrator
2 Timothy 2:14-19

October 17, 2005

Dear Readers,

I do not want to sideline the important work of the daily devotionals here on my blog, but I do want to use this space and this opportunity to share some things with you about my relationship with the Puritan Board. Some of you don't even know what the Puritan Board is! That is quite okay. It is a Reformed Discussion Forum that was started in 2001. I joined within the first few weeks of its creation when I found it online doing research on the Puritans. I was intrigued. I had never participated with an online internet forum before. I joined and within a short time was actually asked to serve as a moderator of discussions on the board. I was glad to help, met many new friends, grew in my understanding of the Word of God and in my convictions regarding topics of disagreement within the Reformed community. It was not long before my friendship with the owners of the board and my participation there led to my being asked to serve as a site administrator. I agreed, and enjoyed serving the body of Christ in this position on the internet.

However, yesterday, I resigned that position and have stepped aside as an admin and a moderator on the Puritan Board. Why? What happened? What changed? Here is what I wrote when I stepped down. After you read through this I will make a few closing comments. If you have any questions about what I have done or why I have done it, as always anyone is free to email me or post here on my blog.

Exit stage right, or was that left

To the members, moderators, and admins of the Puritan Board:

Having joined the Puritan Board within its first few weeks of existence I have been a part of this online community long enough to see us go through many changes. Changes in theology are usually obvious on these pages. Some people change. Some do not. Some should. Some change and change back. Some should just stop trying!

As a member and later as a moderator and then as administrator I have seen great battles of the faith fought here. In the early years it often happened that a heretic or lunatic stepped into our world and those of the "Reformed Faith" stood lock step in defending the truth of the Word of God in repelling the barbarian invaders.

At times the battles were fought with those who appeared to be among us and of us but proved that they were not. At other times, sadly, those battles have been between true believers and have included personal attacks and hurtful statements that have left people wounded and even bitter. Simply put, Christians need to learn how to debate in a way that glorifies God or they need to shut up. It does more harm than good to argue for the truth when we conduct ourselves like heathens in the process.

I could take the time to focus on the good and bad, but those of you who have been here for any length of time could produce the same list I am sure. We have a few members who are truly pastors to the church of God. Others who are keyboard and internet theologians who should be locked in a sound proof room without internet access for all the damage they try to do to the truth of the Word of God and to His people. So many want to be teachers and so many will pay a high price because of the high standard God sets for those who handle His Word.

Most members though fall in the middle of these extremes. Just honest and faithful disciples of Jesus Christ trying to understand and apply the Word, desiring to be hearers and doers. This is to be commended.

But my real concern, and the reason I have taken the time to write all this out, is that we have allowed the internet to begin to replace the church. Maybe not fully or completely, but while we work at the task of making disciples we have missed one crucial point. There is no such thing as a virtual disciple or a virtual Christian.

The friendships from this board that mean the most are those on the board whom we have met face to face. This is not always the case, as I have many dear friends that I have not seen on this earth yet. But true disciple making, true growth in grace, involves personal contact meeting the needs of others where they are. Being a follower of Jesus Christ and caring for the least of these is a hands on mission!

But in our virtual world of discipleship here, since membership in the board has been refined and narrowed we have seen a limit on topics of discussion. Indeed, while there is so much we agree upon, the areas of focus tend to be areas of small secondary matters that divide denominations and even groups within denominations of reformed churches. That meant more need for referees and moderation. And while we have never banned that many people (around 30 out of hundreds of members) it is a tough job to moderate this board! We have had several periods of great upheavel, great battles, hot debate, and other times of quiet and even times where not much was said for days at a time.

But the truth that we need such oversight and moderation is really sad to me. We are suppossed to be believers, fellow Christians, members of the Body of Christ. And yet too often of late we see a great divide where hands are spurning the feet even as members of the same body.

Some of it is young zeal with little knowledge. Many think that a few months study does a theologian make. The ability to articulate an argument does not mean that we have actually lived the truth contained therein. Some of it is just plain grumpy behavior that really has no place in Christian conversation. At any rate, after a recent hot spot, where several people did leave the board, it was decided that we needed more consistent moderation. But I do not think that cures what ailes us.

The tone of the overall discussion of this board has narrowed and gotten quite shrill over the last year or so. We have seen heated debates about things that are of little consequence to eternity. Of course, those in the debates would claim otherwise. But the truth is that we have even begun to try to put forth a twisted view of Christian liberty that is based more on pride than the Word of God and work of Christ.

A few articles were written as a result. One that I wrote that garnered some attention (and will be leading shortly to future works by both myself and Fred Greco) focused on the difference between discipleship and debate and some of the dangers inherent within internet Christinity.

While we may grow some through debate, the primary means of growing in grace is discipleship. And we see over and over again that virtual discipleship is not a replacement for hands on face to face ministry within a local body and a community.

I am deeply concerned with the narrowness of the drift in the discussions of late. I am concerned about the attitudes displayed in some of our recent discussions. And I am concerned about the direction this board is taking. As it is, some of the major doctrines upheld on this board include many that are far from what the reformed community sees from the Word of God. I am contacted regularly by Baptists and Presbtyerians alike that think some of the focus of the board of late is absurd. A slap at orthodoxy itself!

In fact, here on the forum I responded to a poll not too long ago about whether the board was edifying by answering, "No." The cry that went up for those who did vote no (however anonymously) was that if the board was not edifying then "Why do you stay? Why don't you leave?"

You see, we have become so arrogant and so sure of ourselves that if one sees the board as unedifying then they are not asked, "What is not edifying? What can we do to make it edifying?" No. The response is, "Well, it is edifying to ME, so if it is no longer edifying to you then perhaps you would be better off to leave."

What selfishness. How short-sighted. This is not the spirit of discipleship. It is not even the spirit of debate. It is the spirit of self righteousness that will destroy true ministry and ruin the faith of weaker brothers and sisters.

There is such potential here for good, and such for evil! The word evil at its root means "to harm." And the Puritan Board, with all the good that is here, is quickly falling into an arena where those who participate here lurking and reading and learning are more likely to be harmed than helped in their Christian walk. We cannot risk being called to account for the offending of "little ones."

I have debated for several months what I needed to do as a result. I have prayed and sought counsel. I have spent time in the Word. I have branched out into new areas of ministry, areas that are fruitful and active. I have been challenged by studying and preaching on "fellowship" the last few months. And I have concluded that I must obey Ephesians 5:15-16. I must redeem the time. And bluntly put, moderating the Puritan Board is no longer a wise use of my time. In fact, lately it has detracted from other ministry endeavors, and that cannot be allowed.

The point has been forcefully driven home and it has become clear to me that I cannot remain as an administrator on the Purtian Board. And while I had prepared to make this statement tomorrow (not to distract from the Lord's Day) by voluntarily stepping aside from this position, that opportunity was taken out of my hands as my administrative privileges were revoked by the board ownership earlier this afternoon.

I will maintain my membership at their discretion and will lurk and pop by from time to time, but my days as an administrator within this fellowship have come to an end.

To be totally and painfully honest, part of what motivated me to come to this conclusion this last week is the fact that I am too far out of step with the theological paradigm of the ownership of this board. Don't misunderstand me. I love Matt and Scott. They have sharpened me just as many of you here have. I thank God for bringing me to the Puritan Board. But I cannot endorse the theology or attitudes that have become the focal point of much of the debate on this forum as a result of the shifts in theology across the board and among the owners.

I am not breaking fellowship. I am not leaving hurt, wounded, or hateful. I seek no vengeance or retribution. I am not stepping down because Baptists are in the minority or because many Presbyterians are misrepresented! I am stepping aside because to stay in this position is to endorse the direction and theological emphasis of the board and I cannot make that stand.

For those of you who have come to mean so much to me as friends and especially those who are fellow ministers, you know where to find me! If anyone from the Puritan Board needs anything from me at all I am available to do whatever I am able - just call or email. I am saddened in that I have had to make this choice and in the events that have unfolded today, but am certain at the same time that this is the right thing to do for all concerned.

Humbly and only for the glory of Christ,
Phillip Way

So why did I have to announce in a public forum that I was no longer an administrator? Why did I do it this way at this time? Are they any other reasons I am stepping down from this position?

I was planning to send this announcement to the admins of the board in a private message on Monday. However, due to circumstances beyond my control, my hand was forced. During the course of a discussion about a questionable thread with one of the owners on Sunday, I removed a thread from public view for review by the rest of the admins. In removing the thread from view I had moderated the comments of another administrator. The result was that he revoked my admin status. Because the normal protocols set in place by the top 4 admins for dealing with the revoking of a member's privileges were not followed when my own privileges were removed, I had to act immediately to declare my intentions of stepping aside, hoping to prevent any further confrontation about the matter.

This was not new, just forced by the circumstance. I and others (moderators and members of the PB) had been discussing privately the thought of stepping down due to the unfruitful nature of discussions and debates the last year. We did not want to cause division or make a scene so were preparing to act quietly and privately. Our concern was caused by some major theological shifts on the board over the last few years. The focus theologically has become so narrow that the overall atmosphere of the discussion board had become, in our estimation, a dangerous place to be! This is especially true since many who find the Puritan Board online are new to reformed theology and are looking for help to answer questions. The answers that were being put forth and the topics that are pet doctrines espoused by some of the loudest voices on the forum (mostly young internet theologians) were no longer just questionable, but they were seriously flawed and could easily lead to the offending of immature believers (see Mark 9:42).

So what is an internet theologian or a keyboard theologian? That is a term I use to describe people who are fairly new to reformed theology or who have just made a major change in their theology and think that they are experts on the topics of discussion. They have a definite opinion about everything but have no experience at all in the real work of ministry. They are the fastest cut-and-pasters on the internet. They can deluge you with tomes from their favorite authors/theologians within seconds of your expression of doubt about their pet doctrines. This does not refer to education or intellect. It refers to novices who have neither the temperment nor the character to be teaching the Word of God to others - though that does not stop them from trying.

"But what about the narrowness? What narrowness?", you might ask. Let me demonstrate. Gleaning information from several recent articles posted on A Puritan's Mind led me to ask a series of questions to the board owners regarding their views on the church, ordination, worship, and fellowship. The debates on these topics have been hot and heavy lately as the focus on the board has narrowed in scope and I had hoped to clarify a position of unity on the board even if we disagreed about non-essential things. But what I found showed that the board was moving forward to union, but not unity! What is the difference?

Union means we are all the same. Unity means we are different but working together to reach a common goal. Some believe that Baptists and Presbyterians can work in unity to accomplish mutual goals for expanding the reach of the gospel and in obeying the command to make disciples. Others, in a few micro-denominations (denominations that are very small because they require 100% agreement from their members) want union, not unity! They want everyone to embrace their views on everything and to refuse to agree with them makes you an enemy or worse.

And here is what led me to these conclusions. I asked the owners of the Puritan Board to confirm or deny a list of statements that I made about myself based on their writing and postings. The conclusion was that their theological paradigm leads them to believe that I, as a Baptist minister in an independent Reformed Baptist church, am "not really reformed, a dispensationalist, one whose worship is an affront to God, an independent schismatic who is not lawfully ordained and therefore has no right to serve the church as an elder, preach the Word of God, or administer the ordinances of the Lord's Supper or Baptism, a dissenter from the true church of Christ, a rebel who refuses to submit to the rule of Christ and therefore, in the words of the authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 'one not to be tolerated'." I asked one of the owners point blank if this was an accurate statement of his views about me. He replied, "If my biblical exegesis is right (and historical theology is right), then yes, I would have to agree that you are those things. I am simply parroting what the reformers and divines said as well."

While believers may disagree with one another, this is beyond disagreement. This hinders fellowship. This prevents unity. This hurts the Body of Christ. This is divisive. This kind of thinking violates every principle of fellowship given to us in the Scriptures. And since this is the view of the ownership of the Puritan Board toward any who disagree with them on these issues, then I must as graciously as possible step aside. I cannot endorse these views, attitudes, or the thinking behind them.

The result is that I have left a position which I held for years. A position that allowed me to meet many great friends and fellow ministers. A position that gave me an opportunity to help answer questions and encourage a study of the Scriptures for what God has to say to us through His Word. I am sad to step down, but I have no choice.

I did fire a warning shot last month by the way. Many of you read it here: The Difference Between Discipleship and Debate. But now, what is done is done. It has been coming for a while. I doubt it will help change the course of the Puritan Board. I hope I am wrong, but I have been working to help keep it headed the right direction for years and it seems to be mostly to no avail at this point.

I need to be clear that while I no longer endorse the Puritan Board or regard it as safe, there are many good and solid people involved there. As I stated earlier, I am too far out of step with the theological paradigm of the ownership of this board. I am stepping aside because to stay in this position is to endorse the direction and theological emphasis of the board and I cannot make that stand.

~Pastor Phillip M. Way

Other related news:
Pastor Lawrence Underwood Steps Down as a Moderator on the Puritan Board.

ACT II - A Public Rebuke for Narrowing the Gospel
1 Timothy 5:19-20

February 10, 2006

A heated debate over a recent article published on A Puritan's Mind has made it clear that it is time for me to leave the Puritan Board altogether. In this article it is stated that holding to any part of a doctrine that denied calvinism was the same thing as denying the gospel and worshipping a false god. Further, the owner of the board has stated in numerous written articles that for a person to be saved they must understand and embrace all Five Points of Calvinism.

While Calvinism is important, and while the Doctrines of Grace are sound doctrine, they are not to be confused with the gospel, as if one must believe those Five Points or be lost forever. This adds to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is a plank in the platform of Hyper-Calvinism - a dangerous doctrinal system that opposes the gospel of free grace presented in the Scriptures.

I cannot be associated with such a narrow view of the gospel of Jesus Christ or His church. I cannot endorse those who would state such things about who is and is not saved, as if deep theological understanding is more important than the faith of a child!

I have asked those involved to recant this error of confusing the content of the gospel message. You can read my critique on the Puritan Board or in my blog, titled A Critique of Statements Published. Pray that God grants repentance where it is needed.

ACT III - A Response that Misses the Point
1 Timothy 6:3-5
April 14, 2006

I asked for a clarification about the content of the gospel in relationship to the Doctrines of Grace and here is the response: Coming to Faith: Examining Theological Paradigms Pertaining to Neophytes and Heretics in the Essentials of Christianity by C. Matthew McMahon.

Having read this work through several times now (yes, I did indeed read it all the way through, 41,517 words contained in 45 pages of text and 10 pages of footnotes), I think I can say with assurance that sometimes we forget just how simple the gospel message really is. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."

ACT IV - What Do These Words Mean?
Matthew 5:37

April 17, 2006

My final response in the matter has been added as an amendment to the original critique, posted on the Puritan Board, titled What Do These Words Mean?.

ACT V - Shaking the Dust Off
Matthew 10:14

April 18, 2006

Even though I had voluntarily stopped participating on the Puritan Board months ago, I have now been officially and completely banned from the Board by its owner.

I have no choice now but to shake the dust off my feet (Luke 9:5).

The Curtain Call

September 2, 2006

I wrote previously about the theological views of the owners of the Puritan Board:

I cannot be associated with such a narrow view of the gospel of Jesus Christ or His church. I cannot endorse those who would state such things about who is and is not saved.

At the time, I knew that they were narrowing the gospel, but I really did not know how narrow they would make it. The latest development and controversy has been that one of the owners has posted in a lenghtly thread the following quotes:

"Parents whom would reject placing the sign upon their child are in fact showing to be apostates."

"Justification is by faith alone; The justified will place the sign upon their chidren (sic)."

"A man who refuses to place the sign upon his child as God commands is cut off; he is excommunicated. As per the WCF, 'demerited'. If he remains in the excommunicated status, one has to believe that that person is either apostate or reprobate. Where else is there to go?"

"If an Arminian dies in his Arminianism, was he elect?"

So there you have it. The hyper-covenantal theology that undergirds the Puritan Board is not Puritan at all! It is a theology that teaches that anyone who rejects the doctrines of grace or the doctrine of infant baptism is an apostate, not justified, reprobate, and hence, going to hell!

This false doctrine has many names and has been a part of the teachings known as Campbellism, or Landmarkism. Most recently it is at the heart of the teachings of those who uphold "Federal Vision" theology. It denies the gospel of grace by requiring covenant keeping in order for God to justify us. It is teaching justification by works and that is heresy.

I think it is past time that those participating on that board listened to Titus 3:9-10:

But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition...