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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

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Phillip's Phunnies: Separated at Birth - Challies Trio

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

Let me start by expressing my admiration and respect for Tim Challies.

While he is a Canadian, he remains the "world's most famous christian blogger." And if you have not already done so, please BUY AND READ his book The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. I recommend the book first because it is a needed and important book for the church today. Beyond that, knowing that this blog post is at heart about humor I have to add that I recommend his book because I am quoted in the work and listed in the footnotes!! (no wonder some questioned his credentials)

Tim has been all over the blogosphere these last few days and so he was already on my mind. I have been reading about him and his book every day for a while now. As I was flipping through TV stations one night last week I saw a commercial for the movie City Slickers that was going to be showing and during the ad one of the actors in the movie caught my eye. I thought to myself, "Hey, that sure looks like Tim Challies."

While I admit that I have not met Tim face to face, I have seen him around on the internet and the likeness was such that I wondered if I was the first to see the similarities. Of course that meant that I simply had to post a separated at birth blog post (again, in honor of the master of the separated at birth posts, purgatorio, who is thankfully posting again).

So here we go.

The actor I saw was Daniel Stern, and, well, look here and see what I mean when I say that I found a separated at birth trio:

Tim Challies, Ray Comfort, and Kirk Cameron
Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby, and Billy Crystal


Monday, January 14, 2008

Is Huckabee Ashamed of the Gospel?

Pulpit Magazine had a post today by Jesse Johnson on The Church's Mission Statement. In the article there is a clear point made from the Scripture that the mission statement for the church and for each individual Christian involves proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost world.

Johnson wrote:

The church’s mission statement was given to us by Jesus himself.

Matthew 28:19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Mark 16:15-16: And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Luke 24:45-48: Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

John 20:21: Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

Acts 1:8-9: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

So at the end of all four Gospels, as well as at the beginning of Acts, the church is given it’s mission. To reach the lost with the saving power of the Gospel. And with this commission, Jesus makes evangelism an issue of obedience to our mission statement.

Christians are then called to live, think and act in light of our mission statement. We make decisions and choices based on how they will affect our purpose, the reaching and saving of the lost.

Now then, while I do not usually address politics here on my blog, after I read that post today I read a news story that highlighted a visit by GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to the First Baptist North Spartanburg Church in South Carolina. He apparently set his campaigning aside long enough to preach at the church's Sunday morning worship service. And what he said afterward needs to be commented upon because this is not so much about politics as it is about the gospel.

Yes, Huckabee is a preacher and a politician. He is courting the religious right and the evangelical community, presenting himself as a Christian and a conservative. I am not posting to debate whether he is a Christian or a conservative, or whether he was preaching or merely campaigning from behind a pulpit, but I am compelled to speak up when a fellow minister of the gospel appears to be using the gospel for political gain.

Like every Christian, and certainly like every preacher of the gospel, Mike Huckabee is responsible before God to live out the churches mission statement. There is no salvation in politics or politicians. There is no salvation in government or religion. There is only salvation in Jesus Christ. Therefore, when Huckabee was asked a direct question about the gospel, he should have responded by clearly preaching the gospel to those who asked. Instead, he responded in such a way that he sounded as if he was ashamed of the gospel.

The Apostle Paul says to us in Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..."

In contrast, here is what Huckabee said when asked a question that opened the door for a clear and bold proclamation of the gospel:

Asked by reporters later if he thinks only Christians will go to heaven, Huckabee refused to say. "I'm going to stick to the things that make it critical for me to be president of the United States," Huckabee said Sunday. "I have deep convictions about who goes and who doesn't, but as far as who makes that decision, it isn't me, it's God. I'm going to leave that up to him."

I really have to wonder what motivates Mike Huckabee when he is willing to put his hand over his mouth when he is asked to preach the gospel to the lost world. Besides that, God has told us exactly who will and who will not go to heaven.

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 3:16, 18 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

When asked if only Christians go to heaven Huckabee should have said, “Yes,” and then gone on to define who is and who is not a Christian. However, he blew it. He disobeyed Paul's admonition in 2 Timothy 4:1-5:

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

It seems that Huckabee will preach the gospel to those who know it, but he will not preach it to those who don't. Either way, it sounds like he is using the gospel to get votes. That means that these days Mike is more politician than preacher. We all know that he is eloquent enough to speak the truth clearly, but instead he side stepped the single most important question he has been asked on the campaign trail.

For that he should be ashamed!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Beginning of Months

As we begin this New Year I am reminded of a passage I read a few weeks ago in the Book of Exodus. As the Lord gave instructions to Moses and Aaron for the institution of the observance of the first Passover He said to them:

This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.

In preparing His people for deliverance, both from bondage in Egypt and from the Angel of Death, He tells them that this coming event is significant enough that it should be used as a milestone to mark the beginning of each new year. This passing over of the houses marked with the blood from the lamb that had been sacrificed was so precious an event that it was used to mark time and is proclaimed by God to be given as an "everlasting ordinance" to His people. We now remember and participate in this ordinance each time that we observe the Lord's Supper, or Communion.

In Exodus we see that Israel was in bondage to Egypt just as we are all born slaves of sin (Rom 3:23; 6:16). Israel was crying out for deliverance (Exodus 3:7) and God was the One Who set in motion the plan to rescue them (Exodus 3:8), just as He set into motion the plan to redeem us from our sin (John 3:16; Eph 1:3-6). And just as He took His people through the wilderness to the Promised Land, so too, we look for heaven, to the return of our King, and to life in His presence forever (Heb 11:9-10).

For today then, as this is our beginning of months, let us think about the things that were necessary for the deliverance of God's people. This gives us cause to remember and to rejoice in the salvation of our God.


First we see that there had to be bondage. The people needed to be delivered. Without bondage, without being enslaved, and without being incapable of rescuing themselves the people had no need of a Savior. How often do we forget that we need to be saved and that we need to be delivered from sin and death and that there is nothing that we can do about it on our own? Since the fall, the race of Adam has been bound in sin and in need of salvation.


Secondly we see that there had to be death. There was the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians that motivated Pharaoh to finally let the people go and there was the death of the Passover Lamb, sacrificed so that the blood could be spread on the doorposts of the homes where the Angel of Death would pass over.

Death is just a fact of life! As we close out one year and ring in the new we remember those who died during the last 12 months, but even then we try to hide from it, ignore it, or pretend we will never die. We really do try not to think about death. But each of us will die physically unless Jesus returns first. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) and we are all sinners. We live in a fallen world, afflicted with sickness, sorrow, and suffering. And sin is the only explanation that can be offered when we are asked why bad things happen, even to "good" people.

Is this a reason to give up hope or to despair? Of course not. For those who have been delivered they have been passed over - physical death though inevitable will not hurt them! It is merely a step from this life into the presence of the One Who gave Himself to save us.

For those who have not been delivered from the power of sin through repentance and faith in Christ, death is a sudden step into eternity to face their Judge, and with all the talk these days about contextualizing the gospel and being relevant, perhaps we would be better off if we just realized that people are dying without Jesus and they need to hear the gospel!! We need not contextualize it or make it relevant. All people are sinners. All people die. Only Jesus can deliver them from sin and death. You can't get more relevant than that!

We must notice from the passage in Exodus that it was not only the firstborn of the Egyptians who died that night. The lamb died too. The lamb was sacrificed, and that gives us cause to rejoice because Jesus is our Passover Lamb. He died in our place, substituting Himself for us so that we need not fear death.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing! And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “ Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.


The third thing that we see that had to be necessary for the Passover was an obedient people. Moses and Aaron had to tell the people what God expected and the people had to hear and do what they were told. It was only through carefully following the things that Moses said that the people were spared death and freed from their bondage. There was only one way to get out of Egypt. There was only one route to freedom, and the instructions were specific.

Today we need to be reminded that there is only One Way to be delivered and that Way is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). His gospel is specific, it is a command, and we must hear it and obey it if we are to be freed from this slavery to unrighteousness.

Beyond hearing the gospel for the first time we also need to continue to hear His voice as He leads us through His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. We hear Him through reading, through listening to faithful preachers and teachers, through fellowship, though the songs of praise we sing, and through other means as we are exposed to the Word of God. As we hear the Word and obey the Word we prove that we love God (1 John 5:3), we are sanctified (John 17:17), we are transformed (Rom 12:1-2), and we are equipped to fight the good fight and overcome sin and temptation (Psalm 119:11).

There are plenty of false teachers out there. There are more than enough who try to entertain people and preach that it is all about us, all about being happy, having our best life, being healthy, wealthy, and wise. But this man-centered gospel never saved anyone - it only condemned those who hear it because it is not the truth. The truth is that it is not about us - it is about a Holy God. It is about hearing Him and obeying Him, not for what we can get from Him but because He alone deserves our worship, adoration, and obedience.

In this, our beginning of months, let us remember the things that God tells us are important - things important enough to rewrite the calendar. Let us be determined not to mark the time of our lives by the simple worldly things that pass us by, but by the worship of our God who has passed us over in regards to His wrath solely on the basis of His Son, freeing us from sin and death so that we might proclaim His holiness, His love, and His goodness.

In this New Year, it is not about us, it is about Him! That is the only place to begin.

“In the beginning, God…….”

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