Friday, March 31, 2006

N.T. Wright's "Paul in Flesh Perspective"

On the Reformation21 website, Jonathan Worthington has written a good and fair book review of N.T. Wright's "Paul in Flesh Perspective".

See link below:

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Atheist and Church Membership in the PCUSA

Pastor Brown of "Classical Presbyterian blog" has written a great article on Pastor Rigby, the pastor of St. Andrew Church in Austin, who knowingly admitted an atheist (he is a UT professor) into his congregation.

You can find the article here:

Monday, March 27, 2006

"For Now We Live": Thessalonians 3:5-10

5For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain. 6But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you-- 7for this reason, brothers,[b] in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

1. One of Paul's greatest passion is God's glory in and through the perseverance of faith in his followers. Paul was so concerned for the Thessalonians' faith that he sends Timothy, his friend, to check up on them (v. 5).

5For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn (Timothy) about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.

2. The news of the people's strong faith was so wonderful for Paul, that it helps comfort him in his sufferings (v.6-7).

6But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you-- 7for this reason, brothers,[b] in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith

3. In verse 8, Paul's passion for the Thessalonians' faith is clearly seen, as he describes the condition of him feeling "alive", that is, if they"stand fast in the Lord". Paul is stating that the joy and happiness in his life is contingent on their perseverance in faith and without it he would probably consider himself "dead".

8For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord

4. In verse 9-10, Paul is not only excited about the Thessalonians' faith, but he is also happy that he will be able to thank God for their faith in prayer, an activity he does constantly.

9For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

5. So FPC, what makes you happy or sad? Does the perseverance of your fellow Christian's faith have any impact on how you feel? Or are you content with just your own individual faith, giving no thought or concern about anyone else's?

May God allow us to find our happiness in other people's faith, so that we can enjoy Christ more,


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Discovering God's Will by Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson

Here's my summary:

1. Is it Lawful?

" action which is contrary to the plain word of God can ever be legitimate for the Christian. No appeal to spiritual freedom or to providential circumstances can ever make what is ethically wrong anything else but sinful. For the Christian is free only to love and obey the law of God. Therein lies his true freedom."

2. Is it Beneficial For Me?

"The question I must learn to ask is: Will it bring benefits, as far as I am able to judge, so that my relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ is strengthened? Will it draw me nearer to Him?"

3. Is it Enslaving?

"The Christian should develop in Christ a sensitivity to those things to which he will most readily allow himself to be brought into bondage. "Will this enslave me?" will be a question never far from his thinking. "I will not be mastered by anything" is a good motto text for the man who has received a spirit of self-discipline [2 Tim 1:7]."

4. Is it Consistent with Christ's Lordship?

"We do take Christ there. As those who are united to him we cannot leave him behind. So the real question is: Can I take Christ there and look him in the face without shame? Is this course of action, this decision I am taking, totally consistent with my personal confession that "Jesus Christ is my Lord"?"

5. Is it Helpful For Others?

"I must not rest content with asking whether a course of action will be personally helpful. Will it have a like beneficial effect on others? Indeed, do I engage in it with a view to serving and helping them?"

6. Is it Consistent with Biblical Example?

"We are not left to our own imagination in dealing with this question. The only Christ we know - for that matter the only Paul we know - is to be found in the pages of Scripture. Here again we are driven back to our great principle: we discover the will of God by a sensitive application of Scripture to our own lives."

7. Is it for the Glory of God (I am living for the Glory of God?)

"... Paul cannot escape from the ultimate challenge, "whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" [1 Cor 10:31]. We cannot escape this challenge either. It is the non-negotiable norm of Christian living. If my heart goes out for His glory, then I will find the yoke of these questions easy, and the burden of gospel holiness to which they urge me is light indeed:"


"Is it lawful? Is it beneficial? Is it enslaving? Is it consistent with the Lordship of Christ? Is it beneficial to others? Is it consistent with the example of Christ and the apostles? Is it for the glory of God? For that matter, am I living for the glory of God?"

The full-length article can be found here:

Cost of Being a Christian

Being a Christian in America appears to be easy in comparison to stories like Abdul Rahman, who maybe sentence to death in Afghanistan for being a Christian. CNN website writes: "Rahman, a father of two, was arrested and is on trial for rejecting Islam. The Afghan constitution, which is based on Sharia, or Islamic law, says that apostates can receive the death penalty...He had been arrested after telling local police, whom he approached on an unrelated matter, that he had converted to Christianity. Reports say he was carrying a Bible at the time. He said he converted to Christianity 16 years ago after working with a Christian aid group that assisted refugees in neighboring Pakistan"

May we pray for Adul Rahman's safety and that Afghan govt will do the right thing and give their people religious freedom.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Spahr, Homosexuality and PCUSA

On March 3, Rev. Jane Spahr was found not guilty by the Permanent Judicial Commission of Rebwoods Presbytery for marrying two lesbian couples.

The PCUSA news writes: The presbytery’s judicial commission ruled 6-1 that Spahr was acting within her “right of conscience” in 2004 and 2005 when she performed same-sex unions for the couples. The PJC added, in its majority opinion: “We also find that the accused acted within the normative standards of Redwoods Presbytery, faithfully reporting to it her activities at reasonable intervals.”

Currently PCUSA allows pastors to "bless" same sex unions, but forbids calling them marriage. The PCUSA news states: "The case against Spahr, a member of Redwoods Presbytery for more than a quarter-century, alleged that she violated her ordination vows and the PC(USA)Constitution by performing the same-sex marriages. The Book of Order (section W-4.9001) states that marriage is and can only be a covenant between a man and a woman. The highest Presbyterian court, the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly, ruled in 2000 that ministers may bless same-sex “unions,” but cannot confuse or equate them with marriage. Friday’s ruling was a departure from that provision."

The thing that frightens me, is Rev. Spahr 's rationale in violating her ordination vows. She states according to PCUSA news:“This historic ruling means that as a minister I can exercise my conscience to marry two people who have demonstrated their commitment to love, honor and cherish one another.” And to have the Rebwoods Presbytery honor this reason over against the clear teaching of scripture and the laws of the denomination is even more disturbing.

Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, reacting towards the Redwoods ruling states: "By any measure, the acquittal of Rev. Spahr should demonstrate that a call for all ministers to bind their consciences "by the witness of Scripture," does not avail. The presbytery of the Redwoods did nothing to require Rev. Spahr to subject her conscience to the constitutional bounds of the church or to the clear teachings of the Bible."

So what does this mean for FPC? I believe this is a call for the leaders of FPC to educate themselves on the issues involved and to respond in some fashion, regardless of the immediate impact on our church because we are united covenantally to a larger entity, that is, we are part of PCUSA denomination.

Finally, it is the writer's opinion that PCUSA has failed in protecting and upholding the gospel, thus committing a serious sin. I believe this to be truth, on grounds that PCUSA has consistently failed to discipline those that have openly abandoned the clear teaching of scripture and rules of the denomination, thus failing to protect the gospel. Scripture is clear that those who do not obey God's commandments are not true believers. The Bible states:" 3And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked" (1 John 2:3-6 (ESV)). And to have a denomination fail to obey God's commandment of disciplining those who would reject the rule of scripture and church governance, gives reasonable evidence of its own grave sin.

It is my opinion that FPC leaders should seriously consider the option of leaving the PCUSA. And I do not make this comment lightly, knowing the difficulties of leaving a denomination and the importance of unity (John 17), but it's my opinion that within PCUSA there are many apostate (false) churches, who are not being disciplined (and appears that they never will be), thus obligating FPC to take charge of it's own responsibilities of not being”yoked together with nonbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14).

For more information on PCUSA news:


Monday, March 13, 2006

Grizzly Man

The Grizzly Man is a 2005 documentary film about Timothy Treadwell, an environmentalist, who spends 13 summer seasons living with bears in the Alaska, in order to study and thus educate the world about bears. In 2003, Timothy and his girlfriend were attacked and killed by a bear.

This film gives a unique and rare view of human contacts with bears and other animals. It was real cool to see how Timothy interacts closely with ten-foot bears and little foxes, despite his exotic and weird behavior towards them (Throughout the film, Timothy gives all the animals a name, and frequently tells the animals in repetitive fashion, I love you... I love you...I love you)

I came away sad after watching the film. It was depressing to see a man devote some much energy and time to a cause that seemed small in comparison to cause of Christ. It was also discouraging to see a man exalt and elevate the value of animals to the level of humans by trying to treat and reason with them like people.

So let us be concerned about animal and environmental issues, but let us never elevate the value of animals over people, who are made in God image.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Debate on Infant Baptism Part 3

Case for Believer's Baptism by Geoff Chang

1. In the OT, God promised a coming New Covenant (Ezekiel 11, 36; Jer. 31) which would be radically different from the current state of the nation of Israel, involving a new heart being given to men. In the New Testament, we see this aspect of the New Covenant powerfully taught in several different ways, such as being born again (John 3:3), being made alive (Eph. 2:5), and opening blind eyes (2 Cor. 4:6). Another term for all this is regeneration.

2. The death and resurrection of Christ has inaugurated the New Covenant (Luke 22:20), which replaced the Old Covenant (Heb. 8:13)

3. Christ instituted two sacraments as signs of this New Covenant: the Lord's Supper and Baptism.

4. Baptism is to be an external sign of this New Covenant, namely repentance and faith, resulting in the inward reality of regeneration.

5. Therefore, only those who have experienced regeneration (believers) should be baptized.

A Few Arguments for Believer's Baptism

1. In the OT passages prophesying the coming kingdom, the single aspect most powerfully highlighted is regeneration (see Ezek. 11, 36, Jer. 31). This is the key difference that exists between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. This points to regeneration being the key indicator of those in the New Covenant.

2. The teaching of the New Testament is that all who experience regeneration will come to faith in Christ. Therefore, regeneration will only have happened in the lives of believers.

3. Baptism is taught by John the Baptist as a "baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Mk. 1:4, Lk. 3:3). This is not to say that baptism forgives sin, but that baptism is a sign of repentance which results in forgiveness of sins, namely believer's baptism.

4. Baptism throughout the New Testament (in the book of Acts) is practiced only when the following conditions are met: 1) the Gospel is preached, 2) the Gospel is heard, 3) the Gospel is believed. This is the practice of the apostles given to us.

5. Paul teaches that those who have been baptized have been buried with Christ in his death and given newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4, Col. 2:12). If the act of baptism does not itself save, then this only makes sense if only believers baptized.

6. Paul often appeals in his teaching to the Christians to remember their baptism and the significance of it. Only for those baptized as professing Christians can this instruction have any meaning (how can those baptized as infants remember their baptism?).

7. Paul teaches that there is a spiritual reality in our baptism that unites us into one body (i.e. the body of Christ, the invisible church) and one Spirit. This is only possible in believer's baptism, which only allows those in the body of Christ to be baptized.

8. Those who are baptized into Christ are said to "have clothed (past tense) yourselves with Christ" (Gal. 3:27). Being clothed with Christ is a description given only to believers.

Personal Obstacles for Embracing Believer's Baptism



1 - Brothers, Magnify the Meaning of Baptism - Piper brothers_baptism.html
How do Circumcision and Baptism Correspond? - Piper

2- Southern Baptist Journal of Theology Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1998 - The Doctrines of Baptism and Assurance "Baptism and Becoming a Christian in the New Testament" - Stein "Baptist Principles Reset: Believer's Baptism" - Jeter

3 - "The Incomparable Glory of Fish Vomit: Baptism, the Great Commission and the End of the Age" - Moore

4 - Baptism: A Matter of Obedience - MacArthur

5 - Baptism - A Burial

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Debate on Infant Baptism Part 2

Case for Infant Baptism

1. Throughout the Old Testament (OT), God made covenants (agreements) with families, as shown in the covenant with Abraham. (Genesis 17:9)
2. In the OT, every member, including infants received the covenant sign of membership (circumcision) (Genesis 17:10)
3. In the New Covenant of Christ (Luke 22:20), it appears that God continues to make this covenant with believers and their families.
4. Therefore every member should receive the New Covenant sign of baptism; include infants (Col. 2:12-13, Romans 4).

Arguments for Infant Baptism

1. In the OT, God's covenant with Abraham in which the New Covenant was build on and fulfilled (Gal. 3:16-17), includes promises made not only to Abraham but his descendants, including infants. In following the pattern of the covenant with Abraham, the New Covenant promises appears to be extended directly to believer's children in Acts 2:39

2. Throughout the OT, God's covenant always has a corporate aspect to it. (Covenant with Adam (1 Co. 15:22), Covenant with Noah (Gen. 9:15), Covenant with Abraham (Gen 17:9), Mosaic Covenant (Deu. 7:9) and Davidic Covenant (Psalm 89:3). (3)

3. Throughout the gospels, Jesus blesses children, embraces them, and states that they belong to the kingdom of God. (Matt 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; and Luke 18:15-17)

4. In 1 Corinthians 7:14, Paul declares that believer's children are considered "holy", or set a part, even though only one parent is a believer.

5. In the 1st Century, I believe that the people, especially the Jewish people, would have been shocked to hear that when the head of the household came to faith in Christ and enter into the New Covenant, that the rest of the household was excluded. (5)

6. Throughout the N.T., there are passages stating that "households" were baptized, which give reasonable evidence that infants were baptized (Acts 11:14, 16:15, 33, 18:8, and 1 Corinthians1:16).

Personal Obstacles for Embracing Believer's Baptism

My largest obstacle in embracing infant baptism, is the argument that the New Covenant includes only regenerated people (true believers) (which Jeremiah 31 seem to indicate), therefore it would be inappropriate to baptized infants, who are not necessary regenerated. My answers to this argument are:

1. Jeremiah 31 deals with a future state of the New Covenant therefore it doesn't indicate that there can only be true believers in the covenant in the present. (4)

2. The apostate passages (John 15, Heb. 6, 10::29-30) appears to indicate that there are unbelievers in the New Covenant

3. In OT, believer's infant received the sign of the covenant even though they were not all regenerate (Rom. 4, Genesis 17:9)

Resources for Infant Baptism:

(1) John Murray’s book “Christian Baptism”

(2) Gregg Strawbridge’s article, “Covenantal Infant Baptism: An Outlined Defense” See:

(3) R. Scott Clark’s article, “A Contemporary Reformed Defense of Infant Baptism” See:

(4) Dr. Richard Pratt’s article, “Jeremiah 31: Infant Baptism in the New Covenant” See: TH.h.Pratt.New.Covenant.Baptism.html

(5) Vern Poythress’s article, “Linking Small Children with Infants in the Theology of Baptizing” See: 1997Linking.htm

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Debate on Infant Baptism Part 1

At John MacArthur’s Shepard Conference, Nathan Busenitz categorizes 3 level of doctrine:

• Level 1: Doctrines necessary to recognize someone as a Christian, and in particular doctrines regarding the gospel and the person and nature of Christ. We cannot have unity with anyone who does not share these beliefs.
• Level 2: Doctrines important for the formation and operation of a church or seminary. There are issues which must be confirmed to be on staff or to be member in a church. These would include, for example, infant or adult baptism, the charismatic gifts, etc. These do not forbid us from having a person teaching or preaching on occasion.
• Level 3: Doctrines that we can disagree on but still have unity within a particular church. This could include dispensationalist eschatology, and so on. These are not issues that are unimportant, but are issues that do not mean a person cannot join a particular staff or church.*

* Take from Tim Challies’ blog at 001693.php.

Because the practice of infant baptism is a level 2 type of doctrine and therefore vital for the operations of the church, it’s important to see if the practice is biblically valid. In the coming days, I will post my reasons why I believe the church should practice infant baptism, and then I will post Geoff's, my good friend, case against infant baptism. But before doing so, I want to list some points of agreement involving the issue of infant baptism.

Points of Agreement:

1. Both believe that baptism does not provide or merit salvation for individuals. Salvation is found only by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

2. Both believe that there are both continuity and discontinuity between Abraham's covenant and the New Covenant of Christ

3. Both agree that God works through families in both covenants

4. Both agree that there is a difference between the visible and invisible church

5. Both agree that there is no explicit passage affirming or denying infant baptism.

6. Both agree that baptism symbolizes at least regeneration and membership to the visible church

7. Both believe that they have different presumptions that affect the way they interpret some passages.

8. Both believe that the practical problems of infant baptism and adult baptism does not validate or deny its practice, but both practices must be determined by the Bible.

Disclaimer: In our sections, we have presented "offensive" arguments for each of our perspective. We have tried to stay away from any "defensive" arguments against the other person's view, of which we think there are significant amounts. But that is a discussion for another place, another time.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Imputed Sins?

In verse 12, Paul states that “Adam brought sin and death to the world”.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned

And the reason death came to all men was because they all sinned.

What Type of Sin Brought Death

What type of sin caused this death, which is described as being “spread to all men because all sinned”?

  1. Was it an act of individual sins, therefore causing death?
  2. Was it an act of sin by Adam, in which we are guilty by being in Adam as our representative head?
  1. A sin that came before the law, but not like a sin against a law because those sin are not counted (not punished) since there was no law (v.13)

13for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law

2. A sin that still resulted in death, as seen in the period between Adam to Moses (v.14)

14Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

What was unique in the period between Adam and Moses?

1. Paul cites the period between Adam and Moses because there wasn’t any explicit law (like God speaking to Adam or the Mosaic Law), and generally there’s no death or penalty due to sin, when there’s no explicit law, thus the type of sin that created death in v.12 didn’t come from an explicit law.

2. At the end of verse 14, Paul sees an objection that the sin and death in verse 12, was a result of individual sin resulting from a transgression against an implicit law in the heart (general revelation, Rom. 2:29). To counter this view, Paul uses the phase “not like the transgression of Adam” to state that this sin and death wasn’t like Adam’s sin, in which, he had possession of both explicit and implicit laws.

14Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come

Conclusion: The “all sinned” in verse 12, that resulted in death is not a sinful act people do (not like Adam's transgression) based on the internal law (v.14) or through a revealed law (v.13), but a sin and death that is resulted from Adam, our humanity representative or federal head (imputed sin or original sin) (v.15-19).

Friday, March 03, 2006

"Therefore": Is Theology Practical?

16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God[b] may be competent, equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16

With this post, I want to briefly show that God made theology (the study of God and the way He sees the world) to be practical, that is, in order to produce some kind of godly action. To demonstrate this, I randomly selected the book of Ephesian and filtered all the "therefore" conjunctions, attempting to show the connection between theology (in italic) and it's associated imperative (Bolded).

I also want to illustrate how we all need teachers from the past and present to help explain things in these verses and others in the Bible (B)

1. Ephesian 4:20-25

20But that is not the way you learned Christ!-- 21assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22to put off your old self,[c] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another Ephesian 4:20-25

(B) What does "put off your old self" and "put on the new self" mean? And how do we do that?

2. Ephesian 4:32-5:2

32Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesian 4:32-5:2

(B) How has God forgive us in Christ? Did he forgive everybody in the world, so therefore we can tell everyone to be "imitators of God"?

3. Ephesian 5:5-7

5For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore do not associate with them- Ephesian 5:5-7

(B) What does sexually immoral, impure, and covetous mean? Does sexually immoral include "lust", does that mean I won't receive the kingdom of Christ and God? What is the kingdom of Christ and God, is that some spiritual cloud, I get to ride on for all eternity? Also, am I really never to "associate with people who are sexually immoral"?

3. Ephesian 5:15-17

15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is- Ephesian 5:15-17

(B) How are the days evil?

4. Ephesian 6:12-17

12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, -Ephesian 6:12-17

(B) Who are the "evil spiritual forces in the heavenly places" and what can they do to me? What is the "belt of truth", "breastplate of righteousness", "gospel of peace", "shield of faith", "helmet of salvation", and "sword of the Spirit"? How do I use these things to fight these evil forces?