Archives for March 2009

3.29.09 gbcvic sermons

But Now! (Rm 3.21)

The gospel revolutionizes everything. There is no defense against the charges of the law. Nothing can be said… but incredibly there is a defense! A defense hidden through the ages in type and symbol, but witnessed by Law and prophets of a ‘without-law’ righteousness, now fully manifested and in full effect. But now! Delivered from sin at last!

The Bible and Origins (1)

We turn to the subject of origins according to the One Source of Truth, the Bible. Our faith in the inerrancy of the Bible is the essential presupposition that guides our study, and those facts that may be certainly known are those the Bible reveals. We begin with the first principles of creation: it is the work of the One Creator God, the God of Genesis 1.

Perseverance in Christian Liberty (Gal 5.1)

Christian liberty is the purpose of Christ’s liberating work. The Lord did not save us that we should any longer be in bondage, he saved us to live the full liberty of Christian life, the life of a Christian citizen of the Kingdom of God. The imperative of this verse calls us to persevere in our liberty, never again being entangled in bondage.

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counselling the terminally ill

An article in Christianity Today brings to mind some thoughts concerning illness, especially terminal illness and the way Christians should approach them. The article is entitled, “Does Faith Prolong Suffering for Cancer Patients?

A key quote:

Because religious patients often trust in God’s sovereignty and an afterlife, “one might expect them to be more accepting of death and let nature take its course at the end of life, rather than pursuing very aggressive treatments,” said Dr. Andrea Phelps, lead author on the study and senior medical resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. Such a view, she said, reflects a commonly held assumption about how religious patients approach the prospect of imminent death.

But, Phelps added, a few reasons might help explain why religious cancer patients commonly opt for aggressive care in their final days. Among the possibilities:

—faith leads to optimism, even when a prognosis is bleak;

—faith gives purpose to suffering, and in turn helps patients muster stamina for invasive treatments;

—beliefs about sanctity of life may give rise to a quest to prolong life at almost any cost.

“We were concerned” by the study’s findings, Phelps said. “We are worried because aggressive care, at least among cancer patients, is a difficult and burdensome treatment that medically doesn’t usually provide a whole lot of benefit.”

My question: should Christians ‘fight’ when it comes to disease? Often when someone gets very ill, believing family members will talk about ‘let’s fight this’ or ‘you’re going to fight this, aren’t you?’

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a question regarding a hymn

I have been thinking a little lately about the popular hymn by Aaron Wolfe, Complete in Thee. The tune is lovely and the thoughts of the hymn are generally appreciated.

I am wondering, however, about the second verse:

Complete in Thee! No more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.

Is this verse teaching some kind of perfectionism? It seems odd that it should, the author being a Presbyterian and the year being 1858, but it is the "no more shall sin" line that makes me wonder.

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3.22.09 gbcvic sermons

The Knowledge of Sin (Rm 3.20)

The sin section of Romans comes to its conclusion with this verse, which gives the cause, or reason, why no man has any defense or anything to say before God. The law cannot justify, it can only reveal the depth of human need and human sinfulness. The deeds of the law only prove yet again how much we need righteousness not our own.

Evolution and Origins (2)

In preparation for discussing the theology of Man, we continue a brief overview of evolution and its challenges. In this session we outline four areas where evolution has problems: mutations, natural selection, time, and the fossil record. Each of these areas represent weaknesses in the theory.

The Concept of Christian Liberty (Gal 5.1)

We continue our look at Christian living as taught by Paul in Galatians. This message is an introductory message intended to aid understanding of the concept of liberty. Men without God are in bondage three ways, according to the scriptures: to sin, to the law, and to death. The work of Christ liberates us from bondage, making us free to live in the Spirit, no longer bound by the flesh but bound to Christ.

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A good day today, several visitors, enough to mostly make up for our regulars who were away traveling or with sickness.

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a definition of theology

More Warfield today….

Warfield moves on in his discussion of theology to give us this definition:

A science is defined from its subject-matter; and the subject-matter of theology is God in His nature and in His relations with His creatures. Theology is therefore that science which treats of God and of the relations between God and the universe.1

Warfield says the simple phrase ‘the science of God’ can be used as a sort of shorthand for this definition, since it implies the notion of God as God and God in relation to His creatures. (By the way, this ‘relation to creatures’ is essential for there to be a theology at all – if the Deists were right there could be no theology for God would have no interest or part in his creatures, if they could be called that. It seems to me that theistic evolutionists have something of the same problem.)

Terms like ‘the science of faith’, however, or ‘the science of religion’ or even ‘the science of Christian religion’ confuse the issue and are inadequate as definitions of theology. Why is this so? They are inadequate primarily because they are subjective.

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Notes:

  1. Warfield, Works: Studies in Theology, p. 56. []

God save the queen

In Canada, this is something we sing and mean it. However, this post isn’t about her. It is rather about the “queen of the sciences”.

What is the queen of the sciences? Google it… and you will see the title claimed for either mathematics or theology. Who is the usurper here? How dare they! Which queen should we ask God to save?

Of course, you may guess that I am interested in the theological side of the question. I am doing a little reading in Warfield and thought I might muse on something he said in his essay, “The Idea of Systematic Theology”.

Warfield wrote the article in response to a somewhat sneering evaluation of the term ‘Systematic Theology’ in the 1894 Bibliotheca Sacra, where a Dr. Simon declared the term to be an “impertinent tautology”. Dr. Simon finds the tautological term offensive because it suggests that there are other departments of theology “which are not methodical.”

Dr. Warfield wrote in defense of the notion. I am just getting into this essay, I read Warfield when I have a few minutes here and there, so we will only progress on this at a snail’s pace (my favourite way). Warfield argues that the idea of systematic theology has to do with what is meant by its presentation, as a system of ideas (or a philosophy or science of theology) rather than as suggesting other types of theology are not methodological.

Now, I have been known to suggest that systematic theology is inferior to other forms of theology because it suffers a particular failing. Dr. Warfield, I find, is convincing me that I am perhaps too hasty, at least as far as the idea of systematic theology is concerned.

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3.15.09 gbcvic sermons

An excellent day today in our church. Here are the sermon links:

Every Mouth is Stopped (Rm 3.19)

The concluding verses of the ’sin section’ of Romans contains words reminiscent of a court-room setting. It as if the prosecution has completed its case. All eyes turn to the defence, but nothing can be said. Every mouth is stopped. The whole world is guilty before God.

Evolution and Origins (1) [Basic Theology]

We return to our survey of Ryrie’s Basic Theology with a look at the first part of his chapter on the doctrine of man. He begins the subject by dealing with the notion of evolution and some of the problems with the theory. Today we simply reviewed the definitions for the three possible alternatives: evolution, theistic evolution, and creationism.

Our Church, Your Lifestyle

What kind of life should Christians have? Our view is that Christians should pursue a simple Christian lifestyle that is conscious of the temporary nature of the world and eschews close association or familiarity with worldly things. Our church tries instead to encourage a biblically spiritual style of life.

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We had several visitors today. One is a family that has begun attending recently. Three times in a row is encouraging! Another is a fellow who contacted me recently as a result of our Creation Seminar. It was great to see him in our services for the first time. And last, a fellow who has attended a couple of times in the last year and a half returned today. He told me that he has definitely repented of his sin and turned to Christ and would be back. He seemed to have a new light in his countenance, something that has never been there before. Praise the Lord!

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applied fundamentalism

It’s been a long (but blessed) day. See previous post. I am still up late after an early morning. I am attempting to make a DVD of the funeral for family members to take home to loved ones who were too ill to attend.

While I wait for the process to conclude, I thought I’d make an attempt to answer questions that came from this post regarding this event held at our church.

The event we held was a Creation Seminar led by Dr. Emil Silvestru, a geologist with Creation Ministries International (formerly Answers in Genesis). The question, as I understand it, is essentially this: How does your sponsorship of this event square with your previously stated views on separation?

I think the question is a fair question, as I stated in my initial brief reply:

In deciding on this particular event, I had some misgivings and am still not certain we made the right decision.

Now for a more detailed answer.

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3.12.09 gbcvic special service

When Dying is Gain (Phil 1.21) Paul Johnson

Lois Herring is the wife of long-time missionary pastor Dennis Herring. Her husband is the pastor of Chase River Baptist Church in Nanaimo, BC. She has been his ‘right arm’ for over fifty years. We had the privilege of gathering today in our church to support our brother and to honour Lois’ life.

The meeting was a gathering of many churches from all over Western Canada. Visitors came from such places as Calgary, Alberta and Prince George, BC. One of our deacons was thrilled with how the crowd “made our rafters ring”. The service was a real blessing to all, and especially to bro. Herring.

The participants included our pastor with the eulogy, Pastor Gordon Conner of Greater Vancouver Baptist Church as our song leader, bro. Wayne Pelland and Pastor Jason Buechert with special music, Pastor Bill Carter of Capital City Baptist Church reading the Scripture and leading in prayer, Jon Konnerup, Mission Director of BBFI Missions with a testimony, and Pastor Paul Johnson of Grace Baptist Church of the Comox Valley with the sermon.

The message was a powerful exposition of Phil 1.21 that showed us just what it means to have a death that is truly gain. The death that is truly gain comes from the life that is lived completely sold out for Jesus Christ.

[Please note: this recording is of the entire service, including our congregational singing.]

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I encourage you to listen to our service, especially the sermon. It is one of the finest funeral messages I have ever heard. (And that’s in spite of the fact that it is my ‘little brother’ doing the preaching!)

UPDATE: If you would like to listen to the funeral message by itself, we have uploaded an audio of the sermon only at the link above.

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precious in the sight of the Lord

I mentioned briefly last week something that we have been busy with these last days, the care and visitation of a dear pastor’s wife in our local hospital. Just a few hours ago, at about 10:20 pm, Pacific Time, our friend and fellow-servant went to be with the Lord.

Lois Herring served with her husband Dennis in many fields over the years. First serving in Ethiopia, the Herrings also served the Lord in Kenya, the Congo, the province of Quebec, and finally these last years in British Columbia.

Words that describe Lois to me are these: quiet, strong, modest, diligent, sacrificial, and most of all faithful. I commented to my wife in one of our trips to take care of needs these last few days that such people are the backbone of the church, perhaps the most important part of the church, and those who get the least recognition on earth.

In this last illness, Lois had some sense that she was in trouble earlier this fall, but the full extent of her illness wouldn’t come to light until this most recent struggle. And in the end, pneumonia set into both lungs so that her weakened body was just unable to overcome.

Pray for brother Dennis as you think of him. There will be many details that he will have to go through now, regardless of his loss, because it will have to be done. There is a small little church, barely begun to be planted, in Nanaimo, BC. There is the matter of a deep personal loss. So please do pray for him.

We sorrow not as those who have no hope, but we do sorrow.

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