Archives for July 2009

does temperance = moderation?

The debate over the use of alcohol continues to rage over at Sharper Iron, being the most talked about topic in recent days involving a number of threads. I would refer you to my recent post on drunkenness for a biblical argument for abstinence.

One recent comment on SI included this paragraph:

To your initial question, I would respond that self control is a fruit of the Spirit and those who do not yield to Him can find themselves where you and your family found yourselves [a reference to a previous commenter’s personal testimony]. Nevertheless, it is clear from Church history and Christian circles where moderation is practiced today that this isn’t as mysterious as we sometimes pretend it is. Those who imbibe in moderation don’t drink wine as though it were Gatorade after a long run. They have it in small quantities with dinner or a beer after work. I’ve often wondered at the large wine glasses and small quantities that they pour. This is apparently not just to enhance the wine’s bouquet but the practice of moderation.

This comment sparked some thinking. Notice the first line: “self control is a fruit of the Spirit”. This appears to be a reference to Gal 5.23 where ‘egkrateia’ is translated by the NAS and ESV as “self-control” (KJV = “temperance”).

Notice that later in the paragraph the idea of self-control is equated with ‘moderation’. “Those who imbibe in moderation…” and “… the practice of moderation.”

Now, we wonders, does temperance = moderation?

A look at the words involved seems to indicate something quite the contrary.

[Read more…]

7.26.09 gbcvic sermons

Yesterday, it fell my lot to be driving teens back from camp in Alberta. I started out from my parents’ home at 3:15 am our time and arrived at my house at 9:15 pm. That’s 18 hours of almost continuous travel, just a few stops along the way. (And no speeding tickets, as one of my folks at church was quick to check.)

This seems to be part of the work in a small ministry – sometimes you put yourself into very demanding seasons of work for the sake of being a help to your people, especially when it comes to encouraging your teens.

And I offer the note as a bit of background for my ebbing energy level as the day progressed… Now for the summaries:

What Means This Sign? [Romans]

Rm 4.11-12

Our verses today are quite complicated – a sentence explaining the significance of Abraham’s circumcision and its blessing and example for those of us who follow him today.

The Fall of Man (1) [Basic Theology]

We begin a new topic of Bible Study today by introducing various views of the fall of man and by considering the state of man before the fall.

Add to your Faith [Growth]

2 Pt 1.5

A look at the idea of adding or supplying additional spiritual qualities in your life to that which brings spiritual life into existence, saving faith.


beware the nuancers

Says Jay Adams, and I agree with him. Deception by sophistication is what the term usually means.


7.19.09 gbcvic sermons

Faith before Ritual [Romans]

Rm 4.9-10

Paul’s exposition of Gen 15.6 turns from justification by faith without works to justification by faith without circumcision. This argument is particularly devastating to the ritual-dependent nature of Judaism (and of Judaizers, see Galatians). The argument devastates the ritual-dependent misunderstanding of the Gospel by churches and Christians that practice infant baptism or even such things as ‘delayed infant baptism’ or the confidence placed in ‘go-forward invitations’. Salvation is by faith without works, especially religious works of ritual.

Facets of Man (4) [Basic Theology]

Today we finish this chapter of Ryrie’s Basic Theology. The lesson today is on the Mind and the Flesh, two aspects of our inner nature. As we bring the lesson to a conclusion, we get a mini-sermon on the new life in the Spirit vs. the old life of the flesh. A victorious inner life comes by a life walking ‘in the Spirit’. By this life we overcome the flesh.

Beloved Beware [Christian Growth]

2 Pt 3.17-18

Beloved, beware lest you be led away … Beloved beware for yourself. As we consider our Christian growth, we have to be aware and beware that the truth can be ‘put on the rack, and twisted’. Since this is true, we need to be aware and beware of movements in the church that would drag us away from truth and make us spiritually unstable. Instead, may we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. If that is our focus, we will be stable and unmoved by the winds of change that always threaten the Christian church.


I have to relate a little story from the end of our services today. We have two little fellows in the church about 6 years old. As they left the last service, one of them said to the other, “Man, we sat through the whole thing!” The other sagely replied, “Yep, we’re growing up.”

We all got quite a laugh out of that one.

Why would they think it is such an accomplishment to sit through ‘the whole thing’ when I am preaching? We wonders…


what about drunkenness?

On another blog, I made this comment regarding my stance against alcohol use:

I am not saying that our culture is now so corrupt that alcohol is a worldly device. I am saying that there are good and sufficient reasons for Christians today to totally abstain from alcohol use. We can make the arguments on the basis of wisdom, on the basis of changes in alcohol content and production in modern times, on the basis of clear scriptural warnings, and, I think, on the basis of the prohibition on drunkenness.

I may need to revise my statement on culture in that first sentence at some point, but my purpose here is to develop an argument against alcohol use on the basis of the prohibition on drunkenness.

The first thing we need to establish is this: What do we mean when we talk about the prohibition of drunkenness?

[Read more…]

reverse disclaimers

I was listening again this week to a presentation on the state of evangelicalism by a very prominent evangelical. I think this was delivered a year or two ago, I don’t remember exactly, just have the mp3 sitting on my hard drive.

The individual and the content of the address aren’t all that important for the purpose of this post. I was interested in how the speaker was describing various movements, in distinction with the evangelical movement.

My regular readers may remember how we have had some tussles over ‘disclaimers’ in the past few months. (Not that it is disclaimers I am after!!! I still protest that I am misunderstood.) But when fundamentalists talk about the need for disclaimers, it works this way:

The fundamentalist says something positive about some teacher/preacher outside “the camp”. The fundamentalist at the same time feels obligated to issue a disclaimer, making sure everyone knows that he knows that the guy he just said something nice about is bad in some way.

In evangelicalism, the opposite seems to be true. They use reverse disclaimers.

[Read more…]

7.12.09 gbcvic sermons

How ‘No Works’ Works for You [Romans]

Rom 3.21-4.8

Our message is a summary of the section of Romans we have most recently covered in great detail. The one great theme of this passage is justification by faith alone, no works added. The purpose of this message is to tie all this teaching together with a particular emphasis on what faith without works means. All belief systems justify self on some basis – all but true Christianity do so on the basis of faith in works. Christianity is based on faith without works, or, perhaps better, faith in the works of Someone Else.

The Facets of Man (3) [Basic Theology]

We continue our discussion of the nature of man with a look today at the ‘heart’ and the ‘conscience’. What we are after is getting a grasp of how the Bible describes the inner man.

Beloved Be Diligent [Christian Growth]

2 Pt 3.14

“Beloved be diligent … of your Christian walk” – that is the theme of our message today. As we have been considering the ‘beloved be’s of 2 Peter 3’ we have seen the call to be mindful of the word so that we will not be ignorant of God, with the result that we will be diligent in our Christian walk, energetically pursuing holiness and godliness because the day of the Lord is approaching.

fundamentalism applied to conduct

In the comments on “fundamentalism defined”, a certain ambiguity in the FBFI definition was noted at this point:

3. Endeavors to practice Biblical conduct in all areas of his life.

A question could be raised here: “So exactly how does this aspect of the definition differentiate you fundamentalists from conservative evangelicals? Don’t they believe in practicing Biblical conduct in all areas of life also?”

In my reply, I noted that other phrases of the definition might more clearly differentiate a fundamentalist from a conservative evangelical. I am willing to concede that in many ways, conservative evangelicals agree with fundamentalism in terms of “Biblical conduct in all areas of life.”

I will also concede that the statement as it stands is pretty open-ended. Everyone thinks that the way they apply the Bible to their life is the ‘Biblical’ way.

However, let’s be really clear… Fundamentalists are not vague and uncertain about what they believe to be biblical conduct.

[Read more…]


Sinaiticus is available to view online.

This might be of interest to only a select few, but the various libraries that own sheets of Sinaiticus have cooperated to make the entire codex available.

You can see photographs of each page (or fragments of pages), jump from page to page by Bible reference, see a transcription of each page as well as a translation.

Regardless of your views of the textual issues, it is tremendous that this most important manuscript of the Bible is now available for anyone to see.


7.5.09 gbcvic sermons

The Blessed Man [Romans]

Rm 4.6-8

The theme of our passage is blessedness. Justification by faith puts a man in the most blessed of conditions. David is called as a witness to the fact that righteousness is imputed to a man without works. The passage quoted, Ps 32.1-2, proclaims the blessing of a man to whom God does not impute sin. This is the opposite side of imputed righteousness, not imputed sin. Here is the great blessing of the saved man: the without-law righteousness from God imputed to him on the basis of faith AND the guilt and penalty of his sins imputed to Christ, ‘nailed to the cross’ with him, setting the believer free forever from death and hell.

The Facets of Man (2) [Basic Theology]

We continue to discuss the makeup of human nature, especially the spiritual aspect, by now considering in turn various terms that describe ‘facets’ of our nature. Today we consider the terms ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ and attempt to distinguish between them while noting there is an over-lap and something of an integration of terms here.

After the doings of the lands… [Communion, Leviticus]

Lev 18

We begin the Holiness Code section of Leviticus with a look at laws focused on preserving morality in and out of marriage. The bulk of the chapter consists of prohibitions against various forms of incest, but it also includes prohibitions of child sacrifice and perverse immorality. The redemptive message of these prohibitions is found in 1 Cor 6.9-11: ‘and such were some of you.’ No sin, no matter how distasteful and perverse, can bar the door to the washing, the sanctifying, or the justifying available by the death of Christ and the ministration of the Spirit.