For The Truth

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Free Will

There is nothing better in life than raising children to show us free will in action.  By free will I mean, as Jonathan Edwards explains, God’s allowance of us to make choices based on our disposition.  To the naïve and delusional this may seem well and good.  Yet when we examine the nature of man (Rom. 3:10-12; Gen. 8:21), we discover that apart from divine intervention our disposition inclines us only toward evil.  This is even true for the seemingly good and their benevolent acts.  What seems good to man in reference to man’s standards must be seen in the light of a holy God and His perfect standard.  When compared to God’s standard, man fails to “make the grade.”  This is even true of our dear children.  We love them and cherish their little personalities, but apart from the Lord’s hand they are doomed to sin and separation, forever!  Lest we delude ourselves though, we need to recognize that the struggle against our sinful disposition does not end at justification.  It is then that the struggle begins in earnest (Rom. 7:15,21-24).  The sanctification process is a lifelong struggle, in the strength of the Lord, of becoming holy, as our God is holy.  Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, that it is He who will save us from this wretched body of death.  And it is so.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Strength and weakness

My devotion this morning brought three truths to bear on my mind.  1) “Whenever the Lord grants us great success, we should not be surprised if people envy us.”  This is important to remember from two aspects.  As stated, when we have been granted success, we need to be prepared for criticism and opposition.  The same sovereign Lord that granted the success can also supply the strength and discernment to handle the jealousy of others. Secondly, we must be cautious of the criticism we mete out to others.  Is it a just criticism or just jealousy?  Across our nation there are many large and apparently successful churches.  We may disagree with the methods and teachings of some of these churches.  These issues may be anything from the clearly heretical, to those that have more to do with form, style, taste, or preference.  We must be cautious to bring Scripture to bear on these issues and not merely our personal preference.  2) “If any have estranged themselves from us, they are not to be repelled when they again offer themselves to us.”  We all want grace and mercy, but are often reluctant to give the same to others.  Matthew 5:9 tells us that God blesses the peacemaker, and in chapter 18 we are told that our forgiveness is to be extended to those who have offended us over and over.  How much should we forgive others?  Well, how much has God forgiven us?  3) “Our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness.”  This is the point that actually moved me to write this blog.  Some of us may have only one or two strengths while others of us may have been blessed with many strengths.  Concurrently, the number of strengths we have is at the least, the number of our weaknesses.  We may have more weaknesses than strengths, but we will certainly not have less.  Maybe your strength is in the understanding and exposition of Scripture; then you must guard against the arrogance that can lead you to trust in your own understanding and therefore lead you into heresy (or at the very least, majoring in the minors or minoring in the majors).  Is your strength a great love and compassion for others?  Then you must guard against the desire to compromise truth because you want someone to feel loved and accepted.  What about discernment?  If this is your strength, you must also guard against arrogance that shows forth itself as a critical spirit.  Many are the strengths with which our Father in Heaven may bless us with for the work He has set before us; but we must be continually before His face and be immersed in His Word so that we may guard against perverting His gifts to us.  And we must always remember that it is in our total reliance on the Lord that we find our true strength; and the purpose and goal of these strengths is His glory.  Now and Forever!

The stimulus for this post comes from my morning devotional reading in Tabletalk from Ligonier Ministries.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Baptist Banner

“The Baptist Banner is an independent ministry whose purpose is to inform readers and in particular Virginia Baptists concerning issues and events relate to Baptist life from a biblically conservative perspective.”  Banner Statement of Purpose

I look forward to the arrival of each edition of the Banner.  It’s not just that I am biased because I am the pastor of the editor, T.C. Pinckney; I am biased, but it is more than that.  In my first pastorate, a much embattled time of ministry, a time of growth by trial (trial and error—lots of trial and persecution and a fair amount of error on all sides), the Banner was a bright light arriving at an often dark time in my life, and an anchor of hope that all of Virginia hadn’t turned its back on God and His Word and slipped into darkness (okay, okay, maybe that is a bit dramatic, but there were days).  It was a reminder that all across this state, this country, and the world were men of God proclaiming and standing for the truth.  It was a source of encouragement, and for that I am grateful to T.C. and the supporters of the Banner.

As we begin a new month, I would like to recap the fare provided by the Banner for the month of January.  On the front page is a Wrap for State conventions for 2006 with a focus on five states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  Following is a summary of state budgets.  The greatest portion of the article is devoted to a roster that attempts to classify the current states leadership in relation to their willingness to support the SBC.  It is important in this section to pay attention to the first paragraph where terms are defined.  On the following pages are two more state related articles; one concerning the forming of an investigative committee in Missouri and another about a church in Alabama that has been disaffiliated from their local association after hiring a female associate pastor.

Returning to the front page there is an article by Dr. Al Mohler on “The perverse logic of abortion.”  Dr. Mohler reminds us that “the issue of abortion is not merely a major front in the nation’s culture war,” but that it concerns the termination of human life (life that bears the image of God), yet most Americans live as if nothing wrong is going on.  He also draws attention to an article that offers a candid look at the life and logic of one of our nation’s most notorious abortion providers, a man who cloaks his deeds in religious language.  Also along this both sad and shameful topic is an article by Dr. Russell Moore that focuses on Catholics and Evangelicals who are a part of the abortion machinery, either as patients or operators, their flawed doctrine of grace, and the importance of pastors presenting a biblical understanding of both sin and grace.  On the facing page is a short piece referencing a study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry that showed the increased risk of mental health problems in women who have had abortions.  Most shocking of all is Tom Strodes article on the urging of doctors in the United Kingdom to consider the euthanasia of newborns.

Other contributions in the January issue include an article on the adoption of a statement on inerrancy by the Evangelical Theological Society; a book review of Jack’s Life, The Life Story of C. S. Lewis written by Douglas Gresham; an article titled “How to have a Mundane Marriage” bringing attention to Covenant Marriage Sunday, which is February 11th (for more information go to  There is also a plug for a great website for kids,, another book review featuring Millstones & Stumbling Blocks by Bradley Heath that addresses understanding education in our post-Christian country, and finally a great quote by Southern Baptist father B. H. Carroll on Baptists and creeds.

For more information on The Baptist Banner click the link.