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Monday, December 17, 2007

My Kids Learning To Swim

You will notice there are six ducklings!

So Much To Read, So Little Time!

I recently bought several more books. One via ebay two at a thrift store, one my wife bought me at a thrift store, and my daughter gave me $50.00 for Christmas and I managed to spend it all in a half price book store. The sad thing is that I want to read all the book along with the other two shelves of books I want to read. I am presently reading 2 or 3 books with most of my reading being devoted to the biography of John Calhoun.

Here is a list of books recently purchased:

The Cathars by Sean Martin
The Anabaptist Story by W. R. Estep
Lee and Grant by Gene Smith
Backgrounds of Early Christians by Everett Ferguson
The Battle for Truth by David A. Noebel
The Development of Southern Sectionalism 1819-1848 by Sydnor
Lone Star Nation by H. W. Brands
The Fall of the Roman Empire by Michael Grant
Cities of the Biblical World by LaMoine F. DeVries (for reference)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

George Muller And Baptism

In reading the biography about George Muller I came across an interesting story about his views on baptism. Although Muller was not a Baptist it is interesting that he ultimately came to embrace the Baptist (and I might add Scriptural) view of baptism as it relates to the proper subject and mode of baptism. I fully understand that in adopting the positions he does not confirm the truth of the positions. They would have been true whether he adopted them or not. The means by which he came to the conclusions I found interesting and I thought others might find it equally interesting.

"While at Sidmouth, preaching, in April, 1830, three believing sisters held in his presence a conversation about believer's baptism, which proved the suggestion of another important step in his life, which has a wider bearing than at first is apparent.

They naturally asked his opinion on the subject about which they were talking, and he replied that , having been baptized as a child, he saw no need of being baptized again. Being further asked if he had ever yet prayerfully searched the word of God as to its testimony in this matter, he frankly confessed that he had not.

At once, with unmistakable plainness of speech and with true fidelity, one of these sisters in Christ promptly said: "I entreat you, then, never again to speak any more about it till you have done so."

Such a reply George Muller was not the man either to resent or to resist. He was too honest and conscientious to dismiss without due reflection any challenge to search the oracles of God for the witness upon any given question. Moreover, if, at that very time, his preaching was emphatic in any direction, it was in the boldness with which he insisted that all pulpit teaching and Christian practice must be subjected to one great test, namely, the touchstone of the word of God. Already an Elijah in spirit, his great aim was to repair the broken-down altar of the Lord, to expose and rebuke all that hindered a thoroughly scriptural worship and service, and, if possible, to restore apostolic simplicity of doctrine and life.

As he thought and prayed about this matter, he was forced to admit to himself that he had never yet earnestly examined the Scriptures for their teaching as to the position and relation of baptism in the believer's life, nor had he even prayed for light upon it. He had nevertheless repeatedly spoken against believer's baptism, and so he saw it to be possible that he might himself have been opposing the teaching of the Word. He therefore determined to study the subject until he should reach a final, satisfactory, and scriptural conclusion; and thenceforth, whether led to defend infant baptism or believer's baptism, to do it only on Scriptural grounds.

The mode of study which he followed was characteristically simple, thorough, and business-like, and was always pursued afterward. He first sought from God the Spirit's teaching that his eyes might be opened to the Word's witness, and his mind illumined; then he set about a systematic examination of the New testament from beginning to end. So far as possible he sought absolutely to rid himself of all bias of previous opinion or practice, prepossession or prejudice; he prayed and endeavoured to be free from the influence of human tradition, popular custom, and churchly sanction, or that more subtle hindrance, personal pride in his own consistency. He was humble enough to be willing to retract any erroneous teaching and renounce any false position, and to espouse that wise maxim: ' Don't be consistent, but simply be true.' Whatever may have been the case with others who claim to have examined the same question for themselves, the result in his case was that he came to the conclusion, and, as he believed, from the word of God and the Spirit of God, that none but believer's are the proper subject of baptism, and that only immersion is its proper mode."

He was subsequently immersed as a believer.

The account goes on discussing his view of baptism years later:

"Years after, in reviewing his course, he records the solemn conviction that 'of all revealed truths, not one is more clearly revealed in the Scriptures - not even the doctrine of justification by faith - and that the subject has only become obscured by men not having been willing to take the Scriptures alone to decide the point.'"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Political Convention That Matters??

For all of you political junkies here is an interesting article on the status of the Republican nomination for President.

David Reddoso paints a very interesting picture in relation to the possibility of the Republican National Convention next summer. It is interesting to see how he crunches the numbers in relation to delegates and leaves open the possibility of the Republicans opening their convention without a nominee.

Now that would make for some exciting politics. Imagine multiple floor votes until someone gets a majority. It would be a rousing good time! Of course it also conjures up visions of smoke-filled rooms where political deals are cut and everybody leave the convention owing everybody else.

I especially like his idea that they could nominate someone at the convention who is not even running. And by the way, my Dad has been saying for a couple of months that this might happen.

After all this is the way it use to be done!

The Rapture Of The Saints

Commenting on another posts some one had indicated that they had been raised in a church that taught a pre-tribulation rapture of the saints. It was also indicated that this person had come across an number of websites and such that argue that the teaching of the rapture is false doctrine. The person was wondering what I thought about this and so here is my understanding of that event that is often referred to as the rapture of the saints.

There are some who do not believe in a rapture, they are generally Amillennialist in their eschatology. They see every passage dealing with the coming of Christ as a single event. They do not recognize the appearing of Christ and the coming of Christ as two different phases of the second coming. But.....before I get to bogged down here let me give the basis upon which I believe that there will be a rapture of the saints.

First of all it is important to note that their is a clear distinction made between the appearing of Christ and the coming of Christ.

2 Timothy 4:1 - I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

The Lord is going to judge the living and the dead at both his appearing and his kingdom.

Several verses in the New Testament make reference to the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3:4 - When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

1Timothy 6:14 - That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Titus 2:13 - Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 9:28 - So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

1Peter 1:7 - That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

1Peter 5:4 - And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

1John 2:28 - And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

While there is a sense in which we could call this a coming he does not in fact come all the way back to earth but we will, as the Scripture declares, meet him in the air. This is the reason why the word "appear" is the word of choice because it more accurately describes what will take place.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

This passage teaches us several things about a future event:

1. Jesus will return with the spirits of the dead saints.
2. The dead in Christ will be resurrected.
3. The living saints "shall be caught up" together with the resurrected saints.
"Shall be caught up" is translated from a Greek word that means to seize, catch away or up.
Thus the term "rapture" is applied.
4. We will meet the Lord in the air. He does not return to earth.
5. We will be with the Lord. Living and resurrected saints both.
6. These are to be comforting words.

What happens to the living saints at the event described above? The Scripture does not leave us to speculate.

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 - Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Not all of the saints will be deceased when Christ appears. At the last trump the dead shall be raised incorruptible. And we, Paul says shall be changed. Notice the "we", Paul obviously was anticipating a personal experience with this. That he would be among the living and that he would be changed. What is the nature of the change? Our corruptible will put on incorruption. Our mortality will put on immortality. We will be glorified at the appearing of Christ when we are caught up to meet him in the air.

Paul expressed it this way to the Philippians:

Philippians 3:20,21 - For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

We are to be looking for, anticipating, expecting the Saviour from heaven. When he appears he will change our vile bodies. They will be made like his glorious body. Our corruption will be changed to incorruption. Our mortality will put on immortality.

Then will be brought to pass the saying, "that mortality might be swallowed up of life."

John explains it thus:

1John 3:2 - Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

When he appears we shall be like him. Our vile bodies will be fashioned like to his glorious body.

This appearing is referred to as the believer's blessed hope.

Titus 2:13 - Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

The above passages should leave little doubt as to why it is characterized as a glorious appearing!

This is the short answer. If there is any specific questions I would be happy to answer them, if I can? After studying the Bible for 30 years I realize that every short answer also has a very long answer, and every answer provided has the potential to give rise to more questions, leading us to realize that the Bible is one vast series of connections and related parts. As overwhelming as this can seem at times it is for this very reason that we believe that Scripture is the very best interpreter of Scripture!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Thankfully A Good Guy Had A Gun!

The following is a small part of a larger article on two shootings that took place in Colorado over the last couple of days.

"The gunman at the New Life Church was shot and killed by a church security guard after entering the church's main foyer with high-powered rifle shortly before 1 p.m. and opening fire, Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers said. Four others were wounded, Myers said.

The church's 11 a.m. service had recently ended, and hundreds of people were milling about when the gunman opened fire.

Nearby were parents picking up their children from the nursery.

Police arrived to find that the gunman had been killed by a member of the church's armed security staff, Myers said.

'There was a courageous staff member who probably saved many lives here today,' Myers said.'"

With hundreds of people milling around it is fearful to think what may have happened had this armed security guard not stopped the lethal threat being posed by this individual who was seeking to deprive innocent bystanders of their God given rights to life and liberty!

288 Opinions About The Way To Happiness

The following is from another message by Thomas Watson entitled, The Beatitudes preached in 1660.

"In what does happiness consist?

Millions of people mistake both the nature of happiness, and the way there. Some of the learned have noted 288 opinions about the way to happiness—and all have shot wide of the mark!

How do men thirst after the world—as if the pearl of happiness hung upon an earthly crown! "Oh," says one, "if I had but such an estate—then I would be happy! Had I but such a comfort—then I would sit down satisfied!" Well, God gives him that comfort and lets him suck the very juice out of it—but, alas, it falls short of his expectation. It cannot fill the emptiness and longing of his soul!

Happiness does not lie in the acquisition of worldly things. Happiness cannot by any chemistry—be extracted from the world. Christ does not say, 'Happy are the rich,' or 'Happy are the noble.' Yet too many idolize these things. How ready is man to terminate his happiness in external worldly things! If they have but worldly accommodations, they are ready to say with that brutish fool in the gospel, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years, take your ease—eat, drink and be merry!"

But alas! The tree of happiness does not grow in an earthly paradise. Has not God 'cursed the ground' because of sin? Yet many are digging for happiness here—as if they would fetch a blessing out of a curse! A man may as well think to extract oil out of a stone, or fire out of water—as happiness out of earthly things!

King Solomon had more worldly things than any man. His crown was hung full of jewels. He had treasuries of gold. He had the flower and quintessence of all delights—sumptuous fare, stately edifices, vineyards, lands, all sorts of music to enchant and ravish the senses with joy. If there were any rarity—it was present in king Solomon's court. Thus did he bathe in the perfumed waters of pleasure.

Never did the world cast a more smiling aspect upon any man! Yet when he comes to give his impartial verdict, he tells us that the world has 'vanity' written upon its frontispiece; and all those golden delights he enjoyed, were but a painted felicity—a glorious misery! "Behold! All was vanity!" Happiness is too noble and delicate a plant, to grow in this world's soil. Worldly joys are but sugared lies—pleasant deceits—which have not one grain of true happiness! Nothing on earth can satisfy the soul's desires!

"The world passes away!" (1 John 2:17). Worldly delights are winged. They may be compared to a flock of birds in the garden—which stay a little while—but when you come near to them—they take their flight and are gone! Just so, "riches make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven!" They are like a meteor which blazes—but soon burns out. They are like a castle made of snow—lying under the fiery beams of the sun. Worldly comforts are like tennis balls—which are bandied up and down from one to another. They are like a bouquet of flowers—which withers while you are smelling it. They are like ice—which melts away while it is in your hand.

Those things which do more vex than comfort—cannot make a man truly happy. As riches are compared to wind—to show their vanity; so they are compared to thorns—to show their vexation. Thorns are not more apt to tear our garments—than riches to tear our hearts! They are thorns in the gathering—and they prick with anxious care. They pierce the head with care of getting, so they wound the heart with fear of losing. Happiness is not to be fetched out of the earth! Worldly comforts cannot make you happy. You might live rich—and die cursed! You might treasure up an estate—and God might treasure up wrath!"

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Sea Of Sin - And Not A Drop Of Sorrow!

Another quote from Thomas Watson in a message entitled, A Divine Cordial preached in 1663.

"One sign of genuine love to God—is grief for sin. Where there is love to God—there is a grieving for our sins of unkindness against Him. A child who loves his father, cannot but weep for offending him. The heart which burns in love—melts in tears. 'Oh! that I should abuse the love of so dear a Savior! Shall I give Him more gall and vinegar to drink! How disloyal and hypocritical have I been! How have I grieved His Spirit, trampled upon His royal commands, and slighted His blood!'

This opens a vein of godly sorrow, and makes the heart bleed afresh. 'He went out, and wept bitterly!' That Peter should deny Christ after he had received such amazing love from Him—this broke his heart with grief! 'He went out, and wept bitterly!'

By this, let us test our love to God. Do we shed the tears of godly sorrow? Do we grieve for our unkindness against God, our abuse of His mercy, our non-improvement the talents which He has given us?

How far are they from loving God—who sin daily, and their hearts never smite them! They have a sea of sin—and not a drop of sorrow! They are so far from being troubled, that they make merry with their sins. ' . . . . when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest!' (Jer. 11:15). Oh wretch! Did Christ bleed for sin—and do you laugh at it!"

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snow Geese

On a field trip to the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge today we saw hundreds of snow geese coming in for a landing. There ended up being close to 1,000 there. In January and February there are up to 30,000 snow geese on the refuge. Some of them fly some 5,000 miles from the Artic Circle to visit Freeport every year. It really was a sight to see them landing between 50 and 100 at a time.
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As Proud And Carnal As Ever

The following is from a message by Thomas Watson entitled, A Divine Cordial from 1663:

"Grace changes the heart!

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. - 2 Corin. 5:17

The true Christian has a great change wrought. Not a change of the faculties—but of the tendencies. He is altered from what he was before. His body is the same—but not his mind. Oh what a metamorphosis does grace make!

There is a change wrought in the UNDERSTANDING. Before, there was ignorance—but now there is light. The first work of God in the creation of the world was light—likewise it is in the new creation. He now says, 'I once was blind—but now I see!' (John 9:25). He sees such evil in sin, and excellency in the ways of God—as he never saw before! It is a marvelous light, because it is more penetrating. Other light may shine upon the face—but this light shines into the heart, and enlightens the conscience (2 Cor. 4:6).

There is a change wrought in the WILL. The will, which before opposed Christ—now embraces Him. The will, which was an iron sinew against Christ—is now like melting wax, and readily receives the stamp and impression of the Holy Spirit. The will now moves heavenward—and carries all the affections along with it. The will now says, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' (Acts 9:6). Before, the will kept Christ out; now, it keeps sin out! Oh what a happy change is wrought here!

There is a change wrought in the CONDUCT. He who is saved, walks directly contrary to what he did before. He once walked in envy and malice—now he walks in love! He once walked in pride—now he walks in humility. In the heart there is a new birth—and in the life there is a new conduct.

Thus we see what a mighty change grace makes.

How far are they from salvation, who never had any change!They are the same today—as they were forty or fifty years ago.They are as proud and carnal as ever! They have had no change in their heart. Let not them think to leap out of the harlot's lap (the world) into Abraham's bosom! They must either have a gracious change while they live—or a cursed change when they die!"