Friday, March 30, 2007
More on Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith Controversy
I have found a couple more interesting articles on the controversial Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD.

First, Mormon-owned Deseret Morning News has another report: "Anti-Mormon DVD triggers a strong LDS Church rebuke."

Second, Baptist Press released a news story on the nationwide distribution: "Utah outreach effort upsets Mormons."

Remember, if you want to see the DVD itself, you can watch the complete video online.

UPDATE: Check out an interesting article over at WorldNetDaily: "Patrol confronts students over Christian literature."

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Thursday, March 29, 2007
John Piper on God and the Gospel
Today's chapel sermon by John Piper was another challenging and deeply edifying message.

He continued his series by expositing 2 Corinthians 3:18-4:7, "The Gospel of Christ." Makes sure to Download and listen to it (in MP3 format). And don't forget his previous sermon.

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Interfaith Relationships
Aaron Shafovaloff has written some helpful words over at the Mormon Coffee blog: "Should Christians stay in manipulative interfaith relationships?" Here are his opening thoughts:

Suppose you are in a dialog with someone over the most important things in all of reality--eternal life and the heart and holiness and the heinousness of sin and the glory of God and the nature of deity and the worship of the Creator and the promise of everlasting joy for believers and the future of eternal, conscious torment for idolaters. Whew. Important stuff, isn't it? What would you do if this friend told you that if you ever asked penetrating questions or seriously challenged his beliefs or made an embarrassing moral accusation against him that he would cut off ties from you?

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith Controversy
Well, it was inevitable. The nationwide distribution of the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD has brought its share of controversy.

Today, LDS-owned Deseret Morning News published "Utahns receiving anti-Mormon DVDs." The Salt Lake Tribune also included an article in today's paper: "LDS a cult? 350,000 DVDs try to shake Mormons' faith."

Additionally, KUTV in Salt Lake City reported on the outreach yesterday: "Anti-Mormon Group Uses DVDs to Sway Members." Their news report can be seen on video.

Let us continue to pray that Jesus Christ and His gospel will be known through this video.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007
John Piper on Joy and Death
This week, John Piper is on campus to preach in our chapel services. I just finished hearing his first message. As always, Piper deeply challenged me and brought me to the throne of Jesus Christ.

His text was 2 Corinthians 1:24-2:4, and you can download his sermon here (in MP3 format).

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Monday, March 26, 2007
Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith
Over the weekend, there was a national distribution of the DVD, Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith. You can learn more about it and/or watch the video on the Search for Truth web site.

I pray that the Lord will use this video to show the irreconcilable differences between Mormonism and the historic Christian faith. You can also read a helpful review by Matt Vessey, which includes a number of additional links for further study and interaction.

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What a Joy to be at Seminary Today
What can I say? The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was the location of a sit-in today: "Gay-rights activists hold sit-in at Baptist seminary."

About two-dozen activists staged a publicity stunt--a sit-in outside President Albert Mohler's office to protest his recent comments about homosexuality. Around half of them will be arrested.

I am proud of our President's and our school's firm adherence to biblical truth regarding homosexuality. At the same time, I pray that we are able to at least show these protesters the love of Christ while they are here on campus.

Let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, v. 11 emphasized).

Jesus Christ saves homosexuals! May we all lovingly proclaim this good news to them!

UPDATE: The Courier-Journal has released a photo gallery of the event.

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September Dawn
I can't wait for this movie to come out! It is on the original September 11 tragedy--in 1857: September Dawn. I've posted on this movie before, but now you can see the trailer online. Write the release date on your calendar: May 4th. It should be an important movie dealing with Mormonism!

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Friday, March 23, 2007
Why Should I Believe in God?
Today I am posting another Q&A that I turned in for my Systematic Theology I class:

Suppose someone asks you for some reasons why he or she should believe in God. How would you construct your answer in terms of “arguments” for the existence of God? If that approach is problematic for you, just how would you answer the question?

Suppose someone asked me for some reasons why he should believe in God. How would I respond? I would say, “There is only one reason to believe in God. As your creator, you owe him your love, trust, and submission.” If this individual refuses, then he demonstrates his rebellion against his creator. As the Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 1:18ff, the reason we do not believe in God is because we suppress the truth in unrighteousness (v. 18). Humanity’s problem is not our ignorance of God but our refusal to honor him as God or to give him thanks (v. 21).

The person asking this question has already made a fundamental mistake. He is trying to sit in judgment of God. He wants to decide whether God exists. To do so, he asks me to give him arguments so that he can judge them through his use of reason. But what is reason? It is thinking logically. How can we know these rules of logic? Ultimately, they come from God. Apart from him, there is no logic or reason. So, God must be known in order to be denied. To state this point differently, someone cannot even evaluate truth claims without already assuming that God exists. In asking for reasons to believe in God, he is questioning the basis upon which he can ask this question in the first place!

Therefore, this individual needs to be confronted with his rebellion against God. Arguments that appeal to his use of reason are all flawed as normally used. They fail because they leave the questioner with the ability to sit in judgment of God. They are built upon the assumption that an individual’s problem is ignorance. If a Christian can share the compelling reasons and evidence to believe in God, then an unbeliever can make the proper decision in light of new information he has been given. The problem with this conclusion is that it begins with an invalid starting point. Those who are not Christians are repressing the truth of the God they already know. No amount of reasons or evidence will ever be compelling because their heart is set against God.

Nevertheless, this fact has not stopped Christians from using various arguments to prove the existence of God. One popular explanation is the cosmological argument. Since every beginning has a cause, there must be an uncaused cause. This cause is God. Applied to the universe, since it had a beginning (commonly known as the Big Bang), something must have caused it to come into existence. God caused the universe to begin. Next, some believers use the teleological argument. Also known as the design argument, they maintain that something is too complex or ordered to have occurred without purpose. Since it cannot be explained as an accident or by randomness, it must have been designed. This intelligent designer is God. Some individuals find the ontological argument persuasive. Anselm originated this argument, saying, “God is that [being] than which nothing greater could be conceived.” Since we can conceive of God, he exists. After all, which is greater, existence or nonexistence? Therefore, the greatest being conceived must have existence. This greatest being is God. Other Christians utilize the moral argument. We live life assuming there are objective morals. These morals assume a giver of ethics, which is God. Lastly, believers have posited the religious argument. Every society and culture has a religious core. How can this be explained? The universality of faith calls for an answer. The answer is found in God.

Obviously, these arguments use different avenues to prove God, but they all fall short of adequately responding to an unbeliever. They assume the unbeliever will be neutral in assessing their case. But as we have seen, people are not neutral. They have rejected God and suppress his truth. Additionally, what do these arguments prove? Do they lead to the God who has revealed himself through creation and in Scripture? Of course not, for the same arguments can be used by Muslims, Jews, Hindus, or any other theistic belief system. Essentially, these arguments try to establish a conception of God which will be acceptable to the reason and judgment of unbelievers.

While these arguments are not satisfactory when defending the faith, unbelievers do ask questions which Christians must answer. As the Apostle Peter says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). With this in mind, how should we respond? Believers need in love to let them know that they are in rebellion against God and to point out their inconsistency in living their lives as if God does not exist. Christians can show them that the ways they understand the world (their worldviews) are not capable of grounding their lives. We must establish that the Christian worldview provides the only true basis for our existence.

Proverbs 26:4-5 gives us a two-fold apologetic procedure when answering the unbeliever: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.” In the first place, believers should not fall into the trap of reasoning under the rules set by an unbeliever. Christians need to defend their faith by working within the biblical worldview or they will fail. In the second place, believers should answer an unbeliever according to his self-proclaimed worldview. By doing this analysis, Christians reveal the inconsistency and foolishness of an unbeliever as he lives his life opposed to God.

An unbeliever has no basis to ask me for some reasons why he should believe in God. He already knows God. The problem is that he is also running from God, determined to refuse God his rightful lordship over creation. He needs to be confronted with his foolishness and sinfulness. Through the power of the gospel, he can have salvation through Jesus Christ.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007
Calvinism vs. Arminianism
Reclaiming the Mind Ministries has put together two great conversations on the important debate between Calvinism and Arminianism. They will spend time with both Roger Olson (Arminian) and Sam Storms (Calvinist). Do you want to learn more or join in the conversation? See "Converse with Scholars."

(HT: The Reformed Evangelist)

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Great Missions Resource
David Sills just announced the redesign of his web site: Reaching and Teaching. It looks good! I appreciate its continually growing benefit for missionaries and those interested in missions work.

Keep up the great work Dr. Sills!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Predestination in Islam
I am really looking forward to a new series over at the Alpha and Omega Ministries Apologetic Blog. It is dealing with the concept of predestination in Islam. The first post is now up: "Predestination in Islam: The Doctrine Stated." Thank you Colin Smith!

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"No Neutral Ground"
A well-known Reformed Baptist preacher is Albert Martin. Pastor Martin has been an elder at Trinity Baptist Church since its inception in 1967 and has been used mightily by God through the years. My life has been no exception, having profited greatly from his sermons and lectures.

While many of his audio sermons have been made available in MP3 format, I now enjoy watching him preach. You can too, simply check out some of his video sermons. If you want to start with something to wet your appetite for more, I suggest: "No Neutral Ground."

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Calvinism, Arminianism, and the Glory of God
Pulpit Magazine has started a new series of posts by Phil Johnson (the original Pyromaniac) that is simply must-reading: "Why I Am a Calvinist (Part 1)." In his first post, Johnson answers the question: Is Arminianism damnable heresy? We really need to hear his wise response. The following is his introduction:

I love the doctrines of grace and don’t shy away from the label “Calvinist.” I believe in the sovereignty of God. I’m convinced Scripture teaches that God is completely sovereign not only in salvation (effectually calling and granting faith to those whom He chooses); but also in every detail of the outworking of Providence. “Whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:30). And He makes “all things work together for good to those who love God, [i.e.,] to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Quite simply, He “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).

That’s what people commonly mean when they speak of “Calvinism.” When I accept that label, I am not pledging allegiance to the man John Calvin. I am not affirming everything he taught, and I’m not condoning everything he did. I’m convinced Calvin was a godly man and one of the finest biblical expositors and theological minds ever, but he wasn’t always right. As a matter of fact, my own convictions are baptistic, so I am by no means one of Calvin’s devoted followers. In other words, when I accept the label “Calvinist,” it’s only for convenience’s sake. I’m not saying “I am of Calvin” in the Corinthian sense.

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Monday, March 19, 2007
New "Weird Al" Animated Video!
It is finally here! An animated video for Weird Al's song "Trapped In The Drive-Thru." I have to admit, since my review I have really come to like this song. Oh, the mundaneness of it all! Check it out over ay MySpace: "Trapped In The Drive-Thru"

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Saturday, March 17, 2007
More on Jose de Jesus Miranda
Yesterday, CBS 4 News included an interesting and brief report on Jose de Jesus Miranda (leader of the Growing in Grace cult). His brother (Pastor Carlos de Jesus Miranda) denies the messianic claims of Jose. Check out the video or read the story: "'666' Preachers Brother Calls Him a Phony."

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Friday, March 16, 2007
I Want One of These in My Front Yard!!!
My wife told me an unbelievable story . . . something about a R2-D2 mailbox. I thought she must have been trying to fool this devoted Star Wars fan, but she pointed me to TheForce.net which had an interesting report: "R2-D2 Mailboxes Confirm Rumors." Their short update included pictures of a new mailbox to be used by the United States Postal Service that celebrates the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. And guess what? These pictures included a web site link: uspsjedimaster.com.

Everyone should see this site! It almost makes me want to use snail mail again . . . well, not quite.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007
How to Win the World without Losing Your Identity
In case you haven't read it yet, Breakpoint posted a must-read article on Christianity and its relationship to culture last week: "Vive la Différence!" by T.M. Moore. It is an incredibly insightful piece. Here is Moore's conclusion:

Are you a follower of Christ? If so, you are called to be holy, as He is holy. His Holy Spirit indwells you, and He is using the holy Word of God to transform you into a glorious and radiant reflector of the very image of Jesus to the world (2 Corinthians 3:12-18; John 17:17). Does your church claim to be part of the Body of Christ? Then it, too, is called to holiness, to come out from the unclean world and celebrate the difference being a follower of Christ makes (1 Peter 2:9,10; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). You and your church are called to seek a Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy and to live by a holy, righteous, and good Law through the indwelling Spirit of God (Matthew 6:33; Romans 14:17; Romans 7:12; Ezekiel 36:26,27). You cannot be a Christian and remain unchanged; Jesus makes all things new. Your church cannot be a true church and take into its worship or tolerate in its membership those things which characterize the interests and passions of our unbelieving age rather than the character and agenda of the King of Kings. We are called to be different, so that, being different, we may achieve a kind of beauty the world knows little of, but which it cannot help but admire.

God intends to conquer the world with a message of love, forgiveness, hope, righteousness, and joy, centered on a crucified, risen, reigning, returning Savior. And He intends to do this work through His holy people who, because of the différence which radiates out from their lives, convince the watching world that God is and that He is true.

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I'm in Metro Spirit . . . Kind Of
Today is the first day I ever heard of Metro Spirit. Regardless, my blog was referenced in this weekly . . . kind of. What do I mean? As most of you know, I have posted several times on Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda and his Growing in Grace cult. Apparently, this magazine decided to quote an anonymous commenter from my first post in their latest cover story: "Followers of the Antichrist."

The article itself isn't bad and is more detailed than other reports. However, I wonder about the journalistic practice of using anonymous blog comments in articles. This method seems to be dangerous grounds. What kind of accountability remains? It makes me wonder. . . .

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007
How Good Do I Have to Be?
Earlier this week, I received an e-mail asking me what I thought about the following excerpt:

Dear God why? Why does it have to be so hard to be good? Why am I confused about heaven and salvation? Does it take just faith, or faith and being good? Father obviously I don’t want to go to hell. You designed hell so no one would want to go, but yet so many of your creations do. I guess fear is supposed to be the ultimate motivator. If Heaven were attainable by believing in you Lord, I would feel better, but later in my life I have been told it takes more. Because supposedly if you are truly saved you will not want to do bad anymore. You will not be as tempted by sin. A truly saved person wouldn’t find themselves in a bar, EVER. A truly saved person wouldn’t listen to certain music…… If it takes more than faith to be saved, how can a little 8 year old child be saved? They know enough to believe, but I will never believe that 8 year olds are not selfish, or envious. They do not start out the day with the intention not to sin. Their biggest temptations have yet to hit them. What is truly saved God? I truly believe, I truly feel convicted, I have all my life, but I have been through vicious cycles with you… I’m a goody goody, I’m not… I’m on fire… I’m not… but I feel like when I am backslidden I am not saved……

I decided that it would be best to answer as if I were directly responding to this concerned individual. Here is my reply:

I appreciate how honest you have been with me in your struggles over your spiritual life. At the same time, I really think that the only way we can resolve the deep issues you raise is by turning to God and His Word. It is through His revelation in Scripture that we can understand salvation, faith, being good or doing good works, and heaven.

So let's begin by looking at Ephesians 2:8-10: "For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them."

By studying this text, we can come to a few conclusions. First, salvation comes by faith. God became one of us in Jesus, living a life of perfect obedience to the Father, then sacrificing Himself on the cross for our sins. Three days later He was raised from the dead, showing that He overcame sin and death for our deliverance. When we turn away from our rebellion against God and embrace Jesus Christ as the One who has reconciled us to God, we are saved.

Second, all of salvation is a gift of God. Nothing we can do changes the fact that we stand condemned before our holy God, deserving His wrath. But God Himself did what we can never do through His Son, Jesus! Jesus delivered us from the guilt of our sins, taking the wrath we deserve upon Himself. Not only this, but when we are united to Christ by faith, we are perfectly righteous in Him. God no longer sees all of our shortcomings, he sees Christ's perfect righteousness. What wonderful good news!

Obviously, if God is the one who saves us, then our salvation is not a result of being good or performing good works. We are not good and righteous because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus has done for us! As a result, we cannot boast. Nothing we do earns our salvation. We are not better than anyone else. We are saved by God's grace!

Nevertheless, salvation does change us--God saves us for a purpose. Christians have been created in Christ Jesus for good works. Through the power of His Holy Spirit, we will become more like our Savior. As the Apostle Paul says elsewhere, we are "predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Romans 8:29). This doesn't mean we will overcome all sin and become perfect ourselves in this life. Just look at how Paul himself struggled with sin (Romans 7:15-25)! But God will never let go of those who are His, and over time we will become more like Christ.

Are you saved? Do you have eternal life? The Apostle John devoted an entire letter to help you answer these questions: "I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). I highly recommend studying 1 John in-depth to evaluate your relationship with God. You may want to read a commentary to assist you while working through this biblical letter as well. One commentary I'm sure you'll find helpful is The Letters of John by John R.W. Stott.

I also strongly recommend checking out a few other books: 1) Donald Whitney's How Can I Be Sure I'm a Christian?, 2) John Piper's Desiring God, and 3) John Piper's When I Don't Desire God.

I will pray for you and hope that you will continue to talk with me about these essential questions.

Because of His grace,
John Divito

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007
More on MacArthur, Premillennialism, and Amillennialism
Now that the Shepherd's Conference is over, MacArthur's notorious attack on amillennialism is available online, but it does cost $$$ to download (look for 2007 General Session 1 by John MacArthur). Pulpit Magazine has also taken up the cause, beginning with the first of three posts: "End Times Q&A (Part 1 of 3)."

Not that we amillennialists are taking this shot lying down. . . Fide-O has almost completely turned its blog over to discussing the issue. You can start with "Was Jesus an Amil?" and work forward from there. Additionally, Kim Riddlebarger has presented a helpful list of resources for study: "A Quick List of Amillennial Resources in Light of MacArthur's Charges." So has Justin Taylor: "Problems with Premillennialism." I would love to blog further on the millennial question as well as point out more great resources, but I simply don't have the time right now.

Is the millennium issue worth studying? Absolutely! As the Apostle John writes at the beginning of the book of Revelation: "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it, because the time is near!" (Revelation 1:3) Panmillennialism is just not an option for faithful followers of Christ.

At the same time, humility is required. I appreciate what Timmy Brister says in "If Stats Could Speak":

Let’s face it. Controversy sure does the job for our blogs and stats, but I wonder what the gospel does when we proclaim it? I wonder what faithful exposition of Scripture or writing about substantive material from church history does to our stat pages? Does this diagram not speak volumes about the weakness of our affections and our lust for controversy?

My hunch is that if MacArthur preached on the gospel, the stats would have looked really different. I hope I would be wrong. But a man of MacArthur’s stature gets up and says some uncharitable and controversial things on a nonessential matter of eschatology, and we are stuck to this tar baby. Would to God that we would be so stuck and staggered by the gospel! One of the things I pray and long for is that we would see a movement when our affections and attention would be so riveted by the excellencies of Jesus Christ and His gospel that we are consumed by it. That would be revival. This? This shows our need for it.

UPDATE: Justin Taylor has also posted a link to a great article by Sam Storms: "Problems with Premillennialism."

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Friday, March 09, 2007
How God Reveals Himself
This semester, I have another systematic theology class with the professor who loves to give out questions as assignments. I actually have come to enjoy them, since they allow me the opportunity to apply theology to practical ministry. As a result, I plan to start posting my answers every couple of weeks through the semester. I welcome your thoughts! Below is the question, followed by my response.

Read Romans 1:18-32. Consult two scholarly New Testament commentaries. Using the materials from the commentaries, briefly construct your understanding of the doctrine of general revelation. What is the difference between general revelation and special revelation? How do you relate this doctrine to the status of unbelievers? What relevance does general revelation and the status of unbelievers have for missions?

Our God is a God who reveals himself to us. Theologians usually distinguish between two ways in which God reveals himself to humanity: general revelation and special revelation. What is general revelation? How does it differ from special revelation? How does this doctrine relate to the status of unbelievers? What relevance does general revelation and the status of unbelievers have for missions? Answering these questions helps us to gain a better comprehension of how God relates to his image bearers.

Romans 1:18-32 provides a good starting point in understanding general revelation. In this passage, Paul writes about the existence of God’s wrath against fallen humanity. He begins: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18). But how have people suppressed the truth in unrighteousness? Paul responds: “because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (vv. 19-20). In these verses, we see Paul describing general revelation. He writes of the invisible God reveling himself through his visible creation. As a result, people know about God. Specifically, humanity knows about his eternal power and divine nature. Since everyone knows God, they are held accountable for their rejection of him—they are without excuse. Therefore, God gives them over to their corruption and sin (vv. 21-32).

This revelation is different from the special revelation that God gives in Scripture. John Stott provides a helpful explanation of how general revelation differs from special revelation. First, it is universal (given to everybody everywhere), whereas special revelation is particular (given to particular people in particular places). Second, it is natural (made through the natural order), whereas special revelation is supernatural (involving the incarnation of the Son and the inspiration of Scripture). Third, it is continuous (ongoing since creation), whereas special revelation is final (finished in Christ and Scripture). Fourth, it is creational (revealing God’s glory through creation), whereas special revelation is salvific (revealing God’s grace in Christ).[1] Consequently, distinguishing between general and special revelation proves helpful in appreciating the ways by which God reveals himself to humanity.

Nevertheless, since general revelation is universal, how does it relate to the status of unbelievers? The knowledge of God given through general revelation is not enough to save them, only to condemn them. As Paul states, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (v. 21). General revelation renders unbelievers guilty before God, but it does not provide any avenue of hope. Thomas Schreiner explains, “The knowledge of God described is hardly a saving knowledge. Paul’s purpose is to show that the knowledge of God that all people have through observing the created order is suppressed (v. 18) and distorted (vv. 21-23), so that all without exception have no excuse (v. 20). . . . The argument is not that most people are under the power of sin, but that all people, without exception, are under the dominion of sin.”[2] There are no exceptions and no excuses. Every individual knows God, but he or she suppresses this truth in unrighteousness. As a result, God’s wrath abides on all.

Unbelievers stand condemned before God—their knowledge from general revelation condemning them. This truth should propel Christians to mission work. Apart from the gospel message of Jesus Christ, unbelievers face God’s wrath. Later in the book of Romans, Paul wrote: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!’” (10:14-15) God’s special revelation in Scripture has been entrusted to his people so that we can reach out to God’s fallen world with it, proclaiming the hope of restoration in Christ. God has given his people a tremendous responsibility, but he empowers us in our task as we seek to accomplish his will.

Our God is a revealing God. He reveals himself to humanity in two ways: general revelation and special revelation. While different, both complement each other. The first brings accountability and guilt, while the second brings hope and salvation. With this in mind, followers of Christ have been commissioned by our Savior to proclaim his good news to a world that desperately needs to hear it. Through humanity responding to his revelation, God is glorified.

[1]John R.W. Stott, The Message of Romans, in The Bible Speaks Today, ed. John R.W. Stott (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press), 73.
[2]Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans, in Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Moisés Silva (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic), 85-86.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007
Phil Roberts on False Prophets
Dr. Phil Roberts, President of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently delivered an important sermon at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He preached from Matthew 7 and titled his message "False Prophets." To download the MP3, go to SEBTS's Chapel Messages page and scroll to Mar 06, 2007.

You can read a summary of his sermon in today's Baptist Press: "Roberts, in SEBTS chapel, warns against false prophets." The news story begins by saying:

When sin entered man in the Garden of Eden, it brought a distorted view of God that would manifest itself in false prophets until the second coming of Christ, R. Philip Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said at a sister seminary.

“False prophets have been with us, are with us, and they will be with us to the very end,” Roberts said after reading from Matthew 7 in a March 6 chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. “And if we take the Word of God seriously, they will be even more evident as the Day of the Lord nears.”

He noted that in the Old Testament false prophets worked to destroy the truth proclaimed by the prophets that God had ordained, and in the New Testament Christians were warned against false teachers. Modern false prophets in the United States include Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Scientists and New Age adherents, he said.

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MacArthur: The Anti-Amillennialist
All I have to say is, "Wowsa!"

Last month, I posted a link to a short article by Sam Waldron on John MacArthur and his commitment to dispensational premillennialism. It seems as if MacArthur responded to critics like Waldron and others in the opening message of this year's shepherd's conference. Tim Challies posted a summary of his lecture here: "Shepherd's Conference (I)." I can only imagine how controversial this is going to get!

Jason Robertson over at the Fide-O blog has already begun responding: "The Mocked Shepherd." In any case, I appreciate the wise words of Kim Riddlebarger ("With All Due Respect to Dr. MacArthur . . ."):

All I can say is, "calm down." OK, MacArthur fired a shot across the bow. But until I've read the transcript of his talk, I won't respond to any specific points, other than to say, if (and that's a big "if") he's been accurately quoted, then it really is too bad that someone of his stature would say the ill-informed things that he did.

From what Tim Challies reports, I don't recognize my own position in MacArthur's critique. I am certainly self-respecting (to a fault), and I am a Calvinist, who is well known for my advocacy and defense of the Reformed faith. I am also amillennial and think dispensational premillennialism defaults at a number of points.

If you wish to be "fair and balanced" about these things, then I'd plead with you to first read Horton's God of Promise (Click here: Amazon.com: God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology: Books: Michael Horton), Hoekema's Bible and the Future (Click here: Amazon.com: The Bible and the Future: Books: Anthony A. Hoekema), and my A Case for Amillennialism (Click here: Amazon.com: A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times: Books: Kim Riddlebarger), and then see if MacArthur's arguments still hold water. It would be a shame if he gave such a talk and yet was not at all conversant with the major (Calvinistic) writers who set forth and defend the other side! Sounds like he is not.

More on this to come, I am sure!

I look forward to it! I also look forward to the response from Reformed Baptist stalwarts like Sam Waldron and Richard Barcellos over at the Illumination blog (see "Wise words from Riddlebarger on MacArthur’s message on Premillennialism").

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Carson on Christianity and Culture . . . Coming Soon!
Mark Dever loves D.A. Carson and so do I. In a recent post on the Together for the Gospel blog, Dever admires Carson in "Don Carson vs. Egregious Reductionisms Again." He also makes the following announcement:

Stop and thank God for the gift that Don is.

Well, now to the point of the blog. He's done it again. Don has a book coming out later this year with Eerdmans called Christ and Culture Revisited. He's obviously playing off H. Richard Niebuhr's famous title. And he spends one chapter analyzing Niebuhr's 5-fold typology for how Christ and culture relate. He turns the manuscript in this week, and the book should pop out sometime later this year.

In this book, Don interacts with everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Stanley Hauerwas. He has a great section on the central story-line of the Bible. As he says at one point in the manuscript: "much of the rest of this book can be read as a meditation on how a robust biblical theology tends to safeguard Christians against the most egregious reductionisms." Don has read not only widely, but carefully and with understanding. He expresses himself carefully, in a nuanced fashion, and yet clearly. Unlike some other academic popularizers today, Don shares his rich bibliography in a way that enables the reader to do further research if he or she wants to.

I can't wait!

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ABC News on Creciendo en Gracia
Yesterday, ABC News devoted part of its program to profiling Jose de Jesus and his Creciendo en Gracia cult. They have written an article based on their segment and posted it online: "Jesus Might Be Alive and Well in Houston." ABC News has also included a couple of video clips, including snippets of an interview they had with de Jesus. Here is their introduction:

A few weeks ago, in a tattoo parlor in the hip art deco district of Miami Beach, people were lining up to get "666" tattooed on their bodies, and then smiling through their pain. But these are not devil worshipers. They see themselves as devout followers of Jesus Christ. But the major difference that separates them from other Christians around the world is that the Jesus Christ they worship is alive and well — and living in the suburbs of Houston.

These people belong to a new movement devoted to a man who calls himself the Second Coming of Jesus, and also claims the title of Antichrist, which to him is the next incarnation of Jesus on earth, not an evil being. To show their devotion, some followers ink themselves with "666." One follower said, "I just want to make sure it's visible, that everyone knows my life belongs to the man." Another said, "I want everyone to know I'm one of the antichrists."

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Ken Myers on Christianity and Culture
Ken Myers, president of Mars Hill Audio, was recently at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lectured on various aspects of the relationship between Christianity and Culture, and now the MP3s have been made available:

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Monday, March 05, 2007
The Importance of Teaching in Missions
I've loved having Dr. David Sills as a teacher, and I continue to be edified by his blog. Since my wife and I are currently considering our family's future in the mission field, I especially appreciated his recent post: "Please come teach us!" He writes:

The desire to know and obey the Word of God is in the heart of every true believer. The closer we are to Jesus, the more precious His Word is to us as well. Many missionaries have been drained dry by the constant demands of new believers with no Bible background who want to learn. Then, these missionaries return to the Lord in their Bible study times with blessed hearts but empty cups for the Lord to fill. There is no shortage of students among new believers who fall in love with the Lord. Teaching nationals, many of whom are preliterate primary oral learners, is overwhelming, challenging, and one of the most rewarding ministries ever known.

I regularly meet pastors, leaders, and church members all over the world who are pleading for someone to come and teach them. It is encouraging that the need for instruction rises from their own lips rather than from their hearers. Many men are struggling along in pulpits week by week and are painfully aware that they need biblical training and pastoral preparation. On one occasion in the banana fields of Ecuador, I was addressing a gathering of six pastors and leaders of rural village churches. I shared the basic Gospel message in a way that spoke of God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, Jesus’ work to pay for our sin and give us His righteousness, and the requirement to repent and be born again. One pastor said, “I have never understood the Gospel so clearly before.” Another pastor repented of his sin and prayed to receive Christ as Lord and Savior!

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“The Reformation, Today’s Evangelicals, and Mormons: What Next?"
A new book is coming out that looks promising and important: By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, edited by Gary L. W. Johnson and Guy P. Waters. While I look forward to checking out the entire book, I am very interested in one chapter: Gary Johnson’s “The Reformation, Today’s Evangelicals, and Mormons: What Next?”, pages 191 - 204.

I don't know how long you can read his chapter online, but it is must reading in light of Richard Mouw's recent statement on a well-known Mormon scholar's view of Jesus Christ: "that Bob Millet is in fact trusting in the Jesus of the Bible for his salvation" (Robert L. Millet, A Different Jesus?: The Christ of Latter-day Saints, 183). Here is Johnson's conclusion:

After a careful reading of Millet’s book, I am more than ever convinced that Millet’s Jesus would not be recognized by our evangelical forefathers (like a Calvin, a Wesley, or a Spurgeon) and that Mouw would think otherwise is inexplicable. Having said that, I am forced to admit that developments over the last few decades in what goes by the name evangelical would make it difficult not to allow Mormons in under the big top of today’s evangelical circus (after all, if antitrinitarian “oneness Pentecostals” like T. D. Jakes and the rebarbative “Word of Faith” prosperity teachers are considered members of today’s evangelicals, then why not Mormons like Millet?). In fact, given the present state of today’s evangelicalism and the tendency to let people define for themselves what it means to be an evangelical, this morphosis is not all that suprising.

(HT: Jeff Downs)

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More Revisions
Since the rollout of RBT 2.0 over the weekend, I updated my sidebar links and blogroll. You'll notice some new sites and blogs listed that I regularly read and find helpful. In the future, I hope to familiarize you with my blogroll by posting more about various blogs and why I have included them. Additionally, my blog now has labels. I will try to keep my categories up-to-date so that you can quickly find my posts related to specific topics.

Again, this is an ongoing experiment, so I appreciate your patience. Most importantly, I hope you will find my blog beneficial and enjoyable. Have fun!

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Friday, March 02, 2007
Reformed Baptist Thinker 2.0
Many of you don't know what my wife gave me for Christmas last year. Well, it was a blog redesign. She asked Susie from Bluebird Blogs to update my site, and what you see today is the result. Great job Susie!

Welcome to the Reformed Baptist Thinker 2.0. Don't forget to subscribe if you haven't already done so. I'm really looking forward to what the future holds!

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About Me

Name:
John

I am a former Mormon who has been saved by Jesus Christ. Now I am a missionary involved with the Africa Center for Apologetics Research (ACFAR). I seek to live in light of Paul's words: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

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