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First Goal

Our first goal is to discover the meaning of the text. The meaning doesn’t change. Until we know the meaning—what the original author meant when he spoke to the original audience in the original context—we cannot accurately or thoroughly ascertain the significance of the text to me.

CJ Mahaney
Another Gospel?, part 2

Biblical Understanding of Sleep

Here is a story of someone who was comforted by being reminded of God’s sovereignty. His name was Bulstrode Whitelock, and he was an envoy of Oliver Cromwell to Sweden in 1653. He was resting at the village of Harwich the night before he was to sail to Sweden, and he was so distracted by the perilous state of England that he could not sleep. He had a servant who was accompanying him, and this man, discovering that Whitelock could not sleep, said, “Sir, may I ask you a question?”
“Of course,” said Whitelock.
“Pray, sir, do you think God governed the world very well before you came into it?” he asked.
“Certainly.”
“And do you think he will govern it quite as well when you are gone out of it?” he continued.
“Undoubtedly.”
“Then pray, sir, excuse me, but do you not think that you may trust him to govern it quite as well while you are living?”
Whitelock had no answer to this question. But he rolled over quietly in his bed and was soon asleep.
Cited in Boice, J. M.
Psalms
Psalm 97
 
This quote, while making me aware of the sinfulness and pride that often accompany my sleepless anxiety, reminds me of another helpful resource on the topic that has served me well in the past: C.J. Mahaney's sermon on A Biblical Understanding of Sleep. Highly recommended. 

God's Sovereignty Over Evil

"Apart from God we will use everything for evil. But God will use your evil for good; and if we repent he will use us for good." 
   - George Finnegan

 This quote is from one of my friends who has been a part of my church small group for years. In addition to being an excellent and succinct reminder of God's complete sovereignty which he graciously has promised us is for our good, it is an example of God's graciousness to me by giving me the small group that He has.

Biblical Support Groups -CJ Mahaney

I believe in support groups. My question is this, “What are you supporting?” If you are supporting the pursuit of godliness, I’m with you. Let’s have a support group. We’ve got them here (at Covenant Life Church), and they’re effective.

But if you’re talking about just supporting you while you endlessly rehearse your past and excuse your activity which is disobedience to God (and not in your best interest either), then no that’s not our definition of a support group.

We believe in small groups here but they are to be biblically based and motivated small groups. Encourage one another day after day. “Encourage one another each day” it says. Why? “Because of the deceitfulness of sin.” Encourage one another in what way? Encourage one another to the pursuit of godliness: Encourage one another to pursue God; encourage one another to obey God; encourage one another to glorify God. That’s what support groups are all about…We are presenting a biblical alternative to the recovery movement.

C.J. Mahaney
Another Gospel? Part 1 (sermon)

All mp3 messages free on Sov Grace

I may have missed some old news, but I was pleasantly surprised when today I went on Sovereign Grace's website and found that all their mp3 messages are free for the downloading. Praise God for the free availability of these excellent resources that I have gladly purchased for years!

Satan & Evil

Abraham Piper blogs a very helpful essay on Satan and evil in light of God's sovereign goodness and answers the question "How should we relate to evil?".

(read more...)

There Really Is a Difference!: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology - A Review

There Really Is a Difference! by Renald Showers is a helpful book in that the first few chapters give a cursory overview - explaining, comparing, and contrasting - of dispensational and covenant theologies. The explanation of coventant theology is definitely more cursory than that of dispensational and is primarily limited to an explanation of the writings of Berkhof from his systematic theology.The author, then explains some of his primary concerns with covenant theology (not providing the answers that a covenant theologian would give in response). Moving on in chapter 3, the author gives a more thorough but still  summary presentation of dispensational theology (with little to no space given pointing out its shortfalls). His primary point in the book is to point out that "There Really Is a Difference" between coventant and dispensational theologies. The following excerpt from the end of chapter 5 is a good summary of some of his identified major points of difference:
Three factors are indispensable to Dispensational Theology.  They clearly make Dispensational Theology distinct from Covenant Theology.  Any system of theology which does not contain all three is not dispensational in the truest sense of the term.
The first factor is the recognition of the distinction between the nation of Israel and the Church.  As noted earlier, Covenant Theology believes that the Church existed in Old Testament times and that Israel was a major part of the Church in the Old Testament.  Thus, it is convinced that Israel and the Church are essentially the same.  By contrast, Dispensational Theology believes that Israel and the Church are distinct entities.  It is convinced that although both have had special relationships with God, they are not essentially the same.  This distinction between Israel and the Church will be dealt with more in depth in a future chapter.
The second indispensable factor is the consistent use of a single hermeneutic (a single method of interpreting the Bible)—namely, the historical-grammatical method.  In this method, words are given the common, ordinary meaning which they had in the culture and time in which the passage was written.  As noted earlier, Covenant Theology employs a double hermeneutic—the historical-grammatical method for many passages but also the allegorical or spiritualizing method for a number of prophetic passages dealing with the future of Israel and the future Kingdom of God.  By contrast, Dispensational Theology is convinced that the historical-grammatical method should be employed for all of Scripture, including those prophetic passages related to Israel and the Kingdom of God.
The third indispensable factor is the recognition that the ultimate purpose of history is the glory of God through the demonstration that He alone is the sovereign God.  As noted earlier, Covenant Theology advocates that the ultimate purpose of history is the glory of God through the redemption of the elect.  By contrast, although Dispensational Theology recognizes that the redemption of elect human beings is a very important part of God’s purpose for history, it is convinced that it is only one part of that purpose.  During the course of history God is working out many other programs in addition to the program of redeeming people.  All of these programs must be contributing something to the ultimate purpose of history. Thus, the ultimate purpose of history has to be large enough to incorporate all of God’s programs, not just one of them.  Dispensational Theology proposes that the glory of God through the demonstration that He alone is the sovereign God is the only purpose capable of doing this.  It also is convinced that the Scriptures indicate that this is the ultimate purpose of history.



Moving on from the descriptions of the two systems of theologies, he tests each's interpretation of some of the bibical accounts of stated covenants that God made with man (Abrahamic, Deuteronomic, Davidic, New Covenant). He then compares and contrasts the various views on the millenium, followed by observations and teaching on the kingdom of God and the consequences that holding to each theology bears on views of the Kingdom. Finally, he speaks of the nature of the church and the relationship between law and grace.

As the book moves along it becomes less and less an attempt at a neutral comparison of the systems and more and more an argument for the supremacy of dispensational theology.

Nevertheless, I have found this book to be helpful. It is written in simple language with the most important biblical reference quoted for ease and continuity of reading. It is a well thought out defense of dispensationalism. I wish that a more even handed attempt had been made at explaining covenantal theology. It appears some straw men were built and then handily knocked over.

To conclude I have copied the Table of Contents below so that the flow of the book can be easily discerned for those considering purchasing it:
1 What Is It All About?
2 An Examination of Covenant Theology
3 An Evaluation of Covenant Theology
4 An Introduction to Dispensational Theology
5 An Examination of Dispensational Theology
6 The Abrahamic Covenant
7 The Effects of the Abrahamic Covenant Upon Israel
8 The Palestinian or Deuteronomic Covenant
9 The Davidic Covenant
10 The New Covenant
11 A Description and Early History of Millennial Views
12 The Rejection of Premillennialism and Development of Amillennialism and Postmillennialism
13 The Revival of Millennial Views
14 The Kingdom of God Concept in the Scriptures
15 The Beginning and Nature of the Church
16 The Relationship of the Christian to Law and Grace
17 The Grace Administration of God’s Moral Absolutes
18 Conclusion

 There Really Is A Difference! is available in paperback format from Amazon.com or digitally from Logos.

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But since Zondervan won't publish in Libronix format, an inferior eBook is better than no eBook and a free eBook is the best of all, follow these instructions to get your free books and try out the new Pradis 6.0 software for free:

(read more...)

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