Saturday, December 15, 2012

Contemporary Worship Music: Is It Really Glorifying God?

I was running over iTunes the other day and ran into this guy: Shai Linne. This guy is more theologically correct and Biblical than most every song I have ever heard in my church. Just in this one song. His other ones are great too. I'm not bashing on my church or anything; I love my church. There's just a whole lot of stuff we don't do right. Worship is one of those things. It sounds great most of the time but I don't think singing about how "we're gonna shout shout shout" and "dance dance dance" and "stir up the waters" after "jumping in the waters" is even remotely glorifying to God. I mean, what's the purpose of worship? Well, it's to make much of God, not us. I think that songs these days are more to make much of us for responding to God's call or something. Last time I checked, we couldn't do that without the call, illumination, and regeneration- as well as other works- of God himself. I don't think that most worship music today is meant to make much of God. It's not written to make God look great, to make him look powerful, to MAKE HIM LOOK LIKE YOUR GOD. I think it's written to hype folks up, to get them pumped, not to make much of God. This rap song does, though. Beautifully written. Beautifully composed. Beautifully glorifying to God. It humbles me that a rapper could do this. And if a RAPPER can rap about this, the good Lord in Heaven knows that worship leaders should be able to write a song about the beautiful attributes of God.


Thanks for reading and listening.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why did Adam Sin?

Because the Bible says nothing of the will of Adam, this will be purely speculative, and basically my thoughts on why he sinned, which implies something about humanity as a whole, as well as why he could sin.

When God made Adam, he said he was good, indeed very good. So why is it that he sinned- especially from a Reformed position? In reading Jonathan Edwards' "Freedom of the Will," I had a bit of an epiphany on this topic. In this book, Edwards basically says that man chooses to do what he chooses to do because he must, and he must because it is in his very nature to want to do that thing. Now, Edwards was talking about fallen man, but I think this can apply to Adam as well. Fallen man can only do what is evil and without God can do absolutely nothing good. But Adam was not fallen, so he could do good. But I think the assumption that man before the fall could only want to do good is incorrect. Perhaps man is of such a nature that when presented with something bad or evil or sinful he must do it, or rather put, man has a definite affinity towards doing evil even when made good. Perhaps it is because he was made not perfect. I suppose it is possible for imperfection to be the cause for this affinity towards disobedience. Disobedience may not be an exclusive, necessary factor of imperfection but, it may have been caused by their imperfection.

We know that God definitely predestined the Fall, but "How?" is the question. I realize this wasn't thought through extremely well, because I was more or less (but certainly more more than less) just typing out as I was thinking, but there you go.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"As we forgive others..."

In the very middle of Jesus showing the disciples how to pray, he just had to say "and forgive us of our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us." This has to be one of the most annoying things Jesus said. We are forgiven as we forgive. Obviously from so many places in Scripture, forgiveness is not dependent upon our forgiving others, but it is more of an observation: forgive us so that we will continue (or begin) to forgive others like you have now forgiven us.
Forgiveness in and of itself is difficult. I like to hold my grudges. We like to hold our grudges. But thinking about the grudges we hold when thinking about what Christ did humbles us to the point of shame and leads us to forgive others and repent for our hardheartedness. Not only did we commit an infinite offense against the Almighty, but we committed an infinite offense against him and he still loved enough to die for our forgiveness. This is mind blowing, theology shattering, and uncompromisingly humbling. It breaks down thick walls of pride and long lasting grudges. The thought itself is one of the most impossible facts to comprehend of all time.

Perhaps it's time now to forgive as we have been forgiven. There's no offense we could have had against us that's worth more than what we have done against Christ and he died for us. For us. So let's die to ourselves and our pride and forgive those who have wronged us and, in so doing, glorify Christ through our actions.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Eternal Security Part 2

So, as I think I have already done from Scripture in my last post, but I think that it needs just a bit more, I will try to provide ample evidence to accept the reality of eternal security.

There are only two legitimate views/theories on predestination, or election. I'll use the term elected for the most part. The two views are unconditional election and conditional election. The first- which I believe to be the true and more biblical theory- says that God elected men to salvation for no reason other than he chose to; that is to say that it was nothing they did, it was not based upon God's foreknowledge of whether or not they would choose him, and it was not for any other reason except that God chose to elect them over others. The second is virtually the opposite. It says that God used his foreknowledge, or looked into the future to see who would choose him to elect those who were to be saved until salvation. In both of these theories, the predestination takes place before the earth or even the universe was created.
So what does this have to do with being able to lose your salvation? It has everything to do with it. From the unconditional election-ist's point of view, God chooses who will be saved, so there is no option. According to God's sovereignty, they must be saved. From the other perspective, conditional election, God sees who would be saved. This would mean that God's foreknowledge would be flawed if you lost your salvation. Let me put it this way: Could you eat a turkey sandwich for lunch if God knew that you would eat a ham sandwich for lunch? No, of course not. God is omniscient. He knows all things. So if his election is based on his foreknowledge, then there's no way you could lose your salvation, assuming you had salvation to begin with. Predestination to salvation of necessity requires eternal security.
So, according to Scripture and to logic, you can't lose your salvation with either [biblical] view of predestination. But let us continue in the faith as Paul would have it in Romans 6, as dead to sin. Let us die to sin and live to righteousness.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What does the Bible really say about Eternal Security? (Part 1)

This is going to be quite an expository read for you folks, so bear with me. 
There are a lot of verses thrown around for and against Eternal Security. A lot of them make sense when read alone. A lot of them make sense when read in context. So, if there are many good points for both side, one would have to analyze every single reference of Scripture that is in favor of Conditional Security and Eternal Security to come up with a legitimate conclusion... or he could find at least one reference of  Scripture that explicitly states whether one can lose his salvation or not. That's what I've intended to do here. So I have one question:
What does the Bible say about Eternal Security?

John 6:35-40 says, 

"35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in  me shall never thirst. 36 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 37 For i have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (ESV) 

Here is one of seven "I AM" claims of Jesus recorded in this Gospel. There are also several absolute statements where Jesus refers to himself as "I AM," in keeping with the reference to God as "I AM" in Exodus and Isaiah. Jesus as the bread of life nourishes people spiritually and satisfies the deep spiritual longings of their souls. In this sense, those who trust in him shall not hunger; that is to say that their spiritual longings to know God will be satisfied (corresponding with what John Piper claims in his book Desiring God). Verse 37 states that whoever comes to Jesus will never be cast out. This implies that people should never think that they have not been chosen by God. Jesus promises to receive everyone who comes to him [alone] and trusts in him [alone] for salvation. Yet, in verse 44, Jesus states the almost paradoxical statement that only those who are called by the father may come to Jesus. It is only until the Holy Spirit reveals to them that they realize that behind their willing decision to come and believe lies the mysterious, invisible work of the Father who was all along drawing them to Christ. 

My Bible footnotes that this corresponds with Romans 9:1-23 and Ephesians 1:3-6. Then in verse 39, Jesus says, "this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but will raise it up on the last day." I think that this implies two things: that everyone who has been chosen by the Father has been "given" by and from the Father to the Son for salvation will indeed(!) be saved. In verse 40, Jesus further explains that these people whom the Father has "given" to him will believe and have eternal life. This last verse is, I believe, the nail in the coffin of Conditional Security, or the idea that one can lose their salvation. This final verse in this passage explicitly says that it is God's decreed will that everyone who believes in Christ will attain eternal life, and will be raised up on the last day. The implications are that one must truly believe to attain salvation and that those who believe for a time or only appear as if they believe will not attain salvation. So then, here it has become not a question of whether or not one can lose his salvation anymore. It has become a question of who is actually saved, or, on an even deeper level, who truly believes.

John 10 concurs much with the previous passage, and I would hope so because it's in the same Gospel! 

John 10:26-29 says, 

"26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 26 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." (ESV) 
This passage says that those who belong to Jesus' flock (i.e., those who are chosen by him) are those who believe or will believe. The reason people do not believe is because they are not a part of his flock, which implies that God must first give them the ability to believe and make them part of his people with a new heart. Eternal life by its very definition cannot be taken away, especially when Jesus' sheep belong to him and his Father. Then in verses 28 and 29, his sheep are given utter assurance of their salvation. He says no one can snatch them out of his hand (contrast with Romans 8:38-39). This should be our assurance. There's nothing that can snatch us away from Christ.
And finally in 1 John 2:19, it says, 

"19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." (ESV)

This verse is in reference to John's readers seeing people who had recently left the church. Although they were outwardly part of the church, their departure revealed that they were not truly ever part of it ("not of us"). (See also Luke 8: 4-15.) It says that if they were truly "of us" they would have stayed, they would have persevered. This implies those who are truly "of us," or truly of Christ's fold, or truly saved will never abandon Christ. We are kept by his grace (Romans 6:1, Jude 24). And finally the phrase, "that it might become plain" again reveals God's sovereignty in all situations and choices, and the divine plan that he has for everything, even the departure of this group.

There are a multiplicity of other verses and passages that confirm this, but only one is truly needed. I hope I cleared things up if anyone was struggling with this or confirmed what some people were suspicious of or wondering about. 

Until next time,
Daniel Glover.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Joy of the Lord is my Strength.

It's been roughly four months since I finished reading John Piper's Desiring God. It's amazing how the doctrine of Christian Hedonism has been coming back to my mind over and over, displaying itself to me in many different situations. I have to say, when I finished the book itself I wasn't 100% convinced that that particular doctrine was one that the Bible actually promoted. But as I've begun my life in a totally new environment, a totally new denomination, and a totally new style and of worship I have begun to see the legitimacy of that doctrine and how applicable it really is.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Desiring God or with John Piper's doctrine of Christian Hedonism, I will define it for you. Christian Hedonism states that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. That is to say that we find our joy, our satisfaction in Him. All of it. This is not to say that we actually do find all of our joy in him, because we're human. We fail all of the time. And I'm not trying to make a case for why Christian Hedonism is true, but I would like to make the effort to say that it is and I highly recommend the book to everyone.

I think it's a great read and a great doctrine. Anyway, I highly recommend Desiring God to everyone who wants to find that satisfaction in God that they've been craving but don't understand how.

Good day and good reading.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Thoughts on Calvinism

Calvinism does two things:

1) Calvinism humbles people. Calvinism makes man realize that he can do nothing. He can do absolutely nothing. And it makes him realize that there is nothing about him that makes him any better than any unsaved person because of grace alone. Unconditional election shouldn't make someone feel special. It should make them feel grateful. It shouldn't make someone feel prideful. It should make someone feel humble. There's no reason that he was elected over someone else except grace. It should humble him. It should floor him. It should show him his complete and utter depravity, inability, and impotence. This should humble a man. But oftentimes this is not the case.

2) Calvinism puffs people up. Calvinism makes people feel superior. When people feel superior they are exceedingly prideful. This is why Calvinists come off as supremely pretentious. They feel as if they have some hidden knowledge that all other Christians need to find otherwise they are stupid or ignorant of Scripture. It gives a terrible name to a wonderful doctrine.
I'm not a very cocky person, but I am quite confident enough in my knowledge of the Scriptures that I could prove the doctrines of Calvinism to virtually anyone that is willing to actually listen and not argue the whole time. But Calvinism is a completely tertiary issue. If someone is a full-fledged Arminian and they know why they are Arminian then I'm not going to bother them with the doctrines of election. Having them believe true doctrine (and I think that Calvinism is in fact true, not just likely to be true) is the job of the Holy Spirit and the elders of their church, neither of which am I. But if someone is willing to listen to the Scriptures themselves (for that is the only way I could possibly prove Calvinism; philosophy and logic don't matter when Scripture clearly says otherwise) then I am more than happy to share the wonderful doctrine of election with them.
2 Timothy says that all Scripture comes from the mouth of God and is profitable for doctrine. So this doctrine is very profitable. Profitable for humility. Profitable for flooring the Calvinist and having him realize the true authority, majesty, justice, love, sovereignty, grace, and character of God.

Why am I a Calvinist? Because it's Scriptural: We were slaves to sin, with no way to escape. We might as well have been dead (Romans 6:17-19; 2 Peter 2:19; Ephesians 2:1-10). God chose us before the creation of the universe (Eph. 1:4-6) to be his servants, to follow him, not based on works (Eph. 2:8), not based on merit (Rom. 9:11), not based on whether they would choose to follow him in the future (Rom. 9:10-12, 14-18, 22-24), but based upon what would bring him the most glory (Eph. 1:5-6, 11-14; Rom. 9:22-23), for we were created for his glory (Isaiah 43:1-7). He saved us because he loved us for no reason other than he chose to. He died for us while we were still dead in our sins. He died for us while we were still enemies of God. And even then he loved us. So much that he died and rose again. And we love him because he first loved us. He calls us to himself just like a shepherd calls his sheep to himself (Jn. 10:1-4, 14, 16-18). He laid down his life for his sheep. He died effectively for us, his sheep (Jn. 10:15). He separated his people from those who were not his people (Mt. 25:31-46). And his sheep cannot cease to be his sheep. His people cannot cease to be his people. They will not fall away and they will not be torn apart. He died for his people and gave them eternal life so that they would not perish and no one could ever snatch them out of his hand (Jn. 10:28-29).

The doctrine of sovereign grace is worth infinitely more than we could ever imagine. The doctrine of sovereign grace is a gorgeous picture of the sovereignty and grace of God. And this is why I love Calvinism. I hope that it humbles you like it has humbled me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Bondage of the Will" by Martin Luther.

I've recently read Martin Luther's "Bondage of the Will," which is pretty much a response to Erasmus's writings that emphasize the freedom of the will. Luther, as a reformer, obviously disagrees, but he does in such a sarcastic and spiteful way. To be blunt, he is a jerk. As I progressed through the book and agreed with many of the points he made, I often came back to realize that he was still being extremely rude to Erasmus. It's a shame, and I have lost a bit of respect for Luther because of this reading, not because his theology is poor, because it is dipped deeply in Scripture, but because his attitude is poor, lacking in love.

Why is much of the respect I have for him hinged upon the attitude he showed to those- in this case Erasmus- who were wrong? Well mostly for two reasons: One, the Scriptures say to share the truth in love; and Two, the Roman Catholic Church was doing the same thing... burning people at the stake when they disagreed. So, he was acting much like the people, or system, he was trying to reform. Although he had an immense understanding of Scripture and doctrine and theology for the day, he did not share the truth in love. He shared the truth with pride and contempt. This is a dangerous practice for someone who calls himself a Christian, and I highly suggest that all of us in the Church today do not follow his example of approaching disagreement.

I very much recommend Martin Luther's "Bondage of the Will" for his arguments and the great theology alone, and use Martin Luther's poor example of teaching the truth in love to our own benefit.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Christian Worship

Christian Worship.

Hello blog, here's what's on my mind at the moment:

Christian worship. What is it? Why do we need it? How do we do it?
Well since it's Christian worship, let me use the Bible... considering that is where we look to for answers for... well... everything. It is God's word ya know.

So, what does the Bible say? It does not say that worship is merely music. I feel like because of America's current state of generic Christianity, worship is only considered music. Obviously, playing music to/for the Lord is/can be worship, but music is not all that worship is. Music is certainly a large part, though, especially in today's society (and even in OT times; i.e. the Psalms).

Ephesians 5:18-20 says, "...but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,". So we are to sing psalms and spiritual songs to the Lord from out hearts. There's a funny thing about that wording, though; it says from our hearts, not from our lips. So here's my two cents: it doesn't matter if it sounds the best or modern of whatever else we try to make it. The music's not for us. It's for God. Do you think any person would really notice if you made "melody to the Lord with your heart"? Probably not. Mostly because he wouldn't hear you doing it. Because it'd be done with your heart, not your mouth.

Now, let's get deeper. Our worship is a reflection of our love, thankfulness, submission, relationship, and pleasure in God to God. When we accepted the gift of salvation, we submitted to God's authority over our lives, built a growing relationship with him, grew in love for Him because of our thankfulness for His gift, and through all this we found pleasure in Him. Out of pleasure came praise and worship. This resulting worship is not only an outward action and not merely an emotional feeling, though the two are both necessary. The worship should be in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). They should worship in their spirit, through the Spirit, and it should be true worship: adoration and praise for what we find our true happiness in!

This is worship: when we say/sing/play, "God is great! I treasure him more than anything else in this world!" Worship is not having a band perform in front of a group of people who congregate on Sundays to be entertained or to get their fill of God for the week so that they don't feel bad later. In this way neither side is worshipping. The "band" isn't leading in worship, especially if their lives every other day of the week look like garbage, which iss another topic for another day. Worship is not entertainment for us, it is entertainment for God (put very loosely). The flashy lights don't impress God; He made the sun and stars. The musician's skill doesn't impress God; He created the musician, the musician's skill, and created music with all its intricacies, including melodies and harmonies. He is not impressed with our shouts; He simply spoke the universe into existence out of nothing. God isn't impressed by the things we do to make worship "cool." He does, however, delight in our true praise and love and worship of Him.

So, what would happen if we stripped away the lights, the drums and electric guitars, the popular new songs, and simply worshipped God? What would happen if we learned to truly worship God? What would happen if we would only ever revel in His glory, and tell Him, "You are my God and You alone deserve praise and my undivided attention!"? What would happen if we ignored everything except our praise and adoration of God? I tell you, I believe our worship would spark more than a revival in our land.

So, let's worship.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

"Go therefore..."

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded of you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." -Matthew 28:19-20

Picture this: A pastor of a church is praying in front of his congregation. He thanks God for their big sanctuary and worship centers, their amazing worship team, their wonderful lights and cameras and sound systems, and all that God has so generously blessed them with. He introduces a missionary who is going to speak to the church today in order to gather some monetary support for his next journey. He speaks about all he has done in these other countries for God and through God, and describes the great and wonderful conversions that have happened there. The missionary finishes up and the pastor comes back up and says, "Thank the Lord for this man! He goes and preaches to people who have never heard the gospel. I would never be able to do that! Now congregation, make sure you give this man a nice, handsome check, because if you don't, I'll pray that God has your children go and do what he does in other, dangerous countries." The man leaves with a large, handsome check and a very sad and heavy heart. His heart for the nations has been hurt by the pastor's and the church's heart for themselves and their children.
I've personally seen this happen.

America- The land of the free and the home of the brave.
Who doesn't pride themselves in their country? At what church or Christian school or Christ-centered gathering do people not praise and thank God for the "freedom to worship" him wherever and whenever they choose? It is very rare indeed that those people do not shout praises of thanks and admiration to God for "blessing THEM so much" when other people are inferred to be blessed less! Yes, we Americans should indeed praise the Lord Almighty for the freedom he has given us!
Now, with freedom comes responsibility. What is that responsibility? TO SHARE THE GOSPEL. We have been given the freedom to worship wherever and whenever we please (which, mind you, should be at all times!) and we as individuals in the church so rarely share the Gospel to those millions of unsaved people in our own country!!

Don't tell me you haven't been called to missions! Because each of us has been called. If you are a follower of Christ, and if you plan to go to heaven, you have indeed been called. Perhaps you have not been called to Tanzania or Cuba or China, but you have been called to make disciples of every nation, and the Lord knows that there are millions of unsaved in our own. Hell is real. The majority of the world is unsaved. The majority of the world is going to Hell for all eternity and we're comfortable in our church buildings claiming that we have not been called. True, you might not have been called to full-time, global missions, but you have been called to spread the Gospel wherever you are.
So let's do it.

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