Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Pope, Global Warming, and Homosexuality

"The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less," [Pope] Benedict told scores of prelates gathered in the Vatican's Clementine Hall.

"What’s needed is something like a ‘human ecology,’ understood in the right sense. It’s not simply an outdated metaphysics if the Church speaks of the nature of the human person as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected." [1]

I do not know whether to laugh, cry, or say amen to the above quotes. It is good to know that the Roman Catholics are following the Scriptures in condemning homosexuality. However, I wonder is the Pope comparing homosexuality to destroying the environment because he is attempting to communicate the horribleness of sin to a culture which has little understanding of sin and believes environmental destruction is the cardinal sin. Or, does the Pope really believe that destroying the environment is comparable to the sin of homosexuality? Either way the effect is the same biblical truth has been compromised. The Pope has altered biblical truths to communicate to the culture, or the Roman Church has caved to the culture.

Certainly, everyone would agree that we should be good stewards of the blessings God has given us, including our planet. However, to equate homosexuality and environmental irresponsibility seems to trivialize the sinfulness of homosexuality.

Sexual immorality in general and homosexuality in particular are pointed out in Scripture as exceptionally sinful because they are sins against one's own body (1 Cor. 6:18). God calls homosexuality an abomination and in the Old Testament economy death was the punishment [2] (Lev. 20:13). No where in Scripture will one find such condemnation of polluting the environment. Clearly, there is no biblical warrant for equating environmental issues and homosexuality. Homosexuality is absolutely more sinful than polluting our environment.

While believers need to clearly articulate biblical concepts to a biblically illiterate culture, we must communicate in a way that does not alter the message. In addition, the church must never compromise biblical truth to get along with the culture. What the Bible condemns as sin, we must condemn as sin even if our culture calls it good. Let us be faithful to God and his holy Word.

Pastor Jeremy Lee

Twining Baptist Church

[1] story available @,2933,471426,00.html

[2] The gospel is universal as such many of the laws that were for the nation of Israel are no longer directly applicable such as the death penalty for homosexuality. My point here is not that we should institute the death penalty for homosexuality but to point out that it was one of the few sins punished by death. Since the punishment is more severe, the sin is more severe.


"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:5-11 NKJV).

I have been thinking lately about the birth of Jesus as it is recorded in the Gospels. Luke records in his gospel the words of Elizabeth the soon to be mother of John the Baptist v. 43-44 chapter 1. "And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy" (ESV).

Here are the familiar words of the “Christmas story.” "And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7). In verse 8 there were shepherds watching their flocks, an angel came to them telling them news that would bring great joy to all people. Verse 11 says "for unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior who is Christ the Lord." Verse 13 "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying. 'GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST AND ON EARTH PEACE AMONG THOSE WITH WHOM HE IS PLEASED.'” (ESV)

Christmas: “X-Mas”, (do you remember the ranting over the term X-Mas in years past?) Trees, gifts, food, plays, manger scenes, candle lightings in churches and the plays using the scriptures above, Luke chapter 2. We never learned much about He who was born. He was the son of Mary, the carpenters son, the baby in the manger, this is as good as it gets. In days gone by there was outrage about the use of “X-Mas” in place of Christmas, no outrage for the lack of telling who this baby was however.

Elizabeth knew who this baby was, she called him “my Lord”, John the Baptist in the womb knew who this baby was “he leaped for joy” in the womb of Elizabeth.

Isaiah, had he lived at the time of Christ would have know who He was.

"And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!' And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.' Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: 'Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged.'" ( Isa. 6:4-7 NJKV)

Isaiah knew Him who purged his sins.

Remember God is, God, the Son, the Holy Spirit, they are one, when we mention Jesus we are talking about God, Old Testament references to God include Jesus and Holy Spirit.

As stated in the Athanasian Creed Lines 13-16:

“And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;”

In Matthew 2:16, Herod kills all the male children in Bethlehem two years old and younger attempting to kill the baby Jesus who has fled to Egypt, his parents being warned in a dream to flee. These little babies knew who this baby was; one commentator remarked “they gave their life so He may give them eternal life.” This was (hopefully this isn’t a stretch) their worship. These babies I believe knew who He was.

Here is the baby Jesus,

"[God Himself] who made Himself no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. He is exalted, and given a name above every name. Every knee shall bow to Jesus, in the heavens, on the earth and under the earth. Everyone would confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:6-11).

Here is Jesus He is the Lord of hosts, the Lord God Almighty: "And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!'" (Isa. 6:3 NKJV)

"The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!'" (Rev. 4:8 NKJV)

Christmas isn’t about X-Mas, food, trees, lights, candles etc. Christmas is the time to worship the King of Kings who became man; He came to be wounded, bruised and stricken for us: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5 NKJV).

My friend if you can live without a sense of the Lord’s presence and are satisfied with mere outward Christianity, you are lost in your sins. Don’t be deceived. Jesus must be more than a baby in a manger. He must be your Lord and Savior, the Lord of hosts He Is.

"For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him" (Heb. 2:2, 3 NKJV)

Ken Clouse

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jonathan Edward's Work Available Online

Many of the readers of this blog may have already heard this announcement from other sources, but a new treat is available online for Reformed-minded folk.

Yale University has for some time been engaged in the Jonathan Edwards project--an attempt to bring the majority of Edwards writings into print. While a wonderful resource, the price tag of this multi-volume series (well over 25 volumes) has proven prohibitive (generally over $100 per book).

In a rare move, the Jonathan Edwards Center has endeavored to put all of Edward's works online in a searchable format. Of particular value for preachers is his sermons and the notes from his blank bible.

This is an excellent resource that should be added to your Favorites list immediately.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

ESV Bibles & Cambrdige Craftmanship

The acclaimed English Standard Version is now available in quality Cambridge bindings. Looks like more editions/options are also on their way.

Click on this link for a better look at the picture.

As with all Cambridge products, the prices are high--but what a wonderful treasure!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Preaching Hell to Postmoderns

Have you ever found it challenging to speak about hell? I recently ran across a wonderful article by Tim Keller on this very subject. He urges the necessity of preaching this message, despite its unpopularity. Keller writes,

"The loss of the doctrine of hell and judgment and the holiness of God does irreparable damage to our deepest comforts—our understanding of God's grace and love and of our human dignity and value to him. To preach the good news, we must preach the bad.

Yet he also maintains
that two different groups--traditionalists & postmoderns--"hear" hell-language very differently. He urges pastors to take our hearers' starting points into consideration as we preach about eternal torment. This is an excellent document with wise advice on how to discuss the reality of Hell in a postmodern age.

Tim Keller on Preaching about Hell.

More info on Keller with links to other articles.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Doctrines of Grace - Total Depavity


Sometime ago I was invited to speak at a college-age Christian retreat. My discussion had nothing to do with Calvinism, but during one the breaks several college students invited me to participate in a ‘round-table’ discussion. They had several theological/biblical questions they wanted to discuss. As I sat down, a young lady jumped right to the point, “I hear you’re a Calvinist. How can you believe that sinners can’t choose God?” I smiled and gently said, “Where did you hear that? Calvinists do believe people choose God.” Quite intelligently, she replied, “But you don’t believe people choose God by their own ability”. “That’s right”, I said, “because without God’s intervention how can something that is evil ever choose a good God?” I continued to ask her questions: “Do you believe all people are born sinners?” Yes. “Do you believe sin makes us an enemy of God?” Yes. “Do you believe sin affects our hearts, souls, bodies, and minds? Yes. “Do you believe sin makes us unable to save ourselves? Yes. “Do you believe it makes us unwilling to be saved?” Well, not always. I think many people recognize their sinfulness and turn to God. I replied, “Therein lies your problem, you rightly recognize the reality of depravity, but not its totality.”

The spectre of Pelagius still haunts the majority of Christendom. Radical Pelagianism denies the inherent evil of mankind. It claims whatever effects sin may have had, many exist for who salvation is not necessary. Even if someone has fallen into sin, they are both able and (many times) willing to save themselves.

While orthodoxy has rightly claimed such a teaching heretical, Roman Catholicism and much of contemporary Evangelicalism has never fully moved away from this idea. All Christian groups today teach the reality of depravity—that doctrine which states that mankind is born into sin and separation from God. Our hearts are inclined to evil and at enmity with the Lord. They strongly disagree with Pelagius’ assertion that human beings are able to save themselves, but they agree with him that many are willing to be saved.

If sin has truly distorted every dimension of the human person, it must have also affected our wills (what we want) and our minds (what & how we think). In other words, we do not desire God, we do not want God, and we will not allow our minds to turn us toward God. There is no such thing as the ‘noble pagan’ who, of his own power, recognizes his sinfulness and cries out to God for assistance.
Certainly pagans do cry out to God, but it is by God’s power alone that this is possible.

Both Arminians and Calvinists recognize the reality of depravity, but only Calvinists recognize its totality.

Update: Thanks to those who noticed the error in the post graphic (which referred to the 5 solas). It's a sad day when a Reformed pastor can't tell his solas from his Tulips. LOL.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Celebrating Christmas with the Puritans

For some time now I have been an avid reader of Puritan literature. Their reformed understanding of Scripture was deeply held and sincerely lived out for the glory of God. Yet today the Puritans are considered "killjoys" and prudes because of their negative stance towards entertainment.

The issue of Christmas was particularly troublesome for the Puritans. They objected to the holiday for several reasons. First of all, it has no biblical mandate. Firmly adhering to the Regulative Principle in regards to worship, the Puritans recognized this celebration was not ordained by Christ and therefore maintained it should not be part of our Christian worship. Second, Christmas contradicts the historical record as Christ certainly wasn't born on December 25th. Third, the holiday has pagan roots. The Catholic Church had invented Christmas to compete with the ancient Roman festival honoring the bull-god Mithras. Its pagan roots was clearly evident by the fact that most only gave lip-service to Christ and instead used the holiday for self-indulgent revelry. Fourth, it reminded them of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, which they were trying to escape. Fifth, the holiday celebration usually included drinking, excessive feasting, and playing games - all things which the Puritans understood as being antithetical to true worship. One such tradition, "wassailing" occasionally turned violent. The custom entailed people of a lower economic class visiting wealthier community members and begging, or demanding, food and drink in return for toasts to their hosts' health. If a host refused, things could occasionally turn violent (and even if it didn't, the custom would most certainly end in drunkenness).

Yet today conservative Christmas are the most vocal advocates of Christmas. We hear repeated refrains to "put Christ back into Christmas". Isn't it odd that faithful Christians of one century would almost universally oppose Christmas while those of another would unanimously promote it? Pity the poor pastor today who would dare to challenge celebrating this merry-making holiday.

Personally, I find the Puritan's arguments convincing. Don't misunderstand--my family still celebrates Christmas. Three days ago we set up the Christmas tree and took our yearly trip to a little outlet store where each of our three children picked out an ornament. We purchase a gift for each of kids and a few more for the entire family. On Christmas day we will gather for a gigantic feast and spend much of the day as a family. I just paid 20 bucks to the local Boy Scouts troup for a wreath to hang on the garage.

Yet, I cannot shake the Puritan viewpoint. It's too logical and too biblical to be simply ignored. The fact is that Christmas was and is a pagan holiday. In my own sketch of church history I cannot find a period in which Christmas was ever truly celebrated (universally) as a day of faithful worship to the King of kings. It was always tainted with self-indulgence and debauchery.

For the past few years we have celebrated Christmas with the Puritans. By that I mean that my wife and I consciously make the effort to mimimalize ourselves and maximize Christ. Each child receives only one present, which we open on Christmas eve (keep in mind that we cannot control the grandparents, so the kids usually receive more). The day of Christmas is reserved soley for Christ. In the morning we assemble at the "family altar" for prayer, worship, bible reading. At the meal we spend most of our conversation talking about Christ. Here we ask the children questions from the catechism and inquire what they have been learning about Jesus from Sunday school. We explore ways to make Christ the center of our lives in a variety of areas. In the evening, we assemble together again for worship and a sermonette that covers the Gospel story (creation-fall-redemption).

To be honest, neither the Puritans nor most contemporary Christians would approve of what we do as a family for Christmas. But the reason for disagreement is very illuminating: many Christians would object that we have taken the fun out of the holiday. The Puritans would object that we risk displacing Christ by having any fun at all.

We have chosen a middle path--but if forced, I would side with the Puritans.

- Josh Gelatt

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sproul Interviews Ben Stein

Sproul Interviews Ben Stein:

"What a great interview. Watch until the end. You'll enjoy the praise Stein heaps on our own R.C. Sproul. Bahnsen may have passed on, but R.C. is still on duty. Let's always pray for him."

This is a worthy post even if it is not from me personally.

Ken Clouse
Glennie, Mi.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


"I was 16 years old when I found out I was pregnant. I hadn’t had my period and I was so scared. I told my 15-year-old boyfriend, and he said we should get a pregnancy test. When I walked out of the bathroom I started crying, and he knew that meant I was pregnant. I did not tell my mom. I told my aunt, but my aunt told me I was going to have to tell my mom so I could get help. "

"When my mom finally found out I was 8 weeks pregnant. She set up an appointment for me at Hope Clinic for Women. My boyfriend and I did not want to have an abortion, but my mom refused to let me live in her home with a baby, so at the time I thought I had no other choice. "

"When I got to the clinic I had my ultrasound, and that is when it hit me that I was pregnant!! It was so emotional for me. After the abortion I was so depressed, and I could not believe that I killed my own flesh and blood. I asked God to forgive me and to bless me with another child in the future, and I promised to love it and care for it. It is now two years later, and I still go to sleep dreaming of what it would have been like to wake up at 4:00 AM to feed my baby, to love it, and for my baby to love me. The father and I are no longer together. I broke up with him three months after my abortion. I was depressed and angry and was taking it all out on him. "

The short story above I found on the net, this story was the very first reference about abortion I came to when beginning my search for more information about abortion, it is doubtful I should proceed any further. My search about abortion was prompted by an article that appeared in the USA Today newspaper

Here are some quotes from the article. Dated November 21, 2008 “COMPROMISE EQUALS BETRAYAL” By Joseph M. Scheidler, national director of the Chicago-based Pro-Live Action League.

“I challenge anyone who wants to help pregnant women to actually go to an abortion clinic.”

“You will see the young girl who doesn’t want an abortion, but whose family doesn’t want to be burdened with a baby. She is not making her own choice; she is making someone else’s choice."

“There is no evidence that increasing social programs-such as low-cost health care and daycare, college grants and maternity homes-will impact a woman’s abortion decision”.

It’s the law, abortion is legal, let’s simply work on reducing the number of abortions.


I have had my own juggling with the abortion issue. Years i.e. decades after I became a Christian I let the issue of abortion fly by, right over my head, I had little interest and definitely no opinion on the subject.

1973 was the year abortion became legal in the United States, by then I had been a Christian for 15 years, when the subject came up, “I thought, so what” not out loud of course. Little by little I heard the term “abortion” generally from preachers. “We don’t believe in abortion they would say.” After a time, I didn’t believe in abortion either with no reason except Christians don’t believe in abortion. During this time I struggled, what about the birth of a crippled, deformed, sickly child, is it more humane to abort? If possible no one should live with a deformity, I reasoned. I let all this go for a long time not giving much thought. After all I am not involved, what is all the fuss about I thought to my self. Can’t we just all get along?

Then came the first encounter forcing me to make a decision. I read Dale Evans Rogers book “Angel Unawares” (everyone get this book) has several copies (used) from $1.99-$10.00. (EVERYONE NEEDS TO MAKE A DECISION ABOUT ABORTION!!)

After reading Angel Unawares, I discovered my need to make a decision about the abortion issue. The argument against abortion is not “I am a Christian; therefore, I don’t believe in abortion” (don’t be thrown by this statement please read on). I now began a quest for a conviction one-way or the other.

In my study, I first considered the arguments of the abortionists.

1. A woman has a choice over her own body. This is not an argument for anything; if a woman has a choice over her body, she had a choice not to get pregnant. This is quite logical. So, what is the choice? The choice is Abortion is a contraceptive. This argument is a lie; it’s not about a choice over the woman’s body.

2. I believe in abortion in the case of incest or rape. (Interestingly many Christians believe this argument is valid.)After researching many books and articles by doctors on the rape and conception issue, doctors stated unanimously it was nearly impossible for a rape victim to conceive due to the trauma of the rape. This does not include claimed rape of a non-traumatized situation in this case a D&C is usually immediately preformed. In the case of conception from rape, doctors claimed it is so rare it is not worth considering in the abortion argument.
What about incest, this is a non-argument also since what woman is going to rush to the Abortion clinic (women’s health centers) after an ancestral incident? This would come under the heading of rape not incest any way. Unless I live in a fictional world I cannot believe this is the normal everyday event. I discount this as an argument.

3. For the health of the Mother. (Most Christians really believe this lie)
This is a real dumb reason especially today. I doubt there is a woman in the US in the last year who has died in childbirth. Some don’t even give birth in hospitals as my daughter can attest to. Her last two children were born at home. When this argument is mentioned, my mind goes back to all our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. How did they do it? They had children (more than one) with out the fear of death. Some did die but there were few . My wife and I researched death certificates of the county of Iosco in Michigan for the years 1900, 1953, 1973 and 2,000; there was not one mother who died during childbirth in any of these years. Now here is a question: has anyone ever heard of an animal dying in the birth of her babies?

As far as I know these are the arguments for abortion. I accept them as nonsense (garbage); there is no logic to these arguments. It makes me wonder what the real motive of the abortionists is?

In my quest for a conviction in the abortion argument, I discovered I had no argument for the performance of an abortion. I conclude Abortion is illogical; there are no sound arguments for the procedure under any circumstance. Logically, when I read about a 16-year-old girl, the horror she endured how can there be any logic in that abortion? She is more the norm of mothers that have aborted than the exception; I have yet to heard a mother testify she was glad she had an abortion.

The logic above is for everyone. What about Christians. Why should Christians be opposed to abortion? It’s much more than “The preacher says it’s wrong.”

"Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28; See also for context Acts 19:23-41 ) [Diana the god of the Ephesians was worshiped, the Gospel threatened this worship, the same is true of the abortionists who are of the city of destruction, their belief systems are not found in Scripture]. They are threatened by the Christian’s Biblical position

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Luke 11:42). Christians must exercise justice and love of God. Christians cannot act with a lack of concern. Christians must act on the subject of abortion i.e. practice justice.

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. A workman [Christian] that needeth not to be ashamed" (2Tim. 2:15). A man faithfully performing his duty, so that when he looks over what he has done, he may not blush.

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27). God creates man for Himself.

“Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man" (Gen. 9:6). God condemns taking another person’s life. The capital punishment argument is for another time.

“You shall not murder" (Ex. 20:13). Don’t depend on philosophers i.e. when life begins, depend on Scripture to answer that question.

“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death" (Ex. 21:12).

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5).

Check this Scripture out: “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe" (Ex. 21:22-25).

Glorify God in our bodies. "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s" (1Cor. 6:19-20).

This is my story, this is not the whole story however there is much more in Scripture that insists life begins at conception and God is in charge of life and death. The issue of abortion is not a legal one or a women’s rights issue or even a constitutional issue. The abortion issue is a spiritual issue: it’s about Godliness and ungodliness. Remember, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:5).

" Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:12). The Christian must abhor (regard with disgust) abortion. A good book to get on the subject is Abortion by R.C. Sproul. Available at Ligonier Ministries, Orlando, Fla.

The 16 year old girl should have been shown the love she deserved. I just cannot image being her. How horrible! How irresponsible! We as adults are to our children sometimes.

In our Christian community the Abortion subject needs to be addressed Biblically. We don't get involved in politics it is said, well this is not about politics, it's about righteousness and unrighteousness a worthy criteria for preaching? So far it's pretty much left off the list of teachings of the protestant church (some kind of pro-testant): this may not be true of Roman Catholics though. Roman Catholics really are out in front on this issue. With this I end, may we all follow God's word and "be ye holy for I am holy."

Ken Clouse

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Memorial Service

As most of you know, Pastor Tom Burbridge's wife Joanne is now at home with the Lord after her battle with cancer.

This Sunday afternoon, November 23, Grace Community Church in Oscoda will have a memorial service in honor of Joanne. The service will begin at 2:00pm with refreshments following the service. Grace Community Church is located at 6021 Skeel Ave., Oscoda, MI.

Please, pray for our friend Tom and his family.

"May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with... you" (2 Thess. 3:16 NIV)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In Christ We Can Choose to Rejoice Always!

Philippians 4:4,6 commands us as believers in Christ, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!...Be anxious for nothing...”

“But what if my candidates all lose? (and they did!) What if the country continues to morally decline? (and it is) What if I lose my job or get laid off? (that could realistically happen in the near future) What if I am not sleeping well and not feeling well? (and at times I'm not) How can I NOT worry or be anxious? How can I NOT be more irritable and restless…even depressed? How do I rejoice then?"

But is joy/rejoicing merely a feeling—a feeling that depends on our outward circumstances? Or is joy a state of mind that in the Lord we can choose at any time to enter into—based not on our outward circumstances, but based on spiritual realities, on what the Lord Jesus Christ has bought for us at the cross?

Jesus said in John 8:31-32, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” That’s an amazing promise Jesus makes! Knowing the truth about Jesus Christ and what He has done for us, knowing His plan and His promises, will set us free from anger and anxiety and depression--and enable us to rejoice always.

John Piper has often said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” And we must CHOOSE to be most satisfied in Him, like the psalmist in Psalm 73 who chooses to desire God more than anything on earth and be satisfied in Him. And God is glorified especially when we choose that in the midst of suffering, loss, and hard times. Rejoicing in the Lord always in our duty, our calling, and our privilege. It is a choice we can make through Christ who strengthen us.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 simply says, "Rejoice always." How, Paul? For one, Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose...” (and keep reading!). There is something we can always rejoice in, that even the most difficult and trying times in our lives have a good purpose in God’s plan for us. And this is only one of many promises of God to His elect people, purchased by the blood of Christ.

So on this day after the election, REJOICE, BROTHERS!

Pastor Jeff Ryan
Calvary Bible Church
Rogers City, MI

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Update for November Meeting

November 8, 2008
10:00 AM-12:00 Noon
Camp Barakel
located on M-72 west of M-65 east of M-33
Fairview, MI

Speakers - Pastor Brian Tidd, Big Rock Church, Atlanta, Michigan
Pastor Tim Steiner, Calvary Baptist, Mikado, Michigan
Pastor Jeremy Lee, Twining Baptist, Twining, Michigan

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

Camp Barakel will be providing lunch for us at this meeting. There is no charge for attending any Reformation Society Meetings, and we do not take offerings. However, donations for the lunch Camp Barakel will be preparing would be welcomed. All donations will go to Camp Barakel. Please, let us know if you will be attending and how many will be with you so that we have an accurate count for food preparation. This meeting is open to all: pastors, elders, deacons, and lay persons. Please, send your RSVP to or call 989-735-2262.

In additon, this session will be video recorded. CD’s will be available at $7.00 each. Please, see Chuck Peterson (the man behind the camera) for orders and payment.

The format at this meeting will be the Reformation Bible Study where each speaker is expected to faithfully exegete and explain his exegesis to the group in the allotted time without collaborating with the other speakers. The point of this exercise is not to proclaim our own opinions or debate but to unfold the mind of God from the Scriptures. Since this Bible Study is not meant to be preaching, the speakers must avoid all exhortations and admonishments. After all three speakers finish, those in attendance will question the speakers but not debate or argue. All attendees are expected to study the text (Romans 10:17) before our meeting. Finally, we will arrive at conclusions (application) as a group.

Directions: The meeting will be at the East Side Dining Hall at Camp Barakel. For directions to Camp Barakel go to Once you are on our property proceed north for a half-mile. The first building you'll come to is the camp office. Go past the office and proceed down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, take an immediate right. You will pass a house on the left. Continue going forward; the road will curve sharply to the left. Following the curve, you can either proceed up the hill and park in the circle drive, or you can follow the lower road around the back and park in the small lot behind the building. The first big building will be the dining hall. We will be meeting in the upper level.
North East Michigan Reformation Society Council and contact people.

Pastor Jeremy Lee Pastor Chair
Pastor Jeff Ryan
Chaplin Larry Teal
Lay Leader Ken Clouse

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Biblical Defense of Monergism

Baptists bristle at the teaching of baptismal regeneration (i.e. baptism is necessary for salvation). It is inimical to our cherished belief that we are saved by faith alone. But, does the popular Baptist viewpoint on regeneration fare any better than baptismal regeneration?

The popular belief amongst Baptists is that a person is (regenerated) born again after or simultaneous to the time he places his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Thus, one’s faith is the cause of regeneration. Some opponents of the popular Baptist view point call this “Decisional Regeneration.” Thiessen expresses this point of view well: The new birth is conditioned on faith in the crucified Christ.[1]

However, “Decisional Regeneration” fares no better biblically than baptismal regeneration. The Bible nowhere teaches that regeneration is conditioned on faith. In fact, it teaches that God alone apart from the will of man, whether by faith or baptism, causes the new birth.

John 3 is one of most well known passages on regeneration. In this text, Jesus explains to Nicodemus the necessity of the new birth: No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again (John 3:3 NIV). Born again could also be translated born from above as well as born again. Leon Morris argues that John wants us to understand the word in both senses. Obviously, if one is born the first time, then he also experiences a birth from God, he is born again. John apparently wants us to understand both ideas in this one word. In other passages where this word is used, it is translated as above and is clearly referring to God (See John 3:31, 19:11; James 1:17). From this, one may conclude that being born from above means that the source for new birth is from God, which is the expression that John uses in John 1:13 to describe the new birth.

In this verse, John makes absolutely clear that the human will is not involved in the new birth but that it is brought about by the work of God. Some may attempt to argue that verse 12 teaches that receiving Jesus is the cause of the new birth. However, verse 12 says no such thing. It only affirms that those who received him will become children of God. It does not comment on how the birth of the child of God occurs. John saves his explanation for this in verse 13. It is here that John teaches man’s will is not involved in the process of the new birth. Moreover, James adds that God is the one who chooses to give us the new birth (James 1:18). Since God causes the new birth and chooses to give birth to persons apart from their will, faith cannot be a condition for regeneration because faith involves the human will.

Because most Baptists believe that born again and saved are synonymous terms, they also think that regeneration is synonymous with being saved. This mistake causes most of the misunderstanding about regeneration and it cause. However John 3:3 aids in clearing up the confusion. Jesus says here in order to see the kingdom of God one must be born again. Unger’s Bible dictionary defines the kingdom of God as “all created intelligences…who are willingly subject to God and thus in fellowship with him.” One could easily sum up this definition: the kingdom of God is all who are saved. If this is the true meaning of the phrase in this context, then Jesus is telling Nicodemus that in order to be saved one must first experience the new birth. In addition, Titus 3:4 teaches that regeneration is the means to salvation when it says “he saved us through the washing of the new birth.” Clearly, regeneration cannot be the same thing as salvation if it precedes it and is the means to salvation.

Regeneration is only beginning of the blessings of salvation purchased by Christ. Salvation also includes justification, sanctification, glorification, adoption, conversion and union with Christ. While the other blessings of salvation may be conditioned on faith, regeneration is brought about by God and not the human will. Regeneration is the initial act of God whereby he imparts a new nature in a sinner; as a result of regeneration, the regenerate person accepts the Gospel and is saved. Thus, properly speaking regeneration has no condition; however, salvation is conditioned on faith.

Thus, whether one teaches Baptismal or Decisional Regeneration, he is in error. The correction for both of these errors is to accept the biblical view of regeneration that God acts on the heart of man independent of his will in order to change his sinful will so that he savingly repents and believes, and by this means God saves him.

[1] Theissen, Henry C. Lectures in Systematic Theology (Eerdman’s 1999) pg. 280

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A New Response to Dr. Malcolm Hester

I want to share a letter with everyone that I wrote to the Dr. Fox and the CCCBBC administration today. I realized that the way I said things in my initial letter was wrong. Since I posted that letter for everyone to read, I want everyone to see my apology.

Dear Dr. Fox and CCBBC administration,

Because of the Conference on the Challenge of Calvinism, I sent a response to you requesting that you be more considerate of others with different opinions. Since I sent that response I have been involved in discussion online about the conference with others including Dr. Hester, He pointed out in one blog that accusing CCBBC of unfaithfulness to its confession was offensive; consequently, I went back to read what I wrote and realized how harsh the wording of my critique was.

Just as I was quick to respond to the conference initially, I want to apologize to the administration, faculty, and specifically, Dr. Hester for those remarks. Unfortunately, I did not realize at the time how harsh this section of my letter was. I had often wondered why CCBBC was so averse to Calvinism, yet held to a moderately Calvinistic confession. Instead of asking about what seems to me like an inconsistency to be cleared up, I accused and was not slow in passing judgment. I look forward to further discussion on the New Hampshire Confession with Dr. Hester online to clear this matter up.

Again, I am sorry for calling into question the integrity of the administration and faculty at CCBBC. I cannot expect tolerance for myself when I use such accusatory language.

To those who may not be familiar with the New Hampshire Confession a link to it is provided:

For background on the confession see:

Also, consider Mark Dever's article on this confession:

Read the original story:,

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

Monday, September 29, 2008

About the N.E. Michigan Reformation Society

It’s been about two years now that a gathering of a half dozen men met at Grace Community Church in Oscoda, Mi. It was the desire and passion of these men to see the doctrines of Grace proclaimed to the Christian community of northern Michigan. Pastor Tom Burbridge was our first pastor chair. Pastor Jeremy Lee for the past year has been our pastor leader. Beginning in January '09 Pastor Jeff Ryan will officiate as pastor chair.

This is the crux of the matter:

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ" (Col. 2:8).

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).

" Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ "(Rom. 5:1).

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).

Our pastor in church on Sunday prayed a prayer I believe I have never heard in a congregational meeting. He prayed a prayer of repentance for himself and his congregation. It was not a short prayer of repentance; it was quite long and thorough. I bowed my heart feeling as though the pastor’s passionate hands were on me personally.

This is the ministry of the NE Michigan Reformation Society. We are a Para-Church organization. Our goal is to be a help to local churches.

We are not a society that meets for coffee to talk politics, church growth methods etc. We meet to encourage all of the sufficiency of God’s Holy Word in every ministry and walk of life God into which God leads us. We meet to repent of our worldliness, and to seek the knowledge of God as led by the Holy Spirit through Bible studies and encouragement. We pray for the reformation of churches, for His guidance through His Word; we pray that Congregations everywhere will use Scripture Alone as their only rule for faith and practice. Our passion is the reformation of all Northern Michigan.

"My neighbor came by a couple days ago. He is a "twice immersed, hand raised convert after singing the song ten times unbeliever." He has a telescope that he has invited me to use to visit the heavens more closely. I mentioned that the Milky Way was so large that it would take 4 million light years to cross it traveling at the speed of the shuttle at 18,000 mph. He said that that was proof God didn’t make the stars and the universe because God could not possibly make anything that big. To a screeching halt I came. "Who do you think God is? Is He a man like you and I? Is He a human being? No, God is a spirit." He is all powerful and everywhere. God made everything. Harold Camping made this serious mistake on his Christian radio program. He didn’t know how God could hear the prayers of millions; he just trusted that God heard. Wow! What does the Scripture say?

"He who comes to God must believe that He is."

"We are justified by faith, faith comes by hearing, hearing comes by the Word of God."It is the Word of God that saves.

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).

What about Psalms 139, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me" (vs. 7-10).

God is everywhere all the time in every event. Nothing escapes Him. We call Christians everywhere to repentance, worship, and total dependence on His Word, thus all will be saved who repent, worship, and depend upon Him.

The NE Michigan Reformation Society will soon be in its third year as a presence in NE Michigan. I have been very blessed to have met many pastors and lay people who have a heart for the message that the Cambridge Declaration brings, ie, the five Solas of the Christian reformation: Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, to the Glory of God Alone. I want to express my appreciation for the love each brother has shown me. I trust I can reciprocate in like manner. This note is a thank you.

"Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20, 21).

Ken Clouse
Lay Leader
NE Michigan Reformation Society

Monday, September 22, 2008

Encouragement to Proclaim the Gospel in All Its Fullness

The need is great for Christians to proclaim the full truth of the Biblical gospel and trust God to effectually work in the hearts of people, as sometimes the way we evangelize is far fom what Jesus taught and His apostles practiced.

Why is it that the church has so many who "make decisions" yet so few who are actually committed to Christ, live transformed lives, and deny themselves & take up the cross of discipleship & follow Him? Why is it that so many who have said “yes” to Christ (and who have been told by somebody that they are now eternally saved) will apparently one day stand before Him and hear Him say the words of Matthew 7:23, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness”?

Could it be because too often what these people have said “yes” to isn’t the gospel at all, but an abbreviated form of the truth that has barely mentioned the character of God and the nature of sin? Could it be that in our zeal to reach the lost and save as many as possible we are proclaiming a gospel of our own design--a gospel designed not to offend, a gospel that can be accepted by proud, unrepentant people who don't understand who God is or how grievously they have offended Him with their sin?

We need to be more familiar with the evangelism of Jesus (like with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, and the rich young ruler) and the evangelism of the apostles than we are with the current popular techniques to get a crowd and get positive responses. We need to trust the Biblical gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit and not our own persuasiveness. We need to remember that we are like Ezekiel, called to speak God's Word to a bunch of dry bones, trusting God to raise up a great army for His name. We need to be faithful to speak the truth!

Pastor Jeff Ryan
Calvary Bible Church
Rogers City, MI

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Disturbing News from My Alma Mater

I discovered a conference at my alma mater, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, on Founders Ministry website( and sent the following letter to the president in response.

Dear Dr. Donnie Fox,

I am a 2005 graduate of Clear Creek. I became concerned when I recently saw an article in the Western Recorder advertising a conference at Clear Creek entitled: The Challenge of Calvinism. A conference to address the problem of Calvinism.

I have been disturbed since my time at CCBBC at its response to Calvinism. When I came to CCBBC in 2000, I had no idea what Calvinism was, but I was shortly introduced to the beliefs of Calvinism. However, for most of my time at CCBBC, I was not a Calvinist. I was still bothered at how Clear Creek responded to Calvinism (the firing of Dr. Castleton, especially and falsely accusing Calvinist students of proselytizing). My feeling at the time was that rather than attacking Calvinists as the enemy we should embrace them as fellow believers with whom we disagree.

In my experience, the students of CCBBC were ignorant of Calvinism; consequently, the rejection of it was a rejection of the caricature and not the actual theology. Because of the schools response to Calvinism, students remain ignorant of both Calvinism and Arminianism; therefore, they cannot adequately wrestle with the challenges of God’s sovereignty and humanity’s free will. I feel a conference that would facilitate a dialogue between Calvinism and Arminianism would better benefit students. Rather than, a one sided diatribe against Calvinism.

Clear Creek’s reaction is also bothersome because it is denial of its confession of faith: the New Hampshire Confession. According to Lumpkin (this is the book I used for Baptist Doctrine class at CCBBC), “The New Hampshire confession…sought to restate its Calvinism in very moderate tones.”[1] The New Hampshire Confession asserts both monergistic regeneration and unconditional election, which as far as I know no professor at CCBBC affirms even though they sign this statement of faith when hired. In addition, it is my understanding that at least some of the founders of CCBBC were Calvinists.

Why is CCBBC so concerned that some of its students or faculty might embrace the doctrines that brought about the Protestant Reformation? Would CCBBC have a conference to keep these men from being pastors and missionaries: Adoniram Judson, Charles Spurgeon, BH Carroll, John Broadus, James P. Boyce, and WA Criswell all of whom claimed to be Calvinists?

My problem really is not that CCBBC is not Calvinistic as much as its hostility towards those who are. It is a sad day when my alma mater is holding conferences condemning the beliefs I hold dear.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

[1] Lumpkin, William L. Baptist Confessions of Faith (Judson 1969) pg. 360

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Repentance Unto Life

The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them."

Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened: "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air. Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

"I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

"The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’

This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.

"Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’

"As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?"

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life" (Acts 11:1-18 NIV).

What is repentance unto life?

Contextually, this "repentance to life" is the faith induced by hearing the Good News of God's provision of complete forgiveness in Christ.

The conclusion was forced by undeniable evidence of the Holy Spirit coming to the just-believing Gentiles who did not submit to Jewish regulations in the Law for God's supreme blessing promised to Israel--the Holy Spirit. (They may have supposed that the all flesh portion of the promise meant all flesh which binds itself to keeping God's covenant with Israel.)

It is a summary phrase equivalent to what some today call conversion, accepting Christ, trusting Christ, coming to Christ, et. al.. However, Russian Evangelical Baptists will ask you, "When did you repent?" rather than "When did you accept Christ?"

It describes what God did which brought about the reception of the correct heart attitude (which is repentance). It is the ministry and work of God upon which all preaching relies for effectiveness. So, Paul told Timothy to patiently teach opponents "in the hope that God would grant them repentance, leading to a knowledge of the truth that they may escape the trap of the devil who has taken them captive to do his will." Repentance is a desire to embrace God's truth and the perfection of God. It is what was rejected and abandoned in the garden. This is a gift from God which He must grant to people who have been running from His truth trying to escape reason and reach a demonic fantasy.

Thank you, Father, for your supreme gifts. In Christ's great name, Amen!

Pastor Brian Tidd
Big Rock Congregational Church
Atlanta, MI

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Plea for Faithful Ministry 2

The first key for the faithful minister is to embrace the gospel. In addition, he must accept the Bible as the standard of truth.

Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:13 NASB).

When sound, which means healthy, is used with doctrine or word, it means correct teaching or doctrine. Some believe that there must exist an authoritative church to maintain pure doctrine. Others hold that Christ is the standard by which all teachings are to be judged. However, Paul is teaching in this text that his teachings are the doctrinal standard for the church. Since Paul's teachings are contained in Scripture, the New Testament Scriptures are the standard of truth for the church. The Apostle Peter also upholds the Scriptures as the authoritative standard: "Remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles" (2 Peter 3:2 NASB). The church should never rule over Scripture, but she should submit to all its teachings and uphold the teachings of the Scripture. Only then is the church and her ministers fulfilling their mission. In addition, one can certainly agree that Christ is the ultimate standard of truth, but this begs the question: how does one know anything about Christ outside of Scripture? Scripture is our only inerrant source of information about Christ; therefore, Scripture, the written Word of God must be the standard of a faithful minister.

When a minister accepts the Bible as the standard of truth, it ought to affect his ministry. He should take diligent care that his teaching matches the teaching of the Bible. This is best accomplished by expository preaching, which enables the pastor to preach"the whole counsel of God." It also enable the pastor to preach authoritatively because he is preaching not the latest fad or opinion poll, but the God inspired, authoritative Word of God.

Men, let us be faithful ministers by embracing the gospel and accepting the Bible as the standard of truth.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

Sunday, August 31, 2008

An Odd Look at Saving Faith

Faith is a term we use daily. We talk about it constantly. We base just about everything in our Christian lives on it. Christian faith is the second most essential thing we can possess (for the most important, see 1 Corinthians 13:13).

The New Testament (KJV) uses the word ‘faith’ a total of 229 times. By contrast, the Old Testament uses the word a mere two times, one of which, Deuteronomy 32:20, is a negative usage.

Let's look at four outrageous statements about faith:

Our faith is our (second) greatest treasure.
It is our faith that keeps us from day to day.
Our faith will bring us salvation and eternal life.
Our faith is the center of our entire life, as a Christian, and everything else in our life is centered around our faith.

Why outrageous? Because every one of those statements is WRONG. They all refer to OUR faith, or we could just as easily substitute MY faith.

The fact is, that faith is not ours. It is not mine. Ephesians 2:8 tells us plainly that the faith that saves us has nothing to do with us. It is the gift of God alone. I thank God that it is His, and not mine. My weaknesses are too great to be entrusted with using my own. That verse demands to be carefully read and fully understood. We are saved by grace – God’s grace, God’s unmerited favor. We are saved by that grace through faith – saving faith, trust, confidence, sure and certain belief. That faith does not originate with us, nor can we attain it by any effort on our part; it is the free gift of God. Verse 9 goes on to say: “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Faith is substance.
Substance is assurance.
Assurance is a guarantee or pledge.
A guarantee is a promise, beyond simple assurance.
A guarantee is not given by one to oneself.
It is given by a second party; otherwise it is not a guarantee or promise.

Therefore, faith does not originate with man, but is instead given to him by someone else; and the measure of a man’s faith is totally dependent on the generosity of the giver. The one to whom it is given can request more, but he has no control over the quantity given. Consider what Paul says in Romans 12:3: “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

If I were gifted with a mind superior to all the world’s greatest thinkers and scientists (I am not), if I had the wealth of all the knowledge of the ages at my fingertips, I would still be possessed of a fallible, limited, incomplete, human mind. My faith, conversely, is not my own. It is God’s, and therefore infallible. I no longer have to take shelter in what I can see and experience with my limited human senses.

In the old hymn, we sing, “Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.” The power of God is the victory, and faith is only the instrument through which that power works. It is God, through His Son, who saves us, then sanctifies us. It is God who gives us the faith that makes that possible. It is God who then overcomes the world on our behalf, because He is pleased with us, because of that faith. God is the source, God is the middle, God is the end. God does it all, and we have no greater duty than to accept His saving grace, and no greater calling than to praise Him and thank Him for his sovereignty, majesty, glory, power, love, and holiness.

Larry Teal

Teaching Elder, Pigeon River Baptist Church

Vanderbilt, MI

Saturday, August 23, 2008

God Works All Things After the Counsel of His Will

Doing some work in the Old Testament book of Esther recently has reminded me of the important--and practical--truth of God providentially working all things according to His ordained will.

Regardless of this compromise with human reasoning that some have come up with in recent years that says that God not only hasn't ordained what will come to pass, He really doesn't know what people will do (how can He, they say, if man is a free creature?) God just works things out based on what we do or don't do. If we don't cooperate with His "Plan A", well then He'll come up with "Plan B" and so on. This is called "open theism" and it's blatantly unbiblical! It's purely based on man, in his natural/fleshly thinking, trying to make sense out of man's freedom to do as he pleases and God doing as He pleases.

But the mind of God can only be discerned by the SPIRIT of God, causing us to understand and accept by faith the revealed truth of the WORD of God. And according to the truths and principles of Scripture, God has no "Plan B" and needs no "Plan B." We can know without a doubt that God and His ordained will are at the center of all the events of the book of Esther, as well as all the events of our world today (including all the free choices of man).

Esther records one of the clearest testimonies of God's sovereignty and providence in the Bible. It's one long illustration from Biblical history of the truth of verses like Proverbs 19:21, "Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand" (NIV, "it is the Lord's purpose that prevails") and Romans 8:28, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" and Ephesians 1:11, "In Him (Christ) also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will." (See also Genesis 50:20.)

C.H. Spurgeon once said, "Every child of God is where God has placed him for some good purpose." And knowing that God has us where we are in His wise and good providence and knowing His promises to deliver His people (as in Esther), we can wait on Him with confidence, trusting Him to order our circumstances and deliver us in His perfect timing.

Pastor Jeff Ryan
Calvary Bible Church
Rogers City, MI

Monday, August 18, 2008

Eve and Choice

"The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

"Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of very tree of the garden?' And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' Then the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate" (Gen 2:8 -9, 3:1-6).

Notice, after God planted the garden He made every tree to grow for beauty and food. The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil was also there.

Now comes Satan asking Eve, "Has God really said you cannot eat of the tree of good and evil."

Of Course, Eve said, "Or, we will die."

"You won’t die," advised Satan. "You will become wise, and you will be like God. Your eyes will be opened."

Noticing the tree was pleasant to the eye and would make one wise she (Eve) took and ate the fruit.

Now here are some obvious question?

1. Why did Eve consider anything Satan said? She knew God; she knew God’s command.

2. How could Eve have sinned before she became a sinner, i.e. was she born a sinner?

3. What nature did Eve possess i.e. a sinful nature or a righteous nature?

Now, I do not have the answers to these questions. I do know this however. People by the millions think they can make a decision for God any time they want. This thinking is very inconsistent given the record Eve piled up with Satan. Remember, Eve lost a son to murder, she perpetrated sin via. her husband who also violated God’s law. Does anyone really think they have the moral capacity to choose God, even Eve failed, Eve who was not born in sin.

No man makes a decision for God any more than Adam and Eve did. It even gets worse after Adam and Eve. We are born in sin, we are sinners at birth.

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"
(Rom. 3:23).

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him"
(Heb. 11:6).

God does rescue us from the snare of the cunning one, Satan. Yes, He does by His grace alone.

He saves us by His Grace : "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)...For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:4-5, 8).

He saves for His Glory alone: "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1Pet. 4:11).


Monday, August 11, 2008

September Reformation Society Meeting

Saturday, September 13 is the date for our next Reformation Society meeting. The meeting will be held at Twining Baptist Church in Twining, Michigan at 10am.

Our guest speaker for this meeting will be Pastor Hal Polk of Calvary Presbyterian Church, Flint, Michigan.

Please, make plans to attend. Pastors, feel free to invite your deacons, elders, other church leaders, and interested lay persons.

Twining Baptist Church
410 W Main St
Twining, MI
Pastor Jeremy Lee

"God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:4-9 NKJV).

A Plea for Faithful Ministers

“The Nazis said there's a problem with the Jewish body, so let's find a solution. And, these groups are saying there's a problem with the Jewish soul. We have another solution. It's called conversion. You have to be like us or we can't love you. If you're not like us, you're going to go to the eternal barbecue. This is a nefarious, insipid message, which has led to inquisitions, auto-da-fe, pogroms, expulsions, and ultimately the Holocaust.”

What is this is this nefarious, insipid message that this person is condemning? Is it condemning the beliefs of jihadist Muslims? NO! Is it Neo-Nazis? NO! Is it the hate-filled speeches of Ku Klux Klansmen? NO! This is the response of a rabbi to the SBC’s emphasis on evangelizing Jews. He also said, “Racist beliefs lead to racist action, and Christian anti-Judaism leads to racial anti-Semitism. Every historian knows that to be true, and that's why these beliefs are dangerous. Who would have thought that in a new millennium ...we would once again see the prevalence of spiritual dictatorship and totalitarianism?” This rabbi equates Christian evangelism with the atrocities of the Holocaust, and his perception is that we are despots presiding over a new spiritual totalitarian regime.

We should not be surprised, after all, our former Vice-President, Al Gore, delivered a speech in which he called Christians “the extra chromosome right wing.” For years, the mass media has portrayed Christians as red-in-the-face, ignorant, Bible thumpers. Obviously, our culture is a hostile environment in which to minister.

In 2 Timothy, Paul seeks to encourage Timothy to be faithful in his ministry even in troubling times. Paul discloses that many have fallen away from the truth already (vs. 1:15, 2:17, & 4:14, 15). He cautions that more difficult days and evil men are coming, and he predicts a day when pupils will find teachers who “tickle their ears.”

Timothy ministered in culture hostile toward his beliefs. How can we be faithful in a culture whose highest virtues are tolerance and inclusivism when we preach absolutes? How can we be faithful in a culture that reveres secularism and despises Christianity, which teaches that faith must influence every area of life or its not real faith? In 2 Timothy 1:8-14, Paul gives us three keys for a faithful ministry.

The first key is that we must embrace the gospel - "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord" (2 Tim. 1:8 NKJV).

To be ashamed of the gospel means to be apprehensive over one with whom you are associated with.

At one church that I attended my wife had some concerns about the nursery. She addressed these concerns to the pastor, and I went with her to talk with him. While physically I was there to support her, I shied away when the pastor did not agree and let Shelley go on her own. I held back and did not want to be associated with her complaints. I was ashamed. I did not embrace her ideas or goals.

As pastors and leaders, we can never act this way towards the gospel. We should embrace it whole-heartily no matter the cost. This is true whether the cost is popularity, comfort, or the loss of one's position. After all, Paul endured prison for the sake of the gospel and the salvation of God's elect.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

PS - Other keys will be presented in the future.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Reformation Society Prayer Meeting

Join us for this time of fellowship, worship, seeking the Lord for reformation and revival.

August 9, 2008 Saturday 10:00 AM
Curtisville Baptist Church
3165 Curtisville Road
South Branch, Michigan48761
Pastor John BarnerHost pastor
Ph. 989-64-8339

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4:6)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Eph. 3:20)

Sunday, July 27, 2008



Prayer is Commanded:

      Phil. 4:6 ¶ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Prayer is to be offered:

To God,  Psa. 5:2 Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God, For to You I will pray. 

To Christ, Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Through Christ,  Heb. 10:19 ¶ Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,

God hears,  Psa. 65:2 O You who hear prayer,
To You all flesh will come.

God Answers,  Is. 58:9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;You shall cry, and He will say, “Here I am.’
‘If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

Prayer is described as:

Bowing the Knees, Eph. 3:14 ¶ For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

Looking up, Psa. 5:3 My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.

Lifting up the soul, Psa. 25:1 ¶ To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.

Lifting up the heart, Lam. 3:41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
To God in heaven.

Pouring out the heart, Psa. 62:8 Trust in Him at all times, you people Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

Pouring out the soul, 1Sam. 1:15 ¶ But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.

Calling upon the name of the Lord, Gen. 12:8 And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.

Crying to God, Psa. 34:6 This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.

Drawing near to God, Psa. 73:28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
That I may declare all Your works.

Crying to heaven, 2Chr. 32:20  Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven.
Should be offered up:

In the Holy Spirit, Eph. 6:18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

In Faith, James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

In full Assurance, Heb. 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water

In a forgiving spirit, Matt. 6:12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.

With the whole heart, Jer. 29:13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

With humility, 2Chr. 33:12 Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,

With truth, Psa. 145:18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.

With desire to be heard, Neh. 1:6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned.

With a desire to be answered, Psa. 102:2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily.
Night and day, 1Tim. 5:5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.

Without ceasing, 1Th. 5:17 pray without ceasing,

Everywhere, 1Tim. 2:8 ¶ I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;

In everything, Phil. 4:6 ¶ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Accompanied With:

Repentance, 1Kings 8:33 ¶ “When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and when they turn back to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication to You in this temple,

Confession, Neh. 1:4,7 ¶ So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Neh. 1:7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.

Weeping, Hos. 12:4 Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed;
He wept, and sought favor from Him.
He found Him in Bethel,
And there He spoke to us—

Self-abasement, Gen. 18:27 ¶ Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord:

Fasting, Acts 13:3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

Watchfulness, Luke 21:36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Praise, Psa. 66:17 I cried to Him with my mouth,
And He was extolled with my tongue.

Thanksgiving, Col. 4:2 ¶ Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

Prayers are granted:

Through the Grace of God, Is. 30:19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; You shall weep no more.
He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears He will answer you.

Sometimes immediately, Dan. 10:12 ¶ Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.

Sometimes after delay, Luke 18:7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?

Sometimes differently from our desires, 2Cor. 12:8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
2Cor. 12:9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Beyond expectation, Eph. 3:20 ¶ Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

Jude 1:24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,

And to present you faultless

Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 

Jude 1:25 To God our Savior,

Who alone is wise,

Be glory and majesty,

Dominion and power,

Both now and forever.


Ken Clouse, 
NE Mi. Ref. Soc. Lay Member