Thursday, December 24, 2009

Worthy Is the Lamb That Was Slain


In Revelation 5, the One who sits on the throne holds a scroll in His right hand, a very important scroll, sealed with seven seals. This scroll contains His sovereign decrees for the destiny of the world, His plan for judgment and redemption. Who is worthy to open this scroll and to break its seals (and thus put it into effect)? The question goes out to all the universe, and NO ONE is found who is worthy and qualified.

John weeps greatly because no one is found. What would happen to God’s plan and all His promises? Would sin and death and Satan win? Is there any purpose to the suffering that Christians are going through? Is there any ordained end to human history? John had very good reason to weep!

Then John is told to stop weeping? Why? Because the triumphant, ascended Christ now enters onto the scene. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the rightful one to rule over God's people forever--and He has overcome the enemies of God and His people!

When John turns to see this victorious Lion, He sees Him instead as a Lamb standing as if slain (or slaughtered). But He is no helpless victim. He is all-powerful (7 horns) and all-knowing (7 eyes), sending out His Spirit into all the earth just as He had promised His disciples. Through His sacrifice, He has conquered and rules from heaven above.

And as the worthy One, He takes the scroll from the right hand of the Father--to break its seals and put into effect God's decress for judgment and redemption. And when He takes the scroll, the entire universe breaks out in praise...PRAISE OF THE LAMB.

This praise begins with the new song of the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."

This Christmas...let us worship the Lamb that was slain!

Jeff Ryan
Calvary Bible Church
Rogers City, Michigan

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Unholy Trinity


The following link is to John MacArthur's scathing indicment of the health, wealth, and prosperity preachers, who are broadcast on TBN almost 24/7. Unholy Trinity

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Can Baptists be Reformed?


I recently had a discussion on facebook with a friend about whether or not Baptists can rightly claim the adjective reformed. I am sharing our discussion here to get further insight [1]. I do not want a debate about the merits or demerits of reformed theology. Please, stick to the subject at hand in your comments. No off topic comments will be posted.


Seth Miller:I do not understand the phrase "Reformed Baptist". Aside from believing predestination in the Augustinian sense, what is so "Reformed" about you? Most, if not all, Reformers practiced paedobaptism and persecuted those who did not. Most, if not all, Reformers did not believe in religious liberty but rather ruled through synods and councils rejecting the idea of the autonomy of the local church.

Jeremy Lee: I've been thinking about this lately although from a different angle. Some Reformed people think it is inappropriate for Baptists to use the adjective reformed because they reject paedobaptism. My opinion on this is that Baptists who believe as you say in Augustinian predestination are accurately called Reformed. The reason for this is that while there are disagreements between the Reformed and Reformed Baptists, Reformed Baptists are within the Reformed tradition.

The question you are asking is not a new one and seemed to be the question that motivated Baptists in London to write the 1689 London Confession. The 2nd London is based on the Westminster Confession in order to show that these Baptist were not Anabaptists as they were accused of being. They wanted to demonstrate they were in agreement for the most part with Reformed theology. This history suggests that reformed is appropriate to use in reference to Baptists who believe in Augustinian predestination.

Seth Miller: It is interesting to see you appeal to the events surrounding the construction of the LCOF to defend the usage of the phrase "reformed." Seeing that none of the Baptist involved used it. They called themselves Calvinistic or Particular Baptist. It was actually the "Reformed" part THEY WERE trying to distant themselves from. Hence, the removal of paedobaptism and church censures when they referred to the Westminster Confession as basis for LCOF. Both of these doctrines are distinguishing marks of Classical Reformed Theology and very anti-Baptist. How can one claim the name "Reformed" and yet deny two major tenets of it?

Jeremy Lee: I still think the point of the LCOF was to demonstrate agreement more than distance themselves. Although, your point that they did not call themselves reformed is telling.

The question is what is the definition of reformed? Is it defined soteriologically or both soteriologically and ecclesiologically? Since I believe the most important aspect is the gospel, I would define it soteriologically and call myself reformed. I have a friend who suggested that Baptists are truly reformed because they alone took Sola Scriptura to its logical conclusion and rejected paedobaptism.

Seth Miller: I was actually thinking the same thing when I was writing: What is the definition of Reformed? I would say that both soteriology and ecclesiology are crucial to the definition since these were the major issues that the Reformers faced. They challenged the Roman Catholic view of salvation and how church is to be. I would agree to what your friend said in that sense: Baptists finished what the Reformers started.


See also:

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church
[1] This is a slightly edited version of our conversation.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Michigan Reformation Society Meeting

Bob Brady, the Executive director of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, will join us January 9, 2010, for a meeting of all Michigan Reformation Societies. Bob will be discussing current trends in the church and how local Reformation Societies are a key for reformation in the church. The meeting will be held at Heritage Baptist Church, 1841 Hartwick Pines Rd., Grayling, MI from 1:00 - 3:00pm.

In addition to Bob Brady's message, we will conduct a Reformation Bible study with local pastors. The text for this study is Isaiah 30:8-18. Please, carefully study this passage for the meeting because this type of Bible study involves everyone.

For further information please contact Pastor Jeremy Lee 989-867-4451, jlee@avci.net or Ken Clouse 989-735-2262, 5700ken@centurytel.net

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cultivating Holiness


Our friends at the Mid-Michigan Reformation Society recently hosted a meeting with Dr. Joel Beeke. Follow the link to hear "Cultivating Holiness." Dr. Beeke is the pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Church and president of Puritan Reformed Seminary Puritan Reformed Seminary both in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Accepting Those Who Differ: Lessons On Unity From Romans 14 And 15



One of the issues that I have longed struggled with is how to maintain unity among believers. Because Christians believe in absolute truth, we often struggle to get along when we disagree on what the truth is. Doctrinal disagreement has long separated believers from one another.

Unfortunately, one of two wrong responses to doctrinal disagreement is often chosen: accepting everyone regardless of their beliefs or separating with everyone who does not agree with you in entirety. My position has been that unity is achieved when believers agree on the essentials of the faith, that is, those truths which define Christianity (the authority of the Bible, Christ's atoning death, physical resurrection, salvation by grace and faith alone, etc.). Other doctrinal disagreements while important do not destroy unity; however, I have had a difficult time establishing this view from Scripture. This link was helpful in providing a biblical foundation for dealing with those whom we disagree. Footnote number 12 is especially helpful.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Jesus You Can't Ignore


Too often today Jesus is pictured as peace loving hippy who traveled around preaching love. While Jesus certainly loved peace and was the most loving person who ever lived, the contemporary portrayal of Jesus is myopic. In light of this, John MacArthur's book "The Jesus You Can't Ignore" provides a much needed biblical balance.

Jesus resembles in MacArthur's book an Old Testament prophet. He confronts the religious elite of his day with passion, zeal, and often with harsh words. MacArthur develops his portrayal from the many confrontations that Jesus faced in the Gospel accounts of his life. Twice Jesus forcefully cleansed the temple in Jerusalem. When accused of breaking the Sabbath, Jesus did not back down or alter his ministry in any way; rather, he boldly claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. Even Jesus most beloved sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, was a severe polemic against Pharisaism.

MacArthur argues that "the practical lesson regarding how we should conduct ourselves in the presence of false religion is consistent throughout: corruptions of vital biblical truth are not to be trifled with, and the purveyors of different gospels are not to be treated benignly by God's people. On the contrary, we must take the same approach to false doctrine as Jesus did..."

I recommend this book highly. It is an easy read, a sober reminder of the need to stand for the truth, and a biblically accurate portrayal of Jesus and his ministry.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

"The Jesus You Can't Ignore" is available for purchase @ http://www.gty.org/Shop/Books/451166

Monday, November 2, 2009

In Defense of Pastoral Leadership


Recently, a friend, Arthur Sido at "A Voice Crying in the Wilderness", has posted on his blog his own views and the links to others supporting the view that there is to be no human authority within the local church. The NEMRS affirms the view of church leadership expressed in the Westminster and London Baptist Confessions concerning the leadership of the local church. While these confessions differ in the details concerning church leadership, they both agree that the elders of a church are its leaders appointed by Christ to govern the local church.

Two words of caution are in order. First, ecclesiology is not something that Christians ought to divide over. It does not rise to the same level of importance as other doctrines such as theology proper or soteriology. In these areas of theology, we are in full agreement with Arthur, and we consider him a fellow laborer. In addition, many of his critiques of modern church methodology are valid and very much worth listening to (Hence the reason we have a link to his blog). Second, we do not affirm the traditional view because it is traditional nor do we affirm it because it is in our confessions. We affirm this position because we believe that it is the biblical view.

We believe that elders have been given the responsibility to lead the congregation God has placed them over. Paul describes elders as those "who rule" (1 Tim. 5:17). The Greek word used here is defined by BAGD to mean "1. to be the head of, rule, direct 2. care for, be concerned about, give aid." One may be tempted to argue that the second meaning is the one Paul intended. However, this same word is used in 1 Tim. 3:4, 5 to describe the duty of a father in his home. I doubt our friend would be willing to argue that men are only to care for their homes rather than lead their homes because he believes in male leadership in the home. In addition, the term elder itself was used to describe the leaders of Israel. These passages make it obvious that elders are to lead the church similarily to the way fathers are to lead the home.

The writer of Hebrews also says: "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God" (13:7). The word translated leaders is defined by BAGD as "a leader, guide...leaders of religioius bodies." In Acts 15:22, this same word is used of Paul and Barnabas, who were obviously leaders in their local church.

Other biblical evidence includes: the term bishop or overseer implies spiritual oversight, Timothy and Titus are both commanded by Paul to command their congregations (1 Tim. 4:11, Titus 2:15) implying authority, Paul told Timothy that he did not allow women to teach or exercise authority over men (This passage is used to rightly disqualify women from being elders), and Peter refers to elders as shepherds, which was a term used for a leader of Israel.

Bbilically, it is clear that elders are the persons Christ has apppointed to govern his church. Of course, no elder has the right to lead any congregation contrary to the rule of Christ, the Head of the Church. Therefore, elders are not the absolute authority in a church. Elders must submit to the absolute authority of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Idolatrous Religion of Conscience -- A Lutheran Lesson for Us All


The above link is to Al Mohler's blog where he discusses the recent action of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's regarding ordaining homosexuality. If you do not have Dr. Mohler's blog bookmarked you need to.

Monday, October 26, 2009

First Meeting of the New Northern Branch on Monday, November 9

All are invited to join us for the inaugural meeting of the northern branch of our society on Monday, November 9, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at Indian River Baptist Church, 6214 Hemlock Street, Indian River, MI (directions may be found at www.indianriverbaptistchurch.org). This will be a good time of fellowship with other northern Michigan churches--and a time of encouragement in Scripture and in holding fast the historic gospel, as expressed in the Five Solas of the Reformation (the authority of Scripture alone; salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone; all to the glory of God alone). With this group, we are looking to connect and encourage churches in an area covering the eastern U.P. to the north, the Petoskey area to the west, the northern I-75 corridor to the south, and the Cheboygan area, all the way to Alpena, to the east. All are welcome.

We are experimenting with a Monday morning time, as opposed to our traditional Saturday morning time, to see how effective this might be. If you are interested but unable to make it for the Nov. 9 meeting, please contact us with your availability and interest so that we might know for future planning.

Help us get the word out! We pray that God will use and expand this fellowship according to His will and for His glory.

Jeff Ryan
Calvary Bible Church, Rogers City
(989)734-3916 or cbcrc@i2k.com

Monday, October 19, 2009

Enjoying the Good Things of Life


The Bible teaches that material blessings are gifts from God (Deut. 8:18). Since they are a gift from God, they are good (James 1:17). This makes “excessive austerity” an unbiblical extreme to be avoided. However, the rejection of excessive austerity should not lead to the other extreme, which is license. John Calvin provides a biblical balance between the above extremes [1] .

Some believers throughout church history have argued that one may only use material things as they are necessary and must avoid using material things for pleasure. Calvin arguing against excessive austerity suggests that we do not make a mistake when we use material things for the purpose for which they were created. He quotes Psalm 104:15 to prove that God gives material things for both necessity and pleasure.

"and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to
strengthen man's heart" (ESV).
He asks rhetorically is it unlawful to enjoy the beauty and odor of a rose? Calvin answering his own question suggests that food was given both to provide nutrition and to enjoy and clothing is provided both for protection and to look honorable. These things are blessings from God, which if we have, we should gratefully enjoy. To be unthankful and not enjoy God’s blessings is certainly sinful.

However, material things should not be one’s highest priority. Other things are more important than material things: God, faith, wisdom, eternal things, people, etc. The Bible teaches that believers should love God supremely (Deut. 6:5), that he cannot serve both God and wealth (Matt. 6:24), and that the love of money leads to many evils (1 Tim. 6:10); therefore, anyone who loves material things more than God is an idolater. Consequently, the second extreme believers must avoid is license, that is, using material things to pursue pleasure as an end in itself. Believers should gratefully enjoy God’s gifts but not to the point that one loves the gift more than the giver.

Calvin suggests that one way to avoid license is to remember that God created everything so that one may know God and feel gratitude for him. In other words, when one sees the beauty of a flower, he ought to think how wonderful and beautiful the God who created this must be.

Another rule Calvin gives is the believer should despise this life and aspire to the next life. Believers should view this life as a pilgrimage using its blessing as they assist us on the way to eternal life and avoiding those things which would hinder one’s heavenly pursuit. His point is that believers should hold loosely to their material blessings and possessions realizing they will not last forever (1 Corinthians 7:29-31) Believers like the Apostle Paul must learn to be content with a little and be moderate in prosperity (Phil. 4:12).

Believers must used their material blessings wisely and morally (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Hence, the reason Calvin says believers should remember that they are only stewards of the gifts of God and will be judged for their use of these gifts. One’s material goods should be used to meet the needs of his church (elders and missions), family (1 Tim. 5:8), those in need (Eph. 4:28), and government (Rom. 13:6, 7). Moreover, wealth is properly earned through hard work. Gambling and lotteries are not legitimate means to earn wealth. In addition, those who are capable of working must work to provide for themselves so that they do not burden the church or the government (1 Thess. 3:10, 12). Only those who are unable to care for themselves or are facing temporary misfortune should be cared for by the church or government (See 1 Tim. 5).

Enjoy life for the glory of God.


Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church


[1] This is my adaptation from Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion trans. Henry Beveridge (Hendrickson 2008) 3.10

Monday, October 5, 2009

Another Reminder of the Relevance of Sola Scriptura


Recently in a youth study that covered some great and wonderful truths in the Creation/Evolution discussion, one of our teens raised his hand and simply asked, "But what happened to the dinosaurs?" In doing some research to answer his question, I came across an excellent article by Ken Ham entitled, "What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?" As I read the following, a small excerpt from the article, I thought of how crucial this is to the authority of Scripture. (You can access the entire article at http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/what-happened-to-the-dinosaurs.)

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Although dinosaurs are fascinating, some readers may say, “Why are dinosaurs such a big deal? Surely there are many more important issues to deal with in today’s world, such as abortion, family breakdown, racism, promiscuity, dishonesty, homosexual behavior, euthanasia, suicide, lawlessness, pornography, and so on. In fact, we should be telling people about the gospel of Jesus Christ, not worrying about side issues like dinosaurs.”

Actually, the evolutionary teachings on dinosaurs that pervade society do have a great bearing on why many will not listen to the gospel, and thus why social problems abound today. If they don’t believe the history in the Bible, why would anyone trust its moral aspects and message of salvation?

If we accept the evolutionary teachings on dinosaurs, then we must accept that the Bible’s account of history is false. If the Bible is wrong in this area, then it is not the Word of God and we can ignore everything else it says that we find inconvenient.

If everything made itself through natural processes—without God—then God does not own us and has no right to tell us how to live. In fact, God does not really exist in this way of thinking, so there is no absolute basis for morality. Without God, anything goes—concepts of right and wrong are just a matter of opinion. And without a basis for morality, there is no such thing as sin. And no sin means that there is no need to fear God’s judgment and there is no need for the Savior, Jesus Christ. The history in the Bible is vital for properly understanding why one needs to accept Jesus Christ.

Posted by Jeff Ryan
Pastor of Calvary Bible Church in Rogers City, MI

Saturday, August 29, 2009

September 19 Meeting Open to All

All are encouraged to join us on Saturday, September 19, 2009, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., at Christ Our Life Church in Curran, MI (located right on M-65 in Curran...you can't miss it).

We will be (1) presenting and discussing the formation of new, more localized groups meeting in the northern and southern parts of our area, beginning this fall; (2) having an extended time of prayer for one another and our churches; (3) being challenged from God's Word by Josh Gelatt, pastor of Indian River Baptist Church; and (4) enjoying fellowship and mutual encouragement in the Lord's work of reformation in our lives, homes, churches, and communities.

We hope and pray you will join us and be richly blessed!

Jeff Ryan
Calvary Bible Church
Rogers City, MI

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Christianity in Crisis 21st Century


The original edition of Christianity in Crisis changed my thinking about the Word of Faith movement. I used to believe that these televangelists (Hinn, Hagee, Meyers, Osteen, etc.) believed and preached the same gospel I believe in and preach and that we simply disagreed over whether God wants every believer to be in perfect health and be rich. However, Hanegraaff’s thoroughly documented book helped me to realize that the Word of Faith movement is heretical and that my disagreements are profound. Hanegraaff makes it clear that that his book is not about secondary issues like speaking in tongues, modes of baptism, and millennial views. He argues, “The Faith movement has systematically subverted the very essence of Christianity so as to present us with a counterfeit Christ and counterfeit Christianity.”

There are five overarching theological mistakes that Word of Faith preachers teach. Hanegraaff uses the acronym FLAWS as a mnemonic device to assist in remembering the fatal errors of the Word of Faith movement. Hanegraaff does caution that the Word of Faith movement is not monolithic and that not all of them teach the exact same errors, but all of them teach these five errors to one degree or another.

“Faith in faith” is the first error. Popularly this is known as “name it and claim it.” The basic idea is that words have power to affect one’s life either positively or negatively. Therefore, if one speaks positive things, he will create the positive reality of which he speaks and vice versa for negative confessions. Further, they teach that even God is bound by this “spiritual law”, and he cannot do anything for a person until he speaks positively. Of course, this teaching makes men sovereign and God impotent.

The next error is “little gods.” The Word faith teachers teach that being created in the image of God means that we are gods just like Jesus was. The effect of this teaching is to diminish the uniqueness and deity of Christ. In addition, this teaching deifies man. While one may be able to argue that the “faith in faith” is not a critical error, certainly, this error and the next error are fatal. That is, the Word of Faith teachers teach both a different Jesus and a different way of salvation.

“Atonement Atrocities” is the title for the next error. The Faith teachers teach that Jesus paid the punishment for sin by descending into Hell, suffering at the hands of the Devil, and battling the demon hordes. However, the Bible teaches that Jesus paid the full price for sin on the cross. Further, they teach that Jesus became sin on the cross. Some even teach that Jesus became “one in nature with [Satan].” Then, he was “born again”, that is, he became divine again in Hell before finally defeating Satan. This teaching rests on distortions of Scripture and supposed new revelations. These teachers would have us believe that the second person of the Trinity ceased being God became one with Satan and then turned back into God. This is sheer blasphemy, which if true destroys the work of Christ.

The final two errors are “Wealth and Want” and “Suffering and Sickness.” This is the health-wealth-prosperity gospel. While these views are problematic, they are minor compared to the previous three. Especially troubling is the constant misuse and distorting of Scripture to force it to teach the prosperity gospel.

Two criticisms I have are that the book is sometimes repetitive and the language Hanegraaff uses. One of the new features of the book is a chapter entitled “Cast of Characters.” In this chapter, Hanegraaff gives a short overview and critique of individual Word of Faith teachers. This is generally very helpful; however, much of the material found here is repeated later in other relevant areas. Secondly, Hanegraaff often calls the followers of Word of Faith teachers “devotees.” This word makes me think of a mindless follower of a religion, which makes this word emotionally charged. I know Hanegraaff does not mean it this way because he is careful to make a distinction between Word of Faith teachers and their followers. He says that “there are many sincere, born-again believers in the movement.” A more neutral word choice would have been better.

Truly, the Word of Faith movement is creating a crisis in Christianity. Their views are clearly more than a small difference of opinion. They articulate an alternative Jesus and different gospel. You need to read this book.
Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

Friday, August 14, 2009

Additional Language Resources

As a follow-up to yesterday's post I thought you might find the following sites helpful. Both sites offer the full text for free on-line.

Hebrew-English Interlinear (Leningrad Codex w/ vowel markings)

Septuagint Greek-English Interlinear (this appears to be an eclectic text)

For those not familiar with the Septuagint (or rather, the "Septuagints" plural---for there are several versions), a handy printed resource is a book called The Invitation to the Septuagint by Karen Jobes (published by Baker).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Septuagint Study Resource

The Septuagint is a rich resource for those studying the Old Testament. For many of the writers of the New Testament, the LXX was the preferred translation (for example, that is all the author of Hebrews uses in his OT quotations).

The problem for the modern minister, who perhaps isn't as sharp in Greek as he would like to be, is in finding a reliable translation. Back in 2007 the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS) was published as is available for free online. While I am not always thrilled with its renderings, it is nevertheless a valuable resource when studying an Old Testament passage--even more so when studying a New Testament passage which quotes the Old Testament. In most instances, our modern English Bible's follow the Masoretic Text for the Old Testament (for good reason, I would add). But having a reliable text for comparison is essential for in-depth study.

The following link will get you to the NETS site where you can view the text online for free. http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Holy Catholic Church


For some time now, it has been my intention to write about the catholic church "The Church is catholic" Not Roman Catholic but catholic i.e. universal. Below is a message by a pastor that fits my thinking. You may remember an earlier post regarding the Apostles Creed. Pastor Stewart in the article below explains more fully the meaning of the phrase in the Apostles Creed " I believe in the holy, catholic church" This is important because it's Scriptural and the Church of Jesus Christ is not a denomination. His church is made up of His elect.


Ephesians 4:4-6 declares, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” The outstanding feature of this text is its repetition of the word “one.” Seven times that numeral is used: thrice in verse 4, thrice in verse 5 and once in verse 6. Not once does this text use dualities or pluralities. It does not speak of two hopes or three faiths or four baptisms. It is “one” and only “one” right the way through: “one body,” “one Spirit,” “one hope,” “one Lord,” “one faith,” “one baptism,” “one God and Father of all.” This is a remarkable emphasis on oneness.

But what is the main thought which forms the organizing principle of these seven “ones”? It is the first “one” of the text: “There is one body” (v. 4). The one body is the church, as the context teaches. Moreover, the “one body” is to be taken together with “one Spirit.” Not only is “one Spirit” prominent in the preceding verse (v. 3) and next in the text (v. 4), but it is also joined to “one body” by the conjunction “and”—the only “and” between any of the seven “ones.” Moreover, “one body, and one Spirit” is somewhat separated from the five later “ones.” So it comes down to this: the main idea is the “one body, and one Spirit” (v. 4), which is further developed by the five succeeding “ones” (vs. 4-6).

In what sense is the church spoken of as “one body” in Ephesians 4:4? It is not referring to the various instituted churches. They are not numerically one; they are many. They are not doctrinally one; they differ among themselves. The “one body” in the text is the invisible organism of the church—all those who live out of Jesus Christ crucified, all the elect of all ages and nations, who are beloved of God who alone sees the heart. This invisible organism—the “one body”—is what we confess in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe an holy, catholic church; the communion of saints.”

The invisible organism of the church is called a body because it consists of many parts with various roles and functions, like a human body which has tendons and ears and knuckles and kidneys and a duodenum, etc., with all its multitudinous parts joined together into one harmonious whole. The body of the church is alive, like a human body, for it is united to Jesus Christ, the head. God’s invisible church is one body—and must be one and can never be two or more— because it is predestinated as one body, with all the elect having their own particular role, you included, believer. It is redeemed as one body, for Christ died for the church and gave Himself for her (5:25). It is glorified as one body forever and ever in the new heavens and new earth.


Ken Clouse
NEMRS Lay Administrator

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The New North East Michigan Reformation Society


Some exciting things are happening with the North East Michigan Reformation Society. First, our next meeting will be in September. More information will be forthcoming when the details are solidified.

Another exciting occurrence is that the council of the NEMRS has decided to have separate meetings in the north and south of our region. We felt that because we were so spread out that participation was difficult. Hopefully, this will encourage more participation and reaching greater numbers. At some point, we will probably form two separate societies, but for now, we remain one with separate meetings.

In addition, Arthur Sido, someone who attended one of our meetings, has started a reformation society in the Lansing area. Their first meeting is August 1 for more information see their blog. Then, in November, Dr. Joel Beeke will be speaking .

Finally, the NEMRS has been instrumental in getting Dr. James Boice on the radio in our area thanks to the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Dr. Boice can be heard on WJOJ 89.7 at 7:30am every Sunday morning. See the station's web site for listening areas.

We are excited that the Lord has used us to encourage reformation in Northern Michigan.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Is Our Attitude Betraying Our Beliefs?


As those who understand and uphold the wonderful doctrines of God's sovereign grace in our salvation, we should be the most humble people on earth. But, sadly, we don't always believe these truths in our practice. We have often heard that an arrogant person who claims he believes in total depravity, unconditional election, definite atonement, effectual grace, and perseverance of the saints evidences that he does not truly understand these doctrines--or else he would not be arrogant!

Stuart Scott is his helpful booklet, From Pride to Humility: A Biblical Perspective (2002, Focus Pubishing, Bemidji, MN), lays out thirty manifestations of pride that we do not readily see in ourselves. Let us take a few moments to look through this list and examine our words and behavior and see where we might be betraying our so dearly held beliefs in God's sovereignty and grace. (See the book for a good description of each one, including Scriptural references.)

1. Complaining against or passing judgment on God
2. A lack of gratitude in general
3. Anger
4. See yourself as better than others
5. Having an inflated view of your importance, gifts and abilities
6. Being focused on the lack of your gifts and abilities
7. Perfectionism
8. Talking too much
9. Talking too much about yourself
10. Seeking independence or control
11. Being consumed with what other think
12. Being devastated or angered by criticism
13. Being unteachable
14. Being sarcastic, hurtful, or degrading
15. A lack of service
16. A lack of compassion
17. Being defensive or blame-shifting
18. A lack of admitting when you are wrong
19. A lack of asking forgiveness
20. A lack of biblical prayer
21. Resisting authority or being disrespectful
22. Voicing preferences or opinions when not asked
23. Minimizing your own sin and shortcomings
24. Maximizing others' sin and shortcomings
25. Being impatient or irritable with others
26. Being jealous or envious
27. Usuing others
28. Being deceitful by covering up sins, faults, and mistakes
29. Using attention-getting tactics
30. Not having close relationships

Matthew 18:1-4, "At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, 'Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, 'Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'"

Let us demonstrate our beliefs in words and actions that are consistent with sinners who have experienced God's free grace that has transformed their lives.

Jeff Ryan
Pastor of Calvary Bible Church
Rogers City, MI

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Early Church & Creeds


It has been said of early Christianity and up to and including the 15th century that the Church chained the Scriptures securely in the place of worship. Only Church leaders could read and handle the scriptures. There were no Bibles in the homes of the laity. Can it be imagined that for 14 centuries the invisible church existed and thrived with no KJV, NIV, ASV, and NKJV or other Bibles?

Not until the printing press were copies of any books available to the general public. The exception being hand written books, very rare and expensive. Around 1439, Johannes Gutenberg invented the mechanical printing press. Later he invented removable type speeding up the production process. His major work was the Gutenberg Bible.

There are a lot of trails that can be taken here. Which Bible is most accurate? How could hand written copies of Scripture be accurate over centuries? How could Christians in the early church hide the Word in their hearts? How could people demonstrate from Scriptures their security in God? How could Scriptures be memorized? How was it possible that so many Christians through the centuries knew the Scriptures so well? Answers to these questions are for another time.

The Church and Creeds

The early Church was made up of people who knew the Scriptures, Peter, Stephen, Paul, Timothy, Phillip and all the others.In Acts 8:26-40, The Lord spoke to Phillip, “Arise go south" The angel of God is very specific. He tells Phillip where to go. Phillip was directed to a man who was reading the Scriptures a rich man; he was in charge of the treasury of Ethiopia. Phillip is directed to overtake the chariot of the Ethiopian who was reading from the prophet Isaiah.

"Do you understand what you are reading," asked Phillip?

"How can I," the Ethiopian asked, "I need some one to guide me." He asked Phillip to sit down with him. The place where he was reading was"



“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter and as a lamb before its shearer is
silent, so He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken
away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the
earth.”


"Who is this talking about?" asked the Ethiopian. Phillip began at this Scripture and preached to him Jesus.

Phillip knew the Scriptures and preached Jesus using the Older Testament Scriptures. The Newer Testament of God’s Holy Word, not yet written, took about 400 years after Christ to be settled (another subject, and worth studying, the canonization of Scripture).

The Apostles Creed is a short confession that early Christians used (these were the Christian laity), they had no Bible to carry or Bible text to read. I remember well my first encounter with the Apostles Creed. It was in an Assembly of God Bible School. Like the early church Christians, I knew very little of Scripture; I had no background in Christianity. When asked to memorize the Apostles Creed in Bible school, I discovered knowledge of God that sustained me until I would become more familiar with the whole of Scripture. I am still learning 50 years later.

My amazement for the last 50 years is the abandonment of the creeds in worship and especially the failure to teach the creeds to new Christians. Let me suggest that parents teach the Apostles' Creed to their children. Sunday School teachers teach this creed to your students. Pastors teach this creed to your congregations especially to new converts.

History of the Apostles Creed

The origin of the creed is thought to have been a baptismal confession made by converts. The original confession may have been no more than “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God”. It is believed this became enlarged. Paul speaks of the “form of teaching” delivered to converts:



"But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered" (Romans 6:17)




"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1Tim. 6:12).


Confessions were a part of early Christianity and used through the many centuries of the Church.[1] The cannon of Scripture were not settled until 367AD. “These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these.” [2]

The Uses of The Creed

1. The Creed was a public statement of faith, a standardized way in which new people could confess their faith in Jesus Christ.
2. The Creed anchored Christian faith to a tradition, to make it difficult for people or churches to be led astray by strange doctrines.
3. The Creed was a preaching and teaching tool, giving an outline for further discipleship.
4. The Creed was memorized through frequent repetition, which helped the many believers who could not read.
5. The Creed provided a doctrinal basis for different churches to accept one another, and to reject those who did not accept the basic truths.

The Apostles Creed contains the words “Holy Catholic Church” here is the explanation of that remark. The Gnostics believed that the most important Christian doctrines were reserved for a select few. The orthodox belief was that the fullness of the Gospel was to be preached to the entire human race. Hence the term "catholic," or universal, which distinguished them from the Gnostics.”

The Apostles Creed (Say it with me.)

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

It seems to me, having a problem with this creed is not a problem with the creed but with one’s self.

Christian What Do You Believe?

Ken Clouse
NEMRS Lay Administrator

[1]www.reformed.org/documents/ Other creeds like The Nicene Creed , The Athanasian Creed, The Definitions of Chalcedon, and The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople (553 AD) area available here also.
[2] Athanasius speaking of the 27 New Testament Books. Available at http://www.bible-researcher.com/canon.html

Friday, July 10, 2009

How will you celebrate Calvin's Birthday?

Well....by buying books of course! Below are a few great deals you should take advantage of:


Portrait of Calvin, by T.H.L. Parker.
A classic reference work on Calvin long out of print. Now made available once again by Desiring God.

Special price for today only (July 10, 2009) is $2.00

www.desiringgod.org.



Tracts and Letters of John Calvin (Banner of Truth).
Seven Volumes. Also long out of print, this are wonderful short theological articles (tracts) and personal correspondence (letters) of Calvin. Banner of Truth is running a special for the entire year ($89.00), but it is slightly cheaper from CBD.

www.christianbooks.com






Sermons on Genesis 1-11 (Banner of Truth).
Available for the first time in English. Beautiful bound in typical Banner of Truth fashion.

The most valuable of all of Calvin's writings are his sermons. While I value his commentaries, his sermons are pure gold! If you don't read Calvin's sermons, you don't understand Calvin! Read these works and witness a masterful intersection of doctrine and application.





Sermons on Acts 1-17 (Banner of Truth)
Also available in English for the first time (sadly, the remaining portion of his sermons on Acts have been lost to history).








Truth for All Time (Banner of Truth)
A wonderful little primer on the Christian Faith. Though overshadowed by his later institutes, this little booklet contains core ethical and doctrinal Christianity. Also available in a paperback edition, but the gift edition is much better.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

5 Dumb Reasons to Reject Calvinism


As with any debate, some arguments against a position are better than others. The following are five dumb arguments against Calvinism. Please, feel free to share more if you have them. Note, I am not calling any person dumb only their arguments.

1. Calvinism is divisive.

Yes, Calvinism is divisive, but one should not reject something simply because it is divisive. Quite a few things are divisive precisely because they are true, and anyone who disagrees with the truth is by default divided against it.

The gospel’s exclusivistic claims divide persons into believers and unbelievers. Are Christians willing to embrace other faiths as alternative routes to the same God because to insist otherwise is divisive? The church is divided over the mode and meaning of baptism, church government, eschatology, etc. Is each of us willing to give up our traditions in these areas to avoid division?

Truth by its nature is divisive; however, this is not an excuse for a party or divisive spirit. Christians should realize that some theological issues are quite complex and answers do not come easily. Consequently, we should strive together with love and humility towards one another to come to an understanding of our great God and Savior.

2. If Calvinism is true, evangelism is unnecessary or meaningless.


How many examples that contradict this argument are non-Calvinists going to have to hear to finally stop suggesting this as a reason to reject Calvinism? The Southern Baptist Convention was founded primarily by Calvinists, many of the early Baptist missionaries were Calvinistic (Carey, Brainerd, and Judson), D. James Kennedy (a 5 point Calvinist) created Evangelism Explosion to teach lay people how to evangelize lost people, Calvin’s own missionary enterprises refute this, Charles Spurgeon (a 5 point Calvinist) is considered by both Calvinists and Arminians to be a great evangelist. The list could go on and on. Calvinism in no way minimizes the importance of evangelism or missions.

3. Just because the Southern Baptist Convention used to be Calvinistic does not we should be Calvinists today.

This argument makes those involved in the Founders ministry sound like a bunch of idiots. Does anybody really believe that these guys just want the SBC to be Calvinistic for tradition’s sake?

4. All this arguing hinders the church from fulfilling the great commission.


There are two problems with this argument. First, I have heard this argument used any time a serious discussion of doctrinal issues begins no matter what the theological issue is. Some use this as an excuse because they have an aversion to theology. God has gifted the church with teachers and evangelists so that we can be both theologically accurate and practice evangelism. Theological reflection does not take away from evangelism; rather, it enhances it.

Second, the great commission commands the church to make disciples by doing two things baptizing them and teaching them all things that Jesus commanded. Certainly, all things would include teaching the total depravity of man, God’s gracious election, and the meaning of the atonement.

5. You follow a man (John Calvin); I follow Christ/the Bible.

No one is a Calvinist because they treat John Calvin as a Christian celebrity. Calvinists follow Calvin because they believe that Calvin articulates the biblical view of God and salvation. It is Christ and the Scriptures which Calvin and those like minded with him follow not the man himself.

In addition, whether a person realizes it or not, he is a follower of someone else’s theology. Since there can only be a limited number of viewpoints concerning the depravity of man and God’s grace in salvation and most of those have been named after its originator or major proponents, every Christian follows James Arminius, Moses Amyraut, Luis de Molina, John Wesley, Pelagius, John Calvin, or Augustine to some degree or another. At least, Calvinists know the major proponent of their theology.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Theology Is Relevant


After reading Morris Chapman's caricature of Calvinism at the SBC annual meeting, I decided to repost this blog as a response. There is more I would like to say, and maybe, in the future, I will add more. Until then, this blog will suffice. Read Morris Chapman's speech here. In addition, read the following response.

Relevance is a popular buzzword today in Christianity. So important is relevance, we are taught that the cardinal sin in preaching today is being irrelevant. It no longer matters if a sermon is biblically or theologically accurate. Relevancy is the sole standard for measuring the quality of a sermon. Nothing is thought by our contemporary world to be more irrelevant than theology.

This is why it was no surprise to read Charles Swindoll say that debating the meaning of grace is an alternative for “[t]hose who aren’t comfortable denying it.” Moreover, he states, “Grace was meant to be received and lived out to the fullest, not dissected and analyzed by those who would rather argue than eat…It’s time for grace to be awakened and released…to be enjoyed and freely given, not debated. ”[1] He even implies that the Protestant Reformation made this same mistake debating grace and not living it out. The bottom line it seems for Swindoll and too many others is theology engenders debate, and it keeps believers from living out their faith making theology irrelevant because it is impractical.

The problem with this idea that theology is irrelevant because it is impractical is that one’s practice must be built on a solid theological foundation, or he will go astray in his practice. For example, if one has a theologically low view of sin, he will tolerate sin in his practical life. Another example, if one is a theological universalist, he will not practice evangelism. (Why go through all the trouble if every one will be saved in the end regardless of what you do?) The examples could be multiplied endlessly, but these should suffice to prove the point that practical living must be based on solid theological thinking.

Kistler understands the practical relevance of theology. He argues, “We will not live any better than our theology; we may not live as well as our theology, but we will never live any better."[2] If Kistler is correct, then theology is more relevant than the practical aspects of Christianity because in order to practice correctly we have to think correctly about God, which is in reality that with which theology is concerned. Correct theology is the foundation for correct living. Consequently, one must give every effort to make certain that his theology is correct.

Unfortunately, as fallible humans, we often fail to see the fallacies in our own thinking. One way to refine one’s thinking and uncover blind spots in thinking is debate. “Monologues seldom produce refined thought,” argues Geisler in his evaluation of atheism. He continues, “Without atheists, theists would lack significant opposition with which to dialogue and clarify their concepts of God.”[3] Debate or dialogue is an important tool for a theologian to sharpen his thinking. If believers rule out debate altogether, theological thinking will lack clarity and practically living out one’s faith will suffer as a result.

I am not suggesting that theological debate should be a Christian’s only concern, for truth must be lived out. I am suggesting, however, a balance. Believers should concern themselves with both theology and practical Christian living. Both are relevant, and these are not mutually exclusive concepts. Far from it, they are actually dependant on each other. Let us make every effort to pursue both correct thinking and correct living.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

[1] Swindoll, Charles R. The Grace Awakening Devotional A Thirty- Day Walk in the Freedom of Grace. (W Publishing Group 2003) pgs 1-2.
[2] www.donkistler.org
[3] Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. (Baker 1999) p. 58.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Calvin's Evangelism


One of the constant charges against Calvinism is that it hinders evangelism and missions. This is not true as can be demonstrated by Calvin's own ministry as you will discover from this link.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Praying Together


Recently, during our Wednesday night Bible Study, I preached a series of messages on prayer. This series was in response to some questions about prayer that the men in our church were struggling with. One of the questions involved praying together corporately. As a result of my searching, I realized that there does not seem to be much written about corporate prayer that is practical in nature. I hope this blog will help believers to think more deeply about how to practice corporate prayer and encourage more of it.

The fact that believers should pray together can be demonstrated in many ways, but Paul’s command that men everywhere should pray seems to suggest corporate prayer (1 Tim. 2:8). The apostolic church modeled it (Acts 2:42, 4:23ff). Finally, the Lord’s Prayer uses no singular pronouns in its petitions (Matt. 6:9-13). Thus, corporate prayer is commanded and modeled by both the early church and the Lord’s Prayer.

Praying together of course means more than just being present in the same space. We should pray together with the same purpose. The phrase “in one accord” (Acts 1:14; 2:1, 46; 4:24) points to this truth. “In one accord” means literally with the same passion, with one mind, purpose, or impulse. [1] To pray together in one accord means to share the same purpose. While there may be other minor purposes that believers can unite around, the overarching purpose for which we do everything including prayer and under which all minor purposes are subsumed is God’s glory. Praying together necessitates sharing the same purpose especially the glory of God.

So how do we accomplish this in a practical way? First, we should actively think and listen while others are praying. This can be accomplished by saying, “amen”[2]or “Yes, Lord” either in one’s heart or audibly. JI Packer warns, “When another person is praying aloud, the temptation is to do no more than passively listen, but the proper task is actively to think and pray in our heart along with the leader, making the petitions our own as we hear them spoken. To form and maintain this habit takes effort, but we are not joining in according to the will of God, save as we labor to do this.” [3] Another writer comments, “[A] biblical theology of prayer teach[es] we who sit in the church pew, or folding chair, or stadium seating, or couch…to listen intently to the person leading prayer, while repeating to God, ‘Yes, yes, that person speaks for me and all those around me.’”[4]

Secondly, we can also use the same words, i.e., praying pre-written prayers (the Lord’s Prayer, other scriptural prayers, or hymns). Most Christian seem to be opposed to this thinking that only spontaneous prayers are truly spiritual; however, this cannot be proven either biblically or historically. The Bible nowhere forbids praying form prayers. In fact, Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer seems to using the Lord’s Prayer in this manner: “When you pray, say.”[5] In addition, the church has traditionally used the Lord’s Prayer as form prayer. Certainly, there have been abuses with repeating the Lord’s Prayer and other written prayers, but we should not allow the abuse of a healthy practice to discourage from the practice altogether.

Not only can the Lord’s Prayer be used in this manner, but there are other biblical prayers believers should make use of by making the words our own. For example, Psalm 51 can be used as prayer of confession, and Habakkuk 3:2 is an excellent prayer for revival.

The Bible directs believers to practice corporate prayer with the same purpose, the glory of God. I have suggested two ways believers can practically accomplish this by actively participating when others pray and often by using the same words in prayer. Please, visit the links cited in the notes, and feel free to offer any feedback. The above ideas are my initial thoughts on a subject upon which I would like to expand my thinking.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

[1] BAGD
[2] See 1 Cor. 14:16 where this is not commanded, but it is the practice of the church, which Paul is affirming.
[3] Paker, JI and Carol Nystrom. Praying Finding Our Way through Duty to Delight (IVP 2006) pg. 256 italics mine
[4] Hamilton, James M. Jr. and Jonathan Leeman. A Biblical Theology of Corporate Prayer. available @ http://www.9marks.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID314526%7CCHID598014%7CCIID2386892,00.html
[5] Luke 11:2 NKJV

Other links:
Dunlop, Jamie and Papu Sandhu. Corporate Prayer: God’s Power Creates Unity “Living as a Church”—Class 4 available @ http://www.9marks.org/CC/article/0,,PTID314526%7CCHID598014%7CCIID2414278,00.html
Luther, Martin. Larger Catechism available @ http://www.ccel.org/ccel/luther/large_cat/files/large_catechism17.htm

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Can an Episcopalian be Christian?


Last Sunday while listening to the preaching of Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, Dr Lutzer told this story. Upon my approach to the airport, I looked out the window of the air plane to see if I could see Moody Church. "Wait a minute," I said, "that building is not the church! What an awakening I had at that moment. The church is not of bricks and mortar, the church is people, the church is invisible"

Of course, we do have a visible church, yet still the church is the people. The church extends far beyond denominationalism. To quote a Nigerian bishop of the Anglican Church, "Let the bishop have the stones." Stones are not the Church!

To all the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Pentecostals etc. Are you aware that the church is catholic? The invisible Church of God is catholic? Do you understand the church is universal?

Oh, to say the word catholic, not me say’s the Baptist, not me says the Presbyterian, not me says the Lutheran, not me says the Pentecostal or Methodist. Well, all Christians are catholic (not Roman Catholic). We are catholic relating to the historic doctrines of the church. I realize there are some Christians who want to be separated from other Christians but it just cannot happen. Who saved you? Who called you? It is by Christ we are saved, regenerated, and sanctified. Our salvation is of God not of our selves. So tell me how can you separate yourselves from others whom God has called? To quote another, “Who do you think you are, it is God who calls.”

The term “Catholic Church” was used first by St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 100 A.D.) who in his letter to the Smyrnaens wrote: “Where Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic Church” (As a side note, too bad the stake driven in the ground on baptism, baptist etc. of this time period didn't include the catholicity of the church.) Where Jesus Christ is there is the Catholic Church, the Universal Church of God.

All this is said to introduce the article I am posting below. Can a member of an Episcopal Church be Christian? Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, and some Reformed would ask this question. Can a person be Episcopalian and be part of the invisible church? Read the article below. Let us know what you think.




Please allow me to introduce you to the Christian character of the congregation of Holy Trinity Anglican Church and help you understand the exemplary caliber of the congregation, witnessed by their love for God, for each other, and for their church. I sincerely believe that this is a body of believers that you—in particular those of the Anglican communion, will be pleased and blessed to be associated with.

Holy Trinity was officially established on Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2007 when the rector and the entire congregation formally aligned with the Convocation of Anglican in North America (CANA). The congregation, historically known as Trinity Church Society of Bristol, Connecticut, was a pre-revolutionary war parish, established in 1747 and had a long and proud history of Anglican worship, ministry and mission in the Bristol area. Remaining associated with the Episcopal Church USA became increasingly untenable and decision to disassociate from the Episcopal Church was made. However it was the strong desire of this 253-year-old parish family to continue in the Anglican tradition, but under the leadership of orthodox (meaning not revisionist), godly, leadership. Hence alignment with CANA.

A question often asked is why was the realignment deemed so important to this congregation? The Senior Warden, in response to a similar question, offered the short and most succinct answer. He wrote: “We undertake this move in response to the Diocese of Connecticut and The Episcopal Church abandoning core teachings of the Bible and of the historic Anglican Faith regarding the gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority of Holy Scripture in the ordering of our lives together in the Worldwide Anglican Communion.”

A more detailed response is that we, as many throughout the country and, indeed, the world, have observed the continual slide of the Episcopal Church into ungodly belief and practice. Please pray for repentance and return to the historic faith handed down in the Anglican Communion for centuries were, and continue to be, ignored and even scoffed at.

One example of the depth and destructive nature of revisionist belief and teaching is this: Many in the Episcopal Church, including the Presiding Bishop, openly and publicly deny the assertion of Jesus, recorded in John 14:6, where he says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In the Episcopal Church, at the very top of it’s clergy leadership and in direct contradiction to Scripture, Jesus is now being presented as one of several ways to reach God. This assertion flies in the face of long-held Christian beliefs and could not be overlooked by this body of Anglican believers.

Yet that is but one of several examples of a church that has abandoned the historic, orthodox faith and was increasingly pressuring everyone to adhere to these ungodly teachings. Another example—and a particularly insidious one—is the Bible being presented and augured as a man-written book, which can be modified as the church sees fit. Again, from some in that church leadership, we read comments such as “Man wrote the Bible, man can change it.” This is a gross misunderstanding of Holy Scripture and is unacceptable teaching in the Christian belief system. This congregation, now Holy Trinity Anglican Church, continues to receive the Holy Scriptures as “God-breathed and inspired by God Himself. Not only do we, this congregation, make that assertion but our own Articles of Religion state that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”

Again, from leadership of our congregation, “These two key shifts show that the Diocese of Connecticut and The Episcopal Church have chosen to walk apart from foundational teachings of orthodox Christianity and Anglican tradition. We at (now Holy Trinity) Trinity Church believe that denying these long-held teachings strikes at the very heart of what we believe as disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To embrace such false teaching would undermine both our witness to the world as Christians and our integrity as believers of the truth of His gospel message to that world.”

Yet this chosen realignment, in order to place ourselves under godly leadership, came about only after several years of struggle and numerous attempts to identify ways we could in good Christian conscience, remain associated with The Episcopal Church USA and more specifically, in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. It is now a matter of history that the realignment resulted in much sacrifice by the congregation, perhaps most notably being forced to leave behind a beautiful sanctuary and historic worship space where so many of them, or their parents or grandparents, had been baptized, worshiped, married, even buried. The building, as of this writing, stands empty and will soon be put up for sale to used for what purpose only God knows. Cremains of family members and loved ones interned in the Rose Garden will be removed. The place is no longer a sanctuary because there is no congregation to worship there or to call it home.

So yes, there has been struggle and sacrifice by this congregation. But, nearly to a person they have willingly paid the price to be free from such—what we see as apostasy and religious tyranny. But don’t expect despair and gloom when you come into the presence of the people of Holy Trinity Anglican Church. In our conversations we used to hear comments like “A church is not the stones,” or “the church is the people, not the steeple,” or to quote one Nigerian bishop, “let the bishop have the stones.”

Now you will encounter people who have as their personal vision to become Galatians 2:20 Christians who can boldly proclaim “ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” You will encounter people whose mission in life is “To Know God and Make Him Known” to a community and society—even churches—who often don’t know God or who He is. Now you hear proclamations such as “We were delivered, not evicted,” and, “The best (for this body) is yet to come.” With this attitude and devotion to having Christ be the head of our church, this is a body of believers that cannot be defeated. They are building a church, with Jesus Christ at the center—the very core, that the “gates of hell will not prevail against.”

Perhaps this will give you somewhat of a flavor for what to expect in and of Holy Trinity Church. Perhaps these are people that you would like to learn more about and a church you would like to be associated with.

We will answer any question to the best of our ability and we will assist you in any way we can. [1]

God Bless!


Ken Clouse
Lay Administrator NEMRS

Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Soli Deo Gloria

[1]Fr. Don Helmandollar. Why We Left the Episcopal Church

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grieving the Holy Spirit



And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30 NKJV).


Forever I think, I have disagreed with the remark don't grieve the Holy Spirit. I realize Scripture instructs: "Don't grieve the Holy Spirit." Can this remark stand on it's own? Is there something more to this Scriptural text than meets the eye? God knows everything from beginning to end; it is by Him we exist. Can God be disappointed? Can God be surprised?

God the Holy Spirit lives in all the regenerated. He brings us unmarked by sin to God. We will live with God forever in purity. Finally, in my life, I have come across some teaching on the subject grieving the Holy Spirit.




It is not only corrupt speech (Eph. 4:29) that grieves the Holy Spirit (30). Lying (25) grieves the Spirit, for He is the Spirit of truth. Sinful anger (26-27) grieves the Spirit, for He is the Spirit of self-control. Stealing (28) grieves the Spirit, for He is the Spirit who works and enables us to labour honestly.The verse after our text lists other sins which grieve the Spirit: "bitterness," "wrath," "anger," "clamour," "evil speaking" and "malice"(31). These things are abhorred by the heavenly dove and drive Him away from our breasts.

Notice that these sins are sins against our brothers and sisters in the church. Do not lie, "for we are members one of another" (25). Do not steal but work in order to help those who are in need (28). Use wholesome, not corrupt, speech "that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (29). Instead of "bitterness," "malice," etc., we must be "kind one to another" (31-32). Thus the prohibition of sinful anger (26-27) especially deals with our fellow saints in the church. If you go to bed at night without confessing the evil of wrath against your brother or sister, you are not only giving place to the devil (26-27), you are also giving him room to work destruction through you in the church, the body of Jesus Christ. And you are grieving the Spirit, the Spirit of love and communion.

At this someone might protest, "I was bitter only towards my sister; I spoke harshly only to my brother; I sinned only in a particular area of my life. I did not realize that the Holy Spirit was involved. I did not intend to grieve Him!" You did not intend to, but you did. We must use the truth of Ephesians 4:30 (in its context) to fight against our iniquities, realising that it is not only that "corrupt speech" and all these other things transgress the law but also that they grieve the blessed Spirit. Surely, we do not wish to treat the Holy Spirit unkindly or disrespectfully, or displease Him. We do not want Him to withdraw or depart from us with the comforts of the gospel of Christ. We need Him. We pray for His presence with us. We love Him as God’s Spirit and Christ’s representative, who makes us enjoy the blessings of the covenant of grace.

The result of grieving the Holy Spirit is not the loss of salvation, for this would overthrow the preservation and perseverance of the saints. We are God’s inviolable property—past, present and future—"ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (30). The Spirit, personally, is this seal.


The result of grieving the Holy Spirit is the loss of our assurance. This is the rationale of the text: "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Grieving the Spirit results in His withdrawing from us His gracious operation of assurance as a seal (cf. Covenant Reformed News XII:8-9). Thus lying (25), sinful anger (26-27), stealing (28), corrupt speech (29), "bitterness," "wrath," "anger," "clamour," "evil speaking" and "malice" (31), as well as other sins, especially those against our fellow believers in the church, grieve the Spirit and cause us to lose our assurance.

Do you have assurance that you belong to Jesus Christ, that He died for your sins, that you were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that you are His forever? If you do not, there is something wrong. Have you been grieving the Spirit by sinning against the saints? Repent, child of God, and believe in the power of the cross of Christ for forgiveness and sanctification!

When we grieve the Spirit, the Spirit grieves us; we are grieved too. You respond, "But Ephesians 4:30 does not say this!" Ah, but it logically follows. When we grieve the Spirit, He withdraws from us. Remember that He is the Comforter! Withdrawal of the Comforter means we lose comfort and thus experience sorrow and pangs of conscience—grief! Loss of assurance is itself grief. No longer convinced of the Father’s hearty love for you; not sure if you are His child; walking in spiritual darkness and coldness; what else is this but grief! It is grief too for your family, your fellow saints and your church’s office-bearers, who are to look after your spiritual health. Ultimately and by sheer grace, the Spirit brings us to the wholesome grief of true
repentance!

When Christians become deeply backslidden, especially if, for example, they sinfully stop attending church for some time, their whole lives become ones of grief. The Bible remains unread; they lose all joy from the communion of the saints. They are filled with guilt, losing all comfort and becoming deeply miserable. Sometimes they even waste their time and make things worse by going to secular psychologists, who try to alleviate their guilt in humanistic ways rather than pointing them to the cross of Christ. The grieved Christian may even sink to the depths of blaming God: "Look at the mess I’m in, and He does not do anything for me!" What about the atoning death of His Son? Is this not the central thing that He has done for us? "Why does He not assure me of His love?" He has written it in blood in the Scriptures, which tell us that His love is experienced as we walk in the light. "But He does not hear my prayers!" But what are you asking for? What about coming to Him with words such as these: "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee." The Father’s arms are stretched out for you; the fatted calf is ready; you will experience once again the formerly grieved Spirit as a seal of assurance and the blessed Comforter![1]




The remarks above do indeed bring some sense to, "Can a Christian Grieve the Holy Spirit?" Christians are not always obedient. God can never be pleased or disregard disobedience. Disobedience can only Grieve God the Holy Spirit.

We know Christians don't always love their brothers in Christ. They are not always honest. They don't always show compassion etc. Yes, God is not pleased! it is true Christians who continue in sin do indeed drift away from the sweetness of the presence of the Holy Spirit!

Was God pleased with the children of Israel who complained to Moses and God about being led into the wilderness, "We would have rather been left in Egypt as slaves, at least we had food they ranted"? God was very displeased with them, his people, the people of Israel, God was grieved by them! After we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit unto the day of our redemption we can grieve the Holy Spirit.

Ken Clouse
Lay Administrator NEMRS

[1] Stewart, Angus. Grieving the Holy Spirit. Covenant Reformed News. Volume XII, Issue 13. May 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

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Friday, May 8, 2009

The Layman's Prayer Revival



“Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” prayed Jeremiah Lanphier out of his passion for the salvation of the residents of New York City. On September 23, 1857, he knelt in prayer, alone, shortly after the noon hour. Lanphier’s intercession ascended from the upper lecture room of the Old North Dutch Reformed Church. His heart was broken for the purposeless, despondent masses of New Your. A single lay missionary, he had been wed to his ministry of personal evangelism, street preaching, and door-to-door witnessing. His burden for the throngs of people had forced him to his knees. Could he have ever imagined what would soon come about? Within a matter of months, more than fifty thousand people would gather daily for prayer! The Layman’s Prayer Revival proves Matthew Henry’s old saying: When God desires to do a fresh work, He sets His people to praying.

The power of prayer was demonstrated in the union prayer meetings inaugurated by Jeremiah Lanphier. Calls to prayer had begun in some denominations before the New York union meetings, but the most significant meeting began at the North Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street.

New York City was in deep spiritual decline. The old North Dutch Reformed Church downtown employed Jeremiah Lanphier to influence their area for the gospel. He had bee converted in the year 1842. He was a forty-year-old single businessman filled with enthusiasm. Like most leader of this revival Lanphier was primarily a layman.

Lanphier began his assignment on July 1, 1857. He put together a folder describing the church and commending his lay missionary work. He gave the folder to everyone he met. He passed out Bibles and tracts. While he found some success, he was overwhelmed at the enormity of the task. Thus, he prayed, “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” This led him to a novel approach.
Lanphier had found prayer to be a great source of comfort. He had noticed how the businessmen were “hurrying along their way, often with care worn faces, and anxious, restless gaze.” He presented to the church board the idea of a prayer meeting for businessmen. Their response was less than enthusiastic, but they agreed to allow Lanphier to proceed. Determining that the noon hour was the most feasible time for prayer meeting, he printed and distributed a handbill publicizing the meeting. He promoted the meeting with great zeal.

Lanphier began praying alone at noon September 23, 1857. Soon one more joined Lanphier until by the end of the hour there were six. The following Wednesday there were 20, and on the third, 30-40. Those present determined to meet daily rather than weekly. On October 14 over 100 came. At this point many in attendance were unsaved persons, many of whom were under great conviction of sin. By the end of the second month three large rooms were filled. Prayer meetings were springing up all over the city and in other cities across the nation. The prayer meetings led to many conversions, and the revival was so popular that local papers reported the conversion numbers.

One of the most moving accounts came from Kalamazoo, Michigan:

At our very first meeting someone put in such a request as this: “A praying wife requests the prayers of this meeting for her unconverted husband, that he may be converted and made a humble disciple of the Lord Jesus.” All at once a stout burly man arose and said, “I am that man, I have a pious praying wife, and this request must be for me. I want you to pray for me.” As soon as he sat down, in the midst of sobs and tears, another man arose and said, “I am that man, I have a praying wife. She prays for me. And now she asked you to pray for me. I am sure I am that man, and I want you to pray for me.” Five other men made similar statements.

“The only place you’ll ever find power coming before prayer,” commented one elderly saint, “is in the dictionary.” The Layman’s prayer revival of 1857 bears this out. If God is stirring your hearts, pray for revival.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

This story comes from Malcolm McDow and Alvin Reid. Firefall How God has Shaped History through Revival (Wipf and Stock Publishers 1997)