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.)


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