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Archives for : Theological

The Sovereignty of God and HD Crashes

Day before yesterday, while using the laptop near a hard surface, I’d accidentally knocked it over.  Mind you, my laptop HD had been gradually starting to click since the middle of last year.  I preemptively bought a 630GB internal HD that I’d planned on transferring everything to in late May, but didn’t get around to doing so.

Well, it (my 320GB internal HD in the laptop) finally died, much to my dismay.

I bought a 1TB external for more back ups, but the old 320GB internal isn’t coming up.  And I have (literally) 30-50GB of new things I’ve been doing since my last back up (which was January).  While it was still in the laptop, it WAS coming up as a Firewire drive, but now as USB….nothing.

It’s another one of those “Live Your Theology” moments, as I’ve found myself having to come back to the point of realizing that even a hardware malfunction with the data arm of a hard drive is not outside of the Sovereign control of God. And once again moving back to Romans 8:28, I must remember that all things (including this) are working together for my ultimate good and His highest glory.

I must not form my theology based on my experiences, but allow my theology to dictate how my experiences should be interpreted rightly.  Too many people do it the other way and end up denying that God is God.  They say He is ‘Sovereign but not in control’ and other rubbish.  They say that God didn’t know the future, otherwise He would’ve never allowed a tree to fall and strike someone’s car, killing them instantly or (fill in your calamity here).

Repeatedly in scripture, we’re confronted with God knowing and ordaining things as tiny as a bird falling from a tree (Matthew 10:28-29) to things as large as kingdoms coming into power and specific rulers coming to power (Cyrus in Isaiah 45, Daniel 4:29-37).  It is foolishness to think that God doesn’t know the future or is simply a casual observer to it, fretting all the bad things that happen. It’s insulting to call God a chess player who reacts and ‘always has the upper hand’ after a tragedy of sorts strikes. We cannot speak out of both sides of our mouth and call God Sovereign, yet deny that He is in control of every molecule in the universe.

So while I sit here and pray with my wife, I’ll be putting in a call to MacAuthority in the morning (and a few other places) to see how many hundreds of dollars I’ll be spending to retrieve all the video and audio work I’ve built up since January.  In the meantime, I’m thankful for my wonderful wife who has constantly reminded me to pray first before taking out a hammer to strike things and get them working again. 🙂

Appreciating Mark Driscoll and Theo-Cultural Blindness

Last year, John MacArthur (whom I highly respect) blasted Mark Driscoll on some comments he’d made in a previous sermon on the Song of Solomon overseas.  I also found out that in late 08 into 09, Driscoll preached a new series and also did some ‘spring cleaning’ to his website for Mars Hill – including deleting the old sermons.

A few weeks ago, while staying up insanely late grading papers (I’m took off from work today to head to a dentist appointment in 6.5 hours of writing this…which means I got sleep for about 3-4 before I went there), I gave a listen to his sermon on Birth Control.

I think, sometimes, that some well-meaning folks have been misreading Driscoll.  Someone who visited Fourth Friday Fundamentals a while back stated that ‘if you knew what he had to deal with, you’d understand why he talks the way he talks. In Seattle, this isn’t considered ‘edgy’ – it’s normal’.  Listening to one of his (Driscoll’s) comments about how he went into a store and a lady confronted him and asked him why does he have five kids (at which point the lady broke into the overpopulation argument and the lack of food argument…both of which are false), hearing about how people frequently picket his church (mostly feminist groups and homosexual groups), death threats and the like, I understand the man quite a bit more now.

I *am* glad that he’s cleaned up his language over the years.  Earlier in the decade, some of the things coming from his mouth made it pretty impossible for me to recommend him as anything more than a Christian shock-jock.  I’m glad to say (from listening to some of his more recent sermons) that he’s matured a bit, specifically since speaking at the DG Conference on the very issue of language a couple of years ago.

Mark Driscoll isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  If you come from a micropresbyterian denomination where you hold strictly to the RPW, don’t do much interaction on social media and/or watch anything other than FoxNews and the History Channel, Mark Driscoll *might* appear worldly to you, since he does something your church tends not to do – interact with the culture, critique it from a biblical standpoint, confront worldliness and persistent sin directly and call it what it is without selling out the gospel (versus simply cursing the darkness from inside the citadel of light you inhabit).  If you are easily offended at someone actually showing passion and emotion in their preaching…. you probably don’t like John Piper. So you probably won’t like Driscoll either.  You probably won’t care for the music at his church either.

That’s okay.   No one’s making it mandatory for you to listen to him.  But I *do* see him attacking from a pastoral perspective, a lot of tough questions and he has a tendency to nail them head on biblically.

Oh wait – now you think he’s all ‘practical’ and not doctrinal. To those folks I’ll simply say….check his sermon archive on the Mars Hill website.  He does a good job of being both biblical and practical, as good preaching should be.

Anyway, that’s my present take on the issue. I can recommend Driscoll now, even while I don’t agree with everything he does at MHC.  If his preaching is reflective of the life of the church, then Driscoll’s church is a healthy church.

No, they aren’t consistently confessional.  No, they aren’t cessationists. No, their worship doesn’t look like 1647.  At the same time, they aren’t filled with false fire (aka happy clappy), doctrinally they are within the reformed tradition and you will definitely hear the gospel every week at this church. All these things are good.

I think we forget sometimes – church men in all eras make mistakes.  The thing is, we all don’t make (or aren’t prone to make) the same mistakes.  Think for a moment if Edwards or Dabney were alive. Would you support their owning of slaves ?  No, but a lot of ‘reformed’ folks have a tendency to show grace to these men by passing off their mistakes in these areas as blind spots, the men simply being ‘products of their time’.   Their works are still recommended, read and proliferated.  Yet, these men committed heinous sins by being engaged in American (key word) slavery.  A black man considered 3/5 of a person (versus Lev. 19:18) ?

What will people from future generations look back at this generation’s Christians and say “What in the WORLD were they thinking about when they did that ?”  People look at the RPW (at least the Exclusive Psalmody aspect of it) now and think that very same thing.  People look back at Geneva and wonder what convinced the city legislature that they had the authority to execute folk for blasphemy.

Just some thoughts.

On John Piper, Sabbaticals and Rick Warren

Okay, so reading the comments on John Piper’s video where he invites Rick Warren to speak at the 2010 DG National Conference, Piper already predicted a firestorm of controversy for his decision.

Boy was he right.

This happens to come right on the heels of him announcing a nine-month sabbatical to work on his marriage and devote more time to his family. So some people are suspecting it’s a combination of poor judgement in all areas of his life which are leading to the ‘step down’ (just read the comments onthe video above).

Some, like Lane Chaplin, have expressed no further desire to support JP.

Others are simply decrying the decision as poor judgement.

Some are ready to toss Piper to the wolves, as they’ve been calling Piper things such as a ‘Trojan Horse‘ for years now.

I find it a bit interesting that Piper’s topic at Together for the Gospel 2010 (which I won’t be attending) is “Did Jesus Preach the Gospel of Evangelicalism ?“, which, in light of the theme of The Unadjusted Gospel, seems rather contradictory.  Why invite a man to speak at your national conference who actually preaches the very thing that you’re going to be speaking against at T4G ?

Upon giving Piper a listen, I *think* I have a fair idea of what Piper is up to.  It’s real simple.

Listen carefully to what he says to Rick Warren and what he asks Rick Warren to preach on.

When I wrote him, here’s what I said. And he’ll probably watch this video too. I said, “The conference is called ‘THINK: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. I want you to come. You are the most well-known pragmatist pastor in the world. I don’t think you are a pragmatist at root. Come and tell us why thinking biblically matters to you in your amazingly pragmatic approach to ministry.” I want him to lay his cards on the table. I want him to tell us what makes him tick, because he does come across in much of what he says and does as very results oriented and pragmatic and not theologically driven. And yet, I met him for the first time last year at Ralph Winter’s funeral in Pasadena. And we sat beside each other on the platform for three hours. I like him because he sings. And he sings badly. And anybody who’s willing to sing and sings badly — I like him. And we were talkin’ beforehand and he said to me, “I’m reading all the works of Jonathan Edwards this year. I pick a great theologian every year and I read all of his collected works. I’m on volume 17 of the Yale series of Jonathan Edward’s works.” You’ve got to be kidding me. Nothin’ you have ever said would incline me to think . . . *CROWD LAUGHTER – TEE HEE!* So, these guys are gonna go interview him tomorrow, I think. So you can quote some of these things. I do think he is deeply theological. He is a brilliant man. He wouldn’t have the church he does or the PEACE plan or, uh, all the influence he does and of course the greatest sentence in the Purpose Driven Life is the first one, isn’t it? “It’s not about you; it’s about God.” The glory of God. So, I don’t think he’s emergent. At root I believe he is theological, and doctrinal, and sound. And, what makes him tick? Actively in doing church? Uh, I intend to find out. So, I like him. And I’m frustrated by some of his stuff.”

Folks like Michael Horton have interacted with Warren in the past and share the same theological concerns that Piper does in his last sentence here.

What was Piper thinking ?

I’m guessing the following:

1. For all the people who say Piper’s lost it, think for a moment.  The man has written the best present-day exegetical defense of Romans 9:1-23.  As a single author, he’s probably devoted more work toward answering the errors of N.T. Wright regarding the New Perspective.  He’s not stupid.   So when John Piper says “I think he’s sound”, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and not try to disown him as some have tried to do in their talks.  Piper wouldn’t invite, for example, Joel Osteen to speak at DG.  Why ? Simple – Osteen wouldn’t quote from the WCF.  Osteen also wouldn’t read Edwards (or any other theologian for that matter). Warren at least has degrees from Fuller (when it was still moderately biblical) and Southwestern.  So he has demonstrated the very thing Piper says he suspects of him.   Of course, he’s also contradicted the bulk of that in many of his talks, which brings me to point #2:

2. Piper’s question and speaking topic are HEAVILY loaded and quite blatant.  If Warren answers them honestly and from the suspected ‘theological’ basis sitting underneath of what he claims to privately believe, then he will end up refuting a good 99% of what he’s written in Purpose Driven Church and at least 80% of Purpose Driven Life.

3. Piper’s opening up larger dialogue with Warren and challenging him to grow here. He’s doing what some people say they would do if they had the chance.  He’s doing the opposite of simply spitting and cursing at the darkness – he’s lighting a candle here.

I think it’s a brilliant move and a brilliant gamble on Piper’s part.    Having 2-3 extra days to think on it, I’m not sure it will work, as Warren has proven himself to be a bit of a chameleon (and I’ve been around some of his disciples who do the same).  Part of the reason for that, of course, is that they never stop to think deeply about the implications of the doctrines of grace (or theology in general) and simply file away doctrinal truths as facts.

Piper’s invitation cuts to the heart of that sort of thinking.  I’m waiting to see what the outcome will be in Warren’s speech.

Meanwhile, instead of damning Pastor John as some have done, take the time and pray for him.  Ministry is a hard job and many armchair theologians are a bit too quick to hit the ‘submit’ button on their blogs, but not submit their thinking to a theology of grace regarding others.   At worst, treat him as a brother caught in sin and pray for his repentance.  At best, pray that his intentions for inviting Warren have the desired effect and help to bring Warren face to face with bankruptcy of his own pragmatism.

A Theology of Thankfulness: Psalm 103

[CSF] God the All-Seeing One – 3

With a little of the previous post and more added on, here’s Dr. Spurgeon again:

God knows the burial-places of all his people. He notes as well the resting-place of the man who is buried tombless and alone, as the man over whom a mighty mausoleum has been raised. The traveler who fell in the barren desert, whose body became the prey of the vulture, and whose bones were bleached in the sun—the mariner, who was wrecked far out at sea, and over whose corpse no dirge was ever wailed, except the howling of the winds, and the murmuring of the wild waves—the thousands who have perished in battle, unnumbered and unnoticed—the many who have died alone, amid dreary forests, frozen seas, and devouring snow-storms—all these, and the places of their sepulchre, are known to God. That silent grot within the sea, where pearls lie deep, where now the shipwrecked one is sleeping, is marked by God as the death-place of one of his redeemed; that place upon the mountain-side, the deep ravine into which the traveler fell and was buried in a snow-drift, is marked in the memory of God as the tomb of one of the human race.

No body of man, however it may have been interred or uninterred, has passed beyond the range of God’s knowledge. Blessed be his name, if I shall die, and lie where the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep, in some neglected corner of the churchyard, I shall be known as well, and rise as well recognized by my glorious Father, as if interred in the cathedral, where forests of gothic pillars proudly stand erect, and where the songs of myriads perpetually salute high heaven. I shall be known as well as if I had been buried there in solemn pomp, and had been interred with music and with dread solemnities, and I shall be recognized as well as if the marble trophy and the famous pillar had been raised to my remembrance; for God knoweth no such thing as forgetfulness of the burying-places of his children.

Moses sleeps in some spot that eye hath not seen. God kissed away his soul, and he buried him where Israel could never find him, though they may have searched for him. But God knoweth where Moses sleeps; and if he knows that, he understands where all his children are hidden. Ye cannot bell me where is the tomb of Adam; ye could not point out to me the sleeping place of Abel. Is any man able to discover the tomb of Methuselah and those long-lived dwellers in the time before the flood? Who shall tell where the once-treasured body of Joseph now sleeps in faith? Can any of you discover the tombs of the kings, and mark the exact spot where David and Solomon rest in solitary grandeur? No, those things have passed from human recollection, and we know not where the great and mighty of the past are buried; but God knoweth, for death and Hades are open before the Lord.

And again, further, not only does he know the place where they were buried, but he is cognizant of the history of all their bodies after sepulture or after death. It has often been asked by the infidel, “How can the body of man be restored, when it may have been eaten by the cannibal, or devoured by wild beasts?” Our simple reply is, that God can track every atom of it if he pleases. We do not think it necessary to resurrection that he should do so, but if he so willed it, he could bring every atom of every body that hath ever died: although it hath passed through the most complicated machinery of nature, and become entangled in its passage with plants and beasts, yea, and with the bodies of other men, God hath it still within the range of his knowledge to know where every atom is, and it is within the might of his Omnipotence to call every atom from its wandering, and restore it to its proper sphere, and rebuild the body of which it was a part. It is true, we could not track the dust that long since has moldered.

Buried with exactest care, preserved with the most scrupulous reverence, years passed away, and the body of the monarch, which had long slept well guarded and protected, was at last reached by the careless hand. The coffin had moldered, and the metal was broken for the sake of its own value; a handful of dust was discovered, the last relics of one who was master of many nations. That dust by sacrilegious hand was cast in the aisle of the church, or thrown into the churchyard and blown by the winds into the neighboring field. It was impossible for ever to preserve it; the greatest care was defeated; and at last the monarch was on a level with his slave, “alike unknowing and unknown.” But God knows where every particle of the handful of dust has gone: he has marked in his book the wandering of every one of its atoms. He hath death so open before his view, that he can bring all these together, bone to bone, and clothe them with the very flesh that robed them in the days of yore, and make them live again. Death is open before the Lord.

– C.H. Spurgeon
Often, men decry the very teachings in scripture that are designed to bring them comfort and assurance and build their reliance upon God.  Men remove absolute Sovereignty from God because they want to be the masters of their own fate, yet they pray as though He is Sovereignly in control once they come to the end of their own ability.

Men remove from God, His omniscience, because they want to operate as free and self-determining creatures, yet will grant God control over nature and other things and pray for the rain or a hurricane to stop.

How foolish are some of these things. It is evident from every page and passage of scripture that God not only sees all of time and knows all of time intimately down to the smallest subatomic particle, but He is Sovereign over all of time and every event in it. Nothing happens outside of His control – Job was not afflicted one moment more OR less than God permitted Satan to do to him. The famine in Moab that brought Ruth and Naomi back to Jerusalem was done so by the Lord in order for them to be in the right place, married to the right person to become the grandfather and grandmother of David, ancestor of Christ.  Joseph’s ordeal was seen, at the end of his life, to have been brought together and planned by God – it was God who sent him to Egypt….in order for him to save many more lives than just his own (Gen. 45:4-9, 50:20).

As my pastor has repeatedly said, the first teaching in  ‘God 101’ is that God is God. He does as He pleases, according to no other counsel but His own.  He sees everything – the death of every saint, the pain of every heart, the thoughts and motivations of every man….. and while this may bring a sense of dread and fear to the man who realizes his own sinfulness, it should also bring comfort.

God, who is rich in mercy, who sees not only the sins you have done, but the sins that you will do.

And if your faith and trust is in Him, He has already taken away the penalty for it.

Yes, even THAT one.

Your sins aren’t more powerful than God.

Soli Deo Gloria,
K. Joel Gilliard

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Announcing: Fourth Friday Fundamentals!

Blending Christ-centered lyrics and rhyme schemes, expositional preaching, sound Biblical doctrine and fellowship among the saints, a few dedicated brothers have banded together to bring Fourth Friday Fundamentals to the Baltimore area. The site is available at

Roughly patterned after First Friday Fundamentals (sponsored by Epiphany Fellowship in Philly), FFF stresses four things:

1. The Holiness of God

2. The Sinfulness of Man

3. The Problem of Man’s Sinfulness in Light of God’s Holiness

4. The Solution to the Problem: The Gospel

Hit the media page up, check the first two messages (which actually cover these first two topics!).

If you’re in the Baltimore area on this coming Friday ( 2/22/08), drop in. We’d LOVE to have you. Directions to the event (held at Believers’ Chapel in Baltimore, MD) are on the site.

Pass the word and tell some friends!

More from Owen on Mortification This book is a gold mine!