Apr

15

2013

Jason Helopoulos|9:00 am CT

RCA Integrity Leadership Conference

We are excited that Dr. Derek Thomas has agreed to be our plenary speaker at the RCA Integrity Leadership Conference this year. For those readers who are in the RCA, we would encourage you to register for this two day conference at which we celebrate the Gospel, our desire to see the local church renewed, and Gospel partnerships encouraged.

You can register online at this site: 2013 Leadership Conference

 
 

Apr

15

2013

Kevin DeYoung|6:18 am CT

Monday Morning Humor

 
 

Apr

11

2013

Jason Helopoulos|10:23 pm CT

The Story You May Not Have Heard (Warning: Graphic Reading)

Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos

If I told you that in a small building, in a major metropolitan city, within a state of these United States of America there were over 100 children born into this world and then summarily executed, would you expect there to be a national outcry? Would you expect that there would be candle vigils outside this ghastly and horrific place? Would you expect that our President would call a press conference and ask the nation to be in prayer? Would you expect this to be the subject of discussion over the water cooler at work? Would you expect it to be the main story on the nightly news, the front cover of your daily newspaper, the lead story on NPR, and the subject of call-in talk radio shows? If you would expect this, then your expectations would be unrealized. Our country is in the midst of a national crisis, a crisis of conscience, a crisis of avoidance, and a crisis of morality. And the response is deafening silence.

On March 18th a trial began. The trial of West Philadelphia abortionist “doctor,” Kermit Gosnell, who readily practiced infanticide. As the testimonies from this trial are made public, our stomachs should be turning, our hearts should be grieving, and our heads should be bowed. I am no sensationalist. I find no pleasure in grotesquely reported and detailed accounts. However, this is one trial and the details of which every citizen of this country should know. And we should be led to national grief.

The report of the grand jury that investigated Gosnell’s clinic states, he “catered to the women who couldn’t get abortions elsewhere–because they were too pregnant. For Gosnell, they were an opportunity. The bigger the baby, the more he charged.” Massof, a “right hand man” of Gosnell’s, testified that 100 or more babies were born alive in this abortion clinic. And he described how the babies, born into this world, were summarily executed. He stated that the abortions were “literally a beheading.” He testified that he would snip the spinal cords of the babies. During his testimony, he asked the jury to feel the back of their necks, so he could direct them to were the spinal cord was severed with surgical scissors to ensure the baby’s “demise.” He testified, “I felt like a fireman in hell, I couldn’t put out all the fires.” No doubt he did. Moton, a female employee, reported that she took a picture of one baby boy, because he was so large and appeared so viable. She measured him at “nearly 30 weeks.” She testified that Gosnell later joked that the “baby was so big he could have walked to the bus stop.” Sherry West, a former employee, testified that on one occasion she was handed a 18- to 24-inch-long newborn in a glass pan by an assistant, who asked for her help. She said, “I saw it, and I thought, ‘What do you expect me to do?’ It didn’t have eyes or a mouth but it was like screeching, making this noise. It was weird. It sounded like a little alien.”

Massof is said to have kept severed feet and other body parts in jars at the clinic. If this reminds you of the infamous doctors of the 20th century, who were put on trial at war’s end, your mind is not fanciful creating false comparisons. And the outrage that our nation demonstrated then, should readily be found now.

All of this on the heels of a video that surfaced last week. In this video a Planned Parenthood representative is testifying before a subcommittee of the Florida legislature. In her exchange with these legislators, she refuses to answer a question regarding whether a physician should treat a baby who has been born alive in a “botched abortion.” The Planned Parenthood representative stated that the decision should be left to the patient and the healthcare provider. One keen legislator responded to her, “Wouldn’t at that point the patient be the child struggling on the table?” Her response, “That’s a very good question. I don’t know how to answer that. I would be glad to have some more conversations with you about that.”

Where are we at when a child born into this world can be executed and the fathers and mothers and leaders of that society are not shaken to their bones with disgust? Where is the outcry? Where is the national dialogue and grieving over infanticide in our enlightened 21st century culture? Where is “Rachel weeping for her children?” “Refusing to be comforted because they are no more.”

 
 

Apr

11

2013

Jason Helopoulos|5:00 am CT

Losing Hope for the Sinner in Our Life

Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos

Many of us have friends, sons, daughters, wives, and husbands who we struggle to keep hope alive for. They are resistant to the Gospel. Their lives are not only filled with sin, but dominated and controlled by it. Some of the sins they have committed or engaged in are so heinous that their estate can seem hopeless. If that is the case, we need to be reminded that by God’s account it is not hopeless. Though it seems impossible, He majors in the seemingly impossible. As a Christian, we know this. We give voice to it and statements like this easily roll off our lips. But when we are staring it in the face and have seen them fall back into sin again, we can waiver in doubt.

How do we remedy this? At least one way is to think about heaven. As I think of heaven, I think of the people who God has readily saved from such entanglements. Have you ever thought about the guest list at the Feast of the Lamb? It is shocking to say the least! Do you realize who will be in heaven? There will be murderers in heaven–the Apostle Paul will be there. There will be thieves in heaven–the thief on the cross will be there. There will be adulterers in heaven–King David will be there. There will be polygamists in heaven–Jacob will be there. There will be liars in heaven–the Apostle Peter will be there. There will be prostitutes in heaven–Rahab will be there. There will be idolaters in heaven–we will be there. Yes, all redeemed. All saved by grace through faith. All standing in the righteousness of Christ. And that is exactly the point. Whatever sin has a hold , no matter what a person has done, or is doing–there will be sinners saved by grace in heaven, who struggled with this same disquieting sin or myriad of sins.

Let’s not lose hope for those around us. Let us be Christians who gaze at every sinner with compassion. But even more than that. Let’s strive by grace to be Christians who, at all times and with all people, look upon them with true hope. Hope that God can do a mighty work in their life and draw them unto Himself. You see, He can and He does. Don’t stop praying for your loved ones. Don’t walk past the sinner you think is too far gone. Don’t give up on sharing the Gospel. God can save the worst of sinners–He saved you, He saved me.

 
 

Apr

10

2013

Kevin DeYoung|6:40 am CT

When Jesus Stands

In Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, Jesus says to the High Priest, “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God.” In the Apostle’s Creed we confess, “On the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated on the right hand of God.” That’s the common language of the church and in the Bible.

And yet what does Stephen see as stated at the end of Acts 7? “Behold I see the heavens open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Standing! Now you might think well what’s the difference? He’s seated, he’s standing. It’s not a big deal. But no, this language of being seated at the right hand of God is so common and almost liturgical that mentioning a standing Christ is surely here for a reason.

So why is Jesus standing instead of sitting?

It is for this reason: He has stood to receive Stephen’s testimony and to be his advocate. He has stood that he might come forward to be the judge of those who will trample upon God’s prophet. Jesus is rising from his throne to come to Stephen’s defense and to judge his persecutors.

It is the plain fact of Scripture, whether we want to believe it or not: everyone is appointed to die and after that this comes judgment (Heb. 9:27).

Jesus says in Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon bringing my recompense with me to repay everyone for what he has done.” Everyone will stand before the throne to face the risen Christ. And it will not be a light thing. When you are there and you see the Son of Man, in all his glory and splendor and majesty and power, rise from his throne and stand before you, you will not laugh your way into heaven. You will not have a couple witty rejoinders and a little bit of snark and a few good one liners. He will not be impressed with all the reasons you have of why you ignored him: “You gave me bad parents!” “I didn’t know any better!” “My life was unfair.” When the Son of Man rises from his throne he will not consider our apathy, our disobedience, our unbelief to be a light thing in his presence. He is not a tame lion.

He stood to vindicate Stephen, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

 
 

Apr

09

2013

Kevin DeYoung|5:45 am CT

The Gospel Is For All

Maybe you’ve concluded that Christianity simply isn’t for people like you.

You know who had every reason to think that the gospel was not for him? The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. He could have said to Phillip, “I hear this good news, but look, I’m not from Jerusalem. I just got back from there. I’ve been there. I’ve looked around. Nobody looks like me there. I’m from a kingdom down in Africa. I’m not part of God’s chosen race. And besides that, I’m a eunuch and your law says something about eunuchs not coming to the temple. So it sounds wonderful and I will certainly respect your God, but I can see that to be a full blown child of God is not for me.”

You may remember that the Ethiopian was reading Isaiah when he met Philip on the road. Beginning with Isaiah 53:7-8, Philip told him the good news about Jesus. I wonder, if in the course of explaining the good news, Phillip turned to a couple other passages in Isaiah. Maybe said to the eunuch, “You know what? While you have the Isaiah scroll open, would you look at Isaiah 11. In that day the LORD will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush [Ethiopia], from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.” And maybe Phillip said, “Do you see? God promised here in Isaiah that he would save people from your country, people just like you.”

And maybe Phillip said, “There’s another passage in Isaiah I want to show you.” And he turned to Isaiah 56: Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.  And perhaps Phillip said, “Do you see, friend, what it says? If you keep the covenant and you come to Christ and you believe and repent, you can have a name better than sons and daughters. You will have an everlasting name and God will raise up a monument. Even eunuchs can come to Christ.”

We don’t know if Philip mentioned these verses, but they certainly wold have been good news for a eunuch from Ethiopia. The gospel offer is for all. “Come, everyone who thirsts, some to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!” (Isa. 55:1).

 
 

Apr

08

2013

Kevin DeYoung|6:16 am CT

Monday Morning Humor

I just saved you a lot of hours of HGTV:

 
 

Apr

05

2013

Kevin DeYoung|5:14 am CT

What is Liberal Theology?

Gary Dorrien, an Episcopal Priest, a professor at Union Theological Seminary, and the foremost expert on American liberal theology, explains:

Before the modern period, all Christian theologies were constructed within a house of authority. All premodern Christian theologies made claims to authority-based orthodoxy. Even the mystical and mythopoetic theologies produced by premodern Christianity took for granted the view of scripture as an infallible revelation and the view of theology as an explication of propositional revelation. (The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, xv).

Dorrien goes on to say that later “Reformed and Lutheran orthodoxy heightened the Reformation principle that Scripture is the sole and infallibly sufficient rule of faith, teaching that scripture is also strictly inerrant in all that it asserts” (xv). He further argues that Roman Catholicism, Eastern Christianity, and the Anglican tradition were all based on external authority in their own ways as well.

But liberal theology, which Dorrien believes to be “the most creative and influential tradition of theological reflection since the Reformation,” charted a different course. Liberalism is both a tradition, coming out of the late-18th century Protestant attempt to reconfigure traditional Christian teaching in the light of modern knowledge and values, and a diverse, but recognizable approach to theology.

Fundamentally it is the idea of a genuine Christianity not based on external authority. Liberal theology seeks to reinterpret the symbols of Christianity in a way that creates a progressive religious alternative to atheistic rationalism and to theologies based on external authority.

Specifically, liberal theology is defined by its openness to the verdicts of modern intellectual inquiry, especially the natural and social sciences; its commitment to the authority of individual reason and experience; its conception of Christianity as an ethical way of life; its favoring of moral concepts of atonement; and its commitment to make Christianity credible and socially relevant to modern people. (xxiii)

Though the theological conclusions may be miles apart at times, it’s important for evangelicals to be familiar with liberal theology. We want to understand it accurately, deal with it fairly, and recognize that some Christians embrace the theology without embracing the term.

 
 

Apr

04

2013

Kevin DeYoung|6:05 am CT

Three More Thoughts on the Gay Marriage Debate

I don’t intend to write on this every week, but the controversy is not going away and Christians need to be engaged, so perhaps a few reflections every now and then may prove helpful. Since last week’s post, I’ve been thinking about three more questions Christians may be asking.

1. Why don’t we just separate the religious and civil dimensions of marriage? The premise behind the question sounds promising at first. “Let the state do whatever it wants with marriage. The government can have its own licensing arrangement and the church can solemnize whatever unions it chooses. Won’t things be simpler if we let each institution do what it wants?” Well, on one level we already have this arrangement. Churches can hold all sorts of ceremonies. Your pastor can “marry” a dog to a cat or perform a commitment ceremony between a rock and a tree. The government doesn’t care, but it won’t give you a license and it won’t call it marriage. If the church wants to get out of the marriage business altogether, the government won’t object, but that doesn’t look like Christian conviction, or even compromise, more like total capitulation.

Then, someone may ask, why not take government of the marriage equation and leave it up to individual worshiping communities to decide whom they will marry and what constitutes marriage? Even if our politicians were entertaining such a notion (which they’re not), it would be utterly impossible and completely undesirable. No-marriage is worse than messed-up-marriage. From taxes to estates to child custody, the state has a vested interest in overseeing the legality of marriage. They will not give that up, and it would be an unholy mess if they did. Imagine the chaos if every church or synagogue or mosque handled marriage on its own. Eight people playing cards every Friday would call themselves a church, ordain someone as a minister, and start doing marriages on the side. Hormonal teens with a conscience about sex before marriage would quickly get married one night so they would no longer have to “burn with passion.” Child custody would often be a nightmare. Divorce would be easier than ever. Everything that marriage is supposed to protect and promote would be undermined. We need some institution that is nationally recognized and has the means to enforce its own laws? Whether we like it or not, that institution in the modern world is the state.

2. As long as we, as Christians, can have our view of marriage, what’s the big deal if the government allows for other kinds of marriage? Again, the question hints at an attractive ideal. “Let’s call a truce on this culture war stuff. The world will define marriage one way and we will define marriage according to the Bible. The state has to be neutral, right? People just want Christians to be tolerant of other views and other ideas on marriage. Where’s the danger in that?” The problem is that all the cultural arguments for “tolerating” gay marriage are not-so-thinly veiled arguments against the supposed bigotry of those who hold to a traditional understanding of marriage. What do you think the equal signs all over Facebook mean? They make a moral argument: those who oppose gay marriage are uncivil, unsocial, undemocratic, un-American, and probably inhumane.

If you believe homosexual behavior is wrong and gay marriage is a contradiction in terms, you are fast becoming, in the public eye, not simply benighted but positively reprehensible, like the last slave owner who refuses to get on the right side of history. I understand that Christians tire of the culture war, but it’s not a battle we started, and if (when?) we lose the debate on homosexuality we will lose much more than the gurus of tolerance let on. David S. Crawford is right:

The tolerance that really is proffered is provisional and contingent, tailored to accommodate what is conceived as a significant but shrinking segment of society that holds a publically unacceptable private bigotry. Where over time it emerges that this bigotry has not in fact disappeared, more aggressive measures will be needed, which will include explicit legal and educational components, as well as simple ostracism. [Humanum, Fall 2012, p. 8]

Many Christians are about to find out there is nothing in the modern world quite so intolerant as tolerance.

3. Will all of this spell disaster for the church? That depends. It could mean marginalization, name calling, and worse. But that’s no disaster. That may be the signs of faithfulness. The church is sometimes the most vibrant, the most articulate, and the most holy when the world presses down on her most. But only sometimes. I care about the decisions of the Supreme Court and the laws our politicians put in place. But what’s much more important to me—because I believe it’s more crucial to the spread of the gospel, the growth of the church, and the honor of Christ—what happens in our churches, our mission agencies, our denominations, our parachurch organizations, and in our educational institutions. I fear that younger Christians may not have the stomach for disagreement or the critical mind for careful reasoning. We’re going to need a good dose of the fundamentalist obstinacy that most evangelicals love to lampoon. The challenge before the church is to convince ourselves, as much as anyone, that believing the Bible does not make us bigots, just as reflecting the times does not make us relevant.

 
 

Apr

03

2013

Kevin DeYoung|11:36 am CT

Magnify Conference…this weekend at URC

Made for His Pleasure: The Priority of God in a World of Self
April 5-6, 2013

Alistair Begg is one of my favorite preachers. I am so excited he’ll be preaching at URC for the Magnify Conference. I encourage you to sign up and get to East Lansing for April 5 and 6.

Alistair served two churches in his native Scotland before answering the call in 1983 to become senior pastor at Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, OH. A graduate of the London School of Theology and Westminster Seminary, he has written several books – including Made for His Pleasure – and is heard daily on the national radio program Truth for Life.

Conference Details

$20 Individuals
$10 Additional Family Members
$5 Pastors Breakfast
$5 Pastor’s Wives Breakfast
Due to space limitations, the breakfast is open to pastors and their wives only.
We will be able to accommodate the first 85 registrants.

Books and other resources will be available for purchase.

Schedule:
Friday 7pm – 9:00 pm Plenary I
Saturday 8:00 – 9:00 am Pastors Breakfast Seminar (RSVP only)
Saturday 9:15 – 10:45 am Plenary II
Saturday 11am – Noon Q & A
Saturday 1:30 – 3:00 pm Plenary III

Event Website and Registration