Depart From Me, I Never Knew You

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It is hard to believe that it has been almost nine years since I posted the video below on YouTube. Of course, some of the images in the video make it look like it is 20 years old. Though the media may be dated, the truth stays the same. This is a clip from a sermon I preached called, Can You Lose Your Salvation?

 

Desiring God Book Study by Chapter

desiring-god-book-coverIt is not wrong for you to pursue your joy. The problem with fallen man is not that we seek our pleasure, but that we are seeking it in cisterns that can hold no water. As John Piper puts it, “we are far too easily pleased.” God has offered Himself to us as our source of infinite joy, while we continue to seek our pleasure in things such as T.V. binge watching or hours of social media. Once we become Christians, our search for pleasure should increase, and God should be the source of our delight.

I am currently leading a class at Bethel Grace Baptist Church through John Piper’s book, Desiring God.  This book is a treatise on pursuing our joy in God. Each week Coen Tate, Matt Teays, and I will be covering a chapter from the book. Also, don’t miss lesson one taught by Pastor Jeff Saltzmann. If you would like to follow along, the lessons can be found online at the link below. They can also be found in podcast form at the Bethel Grace Baptist Church podcast in iTunes.

There are currently five lessons available, and a new one will be posted each week. There will be a total of 15 lessons.

Desiring God Class Audio

God Bless,

D. Eaton

 

Prayer: The Forerunner of Mercy – Spurgeon

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“Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.” -Ezekiel 36:37

Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true in your own personal experience. God has given you many an unsolicited favour, but still great prayer has always been the prelude of great mercy with you. When you first found peace through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much, and earnestly interceding with God that He would remove your doubts, and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances out of sore troubles, and mighty helps in great dangers, you have been able to say, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing’s shadow. When the sunlight of God’s mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, He Himself shines behind them, and He casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest certain, if we are much in prayer, our pleadings are the shadows of mercy. Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly.

“Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw;

Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;

Gives exercise to faith and love;

Brings every blessing from above.”

-Charles Spurgeon-

Google Maps Captures a Fight of Faith Moment

I never expected this, but here we are. Of all things, Google Maps has provided a glimpse behind the scenes of one of the most popular posts on this blog. I recently wrote a post called Our Quiet Times Are Rarely As They Appear. In that post, I anonymously wrote myself into the story about a man who is sitting on his front porch reading scripture, and how there is much more happening than what you can see.

Yesterday I looked up my address on Google Maps, and in the providence of God, they have captured that moment. The picture at the top of this post is the screen capture from Google. I cannot say if this picture was on the exact day I wrote that post, but I know it was close. I remember seeing the Google car go by and thinking, “I wonder if they just took my picture.”

Of course, there is more going on than what you can see in the picture. If you want to know the deeper reality, you will need to read the post. I wrote it because I believe this is something with which most Christians can relate.

D. Eaton

 

 

Take A Stand Against Error – J. Gresham Machen

Men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end.

Some years ago I was in a company of teachers of the Bible in the colleges and other educational institutions of America. One of the most eminent theological professors in the country made an address. In it he admitted that there are unfortunate controversies about doctrine in the Epistles of Paul; but, said he in effect, the real essence of Paul’s teaching is found in the hymn to Christian love in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians; and we can avoid controversy today, if we will only devote the chief attention to that inspiring hymn.

In reply, I am bound to say that the example was singularly ill-chosen. That hymn to Christian love is in the midst of a great polemic passage; it would never have been written if Paul had been opposed to controversy with error in the Church. It was because his soul was stirred within him by a wrong use of the spiritual gifts that he was able to write that glorious hymn. So it is always in the Church. Every really great Christian utterance, it may almost be said, is born in controversy. It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of truth.

J. Gresham Machen-

7 Questions to Get to the Heart of Any Worldview

 

Everyone has a worldview. Even the person who says worldview studies are a waste of time says it because of their worldview. A worldview is a person’s perspective of the world, but at its core, it is a set of basic presuppositions that a person believes through which they filter all other non-basic beliefs. There are thousands of religions and ‘ism that people hold, and no one can learn all of them, but there are only a handful of worldviews into which they all fit. If you learn the underlying worldviews, you will be better able to understand where a person is coming from, no matter what they call themselves. Some of the basic worldviews are theism, deism, naturalism, existentialism, postmodernism, and Eastern pantheistic monism.

James Sire, in his book, The Universe Next Door does us a huge favor by cataloging these worldviews and providing us with seven questions to get to the heart of any worldview. By asking these seven questions, we can find out not only where someone else stands, but where we stand as well. They can also reveal where a person may be inconsistent in their beliefs. I was once talking with someone who answered one questions by telling me all roads lead to God, and then when asked “what happens when someone dies,” told me that a person either goes to the light or the dark. When I asked if the dark was God too, she then saw the conflict in her two views and said that she needed to think things through a little better. That moment became a perfect opportunity to share the gospel.

Here are the seven questions to get the to the heart of any worldview, followed by a few possible answers.

1. What is prime reality—the really real?

Christians will say it is God. The atheist may answer matter, the universe, or natural laws.

2. What is the nature of the world or universe around us?

Was it created, did it just pop into being, is it ordered, is it chaos, does it even exist or is something we create in our mind?

3. What is a human being?

Is it created in the image of God, a highly complex machine, a cosmic accident, an evolved ape?

4. What happens when a person dies?

Is it heaven with God, or hell, a higher state, reincarnation, or do we cease to exist altogether?

5. Is it possible to know absolute truth?

Is it, yes, we are made in the image of God. Christ, who was fully God, became flesh and knew all truth. Therefore, we can know truth as well. Or is it, no, consciousness is something that evolved based on the survival of the fittest, and we cannot have confidence that what survives can necessarily know truth. It is all just chemicals firing in the brain. What we call knowledge is just a mental phenomenon, and we cannot know whether it corresponds to reality.

6. How do we know what is right and wrong?

Are we made in the image of God and have his law written on our hearts and told to us in His revealed word? Or is morality something we make up to order society, so there is no ultimate right and wrong?

7. What is the meaning of human history? Or who is in charge of history?

Did God create it for a purpose and has a plan that all things are moving toward? Or is no one in charge? All of it is random chance and ultimately meaningless, and though we may place some meaning on it, even our meaning is relative.

All of these questions reveal a person’s worldview, and you will see that at the center is either the true God or something else. Any worldview not based on the God of scripture cannot ultimately hold together. In Jesus, the creator and sustainer of all things, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Not only is it important to understand where other people stand in order to show them that their foundation is sinking sand, but it is important to make sure Christ is the rock upon which we stand in all matters of truth as well.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. – Colossians 2:8

D. Eaton

Kobe’s Last Game: A Christian Reflection

Last night Kobe Bryant ended an outstanding 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Not that there were not any ups and down with his career, but overall any fan of basketball would have to agree that that he shined as bright, or brighter than some of the greatest players to play the game. Not only was his run one of greatness, but his final game was one of triumph as well, scoring 60 points to close his career.

So what now? Most people only dream of that kind of glory and grandeur and spend their entire lives pursuing it. Rarely do any even come close to what Kobe has experienced, though a few will attain it at a lower level. What we were reminded of last night, however, is that earthly glory always comes to an end. No matter how beautiful the bloom, the flower will start to fade. For those who have placed their hope and confidence in the kingdom of this world, this evaporation of earthly splendor is troubling because eternity has been written on their hearts, yet they acknowledge no higher aim.

It has been said, the greatest tragedies are not those who pursued greatness and failed to reach it. The biggest tragedies are those who achieved it and realized that it could not give them the fulfillment for which they longed. We were made to pursue glory by a glorious God. The problem is we have a natural propensity to exchange the glory of the everlasting God for created things, but the things of earth can never give us what we are seeking. No matter how fast we run, how high we climb, or how many accolades the world gives us, it is ultimately not enough. Even then we will continue the pursuit to see if we can find something else in this world that can lift our heads, and we always seem to find something: temporarily.

There is only One who can give us what we are seeking, and that is the Lord of Glory Himself. Our glory is found in Him, and until our pursuit turns from the things of the world to the eternal God, we have nothing to expect in the end except disillusionment. In Christ, though, it all comes together. Our sins have been forgiven, which causes even death to lose its sting, and no matter how insignificant the world thinks we are, when Christ, who is our life, appears, then we also will appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4). He is our honor and triumph.

Influence, affluence, legacy; none of these things are wrong in themselves. They can even be used to bring God glory, but when we put them in the place of God, they will all fail to deliver. We must not seek from the world what only God can give. There may be times when the things of this world will cause you to hold your head up high, but only briefly for it is all passing away. Your glory is not found in your attractiveness, your talents, your bank book, your health, or even your legacy. Your glory is found in Christ, and so is your rest.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. – Isaiah 40:8

D. Eaton

God’s Moral Law and Absolutism: Introduction

What do you do when it seems you have to choose between two sins? For instance, the midwives in the Old Testament, do they lie and say that the Jewish women have their babies too quickly to kill them, or do they tell them the truth and fail to protect the babies (see Exodus chapter 1)? In this case, they lied, and God commends them for it. Over time, I plan on posting three more posts on this topic. I will be discussing three ethical theories surrounding God’s moral law and absolutism. The book covers you will see in these posts are books I have read in my study of Christian ethics and have helped me in my understanding of this topic.

When studying ethics, we encounter many different theories. Such as utilitarian ethics, virtue based ethics, and deontological ethics. Utilitarian ethics bases its ethical system on some non-moral outcome such as happiness or pleasure. For instance, the way we decide what is right and wrong could be based on what will produce the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people. A couple of proponents of this view are David Hume and John Stuart Mill. This is the view that seems to be the most popular in today’s secular society. Virtue based ethics looks to character to decide what is right and wrong. In other words, we do not look to follow rules, but we look to virtues that we wish to cultivate such as courage, prudence, and temperance then we look to how we should live them out our lives. As Leslie Stephens says, “The moral law…has to be expressed in the form “be this” not in the form “do this.” Proponents of this view have been Alasdair MacIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas, and, of course, Aristotle (though it is debated whether his teaching was as extreme as today’s virtue ethicists). This view has gained momentum in today’s church and has also gained acceptance by many in what used to be called the Emergent Church. It is also held by many in the Catholic church.

Both views have their flaws, for instance, utilitarian ethics would have to say that committing adultery is a good thing to do if it will lead to the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. As we know, this is contrary to scripture. Virtue based ethics has serious trouble in explaining how good character leads to doing the right thing. For example, if courage is a virtue we are trying to cultivate, how do we apply this to doing the right thing? A woman who abstains from an abortion could be said to be courageous, but so could the woman who was brave enough to have one. Which one is right? I realize if you hold to one of these two views, these simple arguments will not convince you otherwise, but my point here is not to refute these systems. Instead, I want to look at absolutism.

The first two theories mentioned, say that there is no intrinsic value in any action. The value is in either in the outcome of the action (utilitarian) or in the character of the person doing the act (Virtue). Deontological ethics, on the other hand, is a duty or obligation driven system. Deontological ethics says there is some intrinsic value in certain actions, such as not killing, or truth telling, that requires us to do them. The prima fascia understanding of scripture, and I believe the correct understanding, seems to show this view as the most accurate. There are certain actions that we are to do to be ethical. This flows from God’s moral law which is summarized in the Ten Commandments and further summarized when Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbor. The Christian understanding of this view does not neglect the character of the person doing the act. For an action to truly be Godly, it must stem from the right attitude or character, but there is value in particular acts and not only in the heart.

A person who holds this view is usually known as a Moral Absolutist. Absolutism means that the moral laws are absolute in that they are binding on all men, at all times and in all situations. This is what most Christians hold to regarding the Ten Commandments and other moral principles found in Scripture. In this view, however, there are what we call moral dilemmas. To use the old example, what do you do when the Nazi’s are at your door looking for Jews which you are hiding? You are under two different principles which seem to be in conflict. First, you are morally obligated not to lie, and second you are morally obligated to love your neighbor and protect them. Regarding this dilemma, there are three different categories of moral absolutists, with three different answers. There is the non-conflicting absolutist, the conflicting absolutist, and the graded or hierarchical absolutist. In three future posts (which have now been posted), I will be looking at each one of these to see how they deal with the dilemma.

D. Eaton

Other posts in this series

10 Arguments Atheists Use but Shouldn’t

Through countless discussions surrounding atheism, it has become apparent that someone has been feeding bad advice to atheists. Since the following errors are repeatedly made, this partial list has been populated to warn atheists so they can avoid these pitfalls. If you are an atheist and hear any of the following advice, realize that these arguments are not good arguments.

1. Use a false analogy and believe that because you compare theism to believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster that you have made a good argument.

2. Apply absolute standards of morality that atheism is unable to produce, and argue that Christianity is an immoral religion.

3. When you are having trouble answering an argument posed by a Christian theist, simply throw out a red herring and say, “well even if this were true, it doesn’t prove the existence of the ‘Christian’ God.”

4. Confuse assumptions with arguments and assume that simply because you explain phenomena from a naturalistic perspective that it constitutes an argument which must be true.

5. When arguing against the Christian God, simply say that you only believe in “one less god” than most people, as if that has no other implications, and does not require you to defend an atheistic understanding of cosmology, anthropology, ethics, philosophy of history, philosophy of politics, philosophy of science, and epistemology.

6. Refute yourself by making statements that suggests that metaphysics are a waste of time while presupposing abstract first principles and the true nature of reality .

7. Contradict yourself by arguing that we should only believe things proven by empirical evidence without proving it with empirical evidence.

8. Borrow from the Christian worldview and use logic like it is a universal, transcendent, unchanging reality when atheistic naturalism cannot account for universal, transcendent, unchanging realities.

9. Beg the question and argue that there is no evidence to believe in the existence of God because all the evidence that is produced, fails to pass the standards of evidence which have been constructed from your belief that God does not exist.

10. Contradict yourself and argue that human beings are robots, puppets, and machines programmed by natural selection in a closed system of cause and effect, and then argue for free thought and moral agency.

For more on this, we spent and an episode of the Apologetics.com radio show discussing these arguments. You can find the mp3 at the following link 10 Arguments Thoughtful Atheists Won’t Use.

D. Eaton