Thursday, December 30, 2010

The streets in Helena

The other day we hit the streets of Helena to proclaim the gospel. The crew consisted of the Swider boy and girl, myself, and our new, good friends, Matt and Evie. It was a slow start with most people not wanting to talk or even take tracts. A man from England who was standing outside a bar smoking said he hated all religion and that he couldn’t be converted. He even finished his cigarette quickly to escape back into the darkness of the bar.

The guy at the coffee shop made many excuses to not talk about Jesus. I talked to a man who said he was a mental patient for a while but as soon as I brought up Jesus as the only escape from sin and misery, he said he had to go. I talked to a guy that hated the government and made his own “god of the mountains” up in his head. He did not want to talk of Christ as well.

We talked with a group of 6 kids in their 20’s. It is funny how I call them kids when they are in their 20’s, it must be a sign of old age, but the older the violin, the sweeter the music. They had mixed backgrounds from Mormon to Catholic to nothing. We had a good talk and I was able to take them through the Law and fully explain the gospel. They seemed to understand.

Evie gave out tracts and tried to talk to people but not many gave in. However; it wasn’t long before she found a fish. Evie was able, by the grace of God, to share the whole biblical gospel with this person and they had a great talk. Evie was so happy that she danced down the street. The Swider girl also joined in on the excitement. Matt and Swider gave out tracts but couldn’t get any takers for a good conversation about eternity.

I talked to a couple in their late 30’s who were Wiccans. I have been running more and more into Wiccans lately. Every Wiccan I talk to has a different understanding and belief system. All love the earth and are into the goddess of course. We talked about their inconsistent beliefs for a while and then I took them through the Law and the fact that Jesus was the only way to heaven and that Jesus said everything they believe is wrong. The guy was open to talking but the woman said they had to go and she pulled him away.

I talked to a 17 year old kid who was smoking in the street. Good conversation. He actually thought about what I said and never ran off.

What a great day for sharing the gospel. And I would like to thank the big tobacco companies for making something so addictive. We can always find a pagan in the street smoking no matter how cold it is and they are so addicted that they would rather suffer listening to a man explain the gospel to them than put out their cigarette and leave. Praise God and let us make much of Him.

Para la fama de Su nombre

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Television, The Great Life-Waster

This is an excerpt out of John Piper's book called Don't Waste Your Life

Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age.  And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up.  You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching.  TV still reigns as the great life-waster.  The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem.  Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you're watching.  The greater problem is banality.  A mind fed daily on TV diminishes.  Your mind was made to know and love God.  Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV.  The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels.  (Don't Waste Your Life, p.120)

Now here is a story from Pipers book of a young 14 year old man who did not waste his life.

He fast-talked his way into the Marines at fourteen, fooling the recruits with his muscled physique...Assigned to drive a truck in Hawaii, he had grown frustrated; he wanted to fight.  He stowed away on a transport out of Honolulu, surviving on food passed along to him by sympathetic leathernecks on board. 

He landed on D-Day (at Iwo Jima) without a rifle.  He grabbed on lying on the beach and fought his way inland.  Now, on D+1, Jack and three comrades were crawling through a trench when eight Japanese sprang in front of them.  Jack shot one of them through the head.  Then his rifle jammed.  As he struggled with it a grenade landed at his feet.  He yelled a warning to the others and rammed the grenade into the soft ash.  Immediately, another rolled in.  Jack Lucas, seventeen, fell on both grenades.  "Luke, you're gonna die," he remembered thinking....

Aboard the hospital ship Samaritan the doctors could scarcely believe it.  "Maybe he was too damned young and too damned tough to die," one said.  He endured twenty-one reconstructive operations and became the nation's youngest Medal of Honor winner - and the only high school freshman to receive it.  (Don't Waste Your Life, p.127)

Here is John Pipers plea:

"Oh, that young and old would turn off the television, take a long walk, and dream about feats of courage for a cause ten thousand times more important than American democracy - as precious as that is."

So I ask myself:  how much of my life was wasted watching TV when I could have been doing something courageous for the Kingdom of God that would have made much of God?  Even if turned off the TV to read books, just imagine how many books I could have read, books that could have shaped my life and conformed me to the image of Christ.  Or even if I turned off the TV to pray, just think how many prayers would have been answered.  Or even if I turned off the TV to spend more real time with my family, how much stronger and God-exulting would my family be.

Turn off the TV.  If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.  If your TV causes you to waste your life, throw it out the window.

Don't waste your life.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Providence in Great Falls

God is so glorious in the way He chooses to reveal Himself to us. I went out to share the gospel in Great Falls with Matt Davis, the new man at church who is completely sold out for Christ and desires nothing but God. We started in the mall and tried to witness to some Hutterites but when I asked them what they thought it took to get to heaven they said they didn't want to talk any more.

The mall is actually a hard place to witness because everyone is usually moving around and busy.  We went to Sheels and chased a couple basketball players from Canada down and started a conversation with them.  They said they go to a Christian college but they didn't have a clue how to get to heaven.  I took them through the law and they seemed like they came under conviction, one kid particularly.  I then explained Jesus and the cross and His satisfying of God's justice.  It seemed to make sense to them and they said they were glad we had the talk.  Something was definitely going on with them spiritually.

We decided to leave the mall and go to the so called ghetto but we never found it.  The ghetto in Great Falls is a fine place to live.  No one was around so we went downtown.  We came across a Masonic Temple, or whatever they call it, and went inside to witness to some Masons but never found any.

I talked with a smoker outside of a restaurant who told me that he wasn't religious and didn't believe in anything.  He said his ex-wife killed his 18 year old kid and now she is in the crazy house.  We talked about sin and why bad things happen in this world.  We talked about what sin was and how all men were born in sin and continue to sin and are accountable to God.  After I explained the gospel it didn't seem like the guy cared too much but you never know how the Spirit of God works on a man.

We moved through the park downtown and met a Christian and talked with him for a while.  He gave us some tips on where to witness but he didn't seem to witness himself.

When walking back to the truck, God providential changed our route.  We saw a big church so we walked over to it to see what kind of church it was.  It was a Lutheran church, which we tried to go in but the doors were locked so we moved on.  Right across the street we saw a black man so we walked up to him at the same time he was walking up to us.  This is God's amazing providence.  The first thing he said was that he need to speak to a pastor.  I said he could talk to me and he told us his predicament which the details don't really matter because we were put together in order for us to share the gospel with him.  He said he was a Christian but when I asked why, it was based on all the works he did and how he didn't like jail so he turned to God.  I took him through the law which he admitted to breaking but still justified his works would make God forgive him.  We talked for a while about this and then I shared Christ with him.  He seemed convicted as I explained what Jesus did on the cross and I urged him to examine himself to see if he actually was a Christian before he died.  It was a great conversation.  Matt solidified our witness of Christ by helping him meet a physical need.  He was so thankful and gave us a hug on the street.  Matt commented that he hasn't had a "man" hug in a while, but you never know what will happen on the street.

We drove over to Hastings to get a cup of coffee and stir up a conversation.  The perfect people walked in.  The boy and girl in their 20's were loud and blabbing about everything so I gave them a trivia tract and they went through it, shouting the answers for everyone to hear.  I talked with a man about trapping while I waited for them to finish.  When they got to the last question about evolution I started asking them deeper question.  The girl was loud and a little obnoxious and had no problems telling me her opinion.  I took them through the 10 commandments and they said they broke them all.  They continued to be loud and this was great because I was loud as well and everyone around us was pretending to be reading but really listening to every word.  As the girl got more fired up, all of the people sitting around were on the edge of their seats to see what would happen next. 
She called me a Puritan, which I took as a complement but she meant as an insult.  She kept on insisting that God would forgive everyone on earth if they just asked Him.  I explained the whole biblical gospel to them and about God's justice and how He can't forgive sin without justice being satisfied though Christ.  It was great and everyone around us heard every word.  We ended the conversation and as we left I said good bye to the old guy I was talking about trapping to and he, all of a sudden, forget that he ever knew me.  Funny!

It was an unbelievable day of sharing the gospel and it revived our hearts to see God allowing us to be a part of His plan to glorify His name in His great commission.  Praise God.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Theology Thursdays

We sit in amazement at what God is doing in our little church in Wolf Creek, Montana. Through consistent expository preaching and study of the Bible we are seeing people growing spiritually in a big way. Our Wednesday night Bible study is packed and we started an additional Bible study in Helena for the members of our church that live in Helena which is taught by Leo Rogge at his house. Now most of the church is also at Bible study. People are truly seeking God and wanting to grow more. Because of a renewed sense of interest in the deep things of God we are going to start a systematic theology class on Thursday nights at 7pm starting in January. We will be diving into the monster systematic theology book by Wayne Grudem. We will read the chapter before we come on Thursday night and then discuss it as a group. We will also provide all of the 1200 page systematic theology books. Probably one per family. So come join us for a cup of coffee and theology. You will be sure to grow spiritually by leaps and bounds as you are grounded in solid, biblical theology. We have no schedule to get through this monster, it could take 10 years, so buckle up. Anyone can join at any time because we will be dealing with different subjects and chapters each week. See you there.

Topics will include:

The doctrine of the Word of God
The doctrine of God

The doctrine of Man
The doctrines of Christ and the Holy Spirit
The doctrine of the application of Redemption
The doctrine of the Church
The doctrine of the Future

If you are interested contact scott doherty at we can order your book.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Do Christians have a sinful nature?

One of the problems with this debate is how we define our “nature.” It is obvious through Scripture and by looking at ourselves that there is a war going on within a Christian. Some call this the sinful nature warring against the Spirit in us, some call this the indwelling sin that remains in us warring with the Spirit in us, and some call this our flesh warring with our Spirit.

The argument is that at the point of conversion we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and therefore our old sinful nature is gone. In one sense this is correct because we do become a new creation and we have new desires. Before, we loved sin and were a slave to sin and now the Christian hates sin and is a slave to Christ. But in another sense this is wrong depending on how we define terms. Even though we are a new creation spiritually, we still have indwelling sin in us (Romans 7:20). We are not condemned for this sin because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) but we war against it (1 Peter 2:11)

John MacArthur explains it like this:

So, I am a new creation. I am unfortunately incarcerated in this unredeemed flesh—not just the physical, but all the things that go along with the flesh and my mind and my emotions and my feelings. We still have a sin principle operative.
John MacArthur (2005 Shepherds Conference)

So depending on the terms we use to describe this war (sinful nature, incarcerated flesh, flesh) will determine your position on this subject.

It is so important to understand that you have something in you that is sinful. Whether you call it your sinful nature or as the Bible calls it the “flesh”, we are warring against something in us and it is not only the devil but sin in us. (Romans 7:20).

The Bible is very clear about this war against our sinful flesh even though we are a new creation in Christ.

11Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:11

Peter is saying that we have passions in our flesh which we are warring against. Remember that Peter is writing to Christians and not unbelievers.

We see Paul exhorting the Galatians, who are a new creation in Christ, to walk according to the Spirit that is in them and not in the sinful desires of their flesh.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:16-18

By nature, our Spirit is opposed to our fleshly desires. Flesh is referring to our corrupt nature.
Again, because of the natural war within Christians between our Spirit and flesh (corrupt nature), Paul exhorts the Colossian Christians to put away all of their earthly, sinful desires that they walked in when they were lost but our still struggling with, and walk in their new self that they received when the Holy Spirit entered them at conversion.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Colossians 3:5-10

Our fleshy desires are still there when we are converted but we now can war against them instead of being a slave to them. This is the sanctification process. Sanctification is when we are conformed to the image of Christ and are enabled more and more to die to our sinful desires and live for righteousness.

R.C. Sproul explains this sanctification:

When we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and become new creatures in Christ, the power of our fallen nature (flesh) is conquered but not destroyed. Because sanctification is a lifelong process, Christians are daily engaged in warfare with their old nature as they seek to grow in the Spirit and in grace. The old person dies daily as the new person in Christ is strengthened by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Spirit, who is given to us as a pledge and by whom we are sealed, will prevail in this warfare in the end. In the meantime, however, the struggle can be intense. Christians continue to struggle with sin and temptation. Conversion liberates us from the total control of the flesh, but it does not perfect us. The struggle between the old person (the flesh) and the Spirit continues until we die. After death we are glorified: the flesh is completely put to death, and the new person is completely purified. (Essential truths of the Christian faith, RC Sproul)
Another clear example of this war between our Spirit and flesh is from Paul’s own struggles. We read of them in Romans 7:13-25. Here Paul, now a Christian filled with the Holy Spirit and a new creation, explains his inward war against his Spirit and flesh.

Interpreting Romans 7:13-25

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

It is important to understand how we interpret Scripture. We us the grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture.

Here are the reason why Paul is talking about himself as a Christian and talking about a believers struggle with his sinful flesh.

1. When we look at the grammar in this passage we see that Paul is using the present tense, not the past. Paul is not speaking of what he used to be like but what his like now. That is why he says, “Wretched man that I am” and not “Wretched man that I was.”

2. In verse 21 we see that Paul wants to do right where as an unbeliever would not have an intense desire to keep God’s law.

3. The distinction between “I” and the “flesh” in verse 18.

4. His delight in God’s law in verse 22.

5. The fact that Christians are already accounted as righteous in Christ but are yet perfected until the day of redemption. This is shown in the concluding statement of Paul in verse 25 when he says, “I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

This is MacArthur’s take on this passage:

So, in Romans 7, Paul says—and making, I think, a clear distinction: “Sin, it is in me.” But he said, “It’s not I; it is sin that is in me.” So, he understands that he is a new creation. There is a new ego, there is a new “I” and its longings are holy and its affections are spiritual and its love is towards God and its longings are directed in the path of righteousness. Its disposition or its bent is toward the law of God, which he “loves,” he says. But he sees something inside of him warring. So the way I express it there is that we are a new person, a new creation, created in Christ Jesus, with all new longings and desires and loves and affections, but we are incarcerated in this unredeemed humanness. And that’s why in Romans 8, he says, “We are waiting for the redemption of the body.”

Whether you define us as having two natures or one, all biblical Christians should agree that our nature needs continual renewing (Colossians 3:10). This renewing, of course, is a lifetime process for the Christian. Even though the battle for sin is constant, we are no longer under the control of sin (Romans 6:6). The believer is truly a "new creation" in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and it is Christ who will ultimately “rescue [us] from this body of death. Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25).

The issue is mostly blown out of proportion because we define terms wrongly. On the other hand it is important to see that when you sin as a Christian it is still a sin, a wretched sin. All sin against God is wretched. There is no light sin against the Holy God. Even though, as Christians, we are not condemned for our sin, we still do sin and when we sin it is wretched. The logic goes like this:

If you rape then you are a rapist
If you murder then you are a murderer
If you lie then you are a liar
If you sin then you are a sinner
If all sin is wretched and all who sin are sinners then if you sin wretchedly then you are a wretched sinner.

This logic holds even if you are a Christian because Christians sin. The difference between a Christian sinning and an unbeliever sinning is that Christians hate sin and are grieved by it and repent of it as soon as they fall into it. Even though we are accounted as righteous through Christ, we are still a sinner in the same way as a murder that pays his fine is accounted as a free man, he is still a murder.

So as a Christian we are a wretched sinner that is repenting of our sins, daily, and is conforming to the image of Christ, daily, in this life-long process of sanctification. We should be sinning less as time goes on and we should be more grieved by our sin as time goes on.

Sin is much more than outward actions but is also our thought life, motivations, pride, not loving God like He deserves (which no one has ever accomplished), not loving your husband or wife perfectly, not being a biblical example to your kids and the list goes on.

In this issue it is important to understand the all parties agree that:

1. Christians still struggle with sin through their whole lives (Galatians 5:17, 1John 1:8-9).

2. Christians can and should grow in sanctification throughout their lives by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.

3. Although Christians are free from the condemnation of the law, sin nonetheless continues to dwell within, and all genuine Christians should be profoundly aware of how far they fall short of God’s absolute standard of righteousness. That is why Paul cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

4. Christians are delivered daily from the indwelling power of sin by:
a. walking not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:4)
b. by not setting their minds on the things of the flesh, but on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5)
c. by the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God who dwells in us. (Romans 8:9, 11)

More study