Wednesday, July 25, 2012

John Calvin on the mercy of God.

This is taken from John Calvin, the epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans:  Romans 3:13-18

In his conclusion, [Paul] again repeats, in different words, what we stated at the beginning, namely that all wickedness flows from a disregard of God. When we have forsaken the fear of God, which is the essential part of wisdom, there is no right or purity left. In short, since the fear of God is the bridle by which our wickedness is held back, its removal frees us to indulge in every kind of licentious conduct...

David in Psalm 14:3 says that there was such perversity in men that God when looking on them all in succession, could not find even one righteous man. It therefore follows that this infection had spread into the whole human race, since nothing is hidden from the sight of other psalms he complains of the wickedness of his enemies, foreshadowing in himself and his descendants a type of the kingdom of Christ. In his adversaries therefore, are are represented of all those who, being estranged from Christ are not led by his Spirit. Isaiah expressly mentions Israel, and his accusation therefore applies still more to the Gentiles.

There is no doubt that human nature is described in these words, in order that we may see what man is when left to himself, since Scripture testifies that all who are not regenerated by the grace of God are in this state.The condition of the saints would not be better unless this depravity were amended in them. That they may still, however, remember that they are not different from others by nature, they find in what remains of their carnal nature, from which they can never escape, the seeds of those evils which would continually produce their effect in them, if they were not prevented by being mortified. For this they are indebted to the mercy of God and not to their own nature.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Regeneration at Lagrange

Our congregation engages in outreaches throughout the year. This year our first group outreach will be at the Lagrange College site in Colbert County Alabama. This site is where the West Point of the south was located during the Civil War. It was burned by Union Troops. There will be several thousand visitors pouring through the various displays of old dusty relics, time period demonstrations, all the while lectures about various events that took place on the mountain are being given.
Our goal is first to Glorify God while there. Secondly, we hope to distribute time period literature. Some of the literature was written during the 1860's and distributed among the troops. Gospel tracts were widely read by the soldiers looking for comfort and assurance.
As well we are planning on preaching all through the day, actual sermons dated in the civil war as well. Some are strong on regeneration, others are directed toward holy living. All in all we hope God saves souls through our efforts, but again, that He is ultimately glorified.
There is no question that lots of time and planning goes into these events, and without my wife's diligent efforts, it would never come together. Her organizing results in me NOT agonizing. Our members are pooling all their "folk" talents and planning on displaying various things like tatting, blacksmithing, quilting, homestead displays, gun smithing and much more. All the while, intertwining a gospel witness and tract distribution.
The good folks at Lagrange are pleased we are participating, and glad to be part of our efforts as well. There is no denying that religion was an active part of the Civil war, and to leave it out causes a clear conflict of interest. Our history is intertwined with our religion to a point that leaving one out from the other is like a body without breath.
Join us on the first weekend in May, 2012 at Lagrange!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Northern Kingdom

As I was growing up, I remember clearly the time we got a color television set. I was in awe. I had gone to my grandparents on many occasions and they had a color set. But I remember the faces were either too green (the way my grandfather liked it) or they were too red. My dad would always try to adjust it when he was there, as he has always been the resident fixer-upper for virtually anything; a gene I did not inherit. By the time we left their home, the set was looking very realistic, but my grandfather was none too happy, because Walter Cronkite was not quite "green" enough. No worries, by the time we came back for another visit, he would have made his particular adjustments on the various color controls and brought Walt back to his envious looking self.
When we got our color set, it had an "auto color" setting. Literally, a click of a button and it was perfect. I sat transfixed on Sunday evenings watching Walt Disney's wonderful world of color programs. I didn't know it, but I was developing an inordinate affection with the television set.
Inordinancy can mean excessive, or better put, not limited to rules prescribed, or to usual bounds; becoming intemperate.
When the two tribes of Judah in Ezekiel 23 saw the Northern Kingdoms involved in their whoredoms and idol worship, instead of learning from the Northern Kingdom's mistakes, they became more wicked and fell further away from God. One would think that observing foolishness, sin or some other action would lead us away from that sin, because we would see the failings and dangers associated with them. But this is hardly the case with human nature. It is why we are commanded by Paul in Colossians to Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; Then he lists them:
inordinate affection,
evil concupiscence,
and covetousness, which is idolatry:
And then tells us WHY we should kill them: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
For me, television was a harmless recreation that I enjoyed first thing in the morning when I arose, and watched prior to school, then shortly after returning home, it was a reward if I had my homework done in a timely manner, and a regular past time on the weekends. But harmless it was not.
I found a world view quite different from the one presented by my immediate family. I was told, "we don't do those things." Or "that is not the right way" or "that will only cause you trouble." But in the midst of it, I continued watching, learning, absorbing all the while saying, "that is not what WE do." I remember when Mariann on Gilligan's Island was going through a censorship issue as to "could she bear her belly button or not" and was it acceptable to the average TV addicted society. The answer was "no" she could not do that. But today? A belly button is not only the accepted norm, but a minimum of flesh.
Today, our home is TV free. (We still own one, but it is not connected to any service that provides network access) But that does not mean we don't still watch the Northern Kingdom in all her whoredoms, and soak up her constant iniquities. No, we still have the internet, and we are bombarded with advertisements for every thing that the Northern Kingdom produces. Local video stores have all but dried up in our town due to the popularity of "internet streaming" of the latest releases. While we don't "stream" any thing from the ever popular Netflix and other competing sites, the temptation is ever present.
What is our answer to avoid the temptation of sitting on the border and watching the Northern Kingdom? Mortification. A cutting off will have to occur or our borders will not be secure. Listen to Ezekiel as he describes the result: And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms.
Aholibah consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. As they watched the Northern Kingdoms, Aholibah was MORE corrupt in her inordinate love. She didn't just become inordinate, but increased.
We have to admit, first we ourselves are also sinful. It is not just "bad ole' Hollywood" but it is bad ole' us as well. We, as sinners, need to live with our running shoes on, staying one step ahead of the "sins which so easily beset us" "fleeing the temptations of our youth", and "looking unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith."
As you make viewing choices for your family, remember to set no wicked thing before their eyes (Psalm 101:3) and don't place something before your families eyes that they cannot have, but would otherwise be sinfully tempted to take (Mark 10:19 Defraud not).
Living as lights in a dark world, as salt that has not lost its savour is a daily task, and one we would do well to pursue. Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not...