Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A little bit of heaven on earth

Melinda and I have had the privilege of attending 3 or 4 of Christ Church's Sunday evening Psalm Sings. Christ Church is a member congregation of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches, located in Moscow, Idaho and pastored by Doug Wilson. A couple of times each month the congregation gathers on Sunday evening to sing Psalms and hymns. People sit in different parts of the auditorium depending on whether they sing soprano, alto, tenor, or bass, and they learn how to sing their respective parts.

Each Psalm Sing consists of singing familiar Psalms and hymns, as well as learning new ones that will be used in Sunday morning worship. The singing is glorious! One of our favorites is Psalm 98, "O Sing a New Song to the Lord."

Watch and enjoy. Also, please note the corporate "AMEN!" at the end of the song.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Carnal is as carnal does

What is meant by a “carnal” Christian?

This language (“carnal” Christian) comes from the old King Jimmie Version of the Bible. We find it places like 1 Corinthians 3, where Paul says,

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-4)
This word, “carnal”, comes from a Latin word that means “meat” or “flesh.” You might recognize it from the Spanish in chili con carne—chili with meat; or carne asada—roasted meat.

The word carnal is used in the King Jimmie several times, mostly in Romans and First and Second Corinthians (i.e., Rom. 7:14; 8:7; 15:27; 1 Cor. 3:1-4; 9:11; 2 Cor. 10:4; Heb. 7:6; 9:10). Most modern translations use some variant of the word “flesh,” which is the meaning of the underlying Greek word.

The concept of “the flesh” is a very important one in the Bible, and stands in contrast to “the Spirit.” “The flesh” refers to that which is natural, earthly, and human, as opposed to that which is supernatural, heavenly, and divine. The word is sometimes used to describe a natural, unregenerate man who does not know God (Rom. 8:6-9).

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
At other times the word is used to describe, not a natural or unregenerate man, but an immature Christian. And this is the sense in which Paul uses the word in 1 Corinthians 3, where he writes (according to the ESV), “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh [i.e., carnal].”

And then he explains precisely what he means when he says, “…as infants in Christ.” In other words, for a Christian to be carnal or fleshly, is for a Christian to be immature. Paul continues, “I fed you with milk [that is, food appropriate for a baby], not solid food [which is appropriate for a man]; for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.”

We see here how he again equates being carnal (fleshly) with being immature. And then he explains why he formed this negative judgment of their maturity.

For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? (1 Cor. 3:1-4)

There was jealousy and strife among them, due in part to different factions in the church favoring one apostle or minister over another (v. 4f; cf. 1:11-12). But jealousy and strife of this sort are characteristics of those who are immature (Gal. 5:20).

Now, when he says, “are you not being merely human?” he is asking, “Are you not walking like mere men, who are devoid of the Holy Spirit?”

The carnal Christian, then, is a Christian who is immature. He is truly numbered among God’s people, but he is only a “babe in Christ.” In some respects his life may be hardly distinguishable from that of an unregenerate man. It is a sad thing to remain such a babe in Christ. There are few things more pitiful in life than a grown man who acts like a child. Likewise, it’s pitiful to see a man who for many years has been a Christian, but has not grown to maturity and still has many things in common with a natural man.

In another place, Paul said something very similar

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:12-14)

Let us never be content with the level of spiritual growth we have attained. Instead, let us always press on to greater and greater maturity.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stupidity on Display

Thomas Sowell explains why it is stupidity of the highest order to try terrorists in federal court.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Warriors Tournament

We competed in the Wichita Warriors Preseason Tournament last weekend, and finished in a misleading 5th place. I say misleading because we were matched in our first game against Manhattan, which ended up taking first. We were clearly the two best teams in the tournament. We should have been the number 1 and 2 seeds, but we ended up playing each other in the first round because the tournament organizer tried to do both teams a favor by scheduling our games in two days rather than three so we wouldn't have to spring for two nights in a motel. All the other teams were from the Wichita area and played one game each on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Since we were coming from out of town he scheduled our two teams to play our first round game on Thursday, which required us to play each other. A fifth place a finish was the best a team could do after losing in the first round.

After being down 12 at half time we roared back and cut the defict to only 1 at the at end of the third quarter. We actually took the lead twice in the fourth quarter, but ended up losing by 4, 37-33. Kristen Schmidt led the way in scoring with 11 points and dished out several assists. Suzanna Enick was also in double digits with 10.

We played Reno County in our second game and won big, 52-19. Suzanna Enick led all scorers in this game with 16 points, and Shie Eck was also in double figures with 11. This was all the more impressive given the fact that I had all three of our seniors (Shie Eck, Kristin Schmidt, and Suzanna Enick) sit out the entire fourth quarter.

In our third game we were matched against Newton. Again, we came out ahead, this time with a 38-27 victory. Shie Eck led us in scoring with 12. Again the seniors spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench to give our younger players some experience.

Our record now is 3-1. An encouraging statistic: four games, four different leading scorers.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A good start

Here's a picture of the basketball team I have the privilege of coaching this year, the South Central Wildcats varsity girls. Front row: Breann Pope, Kristin Schmidt, Candice Rawlings. Back row: yours truly, Suzanna Enick, Shie Eck, Hannah Eck, Elizabeth Enick, Melinda Enick (my lovely assistant coach). We had our first game last Saturday against the Ponca City Saints. We had four players score in double figures and came out with a 45-23 victory.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling

Question: What does Paul mean when he says to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12)? I am trying to understand his meaning of “work” and “fear and trembling.”

Answer:  The difficulty you may be having in understanding the apostle’s meaning may be due to the fact that we often conceive of salvation too narrowly. “Salvation” is a comprehensive term. We tend to think of only one aspect of salvation as if it were the whole of it. We tend to use the term exclusively of the moment of our conversion. We tell people, “I was saved when I was 12 years old.” Or, “I was saved when I lived in Wichita.”

When we say things like this, we are thinking of the moment of our conversion and equating it with “salvation.” There is nothing wrong with this as long as we remember that there is more to our salvation than this initial conversion experience.

The Bible uses the word “salvation” to refer, not only to conversion, but also to all of the various aspects of our redemption. According to the language of Scripture, we have been saved, we are being saved, and we shall be saved. In other words, there is a past, present, and future element to our salvation. Note the past, present, and future tenses in the following verses relative to our salvation.

Past tense: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy” (Titus 3:5).

Present tense: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

Future tense: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Rom. 5:9).

These are just a few passages that speak of the various “tenses” of our salvation. At conversion we are justified. Justification is an act of God’s grace by which he pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in his sight through the merits of Jesus’ blood, accepting his death in the place of our punishment. It is a one time, once for all work of God in the life of the believer that takes place at the moment of our conversion. This is the past tense of our salvation, and is usually what we have in mind when we speak of “salvation.”

Following justification comes sanctification; and whereas justification is an instantaneous work that God does for us, sanctification is a progressive work that God does in us. In justification God reckons us to be righteous; in sanctification, he makes us so in practice. By the working of his grace in us, he brings us into greater and greater conformity to his will. We are justified at the moment of our conversion, and it is a completed work. But sanctification begins with conversion and continues till the moment of death. This is the present tense of our salvation.

At death, the Christian is “glorified.” That is, he is finally and fully delivered from the power of sin. He is fully established in righteousness, and sin is no longer even a possibility. In this life we must contend with the world, the flesh, and the devil in our fight to live righteously. But in heaven we will be delivered from all our enemies, and the fight will be over. The culmination of our redemption, of course, will take place when Christ comes again to raise the dead. Then we shall experience the redemption of our bodies and our salvation will be complete (Rom. 8:23). This is the future tense of our salvation.

We have been saved (justified), we are in the process of being saved (sanctified), and one day will be saved (glorification/resurrection).

When Paul said, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” he was referring to the process of sanctification—working out in practice what God is working in us. The very next verse says, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). This helps us to understand what he means. God is graciously at work in us, moving our will to will what he wills, and to do what he would have us do. This is a work that we are to yield to and cooperate with. But why with “fear and trembling”? Because, as Scripture says, “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 10:29). Peter said, “If you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (1 Pet. 1:17). God is holy, and he impartially judges with temporal judgments both saints and sinners. In fact, Peter would say just a little later, “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17).

Finding God in 60 Days

Andrew Klavan has a new humorous video poking fun at athiests over at PJTV.