Monthly Archive for February, 2012

Carnal Christians

To put it in plain language (and too long of a sentence): Can those who say that they’re Christians but don’t act like they’re Christians because they haven’t changed for the better, or care to do good things–like praying and reading the Bible, and outward things like doing good things for other people–go to heaven? The common term for these people would be Carnal Christians.

2. not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly: a man of secular, rather carnal, leanings. [I thought you weren’t supposed to put the word in the definition.]

In theological terms, it would be an unregenerate Christian. Since generate means to bring into existence or to create, regeneration can be a way of saying to be born again or born from above or born spiritually through the Holy Spirit. (John 3:3, 7)

For those who are familiar, I’m not going to go into the Lordship Salvation and Free Grace debate. That will bring out all kinds of people out of the woodwork that I don’t want to deal with. Comments on that will be rejected.

All I am writing about are people who have no desire whatsoever to change, but because they prayed a prayer of salvation, or raised their hand or came forward for an altar call think that’s it. They don’t care to do anything else or make any kind of change (repent). Some people who have done these things do in fact become born again. But many think they are and really aren’t. That’s where a fatal mistake can be made with faulty types of evangelism and leading people to believe that this is the end of the story when it comes to being a Christian. It can also lead to all kinds of disappointment and disillusionment.

In addition to not going to heaven, they are missing out on the greatest component of eternal life–knowing God. One of the most amazing verses in the Bible to me is John 17:3 “This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.”

As he was preparing for the Lord to approach His ministry, John the Baptist said, “Do those things that prove you have turned to God and have changed the way you think and act” found in Matthew 3:8. Those things do not save us or cause God to favor us more than others. They are evidence that we are saved in the first place.

John then says in verse 10, “The ax is now ready to cut the roots of the trees. Any tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into a fire.”

Jesus says in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me Lord but don’t do what I tell you?” Joel B. Green comments on this verse:

They might be eager to be the recipients of his gracious ministry, but only those who also embrace and internalize his message to the point that it has begun to generate such practices as those outlined in his sermon [Luke 6:17-49] might be genuine in addressing Jesus with the words, “Lord, Lord.”

To those who only say Lord, Lord and do nothing, Jesus says–similar to John–“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who does what my Father in heaven wants” found in Matthew 7:21.

So, I don’t believe a Carnal Christian is really a Christian. However, we don’t know most people well enough to be able to judge this. Sometimes it may be obvious at the moment, but they have struggles and everyday lives and hearts that we don’t know. This is written as a warning for individuals, for those who have loved ones whose lives and actions are well known and also for those who may mislead others, and may have been mislead by being taught faulty evangelism schemes. Since Finney, there have been all sorts of goofy evangelism practices (a whole different story–Paul preached the Gospel and trusted the Holy Spirit to save–1 Corinthians 2:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 1:5). There is no reason for us to think we can point out who is and isn’t a real Christian. That’s a job for Someone else.

Encouraging reason to learn Greek

8. You’ll have to slow down. Reading the New Testament in Greek makes the reader slow down. You have to think about every word, phrase, and sentence. To quote Robertson again, “The Greek compels one to pause over each word long enough for it to fertilize the mind with its rich and fructifying energy” (Robertson, The Minister and His Greek New Testament, 21).

–Channing Crisler, Theses Regarding the Need to Learn Biblical Greek

Since I’m not sure how far past beginning level I’ll be going, I’ll definitely be reading it slow.

See the link for other reasons.

Right now as I’m recovering from surgery, I’m in a lot of pain and taking medication for it. I’m nearing the end of a commentary on Luke, but can’t read it right now because I just can’t concentrate well enough to do it justice. But I must and really want to read the Bible, so I’m taking half chapters at a slow pace. I’m sure I’m missing some things, but at the same time, because I’m taking it so slowly, I’m noticing some details I don’t think I would normally have noticed. So there is something to going very slow–slower than normal slow. Like a forced slowness.

I’m also reading some photography magazines and listening to some interviews of preachers/theologians and roundtable discussions. Good times. (Not exactly)


Around the Web

Quote of the Day: Scripture by Sinclair Ferguson

All of the word of God is for all of the people of God all of the time.

–Sinclair Ferguson, Message 4, Interview with Sinclair Ferguson & Chris Larson (June 22, 2011)

Part of what concentrating on the Old Testament for two years showed me is how true this statement is. I don’t believe in ‘progressive revelation’–that the later part of the Bible is much more important than the earlier (as I understand it). Edit: please see the first comment below for a correction. You can say that the cross is the most important component, but then that’s what the whole of the Bible points to or is geared for and compared to. Not every verse can be tied directly to the cross of course, but every verse has value and the whole book should be read many times. If we don’t see the value of the book of Numbers, there are plenty of authors we can read who will tell us why which will pique our interest in it all.

I’ve been a Christian for over 25 years and I’ve read through every word of the Old Testament only three times. I can say there are other books I’ve read over 25 times but that doesn’t necessarily make up for it. And even though that’s more than 90% of what other “Christians” have done, it just shows how Biblically illiterate the Evangelical church has become.

I will be announcing a new e-book coming out (not by me) regarding enthusiastically reading and studying the whole Bible in a gospel centered way. Stay tuned.

Surgery and Pleasing God Through Hoping In Him

After having two failed back surgeries, I will be having surgery on Friday to have a lumbar pain pump installed to deliver a small amount of medication directly to the ‘intrathecal space’ in the low back, which is just inside the epidural space, like where pregnant women get injected to numb (supposedly? I don’t know) the pain of childbirth. Think of it as the spinal canal. I had a successful test run of this with the pump outside my body and the tube (called a catheter–a word which men shutter when they hear it–especially those of us who have actually had one put in, and taken out of that place!). This helped the pain all the way down to my feet, although I still had what I call ‘sitting pain’ or pelvic floor pain, which is a different issue.


I don’t mind surgery much, but it’s the recovery and my body getting used to various changes in medications, adjustments with the pump and other things associated with my other conditions. It’s not like they just put it in and I feel great and live happily ever after. So that’s my concern and what I’m anxious about. The time after my last surgery was terrible, although that was a double fusion–a much bigger deal than this.

Spiritually, God has been emphasizing Scripture where he is pleased with us when we fear, hope and trust him.

Psalm 147:11
The LORD is pleased with those who fear him,
with those who wait with hope for his mercy.

Lamentations 3:25
The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to anyone who seeks help from him.

I want to please my Father in this way. Not for merit, but because it’s what he wants, deserves, and is for our good. Maybe if you haven’t thought about these things, this post could give you something to think and pray about. It has brought about a change in me and I’m less nervous than I was 2-4 weeks ago. We’ll see how I feel the day before.

If you would like to pray for me, please pray that along with things going well, like no complications, especially infection, but more importantly that I would continue to focus on what God has been showing me and to be looking up (Col 3:1-3) whatever happens. If the recovery and transition are difficult, that I would receive grace and take refuge in God. Also for perseverance knowing that my faith is being refined.

Quote of the Day: Limited Atonement (Warning: Calvinist Content)

I’ve been wondering why the Calvinist doctrine of Limited Atonement is important. I had just the answers I was looking for in Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism which I reviewed. Here is part of just one:

It slanders God’s justice. Did Christ satisfy God’s justice for everyone? Did Christ take the punishment due to everybody? If he did, how can God punish anyone? Is it justice to punish one person for the sins of another and later to punish the initial offender again? As Augustus Toplady said,

God cannot payment twice demand;
Once at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.

God can’t and won’t demand payment twice. Double punishment is injustice.

–Joel Beeke, Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism

Some others are:

  • It slanders God’s power (by being dependent on people and their free will)
  • It disables the deity of Christ (because he didn’t succeed–I can see non-Calvinists really getting steamed now)
  • It undermines the unity of the Trinity (in that Christ died for more than God decreed)

There are just as many more but I’m tired of typing. I’m glad I looked into it further. I’m certain I’m not a ‘Four Point Calvinist’.

Red Letter Christians

I’ve learned just recently that some believe that the editions of the Bible which have the words of Jesus in red are better than their all black letter counterparts because we should pay more attention to the letters in red, and apparently, it makes it easier to tell, even though to me it should be pretty obvious in almost every instance. (I’m a cave dweller and don’t get out much.)

But if Jesus is The Word, which it says in the beginning of John, and God inspired the whole of Scripture through Jesus, and even Jesus himself quoted parts of the Old Testament, doesn’t it make that premise rather worthless? Should we only pay attention to those parts of the Old Testament that Jesus quoted? What about the parts about Jesus that may be the most important of all, like what He did on the cross? Are we to only look at His teachings and emulate them while missing the whole of the gospel?

I wrote as little as possible so as not to misrepresent them. I’m writing this to help people who are unaware, as I recently was.

Here is a quote by D.A. Carson:

A particularly virulent form of this approach is hidden behind what Tony Campolo now approvingly calls “red letter Christians.” These red letter Christians, he says, hold the same theological commitments as do other evangelicals, but they take the words of Jesus especially seriously (they devote themselves to the “red letters” of some foolishly printed Bibles) and end up being more concerned than are other Christians for the poor, the hungry, and those at war. Oh, rubbish: this is merely one more futile exercise in trying to find a “canon within the canon” to bless my preferred brand of theology. That’s the first of two serious mistakes commonly practiced by these red letter Christians. The other is worse: their actual grasp of what the red letter words of Jesus are actually saying in context far too frequently leaves a great deal to be desired; more particularly, to read the words of Jesus and emphasize them apart from the narrative framework of each of the canonical gospels, in which the plot-line takes the reader to Jesus’ redeeming death and resurrection, not only has the result of down-playing Jesus’ death and resurrection, but regularly fails to see how the red-letter words of Jesus point to and unpack the significance of his impending crosswork. In other words, it is not only Paul who says that Jesus’ cross and resurrection constitute matters “of first importance” (1 Cor 15:3), and not only Paul who was resolved to know nothing among the Corinthians except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 2:1–5), but the shape of the narrative in each canonical gospel says the same thing. In each case the narrative rushes toward the cross and resurrection; the cross and resurrection are the climax. So to interpret the narrative, including the red-letter words of Jesus, apart from the climax to which they are rushing, is necessarily a distortion of the canonical gospels themselves.

Some of the gospel passion accounts make this particularly clear. In Matthew, for example, Jesus is repeatedly mocked as “the king of the Jews” (Matthew 27:27–31, 37, 42). But Matthew knows that his readers have been told from the beginning of his book (even the bits without red letters) that Jesus is the king: the first chapter establishes the point, and tells us that, as the promised Davidic king, he is given the name “YHWH saves” (“Jesus”) because he comes to save his people from their sins. Small wonder for its first three centuries the church meditated often on the irony of Jesus “reigning” from a cross, that barbaric Roman instrument of torture and shame. And it is Matthew who reminds us that, this side of the cross, this side of the resurrection, all authority belongs to Jesus (Matthew 28:18–20). These constitute parts of the narrative framework without which Jesus’ red-letter words, not least his portrayals of the kingdom, cannot be rightly understood.

–D.A. Carson, Common errors in understanding the Kingdom
HT: Justin Taylor

2 Timothy 3:16a GW
Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful

If we’re not closely following the whole Bible, here are some red letters. I made the red a little darker than ‘regular’ red so it’s a little more readable. Still annoying, especially on a computer screen.

Please be careful with God’s words.

John 12:44-50 GW
Then Jesus said loudly, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me. 45 Whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. 46 I am the light that has come into the world so that everyone who believes in me will not live in the dark. 47 If anyone hears my words and doesn’t follow them, I don’t condemn them. I didn’t come to condemn the world but to save the world. 48 Those who reject me by not accepting what I say have a judge appointed for them. The words that I have spoken will judge them on the last day. 49 I have not spoken on my own. Instead, the Father who sent me told me what I should say and how I should say it. 50 I know that what he commands is eternal life. Whatever I say is what the Father told me to say.”

Red Letter Christians Web Site – not all bad I will admit – as always, see both sides if you wish, which is why I link to the web site, and decide for yourself

Going for the Deeper Joy

Going for the Deeper Joy by Becky Lynn Black

A thoroughly enjoyable article with a lot of wisdom.

Some other thoughts of mine which may or may not be related, that I’ve been thinking about lately:

Sometimes God chooses to limit the use of our gifts or just plain service. Sometimes He wants us just for Himself. Sometimes He’d like others to take over some things and let us grow in humility. Sometimes in His mercy, He limits us because we aren’t able to do what we think we can. And of course God hides many of His reasons for doing what He does.

Many times I’ve heard that if God would just heal so and so, then they could use their gifts to better His Kingdom. Or what a shame that they can’t use their gift anymore.

What a shame that Paul had a thorn in his side and was kept from ministering in certain places, put in prison twice, and martyred. What a shame that Jesus only ministered on earth for three years.

God knows what He is doing.

Around the Web

Nine Good Purposes in Our Suffering

C.H. Spurgeon – The People’s Preacher – Hour-long YouTube Video

Coffee and Words:
The Neverending Story
Fuel for the Thinkers of Today

The Remarkable Photo Manipulations of Jan Oliehoek


Photo © Jeff at Scripture Zealot

Book: To Those Who Suffer – on sale

Edit: Sorry, this went back up to $11.69 within hours after I posted what’s below. It has good used prices (for now!). I thought maybe it was a decimal point error but probably not. It still looks like a great book. I’ve had it on my list for a long time and can’t remember where I first read about it. If it’s on my main list it was usually highly recommended. If you have read it and would like to comment, please do.
I have this on my list and happened to see that right now the paperback edition is $1.94. It has good reviews.

To Those Who Suffer: Understanding God’s Purpose and Pathway Through Pain

Book - To Those Who Suffer

Luke 12:18 – Grain and Goods – NIV

Luke 12:18 NASB
“Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

Luke 12:18 NIV
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.

Just a small curiosity–I was wondering why the NIV (all of them) leave out “and my goods” when it seems to be there in the Greek. Every other translation from NASB to The Message includes the second part. I am reading Green’s commentary on Luke and he writes about how the rich farmer’s “need” for “increased personal storage space not directly related to his agricultural activity must have seemed odd in the extreme, if not utterly monstrous” (to the peasants in the ‘hood). I happened to have the TNIV up in my software, didn’t see it and looked into it.

Anybody have any ideas? I thought maybe I could learn something from it.

Psalm 139

When I’m in a really bad state and one or sometimes even all of my chronic conditions flare-up at once, it’s overwhelming, which is the best word I can come up with, but doesn’t begin to describe it. During these times I often go to Psalm 139:13-16. God knew when he created me that I would have these problems. God has my days planned out. God knows how he will glorify himself. God knows how he will work it out for good, not only for me, but for many involved. God isn’t a clean-up man, he has a plan.

I love this recent quote from a woman who has a partial limb on her right side:

I believe with every fiber of my being that I was no accident. God did not look away, drop a thread, and fail to go back and fix a flaw as he was forming me. “Wonderful are [His] works and my soul knows it very well.” God labored over my creation. He had a plan before he started the process. My difference was deliberate. I rest in the knowledge that God created me exactly as I am for His purposes. We don’t always, or even usually, know why things are the way they are, but there is such hope and peace in knowing the care with which we were created.

Pondering Psalm 139 (A post from my wife Ashley)

Early in the article she writes, “I am not, in fact, a victim at all. I was formed this way.” I have come to believe this too. Suffering from pain, anxiety, depression, terrible sleep, doesn’t make me a victim. Nothing that I know of happened to cause any of this. Nor was it fate or bad luck or being unfortunate or any of those things either. It isn’t for lack of trying or lack of faith or prayer or not finding just the right cure (as if there was one for all of those things). I don’t like original sin and the fall, the way this suffering and refining (1 Peter 1:7) and conforming (Romans 8:29) thing works. I do love knowing God (John 17:3) and the hope of heaven (Phil 3:20), and of course the end result, when this will seem like nothing (Romans 8:18). That’s not much help now, but I submit to it by faith.

Exodus 4:11
The LORD asked him, “Who gave humans their mouths? Who makes humans unable to talk or hear? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? It is I, the LORD!

Lamentations 3:37-38
Who was it who spoke and it came into being? It was the Lord who gave the order. 38 Both good and bad come from the mouth of the Most High God.

Psalm 139:13-18 HCSB
For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know [this] very well.
15 My bones were not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all [my] days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began.

17 God, how difficult Your thoughts are
for me [to comprehend];
how vast their sum is!

18 If I counted them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand;
when I wake up, I am still with You.

This Web Site – Pain

This site has been going down for the last two to three days each month because of going over bandwidth. So I will be switching hosts. I don’t want to say who the current one is because I love them and have used them for 15 years. 🙁 But they have a bandwidth limit of 50GB while most others are “unlimited” (kind of). Hard to believe this blog is going over, especially since I removed almost all of my other stuff like my old photography blog and web design stuff. I think I will go with HostGator or Bluehost. If anyone feels there are others that are better for the price, let me know.

Since I haven’t put anything up in a while I’ll give you a little Scripture.

Isaiah 32:17
“And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.”
via Joni Eareckson Tada – A Verse for Pain

Matthew 6:33-34
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Don’t you love how it all fits together?