Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dead People Got No Reason to Live\Boast

Salvation Analogy:
I’ve heard all sorts of analogies of how one is saved. For instance, sometimes people will say “We are drowning; God throws us a life preserver, but it is up to us to reach out and grab it.” I find this particular analogy utterly wanting. It does not line up with Scripture. The Bible does not say we are drowning; it says we are dead. Dead men cannot reach out and grab a life preserver. The only thing dead people can do is rot.

A Biblical Analogy of Salvation:

A more biblical analogy would be of an open grave. This grave was dug out by the hands of our father, and we fell in, and in so doing, our eyes were violently rent, our eardrums gored with debris; our necks were crushed by the fall, and we died. Adam’s sin as well as our own covers us in the form of six feet of solid earth. Nothing is able to penetrate this hard dirt except for the worms which feast upon our rotting corpses. The Son of God has the only tool capable or necessary for lifting off the tons of earth that weigh upon us and crush our bones to powder. By His cross and resurrection, Jesus takes away our dirt, lifts us out of our tomb; and in His mercy, He speaks life into our dead bones and says “Live!” It is at that moment that our eyesight is restored; our hearing returns to us; sinews cover our dry bones and our bodies are able to move. Seeing the beauty of the Son of God for the first time and hearing His voice causes us to run to Him willingly and cling to Him for our lives. ...Sadly though, in time many of us begin to think we somehow helped pull ourselves out of our tombs, as if the faith we have were not also God’s gift to us, and forgetting that it was entirely an act of God’s grace toward us that saved us from the grave. But then there are many as well who press forward to give all the credit of their salvation to God alone. Some of these are ridiculed by their fellows by calling them "know-it-alls", “prideful”, “arrogant” and the like. But no matter what is said, these will not flinch in their conviction. They set their faces like flint, pointing to Jesus as the Alpha and Omega of their salvation, the Author and Perfecter of their faith, because they have not forgotten their former days when they were but dust into whom God spoke life.

Lazarus’ Example:

Lazarus could have patted himself on the back and said “I walked out of the tomb myself (by God’s grace, but I did it myself). I’m the one who stood up and walked to my Lord! But of course, Lazarus would be forgetting that he was previously a dead man, and Jesus made him alive before he could do anything. I think this is the same mistake many non-Calvinists make. They forget they were once dead; God made them alive, making it possible for them to believe, possible for them to repent, possible for them to turn and walk willingly to Christ.

The Reality:

Spiritual death is a reality, not just an analogy. It is a certainty if we are to take Scripture seriously. If fallen people are not dead, then right from the beginning the serpent was right and God was the liar. (Gen. 2:17)

Unbelievers are incapable of submitting to God’s Laws (Rom. 8:7). They are incapable of comprehending or accepting the things of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14). They are incapable of coming to Christ (John 6:44, 65). They are incapable of seeking God (Rom. 3:11). Period. Repentance must be granted to them (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25). Faith in Christ must also be granted to them (Phil. 1:29). Unbelievers can do nothing Godward. They are blind to the things of God (John 3:3), deaf to His voice (Matt. 13:15; John 5:25). Their hearts are entirely deceitful (Jer. 17:9). Every thought they have is only evil (Gen. 6:5). The Bible paints an ugly picture of our fallen race (Rom. 3:10-19). Of themselves, they are utterly without hope (Eph 2:12; Matt. 19:25-26). In short, it takes much more than simple prodding for an unbeliever to turn to Christ. It takes resurrection from the dead! (John 5:25; Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13)

The dead must be brought to life in order to repent and believe. Paul tells us that God does a work in us so powerful in order for us to believe upon Him; it is equal in power to raising Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:17-20). And Regeneration (AKA: Being born again) is something completely of God; something we are completely neutral in. We see our passivity in regeneration, for instance, when John 1:13 assures us that our human wills did not play any part in our being born again. God makes us alive. This is the answer to the “why” and to the “how” of our coming to Christ.

As the above demonstrates, God deserves ALL the credit of our salvation, and that is all most Calvinists are trying to do: Give God the credit and glory for our salvation which He alone deserves. And I want to add that I know there are many non-Calvinists sincerely trying to do this too. Is Calvinism flawless? I wouldn’t go that far. Is it the best Christians have come up with in a faithful attempt at understanding God and His Word? Humbly, I would say "Yes."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New pics of 'Sammy' and family

Deepa and Sammy

Manisha and Sammy
Samboy swingin'
Jaya (mommy) & Sammy
The fam!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Man Builds Noahʼs Ark to Exact Scale Given in Bible









Working Replica of Noah's Ark Opened In SCHAGEN, Netherlands.

The massive central door in the side of Noah's Ark was opened for the first crowd of curious townsfolk to behold the wonder. Of course, it's only a replica of the biblical Ark , built by Dutch Creationist Johan Huibers as a testament to his faith in the literal truth of the Bible. The ark is 150 cubits long, 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide. That's two-thirds the length of a football field and as high as a three-story house. Life-size models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, zebras, bison and other animals greet visitors as they arrive in the main hold. A contractor by trade, Huibers built the ark of cedar and pine. Biblical scholars debate exactly what the wood used by Noah would have been. Huibers did the work mostly with his own hands, using modern tools and with occasional help from his son Roy. Construction began in May 2005. On the uncovered top deck - not quite ready in time for the opening - will come a petting zoo, with baby lambs and chickens, and goats, and one camel. Visitors on the first day were stunned. 'It's past comprehension', said Mary Louise Starosciak, who happened to be bicycling by with her husband while on vacation when they saw the ark looming over the local landscape. 'I know the story of Noah, but I had no idea the boat would have been so big.' There is enough space near the keel for a 50-seat film theater where kids can watch a video that tells the story of Noah and his ark. Huibers, a Christian man, said he hopes the project will renew interest in Christianity in the Netherlands, where church going has fallen dramatically in the past 50 years.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What Must I Do to be Saved?

To the question: what must I do to be saved? the old gospel [Calvinism] replies: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. To the further question: what does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? its reply is: it means knowing oneself to be a sinner, and Christ to have died for sinners; abandoning all self-righteousness and self-confidence, and casting oneself wholly upon Him for pardon and peace; and exchanging one's natural enmity and rebellion against God for a spirit of grateful submission to the will of Christ through the renewing of one's heart by the Holy Ghost. And to the further question still: how am I to go about believing on Christ and repenting, if I have no natural ability to do these things? it answers: look to Christ, speak to Christ, cry to Christ, just as you are; confess your sin, your impenitence, your unbelief, and cast yourself on His mercy; ask Him to give you a new heart, working in you true repentance and firm faith; ask Him to take away your evil heart of unbelief and to write His law within you, that you may never henceforth stray from Him. Turn to Him and trust Him as best you can, and pray for grace to turn and trust more thoroughly; use the means of grace expectantly, looking to Christ to draw near to you as you seek to draw near to Him; watch pray read and hear God's Word, worship and commune with God's people, and so continue till you know in yourself beyond doubt that you are indeed a changed being, a penitent believer, and the new heart which you desired has been put within you ("Introductory Essay to John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ," p. 21).


Let Charles Spurgeon lead you in prayer:
Join with me in prayer at this moment, I entreat you. Join with me while I put words into your mouths, and speak them on your behalf— "Lord, I am guilty, I deserve thy wrath. Lord, I cannot save myself. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Lord, I can do nothing, come and work in me to will and to do thy good pleasure.

Thou alone hast power, I know,To save a wretch like me;To whom, or whither should I goIf I should run from thee?
But I now do from my very soul call upon thy name. Trembling, yet believing, I cast myself wholly upon thee, O Lord. I trust the blood and righteousness of thy dear Son...Lord, save me tonight, for Jesus' sake." (From Iain Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1973], pp. 101f.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Yoga—What’s Wrong With That?

I know a number of genuine Christians who practice yoga. They see no problem with it, and in fact, some think I’m weird for making a big deal about it. Believe me. The last thing I want to do is be like the legalistic Pharisees in the Church who burden Christians with manmade commandments, like “Thou shall not drink, dance or go to the movies.” Jesus hates manmade rules. I always want to chose grace over sinful legalism. Christians are free in Christ. And, in fact, an idol is nothing. But even in the context of those often quoted words of Paul, he writes: "Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons." (1 Cor. 10:18-20)

I sincerely believe that those who practice yoga are “participating” with demons.

Why would I make such an outlandish claim? Living more than eleven years in Nepal among demon worshippers (i.e. Hindus) has caused me to make this claim. Think what happens in yoga. I would wager that everyone who regularly participates in yoga, have heard the “Om” chant. It is a regular part of yoga. Am I right? Would anyone disagree with such an obviously true statement? I doubt it.

Om is by far the most “holy” word\sound in Hinduism. It always accompanies their worship practices. “Om is the most important symbol in Hinduism, it occurs in every prayer and invocation to most deities begins with it. As the symbol of piety, Om is often found at the head of letters, pendants, enshrined in every Hindu temple and family shrines. This symbol is actually a sacred syllable representing the Brahman or the Absolute -the source of all existence.” (1)

I can testify to the above claim, that it is true here in Nepal: There is nothing more sacred to Hindus than Om. Now, you should realize that the devil rarely hides his face in Hinduism. And so on the most “holy” days in Hindu religion is when the most demonic things take places—things I have witnessed personally, such as: Animal sacrifices made, where people wear masks and dance for hours barefoot in the blood of the sacrifices in a trance or possession by demons. Also on these most sacred occasions is when the Hindu priests drink the blood of the animals sacrificed and then chant Om afterwards, asking their demons for peace. These are the type of thing that happen at the MOST HOLY events in Hinduism. What then of their most holy word: Om? I believe it to be Satan’s highest praise. When the Hindu priests drink the warm blood of their sacrifices, they commune with their demons and praise their demon-gods with the Om chant. OM is the equivalent of the devil’s praise—it is Satan’s I AM.

So what about the Christian sitting in a yoga room as people chant Om, asking for peace (which is exactly what they do here in Nepal; they chant Om asking their gods for peace.)? Often those involved in yoga speak of the great peace and tranquility they receive through yoga. But no wonder. Demons perform miracles (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:13-15; 16:13-14; 19:20). Why wouldn't demons give a sense of peace to a room full of people asking them for peace, using the “holiest” word for exclaiming Satan’s praise? Om is not only the most important word in Hinduism. “Om is an integral part of the philosophies, rituals, meditations and chants in Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism. It has the same meaning and ramifications as in Yoga.” (2)

For instance, “Tibetan Buddhists believe that saying the mantra (prayer), ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’, out loud or silently to oneself, invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. All the teachings of the Buddha are contained in this mantra: Om Mani Padme Hum.” (3)

The point is that this very chant—OM—is universally recognized, in several world religions (demonic religions!) as having great significance. For some reason, the devil loves this word; he loves the sound of it. Hindus believe that the sound “Om” is what created the world. This is very interesting. We Christians know that God ‘spoke’ and created everything by the Word. It is as if Satan is taking credit for all creation through the Om chant—as if he were the creator of the world. So any of you Christians out there who wish to dabble with yoga, realize what spirits are giving you the tranquility you feel. Realize you are sitting there and hearing Satan’s highest praise sung. Realize that the whole room is asking him and his demon cohorts for peace, and the whole room, in one voice and in one word—Om—are giving Satan the praise for all creation.



In fact, since you desire to delve into Hinduism (since yoga is completely Hindu, even a dictionary will tell you that!) then why not, while you meditate, think of the words of one of Hinduism’s most important deities, Krishna:


Those who worship Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, having fixed their minds upon Me….If you are not able to fix your mind steadily on Me, then do seek to reach Me by the Yoga of constant practice. (4)

Reflect on this Wikipedia article about Om, and as you do, replace the Hindu’s chief word for God (Brahma) with who Brahma actually represents: Satan: "The goal, which all Vedas declare, which all austerities aim at, and which humans desire when they live a life of continence, I will tell you briefly it is OM". "The one syllable [OM] is indeed Brahman. This one syllable is the highest. Whosoever knows this one syllable obtains all that he desires. "This is the best support; this is the highest support. Whosoever knows this support is adored in the world of Brahma…. Chanting, that is, the syllable Om, is the best of all essences, the highest, deserving the highest place….God’s voice is OM.” (5)

All Christians reading this, do as you like. In fact, do all things to the glory of God. If you can do yoga for God’s glory, go for it. I cannot, so perhaps my faith is weak, or, what seems much more likely in the case of yoga, you are exercising a lack of discernment.

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

Triston


Sources Cited:
1. http://hinduism.about.com/library/weekly/aa121400a.htm
2. http://www.mandalayoga.net/index-newsletter-en-mantra_om.html
3. http://www.dharma-haven.org/tibetan/meaning-of-om-mani-padme-hung.htm
4. http://innervoice.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/02/bhagvad-gita-chapter-12-summary-the-yoga-of-devotion.htm
5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Reformer John Calvin: Foe or Friend?

John Calvin is often demonized for his teaching on predestination. It is sad because Calvin did so much more for the Church than merely give us a biblical understanding of God’s election. Calvin is a hero of Christianity, but one who is treated as a villain, like Darth Vader.

Although Calvin did not create the following himself, the Five Points of Calvinism are easily remembered by the acrostic TULIP:


T

Total Depravity (Total Inability):

This is the doctrine that affirms the whole corruption of man's nature. According to the Calvinist, every aspect of the being of man is affected through the rebellion of the Fall, so that no one is capable of pleasing God through the efforts of his own natural disposition. According to the doctrine of total depravity, the human person not only cannot please God, but apart from God's effectual grace, no man or woman even has the desire to please Him. Since all sinned in Adam, the representative of all, all are born in sin, and none are innocent, not even infants. All carry the burden of Adam's guilt, since all are in Adam and he is the perfect representative. Since all who come after Adam inherit his guilt, so that everyone is totally depraved, having no natural ability or desire to know or please God, everyone who comes after Adam is also deserving of the hot wrath and punishment of a holy and righteous God.
The idea of total depravity, according to the Calvinist, is not that we all do all the evil we are capable of, but rather, that all parts of our beings are corrupted by sin, and therefore there is nothing in us which can naturally commend us to God.
The Calvinist therefore denies the common doctrine that men naturally hunger to know God, or that men and women naturally desire Him.


U

Unconditional Election:

Given that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," which means, according to the Calvinist, that we are all totally depraved, in order to be saved it is necessary for God to initiate salvation. He does this unconditionally, according to his own private desire, choosing whom He will save not according to each one's own merit, nor according to His knowledge of how each one will respond to Him, but rather, according to His own mysterious plan. God's election of those whom He will save is effectual from before the foundation of the world.
Some Calvinists differ on whom will not be saved. Those who teach "double predestination" assert that God also elects whom will be damned, while others assert that God merely overlooks those whom he has not elected to salvation, so that their own natural depravity damns them.
The Calvinst therefore denies the notion of free-will, as well as any idea that God and man works together in synergy in order to accomplish salvation.

L

Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption):

Since salvation is based solely on the desire and will of God, and not on the will of man, and since God unconditionally elects those whom He saves, while damning others, the atonement is logically therefore limited only to those whom He has elected.
The idea behind the doctrine of limited atonement is that God is absolutely sovereign, accomplishing salvation according to His will and power, not the will not power of man. Therefore, when Christ dies for sin, he dies only for the sins of the elect. It would not make sense for Him to redeem those whom God has chosen to damn, or those whom He has not chosen for salvation. Ergo, the atonement is never non-effectual, but it is totally efficacious, or powerful to save, in the lives of those whom God has elected.
The Calvinist would therefore deny the doctrines which assert that Christ dies for the whole world, including those who reject Him to their own damnation.


I

Irresistible Grace:

Again, undergirding this doctrine is the concept of God's absolute sovereingty, as well as the foregoing doctrines. Since the elect are saved according to the pleasure of God alone, not on the basis of their own merit or choosing; and since God effects this through the atonement which is achieved for the elect alone, God must therefore initiate salvation in the personal lives of the elect.
God does this through His grace, which changed the heart and nature of the elect person prior to conversion. Therefore, the elect person is regenerated (or "born again") prior to his conversion to Christ.
God initiates salvation by working upon the interior deadness of the person's heart and soul, bringing to life the desire to know Him, and as a result, the person whom God chooses in response chooses God. Just as there is no one who would naturally seek to know God, there is also no one who would willingly reject God's effectual grace towards salvation as His Spirit works upon the person's heart. His grace is completely efficacious, regenerating and converting the totally depraved souls of His elect people.

This doctrine is opposed to the idea that God's grace can be resisted, or that men can choose or resist the efficacious grace of God.


P

Perseverance of the Saints:

Those who are born as children of wrath, corrupt and sinful by nature, yet the elect of God, for whom alone Christ died, and who have experienced the efficacious grace of God leading to regeneration and conversion, will perservere to the end.
As a logical extension of the foregoing, the Calvinist asserts that the elect cannot fall away. His salvation, initiated and secured by Christ, rooted in the absolute sovereignty and power of God, is guaranteed to the end. In the eternal security of God's grace, according to the Calvinist, the elect person will experience the subjective knowledge of his own assurance of salvation.

Therefore, the Calvinist rejects the doctrine that one can be saved, then fall away from grace, or lose his salvation.

Conclusion

This is a summary view of the five points of Calvinism. The underlying theme is that God alone is responsible for every aspect of salvation, from beginning to end, election to glory, and man contributes nothing to it.
Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be glory) was the cry of Calvin’s heart, and it should be the heart cry of all Christians, for salvation indeed is by grace alone, through faith alone because of Christ alone.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Osama-B

video

We meet all sorts of strange and interesting characters in Nepal. Enjoy the video!

Monday, August 11, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

I've been tagged by Susan, so that means I am supposed to share seven random and weird facts about myself (The rules are at the bottom). Since I've been tagged, I've happily included the seven facts about me, but that is probably to the extent I will take it; meaning, I don't plan to tag anyone else. Enjoy!


1.) I grew up until I was 10 years old on a big piece of property in Oklahoma. The closest house was five miles away, so as an only child, the dogs and horses were often my playmates.

2.) I’ve probably read more books from the 16th and 17th centuries than those written in modern times. My heroes are Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield and William Carey (all great Reformed men). Of course there are many more of my heroes in the Bible which I could mention. The “Solas” of the Reformation are my anthem.

3.) Being by myself and reading theological books rejuvenates and reenergizes me. On the other hand, mixing it up at social events with crowds of people drains me. I’m a hardcore introvert with the most extrovert calling imaginable. Funny how that works.

4.) Before becoming a Christian at 20 years of age, there were at least seven times I should have died (from falling two stories and being literally less than an inch from being impaled through my chest, to the most deadly car and motorcycle crashes, to a drug overdose, etc. It is miraculous that I am not in prison for the atrocities with which I was involved as a teenage, and even more miraculous that I didn’t die. God rescued me physically and spiritually through Jesus Christ.

5.) I never let dill pickle juice go to waste. I love the taste. I use it as salad dressing and sometimes just sip it like a fine wine.

6.) I am a flaming Calvinist, and as such I am passionate about the Gospel of God’s grace and its proclamation. This is the one area where the Apostle Paul and I can be most compared: No one taught about predestination more than Paul, and no one did more to advance the Gospel than Paul. The two go hand-in-hand. I would quit in a heartbeat, doing what I do, if it depended on me. It is because God is sovereign over mankind, and that nothing depends on me but rather it depends solely on Him, that I carry on.

7.) I can’t imagine life without my wife. God has been extremely good and gracious to me in so many ways.


THE "TAG" RULES:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird. **I DID THIS ONE.**
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
5. Present an image of martial discord (as in "war," not as in "marriage") from whatever period or situation you’d like. **LUTHER'S FACE IS A WAR IMAGE.**

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Samuel Turns Two Months Old!




Our big boy is getting bigger! Samuel is so much more alert now, and he's a very happy baby too. He hardly ever cries unless somethign is actually wrong. He has brought joy to our house everyday. What a gift of God he is to us.


BTW: We plan to hold Samuel's dedication at our house on September 15th. You are welcome to attend (though we know Kathmandu, Nepal is probably a long hike from where you live!)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Samuel Paul Dyer




We had the great privilege of welcoming our son, Samuel Paul Dyer, into the world on June 9th 2008 at 7:29 a.m. here in Kathmandu. Though he came 20 days early, he nevertheless weighed 3.95 kg (About 8.7 pounds)! Both mother and child are doing wonderfully. God is so good to us. We have so much to praise Him for. Jaya and I, as well as our daughter Mary, are filled with inexpressible joy at the arrival of our precious son Samuel, and like Hannah, we have happily offered him back to the Lord.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beat up by a Mob!

I was on my motorcycle, just a few feet from the curb on my side of the road. A motorcycle is coming toward me and one behind him came speeding up twice as fast as he should have been going. He passed the bike coming toward me, and when he did he came to my side and because of his excessive speed, he couldn’t stop and slammed into me. I didn’t get hurt from that, though he did and his bike. As is always the case, a crowd of nosy bystanders formed around us. Everyone thought I should pay for the damage—not because I was at fault, but because I am the foreigner. I refused to pay anything. The guy ran into me on my side of the road! It looked as if he was injured and his bike was still lying on its side. The crowd quickly got agitated. They began to push on me. I got hit and kicked in my mouth, the back of the head, etc. I tried to run away and someone from one floor above threw a glass down and it hit me square on the head. Blood gushed out as I ran inside the building. I’ve never seen so much blood. Drops were splashing everywhere. If you took a water bottle and began to shake it back and forth, it was like that. For a minute there I thought I was dying; the blood was coming out so fast, but after a couple minutes the flow slowed down. As I was trying to press on the wound, people outside were damaging my bike and stole my helmet, ripped the box off the back, threw it over, that sort of thing. Oh, and by the way, all this happened in the presence of a cop! It was when he showed up that they began to beat on me! Some people came in the building, not to help me but to take pictures of my injuries. I guess I looked like I was dying; what a great time to take pictures! A police van showed up. The police were helpful in the sense that they tried to get the guy who hit me with the glass. They were completely unhelpful in every other regard. They had it set in their minds that I should pay for the damage—not because I was at fault. No one accused me of that, but because I am a “rich” foreigner and he is a “poor” Nepali teenager. I had asked the police to take my bike to their station to keep the crowd from burning it. It is good I did that, but with me going to get stitches and all, the bike was there overnight, at which time they (the police!) stole the gas from my tank and out of the other guy’s bike too. Moreover, they wouldn’t let me take my bike back until the other guy’s father (whose bike it actually was) was satisfied. So though the accident was 100% the other guys fault, I had to pay for the damages, which amounted to about $140. This is nothing new. You can’t imagine how many times I have heard stories like this from other foreigners. They try and take us for every rupee they can. I was told when I first came to Nepal to never stop at an accident, whether it is my fault or not. I was told you should always leave the scene. If say I had run over somebody, for instance, it wouldn’t matter if it had been my fault or if that person had darted out in front of me. The crowd would beat me to death and burn the car. That’s how it is here. There is no such thing as justice in this country. I’m doing fine, though. Actually and surprisingly, my head doesn’t hurt at all. And now with my head shaved in the middle, I look like the monk Martin Luther for real!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

WHO IS JESUS?

In CHEMISTRY, He turned water to wine;

In BIOLOGY, He was born without the normal conception;

In PHYSICS, He disproved the Law of Gravity when He ascended into Heaven;

In ECONOMICS, He disproved the Law of Diminishing Return by feeding 5000 men with two fishes and five loves of bread;

In MEDICINE, He cured the sick and the blind without administering a single dose of drugs;

In HISTORY, He is the beginning and the end;

In GOVERNMENT, He said that He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace;

In RELIGION, He said no one comes to the Father except through Him.

The Greatest Man in History, Jesus, had no servants, yet they called Him Master. He had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher. He had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer. He had no army yet became King of kings. He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world. He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him. He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today and can never taste death again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Heart's Desire

I wrote this about 16 years ago, and I can see how God has taken hold of my life since then and directed it, after giving my life wholly to Him:

My heart's desire is to be totally faithful to God. I have set my foot to the plow and I will not look back. He has loosed the chains from my neck and the weights upon my shoulders. I was in bondage to sin, but He has set me free. I will not forsake Him. He has opened my eyes to see, my ears so I can hear. He has healed my soul. God has spared me from death - I will live for Him. He has given me life from the dead; I owe my life to Him. I will not surrender to the world. I no longer want what the flesh desires. How can I let sin reign in my life when God is on the throne? His presence has filled my heart and mind. He is my God! I will have no other gods before Him. The free will He has given me I give back to Him. This life He has given me I gladly offer to Him. I will do the work God gives me to do even if it costs my life, for I do not live for this life but the life that is to come. I submit all I am and all I ever shall be to the great I AM, the God of Abraham. There is nothing I have that does not belong to Him. I submit not only out of obedience but also out of love, because He bought me with a price. I was a slave to sin, but now I'm free. So I desire to be a slave to God, yet He has made me to be a son. What can this world offer? What can take the place of the one and only God, the Creator of every living thing? I have a relationship with the living God! Will I fear my fellow man? No. My God is the Creator of all, I will bow before Him. The life I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Why should I fear? What could separate me from the love of God? Shall tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or the sword? In all these things I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Messiah Jesus my Lord. This life is but a vapor. It appears a short time and then vanishes away. What would it profit me if I were to gain the whole world and lose my own soul? Yet my life is not lost, God has redeemed me. I will put nothing before Him. This world offers nothing in comparison to God. I am but a stranger in a foreign land. I set my sights on the kingdom of God, not treasures on earth. Yet even my faith is given to me. I am what I am by the grace of God. I would be like those living in Sodom and Gomorrha, like the world we live in today, if it were not for God coming into my life and His continual hand on me. God has opened my eyes, showing me that true life is in following Him; everything else is vanity. I am not ashamed, for the strength I have to live for God is provided by God. Without Him I am nothing. Through all eternity I will praise Him, for He has saved my soul from Hell. He has written my name in the Lamb's Book of Life. With eagerness I await my Lord's coming, when He will take me home. Even so, come Lord Jesus, come!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Insights From The Exodus

When did the Jews leave Egypt? Passover. How many days did it take the Jews to get to Mt. Sinai? 40 days. Moses goes up the mountain of God, and on the 50th day he comes down with the 10 Commandments.

What day did Jesus die? Passover. 40 days later He went up into heaven—he ascended, and 10 days after that the Holy Spirit came down. On the same day that the 10 Commandments were given the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost. When Moses came down and saw the people worshipping the golden calf, he told the Levites to strap on their knives and execute anyone who had anything to do with planning it. How many people died that day? 3000. And thirteen hundred years later when the Holy Spirit came down on exactly the same day, how many people came to life? 3000!!!

This is not some arbitrary number as if we should say “Wow. That was lucky!” No! God would not have saved 2500 that day; nor would He have saved 4000. He brought 3000 people to life that day because there was purpose in that number. I see this and wonder how can anyone not realize that God determines who will be saved and when. Before you argue with me, yes, in both contexts it says "about 3000." But I guess that is my point: everything matches perfectly in both contexts. This cannot be a coincidence.

The same day Jesus died, God led His people out of slavery in Egypt. The same day that Jesus went up into Heaven, Moses went up the mountain to God. The same day the Holy Spirit came down on Pentecost, Moses came down the mountain. And the same day that 3000 people died for their sin, 3000 souls were saved. Tell me God isn’t behind all of these things.

Just another reason why I believe the whole Bible is a book about Jesus Christ and one more reason among many for why I’m a Calvinist.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dragged to Christ

While the enemy of Jesus Christ—Saul—was living in direct defiance of him, Jesus nevertheless knocked him off his horse. He blinded him and spoke to Saul in an audible voice, telling him what to do. This seems like a very strong-handed intervention by God into the life of an unrepentant sinner to me. Nevertheless, this is precisely the testimony of how the Apostle Paul got saved. My salvation experience 18 years ago was quite similar to his. I was walking in the exact opposite direction from God in defiance of Him, but He, nevertheless, intervened powerfully into my life. I say this because it is true, not to make Him sound ruthless or anything. For when God intervenes in a life it is to rescue.

A lot of people talk about God’s ‘gentle wooing’—that He is the ultimate gentlemen and never forces Himself on anyone. But the passage this concept is based upon has a much stronger meaning than simply ‘to woo’. This is the verse:

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

The Scripture would seem to use this word draw with a meaning rather like "drag". The word “draw” here does not mean a gentle tug or prod. It is often translated “to drag” in the New Testament. In his essay on election in the Fourth Gospel, Robert Yarbrough writes,

“Draw” in 6:44 translates the Greek helkuo. Outside of John it appears in the New Testament only in Acts 16:19: “they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace. . . .” John’s Gospel uses the word to speak of being drawn to Christ (12:32), a sword being drawn (18:10), and a net full of fish being hauled or dragged to shore (21:6, 11). The related form helko appears in Acts 21:30 (“they dragged him from the temple”) and James 2:6 (“Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?”). It seems hard to avoid the impression that John 6:44 refers to a “forceful attraction” in bringing sinners to the Son.

- Do you woo a sword from its sheath?
- Do you seize a prisoner by force and then just tug ever so gently for him to follow you freely?
- Do you look at a net full of fish and coax it to be drawn from the water on to shore? Do you not rather exert your own strength to haul the net while the fish flop around trying to get away from you?
- Does your opponent just invite you into the courthouse? Are you not rather compelled to come?

All of the above texts of scripture are obviously about being dragged, forced to do something, and the same word "draw" in those passages is used in John 6:44. The fact that the identical word is used in Acts 16:19 is quite compelling:

“But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities."

What about this passage sounds gentlemanly? Did they really “woo” Paul and Silas into the marketplace, or did they in fact force them to stand before the authorities? The text clearly indictes they were forced—compelled to go. Compare this with the indisputable fact that Jesus is saying “no one is able”; “no one is capable” to come to Him unless the Father “draws” or “drags” him in such a powerful way as described above and the conclusion is obvious. It seems clear to me that John 6:44 can rightly be defined as follows:

"No individual is capable of coming to Christ unless the Father drags him to Christ."

This fits well with my own testimony and that of the Apostle Paul, but not so well with the idea of God approaching people as a gentleman. God intervenes like a conquering soldier into peoples’ lives. He comes where He is unwelcome and where He is uninvited, and He does this in order to save us, for we cannot save ourselves. We are not merely drowning men that He will rescue if we hold out a hand. We are dead men (Eph. 2:1,5). We are spiritual corpses that He must grab a hold of powerfully and resurrect from death. That is grace. According to the Bible, grace is both unmerited favor (Rom. 11:5-6) and a transforming power which according to Ephesians 2:5, raised every follower of Jesus from spiritual death to new life. Grace is a powerful forcefulness that raises us from death and drags us to Christ. The Bible describes the testimony of Christians in such a way, and by so doing, gives Him every spec of the credit and the glory of our salvation.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What is God's Blessing?

I believe China is far more ‘blessed’ than the United States. The true blessing from God is not material gain but rather to know Him. Riches are not a blessing but what actually lead men to deny God (Prov. 30:8-9). The true and greatest spiritual blessing of all is to belong to God (Eph. 1:3-5). China is clearly blessed because thousands of people are being added to the Church each day. Moreover, the Christians are blessed there, not because of peace and prosperity, but because of persecution for Jesus’ sake, which according to Jesus is a tremendous blessing: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” (Matt. 5:11)

Where are the true blessings the Bible speaks of? They are much less evident in America than they are in China, Nepal and places like that where God is granted people the blessing of both believing in Christ and suffering for His sake (Phil. 1:29). Where in America is God’s blessing found as shown to us in Hebrews 11:36-38? “Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy." This represents God’s blessing a thousand times more than a fat bank account. Passion for Christ is often replaced in America by new cars, bigger houses and retirement plans. Riches cause men to forget God. Biblically, much of the supposed ‘blessings’ seen in America (i.e. prosperity and lack of persecution) resembles God’s curse more than His blessing. And no wonder. We kill 4000 babies everyday and increase our riches in the process, and through Hollywood, we are impacting the entire world like no other nation on earth by exporting our lasciviousness, godlessness and greed. America did start out as a nation under God with our Puritan forefathers, but those days are long past. Who could deny that today it is one of the most godless nations on earth? Yes. Thanks to God’s mercy, He is still bringing people into His kingdom, but America has long become a harlot, not the place of God’s blessing.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Few Pics from Nepal

Who you’d see if you stopped by at our house in Kathmandu (Triston, my wife Jaya and our daughter Mary)
The landscape you’re bound to see throughout Nepal’s foothills

One of the many sights you could see, besides Mt. Everest, if you trek in Nepal’s Himalayan region

Friday, February 22, 2008

Grace & Inability

Ephesians 2:1-10 opens up to us a deeper understanding of grace than the common definition "unmerited favor". The passage unveils a transforming grace. Unbelievers are portrayed as "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). Hope for transformation hardly lies in the human will since people take pleasure in doing what the flesh desires. Thus, they are by nature under the sentence of God's wrath. Yet, God, because of his indescribable mercy and deep love, has not left all human beings in this state. Those who were dead in trespasses and sins, those who had no inclination whatsoever to turn to God, "He made alive together with Christ" (Eph. 2:5). Significantly, Paul immediately comments, "by grace you have been saved." This explanation is imperative for defining grace in Paul's writings. Grace is certainly unmerited favor--though it is not merely unmerited favor in the sense that one may choose to receive or reject a gift. Grace is also a power that raises someone from the dead, that lifts those in the grave into new life. Grace is both an undeserved gift and a transforming power.
Once we grasp this notion of grace, it is clear what Paul means when he says 'by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). The power of God saved us by raising us from death when we were utterly unresponsive to God. This raises the question is faith included in God's gift, or is faith our contribution to God's saving work? The demonstrative pronoun this (touto) is neuter, and thus it cannot be the specific antecedent to grace or faith since the words grace (chariti) and faith (pisteos) are both feminine. Nor can it refer specifically back to saved, for the participle saved (sesomenoi) is masculine. Indeed, no word in the preceding context is neuter. What, then, is the significance of the neuter? Paul wanted to communicate that everything said in Ephesians 2:8 is God's gift. If he had used the masculine or feminine form of the pronoun, some might have concluded that some of the elements contained in this verse were not part of God's gift. By using the neuter he emphasizes that the whole is God's gift. Thus faith too is the gift of God.
Such an understanding of faith is also contextually persuasive because Paul describes God's work as raising the dead to life. Human beings who are enslaved to the flesh have no desire or ability to exercise faith.
This understanding of the neuter is confirmed by Philippians 1:28. Paul exhorts the Philippians not to be intimidated by their opponents, and he says that their opposition is "a proof of their destruction, and of your salvation, and this from God." Once again, the word this (touto) is neuter. As in the Ephesians text, no neuter word in the context serves as the antecedent. The antecedent is the whole event--the opposition and destruction of the opponents as well as the salvation of the Philippians. The neuter pronoun works precisely as it does in Ephesians. And that faith is a gift is also communicated by the very next verse in Philippians. God has granted believers the gift of both believing on and suffering for Christ (Phil. 1:29). The verb granted is echarishe, from which we derive our word grace. Our belief in Christ is a gift, granted to us by God's grace.
That faith is a gift is confirmed again by 2 Timothy 2:24-26, where repentance is ascribed to God's activity. Faith and repentance are ultimately inseparable, and they are constituent parts of the saving process. In the context Paul hopes that God might "grant repentance" to those who oppose them. Such repentance can only come from God.

-As a side note of interest: In Romans 11:6 (the text where we get our definition of grace as being unmerited favor), the very words preceding the text (v. 5) speak to God's election, that it too is entirely of grace.
Rom. 11:5b, 6: "...election by grace. And if (election is) by grace it (election) is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace."

This passage seems to fly in the face of any notion that something we did (such as believe) may have provoked God's election of His people. On the contrary, Election, Repentance and Faith are all gifts from God to us who are in Christ, freely given by His inestimable grace.

The natural flow of Ephesians 2 is that we were dead in sin; God made us alive; therefore we are saved only by grace. In the context of Ephesians 2, Paul says nothing about the natural man other than that they are dead in sin. Contextually that is what you have to work with. In the context, it makes sense that dead men can't believe without a work of grace bringing them to life first. To say otherwise would seem to go against Paul's argument.

The ultimate question is "Can the unsaved, natural man of his own volition believe?" I'm convinced Ephesians chapter 2 contextually and grammatically answers that question "No." Moreover, what does the rest of Scripture say?

Romans 8:7, 8: "The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God."
We have already established from Ephesians 2 that the unsaved man is enslaved to the extent of death in sin. And now we have a better picture of the depth of that slavery. The unsaved man does not have even the power in and of himself to please God. Paul does not merely say that those in the flesh refuse to keep God's law; he also teaches they cannot submit to it. They are incapable of pleasing God. What was that??? The natural man cannot please God?? How do we please God then? Through faith (Hebrews 11:6). But they are unable to please Him. This text leaves little room for the unregenerate to be capable of believing.

1 Corinthians 2:14: "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."
Dave, what is more "spiritual" than the Gospel of Jesus Christ? "Nothing!" I'm sure you would agree with me. Well then, this passage says the unsaved man CANNOT ACCEPT THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. You spoke in your response that the unsaved man is capable of receiving the gift of his own volition. But this passage contradicts you. The Gospel is foolishness to the natural man and he cannot accept it. According to this passage the unsaved man is incapable of embracing the Gospel.

If you want to speak about metaphors regarding the lost, other than them being dead in sin then let's do that (although I don't think it is a metaphor that Paul referred to but the actual state of the unsaved--they are spiritually utterly dead in sin. They are entirely enslaved to it; they cannot escape from it without God resurrecting them. That is what Paul is saying in Ephesians 2).
The scripture says unbelievers are also blind to the things of God as well:
2 Corinthians 4:4 "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." This passage goes on to say that "[God] made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (v. 6)
So what do we have here? Again we have the scripture telling us that the unbeliever CANNOT accept the Gospel of Christ. He cannot even see it let alone embrace it! And once again, like in Ephesians 2, it leaves no doubt as to how we believers came to faith in Christ -- God made it happen.

What about the passage I had mentioned previously, that God grants repentance (2 Tim. 2:25). Why is it necessary for God to "grant" them repentance? Because just like in Eph. 2, , the very next verse (v. 26) says that unbelievers are enslaved -- captive to do Satan's will. People who are "enslaved to Satan's will" are not "free to call Godward". They have to be freed by God first!

The theme in Ephesians 2 is repeated again in Colossians. Paul does not want the church to forget that the reason they put their trust in Christ is that God made it happen: Col. 2:13 "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive."
I'm trying to imagine how Paul would respond to your argument. Perhaps you would say to him, "But Paul, I believed in Christ." And Paul would respond. "Were you not listening to me? I said, God made you alive!" Or maybe Paul would quote his first letter to the Corinthians: 1 Cor. 1:30, 31 "It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.' "

And let us not forget Romans 3:10-12 "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."
Dave, are you going to tell me that you agree with the first part of this text that there is no one righteous except Jesus Christ, and you agree with the last section of the text that no one is good accept for God, but are you then going to tell me you disagree with the center of the text that no one seeks God?? Just like in all humanity there is not a single soul (except Christ) who is righteous; equally true is the fact that there is not a single human being who seeks after God. Period. If the dead, blind, natural man could put faith in God, they would be seeking Him, and they would also have reason to boast.

In conclusion, Paul portrays unbelievers as disobedient to the law, incapable of receiving the things of God, blind, deaf, dead, proud, enslaved to sin and refusing to honor God. Unbelievers are in darkness (Eph. 5:8; 1 Thes 5:4, 5) destined for wrath (1 Thes 1:10; 5:9) and under the dominion of idols (1 Thes 1:9).

The rosy picture some draw of what the unsaved man can do, though perhaps attractive, is not the conclusion the Scripture leads us to. The unsaved man is quite incapable of coming to God of his own will. To sin, and sin willfully, is the only thing he will do of his own volition without the intervening, eye opening, dead raising, captive releasing, regenerating Spirit of God and by God's grace.

To Christ alone be all the glory of our salvation,
Triston

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Consider Christ's Death

Instead of thinking that Jesus' death proves God loves us too much to threaten us with punishment, consider that the death of Christ actually proves the severity of our sin. The only way God could restore relationship with us was by sacrificing His most beloved Son. Why do you think the Bible gives two such extreme alternatives: Heaven and Hell? Sin is that bad. Sin deserves eternal consequences. The death of Christ should convince us all that God will not allow sin to remain unpunished. It will either be punished on His Son for all who come to Jesus or the consequences will be laid upon us personally if we reject Him. The fact that God would go to such extreme measures to rescue us should terrify anyone who rejects His offer of rescue. Don't think that Jesus suffered for us because you or I were so worthy of it. Not at all! Jesus died because we are all worthy of damnation. Please don't reject God's offer of rescue.