Monday, August 30, 2010

Pt 4 The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing

Well Summer finals are over and in the box.  I have but a short week to relax and then it's time for the Fall semester to being.  Anyway today we continue to look at Whitefield's work  The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing.   Here are parts One, Two, and Three.  Enjoy!

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing pt 4

II. But Secondly, what increases the heinousness of profane swearing, is, that it is a sin which may so often be repeated.

This is another consideration which always serves to lessen or increase the guilt and malignity of any sin. It was some excuse for the drunkenness of Noah, and the adultery of David, that they committed these crimes but once; as, on the contrary, of the patriarch Abraham's distrust of God, that he repeated the dissembling [deception] of Sarah to be his wife, two several times. And if this be admitted as an aggravation of other profane crimes, surely much more so of the guilt of common swearing, because it is a sin which may be, and is for the generality often repeated. In many other gross sins it cannot be so: if a man be overcome in drink, there must be a considerable time ere he can recover his debauch, and return to his cups again: or if he be accustomed to profane the sabbath, he cannot do it every day, but only one in seven. But alas! the profane swearer is ready for another oath, almost before the sound of the first is out of our ears; yea, some double and treble them in one sentence, even so as to confound the sense of what they say, by an horrid din of blasphemy! Now if the great and terrible Jehovah has expressly declared that he will not hold him guiltless, that is, will assuredly punish him, that taketh his name but once in vain; what a vast heap of these heinous sins lies at every common swearer's door? It would be apt to sink him into an intolerable despair, did he but see the whole sum of them. And O what a seared conscience must that wretch have, that does not feel this prodigious weight!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Hiatus

Greetings, all faithful viewers and new visitors; I find it necessary to take a break from the rest of the week's posting activities.  Most of you will not know that half of the staff here at The Old dead Guys is in Seminary,  currently in the middle of Summer finals, and has the need to interrupt this week's regularly scheduled broadcast in order to devote that time to study.  The Old Dead Guys will return with our regular schedule next week. 

Until then keep looking up Christian Jesus may come today!   

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Faithful

At the mention of the word faithful or faithfulness we usually think first of a spouse, close friend, or maybe even a pet.  I know that we here as the world headquarters of The Old Dead Guys are very blessed in that the entire staff consists of all three.  Yet I think the faithful pet is more faithful to the other half of our staff.  Anyway, when we think of God in terms of His being faithful we often times will have a limited understanding (as with most things pertaining to God) usually overlooking the obvious until someone points it out to us.  I think God’s attribute of being faithful is one such case.

Webster’s 1828 states of Faithful:

1. Firm in adherence to the truth.

2. Firmly adhering to duty.

3. Constant in the performance.

4. Observant of contracts, (true to one's word).  

5. True.

6. Constant; not fickle; as a faithful lover or friend.

We see Webster really gives a complete picture of God in His being faithful.  For instance God is the epitome of truth therefore He displays a “firm adherence” to it (Ps 119:140, 160: Jn 17:17).  He is also constant in “performance” (Heb 13:8; Jas 1:17).  We can therefore see Him as “observant of contracts (covenants)” (Php 1:6).  And it is his consistency in performance that leads Him to not be fickle.  Imagine a god that changed his feelings at a whim but not so with the God of creation He is steadfast, unchangeable.

But notice something else regarding His being faithful.  Because of this we can begin our days by His faithfully “raising” the sun each morning.  We set our clocks because He keeps the “electronic transition frequency in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms” unchanging (wiki Atomic clock).  Our cars function (most times) our houses stand erect and all things subsist because He upholds the basic atomic structure of all things (Col 1:17).  Yes He is very faithful.

But His faithfulness is on its greatest display in my opinion in salvation in that all who come to Him He does not reject (Jn 6:37).  He bids those who are thirsty to come to Him, drink freely (without reservation or hesitation) from the water of life without cost (Rev 22:17).

In short God's faithfulness applies to every aspect of who and what He is.  His faithfulness applies to His...

Temporal blessings (1 Ti 4:8; Ps 84:11; Isa 33:16)
Spiritual blessings (1 Cor 1:9)
Support in temptation (1 Cor 10:13)
Support in persecution (1 Peter 4:12, 13; Isa 41:10)
Sanctifying discipline (Heb 12:4-12)
Direction in difficulties (2 Chron 32:22; Ps 32:8)
The enabling of His own to persevere (Jer 32:40)
Bringing to glory (1 Jn 2:25).

So praise Him for His faithfulness, for His faithful love to and for His elect, and for His faithfulness to complete in us that which He has began (Phil 1:6).


Monday, August 23, 2010

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing

Well greetings to you all.  Today we will continue looking in to George Whitefield’s treatment of Matt 5:34 specifically his message The heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing.  Due to the nature of his writing style it will be necessary to break his sermon sometimes in an unusual place.  Therefore, it may be necessary for you to go back and review prior installments to keep the flow of his thought in context.  Here are the links to Pt 1 and Pt 2 if you need them.  So please consider… 

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing - pt 3
George Whitefield

Matt 5:34 -- "But I say unto you, Swear not at all."

But to return: It appears then from the whole tenor of our Savior's discourse, that in the words of the text he does by no means disannul or forbid swearing before a magistrate (which, as might easily be shown, is both lawful and necessary) but only profane swearing in common conversation; the heinousness and sinfulness of which I come now, more immediately to lay before you.
            And here, not to mention that it is a direct breach of our blessed master's and great law-giver's command in the words of the text, as likewise of the third commandment, wherein God positively declares, "he will not hold him guiltless (that is, will assuredly punish him) that taketh his name in vain:" not to mention that it is the greatest abuse of that noble faculty of speech, whereby we are distinguished from the brute creation; or the great hazard the common swearer runs, of being perjured some time or other: not to mention those reasons against it, which of themselves would abundantly prove the folly and sinfulness of swearing: I shall at this time content myself with instancing four particulars, which highly aggravate the crime of profane swearing, and those are such as follow:

I. First, Because there is no temptation in nature to this sin, nor does the commission of it afford the offender the least pleasure or satisfaction.
II. Secondly, Because it is a sin which may be so often repeated.
III. Thirdly, Because it hardens infidels against the Christian religion, and must give great offense, and occasion much sorrow and concern to every true disciple of Jesus Christ.
IV. Fourthly, Because it is an extremity of sin, which can only be matched in hell.

I. The first reason then, why swearing in common conversation is so heinous in God's sight, and why we should not swear at all, is, because it has no temptation in nature, nor does the commission of it, unless a man be a devil incarnate, afford the offender the least pleasure or satisfaction.

            Now here, I presume, we may lay it down as a maxim universally agreed on, that the guilt of any crime is increased or lessened in proportion to the weakness or strength of the temptation, by which a person is carried to the commission of it. It was this consideration that extenuated and diminished the guilt of Saul's taking upon him to offer sacrifice before the Prophet Samuel came; and of Uzza's touching the ark, because it was in danger of falling: as, on the contrary, what so highly aggravated the disobedience of our first parents, and of Lot's wife, was, because the former had so little reason to eat the forbidden fruit, and the latter so small a temptation to look back on Sodom.
            And now if this be granted, surely the common swearer must of all sinners be the most without excuse, since there is no manner of temptation in nature to commission of his crime. In most of the other commands, persons, perhaps, may plead the force of natural inclination in excuse for the breach of them: one, for instance, may alledge his string propensity to anger, to excuse his breaking of the sixth; another, his proneness to lust, for his violation of the seventh. But surely the common swearer has nothing of this kind to urge in his behalf; for though he may have a natural inclination to this or that crime, yet no man, it is to be presumed, can say, he is born with a swearing constitution.
            But further, As there is no temptation to it, so there is no pleasure or profit to be reaped from the commission of it. Ask the drunkard why he rises up early to follow strong drink, and he will tell you, because it affords his sensual appetite some kind of pleasure and gratification, though it be no higher than that of a brute. Inquire of the covetous worldling, why he defrauds and over-reaches his neighbor, and he has an answer ready; to enrich himself, and lay up goods for many years. But it must certainly puzzle the profane swearer himself, to inform you what pleasure he reaps from swearing: for alas! it is a fruitless tasteless thing that he sells his soul for. But indeed he does not sell it at all: in this case he prodigally gives it away (without repentance) to the devil; and parts with a blessed eternity, and runs into everlasting torment, merely for nothing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Terminology - Profanity

With the beginning of our new series from George Whitefield regarding profanity, the question is begged “what is profanity?” which is a very good question.  We here a The Old Dead Guys have discussed this at length and are not really sure we can nail down a satisfactory answer.  There seems to be several factors involved here not the least of which is regional norms.  For instance the f----- bomb is used by many as an adverb or adjective, so in that context are those who use those types of words being profane in spite of the repulsiveness some may have to the word(s) themselves?

Isn’t that type of word or phrase a synonym of another which when used is not found to be offensive?  Now I personally think that “profanity” is, in most cases, the refuge of a weak mind and that many who use such words do so from an inability to express themselves adequately.  Yet even the otherwise “well educated” will use this type of guttural language.  But again this does not help us in defining what profanity is.

Webster’s 1828 states of profane as:

1. Irreverent to any thing sacred; applied to persons. A man is profane when he takes the name of God in vain, or treats sacred things with abuse and irreverence.

2. Irreverent; proceeding from a contempt of sacred things, or implying it; as profane words or language; profane swearing.

3. Not sacred; secular; relating to secular things; as profane history.

4. Polluted; not pure.

5. Not purified or holy; allowed for common use; as a profane place.
As in Ezek.42:20. and 48:15.

6. Obscene; heathenish; tending to bring reproach on religion; as profane fables.
As used in 1 Tim.4:7 .

Profane is used chiefly in Scripture in opposition to that which is holy, or qualified ceremonially for sacred services.  Its first mention ‘chalal’ is seen in Gen 6:1 in the word “began” and speaks of a general growth toward profaneness or disobedience toward God and his established order as “man began to multiply on the face of the land.”  It wasn’t the multiplying that was profane for that was God’s command to man in the Garden but their profaneness was that the “wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen 6:5).

The NT uses ‘bebeloo’ as in Mt 12:5 or Acts 24:6 to describe the act of profaning a thing or (more often) ‘bebelos’ (1 Tim1:9: 4:7; or Heb 12:6) to describe a profane person.  And as you might expect a profane person can and often does profane a thing or bebelos leads to bebeloo.

So that we see a common thread being that something is profane when is in opposition to that which is holy or set apart for that which is holy or of God himself.

But that does not help us much with words that are used which most of us would rather not hear.  And that is where we will pick up next week. 



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Falling Away

The appetite for God exalting preaching in America appears to be on the decline; and America in general is walking the same path Europe has taken as they have become what amounts to a secular dark continent.  And while it would be presumptuous to comment with any certainty the condition of the world, it would seem plausible this holds true for it as well in spite of missionary endeavors abroad.  However, God has always had His remnant (1 Kings 19:18; Isa 1:9; 10:20-22), the Scriptures tell us that in the last days there shall be a “falling away” (2 Thess 2:3) prior to the “the day of the Lord.”  And so it appears this decline of God honoring preaching is the “falling away” at least in application here in America and the world in general. 

Even those who tolerate preaching (if that is what it can be called) can only stomach a milk toast “God loves you and has a plan for your life” type message.  Don’t dare give them the truth of a Devil’s hell and that those who reject God are cast there for that type of message is to harsh and unloving.  But God’s people will endure sound doctrine; who will not seek a preacher just to satisfy their own passions and follow after myths (2 Tim 4:1-4) but recognize the power of His word preached.

In 2 Tim we not only see the negative commentary of the hearer but that also of the “preacher” who willingly feeds their passions in this market driven church age.  And while there is nothing wrong with changing the presentation of the Gospel message to fit the audience (within limits), there is everything wrong with changing the message so as to fit the audience.  Many in America have bought in to the idea that size equals success but how do we answer Jeremiah who had not one convert and yet he was God’s prophet;  or Noah who out side his family had no converts after 120 years of work.

And as a pastor it can be discouraging to work in the field day in a out only to have little harvest in the basket.  But we must hear the encouragement of Paul to Timothy “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching [even if they] will not endure sound teaching” (2 Tim 4:2-3a).  Paul here tells Timothy his beloved son in the faith, you be faithful to your calling in spite of the visible results.  And this is his charge to us all regardless of location or vocation whether we occupy a position of pastor or custodian, if you filling your God appointed roll “You be faithful to the Lord.”


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Mercy

Our understanding of mercy is somewhat tainted (as is most concepts) due to the media in which we see someone begging for mercy to not have this horrible or that horrible thing done to them.  Usually it is in context of a criminal who has a victim at his (as we say) mercy and that certainly is one accepted use of the term.  But in that instance the victim did not deserve what the criminal was about (or considering) to do.  However, in this case deserving has nothing to do with it.  Yet the biblical concept of mercy as it relates to God is somewhat different.

Webster’s 1828 states of mercy that it is:

That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. 

So that Biblical mercy is when that which is deserved is withheld to the benefit of the object of the mercy being shown.  God has demonstrated this attribute in abundance with respect to mankind.  We from nearly the beginning of our existence have deserved nothing but wrath; having sinned and fallen short of eternal life in glory, we can do nothing to commend ourselves to or defend ourselves before God.  But thankfully, God has been so amazing in His mercy.  Over and against merely having the mercy to allow us to live out our lives without destroying us instantly, God has chosen us to greatness and glory by the hand of His Son.  The believer finds himself in Christ and enjoys full well the fruits of God's mercy.

We also must acknowledge the duality of God’s mercy as being general and specific.  It is general in that God does not pound mankind into the ground for his rebellion against Him.  This He does for man in general but they are still under condemnation.  Specifically though He displays mercy to His elect by withholding and removing divine judgment and placing it upon Christ.

Now mercy differs from Grace in that Mercy withholds that which is deserved and Grace grants that which is not.  In other words we deserve and eternity in Hell but God withholds judgment thereby granting mercy.  On the other hand (and if that were not enough) He gives to His elect, first life (through regeneration) then justification through faith, which is His gracious gift to those who do not deserve it.

It’s first mention is with Lot in speaking to the angels who would ultimately display their mercy to him by dragging him out of the city (Gen 19:19).  However, its first display is found around Gen 3:14.  I say around since it’s difficult to exactly determine where God should have killed them due to His righteousness and where He did not due to his being merciful.  But you will notice God bestowed grace upon them by providing them a covering after Adam and Eve had made full confession of their sin.


Monday, August 16, 2010

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing

As we will see Whitefield begins his argument by looking at the common use of swearing in terms of an oath particularly swearing by that which is Holy.  And certainly we see the necessity of not issuing oaths if for no other reason that God commands us not to.  James echoes this (Jas 5:12) further adding that as believers our “yes” should mean “yes” and our “no” should mean “no”; as well as the testimony of our character should make swearing an oath superfluous.  He will also point out that our careless use of swearing, even the seemingly harmless garden variety, should not be tolerated.  

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing – pt 2
George Whitefield

Matt 5:34 -- "But I say unto you, Swear not at all."

But, before I proceed directly to the prosecution of this point, it will be proper to clear this precept of our Lord from a misrepresentation that has been put on it by some, who infer from hence, that our Savior prohibits swearing before a magistrate, when required on a solemn and proper occasion. But that all swearing is not absolutely unlawful for a Christian, is evident from the writings of St. Paul, whom we often find upon some solemn occasions using several forms of imprecation, as, "I call God as witness;" "God is my judge;" "By your rejoicing in Christ Jesus," and suchlike. And that our savior does by no means forbid swearing before a magistrate, in the words now before us, is plain, if we consider the sense and design he had in view, when he gave his disciples this command.

Permit me to observe to you then, that our blessed master had set himself, from the 27 th verse of the chapter, out of which the text is taken, to vindicate and clear the moral law from the corrupt glosses and misconstruction of the Pharisees, who then sat in Moses's chair, but were notoriously faulty in adhering too closely to the literal expression of the law, without ever considering the due extent and spiritual meaning of it. Accordingly they imagined, that because God had said, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," that therefore, supposing a person was not guilty of the very act of adultery, he was not chargeable with the breach of the seventh commandment. And likewise in the matter of swearing, because God had forbidden his people, in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, "to take his name in vain," or to swear falsely by his name; they therefore judged it lawful to swear by any creature in common discourse, supposing they did not directly mention the name of God.

Our blessed Savior therefore, in the words now before us, rectifies this their mistake about swearing, as he had done in the verses immediately forgoing, concerning adultery, and tells the people, that whatever allowances the Pharisees might give to swear by any creature, yet he pronounced it absolutely unlawful for any of his followers to do so. "You have heard, that it has been said by them of old time," (namely, by the Pharisees and teachers of the Jewish law) "Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but perform unto the Lord thine oaths; but I say unto you," (I who am appointed by the Father to be the great prophet and true law-giver of his church) "Swear not at all, (in your common conversation) neither by heaven for it is God's throne; (and therefore to swear by that, is to swear by Him that sits thereon) neither by the earth, for it is his foot-stool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King; neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black: but let your communications (which plainly shows that Christ is here speaking of swearing, not before a magistrate, but in common conversation) let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay, (a strong affirmation or negation at the most); for whatsoever is more than this, cometh of evil;" that is, cometh from an evil principle, from the evil one, the devil, the author of all evil.

Which by the way, methinks, should be a caution to all such persons, who, though not guilty of swearing in the gross sense of the word, yet attest the truth of what they are speaking of, though ever so trifling, by saying, Upon my life, -- as I live, -- by my faith, -- by the heavens, and such like: which expressions, however harmless and innocent they may be esteemed by some sorts of people, yet are the very oaths which our blessed Lord condemns in the words immediately following the text; and persons who use such unwarrantable forms of speaking, must expect to be convicted and condemned as swearers, at our Savior's second coming to judge the world.



Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Phil

Yep its Friday and time for another installment from the guys over at Pyro.  Today I have selected a piece by Phil Johnson which originally "aired" on April 7, 2008.  I selected this particular post as it was filed under "contextualization" as I think it has some bearing on the current series we are posting by Whitefield regarding profanity.  Here, Phil looks Paul's approach to the erudites at the Areopagus in Acts 17.  Paul's approach, as observed by Phil, is to simply proclaim the Scriptures as being in direct opposition to their belief and way of life.  Enjoy!

Paul and Conversation

Paul declared the truth in the Areopagus without apology, without undue respect for their academic stature, and without artificial deference to their points of view. He preached the gospel; he did not sponsor a colloquium about it. In the synagogue and marketplace of Athens, Paul had engaged in discussions and debates about the gospel (Acts 17:17), but these were no doubt the typical sort of give-and-take every open-air evangelist would have with hecklers, inquisitive people, people under conviction, and people who are simply curious. Paul would have answered any questions or objections that came to him. It is inconceivable that he might have been holding round-table discussions with the goal of finding "common ground" and winning Athenians with persuasive words of human wisdom.

Especially now that he had his foot in the door and an audience with the Areopagus, he wasn't going to say, "Let's talk about this. I'm interested in learning more about your approach to the spiritual disciplines and your ideas about ethics. And tell me whatyou guys think about the God of Abraham, and maybe we can learn from one another."

Instead, he homes in on the very heart of what he wants them to know. He is preaching here, not inviting a conversation. Here's the start of his sermon: "God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17: 24-27).

Notice: this is a simple declaration of truth, not an offer to exchange ideas. He starts with the basic principles of theology proper. He declares that God is creator ("God . . . made the world and everything in it"). That's the essential starting place of all biblical truth. He affirms the authority of God ("He is Lord of heaven and earth.") He affirms the spirituality of God to these materialistic philosophers ("[He] does not dwell in temples made with hands"). And he affirms the sufficiency of God, Hissovereignty, His transcendence, His imminence, and His power as the giver and sustainer of all life. It's a remarkable course in theology proper in a very brief economy of words. And all of it was flatly contradictory to what these philosophers believed.

But there's no give-and-take exchange of opinions. Paul does not act deferential in the presence of these great minds. He does not assume a false humility and pretend he's just a truth seeker on his own spiritual journey looking for companions along the way. He declares the truth of God to them with authority and conviction. He does not use the conversational style and subdued demeanor most people today think we need to use so that we're not thought arrogant.

Paul wasn't arrogant, because he was declaring infallible truth God had revealed. He was not merely floating an opinion of his own for the philosophers to kick around. And he used an appropriate method: a sermon, not a conversation.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just a Suggestion

While this post is directed at pastors, it is important to note that the following is applicable to any speaker under nearly all circumstances.  Yet in thinking about the responsibility of a pastor and what has become expected of pastors, I think there is a fine line between creating a circus atmosphere as opposed to a God honoring time of genuine worship where the attention of the audience is maintained.  Let’s face it we have all been board to tears by a pastor who although well meaning nevertheless put us to sleep to dream of that island vacation from it all.  It’s not an issue with the Word only the method of delievery.  

It has been noted that the average listener is in essence asking the speaker “why should I listen” which is a valid question; and considering that most audiences, according to studies, will on the outset give a speaker their attention but only for a short time places a lot of pressure on the pastor.  In fact experts note he has about 3 minutes to gain the attention of the audience; after that they are prone to let their minds wander.  So that it is important that he introduces his topic well and an anecdote relevant to the overall topic is perhaps the best solution.  If he does one that is personal without causing hurt or pain to loved ones connects even better to your audience.  In the past I have used something as simple as a piece of string given out to each member in the audience as an illustration of the overall application of a text of Scripture.  This illustrates that creativity does not have to be expensive just … well … creative.

Consider, I am amazed that the Scriptures actually contain only a handful of unique doctrinal concepts and yet the same doctrines are presented in unique ways so that they are reinforced.  In fact the entire ministry of Jesus was spent in essence making the same points over and over again just in varying ways.  His teaching may be summarized as teaching that we should love God without bounds, our neighbors as we do ourselves (two impossible things), and that only in Him do both become possible.  And it is this last point which comprised the majority of His ministry.  The preacher of the Scriptures then, if they are to be preached systematically and exegetically, will be of necessity preaching the same truths many times over so that great care must be made to present these truths afresh lest he weary his audience. 

For instance Jesus taught we are to “love our neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:27) and immediately, upon a self justifying question from a lawyer, entered into the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Similarly Paul in addressing the believer’s liberties in Christ references Jesus’ teaching implying that not doing so (loving your neighbor) is an opportunity for the flesh (Gal 5:13).  And James references the same teaching (Jas 2:8) to speak against showing partiality.  So while the truth “love your neighbor” is the foundational text, each in there own context gives the preacher the ability to teach this in three fresh ways.

A little creativity is not a bad thing but we must remain on guard and not create a circus then call it worship.

Think about it.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Love

This attribute of God is virtually universally known or at least proclaimed; yet many who rest in its certainty actually know little about it.  Yes God is love but what exactly does that mean?  Does His being love make Him a benevolent grandfather?  Is His being love allow one to cover all manner of ill with the “warm blanket” of God is love?  Well let’s see.

Webster’s 1828 states of love:

As a verb -  In a general sense to be pleased with; to regard with affection, on account of some qualities which excite pleasing sensations or desire of gratification.

This is seen as in the greatest commandment “And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matt 22:37-40).

In this case love is an action or something you do.  I think the confusion comes in because we have weakened the meaning by attributing love to a strong like as in “I really love french fries, or golf, or NASCAR, or … you get the idea.”  In short, we love whatever gives us pleasure and delight, whether animal or intellectual; and this type of love i.e. action, certainly is attributable to God as well in that He demonstrates His love for us Rom 5:8.  But God also loves all mankind in a general sorta way, He sends rain to the just and unjust alike (Matt 5:45).

But the Scriptures declare that God is love (1 Jn 4:16) not that He merely loves.  And this gets to the essence of who God is.  The theme of the entire Bible is the self-revelation of the God of love. In the garden of Eden, God commanded that they must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, if you do you will die (Gen 2:17). Yet when they disobey Him God seeks Adam and Eve, not to kill them but to reestablish a relationship, now broken, with Him. The God who loves seeks to bridges the gap.

That seeking and bridging reaches its pinnacle when God sends his Son into the world to rescue sinners and to provide them with eternal life (John 3:16; Ro 5:7, 8; Eph 2:1-5). John declares, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us" (1 John 3:16).   

However, God’s love is tempered by His wrath so that those who refuse Him will be judged and condemned, for God will not excuse sin.  And those who view God ultimately as a benevolent grandfather make a serious mistake

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing

Many today believe it is ok to use curse words in everyday interaction.  I am not really sure where this came from but it has even found its way from the pulpit by many well known and “respected” pastors.  I do not mean to over simplify the position but doing so, they say, allows them to contextualize their message and making it relevant to the audience.  There are a couple issues with this reasoning the least of which is God’s word is already relevant so it is the preacher’s job to just convey it and let God work in the lives of whom He chooses.

This message by George Whitefield caught my eye for a couple reasons first of which is that it was delivered in the 1700’s which indicates the phenomenon is not new.  I am not really sure I was surprised though since man is man and there really is nothing new under the sun. 

So for the next few weeks we will be presenting The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing by George Whitefield.  Taken from the text of Matt 5:34 – Enjoy (I apologize in advance for the necessary post breaks).

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing
George Whitefield

Matt 5:34 -- "But I say unto you, Swear not at all."

Among the many heinous sins for which this nation is grown infamous, perhaps there is no one more crying, but withal more common, than the abominable custom of profane swearing and cursing. Our streets abound with persons of all degrees and qualities, who are continually provoking the holy one of Israel to anger, by their detestable oaths and blasphemies: and our very children, "out of whose mouths," the psalmist observes in his days, "was perfected praise," are now grown remarkable for the quite opposite ill quality of cursing and swearing. This cannot but be a melancholy prospect, for every sincere and honest minister of Jesus Christ, to view his fellow-creatures in; and such as will put him on contriving some means to prevent the spreading at least of so growing an evil; knowing that the Lord (without repentance) will assuredly visit for these things. But alas! what can he do? Public animadversions are so neglected amongst us, that we seldom find a common swearer punished as the laws direct. And as for private admonition, men are now so hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, that to give them sober and pious advice, and to show them the evil of their doings, is but like "casting pearls before swine; they only turn again and rend you." Since matters then are come to this pass, all that we can do is, that as we are appointed watchmen and ambassadors of the Lord, it our duty from time to time to show the people their transgression, and warn them of their sin; so that whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, we however may deliver our own souls. That I therefore may discharge my duty in this particular, give me leave, in the name of God, humbly to offer to your most serious consideration, some few observations on the words of the text, in order to show the heinousness of profane cursing and swearing.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Your Friday Phil-lips

As it is customary here at The Old Dead Guys, on Friday's we like to search the archives over at Pyro's vault and in snooping around found this.  It is a great post presented to us by Dan Phillips over at Pyro via the Way Back Machine.  This will give us all something to think about over the weekend.

What is an "antinomian"?
Dan Phillips

The word "antinomian" isn't thrown around quite as freely. Maybe because (unlike legalism) it's not much of a dodge to hide behind. You can't get much mileage, when a brother is exhorting you to take the Word to heart on some point, by calling him an "antinomian."

It is, however, misused as a dismissive way of refusing to deal seriously with other Biblically-based positions. If you can successfully label a person (or school) "antinomian"... well, he's bad, and that's that. So you don't need to think too hard about it.

It also is of course properly used of schools that are antinomian; and they are bad. Once again, then, what matters is using the word correctly — which, again, depends on defining it correctly.

So here are some proposed definitions. Note: they all have to do with Christian living, not how to become a Christian. None has to do with how to get saved, but with how to live as a Christian.

By popular usage (and with some overlap), an antinomian is...

  1. Anyone who believes that Christians are not obliged to obey any part of the Law of Moses qua Law-of-Moses 
  2. Anyone who believes that Christians are not obliged to obey the moral division of the Law of Moses qua Law-of-Moses 
  3. Anyone who believes that Christians are not obliged to obey the commands of Christ and the apostles 
  4. Anyone who believes that Christians are not obliged to obey any law 
  5. Anyone who sets the leading of the Holy Spirit in opposition to obedience to any rule or law, whatever the source or location 
  6. Anyone who sets grace in opposition to obedience to any written word of God 

As before, in the meta, tell us:

  • Which of these have you heard most frequently? 
  • Which do you think is (or are) accurate and legitimate uses — and on what basis? 
  • Which do you think are inaccurate and illegitimate — and on what basis? 

Again, have at it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Terminology – Asceticism

Today’s word is not to be found in Scripture, yet it is very attractive to the Christian especially those who do not wish to be soiled by this world.  However it is spoken against at least in principle by the Scriptures and lies in direct opposition to how God has ordained we live until He shall appear.  Asceticism is not spoken of much today yet its subtleties are nonetheless present with us all.  So let’s begin. 

Webster’s 1828 states that an ascetic is one who:

– One who retires from the customary business of life, and devotes himself to the duties of piety and devotion; a hermit; a recluse.

Now one might say “oh a retiree who has worked out their life and now gets to sit back take it easy and see the world.”  But not so fast, don’t miss the end “a hermit, a recluse” not to mention that retiring from toil is not a biblical principle but one to which I look forward to anyway, but I digress. 

An ascetic is someone who withdraws from the world and basically lives like a monk or some guru on a mountain top contemplating his belly button trying to get to his inner self.  For the Christian though we are commanded to live in this world in order that He through us might accomplish His purpose i.e. save His chosen in the world.  The phrase “Be in the world but not of the world” is very apropos because it at once demonstrates the believer’s condition as well as his struggle.  In other words our condition is as aliens in this world (Heb 11:13; 1 Pet 1:17) and at the same time not to be tainted or stained through the contact we have of the world.

As Christ was praying in the garden you will notice He did not ask the Father to remove all who believe.  Instead He asked only that we be kept from the evil one (John 17:15).  And if you wont’ ask why I will “why.”  Well … I don’t know.  But, He has ordained that man be saved through the preaching of the Gospel (1 Cor 1:21) and that preaching be accomplished through man (Rom 10:14-15) and He has commissioned every believer to be His witness so that one can see how hard all of this becomes if we withdraw from the world.

But many of us do just that, we only associate with other believers (or professors), we only listen to “Christian” radio (don’t get me started on that one), we have Christian dentists, use Christian dry cleaners, and all the while become offended that an unbeliever actually has the gall to use profanity in our presence.  Oh the outrage.

No. No. we are told to go out and mingle with these “undesirables,” actually rub elbows with them, yes even buy them lunch (none of this “you pay I’ll pray” business).  Actually meet our neighbors, however strange they may seem, for you will never know how strange you look till you get on their side of the fence.  And while we’re at it don’t beat them with your bible.  It’s not the beating of the Word that wins souls its gentle correcting (2 Tim 2:25) with the Word that perhaps God may grant them repentance.  So get out there, get in the field, it is already “white for harvest.”

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is Preaching too 'old School' for Today

Recently, I was asked if I thought preaching was to “old School” to be effective for today.  And as you may expect I could not just say no and move on but today I wanted to present my answer to that question especially in light of the fact that many today believe we need so much more than just the simple preaching of the Gospel.  That somehow man has intellectually advanced beyond such a simple means to an end and need to …well … put some lipstick on it to dress it up. 

So here goes.

The term “old school” is really a subjective quantity; nevertheless this term does describe preaching today in the ears of many.  It is not the fault of the true preacher of the Word though nor of the Word that is proclaimed but a negative commentary of the last days in which we live.  The Scriptures tell us that in the last days there shall be a “falling away” (2 Thess 2:3) prior to the “the day of the Lord.”  This falling away or “rebellion” Paul notes to Timothy, manifests itself in people being “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Tim 3:2-5).

These “evil men” states Paul, will go from bad to worse which one may expect.  In spite of this though, he encourages Timothy to “preach the word” for the time will come when they (most likely those of Ch 3) will not endure or put up with “sound doctrine.”  They will instead be driven by their own desires to seek teachers who will satisfy their “passions”; they will turn away from truth to follow “myths” (2 Tim 4 1-4).  Now in noting that the “time will come” when they will not endure certainly implies a time when they would, making them little more than moralists since it is the rejection of God and His word from which they turn. 

Had they been believers in possession of the Holy Spirit they would have endured (through His power) and not turned away.  And while preaching is foolish to them that perish (1 Cor 1:18), to those who are called of God preaching is the very means by which they are saved.  For how can they believe on Him whom they have not heard and how can they hear without a preacher (Rom 10:14)?  The one who preaches the very “foolishness” the fool rejects.

So the ultimate purpose of God through the preaching of His word is the revelation of Christ to the world in general and to His elect specifically.  Therefore, the ultimate purpose of the preacher is to accurately present His word as an under Shepherd that would not be ashamed of his work unto the Lord (2 Tim 2:15).  It is his calling to present the whole counsel of God’s word (Acts 20:27) for it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).  Preaching is the means God has ordained by which His ends (the saving of many) are accomplished. 

So no preaching is not old School at all.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Longsuffering

As we begin looking at another attribute of God I am reminded that this particular attribute is misunderstood by the unbelievers and taken for granted by many believers.  Hopefully you will see what I mean as the text unfolds.

As customary Webster’s 1828 states of Longsuffering as –

   –  Bearing injuries or provocation for a long time; patient; not easily provoked.

There really is not much more to say for human history demonstrates God’s patient longsuffering toward us.  What can be added though is His reason for being so which really is a twofold purpose.  1) He is longsuffering not willing that any should fall into judgment.  Peter addresses this in 2 Peter 3:9 in response to the mockers of v 2 which say that Christ is not returning.  So that Peter directly implies that judgment also comes with the coming of Christ. 2) That God’s patient longsuffering (i.e. kindness) leads to salvation (or is meant to). 

Now one may ask that if God is Sovereign then why does it not lead to salvation rather than it is meant too.  That is a very good question the answer to which should come up in about 8 weeks so hold on we will get there I promise.  But suffice it to be for now to note that it does lead to salvation to those whom the Father calls (Jn 6:37; 44) and to the rest no amount of patience will be enough since they will actively refuse His call (Mt 23:37).

We also must note that God’s longsuffering is an act of kindness toward those who are lost since if He were not so they would immediately fall into judgment and condemnation.  I am reminded of the account (told as true) of the atheist who challenged God that if He existed to prove it by striking him dead within 5 minutes.  As the time came and went the atheist stated this was proof that God does not exist to which a wise saint stated “my good man do you suppose you could exhaust God’s patience in a mere 5 minutes?” 

No indeed not but there is coming a time when His patience will end but for now today is the day of salvation and now is the acceptable time (2 Cor 6:2).

“The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth;  who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin” Ex. 34:6-7.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A New Old Dead Guy

Well good day to you.  Here it is Monday again and as you may be accustomed we will present the work of an old dead guy.  Oh but which one, that is the quandary for there are many to select from.  I have however chosen a man whom God used mightily during the 1st Great Awakening and is credited with great oratory skill even though many churches of his day would not let him in the Pulpit.  That man George Whitefield

Today I wanted to give a brief introduction to him and next week we will look a selected sermon.  

George Whitefield 1714 – 1770

- was born and raised in Gloucester, England, in the most difficult circumstances. His father, a public tavern owner, died when George was two and his widowed mother re-married eight years later, but the relationship was plagued with grief and ultimately ended in divorce. His early years gave him little value in a formal education yet at the age of 17 he managed to enter in to studies at Oxford University

At Oxford he became serious about spiritual things joining the ‘Holy Club’ with the Wesley brothers, who became life-long friends. The group was not evangelical but was more for seekers and enquirers after true religion. The Wesleys’ seriousness of devotion provoked him to a deeper walk with God and he was the first in the group to recognize the difference between a legalistic religion and experiencing an inner change through the new birth in Christ. Nevertheless it took him a full year to make the transition from asceticism and human works designed to earn God’s favor, to receiving forgiveness and love by the unmerited grace of God.

He wrote, ‘Oh what joy – joy unspeakable – joy full and big with glory was my soul filled when the weight of sin came off, and an abiding sense of the pardoning love of God and a full assurance of faith broke in on my soul.’ After receiving ordination as a deacon in the Church of England in 1736, he began preaching on the necessity of the ‘New Birth.’

Whitefield's first sermon was preached in his home town and his great authority was immediately evident to all. He said, ‘I was enabled to speak with some degree of gospel authority. Some few mocked, but most seemed for the present struck; and I have since heard that a complaint was made to the bishop that I drove fifteen mad at  the first sermon!'

However Whitefield was not for England, and after a brief pastorate in Dummer, Hampshire he was encouraged by the Wesleys’ to visit the colony of Georgia in The New World, to assist in the care of an Orphan House which had been set up near Savannah for the children of colonists.

Heeding their encouragement, in 1737 at the age of  23 he sailed to America staying for a year and having departed would not return to America until 1739. During these first two visits he was led to begin open-air preaching and remarkable scenes began to accompany his ministry where thousands flocked to hear his irresistible eloquence and engaging fervor. Hundreds made professions of faith as they listened.

By late 1735 the New England revival had begun to decline; but Whitefield’s arrival heralded the second wave of blessing. His great and sudden fame had preceded him and he was in immediate demand. He began preaching in Philadelphia at once and thousands flocked to hear him. The population of the town did not exceed 12,000, yet his initial audiences are estimated to be numbered from 6,000 to 8,000!

He then embarked on a two year preaching itinerary and at just 25 years old he was aptly called ‘the boy preacher!’ His audiences grew progressively as he moved around the nation until he was captivating audiences of 20,000 and then up to 30,000! What Bishop Ryle said of his ministry in London was no less true here, “Whether on week-days or Sundays, wherever he preached, the churches were crowded, and an immense sensation was produced.”

He was tireless at his craft, in one six-week tour he preached over one hundred and seventy-five sermons to tens of thousands of people, leaving the region in a spiritual upheaval. It remains one of the most remarkable periods of American Christianity on record. His preaching ‘in season and out of season’ approach encouraged evangelical ministers of all denominations to follow his example. His free use of natural gestures, illustrations, and a more extemporaneous style permanently altered American evangelical preaching. He was also a preacher of extraordinary power and possessed a supreme ability to hold audiences, attracting people from every rank and station in life.

Benjamin Franklin, estimated that Whitefield could be heard clearly by up to thirty thousand people at one time wrote in his journal, “From being thoughtless and indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk through Philadelphia in the evening without hearing Psalms sung in different families of every street.”