Engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Invictus

There is one thing that I can’t get over, it’s been about 4 years since The LORD opened my eyes up to the truth of His sovereign grace, and that is the beauty and wonder of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Over the short while I have come to see, and ever increasingly understand, these truths God has brought me into many conversation with those who do not hold to sovereign grace.

I’ve been thinking on the doctrine that the non-Calvinist (yet non-Pelagian) holds to – prevenient grace. This is the notion that God gives grace to all men equally which they are able to improve on in order to be saved. This prevenient grace doesn’t save them, but somehow nullifies the effects of sin without giving any certain inclination to righteousness either. It, in essence, is thought to put the will in neutral so that it is absolutely free to choose good or evil. There are a multiplicity of issues with this view: 1.) it’s not taught in Scripture anywhere, 2.) it must divorce the actions and choices of man from the seat of action – the heart – which is completely against the clear teachings of Scripture, 3.) it cannot account for the difference between two people who hear the gospel and have two different responses, apart from claiming there was something within the individual that made the difference; 4.) It negates the work of Christ on the cross, bleeding it of all it’s power, making it nothing more than the work of a mortal as it was merely done to aid us in our getting ourselves out of hell. Thus prevenient grace still is a system of works, or merit based, salvation. It adds grace into the equation in an attempt to be more faithful to the Scripture than the pelagian system, yet still falls short of Scriptural. Rejecting God’s sovereign choice to save whichever condemned sinners He will, they wish to make the playing field completely equal. Thus they say that what God has done, He has done equally for every individual male/female, inevitably placing their destination in their own hands. They make man the master of his fate and the captain of his soul, ultimately denying God’s control over His creation, and effectively placing man at the position satan promised him he would hold – “you will be as gods”.

Let’s examine an instance of how this prevenient grace is said to work. Greg is lost in his sin, but one day “happens” to go to church (he was actually itch’n for a hitch’n and was hoping to find a good girl at the local baptist church; so he had a reason, but to others it appeared to be chance). While he is sitting there, scoping out the girls, the preacher is giving a clear presentation of the gospel. He hears it with his ears, he can’t help but hear it as the man is literally screaming, Jack Hyles style, from the top of his lungs. The invitation is given as they sing 32 stanzas of “Just as I am”. Now here is what those who espouse prevenient grace believe is going on inside the man:

As the gospel is being preached, the man is hearing it, and God is trying to convince the man that he needs Jesus and to place faith in The Christ. God doesn’t change the man, for the man has to ask God to do that first. Instead, God is thought to somehow nullify the fallen state that Adam’s sin has placed the man without giving him any desire for righteousness. This man is thought to be morally neutral. Having been given this grace that doesn’t really save the man, he is left with his salvation in his own hands. If he meets the condition to merit salvation, namely making the right choice at that moment, then God will grant him saving grace. If not, then the man will be placed back into his sin bound state from which he was momentarily freed.

How does this line up with Scripture? Jesus clearly taught that we must have a definite change in our constitution before we will believe. Jesus said, “unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” He also said, “men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil” and “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” directly tying the actions we do as the result of the wickedness of our hearts. Christ clearly stated this relationship when He said, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” Prevenient grace not only violates the clear teaching of Jesus by assuming that a man can make a choice for good without actually having had his heart changed to desire good over evil, but it also violates the law of non-contradiction as well. Those who ascribe to prevenient grace declare (by the very nature of it being necessary from the start) that a man cannot choose contrary to his desires; yet after the assumed prevenient grace is given, they say that man can choose contrary to his desires. They say that he has somehow been freed form his bondage to evil, yet not bound to righteousness. Thus being neutral, per what Scripture teaches, no decision would be made; yet they claim that he can now decide for a thing he has no like or dislike for. Trying to take away all influences upon the will of man so as to make it sovereign in itself they have negated effectiveness of the work of Christ. Prevenient grace essentially claims that the death of Christ didn’t save anyone, but merely made man savable if we provide our part with it. Per prevenient grace, Jesus’ death only accomplishes the task of placing us back in some sort of pre-Adamic state to where we can decide our own fate for ourselves. This makes the work of the Trinity ineffectual unless we work with it. For although, as they claim, Jesus has done the same work for every man, and the Holy Spirit has given prevenient grace to every man (or at least every man who hears the gospel), the only difference between the man in heaven and the man in hell is the man himself – the work that he has done.

Standing or falling on his own merit, the man is taught to say alongside William Earnest Henley:

“I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.”


Book a room to the glory of God? – some thoughts on Kingdom Work

It’s been a “few days” since I’ve blogged… not that I flatter myself to think anyone has actually noticed…but I’d like to make a plug for a site I was introduced to today and tell you why I think it’s worth note.

The site is

http://travelplanit.com/

It is through expedia, so you’re going to get the same deals as you would if you use expedia directly, except for one little tid-bit: All the profits the site makes from you booking your trip through them goes to mission work! Is that awesome or what?! This site is one of the many venues that we have available to us to obey the command of Scripture – “..Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Now I’m not so naive as to think that one simply planning their next trip to Vegas so one can strike it rich at the slots justifies one’s greed, or gambling addiction thus permitting him to continue in it – that’s not what I’m saying at all. But if we have ways available to us where we can do the thing we need to get done routinely and make even something as mundane as trying to find a good rate on a flight, hotel, car rental, etc. a way to further the kingdom of our LORD – then why would you not do that?

I was sharing with a LifeGroup class today how God is giving me a growing desire to be consumed with His kingdom. Jesus tells us to seek His Kingdom first, and I think this is a great way to express that passion. It is my desire that God work in my life, and the life of my family, so much so that as I do things I’m always thinking of the Kingdom of God and how I can best serve His purpose. I want to be so passionate about Jesus that I find ways to make everything I do glorify Him – whether eating, drinking, or planning a family vacation. =)

So in brief – “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”


107 Theses Part 1:3

3. This is paramount-for it brings glory to God to reverence Him in the totality of His worth and works. It elicits holiness and obedience in the life of the believer. (Psalm 96:9; 103)

Psalm 96:9 “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!”
Psalm 103:1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”

Bringing glory to God in all we do is the most supreme endeavor man could ever be involved in. Making God appear as glorious as He really is should be the desire that consumes us. Our lives should reflect Him. I have been thinking about the drastic distinction this calls for. As I look around at professing believers, and even my own life, I don’t see the burning desire to “heap glory” as it were, upon the name of The LORD. The two verses cited call all creation to worship God – everything outside of man, and everything within the being of man. There is no part of anything that exists that is not obligated to give glory to God. It seems that we, at least American Christendom, have lost sight of this as a whole. We are caught up on trying to convince the lost to try Jesus so they can have better relationships, or a better future after death. We have taken the most glorious Being and demeaned Him into a slave to that only finds fulfillment in serving His created man. An example of this can be see in how the average pastor warns his people against divorce (if at all). We are told how much horror it causes in the family, and the ripple effect among relatives. How it damages the children. We’re given statistics of how many troubled teens come from broken homes, etc. Very few Christians are ever taught that marriage was instituted by God to image the love He has for His people. They’re not told that divorce makes a distorted claim about the gospel as, without saying any words, it screams that God is not faithful no matter how unfaithful we are. (I’m not going to get into the topic of divorce here, I’m just using it as an example of how people are given pragmatic and man-centered reasons to keep God’s commands.)  We should do what we do to glorify The KING of kings, we should tell men to obey their Creator because He is worthy, regardless of the practical implications. This is true worship.

There is a question that was put to me about 4 years ago that challenged me… it has stuck with me ever since. I find it helpful in examining my heart – whether I am longing to glorify God or if I am serving Him because of what I can gain from Him. It short, but sharp: “If you knew you could serve God with all your hear, soul, and might all your life, and He would still send you to hell; would you still serve Him?”

Our imaging God, our worshiping Him, our prizing Him as our EVERYTHING is paramount. Why?
He is worthy!!!


Prayer and The Sovereign LORD:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD, he turns it wherever he will.” Proverbs 21:1

I can’t tell you how many times it has bees suggested to me that because I believe in the sovereign LORD, Who controls all things down to the smallest detail, that I should cease prayer. Yet, some of those people who tell me that, are the ones who would use the very verse to encourage prayer for the President of America, or some other political issue which they are concerned about.

I believe it was J. I. Packer that said something to the effect of every Christian is a Calvinist on his/her knees. It is precisely the sovereignty of God that drives us to prayer and gives us the assurance that He can accomplish what we ask. If God did not have control of the the hearts of kings, then why ask God to change the direction a ruler is headed, to cause him to veto a bill, or alter his allocation of troops? If God doesn’t hold sovereign sway over the hearts of men then why ask God to save the lost? Why ask God to bring a straying child back? If words mean anything at all, at the heart of the one asking these things is the belief that it is really God who does these things. They may claim free-will as a God frustrating factor, but when they go to seek God’s face they leave their man made notions of freedom behind. If they are to pray biblically, then they must do so.

The believers in Acts prayed like this (chapter 4:24-30… note their appeal to God’s creatorship and control over all things, and their plea for the grace to be bold instead of trusting in their own determination to preach the gospel) “And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

We serve the Almighty God, and it’s is precisely because He controls all things that we go to Him in assurance that He can do what we ask.

Soli Deo Gloria.


107 Theses Part 1:2

  1. This means we are to represent God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in the fullness of Trinitarian character and attributes revealed through the Scriptures. (Romans 11:33-36; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Revelation 5:12)

The “This” is referring to how we are to glorify God and worship Him. We worship by representing His truth – the truth of His being. We glorify Him by proclaiming what He has revealed about Himself. This glorifying worship can be in the form of music (or other art forms), literature, relationships, etc. It is the imaging of Who God that we worship and glorify Him. This is what He created us to do.

Paul tells us in Romans “from Him (Christ) and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory for ever. Amen.” The other passage that Camp lists that states it clearly is Revelation 5:12 “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. ” Scripture is abundantly clear that we, believers, exist to glorify God. All of humanity was thrown into the bondage of sin. Man the part of God’s creation that was to image Him, has rejected being that image bearer and instead is in revolt. God has chosen to bring some men/women out of that God-hating bondage (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) and conform them into the image of His Son. Even our sanctification is to bring glory to The Son. We are to do all we do to give glory to our Maker!

Some think that taking an attribute of God and spotlighting that is fulfilling this purpose; but it isn’t. Aaron and the children of Israel did something like that when Moses was up on the mountain and they made a calf of gold. Aaron looked at the calf and saw an attribute of Jehovah for he declared to the people, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” We are guilty of creating our own golden calves when we take on aspect of God and present that out of context. We are to represent God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture – the God of Justice as well as the God of mercy. We are to proclaim God’s wrath along with God’s love. Painting a warped picture of God doesn’t glorify Him in the least. As His children, we should desire to represent God, by His grace, according to the fullness of His character as He has revealed Himself through Scripture.

I was listening this week to a message by John Piper and he made the point that the majority of our life is really overflow. The things we say, gestures we use, “little” decisions we make almost without even thinking… all these are done out of an overflow of our core belief structure or perspective of reality. This is why sanctification is so important. As we become more like Jesus Christ those actions that are “overflow” will be conformed into imitating HIM. So this second theses of Steve’s isn’t so much an attempt at causing us to focus on our outward actions and strive to make them conform to a standard (this is where legalism tends to find it’s nutrition), but in causing us to be changed by beholding the face of God. In other words, I would urge you that the first action of Jesus Christ to begin to follow by God’s grace, is that of always looking to The Father. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. ” He kept His eyes on The Father, and so should we. We are conformed to Him when we are consumed with Him.

Soli Deo Gloria!!


Apologetics and the Unbeliever:

How should we attempt to reason with unbelievers? How many points of connection should we hope to make with the unregenerate? I know we need to be ready to give an answer for the reason of the hope that is within us, but does that mean we must justify it on the grounds that unbelievers set forth?

I am all for giving reasons why we believe what we believe, but think we must guard against exalting logic above that of God’s revelation of Himself. When we begin to use logic, in the stead of dependence upon The Holy Spirit, to convert the unbeliever we commit a error – two of which are.
1. We deny what Scripture teaches about the depravity of man, and insist that man is capable of reaching the conclusion that the claims of Scripture are true if he is just given enough intellectual impetus to stop fighting the truth. When we do this, we are actually appealing to a higher standard than Scripture. If the veracity of Scripture is not accepted unless another source verifies it then that other source takes precedence over Scripture. The other sources are useful, and it shows that Scripture is accurate in it’s records – it is not that I am saying we should not employ archeology, history, and the like at all – but outside sources are not to be the determiner of whether we believe Scripture or not. The Word of God is believed to be such by Christians because they hear the voice of The Shepherd in it. The Holy Spirit grants a conviction that it is what it claims to be. Thus when presenting the truth of Scripture to the unregenerate we must proclaim the truths of God as they are – authoritative. To appeal to any outside source to try to convince them to accept the truth we are actually diminishing the truth we are attempting to proclaim.
2. We deny the Holy Spirit’s power to regenerate the unregenerate. This lack of faith has led to inflated stories, or just plain fabrications, in order to sway a person to accept what is being said. We think that unless we can give the unregenerate something he can identify with somehow then he will not believe. Sometimes this desire to identify is so great that we even leave out bits of truth thinking that if we can get them to accept some of the truth we can work in the rest; or we just don’t want to scare them off, so we don’t give them the whole truth.

This can lead to personal issues within the thinking of the believer as well. For once an outside source is set as authoritative over Scripture then all of Scripture must be in a constant state of scrutiny. This is different than our approaching Scripture always with an understanding that our preconceived notions of what it teaches may need to be changed. This scrutiny is of the Bible itself. It is a constant wondering if it is correct seeing as “science” seems to contradict it or at least give seemingly believable explanations for things. Or if we appeal to archeology then there is always not quite enough evidence to “exactly” prove the veracity of Scripture. This leads the Christian on a search to prove what doesn’t need proving. Eventually faith will dissipates and we want explanations for everything and begin to hold Scripture in suspicion unless we can prove to the unbeliever’s satisfaction that it is true.

Extra biblical sources are good, but they are never effective in converting an individual. They may provide hurdles for an unregenerate man to jump over, but he will jump over them. Extra biblical sources provide data that can be interpreted by one’s presupposition. For example – we see order in the universe and patterns in nature. The Biblicists says it evidences it’s Creator, the unregenerate will claim it is a process of billions of years of evolutionary sequences. We see a consistent morality in every human as evidence of God’s law written on their heart, the unregenerate may give evolution as an answer to that, or just social traditions passed down as the reason for morality. We must give them God’s truth as the primary authority.
In summary:
We are to employ apologetics; we are to reason with men (for our faith is reasonable – contrary to the popular opinion of unbelievers), but we are to reason from the Scriptures. We reason with the Scriptures as our foundation, rather than reason being our starting point in trying to prove the Scriptures true.
The reformers called it “Sola Scriptura”. The Holy Spirit inspired Luke to pen it this way in Acts 17:2: “And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,”


Doubting the Surely

Psalm 73 (read it here http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2073&version=NASB ), is a great help to me. I go through times where I struggle with my faith in The LORD and this is one of the passages in which God strengthens my heart.

The psalmit begins with an affirmation “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart!” It’s good that he starts with this for what follows lines up with the experience of the doubter. The author of this psalm lets us know that he doubted also, but has come through those doubts and states the surety of a truth before walking us through the dark valley he traversed. He affirms the light at the end of the tunnel before taking us through it.
“But as for me, my feet had come close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped.” He describes has he had almost completely fallen away from the truth he initially stated. He was weighed down with doubt and attributes it to being consumed with the appearance of the wicked stating “As I saw the prosperity of the wicked…” This is problem. This is when the cares of this world are at their strongest – when we’re staring at them. Whether it be financial prosperity that lures us, intellectual respect, the belief system of the majority, peace and enjoyment among friends, etc; when we get our eyes off of Jehovah and see things through the temporal or naturalistic lens, we loose heart. We begin to entertain thoughts like those of the psalmist, “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence…” These thoughts may sound more like this to us, “The God you were taught as a kid is not real, look at the majority of scientist and even the average Joe – they don’t even believe in Him!”, “How could God be real and this bad thing still happen to me? Maybe I’ve just been fooling myself.” Or “Where is God anyway, is He there? My world seems like it’s falling apart!”
The sure-fire way to stay in this situation is to continue to do what started it. This is the lot of those Jesus spoke of in His parable of the soils. Those who’s sprouts are choked out by the cares of the world. But by God’s grace, He will not let His children stay here long. (Why He designs our trials like these is for another day.) He will turn our eyes and hearts back to Him. Just as the Psalmist tells us, “When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight, until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. ” He goes on to describe the certain destruction of those who do not fear Almighty God, and then describes himself through all this. “When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.” Looking back on his doubts and struggles he professes himself to have been senseless. This is interesting for it’s while going through these doubts he thought himself to had been foolish for believing in Jehovah; he had doubted the wisdom in not living as the ungodly. Now, having seen God afresh, he professes his doubtful time to be marked by ignorance and his mindset as that of a brute beast. Yet even in his ignorance and weakness he sees God’s grace through it all – “Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.” Through it all, God had the psalmist. Through it all God was holding on to this doubting, weak creature, guiding him and will in time bring him to be with HIM.
The psalmist closes up with praise to the God he doubted initially. He declares that there is no one in heaven beside God, and nothing on earth he would rather have than Jehovah. He knows his own strength will fail him, but God is his Sustainer. It is good for him to be close to God, so he has made God his refuge. We come full circle now and see why he says as his opening statement “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart!”

As I read this psalm, I am strengthened; for the world has it’s wise, it’s rich, it’s successful; and they look wise, rich, and successful. The cares can grip tightly, and there are times where I feel I am being strangled by these worldly cares. My steps are slipping, and I feel like I’m almost gone. It seems the wicked are wiser than me, it seems they have their act together, and I’m over here by myself living in a delusional world or I’m not having as much fun as they are. But God in His grace, revives me. He Who is able to keep me from falling holds my hand and guides me. There is a reason Scripture speaks of those who persevere to the end as His people. It is most definitely a fight, and by His grace, His people do fight. We are weak, but our God is strong and watches over us. We are foolish and ignorant, we are unstable and doubt the God Who created us and reveals Himself to us. We are quick to forget His mighty acts, for we easily are caught up by what we see now. Like Thomas, we are quick to believe only that which we can see; but God opens our eyes to the reality of Him. Soli Deo Gloria!


107 Theses Part 1:1

Steve Camp has drawn up a document titled “The 107 Theses – reclaiming a reverence for God in ministry.” The document can be read in total here
http://www.a1m.org/page.php?page=template10.php&pageid=fcf54d19dd342ec4d0b163b23018f777

My aim is to work through each of these theses statements, addressing at least one a week, interacting with the Scripture texts as well as the truth stated in order to challenge myself as well as those who read.

1. “All our works, both musical and written, must produce a high view of God-with our chief aim being to glorify God and worship Him forever. (Job 40:6-41:34; Psalm 29:1-2; Jeremiah 9: 23-24) “

This is a powerful statement to make initially, and I believe is the summation of what is to follow. Just reading the Job passage is sobering. God challenges Job and by the end we (Job and the reader) realize that man’s not as big and bad and we think we are. Part of our problem is we fail to really see ourselves in light of God and His greatness. We tend to think ourselves pretty highly when it comes to our worth. We (Christians) give lip service to God’s being God, but when it comes down to it, we have to side with Job in saying “I have heard of you with my ear…” We have heard of Him, but not really experienced HIM in the way Job was being confronted. When questioned by God, Job was left speechless. The questions God posed to Job were questions prompting Job to compare himself to the Almighty. Just the sheer power of God ought to cause us to see that we are nothing and that He is everything and to be regarded as such.
The Psalmist tells us in chapter 29 of the Psalms that we are to ascribe unto The LORD to glory due Him. Jeremiah tells us that the one thing we have God’s permission to boast in is not our wisdom or strength, but in knowing HIM. We were created for His glory, and it’s in knowing Him and reveling in that knowledge that we glorify Him. It is in realizing this purpose and in living it out that we should do all we do to glorify Him and to also produce a high view of God in the hearts and minds of others. In short – all we do is worship of The Almighty.

What I see indicative of the “church” today is just the opposite. Ministry is man-centered. Whether it be the pastor trying to generate revenue so as to build his ministerial dream, or whether he’s in the ministry “just ‘cause I love people”. The books written are intent on convincing man that God thinks him special and really wants to make great things out of him, if man will only recognize the hidden potential that is clear as the sun to God. The music becomes shallow, the Sunday sermons become dry, God is not to be found anywhere near our social clubs we call church; yet we don’t realize it because we’re to busy dancing our golden calf as our preacher yells “behold your god!”. Ministry isn’t done in worship of Jehovah, nor with the aim to generate more worship of Him. Humanity is the god most worship today, so much that we even have god bowing down to man. We love this god because He so worships us, how could we not love someone who so prizes us above all else?!

But ministry is not primarily to help people, rather ministry is to exalt God. The main purpose of Sunday morning church isn’t to evangelize the lost, the reason for worship music isn’t to try to draw the youth in hopes to keep them drug-less and pure, and the primary motivator for mission work is not because we just love people and can’t stand the thought of them not going to heave. Yes, we long to see the lost saved and thank God for each new profession on a Sunday morning. Yes, we are thrilled when youth come to worship The LORD! And Yes, we long to see God save men from hell. But these are not the primary reason we do these things. If so then we are guilty of idolatry, for we serve who we worship. Paul admonished us that whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we are to do it for the glory of God.
May God have mercy on us and grant us repentance that we may return to true worship. May the songs we sing, books we write, and ministries we develop have this as their primary aim – to glorify God and worship Him forever.


Marriage = Losing Your Life

Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Colossians 3:4 “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Phil. 1:21 “ For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

It’s been a week since my sister and Brandon Cook were wed. There is a thought that has been on my mind throughout the week that I have been itching to share. It’s not just illustrated in their wedding, but in the wedding of any man and woman who are lovers of each other and lovers of God. When my brother-in-law, Brandon, said “I do” to my sister he forsook all others and committed himself to her alone. We joke about it being “game over” or him being locked up to a ball-and-chain, but he seriously did lose his freedom. He no longer may come and go as he pleases, but must give his concerns and thoughts to my sister (as well as his paycheck! LOL!). Her well being precedes his own. There will be items that he will have to fore go obtain so that my sister may have something she needs or maybe just desires to have. In short, Brandon has lost his life for my sister. This, although not perfect, is an illustrative reminder (or a pointer) to the infinitely greater reality of what Jesus Christ has done for His bride – His Church. He considered His being God not a thing to be exploited and took upon Himself the form of a servant, a human, and was obedient unto the death of the cross. He gave His life so as to obtain His chosen people – His Bride! A definite price paid for a definite object, the object of His affection.

But there is another part to the “I do”’s, and that’s my sister, the bride. When she said “I do!” she lost her life as well; although not the same way as her new husband. Brandon lost his life for her, but Kristan lost her life IN him. You see he becomes her life, she forsakes her previous last name and adopts his. She is no longer a Pulliam, but a Cook. He is now her head as opposed to our Dad. She is concerned with pleasing him, adoring him as a wife should adore her husband. She looks to him for protection and guidance. Colossians 3:4 and Philippians 1:21 are two verses of God’s Word that their marriage reminded me of.

A marriage is to illustrate gospel truths to other. One of the ways we image our maker is through marriage. One of the ways we communicate the gospel is through marriage. I do pray The LORD to work mightily in the lives of my sister and her husband. I thank Him for His grace, and that He has given us reminders and illustrations of the gospel in various areas of life.

Are you His Bride? “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:23-26


A Parable:

The Arminian kingdom of heaven is like an architect who lived during the boom of the American economy. He was extremely good at his job. Josh, the architect, had an enemy who was massively cruel. Every building Josh would erect, Stan ( his opponent) would attempt to destroy. Josh decided to build the peak of His architectural feats. He was going to build the world’s largest residential complex. It would house all the known population of New York city. In this complex, one could commute to work, live, swim, spend time at a park, etc all without ever leaving the building. There was no pollution, no disease, and one wouldn’t even feel as if he were indoors when playing in the indoor parks, or pools, or whatever. On top of that electricity was half the cost than power outside of the complex. This was the utopia of New York City.
Josh knew Stan well though. He knew Stan would try to wreak havoc on not only the structure itself, but on the residents who would live in it. He knew Stan so well that he knew exactly how Stan would go about attempting to destroy the building and the people in it. Knowing this Josh took an extra precaution. He made a way in which the people could get out of the building – a trap door that Stan didn’t know about.
As a matter of fact, hardly anyone knew about it. The handful of people that did know didn’t tell everybody about it either. So when Stan detonated the bombs, and set fire to the edifice, many perished because they didn’t know about the trap door. Some knew about it, but just figured the little rumble they heard from the 100+ floors below was just thunder and there was no need to panic. Others jumped out the windows because they heard the bombs but didn’t believe the trap door was really their way of escape. And others chose to walk through the door, some really believing what they were told and others just trying it hoping it would work, not really believing at all but having no other viable option.

Now questions:
1. Was Josh really their savior or did he just make a way for them to save themselves if they chose to?
2. If Josh did the same thing for every resident in the building, and some of them weren’t saved by what Josh did – was it Josh that made the difference between life and death for them?
3. Was it possible, based on the effectiveness of Josh’s work; for no one to have been saved and all die in the burning building had they chose to. In other words, could Josh actually make sure his escape plan was effective?
4. If Josh couldn’t guarantee that the residents be saved, and Stan couldn’t guarantee all the residents perish, but it was up to the residents themselves – who has the power to determine the success of the antagonist and protagonist schemes?