Today’s resolution doesn’t make much sense out of context. Edwards is saying that he is committed to find and promote ways to glorify God that he may be unfamiliar with. This is the great biblical principle of 1 Corinthians 10:31. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” So instead of rushing through the rat race of life today, take time to glorify God in every step, even the ones you do not typically think of. God is all in all. Ephesians 4:6 says, “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Here is the second installment of The Fundamentals. That’s two down an only eighty-eight to go! The reason that I find this chapter so intriguing is because of its modern relevancy. I recently began hunting for a new study Bible and was frustrated at the options available. One way to determine a strong study Bible is to read the introduction to Genesis (or the Pentateuch) and determine the authors viewpoint on the inspiration of Scripture as found in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21.
Let me be clear. The Pentateuch is not an editorial compiled over 1,100+ years. God inspired the document through Moses, and it was placed into the Ark of the Covenant as a completed, inspired, and perfect whole in Exodus 25:16/Deuteronomy 31:26. While another penman included small portions after Moses death under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it was completed and finished prior to being placed in the Ark. It is certainly true that scholars, scribes, and priests have translated and updated the text to make it more understandable for their contemporary cultures, but this work has nothing to do with the inspiration of the original autographs. God did not revise his Word!
My challenge you today is to know what you are reading! Just because your study Bible gets five stars on the Amazon review section or your favorite preacher has the most downloads on Sermon Audio does not mean they have the correct view on inspiration. Please enjoy reading Chapter 2 of the Fundamentals.
What is a Fundamentalist? It seems like the term can mean anything to anyone ranging from Islamic terrorists to Christians who claim God inspired only one translation of the Bible for the whole world. In modern times, the term has lost much of its intended purpose and has been severely abused. On a number of occasions, I have been asked if I am a Fundamentalist. Prior to answering that question, I must ask the inquisitor’s definition. I certainly am not a Muslim, and I do not believe God forces all men to read one Bible translation. I do hold to certain doctrinal truths that are imperative and fundamental in orthodox Christianity.
To understand the definition of “Fundamentalist,” one must turn to the very source from which the term gained its identity. The Fundamentals is a twelve-volume set of ninety essays written from 1910 to 1915. The essays are on topics such as basic doctrines, the identity and inerrancy of the Bible, and cultural battles that downgraded American Christianity. In 1917, R.A Torrey edited the set into four volumes and it was reprinted by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles.
The reason The Fundamentals was written was to combat the doctrinal nosedive of Christianity at the turn of the 20th Century. Liberal theology started questioning the very core doctrines of the faith that stood for two millennia. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution started to take hold, Sigmund Freud’s infatuation with perversion took center stage, and men like Friedrich Schleiermacher openly criticized the Bible’s origin. In response, sixty-four different authors composed ninety essays as an attempt to correct liberal theology. Those who agreed with and promoted these articles were labeled, “Fundamentalists.” In truth, they were simply orthodox Christians who refused to compromise or downgrade Biblical doctrine.
These early Fundamentalists, from many different denominations, banded together to stand against liberalism. Not only did they battle for the core doctrines of the historic Christian faith, they also battled cultural downgrades in the practice of these doctrines. Topics included such things as false religions, atheism, modern philosophy, archeology, an assault on the literal tabernacle in the wilderness, foreign missions, forms of preaching, finances, Sunday school evangelism, and even socialism. The first Fundamentalists were cultural Fundamentalists according to their own writings.
A confusion that also needs to be addressed is the assumption that Fundamentalism is based only upon just “Five Fundamentals.” This is far too simplistic. In 1898, the Niagara Bible Conference published a fourteen-point creed (https://truthisfundamental.wordpress.com/1878-nbcc/). In 1910, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church dismissed three men from its assembly for questioning the validity of the Virgin Birth. The assembly then passed a resolution of five points, or Five Fundamentals, that were essential to the Christian faith. From 1910 to 1915, the ninety essays, The Fundamentals, were published. Many other creeds or doctrinal statements were published that strengthened the identity of Fundamentalism. While the Five Fundamentals of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church give a short context to Fundamentalism, they do not and have never defined the movement as a whole.
The purpose of this brief article is not to review the entire history of Fundamentalism, but rather point to the inception of the early Fundamentalists. I desire to do this because of two basic thoughts. First, many people refer to themselves as “Fundamentalists”, yet they may not be aware of the movement’s foundations. We need to fix that, and will attempt to do so! Second, much of Fundamentalism has lost its identity from within and without. It is my belief that any Christian today can be encouraged and challenged to keep pure doctrine by examining the foundation of early Fundamentalists.
I would like to challenge you. Beginning today and continuing for the next forty-five weeks, I will be publishing two essays from The Fundamentals each week. I would encourage you to read them. Some of the scholarship may be lofty at times, but bear with it. I truly believe the spiritual warfare that we fight today is not all that different than the one from a hundred years ago. We can learn much from the past, as those who choose to ignore it are destined to make the same mistakes.
The essays will be published on this blog, and the Facebook page of New England Shores Baptist Church, where I shepherd (www.facebook.com/nesbcnh).
Here is the link to Essay #1 in PDF form:
Much of Christendom will be centered around debatlive.org tonight to watch a debate that is being billed as “Scopes II.” Back in 1925, a public school teacher, John Scopes, was accused by the State of Tennessee for teaching evolution in his classroom when it was forbidden by the state. Oh how times have changed! The trial was more of a publicity stunt than anything else and staged like a circus with monkeys running around the court lawn. The media’s coverage was massive, and not so much different than today’s liberal media. They described Creationists as “baffoons, yokels, and morons.” The trial was an attempt by the ACLU to see how far they could push their agenda (evolution) and undermine Biblical teaching.
The debate on the witness stand between Christian politician, William Jennings Bryan, and the opposing critic, Clarence Darrow, is what really brought attention to the trial. Bryan was questioned for 2 hours about the literal interpretation and the historicity of the Bible. It had nothing to do with the State of Tennessee vs John Scopes. In the end, the argument was expunged from the record and the prosecution was not allowed to turn the tables and do a cross examination. John Scopes never testified, and most believe that he never even taught evolution in his classroom. He was found guilty and ordered to pay a $100 fine. The trial (dog and pony show) was about the ACLU trying to destroy Christianity, not John Scopes breaking Tennessee law.
The aftermath of the trial cast Religion vs “Science” into the forefront of society claiming the Bible was inferior to the “science” of evolution. While it seem that the anti-evolution cause in the US was stronger than ever, by 1927 a crack had formed and Creationism slowly began losing its hold. By 1958, the National Defense Education Act was passed promoting the teaching of evolution in order to keep up with the education of the Soviet Union. The ACLU actually won the Scopes Trial because the tables are now turned. It is Creationism that is outlawed in our public schools today along with prayer and the 10 Commandments.
This evening, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” will be facing off versus Ken Ham in a debate over Evolution vs Creation. I have met Ken Ham on a few occasions and have appreciated his commitment to the literal interpretation of Genesis 1. We live in a day and age that many Evangelicals do not even believe in traditional Creation any more. Some “Christians” go as far as calling Genesis 1 an allegory in which God inserted Adam and Eve into the evolution’s ape timeline at the perfect moment in Genesis 2. Such teaching is heresy and its teachers should be marked and avoided (Romans 16:9).
I think it is important to understand what this debate is all about. I do not believe the purpose of this debate is for Ken Ham to “win” anything. It isn’t about making Bill Nye look like a fool. It isn’t about the winner beating his chest and gloating in victory. It certainly isn’t about feeding one side’s pride in who is right or who is wrong. No, the focus of this debate is above all this.
You see, dear friend, Bill Nye and many others watching this debate this evening need Jesus Christ as Savior. While I am confident that Ken Ham will present some great data and evidence for the Biblical Creation account, it would be all in vain unless he can point to the marvelous identity and sacrifice of the Creator. In essence, this debate is about Bill Nye’s faith vs Ken Ham’s faith. I am praying today that Ken does a thorough job of explaining the need to have Christ as one’s substitution for sin in order to gain eternal life. We call this, “the gospel.” To those who reject it, the preaching of the gospel is foolishness, yet for those who accept it, it is the power of God unto salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18). Would you join me in prayer today that the evidence for Biblical Creation will begin to point people to Christ and their need for salvation based upon an accurate, perfect Bible? It is my prayer also that you will be able to use this debate as a jumping point into sharing your faith with others. While we may not know all the answers or posses the intellect and education of these two scientists, sharing the gospel is as simple as John 3:16! Wouldn’t it be incredible to witness the supernatural truth of the gospel be planted in Bill Nye’s heart by the Holy Spirit? Let’s pray to that end.
My family was privileged to host Dr. Michael Privett and his wife Sheri this past weekend from Gospel Fellowship Association. Dr. Privett planted Faith Baptist Church of Williamsburg, VA and pastored there for 21 years. He now is the director of church planting at GFA, and travels around encouraging church planters.
I must confess that I put Dr. Privett to work while he was here. The December cold is upon us and we heat by wood. Once a week, I load up my living room with firewood, and Dr. Privett was more than happy to assist me with this task, which I appreciated very much.
As we finished bringing a load of wood in and attempted to retrieve another, I stepped onto our deck only to be hit in the face with a stench that could knock over a mule. Our friendly, neighborhood skunk had decided to invade the woodpile we had been using just minutes before. The smell was so strong that there was no doubt he was still within a few feet of the deck. I quickly announced that we were done hauling firewood for the evening. We proceeded to be thankful that Mr. Skunk had waited to announce his presence while we were indoors. If he hadn’t, we would have been quite the essence of nasal affections in church the next morning.
While skunks are beautiful animals, they just plain stink. The consequences of messing with a wild skunk are quite severe. One does not have to get near him to know the affect of his stench. With one foot on my deck, I knew firewood hauling was done for the evening, so I went inside and refused to be affected by Mr. Skunk.
I wonder how many Christians think of sin in the same way. When presented with the opportunity to do something that is a stench in the nostrils of God, how many of us choose to stink? Just like a skunk, the initial severity of the stench of sin can be quite offensive, but once we become accustomed to the stench, it isn’t so bad. Yet, the truth is sin always stinks. The stench of sin in not relative.
For some reason, we convince ourselves that we can cover the stench of sin! We scramble to add the colognes and perfumes of self-righteousness, the right dress standards, music, church attendance, and even speech. If someone sits near us in church that was just sprayed by a skunk, we will smell it no matter how much cover scent is used. Sin also stinks, and it cannot be covered by self-righteous acts (Isaiah 64:6).
Finally, there are not many solutions to getting rid of essence of skunk. A home remedy with an acid base like white vinegar or tomato juice may do the trick, but people often need to turn to commercial products. There is only one solvent for the stench of sin, and that is God’s forgiveness through the shed blood of Christ. The first treatment is accepting Christ as Savior through his death in your place on the cross. He defeated death by rising from the dead three days later according the Scriptures. If you are saved, 1 John 1:9 is for you. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Do you stink? Do you think you have everyone fooled because you sprayed yourself with your own righteous cologne today? The truth is that sin stinks just like a skunk stinks. You cannot cover it and expect no one else to notice, especially God! Take a bath in God’s righteousness through confessing and forsaking your sin. Be acceptable in God’s sight today.
This past Sunday, I had the privilege of leading our small church in a Thanksgiving service that truly edified my heart. My sermon was entitled, “The Three Tenses of Thanksgiving” based out of Psalm 66:4-9.
Whether this great hymn was used at the exodus of Egypt or the return from Babylonian Captivity doesn’t affect the significance of the exhortation to praise the Lord for the past, present, and future. Every day should be a day of giving thanks to God for who he is, what he has done, and what he has promised to do. Some Christians live life as a lemon, and that’s ok if your last name is Lemon, but our lives should be reflective of God’s goodness rather than our perceived misery.
One particular joy I received out of the message is the truth that God’s deeds are awesome towards the children of men. This is not simply Israel. The Psalmist could have easily used just “Israel,” but that is not what we find in verse 5 because God’s awesomeness was displayed to the Egyptians in the exodus and the Babylonians in the return. God’s awesomeness is viewable by all men! Here is where it gets exciting. The first Messianic promise of Genesis 3:15 is not simply a promise to Eve or Israel, but rather to all humanity. I am not trivializing the Abraham Covenant of Genesis 12, but Genesis 3:15 is not only to the line of Abraham. God’s deeds are awesome to me! This makes Thanksgiving Day very personal.
When it comes to seeing the awesomeness of God, all men are without excuse. The famous preacher Harry Ironside was dining in a crowded restaurant. Just as Ironside was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited his to have a seat. Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, “Do you have a headache?” Ironside replied, “No, I don’t.” The other man asked, “Well, is there something wrong with your food?” Ironside replied, “No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat.”
The man said, “Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!”
Ironside said, “Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does too!”
Friend, we have so much to be thankful for. God is awesome, and his awesome works are displayed against the backdrop of all time and space just for you. Have your fill of turkey and stuffing, but don’t forget that we should come and see the awesome works of God to all the children of men. Every day should be a day of giving thanks to God for who he is, what he has done, and what he has promised to do.