The Fundamentals: Chapter 5

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Perhaps the greatest travesty of the American church today is the failure to accept the Bible as a divine book that is inspiredQuestion.001 by God. According to a recent Gallup poll taken in 2011, only 3 in 10 Americans actually believe that they can take the Bible literally. What worsens this statistic is that only 40% of the US actually attends church each Sunday. One would think that at least that 40% would take the Word of God as their authority, but even this is not the case. There are spots in the the US where church attendance and belief in the Bible are much lower than the national average. The State of New Hampshire, my home, ranks 49th out of all all 50 states in Sunday morning church attendance with only 23.7%. It has been estimated by recent surveys that only 2%-3% of those NH church attenders would identify themselves are either Fundamental or Evangelical Christians. Friends, this is horrific.

What seems to be the problem? There is no doubt that one major hurdle we face is that far too many people who identify themselves as “Christian” do not view the Bible as the authoritative, sufficient, and the life-changing Word of God. Any attempt to be a victorious Christian without the Bible is a vain and ridiculous religious ritual.

Chapter 5 of The Fundamentals proclaims the importance for all men to view the Bible as the only divinely written book that is worthy of honor, guidance, and sufficiency. Simply stated, the Bible is infallible. It is incapable of error or misleading. “Here, it was believed, is a volume which is an inspired record of the whole will of God for man’s salvation; accept as true and inspired the teaching of that book, follow its guidance, and you cannot stumble, you cannot err in attaining the supreme end of existence, in finding salvation, in grasping the prize of a glorious immortality.”

The Fundamentals: Chapter 5

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The Fundamentals: Chapter 4

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Whether the critics like it or not, the Bible is a supernatural book. “How does the Bible prove itself to be a divinely inspired,Question.001 heaven-given book, a communication from a Father to His children, and thus a revelation?” It contains the message of God, the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation. No other book in history has or ever can compare to the life-transforming nature of the Bible. Men have tried to destroy it and critics have tried to debunk it, yet the Bible stands. Chapter 4 of The Fundamentals addresses the critical assault on the authenticity and divine inspiration of the Bible. Some of the arguments may seem random or unfamiliar to a modern reader. That is because author was addressing specific criticisms and critics of his day that may not have contemporary relevance. Please do not cast this chapter aside if you cannot understand his point, or even think it is too simplistic. The author makes his final point by quoting the greatest commentary ever written on Scripture…Scripture. Enjoy!

The Fundamentals: Chapter 4

Its Resolution Thursday!

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.”

Resolution 2.001

The Fundamentals: Chapter 3

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Question.001I really enjoyed reading today’s essay from The Fundamentals because it is so relevant for today, even though it was written 100 years ago. We are fighting the same battles. Satan does not change his tactics because they still work. He was a liar in the Garden of Eden, and he is still the same liar today. Today’s essay combats the lies of liberal theology and “higher criticism.”

If you remember from Chapter 1, higher criticism calls into question the divine source of the Bible and attempts to piece together the human elements without attention the the inspiration of Scripture. This path is dangerous and heretical. Chapter 3 addresses the fallacies of higher criticism and shows the flaws of its liberal theology. For example, higher criticism calls into question the authorship of the first five books of the Bible. Some critics even cast doubt upon Moses’ very existence! Two other fallacies addressed are the entrance of the theory of evolution into Christianity and the discrediting of real miracles happening in the Bible. Before I give away the rest, please jump in and read!

The Fundamentals: Chapter 3

The Fundamentals: Chapter 2

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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.

The Fundamentals: Chapter 2

Resolution Thursday is here!

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Jonathan Edwards was America’s greatest theologian. Even at the young age of 19, he proved that he was quite aware of his calling to be holy by writing 70 Resolutions. Take heart Millennials! Edwards would read his Resolutions once each week as a reminder of his life calling. He did this for over over 35 years. Prior to entering heaven in 1758, Edwards read them over 1800 times.

Each Thursday I will be posting one resolution of the Jonathan Edwards. I hope that these are a blessing and challenge to us all to serve our God better.

“Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.”

JE Resolution 1 

What is a “Fundamentalist?”

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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:

The Fundamentals: Chapter 1

 

Science Guy vs Creation Guy

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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.

http://www.debatelive.org

Christmas Distractions

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For those of you who do not know, this will be our first Christmas with a child who really comprehends the events that will take place at Christmas. Jud is now 3.5 years old and on sensory overload. As a parent, I find that my greatest difficulty is filtering out the real meaning of Christmas from all the distractions that take place at this time of year. We enjoyed setting up our Christmas tree and hanging the lights. We love driving though the neighborhood at night and seeing all the decorations. For some reason, Jud remembers the 8 foot inflatable Santa on our neighbors roof last year. He was shopping with his grandmother in the Dollar Store the other day and proceeded to yell to all the children nearby that Santa is not real. 😉

In reality, while many cultural observances are enjoyable, they should always be overshadowed by that fact that the babe in the manger is the Christ of the cross. I cannot get over the fact that the very God of heaven took on human flesh and chose to sacrifice himself with a brutal death so that I can have eternal life though his resurrection.

Last night, this thought hit me like a ton of bricks when I was standing in an overcrowded Market Basket checkout line. The checker was grumpy and almost reduced to tears. I was annoyed and tired from fighting through the crowds just to get a few things we needed. The whole scene was just one grumpy New England horror show when people are shouting, “Merry Christmas” in annoyance and anger. But this is not Christmas. The exhaustion from shopping, parties, family meals, finding the right gifts, and trying to smile over that ugly sweater that Aunt Bertha knitted for you that might of had a chance of fitting in 1942. This is not Christmas! It is all a distraction.

That Market Basket checker needed hope in her exhaustion, and I was a grumpy Christian standing in front of her with the only true message of hope the world has ever known. It took every fiber of my being to be kind and share with her the hope of Christmas. Everything else is just a distraction. So when you find yourself distracted, overwhelmed, or grumpy this week, remember the true hope of Christmas and boldly share it with others. Remember 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

Born to Die by Ron Hamilton
On the night Christ was born
Just before the break of morn,
As the stars in the sky were fading,
O’er the place where He lay,
Fell a shadow cold and gray
Of a cross that would humble a King.

Chorus

Born to die upon Calv’ry,
Jesus suffered my sin to forgive;
Born to die upon Calv’ry,
He was wounded that I might live.

Christmas 2013.001

http://hamptonchurch.com/index.php/resources/pastor-s-blog

Beauty Through The Ashes

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Last night I had the privilege of leading a Bible study in our church on the book of Job. I must say that my comprehension of this book is much different than a few weeks ago. While in Montana at the end of June, I developed an abscess on a tooth that became very uncomfortable. I received antibiotics and hoped they would solve the problem. A few weeks later I made it to the dentist only to find out the tooth needed to be extracted surgically. The only problem was that the surgeons in the area did not have openings for 2 weeks and I had to deal with significant pain. I must admit, however, that I do not view this pain as suffering or even a trial, but rather an inconvenience. It pales in comparison to what my dear friends, the Phelps family, are currently going through.

On July 27, the Lord translated four of his own children directly to his throne room through a bus accident that has now become national news. I had the blessing of knowing and watching Chad Phelps grow and mature right before my eyes. I taught his high school Bible class for a year and watched God stir an incredible gift within him that is very rare, a pastor’s heart. Chad, with his zany sense of humor, was also an encourager. Often times while we have been church planting in NH, he sent me notes of edification, theological debate, or just the assurance that he was praying for me. This man, 13 years my younger, was a sweet friend and brother. He promised to preach for our church next time he was in NH.

My first reaction when I heard that Chad, his wife, his unborn daughter, and a fellow church member had lost their lives was that this is just not fair! After studying Job for the last few weeks, I must confess that I am in no position to tell God what is fair or unfair. Romans 5:3-5 is very clear. “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

When studying the book of Job, it is important to have a proper viewpoint. Upon first glimpse, Job seems to be the helpless victim of suffering and oppression initiated by Satan with a surprise attack coming before the throne of God. Even though the book is named after Job, he is NOT the main character. The whole essence of the book revolves around the sufficiency of God. God is the main character. Job is not the book of suffering, it is the book of God’s sufficiency. As humans, we tend to associate ourselves with Job as a helpless victim in a horrible set of circumstances just trying to hang on for dear life. Job is not helpless at all. He was in the hands of a sovereign, sufficient God who orchestrated certain events to reform and mold Job into the man God desired. The book of Job wrestles with the age-old question, “Why do righteous men suffer if God is a God of love and mercy?” God’s sovereignty is sufficient for man’s inadequacy. God’s purpose, therefore, was to strip away all of Job’s self-righteousness and to bring him to the place of complete trust and reliance.

When a Christian cries out, “It’s not fair!” he is authorizing his own finite perception to determine the justice of an infinite, omnipotent, sovereign God. This is self-righteousness.  Theologically, the Christian’s life is very unfair. In total depravity, man deserves eternal damnation. What was “fair” about Christ living a sinless life and sacrificing himself on a cruel cross as a substitution for sin? Life is not fair! But God is just. We need to let God be God.

Why did God translate these four wonderful souls to heaven? I do not know. My heart is broken because of it. As Pastor Phelps and Linda clearly expressed in the press conference yesterday, God has chosen to glorify himself through the death of these dear saints. It may not be our choice, but God is good. I have already heard of multiple people accepting Christ as Savior as a result of this accident. I have no doubt there will be many more. This is God’s beauty through the ashes. I love you Chad, and cannot wait to feast with you and your family at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.