01 March 2015

Who?

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Treasury of David, Psalm 15, verse one, Hendrickson Publishers.
"Thou high and holy One, who shall be permitted to have fellowship with thee?" 

The heavens are not pure in thy sight, and thou chargest thine angels with folly, who then of mortal mould shall dwell with thee, thou dread consuming fire? A sense of the glory of the Lord and of the holiness which becomes his house, his service, and his attendants, excites the humble mind to ask the solemn question before us. 

Where angels bow with veiled faces, how shall man be able to worship at all? The unthinking many imagine it to be a very easy matter to approach the Most High, and when professedly engaged in his worship they have no questionings of heart as to their fitness for it; but truly humbled souls often shrink under a sense of utter unworthiness, and would not dare to approach the throne of the God of holiness if it were not for him, our Lord, our Advocate, who can abide in the heavenly temple, because his righteousness endureth for ever. 

"Who shall abide in thy tabernacle?" Who shall be admitted to be one of the household of God, to sojourn under his roof and enjoy communion with himself? "Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" Who shall be a citizen of Zion, and an inhabitant of the heavenly Jerusalem? The question is raised, because it is a question. 

All men have not this privilege, nay, even among professors there are aliens from the commonwealth, who have no secret intercourse with God. On the grounds of law no mere man can dwell with God, for there is not one upon earth who answers to the just requirements mentioned in the succeeding verses. 

The questions in the text are asked of the Lord, as if none but the Infinite Mind could answer them so as to satisfy the unquiet conscience. We must know from the Lord of the tabernacle what are the qualifications for his service, and when we have been taught of him, we shall clearly see that only our spotless Lord Jesus, and those who are conformed unto his image, can ever stand with acceptance before the Majesty on high.

Impertinent curiosity frequently desires to know who and how many shall be saved; if those who thus ask the question, "Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" would make it a soul-searching enquiry in reference to themselves they would act much more wisely. 

Members of the visible church, which is God's tabernacle of worship, and hill of eminence, should diligently see to it, that they have the preparation of heart which fits them to be inmates of the house of God. Without the wedding-dress of righteousness in Christ Jesus, we have no right to sit at the banquet of communion. Without uprightness of walk we are not fit for the imperfect church on earth, and certainly we must not hope to enter the perfect church above.

27 February 2015

Some Here, Some There — February 27, 2015

by Dan Phillips

And off we go. There may be updates, as usual, up to noon TX time.
  • The murder of the 21 Egyptian Copts provoked a lot of heat, and debatable light, as to whether they should be classed as "Christians." Kevin DeYoung gives helpful historical and doctrinal framing. I've always appreciated how Kevin writes and speaks. The article includes some very nice turns of phrase, such as "It’s unclear whether Nestorius was actually a Nestorian." Then, later, "it’s unclear how much of Eutychianism came from Eutyches." History is hard.
  • There is much interesting and informative push-back in the meta, and (as I think is customary), zero response thus far from Kevin. One of the respondents is a poor soul who self-identifies as a "coptic orthodox christian" [sic]. He does, I think, a great deal of damage to his own case, aggressively crusading against truths we all hold dear and essential and for practices we rightly condemn.
  • But my personal fondness for DeYoung was increased by a particular phrase. My family (particularly my dear and only daughter) has had to wrestle with, and tease me for, my tendency to phrase things negatively. "Are you not going to finish that?" So imagine my joy in Kevin's wording here: "For my part, I’m unwilling to say the non-acceptance of Chalcedon is no big deal." Kevin, you are my brother.
  • Baronelle Stutzman is (A) a profile in courage and conviction, and (B) clearly not an "evangelical academic."
  • Doug Wilson adds some excellent commentary.
  • I wonder if The Gospel Coalition has blocked Wilson? They have to feel torn about him. He's a celebrity and witty... but has edges and little patience with pretentious frippery.
  • The smiling Scot, Prof. David Murray, offers ten Biblical formulas to cultivate a more joyous, positive attitude.
  • Murray also pointed to Brad Hambrick's favorite posts on anxiety.
  • This Wednesday's text in Psalm 3 will take me into the arena of the imprecatory prayers in the psalms. Some recent thoughts on that were offered at Reformation 21, and by Barry York.
  • The living breathing fog machine that is Rob Bell has rhetorically attempted to ennoble his amorous pursuit of the present age by framing homosexuality and its specifics as a cure for "loneliness" and a species of "love." Anyone who opposes, we're told, is overfond of 2000-year-old letters. Michael J. Kruger responds, winning the internet for the day by quoting from the movie Tombstone.
  • Also, as to the appeal to "love" you might remind yourself of this. As to his sneering denigration of God's wordthis.
  • Everyone who attended Sufficient Fire is ready to answer this sad, unintended confession of ineptitude from Anne Graham Lotz:
  • Deuced thing about "the slippery slope fallacy" is how individuals keep providing illustrations of its non-fallaciousness. Like John Walton.
  • This fellow has been one of my most effective (if unwitting) salesmen so far:

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24 February 2015

Sufficient Fire conference audio and video are available

by Dan Phillips

In case you missed the announcement Friday, Copperfield Bible Church, and the volunteers who worked on the conference, have now made available the audio and video from the Sufficient Fire conference sessions, both the talks and the panels.

Click on the graphic.


Everyone who came had a wonderful time — sessions, giveaways, fellowship, worship. Maybe some will share. It was terrific meeting some of our longtime readers.

All of my brothers' talks were stellare. But Phil's opening session was particularly wonderful, and Frank's second session is one my dear wife and I plan to listen to again and again — stirring, convicting, instructive. Just wonderful.

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22 February 2015

Poor exchanges

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 36, sermon number 2,151, "Holy longings."
"Many men are violent against one sin; but the true saint abhors all sin."


You are a teetotaler; I am very glad to hear it: you will not allow the sin of drunkenness to have dominion over you. But are you selfish and ungenerous? Have you developed habits of strict economy in regard to religious donations, so that you always give a penny where you ought to give a pound? What have you done? You have only changed your idols.

You have dethroned one usurper to set up another. If you were once profane and are now hypocritical, you have only changed iniquities. It is a very curious thing how one sin feeds on another: the death of profligacy may be the resurrection of greed; the flight of pride may be the advent of shameless folly. The man who was lewd, riotous, brawling and irreligious has killed those sins, and on their graves he has sown a handful of a poisonous weed called pride, and it flourishes amazingly.

It may be London pride, country pride, or English pride, or American pride; but it is rare stuff to grow,  and to grow over the rotting carcasses of other sins. Unbelief may dethrone superstition, but its own reign may be no real improvement upon that of credulity.

If you only throw down Baal to set up Ashteroth, what progress have you made towards God? Little does it matter which of the false gods is set up in the temple of Jehovah, for he hates them all. The right prayer is, “Let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”

 Some sins are of respectable repute and other sins are disreputable among men; but to a child of God every sin is loathsome. Sins are all what Bunyan calls Diabolonians and not one of them must be suffered to live in the town of ManSoul. “Let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”

I can see the throne set up within the heart of man. Who shall sit on it? It cannot be empty; who shall fill it? This sin, that sin, or the other? Nay, Lord, help me to keep every intruder out of it.

Whether he come as an angel of light, or in his true character as the devil, help me to treat every one as an enemy that would seek to supplant thee in thy dominion over me. Oh, that God may reign over us from morn to eve, through every day of every week of every year!

20 February 2015

Some Here, Some There — February 20, 2015

by Dan Phillips

Here we go. Updates expected through noon, Texas time.
  • First, all of the Sufficient Fire sessions are online, video and audio. You're welcome, and thank you who supported it by your attendance, giving, and prayers. Now please continue to pray for the outreach and ongoing impact of the conference, as the talks can go around the globe, wherever the internet reaches.
  • For all my parts... I recommend the audio.
  • "Pirate Christian" captain Chris Rosebrough created a series of false prophet billboards in the same spirit as Phil's classic and unrivalled Po-Motivators. Enjoy!
  • Andy Stanley continues to wobble. Historically, wobbly wheels seldom fix themselves.
  • English comedian Stephen Fry illustrates that even the most vacuous nonsense, given voice in a cultured English accent, can keep one from being instantly hooted off the stage.
  • And then Doug Wilson comes along to expose it as the vacuous nonsense that it is.
  • My own take on Fry's rant is briefer. Fry is asked to suppose that it's all true, only to reveal immediately that he has not the faintest notion of what it all being true would even mean.
  • There is a new addition to Phillips' Axioms.
  • The non-Christian loved one of a non-Christian friend dies. What do you say? Here are some concise, helpful thoughts.
  • I'm not the only pastor who will profit from Todd Pruitt's thoughts for pastors in our public prayers.
  • For my dear wife:
  • It continues to be true that the best aspect of Justin Taylor's attempt to save face for day-wigglers is the posts generated in response, of which Dr. David Shormann's recent post is a particularly fine example.
  • Denny Burk repeats some of the best advice you can give a pastoral candidate: get fired in the interview. I've said in interviews, "What I do is teach and preach the Bible, to the best of my ability, all the time, every time. If you don't want that, you don't want me. If you do, we should talk." One church said, "Thanks, goodbye." Another church said, in effect, "Welcome to Texas."
  • Good heavens, what a foolishly and impossibly-worded poll. How would you even answer? Like, "I think children should always be spanked; I think children should be sort of spanked; I think children are dainty little angels best suited for ivory pedestals and cupcakes." What? Worse than meaningless.
  • Finally in case you're not hungry enough already, mankind's latest essential invention: bacon-wrapped-crust pizza:

  • To end on a deep note, or something like:

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19 February 2015

Prov 29:18, "Vision," and Anachronism

by Dan Phillips


From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.


The following excerpt was written by Dan back in June 2006. Dan addressed a common misunderstanding and misuse of Proverbs 29:18.


As usual, the comments are closed.
It would be awfully hard to pick the most frequently-abused and misused text of Scripture. That in itself may make a fun (?) post someday.

But surely well up on the list would have to be: "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he" (Proverbs 29:18 KJV). That poor, hapless soldier has been pressed into the service of ideologically foreign masters beyond anything that the laws of kindness should permit. How many church building funds, bus contests, motivational seminars and the like have been launched under the mistaken aegis of this verse?

It's a classic example of anachronism. We have this word today, "vision," that means "An ideal or a goal toward which one aspires." This verse has that word in it. Conclusion: this verse must be talking about how important it is to have goals.

Well, the conclusion is true, but the text in this case is a pretext. No one will find the underlying Hebrew term chazon used in this way. It just isn't. But you will find a consistent use of the term to indicate prophetic revelation, such as we have today in Scripture alone (cf. Isaiah 1:1; Daniel 8:1, 15; Hosea 12:11; Obadiah 1; Nahum 1:1, etc.).

And so I render the verse, "Without revelation a people runs wild; But the [people] keeping the Law, happy is it." Similarly the ESV, "Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law." It isn't at all about an individual, nor a group, gathering together and forming goals. It isn't about praying and "feeling led." It isn't about dreams (in the non-revelatory sense), targets, programs -- in fact, it isn't about any human endeavor at all.

The verse is about our need communally as well as individually for the Word of God. Any half-decent newspaper -- and I admit "half-decent" is setting the bar too high, these days -- illustrates the precise and almost technical truth of the verse. The more we cast off the absolutes of God's word, the more our culture plummets towards lawless chaos.

I say that to say this: I was struck in my reading today by a genuine statement of "vision" in the above sense, of ambition. It is in the apostle's words: "...I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation..." (Romans 15:20).

If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time. This is an axiom I've hammered out on the anvil of far too much experience.

Paul does not aim at nothing. He aims at something. It's a big goal, it's a lofty goal, it's a Christ-centered and Christ-honoring goal. It's a loving goal. It's a measurable goal. It is specific, and yet it is wide-open. It is set in time, but it has an eye on eternity. It allows for readjusting specifics (Africa? Spain? Australia?), yet also rules out other alternatives (not Jerusalem, not Judea, not Samaria).

Now let me conclude with a little end-run around myself. Does Proverbs 29:18 have nothing to say about forming goals? No; just not what it is commonly taken to say.

The verse is not talking about how important it is to formulate goals. However, it does apply to the absolute necessity of subordinating our goals, plans, methods, tactics, and values to the revealed Word of God.

Set goals, set specific goals, set adjustable goals; and do it within the framework and values laid down in the inerrant, abiding, sufficient Word of God.

17 February 2015

How does Proverbs point to Christ?

by Dan Phillips

The Old Testament as a whole — though not each syllable in isolation — points to Christ (cf. Luke 24:25, 27, 44; Acts 10:43). The ways in which it does so are very varied (cf. Hebrews 1:1), including types and of course direct prophecies.

How does Proverbs do so?

One way is in overall impact. This book calls us all to be the perfect Sage, right? If we could embody its ideals, we would be the man who fears Yahweh before, above and through all things (1:7; 9:10; 23:17), and so doesn't sin (16:6), holds his temper in perfect check (16:32), always knows when to answer or not answer (26:4-5), and so forth. The perfectly righteous, godly man.

So one finishes and thinks, "Yeah — except it's already too late. I'll never be that man. Even the guy who wrote the book (1:1) wasn't that man (1 Kings 11)! No son of Adam will ever be that man (1 Kings 8:46)!"


But then one reads Isaiah 11, about the one on whom the Spirit of Yahweh (who is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding and counsel and knowledge and the fear of Yahweh) rests, the perfect Man who lives and rules in perfect righteousness. Ah, so that one will embody the ideal of this book!

Then we ask, Nice for Him, but how does that help me? Then we read Isaiah 53, and we understand.

Proverbs points to Jesus at least in this: by framing the ideal godly, righteous Sage who is what no mere mortal can be, thus creating a mold that can be filled only by Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God incarnate (cf. Matthew 23:34//Luke 11:49; 1 Corinthians 1:24, 30; Colossians 2:2-3).

For more, see the Epilogue and Appendix Four of God's Wisdom in Proverbs, available on sale at Logos, at WTS, at Amazon, and 50% off from the publisher.

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