Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Peril & Disquietude

SOVEREIGN COMMANDER OF THE UNIVERSE,

I am sadly harassed by doubts, fears, unbelief, in a felt spiritual darkness.

My heart is full of evil surmisings and disquietude, and I cannot act faith at all.
My heavenly Pilot has disappeared, and I have lost my hold on the Rock of Ages;
I sink into a deep mire beneath storms and waves, in horor and distress unutterable.

Help me, O LORD,
to throw myself absolutely and wholly on thee,
for better, for worse, without comfort, and all but hopeless.

Give me peace of soul, confidence, enlargement of mind,
morning joy that comes after night heaviness;
Water my soul richly with divine blessings;
Grant that I may welcome thy humbling in private
so that I might enjoy thee in public;
Give me a mountain top as high as the valley is low.

Thy grace can melt the worst sinner, and I am as vile as he;
Yet thou hast made me a monument of mercy,
a trophy of redeeming power;
In my distress let me not forget this.

All-wise God,
Thy never failing providence orders every event, sweetens every fear,
reveals evil's presence lurking in seeming good,
brings real good out of seeming evil,
makes unsatisfactory what I set my heart upon,
to show me what a short-sighted creature I am,
and to teach me to live by faith upon thy blessed self.

Out of my sorrow and night
give me the name Naphtali -
'satisfied with favor' -
help me to love thee as thy child,
and to walk worthy of my heavenly pedigree.


The Valley of Vision - A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Monday, December 22, 2014

Love Flows

“Love to God, love to the brethren, love to the world, spring up within us as the heavenly love flows in.”


Excerpt From: Bonar, Horatius. “The Everlasting Righteousness.” Monergism Books, 2011-11-05T22:59:54.841000+00:00. iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Value of the Soul

My wife's precious 89-year-old grandmother just departed this world last week, and went home to be with her Savior. While her last days were filled with much physical pain, she expressed no distress over her impending death. She greatly cherished the presence of family by her bed, my wife singing hymns to her during her last days on this earth... and most certainly, her assurance of where she was heading. She knew her soul was safe because of her faith in Jesus.

But what of those without this peace?

“Does any reader of this paper wish to have some faint idea of the value of a soul? Then go and measure it by the opinions of dying people. The solemnity of the closing scene strips off the tinsel and pretence of things, and makes men see them as they really are. What would men do then for their souls? I have seen something of this, as a Christian minister. Seldom, very seldom, have I found people careless, thoughtless, and indifferent about the world to come, in the hour of death. The man who can tell good stories, and sing good songs to merry companions, turns very grave when he begins to feel that life is leaving his body. The boasting infidel at such a season has often cast aside his infidelity. Men like Paine and Voltaire have often shown that their vaunted philosophy breaks down when the grave is in sight. Tell me not what a man thinks about the soul when he is in the fullness of health; tell me rather what he thinks when the world is sinking beneath him, and death, judgment, and eternity loom in sight. The great realities of our being will then demand attention, and must be considered. The value of the soul in the light of time is one thing, but seen in the light of eternity it is quite another. Never does living man know the value of the soul so well as when he is dying, and can keep the world no longer.”

Excerpt From: Ryle, J. C. “Old Paths.” iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Condemnation or the Cross

“Condemnation makes sin strike its roots deeper and deeper. No amount of terror can extirpate evil. No fear of wrath can make us holy. No gloomy uncertainty as to God's favour can subdue one lust, or correct our crookedness of will. But the free pardon of the cross uproots sin, and withers all its branches. The 'no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus' is the only effectual remedy for the deadly disease of an alienated heart and stubborn will.”


Excerpt From: Bonar, Horatius. “The Everlasting Righteousness.” Monergism Books, 2011-11-05T22:59:54.841000+00:00. iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Forgiving Love

“Forgiveness is the mainspring of holiness. Love, as a motive, is far stronger than law; far more influential than fear of wrath or peril of hell. Terror may make a man crouch like a slave and obey a hard master, lest a worse thing come upon him; but only a sense of forgiving love can bring either heart or conscience into that state in which obedience is either pleasant to the soul or acceptable to God.”


Excerpt From: Bonar, Horatius. “The Everlasting Righteousness.” Monergism Books, 2011-11-05T22:59:54.841000+00:00. iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Love and Hell

“I have no sympathy with those who prophesy nothing but peace, and keep back from men the awful fact, that they may lose their souls.

...I am one of those old-fashioned ministers who believe the whole Bible, and everything that it contains. I can find no Scriptural foundation for that smooth-spoken theology, which pleases so many in these days, and according to which everybody will get to heaven at last.

...I believe that there is a real devil. I believe that there is a real hell. I believe that it is not charity to keep back from men that they may be lost.

...Charity! shall I call it? If you saw a brother drinking poison, would you hold your peace?

...Charity! shall I call it? If you saw a blind man tottering towards a precipice, would you not cry out “Stop”?

...Away with such false notions of charity! Let us not slander that blessed grace, by using its name in a false sense.

...It is the highest charity to bring the whole truth before men. It is real charity to warn them plainly when they are in danger."

"It is charity to impress upon them, that they may lose their own souls for ever in hell."


Excerpt From: Ryle, J. C. “Old Paths.” iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Assurance

“To an Arminian, who denies election and the perseverance of the saints, the knowledge of our present reconciliation to God might bring with it no assurance of final salvation; for; according to him, we may be in reconciliation today, and out of it tomorrow; but to a Calvinist there can be no such separation. He who is once reconciled is reconciled for ever; and the knowledge of filial relationship just now is the assurance of eternal salvation. Indeed, apart from God's electing love, there can be no such thing as assurance. It becomes an impossibility.”


Excerpt From: Bonar, Horatius. “The Everlasting Righteousness.” Monergism Books, 2011-11-05T22:59:54.841000+00:00. iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Humiliation & Clouds of Atheism

SOVEREIGN LORD,

When clouds of darkness, atheism, and unbelief come to me,
I see thy purpose of love
  in withdrawing the Spirit that I might prize him more,
  in chastening me for confidence in past successes, that my wounds of secret godlessness might be cured.

Help me to humble myself before thee
  by seeing the vanity of honour
    as a conceit of men's minds,
    as standing between me and thee;
  by seeing that thy will must alone be done,
    as much in denying as in giving spiritual enjoyments;
  by seeing that my heart is nothing but evil,
    mind, mouth, life void of thee;
  by seeing that sin and Satan are allowed power in me
    that I might know my sin, be humbled,
      and gain strength thereby;
  by seeing that unbelief shuts thee from me,
    so that I sense not thy majesty, power, mercy, or love.
Then possess me, for thou only art good and worthy.

Thou dost not play in convincing me of sin,
Satan does not play in tempting me to it,
I do not play when I sink in deep mire,
  for sin is no game, no toy, no bauble;
Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies
  not so much in the nature of the sin committed,
  as in the greatness of the Person sinned against.

When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me,
    by showing me
  that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch,
  but that in Christ I am reconciled, made alive, and satisfied;
  that I am feeble and unable to do any good,
  but that in him I can do all things;
  that what I now have in Christ is mine in part,
  but shortly I shall have it perfectly in heaven.


From The Valley of Vision - A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, "HUMILIATION"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Christianity, Freedom, & Prosperity

If no video link is displayed, please visit this site and watch the linked video:

Loved by God

"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our GOSPEL came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction."
- 1 Thessalonians 1:4,5


So... He is a choosing God.


Has the Gospel come to you in word?

Has the Gospel also come to you in power?

Has the Gospel also come to you in the Holy Spirit?

Has the Gospel also come to you with full conviction?


If you can answer with a resounding, "YES!" then the Apostle Paul says... that they KNOW... that God has chosen you.


God chose me. There is no more humbling truth than that.


Matthew Henry writes:

OBSERVE,
[1.] All those who in the fulness of time are effectually called and sanctified were from eternity elected and chosen to salvation.
[2.] The election of God is of his own good pleasure and mere grace, not for the sake of any merit in those who are chosen.
[3.] The election of God may be known by the fruits thereof.
[4.] Whenever we are giving thanks to God for his grace either to ourselves or others, we should run up the streams to the fountain, and give thanks to God for his electing love, by which we are made to differ.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Seeing from a Good Angle

"There was a sculptor once, so they say, who sculpted a statue of our Lord. And people came from great distances to see it. Christ in all his strength and tenderness. They would walk all around the statue, trying to grasp its splendour, looking at it now from this angle, now from that. Yet still its grandeur eluded them, until they consulted the sculptor himself. He would invariably reply. 'There's only one angle from which this statue can truly be seen. You must kneel.'"


Quoted from David Robertson's Magificent Obsession, who quotes from John Stott

Saturday, October 11, 2014

God and Me

What is God to me? This is the first question that rises up to an inquiring soul. And the second is like unto it,-What am I to God? On these two questions hang all religion, as well as all joy and life to the immortal spirit.

If God is for me, and I am for God, all is well. If God is not for me, and if I am not for God, all is ill (Rom 8:31). If He takes my side, and if I take His, there is nothing to fear, either in this world or in that which is to come. If He is not on my side, and if I am not on His, then what can I do but fear? Terror in such a case must be as natural and inevitable as in a burning house or a sinking vessel.”


Excerpt From: Bonar, Horatius. “The Everlasting Righteousness.” Monergism Books, 2011-11-05T22:59:54.841000+00:00. iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Yes on 1

The will for the people has been silenced. Please click on the link below and watch the new informational advertisement for the proposed Amendment 1 to the Tennessee State Constitution. And vote Yes on 1.

Yes on 1 Television Spot

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What Was God Doing?

Skeptic: "What was God doing before He created the world?"

Augustine: "Creating hell for curious souls."


- Tradition holds the preceding conversation took place when a skeptic mocked Saint Augustine in regard to his doctrine of creation. For more on this, see...
Covenant of Redemption

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Gospel Work

“That which is done for us is not the same as that which is done in us. By the former we are constituted righteous, by the latter we are made holy. The one is properly the Gospel, in the belief of which we are saved; the other, the carrying out of that gospel in the soul....”

“God has given us this gospel not merely for the purpose of securing to us life hereafter, but of making us sure of this life even now.”


Excerpt From: Bonar, Horatius. “The Everlasting Righteousness.” Monergism Books, 2011-11-05T22:59:54.841000+00:00. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Kill 'em All

Thomas J. "Stonewall" JacksonStonewall Jackson was outraged. His entire body shook in anger as he looked around him at what had been done to the city of Fredericksburg. He saw the pianos and the works of art and the crystal chandeliers smashed and ruined on the streets. He saw elegant furniture that had been wantonly vandalized and the remains of elegant, leather-bound books that had been burned for kindling. But it was the churches – the churches – that infuriated him most. Houses of God were pocked with bullet holes and charred by cannon shot. This was a crime against God – a despicable blasphemy – and it very nearly made him weep.
Dr. McGuire, who was seldom far from Jackson’s side, shook his head in revulsion. “What can we do about this kind of barbaric behavior?”
Jackson’s voice trembled. “Kill ‘em,” he said. “Kill ‘em all.”




The preceding passage is an excerpt from No Greater Courage, and may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Faith in Our Faith?

“Faith does not believe in itself, but in the Son of God. Like the beggar, it receives everything, but gives nothing. It consents to be a debtor for ever to the free love of God.”


Excerpt From: Bonar, Horatius. “The Everlasting Righteousness.” Monergism Books, 2011-11-05T22:59:54.841000+00:00. iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Saved by Grace THROUGH Faith... Not BY Faith

“It is a sin-bearer that we need, and our faith cannot be a sin-bearer. Faith can expiate no guilt; can accomplish no propitiation; can pay no penalty; can wash away no stain; can provide no righteousness. It brings us to the cross, where there is expiation, and propitiation, and payment, and cleansing, and righteousness; but in itself it has no merit and no virtue.”

Excerpt From: Bonar, Horatius. “The Everlasting Righteousness.” Monergism Books, 2011-11-05T22:59:54.841000+00:00. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Great Sin

“No sin can be too great for pardon, and no sinner can be too deep or old in sin to be saved and blest; because the righteousness out of which salvation comes is infinite.”

Excerpt From: Bonar, Horatius. “The Everlasting Righteousness.” Monergism Books, 2011-11-05T22:59:54.841000+00:00. iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In Defense of Israel

Bill Whittle nails it again! Hat-tip, therightscoop.com, please click on the link below and watch his latest "Firewall."

Click here, then watch the video:
The Case for Israel


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Illegal Immigration and Mark Zuckerberg

Bill Whittle NAILS IT on what this illegal immigration issue is all about, and the hypocrisy of Mark Zuckerberg and those "limousine liberals" like him. This is a MUST WATCH!

Hat tip, therightscoop.com... Click on this link, then watch the video: Bill Whittle: Firewall


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rest and the Cross

“There are degrees of rest for the soul, and it is in proportion as we comprehend the perfection of the work on Calvary that our rest will increase... We are never done with the cross, nor ever shall be. Its wonders will be always new, and always fraught with joy.”


Excerpt From: Bonar, Horatius. “The Everlasting Righteousness.” Monergism Books, 2011-11-05T22:59:54.841000+00:00. iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Blood

“In the passover-blood, the idea was chiefly that of protection from peril. The lamb stood sentinel at the door of each family; the blood was their 'shield and buckler.' There might be trembling hearts within, wondering perhaps how a little blood could be so efficacious, and make their dwelling so impregnable; disquieted, too, because they could not see the blood, but were obliged to be content with knowing that God saw it (Exo 12:13); yet no amount of fearfulness could alter the potency of that sprinkled blood, and no weakness of faith could make that God-given shield less efficacious against 'the enemy and the avenger.' The blood,-the symbol of substitution,-was on the lintel; and that was enough...

They did not see it, nor feel it; but they knew that it was there, and that sufficed. God saw it, and that was better than their seeing it. They were safe; and they knew that they were so. They could feast upon the lamb in peace, and eat their bitter herbs with thankful joy. They could sing by anticipation the Church's song, 'If God be for us, who can be against us?'


Excerpt From: Bonar, Horatius. “The Everlasting Righteousness.” Monergism Books, 2011-11-05T22:59:54.841000+00:00. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review (Part 8 of 8)


"O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called "knowledge," for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you."
- 1 Timothy 6:20,21


This is the closing of the review of John Walton's THE LOST WORLD OF GENESIS 1. My hope is that the viewer of this blog will take the time to read all eight parts. It should take one less than twenty minutes. Feedback would be much appreciated.



I am a simple man. I have a simple faith. I've never been to a seminary. But I read my Bible every day, and completely through every year (going on eight times now, I think). I say this not to boast, but to make clear that these are not simply my "personal opinions," nor do I believe it to be of my own accord. I study. I meditate. I pray. I listen to lots of sermons, and I read lots of old authors and old books - but also some new. The LORD has given me a passion to know Him. The spirit of Christ dwells in me by grace through faith, and I believe God. And, "if I am not convinced by proof from the Holy Scripture, or by cogent reason" (Martin Luther), I will stand here upon the old gospel, the old truth, the old faith - that never ever grows old.


Therefore, after much study and finding so many problems with Walton's view, and being prayerfully sensitive to what I believe to be the leading of the Holy Spirit, I must reject Walton's teaching as false - as from the evil one - and heed the clear words of my Lord...

2 Timothy 3:14,15 
"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."

James 1:21
"Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."


Lastly, while this topic is of vital importance, for it concerns the gospel, there is the possibility of becoming preoccupied with debating what has already happened. I believe it would be more profitable for us to lay our hands on our mouths and humbly receive the historical narrative by faith. For indeed, where were we when the Almighty laid the foundation of the earth? Let us simply trust and obey, and heed the words of our Master: "Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest" (John 4:25).


I hope this was helpful. May God protect the reader from any error proclaimed herein. The LORD is faithful and has promised to guide His children "into all truth" (John 16:13). Let us trust Him as we pray for one another.


As all, when Adam sinned alone,
In his transgression died,
So by the righteousness of One,
Are sinners justified,
We to Thy merit, gracious Lord,
With humblest joy submit,
Again to Paradise restored,
In Thee alone complete.

Our souls His watchful love retrieves,
Nor lets them go astray,
His righteousness to us He gives,
And takes our sins away:
We claim salvation in His right,
Adopted and forgiv’n,
His merit is our robe of light,
His death the gate of Heav’n.

-Augustus Toplady, FOUNTAIN OF NEVER CEASING GRACE


Your Servant in Christ,

Marty L. Smith


Friday, June 20, 2014

Review (Part 7 of 8)

Isaiah 44
24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: "I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,
25 who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish...



As I wrap up the review, I appeal to The Word...


F.  Conclusions.

Finally, let us look again as we always should to our Savior Christ Jesus - "For from him and through him and to him are all things" (Rom. 11:36). 

1 Corinthians 15
39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.
43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
45 Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.
47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.
49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the manof heaven.

This analogy the Apostle Paul makes, also in Romans 5, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, completely breaks down if what Walton says is true; so it cannot be. God cannot lie. This is the order that God has established. This is what God has done. It is what it is, and no other ancient texts can change it. It is truth, it is for our good, and God would have us accept it by faith. Adam was the representative of and for all his posterity. Jesus was the representative of and for all the elect. These are appointments of God. This is the economy of God. What God has joined together let no man put asunder. One was tempted in the garden, and succumbed. The Other was tempted in the wilderness, and succeeded. This is all about the glory of Christ, and our understanding of Him, His work, and all His facets! The sheep do not listen to the robbers of His glory. 

One of the wonders of it all is that Christ Jesus, the King of kings, would become flesh, become the last Adam, and dwell among us - among sinners like me - to deliver, to save, to redeem, to become sin for us, "...that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21). Adam was our head, our representative. We were condemned and by nature children of wrath, dead in our sin, cursed by the law, and bruised by the fall. But now, we who have been born again have Christ Jesus our Lord in our stead! So let us then be steadfast! We have a new representative in the courts of God! To Him be glory forever and ever!!! Hallelujah!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Review (Part 6 of 8)

"Your first father sinned, and your mediators transgressed against me." 
- Isaiah 43:27


Below is Part 6 of my review of Walton's heresy:



E.  Corroborations.

Concerning Walton's propositions, below are a few comments that corroborate my review:

"Walton’s view was, in my assessment, far too difficult, depending on explaining away so much of what the Bible makes clear. It was as if he was constantly saying, 'I know the Bible says this, but it actually means this other thing.' His view, too, threatens to undermine our confidence in the biblical text and depends far too heavily on other literature from the ancient near east."
- Tim Challies (taken from his review of Four Views on the Historical Adamhttp://www.challies.com/book-reviews/four-views-on-the-historical-adam; but is a clear assessment of Walton's practice.)

"In evaluating Walton’s claims, we must apply the usual rules of hermeneutics and, particularly, that Scripture must be used to interpret Scripture. Our interpretation of any one passage must be such that it is harmonious with and sits comfortably with our interpretation of related passages. This could not be said of Walton’s exposition of Genesis."
- Dominic Statham (http://creation.com/review-walton-the-lost-world-of-genesis-one)

Note: Walton never adequately addresses the problems of his propositions in light of many other texts in the Bible on this subject, especially Genesis 2, Genesis 3, 1 Corinthians 15, Romans 5, and Hebrews 11. I will briefly address that further below. But one can find a smorgasbord of great articles defending the historicity of Adam at the following link... 


I found the following especially intriguing, for it confirmed my beliefs, and my suspicions:

"First of all, who is Dr. John Walton?  He is a professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College.  He has taught at Wheaton since 2001.  He’s written many books and articles including The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate.  Furthermore, he is on the Board of Advisors for BioLogos... BioLogos actively holds to and promotes theistic evolution:  'We believe that God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years…We believe that the diversity and interrelation of all life on earth are best explained by the God-ordained process of evolution withcommon descent.'"

Note: I wholeheartedly agree with Wes Bredenhof's review above. Please go to the link to read it in its entirety, and consider Bredenhof's words in light of the truth that... the same Spirit that leads us unto truth... is the same Spirit that led our trusted and tested fathers of old. 

"[Theistic evolution] is really a child of embarrassment which calls God in at periodic intervals to help nature over the chasms that yawn at her feet. It is neither the Biblical doctrine of creation, nor a consistent theory of evolution, for evolution is defined as 'a series of gradual progressive changes effected by means of resident forces' (Le Conte). In fact, theistic evolution is a contradiction in terms. It is just as destructive of faith in the Biblical doctrine of creation as naturalistic evolution is; and by calling in the creative activity of God time and again it also nullifies the evolutionary hypothesis." 
- Louis Berkhof (Systematic Theology)

Note: Walton's theistic evolution, free from "permutations" (p.119), is simply compromise at its best... or worst.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Review (Part 5 of 8)

A continuing review of Walton's theistic evolution book...


D.  Material Existence without Functionality

According to Walton's view, God materially created the world slowly through what humans have called the evolutionary process, but it was not "functional" as being part of His "cosmic temple" until a date in time. I did not become articulately conscious of the problem of this view until my recent reading of some of Wendell Berry's work. It made me wonder if Walton had ever actually gone for a walk in the woods. 

The Psalmist says, "...the sky above proclaims His handiwork." The Apostle Paul writes, "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made..." And Isaiah wrote that the seraphim said to one another, "...the whole earth is full of his glory!" It is not possible that these mighty works of our Creator God could ever materially exist without functionally glorifying Him!

This is for the most part an experiential argument from me. Having grown up in the foothills of the Appalachians - camping, hunting, fishing, and logging hundreds of miles in my boots in the woods and fields of my ancestors - I am astonished that one could imagine any form or part of this glorious creation ever being dysfunctional. But it was in reading the following short paragraph from Berry that my heart said, "YES!" and I found great support for my claim:

"The most exemplary nature is that of the topsoil. It is very Christ-like in its passivity and benevolence, and in the penetrating energy that issues out of its peaceableness. It increases by experience, by the passage of seasons over it, growth rising out of it and returning to it, not by ambition or aggressiveness. It is enriched by all things that die and enter into it. It keeps the past, not as history or as memory, but as richness, new possibility. Its fertility is always building up out of death into promise. Death is the bridge or the tunnel by which its past enters its future."
- Wendell Berry, THE ART OF THE COMMONPLACE, Part 1

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mark Levin - How Presidents Handle Deserters

From therightscoop.com...

Obama likes to compare himself to other presidents. So in light of the exchange of five Taliban generals for a deserter, Levin decided to look back at a couple of war presidents to see how they handled deserters.

Click here to hear the clip from Mark Levin

Toward the end, Levin had this to say:
We’ve never had a president like this, never, who’s had such disregard for what is the heart and soul of this country. And such disrespect for all of our ancestors, wherever they come from, whomever they are, who built this nation.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Behold the Morning Sun - Issac Watts



Behold, the morning sun
Begins his glorious way;

His beams through all the nations run,

And life and light convey.


But where the Gospel comes

It spreads diviner light;

It calls dead sinners from their tombs,
And gives the blind their sight.


How perfect is Thy Word!

And all Thy judgments just!

For ever sure Thy promise, Lord,
And men securely trust.


My gracious God, how plain

Are Thy directions giv’n!

O may I never read in vain,
But find the path to Heav’n!


I hear Thy word with love,

And I would fain obey:

Send Thy good Spirit from above
To guide me, lest I stray.


O who can ever find

The errors of his ways?

Yet with a bold, presumptuous mind
I would not dare transgress.


Warn me of every sin,

Forgive my secret faults,

And cleanse this guilty soul of mine,

Whose crimes exceed my thoughts.


While with my heart and tongue

I spread Thy praise abroad,

Accept the worship and the song,

My Savior and my God.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Review (Part 4 of 8)

Continuing my review of John H. Walton's book...


C.  Death.

An additional major problem I found with Walton's view is the issue of death and the effects of the entry of sin. In Walton's section on death (p.98-100), he takes a lot of liberties with the text of Romans 5:12. He says Paul is speaking only "about how death came to people." Really? The text says: "...just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul repeats this truth in 1 Corinthians: "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead." One could sum up and paraphrase by saying, "Death entered the world through sin through a man, one man; likewise, death spread also to all men because they all sinned in Adam." Does the reader see the fullness of this - that the sin of this one man also affected all of God's creation? Did not God tell Adam clearly, "...cursed is the ground because of you" (Gen. 3:17)Christ's work, as the last Adam, conversely renews all things; and when He returns, it will be consummated! But this is one reason why nature, the world itself, all of creation, "...has been groaning together..." (Rom. 8:22), awaiting Christ to fully restore all things (see Jer. 12:4; Acts 3:21). 

Walton's appeal to logic in the next paragraph (p.99) may initially seem legitimate because the only thing we are familiar with is a fallen world in which sin has entered, and death through sin. However, death is NOT part of the natural order of things as God originally made them. (Shall the just live by faith, or by sight?) My devotional booklet last month reads, "Death is an invader. One of the reasons death causes so much grief is because we know it is not supposed to be this way." And 1 Corintians 15:26says, "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." If we could go back in time, to "Walton's world before Genesis 1," death would still have been grievous, man or beast. As Spurgeon says, man's conscience "tells them that it is the child of their sin." I think it could be rightly said that this is yet another reason why we who have been granted eternal life are called "pilgrims" and "sojourners" in this world, for death is a foreign thing to the people of God. For Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die..." (John 11:25,26)Christ defeated sin and death, not just "our natural mortality." So death for the saint is in one sense simply a departing; a shedding of one garment for another; a shifting of the weight from our back foot, on earth, to our front foot, in heaven already.

God pronounced all things "good" until sin entered through Adam. "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23). But how might it be if there was no sin? Like... Heaven? Is it so hard to fathom an unfallen world, or a restored world, where there are animals and no death, where "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb" (see Isaiah 11)? I think it is interesting that the first hint of an actual death in Scripture is by the hand of God Himself - to provide a covering for our original parents' nakedness (see Gen. 3:21), which of course is a foreshadowing of Christ's atoning work. Isn't it also interesting that initially God gave all creatures only the plants for food (see Gen. 1:29,30)? Won't the new heaven and new earth have plants and animals, yet "...death shall be no more"Doesn't the Holy Spirit also say that "...death reigned from Adam to Moses"? Would Adam actually have died had he not sinned? "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezek. 18:20)

And lastly, Walton's understanding of the purpose of the "tree of life," to simply be "an antidote" for "our natural mortality," is warped, confused, and unbiblical. Much more could be said, but regretfully I assert that, for any who would affirm this teaching, it reveals possibly a poor understanding of the fullness of the gospel.


"The Genesis 1 of the Bible gives us a surer and better, a more satisfying and useful, knowledge of the origin of the universe, than all the volumes of the philosophers. The lively faith of humble Christians understands this matter better than the elevated fancy of the greatest wits... These things we understand by faith. The Bible gives us the truest and most exact account of the origin of all things, and we are to believe it, and not to wrest or run down the scripture-account of the creation, because it does not suit with some fantastic hypotheses of our own, which has been in some learned but conceited men the first remarkable step towards infidelity, and has led them into many more."
 - Matthew Henry (from his commentary on Genesis 1 and Hebrew 11)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review (Part 3 of 8)

B.  Humanity.

One topic that troubled my soul was Walton's take on man - on humanity. With relatively scant attention given, he proposes that man was not specially formed originally; that man was little different than any other beast of the earth. Over time, this creature evolved, and then one week God made everything "functional." Before that, "pre-man," I would call him - with this body that was "fearfully and wonderfully made" (or maybe it wasn't yet), with a mind that surely was no different materially before Genesis 1 - was just perhaps a "prehuman hominid" evolving. That did not set well at all with my spirit, especially considering all the other passages of Scripture that deal with us, our bodies, our being, and how we were originally fashioned in the image of God. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Gen.1:27).

Please contemplate the consequences of such claims, and some of the unanswerable questions such propositions raise. Considering God and His justice that He loves, how could He justly judge Adam and Eve, but yet their parents or siblings or neighbors were not "assessed morally" (p.168)? Is God not eternally just? So were our pre-Genesis 1 ancestral creatures without souls? If so, how did Adam and Eve relate to these beings? Would Adam share what God had done for them? Why are these others not mentioned in the Scriptures? Though Walton never states his position clearly, doesn't his view logically demand that Adam and Eve were not historical individuals? Consider the ramifications of affirming such teaching, for much Christian doctrine crumbles if Adam and Eve were not the first two created human beings and/or they never truly existed as individuals. Maybe that is the hope of some?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review (Part 2 of 8)

- REVIEW -


A.  Ancient Literature. 

For one, I do not think he made a compelling argument from his Near East ancient literature references. I looked at his examples, and I did not draw the same conclusions. Could he be guilty of eisegesis in his interpretations? I think so, and the conclusions he draws from these texts provide the foundational support for his propositions. Were the Bereans commended for such methods in Acts 17? Do the Scriptures themselves teach us anywhere that we must use Walton's techniques to really understand what the Scriptures appears to make plain? "Every word of God proves true..." (Prov. 30:5).

He also claims his view is new because others simply have never considered the text of Genesis 1 in light of ancient cultural beliefs deduced (fallibly) from these new literary discoveries, but I doubt that is factually accurate. For example, Louis Berkhoff references some of the same Babylonian texts in his Systematic Theology published in 1958! His conclusions are also much different than Walton's. And to use Walton's own words, "It is far too easy to let our own ideas creep in and subtly (or at times not so subtly) bend or twist the material to fit our own context" (Introduction, p.8). I would propose, considering his associations (mentioned later in this review), that Walton is guilty of this very thing when "translating" this foreign culture.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Review - THE LOST WORLD OF GENESIS 1

A local youth pastor and I continue to discuss the faith. (You can read my emails to him in my older posts.) But I was asked to read John H. Walton's book, because the youth pastor considers the historical Christian teaching of the creation account in Genesis 1 to be questionable.

Lord willing, I will share my review of the book in its entirety in the next eight posts. It reads a little more like a sermon, or a response, I guess. And I wish I could have shortened it. But I could not.

Below is the preface...


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THE LOST WORLD OF GENESIS 1, by John H. Walton
A review by Marty L. Smith


"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD..." (Isaiah 1:18)


- PREFACE -

The book, THE LOST WORLD OF GENESIS 1, by John H. Walton, was a challenging read; not because it was extremely difficult to understand, but because a scholar who is a professing Christian proposes brand new interpretations of the very beginnings; which, if accepted, would shake (and in time remove) much of the framework of the orthodox Christian faith for an individual. But let us be grateful, dear saint,"...for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Heb. 12:28)

There are many professing Christians who do not believe in the prevailing view of a young earth and a literal six days of creation. Others believe in an old earth where the days were not 24-hour periods. Still others believe it was all formed in a moment. But John H. Walton's view is definitely different, and disturbing. It reminded me of the serpent's words: "Did God actually say...?" Walton proposes that Genesis 1 is an account of functional origins rather than an account of material origins - a position which he says, "...may be designated the cosmic temple inauguration view...the cosmos is being given its functions as God's temple, where he has taken up his residence and from where he runs the cosmos. This world is his headquarters."

True science and true learning approves, confirms, and gives consent to the gospel. It is often rightly said that "all truth is God's truth," and the Lord certainly would have us love Him with all our minds. But "human learning" often opposes the truth of God because of our fallen nature. The Apostle John wrote: "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18). To love "in truth," we must surely keep close to the written Word of God - all of it. It is committed to our trust. We must live for it, and die for it. The blood of the martyrs, such as William Tyndale, has been shed that we might have good translations in our hands. However, it appears that John H. Walton would have us doubt their trustworthiness by appealing to texts outside the Holy Writ, all the while proposing a "reading" that he says "enhances the vitality of the text."

In my review, I will discuss the following:
A. The problem of Walton's dependence on extra-Biblical ancient literature.
B. The problem of Walton's view as it concerns humanity.
C. The problem of Walton's view as it concerns death.
D. The problem of Walton's proposal of material existence long before functionality.
E. Other statements and reviews which corroborate my conclusions.
F. Reflections on some of Walton's troubling statements.
G. Conclusions, looking to Jesus.

Most Christians already know and affirm most of what I proclaim here. If the reader considers this review verbose, please accept my humble apologies. I would politely ask for consideration of the weight of this issue, and for patient reception of the contents as a reminder and an encouragement, if nothing more. But my hope is that the Holy Spirit will convince through these arguments - that Walton's propositions supporting theistic evolution are unsatisfactory - that his methods are unacceptable and overreaching - and that this teaching could be a destructive heresy. His propositions, if affirmed, would undoubtedly undermine our faith and weaken our trust in God and the overall clarity of His Word.

"Theistic evolution is not tenable in the light of Scripture... it is a theory that is absolutely subversive of Scripture truth."
- Louis Berkhof, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY

"...theistic evolution destroys the Bible as the inspired book of authority as effectively as does atheistic evolution."
- Dr. Alfred Fairhurst, THEISTIC EVOLUTION

"... aspects of an old heresy relating to the creation account are increasingly infiltrating the Church. This is the falsehood known as Pelagianism."

I am inspired by my love for the reader, my adoration of Jesus, my trust in His Word, my desire to defend the Bible for the sake of the gospel, and my earnest belief that a good English translation such as the ESV is both trustworthy and perspicuous; because, simply put, my God is like that. I believe the gracious hand of Providence has supplied us with reliable translations in our own languages (though I freely admit that some translations are better than others).

I will confess: I was initially tempted to consider his propositions acceptable. He makes a compelling argument from a human standpoint, according to the flesh, drawing from what some call "knowledge." If the Bible was just another book, to be read much like any other book, his arguments might be more palatable. 

However, many things troubled me. This review does not exhaustively list them.

Church leaders, as watchmen, shepherds, and overseers, who are commanded to "...hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught" (Titus 1:9), potentially will have great influence upon the faith and practice of hundreds of people in their care over their years of ministry. As one author has stated, I believe Walton's view is a "sinful compromise." We, whose souls are being kept watch over, should be taught that we can trust that our loving Triune God has not communicated with us deceitfully. These proposals teach us otherwise. And I would assert that those leaders who affirm these proposals relinquish the power to preach God's Word authoritatively. For they would cast doubt upon the apparent clarity and dependability of the Holy Writ, allowing an open door for the entry of many fierce wolves.

Therefore, I speak. By what faith shall we walk?


Thursday, May 1, 2014

"Free" Will

"The greatest judgment which God Himself can, in this present life, inflict upon a man is, to leave him in the hand of his own boasted free-will."
-AUGUSTUS TOPLADY

Friday, April 25, 2014

In Defense of Cliven Bundy

Former congressman Joe Walsh tells it like it is...

Click on the link below:

There are many different forms of slavery, but Bundy cannot even ask the question of which is worse between two without being called a racist by the liberal media and the masses of people. As Walsh demonstrates, Bundy may be wrong historically, but it does not make him a racist. Most folks would rather just call people names than critically think about issues and consider all sides.

Slavery in America was awful. But really any type if slavery is awful. Unfortunately most do not see their slavery to sin, and many do not see their slavery to dependence. Unseen chains are often more deadly. Long-term welfare only makes people slavishly reliant, leaves folks ample time for idleness (which usually leads to all kinds of debauchery), and robs individuals of the rewards of labor. The statistics don't lie. 

So which slavery is really worse? Maybe the better question is simply to ask what are the results of government slavery. For example, my aunt was recently fearful of getting a raise in her meager salary because it might interfere with her government benefits. Is this the type of thinking and work ethic that made our country the most powerful nation on earth? Don't these policies keep people chained to poverty, dependence, and mediocrity? Is idleness indeed the devil's workshop?

Personally speaking, I think I'd rather work daily for a master picking cotton than sit daily on a porch doing nothing. I believe more damage could be done to the soul by the latter, for there is no way to honor God in it.

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you... If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
- 2 Thessalonians 6-8,10

Friday, April 18, 2014

Death

The events of the last two months have been so...

Well, I can't even find the word or phrase to end that sentence.  But death has been a big part of our lives the last few weeks.  I really don't feel like talking in detail about it here.


Suicide.

Miscarriage.


And in the midst...

God.

Ecclesiastes 7:13,14
"Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him."

Says Matthew Henry, "We must accommodate ourselves to the various dispensations of Providence that respect us, and do the work and duty of the day in its day."

I am thankful for my wife.  I am thankful for my children.  I am thankful for friends.  And I am most thankful for Christ, and the life I have in Him.  It has been an honor, a privilege, and a joy to help grieving families in their time of need... to do the good works that God had prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  I hope we did, in the strength of the Spirit.  But I trust, in it all, it is the Almighty's hand of Providence, using us, helping others, working all things according to His good pleasure in this fallen world. All glory to God!

I continue to pray for those dear families.

As one of my favorite preachers Alistair Begg is most fond of saying, "The best place to serve the LORD is where He sets you today."

Friday, February 21, 2014

Historical Adam - Part 5





The youth pastor apparently remained unconvinced of the historical Adam and The Fall.  He expressed a thankfulness that I would engage him and pray for him.  And then he basically asked if I thought he was a heretic if he didn't agree with Reformed Theology.  If I did proclaim him to be a heretic, he said that he would not discuss this topic with me further.  He repeated that we must go deeper into hermeneutics than Sproul's "intro course" to figure out how we "come out with different readings."

On another note, when our daughter recently asked him for a book to read, he gave her the book titled "The Shack."  Ugh!  You can read a solid review of it here.  

We are meeting for coffee next week, Lord willing.  Please pray for me.

My final reply is below:


Please allow me first to say... I have tried to diligently reason with you directly from Scriptures, and by good logic shown from Scriptures. Most assuredly though (edit) I've failed to defend my belief in the Word as I should; for that, may the Lord (edit) be merciful in measuring my frail efforts. As I re-read my replies, many of my long-winded arguments seem to be seasoned with little grace; for that, I pray you'd forgive me.

Yes, Sproul's teaching is just an introduction to hermeneutics... merely the basics. But to my understanding, most of these "basics" were set forth in plain language and widely agreed upon during the time of the Reformation, and for good reason. Where do these basics ultimately come from? They come from the Holy Writ itself... for the Bible is it's own interpreter. 

The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not multiple, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
- Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.9

So when we meet, Lord willing, maybe you can just tell me all about your Hermeneutic? I've already pretty much told you ours. It ain't that complicated, though it still requires work to interpret the more difficult passages. A better summation can be found here:

I would assert that our ability to agree on these basics (assuming your book does not refute them) inhibits our ability to proceed... not whether or not I think you are a heretic. "The bond of holy unity is the simple truth," said John Calvin. But if the Apostle Paul's intention was to always speak clearly (cf. Col. 4:4), don't you think he learned that from his Father who normally does likewise? It is not the Holy Spirit who twists Scripture, but sinful man. We must accept the explicit by faith! I simply agree with R. C. Sproul Jr. when he said, 

"We are... reading our Bible with rose-colored glasses if we think that all or even most of our interpretive failures stem from ignorance or misinformation. That is, we are guilty of the modernist conceit when we think that education is always the cure for what ails us... Our problem isn’t that we aren’t sufficiently educated but that we aren’t sufficiently sanctified."

As long as a man continues to doubt God's clear Word to us (especially denying an essential tenet that's so central to many other Christian teachings), maybe it's best for him to work most of these issues out alone with God... on his knees. The issue here for him is not hermeneutics... the issue is unbelief... for the teaching is explicit... and any view which denies the historicity of Adam and Eve and the fall is simply untenable in the light of Scripture. If that man had questions along the way, I'd be glad to assist, Lord willing. I would only suggest he remember one principle that hopefully can be agreed upon... the principle of humility (see Proverbs 3:5; Matt. 18:4; 1 Peter 5:5) - if there is doubt... TRUST GOD... AND TAKE HIM AT HIS WORD.


Now, to answer your specific question:

I can’t escape the conclusion that for me to faithfully hold to Christ and his Word is only possible if I hold to the theology and approach to Christianity that you have found convincing.  That is - any deviance from your understanding of reformed Christianity is either dangerously close to heretical or is heretical.  Is this a true understanding of your thinking at this stage?

The Decision at the Synod of Dordt rejected as error the five points detailed in the Remonstrance of 1610 (called Arminianism).  If you affirm any of these five points, then I join my voice with those delegates, our brothers, who wrote the Canons of Dordt. Your views would clearly be declared heresy years ago. But with the modernism and post-modernism movements, liberal theology, and the surge of semi-Pelagianism in the evangelical church, especially in America in the past 100-150 years, your views would now be more and more in the mainstream... agreed to by most down at the local Walmart, USA... so you can decide.

I indeed confess that I am an unashamed Calvinist, for I believe the tenets of "The Reformed Faith" are nothing more than the doctrines of Scripture clearly and articulately set forth. Therefore, I believe "Reformed Christianity" is simply Biblical Christianity, preached by Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jesus (cf. John 6,10,17), Paul (cf. Rom. 8-11; Eph. 1-2), Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Owen, Newton, Henry, Hodge, Warfield, Watson, Chalmers, Manton, M'Cheyne, Toplady, Watts, Brainerd, Carey, Livingstone, Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Ryle, Boettner, Berkhof, Lloyd-Jones, Schaeffer, Murray, Boyce, and many, many others. 

So to further answer your question, let me put forth the words of Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.
- From the sermon: "A Defense of Calvinism" - http://www.spurgeon.org/calvinis.htm

And Martin Luther:

If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.

If your beliefs are contrary to that, may Spurgeon, Luther, the others, and the Holy Writ be your reprovers. If the Scriptures teach it (especially the explicit), we must believe it... for it is true. But I'm reminded that Spurgeon also said, and I agree...

...But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views... I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Saviour, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.

It is said that Whitefield claimed that he'd probably never see Wesley in heaven... for Wesley's mansion would be entirely too close to where Jesus resided.  I feel that way about many Arminian brothers I've known... including my dear uncle, who is now with the Lord. 

We Reformed folk do indeed affirm historical Adam, though it's not a Reformed distinctive. But can you hold to the historical Christ while you don't believe all the explicit Word of Christ? You'll have to work that one out yourself, "...with fear and trembling." I am not your judge (edit). I'm only trying to defend what I believe to be truth, from the Scripture, for your good, and for God's glory.

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Another brief and articulate article defending the historical Adam can be found here:
And another here:
If there is doubt on what I believe as a Christian, it's summed up pretty well here:
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I'm praying for you, and again... I hope this is helpful. May the Holy Spirit bear witness by and with the Word in your heart. 

Unless you believe, you will not understand.
- Augustine

Best Regards,
Marty L. Smith