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The Church: God’s Expanding Garden

I recently gave a talk at my church’s college and career group. I’ve reworked the content a little and split it up into blog posts. What follows is the second of those posts.

Back in Genesis 1, the church was simply made up of Adam and his wife—although, in a sense, this is a different kind of church. It’s a group of people of God, but there’s only two people on the planet and so a sign that distinguishes them from the other peoples isn’t really necessary. Adam and Eve weren’t set apart from other peoples, admittedly, but you knew they were God’s people because they were made—unlike the animals and the rest of creation—in His image. • • • Read More • • •

Site Design Changes

In order to design a thing well, you have to know what it’s going to be used for. The practice of making generic templates is alright as far as it goes, but for a design to be excellent it needs to be made intentionally for the content.

One thing this implies is that for a website to be well designed at the start, the creator must know what he’s going to do with the website. When I started this website, I honestly wasn’t exactly sure when it would become. I just knew I wanted a place to write.

I actually thought I might be writing a lot of short, 50–100 word posts as commentary on various links. I did this a little at the start, but then tapered off. I also thought my posts would rarely exceed 1,000 words in length. This also proved not to be the case, especially in relation to my Calvinism and the Rest of It series. • • • Read More • • •

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 5.6

We know that God uses evil for good in the case of the elect, but how does God act toward the reprobate?

As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for former sins, does blind and harden, from them He not only withholds His grace whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts; but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had, and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God uses for the softening of others.

Westminster Confession of Faith: 5.6

In essence, God gives sinners over to their sin and hardens their hearts. This is taught in Romans 1, where we are given a picture of men being given over to more and more sin. This is not the final manifestation of God’s wrath, but it is a form of it (Romans 1:18). • • • Read More • • •

The Church: An Old Building with Nifty Windows

I recently gave a talk at my church’s college and career group. Typically when I give talks that are not a simple exegesis of a particular text, I write out a manuscript. Since I wrote almost 4,500 words, I thought it made sense to rework the content a little and split it up into blog posts. What follows is the first of those posts.

It has been said that whoever defines the terms wins the argument. I generally agree with this, especially if by “defines” you mean “wins” and by “terms” you mean “argument.” Because it’s cliché, I don’t want to say that the church is not the building, but the people. But because it’s true, I rather have to. • • • Read More • • •

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 5.5

Last week’s article explained how God can use evil while not being the author of it. This week’s article explains how this doctrine often works in the case of believers.

The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does oftentimes leave, for a season, His own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.

Westminster Confession of Faith 5.5

Christians who fall into seasons of defeat with a particular sin will often feel that God has abandoned them. They pray for deliverance from their cruel taskmaster, but no relief is given and they consequently feel as if God is standing off in the distance, unwilling or unable to help. • • • Read More • • •

Sola Fide: Justification by Faith

Since the fall, God has not required of man for justification anything other than faith. At no time was salvation ever by works, not even under the Old Covenant. I’m not sure what the rule currently is on how many times you can repeat a phrase in a modern worship song, but I’d like to think that this if this series were a song, I’d have broken that rule twice over by now. Justification is by faith alone.

In fact, I’ve emphasized justification by faith alone so often that I considered not even writing this post. Yet although Paul knew that justification by faith had been written in all capital letters all throughout Scripture, he still decided to write about it even more. To write about justification by faith in greater detail is no grievance for me and it may prove helpful to the reader. • • • Read More • • •

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 5.4

Calvinists are often accused of making God out to be the author of evil, even though the reformed confessions say just the opposite. Because of these accusations, however, some Calvinists will define a difference between God’s ordaining of something and His permitting or allowing it. Today’s article from the Westminster Confession addresses this issue:

The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extends itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

Westminster Confession of Faith 5.4

While the Scriptures do speak of God permitting certain things to happen, they also speak of God ordaining every single thing that happens (Ephesians 1:11). There might be more verses that speak of God permitting things than there are that speak of His ordaining all things, but this is not a right way to understand the Scriptures. Verses are not foot soldiers, battling one another on the ground until the last one is left standing. We seek to believe all the verses and and we trust that they are all consistent.

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Tools I Use: Linode

I host about a dozen websites. Some of these are hosted for friends and a few are hosted for myself. This site and the my podcast website get the most traffic by far and have grown in popularity to the point where they would likely make any shared hosting service rather sluggish.

When I first started making websites, shared hosting was about the only optio. At times of high traffic, even with a reliable host, my sites would often slow to a crawl. I had looked into hosting on a dedicated server, but the cost was far too high. But things have changed in the last ten years. • • • Read More • • •

Slow Posting and Facebook

This week has been devoid of posts primarily because I was visiting family last week and didn’t have time to write. If you like the sort of content that I post and want to continue to read it even when I’m not writing, you may find the And the Rest of It Facebook page helpful, since I often post links to other sites that have similar content. I also do the same thing on my personal Twitter account.

Most of you probably come here through social media, but in case anyone just checks this site on a regular basis or subscribes via RSS, it seemed good to make mention of those alternative feeds here.

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 5.3

God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at His pleasure.

Westminster Confession of Faith 5.3

Last week we discussed the fact that when your friend spills coffee on your lap, God as the first cause used second causes like physics to burn your lap. God built rules into the world. We have discovered many of these rules discovered through science. Some of them, we can understand how they work. Others, we merely pretend to understand.

As the one who wrote the rules, however, God is not bound by them. We observe the movements of planets and see that this movement is what causes day and night. The movement is caused laws within physics and can’t be stopped—except when one fellow got the idea to call on the God who built the thing to make it it all stop. God condescended and the heavenly bodies heeded a sort of divine pause button. • • • Read More • • •

Tools I Use: Backblaze

If I grabbed your computer and jammed it into the turbine of a running aircraft, I might die and I’d certainly get in a lot of trouble. But don’t weep for me just yet. What would happen to your data?

If you’re like most people I know, you probably don’t have a backup solution. That’s all well and good if you have absolutely no data that you care about preserving whatsoever. However, even if that is the case, you probably have friends who have data they wouldn’t want to lose who also don’t have a backup solution. • • • Read More • • •

Proud Trees and Bruised Reeds

I’m rather excited because Chris and I had a bit of a kerfuffle in our most recent podcast episode. I’m not excited because I enjoy controversy, I’m just excited because I only rarely get to use the word “kerfuffle.” I’m going to try to use it at least once more in this blog post, so stay tuned. Before you read the rest of this, you might want to listen to the episode. I’ll try to summarize the issue, though, so that you don’t have to listen if you’ve got better things to do with your time.

Our disagreement centered around evangelism and specifically how to approach someone who is actively involved in the LGBTQ movement with the intent of sharing the Gospel. Chris’s approach was to speak well of the person’s actions and intents, but to then to explain how those actions are sinful and the Bible teaches us to do better. I disagreed with this approach, but before we move forward, I want to avoid a logical fallacy that often comes up here. • • • Read More • • •

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 5.2

Many people misunderstand what Calvinists believe. The Westminster Confession can often be very helpful in clarifying Calvinist beliefs and that is the case this week.

Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.

Westminster Confession of Faith: 5.2

Some people think that Calvinists teach that because God is the first Cause for all things, that means that there are no other causes. This article firmly refutes that belief by stating the opposite. Although God is the first Cause, yet He in His providence He causes things to occur by means of second causes. This plays itself out in a variety of ways. It can be through things like physics and chemistry or it can be through human decision and action. Often, it’s through a combination. • • • Read More • • •

The Great Commission: Mission and Promise

The world is going to hell in a hand basket. The church isn’t doing her job and it’s only a matter of time before she’s altogether vanquished by the democrats, the Muslims, or perhaps even Fox News. That’s what many Christians will tell you if you ask them how humanity and the church are doing. Things are going from bad to worse quicker than you can say “Satan is alive and well on planet earth.”

Much of this comes from a low view of man’s moral condition, which is a good sort of view to have. We shouldn’t expect man to solve his own problems anymore than we should expect pigs to suddenly realize their repulsive reputation, bathe themselves, and start drinking tea with their little piggy pinkies extended. Man’s nature is hopelessly sinful. Biblically-oriented Christians recognize that. • • • Read More • • •

A Pantheon of Angry Link-Deities

I want you to imagine trying to have a conversation with a friend who has a tendency to speak very quietly, so quietly that you almost have to strain to hear him. Now I want you to imagine someone—no, three someones—shouting at you while you try to have this conversation. Last, imagine that a fourth person walking right up to you, between you and your friend, and trying desperately to sell you something you will probably never be interested in.

Putting it mildly, we might call this situation aggravating. But if these obnoxious people were a normal part of every conversation, we’d probably find a way to get used to it. We’d develop ways of quickly dismissing the interrupting salesperson and we’d learn to tune out the shouting. Maybe we’d even develop specially designed hearing aids so we could better hear the one person we’re actually trying to talk to. But I think we can all agree that this scenario would be less than ideal. • • • Read More • • •

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