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Archive | The Church

Don’t Become a Hobbit! (Unless God calls you to)

In times of significant cultural upheaval, it’s common and eminently understandable to seek whatever stability and calm we can find within our lives and to do some good soul searching about the way we’ve chosen to structure them.  Are we contributing or perhaps even capitulating to the nervous, noisy way of life we see all around us?  In a cultural moment tyrannized by all things digital and overloaded with a constant bombardment of information, so much of it shallow-minded if not salacious, have we neglected a simpler, more richly satisfying and God-honoring way of life?  Have we unknowingly – or perhaps knowingly! – imbibed the fuss and fury of a fallen world put on fast forward? These are important questions to consider, and I’m afraid certain trends among Christians are offering overly simplistic answers in their worthy quest for a simple life filled with spiritual substance. 

3GT Episode 41: Reformed Popery

No, we are not introducing a new tulip-scented home fragrance. Rather, in light of recent downfalls by many men carrying the Reformed banner, the guys discuss pastors who abuse their authority in the church and act like mini-popes. The 3GTers discuss the importance of examining pastor wannabes carefully for character before ordaining them. They offer reminders for how the church should be structured Biblically to best keep authority in check. And for those who are in places where men are strutting around like they are wearing the papal mitre, suggestions are offered to congregants on what they might do.

It’s another freewheeling discussion on 3GT you won’t want to miss!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/3gt-episode-41.mp3

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Love and Hell

Hell is not mentioned much these days, except when used as a curse word. It is a topic that many consider outdated and a place that few believe actually exists. And in these days of hyper-tolerance, which quickly becomes intolerance when anyone sounds the least bit doctrinaire, speaking of hell is seen as a strange, brutish thing to do.

So why do it?

In a word, it’s all about love.

For you see, hell does exist. Mocking it, ignoring it, forgetting it – none of that changes its reality. Jesus Christ preached about it repeatedly, warning his listeners of its danger. He taught that it is a real location where those who do not live as the Bible commands will be punished consciously forever. Not to believe in hell is to distrust the very words of Christ. The Westminster Confession of Faith, speaking about the final judgment, uses Biblical language as it describes hell in this manner: “The wicked, who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”

So what does speaking of hell have to do with love?

If someone is about to […]

A Banner Day or Two

From Tuesday afternoon until later today I am at the Banner of Truth’s 2017 US Minister’s Conference. This conference is a refreshing time for pastors, elders, and ministerial students in so many ways. Here are a few highlights to share with you.

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The Banner offered scholarships to seminary students, so I had the joy of traveling out with three men training with us at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Having extended time like that with the guys outside the classroom is a blessing. On the way, we stopped for lunch at a rest area. The other American and I quickly ordered our burgers and sat down, only to find our two Asian friends had brought their own zongzi for lunch. They shared with us the zongzi, a leaf-wrapped meal containing a special, sweetish rice with peanuts, beans, and a date, and told us it was in honor of “Dragon Boat Day” in Asia, an annual holiday with a fascinating story behind it. The learning started before I even arrived at the conference.

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Over 300 are in attendance at the Banner conference this year, held on the beautiful, accommodating campus of Elizabethtown College. The theme is “The […]

Neither Jew nor Gentile: The Musings of a Modern Covenanter on Racial Reconciliation

This past Friday I had the privilege of conversing with Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. In that short exchange, Dr. Duncan expressed similar sentiments to ones he later posted the next day on Facebook, which read in part: “Just as a little historical tip for those interested, no Presbyterian and/or Reformed denomination in America has a better record for taking a biblical stand on slavery and racism than the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. The Covenanters were right on this long before the rest of us caught on.” You can see the rest of his comments here. 

His remarks sparked me to share the following article by Michael LeFebvre, Pastor of Christ Church in Brownsburg, Indiana, and Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Board President. As you can see, Dr. LeFebvre recounts this history, not for the sake of any prideful boasting, but to encourage greater modern applications of the history where racial divides still exist. This article originally appeared in Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal, Spring 2017 (Vol. 3, Issue 2). Used by permission.

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Introduction

Several months ago, I was at a large Christian university. I was there for a conference, and a campus tour was offered during an afternoon break. On […]

Every Testimony is Different and Every One is the Same

Every testimony of God’s saving grace in the life of a person is the same, and every one is different. That is what we tell young people who are preparing to make their public profession of faith in the church and become communicant members.

This week, I plan to give my students the testimony of my grandfather, Paul Faris, written below as an example. It’s good for them to see that a man who was born over 100 years ago and who is now with the Lord also has a story that is just like theirs. None of them have served as farm hands. They have not had horses and chickens as witnesses to their prayers. But, they will recognize the story as their own. He was convicted of his sin and turned to Jesus through the ministry of God’s word and specific people. He dealt with the same guilt and other internal struggles which with they wrestle. He found life in Jesus just as they have.

They live in a different generation, but they have the same covenant Lord. His promise stands across all generations: “They will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation […]

Crying “Wolf!”

We are all familiar with the proverbial story of the boy watching sheep who cried “Wolf!” falsely a few times for fun. He then paid the price when a wolf actually did show up and begin attacking the flock. The townspeople, the objects of his earlier mockery, ignored his cries when they were truly needed.

To avoid this error, here at Gentle Reformation we have made a commitment not to be alarmists. We do not want to use the blog like a cyber megaphone and call out every heretic, be it one truly, perceived, or otherwise. This commitment is even found in our mission statement. Though we do not shy away on occasion from pointing out heretical teaching (see here for an example then here for recent confirmation by our friends at TGC), our primary focus is on truth and its practical application rather than on falsehood and its awful perpetrators.

However, we must equip God’s people to recognize wolves in sheep’s clothing. As the Lord told us, God’s people are to be able to determine who they are.

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered […]

Christ’s Help for Sabbath-Keeping

I’m getting geared up to preach on Genesis 2.1-3 tomorrow morning, so I thought I would share with you a few thoughts on how Christ helps us keep the Sabbath.

First by His Example

Along with Father and Spirit, the Pre-Incarnate Word, the Logos or Eternal Son, rested on the seventh day, as the climax of Creation. The Agent of Creation did not press the pause button. The term that is used indicates total completion and fulfillment of His task. The ‘work’ mentioned twice is also a slightly unusual choice: it has been suggested this term, which is usually otherwise reserved for human employment, was chosen by the Spirit to remind human beings of the need to down tools on the Sabbath; this expression ‘work’ is a close relative of the Hebrew word for ‘angel’ or ‘messenger.’ The key thing to note, in connection with an angel, is neither a shining body nor flapping wings, but the duty to complete the messenger’s God-given commission or task. Is it hard to prove that this is the reason the term ‘work’ was used in this instance? It still remains true that, as in the work of Redemption, so also in the work of Creation, […]

Browse Worthy: Bully Pulpits

Since we have posted articles on pastoral failure and bullied pastors, let’s add to the collection by pointing to some good articles on pastors who give the term “bully pulpit” altogether the wrong meaning. Having tended through the years to some dear souls who have been roughed up by rogue clergy, it is a real danger and we need alerted to the damage it causes. Faithful shepherds also must be reminded that the biblical term for bullying pastor is a wolf in sheep’s clothing(Matt. 7:15). We have a responsibility to warn about them, speak against them, and silence them (Acts 20:28-30; Tit. 1:10-11).

Pastoral Bullies | Erik Reymond

Using the story of Eli’s sons who misused their priestly office, Pastor Reymond gives us “six problematic patterns with pastoral bullies.” This is a good line for examining their ministry: “Consider what they do with the Word of God. Is it preached, or is it used as a prop to support the pastor’s selfie stick?”

Healing Congregations Wounded by Clergy Sexual Misconduct | David Murray

Reviewing a book on this subject with the above subtitle, Pastor Murray offers a helpful list from the book on how to best aid the victims who are often forgotten. “It’s heart-rending […]