Thursday, October 27, 2011

The scope of biblical commands

Excerpts below originally posted by Scott Ransom on the Baptist Board. I found them interesting.

"...a few guiding hermeneutical principles for determining the scope of biblical commands.

"Interpret imperatives in light of their literary genre. A specific context may contain both timeless and temporary forms... The principle of

"Use of imperatives of the Bible is enduring for us if:
*it is addressed to an enduring audience
*it is based on a permanent relationship
*it is repeated, especially transculturally
*it is supported by prescriptive, and not merely descriptive, passages
*it is supported without abusing its literary genre
*it is taught as principle, not merely a manifestation of a principle"


Friday, October 21, 2011

Cowper & Newton hymns

JERICHO; Or, The waters healed.
2Ki 2:19-22

Though Jericho pleasantly stood,
And looked like a promising soil;
The harvest produced little food,
To answer the husbandman's toil.
The water some property had,
Which poisonous proved to the ground;
The springs were corrupted and bad,
The streams spread a barrenness round.

But soon by the cruse and the salt,
Prepared by Elisha's command,
The water was cured of its fault,
And plenty enriched the land:
An emblem sure this of the grace
On fruitless dead sinners bestowed;
For man is in Jericho's case,
Till cured by the mercy of God.

How noble a creature he seems!
What knowledge, invention and skill!
How large and extensive his schemes!
How much can he do if he will!
His zeal to be learned and wise,
Will yield to no limits or bars;
He measures the earth and the skies,
And numbers and marshals the stars.

Yet still he is barren of good;
In vain are his talents and art;
For sin has infected his blood,
And poisoned the streams of his heart:
Though cockatrice eggs he can hatch,
Is 54:5
Or, spider-like, cobwebs can weave;
'Tis madness to labor and watch
For what will destroy or deceive.

But grace, like the salt in the cruse,
When cast in the spring of the soul;
A wonderful change will produce,
Diffusing new life through the whole:
The wilderness blooms like a rose,
The heart which was vile and abhorred;
Now fruitful and beautiful grows,
The garden and joy of the Lord.

John Newton (1725-1807) Olney Hymns, 1779

The covenant.
Ezek 36:25-28

The Lord proclaims His grace abroad!
"Behold, I change your hearts of stone;
Each shall renounce his idol god,
And serve, henceforth, the Lord alone.

"My grace, a flowing stream, proceeds
To wash your filthiness away;
Ye shall abhor your former deeds,
And learn My statutes to obey.

"My truth the great design ensures,
I give Myself away to you;
You shall be Mine, I will be yours,
Your God unalterably true.

"Yet not unsought or unimplored,
The plenteous grace I shall confer;
No-your whole hearts shall seek the Lord,
I'll put a praying spirit there.

"From the first breath of life divine
Down to the last expiring hour,
The gracious work shall all be Mine,
Begun and ended in My pow'r."

William Cowper (1731-1800) Olney Hymns, 1779

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Contemplation of God

Excerpt from the Shreveport Grace Church bulletin:

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1)

God’s love is –

Eternal – it is without beginning and end. (Jer 31:3)

Sovereign – it is without external influence. (Eph 1:4)

Immutable –it is without change. (Rom 8:35)

Gracious – it is without condition. (Jn 3:16)

By T. David Simpson

Saturday, October 08, 2011


MANNA. Ex 16:18

Manna to Israel well supplied
The want of other bread;
While God is able to provide,
His people shall be fed.

(Thus though the corn and wine should fail,
And creature-streams be dry;
The prayer of faith will still prevail,
For blessings from on high.)

Of his kind care how sweet a proof!
It suited every taste;
Who gathered most, had just enough,
Enough, who gathered least.

'Tis thus our gracious Lord provides
Our comforts and our cares;
His own unerring hand provides,
And gives us each our shares.

He knows how much the weak can bear,
And helps them when they cry;
The strongest have no strength to spare,
For such he'll strongly try.

Daily they saw the Manna come,
And cover all the ground;
But what they tried to keep at home,
Corrupted soon was found.

Vain their attempt to store it up,
This was to tempt the Lord;
Israel must live by faith and hope,
And not upon a hoard.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Pulpit Freedom Sunday

I heard on the radio that today is "Pulpit Freedom Sunday". I looked it up, and this is part of the Alliance Defense Fund's Pulpit Initiative started in 2008. Its stated goal is the repeal of the 1954 "Johnson amendment" to the tax code. Johnson was a crafty fellow who snuck this in to keep certain charitable organizations from supporting his opponent. The idea behind the amendment is that organizations granted tax exemption should not intervene in political campaigns: "all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office." This applies to all 501(c)(3) organizations, whether or not they are churches.

The "Johnson amendment" is supported by organizations such as the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who in turn oppose "Pulpit Freedom Sunday".

The ADF hopes that by pastors violating the tax code, it will lead to a lawsuit/lawsuits which we eventually overturn the "Johnson amendment" as unconstitutional. Interestingly, the group supporting preachers not being told by the government what to preach tells preachers what to preach on "Pulpit Freedom Sunday"! This is, of course, necessary for them to get in a proper violation in order to get sued. On the other hand, Americans United for the Separation of Church & State are trolling for violations so they can report to the IRS and get those perpetrators' tax exemptions revoked. Yes, they apparently "think a lot" of each church's religious freedoms!?

The way I see it, there is a lot of misinformation all around. First, some churches and preachers have misunderstood that the discussion of moral issues such as abortion and homosexuality are prohibited. Thus far, the violation of this tax code has only been applied to indorsing candidates and parties, and not to taking sides on moral issues. Herein is the rub. Some churches believe that taking a stand against a certain candidate IS a moral issue.

Two things I see:

1. The legal side. Freedom of speech is clearly constitutional. But is it a constitutional freedom to be exempt from taxes? I'm no constitutional scholar and can't answer that question. Apparently for the first 175 years or so, our country thought it was or had not thought about it at all. In 1954 that changed, largely due to a clever politician. My take is that any preacher and church who feels strongly enough about this should do what they feel is right, and if they lose the tax exemption do what they believe is right regardless.

2. The biblical side. What are we called to do? Are we called to preach the gospel or get into politics? Will politics and government change our world for the better, or will Jesus Christ, the gospel and the Word of God? We are called to preach -- which includes moral issues -- but often we exchange our birthright of preaching for a mess of political porridge.

From the legal/constitutional angle, I favor preachers and churches being free from the tax code and free to preach what they believe, even where it intersects politics and even where I disagree with them.

From the biblical angle, we have plenty to preach and teach from the Word of God to keep us busy for the rest of lives without entering the political arena of parties and candidates. If we faithfully preach this we will have touched on every angle of every issue, for the Word of God throughly furnishes us unto all good works.