Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Q & A for Bruce Ware

I've been asked to host Bruce Ware for dinner this Saturday evening. Dr. Ware will be in Minneapolis to preach at Bethlehem during Pastor John's sabbatical.

If you were me, what questions would you ask him? Don't be shy, I'd like to make the most of the time. Sometime after the dinner I plan to give a summary of things I ask and you'll get to see if your question(s) gets asked.

Happy querying!

Regulative Principle?

Do you subscribe to the regulative principle?


1 Peter 1:18-19!

Monday, May 29, 2006

What is it all about?

This is what it's all about.

(HT: Shook Foil)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Biblical View of Forgiveness

This is a great sermon.

Anonymous Comments

Some of you may be wondering why your comment never appeared on Solus Christus? There have only been two reasons thus far:
  1. It doesn't relate to the discussion; and/or
  2. The comment is posted by "annonymous."
There are ways to post a comment without doing so anonymously and without people being able to track back to you. You are not expected to leave your full name, but something other than "anonymous" must appear for your comment to go public on SC. There have been some fabulous comments submitted to our posts, but we've opted to dismiss them for these reasons.
Here is a post by Justin Taylor that has influenced our thinking about this (You should read the comments on it as well. If he can leave his contact information, then can't we all?).
Here is a follow-up post to the first one that has also been helpful. (The link to Tim Challies article in this post is worth reading too).
Now, just for fun, we would like everyone who reads this post to leave a comment. Come on, you can do it.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Death of His Godly Ones

Psalm 116:15 - Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones

Today, May 27, is the anniversary of John Calvin's death. In his e-ministry, Sam Storms remembered Calvin's life. For those who have ill thoughts of Calvin as a man who set out to demonize Christian doctrine, perhaps Storms' article will allow you to see Calvin as a brother in Christ who's labors have proffited, not harmed you?

Notice how Calvin exalted Christ in his dying desires:
"In the name of God, I, John Calvin, servant of the Word of God in the church of Geneva, weakened by many illnesses . . . thank God that He has shown not only his mercy toward me, His poor creature, and . . . has suffered me in all sins and weaknesses, but what is more, that He has made me a partaker of His grace to serve Him through my work, . . . I confess to live and die in this faith which He has given me, inasmuch as I have no other hope or refuge than His predestination upon which my entire salvation is grounded. I embrace the grace which He has offered me in our Lord Jesus Christ and accept the merits of His suffering and dying that through them all my sins are buried."
Storms' article in its entirety:
To Live and Die for Christ: Remembering the Death of John Calvin
Sam Storms
May 27, 2006

On this day, May 27th, 1564, John Calvin died, not quite 55 years of age (he was born on July 10, 1509). Knowing his physical sufferings throughout life, it is a testimony to divine grace and sustaining mercy that he lived as long as he did.

Calvin's afflictions read like a medical journal. He suffered from painful stomach cramps, intestinal influenza, and recurring migraine headaches. He was subject to a persistent onslaught of fevers that would often lay him up for weeks at a time. He experienced problems with his trachea, in addition to pleurisy, gout, and colic. He suffered from hemorrhoids that were often aggravated by an internal abscess that would not heal. He had severe arthritis and acute pain in his knees, calves, and feet. Other maladies included nephritis (acute, chronic inflammation of the kidney caused by infection), gallstones, and kidney stones. He once passed a kidney stone so large that it tore the urinary canal and led to excessive bleeding.

Due to his rigorous preaching schedule (he preached twice on Sunday and every day of the week, every other week) he would often strain his voice so severely that he experienced violent fits of coughing. On one occasion he broke a blood-vessel in his lungs and hemorrhaged. When he reached the age of 51 it was discovered that he was suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, which ultimately proved fatal. Much of his study and writing was done while bed-ridden. In the final few years of his life he had to be carried to work.

His final letter to his old friend William Farel accurately sums up his perspective on both life and death: "Since it is God's will that you should outlive me, remember our friendship. It was useful to God's Church and its fruits await us in heaven. I do not want you to tire yourself on my account. I draw my breath with difficulty and expect each moment to breathe my last. It is enough that I live and die for Christ, who is to all his followers a gain both in life and in death" (cited in Parker, 155).

His friends and physicians insisted he ease off the pace of ministry. "What! Would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes?" He preached his last sermon on February 6, 1564. He had to be carried to and from the pulpit.

He dictated his will on April 25th. It read, in part, as follows:

"In the name of God, I, John Calvin, servant of the Word of God in the church of Geneva, weakened by many illnesses . . . thank God that He has shown not only his mercy toward me, His poor creature, and . . . has suffered me in all sins and weaknesses, but what is more, that He has made me a partaker of His grace to serve Him through my work, . . . I confess to live and die in this faith which He has given me, inasmuch as I have no other hope or refuge than His predestination upon which my entire salvation is grounded. I embrace the grace which He has offered me in our Lord Jesus Christ and accept the merits of His suffering and dying that through them all my sins are buried."

Toward the end of April he met with friends at his home, very much aware that his days were few. "I am quite different from other sick people," he told them. "When they come near to their end, their senses fail and they become delirious. I certainly feel stupefied, but it seems as if God wants to concentrate all my inward senses. I believe I shall have much difficulty and that it will cost me a great effort to die" (Parker, 153).

He lingered another month in great pain, attempting to work, constantly repeating verses from the psalms. As he had predicted, he retained command of his mental faculties to the end. The official announcement of his death read as follows: "Today about eight o'clock in the evening, John Calvin has gone to God whole and entire in sense and understanding, thanks be to God" (Parker, 155).

Calvin's coat of arms, a hand holding a heart, is testimony to his compassionate and self-sacrificial spirit. It is encircled by his motto: Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. Freely translated it means: "My heart for Thy cause I offer Thee, Lord, promptly and sincerely."

I'm struck by the fact that neither of my two theological heroes, John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards, lived to see their 55th birthday (I thank God that I celebrated my 55th this year). I'm not sure what to make of that. One can hardly ignore the stunning accomplishments of these two men in so short a period of time. One can hardly help from wondering what they might have done had they lived another twenty or thirty years.

But their influence is staggering and undeniable. If nothing else, I'm quickened in my heart to thank God for every year that he graciously gives me on this earth. And I'm stirred to redeem every minute of every day for his glory. I pray that when my time comes, I will say, as did Calvin, "It is enough that I live and die for Christ, who is to all his followers a gain both in life and in death."


Friday, May 26, 2006

Thomas Watson on Repentance

Powerful, Biblical, and soul-piercing in three brief parts.

Benefit? Here's the Thomas Watson reading room.

This is Watson's outline for his treatise on repentance:


1. The first deceit of repentance is legal terror
2. Another deceit about repentance is resolution against sin
3. The third deceit about repentance is the leaving of many sinful ways


I shall next show what gospel repentance is. Repentance is a grace of God's Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed. For a further amplification, know that repentance is a spiritual medicine made up of six special ingredients:
1. Sight of sin
2. Sorrow for sin
3. Confession of sin
4. Shame for sin
5. Hatred for sin
6. Turning from sin
If any one is left out it loses its virtue.

(HT: Clyde Cranford - End Notes)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Disciples' Song - I John 1:1

Kurt Strassner (pronounced "Court") is a good friend and the pastor of a very blessed people at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church in Cincinnati, OH. I didn't know he was also a poet par excellence.

I highly commend to you Kurt's sermons which can also be found on the church's website - especially his five part series on the church.

The Disciples' Song
(based on 1 John 1:1)

1. What Was from the Beginning

As darkness hovered o’er the deep

And earth was still a miry heap;

Before the Dippers hung in place

Or moon was lit with manly face,

And man had not from clay been wrought

And paradise was just a thought;

Before the dawn by sun was kissed

Our blessed Christ still did exist.

Before the devil scoffed His might

And led his angels in their flight,

Or left his tracks on virgin sod

And bade man shake his fist at God;

Before man’s fall was yet fulfilled,

Before His blood must needs be spilled,

Before all flesh in sin was damned,

Christ waited, slain, the precious Lamb.

When Abram lived in ancient Ur,

Where nomads dressed in cloaks of fur,

God plucked him up like desert rose

And led him to the land He chose.

He promised him a mighty clan

While Abram still was just one man.

Before his offspring God did bless,

Through faith Christ was his righteousness.

It did not take the fall of man,

Nor promise made to Abraham,

Nor God’s creation turned to vice—

He always was and is the Christ.

2. What We Have Heard

Our hands were blistered bloody red

From mending nets where fish had fled.

Our temples beat like warring drums.

Our ears were filled with seaside hums

Of market slang and bickering

And haughty laughs and snickering.

But then above the deaf’ning noise,

A gift of God: The Master’s voice.

The beauty of “Come follow Me”

Made boats and nets and fish and sea

Seem like a chasing after wind

Given the chance to follow Him

Whose words could sting like whirling sand

“Gouge out your eye! Cut off your hand!”

and even harsher phrases said,

“Repent or you shall all be dead.”

But harshness always dripped with grace

As sweet as honey to the taste.

A word could meet a beggar’s need

Or splint a bruised and wilting reed.

That voice robust with sovereign might

Became a salve for blinded sight,

A balm for leper’s rotten skin,

A flood to cleanse the stain of sin.

This word that caused out hearts to burn

Will never shade, nor shift, nor turn.

We testify to what we heard—

The Son of God, the Living Word.

3. What We Have Seen with Our Eyes

He grew up as a tender shoot.

He wore no jewels, nor sash, nor suit.

His clothes were of the working trade—

Sturdy, clean, and slightly frayed.

A carpenter with hands rubbed raw

From gripping hammer, adze, and saw.

This Nazarene, a faithful son

Was also the Anointed One.

Before our eyes He fed a host:

Five thousand men, two fish, five loaves.

With gentle hands He felt at ease

To bounce the toddlers on His knees,

Or tickle them and watch their grins,

Or wipe the crumbs off of their chins.

He was a Shepherd for His flock;

A gentle, kind, but solid Rock.

This Man the leaders put to test.

With blackened hearts they tried their best

To lasso Him with Moses’ Law,

But in Him they could find no flaw.

And when He did not take their bait,

A story they did fabricate—

“He does not do as Caesar said!”

“O Pilate, we would have Him dead.”

And so we watched His form be marred—

In cowardice, watched from afar.

On that good day we saw God’s grace,

Eyes fixed on Him who took our place.

4. What Our Hands Handled

This one who washed our sinful feet

Was now wrapped in a corpse’s sheet.

But mangled flesh and strangled screams

And bloodsoaked garments filled our dreams.

But then burst Mary in the room—

“I have been to the Master’s tomb!

He is not dressed in fun’ral shroud.

I kissed His hand. He spoke out loud!”

Alive, He came to us that night;

And robed in garments glorious white.

Our hearts whose light had been so dim,

Burst open wide to worship Him.

We bowed our knees with trembling souls

To kiss His feet—and felt the holes

Where flesh was to that wood affixed

And blood with rust and splinters mixed.

Unworthy men touched hands and side

Where God’s own wrath had been applied.

Those wounds in hands and feet and head,

Our nightmares while his frame lay dead,

No longer red like aged wine,

But firm and white, as healed by time.

This truth now touched our fingertips—

“Death could not hold Him in its grip!”

Our hearts were filled with holy hush.

The One whom God was pleased to crush

With Roman lash, and stake, and sword

Was in our arms, the risen Lord.

Thanks Kurt!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Free Puritan Stuff

Mt. Zion has been touted before on Solus Christus and probably will be again. There's really no good reason not to order something.

London Baptist Confession - 1689

Those of us in the baptistic tradition would do well to sit at the feet of our forefathers for some schooling.

You Big Monkey

An excerpt from Al Mohler's most recent online commentary:

It seems that the London Zoo has decided to develop a new exhibit--putting human beings on display with the rest of the animal kingdom.

According to news reports, the human "captives" in "The Human Zoo" exhibit at the London Zoo are identified by a sign that reads, "Warning: Humans in their Natural Environment...

...The humans are exhibited as part of the zoo's "Bear Mountain" landscape, separated from the apes by an electronic fence and other security devices. The security concerns presumably came from the humans -- not from the apes.

You can read the entire article here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pastor's Draft

Looks like a church in Memphis got the #1 pick.

(Just in case you don't realize it...this is joke site.)

A Cup of Cold Water

Done in Jesus' name, even the smallest things yeild eternal fruit.

On March 2, I posted a link to Invisible Children. In classic fashion, my good friend Andy Scott, who is known for speaking slowly, just now submitted a comment on my post. Among our crew of college friends, Andy is affectionately known as "All-Day Andy" - because it takes him all day to say something.

Thankfully, Andy will have eternity to glory in Christ Who has wrought a nations-loving change in his heart, and will not be constrained by time. Here's the comment Andy submitted today to my March 2 Invisible Children post:
My middle schoolers and I are in the middle of a project called "The Walk a Mile Project" designed to raise awareness and support for the children highlighted in this movie. I've been blessed to have gotten to know Cheshewa Mauyna from Uganda this past year. He started a community-based effort in northern Uganda called "The Soy Foundation" ( try and raise funds to provide educational opportunities for these "night commuters". Our effort is working in partnership with his foundation. So far we've raised over $300. It's a small drop in the ocean of relief, but it's been so cool to see a group of middle schoolers get excited about something bigger than themselves.
Andy is the head diving coach at Duke University, and a full-time middle school teacher in Durham, NC. He will be getting married to the woman of his dreams on June 16.


Didache is short for The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. It is a document that was written in the first century by an unknown author and contains orthodox Christian discipleship. The simplicity of this writing is a breath of fresh air.

Here is a recent (and brief) Christianity Today article on the Didache written by William Varner.

You can read an English translation of the Didache for yourself here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mid South Baptist Association

We praise the Lord for the Mid South Baptist Association. Last week the association approved financial support for Grace Church for three years.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Thanks for Praying for Caleb

After soaking under photo therapy at Children's Hospital for his 3rd and 4th days of life, the Lord has been pleased to lower Caleb's Biliruben count to a "normal" level (12-14). We are scheduled to take him in to the clinic tomorrow for a final check-up. Thank you for your prayers!

Friday, May 19, 2006

High Bilirubin

Please pray for our newborn son Caleb. He has been admitted to Minneapolis Children's Hospital for at least the next 24 hours to undergo photo light therapy in an effort to decrease his jaundice. Jaundice is a common side effect in newborns that occurs with the baby's bilirubin count is too high. You can read a very brief medical description here.

Seek the Lord!

This Psalm has been instrumental in my devotional life pertaining to the daily pursuit of Christ. May the Lord give us Himself as we seek Him this way and for this purpose. Father, glorify Yourself by raising up Memphians coupled with the nations in 'ascribing to you the glory DUE your Name'.

1 Chron. 16:8-36
8 Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
9Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Speak of all His wonders.
10Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad.
11 Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face continually.
12 Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments from His mouth,
13O seed of Israel His servant,
Sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!
14He is the LORD our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
15Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded to a thousand generations,
16 The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac.
17 He also confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel as an everlasting covenant,
18Saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan,
As the portion of your inheritance."
19 When they were only a few in number,
Very few, and strangers in it,
20And they wandered about from nation to nation,
And from one kingdom to another people,
21He permitted no man to oppress them,
And He reproved kings for their sakes, saying,
22"Do not touch My anointed ones,
And do My prophets no harm."
23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
24Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
25For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
He also is to be feared above all gods.
26For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens.
27Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and joy are in His place.
28Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
29Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him;
Worship the LORD in holy array.
30Tremble before Him, all the earth;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
And let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns."
32 Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
33Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the LORD;
For He is coming to judge the earth.
34 O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
35 Then say, "Save us, O God of our salvation,
And gather us and deliver us from the nations,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
And glory in Your praise."
36 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
From everlasting even to everlasting
Then all the people said, "Amen," and praised the LORD.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pray for God...he's learning to play T-Ball

No, He is not in any sort of predicament. That is, if you are thinking of the Sovereign of the universe and Author of the Bible. That's not the "God" I'm referring to.

God is a 5-6 year old little boy on my daughter's T-ball team. That's right, his name is God. His dad's name is Knowledge.

After introducing myself to several of the other parents on Taylor's team, I met Knowledge. Instantly, he was off and running, informing me that the black man is God, and that's how he decided on his son's name. A great conversation ensued and I was enabled to share a clear gospel presentation with Knowledge. We both discussed our eagerness to talk more at the upcoming practices and games.

Join me in praying that Knowledge, God, and the other family members will come to see that there is A GOD...and we're not Him. More, that The One True GOD will draw Knowledge to Himself and give him saving grace that, in turn, will flow to his family.

All Four

I'd highly recommend watching all four of these videos. It would be most helpful to wait until you have about 20 minutes to give concentrated attention to something you should think deeply about.

(HT - Justin Taylor)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

May 2006 Update Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

“[YAHWEH] established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” (Psalm 78:5-7)

Happy birthday Caleb Duncan Thomas! We thank the LORD that on May 16 at 1:06 AM our “little” 9lb 12oz 22¼-inches long blessing from GOD made his grand arrival into the world. And oh boy, was his arrival grand! In the words of Tracy’s doctor, “I’ve never had a patient fully dilated for over three hours with such intense labor.” And again, “That is the most matured newborn I’ve ever seen.” Umm, he’s big!

Our hearts desire and prayer to God for Caleb is that he will be saved (Romans 10:1), and that his very intense delivery into this world would serve as a parable of the immense impact he will have on his generation for Christ’s kingdom (Psalm 78:5-7)! Please join us in praying to this end. Thank you also for your prayers for Tracy, Caleb, and our entire family as we adjust to life as six.

In addition to adjusting to a larger family, there are many other significant adjustments on the horizon for the Thomas family. Lord willing we will be moving to downtown Memphis in late June and beginning the planting efforts of Grace Church in September. Having the joy of participating in the Church Planter’s Residency at Bethlehem, the wonder of our fourth child, the stress of making two moves, and the intimidation of starting a new church are just a few of the reasons that 2005-2006 has been one of the most adventurous seasons to date for our family. Not insignificantly, the LORD has been preparing us for these significant adjustments.

Nearly seven years ago (July 24, 1999), Tracy and I were married. From the first day of our marriage the LORD put strong desires in our hearts for a large family. Taylor, Kaitlyn, Andrew, and Caleb are living gifts to us from the hand of GOD and we marvel that He has entrusted us with the awesome responsibility of modeling Christlikeness in front of them and teaching them that “apart from Christ nothing should dazzle us* .”

Again, nearly seven years ago, Tracy and I started praying about church planting. GOD, in His kind providence, though many times unbeknownst to us, was pleased to use each of the subsequent years as preparation to begin Grace Church. Our opportunity for training in Minnesota has proven to be a better equipping season than we could have imagined. Please know how thankful we are for your love and support through this season of our life – although it is impossible to express in words. We are humbled and encouraged by the waves of intercessory prayer being made on our behalf! By all means, keep it up.

Almost three years ago, the LORD led Nathan Sawyer, Bryan Smith, myself, and a few others to begin praying about planting a new church in the Memphis area. Knowing that we are scheduled to begin this new work in a few months is almost surreal. The ways that GOD has cultivated our hearts, matured our spiritual growth, convicted us of sin patterns, provided grace to repent, and united our hearts to plant this new church has been an amazing journey to live within. We tremble at the responsibility the LORD has bestowed upon us, and at the same time we walk in the confidence that the He has already prepared the way (Ephesians 2:10)! Christ Jesus is the builder of His church, and we are simply the tools (Matthew 16:18). Pray that we will be useful in His mighty hands!

In Christ, John 3:30
Jordan Thomas

* This statement was regularly quoted to me by Clyde Cranford in discipleship, and was orignated by St. Ignatius.

** If you would like to add a friend to our monthly update list, please send us their name along with an email, or physical mailing address.

Announcing...Caleb Duncan Thomas

Psalm 78:5-7

Born: May 16, 1:06 AM

9lbs 12 oz

22.25 inches long

Monday, May 15, 2006

The DaVinci Debate

The DaVinci Debate has probably already seeped into some circles within your church or at least in some circles you are connected to at work and in the community. I know the buzz seems to be gaining some worldly momentum and the media is sure to run with it in the coming days with the movie, starring Tom Hanks, opening this Friday. My good friend Mark Bridges sent me this short article that gets to the point of the questions that may arise from this fictional writing. It is not completely thorough but sufficient to understanding the major flaws of the belief system it teaches to those who might choose to accept these falsehoods as truths.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ephesians 1 - (13th Meditation) - "The Worth of Your Soul"

As I mentioned in the previous meditation, I will now lean on Scougal's thesis statement;
"The worth and excellence of a soul is to be measured by the object of it's love."

Think about that for a second.

If Scougal is right, then right now you can calculate the value of your own soul. I think he's right. Your worth is equivalent to what you supremely value. Have you checked your price tag recently?

I saw a cover of Entertainment Weekly this week that asked, "Is Tom Cruise Really Worth $100,000,000?" Frankly, I don't care. Obviously pop culture does, and that would be one reason I've not been sought after as a cover writer for EW.

Although I don't know the answer to EW's question, I do know this: Tom, and you, and I are all going to stand before the same Awesome Standard some day, and the issue will not be the number of Washington's we possessed.

So, how much is your soul worth? Scougal said you can know the answer by looking to what your soul supremely values.

What (or whom, or, Whom) is the most supremly valuable object in the life of your affections. Making the assumption that people are honest (perhaps quite a stretch), here are the responses I think would be most common (perhaps even among "professing" Christians):
1. Myself.
2. My partner (Spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, live-in, fling, etc...).
3. My stuff.
4. My career.
5. My reputation.
6. My portfolio.
7. My leisure time (golf, vacations, games, sports, etc...).
Given the assumption that the Bible is true (which is no stretch at all!), here is only answer that will make your soul invaluable:
1. King Jesus Christ.

If you love an item on the first list supremely, then, there you've figured out that "the worth and excellence of your soul" is finite.

However, if you love Christ supremely, then, there you've figured out that "the worth and excellence of your soul" is infinite.

The main reason that I don't care about Tom's "value" is because his monetary value is not actually valuable - in the scope of eternity. Someday every last dollar will rot. Christ never will!

Ephesians 1:1-14 ends with this breathtaking summation:

And you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed, were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who was given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. - vv. 13-14

This is why both biblical and systematic theology are so important. We read the word "believed" and make all sorts of assumptions. What was Paul's intention? What was the Holy Spirit's intention (I believe these are one and the same)?

Systematic theology teaches us that "belief" in Christ is a surrender of the whole person to His Lordship, His ability to save from sin, self, Satan, and hell forever, and an embrace of Christ as our Ultimate Treasure! Biblical theology teaches us that belief is a dominate New Testament theme (and OT!), and a central component to Pauline theology. (cf. "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9)).

When Paul emphasizes that the Ephesians have "believed" in Him he is saying to them, "You are of infinite value because you supremely value the Most Valuable of All, King Jesus." (Notice in the ESV, the belief is in Christ, not just the gospel - a subtle, but vital point [The ESV translation of vv. 12-13 is more in keeping with the wording of the GNT than is the NASB translation of the same verses]).

In short, the worth and excellence of "those who are faithful by Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 1:2) is infinte because GOD is of infinite value and He, in Christ, by the power of the Spirit, stands as the centerpiece of their heart's affections! (That's the way I'd sum up verses 12-14. Although the Holy Spirit is the most mentioned Person of the Trinity on those verses, both systematic and biblical theology teach us that the Spirit's vocation is make God's people treasure Jesus most, not Himself [See John 16:14]).

So, my next question would be, "What is the value of God?" According to Scougal's formula, we would first have to know what He supremely values. Thoughts?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Because I Still Get Giddy, Wouldn't You?

Ok, I'm at home on Friday night, May 12, around 10p (My In-laws are visiting too) and my wife is having contractions every 3 minutes or so. You can stop thinking that I should not be blogging right now, because I should be getting my tail to the ER. Apparently, that's not the plan? So, I've resorted to blogging because I'm a man who has to vent my giddiness somehow. Here's the part you need to know:

Tracy, my wife, thinks "the contractions don't really hurt, so I don't think we should go to the hospital yet." Ok, we'll see what she thinks when daddy-o becomes mid-wife-o in about 30 minute-o.

There's no way I could ever be calm at this juncture. After three kids you'd think, he's cool. Nope. I'm feel like I'm twelve and about to get Ryne Sandberg's autograph (favorite all time Cub - Cubs are favorite team - that makes Ryno pretty much Saint status).

So what would you do if you were me? I feel like venting on the Solus Christus faithful is a good idea. If you beg to differ, then stop reading why don't cha?

At the end of all of this, we are trusting the Lord for another weapon in God's hands. That's our prayer. We pray everday that our kids will grow up to Love Jesus, live for His glory, and be used mightily by Him in the advance of His Kingdom.

The first sound each of my children ever heard (besides "Whoo! Oh man! Look at her (or him)) was the sound of their daddy praying for them. Immediately after birth, dad's big hand laid on the new little addition to the Thomas family and they heard something to the effect of

God, this is your baby. We give ________ totally to You. Use us as parents of _______ to lead this precious little one to faith in Jesus Chriat as Lord, Savior, and Supreme Treasure. Use us, Oh Lord, to teach this little one to not fear anyone save GOD. Use ________ mightily for Your great glory in the spread of the gospel. We pray all of this for Your glory in Jesus Name, Amen.

This routine has always been followed by enough kisses on new baby's forehead to leave blisters (on our lips and ______'s face).

I love Caleb Duncan Thomas. He doesn't even know it yet. I'd give my life in a heartbeat for Caleb. No doubt. Man, the love of the Father makes me tremble when I see glimpes of His love for His children as I contemplate my sin-infested love for my kids.

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God though Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." - Romans 5:6-10

So Tracy just said, "I don't think I'm having him right now. The contractions have stopped." (She's about 10 feet from me in a huge chair and 1/2 with feet propped up on an ottoman like it's time to chill or something?).

Ok, I'm cool now. Peace!

May I Ask You a Few Quick Questions?

...Like 196 of them.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"Whatever It Takes to Get the Message Across"

Watch this video

(Click the link, then on the new page, click "Watch a video of Kidz Church"). After watching, I'd be interested in your perspective?

(HT: Tim Challies)

4000, 3000, 5000 and God's view of #'s

I'm encouraged to see that this week will likely push Solus Christus beyond 4000 hits. It's prompted some thinking on a biblical view of stats. (Scroll down on the right sidebar to see the statcounter. I'm helped to know that 4000 total hits is still an infinitesimal number of hits according to most blogosphere standards. There are more blogs started each day than hits we've received in ten months! Slow down big fella lest the head swell!)

Additionally, the numbers are a bit misleading. I've probably accounted for 10% of the hits myself due to posting (and correcting typo-filled posts!).

Nonetheless, there have been a fair number of new hits over the past two months (about 2000 hits). So, we sense a growing awareness that Solus Christus is serving a small portion of Christ's Kingdom. To that end, we are humbled and thank the Lord.

Numbers are tricky. I can hear the church growth guru's standing over my shoulder shouting, "God's interested in numbers, just read the book of Acts." Ok. I have. I agree. Stop shouting.

The tricky part about numbers is that they can quickly begin to trump their proper importance. Do you think that Acts 2:41 would have been less significant if the Lord only added 2000 souls to the Church that day? Or would have been more significant if He had added 6000 that day? I think the numbers in Acts are vitally important. (Check out the 5000 in Acts 4:4, and the continued numerical growth in Acts 6:7; 9:31; 11:21; and 16:5).

My point is that numbers should be in their proper place when evaluating "ministry success." Was Jeremiah sucessful? One convert through a lifetime of ministry? Noah? 120 years and only seven converts to show for it? I'm inclined to agree with Paris Reidhead who said in his must hear sermon - Ten Shekels and Shirt - something to the effect of, "It's likely that most modern mission boards would have terminated Jeremiah's support or tried to send him to a 'more productive' field of service."

Maybe we'll show some real biblical success over the next two months by having 2000 fewer hits?

If you've been encouraged to seek the Lord as a result of Solus Christus, we praise Him. Thanks for stopping by. And may the Lord add "hits" according to His wise prerogative - and in such a way that He will be glorified, Christ will be treasured, and His eternal joy will be spread!

Solus Christus!

Monday, May 08, 2006

And the Answer Is...

Thanks mom for reminding me to post the answer to this post (From March 2!).

"There's only one thing that's biblically necessary for building the church, and that's the the preached Word of God." The Deliberate Church - p. 33.

For a related quote, see the last quote from the post below this one.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

So, John Piper, how does the imputation of Christ's righteousness relate to church-planting?

As I read the most popular church planting resources of our day, I'm not finding many quotes like the one's below. Hmm, I wonder why? Maybe it doesn't produce the kind of results we want? (All quotes taken from Piper's book Counted Righteous in Christ - Should we Abandon the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness? Read them. I'm particulary thankful for the last quote.
"To begin with, the older I get, the less impressed I am with flashy successes and enthusiasms that are not truth-based. Everybody knows that with the right personality, the right music, the right location, and the right schedule you can grow a church without anybody really knowing what doctrinal commitments sustain it, if any. Church-planting specialists generally downplay biblical doctrine in the core values of what makes a church "successful." the long-term effect of this ethos is a weakening of the church that is concealed as long as the crowds are large, the band is loud, the tragedies are few, and persecution is still at the level of preferences. But more and more this doctrinally-diluted brew of music, drama, life-trips, and marketing seems out of touch with real life in this world-not to mention the next. It tastes like watered-down greul, not a nourishing meal. It simply isn't serious enough. It's too playful and chatty and casual. Its joy just doesn't feel deep enough or heartbroken or well-rooted. The injustice and persecution and suffering and hellish realities in the world today are so many and so large and so close that I can't help but think that, deep inside, people are longing for something weighty and massive and rooted and stable and eternal. So it seems to me that the trifling with silly little sketches and breezy welcome-to-the-den styles on Sunday morning are just out of touch with what matters in life. Of course, it works. Sort of. Because, in the name of felt needs, it resonates with people's impulse to run from what is most serious and weighty and what makes them most human and noble. Silliness is a stepping-stone to substance. But it's an odd path. And evidence is not ample that many are willing to move beyond fun and simplicity. So the price of minimizing truth-based joy and maximizing atmosphere-based comfort is high. More and more, it seems to me, the end might be in view. I doubt that a religious ethos with such a feel of entertainment can really survive as Christian for too many more decases. Crises reveal the cracks." - p.22-23

"Why devote so much time to defending the imputation of Christ's righteousness when there are so many unreached people groups and millions of people who have no access to the Gospel? I will mention two things. One is that over the past twenty years of leading a missions-mobilizing church I have seen with increasing clarity that teacher-based church planting and not just friendship-based church planting is crucial among peoples with no Christian history. In other words, doctrinal instruction becomes utterly crucial in planting the church." - p. 32

"I mention not only world missions but also local church planting. If I want to see churches planted out from our church and others, why invest so much time and energy in defending and explaining the historic Protestant vision of justification as the imputation of Christ's Righteousness? I have answered this already, but will say again, I think we have enough churches being planted by means of music, drama, creative scheduling, sprightly narrative, and marketing savvy. And there are too few that are God-centered, truth-treasuring, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, cross-focused, Spirit-dependent, prayer-soaked, soul-winning, justice-pursuing congregations with a wartime mindset ready to lay down their lives for the salvation of the nations and the neighborhoods. There is a blood-earnest joy that sustains a church like this, and it comes only by embracing Chirst-crucified as our righteousness." - p. 33

Friday, May 05, 2006

Greater Sense of Personal Depravity?

Someone asked me a good question today.
"Does the Bible teach that a Christian's awareness of his depravity will increase throughout his Christian life in direct proportion to his view of God being more biblically informed?"

Counted Righteous in Christ

This is a great resource to complement this post on penal substitution.

Smelling Like Jesus because of what we...

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God. - II Corinthians 2:14-17 (NASB)

The Treasure Principle

The purpose of Grace Church is:

We exist to glorify God by treasuring Jesus Christ and spreading His eternal joy.

This little book has strongly challenged (and convicted) me to live out that purpose with much greater clarity. Read it and you will see what I mean.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Penal Substitution

I was blessed today to go to a Christology class at Bethel College with a friend who presented a lecture on his view of Christ's Atonement, penal substitution (which I affirm also). Though it may come as a surprise to you, there are various views on Christ's atonement. J.I. Packer says of penal substitution:
The notion which the phrase penal substitution expresses is that Jesus Christ our Lord, moved by a love that was determined to do everything necessary to save us, endured and exhausted the destructive divine judgment for which we were otherwise inescapably destined, and so won us forgiveness, adoption and glory. To affirm penal substitution is to say that believers are in debt to Christ specifically for this, and that this is the mainspring of all their joy, peace and praise both now and for eternity.
I agree.

Lord willing, I will return to the same classroom next week to hear Greg Boyd articulate his view of Christ's atoning work, Christus Victor. You may recognize Boyd's name as one of the leading proponents of Open Theism (with which I totally disagree). Open Theism is built on a very faulty premise, such as:
It is the teaching that God has granted to humanity free will and that in order for the free will to be truly free, the future free will choices of individuals cannot be known ahead of time by God.
Here are a few excerpts from the Christus Victor article linked above:
Jesus life and death was not the fulfillment of a legal system, it was the fulfillment of the relational model of love.
God did not require Jesus' death. Hate killed Jesus when he stood up for love. But God used this tragedy to bring about life.
Sin was not overcome through a payment to satisfy the Powers, but by God triumphing over the Powers.
My question is not, "Is there some truth in what the Christus Victor view purports?" Of course there is some truth. Jesus was loving. Hateful people killed Jesus. God used the death of Christ to bring about life. God triumphed over the "powers." Ok, but what else? How about, Jesus DID fulfill the legal system (Matthew 5:17-19); God DID require Jesus death - and more, He planned it! (Acts 2:23); Sin WAS overcome through a payment to satisfy God (Romans 3:21-27).

The question pertains to what is central to Christ's atoning work. For a great article on this subject I again commend to you Mark Dever's recent article from Christianity Today Magazine.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Church Planting Helps

I've been helped by this book, this book, this book, and this manual.

Diagraming and Arcing the Word of God

Don't let the title "Biblical Exegesis" scare you away from this helpful method of Scripture study.

Ephesians 1 - (12th Meditation) - "The Life of God in the Soul of Man"

Henry Scougal, a puritan pastor, was vexed by the question, "How can someone know for sure if he belongs to the Lord?" Needless to say, he wasn't content to point to a one-time experience that yeilded little-to-no sanctifying effects. Are you?

The title of Scougal's book, The Life of God in the Soul of Man, is the answer to the question that he realized and embraced after much biblical meditation. The book is simply the fruit of his meditation. Aren't you glad he wrote it! Perhaps you wouldn't be a believer today if he didn't. Think that's an overstatement? Consider your spiritual heritage. Someone had to tell you about Christ...someone had to tell them about Christ...etc...

How does Scougal's book fit into your conversion (assuming you are the Lord's)? Well, the greatest preacher ever to step foot on American soil was converted as a result of reading Scougal's book.
When he was 17 he entered Pembroke College at Oxford in November, 1732. He was gradually drawn from former sinful associates, and after a year, he met John and Charles Wesley and joined the Holy Club. Charles Wesley loaned him a book, The Life of God in the Soul of Man. This book--plus a severe sickness which resulted because of long and painful periods of spiritual struggle--finally resulted in his conversion. This was in 1735. He said many years later:

I know the place...Whenever I go to Oxford, I cannot help running to the spot where Jesus Christ first revealed him- self to me, and gave me the new birth.

If you are a Westerner, you would be hard-pressed to convince any honest historian that Whitefield's influence had no effect on those who have passed the gospel down to you.

Why share this historical aside in a meditation on Ephesians chapter one? Because it is the best way I know of describing the majesty of what God reveals in Ephesians 1:13-14.

Click the verse link above and READ IT SLOWLY. See it? More importantly, can you identify with it?

GOD lives inside of His people! The Holy Spirit is given as a pledge of our the praise of His glory! Believers have GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT living inside of them.

So, Scougal was right.

Q: How can someone know if he belongs to the Lord?
A: "The Life of God is in the soul of the man." - or, God lives in you.

Now would be a good time to be preoccupied with the God of your salvation - who lives within you!

The 13th meditation will be a meditation on 1:13, and will lean on the thesis of Scougal's book; "The worth and excellence of a soul is to be measured by the object of it's love."

Is this true?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gospel Bloggers

I was greatly blessed by the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, KY last week. The main sessions, gospel conversations, sharing Christ with a post-modern guy downtown, and connecting with dozens of old friends was such a blessing.

I also attended a pre-conference session for bloggers and met the authors of these blogs.

Of course we are not endorsing everything you find on these blogs. We trust that you will be able to find much to point you to Christ. To that end, we gladly recommend them for your perusal.

(HT: Timmy Brister)