Christian Vampires

As with all worldly trends, Christians jump on it right as it is about to stall out. Consider vampire novels. These were big money for secular publishers about two years ago. Now novels of the undead are dying off.

Surely Christian book publishers won’t jump on this bandwagon? How could they? What do vampires have to do with Jesus?

Well, sorry, if you thought Christian America wouldn’t stoop so low, you be wrong. How exactly can you write Christian vampire novels and maintain a belief you are still being Christian? Goes like this:

“Allen Arnold Sr., vice president and publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction, which published the [Christian vampire] trilogy, said any story can be redeemed when told from a Christian worldview, just as any life can be redeemed through the power of Christ.”


Sounds to me more like: “any story with Jesus tacked on it can make us money, so hey, we went for it.”

HT: Sand in the Gears

Weekend YouTube Tour

1) Think political attack ads are bad today? Consider these attack ads from 1800, in the words of the candidates then, you hatchet-faced nutmeg dealer.

2) A little sports related humanism–the awesomeness of crazy athletic endeavors. Not sure this is time well spent or not, but it is cool!

3) Song of Solomon pick-up lines. This could have been much funnier, but the idea is good.

4) One of the funniest bits you’ll ever hear from a stand-up comic. Great stuff.

Coffee Cup Mary

Looking for that special gift for the Christian who has everything? Wait, wait, Christians aren’t supposed to have everything. Um.

Looking for that special gift for the Christian who has all their basic needs met and needs a little edifying pick-me-up?

Well, here it is.

Stuff for October 28, 2010

1) Blog post about Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral going bankrupt in which the question I immediately thought of is asked: How’s that power of positive thinking thing working out? Humanism doesn’t work, even if it sounds like Chritianity sometimes.

2) Perhaps the highest usage of sarcasm in any sermon I’ve ever spoken. Not always recommended, but sure feels good sometimes!

3) Blog post on people who say they trust the Lord for things the Lord never promised. It may make you feel better, but it don’t mean nothin if your plans are not His.

Justification and Imputing Righteousness

OK, seriously, last one! I’ve found several errors in this author’s works dealing with imputed righteousness. Here’s my last one dealing with the same quote from yesterday’s post:

“Justification is more than forgiveness, since forgiveness is the cancellation of sin while justification is the imputing of righteousness, Forgiveness is negative (the removal of condemnation), while justification is positive (the bestowing of the merit and standing of Christ).”

“Justification is more than forgiveness. . . justification is the imputing of righteousness.” Here I’d like to part ways with the author.

I will agree that justification equals the imputation of righteousness. I will disagree that the imputation of righteousness is anything more than the forgiveness of sins! Therefore, justification is not adding something more, but removing sin. Period.

Romans 4:5-8 seems to equate the following: justification (4:5), forgiveness of iniquities (4:7); covering of sin (4:7), and not imputing sin (4:8).

Theologians, apparently sometime around the Reformation, began dealing with imputed righteousness according to accounting terms. However, the word “impute” does not imply a transfer of goods, but rather to think, reckon, esteem something to be so.

Imputing righteousness does not mean that righteous acts of another are added to my account. It means that even though I am not righteous, by faith, God reckons me righteous, thinks of me as righteous, counts me righteous.

What does it mean to be righteous? Righteous means “to be right!” No error, no sin, no wrong, all right. To be imputed, counted, reckoned righteous means to not have your sins imputed to you!

That’s what David said and Paul quotes him to explain it to us. How can you be more righteous than having no sin?

Consider Adam and Eve, they were innocent, always in the right, righteous in the Garden of Eden. God said not to eat from the One Tree. How could they be more righteous in this setting? Cut the tree down? Eat a ton of fruit from the tree next to it?

NO! They were righteous in everything they did, until they sinned and ate from The Tree. In order to be righteous again, they needed God to not impute their sin to them.

Same is true for us. We are not content with not having sin, we think we need huge amounts of righteous deeds, even if they are Christ’s, to be accepted. Nope, you just need to be without sin.

“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”

To not have sin reckoned or imputed to you is the exact same thing as having righteousness imputed to you. It is enough to be innocent, because innocent is perfect and right.

The Merit of Christ?

OK, one more! I’ve pointed out two errors from this same author in the past week (error one and error two), and I got one more! Here’s the quote:

“Justification is more than forgiveness, since forgiveness is the cancellation of sin while justification is the imputing of righteousness, Forgiveness is negative (the removal of condemnation), while justification is positive (the bestowing of the merit and standing of Christ).”

Several things bug me here, I’ll post on one tomorrow. But here’s my buggerdom for today.

The merit of Christ is bestowed to me?! I don’t know what he means by this, since “merit” is not a biblical word. “Merit” is one of those words theologians use, generally referring to works of mankind, our deserving of salvation.

Webster’s Dictionary says merit is “spiritual credit held to be earned by performance of righteous acts and to ensure future benefits.”

So, I am saved because of the righteous acts of Jesus? Think carefully about this concept. I am not denying that Jesus is righteous, He is and everything He did was righteous.

BUT, He was not righteous so He could bestow his good works on me to save me, He was righteous to show He was the perfect sacrifice to take the wrath of God for my sins.

I am not saved by the righteous acts of Jesus Christ. I am saved by His death and resurrection, which are both righteous, but I’m not saved by the righteousness of the act but by the blood that was spilled, by the stripes and the wounds, and the atoning death and subsequent resurrection.

If I am saved by the righteous acts of Jesus Christ, what am I saved by? If the good works of Jesus save me then I am saved by works! If, by faith, I am granted the good works of Jesus Christ, God owes me salvation! It’s no more of grace but of debt!

We must be ever careful of our words. I am not justified by the good works of me or of Christ. Let Paul clear it up, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”


Stuff for October 25, 2010

1) The Vatican came out with a statement concerning Israel, saying in part, “We Christians cannot speak of a ‘promised land’ as an exclusive right to a privileged Jewish people. This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people–all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.” Anyone at my church yesterday heard a sermon about this!

2) Article chronicling the means by which people who love McDonald’s McRib sandwich can find one. I love the McRib! Here’s the actual McRib Locator Website, which tells me a McDonald’s in Wausau serves them! Dude!

3) Article about inventors who were killed by their own inventions.

4) The growing trend to sexualize kids is one all parents should be aware of. If the world thinks it’s a problem. . .

Robed in Righteousness

I read this exact quote with references and everything the other day, see if you can find the error in it!

“As the priests of old were clothed with righteousness (Psalm 132:9), so the believer is robed in the wedding garment of the righteousness of God and in that garment he will appear in glory (Revelation 19:8).”

See anything wrong with that?

The error is in his “loose quotation” of Revelation 19:8, in fact, his loose quotation completely changes the verse! He states that Revelation 19:8 shows believers robed in “the righteousness of God.”

Click on the link for Revelation 19:8. What are the believers robed in?

Maybe this is splitting hairs, but it bothers me when guys “quote” verses, throw a reference in there, but when you look it up the reference does not say what they said it says!

I then have a hard time listening to them after that. Maybe I should be more forgiving, I’ve probably done the same thing. When in doubt; look it up!

Stuff for October 23, 2010

Stuff I looked at today:

1) Quote from Martin Luther about pastors, “They [ministers] are also compelled to suffer when something they taught purely is quickly overthrown by spirits who, with their fanciful ideas, afterwards reign and rule over the work the preachers sought to do.  Godly ministers are grieved more by this than by any persecution of tyrants.  Therefore, people should not be ministers of the gospel if they are not content to be despised like this or if they are loath to bear reproach; otherwise let them hand over their charge to others.”

2) How David Beats Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell

3) Enjoyed this 5 second video of my mature uncle.

Exceeding the Righteousness of Pharisees

“Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus said this and ever since people have been trying to find a way out of it. Evangelicals know we are not saved by works. Therefore, we conclude that Jesus is not teaching salvation by works here. So, what is He teaching?

The classic loophole is that the righteousness of which He is speaking is His own righteousness imputed to believers.

The context shows that He is not talking about some mystical imputed righteous works of Christ. We are not justified by deeds of the Law whether Christ’s or ours. We are justified by His blood and by His resurrection.

He is talking about literally being more righteous than Pharisees! The context is a large section containing paragraphs with “you have heard it said to you. . . but I say unto you” in it.

The Pharisees followed external modes of law-keeping. They kept the letter and missed the spirit. Jesus is showing that the true righteousness of the Law is not external window-dressing, but rather internal, from the heart righteousness.

Exceeding the righteousness of the Pharisees is about keeping the true intent of God’s Word, not merely seeking glory before men by showings of righteousness.

It is a temptation to read into passages our ideas rather than take the passages for what they say. Nine times out of ten the application of Matthew 5:20 is that this is speaking of the imputed righteousness of Christ.

It isn’t, no matter how good it may sound. It’s not at all what Jesus is talking about. He’s talking about being truly righteous rather than self-righteous.

Stuff for October 22, 2010

1) Perhaps the greatest rendition ever of Amazing Grace!

2) Good point from J. C. Ryle

3) Quote from Thomas Watson, “When God made the world, he met with no opposition; as he had nothing to help him, so he had nothing to hinder him; but when he converts a sinner, he meets with opposition. Satan opposes him, and the heart opposes him; a sinner is angry with converting grace. The world was the work of God’s fingers. Conversion is the work of God’s arm.”

Imputed Righteousness Annoyance

I got theologically annoyed last night when I read this sentence in a paragraph about imputed righteousness:

“There could have been no perfected saints with regard to their standing until there was a resurrected Christ who might be the source of their imputed righteousness.”

Granted, I’m a strange guy, but this annoyed me to the point of yelling at no one in particular in my basement. The author is dead, I can’t write him a letter.

Here’s why I think that is stupid:

1) Nowhere does Scripture say that the righteousness imputed to me is specifically the righteousness of Christ. It’s the righteousness of God, it is from God, it’s as eternal as God.

2) All salvation is based on the finished work of Christ, which God viewed as finished before the foundation of the world. We are justified by His blood and His resurrection and this was applied before God made anything.


3) Guys in the OT were saved the same way guys in the NT were/are. Which is why, in the great chapter on imputed righteousness, Romans 4, Paul’s two main examples are ABRAHAM and DAVID who both lived during the OT!

Come on, man!

Stuff for October 21, 2010

Stuff I looked at today:

1) Post on the doctrine of sin and the importance of bringing grace into the picture. It’s easy to stress grace and it’s easy to stress the dangers of sin. What appears to be tough is dealing with sin in a way that elevates grace.

2) “Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith” is an important text. It is also important to know that you can actually pass the examination! We are not called to a life of mere. personal self-examination.

3) Best Christian-Rock Ballad of all time. Here’s second place. Third place. Ah yes, a glimpse into teenage Jeff’s life. You can never go back, but who says I ever left?

Obama’s Creator’s Endowment of Rights and Why I Don’t Care

Rare diversion into politics:

I avoid politics these days. I didn’t use to. I do now. I don’t want to talk about why, because I avoid politics these days.

Christians are supposed to be upset now, though about our president. Three times now he has quoted the Declaration of Independence and did not mention “the Creator.” Here is one example.

I am not bothered by this. Here is why:

1) Thomas Jefferson’s idea of his Creator is not the same Creator as mine.

2) I don’t know who Barack Obama thinks his Creator is, but from what I’ve heard, it’s not the same as mine.

3) If the president did say “Creator” this does not matter at all in the overall scope of my eternal standing with God, nor does it affect yours.

4) I do not think my Creator endowed anyone with the inalienable right of life, liberty, nor the pursuit of happiness. Life is a gift, it is not a right. Liberty is never promised to anyone apart from those in Christ and this is not a right. The pursuit of happiness, I mean please. God gave us the right to be selfish, materialistic hedonists? Have you read the Bible? I have a hard time putting “Creator” in there too, because I don’t think He did this.

5) Getting the president to say “Creator” when he doesn’t want to is called “symbolism over substance.”

These are my points. I make no others. This may lend a reason as to why I avoid politics and why perhaps you should be glad I do.

Communicating Scripture

I am reading a book about writing clearly. He talks about how hard it is to write clearly about a topic you know little about. You don’t know everything you need to know for clarity, you don’t know the jargon, nor do you know the style of communication used by experts in that field.

It takes a long period of study and learning to figure out how to write clearly no matter how well you may write in another area.

I’ve seen this over the years of my preaching. Eleven years ago, when I began preaching regularly, my sermons were awful. I said fairly standard things but I said them tentatively and awfully.

I read a lot of books about preaching, none of them seemed to help. I remember most notably the book that “taught” me how to “preach without notes.” Yeah. That didn’t go well.

The best thing you can do to communicate Scripture better is: know Scripture. All preaching classes in seminary should consist in Scripture reading time.

Just read the Book. Know it. All of it. Read it. Again and again. You’ll develop an understanding of the text that will facilitate good communication.

In all the lists of how to preach better, I don’t recall seeing this point. To me it’s number one. Probably number two, three, and four as well. Five being “don’t eat a lot before speaking” and then six through ten are back to “know the Scriptures.”

Uncommon Marriage Advice

One staple of Marriage Counseling is that “couples should have date nights every week. We should take time to make each other happy.”

I’m not going to argue against this, but I am going to throw in some Bible here that might help us understand the whole thing about keeping each other happy.

Many couples are dependent on romantic or special moments. When they don’t get their “special moment” they get pouty and generally it leads to petty revenge weird stuff that drives a wedge.

Paul talks about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, a passage often skipped over in marriage seminars. Here’s the snippet that would rock the Christian counseling world if ever taken seriously, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none.”

Now, I can see many men reading this and saying, “There, see? I can go snowmobiling whenever I want. Back off wench.”

This is not Paul’s intent. The context shows that Paul is talking about serving the Lord. Husbands and wives should have a life-driving desire to please God.

If pleasing your wife prevents you from pleasing God, if she’s so stinking needy that she can’t let you part and must be coddled and patted on the head every four seconds, you gots problems!

I think the intent of 1 Corinthians 7 is that neither husbands nor wives should make their spouse responsible for their pleasure. Wives and husbands should lighten up their expectations and demands on each other so that they can better use their time and energy to please God.

Christian marriage is a threesome! Christ is in there too, and the mutual desire of the Christian couple to please Him should lead both members to decrease their neediness and increase their ability to help each other glorify Christ.

Be A Dorcas

This morning my wife was thinking about how the Bible is filled with people who do great things. They preach a message and a few thousand people receive the Holy Spirit. They raise the dead. They delivery a country from slavery.

Big stuff. Important stuff. The stuff of legend.

My wife doesn’t want that. She said, “I just want to be a Dorcas. Other people can raise the dead, I just want to do nice little things for people. Dorcas found little needs she could meet. She sat around and sewed and she’s in the Bible too. I just want to be a Dorcas.”

My pastoral, husbandly response was, “well, you got the first part covered.”

The Lord’s Face

“Seek the Lord’s face” has always been an annoying phrase to me. My first impressions of this phrase were not good.

I went to a “Christian” “college” where lots of “Christian” girls would breathlessly and whisperily talk about “I just, I need to just seek God’s face” and it always made me feel like throwing up.

In all honesty, I blocked that phrase from my mind as something fake, Christian, breathy girls said and that was it. Then I noticed something odd, the phrase was in the Bible!

Oh. Just as I won’t allow Charismatic whackos to hijack the term “be filled with the Spirit,” so too will I disallow breathy, college chics from hijacking “seek God’s face.”

The next problem with the phrase is: what does it mean? How can I seek the face of One who I cannot see? Based on the passages where this phrase is used, here is what “seek God’s face” means:

1) To rely on His strength and not your own. Not sure this clears it up for me as “rely on His strength” seems just as floaty as “seek God’s face.”

2) To turn from your wicked way to seek His way.

3) The other references refer to going to Jerusalem or the temple.

Proverbs 7:15 uses the phrase to refer to a whore coming after a man, which seems illustrative!

The term is not used in the New Testament, although Paul, in writing to the Thessalonians, mentions wanting to see their face again. A desire to be back in their company.

Overall, the phrase means to be in God’s presence. In the New Testament Era, believers are the temple of God, we are always in His presence. I don’t think this means we should not seek Him, we are to believe that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

So, in conclusion, Christian college chics are really annoying.

Jesus on Facebook

David Hayward, a cartoonist with actual talent, has a good cartoon on Jesus’ Facebook friends. Well done.

Our notion of “friends” is becoming less and less. Jesus sums up who His friends are with “you are my friends if you do whatever I command you.”

This comes right after, “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Then he defines who his friends are: or who he died for. He dies for those who listen to him.

Listening to him is called FAITH. If we think getting saved is as easy as clicking a “friend button,” we’re in serious trouble.

A Man With No Hour

“The man and the hour have met,” was once said about Jefferson Davis (He was the president of the Confederacy for all you NIV readers out there) (“The Confederacy” was the guys in the South during the Civil War for those who read the New Living Translation).

That’s a cool sentence. Many people who make a mark in history, business and various other places are people who just happen to be at the right place at the right time.

It’s fun to read their biographies and get into their heads, but you can never escape the question, “but what would this guy have done without that Hour?”

Then there’s the question for us: what if we never meet our Hour? What if our life is just a succession of mundane hours with no crises, no Rubicon crossings, and basically just life happening?

It’s easy to be inspired by guys in the Bible and Church History acting on their Christian faith to accomplish great things. Know why there are so many genealogies in the Bible? Because God wants us to know there were lots of guys who never met their Hour.

It’s great when faith shows itself in an Hour. What’s more impressive is when faith triumphs without an Hour. A plodding consistency in doing God’s Will.

Be ready for your Hour, but never lose heart when it never comes around. Run the race with patience. Patient continuance in well-doing works every hour.

Eternal Security is only for those who Are Eternally Secure

Having been around the church my entire life, I’ve noticed many people come along who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Many of these people take up roles in the church, some even “go into ministry.”

Then, after some things, these people back out. They leave the Church and their lives explode. They fall into sin and leave off all spiritual things.

What is going on here? Have these people lost their salvation? Are they still saved because they jumped through some church’s salvation hoop once?

Here’s my take on the situation based out of several passages from the book of Ezekiel. I appreciate your time in hearing me out. I think this is a vital issue often misunderstood to the eternal damnation of many.

The Doctrine of Doing Nothing

People are lazy. We like to do as little as possible. If there were a way to not have to do any work, I think we’d all take that life.

We must beware of this human desire. Unfortunately, doing nothing has come to take on doctrinal overtones. There is a doctrine of doing nothing. This is no new thing. Aint nothin new under the sun, eh.

People’s desire to do nothing caused a problem when God gave commands. We don’t want to do anything and we certainly don’t want to do what God says.

So when people approached God’s commands, guess which ones got the most attention? Israel’s two favorite commands were 1) circumcise them boys and 2) keep the Sabbath.

What do we notice about both these commands? Circumcision takes all but a few seconds. It’s done one time, the one it’s being done to does nothing but cry. Once it’s done, it’s done. Nothing more to do. Sweet!

Next is keeping the Sabbath. They went nuts on this one. They didn’t stress so much the initial command of “thou shalt work for six days” but boy howdy they grabbed onto that “rest on the seventh day” bit!

They went about making rules to define exactly how much nothing they could do, eventually getting it to doing pretty much nothing at all. If you did anything, even heal a guy, you were of the devil.

This is human nature. Beware of any theology that tells you “hey, you don’t have to do anything.” It’s skewed. It just is. Trust me. Or rather, trust the Word of God.

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, DO: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

God “will render to every man according to his deeds

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

“And let our’s also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.”

“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

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