Web Excursions are links and websites that we’ve stumbled across today that we hope will be a blessing to you.
The Scandal of the Semi-Churched – Kevin DeYoung – "I want to talk about church members who attend their home church with great irregularity. These aren’t unchurched folks, or de-churched, or under-churched. They are semi-churched. They show up some of the time, but not every week. They are on again/off again, in and out, here on Sunday and gone for two. That’s the scandal of the semi-churched."
The Tragic Death Of The Funeral – The bereaved need, and deserve, something better. They deserve a service that speaks frankly and honestly about death, while anchoring the survivors in a hope that extends beyond this world. If any life is to be celebrated, let it be the life of the One who alone can lighten the load of grief borne by the survivors, and who shines a ray of his life into the gloom of death.
American Flags in Church, A Reflection – Churches are embassies, if you will, of the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel. They are not the property of any one country. Even the former wall of division between Jew and Gentile has been torn down by Christ through his satisfaction and obedience. The only symbols that should be present are those that belong to Christ—word, sacrament, and prayer. I used to hide the American flag, therefore, so that my congregation knew that as a congregation we belong to Christ and no one else.
Waldron’s Cascade Argument for Cessationism – Dr. Waldron’s opening remarks from the “Have the New Testament Gifts Ceased” debate.
The Dark Night Of The Soul, Protestant Style – In this lecture given at Faith Lutheran Church on November 1, 2013 during their monthly event, Men’s Movie Night, Dr. Rosenbladt tackled the emotional struggles the Christian believer experiences in his faith. What is the condition of my faith when I am not feeling particularly faithful – or not feeling faithful at all? Some days I feel really solid, but others I just don’t feel like I can believe I’m saved at all. I never seem to stop sinning, no matter how strong my faith feels! What then? What is the status of my salvation at these times? Am I completely lost? I’m so tired of trying to get back to feeling solid in my faith again and living the way Scripture says I should and failing over and over, I just don’t know if I can do it anymore.
“Have the New Testament Charismatic Gifts Ceased?” Sam Waldron vs Michael Brown – Debate on November 7, 2013. Moderated by James White. Archived here for future reference as well.
A Plea for Discernment – Aimee Byrd: "And so now I make my plea. Pastors, elders, is there something more we could be doing in the church to equip the congregation with discerning reading skills? Good, Christian people are being deceived. Sadly, sometimes it is those in leadership who recommend such books. The so-called Christian author can actually be a potential predator of orthodoxy in the church. They have great personalities and wonderful stories to share, but where are they leading your flock?"
Strange Fire Conference Audio – All of the audio from John MacArthur's Strange Fire conference is online for free. If you're interesting in evaluating the doctrines, claims, and practices of the modern charismatic movement from a cessationist perspective, these lectures will be of great benefit to you.
The Perils Facing the Evangelical Church by R.C. Sproul – 1. The loss of biblical truth.
2. The loss of any sense of discipline.
3. The loss of faithful worship.
Conducting Effective Prayer Meetings – Here then are 12 tips for conducting prayer meetings.
1689 Federalism – Videos and charts on the distinctive biblical theology of confessional particular baptists
A Clear and Present Danger: Religious Liberty, Marriage, and the Family in the Late Modern Age — An Address at Brigham Young University by Albert Mohler – Albert Mohler's speech is an excellent example of how Christians can, as individuals, cooperate with people of different faiths on social issues, while still remaining distinctly Christian.
The Loving Intolerance of God – "Have you ever considered that tolerance is never encouraged in the Bible? The fruit of the Spirit includes love and kindness, but missing from the list is tolerance. In fact, Christians aren't called to tolerance, because we serve an intolerant God."
Strange Fire – It has just been announced that since the Strange Fire conference sold out so quickly, it will be live-streamed to anyone who wants to watch it.
How to Interpret the Great Commission – Note the differences between Neo-Calvinist and Calvinism
What Cessationism Is Not – "Cessationism then does not deny the reality that God can do whatever He wants whenever He wants. It does not put God into a box or limit His sovereign prerogative. But it does acknowledge that there was something unique and special about the age of miracles and miracle-workers that defined the ministries of Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and Christ and His apostles. Moreover, it recognizes the seemingly obvious fact that those kinds of miracles (like parting the sea, stopping the rain, raising the dead, walking on water, or instantly healing the lame and the blind) are not occurring today."
In the Land of Nod – Series of audio lectures on the Reformed understanding of the Two Kingdoms. How do we as Christians relate to the culture around us?
Heidelcast Episode 42: Why “Being Nice” Is Not a Christian Virtue – We live in an age when "being nice" is the highest virtue, but is it Christian?
A Strategy of Mission (ARBCA Circular Letter) – "We must practice a ‘regulatory principle’ for missions that calls us to submit even our inherited practices of missions to the searching scrutiny of the living Word of God. "
B.B. Warfield’s essay on “The Apocalypse” – B.B. Warfield's "The Apocalypse" is one of the most helpful articles on the hermeneutics of the book of Revelation
Fear of Men by Nicholas Batzig – The fear of man is not simply the fear of the harm that men may do to us. Surely the fear of harm partly drives our desire to be approved by men. However, most properly, the fear of man is, as Bunyan put it, “the fear of losing man’s favor, love, goodwill, help, and friendship.” Simply put, it is “an idol of approval.” We seek to avoid persecution because of “idols of approval,” “comfort,” or “pleasure.” These idols lead us to compromise in order to gain approval—to give in to wickedness in order to gain acceptance and peace. It puts us in a vicious cycle of idolatry. Miserable though it is, the fear of man is the soul’s default setting.
Secularization In ‘Christian’ America (Part 2) – "Many churches are as secular in their ambitions and methods as any straightforwardly secular organization. The difference, we might perhaps say, is that the latter are just a whole lot more honest about what they are doing."
Secularization In ‘Christian’ America (Part 1) – "I want to ask the question, however, as to whether America was ever that great an exception to secularization, or whether it is rather the case that secularization can take various forms, some of which, ironically, look really rather religious at first glance. Could it be that both Britain and America are really both fairly secular, but that America expresses her secularity using religious idioms, while Britain expresses hers through the abandonment of such? And could this actually create more problems for the American church than she typically likes to assume?"
Prepare Your Public Prayers: Helpful Advice from D. A. Carson – "If you are in any form of spiritual leadership, work at your public prayers. It does not matter whether the form of spiritual leadership you exercise is the teaching of a Sunday school class, pastoral ministry, small-group evangelism, or anything else: if at any point you pray in public as a leader, then work at your public prayers. Some people think this advice distinctly corrupt. It smells too much of public relations, of concern for public image. After all, whether we are praying in private or in public, we are praying to God: Surely he is the one we should be thinking about, no one else. This objection misses the point. Certainly if we must choose between trying to please God in prayer, and trying to please our fellow creatures, we must unhesitatingly opt for the former. But that is not the issue. It is not a question of pleasing our human hearers, but of instructing them and edifying them."
PRDL | Welcome to The Post-Reformation Digital Library – The Post-Reformation Digital Library (PRDL) is a select database of digital books relating to the development of theology and philosophy during the Reformation and Post-Reformation/Early Modern Era (late 15th-18th c.). Late medieval and patristic works printed and referenced in the early modern era are also included.
Worship: The Heavenly Pattern (The Genevan Liturgy of John Calvin ) – In other words, the book of Revelation portrays us as living in the midst of the heavenly worship. The heavenly worship service began when Jesus (the great High Priest) entered the Holy of Holies, and will not end until the final Judgment, when we will enter the blessedness of eternal life in Christ. This is why Jesus said at the Last Supper: "This is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God" (Mark 14:24-26). Jesus will not drink the cup again until the Wedding Supper of the Lamb because that is the conclusion of the heavenly worship.
Why Do We Say, ‘God Told Me’? – Nancy Guthrie: "When someone begins a sentence with 'God told me…' I have to admit a silent alarm goes off somewhere inside me—unless the phrase is followed by a verse of Scripture. I know that many see this as the way the Christian life is supposed to work—that if we are really in fellowship with God we will be able to sense him speaking to us through an inner voice. But I'm not so sure. And it's not because I think God is incapable of or uninterested in speaking to his people today. In fact I resist this language precisely because God is speaking to his people today. He speaks to us through the Scriptures."
Biblical Theology MP3s – If you want to understand Reformed Federal/Covenant/Biblical Theology but don’t have the time or funds to read books, here are the best in mp3.
Worship: Evangelical or Reformed? – "One great difficulty that we Reformed folk have in thinking about worship is that our worship in many places has unwittingly been accommodated to evangelical ways. If we are to appreciate our Reformed heritage in worship and, equally importantly, if we are to communicate its importance, character, and power to others, we must understand the distinctive character of our worship."
Why Telling Your Story is NOT the Best Way to Share the Gospel – "Let’s put it this way: If I’m talking to a Buddhist who claims to have experienced Nirvana and I am only able to respond by describing my own experience of encountering Jesus, what differentiates my experience from his? Do I have any evidence that what I encountered was the one true God while his experience was just some kind of meditative high?"
A Chart of Competing Dogmas – Classical Protestant vs Catholic vs Evangelical vs Liberal Protestant vs Naturalism