Thursday, July 15, 2010

"The Truth of the Cross": A Book Review

One of the benefits of attending this year’s “Together for the Gospel” meeting in Louisville was receiving many FREE books. Among these “friends” was a small gem (167 pages), “The Truth of the Cross” by R. C. Sproul. 

Dr. Sproul beautifully presents the meaning, significance, and purpose of the cross according to the Scripture and he does so in an easy to read, enjoyable way. As is typical in his writings, this work includes great illustrations both from the author’s own life as well as from history. For example, to introduce a discussion on the vicarious atonement, Dr. Sproul recalls his attendance at the deciding game of the NBA Eastern Conference championship between Orlando and Indiana. He brings his illustration to a close in this way:

…if we like the outcome, we have a tendency to say, “We won.” We identify so closely with our favorite teams that when they’re victorious we include ourselves in the victory. …This is what is known as a vicarious experience.
But the book is not simply a collection of personal illustrations. It is loaded with Biblical truth and solid application. Early in the book, Dr. Sproul discusses people in general and the subject of the atonement.

…I came to the conclusion that people are not concerned about an atonement. They are basically convinced they have no need for it. They aren’t asking: “How can I be reconciled to God? How can I escape the judgment of God?” If anything has been lost from our culture, it is the idea that human beings are privately, personally, individually, ultimately, inexorably accountable to God for their lives.”
Or, here is another classic paragraph from this work on the matter of justification:

The prevailing doctrine of justification today is not justification by faith alone. It’s not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in Western culture today is justification by death. It’s assumed that all one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die.
“The Truth of the Cross” opens with a description of mankind’s condition. It moves to a discussion of the person of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. With a firm Biblical understanding of man and of Christ, Dr. Sproul then uses the Scripture to explain the nature and purpose of the atonement. And he does all this clearly and concisely.

I strongly recommend reading this book. Those who do not know Christ will be presented with the truth of their condition and their need for the atoning work of Jesus. Those who are believers will be encouraged and strengthened in the faith by what they read.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A General Statement on Comments to this BLOG

Originally I permitted anyone's comments to this blog at any time.  But, after some comments using very foul language were posted, I decided I needed to moderate all such requests.  So, when you try to comment on any article on this post, I receive the comment first in my e-mail and then decide whether to permit or prohibit it from being posted.

I have no issues posting comments which disagree with anything I am saying.  But I will NOT post comments which contain profane language or blasphemes my Lord.  You can take your vile words elsewhere.

I also will NOT post comments which I can not read.  Repeatedly I have had "anonymous" bloggers attempt to comment in Asian languages.  I speak English and all posts to this blog will be in English.  If you do not like that, go to some other blog.  If I can't read every word of your comment, I will not post it.  Actually, I believe many of these posts contain spam or a virus, another reason I will not post.

It's my blog and those are my rules.  If you don't like them, start your own blog.

Friday, July 2, 2010

And the Hate Goes On ...

Yesterday I received another e-mail from the author I mentioned in my previous post.  They were very upset that I published that e-mail since it was written privately to me.  I don't believe I did another wrong by publishing the portions I did since I removed everything which might identify the author.  Furthermore, in my blog post I used that e-mail as a means of an example of the hatred we are seeing in our nation.  There was nothing in the original e-mail requesting me not to publish any portions of it.

In the latest two e-mails from this individual, there are paragraphs which read like one of those blurbs you hear when you  listen to sports broadcasts:  "The events and transcriptions...without express written consent."  When it comes to e-mails I'm not sure that holds any legal grounds or not.  Nevertheless, the author request I not share THEIR words so I won't.

Rather, I will share MY reply to this author.  I responded by returning the author's note with my comments following various remarks they had made.  Each bullet which follows contains MY reply on a specific section of the original e-mail.  Those parts of my reply which may have identified the author have been replaced by "%%%".  Also, my final paragraph is short two sentences (noted by "...") to protect the author's identity.

  • Your anonymity is intact. No one knows the author of the e-mail other than me. I'm sure you don't want others to know who wrote it and I will never tell.
  • would you delineate what my demons are?
  • again, what is my skewed vision? Is it a belief in God? Is it a belief in absolute truth?
  • if you read my blog post you know I shared PARTS to protect your identity and I shared the rest to provide an example to my readers of the type of anomisity in this country.
  • I am glad you can dump your anger on me rather than someone else. So my God is not your god. Do you have "a god"? What does "he" believe and teach?
  • You really don't know me, do you? Read your own words. Talk about an unhappy person.
  • Who else are you including, %%%?
  • What type of help should I seek? Do you have the answers, %%%?
  • %%%, I truly believe you need to read the words you have written in these past e-mails. The anger and hatred is coming from you, not me. I am not mad or angry with you. In fact, I feel very sorry and concerned for you. Your outward smile and demeanor is hiding a TON of bitterness and anger and perhaps a good helping of pride. You really do not know me at all.
  • so you are saying I am part of a larger group of "haters of the world". What makes one a part of this group? 
  • ministers don't understand the human brain and psyche, I guess
  • "I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the Life" said Jesus in John 14:6. I know where the truth is. "Psychiatric professional". Are you saying ministers who believe and teach as I do are crazy and have mental problems? Do you believe those who teach in the power of a resurrected Savior are out of their minds? IF so, %%%, I truly, truly pity you. The greatest blessing in my life occurred on the day I met my Lord and Savior. 
  • I am enjoying life immensely, thanks for asking. I don't hate despite what you say. Sometimes people are pitted against one another when worldviews clash. And would you provide examples of where I have spread filth?
  • Are you referring to mental health, physical health, or both? %%%, you need to be concerned for your soul. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26).
  • should I read fat and lazy at this point? 
  • I am very glad, %%%, you keep yourself in great physical shape. That is a quality worthy of repetition. I admit I have never been in great physical shape. I watch what I eat but do eat items I shouldn't from time to time. I do walk 2-3 miles 3 or 4 times a week but maybe I should do more for my physical being. BUT, %%%, no matter how well you take care of your body, one day IT WILL DIE! Then what? Are you taking as good a care of your soul? Based on what you have written I will say no. I guess it is ok for you to lecture me on my health (physical and mental) but off limits for me to "lecture" you on the condition of your soul. Now I understand the ground rules.
  • What advice can I give to you? All I have is the advice of the Bible: Repent of your sins today and trust Christ for salvation. 
  • I am not ashamed of what I have written. You may forward my responses to anyone you wish. But obviously, you want no one to know the anger and hatred you have in your heart and the lost condition of your soul. As I said above, NO ONE, not even Debbie, knows who wrote the e-mail. I went to great care in my post to remove all traces of its authorship. When Debbie read the e-mails, she read the edited version I ultimately posted, not your original. Actually, by removing those parts of the e-mail which might identify you, I removed some of the hatred and anger you poured out on me in the original post. I will NEVER tell anyone who wrote those e-mails because I would not want to embarrass you by doing so.
  • "Horrible family". Wow! So the hatred goes beyond me. Does it include %%%? Probably, since %%% has a faith in God. How about %%%? … %%%, you have always had the great smile and love of life. Now I realize that outward appearance is actually covering a very bitter, angry, and lost soul. I will pray for you for there is nothing else I can do.
I believe I can summarize by saying I was charged with demons, being overweight and out of shape (guilty), spreading hate, needing professional help with my mental state, and hating life (hey, let's all sing:  "I like life.  Life likes me...").  The implication is that many of these are common problems for those of us who preach the Gospel (perhaps those who simply believe the Gospel).  Oh, and in my case, the problem goes beyond me to my extended family.

You will see in my response numerous questions, some of which I truly hoped I would receive an answer.  Nope. No answer.  I did receive another e-mail (again with the paragraph telling me I can't quote any of it) but this e-mail indicated the author didn't bother to read my response and had no intentions of continuing our communication exchanges.  The note ended reminding me that this author of hate was put on this earth to bring peace.  What a shame it is when someone becomes so bitter they will not even read a note written specifically for them.

I will continue to pray for their soul because it contains a wealth of anger, hatred, and bitterness, especially directed towards those who believe in God and minister in His name.  Furthermore, I will pray for the great number of other individuals in our country who have the same hatred in their hearts.  May God forgive them and remove their bitterness through the power of His Son.