He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 

But What Happens When You Hit a Bump?

My peeps in Japan are crafty. And they would also tell me I am not their peeps. But still...check it:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 

Isaiah on Following Leaders Who Don't Follow Christ

Trusting Their Own Unfaithful Leaders

The people even trusted, in the wrong way, the good gifts that God gave them - their own leaders, for instance. When the leaders' plans differed from God's plans, the people should have demonstrated whom they truly trusted by refusing to follow their leaders into disobedience (see Isaiah 3:1-3, 14). But they didn't; they followed their leaders.

Admittedly, such opportunities to prove where our ultimate allegiance lies come subtly & surprisingly. Yet, these occasions do help us discern whether we are rightly trusting or wrongly trusting the leader God has provided. Whenever God's appointed leaders takes the people of God away from God's ways, we must not follow him. Our primary allegiance must remain with God.

Ahaz was one king in a line of kings installed by God. Yet he forsook God. And the people followed him. How could they have known better? They should have known better by hearing the Word of God. Had their hearts & hopes been trained on what God had revealed about himself in his Word, had they trusted in God & hoped in him as their protection, they would not have been led astray.

- Dr. Mark Dever, Promises Kept: The Message of the Old Testament, pp 574 (from the chapter The Message of Isaiah: Messiah)

Monday, September 28, 2009 

Of Sons & Murder

I've got a long way to go - or maybe I should say, "a long way to grow." I recently was reading in a book about a true story where a man was serving a life sentence in prison for murdering a man who beat the convict's 3 year old son senseless.

I will say something that shows the complete darkness of my heart, but upon first reading that, I thought, "good for him." And by "good for him," I mean, that guy deserved to be murdered. As a new father, imagining the same thing happening to my son, I thought, "I'd easily kill someone who did that." Scary isn't it? There's all kinds of emotions I never knew existed in me until I had my only boy. It seems righteous on some fleshly, surface level. But it's wicked to think such a way.

The author of the book was not making the criminal out to be any sort of martyr either. In fact, the purpose of the story was to illustrate bitterness. The inmate had executed the person who had wronged him & his son, & yet the man was still angry, still bitter, even though the dead man paid with his life. The author was showing how bitterness is always our problem, never the problem of the person who wronged us - we are commanded to get rid of all bitterness. The man was dead, no longer existing, & yet this man's bitterness remained.

But back to the point I wanted to make. Despite my initial, ugly, vengeful reaction to the murder, it was only seconds after my flesh agreed that the Spirit began convicting & correcting. I was quickly reminded of the Gospel by the Spirit. God, a loving Father, more so than I could ever hope to be or conceive of, put His only Son in the hands of murderers. More so, God poured out His wrath on His Son to reconcile me to Himself. And yet my initial thought of someone abusing my son, who is not innocent, was that I am not willing to extend that same forgiveness given to me, a murderer of the innocent Son.

The good news is that the Spirit spoke. Left to myself, I am hateful & vengeful, self-righteous & full of bitterness. I know by the grace of God, because of the Gospel, forgiveness is always possible. In fact, as a believer, apart from it we will not behold the face of God.

I heartily recommend these 2 resources if you struggle with bitterness & unforgiveness:


HOW TO BE FREE FROM BITTERNESS, & other essays on Christian Relationships

Sunday, September 27, 2009 

Two Truths

1. If you are a child of God, He delights in you.

2. This is completely impossible apart from Christ.

Saturday, September 26, 2009 

Preach as We Were Thunder & Lightening

Doug Wilson on Calvin & Preaching:

If we are to speak in faith, what is that faith? What does it do? What is it that overcomes the world? Why did Calvin make such a big dent in the world? He had God's word in his hand and he believed God. 1 John says that it's our faith that overcomes.

Why does the world not believe? When was the last time we commanded it to? When was the last time we spoke with authority and not like the scribes?

How will they believe without a preacher? And how will they preach unless they are sent? Sent to do what? We are not sent to preach a distant star or moon. We are sent to preach a blazing sun that lights and heats every creature, that dominates all things, and around which everything else must necessarily revolve.

We are not sent to make a few mild suggestions. We are not sent to have a relational dialogue. We are sent to preach and to declare. We are commissioned—ordained—to compel every manifestation of worldly power, glory, wisdom, and exaltation to yield to and obey God's word.

We come to declare that all men need to repent and believe. The kingdom of God is here. We declare what has been accomplished, not what we would like to be accomplished. We are ordained to feed the sheep and drive away the wolves. And if needs be, we have been ordained to preach the word as if we were thunder and lightening. How can we not? The Scriptures themselves are thunder and lightning.

(emphasis mine. Amen & Amen mine also)


Celebrating 40 Years of the World's Best Kept Secret

U A B is 40.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 


As I have been studying & trying to learn more about adoption, I continually come across James 1:27 - "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

After reading Isaiah 1 today, I saw the same idea there, "learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause" (v. 17).

I was convicted at how easily it was for me to just pass over 50% of these verses because it didn't fit my plan for my life. I'm eager to adopt & we hope the Lord paves the way. I know of nothing that's a clearer illustration of our standing in Christ than adoption. And yet, while there's not a thing in the world wrong with wanting to take care of a child, to provide love & nurture, etc...it fits my idea of what I want more easily, & so the charge to care for the widows gets erased by the image of sweet children in our midst.

It's not an either or, but a both. Not many people are fans of changing diapers, but I think if anyone was forced into it, they'd choose changing a child's diapers over a widow's diapers any day. We expect & are patient with children who fuss or say the wrong things, but we don't have the same patience & forgiveness when those who are old enough to know better do it. I'm just saying, only a small percentage of the world would choose 1 hour in a room with an old woman over 1 hour in a room with a baby or child.

I'm praying that every time my heart breaks for the orphans of the world, God would equally break my heart for the widow. Lord teach me that I may learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, that my religion before you would be pure & undefiled.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 

Sovereign Means Sovereign

I am having a hard time with yet another story from my own organization that paints a picture of God I am totally uncomfortable with. During the economical crisis, giving has been down for the annual offering that supports Southern Baptist missionaries who work under the International Mission Board like me.

This is the most recent of several stories like it that I am sure are only intending to stir folks hearts to give. But to me, it reads as a bit of propaganda that props a weak god up for us who is dependent solely on not only man's efforts, but very specifically dependent upon Southern Baptists.

Let me be clear in stating that I completely agree that God uses means to accomplish His purposes, but you can quickly go from "God uses means" to "God desperately needs us or His hands not move." I also think the IMB in the interest of full disclosure should make it public that they have millions upon millions (hundreds of millions I believe - I can't remember the exact number) in reserves & property investments, you name it. It is a wealthy organization. Perhaps in times like these if they really believe what they are writing, that people are going to Hell because of lack of money, maybe it's time to open the storehouses to get the people to the field to get the Gospel out.

Southern Baptists of the International Mission Board are only a few of many thousands of missionaries from our own country. God uses means, but that means He uses Chinese & Korean Christians, indigneous Christians in each of these lands, many other people besides just us. Let's be careful to not equate ourselves with God's mighty right arm.

This weak God we are painting a picture of is simply waiting to move, but He can't, because He needs some more of your dollars. Don't get me wrong, God will use your dollars to advance the Kingdom. But let us honor Him as God. He doesn't only own the cattle on a thousand hills, He decrees the exact number of blades of grass each cattle feasts on. This economic hardship has not taken Him by surprise. He ordained it. And instead of lamenting what a weak God could only do if we sent more money in, perhaps the missionaries on hold should be asking who perishing around them could they be faithful to share with, because obviously that is part of His intention.

Also, for missionaries on hold, instead of questioning God's plan, if it is so important you get where you are going, try other means if this door is temporarily or eventually permanately closed. If He has told you to go, go. The world is not dependent on the IMB for the Gospel & you are not dependent on the IMB to get there.

And as an organization, instead of assuming we are the golden ones ordained from the foundations of the world to rescue all peoples from Hell, maybe we should take this shortfall as a chance to check our own hearts & see if we're being faithful to God. Are we preaching His Word? Are we implementing strategy & methodology that is biblically faithful? How about you missionaries, are you tithing or holding on to it since you're a missionary, & expecting God to bless you with unlimited field resources? Are we starting churches that are in accordance with Scripture? Are we confusing gender roles in leadership? Leaders, are you more concerned with the numbers, activity, & the appearance of faithfulness than with God's revealed will throughout the Word? Are we using the money we have wisely?

Take the assumtion of the table that we're allowed to do whatever we want & God will bless it, & then maybe we'll begin to see that God is not simply allowing the financial shorfall at the IMB, but in His sovereignty & jeolousy to be glorified, He is justly causing it. And in the meantime while we're lamenting the short-fall of funds, His Kingdom is coming & His will is being done, by faithful men & women of God all over the world, the majority of whom are not Southern Baptists.

Monday, September 21, 2009 

Orphan Sunday - Nov 8, 2009

Orphan Sunday from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 20, 2009 

Heirs With Christ

My sister & brother-in-law have started a blog on their adoption journey that will lead them to Uganda this upcoming summer to expand their family. They started the blog in hopes that God could use it even as the smallest means to beckon someone else to participate in the greatest living word picture of the Gospel, adoption. If you're interested in following them or know friends who are interested in adoption, you can find their blog, Heirs With Christ, here. That's my lovely niece on the banner of the blog :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009 

A Land of Contrasts

Japan is most certainly a land of contrasts. You can never quite figure it out. Every time you think you understand an established rule or pattern, you then find out that it is broken 50% of the time. However, this takes the cake...BEAR ATTACKS TOURIST IN JAPAN. Who knew there were ever bears here?! It wouldn't shock me now to meet a dinosaur in the middle of the street next week.

Thursday, September 17, 2009 

Can a Pastor Preach to 12 People?


Wednesday, September 16, 2009 

Finally, a Real Reason for Twitter

I admit it...I just had the time of my life on Twitter. FakeJohnPiper had me in tears - truly worthwhile & certainly helps you fight for joy...just a quick sampling:

-Cut myself four times shaving this morning. Praise God!

-Phone peddler just asked if I had a retirement plan. I said yes. It's called "death."

-Wristbands on. Knee socks up. Lecrae in the Walkman clipped to my Wilson jogging shorts. ($2 at Savers. Suck on that!) Workout time.

-Date night! Dinner at Costco, listening to a Jane Austen book on tape from the library, then praying together. Boo-ya!

-Ugh, I have TWO sport coats! Father, forgive me for my materialistic part in this idolatrous generation

-Don't waste your swine flu!

Wary of Gospel Coalition Conference in April. My tender arm still hasn't healed from the noogies Driscoll gave me at the last one

And so forth & so on...priceless. Also, there's a lot of fake so & so's out there...Chandler, Driscoll (fakedriscoll certainly crosses the line a lot), as well as a bunch of emergents & almost anyone else you can think of in the world who is well known. Good times. Haven't enjoyed the web this much since the fake D.A. Carson had to shut down his blog.


The American Dream or the Great Commission Resurgence

Video now available:

My former pastor from my sending church where I worked 3 years while finishing seminary gave this charge to Southern Seminary students:

Preacher: Al Jackson

Text/title: Matthew 6:19-24 — The American Dream or the Great Commission Resurgence?

Jackson said he was glad to take part in the Conservative Resurgence, which was a Great Commission resurgence, in the Southern Baptist Convention. And he said he is glad to respond to the call of Johnny Hunt at this year’s convention for a Great Commission Resurgence. But Jackson said there is an obstacle to this Great Commission Resurgence.

The big obstacle to the Great Commission Resurgence is not doctrine or a willingness to go, but the American dream.

Overcoming the American dream

We (Americans) are affluent. Even seminary students are affluent. Most people in the world do not have an automobile and will never have an automobile. We are an affluent people, we have bought into the American dream and we are suffering the consequences of pursuing this dream.

We are stuffed with stuff. American people are overflowing with material possessions. We can’t get into our closets because of our stuff. We can’t park our vehicles in our garages because we have so much stuff. We are a consumer society adding more and more stuff to our already overstuffed lives.

I come to you today not as a role model, but as a pilgrim on the road, on the journey, engaging in a battle against the American dream. If we don’t overcome the American dream, the Great Commission Resurgence will be just another Southern Baptist slogan.

I have great hope for the next generation to overcome the American dream. I have very little hope for my generation of pastors. I think we have bought into the American dream, perhaps unwittingly, but we have bought into it. But I have hope for the next generation, your generation.

The problem in the Southern Baptist Convention is not with missionaries or the Women’s Missionary Union. The problem in the SBC is with pastors. So I want to challenge you to plant yourself in a church and work in that church.

The American dream or the Great Commission Resurgence?

Jesus is counter-cultural. The message of Jesus is counter to the American culture. The message of Jesus is counter to every culture that has ever existed.

In Matthew 6, Jesus spoke of two possible investments in life, two possible perspectives on life and two possible masters.

Two possible investments (6:19-21)

We have two options. Either we invest in earth or we invest in heaven. We invest our resources in the American dream or we invest our resources in the kingdom of God.

Jesus says don’t store up treasures on earth, because treasure on earth will rot and rust. Jesus did not say don’t pursue treasure: He wants us to have treasure. But He wants us to have treasure in heaven, not on earth.

The American dream says get more: more of everything. The American dream is to have whatever I want when I want it.

There are only two things eternal: the Word of God and the souls of men. Everything that we invest other than the Word of God and the souls of men, we lose eternally. Everything we invest in the Word of God and the souls of men, we gain for eternity.

What about Southern Baptists? What are we doing? Last year, Southern Baptists, out of 12 billion dollars given, gave 2.5 percent to win people to Christ overseas. The other 97.5 percent, we spent here in the United States.

Where you put your treasure is, there your heart will be also. If you find yourself not caring for the nations, maybe if you gave more of your money to the nations, you might find yourself caring more.

Two possible perspectives (6:22-23)

Jesus speaks of a good eye and a bad eye. The good eye is an eternal perspective and the bad eye is a temporal perspective. Jesus is calling us to see with spiritual sight, with eternal perspective. This is not easy to do, because we are here and not there. We are in Kentucky, not Kenya: and so, we don’t see.

If you could go from hut to hut, you would see the desperation and then you would see. In Africa, 6,000 will die today with HIV Aids. In India, there are hundreds of millions who bow down daily before idols. In the Muslim world, some of the most devoted religious fanatics you will ever meet bow down five times a day to pray to a God that doesn’t exist.

These people are like sheep without a shepherd and we must go to them with the message of Jesus, the message of the Gospel.

Two possible masters (6:24)

Jesus talks about two possible masters: money or God. Jesus said it is not possible to serve both God and money. It’s a choice. Who is your master? Either we serve God and we use money or we serve money and we use God.

Southern Baptists are pursuing the American dream and the Lord Jesus is standing in the road, saying stop, don’t go there. Don’t lay up treasures on the earth. Instead, He says lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. How much stuff do you need? How many pairs of shoes? How many guns? How many sets of golf clubs? How many suits?

You say, I am a seminary student. I don’t even own a suit. Well, how many t-shirts do you need?

We must release from the purses, checkbooks and bank accounts of Southern Baptists those resources we need to take the Gospel to the nations.

I am persuaded that we will never have a Great Commission Resurgence until we have pastors leading the members of our churches to be Great Commission Christians.

I have very little hope for my generation: I think my generation has bought into the American dream. But I have hope for your generation. My prayer for you when you graduate is that you will go and put some deep roots down in a church that is in a community, in a town, in a village — and not move up the corporate ladder to a large Southern Baptist church — to work in that church, to work with those finance committees and to fight those battles to mobilize your people to get the Gospel to the nations.

- SBTS Towers Chapel Live Blog

Saturday, September 12, 2009 

Redeems All Things

About this time 9 years ago, I had been a Christian for only a few months. I returned to my university & to my fraternity that I had left at the end of the Spring as a drunk, drug-induced, self-absorbed hater of God. I returned, a new creation.

At the beginning of the Fall, upon telling my fraternity brothers what God had done, it was only met with discomfort, not any type of hostility. I remember even 2 guys laughing it off & saying they gave me 2 weeks before I was drunk again. This was in part due to several short-lived religious experiences by other guys in the house who had lost a girlfriend or something like that, but never made it more than a couple weeks without falling back into the free river of booze & drugs that were readily available.

So I remember feeling only a little apprehension when deciding to go to the first house party of the fall after the first home game of the season. The phone wasn't ringing as much at my apartment, but they just needed to see the love of Christ in action. Afterall, these were my "brothers" as we had pleged.

But an amazing thing happened. Even though I had just turned 21, I felt in my conscience I should not drink. I had seen how quickly others had fallen, & I can never remember having just 1 beer or drinking for the taste of it. I chose water instead. Who would have ever thought that brotherhood was not even as thick as water. Maybe 1 hour into the party I was soaking wet with other people's beer that they had tossed on me when I turned offers of alcohol down. I was called names I could never type, people taunted me against the brick wall & even some challenged me to have my a** kicked if I wanted a go. Because I was drinking water. Because I smiled & said no thanks when offered beer. Brotherhood?

By the end of the semester I had no friends & didn't fit in to any Christian scene around the campus because new people were freshman & those who were 21 had formed & closed off their groups years ago.

But now as I live isolated in a world half-way around the globe, I marvel at God's goodness in my life. Over the years He has filled my life with so many, many wonderful, godly friends. All ages, all personalities, all sharing so much love with me. I am so grateful, so full of joy to be able to think of all those who I love & who love me, scattered from South Carolina to California, from Africa to Japan.

And when you all have the same Father & share the same blood that has been washed over you, that is true brotherhood.

Sunday, September 06, 2009 

The Tyranny of the Church

Commenting on 1 Peter 5:3, where the apostle Peter charges the elders to exercise their ministry by “not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock,” Ed Clowney writes,

The elder has authority; he is called to exercise a shepherd’s oversight. Christ
the Chief Shepherd (5:4) has called him to exercise a shepherd’s care. But the
undershepherd is not a stand-in for the Lord. He presents the word of the Lord,
not his own decree; he enforces the revealed will of the Lord, not his own
wishes. For that reason, any undermining of the authority of Scripture turns
church government into spiritual tyranny. If church governors add to or subtract
from the word of God, they make themselves lords over the consciences of others.
(The Message of First Peter, 202)

Clowney’s words are not only applicable to the Reformers’ grievances against the Roman Catholic Church (a point he makes in the footnote to that paragraph in his commentary) but also to some current expressions of church government.

Today the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted a resolution to allow for the ordination of those “in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.” What is this but the exaltation of one’s own decree above the word of the Lord, the elevation of one’s own wishes before the revealed will of the Lord?
Sadly, the tyranny of the church over the consciences of others is not limited to those traditions that seem to be most cavalier in their treatment of Holy Scripture. Even traditional and conservative denominations are apt to find ways to speak beyond what the Bible speaks and thereby become “lords over the consciences of others.”

The Southern Baptist Convention is reviewing motions made at this summer’s
assembly to sever all ties with Mark Driscoll and the Acts 29 church planting
network he began. The reasons? According to an article in Christianity Today,
its Driscoll’s “history of using risqué language, and the fact that he drinks
alcohol and talks about sex.” A separate motion would ban “any speaker who
cusses or drinks.”

Among conservative Presbyterians, the general
assemblies of both the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox
Presbyterian Church have taken up the issue of women in military combat with the
PCA receiving the study committee report as advice and the OPC adopting the
resolution against women in combat.

From the Left, the church tyrannizes the sheep by neglecting the revealed word for their own misguided sense of social justice. From the Right, the church tyrannizes the sheep by going beyond what Scripture says to uphold their own social conventions. One side subtracts from the word and the other adds to it, but both are guilty of exercising authority beyond that with which they have been entrusted.

- Eric Landry


What is Salvation - in 2 minutes

Saturday, September 05, 2009 

Deer Playing Opossum


Thursday, September 03, 2009 

Have a Heart

Oh, if you have the hearts of Christians or of men in you, let them yearn towards your poor ignorant, ungodly neighbors. Alas, there is but a step betwixt them and death and hell; many hundred diseases are waiting ready to seize on them, and if they die unregenerate, they are lost forever. Have you hearts of rock, that cannot pity men in such a case as this? If you believe not the Word of God, and the danger of sinners, why are you Christians yourselves?

- Richard Baxter

Wednesday, September 02, 2009 

Prove Your Conversion First

You begin at the wrong end if you first dispute about your e1ection. Prove your conversion, and then never d0ubt your election. If your cannot yet prove it, set upon a present and thorough turning. Whatever God's purposes be, which are secret, I am sure His promises are p1ain. How desperately do rebels argue! `If I am elected I shall be saved, do what I will. If not, l shall be damned, do what I can.' Perverse sinner, will you begin where you should end?

- Joseph Alleine

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 

In the Works

Recent publications & books due out soon by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professors:

Gregg Allison:

“The Assembly of The Way: The Doctrine of the Church” (Crossway 2010)

Duane Garrett:

“A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew: Grammar, Workbook, and Key” (B&H 2009)

“Exodus: A Commentary” (Kregel 2010)

Jim Hamilton:

“The Center of Biblical Theology: The Glory of God in Salvation Through Judgment” (Crossway 2010)

Michael A.G. Haykin:

“Soldiers of Christ: Selections from the Writings of Basil Manly, Sr. and Basil Manly, Jr.” (Founders 2009)

Timothy Paul Jones:

“Perspectives on Family Ministry” (B&H Academic 2009)

“Pop Spirituality and the Truth” (Rose Publishing 2009)

Travis Kerns, contributor:

“Baker Dictionary of Cults and World Religions” (Baker 2010)

R. Albert Mohler Jr.:

“Words From the Fire: Hearing the Voice of God in the 10 Commandments” (Moody 2009)

“Proclaiming a Cross-centered Theology (Together for the Gospel)” (Crossway 2009)

Russell D. Moore:

“Wrestling with Demons: The Path to Temptation and the Way of Escape” (Crossway 2010)

“Kingdom First: How the Reign of Christ Transforms Our Churches, Our Families, and Our Culture” (Crossway 2010)

J.D. Payne:

“Evangelism (Deepest Questions Answered): A Biblical Response to the Questions You’ve Always Wondered About” (Paternoster 2010)

Rob Plummer:

“40 Questions About Understanding the Bible” (Kregel 2009)

Tom Schreiner:

“Run to Win the Prize: Perseverance in the New Testament” (Crossway 2010)

Stuart Scott and Martha Peace:

“The Faithful Parent” (Focus 2009)

M. David Sills:

“Reaching and Teaching: The Task of International Missions” (Moody 2010)

-Books Being Edited by Professors-

Timothy Paul Jones:

“Perspectives on Your Child’s Education” (B&H Academic 2009)

-Contributions to Books by Professors-

Jim Hamilton:

“The Lord’s Supper in Paul: An Identity Shaping Proclamation of the Gospel,” in “The Lord’s Supper” (B&H 2010)

J.D. Payne:

“In Through the Back Door: Reaching the Majority World Through North America,” in “Missions from the Majority World” (William Carey Library 2009)

“Eleven Implications of the Mission of God on the North American Church,” in “Discovering the Mission of God in the Bible” (B&H 2010)

Jonathan T. Pennington:

“Refractions of Daniel in the Gospel of Matthew,” in “Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality, Vol 1: Thematic Studies” (T&T Clark 2009)

“Setting Aside 'Deponency': Rediscovering the Greek Middle Voice in New Testament Studies,” in “The Linguist as Pedagogue: Trends in Teaching and Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament” (Sheffield Phoenix Press 2009)

Robert Vogel:

“Biblical Genres and the Text Driven Sermon” in “The Text-Driven Sermon” (B&H 2010)

Bruce Ware:

“Believers’ Baptism View,” in “Baptism: Three Views” (InterVarsity 2009)

Hershael York:

“Preaching and Modern Communication Theory” in “The Text-Driven Sermon” (B&H 2010)


Sanctification: The Calvinist Way?

To one degree or another, I'm ashamed to say, I took...grace for granted. I was "in," and was making a reasonable effort toward my sanctification the Calvinist way. That is, I equated learning more theology, which is a good thing, with growing in grace, which is likewise a good thing. But confusing the two is not such a good thing.

Calvinists, and I am among them, tend to measure their own sanctification on a peculiar scale. You are a simple novitiate when God regenerates you and you trust in the finished work of Christ alone. You become a first-degree believer when you understand the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism. The next step is actually to read a Calvinist or two - Piper, Boice, or Sproul will do.

The next steps up the ladder correspond to the relative difficulty and obscurity of what you are reading. Calvin is better than Piper, but Turretin is better than Calvin. The next plateau has you reading Beza, Bullinger, and Bucer. You become an officer when you can actually quote VanTil. You reach the thirty-third degree when you actually understand that quotation.

- R.C. Sproul, Jr. from the foreword of To You and Your Children

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