Over the past months I have driven by the plant where a huge Demethanizer Tank was manufactured. Here is the video of it’s move from the plant as it started its journey to Colorado. So, if you have ever wondered what 1 million pounds looks like going down the highway, take a look at this.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.” The great works of Christians down through the centuries are filled with the same testimony: man is the slave of sin, utterly undone outside of Christ. Even those whose theology did not measure up to the biblical standard could not help, in their prayers, to confess what they knew to be true: the fallen sons of Adam are dead in sin, incapable of even the first move toward God. Even more, they are filled with the effect of depravity and alienation from God: enmity and hatred toward His holy standards. This was a common element of Spurgeon’s preaching:
Now, the calling of the Holy Spirit is without any regard to any merit in us. If this day the Holy Spirit shall call out of this congregation a hundred men, and bring them out of their estate of sin into a state of righteousness, you shall bring these hundred men, and let them march in review, and if you could read their hearts, you would be compelled to say, “I see no reason why the Spirit of God should have operated upon these. I see nothing whatever that could have merited such grace as this – nothing that could have caused the operations and motions of the Spirit to work in these men.” For, look ye here. By nature, men are said to be dead in sin. If the Holy Spirit quickens, it cannot be because of any power in the dead men, or any merit in them, for they are dead, corrupt and rotten in the grave of their sin. If then, the Holy Spirit says, “Come forth and live,” it is not because of anything in the dry bones, it must be for some reason in His own mind, but not in us. Therefore, know ye this, men and brethren, that we all stand upon a level. We have none of us anything that can recommend us to God; and if the Spirit shall choose to operate in our hearts unto salvation, He must be moved to do it by His own supreme love, for He cannot be moved to do it by any good will, good desire, or good deed, that dwells in us by nature.
The “flip-side” of divine freedom is the fact that man, the great image-bearer of God, is a fallen creature, a slave to sin, spiritually dead, incapable of doing what is pleasing to God. Just as the great freedom of the Potter offends rebellious pots, so too does the Bible’s teaching on the inabilities of man due to sin. The fallen sons and daughters of Adam are most adept at finding ways to promote creaturely freedom at the cost of God’s freedom, while at the same time promoting the servitude of God to the whims and will of man. It would be humorous if it were not so serious: the pots gathering together and assuring each other that the Potter either doesn’t exist, or, at worst, will sit idly by while they take control and “run the show” themselves. Yet this is the impact of sin upon the thinking of man. Man suppresses the truth of his createdness and invariably attempts to find a means to “control” God. One wisely put it this way:
Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself….So it happens in estimating our spiritual goods. As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves all but demigods. Suppose we but once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and to ponder his nature, and how completely perfect are his righteousness, wisdom, and power-the straightedge to which we must be shaped. Then, what masquerading earlier as righteousness was pleasing in us will soon grow filthy in its consummate wickedness. What wonderfully impressed us under the name of wisdom will stink in its very foolishness. What wore the face of power will prove itself the most miserable weakness. That is, what in us seems perfection itself corresponds ill to the purity of God.
Truly recognizing one’s spiritual state is a gift of grace. Outside of God opening the eyes of the heart man thinks himself wonderfully pure, or at least acceptable in God’s sight. That is why the unregenerate person cannot understand the urgency of the gospel message: until they see the depth of their sin and the holiness of God, they find no reason to seek remedy for their condition.
Man’s religions consistently promote the myth of man’s autonomy: his absolute freedom to act outside of any eternal decree of God. “Man is the master of his destiny” seems to be the watchword of the religions of men, and even of many in Christendom today. How many times have you heard a preacher say, “In the matter of election, God has cast his vote for you, Satan has cast his against you, and now the final vote is up to you”? Such an assertion not only makes man’s choice equal with God’s, but it likewise places the final decision for what takes place in time squarely in the hands of man, not of God.
—The Potter’s Freedom, pp. 75-77. – James White
I came across the following article and I could not agree more. As one who walked away from the praise band of a “church” that prided itself on being exciting, relevant and progressive, I want to thank you, Todd Bordow, for saying what I have been thinking for a long time and what led me away from an “exciting” church to a church that does not coddle the goats, but feeds the sheep!
If the cross of Christ is foolishness to those perishing (I Cor. 1:18), shouldn’t a worship service be the most boring thing imaginable to those the Spirit is not bringing to Christ or has not already brought to Christ? Either the simple truths of the cross are glorious, or foolish; worth as much as the greatest treasure, or worthless for usefulness in everyday life. When churches try to make worship interesting, fun and relevant, are they not implicitly admitting that the cross of Christ needs help to excite people, that the gospel is really not enough? Admittedly preachers can boor genuine believers with poor organizational and communication skills, but churches should not try to change the message or simple medium of direct communication (preaching) to make the service any less “boring” to those who complain of such things, less they deny the heavenly power of the gospel to save and strengthen God’s people. When people complain about our services being too boring for them, whether they want more politics, social commentary, entertainment, or legalistic rules, that is not always a bad thing. It could be you are refusing to coddle them with earthly substitutes for heavenly manna, manna which only tastes delicious to those with eyes of faith. So hang in there – being boring isn’t always a bad thing!
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” – John 6:44
How then does the Father draw men? Arminian preachers generally say that God draws men by the preaching of the gospel. Very true; the preaching of the gospel is the instrument of drawing men, but there must be something more than this. Let me ask to whom did Christ address these words? Why, to the people of Capernaum, where He had often preached, where He had uttered mournfully and plaintively the woes of the Law and the invitations of the gospel. In that city He had done many mighty works and worked many miracles. In fact, such teaching and such miraculous attestation had He given them, that He declared that Tyre and Sidon would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes if they had been blessed with such privileges.
Now, if the preaching of Christ Himself did not avail to the enabling these men to come to Christ, it cannot be possible that all that was intended by the drawing of the Father was simply preaching. No, brethren, you must note again, He does not say no man can come except the minister draw him, but except the Father draw him. Now there is such a thing as being drawn by the gospel, and drawn by the minister, without being drawn by God. Clearly, it is a divine drawing that is meant, a drawing by the Most High God—the First Person of the most glorious Trinity sending out the Third Person the Holy Spirit, to induce men to come to Christ.
– Charles Spurgeon
Derek W. H. Thomas is senior minister at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C., and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta. In an article from Tabletalk magazine entitled “Praying with the Patriarchs”, he writes:
Does God take risks? The question is not as silly as it sounds, and in present-day discussions regarding what is called “open theism,” it is the pertinent question to ask. But let’s ask the question again, from a different perspective. Is God’s knowledge of the future certain? Certain in the sense of being unchangeable, set down by an unalterable divine decree that cannot be changed?
The answer would seem, to orthodox Christians at least, obvious. But recently a flood of literature has emerged suggesting that the future is “open.” The so-called open theists take as one of their key texts Abraham’s prayer for Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18:22–33. On the face of it, Abraham’s prayer seems to change God’s mind over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah on the basis that fifty, then forty-five and eventually ten “righteous people” are to be found there. More pertinently for Abraham, his nephew Lot and his family lived there. The prayer is bold, even audacious! Frankly, if it wasn’t right here, in the Bible, we would not even think that such haggling (for that is what it sounds like) would emerge from the one whom the Bible calls “the friend of God” (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8).
The “God takes risks” proponents of providence have a field-day:
“The divine decision was yet open, and God invited Abraham into the decision-making process.… Because God desires a genuine relationship, he is open to his creatures, especially through prayer” (John Sanders, The God Who Risks, IVP, 1998, p. 53). The author continues, “Through these prayers we see that God sovereignly chooses not to govern the world without our input. Whether it is wise for God to do so is another question” (p. 54).
The passage certainly looks and reads (and is intended to read) as though God changes His mind. But at least two things must be considered before drawing such a conclusion. A reasonable principle of interpretation of Scripture is that difficult passages ought to be interpreted in light of those that are clear. Additionally, historical narrative passages should be placed under the grid of didactic passages. If we engage these two ideas, what emerges is that the Bible is resolutely committed to a view of God’s omniscience (that he knows everything there is to know) and that he knows it (both in itself and in its relationship to other things) because he creates, sustains, and governs everything. The idea that God knows everything but doesn’t control everything is nonsensical. God’s plan is perfect and inviolable (Eph. 1:11).
Secondly, when the Bible employs “human” ways of speaking about God (anthropomorphisms), we must interpret these for what they are. If, as open theists suggest, God’s seeming change of heart is evidence that He does not totally know the future, then we must be consistent and interpret other features of this story in the same way. When it states that God must “go down” to Sodom and Gomorrah to discover the extent of its rebellion (18:21), it is not only God’s omniscience that is under question; His omnipresence is equally threatened. On this line of thought lies the denuding of God of many of His attributes — qualities that define for us the essential nature of God. Without them, God is no longer God in any meaningful sense of the term.
So what exactly is being taught in this passage? This: that God is condescending to our human weakness and frailty, allowing us to think for a minute or two that our tiny voices can move Him, impart Him some information that He otherwise does not know, or hasn’t taken sufficiently under consideration — in order to encourage us. But the truth is, God knows what He intends to do all along. As Augustine said long ago, “So, too, prayers are useful in obtaining those favours which He foresaw He would bestow on those who should pray for them” (City of God, 5.10). This way, intercessory prayer is not a way of settling the mind of God on what He, as yet, has not decided to do. Rather, they are ways of settling our mind to that which He has already decided to do. The reason, therefore, why God seems to answer some prayers and not others lies in His sovereign will.
Abraham, of course, hardly thought along these philosophical lines when he prayed, and neither should we. It is enough for us to know that God asks us to pray, and to pray with boldness and conviction believing that He will answer us when we pray according to His will and purpose. That should not limit our asking at all. It should rather make us bold knowing that a greater wisdom than ours will prevail and that we have not, somehow, pressured God into doing something that is less than wise simply because we have appealed to His benevolence. At the end of the day, Abraham’s intercessory pleas on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah are an example to us of praying boldly. As the parable of the unmerciful judge teaches (Luke 18:1–8), Abraham’s action teaches us that we may properly press God hard with fervent persistence when we bring our desires before Him. And He will always answer according to His sovereign will.
Any sermon which leaves sinners looking at themselves, their works, their feelings, their achievements, their failures, their sins, or even their faith, rather than looking to Christ, ought never to have been preached. The object of preaching is to turn the eyes of sinners to the sinners’ Substitute. – Don Fortner