Unity, unity, unity….. 

These words are spilled out of the hearts of many well-purposed individuals who desperately desire to see people “get along” and “love” each other as Christ loves. What does it mean to love each other as Christ loves? The world has been fed a lie and many who are in the proximity of the local assembly of believers (the church) have bought this lie. Beloved, hear this. Jesus Christ did not come to bring unity and peace among fallen human beings. He did not come to stamp out hatred and remove obstacles so that this life would be a pleasant Mecca of good and glorious harmony. The very nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ prohibits such a claim. Jesus came to bring peace by bringing division.

Jesus Taught It

Jesus says, [34] “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. [35] For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. [36] And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. [37] Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. [38] And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. [39] Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39 ESV)

When Jesus arrives on the Earth it brought Peace “to” Earth, therefore Peace (Jesus) was on Earth. But peace was far from the result of Jesus’ birth. Herrod desired to have the child killed and a massive hunt and massacre of infants far and wide ensued. What did people think of this child? Did He really bring peace to their lives as they soldiers burst through the doors and cut their children in half? I can only imagine the animosity that arose from the existence of one infant/toddler in the face of tens of thousands. Why couldn’t this family just come forward and give up their son for the sake of others? Little did the world know that is exactly what Jesus would do.

Likewise, Jesus first public teaching in Luke 4 reveals a very divisive outcome. Jesus enters the synagogue and He is handed the scroll of Isaiah and after reading He says, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” They marveled at His graciousness! But not for long, because as soon as they esteemed the grace of the Lord’s proclamation was for them, Jesus stated otherwise and said that it was for them in judgment. The masses sneered at Him and the Scripture says they “were filled with wrath.” This surely does not sound like the unity and peace that most people claim Jesus wanted. The matter was so polarizing that the hearers grabbed hold of Jesus and took Him to the edge of a cliff, but miraculously, Jesus escaped.

The public teaching of Jesus continually revealed a very divisive result. In all of John’s gospel, it is clearly seen that everything Jesus taught was contrary to the understanding of the most pious and religious of His day. They hated Jesus for it and schemed to destroy Him and those who followed Him because they could not bear to hear His teaching as it conflicted with their idolatrous and self-glorifying traditions. This reminds me of many church members of this present age.

Peace Comes through Division

True peace surely comes through Christ. But in order to have peace in one area, it is at the cost of the peace that was once known. True peace is found when a sinner is reconciled with Christ. The peace that follows is peace with God whereby the sinner is no longer in fear of the justice of God’s wrath. Peace then also naturally flows to those who are in Christ; as they are now unified in the bonds of love, the love of God, the sealing of the Spirit, etc. So in order to have peace with God, humans will be enemies with the world, which is comprised of sinners who hate the authority of God’s word and the peace that costs them their lives. They would rather gain the world they know, and lose their souls, than to gain peace with God, and lose their lives in this world.

Jesus Christ is our peace. He has come to snatch us out of “the domain of darkness” and has made peace with God through His flesh on the cross. To say that peace is a unilateral harmony amongst all peoples is not just coy and childish, it is overly asinine and stupid. Now before everyone takes offense at that statement, I surely desire to be known for the foolish and stupid message of the cross. It’s how the world views it and it is the foolish things that God uses to bring down the wise. Who, by the way, think they are wise when they are actually fools. (Romans 1) I think that every professing believer needs to consider what he believes and in what his trust has been placed. We have enough people of the world on a fool’s errand of trying to be together with darkness. And most of that darkness is parading around as light when indeed it is dead darkness.

The point: When we have peace with God by Faith Alone in Jesus Christ, we will be at WAR with the world, sin, darkness and everything else. Only those who have intimacy with Jesus Christ (through His Word) are unified and at peace with each other. Disunity among so-called Christians is proof of God’s decree of reprobation at times. He causes them to believe the lie that they are safe in their religion, church membership, professions of faith, and the like. He makes them believe what is untrue, so they will suffer destruction. Don’t take my word for it, just read it in Scripture. (2 Thess 2:10-12)

The Word Divides and is Authoritative

Many who hear preaching and read words like these often take it personally. And for that, I am sorry. My writing is not to any person, but to anyone who cares to know the truth. In the end, ONLY those who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ will have eternal life. Those will learn and grow into an understanding of truth and they will not sit in what they “knew” a year ago but they will always be learning and growing. I find many people in the buildings called churches who have no clue of the gospel. They do not know Jesus Christ, even by the statements of the word of God, much less by faith. They take great offense and yell, “division, division… you’re causing division!”  You better believe it brother. Jesus Christ, when He is proclaimed, will divide ALL people against Him if they are not with Him. Scripture is our authority, not the leaders of churches, nor the Baptist heads of state, Jesus Christ as He teaches through His Word is the FINAL court of arbitration, despite what any pastor or denominational leader may say.

Those who do not hold the Scripture as the highest authority can be certain of one thing: they will be destroyed in Judgment. Because without Scripture, one cannot be saved. Without salvation, one has no peace. Many hold to a lesser view of Scripture by saying, “Well, I believe the bible, but there are some things in there that need to be considered ‘out of date’ or ‘lacking’.” Goodness, that statement alone is the very practice of Satan in the Garden of Eden as well as his tactics to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. The devil uses the word of God every moment and God purposes his use of Scripture in order to bring deception. In the end, many who use a bible will be found in the end to belong to Satan, whose rule will be the dominant world-view until the Day of the Lord.

[12] Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, [13] while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. [14] But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [15] and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. [16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:12-17 ESV)

The word of God divides humanity. It separates those who are still in the world and pulls some out of the darkness into the light. It is the source of peace and points to the one who is our peace and righteousness. When we stand with the Word, despite who may say they love us, if they are not in Christ, they will hate us. We will be persecuted, not for living in morality, for there will always be moral circles, but for standing on the rock of salvation, the gospel of Christ!

Paul continues to teach Timothy of the power of God’s word and charges him, and all pastors, to preach, even when the season is gone. Beloved, the seasons of preaching the true peace of God has long gone in America! Let us herald that truth that He may be glorified in saving souls!

2 Timothy 4:1-5

[1] I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: [2] preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. [3] For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. [5] As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (ESV)

Two Groups of People

At the end of time, there are only going to be TWO unified people: Those with a false peace and those with true peace. Unbelievers, self-righteous ones, churchmen, and the wicked will all be unified in their destruction. But for the saints of God, there is eternal peace as we stand in the presence of our Lord, redeemed, beloved, sanctified, glorified, worshipping from a pure heart and exulting with all the saints, the glorious grace of God who is Jesus Christ! God has sent His Son to stand in the place of sinners. Jesus stood in the place of sinners in His life by obeying ALL THAT IS REQUIRED OF MEN. Jesus stood in the place of sinners in His death by receiving ALL THAT IS DUE SINFUL MEN. This great exchange continues in that the good news is this; while we were still sinners Christ died for us, the ungodly, and we are the righteousness of God because He gave us all the obedience of Christ which is something we could never receive.

Peace comes through Jesus Christ and it is not found in the world. Jesus comes to bring division, the Sword of His mouth, His word, divides us from the darkness, divides our flesh from its wages, and sets us as sons and daugthers of God!

Ephesians 2:11-22

[11] Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—[12] remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. [13] But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. [14] For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility [15] by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, [16] and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. [17] And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. [18] For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. [19] So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, [20] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, [21] in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. [22] In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (ESV)


Pastor James

As another Christmas comes to a close, the effects of the flesh and fallenness of humanity are very visible. The very idea that the Christmas holiday centers on the advent of Jesus Christ into this world is a bit offputting for those who read his word often and are amazed by his glory, beauty, and grace. Laying all that aside, let’s suppose for a moment that we did indeed celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as a culture. What is it that we are celebrating? What is it that we believe happened some 2000 years ago? Who is this Jesus? And why does it matter?

I could create a list of numerous ways that Christmas reveals a disregard for the teachings of the New Testament. The way the holiday is exercised and celebrated in our culture promotes materialism, breeds covetousness, expresses entitlement, harbors resentment, purveys a compulsion of reciprocation even when one has no resources to do so, and is often a reflection of one’s stewardship, affection, drive, and heart. A better use of a Christian’s time and resources would be to honor Christ by helping each other, sharing the gospel, and living with a divine purpose and power that could only come from Christ. For those who are in Christ Jesus, the celebration of his Advent includes the celebration of his living righteously before God. The life of Jesus Christ in obedience to the holy commands of Scripture is what gives his sacrifice the value of atonement. Jesus Christ can redeem his people because his death held power and value and worth that pleases God the Father and appeases his righteous wrath.

Jesus Christ was sent to earth so that he might save sinners. So, if Jesus is to save sinners, how he was conceived and born is just as essential as how he lived and died. Jesus birth is of the gravest importance because if he was not born sinless, he could not die sinless. If Jesus the Christ did not die pure, he was raised from the grave for nothing except to ascend into heaven only to face the judgment of God.  While many people would say that the virgin birth is a given, there are pastors, even this weekend who have refuted the validity and the importance of Jesus being born of a virgin and conceived of the spirit. Consider these few thoughts and do not seek a “medicine” for your religion by simply glazing over deep things of God that are plain in the Holy Writ.


When the Things taught in Scripture are invalidated by those who stand in pulpits, what they do not realize is that they are undermining the very authority of God who speaks through Scripture. By doing this, they allow a listener to come to terms with whatever doctrine they do not like by dismissing it as myth. While things in Scripture can be difficult to believe because of their mystery, they are not up for consideration without calling into question every aspect of the Scriptures which include salvation. The very nature of God as revealed through his word becomes fair game, and a reader can now discern, based on his intellect, as to whether or not God’s revelation is through Scripture. God promised the “seed of a woman” would crush the head of the serpent and He who is able, not conditioned toward sin, is Jesus Christ. Dismissing the validity of the virgin birth creates havoc against ALL the promises found in scripture and eliminates all hope for the elect of God by argument.


The atonement is necessary because of the sinfulness of humanity. 1 John 1:7 teaches that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness. This cleansing is not a “mending” or a “betterment,” but it is a grand security that one who was once born of the flesh in Adam, dead in his trespasses and sins, has been made alive through Jesus Christ and are now At One with the Father. Man in the natural flesh cannot take away his brother’s sins. It is impossible. This idea is the heresy of absolution perpetrated by the Roman church for centuries. God promised the Messiah, who would be the victor of His people through the sufficient sacrifice. A part of such atoning worth is that Jesus Christ propitiated for us, that is He satisfied the wrath of God’s righteousness for us in full. If Christ was not born of God but had an Earthly Father, He could not satisfy God’s judgment, and He could not bring us to the Father.


Jesus is His name, Christ is His title, Lord is His office! He is Jesus, the Holy Anointed One of God who is the Ruler of all things! If Jesus is a mere man infused with Spiritual power, then He is not the Christ, for He did not come from God. If He is just a man conceived in adultery, then He is worthy of damnation like the rest of humanity and is subject to the Law of God as a guilty person; thus He could not be the Lord of the Law. (Jesus said He was the Lord of the Sabbath) So the very name of Jesus, His very title is embroiled into the essence of His birth.

So just in a review of the Scripture, the Atoning power of Christ’s death and the name and title of Jesus we can see that the virgin birth is of grave importance. Think deeply how the teaching of the Bible would be moot if Jesus conception were not divine. Consider your justification. How can God declare us justified if there is no worthy sacrifice for sin? How are we to be made and matured to the “likeness of Christ” if He is just an excellent and highly moral man? What reconciliation is in effect toward God if Jesus needed His debt to paid as a sinner? (Hebrews 7:26-27) How can we be adopted as sons and daughters in Christ Jesus if Jesus is a brother in the lineage of Adam? How then can we have a High Priest who continues the work of advocacy if Jesus is just like all the other priests of man? How is God not a liar if He promised “Emmanuel” (God with us) through the Son and He sent a man to do the work of perfection?  What about John’s gospel that says, “These things are written that you may believe on the Son and have life in His name” if Jesus is not the Word of God made flesh?

People calmly and passively accept anything they hear with no discrimination (discernment), and it is the time to hope not with our eyes and ears. Jesus is the God of Heaven who created all the cosmos and who came to Earth through the womb HE created and took human form while remaining sinless.  Jesus had no sin, but He became sin by taking on the guilt of all who believe so that God would be JUST in forgiving them. So, as Satan acts out this grand play of deception in your presence as the scene downplays the necessity of the virgin birth, scream BLASPHEMY and with tears plead with those around you to hear the truth.  Who might purvey such a damnable lie? Many who sit in the most famous pulpits of our nation. 1 John 4:1-3 teaches that anyone who denies the truth of Christ deity and humanity is anti-christ. So those who preach such things are to avoided and rebuked as publicly as they spew such treacherous heresy. Lord have mercy.

Jesus is GOD, evidenced by Scripture and vindicated by His resurrection. Jesus is also MAN, evidenced by His birth, and His crucifixion. Know Him, Love Him, Worship Him… He is God become man so we might be made worthy of the presence of Father blameless.

…Pondering the ineffable glory until I see Him face to face!

Pastor James

…………………… these are the thoughts of Easter as I ponder the history of my own life, mediate on the practices, consider the purpose…..  I am without any coherent thought on these things.

Easter, as it is, seems to confuse me. It doesn’t fall into any form of the biblical practice of the church and over the last twenty years, I have had a difficult time finding the place for it among the community of faith. While many congregations make much of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on this day, I am still unable to discern why it is tied to a date, day, season, festival, or tradition. A brother recently asked what we were doing on Easter Sunday to which I pondered puzzled. “We are in 1 Thessalonians, and whatever the Lord has for us there is what we’ll do.”  Thinking about breaking out of the glorious heart of voice of Christ (Rom 10:17; John 1) for the sake of the church troubles me and I find no prescription for it. In all reality, I think that if ONE day out of the many days that are the Lord’s is set apart and esteemed, it is probably out of the heart of idolatry, not worship.

Why do we take a worldly practice and turn it into opportunity for that one day to preach the truth? The better question is why do pastors and congregants subject boring and ill-effective half-truths as normative the rest of the year.  Oh yeah, there is the Mass of Christ… my point made.

The church should be about living and glorying in the risen Lord each day, each gathering, each moment and at every opportunity. Instead, she seems to be drawn in by social justice, politics, public service, philanthropy, humanistic self-help, fragmented doctrine and socialization in the name of peace. The reason that the church is so apt to adopt the human invention of Easter and make it as if it were a celebration of the Lord Jesus Christ, is due to the failing of the shepherds of Christ’s people to make much of Jesus in this way each day. We cater as previously listed, to the human nature instead of giving the power of God through Jesus Christ who IS the living word.

So, the reason Easter holds no love in my heart is that it seems to detract from the normal, passionate, continual celebration of Christ and His living reign that should be just as grand every other day of this life. Spurgeon remarks,

“There is no ordinance in Scripture of any one Lord’s-day in the year being set apart to commemorate the rising of Christ from the dead, for this reason, that every Lord’s-day is the memorial of our Lord’s resurrection. Wake up any Lord’s-day you please, whether in the depth of winter, or in the warmth of summer, and you may sing:
“To day he rose and left the dead, And Satan’s empire fell; To day the saints his triumph spread, And all his wonders tell.”
To set apart an Easter Sunday for special memory of the resurrection is a human device, for which there is no Scriptural command, but to make every Lord’s-day an Easter Sunday is due to him who rose early on the first day of the week.

And it so happens that our text this week in 1 Thessalonians, as the last three weeks, reminds us of the resurrection of Jesus Christ the Lord!

[8] For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. [9] For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, [10] and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 ESV)

As I finalize the final pages of my recent publication, I have decided to make an addendum inclusive of three final chapters. These will refer to recent (3 years) ongoings and attacks against me and others related to our congregation and teaching ministry for no real reason at all. The matter, while the theology is vital, really hurts me because the manner in which so many respond, attack or accuse their “brothers in Christ” is unbiblical and downright wicked. I forwarded a recent article to several brothers this week and below I have pasted a very good response to the matter . More will follow.

A Response to Dr. Michael A Cox’s Article: Is Calvinism Spiritual Racism? by Dr. Edward Dalcour, Ph.D.

I just read an article on the SBC Today site entitled: Is Calvinism Spiritual Racism?—by Dr. Michael A Cox—Pastor, FBC Pryor, OK (http://sbctoday.com/is-calvinism-spiritual-racism). Dr. Cox, as with others in the SBC, is now participating in the newest wrinkle of the SBC against Calvinism. Like the many others who have attempted to promote a patently synergistic soteriology, Cox takes it to an unusual level of mischaracterization and irresponsible scholarship.

First, it is not my intention here to provide a point by point exegetically refutation the passages that Dr. Cox misapplies (esp. John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; and 2 Pet. 3:9). This has been countless times by myself and by many others. My intention is to provide some clarity and accuracy pertaining to Calvinism in light of Dr. Cox’s inaccurate depiction and maltreatment of it. And hopefully cause folks that read his article to invest in a more scholarly examination of it from qualified sources.

In the beginning of his article, Dr. Cox’s likens Calvinism with Hinduism when he states at the outset: “I will contend that Hinduism, Racism, and Calvinism have many things in common.” This kind of argument is, of course, logically invalid, as is the argument “all Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Arminianism has many things in common such as conditional election; salvation being left in the hands of the unregenerate; faith and some kind of work(s) being required for salvation (regeneration); God cannot overpower man’s untouchable ‘free-will’ in salvation; etc.”

However, there is a rudimentary defect that is quite apparent throughout the content of his article. Dr. Cox’s assertions are grounded on mistaken views of what Calvinism (that is, the “doctrines of grace”) actually teaches. For example, Dr. Cox uses terms such as “spiritual determinism,” “spiritual caste,” “spiritual bigotry,” “spiritual prejudice,” etc. in his portrayal of Calvinism demonstrating his vast misunderstanding of it. This causes me to wonder if Dr. Cox has read even the most basic works on Calvinism and/or read any of standard Calvinistic/Reformed confessions.

Next Dr. Cox asserts: “It would be interesting to know how many non-Caucasians actually embrace five-point Calvinism as a genuine Bible doctrine.” Really? So here Dr. Cox uses an ad populum argument (fallacy) to validate biblical truth. Did Cox do any research at all on this? Is he aware of the Dutch Reformed movement in Africa, which is one of the largest movements in Africa? The Dutch Reform are a part of the World Fellowship of Reformed Churches—, which is one of the largest “Christian” international communions in the world. Embarrassingly, Dr. Cox is not well educated on religious demography—thus, he should not make these obtuse implications about how many non-Caucasians embrace Calvinism.

Further, in his effort to show that Calvinism is spiritually racist, Dr. Cox asserts: “Calvinism is nothing short of baptized racism, advocating the dogma that one group, the non-elect, is condemned by God to spiritual inferiority and another group, the elect, is destined to spiritual superiority.” Again, statements such as these only show his lack of knowledge on Calvinism. I wonder if Dr. Cox would see Paul’s statement in Rom. 9:21 regarding the Potter (God) having the right (exousian) to make (poiew) from the same lump(all men) one person/vessel for honor (timēn) and another for no honor (atimian), “nothing short of baptized racism, advocating the dogma that one group, the non-elect, is condemned by God . . . and another group, the elect, is destined to spiritual superiority”?

Apparently, Dr. Cox just cannot accept a God that would do this. Nor can Dr. Cox accept Paul’s presentation of vessels/men of wrath that God prepared (note the perfect passive form of katartizw) for destruction. To be sure, the God that Paul speaks of is not the God that Dr. Cox imagines.

Dr. Cox represents Calvinism as “nothing short of promoting a prideful theology of supposed spiritual superiority, due to election.” However, in Acts 16:6ff., we read that the Holy Spirit stopped Paul and Timothy from preaching the gospel in Asia in which many people died without ever hearing the gospel. So would Dr. Cox also charge the Holy Spirit with having a “prideful theology” of election and “baptized racism” since it was the Holy Spirit who chose to prevent some from hearing the gospel? (as the Father does, cf. Luke 10:20-22).

But what I find most befuddling is that Dr. Cox holds a DMin. with (as his bio states) an emphasis on biblical hermeneutics. However, Dr. Cox fast-ball pitches the big three Arminian passages (viz., John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; and 2 Pet. 3:9) into his article presupposing they support his views (with no hint of exegetical verification). It is evident to me that Dr. Cox does not apply the same hermeneutical (and exegetical) emphasis to these three passages that he does to passages he would use to affirm, say,  justification by faith alone or the deity of Christ. For Dr. Cox, it seems that “tradition” and his devotion to synergism dictates his so-called hermeneutical method.

Does Dr. Cox suppose that no one who reads his article, which is circulated outside the safety of his church bulletin, has (or will) meaningfully interacted with these three (and other) passages on a basic exegetical level arriving at an interpretation in opposition to his view? The fact that Dr. Cox casually tosses them into the mix in an attempt to prove his position shows that his interpretation of these three passages are really established by the removal of single passages out of its entire context and pre-assigning a universal meaning to pas (“all”) and kosmos (“world”). This, to be sure, is in no way an “emphasis on biblical hermeneutics.” Rather, it is an emphasis on tradition and high emotion—thus, not on the actual exegesis of the passages.

Next Dr. Cox says, “God has demonstrated his love for all people many times over. He did so by promising to make Abraham, a.k.a. Abram, from Ur of the Chaldeans (Gen. 11:31), a blessing to all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:1-3). It is amazing to me that Dr. Cox would make this kind of hermeneutic mistake—applying a universal meaning to the phrase in Gen. 12:3, “all the families of the earth,” when the Apostle Paul tells us what is meant here: “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you’” (Gal. 3:8). Hence according to Paul, “all the nations” (note Paul usage of ethnē, “nations/Gentiles” and not phulai [LXX] to explicate his point) refers to God’s eternal purpose in justifying (note the present indic. dikaioi, “justifies”) the Gentiles by faith (that which was foreseen in Gen. 12). In Acts 13:48, the Gentiles rejoiced at the fact that salvation was brought also to them: “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed [note the plu-perf. part, tetagmenoi] to eternal life believed.”

Virtually every time ethnē/ethnos is used in the NT, it referred to unbelieving Gentiles/heathens, and at times, believing Gentles, and only rarely was it used to denote “people” in a general sense. Dr. Cox seems oblivious to the apostle’s own interpretation of Gen. 12:3 overlooking the exegetical points and Paul’s defining context of the entire chapter of Gal. 3. Even more, in Gal. 3:29, Paul defines as to what nations are blessed (and thus, the promise of Gen 12): “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” Thus, the ones who “belong to Christ” are the heirs according to the promise or blessing of Abraham. In the same sense, Rev. 5:9 states of the Son: “You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation [ethnos].” Does Dr. Cox realize that God loving all of His people/family and sending His Son to die for them is consistent with Calvinism?

As seen, Dr. Cox’s conclusions of Calvinism (as “spiritual racism,” etc.) are built on faulty presuppositions. I do not think Dr. Cox would charge Calvinism with “spiritual racism” likening it to Hinduism and assert many other mischaracterizations if Dr. Cox reached at least an elementary level of understanding as to what Calvinism actually affirms.

Lastly, as with so many Christians who are so antagonistic to Calvinism, Dr. Cox 1) holds to a crass and mistaken understanding of Calvinism, 2) does not engage in proper exegesis on the passages he uses to endorse conditional election and universal atonement,which is especially seen when he applies a universal meaning to various OT passages and Greek terms such as pas and kosmos when they are contextually unwarranted, and 3) seems to have a disjointed view of the love of God limiting it to a universal redemptive love for every single person, which results in a view where God keeps waiting for and wanting all men to respond to His “great” plan of redemption, but He keeps failing in His effort to save all men every time someone dies in unbelief.

As a Christian apologist (and esp. for pastors), truth and providing an accurate representation of both biblical doctrine and other religious systems (Christian or non-Christian) is first and foremost. Dr. Cox presents in his article his “personal” views of Calvinism in which, in my assessment, are very misleading and inaccurate showing his lack of scholarship and basic understanding of Calvinism. As seen, he has fallen prey to the traditional ruse and pride of the autosoteric (self-salvation) system of Arminianism in which prompted him to launch an unreasonable and very haphazard attack on Calvinism.

Because Dr. Cox’s knowledge of Calvinism is apparently vacuous, he sees it as, among other things, a “prideful theology.” However, if he would ever take the time to do a scholarly study and educate himself on what it actually teaches he would understand that Calvinism, that is, the doctrines of grace exalts and recognizes God as the sovereign God in and of all things (cf. Eph. 1:1) including the eternal destiny of all menhence, salvation is of God alone! In contrast, Arminian soteriology sees man as sovereign over his own eternal destiny—thus, it is man’s so-called righteous “ability” cooperating with God’s plan (just as Rome teaches), not God’s grace alone. Hence, the Arminian system is a man-centered system (which we call pride), it is a  “I did it” scheme in which the ultimate decision of choosing Christ is essentially placed in the hands of the unregenerate sinner (in the face of opposing biblical passages, such as John 6:44; 63; 8:43-44, 47; Rom. 8:7-8; 1 Cor. 1:30-31; etc.)

Calvinism is called the “doctrines of grace” for the simple reason that Scripture presents that by God’s grace alone, He gave to Christ those whom He chose for Himself to deliver and set them free from the bondage of sin. He chose these in love, before the foundation of the world, not on the basis of a foreknowledge response to their works, but according to the kind intention of His will. These He made alive granting them faith justifying them in which He adopted them as sons when He was not obligated to do so—but by His grace alone: “So then, He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” And, “By His doing,” not our doing, we “are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:3-31; cf. Rom. 8:28-30; 9:16, 21-23; Eph. 1:4-5; 2:8-10; Phil. 1:29; 2 Thess. 2:13; etc.).

– Dr. Edward Dalcour


There is no lack of evidence and media coverage in the last few years of law enforcement taking wrong actions and causing deaths because of abuse of power, fear, overreach of authority and most likely, bigotry.  I have remained silent on these issues recently in an attempt to look through the lens of objectivity and scripture so that my responses and thoughts are not emotional salt in readily forced open wounds.  That being said, I have come to conclude a few things that may be of interest for the body of Christ to consider and understand that we have a platform not so much for change, but for grace and power.

Here are seventeen thoughts on the recent issues related to police violence and death.  If you are not privy to what I am referring, then just turn on a news broadcast, you will quickly be informed.

  1. Christians should not be surprised by the fact that people are wicked, hateful, racist, power hungry and murderous.  It’s the nature of the human condition that we are at inception fully focused on self and self feelings and self power.  So do not think it strange… that racism and power have not subsided.
  2. Christians should know that while these happenings are not new and while they are extremely wicked and evil, things could be and have been worse.  This is not to down play anything but to remind us of history and that if things do not change, they will become very very worse.
  3. Christians should always remember that even in the worst of American history, many in other countries are suffering to a greater degree at the present time.  So many people in other lands are even suffering because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and they are being tortured and burned for it.
  4. Christians should be aware that there is a proven fear of “black” men in America even among the “black” culture according to recent research done at Stanford University but even so, these recent happenings are not bad because they are targeted, they are result of bigoted fear and hunger for control and power. At the core of it stands power and pride.  It is wicked because it is an attack against people, those who bear the image of God, not because of skin color or economy.
  5. Christians should remember that even though our laws and constitution protects against such actions, the erosion of truth among the “church” and the failure of focus has aided in making the law of America less necessary.
  6. Christians should realize that because of this “lawless” mentality that the culture has established entitlement over justice whereby those who are not “in power” are abused by the entitlement of power. Staying alive is not entitlement, it is a natural right for all people, especially when the constitution grants it.
  7. Christians should know that ALL authority is placed in power by God and is known as those who govern or rule.  Scripture also teaches that those who do “good” or live “rightly” should have no fear of the sword.
  8. Then why is there a need to fear law enforcement?  Even when doing right after doing wrong is doing right (ie. submitting to discussion or arrest.)  Even then, the police are NOT government.
  9. Christians should realize that according to our own laws and government, that law enforcement is NOT authoritative but “enforcing” the laws of those who govern. They are to abide by the law, not violate the law because they are slaves to the public who pay their salaries in taxes, both property and sales.  Slaves have no authority over their masters, such as the police, if not abiding by the law, are unable to enforce correction or subjection of another to their desires. Police do not have any authority over the law nor over those who are not in violation thereof.
  10. Christians, never forget that all governments are established by God for good.  The USA is for the good of righteousness and justice and the laws that God has established in this country allow for resistance against tyranny by public servants who do not care about the preservation of life and a violation of liberties.
  11. Many citizens of this country are unaware of the severity of this issue while others are deeply aware and grieved and would be willing to die for the sake of the liberties of future generations.
  12. Justice sits at the center of God’s essence as His holiness is an outward display of his intrinsic worthiness.
  13. Therefore, while social justice is NOT the main issue among believers, and while it is not the call and purpose of the church, it is something that should be top of mind for the church because the gospel itself is a direct image of God’s justice toward evil so that the church should have a heart and voice for the oppressed.
  14. In our culture it isn’t just violence, murder, and police brutality but also corporate greed and power that have overstepped the righteousness of God and His establishment of justice.  This greed has created a slavery of poverty and a powerful control over enterprise that keeps many under its thumb.
  15. Christians, remember that the message of the cross subjects ALL people to the justice of God who will rightly bring recompense on all who do not believe and for all who are in Christ, he has placed His wrath apportioned for them on Jesus Christ His Son.
  16. Christians should remember that no real justice will be found in this world and that which is seen does not suffice in the light of God’s holiness. So all the greatest judgment seen in this Earth pales in comparison with the justice of the face of God as He parts to each one that which is deserved.
  17. Christians should respond as she is created to respond.  Here are a few closing thoughts on what that looks like:
    1. She cannot lose her mission.
    2. She needs to remember that God may NOT grant change in these areas.
    3. She holds fast to the truth that on the Gospel preached will change anything that is changed.
    4. She should WEEP, not nash her teeth over this evil.
    5. She should remain humble and grateful for God’s sovereignty in all things.
    6. She should remain peaceful, even when in battle, so that Christ’s holiness is seen in her.
    7. She should rejoice when one wicked one comes to faith and rejoice in the forgiveness of murder.
    8. She should make her mind settle on the truth of scripture, not the error of man’s understanding and media.

In the end, whether these things stop or not, the church has an obligation to the lost and the hurting.  PRAY beloved and proclaim the True Gospel (Good News), not the “NOT GOSPEL” ways of this world.


treeWhile it’s a common term and mission, discipleship as we know it in America’s church is dead.  So dead that many believe that few are even being taught rightly by the scripture much less being brought into the Kingdom of God.  Having a limited amount of time and a limited amount of webspace, there is no way one could attempt to revise and restore the biblical idea of discipleship, though many have tried.  So, as a mark on the starting line, I hope to list a few things on my heart for the sake of future direction and discussion.

Discipleship is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the full and final revelation of God to man and in His ministry one can find the reality of what Jesus did and thus create a theology of growing others “to” the faith and “in” the faith.  Jesus selected His disciples specifically, then He lived with them and taught them to invest in others for the sake of the kingdom.  As they invested, they preached, proclaimed the good news of Christ and saw God save many through the hearing of the Word. (Rom 10:17)  These who came to know God through Jesus Christ became part of the body, that is the church.  The local church was governed by the Word of God through the apostles who “appointed elders (pastors) in every city to put in order what remained.”  The flock was taught to “do the work of the ministry” to each other and teach others to do the same in the power and for the sake of the person of Jesus Christ.  Discipleship is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ.  Nothing else.

Discipleship is evangelism.

“Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”  This is a familiar song in the hearts of the church, but ever so often she refuses to hear this portion but rather hears the “Go ye into all the nations…”  While the church is to go, what it DOES as it goes is to teach the Gospel of Jesus as God plants the church and saves people by grace through faith.  So, reaching people is teaching people, these things are not divided but one in the same.  Any attempt to make “reaching” apart from rightly dividing the word of God is another gospel and as Paul states, “no gospel at all.”

Discipleship is what the church does, period.

So the church hears, believes, trusts, hopes, lives, loves and learns at the feet of her savior, the living Word of God that became flesh and dwelt among us.  So, the church is to hear the word, do the word, know the word, love the word, live the word, teach the word and all for the sake of the praise of the glorious grace of God in Christ.  So, when the church thinks that “discipleship” is apart from the word, then she has forsaken her first love and must “do the things that she did before” so her Lord will not remove her lampstand (influence) from the world.  The church around the globe is hard at work teaching people to understand and teach others the bible, but for some strange reason, the dominant church in the USA seems to have given way to personal growth, personal esteem, personal influence, personal ministry and personal preference instead of powerful purpose found only in God’s word.  Just imagine, a people so hungry for power and never finding it because the grace of God (the power of God) is nowhere to be found because it is only given through the hearing and teaching of the word of God… Grace be with you.

Discipleship is personal, intimate and individual.

Widget companies can go the way of the assembly line just fine with identical outcomes having only a small margin of error.  But when it comes to people, each one is unique and unable to be stamped as a cookie on a sheet.  So why does so many congregations pour countless individuals into the same pot and then ask the question, “how can we get people to love the Lord and be committed?”  They cannot be committed to the Christ they have never heard and they will not hear unless someone preaches to them and then they will not encounter the Christ-filled life without the church continually living together in the pursuit of God’s grace through His word.  So, mass making of strong believers is like mass making of a bag of toenails.  It’s gross and worthless.  The preaching and the preacher should enable the body to do the work of the ministry while each one models unique but personal discipleship.  There is no other way.

Discipleship is carried through teaching what accords with sound doctrine.

In the end the body of Christ will prevail as the holy and pure bride prepared for her groom.  Until then she is to press and lean by faith alone on the promises of God through Jesus Christ who fully furnished and finished redemption by justifying a people for Himself through His blood having taken their guilt and debt and paid it in full.  It is finished!  So, let the church lives as the body of the Christ who bought her by growing as disciples who prove their adoptions as sons and daughters through the sacrifice of their living for the sake of glory that comes from God, not man.

The church will live eternally and she will do eternally what Christ has saved her to do because she no longer lives as her own but it is Christ who lives within her.  Therefore, the perpetuity of sound disciples will make more and nothing will make this happen apart from the power of God the Holy Spirit through the simple and wonderful teaching of God’s word, not to the masses, but to the few who teaches the few who teaches the few.

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James Tippins

Picture of a Leon Kortenkamp's brushed plate monotype of John 6
Leon Kortenkamp’s Brushed Plate Monotype www.dspt.edu

Looking into the pages of John’s gospel brings the fullness of God’s glory to life as Jesus and all His majesty is perfectly seen.  In John chapter six, Jesus performs His fifth miracle after feeding the multitude by meeting the disciples on the Sea of Galilee during a wind storm in the middle of the night.  Though this short little interlude between the miracle of the feeding and the Bread of Life discourse seems as a segway to these events, the event itself is a bold and powerful teaching moment, for not only the disciples, but for the church today.

Jesus had just finished feeding a multitude, and teaching the disciples that He, the Son of God, can do everything with nothing.  He even prepares them by asking the absurd question about where to buy bread,  Andrew, God bless him, settles to prove to Jesus that even what they could come up with is really nothing.  So Jesus in His compassion for the needs of the multitude, feeds them and has the disciples pick up twelve baskets of food, one for each of them, for their own provision.  After this, the crowd desires to make Jesus their king by force, so He vanishes and goes to the mountain to pray, leaving the disciples to answer questions and deal with the crowd.  As they make their way through the crowd with their baskets of bread, they get into the boat while the crowd watches, and they head out for the six-hour row to Capernum.

Now get this picture: The disciples were just taught that Jesus can do the impossible, and provide in abundance for every need.  They had already witnessed a great storm at sea as Jesus slept, then awaking, He calmed the sea and storm.  So the power of God in Christ has been evident to them.  The careful thing to notice here in John 6 is that as these men are rowing away from the crowds they have with them the present memory of the provision of God; the baskets of bread.  They have with them the memory and teaching of Jesus practices and provision through three years of ministry and yet, they find themselves in a windstorm, making it difficult to row.  Several hours into the rowing they see Jesus on the water and the scripture teaches that “they were afraid.”  They were afraid because they were attempting to go “home” to Capernum and the reality of the wind took their faith away.  They were desperately depending upon their own power for survival and even as they were readily reminded, they forgot the provision of Christ.

Not only had they forgotten the provision of Christ, but they forgot the presence of Christ.  They did not expect to see Him on the sea and thought He was a spirit and were filled with fear.  They feared because the idea of seeing Jesus was the furthest from their minds.  But Jesus had not forgotten them.  If He had provided bread for them to eat, why would He not provide safety for their travels home?  Jesus watched them, He is God and they had forgotten.  Jesus never left them, though they could not see Him, He was there.  He appeared to them and then He spoke to them, “It is I, do not fear.”  These creative words produced a confidence in the heart of the disciples.  It took their self-provision and fear and cast it into the sea of the Lord.  They were relieved and they were “glad to take Him into the boat.”  Jesus had proven His presence as well as His provision when they were faithless and unable to see.

One of the final aspects of this lesson is that Jesus was teaching them more than just material provision and physical presence, but He was teaching them of His divine power.  Scripture says that when Jesus stepped into the boat, that it was immediately upon the land to which they were going.  This means that with nearly three hours left of rowing, Jesus completed the task.  Not only were the disciples fighting a losing battle against the wind, but they were fighting a losing battle against their faith.  The flesh held them in unbelief, it held them in despair and it held them seeing only the physical world around them while ignoring the power that had so readily been shown and revealed and taught for several years.  It is this moment when God steps in, it is the moment when man realizes that there is no hope, no way, no rest, no assurance at all and then God appears.  God appears and provides and assures and assumes the lead when if man had continued, he would have died and failed.

God doesn’t help those that help themselves, He helps those that are helpless.  For if a man can, then God won’t and doesn’t need to.  Jesus allowed the struggle because it is promised.  And even in the tempest of the sea and the darkness of life Christ was there.  As the scripture teaches that Jesus went away to pray and it was dark, it shows us a time but more importantly it reminds of the truth of a Christless life; darkness.  But the goodness of God appears, giving salvation at the right hour and the light has come into the world and the darkness will not overcome the light!  The light of Christ is the salvation of God who saves the helpless and takes them home.  The suffering in this life is going to happen and our battles are going to be fought one after the other, but when Jesus steps in, even though the sea still rages against us, the light has come and we are taken immediately into the place of justice, the Love of God in Christ!

So as we fight the good fight of faith we are going to suffer, it’s promised.  And as we suffer, even then we remember that Jesus suffered to point of death and most importantly to suffer the fullness of the wrath of God the Father for the sins of all who believe.  So, when Jesus takes us home, He prepares the way that goes through suffering, but the hope is not in the journey of peace, but the Prince of Peace who gives life!  Jesus overcomes the faithlessness of man because He remains faithful and cannot deny Himself.

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James

Devil in Pulpit

While trying to steer away from the ever so common polemic per se, it is necessary, for the sake of the Gospel-called men and the church of Jesus Christ who have been purchased by His blood, to further equip the saints and warn them of the continued encroachment of unregenerate clergy front staging the churches of the world.  This series will exposit the text of Holy Scripture in reference to God’s calling and equipping of the man of God as one who will “give an account” for the shepherding.  While not popular, I pray it will serve as a reminder to us all that the enemy is active and at work and that God will not be mocked.  Further it will prayerfully expose darkness and bring many to the light of repentance as they are daily being fed sinful and man-centered garbage in the name of God’s Son.

It seems more and more today that many so-called Christians love to profess Christ as a merciful Lamb who paid their way to glory but have no evidence of such truth.  The fact is that unless a man is born again, he isn’t saved and a whole-hearted choice to be saved isn’t salvation nor has it ever been.  The outcome of such Christians is that they hate others, avoid people who are not like them, talk evil of others, even speaking evil of God’s people in authority over them such as presidents and governors while never laying their lives down nor their knees in prayer thus forgetting that their claim of redemption is neither true nor evidenced.  While I could sit and show why this is the case, I think it begins with the shepherds who look over them.  So, we will start there.

Please pray that the Lord’s will be done and if it is to be, this series and subsequent published book will further the cause of Christ. Hold fast to the confession of hope in Christ and may the Spirit of God go before us and show us all our certain savior and the vast need we have for Him.

aacoffin_blackSitting here listening to the ringing of my four oldest children as they play together gives me a moment to contemplate the amazing and glorious gift of God of my family.  At times I feel as though I am truly the richest man that ever lived.  Even in the aggravation of life, I can honestly attest to the reality that our family and our home is a haven of worship, a place where constant reminders of God’s grace sing through the echoes of memories and madness.  A place where there is a people at the heart of it all, a people for God’s glory by the power of His mighty grace.  I’m reminded of the gravity of being a father often, especially in this season as it has been one hard lick after another with “something” just around the corner.  Whether it be problems with our house (firstworld) not coming together or financial strain due to emergencies or the 29 visits to a doctor in 2013 and the related joys that tag along, it all comes in a very small manner, painful but joyful and God is truly using it all to sanctify us.

Our fifth child being born in October has brought a few more experiences, beginning with Robyn, my wife, who had a very difficult pregnancy and bed rest the latter third.  Then the birth in itself was a gift of God’s mercy pushing the physical and emotional limits of our hearts to the peak of failure and even death and all the while, the Lord was there, holding it all together by the Word of His power.  So this day, not yesterday and not the hope of what tomorrow brings but this day is the day for us now.  Now is the time of faith, now is the time of rejoicing and now is the time when all things are for the Glory of our Lord.  My children remind me of this and keep me ever working and hoping, not in a wishful way, in a certain and guaranteed confidence that only comes from God, that His purpose is good for me.  Fatherhood is dear to me, it is something that even as a young boy I desired and I am thankful that the Lord has given me the best and most excellent wife and five wonderful sinners, that by the Lord’s grace, believe on Him (well four at this point).

In this little moment there isn’t much of an argument for me to declare or theological paradigm to proclaim but a small reminder, a big smile and a wonderful glimpse at the Father’s love.  Hearing them play, sing, talk, and work through their own struggles brings me back to my childhood when one of my only fears was the loss of my family.  It really was, I lived in a pretty faith-filled place but when it came to considering one of my parents or grandparents dying I was shaken, not just pouty, but fearful.  I hear my children play and think, “is that their fear?”  Many times in the last 16 years of fatherhood each of my children have expressed this fear.  Daily they all affirm their love for me and their mother through obedience and affection and I know that there will come a day when they will face the reality of the death of their parents.  That day when I or their mother will depart this Earth to receive all that we have longed and held fast for in our lives.

While death is such a sweet and glorious blessing that brings with it no fear, pain or suffering, I have just realized that there is a small amount of fear in me still.  The fear that my children may fear as I feared at their age.  A fear that they would consider life wrecked and hopeless if we died.  And with that thought I can still feel the warm hand of fear in my own soul.  At the same time I rejoice, not because I love the macarbre but mainly because I am satisfied.  I am satisfied that they have the fear of children because they recognize their affection and dependance upon us and because we are their salvation in so many ways.  I know not every family has this that we enjoy and I would be a fool to think it could never end.  But for now, it is what we have and it is to this that I speak.  I am satisfied that the God of my salvation, Jesus Christ has attended to me and will in fact attend to my children.  I am satisfied that true hope is available through the Spirit of Life to them and that we teach them about the reality and certainty of physical death and how it is NOTHING in relation to the death of sin.

I am satisfied to know that my children, even if they are not aware, are prepared by God to face each day He has given them and that with all that I have within me I pray they hold fast to Him forever as He has held fast to them.  I am satisfied that there is no fear in death and that my fear and theirs, even in grief, will be brief and tied to a glorious outcome for their good.  I remember countless death room experiences, some of my own family where the dying would fear what would happen to those left behind.  It is natural, but our life in Christ is above natural, it is above comprehension because it is born of God.

I know that the God of Heaven has established all the days of my life and theirs and that nothing my children accomplish in life will ever make me proud or fulfill my greatest dream or reach their greatest potential except for them to trust fully in the perfect life and finished work of Jesus Christ the Righteous!  I am satisfied knowing that the Lord who began the good work in them will complete it, even if my death in their young lives is part of His glorious grooming and purpose.  But until that day, we fix our eyes not on that which is seen or feared, but the One who is unseen and revealed to us by the Spirit through the Word.  He alone is our peace, He is our comfort, He is our glory, He is our redeemer, He is our sufficient High Priest and He is sufficient to see my children be raised up to lay down their lives for the Gospel.

May the God of all gods and the King of all kings reign supreme in our home and all the days of our lives and God, may the legacy of these parents be one of Christ exalting glory!


Pastor James

“It doesn’t get any better than this…” I thought as I looked at my infant daughter surrounded by my four other children and bride of 18 years. Something wells up inside when I see the glorious beauty of my family and in the best of humility, I praise God for them and for His grace to afford me such joy in their lives and learnings. Holding an infant is one of those rare opportunities that few people actually do experience. I know for my other four children, their infant stages are a blur, mainly due to my double time activity schedule and pressure of ministry and the hail storms of expectations I placed on myself during those seasons. But this time it’s different. We are not burdened under a yolk of worldly expectations, but under the yolk of Jesus Christ. Therefore, this season in life is superb and grand in the scheme of them all and for this I am very thankful.

On the other hand, as I peel through the layers of what it all means and discern whether my esteem is idolatry or Christ-centered gratitude, it struck my heart, that this is NOT the best of times and that even though it comes easy to say that “it doesn’t get any better than this” I have fallen prey, just a moment, to the wrong point of focus. I know can hold my family and look wonderfully and joyfully into the reality that is God’s gracious mercy in them and say, “It Surely is gonna get better than this!” I have to think through this carefully so all can follow my thoughts. No better place to start than the beginning…

A Wedding

That wonderful Spring day in 1996 was the first time that I felt such things when as the doors of the vestibule opened for my eyes to gaze upon the bride of my soul.  Her beauty lodged glory into my heart that quickly grew in my throat as I was unable to swallow and I thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this…”  All the dreams and hopes and visions of what will be and for the most part, sans a few pebbles (and larger stones) along the way, it has be greater than I could ever have imagined.  But in all reality as Christ has revealed Himself more and more I see that the fullness of joy that came that day is a taste, a very very small taste of the complete and eternally full joy that will come when Christ and I are together along with my bride and my family, not as we are today, but as siblings in the same body!  The marriage of man and woman is a myopic pointer to the day of Christ’s return for His bride for whom He died.  My bride stood, and still does, at the door of that church in all beauty and splendor and one day, I too will stand as she stood, not just in dress and intention, but in pure righteousness.  It does get better than this, but this is good because it shows us just what we have yet to see! (Ephesians 5:25-)


Now having five children may seem like excess, but among our circles of friends across the globe, we are the minimalists and are about 40-60% complete as some would say.  But just in my introductory thoughts, the birth of a child is an amazing thing.  It reveals so much about the majesty of God’s power and how He alone can put all things together. (Col 1)  The miracle of life is so much more than just being well loved and having great and deep affection for a child; it bears the image of its Creator, a God who gives birth, not just physically to His creatures, but Spiritually as well.  Scripture teaches us that through suffering comes glory.  This is true in the whole of Biblical history and most specifically, it is true for the Christ, the Son of God who came to die in order to perfectly save sinners who were already dead.  Six weeks ago today we had just ended a 21 plus hour induction with cesarean and the fear at times was overwhelming and inexplicable. God’s grace carried us through and through all the suffering, all the darkness, all the fear, all the “dashed” dreams came LIFE.  A new life, not just one working out kinks and trying to be better or different, but NEW.  Completely fresh, a new beginning in this world.  I reflected on all the other four births and likewise, they all came the same way, though with different circumstances, they all had the same song: suffering yields life.  Jesus Christ came to suffer to bring life and the apostles tell us clearly that we who are in Christ will suffer like He suffered but in the end: Glory.  See 1 Peter chapter 1 for more on this.  In this way, my wife suffered so that life could emerge.  Jesus saves His own through His flesh and blood.  How amazing our God is to help us see His glorious good in our suffering.  We come out on this side, joyfully aware of this little blessing of life and joyfully aware of the grave suffering that our Lord endured for us.  “Light Momentary Affliction” prepares us for a weight of glory.


So now the glorious part of all of this.  “It doesn’t get any better” fits really well here.  I smile, my wife smiles, my son smiles, my three other daughters smile and life is grand.  3 AM…. not so grand, but we still smile at the prospect of going through all of this again.  But no matter how good it is, it is only a small picture, a snow-globe of the real that we are just shaking through awaiting the full joy.  We are amazed at the love we have for this new child when we thought that there was no more love in us 🙂 we find more.  The birth of our new baby has rekindled the superb affections we have for our other children and each other as husband and wife and if we are not careful, we will lose sight as to why: so that we can see the love of God for us in a deeper way as His children.  The love God has for us is immeasurable in comparison and it blesses my soul to realize that the amazing love that I feel toward my children is nothing compared to the love that God has for us revealed gloriously in Christ Jesus who came to live righteous and holy and die willingly in order to justify us before the Father.

What does it all mean?

It means that no matter how good it is, it is only a small fraction of nothing of the goodness of the true One to whom it all points!  God’s faithful and certain promise to save His children and His amazing “great love” with which He loves us cannot be fathomed.  So until that day when we stand with Him and our Lord Jesus Christ and see for ourselves, we must look ever so carefully at the small glimpses of such things.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21, ESV)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? 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? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39, ESV)