Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Illegal Immigration Rights

“Immigration rights advocates more than 500,000 strong marched in downtown Los Angeles, demanding that Congress abandon attempts to make helping illegal immigrants a crime and to build more walls along the border.

The massive demonstration, one of half dozen around the nation in recent days, came as President Bush prodded Republican congressional leaders to give some illegal immigrants a chance to work legally in the U.S. under certain conditions.” (FNN; http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,189110,00.html).

Among the thousands of demonstrators protesting across the nation, Arizona had its fair share. Approximately 15,000 marched in downtown Phoenix (creating not a small traffic problem for morning and evening rush hour traffic =)). Many were carrying American flags. Many were carrying Mexican flags. The crowds were made up of legal and illegal immigrants protesting the recent legislation that passed in the House of Representatives. If the law is passed in the Senate, it would make illegally entering the United States a felony and also have a wall built along one-third of the US-Mexican border.

Sounds like decent legilsation, doesn’t it? Congress has heard the cry of the American people who want our borders and our way of life protected. Raising the severity of illegally entering the United States to felony status is something we should have done a long time ago. The same can be said of protecting our border. The purpose of this new law would be to enforce the current laws of the land.

Let me make an obvious point: we have laws in this country for a reason. It is expected that laws should be obeyed. Laws should be respected by citizens … and aliens.

So let me ask a question to those who justify the crimes of illegal aliens: Why does the USA restrict the number of citizenships granted each year? I think the answer is obvious, BUT just in case it isn’t obvious to you … if we had an open border granting citizenship to anyone and everyone who wanted it, we’d have 50 million people move to the United States within the first year. We simply can’t have that. It would be devastating to our economy, culture, language, and security.

What do the protestors want? Well, assuming that there isn’t complete unity among the thousands upon thousands of protestors spread across the nation, there is probably a range of things on their agenda. First, it is clear that they don’t want the legislation passed, which means they don’t want illegally entering the U.S. to be a felony, and they certainly don’t want a wall built along the border. The unmistakable reason why illegal aliens don’t want the legislation to pass in the Senate is because they would then be felons. Second, many want us to continue turning a blind eye to their illegal presence in the United States. Third, others demand amnesty for the estimated 11 million already here.

Does it strike anyone else as odd that illegal aliens would demand citizenship? Who are they to demand anything from the United States Government? Illegals choose a criminal and sinful lifestyle from the moment they illegally set one foot on American soil. But their criminality doesn’t end with entering the United States. If they want to successfully remain in our nation they must do a number of things to avoid getting caught: lying to the authorities, purchasing fake I.D.’s, getting a job, tax fraud, using public services, and the list goes on.

Did you catch how Foxnews (and the rest of the Mainstream Media) refers to this whole debate? “Immigration rights.” Isn’t that term a bit misleading? An immigrant is one that permanently moves from one nation to another. Unfortunately this isn’t specific enough, because it fails to deal with the legality of the immigrants’ transplanting to a new country. A more proper term to define this debate would be: “Illegal Immigration Rights.”

You know what I’m going to ask next don’t you? What rights do non-citizens have with regards to American policy? They have no rights toward our policy! They don’t have the right to demand citizenship. Citizenship in the United States is a priviledge, one that the Federal government does not have to grant to anyone.

“Elger Aloy, 26, of Riverside, a premed student, pushed a stroller with his 8-month-old son at Saturday's Los Angeles march and called the legislation "inhumane." "Everybody deserves the right to a better life," he said.” (FNN; http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,189110,00.html).

What is Elger’s presupposition here? “Everybody deserves the right to a better life” (emphasis mine). Elger seems to imply that people can just move wherever they want, legally or illegally, so they can find a better life. He believes that it is morally acceptable to break the law in hopes of finding a better life. He has concluded that every human being has a natural right to a better life. I wonder how Elger defines “better life”? I would venture a guess that he refers to economic prosperity, and not to happiness.

“"They say we are criminals. We are not criminals," said Salvador Hernandez, 43, of Los Angeles, a resident alien who came to the United States illegally from El Salvador 14 years ago and worked as truck driver, painter and day laborer” (FNN; http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,189110,00.html).

What makes someone a criminal Salvador? Because if you believe that a criminal is one who commits serious crime(s), would you not fit into that category sir? Here is a common argument made by Illegal Immigrant Rights Advocates (isn’t it wonderful having a proper name for the movement =)): “Illegal Immigrants are the backbone of our society. They do jobs that most Americans consider to be beneath them…” Let’s look at each of the jobs Salvador Hernandez has done over the past 14 years. He was a truck driver, painter, and a day laborer. Are you telling me that there are no Americans willing to do these jobs? I have two friends who are truck drivers – both white, Christian, males. My old high school pastor used to be a painter – also a white, Christian male. How about day laborers? Since my dad is a general superintendent for the largest framing company in AZ, our family knows of many legal Americans willing to do that kind of work (in the Arizona heat no less). The belief that illegals do jobs that Americans won’t do is just plain fiction.

The only arguments that encourage us to turn a blind eye to the 11 million criminals living in our nation are emotional arguments. The liberals making these sympathetic yet baseless arguments are thinking of short-term fixes. But what LONGTERM effects will we have if we continue to ignore this growing problem? Will Mexico become economically stable by allowing more Mexicans to move to the U.S.?

Illegal Immigrants Rights Advocate: “But we need to do something to help them!” I agree. But the solution to solving Mexican poverty (or poverty around the world) is not by having people pack their bags and move to the U.S. What should we do? We can encourage the Mexican people to elect a non-corrupt government for starters. We’ll see where we go from there.

When emotionalism is brushed aside, you cannot pretend that illegal aliens aren’t lawbreakers. When you break the law, you pay the price. That is why illegals don’t want this latest bit of legislation to pass, because their sins and their crimes would finally catch up with them. They’re trying to further suppress God’s Law, which includes obeying the laws of the land.

I pray that this law is passed in the Senate. The Senate will be discussing it today. Pray that our Senators and our President would make a decision seasoned with wisdom.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Interpreting Scripture the Emergent Way

How might an Emergent Churcher understand some of the “harsher” passages in Scripture? Steve Camp cites a humorous article by David Green that attempts to show us how a consistent Emergent would interpret the Bible. Here is the link. Enjoy =)


The Heart of Justification: Imputation

Campi (Steve Camp) spent some time today discussing the imputation of the Active and Passive Obedience of Christ on his blog. Steve interacted with a Seminary Professor on a Reformed Baptist discussion list this week who denies the imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ to the believer. I was as shocked as Steve was, and was overly impressed with his response to this gentlemen.

Steve makes some passionate remarks, among which here is a statement that stood out: “Did you hear that beloved? I was stunned, shocked and surprised. First of all, Christ is never referred to as the Second Adam; only as the Last Adam (1 Cor 15:45). Secondly, The active/passive obedience of Jesus Christ is not a contrived concept--it is essential to our justification which is the gospel. Thirdly, that he thinks the sinless righteous life lived by our Lord Jesus Christ in fulfilling the Law "credits nothing" in regards to our salvation in justification as a believer is severe doctrinal error. (FYI: I offered complete this brother complete access to my blogs and website in order to address this crucial issue in a discussion/debate format for further engagement. He graciously declined due to current scheduling demands and commitments to unfinished projects.)”

He then cites the 1689 London Baptist Confession on justification, specifically on imputation. Next he provides an article by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon titled: “The Active and Passive Obedience of Jesus Christ.” I read Dr. McMahon’s article today and thoroughly enjoyed it! Nothing thrills my heart more than to discuss the heart of the doctrine of justification: imputation
I know that I've recommended a number of reads lately, but this article is gonna have to be added to the list =).

Once you’ve completed it, let me know and we’ll hang out at Starbucks and discuss this glorious truth together.

In Christ,

Thursday, March 16, 2006

They must be silenced

Pastor Fry delivered a sermon this past Lord’s Day continuing through the book of Titus. Last week he preached from 1:6-9. This week he finished preaching out of chapter 1. The subject was about Paul’s warning of false teachers. Here is the text:

“10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." 13This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed” (NASB).

My pastor began by connecting our text with last week’s sermon about the qualification of elders. Paul lists a number of “must-haves” for the aspiring elder: their families were examined, as well as their personal lives. The final qualification found in verse 9 talks about an elder’s ability to refute those contradicting the faith.

Notice what word Paul chose to begin verse 10 with: the word “For.” This connects the ideas in verses 5-9 with 10 and following. “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers,” says Paul. The Apostle is warning the newly founded churches on the Isle of Crete – we know the churches are young because of his instruction to Titus to appoint elders in every city (verse 5). Even though the churches in Crete were young, many … many false teachers arose to trouble the saints. Isn’t it true that whenever the Holy Spirit of God does His work, the work of our Adversary is soon to follow? This was true with Crete and it is true of us today. The parable of the Tares Among Wheat brings this out in Matthew 13:25-30.

Pastor Fry brought out the simple fact that certain men were labeled false teachers because they claimed to be Christian. False teachers and false prophets always profess to be true believers. Imagine how convincing they’d be if they openly declared themselves to be a false teacher, false prophet, heretic or apostate. They wouldn’t be convincing at all! Just the same, they profess to know God (verse 16).

If they’re false teachers who distort the truth, why does anyone listen to them? Why do any give them the time of day? Look at how they are described in verse 10: “rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision.” Firstly, they were rebellious. This literally means that they were independent, and in the context is referring to indepence from the church. [Begin Sarcasm] Now golly gee, they just looove the church. They love it so much that they want to teach the church. [End Sarcasm]. But they won’t subject themselves to the authority of the church. Second, false teachers are empty talkers. Another word for this is idle. They are idle talkers. Oh, they just love to talk talk talk talk talk. In fact, they’ll talk to anyone who’ll listen to them. The only problem is that what they have to say is destructive. Thirdly, they are deceivers. It is the nature of a false teacher to deceive the saints, which is exactly why they so enjoy teaching positions in the church. If they cannot obtain a teaching role you can bet they will move on to the next congregation of saints. Finally, “especially those of the circumcision.” Paul brings out the fact that sometimes converted Jews would become false teachers. Perhaps this led from the tendency Jews had to view themselves higher than Gentile converts. We have the same problem today with Messianic Jewish congregations. Why insist on calling yourself a Messianic Jew unless you want to emphasize your natural lineage from Abraham. What Jews need to remember is that we are all equal in the sight of God and ought not to flaunt our genealogy before others. “28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (NASB).

“To the pure, all things are pure;” It’s kind of funny how often this verse is quoted with reference to Christian liberty issues =). Certainly some principles can be applied that equal the way this verse is many times used, but it more accurately speaks to purity of doctrine. But the questions arise: (1) How do we know what is pure? and (2) Who is teaching what is pure? We need to use discernment to determine what is pure and who is pure. Paul writes elsewhere: “20do not despise prophetic utterances. 21But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22abstain from every form of evil” (NASB). In other words, don’t despise teaching, but test everything. Hold onto good teaching. Avoid bad teaching. Sometimes it will take a little time to properly discern the truth of a matter. In the same manner, it might also take time to properly discern if someone is a true professor and/or qualified to teach.

Pastor Fry then gave some really sound, practical advice that I have to share with you. “Some things,” he said, “leave it alone. If it troubles you, ‘put it on the backburner’ as they say.” What he’s getting at is this: don’t let strange new teachings upset your faith. Use proper means to respond to them. Contact your elders. Seek council from family and close friends. Pray. Search the Scriptures. If you use the means of grace that our Lord provided for His children, your faith will never be upset.

The most memorable statement made by my pastor is one I will always keep with me: “False teachers do say a lot of truth. He may say something that really helps you … that really encourages you. But like the old saying goes, ‘Doesn’t take a lot of poison to kill you.’” Joseph Smith Jr. said a lot of spiritually true things. Charles Taze Russell said a lot of spiritually good things. TD Jakes says a lot of spiritually good things. Unfortunately, each of these teachers also taught distorted truths. Joseph Smith taught polytheism. Charles Taze Russell taught henotheism. TD Jakes promotes Oneness/Modalistic theology. The false teacher couples truth with false teaching.

False teachers have no problem disrupting families (verse 11). This could either refer to house-churches or to the immediate family. They might seem impressive to one or more members in a family and would cause terrible divisions. It is because of this willingness to go to such great lengths to spread their false teaching that Paul declares they “must be silenced.” The Apostle Paul makes this firm statement because some men refuse to shut their mouths. They will continue to blab on about “things they should not teach” (verse 11). Their mouths must be stopped by rebuke (verse 13).

It appears that Paul has hope for some false teachers and not for others. In verse 13 he seems that through a severe rebuke they might be corrected. However in verse 16 he describes some as professing to know God but denying Him by their works and “being detestable and disobedience and worthless for any good deed.” Since Paul did not know with certainty all the elect of God he left room for hope for some and dealt with men differently. Some harder than others.

What should we do when confronted with a false teacher? Don’t listen to them. Don’t give them your ear. Don’t even pretend to have interest in their destructive teaching.

Heretic: “Hey man, guess what new teaching I’ve found in the Bible that seems to go against everything we believe?!”
Christian: “No thanks. I’d rather learn from godly, discerning men. Why don’t you go tell the elders about your new-found belief? Better yet, let’s go talk to them together…”

We should take Paul’s warning to heart. Sooner or later we will all run across false teachers. One only need turn on the channel between 20 and 22 (TBN *cough cough*) to find a multitude of destructive teaching. Let us be found prepared to deal with them with them properly.

Remember that only our mighty God can grant repentance to false teachers. We should pray for them as we are instructed to from 2 Timothy 2:24-25: “24And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,” (NASB).

With love for the truth of the gospel of Peace,
Case of Base

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


What do you know of the Emerging Church Movement (ECM)? How about the terms: “Emergent” or “Emerging”? Or perhaps you’ve heard of some popular authors and pastors associated with this movement: Dan Kimball, Mark Driscoll, or Donald Miller? No doubt many of you have been somewhat introduced to this latest fad.

The Pyromaniac, Phil Johnson, has posted his transcript from his seminar on the ECM at the Shepherd’s Conference last week. I was delighted to read the entire 22-page transcript yesterday afternoon.

Here are some snippets of Phil’s five part definition of the ECM:

“1. The "emerging church" is a convenient name for a broad-based and growing assortment of similar or related movements that have flourished in the past half-decade--mostly on the fringe of the evangelical movement. "Emerging" congregations in one way or another tend to be keenly attuned to the postmodern shift in art, literature, and public discourse. …”

“2. Now, here is another vital aspect of what distinguishes "emerging church movement": Most congregations in the movement would describe themselves as missional, by which they mean they stress the importance of evangelistic outreach by involving themselves in the lives of unbelievers in the community outside the narrow circle of the church. They point out that the way believers live is one of the most potent and persuasive aspects of our testimony to unbelievers--if not the single most important thing of all. …”

“3. Here's another (similar) feature of the "emerging church movement": Emergent-style churches show a preference for "narrative theology" as opposed to systematic doctrine. The story of the gospel is ultimately more important than the theology of it. The simple narrative of salvation history must not get lost in the careful parsing of theological words and ideas. …”

“4. In this same vein, people in the emerging church movement often don't hold the idea of propositional truth in very high regard. And this one of the key points many of them want to make: A proposition, by definition, is a premise that is either true or false. There is no third choice. (That is one of the most basic laws of logic, known as the law of the excluded middle.) …”

“5. Here's a final element in my abbreviated description of the emerging Christian subculture: Most insiders like to portray their movement as an answer to the influence of philosophical modernism; a departure from modernism; something wholly distinct from modernism. As you know, modernism has assaulted the church for some 150 years, at least. It has always, consistently been hostile to evangelical truth. …”

Each point goes into much greater detail than I’m providing for you here.

There are a couple good books/articles out there that offer a critique of the ECM (DA Carson’s book, SGM articles), but none that I have wanted to recommend … until now. Phil’s transcript is the best material I have read about the movement. Phil is more than fair in how he describes the ECM.

I believe Phil makes a correct prediction that the Emerging Church Movement will be the first in a long series of postmodern movements that will do great harm to the body of Christ and her reputation. This is why I encourage all of my readers to take the time out of your busy schedules to read Phil’s transcript. I know it’s a bit lengthy, but it is well worth it. If you haven’t personally met anyone affected by the ECM, you probably know someone who has. This is a big deal on the apologetic front, and we, as Reformed Christians need to have a ready response.

Emergent … No thanks,

Monday, March 06, 2006

"Hello There"

You aren’t really supposed to say “Happy Monday” on Monday because well, it’s Monday. Buuut Happy Monday anyway =). This entry will be a bit random, but I have a couple short things to say and I don’t want to make a bunch of teeny tiny entries. Without further a due …

I’m waging war with a cold, but I sound worse than I feel. My voice is always the first thing to shut down, probably because I insist on speaking just as loud and as much. I’m determined to make it to the gym today – do my running, and pump some serious iron.

Wally World (aka Wal-Mart Super center). Midnight tonight. I’ll be there buying my copy of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” on DVD. Major w00tage indeed. In case you’re wondering if I am dressing up tonight, the answer is: unfortunately not. I didn’t dress up to buy “Revenge of the Sith,” so how could I dress up for Harry Potter?

My fellow channel rat from #prosapologian (AOMin’s chatroom), Julie Staples, posted a “24 Facts on Jack Bower” entry. If you like the TV series “24,” and you need a good laugh, you should definitely read this.

I started teaching a three part series for our junior high class on Wednesday nights. This past Wednesday I taught on absolute monotheism, the belief that there is only one true God. The lesson went wonderfully! The kids were attentive. I think we all had a good time. AND (more importantly) I think they got it. My next lesson will cover that there are three distinct persons sharing the one Being of God, followed by a lesson on the three persons being co-equal and co-eternal with one another.

Finally …

The title for this entry is a quote from a Star Wars film. Who said it and from which film?

This is Rusty, signing off

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Foolishness of the Message Preached

Phil Johnson and I seem to be on the same page far too often =). For those of you not familiar with the Pyromaniac (Phil), he is the director of Grace to You (the radio ministry of Johnny Mac (aka John MacArthur)) and an elder at Grace Community Church in CA. Phil is also an editor and a gifted author. He is often involved with Alpha and Omega Ministries, and have had the pleasure of chilling with him on two of AOMin's cruises.

Phil’s March 1st entry was incredible. I highly, highly recommend reading it. He describes a few of the trends and movements that have plagued Evangelicalism over the past decade: (1) the pragmatism of the church growth movement, (2) the anti-intellectualism that dominates large segments of the charismatic movement, (3) the neo-ecumenism of groups like Promise Keepers, (4) the intense pressure to lay aside our doctrinal distinctives in order to forge a political coalition, (5) various campaigns to redefine the doctrine of justification in Protestant circles, and (6) an infatuation with postmodern ways of thinking, which is flourishing in the Emerging Church movement.

While reading Phil’s post, I found myself nodding in agreement, laughing aloud, and even pulled a Napoleon Dynamite: “Yesssss!” It is encouraging to know that there are others out there who agree with me on the latest trends and movements plaguing our churches. Not only have I encountered every single one of these movements in real life, but I also receive emails through AOMin from folks asking about them on a regular basis. They are a big deal, and we need to have a ready response. All these new theological fads that lessen the importance of doctrine (Biblical teaching) and leave no compromise unturned by incorporating postmodernism into the church would do well to read 1 Corinthians 1:18-29:

“18For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, "I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE." 20Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29so that no man may boast before God.” (NASB).

Did you catch the second clause of verse 21? “…God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” The message of the gospel is foolishness to the unregenerate. What’s more – the means to communicate that message (through preaching) is foolishness to them. Yet, God is pleased to use this foolish means to save His elect. What this means is that we need not worry about pleasing the world. The churches of Christ should not conform to this world by attempting to incorporate the world’s culture into the church (as the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement does so very well). We shouldn’t edit out parts of the gospel because they aren’t attractive. Our concern should never be about getting a big church for the sake of having a big church (disclaimer: big churches are not inherently wrong, I recognize this =)). What modern Evangelicalism needs is the guts to stand by the gospel, unashamedly, without doubting the power of God. We need to trust the Lord that although preaching is foolishness to the world, it is the means by which He saves sinners. O that we, as God’s people, would be found faithful to this simple calling, even though it means looking like fools to our unbelieving world.

Foolish for Christ,

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Learning to Pray

In the twelfth chapter of Paul’s epistle to the church at Rome, the Apostle exhorts the saints to dedicate their lives towards obedient service to God. Amid Paul’s entreaty he charges the saints to be “devoted to prayer.” It is interesting to note that just as they were to be devoted to one another (verse 10), they were to devote themselves to prayer.

What does it mean to be devoted to prayer? This could probably be its own blog series, could it not? But today I would like to share with you some things I have learned about prayer from the men at my church.

Approximately three years ago I began looking for a new church. I first visited the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church (my current church) during their weekly prayer meeting one Wednesday evening. I vividly remember the first time I pulled up to the church. It wasn’t the big church I imagined it to be. It wasn’t fancy. There was a small group of about 30 people inside, chatting away. The meeting began with Pastor Fry delivering a “sermonette” (usually a 25-35 minute sermon) from the Psalter, followed by the men and women splitting up to pray. Pastor Fry asked me to introduce myself, and then invited the men to share any praises or prayer requests. The pastor gave instructions as to how their prayer time would go (probably for my sake): they go around the circle, each man praying if he so desires. I was impressed at the reverence these men possessed as they approached the throne of grace with their petitions. It was obvious their prayers were well thought out and organized. I knew that night that this was a church I could call my home.

Since that night, I have learned so much about prayer from these godly men at PRBC. To give you an idea of some of the regular things we pray about: (1) for God to grant repentance, revival, and reformation in our land; (2) for our children to be saved in the days of their youth; (3) for the sick and afflicted in our congregation; (3) for our pastor and our elders; (4) for our Sunday school teachers; (5) for our leaders in government; (6) for our judges to rule justly; (7) that the gospel would continue to go forth / opportunities to boldly proclaim the gospel / we would be faithful to proclaim and defend the gospel; (8) thanking God for salvation; (9) asking for sanctifying grace; (10) for renewed passion for the Word of God …

God has blessed me with the example of the men at the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. They are steadfast disciples of Christ who take their walk with the Lord seriously. I aspire to become more like them, and thus, more like my beautiful Savior.