Friday, April 21, 2006

Salvation by Grace Alone

AOMin only made it out to the temple Friday and Saturday night last week. Between putting the new office together, the DL, writing articles for the CRI Journal, and prepping for debates in the upcoming months, the Easter Pageant sort of snuck up on the Doc and AOMin (here referring to the guy with the “pillow-talk voice”).

The turnout Friday night was substantially smaller than normal, probably due to the strong winds all day. There were only a few KJV-only-wackos out there– it was difficult not to laugh as they struggled to hold their signs upright against the raging weather. But it was that evening the Lord blessed me with my most productive conversation of the weekend.

We were distributing tracts near Corner 1 when I saw this kid with his Quad open walking towards the KJV-wackos. I stepped forward and handed him a tract titled “Grace plus works is dead.” Normally I prefer to hand out our tracts that deal with the doctrine of God, but we didn’t have any time to print any new tracts this year, including any about God. So I chose one that deals simply with salvation by grace alone.

“You look like you’re ready to talk about the Scriptures,” I said, handing him a tract.

Relieved that I stopped him from talking to the KJV-only-wackos, I explained my purpose for coming out to the temple and then summarized the tract.

“This tract is a positive presentation of my gospel: salvation by grace alone, apart from any works. I’m here because I believe the LDS faith teaches a false gospel, one that cannot save. My goal is to kindly explain my gospel from the Scriptures, and compare that with the gospel of the Mormon Church,” I said.

We began by discussing a key truth Mormonism denies: Original Sin. From there we went straight through Romans 1-3. After building a firm case for man’s depravity, guilt, and utter inability to contribute to his salvation in any way, we went to Romans 3:28: “28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” (NASB).

We went over the meaning “justified,” “by faith,” “apart from works,” and “of the Law.”

Right then his mom walked up and tried to convince her son to join the rest of his family in their seats (the pageant was still about 30 minutes away from beginning). When he expressed his desire to stay and talk, his mom asked me a few questions about my purpose, and the tract. I think she was a little taken aback at how kind I was (especially compared to the KJV-wackos screaming in the background). More than that, she seemed to almost approve of the way I was handling myself. For a moment I think she considered letting her son stay and chat. But in the end, she kind of pulled him back to his seat (literally). I did give him my phone # and email addy. So hopefully I’ll hear from him.

Jacob, was his name. He is a very bright kid. Only 16 and already going to the Community College. He was logical, reasonable, and kind … not something you find every day.

I thank the Lord for the opportunity to proclaim the gospel of Peace to Jacob, and I pray the Lord might be pleased to grant to him repentance unto life.

Doulos of the gospel,

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Natural Rights and Civil Rights

As a history buff, and a soon-to-be history teacher, I have been fascinated by some recent discussions raised from the illegal immigration debate. These discussions have turned to the rights illegal aliens actually possess. Do they have Natural Rights or Civil Rights? These were the questions raised during the period known as the Enlightenment. Of the many defining principles that sprung from the 17-18th centuries, perhaps one of the most important was the belief that all men have Natural Rights. American colonists were heavily influenced by Enlightenment thinkers such as the English Philosopher, John Locke. In fact, many of Locke’s ideas were embodied in the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Here are two well known excerpts from the DoI:

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.” (Emphasis mine).

The concluding paragraph of our DoI reads:

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” (Emphasis mine).

Right off the bat we see the term “right” being frequently used. What rights did the Americans believe were being trampled on by the English Crown? Their Natural and Civil Rights. They defined “Natural Rights” as: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration then defines “Civil Rights” as: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —… laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” So Natural Rights apply to every human being, and are derived from God. Natural Rights include: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – one might also add the right to own property. Civil Rights are derived from governments, which receive their powers from the citizenry, designed to protect Natural Rights.

By the 18th century, Colonial America had long felt unique and independent from Europe. Most colonists had never seen England, and thus felt no loyalty to the British Crown. Add to that, their firmly established belief that citizens make social contracts with governments to protect Natural Rights with Civil Rights. What resulted was one of the most profound advancements in government the world has ever known.

As we scutter back to the 21st century, keep in mind the historical background of the Enlightenment’s influence on American politics.

The clear message coming from illegal aliens marching in our streets is that they demand and deserve Civil Rights. But do non-citizens have the right to demand anything from a foreign government? The clear answer is: no. No, non-citizens do not have Civil Rights from foreign governments. For example, Mexicans have Civil Rights in Mexico, and nowhere else.

I can also firmly say that no one questions the fact that illegal aliens have Natural Rights before God. They have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – but it is their own nation that is responsible for giving them these rights, and not a foreign nation like the United States of America. Mexicans have made a social contract with the government of Mexico, and it is the Mexican people’s responsibility to “alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

It might be asked: “Upon what basis are they demanding Civil Rights from a foreign government like the United States?” I have heard proponents of illegal immigration compare illegal aliens to the American colonies declaring independence and even the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.

The American colonists argued that the English King failed to keep his end of the social contract with his subjects by not protecting their Natural Rights through Civil Rights. Illegals, since they have no Civil Rights under the U.S. Constitution, cannot claim that their Natural Rights are being denied by the American government.

Then there’s the Civil Rights Movement, whose aim it was to win the Civil Liberties being denied to black citizens. Black Americans were being denied liberties rightfully theirs, and by contrast, illegals aren’t being denied any liberties because the U.S. Constitution doesn’t apply to them.

I think the debate surrounding illegal immigration would be greatly benefited if both sides took the time to review the historical information over these same issues.

Count Casie

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Explaining the Trinity: Starting from Scratch

In my Wednesday Night junior high class at church, I have completed Parts 1 and 2 of my Trinity series. So far we have covered (1) absolute monotheism, and (2) three distinct persons sharing the one Being of God. Part 3 will explain that the three divine persons are coequal and coeternal. With the Trinity on my mind, I thought you might benefit from how I have explained the Trinity to a Jehovah’s Witness – which forced me to define the doctrine as though I was starting from scratch. Here is the first email response to my dialogue with “TJ” (some of you might remember my dialogue with him a few months back):



Thanks for the quick reply. You can call me Casey. "Rusty" is a nickname, though I don't mind being called that either. It's up to you.

I very much appreciate your comments about acting Christlike during our discussion. I agree 100%. The only reason I want to defend that the Bible teaches the Triunity of God is because I am passionate about the subject. I love the Trinity. I'm sure you can say the same of your Unitarian beliefs about Jehovah. That said, I would never question your sincerity. And unlike so many in our day, we both care about the truth. I respect that about you already.

As far as my ultimate authority goes - I do hold to the Reformed principle of Sola Scriptura, which can be summarized as this: The God-breathed Scriptures are sufficient to function as the regular rule of faith for the Church in all things pertaining to life, godliness, faith and practice. The Scriptures are clear and perspicuous, and free from error. God has preserved His Word to be the means by which He speaks to the Church today, for as Jesus said in Matthew 22:31, "Have you not read what was spoken to you by God saying..." and then cites the Old Testament.

You said: "My understanding of the Trinity is tailored to whomever I encounter. Sometimes people I meet describe the Trinity in terms that you would likely find plain wrong. It is not my duty to 'correct' them, I just deal with their current beliefs and try to show them what the Bible says in comparison."

It's sad but true that many Trinitarians are unable to defend the doctrine of the Trinity. Even more disappointing is the fact that many Trinitarians are also unable to define it properly.

The historic orthodox ("orthodox" is here used not referring to the Greek Orthodox Church, but to "universal" Christian teaching) definition of the Christian faith can be summed up with one sentence: Within the one Being that is God, there eternally exists three coequal and coeternal persons; namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

There is obviously a lot of information packed into this summary statement. At its core is the belief in monotheism - that there is only one true God. In Isaiah 43:10 we read: "10 "You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me." Yahweh, or as you say, Jehovah, declares that there were no Gods before Him, and there will be none after Him. Indeed, as Isaiah 44:6 tells us, Yahweh is the first and the last, apart from Yahweh there is no God. This is Biblical monotheism: Yahweh, the only true God.

Before I continue, I need to define two terms that are crucial when talking about the Trinity. The terms are "being" and "person." Let me use an example to help with my explanation ... Here I have in my hand my cell phone. My cell phone has being. This is to say that my cell phone exists. But my cell phone has no personality. I can talk to my cell phone all day long and it will never once understand what I am saying. It cannot think. It does not have the ability to speak of itself as "I" or "Me." On the other hand, I also have being. I exist. Though unlike my cell phone, I have personality. I have personhood. I can communicate, think, and reason. I can use personal pronouns of myself. Obviously then, being can exist without personality (like the cell phone), or being can exist with personality (as is the case with human beings).

Unfortunately, the term "person" many times carries with it a lot of baggage. This is because in our experience as human beings, each human being has one personality sharing his/her being.

Now we are ready for the next part of our definition ...

There are three divine persons sharing the one being of God. These three persons are coequal, as to their divine nature. Though the persons have differing roles, this in no way makes one person greater than another as to their nature. Another way of saying this is that difference in function does not mean inferiority in nature.

The three persons are also coeternal. This simply means that each of the persons has eternally existed. There was never a time when the Father was not, the Son was not, or the Holy Spirit was not. They have eternally had fellowship, and a loving relationship towards each other. One was not before the other. Each of the persons is eternal.

Yahweh's being is undivided and indivisible. This means that God's being cannot be "divided up." Obviously then, the Trinity does not teach that God's being is "split" into thirds: the Father making up one third, the Son another third, and the Holy Spirit the remaining third. Rather, each of the divine persons fully share God's being as they are each fully God. For the sake of this discussion I will also add that each of the persons shares the being of Yahweh. Therefore, the Father is Yahweh, the Son is Yahweh, and the Holy Spirit is Yahweh. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit fully share Yahweh's being. (Repetitive, I know. But I want to be clear).

As a side note, it would be inappropriate to say that the Trinity teaches "Three Beings are one Being," or "Three Persons are one Person." Rather, the Trinity teaches that there are three persons within the one being of God. Again, the difference between "being" and "person" must be distinguished in our discussion.

One last side note, Trinitarians do not believe that the Father is the Son, or that the Son is the Holy Spirit, or that the Father is the Holy Spirit ... or any way you want to put it =). We recognize the distinction between the three persons. Yet these three divine persons share the one being of God.

I believe in the doctrine of the Trinity because the Bible teaches it. I do not believe the Trinity because of church councils, creeds or confessions. I believe the Bible teaches the triunity of God. In fact, I believe the gospel is Trinitarian - in that each of the persons is involved in the salvation of God's elect people.

As I mentioned on my blog, there are three "foundations" to the doctrine of the Trinity: (1) Monotheism – the belief that there is only one true God; (2) there are three divine persons within the one Being of God; (3) the three persons are coequal and coeternal.

There you have it - a brief summation of the doctrine of the Trinity. Many fine works have been written on the subject, but this should suffice for our discussion.

Thanks TJ,

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

More on Immigration

There is a tendency among readers to skip blogspot entries. WARNING: the following entry contains blogspot material. But before you close the window to my blog, please take the time to read the following link on the immigration issue:

Unless you are a liberal, I guarantee that you will enjoy this:

Count Casie

Monday, April 10, 2006

Welcome to America: Obey Our Laws

“As many as 100 cities across the country served as hosts Monday to rallies and protests against any get-tough measures federal lawmakers are considering to crack down on illegal immigration.

Protests were held in cities such as Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Phoenix, and Texas cities such as Houston, Austin and El Paso. In North Carolina and Dallas, immigrant groups called for an economic boycott to show their financial impact. Rally participants sang "We Shall Overcome" in Spanish at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson.” (,2933,191142,00.html).

Here in Phoenix, 100,000 marched through the downtown area presenting their demands to the nation: (1) citizenship for those illegally here, and (2) have an open border.

I wonder if illegal immigrants know that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them. They do not have the right to assemble because they cannot lawfully assemble. What’s more – we’re wasting American tax dollars so they can protest.

The solution to this problem is simple: illegals should willfully get out. Unfortunately, we all know that will never happen. We transport illegals back across the border and they simply come back. What we need to do FIRST is protect our borders, SECOND force businesses to hire legal residents, and THEN we can discuss possible immigration reforms.

Granting a mass amnesty which rewards illegal behavior is definitely not the solution. That will only result in more illegal immigration!

“We’re not criminals,” they say. Yes, you are. You say you want to be part of this great nation yet you demonstrate your willingness to break our laws. What have you done to deserve citizenship? Your track record speaks against you. We don’t want lawbreakers here. Go home. We only want those who obey our laws and use the legal means of acquiring legal status.

“But, but, it’s not fair! It’s too difficult to become a U.S. citizen!” Boohoo. The laws are in place for a reason. Illegals are not part of the political process. It doesn’t matter what they want. What matters is what the American people want.

If you’re an American citizen and you don’t like it, change the law. If you’re an illegal and you don’t like it, go home.

The only arguments we hear from the liberal Left are based on emotion. They depend on tugging the heart strings. They lack logic, and more importantly, the law. Laws are to be obeyed. End of story. The end.

I pray God would grant repentance to the millions of illegals so they would willingly obey our laws and go home.

Finally, I pray that God would grant wisdom to our nation’s leaders so they might protect our laws.

Offended by Illegals,

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"They Must Be Silenced" Sermon Audio

Thursday, March 16th I posted my notes from my pastor’s sermon titled: “False Teachers” that was delivered on March 5th. For those interested, our church website was updated with the link (linked above) to that sermon in Realplayer format. If you’ve ever dealt with false teachers, you will enjoy this sermon. For those of you who have yet to encounter false teachers, it is likely that you will at some point during your journey through this life. For wherever the Spirit of God does a work, the Devil is sure to raise up false teachers to trouble the Church.

May we be found ready to properly handle the false teacher ...

Case of Base

Irony of Ironies!

For the second time in a week, millions of protestors filled the streets of Paris and other parts of France. The protestors are comprised mostly of “twenty-somethings” who oppose “the first job contract,” a new law making it easier for employers to fire younger workers in hopes of creating 80,000+ new jobs without government assistance. The basic idea behind this law is to create a more competitive job market, which will in turn allow for a more productive economy.

I applaud the French government for such efforts. This is a major step away from Socialism towards Capitalism (not that the French are Socialists in the purest sense).

These riots are the result of babying an entire generation now accustomed to having their entire life handed to them on a silver platter. From the time they’re born, the government pays for their schooling, including their university education – and I won’t mention that their universities are miserable failures compared to the rest of modern states. During and after college, French youth have complete job security. Until recently, French law did not allow firing workers for poor job performance. Economic growth is grossly stunted under these conditions. Bosses need to be able to hire and fire employees. Less government involvement in the economy produces more economic growth.

““This is our big chance as a generation, because we're all united. Me alone, I can't do anything, but all of us together are going to achieve our goal,” said Ivan Dion, a 17-year-old high school student at the Paris march.” (,2933,188931,00.html).

What exactly is your goal Ivan? Obviously you want “the first job contract” law overturned. But isn’t your real goal to have job security? Do you really believe that you have job security under a system that doesn’t create more jobs? Because you see, Ivan, once you begin looking for a career, you might not be able to compete for a job because no new jobs have been created.

Ivan makes the same mistake that liberals here in the U.S. make when it comes to illegal immigration: a failure to think long-term. If you’re only looking for a quick fix, then by all means let’s have the French government make enough programs to create 80,000+ jobs. The problem won’t be felt for years to come, so hey, eat, drink and be merry. Don’t worry, be happy, right? Wrong. You have to worry and show concern for the economy, Ivan. You should be thankful that your government is trying to give you more freedom!

It is the irony of ironies that the French, who are known historically for protests and violent revolutions to win freedoms, are now protesting to give the government more control over their lives. No longer do “Post-Enlightenments” protest for natural rights, social/government contracts or morality. Today, they protest and riot to turn over freedoms to the government. What has happened to the backbone of the French people?! Where is the strength they displayed during the French Revolution? The Philosophes would be turning in their graves if they saw the pitiful state of their people.

Does anyone else find it strange that all of the latest protests have been made up by those dependent on the government? The French youth believe the government should provide them with jobs. Here in America, illegal aliens believe the government should continue to provide for them. There is a consistent theme here folks: liberalism does not work in a fallen world, and we are seeing this before our very eyes.

I hope that Americans are paying attention to these ridiculous protests in France. Let’s keep a free economy, and push for less government involvement here in our own land.

Capitalism is a beautiful thing,

Monday, April 03, 2006

An Unexpected Witnessing Opportunity

I was at Bucks this weekend – surprise surprise – in hopes of plowing through another ECM book. I had my coffee. I had my usual table. I opened up the book to begin reading about poor ecclesiology when someone asked, “Whatchya reading?” Unsure if I was the one being addressed, I glanced up to discover a woman looking directly at me who had clearly asked the question. I briefly explained what The Relevant Church was all about and my purpose for reading it.

“Are you a Christian?” the woman asked.


“Protestant or Catholic?”

“Protestant,” I said.

“I’m a devout Catholic. In fact I prep our parish’s kids for Confirmation.”

We introduced ourselves and had a polite discussion for a bit, when she told me her grandma once tried to convert her to Protestantism. Apparently her grandma wasn’t able to communicate the differences between “the Roman Church” and Evangelicals.

I thought aloud, “The two principals of the Reformation are Sola Scriptura and Justification by Faith Alone.”

“Oh, I’m familiar with Sola Scriptura,” she said, “but I’ve not heard a clear explanation of Justification by Faith Alone. Would you like to tell me about it?”

In so many words I answered: “Yes.” =)

We spent most of our time in Romans 3-5. I took her straight through Paul’s argument. The consequences of sin. Christ, the perfect Savior. Regeneration. Faith. Double imputation.

More than once she commented, “Wow. That’s not what we believe at all.”

When I finished with my presentation she gave an accurate summation of the gospel Rome offers: cleansing of original sin with baptism, salvific grace through the sacraments of the church, cooperation with the grace of God, good works are meritorious for salvation, bearing one’s own guilt and being punished for one’s own sin, purgatory, then and only then one is justified. Quite the contrast.

I was able to mention some resources that AOMin offers: books, DVD’s, CD’s. She said she looks forward to studying the Protestant doctrine of Sola Fide on her own – which she is more than capable of doing.

All in all it was an encouraging conversation. Pray for Pearl, that God might be pleased to grant to her repentance unto life.