Sunday, November 22, 2009

Are You Regularly at the Table of the Lord?

"The Invitation" by Morgan Weistling

The story of David’s kindness to Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s last living son) in 2 Samuel 9 is a beautiful picture of the Gospel. Mephibosheth, lame in both feet and trembling in fear, prostrated himself before the king and asked, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” (v. 8).

Under the monarch’s rule in the ancient near east, a deposed ruler’s children and descendants were generally annihilated by the reigning king in order to prevent a future insurrection. David, however, because of his covenant with Jonathan, (in 1 Samuel 20), sought to show “kindness” to remaining members of his immediate household. As the orphaned cripple trembled before him, uncertain of his fate, David had said, “Don’t be afraid, for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

This “kindness”, alternately translated “loving-kindness”, “mercy”, and “love” is the Hebrew word “chesed”, translated “agape” in Greek, and it carries the image of covenantal goodness and a commitment to give grace for another’s sake. More than just sparing his life, King David had the orphan cripple seated at his own table for all of his meals henceforth. The king had him brought forth from Lo-Debar (lit. “wasteland”), where he was no doubt in hiding for his life. Mephibosheth lived out the rest of his life in the king’s palace, enjoying a son’s fellowship and access to him. What a privilege!

To sit at the king’s table was no small thing. Even today, to be personally seated near a monarch or president speaks of honor, privilege and distinction. God Himself, Lord over all monarchs, repeatedly bids us to come to His table throughout Scripture. The table of the King represents:

1) Freedom (from brokenness). Like the lame exile of 2 Samuel, we cannot presume to hobble up to our Sovereign Ruler on our own strength. Judicially, we would have every reason to tremble in fear, but He has offered us relationship and intimacy even the angels cannot know. Why? Because He is gracious.

2) Family (becoming a child of the King). Because of Christ’s work on our behalf, we are fully accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6) and made co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17). No longer an angry Judge (as He is to unbelievers), God is now our loving Father and we are encouraged to approach Him with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Our relationship to Him as sons and daughters is eternal and irrevocable.

3) Fellowship. We are not alone anymore! Part of the joy of the King’s table, as at Thanksgiving or any other celebratory meal, is the presence of others and the joy that comes from relationship with them. When all is not joy and leisure, fellowship with other members of the Body of Christ means being held up at times. More than likely, Mephibosheth had to be carried to King David’s table each day. In fact, he probably had to be carried into the king’s presence when David first sent for him. It’s okay if you need to be helped or even carried in to the King’s table. The important thing is that you are there!

4) Food (being fed and satisfied). Scriptural mention of food speaks of abundance; a dearth of God’s Word (as during the 400-year inter-Testamental period) is described as a “famine”. God’s food is His Word. He wants to satisfy us, regularly and completely, so that we will not hunger or thirst again (John 4:12-14). His Word truly is the bread of life, “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:17).

So what are some reasons we are not there at the Lord’s “table” regularly, if, in fact, we have been invited?

1) Are you crippled by who you are? Perhaps you don’t think you are “good enough”, and shrink away from the King’s invitation. Oh, you may have trusted Him for salvation, but you shy away from the intimate, ongoing communion that is so necessary to a dynamic relationship with Christ. Well, the truth is – YOU’RE NOT “good enough” – but because He is, you are freely accepted and totally loved. Don’t be “crippled” by some secret, shameful sin or what is in your past that makes you wonder “how could he love me?” The King doesn’t see you as a “dead dog”, but He delights in pouring out His grace and mercy on you for His own sake. It matters not who you are; but only Whose you are.

2) Maybe you’re still in Lo-Debar. Are you still in the barren place, hiding from God? Or have you, like the Prodigal Son of Luke 15, heard His voice and even dwelt in His household, but have run off to the “wasteland” far from the King and His people? He calls you to Jerusalem – and His table.

3) “Well, Lord, I’ve been busy…” Like the ruler’s subjects of Luke 14, we have all sorts of excuses to keep us from fellowship with God. We don’t know what we’re missing! The blessing God wants to give you only comes if we’re there at His table – and there regularly. Often, we find we are not lingering at the King’s Table because we’re simply not feeling hungry. And why might that be?

Because we’re eating junk. If my kids fill up on Cheese Puffs and cookies an hour before dinner, I cannot expect them to have much of an appetite. The same thing applies spiritually – if we’re filled with something else – eating food that’s not the Word of God – we will be less likely to come eagerly to the table of the Lord when He calls. How much time do you spend watching TV that is not edifying? Facebook? Blogs (even Christian ones) that do not pass the Philippians 4:8* test? Do you go down rabbit trails in your spiritual road, engaging in debate simply for debate’s sake? All of these endeavors (some of which I have indulged at various times) are “spiritual junk food”.

4) Maybe, like Ziba, you’re just serving the wrong master. Have you been born again? Jesus bids all to come to Him, that they may have eternal life (John 5:40).

Like Mephibosheth, choose to eat at the table of the Lord regularly. It is the only way to cultivate intimacy with the Lord, learn what He requires and be changed by Him inwardly in order to obey, and to enjoy true fellowship with our spiritual siblings.

*"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Philippians 4:8).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Another Great Citation...

...from Kevin at Puritan Fellowship:

Jesus Died For All -Robert Murray M'Cheyne On The Free And Well Meant Offer of the Gospel

"It is nowhere said in the Bible that Christ died for this sinner or that sinner. If you are waiting till you find your own name in the Bible, you will wait for ever. But it is said a few verses before that: "He tasted death for everyman:" and again : "He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world." Not that all men are saved by Him. Ah, no! the most never come to Jesus, and are lost! but this shows that any sinner may come, even the chief of sinners, and take Christ as his own Saviour, Come you then, anxious soul; say you, He is my refuge and my fortress; and then, be anxious, if you can."~Robert Murray M'Cheyne from sermon on Heb 3:1

Simple, really. So why complicate it? In what sense is Atonement Limited? Only ion the sense a prideful and stubborn heart would limit itself from tasting the riches of Christ's grace.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Musings from the Landscape of Church Sub-culture

My 6-year-old son got to select a prize from the AWANA store the other night for memorizing Bible verses. (For the uninitiated and you non-fundies, AWANA is an evangelical Bible club for kids).

He came home from church with a missile launcher. (Now that's a sentence I've never typed before). For some reason, I find this hilariously ironic. How often do you see rocket launchers at church, even if they're only Nerf? I went to a church once where the nursery director wouldn't let my son walk in with a (mostly-empty) water gun, because it was such a non-Christian influence.

Our church gives out missile launchers. Interesting.

There is something in evangelical circles that makes people vaguely uncomfortable with women who are actually pretty sharp theologically. They don't know what to do with them, so they invite them to join committees. There seems to be an unwritten assumption that "serving in ministry" means you would love to do the flower arrangements for the ubiquitous "Ladies Luncheons". That is, when you're not busy homeschooling your kids and making pie crusts from scratch.

I am not that woman, not even a little bit. I guess that's okay since my husband doesn't really like pie anyway.


I received the following comment from a well-known Christian literary agency the other day:

"My colleagues and I agreed that your writing is absolutely refreshing. You have honed your craft to a level that most writers, unfortunately, do not reach. Marie, you also bring a unique perspective to a growing bookshelf of ideas about how Christians should view addiction recovery and counseling. Your perspective is extremely conservative, in a vein with which we would identify ourselves. We like your approach and we like your book idea."

I appreciated the feedback, and was pretty pumped.

Is it just me, or are some Reformed Christian authors just too darned Reformed for their own good? Don't get me wrong; the Reformers were the heroes of the faith who rescued biblical Christianity from the mysticism and superstition of the Dark Ages. Currently,the Reformed camp has and is producing FAR better quality writing than most of their brethren (the sort Phil Johnson labels "evangellybeans"), but sometimes in the quest for doctrinal precision and endless parsing, the relational aspect of Christ's love is lost. Taking an extreme position on the Doctrines of Grace can leave one scratching one's head.

For example, and I'm not naming names here, a couple of my favorite homeboys state that when sharing the Gospel with a potential convert, one should never tell him that "Christ died for [his] sins because you have no way of knowing if that individual is one of the elect or not." Um......alrighty then. So...what exactly should we tell him? "Hey! I have great news! Christ might have died for your sins!"

Doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

Jesus looked at the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:20-22), loved him, and bid him come and follow Him. And the guy still walked away (which I find staggering). Repeatedly, we see that the invitation is open to all...we all have a chance to be one of "the elect".

Some folks seek to be more Calvinistic than Calvin.

Or take my recent example, of how having a high view of God precludes focusing on our own "felt needs", and that it is blasphemous to think in terms of OUR own value. I get that we are totally depraved, and the Atonement speaks of HIS infinite worth, glory and value....but...several places in Scripture, God's Word indicates that we are precious to Him. If we were truly worthless to God, He never would have sent His Son. I can see where there's a danger to making the Cross all about us, rather than about God (and people do), but even the Puritans recognized Christ's love for the individual.

I agree God does not exist to meet our emotional needs, but whaddya do when you have a tough day? Or do Reformed peeps never have a tough day? I'd rather pour my heart out to God than post about it on Facebook, as some folks do. Sometimes, after reading about the proper view of God, I actually have a tough time praying. I find it intimidating and don't really know what to talk I wind up on Blogger instead. The Reformers themselves were passionate, emotional, introspective people. Sometimes in today's literary Reformed camp, one can learn much but feel nothing. One believer I know wrote: "I loved Reformed people, but I loath their "We are the Christian Intellectual Elite" complex. When Christianity is all head and no heart... yep, the balance is lost."

Yep, indeed. Let's make sure it's Jesus Christ we're worshipping, and not John Calvin.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Nun's Story (Interview)

Interview of ex-Catholic nun and monk, "A Nun's Story". Both express sadness and amazement at the heretical, tragic belief that souls can be saved by the suffering of others. (The implication of such dogma is that Christ's blood is not sufficient to save). Millions seek to find "sanctifying grace" apart from the Word of God, which only leads to misery.

Interesting at 20:10, where he starts discussing Catholicism's "joining hands" with Buddhism and Hinduism (contemplative spirituality) - and reads directly from Vatican Council II documents (1965) declaring acceptance of these false religions. The former monk (Richard) did a great job pin-pointing the New Age philosophy permeating RCC doctrine. (Jesuit priests teaching yoga? Why am I not surprised).

Praise God He removed the blinders from the eyes of these two and so many others who are coming to a saving faith in Christ alone. Parts of their stories of the monastic life are truly horrifying.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Random Thoughts and Scattered Sharing...

"The believer is unspeakably precious in the eyes of Christ, and Christ is unspeakably precious in the eyes of the believer."~Robert Murray M'Cheyne (quoted over at Puritan Fellowship, which has some wonderful material arguing against an extreme application of Limited Atonement from historical Christianity). Kevin, your sermons and the excerpts you post are a real blessing to many of us.

Like this gem from Spurgeon on the love of Christ and abiding in Him. Well done.


Ha! This morning's patient just canceled at work. Thus I can stay home and blog, send my proposal to agents....and maybe, just maybe, wash the kitchen floor. Oh, the joy.

I need snow tires. Like now. It's mid-November, and in New England, that's really living on the edge with bald tires.


To answer the question 3 of you e-mailed me about: NO. I am NOT the same Theogeek who is on Twitter. Different person. I have 2 blogs, 2 e-mails, a Facebook account, a job and 4 kids. Twitter is the one thing I don't do (but I'm sure with a name like that, he/she has some interesting Tweets).


To my faithful reader in Colorado, who visits every day, wouldn't it be easier to just bookmark my blog? That way you wouldn't have to search "Theogeek" every time. Glad you're here and enjoying my posts. :)


Here's a great idea for making Christmas more meaningful, especially if you have kids: The Salvation Army Online Giving Tree, hosted by JC Penney. You don't have to do this through a church/group program to participate. All you have to do is click on the link, enter your zipcode and e-mail, and choose a needy child by age and gender from your local Salvation Army's online registry. You will see his or her gift needs - usually a warm winter jacket; boots; a toy - and you will receive an e-mail with the child's identity number and address of the Salvation Army office where you may bring the donation.

For those who don't care to go to the mall, you can shop online - and JC Penney provides FREE SHIPPING if you purchase gifts from their site. However, this is a cool way to get your own children excited about Christmas - by involving them. Choose a child the same age and sex as your own child(ren), then bring them to the store with you. Let THEM pick out the gifts, and make a personal Christmas card for their "Angel Tree" friend.

My kids have been bugging me about going shopping, and it's not even Thanksgiving yet. It's gratifying to see your children excited about surprising someone else for the holiday! The deadline for gift drop-offs is December 14th, I believe.

I wish I had more time to read Ed Buckley's "Why Christians Can't Trust Psychology". I quoted him several times in my own book, but getting through the entire book seems to elude me. I have the attention span of a gnat. Hey - maybe I have Adult Onset Attention Deficit Disorder! Yeah, that must be it.

One of the things I love most about God, on top of everything else I love about Him, is that He forgives instantly and repeatedly upon repentance of the believer. The tenderness of His love cuts right through the shame and the hardness that comes from self-righteousness. It's human nature to want to "run and hide", but His Holy Spirit invariably calls to mind a verse, a passage, a specific incident from Scripture that speaks directly to the sinner's current predicament.

Difficult, unsaved relatives who you are dreading seeing during the holidays? Remember, the Lord Jesus had dinner with Pharisees who invited Him. It may be a challenge, but Christ wants you to go. He is faithful and will provide ample opportunities for you to be salt and light. (Psst...don't take the bait when they try to put you on the spot for being a Christian.) If you get into an apologetics debate, be sure you have the goods to back it up...just do so lovingly. Neil's blog has some great resources to help you brush up if need be, but most importantly stay in the Word and pray for those "Pharisees" in your life who are perishing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monergism for Dummies

"I prayed a prayer." "I asked Jesus into my heart." "I accepted Christ and came to the Lord." "I chose Jesus."

All of these cliche catch-phrases are ways you will occasionally hear people describe their conversion experiences. The problem is, as Paul Washer will famously point out, such phrases are neither biblical nor accurately describe regeneration, which is a supernatural act of God. Furthermore, such terminology and the easy-believism theology it promotes has never been part of evangelical doctrine until the last 50 or so years.

Being born again is not like getting a flu-shot. A one-time "decision", either based on intellectual assent or fleeting emotion, does not necessarily a true convert make.

This is not to say that an individual's conversion is on a continuum, is based upon performance, or that one can lose his or her salvation post-conversion. Once an individual is in Christ, he or she is saved indeed and is promised the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence. However, what is often overlooked in evangelical (and, increasingly, Reformed) circles is the fact that God does the drawing. (See John 6:37, 15:16; Romans 8-9). We do not "pick Jesus", notwithstanding a certain T-shirt's message. This is known as effectual calling and it means that unless God opens an individual's spiritual eyes, he is literally incapable of overcoming his natural hardness of heart and surrendering to Christ's lordship.

"But wait! Doesn't God call us to choose Him? Jesus continually invites ALL to come to Him. He gave us free will!" Yes, He did. The Bible says, "...those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Romans 8:30). It also says ""Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven," (Matt. 3:22), "...whoever believes in Him shall not perish..." (John 3:16), and records Christ's invitation to all who would follow Him, "Come to Me, all who are weary....".

And let's not forget the truth recorded in 2 Peter 3:9, most often used to negate the Calvinistic Doctrines of Grace: "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." How these truths work together is a mystery, but we can draw at least two conclusions from them: 1) It is God's desire that all men repent and be saved; 2) no one can repent unless the Father draws him.

Salvation is Entirely an Act of God

The problem with the evan-jargon cited above, besides the fact that it reduces salvation to a snap decision which leaves repentance out of the equation, is that it puts man in control of his own eternal destiny. "Well...wait. Don't we have that choice to make?" Sure. If you reject Christ, (which in essence you do if you believe salvation is by anything other than grace through faith), you will spend eternity in hell. No matter how you slice it, though, you cannot save yourself. Not even partially. The philosophy that salvation is brought about by co-operation between man and God is known as synergism, and it is wrong because it deflects some of the glory, or "credit" if you like, from God. HE and HE ALONG can regenerate the spirit awakened to Him. God alone does the saving.

Our faith in Christ, (which in itself is a gift), is the condition on which our salvation rests. That condition was graciously set by God. The faith itself could not be produced apart from Him, and it is only because of His mercy that Christ dwells within us. The faith is a prerequisite, but God is still the Savior (not the faith itself).

Frankly, one does not have to be a died-in-the-wool 5-point Calvinist to realize that monergism is the correct soteriological stance. You may disagree to some extent with Limited Atonement and see Irresistable Grace as saying more than the Bible does, yet still be a monergist. It really isn't rocket science. While it remains somewhat of a divine mystery how our will and God's election correspond, a high view of God prohibits us from taking any credit at all in our own salvation.

Think of it this way: if a man is drowning and someone puts a life preserver down into the water - or Jesus, as in the painting above, offers Peter His arm, can the drowning man say he helped to save himself? No. Did he "partially" save himself? No. The rescuer saved him. However, if he had refused to grab the other's arm, he would have drowned. That, perhaps, is where the "choice" lies. By no means, however, was the drowning man's rescue a joint effort.

Neither is your salvation. Yet you still need to grab the life preserver.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

You Just Might Be a Hyper-Calvinist if....

I've been planning a serious post on monergism (and why you don't have to be a 5-pointer to embrace it) for some time now, but lately have been insanely busy between work and my book revisions. It will be will the promised review of Don Kimrey's "God's Comeback Kids". Until such a time as we can ponder these gems of the Gospel and savor the riches of the Reformation, enjoy a little theo-geek humor...courtesy of the guys at purgutario.

Help! I'm Going Hyper!

25 warning signs that you might be obsessing about Calvinism:

1. For romantic occasions, you prefer to give/get

instead of

2. You hear some people talking about the new Johnny C. movie and you instantly think


3. You leave your Conservative Reformed Baptist Congregation to start a house church after hearing the Pastor use the word “Choose” in a sermon.

4. You have a picture of

on your

5. You know what a “remonstrant” is.

6. You used to love this guy, but these CDs are now in your “Do Not Play Until God Grants Them Repentance” box:

7. Without me giving last names, you still know who I’m referring to:


8. Whenever you try to persuade people about the “Doctrines of Grace” all they hear is a


9. When people tell you they’re “Four Pointers” you already know they are stuck on the

10. Every book you read is endorsed by:

11. You’ve seen this avatar repeatedly in the comment section on your blog:

12. Your yearly personal Bible-Verse Memory Program consists of Romans 9, again.

13. Someone tells you they go to

and you think they’re going

14. You attach an extra “Lord Willing” onto your original “Lord Willing” just in case.

15. The word “Puritan” appears as a required character trait in your profile on

16. You’ve vacationed at

17. You hear a news story about some criminals being “reformed” and your first thought is to wonder how many criminals are arminians.

18. Your browser’s home page is set to the

19. On at least 4 different blogs, you end up in extended wars with arminians arguing about God’s Sovereignty. Your final comment always being a variation of

20. Over 75% of your personal library is published by


21. No matter what conference you go to one or more or all of these guys is/are speaking:

22. You’ve washed your little kid’s mouth out with soap for saying “iMonk”

23. You’re looking under your big kid’s bed and find

and you are way more upset then the time you found

24. All your kids can recite

25. You’ve just deleted PURGATORIO from you Blogroll