Leviticus 10: Thoughts on the long obedience of the Regulative Principle

Leviticus 10:1-3  Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.'” And Aaron held his peace.

I am a proponent of the regulative principle of worship.[1] I believe we should only approach God in worship on his terms. I believe the worship “it truth” means doing what God says: not doing more, and not doing less. Nevertheless, this ethos can be presented in a less than ethical way. Those who hold to the regulative principle can certainly include Leviticus 10 in their arsenal of passages. And I am afraid that this passage, and others like it, is too often used in just that way: as a weapon to bludgeon the opposition.

God is particular about how e is worshipped. He did not really leave anything to the imagination. God’s instructions for worship even included the recipe for the incense he wanted to be burned in his presence (Ex. 30:34-38). God was concerned about the smell of the place of worship. Selah.

For some reason Nadab and Abihu decided to innovate. Any probing into why they made such a decision is pure conjecture. Scripture simply gives us no indication why Aaron’s sons did such a thing. Outside of this passage there is no indication they were scoundrels like Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas.[2] In fact, Nadab and Abihu were given the privilege of going up Mount Horeb with Moses and seeing God (Ex. 24:9-10). The only possible hint as to the reason for their sin in Leviticus might be in 10:8-11 where Moses institutes the command that serving priests are not to drink any alcohol. Perhaps Nadab and Abihu entered their service drunk and offered their worship in a stupor.

Whether it was because of drunkenness or not, this account serves to remind us of one of the greatest dangers in worship: complacency. I do not think Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire for any nefarious purposes. I do not think they were trying to worship idols. I think they were simply bored with the mundane-ness of it all. Even if the reason for their sin was drunkenness, why would you get drunk before doing your job? You do not think your job is important enough to be sober for. Nadab and Abihu had seen indescribable things; they had unbelievable experiences. They ate meals with God! (Ex. 24:11) Then they had to- literally- come back down to earth. Perhaps they just got bored with the routine of it all.

In my mind this is one of the greatest dangers for those who hold to the regulative principle. How long can one continue to just sing, pray, give, read, and preach? You look around and see groups of people using skits, movies, performances, bands, etc. and their tribe only increases. People get worn down. How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long do we have to sing the same tired old songs? How long do we have to listen to the preacher drone on…and on? We have been doing this forever and nothing happens. Everything is stale.

Why do people offer strange fire to the Lord? Why do they seek to be innovators in worship? There are times when people simply need to be told to toe the line. But wouldn’t it be more effective to get them to love the line instead? I am not sure how helpful it is to use Leviticus 10 to teach people to worship God God’s way, or else. Especially when they can look around and see that God is clearly not sending fire to consume everyone who worships him in ways he has not prescribed. In worship, as in life, we need to walk by faith not sight.

I pray that I never become bored with obedience. I pray that I never succumb to the allurement of relevance; the comfort of success; the excitement of innovation. But how is this going to happen? I must walk by faith and not by sight. I must content myself with the knowledge of God’s approval. His applause in my spirit must be reckoned louder than the applause of man in my ears. Apparently, God is not too interested in innovation. If he is not, why should I be?

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Love is the issue. Following the regulative principle is to worship what marriage is to a man and woman. Many fall to the temptation of the excitement of an affair; to the freedom of non-commitment. It is no different in worship. Following the regulative principle is settling in for a lifetime of commitment. It is a determination to love: a determination to love the law of God and follow it. The road of faithfulness is long. It can be tiresome. It can be boring. But it ends in a good place.


[1] The regulative principle is the idea that God should only be worshipped according to the explicit instruction of Scripture: worship should only include what God has specifically commanded. This is in contrast to the normative principle which states that can be worshipped in any way as long as he has not given a command against it. And in contrast to the seeker-sensitive movement which states God can be worshipped in any way that attracts a crowd.

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Why do I read the church fathers?

Why do I read the church fathers? Why, after thousands of years do I prefer their voice to that of my contemporaries? One reason is that they were not limp wristed theological pansies. The fathers are bold, assertive, certain: yes, even when they might be wrong. This is not only a reason why I read them, it is a reason they are read at all by anyone. Who really wants to toil through 2,000 year old pacifist theology? What is the point of reading men who are afraid to disagree with others and take a stand on the true meaning of Scripture? Rodney King is good drunk, but a lousy theologian. No, we can’t just all get along.

We are told that God did not really create the world in six days. We need to be open and charitable to those who have other view points. Genesis 1-11 did not really happen it is just a picture or symbol to explain the world we are in. Peace, peace. There are more important things then whether God really created the world and everything in it in the space of six days. Is it really a big deal to believe that God could not, or did not, create the world and everything in it in 6 24-hour days? Couldn’t God have used time, evolution, etc. over thousands of years?

This manner of speech may perhaps be plausible or persuasive to those who know not God, and who liken Him to needy human beings, and to those who cannot immediately and without assistance form anything, but require many instrumentalities to produce what they intend. But it will not be regarded as at all probable by those who know that God stands in need of nothing, and that He created and made all things by His Word, while He neither required angels to assist Him in the production of those things which are made, nor of any power greatly inferior to Himself, and ignorant of the Father, nor of any defect or ignorance, in order that he who should know Him might become man. But He Himself in Himself, after a fashion which we can neither describe nor conceive, predestinating all things, formed them as He pleased, bestowing harmony on all things, and assigning them their own place, and the beginning of their creation. Whom, therefore, shall we believe as to the creation of the world — these heretics who have been mentioned that prate so foolishly and inconsistently on the subject, or the disciples of the Lord, and Moses, who was both a faithful servant of God and a prophet? (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, II.ii.4,5)

Like a breath of fresh air.

Irenaeus identifies what it really comes down to: who are we going to believe? PhDs or prophets? Scientists or apostles? If denying the plain meaning of Scripture is the price for acceptance and respectability it is too high for me. I welcome and embrace the label of narrow-minded literalist. I will stick with the Bible and the men who defended it against all enemies. I have no compulsion to reconcile what Scripture says with what man thinks.

 It is therefore better and more profitable to belong to the simple and unlettered class, and by means of love to attain to nearness to God, than, by imagining ourselves learned and skilful, to be found [among those who are] blasphemous against their own God, inasmuch as they conjure up another God as the Father. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, II.xxvi.1)

The only one can give an authoritative statement about the creation of the universe is the One who was there. He has, and I’ll take him at his word.

 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
Psalm 33:6

 

 

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones Comments on the introductory essays to Genesis in the ESV Study Bible

The introductory articles to Genesis in the ESV Study Bible, “Genesis and History” and “Genesis and Science”, are nothing short of disastrous. That may be putting it too kindly.

We are told that Genesis 1-11 “intended to record history.” We are told that history should not be conceived of as things that actually happened but only events that the author “believes to have happened.” Just in case that is not wishy-washy enough, we are told that the author recorded “real events albeit theologically interpreted.” [Emphasis mine in all quotes.]

In the following quote, D.M. Lloyd-Joes is addressing the Canon Criticism and Biblical Theology movement spearheaded by Brevard Childs, but his words are an apt commentary on the ESV Study Bible’s introductory material on Genesis:

Now we must come back to the Bible. But what they really mean is that we must come back to what they call the ‘message’ of the Old Testament. . . . They reject many of the facts of the Old Testament – they do not accept the early chapters of Genesis as history, they reject the story of the flood, they do not believe the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. They cannot believe such things as these, for their scientific knowledge makes it impossible. But they tell us there is a kind of religious value in it all and that they are willing to take hold of the religious principle and teaching, while they reject the facts as such and regard them as myth. . . . Christian people, in other words, are called upon to adopt an attitude and position that to the world seems utterly ridiculous. To believe these things today is as monstrous to the natural man as it was to the unbelievers of Noah’s day. And yet if we accept the Bible as the Word of God if we believe in this revelation, we must believe that it is an essential part of the teaching. . . . We must not bring natural reason to this; we must accept the Bible as the Word of God, the revelation of God, and live a life of conformity with it. The pure mind, not the scoffing, mocking mind of natural man who rejects the revelation of God, is what we need. God grant that our minds may thus be pure, and utterly free from all modern suggestions and teachings which would have us reject the clear teaching of the revelation of God in His Holy Word. (Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, 171, 174)

The Bible does not need to be excused or explained in words that have no meaning.

It just needs to be believed.

Worship Wars: When did they start? Is it really worth it?

I have commented before about the Bible reading program that I use- reading a chapter a day in ten different places- and how it can alert you to connections between passages of Scripture you may never have noticed before. Today, my readings included the following passages:

You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. (Luke 21:16-19)

So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. And he said to them, “Go, serve the LORD your God. But which ones are to go?” Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old. We will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, for we must hold a feast to the LORD.” But he said to them, “The LORD be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Look, you have some evil purpose in mind. No! Go, the men among you, and serve the LORD, for that is what you are asking.” And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.
Then Pharaoh called Moses and said, “Go, serve the LORD; your little ones also may go with you; only let your flocks and your herds remain behind.” But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the LORD our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there.” But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. (Exodus 10:8-11, 24-27)

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. (Jude 1:3-4, 17-21)

After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king’s command?” And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. (Esther 3:1-6)

There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:12-23)

But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” (Acts 18:12-13)

A common criticism of Christians is that they can be contentious, petty, quarrelsome. I am not sure how many churches have split over the color of the carpet, the curtains, or the pew cushions; whether we sing from a hymnal or screen; whether there is a piano and organ or praise band; whether to use whipped cream or whipping cream on desserts (and yes, I have actually heard of this); but the very first church to split over such matters was one split too many. Nevertheless there are some things worth fighting for.

We used to hear a lot about the “worship wars” within American Christianity. They certainly are not over, as evidenced by issues of Christianity Today in the past several months, but the furor seems to have more or less subsided. Now, we usually hear things along the lines of “agreeing to disagree,” or “is this worth ‘fighting’ over?”

What struck me in today’s readings was that worship has been fought over for thousands of years and will continue to be fought over until the end of time. The reason for the Exodus was not liberation from an oppressive government: it was worship. God rescued Israel to make his name known (Ex. 6:7; 7:5, 17; 8:22; 11:7; 14:4, 18). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were put into the fire because they worshipped God and not Nebuchadnezzar. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai only reverenced God, not man. Jesus warned that his followers would be hated by the world because the world would hate Jesus. Paul was brought to court by the Jews because of worship. Jude warned his readers that persecution and scoffers were not something relegated to the end times, but were present now. The faith, therefore, is always in need of Christians who will contend for it. There have always been, and always will be, those who would seek to undo the right worship of God.

Whether or not “worship wars” was the right term to use; whether or not the war was fought honorably; whether or not the “right” side “won”; worship is worth fighting over.

John Calvin gave two fundamental reasons for the Reformation: “a knowledge, first, of the mode in which God is duly worshipped; and, secondly, of the source from which salvation is obtained.”[i] If you are unfamiliar with that rather well-known quote, you should probably stop, go back, and read it again. The most important thing in the Christian religion is the right worship of God. The second most important thing is the salvation of man.

In reply to Roman Cardinal Jacopo Sadoleto who was trying to bring Geneva back into the arms of Rome, Calvin wrote, “…there is nothing more perilous to our salvation than a preposterous and perverse worship of God. The primary rudiments by which we are wont to train to piety those whom we wish to gain as disciples to Christ are these; viz., not to frame any new worship of God for themselves at random, and after their own pleasure, but to know that the only legitimate worship is that which He himself approved from the beginning.”[ii]

Worship is not a philosophy. It is not an attitude or feeling. Worship is not a tool. It is not a method. Worship is life or death. Just ask Moses and Pharaoh; Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Nebuchadnezzar; Mordecai and Haman; Jesus and Satan; Paul and the Jews; Jude and apostates. Worship is worth fighting for.

 


[i] John Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church (1544; repr. Audobon, N.J.: Old Paths, 1994), 4.

[ii] John C. Olin ed., A Reformation Debate John Calvin and Jacopo Sadoleto (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993), 59.

A zinger from C.S. Lewis

Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.

I am in the midst of reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my daughter and came across this gem last night in The Magician’s Nephew. I thought it was a good follow up to yesterday’s post about men who know more than the Bible. I have noticed several times how well Uncle Andrew pictures our generation and its foibles. Here again, Lewis encapsulates the error of humanity: professing themselves to be wise they became fools.

 

A.W. Tozer on Moses, Creation, and Men who Know Too Much

I have leafed through a book entitled Earth’s Earliest Ages. I will not say that I have actually read it because I quickly concluded that the author seems to believe he knows more about the antediluvian period [the period of earth’s history before the flood in Noah’s day] than Moses did. When I discover a man who claims to know more than Moses on a subject in which Moses is a specialist, I shy away from his book. (A. W. Tozer, Christ the Eternal Son, p. 18)

One thing I have enjoyed about reading through Herman Bavinck’s reformed Dogmatics is his understated way of completely eviscerating views he disagrees with. Such grace in dealing with opponents is rare. Tozer demonstrates the same quality here.

Many called Tozer a 20th century prophet: thankfully he never claimed the title for himself. Nevertheless, Tozer saw things as they really were and was long ago foretelling the demise of the evangelical church. Here again he demonstrates a clear vision of the core issues.

How did Moses know about the Creation, Flood, and world before Abraham? There is a chance that he received this information traditionally: handed down orally or in written form. Given that nearly every ancient culture has similar accounts of these events, this is possible. But given their variety, I find it unlikely. I am of the opinion that Moses received such information directly from the Spirit of the Lord. However Moses received the information, God set his seal upon it by making it Scripture. Whether the Spirit guided Moses is “selecting” the truth from the oral or written sources he had; or whether the Spirit revealed it to Moses directly; Genesis 1-11 is God’s Word given to God’s prophet.

When someone, anyone, challenges the veracity of Genesis 1-11 he makes bold claims. He claims that Moses got it wrong. And since Moses acted as God’s prophet, he claims God got it wrong. When a man makes such claims we are quite justified in ignoring him. He is a three year old claiming to be Superman.

We’ve All Been Left Behind: Now What? A pastor responds to Harold Camping’s latest error

May 21, 2011 has come and gone with nary a sign of the end of the world. Harold Camping has again joined a long list of false prophets who have wrongly predicted the date and time of the rapture and end of the world. I say again, because Harold Camping made the same prediction in 1994. Perhaps he thought the 17 years was enough time for people to forget. What are we to make of him?

Part of me is angry. It is upsetting to see someone attempt to use the Bible to prove his own theories—especially when the Bible directly forbids the kind of date-setting Camping engages in. If we were living under Old Testament guidelines, Harold Camping would be put to death. In Deuteronomy 18:20 the Lord commands, “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.” But thankfully we live under the rule of grace. So what should be our response to Camping and false teachers like him? According to 1 Corinthians 5, those guilty of Old Testament capital offences are to be excommunicated from the church. Believers are to have no fellowship with them and are to pray for their repentance. Harold Camping has dishonored God and his Word, we should pray that he repents of his sins and publically forsakes his errors.

A part of me is saddened. As mentioned previously, Harold Camping is certainly not alone in his errors. There are probably many more doing the same thing today that we just do not know about. But we heard about Camping because he has a large following. It is estimated that his ministry is worth $72 million dollars. He paid for billboards and advertisements to go up all over the country. Followers of Camping quit their jobs; emptied their savings; and sold their possessions to spread his message. What are they going to do now? My heart breaks for those he has lead astray. We must be able to separate false teachers from the “false taught.” We should pray that the Holy Spirit would minster to followers of Camping. We should pray that the Spirit would reveal the truth of Scripture to them. We should pray that the Holy Spirit would take away their faith in a deluded man and give them full confidence in the perfection, sufficiency, and authority of Scripture.

A part of me is actually thankful. I have been pleasantly surprised to see news outlets giving the story fair and accurate coverage. The news accounts I have seen have been careful to point out that even most Christians considered Camping a heretic and repudiated him and his teaching. Nevertheless, the popular response has been very informative. The general public, talk show hosts on radio and T.V., social media like Twitter and Facebook have not been mocking Camping—they have been mocking the very idea of the return of Christ and the end of the world.

Peter wrote, “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4). If you have listened and watched carefully, you will have noticed that scoffers and scoffing accurately describes the reaction of unbelievers to the idea of the return of Jesus. They have not been mocking Camping, but the very idea that God would judge the earth in righteousness. We have been reminded again that the world is not our friend. Camping’s foolishness has served to bring out the scorn and ridicule that unbelievers have for the Bible and its teaching. The Bible nowhere states that Jesus would return on May 21, 2011; but it does state that Jesus will return. And that is what people have been laughing at. We are reminded again to pray for unbelievers and to faithfully proclaim the gospel. “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (Luke 12:43).

20/20 Independent Baptist Church Abuse Episode Winners and Losers

Loser: Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches. They can be thankful that our attention span is short. I am not sure by how much, but Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame seems to have been shortened a bit. Still, as long as they all call themselves the same thing they all face the same ridicule.

Winner: The Church of Jesus Christ. “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’

Loser: Concord Police Department. Yeah, I just hope a big part of you “ongoing investigation” is internal. Tina Anderson was wronged on multiple levels. She was not protected by those who should have protected her; before or after the crime.

Winner: Brian Fuller. It is rare in cases like this that the more someone says the better they come off, but pastor Fuller seems to be an exception. He has been put in an unenviable position and responded admirably.

Loser: Fundy watch-bloggers like Bob Bixby. Unhelpful. Embarrassing. Come off sounding like snubbed four year olds. There should be no joy in rubbing people’s faces in this tragedy.

Winner: Bloggers. I do not have data from any other blogs, but I usually receive 10-20 hits per day on my blog. My 20/20 post got three days of 300+ views, 3 days of around 200 views, and three days of around 100 views. Sex sells.

Which, I suppose, just makes us all losers.

More on Manhattan: Who will be Paul to Packer, Duncan, and Mohler?

Several days ago I posted a quote from John Calvin that I applied to the Manhattan Declaration (“And at this day I wish there were more judgment in some good men, who, by seeking to be extremely kind to wicked men, bring great damage to the whole church.”)  This quote spurred me on in a particular direction of thought that was brewing in my mind.

Galatians 2:11-14 contains Paul’s brief mention of his gospel-confrontation with Peter.  Several things jump out at me.  First of all, Paul confronted Peter for eating with false teachers.  That’s right: eating.  having a meal.  For this act, it was worth the risk of rupturing apostolic fellowship.  One thing I notice about this is that Paul lived what he taught.  In 1 Cor. 5:11 Paul commanded that believers were not even to eat with those who perverted the gospel.  In Galatians 2:11-14 we see how Paul lived what he taught, and how he responded to those who disobeyed the apostolic commands.  Even when they were themselves other apostles.  So I have to wonder, if it is wrong to even eat with gospel-perverters, is it okay to enter into dialog and release joint statements of unity?  It seems that is doing overtly what table-fellowship merely implies.  You write books, lead schools, preach sermons about the gospel:  but will you stand for it?

Secondly, it was public.  Yes Paul confronted Peter “to his face”  but it was also “before them all.”  What Peter did publicly, Paul rebuked publicly.  Paul saw no reason to be coy or demure about the nature of Peter’s error and blasted it with the same boldness that Peter committed it with.  The M.D. was proclaimed with all the fanfare and ribbons that such a group of “Christian” leaders could muster.  If they are in error, Packer, Duncan, and Mohler should be denounced with just as much public clarity.

Thirdly, and here is where many have failed in my estimation, Paul clearly denunciated Peter’s sin as sin.  Peter was “condemned” because he was acting in “hypocrisy.”  Paul did not say, “Well it is just not right for me”, “I just don’t think it is best”, “It just is not very prudent at this time”.   No,  Paul “condemned” Peter.  Paul did bashfully say, “It is wrong for me” he clearly stated, “It is wrong for anyone!”  Peter was “to be blamed.”

So as much as I have appreciated the clarity and conviction of statements by MacArthur, Sproul, and some others; I wonder who is going to step up and actually be a Paul?   Will it be MacArthur? Sproul?  Piper?  Ferguson?  Dever? Or (gulp…) Driscoll?  (And it has to be someone like one of these men: someone with recognizable cache within the community of faith.)  Who is going to say “You were wrong and you need to repent?”  Who is going to do so publicly with conviction and authority?  If no one does so, why not just stop the charade of all the Gospel Coalitions, Together for the Gospels, etc.?  Because clearly, if one of these men cannot take the stand for the gospel that Paul did, they are united around something else.

Proverbs 18:1 & Lone Bloggers

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He breaks out against all sound judgment.
Proverbs 18:1 (ESV)

This verse was a good tonic for my soul today.  As I read it the Lord seemed to apply it to the world of blogdom.  Particularly the land of blogdom that I live and surf have my scorning.

The first line speaks to that man who stands apart from the congregation. Regarding this first line Keil & Delitzsch state it “denotes one who willingly (Judg 4:11), and, indeed, obstinately withdraws himself.”  As the term is used in the Old Testament it always refers to a physical separation, though an emotional separation can also be involved (Prov. 16:28; 17:9).  So the situation this Proverb applies directly to is one in which a person can be characterized as standing apart.  While it is not advisable to absolutize proverbs, even the biblical ones, the wise son is advised that men do this because of their “own desire.”

Like jealousy, the term desire is both encouraged and condemned in the Old Testament.  The easiest place to see this is Psalm 10 in which the wicked boast of a desire the LORD hates (10:3) while the LORD answers the desire of the humble heart (10:17).  The connotation in Prov. 18:1 certainly seems negative.  Hence, we cautiously may estimate a motivating factor in the actions of lone bloggers: to fulfill some sort of selfish desire.  We are not told what their desire is.  The desires are probably manifold.  Nor are we advised to probe what the desire might be.  As helpful as such an exercise might eventually prove to be.

The lone blogger has separated himself from the assembly of believers and seeks his own desires.  Two actions the Scripture speaks quite clearly against.  In a grave manner.

In so separating himself, the lone blogger breaks out against all sound judgment.  BDB gives the verb a primary meaning of “expose, lay bare, disclose, make known.”  As it is used in Proverbs it is to “break out in contention, strife.”  I admit I have seen both aspects fulfilled.  The lone blogger loves to make things known, air dirty laundry; and to do so in a contentious manner.  I confess to joying in this blood sport.  Of seeing victims thrashed like a chicken in the jaw-teeth of a lion.   But all of this is against sound judgment.

However right the cause, however accurate the diagnosis, Jesus has only promised to confirm the judgment of the two or three gathered in his name.  Whatever else the church may be, the church is also the pillar and ground of the truth.  The one who isolates himself from the assembly has also isolated himself from the Scriptural security of judgment, of loosing and binding.  It will not do to say there are no good churches in my area.  If that were true, and if it mattered that much, you would move to an area where there was a “good” church.  Or you would be an active participant in the attempt to plant one where you already are.

Please pray for me and my family.  We are looking for a church to join and fellowship with.  Pray that in these days I will not yield to the temptation of isolation.  I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”