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2003 Issue 2

"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid." When G.K. Chesterton penned these words many years ago, he may not have imagined how widespread the dangerous philosophy of open-mindedness would become. Years ago, most Americans believed that absolute truth existed. Today, truth is a thing of the past. "Tolerance is the key to progress!" we are told. As Chesterton states, there is one absolute truth which we are to seek, and when we find it, to hold firmly to it. Indiscriminate open-mindedness leads to moral relativity, religious pluralism, and an educational void. We students are about to enter an environment where our beliefs and morals will be belittled as arrogant and ancient. If we are not firmly equipped to hold Christ as the only truth, then we can fall prey to the deadly philosophy of tolerance.

The subject of Jude's epistle is of major concern to the Christian church in every era. From the beginning of the world there have always been men who corrupt the Lord's revelation and claim His promises for themselves on terms other than faith and repentance communicated to them supernaturally by God himself. These men thus turn the grace of God into wantonness and deny the Christ. The Christian church in every age is thus confronted not merely with external battle with the world, but also with doctrinal strife internally. Within the teaching ministry of the church there are heretics whose doctrines must be exposed and refuted.

Chapter two of Brian Abshire's unpubiished book "Wealth and Poverty: Restoring Christian Wealth." A new chapter appears in each issue.

In order to get a handle on the problem of restoring Christian wealth, we first need to make sure that we understand words in the same way that Scripture does. In modern usage, the term "poor" usually means anyone who is not economically well off and the term "rich" means anyone who is. People look at the two words as a spectrum with poverty on one end and wealth on the other. Furthermore neither end of the spectrum is set in stone, thus, as cultural economic standards change, the definition of "rich" and "poor" changes.

If we are going to be effective in defending the faith and in evangelizing our culture as Christ commanded us (Matthew 28:19) then we must be as the sons of Issachar, who understood the times with knowledge of what Israel should do. We must have a solid knowledge of the revealed will of God in Holy Scripture with the wisdom to apply it to our times; and we must have a correct understanding of the nature of the time and culture in which we live. Both - an understanding of the Bible and an understanding of our particular place in history - are essential to our mission of making the world's nations Christ's disciples.

What is the nature of our times? What are we to speak from God to our culture that specifically addresses their point of controversy with the Christian Faith? As Martin Luther said:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefields besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

In the current debate over Justification, it is argued by those holding to the "new paradigm" that Christians are those united with Christ through baptism, thus equating union with Christ to membership in the visible or "historical" church, and that this union can actually be broken through apostasy. Their teaching on this point emphasizes the role of works in salvation and apostasy. They present Hebrews 6:4-6 as one text in support of their teaching.

In contrast, the following passages by the great theologian John Owen offer a contrast to their teaching. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. - Hebrews 6:4-6.

In studying the words in this text, we must see their context, the persons meant, and what is intended by these words.

At its 2003 General Assembly, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) reversed the conviction of Elder John O. Kinnaird by voting in the affirmative the question, "Did the Session and Presbytery err in finding the Appellant's teaching to be contrary to the Church's Standards?" The vote came after a period of discussion and consideration of evidence which included the recommendation of the General Assembly's advisory committee that Mr. Kinnaird's appeal be upheld.

The 2003 Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) considered overtures from both the South Central Classis and Northern Plains Classis seeking to declare the teachings of Norman Shepherd regarding justification heretical. The synod acted by creating a committee to study the matter and report back to synod on its findings.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;

Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;

His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.

I'm sure you recognize this as the original of A Mighty Fortress is Our God. Martin Luther who wrote the words once said, "the Devil hates music because he cannot stand gaiety," and "Satan can smirk but he cannot laugh; he can sneer but he cannot sing." Because he believed in the power of song the great reformer spent a lot of time compiling a hymn book for use in congregational singing. One writer has said that "Luther translated the Bible into German so God could speak directly to the people; and provided the hymn so that the people could answer God in their songs." Luther is credited with thirty-seven hymns, by far the most popular being, A Mighty Fortress. It was written in 1529 at a time when Luther and his followers were going through a particularly rough patch of opposition; with the Emperor, Charles V, seemingly determined to suppress the new movement.