The N.T. church was truly an extraordinary church. The Day of Pentecost was an extraordinary day. It began with a noise like a violent, rushing wind which filled the whole house where the disciples were sitting. There also appeared tongues as of fire distributing themselves and resting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit as well and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The Sermon Peter preached was an extraordinary sermon. It is one of the greatest sermons ever preached. It was about the greatest person who ever lived, Jesus Christ; the greatest sin ever commited, the crucifixion of the Son of God; the greatest question ever asked, "What must we do to be saved?" It included the greatest demand ever required, repent and be baptized, and the greatest promise ever made, the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The response to the sermon was among the greatest ever produced, 3000 souls being added to the church that day. This was truly a great sermon.
Somewhere along the way, the Federal Courts and the Supreme Court have misinterpreted the U.S. Constitution.
America's founders did not intend for there to be a separation of God and state, as shown by the fact that all 50 states acknowledge God in their state constitutions:
Alabama 1901, Preamble. We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution...
Alaska 1956, Preamble. We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land...
The Westminster Assembly of divines (men who studied and taught "divinity" or theology) was summoned in 1643 by an act of Parliament to unite England, Scotland, and Ireland through the composition and adoption of a single creed. This Assembly (which consisted of more than 140 Puritan, Calvinist theologians) and its multi-year consultation produced several documents, including the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), and the Larger (1648) and Shorter (1648) Catechisms. Together these documents are referred to as the Westminster Standards. The Standards are still today the adopted standards of conservative Presbyterian churches as well as a number of other Reformed churches throughout the world. They are widely recognized as one of the finest systematic summaries of Holy Scripture ever produced in creedal form. They are, in the words of B. B. Warfield:
The final crystallization of the elements of evangelical religion, after the conflicts of sixteen hundred years...They are the richest and most precise and best guarded statement ever penned of all that enters into evangelical religion and of all that must be safeguarded if evangelical religion is to persist in the world.
When the sixth grade students at Cornerstone Preparatory Academy study shipwrecks, they not only study the history of the Titanic, Lusitania, and the Empress of Ireland, they also read fiction (The Swiss Family Robinson and The Cay) about people who were shipwrecked and nonfiction about the discovery of shipwrecks in their literature class. In science they study oceanography, buoyancy, and Boyle's Law. They simulate an oceanographic research team that uses clues from a note found in a bottle to locate a stranded family who has been shipwrecked on an uncharted island. Everything is studied from a Biblical worldview, including character issues related to the captains and crews on the ships that were wrecked. An integrated curriculum at every grade level is the hallmark of this University Model School, just beginning its second year in Acworth, Georgia.
"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." While everything else exists for a specific time, God's counsel is for all time. As people who are called to live according to His principles, we open a dangerous can of worms by saying that a portion of His Word is no longer applicable. Once we permit person "A" to identify one portion of Scripture as "dated," there is nothing to prevent person "B" from identifying another portion of Scripture as "dated." Such a practice would render the entirety of God's Word "up for grabs," and make it meaningless. Contrary to this view of Scripture is God's view as stated here by the prophet Isaiah: It's all true and it's all authoritative, and it is impossible for any of it to "fade" or become "dated" in its applicability.
The message from Isaiah is that our "deliverance" comes from the exact place our "wisdom" comes from, and if we attempt to detract from God's wisdom, we are also detracting from his message of salvation. The only way for anyone to have salvation is to worship the triune God of Scripture, and the only way to correctly worship Him is to live according to His revealed and inerrant wisdom. Simply put, dependence upon any other "word" will lead to our destruction. A psalmist writes about God's Word being "settled in heaven," meaning in God's secret counsels. It is eternal, just as is God, and its promises will be fulfilled at just the right time. It is our shield and our only sure foundation.
Jesus Christ came not only to die for our sins, He came to preach and teach and bear witness to the gospel, and in so doing to draw people to Himself as their Lord and Savior. He was moved by an all-consuming desire to glorify His Father and by a deep compassion for lost sinners that moved him not only to want to reach them by His words but to shed His own blood for them that they might be saved from everything that was separating them from God and life and joy. He had the world on His heart and so He sacrificed Himself for the life of the world, John 6:51, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, Philippians 2:8, to purchase for God with (His) blood people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, Revelation 5:9.
When Jesus saw multitudes of people lost in sin, He felt compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, Mark 6:34. He taught His disciples that compassion ought to be extended to everybody, even our enemies, Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 10:30-37. The word compassion, splangna, literally refers to the upper viscera: lungs, heart, liver, denoting warm tender affections and concern. Jesus felt compassion when He saw people distressed, oppressed, downcast, hurting, hungry, ignorant, blind, leprous, demon-possessed, in debt, grieving, guilt-ridden, abusing themselves. All kinds of human suffering, physical and spiritual, caused by human sin, drew out Jesus' compassion; and His compassion always moved Him to action, to do what He could to relieve their need and to save them from sin and all its consequences. For instance, when He saw a woman grieving over her dead son, He did not wait for her to ask for His help, He was moved in His great heart by her grief to turn her darkness into light and her sorrow into joy by raising her son from the dead.
The terrorists' attacks on New York City and Washington, D. C. on September 11, 2001, have brought militant Islam vividly and threateningly to the attention of the American public once again. who are these people? What do they believe? Is their resort to violence an aberration or an essential tenet of their faith? These and other questions have been addressed again and again during the weeks following the attack. The following edited portion of a sermon by Dr. Bahnsen is not a theological or apologetic critique of the religion of Islam. Rather, while rejecting the Muslim faith, Dr. Bahnsen finds in their zeal for a life-encompassing devotion and obedience to God, a fitting rebuke for many contemporary American Christians who too often separate their faith in Christ from large and significant areas of life and culture. His exhortation is as apt today as it was when delivered in Fayette, N.C. in January 29, 1995.
I've decided I'd preach to you this Lord's day morning -- I know this is going to surprise many of you -- on "What We Can Learn from the Muslims." The Muslims have something that Christians need to pick up on. Of course, we know the Muslims don't have anything good that they didn't get from Christianity -- from the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. But isn't it a shame that the Muslims today more purely reflect a couple of themes in Christian theology than does the Christian church as a whole?