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Covenant Theology: The Absolute Sovereignty of the Creator
Westminster Presbyterian Church ^ | Dr. James E. Bordwine

Posted on 01/29/2004 9:22:18 AM PST by sheltonmac

Covenant Theology: Distinctive Features

The Absolute Sovereignty of the Creator

(Sermon Number Two)

Introduction

My purpose in this sermon is to identify the distinctive features of covenant theology. I stated in my last sermon that covenant theology is simply Biblical theology systematized. Covenant theology is the approach to studying the Bible which the Bible itself requires due the nature of God's revelation. God has revealed His word to us within the context of the covenant: we have the first arrangement between God as His creatures in the Garden of Eden, commonly referred to as “the covenant of works.” The provisions of this covenant, in which God made certain stipulations to Adam, covered the period from creation to the fall of man. Then, we have what is commonly called “the covenant of grace,” which was announced after man's fall, was progressively defined and revealed in a series of sub-covenants, and was finally and fully realized in the atoning work of Christ. If I want to identify the distinctive traits of covenant theology, therefore, all I have to do is identify the distinctive features of the Bible. Conversely, if I define the distinctive features of God's revelation to man, I have, at the same time, defined the distinctive characteristics of covenant theology.

There are certain facts that are prominently presented in God's revelation; there are certain truths that are so pervasive that we must say that they characterize the teaching of the Bible. When we propose a system for studying and applying the teaching of the Bible, it is only reasonable to expect that our method would bear these same distinguishing features. To put it another way, if our method of studying and applying the teaching of Scripture does not stress and same facts and truths that Scripture, itself, stresses, then something is wrong with our approach. Unless our method of Biblical interpretation does justice to what the Bible emphasizes, then we are bound to be misled in our understanding and application of God's word.

In this sermon, then, I will begin presenting to you what I believe are the most important distinguishing features of God's revelation. And, as I do this, we will see what covenant theology, as a method of Biblical interpretation, stresses. I'll begin with a few questions: Within the covenantal framework of Scripture, what are the distinguishing features of God's revelation to man? What truths are most prominently discerned when we read the Bible? When we study the Scripture, what facts are so obviously stated that they must be regarded as general characteristics of God's revelation? What doctrines are not only clearly taught in the Bible, but also undergird every part of the Bible?

I would propose that the revelation which we have in the Bible can be categorized under three headings: The Absolute Sovereignty of the Creator, The Absolute Dependence of the Creature and the Absolute Necessity of a Mediator. Think about these categories. Everything the Bible has to say can be placed under one of these headings. Every teaching in Scripture is related to at least one of these three major doctrines-God, man, Christ. The method of Biblical interpretation known as covenant theology emphasizes these three doctrines because the Bible emphasizes these three all-encompassing doctrines.

1. The Absolute Sovereignty of the Creator

Let me begin by explaining what is meant by the term, “the sovereignty of the Creator.” To say that God is sovereign is to say that His power is superior to every other form or expression of power; it is to say that God is completely free of external influences so that He does what He wills, as He wills, when He wills. To say that God is sovereign is to say that He is accountable to no one, but all creation is accountable to Him; it is to say that the will of God is the single determining factor for all that transpires. This is quite a statement. The implications are enormous.

Where do we find this doctrine taught in the Bible? If this is such an important characteristic of Biblical revelation, we should expect to find this doctrine taught just as soon as we open the word. As it turns out, this doctrine is grounded in the very first sentence in the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1) This opening statement is a truth that looms in front of us like some gigantic gate; we can't go around it, we can't go over it and we can't go under it to reach the rest of God's revelation. We have to deal with it; we have to go through this gate to get to the rest of what God has to tell us. And as human beings deal with this monumental truth and pass through the gate, as it were, their whole perception of lifeevery last aspect of lifeis formulated. Consider what this verse is saying.

If God is the Creator of all things; then all things belong to Him and all things are subject to His desires. This opening statement typifies the Bible's approach to the subject of God; there is no attempt made to convince the reader that God exists; there is no argument made to prove that there is a Creator. Instead, the Bible simply tells us what this God is like, what He has done and is doing; and it tells us what should be our response to Him. The very first verse of the Bible, therefore, is a resounding proclamation of the absolute sovereignty and independence of our Creator. Before anything existed, there was God; everything that does now exist was brought into being by Him. This truth establishes the relation of creation to Creator.

Our understanding of our place in this world, our knowledge of our duties, our opinions of all of life's issues are related to this one fundamental fact of God's sovereignty, a fact with which God's revelation to us begins. The development of a Christian, or Biblical, view of life begins with this basic truth. While all of creation is completely dependent upon the Creator at every moment, He is not dependent upon creation. He is the Source, Sustainer and End of creation. This opening verse of the Bible, which declares that God is the sovereign Creator, is echoed throughout Scripture. In Deut. 4:39, we find: “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” And Deut. 10:14 says: “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.” In the book of Psalms we read: “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.” (50:10) “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all.” (103:19) “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” (115:3) “The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.” (124:1) “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.” (135:6)

This doctrine has a number of significant implications which I would like to note. The first implication of the doctrine of God's sovereignty is that the world in which we live can be rightly studied and understood only in relation to its Creator. Man's problem, since the time of the fall, is his desire to interpret the world in which he lives apart from the Creator; consequently, he continues to devise schemes, philosophies and ideas which fall short of his needs and expectations. Fallen man cannot understand his world apart from this doctrine of the Creator's sovereignty. The fact that God is our sovereign Creator means that any attempt to study or explain any part of our world is doomed to failure unless it starts with the truth: “In the beginning, God...”

A second implication of the doctrine of God's sovereignty has to do with the word which this sovereign Creator has given to man. Are we to consider His word authoritative? If a sovereign and independent God speaks to us, if He causes His word to be recorded in written form, should we not assume that what is recorded is without error, without fault in fact or command? Should we not expect that the word of this sovereign God is trustworthy? Should we not determine that the word of this sovereign God is to be followed? There simply is no way to hold to the doctrine of God's sovereignty, as declared in Gen. 1:1 and repeated throughout Scripture, and, at the same time, have any view of His word other than what I've just indicated. And, I hasten to add, the only reason why God's word is authoritative is because it is His Word. The Church does not provide the Bible with its authoritative status; no pronouncement of man is responsible for the word's authority.

God's word, the Bible, is to be, as our own Confession states, “the rule of faith and life.” Our home-life is to be regulated by God's Word; our churches are to be regulated by the Bible; our communities are to be regulated by the word of God. If God is sovereign, then whatever He says should be heard. Whatever we do is subject to the regulation of God's word precisely because this God is the sovereign Creator. As creatures, we have no right or ability to devise our own standards independent of God's revelation; such an idea is preposterous if you take seriously the doctrine of God's sovereignty.

There is a third implication of the doctrine of God's sovereignty that I must mention. This implication has to do with the will of God and the course of history. If what the Bible teaches about the sovereignty of God is true, what does that tell us about the nature of history? If God is sovereign, doesn't this mean that His will is always done? If God is sovereign, if there is no being or power that can overcome Him or successfully oppose Him, doesn't this mean that whatever God desires will be done? Is it possible to have a sovereign and independent Creator whose will is not the determining factor for the course of history? Is it possible to have a sovereign and independent God and also have such things as luck, chance, coincidence or randomness? If the Bible's teaching regarding the sovereignty of God is true, then His will must be the basis for the course of history, both generally and individually.

This is what the Bible teaches in connection with the sovereignty of God. This doctrine means that poverty and prosperity are in the hands of God; God gives and God withholds as He chooses. This means that nations rise and fall according to the will of God; a land is blessed or a land is cursed according to the desires of God. This means that the way of man will forever be subject to the will of man's Creator; man is not sovereign, he is a creature bound to honor and serve God. This means that the events of each day have been determined by our sovereign God; this means that the end of our days has been determined by our sovereign God.

The doctrine of God's sovereignty makes us pause and stand still; it confronts proud and rebellious men because it disputes the lofty opinion they have of themselves. This doctrine assigns all glory to the Creator and no independent glory to the creature. This doctrine of God's sovereignty that lifts Him up before us and reminds us the “...the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life...” (Gen. 2:7); it is a doctrine which reminds us that if God were to withdraw from us, as the book of Job says, “All flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.” (Job 34:15); the doctrine of God's sovereignty teaches us that, by comparison, “Man is like a mere breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” (Psa. 144:4)

The prophet Isaiah says that God, the sovereign God of the Bible, is One who declares the end from the beginning; this God is the One who says “My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” (Isa. 46:10) This sovereign God chose His people in Christ before the foundation of the world (cf. Eph. 1:4). This sovereign God kills and makes alive (cf. 1 Sam. 2:6); those who contend with this sovereign God “will be shattered...” (1 Sam. 2:10). The sovereign God of the Bible is the One who speaks, and it is done; He commands, and it stands fast (Psa. 33:9)

There are literally dozens of verses that make such wonderful statements about the God of the Bible. All of creation is subject to Him because He is sovereign. There is no moment, no century, no life that is not encompassed by His decree. What a moving thought! What a humbling doctrine! What can we say? We can only echo the Psalmist who wrote: “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psa. 34:1) And again, “My tongue shall declare Thy righteousness And Thy praise all day long.” (Psa. 35:28)

Paul said that in God, we “live and move and exist.” (Acts 17:28) We do not live independently because God is sovereign; we do not determine our destinies because He is sovereign; we do not glory in our accomplishments or become despondent over our failures, because He is sovereign. We do not boast about tomorrow because we do not know what a day may bring forth (cf. Pro. 27:1). Our sovereign God has decreed the day and it will unfold as He has determined. The will of our sovereign Creator is the determining factor for the course of history.

Covenant theology gives proper emphasis to the doctrine of God's sovereignty and its connotations. As a system of interpreting and applying the teaching of the Bible, covenant theology is superior to all competing interpretive schemes; all other schemes, in one way or another, bear the marks of Arminianism. Arminianism, in whatever form it appears, undermines the doctrine of God's sovereignty by attributing to man abilities, rights or privileges that man simply does not possess.

Covenant theology unashamedly teaches that man must view his world and must understand his purpose in light of the existence of a sovereign Creator. When covenant theology speaks about this world and how man relates to it, this system doesn't separate the creation from the Creator. Covenant theology doesn't tolerate evolution or Theistic evolution; it doesn't allow man to see himself as anything other than a creature subject to His Maker. Covenant theology teaches that if we want to understand our problems, we look to our Creator; and if we want to have purpose, we listen to our Creator.

When covenant theology speaks about the word of this sovereign God, this system emphasizes the absolute authority of that word; it does so in proper recognition of the fact that the word in question is the word of a supreme Creator. So, in covenant theology, the word of God rules in all decisions and all discussions. In covenant theology, we are constantly asking, “What does the Bible say?” We ask this question when we consider our worship, when we consider our roles as men and women, and even when we cast our votes. Covenant theology recognizes a single source of divine and infallible instruction and that is God's written word.

And when covenant theology constructs a view of history, this system treats the subject as it should, as what has been determined by God. Covenant theology doesn't divide history into secular and sacred, but sees all history as nothing less than the unfolding of God's holy decree. Covenant theology teaches that there is meaning to history, that history is moving toward a glorious culmination. This system sees every man at the mercy of God, every creature at the mercy of the Creator. Covenant theology breeds humility in men; it develops godly character and mature vision.

Having said all these wonderful things about covenant theology, I am compelled to add that any method of interpreting the Bible that does not begin where the Bible begins, that is, with the absolute sovereignty of the Creator, and does not maintain this emphasis in all of its pronouncements, is bound to yield inaccurate information. Such a system is bound to lead to the wrong conclusions about God, about man and about man's responsibilities before God.

Application

In our application, I am going to list for you what I believe are the most significant consequences of the doctrine of God's sovereignty. In making this list, I asked: “How should the doctrine of God's sovereignty affect me? What does this doctrine mean to me as I go about my daily routine?” Here, then, are six results which I believe should be present in our lives if we really believe the doctrine of God's sovereignty.

First, there is comfort. What teaching, what thought, could bring more comfort to the heart of man than the doctrine of God's sovereignty? According to this doctrine, prosperity and adversity are from the hand of a wise, loving and all-powerful God. According to this doctrine, nothing befalls us that is not part of His plan. According to this doctrine, uncertain times are uncertain to us only, not to God; and dark times, when we are experiencing some heartache, are dark only to us, not to God. According to this doctrine, God is always aware of us, always watching over us and always guiding our steps. According to this doctrine, we have purpose and worth because we were put here by a sovereign Creator. Life is not all pleasant, by any means, but this doctrine says that all of life is under the control of God; therefore, even the unpleasant periods of life can be endured.

Second, there is confidence. What teaching could give us greater confidence regarding our individual lives and the fate of our race than the doctrine of God's sovereignty? According to this doctrine, all things are working together for good, as determined by the One who made all things. This doctrine lets us approach each day with assurance because we know that the course of each day has been ordered by our God. Christians really do not have to worry about what unfolds tomorrow or next week or next year. Whatever happens will be according to God's perfect will. Consequently, we can simply focus on God's Word and do what we are supposed to do, knowing that if we are doing what God desires, we can't go wrong. If the One that we are following is the strongest, wisest and most powerful, why shouldn't we have confidence? Why shouldn't we be bold in our challenges to unbelief and sin? Why shouldn't we live our convictions without apology? What do we have to fear? Is someone going to overthrow God and change the rules?

Third, there is hope. If God is sovereign, as the Bible claims, then hope should be a big part of our lives. Hope can be defined as the expectation of future blessings or as an optimistic anticipation about the future. Surely we can see that if the doctrine of God's sovereignty is true, then we can view the future with nothing but hope. If a sovereign God is guiding us, if He is overseeing the course of history, and if this sovereign God is good and loving and righteous, then what are we to expect? Should we expect that creation will be ruined by man's fall and God will be unable to reclaim it? Should we believe that God will try, but will be unable to restore us? God's sovereignty is the ground for hope; it is the ground for expecting that all things and all men are being and will be used for the glory of the Creator. Pessimism and the doctrine of God's sovereignty are mutually exclusive. You can't be pessimistic about the future and still believe in God's sovereignty.

Fourth, there is humility. If there is any reaction to the doctrine of God's sovereignty that is proper, it is humility on the part of God's creatures. The reason that the doctrine of God's sovereignty is not more frequently proclaimed in the Church is because this doctrine puts man in his place and allows him no sense of importance apart from his Creator. To be told that you are a dependent creature, one totally at the mercy of an all-powerful Creator, is a humbling thing. But if it's true, it's true! Pretending that it is not true will not change the facts. Pretending that it is not true will not remove us from God's oversight. Embracing the doctrine of God's sovereignty with a grateful and humble heart is where an enjoyable, productive and peaceful life begins.

Fifth, there is worship. This follows from humility. What is the response of a creature to his Creator? How should the creature, who is not self-supporting, but who depends upon the protection and provision of a Creator, relate to that Creator? The doctrine of God's sovereignty is the foundation for our worship of Him. As creatures, we have a duty to adore, praise and serve our Creator. Again, this puts man in a position where he can't be boastful. But, so what? Isn't that where he belongs? Should man expect to stand beside his Creator? Should he expect to address his Creator in informal, disrespectful terms? The doctrine of God's sovereignty says that we owe everything to our Creator; it says that there is no way for us to relate to Him except in worship.

Sixth, there is obedience. Obedience is as much a logical result of the doctrine of God's sovereignty as anything I've said. If we are not our Creator's equals, then we are His servants. Servants do what their Master desires. And when servants have a loving, kind, gentle, generous Master, One who provides for life here and life in eternity, they are particularly eager to do the will of that Master.

In Jesus Christ, we are able to understand this doctrine of God's sovereignty. In Christ, we are given renewed minds with which to study the Scriptures; we are given renewed hearts from which flow these fruits of the doctrine of God's sovereignty. In covenant theology, the doctrine of God's absolute sovereignty sets the tone for much of what the system teaches. Covenant theology emphasizes this doctrine and, therefore, as a theological system, emphasizes comfort, confidence, hope, humility, worship and obedience. And this is what the Bible emphasizes.

Conclusion (preparation for the Lord's Supper)

Our worship continues as we receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Our participation in this sacrament signals our belief in the sovereignty of God. We are celebrating the life, death and resurrection of God's Son, Jesus Christ.

The Scripture says that Jesus was “delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God,” was nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put to death. Our sovereign God appointed His own Son to suffer, die and live again for us. In His wisdom, this was the means ordained whereby we are restored as His creatures. The God who is sovereign is the God who sovereignly loved us in Christ. Having given us His Son, will He not also guide us, protect us and deliver us to Himself in due time?

As you receive the elements, thank God for His sovereign provision of salvation; ask for His blessings and strength.


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  1. The Foundation

1 posted on 01/29/2004 9:22:19 AM PST by sheltonmac
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To: sola gracia; scandalon; George Frm Br00klyn Park; JenB; Jerry_M; LibertyBelt; BibChr; webstersII; ..
*ping*
2 posted on 01/29/2004 9:23:00 AM PST by sheltonmac (http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a38123a4375fc.htm#30)
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To: sheltonmac
You would never hear a sermon like that in any church I've ever attended. Not enough seeker sensitivity.

Woody.
3 posted on 01/29/2004 9:43:22 AM PST by CCWoody (Recognize that all true Christians will be Calvinists in glory,...)
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To: CCWoody
You would never hear a sermon like that in any church I've ever attended. Not enough seeker sensitivity.

Yeah, a topic like this doesn't lend itself very well to a light-hearted, two-minute sketch by the church's theater group.

4 posted on 01/29/2004 10:08:23 AM PST by sheltonmac (http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a38123a4375fc.htm#30)
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To: sheltonmac
Hmm...

Normally, I associate covenant theology with certain doctrines most markedly associated with Presbyterian and Reformed churches.

I'm not certain how labeling the sovereignty of God as a covenant theology actually forwards any argument. I generally think of covenants with God as being His promise not to flood the earth again or His covenant with Israel or the New Covenant of Christ.

Perhaps I lack a certain theological sophistication.

History of Covenant Theology, R. S. Clark, Westminster Seminary California

New Covenant Theology (IDT).

Perhaps as we see more of the series of sermons, the preacher's intent will become clearer. For now, I would say that the preacher states the obvious, not a peculiar feature of covenant theology. The entire idea of God does presuppose His sovereignty after all. But perhaps the preacher merely intends to lay the groundwork for his subsequent teachings in actual covenant theology.
5 posted on 01/29/2004 10:17:38 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: sheltonmac; Gamecock; CARepubGal; irishtenor; RnMomof7
Bump for a reaffirming sermon from a doctrinally-sound PCA pastor.

I like their homepage.

6 posted on 01/29/2004 10:24:50 AM PST by Dr. Eckleburg (There are very few shades of gray.)
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To: sheltonmac; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock
***Yeah, a topic like this doesn't lend itself very well to a light-hearted, two-minute sketch by the church's theater group.***

I don't know.

How about three people costumed as clay pots of varying types whining about their maker, griping about how they were made, what they were made to do, etc.

Suddenly a loud voice says, "STOP!" and they freeze in place as the voice continues, "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? "
Fade to black.

Pastor says, turn in your Bibles to Romans Chapter 9...

This skit is consistent with the intent of Paul's illustration. It is simply a visual illustration. It could include some humor but make a very serious and sobering point.

Just a thought.
7 posted on 01/29/2004 10:25:33 AM PST by drstevej
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To: CCWoody
You would never hear a sermon like that in any church I've ever attended.

I've never heard any other kind of sermon. Actually, I can't quite imagine any other kind on this topic but I don't get out much, not being...um...denominationally adventurous (?). Not sure what exactly the right term is.

I just don't get out much or something.
8 posted on 01/29/2004 10:26:01 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
Indeed.

The good people in Vancouver Washington are blessed to have such a church in their midst.
9 posted on 01/29/2004 10:27:13 AM PST by Gamecock (It is better to think of church in the ale-house than to think of the ale-house in church. M Luther)
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To: drstevej
I would flee any church that taught by dance or theatrics. A godly man expositing the Word is all that is sufficient. And a great deal of mischief is made with modernism.
10 posted on 01/29/2004 10:29:03 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: George W. Bush
***I would flee any church that taught by dance or theatrics.***

Ya suppose when Jesus taught about the vine and branches there were any vineyards visible? I believe He often used visuals in the vicinity to illustrate spiritual truth.

Agree?
11 posted on 01/29/2004 10:32:17 AM PST by drstevej
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To: sheltonmac
awesome post. This is one Calvinistic issue that needs more exposure on FR.
12 posted on 01/29/2004 10:33:04 AM PST by rwfromkansas ("Men stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up as if nothing had happened." Churchill)
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To: drstevej
Ya suppose when Jesus taught about the vine and branches there were any vineyards visible? I believe He often used visuals in the vicinity to illustrate spiritual truth.

Was He dancing or using theatrical technique? Did Peter or Paul or the early missionaries need these artifices?
13 posted on 01/29/2004 10:38:55 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: George W. Bush
Did I mention dance?

A parable is a skit script.

14 posted on 01/29/2004 10:41:30 AM PST by drstevej
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To: sheltonmac; xzins; P-Marlowe; Corin Stormhands; Vernon
Instead, the Bible simply tells us what this God is like, what He has done and is doing; and it tells us what should be our response to Him.

Sounds to me like this guy is saying man can choose to be obedient or disobedient. It does not sound like 'total depravity' at all. Nor does it look like unconditinal election, either.

Besides, this can't be the Gospel; there's no mention of Calvinism. /sarcasm

Since Covenant theology is not identified as Calvinism, what is the difference between Calvinism and Covenant theology?

15 posted on 01/29/2004 10:44:19 AM PST by connectthedots (John Calvin WAS NOT a Calvinist.)
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Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

To: drstevej
How about three people costumed as clay pots of varying types whining about their maker, griping about how they were made, what they were made to do, etc.

How would this skit be performed in Arminian/Pelagian churches? Are the pots chided by God for not melting themselves down, and reforming themselves into "vessels fit for honorable use" (Romans 9:21)?

17 posted on 01/29/2004 10:53:55 AM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy
The voice would come on and say, "Hey it wasn't Me, I have my limits. Welcome to My world."

Oops, that's Bruce Almighty.
18 posted on 01/29/2004 10:56:08 AM PST by drstevej
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To: drstevej
A parable is a skit script.

Matthew 13:3 - And he spake many things unto them in skit scripts, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Matthew 13:10 - And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in skit scripts?

Matthew 13:13 - Therefore speak I to them in skit scripts: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

Matthew 13:18 - Hear ye therefore the skit script of the sower.

Matthew 13:24 - Another skit script put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

Matthew 13:31 - Another skit script put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
I see your point.
19 posted on 01/29/2004 10:59:04 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: Gamecock; xzins; P-Marlowe; Corin Stormhands
I actually know one of the founding families (one of the families who are no longer attending there) of this church. My ex and I attending the local CRC for a couple years prior to going to Vancouver First Church of God (Anderson, IN). Many others (well over 1/2 of a fairly small congregation) from the CRC left earlier or soon thereafter; so many that the CRC simply shut down the church altogether.
20 posted on 01/29/2004 11:03:25 AM PST by connectthedots (John Calvin WAS NOT a Calvinist.)
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To: CCWoody
Vanvouver is a great place to live. You might want to consider moving here and you might actually find a church you like. It's a very small church, so I'm sure you'd be welcomed.

Clark County Washington has over 350,000 people. If Calvinism is so great, there should be lots of opportunity for growth. Bet you could help increase those numbers.

21 posted on 01/29/2004 11:12:33 AM PST by connectthedots (John Calvin WAS NOT a Calvinist.)
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To: sheltonmac; drstevej
What wonderful sermons. Keep posting.

I likewise don’t understand what the Sovereignty of God has to do with Covenant Theology except that it plays a role. I’m assuming this is one part of many (which has been stated) that will be tied together.

To drstevej:

I’d copyright that or it may wind up in the next Mel Gibson’s movie.
22 posted on 01/29/2004 11:17:30 AM PST by HarleyD (READ Your Bible-STUDY to show yourself approved)
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To: CCWoody
It might be worth moving out there if you don't mind a change of vocation. If you are into local politics, I'm sure you could find a local government position to run for.
23 posted on 01/29/2004 11:33:36 AM PST by Frumanchu (semper ubis sub ubis)
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To: drstevej
I think there are a great many church theater groups that could use your services! ;-)
24 posted on 01/29/2004 11:42:42 AM PST by sheltonmac (http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a38123a4375fc.htm#30)
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To: sheltonmac; drstevej
I dont see anything here unique to Covenant theology.

By the way, I've started a new term paper for one of my classes: I'm going to trace the rise of dispensationalism in the American church, starting with Darby and the Plymouth Brethren in Britain, and analyzing how the Scofield Bible popularized and Dallas Theological Seminary, and later Ryrie, lent it theological weight. I'll probably wrap up with how Lindsay and LaHaye popularized it in their works.

I'm thinking it will be an interesting topic. Anyone here have any scholastic-level resources you'd recommend?

This is for a class in American Church history taught by the same professor from whom I took Pauline Epistles and wrote a term paper on the Calvinist exegesis of Romans 9.

25 posted on 01/29/2004 11:49:23 AM PST by jude24 (Would You like to Know God Personally? - http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~tjminter/4laws/4laws.ppt)
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To: jude24
I dont see anything here unique to Covenant theology.

In the sermons I have read there isn't a claim that these particular doctrines are unique to Covenant Theology. The 33 sermons in this series lay out the fundamental doctrines that comprise CT.

By the way, I've started a new term paper for one of my classes: I'm going to trace the rise of dispensationalism in the American church, starting with Darby and the Plymouth Brethren in Britain, and analyzing how the Scofield Bible popularized and Dallas Theological Seminary, and later Ryrie, lent it theological weight.

I'd love to read that when you're done! Almost all of my college Bible professors were graduates of Dallas Theological Seminary. Dispensationalism (or Dispsensationalism, if you prefer) was the theology of choice on campus.

26 posted on 01/29/2004 12:01:31 PM PST by sheltonmac (http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a38123a4375fc.htm#30)
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To: George W. Bush
***I see your point.***

Cool.

The parable of the sower is a great script skit. The weeds choking out the one plant is very visual!

27 posted on 01/29/2004 12:51:27 PM PST by drstevej
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To: HarleyD
***I’d copyright that or it may wind up in the next Mel Gibson’s movie.***

I think Paul already has the rights to it.
28 posted on 01/29/2004 12:52:47 PM PST by drstevej
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To: sheltonmac
Excellent post Shelton ,
As I read the life application portion I kept nodding my head in agreement.

there is confidence. What teaching could give us greater confidence regarding our individual lives and the fate of our race than the doctrine of God's sovereignty? According to this doctrine, all things are working together for good, as determined by the One who made all things. This doctrine lets us approach each day with assurance because we know that the course of each day has been ordered by our God. Christians really do not have to worry about what unfolds tomorrow or next week or next year. Whatever happens will be according to God's perfect will. Consequently, we can simply focus on God's Word and do what we are supposed to do, knowing that if we are doing what God desires, we can't go wrong. If the One that we are following is the strongest, wisest and most powerful, why shouldn't we have confidence? Why shouldn't we be bold in our challenges to unbelief and sin? Why shouldn't we live our convictions without apology? What do we have to fear? Is someone going to overthrow God and change the rules?

The word is so full of fear and uncertainty , people fear for their jobs and their safety and their health etc.
It is a wonderful gift that we can have assurance that the world is not spinning out of control ..we are not the victims of coincidence or happenstance . We are not hostage to the outcome of politics or the "new world order" , or disease or death

We have one that watches us and guards us and that will turn all circumstances for the good for those that love Him. We can have faith and hope because we know the author of our faith and our hope.
It is a gospel of peace , and hope and joy

Isa 41
'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; Those who contend with you will be as nothing, and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, Those who war with you will be as nothing, and non-existent. For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'"

Psa 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Think of that right in front of those that hate you God shows his favor

29 posted on 01/29/2004 12:59:31 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: George W. Bush
Well, any time you wish to venture out into the Pelagian sea, just stop by for a visit. I'll take you to "4 Square", a holy roller church. Then, we'll visit a few AOG Pentecostals. We'll stop by a CoC to see the HS hiding out in the Baptism waters. And, we'll top it off with a visit to "Word Aflame" United Pentecostal (please keep both feet on the ground at all times unless you want the holy babblers to begin to cast out the spirits within you.) While on tour, we may experience "Holy Spirit laughter," "Slain in the Spirit," "worship lap running," "pew jumping," and various other Finney excitements. If you don't manifest a "gift" of the HS while on tour, you may just be viewed as lost. So, please practice up on your best tongue or prophecy. Remember to start each sentence with "bless you brother." And, make sure you hug anything and everything in sight to show how much of Jesus' love you have.

Woody.
30 posted on 01/29/2004 1:01:21 PM PST by CCWoody (Recognize that all true Christians will be Calvinists in glory,...)
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To: sheltonmac; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock; Jean Chauvin; jboot; jude24; ...

On several occasions I have written scripts for "visual illustrations" used as an intro to my sermon. This one was used before a sermon on "Theocentric Worship."  The message idea was: In true worship God is the audience and His pleasure is the measure that counts. Worship is Theocentric and we are not Theo!"

After the skit I had the congregation turn to Revelation 4:1-5:14 and I read an account of what worship looks like in heaven.

"Worship" Skit

CAST:

Bill, a church attender
Jeff, another church attender
John, an usher

SCRIPT:

[Jeff and Bill arrive in the church foyer just in time for morning worship. Both are a little out of breath. Jeff is still adjusting his tie.]

Jeff: Hi Bill!

Bill: Hi Jeff! You look like you just ran all the way to the church.

Jeff: [Looks at his watch.] Yeah, we just made it. I had to run the light at Himes, though.

Bill: We just got here ourselves. I watched that game last night. They didn't kick the winning field goal until after midnight. I almost decided to attend Bedside Baptist today, if you know what I mean.

Jeff: I know. We rented a movie last night that lasted over three hours. It took two cups of coffee this morning just to open my eyes.

Bill: Since I've got you here, I have a question about my computer.

Usher: [Comes over to Jeff and Bill.] Excuse me, the service has started. Would you like to be seated? [He hands each a bulletin and leaves.]

Bill: What's the deal with John? Make a guy an usher and it goes to his head.

Jeff: I know it. After all, they are probably just giving announcements or singing or some of that other preliminary stuff. I figure we've got time to spare!

Bill: [Browses the bulletin.] Six choruses! Man, they're singing us to death. One or two would be plenty.

Jeff: I prefer singing real hymns of the faith. I don’t know any of these choruses. It seems like we never sing the hymns I like.

Bill: I think we need more variety in the services here. But! I was glad to see them add some contemporary instruments.

Jeff: Me too! but my folks have been griping ever since. They figure if an organ and piano was good enough for the Apostle Paul

Bill: Maybe they ought to install head phones for each pew.. you know, like they use on the airlines. Then each person could tune in to their favorite "worship channel !"

Jeff: Exactly! Hey, what did you think of the message last week?

Bill: You really want to know?

Jeff: I asked, didn't l?

Bill: Last week I was so stressed out over the chaos at work that I used the message outline sheet to jot down my strategy for the big show-down with my boss on Monday.

Jeff: Speaking of the pastor's messages, we better hustle. John just went to take the offering.

Bill: OK, I'll see you later. I want to get a drink of water while the choir's singing.

[Jeff exits the direction John exited before. Bill exit the other direction.]

Steve: [Steps to the pulpit] The preceding was purely fictional. Any resemblance to actual people or events is purely coincidental. However, if the shoe fits...

31 posted on 01/29/2004 1:10:16 PM PST by drstevej
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To: CCWoody
..."Holy Spirit laughter," "Slain in the Spirit," "worship lap running," "pew jumping," and various other Finney excitements.

I love to laugh as much as the next guy, and I appreciate it when the pastor interjects some humor every now and then, but when I saw a video clip of a "holy laughter" service it kinda creeped me out! Can't say I've ever heard of "worship lap running." Is that like "worship lap dancing"? ;-) (Of course there are probably some churches that aren't too far from that. All in the name of appealing to the "unchurched," you know.)

32 posted on 01/29/2004 1:13:20 PM PST by sheltonmac (http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a38123a4375fc.htm#30)
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To: CCWoody
You couldn't lure me into one of those any easier than one of the outposts of the Roman empire!

And, make sure you hug anything and everything in sight to show how much of Jesus' love you have.

I may not be one of the Frozen Chosen but even a Baptist can be pretty Presby on this matter of group hugs.

It might even lead to dancing.
33 posted on 01/29/2004 1:18:42 PM PST by George W. Bush
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To: drstevej
Sermons, I'll usually read. Scripts, never.

Too much opportunity for mischief. Too similar to secular entertainments.
34 posted on 01/29/2004 1:20:28 PM PST by George W. Bush
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To: George W. Bush
The Pharisees and the scribes tryed this covenant theology and got it all wrong. And I believe that most churches that came out of the reform,protestant, and other movements from catholic, have some flaw in there theology. For one thing having all your weatlth tied up in the high arch is not a good ideal. Second by remaining with the church that has excepted a gay bishop makes them all guilty by association(covenant law requires this) and makes the conservative look like a bunch of idoits. Finally the Lord will rain down is wrath on all those seeking peace with the philistine(worldly culture). So what ever you do stand back, way back!, from all this.
35 posted on 01/29/2004 1:21:41 PM PST by Warlord David
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To: jude24
Anyone here have any scholastic-level resources you'd recommend?

When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture

In scholarly circles, the seminal work (almost the only work) on the subject. I have it, not too bad. Not written from a devout perspective though.

I'd love to get a few of the items in the pictures section. Especially the Apocalypse Placemats made in Sherman, TX!!!! (My desire of ownership is strong enough even to remember the small town where they were made.)

The author prepared and published this book, expecting it to fade into oblivion. Then came Waco and a sudden surge of interest in apocalyptic among the intelligentsia and federal law enforcement officials. Boyer is who they call if they're looking to discuss this topic on a news program.
36 posted on 01/29/2004 1:29:36 PM PST by George W. Bush
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To: Warlord David
So what ever you do stand back, way back!, from all this.

Southern Baptists don't have to stand back and they don't. We just expel the erring church and keep going. Actually, their local association expels them but if the local association failed, they'd be expelled along with the heretic church.

One can see that it has worked out far better in safeguarding orthodoxy than the denominationalist practices of the mainstream churches.
37 posted on 01/29/2004 1:35:41 PM PST by George W. Bush
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To: Warlord David
So what ever you do stand back, way back!, from all this.

Southern Baptists don't have to stand back and they don't. We just expel the erring church and keep going. Actually, their local association expels them but if the local association failed, they'd be expelled along with the heretic church.

One can see that it has worked out far better in safeguarding orthodoxy than the denominationalist practices of the mainstream churches.
38 posted on 01/29/2004 1:35:47 PM PST by George W. Bush
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To: drstevej
Maybe they ought to install head phones for each pew.. you know, like they use on the airlines. Then each person could tune in to their favorite "worship channel !"

I wonder how long it will take until a church actually does this?

39 posted on 01/29/2004 1:45:36 PM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: George W. Bush
PRAISE THE LORD!!!! I guest I shall have to run up and down the pews, wave my hands, and do alittle dance. Thanks for the reply.
40 posted on 01/29/2004 1:48:53 PM PST by Warlord David
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To: Alex Murphy
I am familiar with a church in CA that simulcaasts the sermon to ten auditorims each with it's own worship team that offers a different worship mix.

Pretty close already I'd say.
41 posted on 01/29/2004 1:54:07 PM PST by drstevej
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To: sheltonmac
***Can't say I've ever heard of "worship lap running."***

It is where you just start running laps around the sancturary while singing whatever. Variations on this theme are doing this with flags and/ or a congo line.

The first Sunday I saw this, I thought to myself "if I could pick up 2 checkered flags from the local NASCAR store then I could announce a winner the next time I saw it." Then, I thought that nobody would appreciate my humor. After all, this is serious HS stuff.

Woody.
42 posted on 01/29/2004 2:12:55 PM PST by CCWoody (Recognize that all true Christians will be Calvinists in glory,...)
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To: drstevej
I've never used a skit in the church meeting, but I have used them in camp and crusade contexts.

My only attempt at writing a skit since early high school was a very serious affair indeed. It was a portrayal of the trials of Jesus Christ for a children's camp. The kids were profoundly affected as they realized how easily I manipulated them into shouting "Crucify, crucify!" The camp director then used that to explain that our sins crucified Christ just as surely as the chief priests and the Romans.

I'm not fundamentally opposed to skits. But their job is to communicate a spiritual truth, and not to just entertain. Similarly, I don't mind multimedia, as long as it is used to communicate something.

43 posted on 01/29/2004 2:17:40 PM PST by jude24 (Would You like to Know God Personally? - http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~tjminter/4laws/4laws.ppt)
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To: CCWoody
***or a congo line***

conga ???

44 posted on 01/29/2004 2:18:53 PM PST by drstevej
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To: George W. Bush
***You couldn't lure me into one of those any easier than one of the outposts of the Roman empire!***

No guts! No glory!

***I may not be one of the Frozen Chosen but even a Baptist can be pretty Presby on this matter of group hugs.***

Just start tickling their backs and/ or hands. That tends to tone it down some. Or, if you are felling kinda snarky keep your coffee cup full of that expensive coffee service java. Then, when the big hugs start to come, they tend to get wet from the vigorous action. I found out this by accident.

Woody.
45 posted on 01/29/2004 2:19:19 PM PST by CCWoody (Recognize that all true Christians will be Calvinists in glory,...)
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To: drstevej
Hmmm! Yeah, that would be it.

Woody.
46 posted on 01/29/2004 2:20:38 PM PST by CCWoody (Recognize that all true Christians will be Calvinists in glory,...)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
You bet he is doctrinally sound. I've known him for years. He is part of our Presbytery, and we met for Presbytery in his church the beginning of this month.
47 posted on 01/29/2004 2:34:35 PM PST by irishtenor (If animals weren't meant to be eaten, why did God make them out of meat?)
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To: George W. Bush
Good call -- UB's library has it. I've also got another similar book for that. I may also use Living In the Shadow of the Second Coming: American Premillenialism by Timothy Weber (also in the UB Library).

A lot of my source material will probably be primary sources -- Darby, Chaffer, Scofield, Ryrie, Lindsay, and LaHaye. I'll probably ignore the varients like Bock and Blasing's Progressive Dispensationalism. (For the life of me, I can't see a sharp difference between progressive dispensationalism and new covenant theology, at least.)

I'm thinking this could be a blast, but I'm under no illusions that I'll prove or disprove the system here. I'm not expecting to have the definitive rebuttal or argument for dispensationalism contained within a 10-page term paper. Rather, I hope to understand for myself how this doctrine went from a theological novelty to the establishment as quickly as it did.

48 posted on 01/29/2004 2:35:11 PM PST by jude24 (Would You like to Know God Personally? - http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~tjminter/4laws/4laws.ppt)
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To: George W. Bush
I find only one flaw. On the 10 commandments Jesus said I come not to destroy the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. Therefore ALL of the covenants in the old testament or fulfilled in the new covenant. The Lord did not pick and choose what he will, but what the Father wills. Also these old covenant are still in effect, but under the new covenant. Example Noah covenant and the rainbow affect, as I call it. Other than that your right on the nail.
49 posted on 01/29/2004 2:42:07 PM PST by Warlord David
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To: connectthedots
Thanks for the note. The statement Instead, the Bible simply tells us what this God is like, what He has done and is doing; and it tells us what should be our response to Him.

Note the statement about "...'should be' our response..." is a very clear demonstration of the inherent contradiction of Calvinism.

50 posted on 01/29/2004 2:43:47 PM PST by Vernon (Sir "Ol Vern" aka Brother Maynard)
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