Guided by Gurnall: Part Ten

In my reading of William Gurnall’s The Christian In Complete Armour, I came across a wonderful, soul-nourishing section. It reminded me of my children and the constant question they ask, “Why?” They ask this question for almost everything I tell them. “That ant is a fire ant.” “Why?” “God clean your room.” “Why?” “I love you!” “Why?”

Any parent, or any individual who has ever worked with children, particularly young children, know this experience. Yet, in Gurnall’s discussion on the need for the armor of God, he anticipates that why question. Why does the armor have to be God’s armor? 

There are several important reasons why the armor must be God’s armor. Gurnall offers some helpful insights as they relate to the main issue, false armors.

False armors

The helpful insight Gurnall gives is in relation to what he calls “false ware.” (Gurnall, 54) He writes,

“It is Satan’s after-game he plays, if he cannot please the sinner with his naked state of profaneness, to put him off with something like grace, some flighty stuff, that shall neither do him good, nor Satan hurt.” (Gurnall, 54)

When asked why we need God’s armor, we must remember that the enemy of our soul, Satan, would love to see us take comfort from false armors. It may provide a sense of security, but offers no protection. Think of many individuals who work for their salvation. The good deeds they engage in provide a sense of comfort, but ultimately they will leave the individual under the just wrath of God if there is no repentance and faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Gurnall makes this clear,

“Pray they must, but little care how it be performed. Believe in God? yes, they hope they are not infidels. But what [the armour] is, how they came by it, or whether it will hold in an evil day, this never was put to the question in their hearts.” (Gurnall, 55)

False Security

That false armor, whatever it may be, leads to false security. This is a dangerous place to be. Imagine being on the highest mountain, on the very top you can see only great distances between yourself and the ground. Your head becomes light with the enormous height. This is the predicament of false armors. You may feel secure because of your expert training, monumental experience, and superb equipment, but this is a false security. One misstep and you will plummet to your death. Gurnall notes the direness of the situation,

“O how hard is it to persaude such a one to light, and hold Christ stirrup, while he and his duties are made Christ’s footstool.” (Gurnall, 55)

There is another aspect of this security, and that involves the condemnation of the one trusting in armor other than that of God’s. Gurnall remarks on the sad situation of those who reject the armor of God,

“None sink so far into hell as those that come nearest heaven, because they fall from the greatest height.” (Gurnall, 55)

So many individuals seem to be Christian. They “made a decision at camp” or “they trusted Christ when a young child,” and yet their lives bear proof that they do not have the armor of God. The false armor produces a false security, over which the sure judgment of God stands. Gurnall states, “None will have such a sad parting from Christ as those who went half-way with him and then left him.” (Gurnall, 55) Jesus puts it like this, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:23, ESV)

A Call for Reformation

What is Gurnall’s advice for those who believe they have the armor of God when in fact they do not? Take up the armor, of course! Repent of the sinful negligence you have shown in refusing to take up the armor of God and put it on! His advice stands true today,

“O Christians, either vindicate the name of Christ, whose ensign you seem to march after, or throw away your seeming armour, bu which you have drawn the eyes of the world upon you.” (Gurnall, 56)

In other words, either be true to Christ or leave Christ. The damage you are creating by claiming to have the armor of God, while not truly possessing it, will only bring further condemnation to your soul.

The message for us today, then, is not much different than that in Gurnall’s day. Let us take up the armor of God. Let us be sure that it is indeed His armor. And let us fight the flesh and the devil with God’s weapons, in God’s power, and with God’s armor. And if we are not truly His, let us cast off the hypocrisy, for we bring greater condemnation upon ourselves when we play the Christian life.

 

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For more gleanings from Gurnall, check these out:

Guided By Gurnall: Part Nine

Guided by Gurnall: Part Eight

Guided by Gurnall: Part Seven

Guided by Gurnall: Part Six

Guided By Gurnall: Part Five

Guided by Gurnall: Part Four

Guided by Gurnall: Part Three

Guided by Gurnall: Part Two

Guided by Gurnall: Part One

Guided by Gurnall: Introduction

Lessons on the Judgment of God: Part Two

In a previous post, we examined the first lesson we learn from The History of Judgment, a sermon on Genesis chapter five.

In this post, we continue our learning by examining the second lesson we learn: the consistency of God’s judgment.

God is a consistent judge, meaning that He has, is, and will continue judging sin. Since God is holy and we are sinful, He must judge sin. If you go back and read Genesis chapter five, you will notice that every single individual named, with the exception of Enoch, died. God promised Adam that if he failed to obey God, he would die (see Genesis 2:17). Adam failed to obey, as did every individual who came from Adam (with the exception of Jesus Christ). Another important passage of Scripture that illustrates the consistency of God’s judgment is Ezekiel 18:20. Ezekiel the prophet writes, “The person who sins will die.” (NASB) There is no debate, no question, and no objection. Sin brings death. It is as true as the sin is bright, and more so.

In our day and age, society is condoning sin in an ever-increasing way. It reflects the wicked and deceitful hearts full of sin (Jeremiah 17:9; Ephesians 2:1-3). The Church, however, is also guilty of this. A brief scan of major denominations and ecclesiastical organizations will yield an abundance of evidence to this. And the individual Christian is guilty (dare I say, me?) as well. We justify our sins and believe that somehow, in some way, God will not judge our sins. He is holy, and as such will never let sin be unpunished.

The consistency of death is seen, not only throughout Scripture but also in history. God’s consistency in judgment is also seen in the toil of our work. In Genesis 3:17-19, God curses the ground, the earth, and man’s work, as a result of man’s disobedience. Ever since then, man has dreaded Monday. Well, he has dreaded work. In current United States culture, COVID-19 aside, everyone works hard in order to retire. Those daily work schedules and deadlines all remind us of the consistencies of God’s judgments. The dread of the end of the weekend is a reminder of the consistency of God’s judgment.

Perhaps you have forgotten the truth that God is a God of judgment. Perhaps you need to reread Genesis chapter five and be reminded of this lesson. Perhaps you need to be reminded of the truth that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, took His children’s place in judgment. This transfer of judgment can be yours through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ. As you are reminded of the consistency of God’s judgment, be reminded of the consistency of God’s grace (see John 3:16).

8 Reasons I am a Southern Baptist

In the midst of all the COVID-19 posts, clips, and Executive Orders, I find it helpful to back off the media consumption and do some heartfelt, soul-edifying work. I recently finished an older book written by Robert Baker titled, The Southern Baptist Convention and Its People 1607-1972. The book covers several hundreds of years of Baptist history in more than 400 pages. It is well-researched, delightfully written, and filled with facts.

 

I enjoyed the book, but what I enjoyed was the message of the book. The Southern Baptist Convention is amazing.[1] I was saved and grew up in an Independent, Fundament Baptist church. There is a lot of difference in what this entails, and I would be more than glad to share my experiences, should you be so inclined. However, shortly after getting married to the most amazing and wonderful woman I have ever met, I became a Southern Baptist. The primary draw was the Cooperative Program.[2] We can get much more done together than we can apart. And I loved the spirit of unity among Southern Baptists. Did they disagree on matters? Absolutely! But they worked through those disagreements with a desire to do the work of the ministry, together.

 

Baker’s book is filled with fascinating stories of the men and women who made the SBC was it is today, and this all happened within the context of the local church. Toward the end of the book, however, Baker mentions eight reasons that the SBC enjoyed, what he called, “remarkable growth.”[3] They were eight reminders of why I am glad to be a Southern Baptist, and I wanted to share them with you.

 

  • “The simple biblical emphasis and democratic ecclesiology.” (447)
  • “The numerous self-sustaining ministry.[sic]” (447)
  • “Identification with the culture-patterns of its environment.” (447)
  • “Evangelistic zeal.” (447)
  • “Individual leadership.” (447)
  • “The structure of the Convention.” (447)
  • “The absence of a significant schism.” (448)[4]
  • “Emphasis on education.” (448)

All of these factors are important to me personally. They are also reasons for which I am thankful to be a Southern Baptist. If you are a Southern Baptist, I highly recommend this resource to you. If you are considering becoming a Southern Baptist, read this book of the historical development of the Convention and the churches within it.

 

What makes you glad to be a Southern Baptist? Would you add anything? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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[1] You can learn more on the SBC’s website: http://www.sbc.net/

[2] The Cooperative Program is fascinating. I encourage you to do your research here: http://www.sbc.net/cp/default.asp

[3] Robert Baker, The Southern Baptist Convention and Its People: 1607-1972 (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1974), 446.

[4] Since the book was written prior to the Conservative-Liberal split, it is not included here. However, even with that split, the Convention sided with the Scriptures. Learn more about the C-L split here: http://www.bpnews.net/18486/25-years-ago-conservative-resurgence-got-its-start

 

Book Review: Mark Ward, “Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible”

Recently I connected to Mark Ward on Twitter. Our paths crossed several times on the social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter. Most notably for me, however, was our connection via Facebook. Two fellow graduates from a small Bible college we attended, and a former professor and pastor, engaged in an online debate about New Testament textual criticism. I enjoyed the debate. The men exchanged their views with attention to detail while maintaining a godly demeanor. The same, however, could not be said of the comment section.
In the comments, though, laid a pot of god in two separate posts on Mark Ward’s blog, By Faith We Understand. The first post that Mark shared was “An Evaluation of the Work of Charles Surrett on the New Kings James Version,” posted on 6 January 2020.[1] The second post that Mark shared was, “An Evaluation of the Work of Charles Surrett on Preservation,” shared on 9 January 2020.[2] Though perhaps lengthier than the average blog, Mark’s attention to detail and irenic spirit was helpful for the discussion. He raised some issues to which, as of yet, I have failed to see any significant rebuttal.

 

This post is not about the topic of New Testament textual criticism, nor is it about Mark’s evaluation of Charles Surrett’s work on preservation, good though they are. It is in regard to Mark’s book, Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible.[3] After some brief interaction via social media, Mark graciously provided a copy of the book to me. In acknowledgment of his character, he asked for a fair review (not necessarily a positive one). That is the purpose of this post.

 

First, I grew up in a King James-only church, graduated from a King James-only college, and served in a volunteer role at a King James-only church. I took one class on New Testament textual criticism while at this King James-only college, so much of the discussion that takes place in Mark’s book was quite familiar. Second, I transitioned away from King James-only churches, colleges, and roles. I feel that this is fair to put up front before diving into my review of the book.

 

The Content of the Book

 

The book sets out to discuss, as the name implies, the use and misuse of the King James Bible. Mark begins the book with a discussion of some of the history of the King James version. Over half of Bible users still use the King James Version, and Mark does an excellent job of representing the value this translation has provided. He also notes what we lose when we leave the KJV. As I mentioned, having been a part of a KJV-only church and college, I appreciated this. Mark Ward does not downplay the importance or the value of the KJV. He also presents many reasons for using the KJV, even today.

 

However, there are some issues with the KJV that prove difficult. Mark provides several examples of the difficulties involved with the use of the KJV. I found his use of “false friends,” of which Mark writes, “But I’m also referring to those “false friends,” words that are still in use but have changed meaning over time, such as halt, commendeth, convenient, wait on, and remove.”[4] I was surprised at several of these. I had used the KJV since I became a Christian, I went to a church that used it, and the college from which I graduated used it. It was humbling to see how many words I didn’t know the meaning of, which is precisely why Mark recommends, and wisely so, that we also use other translations. This section provides the majority of the work.

 

Another significant aspect of Mark’s work is the response to “Ten Objections to Reading Vernacular Bible Translations.”[5] I have heard these arguments from my KJV-only proponents, and I appreciate the time, detail, and manner in which Mark answers these objections.

 

Mark also discusses the benefits of using multiple translations. He briefly addresses the issues of textual criticism, but wisely encourages those to follow the principles of Proverbs 18:13. In his discussion on the different translations available, Mark writes, “I hate to see Bibles becoming symbols of division: “I am of Crossway!” “I am of Zondervan!” “I am of B&H!”[6] I appreciate that sentiment because there is much pride attached to the use of certain versions. I personally enjoy the ESV, but I also enjoy preaching and teaching from the NASB. And one more final point before moving on: Mark encourages people to use the Bible their pastor preaches.

 

Finally, Mark ends the work with a call to action. He encourages readers to pursue the reading of Scripture in a variety of translations. He rates them from formal to functional, and challenges us to “Get a translation you’ve never read before and read it all the way through.”[7] I intend to do this with the NIV.

 

Who Would Benefit From This Book?

 

Anyone who loves the Bible! Seriously, this book would prove quite helpful for anyone, KJV-only or not, as it helps present the benefits of the KJV as well as other translations. Mark takes time to unravel the difficulties attached to this older translation without treating it contemptuously.

Those who enjoy one particular version (such as ESV or NASB, for example) would do well to read this. It helps clear up the idea of a “perfect translation” and encourages the use of a variety of translations.[8]

Furthermore, those who are KJV-only would do well to consider carefully Mark’s words. They are written from a desire to help, and as such, they should be received in that manner. Without forfeiting their love, appreciation, and commitment to the KJV, it would help the Kingdom of God if they became more open and accepting to those who use other versions.

All in all, Mark’s book is well worth your read.

 

[1] https://byfaithweunderstand.com/2020/01/06/an-evaluation-of-the-work-of-charles-surrett/

 

[2] https://byfaithweunderstand.com/2020/01/09/an-evaluation-of-the-work-of-charles-surrett-on-preservation/

 

[3] Mark Ward, Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).

[4] Ward, 74.

[5] Ward, 87.

[6] Ward, 124.

[7] Ward, 139.

[8] Mark Ward, Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible, ed. Elliot Ritzema, Lynnea Fraser, and Danielle Thevenaz (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018), 126.

Lessons of the Judgment of God

Introductory Thoughts
This Sunday evening, I walked our congregation through Genesis chapter 5. Our primary focus was on the judgment of God. This judgment comes from the Creator God, as established by Genesis chapter one and 2:5-24. God creates everything, culminating in the creation of man and woman. Before creating the woman, God issues a command and prohibition to Adam (Gen. 2:15-17). When Adam fails to obey His Creator, judgment comes (Gen. 3). As a result, God cursed the ground (Gen. 3:17-19), but He also eventually executed the judgment of death promised in Gen. 2:17.
4 Lessons on Judgment
In chapter 5 of Genesis, we see a shift from the focus on Cain and his seed to Adam and his seed. Humanity is now born in the image of Adam (Gen. 5:3), maintaining that nature of sin and wrath (Rom. 3:10-18, cf. Eph. 2:1-3). As a result, God’s judgment extends. However, there are four lessons we can learn about God’s judgment. We will take one lesson each week and devote some time, thought, and prayer to seeking how we can best live by the truth we learn.
1. God has a reason for judgment–our judgment is not because of a malevolent God.
Many people erroneously believe that God is a horrible God. Consider Richard Dawkins, a well-known atheist and evolutionary-biologist, thoughts, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” [Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006), 31.]
Unfortunately, Dawkins’ views could well describe the beliefs of many. However, as Christians, we submit to God’s Word, and God’s Word teaches us that since He created us, He is well within His rights to rule over us. Scriptures, however, teach another thing about God: He is holy. Passages like Isaiah 6:1-6 illustrate the supreme holiness of God.
Because God is holy, sin must be judged. It is in the very nature of holiness that sin and injustice must be addressed. So why is it that people have such trouble accepting this?
Besides their natural bend away from God (again, see Rom. 3:10-18), people have a problem with seeing their own wickedness. Individuals like David serve as a perfect example. In 2 Samuel 11, David sees a woman of great beauty. After a significant warning (11:3), David pursued an immoral relationship with the wife of one of his mighty men. Learning of her pregnancy with his child, David attempts to put a blanket over the whole situation (11:6-13). In this, Uriah was acting more righteous than David, the sweet psalmist of Israel. Even in his failure, David pressed on by sending a death warrant for Uriah, carried by Uriah himself (11:14-25). David, after hearing of the success of his command, takes Bathsheba as his wife. The LORD, as the Scriptures say, was displeased. In chapter 12, God brings Nathan to David to confront him. Interestingly Nathan does not come out and address David’s sin, instead, he tells a story. All the while, David is blind to his own wickedness.
While we look back at David and wonder how someone could do such a thing, we must realize that we do the exact same thing. Then, when God righteously judges us, we kick back and begin to argue about His own injustice.
The first lesson we learn about judgment from Genesis chapter five is that God has every right and reason to judge sin: His holiness has been violated.
Brothers and sisters, let us learn this lesson together. Let us learn it swiftly and intensely, and let the judgment of God spur us on to action.