I am becoming more and more a fan of Packer. Even though he has a blessed mind, he doesn’t write so technically that the average thinker (like myself), is unable to understand. This book is rather written more devotionally in that Packers love of Christ and His Gospel, comes through so passionately and clearly. His ability to call to carpet the Hyper-Calvinist and the Arminian is refreshing as well. If you’re looking for a book that will remind you of how loving God is to save sinners and how if we believe this to be true, then may be a good primer for you. Click on Icon on “Currently Reading” link to the right to purchase.
A “Go” or No Go” is a military term for those who have meet a set standard and are either fully qualified to perform their duties, or ready to progress to the next phase of the training process. Who determines whether or not one is a “Go” or No Go” is usually a subject matter expert who evaluates the prospect by a set standard. I had the opportunity this past weekend to evaluate Army soldier’s personnel records to see if they were qualified to deploy. The solider was required to submit a packet that supplied numerous papers with their information detailing their personal history. If they were missing any important information, forms, or any undocumented training they were then signed of as a “no go” and were required to locate the papers or get trained before they could progress.
Because of Christ the Christian lives a life completely opposite of this. We have all things in Christ. As our church grows and God adds to our numbers, many come bringing their “records” of achievement. Some come with years of church attendance, theological training, or service. But for the Christian who may be counting on these for God’s favor…it is a “no go.” This is self righteousness. In which according to scripture, we have no righteousness outside of Christ (Rom 3:10). If anyone had any bragging rights it was the apostle Paul. When he evaluated his credentials he declared,
“If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,  blameless.”
But when he divinely evaluated his righteousness against Christ’s by grace, he rightly declared,
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Before we can see and experience God’s grace for ourselves, we must first, empty our “accomplishment folders” and rely only on the person and work of Christ alone.
I was approached by a fellow member of Omaha Bible Church a few years ago, who was interested in what I believed to be the truth regarding the existence of all things. He asked if I believed that all that we see evolved or if it was created “ex nihlo” by God. I thought it to be an odd question. “Doesn’t every Christian believe that God created all things?” He shared a disturbing statistic, that there were a few amongst us who didn’t believe as we did, with some believing in evolution as the cause of all things. The question is why and what’s the harm in accommodating viewpoints concerning the existence of life.
John MacArthur seeks to answer this question in his book “The Battle for the Beginning.” Why the harsh title? Because the attack on God’s word begins with the very first verse, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”(Genesis 1:1) MacArthur masterfully brings the reader into the war room of each camp: the creationist and evolutionist. In the end, the battle is clear. If God exists and is sovereign over His creation. We have always accepted the fact that there are people who deny God as creator of the universe. This is a demonstration of the fall. Romans 1 declares that God has made himself known through His creation and the unrighteous know this, clearly enough that they will have no excuse in the judgment (Romans 1:18-20). The problem comes when those within the church, pastors or individual members, either adopt an evolutionist viewpoint or accommodate those who do in order to “get along.” This practice fuses science and religion together. Those who embrace such a world view, MacArthur writes, “… have in effect made science an authority over scripture.”
MacArthur, who is no stranger to controversy, takes great pains in his book to draft a battle plan that defines who the enemies of God are. At the same time, he provides a running commentary of the 6 days of creation. So who are the enemies? Ultimately, the enemy is Satan himself, who from the beginning has sought to cause mankind to doubt God and His word (Genesis 3:1; Jn 8:44). Because of the fall, this is not a complicated task for Satan to accomplish. John highlights two major groups of peoples who are on the front lines of this battle: the naturalist (who follows the view that every law and every force operating in the universe is natural rather than moral, spiritual, or supernatural) and the humanist. Both groups, because of their error, have appointed Satan as their captain. The church has allowed these belief systems to enter the camp. MacArthur rightly declares that “The church seems to be losing the will to defend what Scripture teaches about the origins of life.”
What I found most helpful in this book was its provision of a primer on the different arguments against creation and their beginnings. Men like Carl Sagan, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx and Adolph Hitler and so one, professed such a worldview (religion) that proved destructive to mankind, as it led to a sense of utter insignificance and despair. This view deemed man as nothing more than some form of higher animal, accountable to no God. We, who have been saved by God’s grace and have God’s word before us, are not too retreat behind our pews, thereby accommodating these viewpoints.
In conclusion, why retreat or surrender the argument of creation to the unregenerate? We are to reload with the truth of God’s word. As great as the universe is, God is infinitely greater, and the human race is nothing by comparison. God was pleased with His creation because it glorified Him. With all of the evidence that God has left us, it is absolutely irrational to ignore the reality of His existence which screams from His creation.
I was asked in one of my college classes to pick an Old Testament hero and make an attempt to identify with them in their life, ministry, or calling. This was somewhat difficult because when I read the Old Testament, I don’t look for myself, but for God, and how God is the same as He was then as He is today. But, because of this assignment and God’s grace we also see another unchanging attribute. That of mankind itself. So, yes I to a certain point can identify with all men. But one must see through the new spiritual bifocals of salvation. I believe that should be the way one should “see” it. It might surprise one to think that the bible itself even though written in a language that we can understand and available to all people, is only beneficial for those who have the mind of God Himself by His indwelling Spirit (1 Corth 2: 6-15). Who, allows us to see Him in a salvific and sanctifying way. Without His assistance we cannot come to know Him in a way that brings about the mind to conform and believe who He is. The unbeliever makes His god into his own image. Exchanging God’s rightful glory, into another image that scripture has not told us (Romans 1: 18-23). This is in essence what we see in the continued rejection of unbelievers. They do not believe or obey, the scripture. With that context, if I had to identify myself with anyone, I would choose Abram (whose name would be eventually changed to Abraham). Like Abram before the calling of God, was a product and descendant of Adam. Not just in the physical since, but in a fallen condition. Like Abram, I was a pagan living in a world that God created; seeing and enjoying His creation (which screams God’s glory and reminds all that God is real) yet not glorifying God. Abram was living in a temporary land and a worshiper of pagans like the rest of his family.
It was during this time that Abram was called. Abram wasn’t seeking God. God was seeking Abram. Some one who would be a Father to a covenant people who through God would show the world who He was. Abram would eventually leave everything behind and be completely dependent on God. Abram’s testimony of God grace is not so far different from mine. I too, was living in a certain place when God called my to believe him by faith. His call similar to mine, “Matt leave this world and live for me. Depend one me, trust in me…completely.” This call came to me not in a voice in the desert, but in a church building. The call was the gospel call to repent and believe. Believe in His Son Jesus Christ. Who by His life, death, and resurrection, earned my righteousness and died a penal subsitutionary death for my sin. All by His grace through faith. I wasn’t looking to be reconciled to God, God was reconciling me to Himself through His son and by the call from His Holy Spirit, through the message of the gospel. Abram was given a new name Abraham and justified (Gen 15:6) because of faith. I was given a new nature and a new relationship with God. Now called his friend, His child because of Jesus Christ. God has always saved a people through His son. Abraham was justified through faith in the coming Messiah, I am justified because of the Messiah’s past work. Abraham lives and communes with God face to face, this is where we both will be much closer to the same. When I die and stand before Christ, to enjoy God face to face. This I see, with the glasses provided by regeneration. The same pair that Abram wore in a desert so long ago.