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The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

The Tell-Tale Heart: Planned-Parenthood, Prophetic-Protest, and the Pounding of the American Conscience

Aug 22nd, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

“For the heart that sin and sorrow broke is beating once again…”
– Michael Card, “Love Crucified Arose”
floorboardsEarlier this week the seventh video exposing the crimes and corruption of the government funded Planned Parenthood was released online. In it we were shown the grotesque scene of an aborted baby’s brain being sliced from its skull as the attendants’ remark that the child’s heart is still beating.

Over the last two months we have been confronted with an unrelenting display of the modern American holocaust. True, the horrors aren’t shown in black-and-white. There are no emaciated crowds, deadened camp courtyards, or ash stained smokestacks rising from the bricked and windowless death chambers. The medical clinics operated by Planned Parenthood don’t look like concentration camps. But then again, God isn’t fooled by clean rooms, bright lights, white coats, and sterilized surgical instruments. We know what we’re seeing.

And we know what we’ve been seeing all along. The problem isn’t an inability to make a moral judgment about what the videos show. The problem is our uncomfortable tendency to be all too comfortable not acknowledging it. It’s no wonder that pro-choice supporters in the mainstream media (and even in the mainstream White House) do not want to accept or acknowledge the contents of these videos. No wonder they have to retreat within the defenses of not watching the tapes. No wonder they have to continually claim that the videos are “edited” to the point of being unsubstantiated. The moment they are acknowledged the truth the films affirm has to be accepted: A beating baby’s heart really is a beating baby’s heart.

If we’re honest with ourselves, however, we know this is a dangerous tendency even among pro-life advocates. We can become so accustomed to horror, so accustomed to the unchanging status quo, and so accustomed to the cultural attention-deficit disorder of the newest “fad” sparked from social media, that we are always in danger of short-term shock. There really is a danger that the Planned Parenthood videos might merely come to be the Ice-Water-Challenge videos of 2015. Or the “Get Kony” campaign of a few years earlier. But they must not be. The stakes are far too high. As the twenty-first century inches closer to its third decade, we must not lose focus on this the moral crisis of our age.

We must never stop hearing the unending thudding of that baby’s heart. Like the haunted and maddened conscience of Poe’s guilty murderer, the beating hearts of our slaughtered children will never stop echoing their condemnation. Their blood cries out, perhaps not from the floorboards or from the ground, but certainly from stainless-steel disposal canisters, sinks, and lab trays, and freezers.

Earlier today, across the United States hundreds of peaceful demonstrations and protests were carried out to continue to raise awareness of the blood-stained nightmare that is abortion. The protests seek to continue to provide public pressure on both state legislatures and the federal government to begin to take steps to curb the actions of Planned Parenthood and to investigate and convict those responsible for their crimes.

That needs to happen. With as much zeal as the Nazi bureaucracy and military command was relentlessly hunted and brought to justice for their crimes, so must the criminal conspiracy of legalized abortion on demand be extinguished. And so must the American church never cease to place the stethoscope of truth on the seared chest of the American conscience. National protests are good. But they dare not stop until all the vestiges of this evil are expunged. If we deposit our outrage at abortion into the trash-bin of once popular protests that have now passed into history, we ourselves will be complicit in the guilt of disposing the dissected corpses of baby boys and girls who belong in a cradle into a trash can.

In the gospels Jesus prophetically condemned the hardness and unrepentance of the villages around Galilee like Capernaum and Bethsaida that had grown too complacent and comfortable with the witness of Christ’s miraculous power and message. He announces that on the final Day of Judgment the residents of Sheba and Sodom would rise up and bear witness against them, testifying to the guilt they were accountable for. If we stop working to end abortion’s reign of death, if we fail to be grieved until our children have ceased being slaughtered, then the living children of abortion’s slaughtered masses will rise up to bear witness against us on that day. Their bodies will be resurrected like Christ’s, and their hearts will beat like his on into eternity. Christ’s own silenced heart was restarted. Theirs will be also. And knowing that, we also know that we will not go unconfronted.

Today the loud voices of our protest are being heard across our country. May we never cease to pray and work and speak and lobby and plead for the masses being delivered to their deaths. May the rhythms of our rage beat with the same rhythms of the tell-tale hearts that will not allow our consciences to be absolved.

Hearing that prophetic pounding,

Pastor Cade

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The Tale from the Perilous Realm

Aug 18th, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

Kill the Dragon

By Cade Campbell

“There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, Speaking of the Gospel in his essay “On Fairy Stories”

I love a good story. I love the epic journey of the Fellowship to defeat evil in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I love the birth of the hero to defeat evil with the emergence of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. I love the magical power of sacrifice and love to defeat evil in Harry Potter. I absolutely love these tales. And you probably love them too; maybe not these particular ones (although they’re wonderful), but we all from childhood love stories where the danger is great, the stakes are high, the enemy is ruthless, the hero is an underdog, and yet evil is defeated. We love stories where the good triumphs and the bad loses. We long for stories that really do have a “happily ever after.”

This Wednesday evening at our Midweek service we’ll step into Revelation 12. This new chapter begins the second great “Act” of the drama that John’s apocalypse portrays. Following the story’s Prologue (chapters 1-3), Act I (chapters 4-11) portray believers triumphing in Christ as Christ, the sovereign ruler of all things, completes his plan, fulfills his promises, and unleashes the totality of his wrath on his enemies. We’re shown a vision of all of history (past, present, and future) in which Christ is victorious and his people triumph through the persecutions and sufferings that they endure at the hands of God’s enemies, being assured of their final victory and vindication as those same enemies endure fierce judgment at the hand of Christ.

Act II (Revelation 12-22) rewinds the story and portrays that same drama from a completely new vantage point. Readers are given special “glasses,” by which we are allowed to see the true intergalactic and cosmic expanse of the story that we find ourselves in. Reality is shown to be far deeper, far deadlier, far scarier, far larger, and far grander than anything we might have expected. The story that we’re caught up in spans all of heaven and hell, the physical and spiritual dimensions, earth and space, all creation. The veil is lifted to show us the truth about reality. We’re caught in the middle of a truly worldwide war.

That means the truest thing about your life is not necessarily what it appears to be. The most fundamental facts about who you are and why you are here is not limited to chores, deadlines, commutes, bills, school, housework, meals, and sleep. All of these parts of our lives are the environment in which and through which a much larger story is unfolding. The truth about who we really are is epic. We are real-life, living characters in a story far older, far stranger, far deadlier, far more dangerous, and with an ending far more delightful than anything we could ever imagine. Our greatest enemy is not our spouse, our boss, our job, our kids, our parents, our teachers, our coworkers, our friends, or our neighbors. Our greatest enemy is far worse than Sauron, Darth Vader, and Voldemort combined. And Revelation unmasks him. Our greatest enemy is “He Who Must Be Named.” He is the emperor of evil. He is the devilish dragon of demons. He is Satan himself.

And he wants to destroy everything good and bend it to his purpose. Allied with him is a host of forces: demonic spirits, sinful desires and rebellion, the power and prestige of the world, and the blindness that so often keeps this true story hidden from everyday view. This dragon and his allies are warring against his enemies. They have invaded God’s creation. They have flourished under creation’s curse. They are rabidly seeking to steal, kill, and destroy everything that God has created good.

But God, the good king of all that is, will not let the dragon be victorious. Standing against the dragon is a Lamb, not a small and timid farm animal, but a wild and roaring warrior, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Lamb and his Army assemble against the forces of evil. They array themselves in bloodstained robes of Calvary’s clothing and they charge into the mighty throngs of demonic dominion.

And the Lamb wins.

That’s the story that Revelation 12-22 narrates, and that’s the story we find ourselves living in as participating characters. That is the reality behind all that lurks outside (and inside) our windows. That is the truth about who we really are and where we really are. Listen closely and you will hear the sound of tumult and feel the rumble of the battle that is raging all around us.

Awake from your drowsed stupor. Christians find themselves in the midst of what is truly the greatest story ever told. We find each day of our calendar to be just another page in the tale from this our perilous realm. We find ourselves living among forces far more powerful than comic book heroes. We are in league with a company, a community of men and women far larger and far greater and far more victorious than the Rebel Alliance or the Fellowship or Dumbledore’s Army. We find ourselves in the ranks of martyrs and missionaries, suffering saints, ordinary yet faithful believers all over the world who are allied with all creation into the Lamb’s Army.

Our universe is more compelling and more spectacular than anything Marvel or DC could ever conceive. The gospel is the heart and core of all story. In fact, all other stories (The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Avengers, etc.) are merely fictionalized and faint echoes of actual reality, reflections that point us to the True Story, the Real Story.

And that real story is no mere fiction, although it did begin “once upon a time.”

And that real story, through the Lamb’s conquering cross, will definitely have a “happily ever after.”

Post Script:

The epigraph of the short article above was taken from J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories.” In it he goes into great detail about the genre of fairy and fantasy, and at the end of the essay (in an epilogue) he brings the study of this literature to bear on the real world, actual history. What follows is the larger portion of that epilogue (itself only a small part of Tolkien’s full essay) from which the above quote was taken. It is worth reading in its entirety, especially for fans of fantasy literature, science-fiction, and superheroes!

Probably every writer making a secondary world, a fantasy, every sub-creator, wishes in some measure to be a real maker, or hopes that he is drawing on reality: hopes that the peculiar quality of this secondary world (if not all the details) are derived from Reality, or are flowing into it. If he indeed achieves a quality that can fairly be described by the dictionary definition: “inner consistency of reality,” it is difficult to conceive how this can be, if the work does not in some way partake of reality. The peculiar quality of the ”joy” in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth. It is not only a “consolation” for the sorrow of this world, but a satisfaction, and an answer to that question, “Is it true?” The answer to this question that I gave at first was (quite rightly): “If you have built your little world well, yes: it is true in that world.” That is enough for the artist (or the artist part of the artist). But in the “eucatastrophe” we see in a brief vision that the answer may be greater—it may be a far-off gleam or echo of evangelium in the real world. The use of this word gives a hint of my epilogue. It is a serious and dangerous matter. It is presumptuous of me to touch upon such a theme; but if by grace what I say has in any respect any validity, it is, of course, only one facet of a truth incalculably rich: finite only because the capacity of Man for whom this was done is finite.

I would venture to say that approaching the Christian Story from this direction, it has long been my feeling (a joyous feeling) that God redeemed the corrupt making-creatures, men, in a way fitting to this aspect, as to others, of their strange nature. The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels—peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: “mythical” in their perfect, self-contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation. The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the “inner consistency of reality.” There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.

It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be “primarily” true, its narrative to be history, without thereby necessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it had possessed. It is not difficult, for one is not called upon to try and conceive anything of a quality unknown. The joy would have exactly the same quality, if not the same degree, as the joy which the “turn” in a fairy-story gives: such joy has the very taste of primary truth. (Otherwise its name would not be joy.) It looks forward (or backward: the direction in this regard is unimportant) to the Great Eucatastrophe. The Christian joy, the Gloria, is of the same kind; but it is preeminently (infinitely, if our capacity were not finite) high and joyous. But this story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men—and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.

But in God’s kingdom the presence of the greatest does not depress the small. Redeemed Man is still man. Story, fantasy, still go on, and should go on. The Evangelium has not abrogated legends; it has hallowed them, especially the “happy ending.” The Christian has still to work, with mind as well as body, to suffer, hope, and die; but he may now perceive that all his bents and faculties have a purpose, which can be redeemed. So great is the bounty with which he has been treated that he may now, perhaps, fairly dare to guess that in Fantasy he may actually assist in the effoliation and multiple enrichment of creation. All tales may come true; and yet, at the last, redeemed, they may be as like and as unlike the forms that we give them as Man, finally redeemed, will be like and unlike the fallen that we know.

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Back to the Beginning: Getting Ready to Go to Genesis

Aug 15th, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

Banner

In a few weeks we’ll be closing the door on our Sunday morning sermon series in 1 Timothy and beginning an epic journey together through the book of Genesis. We’ll walk through the shaded boughs of Eden, across the noisy decks of the Ark, around the impressive building projects of Babel, along the caravan routes to Canaan, up the rocky slopes of Moriah, and down into the Pyramid plazas of Egypt. Along the way we’ll meet men and women like Adam, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Rachel, Jacob, Joseph, and the mysterious Melchizedek. It’s going to be a trip we’ll never forget.

In anticipation of this new series there are a few things you can be doing to prepare. First, be praying for our church as we start to sit under one of the most foundational books in the entire Bible. With that, be praying for your pastors that our minds and hearts will be clear as we study and prepare each week and that our words will be clear as we preach at each service.

Second, help us spread the word. The promotional banner (above) is available online here and on social media. Save that image and share it via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Email. Invite your friends, family members, neighbors and coworkers. Genesis is relentlessly relevant. It confronts us with our identity, the nature of an individual, the origin of the existence of all things, creationism, human sexuality, the meaning of life, the nature and consequences of sin, and the hope that is only found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The questions and concerns that modern men and women are asking and facing are all answered and addressed in this most ancient of books.

Third, begin preparing yourself and your family to dive deep into the study of God’s Word in the book of Genesis. There are lots of great resources that you can obtain and avail yourself of to make your own study all the more helpful. While we can’t fully catalog every helpful resource, we do want to point you to a select handful of seven books that we as pastors are confident to commend to you for your own personal Bible study that may go along with our Sunday morning sermons:

Promised

1. The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis (A 10-Week Bible Study), by Nancy Guthrie

This is a great condensed overview study of Genesis that is meant to introduce readers to the way Genesis points us to the gospel by portraying the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Twelve Week Study

2. Genesis: A 12 Week Study, by Mitchell Kim

The helpful study courses in this series from Crossway are valuable ways to begin to immerse yourself into the study of individual books. Mitchell Kim’s study of Genesis helps readers understand the big picture of the book and teaches us how to read the narrative in a careful and Christ-focused way.

How to Read

3. How to Read Genesis, by Tremper Longman

The title of this short paperback says it all. Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman helps us all become better readers and students of the Bible’s first book.

The Gospel in Genesis

4. The Gospel in Genesis, by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Anything from the pen and pulpit of one of the twentieth century’s greatest preachers is worth reading. Lloyd-Jones’ short little book of meditations on Genesis prepares us for a deep series and study through the book.

Last Things First

5. Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis with the Christ of Eschatology, by J.V. Fesko

Our upcoming sermon series in Genesis will partially overlap with our Midweek sermon series in the book of Revelation. How are the first book and the last book of the Bible connected? In this fascinating study, Fesko shows readers how understanding what the Bible says about last things (eschatology) sheds light on our understanding of what the Bible teaches about the first things.

From Eden

6. From Eden to the New Jerusalem, by T. Desmond Alexander

This little book, though not about Genesis per se, helps us see how the book of Genesis is connected to the overarching storyline of the Bible. This introduction to biblical theology helps us see the big picture that Genesis begins.

Beginning and Blessing

7. Genesis: Beginning and Blessing, by R. Kent Hughes

Finally, this accessible, one-volume commentary will help readers dig into the text of Genesis and apply it to their lives as we all prepare to hear God’s Word preached each and every week.

So there they are, the three P’s to getting ready for Genesis: Pray, Promote, and Prepare. We’re getting excited about our upcoming sermon series. We hope you are too!

In Christ,

The Pastors of First Baptist Church Henryville

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The Epicenter of Eschatology (Revelation Listening Guide #22)

Aug 12th, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

Overcome: The Hope of the Christian in the Revelation of the Lamb
August 12, 2015
The Epicenter of Eschatology
Revelation 11:15-19

I. Echoes of Excellency

Rock concerts are loud, really loud. They shake the arenas that hold them. The huge speakers reverberate and boom until the crowd doesn’t just hear the music, it feels the music. The entire space pulsates with the power of sound and energy.

That’s true of high-powered, high-volume concerts, and it’s also true of the book of Revelation. John’s visions are composed like the set-list of a heavenly rock-opera. With every movement and with every song the volume soars and the speakers are turned up a notch. The sound echoes throughout eternity with the excellencies of Christ, and his glory is so great that only the loudest sounds will do. The visions are meant to make shake you to your core, and the first half of the performance reaches a crescendo in Revelation 11:15-19.

Chapters 4-11 have been emphasizing the perfect wrath of God poured out on his enemies, through which his people conquer in the end. We saw that emphasis in the song of the seven seals climaxing with the seventh seal being broken as all of heaven shook with the presence of God. Now we see it again as the tumult of the trumpets resounds throughout the creation as the ultimate end of history is brought to a close as the curtains go up on eternity. The seventh and final trumpet is blown signaling the fulfillment of all God’s purposes and promises and then heaven unleashes the full harmony of the decibels of doxology.

II. The Decibels of Doxology

Revelation 11:15-19 brings Act I of Revelation to a close with epic echoes that reverberate into their counterpart vision in Revelation 20-22. Indeed, it is no accident that this passage lies at the very center of the book. It is the halfway point of the apocalypse and it ushers us into the wartime drama beginning in chapter 12. As it does, the deafening declarations of heaven’s court join together to celebrate the completion of God’s purposes and the conquest of God’s Christ. It does so through celebrating five realities that lie at the heart of where history is headed:

1. God’s kingdom will flood all of God’s creation (v. 15).

2. God’s victory will fulfill all of God’s promises (vv. 16-17).

3. God’s wrath will fall on all of God’s enemies (v. 18).

4. God’s presence will forever be with all of God’s people (vv. 18-19).

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Measured and Martyred: The Church’s Witness in a Wicked World (Revelation Listening Guide #21)

Aug 12th, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

Overcome: The Hope of the Christian in the Revelation of the Lamb
July 29, 2015
Measured and Martyred: The Church’s Witness in a Wicked World
Revelation 11:1-14


I. Apocalypse and Interpretation

Interpreting the book of Revelation is difficult. That’s true for several reasons. First, it’s just a hard letter to understand. It’s wild and somewhat bizarre. It’s full of symbols and encrypted language. Second, we’re all surrounded with a smorgasbord of interpretive options and views. That means we can sometimes be so heavily influenced by a particular view that we’ve heard, that we can become blind to any other alternative. Everything surrounding Revelation is a “perfect storm” for creating confusion.
And Revelation 11 may indeed be the heart of that perfect storm. One commentator has said that there is no chapter in the entire book that is more difficult to interpret and understand. That sounds especially daunting. What is going on at the temple? What’s the deal with these two unnamed and mysterious witnesses? Who are they? What is their place in the overall storyline of Revelation? Those are questions that need answering, and so as we go through this chapter, there are two things that need to be done. We need to try and understand what the vision is, and then see how it is meant to encourage and assure the seven local churches of Asia Minor.

II. The Vision(s): What They Signify

The combined visions of the temple (the presence of God) and the witnesses (the message of God) represent the same exact thing: The CHURCH. Why is that the case? Why should we interpret the chapter in this way? There are several reasons:

1. The Structural Argument: Revelation 4-11

2. The Textual Argument:

A. The Temple Metaphor: 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21
B. The Olive Trees and Lampstands Metaphor: Jeremiah 11:16; Romans 11:17-24;
Revelation 1:20

3. The Companion Text Argument: Revelation 13:5-7

4. The Missional Argument


III. The Vision(s): The Measured and Martyred Church

If the temple and the two witnesses are understood to be corresponding pictures that represent the church, the people of God living in and fulfilling its mission as the prophetic voice speaking the proclamation of God’s truth in the midst of a hostile and hurting world, then Revelation 11:1-14, ushering in the great victorious climax of vv. 15-19, provide us the template by which we are to live in exile and proclaim God’s truth in a wicked world:

1. The church is built and established and completed in the midst of a world in rebellion against God.

2. The church is commissioned to courageously proclaim God’s truth to a world in rebellion against God.

3. The church is promised pain and persecution as the guaranteed result of being distinct from the world in rebellion against God.

4. The church is assured of its ultimate and future vindication and victory above beyond the condemned world that is now in rebellion against God.

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First Baptist Church Henryville Annual Women’s Conference

Aug 4th, 2015 | By | Category: Media, The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

StandFirm1

Click HERE to register

LeighannMcCoy          Featuring Guest Speaker LeighAnn McCoy

          September 19, 2015 @ FBC Henryville

          Cost: $30.00 per person

          Registration: 8:00-8:30AM

          Program: 8:45AM-5:00PM

          Lunch provided

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Heart of Darkness: When Hell Hits Earth (Revelation Listening Guide)

Jul 15th, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

Overcome: The Hope of the Christian in the Revelation of the Lamb
July 15, 2015
Heart of Darkness: When Hell Hits Earth
Revelation 9

I. Nightmare on (Every) Street

Phobia. That word has been so overused that it becomes a catch-all for everything anyone may have an aversion to. There’s deipnophobia (fear of dinner parties), selenophobia (fear of the moon), genuphobia (fear of knees), coultrophobia (fear of clowns), and arithmophobia (fear of numbers), just to name a few. Seriously, no matter what it is there is someone somewhere who claims to be terrified by it.

And yet the Bible presents a startling truth. We have a dulled tendency to not tremble at what is truly terrifying. Most of our nightmares are irrational, while what is truly horrifying often appears to be harmless. Sin is the sickness of misplaced fears, and that’s why we need passages like Revelation 9.
These passages shock us out of our ridiculous slumber and call us (believers and nonbelievers alike) to a radical reality-check. Revelation 9 forces us to face true terror as we’ve never seen it before.

Chapter nine opens after the first four trumpets of judgment have sounded and after the great eagle of God’s warnings has soared throughout the world warning the inhabitants of earth of God’s impending judgment. Remember, just like the seal judgments (chs. 6-8), the trumpet judgments represent the same progression of the entirety of the ever intensifying judgments of God against sin culminating ultimately (in the sixth judgment of each cycle) with the final catastrophic and absolute judgment against God’s enemies. So chapter nine restarts the clock on that countdown as God’s judgment reaches a crescendo. And that crescendo unleashes on the creation the nightmare of sin’s consequences. Revelation 9 unveils the true end that the world in rebellion against God is hurtling toward, and it is terrifying.

II. Demonic Legions and the Darkness of Humanity

The terror of this chapter centers on what is unleashed upon unbelievers and what is within unbelievers: the demonic forces of evil and the darkened hearts of unrepentance. That’s what this chapter unfolds, and as it does so believers are sobered and unbelievers are warned: “This is coming.” With that in mind, we see in this chapter four truths that are truly terrifying.

1. The divine judgment of God results in hell’s horror being unleashed.

2. The desire of Satan’s demons is the total destruction of unbelievers.

3. The darkness of sin’s poison blinds the hearts of unbelievers.

4. The danger of eternal condemnation is escaped only in repentance.

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Amen: When Heaven Hits Earth (Revelation Listening Guide)

Jul 1st, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

Overcome: The Hope of the Christian in the Revelation of the Lamb
July 1, 2015
Amen: When Heaven Hits Earth
Revelation 8

I. A Collision Course

There are three questions that all believers will undoubtedly be confronted with: 1) Does God hear me? 2) Does God keep his promises? 3) Will God make things right? These questions lie at the heart of what we face on an almost daily basis. When we look around at the world it makes us wonder if this globe is hurdling out of control with all of us trapped onboard. The book of Revelation addresses these questions head-on and gives us God’s definitive answer, the definitive answer of hope and perseverance for God’s people.
Revelation 8 is all about that answer. Revelation 4-5 centers our attention on God’s throne-room leading up to the first cycle of judgments. Chapter six recounts the progression of those judgments as each of the seals are broken by the Lamb, and chapter seven presents a pictorial interlude showing God’s people protected, preserved, and paraded into triumph in, through, and beyond God’s wrath. Then chapter eight begins another cycle back through that same story first presented in chapters 4-7, starting once again in God’s throne-room and progressing through God’s outpoured wrath on sin. Even though chapter eight begins the judgment-cycle again, it does so by both progressing and intensifying its depiction of God’s righteous judgment on rebellion and God’s sealed-people’s perseverance to the very end. And so as this second cycle starts, readers are confronted with the great hope for God’s people and the great horror for God’s enemies in considering the truth that God’s ultimate salvation and his unbound judgment is on a collision course with our world, the world that is fallen and in rebellion against God.

II. And All God’s People Said…

What will that collision look like? John’s depiction of the first four “Trumpet Judgments” shows us what happens when a holy God confronts a world of sin. We are shown the truth about what is really heading our way:

1. The holiness of God’s presence will be rightly hallowed (vv. 1-2).

2. The prayers of God’s people will be faithfully answered (vv. 3-5).

3. The belittling of God’s glory will be righteously avenged (vv. 6-12).

4. The enemies of God’s kingdom will be mercifully warned (v. 13).

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The Meaning of Marriage: A Statement from the Pastors of FBC Henryville

Jun 26th, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

WeddingRingEarlier this afternoon the United States Supreme Court issued a sweeping and landmark judicial decision. In its 5-4 ruling the court established the full-legality of “Gay Marriage” throughout the United States. We join together in our own dissent to this decision as pastors and citizens of the United States of America. We also join together in our firm commitment to what we believe is faithful and biblically demanded civil-disobedience in regards to this decision. We reject it outright. Make no mistake, this is no small thing. In light of that decision, and in light of the abundant media coverage that the decision has and will produce, we want to make it clear to the members of First Baptist Church Henryville what our commitments are regarding marriage in light of this recent court decision:

First, we are committed to the biblical truth that marriage is the covenant and lifetime union between one man and one woman.

It is a one-flesh union established by God as a part of the creation’s structure (Genesis 2:23-25) and it was created to intentionally display the union of Christ with his church, his bride (Ephesians 5:25-33). Marriage is God’s idea and God’s design, and as such it is not under the purview of any human authority. We do not recognize the authority of any human power, court, or society to redefine that which God and God alone has created. Our consciences are captive to the Word of God. We fully affirm the historic biblical teaching regarding marriage, and do so unwaveringly.

Second, we are committed to being a faithful witness to the sanctity of God-ordained marriage in our community and around the world.

We reject any authority as binding on our hearts over and above the Word of God. As such we will refuse to participate in, sanction, or celebrate any form of marriage that is a perversion of marriage’s biblical design. We refuse the authority of any human institution to bind our consciences or to demand our allegiances away from our Lord Jesus Christ. Here we stand. We will not be moved. We have added our names to the “Here We Stand” marriage statement through the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and we encourage you to make use of their invaluable resources that are available at http://www.erlc.org.

Third, we are committed to faithfully shepherding the flock that God has given to us to care for, feed, and protect.

In the coming days and weeks we will be having very frank conversations together and with other church leaders about what these new realities (legally and culturally) are, and how they might affect our wedding and marriage policies (both individually and as a church). Rest assured, we are committed to doing everything in our power to protect FBC Henryville and guard the gospel among us.

Fourth, we are as committed as ever to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In some ways a lot has changed in the last twenty-four hours, but what matters most has not changed at all. God is still God. Sin is still sin. Grace is still precious. The cross still saves. We are passionate about truth and love, truth that does not dilute love and love that does not dilute truth. We affirm that the gospel is the good news of salvation to everyone who believes. Because of that we will continue to equip our church to be a gospel people: people who unreservedly love all people regardless of their sins, and people who unreservedly proclaim salvation for sinners by faith in Christ alone.

Things have changed. But the world has not fallen apart. Chaos is not reigning. Satan is not victorious. God is sovereign. Christ is not defeated. The gospel is not deterred. History remains under the authority of history’s Lord, and it is altogether advancing forward to the consummation of all things under the unending reign of King Jesus. The future for Christ’s bride, the church, is bright. The future of marriage is secure. All of time and eternity is building to the event that all creation has been anticipating: the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-10), when our Bridegroom Jesus will take his seat with us, his ransomed and redeemed Bride, now clothed in a pure blood-washed-white dress; and we will dine, and laugh, and love, and worship, and live. Forever.

Yours in Christ,

The Pastors of First Baptist Church Henryville

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Dixie and Discipleship: My Problem with the Confederate Battle Flag

Jun 23rd, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog



Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also, The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.– Martin Luther, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”

I’ve always loved history. I’ve always loved studying history. My dream job as a child was to be a history teacher (a dream I fulfilled for several years teaching high school), and my area of utter fascination was the American Civil War. I devoured hundreds and hundreds of books on the subject. I dug into the minutiae of battles, politics, and important figures (some known and others largely forgotten). I pulled my parents to every major battlefield in the country. My senior trip, my graduation gift for graduating from college was an all-expense paid trip to Gettysburg. There isn’t an area of Civil War history (from medicine to the navy to the home-front) that I haven’t lived with for over two decades. In my home study you’ll find busts of Lee and Grant and a painting depicting the Appomattox surrender.

I love history. And I particularly love my history, the good and the bad of it. I love reading about my ancestor’s roles in the history of our country. I’m proud to know I had ancestors who fought alongside Francis Marion in the Carolinas during the Revolutionary War. I’m proud of my great-grandfather who was wounded between the lines in World War I. I’m proud of my uncle who was killed in World War II. I’m proud of my other family members who served their country in military service and lived to tell the tale. And I’m also connected to my family’s and state’s darker history. I’ve read church minutes from the nineteenth century where some of my ancestors were disciplined by their local churches for drunkenness. I own an old plantation desk that dates to the 1840’s where according to family lore papers were once signed to buy and sell slaves. Some of my ancestors were slave-owners and some of my family served in the Confederate Army. And I love them all. They fought in a losing cause and in a wrong cause, but they fought in defense of their homes and families as they genuinely believed they were taking the right course of action.

In junior high I celebrated that heritage by joining our local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. One of my direct ancestors was William B. Campbell who served throughout the war (and was wounded) in Company K of the 33rd Mississippi Infantry. I honor his memory and his service. I honor his memory in my love for history and in my love for place. I even honor his memory in some Civil War framed-prints that I have at home, some of which contain the image of the Confederate Battle Flag. But I don’t think that Confederate Battle Flag should be flown, particularly from public property. My convictions on that point are as a believer. For me it is a gospel issue, not a political one. I genuinely believe that the love of Christ compels me.

Last Wednesday morning Amy and I were in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. We’d come into town for a wedding. We walked past the Emanuel AME Church a few hours before a gunman walked into that congregation’s midweek prayer service. We turned on the news in our hotel room later that night and saw the coverage of the massacre being filmed just yards from where we had stood a few hours before. Now, some might argue that the shooting in South Carolina is all that has given rise to the loud, outspoken cries for the flag’s removal. That may be so, but my views have been changed (and been changing) on the issue for quite some time. In 2001 I voted in a Mississippi state referendum to keep our current state flag featuring the Confederate Battle Flag prominently in its upper left corner. In the nearly fifteen years since I cast that vote I’ve changed my mind. I believe I was wrong, and I want to tell you why.

My love for God and neighbor leads me to desire to remove any unnecessary obstacle to the gospel. The message of the cross is a stumbling block enough. It’s controversial. It’s foolishness to the world. I don’t have to, nor should I want to, add any additional scandal to its proclamation and reception, and I fear that the Confederate Battle Flag is an unnecessary stumbling block that arises when believers loudly lend their support to the flag.

If I am called to love my neighbor as myself, that means I must surrender my own prejudices and prerogatives for the sake of those I love. Speaking for myself, I can’t love people indiscriminately with Christ’s Bible in one hand and a Confederate Battle Flag in the other. I’ve tried to imagine, to put myself in the shoes of my African American friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. In imagining that, I’ve asked myself, “If I were an African American and pulled into a church parking lot where I was visiting on a Sunday morning and found the church proudly flying the American Flag, the Christian Flag, and the Confederate Flag, would I feel welcome to worship with that congregation?” I don’t think I would. I’ve tried to ask myself, “If I were an African American believer in a multi-racial congregation and my pastor flew the Confederate Battle Flag on Flag Day over his home, would I have a problem with that?” I think I would. And that’s a problem. I want to remove any manmade object or symbol that casts dispersions against the cross and that undermines the Christian’s eternity of a united people from every tribe, nation, language, and people worshipping together around the throne. I want the removal of any human symbol that jeopardizes the unbridled love that is called to be ours extended to others in Christ.

Some may say the flag isn’t a symbol of slavery, hatred, or segregation, that it’s simply a symbol of regional heritage, pride, and memory. For some people that’s all it is, for most people however, it is a symbol of death, division, and racial domination. And no good intention can keep that from making it a dispersion on the gospel of Christ. I know the Civil War was about more than slavery. I know there are proud southerners who cherish their heritage signified in the flag and do so without any intentional hatred. But as John Adams once noted, “facts are stubborn things.” It’s still true that the Confederate Battle Flag was co-opted and adopted by the Ku Klux Klan, numerous white-supremacist groups, and Neo-Nazi organizations. It matters little what a symbol may or may not have stood for originally. What matters is what it has come to symbolize. No one in the United States sees a swastika and thinks, “Well, there is an ancient and venerable symbol of many eastern cultures’ understanding of auspiciousness.” People see the swastika and think, “That’s the Nazi symbol. That’s the symbol of the holocaust.” The swastika means more than anti-Semitism, but it shouldn’t be flying from a state capitol. Neither should the Confederate Flag.

Some may say that calling for the flag’s removal is trying to white-wash history, to censor the true memory of our country’s past or revise history. One author recently wrote that to call for the flag’s removal while not calling for the removal of monuments or buildings honoring former slave-owners is ludicrously hypocritical. But such an accusation is ludicrously missing the point. It’s neither right nor possible to expunge the memory of slavery from our national story. We shouldn’t take Washington (a slave owner) off the dollar bill, and we shouldn’t bulldoze the Jefferson Memorial and burn the Declaration of Independence, both of which are connected with Thomas Jefferson who was himself an owner of slaves. The Confederate Battle Flag, however, belongs to another class. It is categorically different. It is not merely an object connected to a tragic era in our history (that we cannot and should not forget). It is instead an active symbol that has relentlessly stood for and been used for propagation of ongoing and unending hatred and suppression of peoples.

Some may say that such outspoken views are merely and cheaply taking advantage of a national tragedy; calling for the flag’s removal is disingenuous coming so closely on the heels of the shooting in Charleston. That may be true, but let’s be honest: there’s no time when calling for the flag’s removal wouldn’t be met with that charge. If the shooting had not occurred and national and denominational leaders called for its removal from public property this week, then such calls would be met with accusations of race-baiting and stirring up unnecessary controversy during a time of peace and unity. Some will say they don’t object to the flag’s removal in theory, but don’t think such actions should be taken at the moment, in the immediate wake of the Charleston shooting. There will be those who will say that now is just not the right time to act. The problem is if we’re waiting for a good time to act, a good time will never come.

Some may say that advocating for the flag’s removal is a red-herring, a distraction from the true and deep cause of national hatred, racism and murder. The flag didn’t cause the Charleston massacre, after all. Flags don’t kill people. Sin kills people. They’re right. Taking the flag down won’t change the human heart, and having the flag up didn’t cause the shooting directly. The Charleston gunman didn’t walk out his door, see the Confederate Flag, and think to himself, “Well, I’ve never thought about it, but I think I’ll go kill somebody.” The horror that happened on Calhoun Street was caused by the depravity of man, not a piece of cloth. But I’m not saying the flag caused the massacre and I’m not saying that taking the flag down will end racism. I’m simply saying that the flag is a symbol of hatred for many of my African American brothers and sisters, and my identity in Christ is more important than a battle standard. I am a white southerner, but I have more in common with black believers in Christ than I will ever have with other white southerners who aren’t believers. When that gunman pulled the trigger he was aiming at my family. If I am a part of their body, and they are a part of mine, then what hurts them must hurt me. I am called to rejoice with those who rejoice and grieve with those who grieve. That means this isn’t an issue of “white-guilt.” It’s an issue of unity in Christ.

Some will say lots of things in support of the Confederate Battle Flag. I understand. I really do. I even sympathize with some of their arguments, but in the end, as a good southerner and a good disciple, “I’ll take my stand.” As for me, I will gladly “live and die” to give up my rights to the Saint Andrews Cross for the sake of taking up the Cross of Christ. Jesus once remarked that if he be lifted up he would draw all men to himself. I’ll always side with taking something down for the sake of raising him up in the message of the cross. My banner is not red, white, or blue. It is blood-stained. It is a banner of sacrificial love for sinners like you, me, and young men who shoot up churches. It is a symbol of scandalous grace that undermines and outlasts every symbol of scandalous hate.

I live in Southern Indiana now. Back home in my parents’ hometown of Vicksburg, Mississippi there is a street where Amy and I once lived called Indiana Avenue. It memorializes the Union soldiers from Indiana who were placed along that line during the 1863 siege of the town. In Mississippi I wasn’t very far away from Indiana, and in Indiana I’m not very far away from Mississippi. I love both states, and regardless of where I’m living I’m always wanting to live as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, a follower whose love for his Lord and for his Lord’s people supersedes any other allegiance. The most important thing about me is that I’m living as a disciple, not that I was born in Dixie. May my epitaph one day be: “Southern by birth. Saved by the grace of God.”

Worshipping Christ with a redeemed rebel yell,

Pastor Cade

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