McAtee contra Wolfe

“If it is the case that fallen, unregenerate man can attain civil righteousness (worthy of praise among men, even from the regenerate) and if regeneration necessarily effects a radical change in the one regenerated, then the principal effect of regeneration cannot be civil righteousness, political, social, or anything related to the basic elements of civil or domestic life. The principal effect must be something else. It must be, then, the restoration of one’s immediate relationship to God, one’s orientation to the spiritual (yet-to-be-visible) kingdom of God, and true worship of God. In short, the principal effect is the adventitious infusing of heavenly gifts and the outward change in religion. The Gospel then is not essentially political, social, or anything earthly other than the true public worship of God.”

Stephen Wolfe

I don’t know Mr. Wolf well at all. He is an acquaintance.  I’ve heard he is a student working on a terminal degree. This quote comes from a piece where Mr. Wolf quotes several theologians demonstrating their belief in Natural Law. Many of those quotes spoke about how the heathen could do “good” works of civil righteousness. The quote above seems to form his conclusion if we stipulate that pagans can do “good.”

We need to keep in mind our Augustine here. Augustine called the so-called good works of the heathen, “splendid vices.” Augustine remains notorious for his insistence that the “virtues,” so-called, of pagans, are not genuine virtues at all. Luther echoed and restored this Augustinian sentiment during the Reformation.

In order for any human action in any area inclusive of civic Righteousness to be considered “righteous” that action must be done for the glory of God. If actions are not done for the glory of God those actions are splendid vices because they are being done for the glory of self. We grant that comparatively on a sliding scale, the pagans can do righteous deeds. Pagans can and do build burn hospitals. Pagans can be philanthropic. Yet any “good” action that an unconverted man or woman can do is not good considered absolutely as according to God’s standards.

So, if Augustine is correct about splendid virtues than Mr. Wolfe is incorrect in suggesting that regeneration does not touch “anything related to the basic elements of civil or domestic life.” The “noble” pagan upon regeneration may do the same types of works in his civil or domestic lives but now they are doing their doing on a different axis. Whereas before their “noble” acts were for their own glory, now their noble acts are for the glory of God. Because of regeneration, this is a monumental shift.

There may be a bit of a false dichotomy going on in the opening quote. It is true that the primary impact of regeneration is “the restoration of one’s immediate relationship to God, one’s orientation to the spiritual (yet-to-be-visible) kingdom of God, and true worship of God,” but because one’s orientation is changed in such a fashion the effect is that one’s orientation to everything from domestic life to civic righteousness to all things earthly is changed as well. This results in all things that are performed by regenerated man to be an expression of public worship of God.  

So, contra Mr. Wolfe, unregenerate man cannot perform civil righteousness per an absolute standard. All the civil righteousness of the unregenerate are just so many splendid vices.

We would also quibble with Mr. Wolfe’s intimation that the Kingdom of God is completely “yet-to-be-visible.” The Kingdom of God is already visible and according to the will of God goes from visible unto visible until such a time that it becomes visible in all of its splendor.

Mr. Wolfe strikes me, with this quote, to be close to a kind of unfortunate dualism as seen in his willingness to suggest that  “the Gospel then is not essentially political, social, or anything earthly other than the true public worship of God.” Now, the key word here is “essentially.” I would be more inclined to say that “the Gospel, in its broadest definition, then is essentially a totalistic claim that calls a man to bring the good news to every area of life including political, social, or anything earthly, especially including public worship.” 

 

Dr. Rev. Joe Morecraft’s Curious Argumentation

Peter was a racist because he was a coward….

So and so what do you think finally and ultimately defines a man; his race or his religion? 

He said, “I really don’t know,” and I said, “then you really don’t know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for what finally defines a man is not the color of his skin, nor his social level, nor his educational level, nor his financial level. What finally defines a man is his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ….
 
“But racism has crept in (to the Church) in other ways. There is a new movement called “Kinism,” and it is basically a new word for racism that says the races should be kept separate, There is a superior quality to the white race. The color of your skin does make a difference. If a white man and a black woman should marry the black woman is guilty of adultery. In the Reformed world, there is a lot of Kinists. They’re smart. They know how to use the internet. They can out argue you. They know how to twist scripture.
 
Rev. Dr. Joe Morecraft
Excerpt from Sermon — 30 July 2017

The Battle for the Gospel

Just today someone pointed me to this excerpt from Dr. Morecraft’s most recent Sunday morning sermon. I am going to interact with it a bit below but first some prologue,

1.) I think that Dr. Morecraft has done some fine work over the years. Overall, he has been on the side of the angels. I’ve listened to much of his work and have read some of his material. The Reformed Church is all the richer for Dr. Morecraft’s work over the years.

2.) I am not a Kinist and the reason I disavow Kinism is sermons like this. If this is what Dr. Morecraft honestly thinks that all Kinists believe there is no use trying to rescue the word or identify with the label. This is why I have chosen my own word. I am a “familialist.” By choosing my own word I get to define it and I don’t have to keep correcting over and over again the relentless and constant freaking out over the word “kinist.”

Now on to the matter at hand.

1.) In this sermon on Galatians 2 Dr. Morecraft calls Peter a “racist.” This charge is pretty standard fare in the pc post-modern Reformed Church today and Galatians 2 is often brought forward as an example of racism.

However, I am convinced that Dr. Morecraft is not exegeting the passage properly. Peter’s sin in Galatians is not that he was a racist. Peter’s sin in Galatians is that he was an Alienist. This is seen in the fact that he gave into the Judaizing demand that the Gentile Christians Peter had been having table fellowship with had to become culturally Jewish before they could be considered Christian. The Gentiles had to eat like Jews, and be circumcised like Jews in order to be considered Christian. The desires of the Judaizers in Galatians 2 was that all would be put into the Judaizer blender to become culturally one. Peter’s sin was Alienism… not racism. If the Gentiles had agreed to all the Jewish stipulations to lose their Gentile culture and identity than the Judaizers would have had no problem with Peter having table fellowship with those Gentiles. It wasn’t the fact that Peter was having table fellowship with Gentiles that bothered the Judaizers. (If that had been the problem then perhaps the accusations against Peter that Peter was a racist might be sustained.) No, the problem with Peter was that the Gentiles were not culturally Jews. It wasn’t their ethnicity of the Gentiles that bothered the Judaizers. It was their culture. Peter fell into their trap and was guilty of Alienism … of refusing to insist that the Gentiles had to be just like the Jews culturally before they could be considered Christian.

Dr. Morecraft is in error in this passage on this point.


2.)
Dr. Morecraft asked his friend,

“For what finally and ultimately defines a man; His race or his religion?”

To be honest this is a bit reductionistic. Dr. Morecraft knows that man is a being that is composed of body and soul. A man is not ultimately defined by either his soul (religion) or his body (race). A man is finally and ultimately defined by both. Would Dr. Morecraft seriously ask, “what ultimately and finally defines an airplane, the wings or the engine?” He wouldn’t ask this because of how obvious such absurd reductionism is in error. 

Dr. Morecraft knows we can’t divide a man in two and say only one part ultimately defines him any more than we could do the same type of thing in regards to the person of Christ without falling into major heresy. The similar error here would be asking, “What finally defines the person of Christ, his God nature or his man nature?”

Obviously to answer that question is to fall into heresy. In the same way, it is to fall into heresy which ever way Dr. Morecraft’s question is answered. To answer Dr. Morecraft’s question by saying, “his race” would have the respondent fall into the heresy of materialism. To answer Dr. Morecraft’s question by giving the answer “his religion” would find the respondent falling into the heresy of Gnosticism.

Dr. Morecraft hasn’t thought this through as well as he usually thinks matters through.

But if we were forced to answer this question there are several alternatives we might offer up,

a.) “The answer is obviously religion Dr. Morecraft, but if you’re going to suggest now that such an answer means that the way God created men… the way God enfleshed men isn’t worthy of paying attention to or honoring, why then Dr. Morecraft, I can’t help but wonder how you escape the Gnostic briar patch.

b.) “Well, Dr. Morecraft, for the black man what finally and ultimately defines him is his religion and for the White man what finally and ultimately defines him is his religion. Every man regardless of what people group that man belongs to is finally and ultimately defined by his religion. You ask about a man in the abstract but man doesn’t come in the abstract. A man comes in the concrete and it is the concrete man that we must deal with.”

Now let me ask you a question, Dr. Morecraft,

Isn’t it Gnostic of you to suggest that the way our Creator God created a man is unimportant and that all created differences can be whisked away by appealing to the “spiritual?”

c.) “Dr. Morecraft, I’ll answer that question if you will answer this question; What finally and ultimately defines a person? Their gender or their religion?”

“Now, be careful Dr. Morecraft, because if you answer religion I am going to take that as meaning that you’re contending that just as race doesn’t make any difference between people neither does gender make any difference between people. After all if skin color doesn’t make any difference why should plumbing?

d.) Dr. Morecraft, God created man with both a spiritual and physical nature and while we are spiritually united with all the Elect in Christ, we retain our unique, diverse identities in our physical attributes: gender, ethnicity, disposition, etc so that both man’s race and his religion finally and ultimately define man.

Obviously, the import in all this is that Dr. Morecraft is practicing a danger anthropological reductionism here that isn’t consistent with our Christian theology.

Dr. Morecraft ties his answer of “religion” to knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ but I can’t help but wonder how his answer doesn’t tie him to some kind of creeping Gnosticism; that first great heresy that the Church had to contend with. Man remains a modified unichotomy (the integrative reality of body and soul) and to suggest that his soul is finally and ultimately more important than his creaturely fixity is a curious position for such an esteemed Pastor as Dr. Morecraft.

Now to end just an observation. Much of what Dr. Morecraft says about Kinism just isn’t universally true. As one example, most kinists I know insist that all the diverse races have both superiorities about them and inferiorities about them. Kinists are not White Supremacist. This is just one example of why I no longer claim the kinist label. When esteemed men like Dr. Morecraft spread this kind of libel and slander it is just not possible to rescue the term.

Another observation to end that is only related to Dr. Morecraft’s comments in a tertiary fashion. Those One Worlders out there are the hardest on those who still insist that ethnicity and race matters. Yet at the end of the day, One Worldism is its own kind of KINISM. Their allegiance is to their tribe of an ethnically coffee cream colored people who have the racial distinction of not being racially distinct. This One Worlder Kinism will support a universal non-descript dishwater nondistinct culture which will find it’s distinction in its being universal. Likewise, the One Worlders have the religion of no religion which is unique to their tribe. One Worlders are, without a doubt KINIST, in every way. So the One Worlders attack a form of Kinism they don’t like while at the same time advancing a form of Kinism they do like.

Kinism or something akin to it thus is an inescapable category.

I’m not advocating for it. Remember … I’ve disavowed the label. I’m merely saying that something like it is impossible to escape.

Covenantal Succession … Covenantal Nurture

It is the assumption of Scripture that infants are genuine members of the covenant.  That is the reason why in the text before us this morning parents are commanded to nurture their children in terms of Christian covenantal thinking.

There is no debate on that point when we consider the Old Testament. All concede that Circumcision was the sign and seal that indicated membership in the Covenant. It is only in the New Testament where we begin to find widespread and sometimes heated disagreement that NT infants, just as their OT counterparts, are to be branded with a brand that indicates that they are genuine members of the covenant. In the NT, so the reasoning goes of those who go their own way on this matter, infants are not members upon birth, of the covenant.

Of course, if those who demur with us on this point are correct this means that one of the purposes of Jesus death and resurrection was to the end that infants of covenant parents would be expelled from a covenant in which they had previously been a party too before the death and resurrection of our Lord Christ.  This is an odd way to think about a “New and Better” covenant.

Covenant succession merely holds that God’s general way of collecting the Church is via His gathering into the Church the children of His children.

Causes of the decline of Covenant succession

1.) Social Contract theory as applied to the Church

According to this understanding of social order theory long established in the Enlightenment West, each person is by nature an independent locale of sovereign self-authority,  having full legal capacity to act on their own behalf and so not subject to the authority of another. In this theory, each atomized individual is absolutely equal to every other atomized individual and so by sovereign “right” authorized to act upon his own determination.

With this theory, man’s natural liberty was held as being the privilege to do whatever he wanted to do.  In this theory man himself determines what shall be given up in order to live in civil society. Man, as the individual sovereign is everywhere supreme.

Well, you can see how this social contract theory, when adopted by the Church would lead to the idea that it is the individual man himself who does or does not consent to belong to this community of faith.

Whether as pertaining to a broader social order or as pertaining to the Church an objection must be raised to this theory that we believe has had such a baleful influence upon both the social orders of men and upon the Church of Jesus Christ.  Men have never existed as sovereign atomized individuals using their own sovereign free will to determine whether they will or will not be a party to a social contract or to being claimed by God in Baptism. Instead, men are born as members of peoples, as well as Churches as ordained by Him. So, just as men do not choose their own civic obligation but are born to it so men who are born to believing parents do not choose their belonging to the Church but are ordained by God to that end.

2.) Revivalistic Assumptions vs. Scriptural Assumptions

With the first great awakening as followed by the 2nd great awakening, the emphasis as it relates to speaking about conversion moved from the covenantal nurture of children in the covenant to having a dramatic personal emotional experiential encounter with Jesus.

Louis Bevins Schenk in his book on “The Presbyterian Doctrine of Covenant Succession writes,

“The presumption of regeneration in the case of children of the covenant, based upon the covenant promises, was largely displaced by the Church’s practice of recognizing as Christians only those who gave ‘credible evidence,” satisfactory to themselves of regeneration.”

This is the conversion mindset in which most of our churches think today. From evangelism programs like “Romans Road,” “Evangelism Explosion,” or the “Four Spiritual laws,” this is the contemporary Church’s understanding of how conversion occurs. Before this time the whole idea of “altar calls” that have become famous with Charles Finney, D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham would have been a curious phenomenon.

However, while never denying that God deals with some people like this — particularly those who come to Christ as adults — this isn’t the model that we find emphasized in Scripture as it pertains to covenant children. In Scripture, the parents are to lay hold of God’s promises that God will be God to us and to our children for a thousand generations and then are to train their children up in the faith in light of God’s promises. In this model, the whole idea of a dramatic conversion experience slips away in favor of covenantal nurture.

3.) Datable Conversionism vs. Covenant Succession Conversionism

Consistent with what was just mentioned the whole ascendancy of a datable conversion became the be all end all for much of the Church. The idea is that “every Christian knows the day they were ‘born again.'” This stands in contrast to the idea of covenantal succession where God

4.) The failure of Covenantal Nurture

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Too often the cash value of baptism to many who are party to the contemporary Church is that they have kept their religious responsibility to their children. They have had them Baptized.

This is why the form distinctly says, in the charge we just read that parents

“must, therefore, use the sacrament for the purpose that God intended and not out of custom or superstition.”

While we are of the persuasion that in Baptism God has placed His claim upon us we are not of the persuasion that Baptism entered into apart from covenantal nurturing laid upon us as parents guarantee our child is right with God.

Listen to the 19th century Southern Theologian R. L. Dabney on this point,

The instrumentalities of the family are chosen and ordained of God as the most efficient of all means of grace—more truly and efficaciously means of saving grace than all the other ordinances of the church. To family piety are given the best promises of the gospel,.. How, then, should a wise God do otherwise than consecrate the Christian family, and ordain that the believing parents shall sanctify the children? Hence, the very foundation of all parental fidelity to children’s souls is to be laid in the conscientious, solemn, and hearty adoption of the very duties and promises which God seals in the covenant of infant baptism. It is pleasing to think that many Christians who refuse the sacrament do, with a happy inconsistency, embrace the duties and seek the blessing. But God gives all his people the truths and promises, along with the edifying seal. Let us hold fast to both.

~ R.L. Dabney

So, if we are to return to a time where covenantal succession is again the norm in our families and in our churches and among our people we must once again practice covenantal nurture. We must teach our children the Scriptures. We must catechize our children. We must anticipate and answer their objections before they have those objections that we know will arise. As we are teaching our children God’s judgments, statutes, and laws we must point out to them how the culture and too often the visible Church wars against those judgments, statutes, and laws. We must introduce our children to systematic thinking because there is nothing non-systemic and non-systematic in the thinking of God. We must dip and saturate our children in a Christian Worldview that they will see non-Christian worldviews as strange, exotic and ugly.  As parents, we must love them, and not provoke them. We must live out before them the majesty of God’s grace that has redeemed us for the sake of the finished work of Christ alone.

Some areas to keep an eye on in order to practice covenantal nurture,

a.) Protect your children from the culture,

Media

The media is a messaging machine and that messaging is seldom based on a Christian world and life view. As such children need not be exposed to Media until they are far far older and have the ability, as coming from covenantal nurturing, to identify and sniff out the false theology behind the false messaging.

Neil Postman in his now classic work warning against the danger of modern Media wrote,

“But it is much later in the game now, and ignorance of the score is inexcusable. To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple.”

If we are going to practice covenantal nurture in hope of covenantal succession we must understand that technology is, as a rule, no friend of Covenantal succession.

Public Schools

“I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.” ― Martin Luther

I am as sure as I am of the fact of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social, nihilistic 4. ethics, individual, social, and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen.

Dr. A.A. Hodge

b.) Protect your children from unexamined friendships

From the youngest of ages, it is your role to be the portal that all must pass through in order to get to your children.  You must be aware that other children of other families may not share the same Christian confession that you own. This means you must be sharp to watch out that friendships are not cemented with those who will, perhaps quite apart from malicious intent, challenge the truths that you are seeking to instill within your children from Scripture. You are seeking to nurture and disciple your children in the Christian faith. If you allow your children large swaths of “playtime” with other children — even other children from Christian homes of a different confessional stripe — you are courting a bad result in your efforts of covenantal nurture.

The Message of Covenantal nurturing

The message to our children that we must start with in terms of covenantal nurturing is that God provided Christ as the one who would fulfill all the law’s obligations as laid upon the sinful children of Adam and who would give to those same children the righteousness of Jesus Christ to those who would in faith rest in Christ’s righteousness alone as their acceptability to God.

The covenantal nurturing message to our children is that God is at war with unbelieving man and has reconciled Himself to unbelieving man by the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is only by the reconciling work of Jesus Christ in His work on the Cross whereby we and they can have peace and blessing with and from God.

We must nurture our children in the way of a faith that rests in Christ’s work alone in Justification but then also teaches them that in Sanctification their faith is to work as they turn to the law and to the testimonies for God’s word on how they shall live as Christians.

We must remind our baptized children that God’s claim is upon them and so they are to grow in the Christian faith. Our challenge is not that they might decide to become Christian but that they would know God’s eternal claim upon them and become what they have already been freely declared to be in Baptism.

We must nurture them to learning of God’s character. His Sovereignty, His Justice, His Wisdom, His Holiness, His Goodness, His Mercy, and His Grace.

We must nurture them to trust in God’s Word and God’s promises as opposed to their experiences, emotions, and mystical revelations. We must nurture them what it means to be a kind and caring people while at the same time warning them against the dangers of a suicidal altruism.

We must nurture them in the ways of taking godly dominion to every area the sovereign God calls them and of the great truth of our postmillennial hope.

We must nurture them in the truth that repentance is a life long project. But then that even our repentance needs repenting over. We must model before them a humility that seeks to shed every ounce of that ugly sin of self-righteousness. We must demonstrate to them what it means to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought and to consider not only our needs but the needs of others. We must pray that they will see us on our knees praying for Wisdom and that they will hear us honestly attest ourselves to as being not yet wise.

God grants us His grace for what parent could possibly think themselves sufficient unto such a calling?

But God is Faithful and being faithful we anticipate that even in all our failures with our children He will be to our seed and their seed the God who calls them to Himself.

Montezuma II or Rev. Dr. Albert Mohler … Which One is Live, and Which One is Memorex?

One of these quotes is true and one of them is a made up quote which really wasn’t said. Can you guess which was really said and which is made up?

“The Aztec nation is on course to have no racial or ethnic majority group by 1610. That year, the country is expected to be 86% mestizo and 10% Hispanic, with Incas representing 3% of the population—surpassing Aztecs, who will account for 2%….And one of the things that we Aztecs must keep in mind is that this new data is indicating a massively transformed mission field right before our eyes, right here in our Aztec nation and we’re looking at the very good news that the world, in the person of Cortez and his men is coming to us. From Quetzalcoatl’s perspective, this is indeed very good news…Now make no mistake here, from Quetzalcoatl’s worldview perspective, this is undeniable good news. The mission field is quite actually coming right to us. That is good news”

 
Montezuma II
King of the Aztecs

“The U.S. is on course to have no racial or ethnic majority group by 2055. That year, the country is expected to be 46% white and 24% Hispanic, with Asians representing 14% of the population—surpassing blacks, who will account for 13%….And one of the things that Christians must keep in mind is that this new data is indicating a massively transformed mission field right before our eyes, right here in the United States of America and we’re looking at the very good news that the world is coming to us. From a great commission perspective, this is indeed very good news…Now make no mistake here, from a great commission worldview perspective, this is undeniable good news. The mission field is quite actually coming right to us. That is good news”

 
Rev. Dr. Albert Mohler
President Southern Baptist Seminary
 

Funeral Service Rev. Anthony Lombardi

Call To Attention  — John 11:25-26 — Rev. Bryan Church

Invocation 

* Scripture Reading

Psalm 39:4-8

 II Corinthians 1:3-7 
Psalm 46:1-3 
I Corinthians 15:12-20

Congregational Hymn — To God Be the Glory

Eulogy — Rev. Anthony Lombardi

In the Baptist tradition it is common to have a “time for testimonies.” In my 18 months in attending South Lewiston Baptist this was a characteristic part of the evening service. During Testimony time it was typical to hear from the voices of God’s people how God had shown himself faithful to them in the nitty gritty of their daily lives.

This is Dad’s testimony as to his conversion as he dictated it to Mom a few years ago.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

I came to know Christ as my personal savior between 16 & 17 years of age. I was invited by a friend to Sunday School at 1stBaptist Church on Staten Island. As a result of attending thatSunday School my life was transformed. I had been afraid of death but as a result of John 3:16 being explained to us over four weeks gradually that Scripture found root in my heart in Sunday School and my fear of death went away.

Later I was invited by that same friend who invited me to Church to watch his water baptism by immersion.

During the service we sang the hymn “At the Cross.”

Alas and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sovereign Die
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I

Well might the sun in darkness hide
and shut his glories in
When Christ the mighty maker died
For man the creature’s sin

At the cross
At the cross
When I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart fell away
It was there by faith
I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day”

That service impressed me so that I wanted to be baptized also.

I met with the Pastor expressing my desire for Baptism.

The Pastor asked me why I wanted to be baptized

I replied, “Because I have put my faith in Jesus Christ”

After this meeting, I then met with the Church deacons and again I was asked

“Why do you want to be baptized.”

And again I answered

“Because I have put my faith in Jesus Christ”

But actually I was hiding behind the fact that I saw my friend baptized and I wanted to follow his example.

They approved of me as a candidate for baptism.

Over a period of time, I found my life was transformed.

My language was cleaned up without awareness.
There was peace and joy in my heart that I never knew before
I found that I no longer feared death
They hymn “at the cross” became a reality, I found myself singing it constantly.

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree
Amazing pity, Grace unknown
And love beyond degree

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe
Here Lord, I give myself away
Tis all that I can do

At the cross
At the cross
When I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart fell away
It was there by faith
I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day”

That was Dad’s testimony.

As a minister speaking at a minister’s funeral allow me to make a few observations.

Rev. Lombardi was given by God the talent of being a people person. Not all ministers have that talent. Dad had the ability to strike up a conversation with a wooden statue and in his conversations, he would soon be challenging his conversation partner about whether or not he or she had trusted Christ.

Dad’s way with people was convincing because it was genuine. He liked people. And people liked him. One time when taking him to some kind of appointment in Brunswick we were sitting at a light. Suddenly I noticed a driver in the car sitting on my side waving frantically. I rolled down the window only to find that the chap just wanted to say hello to Rev. Lombardi and have a bit of a chat there at the busy intersection.

Dad had a desire for missions that went at least as far back as his time at Houghton College. While going through his old yearbooks I find people mentioning his vision for missions in their written comments in the yearbooks.

Rev. Lombardi’s Gospel was simple but a simple Gospel should not be confused with a Gospel that is simplistic. The Gospel, it is said, should be shallow enough for a child to play in and yet deep enough that an elephant can swim in. Dad’s strength was setting forth the Gospel in a way that people could grasp.

And in that Dad was faithful to what God had called him. He was a faithful servant to God’s people in the various churches he served. He was a faithful servant to the residents at the Nursing home. And now, because of Christ’s faithfulness to His promises Dad has heard the “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter now into your Master’s rest.”

Much more might be said in the way of eulogy but my challenge would be for you to look around at the people seated next to you. You and His work here and this place at South Lewiston Baptist are and ever will be Rev. Lombardi’s eulogy.

St. Paul could write something similar to what I am trying to get at. St. Paul wrote to the small Corinthian Church,

2You yourselves are our letter,inscribed on our hearts, known and read by everyone.3It is clear that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.…

People of God you are Rev. Lombardi’s eulogy, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.

I can think of no words that would surpass that eulogy.

Congregational Hymn — At The Cross

Homily — Rev. Anthony Lombardi

As many here are already familiar, Rev. Lombardi’s had a passion for making Jesus Christ known. This was seen not only in his personal evangelism habits but also in his leadership in the Church in terms of an unstinting support of Gospel Missions and Christian Missionaries.

And so it seems proper to round of this gathering to speak once more of the Gospel that so animated the life of Rev. Lombardi … of Dad. It is both proper and consistent with his wishes.

The Christian Gospel is a good news announcement of the tidings of salvation. In understanding that salvation announced is the understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, as we consider salvation let us spend just a few minutes unpacking this idea of salvation.

When the Christian faith speaks of salvation it assumes that there is a peril from which man needs to be saved. So we ask,

What is that peril … that danger from which man needs to be saved?

A few answers might be offered but if we are going to speak of the primary danger from which man needs to be saved the Christian faith offers the answer … God.

We know this because it stands written,

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.”

And

“God is angry with the wicked all the time”

And

“Fear only Him who can cast body and soul into Hell.”

And again,

Be wise O ye Kings, kiss the Son, lest he be angry and ye perish in the way

And again,

God will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.

So when Christians speak of the Gospel — this salvation — we are committed to the fact, because of God’s revelation, that what man needs to be primarily saved from is the fulsome and unrelenting opposition of God. This just opposition of God is explained by man’s sinful, errant and twisted nature and desire to de-god God and en-God Himself as God.  Man is a hopelessly self-centered and self-aggrandizing being who forever wants to center around which all others orbit.

This opposition of God is explained by God’s perfect moral perfection as that Holiness is opposed to man’s total imperfection which issues in this self-orientation.

It is true that we also have need to be saved from our sin, saved from ourselves, and saved from the devil, but the primary reality we need to be saved from is God Himself. When man is saved from God all his other needs of salvation are met at the same time.

So, we are saved from God but then the question arises….

Who is it that saves us from God’s determined opposition?

And the answer to that is it is God who saves us from God.

We know this because it stands written,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…”

And again,

“God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself”

And again,

“God sent His son … to be the reconciliation for our sins.”

Here we begin the wonder of the Christian message. A Holy and Righteous God having a just and legal case against self-centered and guilty man determines that as man can never save himself from God’s prescribed death penalty for sin God Himself will take upon Himself in the 2nd person of the Trinity the penalty for sin. Jesus Christ the eternal God-Man bears God’s wrath in His crucifixion so that those called by God are delivered from God’s studied and certain opposition.

As it stands written,

“He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

And again,

“For Christ also hath suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.”

And again,

“For Christ, when we were of no strength, died for the ungodly.”

You see those who are saved are saved from God by God.

In Christ God, Himself by Himself answers our greatest need of finding a way to relieve our guilt, forgive our sin, and extinguish our misery. God, out of great compassion and love has done all the saving and now He commands all men everywhere to repent. He speaks to men today, “Now is the appointed time of salvation.”

In being saved from God to God, God in Christ by paying the legal penalty against sin turns away the Father’s just wrath and God is satisfied so that men knowing the just anger of God against they and their sin can legally sue for peace.

Well, we have answered the questions of “Whom are we saved from,” and “Whom are we saved by.” Now we go on to answer who are we saved to and who are we saved for.

And the pattern continues. Just as we are saved from God and by God so we are saved to God.

It stands written,

“He hath delivered from the power of Darkness and hath translated us to the Kingdom of His dear Son.”

And again,

“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And again it stands written,

“You were … without Christ … and were strangers from the covenants of promise, and had no hope and were without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, ye which were once far off, are made near by the blood of Christ.”

This salvation is to God. Because of Christ standing in our place to be the one who bears our penalty we are restored to God. God’s favor is upon us and His face is always turned towards us in acceptance. God who was only a judge to those who opposed Him is now a Father to those who sue for peace offering as their plea Christ’s finished work on the Cross in their place. We have been saved so that no one can bring a charge against God’s elect. We have been saved so that now nothing can separate us from the love of God. We have been saved so that we are more than conquerors. We who have been saved know both the smile and the applause of Heaven because we have, due to God as the sole cause, sheltered ourselves in the safety of Christ and His work in our stead.

Finally, in terms of this Gospel we note that as we are saved from God, by God, to God, we are also saved for God.

We know this because it stands written,

“You are not your own, you were bought with a price.”

And again,

“Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.”

The chief end of man is to glorify God and fully enjoy Him forever.

God saves us for His own glory and the passion of our lives is to live for Him as He instructs us in His Word. We have been saved for God and so it is to God’s speech that we turn to know answer the question, “How shall we then live.”

In God’s Law-Word we find a guide to life. God’s authoritative law-word teaches us how to live for Him…. indeed, living for Him is the very reason why we have been saved.

So, because we have been saved for Him, and because we know what it is that pleases Him because it is revealed in His word we are a people who champion His cause as consistent with the Scripture.

My earliest memory of Rev. Lombardi ties into this point. Jane received a newspaper clipping in the mail. There with it was a photo of Rev. Lombardi and a group of Christians picketing a movie theater which was featuring a film that was blasphemous of Christ. Because He was saved for God to champion his glory he knew he was duty bound to protest a piece of art that dishonored God.

Those who are saved for God are intent of championing His cause and His authoritative Law-Word in every avenue of life. God’s saved people understand that there is no area where Christ does not point to and say…. “MINE.” God’s saved people, being saved for God are intent on teaching the nations to observe all things that Christ has commanded with the purpose of seeing that the nations of this world become the nations of our God. Being saved for God then means that the Gospel is a conquering word that opposes the wickedness found in a fallen world while all the time inviting those who oppose Christ to come and taste and see that it is better to be a friend of Christ than His enemy.

There you have the Gospel of salvation. It is an announcement that we have been saved from God, by God, to God, for God. The Gospel centers on God providing a substitute in Jesus Christ who as the God-Man in His death on the Cross pays the legal penalty that we owe and so heals the wound that man inflicted on himself and on the Cosmos. The Gospel makes all things new so that its effect, where it blossoms, is to bring the recreation of God so that where there was once conflict of interests between men there now resides a harmony of interests. The Gospel ensures that this present wicked age is being and will be rolled back by the heavenly age to come, so that the Dominion of God rules over the affairs of men. The Gospel builds the Kingdom so that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

It all sounds very strange to the ears of Modern man in a postmodern age.

The blood of God spilled to pay the legal penalty justly pronounced upon guilty and so condemned man and mankind?

So many find this good news … this Gospel to be either too fanciful or to objectionable. Yet despite those objections, it is this Gospel of salvation which has built the greatest civilization which has ever existed. It is this Gospel which once knitted generations of beautiful Christian families together over the centuries so that they shared a common Christian faith and a common Christian ethic. It is this Gospel that built Churches that were as glorious as the Gospel it proclaimed so that God’s people could be an engine for God’s dominion.

And it is this Gospel that took an Italian immigrant’s son who like us all bore Adam’s blemishes and shaped him and crafted him to be God’s minister unto his family and God’s minister unto his people in Lewiston Maine.

To God be the Glory.

Congregational Hymn — At The Cross

Closing Prayer / Lord’s Prayer

Doxology — Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow 

Benediction / Dismissal – Jude 24-25  — Rev. Bryan Church