Be aware of when greed controls your heart. When you realise that many of your conversations turn to the subject of money or house prices, or that much of what you dream of revolves around new things, confess to God that you have a problem. Greed is far worse for us than we often think. Don’t walk away from it; run.
We live in a time where greed is perfectly acceptable to most people. We use words like “ambitious” and “upwardly mobile” and “aspirational” which sound so much more positive. Using all of our efforts towards a better life and nicer things is just the norm. We need to realise that this desire for more is a great danger for us. The Bible is full of warnings that greed can be a big problem for our faith.
For example, look at these famous verses from 1 Timothy:
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.
(1 Tim. 6:10-11a ESV)
The danger being warned against here is the love of money, not whether you are rich or poor. Whatever your current financial status, it is the desire for more than can lead to people wandering from the faith. It is a craving, a relentless wanting, that leads only to disaster in terms of our faith. It is so easy to substitute our love and service of God with a love and service for money.
Paul’s advice to Timothy is simple: flee these things. Notice how strong that word is. Paul doesn’t calmly say that greed can be a bit of a problem, so be careful. No, Paul says FLEE!
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By Reformation Scotland — 1 year ago
Why does the Lord keep or make these gradations and differences in His way of dealing to His people? You would think it would be much better for God to give a large stock of faith, love, patience, etc., to all His people, and that this would be more for their comfort than when they are kept at such a great distance from Him, and with such a scanty measure of gifts and graces.
We may think so, but He is much wiser than we.
To Enhance the Fellowship of the Saints
The Lord has resolved to give out diverse administrations to the body of which He Himself is the Head. He wants His body to have different members, and He wants them to serve Him with different qualifications. In the body He wants eyes, hands, feet, etc. And yet they are only the one complete body! They are still just the one communion of saints. But this would not be possible if they were all alike. “You know more than I do,” says one, “and have greater understanding in the matters of God.” “Well,” says another, “but I love more than you do. You think you would do more for Christ than I would do, but it may be if there was something to do for the cause of Christ I would fight better than you would for all that.”
To Make Us Value Christ’s Intercession More
By this varied manner of His administration, the Lord keeps the ransom still in request, and the intercession of Christ in heaven still in request. For if we had it in our own hand, Christ would soon be out of work for all the employment we would give Him, and we would soon lose respect to the ransom. But now when infirmities appear from day to day it keeps the ransom still precious to the soul.
By Ryan Biese — 2 months ago
It is a most remarkable providence; if one reads the protest against Presbytery’s action to preserve the church plant, the signers represent the elders from Covenant Presbytery’s wealthiest and most influential churches and committees. Yet the speech of a largely unknown, retired former Arkansas church planter was powerfully used by God to change the course of the debate, save the little church plant from dissolution, and preserve a witness for Himself in Jonesboro.
Editorial Note: What follows will be controversial and disturbing as it deals with abuse. Reader discretion is advised. In preparing this series, official documents and public comments have been extensively used to compose the narrative. No attempt is made to assign motives to any of the parties in this case. Reference will be made to inferences drawn by the judges on the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission as they carefully reviewed the case and noted the process was “abused” and offenses “imagined” by a Temporary Session of Elders against the Jonesboro 7. Any objection to the use of the term “abused” should be directed to the SJC Judges rather than the author of this series who simply reports the judgment of the PCA General Assembly regarding the actions of the Temporary Session in this case.
This is Part Four in a series. You can read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. I have also written about this mater on PCA Polity.
The men wanted to see a Reformed and Presbyterian Church planted in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Covenant Presbytery had established a mission congregation, Christ Redeemer, in that city under organizing pastor TE Jeff Wreyford.
However, the Jonesboro 7 had not perceived TE Wreyford’s philosophy of ministry to be heavily focused on Reformed distinctives. They had perceived some “progressive” tendencies.1
As such they conveyed their concerns to the elders serving on the temporary Session and stated their belief that other men should be considered as candidates for pastor when the time came for the congregation to elect one.
The Session, however, responded by charging the men with violations of their membership vows and sins against the Fifth and Ninth Commandments. The men, from a church plant of about 45 people, were summoned for a trial on July 12, 2021 at the Independent Presbyterian Church of Memphis, which in 2021 reported its average morning attendance to be 478; more than ten times that of the fledgling church plant.
The Session of Christ Redeemer consisted of – with the exception of TE Wreyford – pastors or ruling elders from IPC Memphis. That same Session would sit in judgment on the men.
Numerous witnesses were called by prosecutor TE Mike Malone, but none of them could give any specific testimony as to what the Jonesboro 7 had done to violate their membership vows and God’s Law. Undeterred by the lack of evidence, the Session found the Jonesboro 7 guilty and censured them with suspension from the Lord’s Table until they would show sufficient evidence of repentance.
But since neither the indictments nor the trial established what the men had specifically done that was sinful, giving “satisfactory evidence of repentance” would be difficult.
An Attempt to Participate
Ordinarily in the PCA, notice of appeal “shall have the effect of suspending the judgment” against an Accused.
Despite the men called by Presbytery to serve as pastor and to shepherd them in Christ’s Name having declined to show them where they had specifically sinned, the men still wanted to participate in the church, to be part of the PCA, and to partake in Christ’s body and blood by faith with the rest of His people at His table. So they appealed to Covenant Presbytery.
But the Session of Elders took the additional step of barring them from approaching the Lord’s Table even while their appeal was ongoing. SJC judges would later note that this would also have the effect of preventing the men from voting in a congregational meeting to elect a pastor, should a vote take place.
To explain their decision to take the extra step of keeping the censure in place even during an appeal, the Session simply asserted, “The judgement shared with you on 21 July 2021 contained sufficient reasons as to why you were being suspended from the Lord’s table.”2
A short time later the Session sent a correspondence to Covenant Presbytery alleging the Jonesboro 7 had “violated BCO 32-19 in the authorship” of their complaint and pleadings by an outside elder.3
The Session wrote,
New evidence has been presented that many of court documents dating back to the earliest correspondence between the appellants and the session bear the name “Dominic Aquila” as author…
We believe this to be potentially against BCO 42-2 and 42-4 which prevents circularizing court documents, as well as 32-19, which prevents the use of “professional counsel.”4
It is a curious interpretation of BCO 42, which places no prohibition on “court documents,” but rather prohibits “circularizing the court,” i.e. attempting to persuade the judges on the court to a certain opinion.
It is further curious the Session interpreted “circularizing” in the way it did, considering that on March 30, 2021 TE Robert Browning, the Covenant Presbytery clerk, had written to the Session about another matter and explained how “circularize the court” is to be understood: “This means there is to be no effort to influence or ‘whip’ the vote before Presbytery.”5
It remains unclear what evidence the Session had to indicate the Jonesboro 7 had retained professional (i.e. paid) counsel.
An Appeal Denied
The seven church members did not believe their elders had showed them where and how specifically they had sinned either through pastoral shepherding or by means of the process of a trial. At such a point, the Jonesboro 7 might understandably shake the dust off their feet and find a gospel centered, Christ exalting, God glorifying faith communion where they could be nurtured and shepherded somewhere else in Jonesboro. That was, after all, what RE Olson seemed to anticipate they needed to do in his testimony.
But these men were committed to the Reformed Faith and were committed to being Presbyterian. As such, they appealed their case to Covenant Presbytery, which had oversight of all the PCA churches in that area. Covenant Presbytery was also the body who had appointed the Elders of the church plant’s temporary Session.
It is likely the men were optimistic about their appeal. After all, the Presbytery had sustained the portion of their complaint months earlier that dealt with largely the same matters.
But if there was any hope of being vindicated at Presbytery, it was short-lived; the Presbytery assigned their case to a commission to review. That commission met on February 4, 2022, and “a motion was made by RE Josh Sanford, seconded by TE Dan Anderson and passed to deny the appeal in the whole. The vote was 7-0-0 in favor.”6
All seven men on the Presbytery’s judicial commission voted to deny their appeal, which would have to be ratified by Presbytery, which it did on May 17, 2022.
The Jonesboro 7 made several arguments pleading for relief from Covenant Presbytery.
They claimed the indictment itself was unconstitutional, since it gave no specifications regarding the sin as required by BCO 32-5; Covenant Presbytery, however, disagreed. The Presbytery reasoned: “the phrase ‘if possible’ gives broad discretion to a court” in what it includes in the indictment. Covenant Presbytery reasoned that the assertion “in the days leading up to and following August 3, 2020…” was sufficiently specific: at some point in the month of August the Jonesboro 7 did something that violated their membership vows and Commandments Five and Nine.7
In their appeal the Jonesboro 7 also claimed that improper, poor, and inadequate evidence was presented at trial to prove their guilt. In other words, the Jonesboro 7 claimed the evidence and testimony did not establish their guilt. But this argument also was rejected by Covenant Presbytery. Covenant Presbytery reasoned “BCO 42-3 does not state ‘poor’ evidence, as the allegation states, as grounds for an Appeal.” The Presbytery also accepted the assertions of the prosecutor, TE Mike Malone, in his closing argument to show “sufficient proof” of the guilt of the Jonesboro 7. This, despite, the fact no testimony was offered as to their specific guilt. Although RE Caldwell did testify as to his feeling the Ninth Commandment was broken.
By Stephen Kneale — 1 year ago
What is great about Romans 8:28 is not only that God is sovereign, nor that all things work together for our good, but that the good God has designed for us is far better than any good thing we might imagine for ourselves. Whatever good we can think of, God intends all things to work towards our ultimate good of becoming like Jesus. That good is far good-er than any goodly thing we might think of.
Romans 8:28 is one of those much beloved, oft quoted verses. Everybody likes it. It is the kind of thing people like to stick of mugs and t-shirts. If we’re going to hear about the sovereignty of God – which gets people hot under the collar for some reason – let’s think of it in Romans 8:28 terms. God’s sovereignty ultimately works for my good. That’s a truth we can get behind.
Unfortunately, as with the overwhelming majority of things ripped out of context, the truth of Romans 8:28 is usually massaged to mean whatever the person quoting it wants it to mean. If all things work for my good, then God will only ever do what is good for me. So far, so true. So, goes the reasoning, what is good? Money is good. Health is good. Every wish-dream I can possibly imagine must be good. If all things work together for good, God must surely be gearing up to give me all this stuff.
It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to see how many of things might prove not to be so good. If the history of Israel tells us anything it is that when everything is going pretty well, they do not suddenly start to thank God and believe in him more, but forget him and think all is well. Far more dangerous than difficult circumstances that cause us to press into our reliance on God are good times where we fool ourselves into thinking we have no need for him. Then, of course, there are the various biblical warnings specifically against these things at any rate. The New Testament has lots to say about storing up treasures on earth and seeking after money. These apparently good things are not warned against for nothing.
We all know instinctively anyway that too much of a good thing is a problem. Just think of “good” weather, for example. Good, in the eyes of many in the West, means pleasantly warm and sunny. But again, Israel knew only too well the problems associated with that sort of good weather all the time. What they were usually crying out for was rain.