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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

Understanding 2 Peter 3:9 by Pastor John Samson

Without doubt, 2 Peter 3:9 is the single most popular verse used to dismiss the reformed doctrine of election, bar none. Usually the meaning of the verse is assumed without taking any time to study it, which is the very hallmark of tradition. In fact, traditions are so strong that many do not even see the need to study the verse because they believe there is no need to do so. I have to admit that I did this for many years. Those most enslaved to their traditions are those who believe they do not have any. First of all then, let us read the verse in its context.

2 Peter 3:1-9 - This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

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October 30, 2005  |  Comments (57)   |  Permalink

Understanding 1 John 2:2 by Pastor John Samson

Those who have read my interview with John Hendryx (here) will know something of my struggle in coming to understand and appreciate the doctrines of grace. One of the biggest hurdles I encountered was my traditional understanding of 1 John 2:2. It acted much like a roadblock in my thinking, preventing me traveling along the road known as reformation highway for a long period of time. How are we to understand the verse then?

Let me start by affirming that scripture is explicit in saying that Jesus died:

for God's people ("He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of My people" - Isaiah 53:8; "He shall save His people from their sins" - Matt. 1:21);

for His sheep ("I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." - John 10:11 - note that Jesus categorically states that some are not His sheep - "but you do not believe because you are not My sheep." - John 10:26)

for His friends ("Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you." - John 15:13-14;

for the Church ("... the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood." - Acts 20:28; "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her..." - Eph. 5:25, 26).

Indeed, as God allows us to gain a glimpse into the future, Revelation 5:9 reveals the song of the throngs of heaven as they sing to the Lamb upon His throne, "And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Notice that it does not say that He ransomed everybody in every tribe, etc., but that He ransomed people for God from every tribe, tongue, people and nation.

Yet at least at first glance, 1 John 2:2 seems to strongly deny this idea that Jesus' death was designed for a particular people. The verse states, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

I don't believe that scripture contradicts itself. That is in fact why we are told to study the word of God in order that we might rightly divide it (2 Tim. 2:15) rather than simply throw up our hands saying a particular verse contradicts others on the same subject. "All Scripture is God breathed" (2 Tim. 3:16) and because there is one Divine Author of Scripture who does not contradict Himself, I am convinced that hard work and careful study will eliminate apparent contradictions.

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October 28, 2005  |  Comments (29)   |  Permalink

I’d Rather Be an Arminian?

Yesterday I was having a phone conversation with a friend of mine who was originally ordained as a Southern Baptist, but later, as he studied Scripture, his convictions on the issue of baptism gradually shifted toward a more covenantal position, and he is now a Presbyterian teaching elder. His current convictions, however, do not stop him from fellowshipping with brothers and sisters who embrace a believers-only baptism. What caught my attention in his story is that as he was recently attending a conference made up of mostly Reformed Baptists, he was having a discussion with one of the participants. During a conversation the topic came up as to where my friend went to attend local church in his area (not knowing he was a Presbyterian). So he said that he was he attended the local Presbyterian (PCA) church. The Baptist was a little bit aghast and asked him if there weren’t any good Baptist churches in town. My friend responded by saying there was one fairly large one nearby except that the teachings in the church were blatantly Arminian/Synergistic. The Reformed Baptist responded that, given that these were the only two choices, he would much prefer to attend a local church that was Arminian than one which practices paedo-covenant baptism.

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October 28, 2005  |  Comments (64)   |  Permalink

Owen on the Holy Spirit

John Owen is among the theologians whose thoughts most closely mirror my own and, apart from the Scriptures themselves, this partucular book of his could be called the manifesto of the theology that drives Monergism.com. I can only agree with Sinclair Ferguson when he says, "Whenever I return to read Owen I find myself at least in part wondering why I spend time reading lesser things." I would unhesitatingly put this book up there among Christian classics, and, probably, at least in my opinion, is one of the top ten Christian books ever written. This book will magnify your understanding of the Holy Scriptures and its divine author and make you wonder what ever happened to all the churches who preached from this perspective. Here are among my favorite quotes from the books' abridged edition ...

“To say that we are able by our own efforts to think good thoughts or give God spiritual obedience before we are spiritually regenerate is to overthrow the gospel and the faith of the universal church in all ages.”

All men can be divided into two groups. They are either regenerate or unregenerate. All men are born unregenerate (John 3:3-8). ...Spiritual darkness is in all men and lies on all men until God, by an almighty work of the Spirit, shines into men’s hearts, or creates light in them (Matt 4:16; John 1:5; Act 26:18; Eph 5:8; Col 1:13; 1 Pet 2:9). ...The nature of this spiritual darkness must be understood. When men have no light to see by, then they are in darkness (Exod. 10:23). Blind men are in darkness, either by birth or by illness or accident (Psa. 69:23; Gen 19:11; Acts 13:11). A spiritually blind man is in spiritual darkness and is ignorant of spiritual things.

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October 27, 2005  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

The Preservation of the Saints by Pastor John Samson

John Chapter 6:
34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, always give us this bread."
35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.
37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
39 "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day."

In this passage of scripture, Jesus presents the big picture perspective regarding salvation. His words are altogether clear and unmistakable, as He portrays the complete sovereignty of God in salvation. The crowd that was following Jesus "believed" in Him as a miracle worker and as the Messiah. John 6:14 states, "Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."

However, Jesus makes it clear that this crowd did not possess true living faith - a faith that saves. They instead possessed a temporary "belief" or affection for Christ, but as the rest of the chapter shows, when Jesus finished preaching this latest message, most in the crowd were no longer following Him. John 6:66 says, "As a result of this ("this" meaning Jesus' own words) many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. "

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October 27, 2005  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

The Imperative of Preaching By Marco Gonzalez

Before I begin, a few things need to be clarified. I am not a preacher, nor do I claim to be. I have no experience in pastoral ministry. In fact, I have only taken one homiletics course and have only organized three sermons. This article is not an attempt to point figures or criticize individuals, but to analyze modern-day evangelical preaching. Therefore, in my own humble attempt, I hope this may give passion to preachers/teachers to “preach the word.

Inside my Greek Bible are signatures. These signatures are from men who have fueled my passion for scripture. Theses signatures include: John Piper, John Macarthur, Al Mohler, and Sinclair Ferguson. Before any of these men signed my Bible, I placed a quote above them by Richard Baxter, “I preached as to never preach again and as a dying man to dying men.”

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October 26, 2005  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Helpful Audio on Reformation History & More...


In preparation for Reformation Sunday take the time to listen to this superb series on the History of the Reformation: (Free MP3 Downloads)
Reformation History: How Christ Restored the Gospel to His Church
by Tom Browning Now in Pdf. manuscript & MP3 formats

Roy Hargrave Series on the Doctrines of Grace (18 Sermons in wma Audio) excellent resource

The Heart of The Gospel by Sinclair Ferguson (REAL Audio)

Or if you want to learn about the Nature and Purpose of the Church from a Reformed perspective, listen to this excellent series:
Life Together: Called Into the Community of the Church
Reformed Sermon Series by Tom Ferrel Now in Pdf (manuscript) & MP3 (Audio) formats


Thanks to the The Bible Church of Little Rock pastored by Lance Quinn for the following MP3s

RIGHT CLICK over the desired file and choose SAVE TARGET AS from the drop down menu.

C.J. Mahaney
Sex, Romance and the Glory of God - Part 1 (MP3)
Sex, Romance and the Glory of God - Part 2 (MP3)
Message to Men (MP3)
Humility: True Greatness (MP3)
The Cross Centered Life (MP3)
The Soul of Modesty (MP3)

Carolyn Mahaney
Message to Women: What Christian Wives Need to Know (MP3)
True Beauty (MP3)
A Woman's Beauty Regimen (MP3)
What To Do About the Things We Can't Do Anything About (MP3)



For more great MP3 Audio Lectures and Sermons click here

for Monergism's collection

October 26, 2005  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Satisfied Savior by Pastor John Samson

"Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:11-12 ESV

Christ's work on the cross achieved all of the Divine purposes for it. The intent of the design was not merely to try to save all, but when all was said and done, the plan could fail for many because of that stubborn thing called "free will," with the Savior sad for all eternity because many He died for received no benefit for all His labor. No, He died a satisfied Savior, giving Himself for His friends, for His sheep, for His people, for His Church, and fully accomplished the work of redemption for all in this number.

All who are particularists (who believe that not everyone will be saved - that some people will in fact spend eternity in hell) believe in some type of limitation to the atonement of Christ. The Arminian limits its power, for it only becomes effectual through man's cooperation; the Reformed person limits its extent.

Christ did not build a wide bridge that merely went most of the way from heaven to earth, requiring all who were willing to jump the final few yards. It was a narrow cross shaped bridge, that extended all the way from heaven to earth, with Jesus the Savior, walking the bridge, finding His sheep on the other side in spiritual death, raising them to life, and carrying each one safely to heaven in His arms.

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October 26, 2005  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Reformed Righteousness by Rev. Charles R. Biggs


ReformationTheology.com Special Edition- Reformation Day Celebration

Introduction
"Get over it!" "The Reformation is an historical event that took place years ago; it is irrelevant to me and to modern people." "Just give me Jesus and I will be happy. What good could come from visiting the teaching of the Reformation in today's church?"

These are some of the initial comments one is likely to get from other well-meaning Christians unfamiliar, uninformed, or disinterested in the Reformation of the 16th century. Yet, what God did in His goodness during the Reformation was nothing less than the reestablishment of the gospel, the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, that had been eclipsed by the supposed good works of men.

The Reformation was a time when God allowed light to shine in the darkness of the failed attempts of feeble and sinful men trying to earn righteousness from good works, and only ending in despair before a holy God. In the Reformation, God allowed his grace to come again into glorious sight, so that one could truly know how to be made right or at peace with the living God.

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October 25, 2005  |  Comments (0)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

The Gospel: Offer or Command?

John Samson showed me this piece on seperate blog entitled
"I don't want to be a hyper-Calvinist
"

Here are a few of my comments on it:

The author of this piece is struggling with the following question: If the gospel is an offer how can it really be sincere since only the elect will be regenerated?

Response: According to the witness of Scripture itself, the summons to believe the gospel is nowhere clearly presented as merely an offer, but as a divine command. There is no clear indication from the Text anywhere that we are simply "offering" the gospel to people. We, rather, plead with people to obey the Divine command to believe in His Son.

To be clear, the gospel itself is not an imperative, but an indicative; not a condition to meet, but an announcement of what Christ has accomplished for sinners. However, the Divine summons to believe the gospel is an imperative (Acts 17:30, Matt 17:5, 6, 1 John 3:23) ... a command stony hearted men refuse to believe (John 3:19, 20) unless God mercifully turns our heart of stone to a heart of flesh (Exek 36:26).

There is explicit Scriptural evidence that the Gospel summons is a command. Here are some key texts:

"Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." -Acts 17:30

"And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ..." - 1 John 3:23

Not only do these texts explicitly affirm that the gospel is a command, but we should take note that the Gospel has every characteristic of a command. Just like commandments throughout the Bible, the command to believe the Gospel is accompanied by covenant blessings for obedience and covenant curses for disobedience. And like a biblical covenant it is accompanied by the shedding of blood. On the other hand, a gift held out as a mere offer does not usually threaten consequences for refusing it.

The other article also expressed concerns of the genuiness of an offer/command if we were unable to obey/receive it ourselves. But as we know, God gives us commands all the time that we are unable to carry out (Love God will all our hearts, obey the 10 commandments, believe in Jesus >John 6:65). The purpose of the Divine legislation is to reveal our sin and inability(Rom 3:19, 20), not our ability. "Through the Law comes knowledge of sin." In other words, the Law simply reveals our spiritual impotence. And this passage in Romans does not make us any less accountable to obey. What we "ought" to do does not equal the "ability" to do it. The purpose of the "ought" is actually to reveal our "inability".

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October 25, 2005  |  Comments (19)   |  Permalink

Heralding the Gospel in Times of Crisis: Covenant Enforcement

Sometimes people wonder why such a large number of essays at Monergism.com target contemporary evangelicalism and its culture rather than the rampant sin among non-christians outside the church. Perhaps the main reason we do this is because it follows biblical precedent. The prophets, the apostles and Jesus spend very little time complaining about the sins of foreigners or the pantheon of Roman gods and culture. Instead, all of these persons spend the vast majority of their time criticizing the covenant people of God. If you take note of the prophets they are continually sounding the alarm to Israel of impending divine wrath and judgment upon them, whenever they fail to live in the covenant. They are highly critical of Israel’s presuppositions, habits, assumptions, worldliness, lifestyle and Israel’s worship of foreign gods like Baal. The brunt of Jesus’ rebukes is saved for the Jewish religious establishment, not the Roman occupation. But there is an obvious reason for all of the in-house complaints: when God’s covenant people are faithful to the truth about who He is, and remember who they are (the redeemed people of God), then they fulfill their calling to be a light among the nations. People come to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit when God’s people are worshipping Him according to His blueprint, not our plans.

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October 24, 2005  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Maturity in Essentials and Non-Essentials by Pastor John Samson

"In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity." - Augustine

Doctrine divides! It divides truth from error. It divides the true teacher from the false teacher; the spirit of truth from the spirit of error; and the true Christ from the Anti-Christ.

In the Church, Christians hold differing views about important, yet non-essential matters. Let me explain. There are doctrines in the Bible that while very important, are not essential to salvation. For instance, whether or not someone believes in the baptism of infants or whether or not God still heals today, I think are important issues; yet, what someone believes about these is not essential to someone being included or excluded from the kingdom of God. Someone is not a "false teacher" who takes a different position on these issues. The same is true for doctrines such as whether someone is "pre-trib," "mid-trib," or "post-trib" in their belief about the end times, or for those who take different positions on the millennnium - "a", "pre" or "post." Sincere, godly, dedicated believers believe different things about these issues, but it does not mean that one person is saved and another damned because they have a different view.

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October 24, 2005  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Light at the End of the Tunnel

light_end_tunnel.jpgJames 5:7-12 is a pretty straightforward passage. James is writing to Christians who were most likely experiencing persecution of some sort, and in this passage is exhorting them to patient endurance of their trials.

But there's something implicit in the passage that is hard for many people to swallow. When the prophets and Job are brought up as examples of steadfastness through suffering, and you look at their situations specifically, you see that their trials were brought upon them by God himself, in order to magnify his mercy toward them. This flies in the face of our expectations when we hear so often about an all-loving God who would never wish harm upon anyone, especially not his cherished people.

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October 23, 2005  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Horatius Bonar on Truth and Error

Here is an important series by a godly man on truth and error in important topics such as God's Will & Man's Will, Election, Predestination. Foreknowledge & The Gospel.

Bonar wishes to warn us "against some of the prevailing errors of the time, lest you, being “led away... from your own steadfastness” should follow after the “diverse and strange doctrines” of these last days. So it was necessary to dwell upon those errors which have been most prominently advanced, and to open up those truths which have been most perverted and denied."

These are fragments and not a systematic treatment, but helpful!

Truth and Error by Horatius Bonar

Is man a totally and thoroughly depraved being by nature? Is he ruined, helpless and blind, dead in trespasses and sins? Man being thoroughly depraved in nature, is it possible, I ask, to save him without a special and direct intervention of the Father, Son and Spirit, in his behalf? In other words, can he be saved in any way which does not involve personal election by the Father, particular redemption by the Son, and direct, immediate, overcoming operation of the Holy Spirit? Or, putting the question in another form, using the language of science — given a totally depraved being, is it possible to save that being by any plan which makes the previous concurrence of his own will an indispensable preliminary, or which makes it necessary that he should take the first step in the matter of return to God? If you place the different errors of the day before you in this light, you will find that they all more or less deny or encroach on the doctrine of man’s original, actual depravity.

Horatius Bonar has been called “the prince of Scottish hymn writers.” After graduating from the University of Edinburgh, he was ordained in 1838, and became pastor of the North Parish, Kelso. He joined the Free Church of Scotland after the “Disruption” of 1843, and for a while edited the church’s The Border Watch. Bonar remained in Kelso for 28 years, after which he moved to the Chalmers Memorial church in Edinburgh, where he served the rest of his life. Bonar wrote more than 600 hymns.

Click Here

October 23, 2005  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Amazed by Common Grace by Pastor John Samson

Common Grace. It is a term used in theology to describe the grace God gives to every living person on planet earth. It is called "common," not because it is not worth that much, but because everyone alive gets it.

Grace by definition can never be demanded. God gives grace, not because He has to, but because He decides to. The scripture says that God "makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45).

How gracious this is of God. God doesn't discriminate against the non-Christian in sending His rain, but gives it freely to saint and sinner alike. That should amaze us. It should take our breath away in fact. Yet the concept of common grace doesn't usually do that for us. We're very much accustomed to it, because it is so common, but we must always remember that God is exceedingly gracious in dispensing this kind of grace on people. The point being, He in no way has to. Through the use of a short story, I'd like to give you a glimpse into why common grace should amaze us.

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October 22, 2005  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Is Determinism Compatible with Voluntary Choice? (Response to Question) by John Hendryx

Consider the following: we all have freedom to act within the bounds of nature ... which also means that we are determined to act within the constraints of nature. Both determinism and voluntary choice are, therefore, true. i.e. a prisoner is free to move about as much as he wants in his cell, but he cannot move outside of it.
To us this means that the natural man is free to act within the corruption of nature, but without the Holy Spirit, we are not free from the bondage of the will to sin. This bondage means we cannot act outside its constraints. We cannot do any redemptive good for ourselves. So, as you can see, both determinism and voluntary choice are at work in people simultaneously. We cannot and will not believe the gospel until the Spirit opens our blind eyes and changes our hostile disposition. We are determined (by our natures) to voluntarily choose to rebel against God until the Spirit brings us to see we have no hope save in Jesus Christ. This requires a change of nature (John 3:3; 6:63). In 1 Corinthians 2 the Apostle Paul states, "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” Paul is saying we cannot understand the gospel (the things freely given of God) until the Spirit illumines our minds and changes our hearts that we would understand.

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October 22, 2005  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

Q & A - Election and Evangelism with Pastor John Samson

SINCE THE BIBLE TEACHES DIVINE ELECTION, WHY SHOULD WE EVANGELIZE?

The first obvious answer to this is because God tells us to. The same Bible that teaches Divine Sovereign Election in Romans chapters 8 and 9, also gives us Romans 10, saying "how shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10 is in no way a contradiction to Romans 8 and 9. The simple answer to this question is that God has ordained both the ends and the means. The ends are His elect coming to Himself in saving faith. The means is the proclamation of the Gospel.

The Lord spoke to the Apostle Paul, in the middle of an intense situation, telling him to stay in a certain city. Why was this? Well let's read the text in Acts 18:9-11: And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city." And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. In other words, the Lord said to Paul, "Stay here, for I have many people in this city... I have many of My sheep here that will hear My voice and follow Me as you preach in My Name."

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October 21, 2005  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Helps in Evangelism to Muslims

1. Pray. Pray for Muslim friends and acquaintances. Everything we do depends on the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

2. Have a specific goal. God wants to use us to make Jesus Christ known to Muslims through the gospel, so focus on making the gospel message understandable and accessible.

3. Be open to personal and human contact. We must love Muslims sincerely, manifesting our love through kindness and respect in relationship with them. Sharing faith in the context of friendship requires time to understand and appreciate our Muslim friends.

4. Be patient. We can speak freely of our faith, but most Muslims will need to hear us many times before they even begin to consider believing in Christ. Do not be discouraged by objections.

5. Explain the gospel in a very simple manner. Don’t get lost in “Christian-ese.” Explain terms such as sin, prayer, God, Son of God and faith.

6. Give your friend a New Testament or a Bible. Reading these books gives Muslims new perspectives on Christianity. Encourage a regular reading of the Gospels.

7. Emphasize God’s perfect holiness. Muslims and Christians agree that God calls for righteousness. But Christians acknowledge human unrighteousness and slavery to sinful attitudes. Only a new birth can change this, not education or moral action.

8. Speak of God’s interventions in our own lives. Tell of His faithfulness, His love, His justice. Muslims do not understand God as one who gives and keeps promises. Your testimony of a real and active faith is very important.

9. Answer objections with kindness. Do not let yourself be carried away into passionate discussions.

10. Do not be naïve if Muslim friends express a belief in Jesus Christ and the Bible. Muslims do believe in Jesus and the Bible. But their faith is different from what the Bible teaches, particularly concerning a living relationship with God as we believe. Jesus said that eternal life is to know God (John 17:3); this refers not merely to knowing certain things about God.

Excerpt from 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

October 20, 2005  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Plug For "The Deliberate Church: Rebuilding Your Ministry on the Gospel

There was a time more than a century ago when the thinking of many denominations began to wane because they trusted in the worldview of the secular establishment, especially with regard to it naturalistic presuppositions. In order to share the “gospel” with the world, these churches felt they had to conform to the world and its cosmology, so they read materialistic beliefs into the Scripture, and adopted the world’s agenda. Democratic values were often imported into the church, that is, the determination of truth from the 51% vote, not God’s word. Liberalism and neo-orthodoxy were born and the church quickly went into decline. This was due to (1) abandoning God’s revelation and (2) because who wants to go to a church where people do not believe anything real about the historic Jesus. Why bother?

But now we see the same phenomena repeating itself in much of the Evangelical church. Seventy-five years ago, the churches of Evangelicalism were the last hold outs when most went liberal because they strongly maintained their stand in the truth of the Scriptures. But now, it appears that evangelicals have often become like political lobby groups, have their hopes fixed in a political kingdom, using marketing, money and business savvy to advance the cause, rather than the simple gospel. While affirming the Bible as true in word, our ideas and actions often deny it for we no longer seem to think that Christ alone as revealed in Scripture alone is sufficient for the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of unbelievers and edify the saints.

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October 20, 2005  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

REFORMATION SUNDAY by Pastor John Samson

The last Sunday in October is traditionally known as “Reformation Sunday,” in Protestant Churches, drawing from the date of October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Church in Germany, sparking the Protestant Reformation.
Martin Luther in Germany heralded the Biblical doctrine of justification through faith alone; salvation is by God’s grace alone, received through faith in Christ alone. Good works play no part in a person’s salvation (Rom. 3:21 - 4:5; 5:1; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 3:9) but are merely the by-product, or fruit, of a relationship with God, established by God’s grace alone.

Following on from Luther, God raised up a Frenchman by the name of John Calvin to lead the growing Protestant movement. Both Martin Luther and John Calvin opposed the errors of the Roman Catholic Church concerning salvation, directing people to the truth of the Bible. Though definitely in agreement with the doctrine of justification by faith alone; John Calvin (based in Geneva, Switzerland) through both his preaching and his writings, systematically applied the message of the Bible to every aspect of life. Calvin's Institutes became the handbook of all the Reformers. Like Luther before him, Calvin believed in the Sovereignty of God, (in the doctrine of election and predestination, all that Calvin said was first said by Luther) and wanted society (as well as the church) to view the world through the lens of the Bible. He wanted the laws of the land to be conformed to and founded on biblical principles.

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October 20, 2005  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Paul’s Definition of a Christian

"No Confidence in the Flesh” a Biblical Reflection by John Hendryx

I often make it a practice to familiarize myself with a book of the Bible by reading and saturating myself in it for 30 days in a row. I find this incredibly helpful. If the book is too long to read in one sitting, then I divide it into sections, reading each for 30 days. Currently I am reading through the Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians and ran across some good material that I wanted to share with anyone who will listen.

In chapter 3 of this book Paul gives us one of the best definitions of a Christian available in the Bible. He also contrasts this with the marks of false teachers.

Paul begins the chapter with the wondrous gift of grace with the hopeless pit of sin. He warns the Philippians against false teachers; those, he says, who have confidence in themselves. That is, anyone who adds conditions for salvation in addition to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul likens to Gentile dogs, those who fail to recognize that salvation is wholly of Jesus.

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October 20, 2005  |  Comments (20)   |  Permalink

An Evangelical Calvinism: Lessons From Iain Murray

An Evangelical Calvinism: Lessons From Iain Murray By Marco Gonzalez

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What is an Evangelical Calvinism? What does it look like? What does it represent? When this blog was in the fore works of being created a decision had to be made. The mission and goal of the blog had to be determined. There are tons of God-honoring biblically-saturated blogs, so we had to ask ourselves “what else can Reformation Theology offer to the digestion and edification of readers?” Eric Costa, John Hendryx, John Samson and myself all have the same underlining conviction: promoting an Evangelical Calvinism. These brothers and myself have a deeply embedded desire within in our souls to raise up bold teachers and preachers who believe Calvinism is harmonious with evangelical preaching.

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October 19, 2005  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Sovereignty, Responsibility, Moral Inability: Problem Solved by John Hendryx

The purpose of this short essay is to respond openly to the occassional emails I receive from persons who seem to think that the sovereignty of God in salvation and human responsibility to obey the gospel is a conundrum, a mystery. But, in the Bible, a mystery is something that has not been revealed to us, that is, the secret things of God which have hidden from our sight, but those things that God reveals in the Scripture are for us and our children forever. (Deut 29:29) We believe this issue is one of those things that has indeed been revealed in Scripture. In fact it is a great deal simpler than many people think.

Imagine a venture capitalist lends $1 billion to a businessman who has, in the past, proved himself by building great companies, and has now presented a great idea for a new company. The VC transfers the money into the bank of the man ... but on impulse the man decides to take the $1 billion he borrowed from the VC and go to Las Vegas for a week of wild living. He squanders it all including his own money and comes home empty handed, with no money of his own in the bank. Now the question is, does this person still have the responsibility to pay back the money ? Yes. But is he capable to pay back the money? No. Which means that he is both responsible and unable to repay the money at the same time. In other words, inability does not in any way negate responsibility. This is because it is a moral inability, not a physical inability. This happened as a result of poor decision-making. Take note that this is just like our condition in Adam. We are fallen in him and are in bondage to the corruption of nature. We are fully responsible to repay the debt owed to God for our rebellion, yet we are utterly impotent to do so. So here we see once for all how simple this issue is. That is why salvation is by GRACE ALONE. God is sovereign and determines those whom he will save according to his sovereign good pleasure. Man is impotent yet also responsible. It is the grace of God and grace alone that makes us to differ from those who refuse to believe... Augustine once said,”...not those who are elected because they have believed, but who are elected that they may believe."

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October 19, 2005  |  Comments (19)   |  Permalink

John Hendryx Interviews John Samson, Pastor of Faith Community Church

Occasionally ReformationTheology.com would like to do interviews of those in the community who will be contributing to the content of the site or others in Christ with whom we have doctrinal solidarity. Below I interview John Samson, soon to be a regular contributor to the blog.

John Samson is the pastor of Faith Community Church an Arminian turned Reformed community of believers in Phoenix, Arizona. John is both big-hearted and brilliant, a first class teacher and writer. We met over the Internet quite some time ago and have developed a warm friendship in Christ. John's presentation of the historic faith, and his application of it in contemporary evangelicalism, is characterized by tender pastoral care and a firm commitment to the truth; qualities, unfortunately, often out of balance in many contemporary pastors. But John is not your usual Calvinist, being involved in a growing movement that many of us are completely unaware of. That is, while fully embracing the TULIP, the Five Solas and divine monergism in regeneration, he also continues to maintain charismatic distinctives, something I will let him explain in the interview below. John is the host and Bible teacher on a 30 minute daily radio broadcast, "the Spirit of Faith," covering central Arizona on KPXQ 1360AM. He also teaches in Churches, Conferences and Bible College settings on a variety of subjects. Originally from England, John was led by the Lord to move from England to start Faith Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona in March 1993. (Update, since this interview, John has taken up the senior pastor role in a brand new church called King's Church in Phoenix)

I asked John for a biographical introduction, and then I asked questions about his ministry, his take on Reformed Theology, the radical changes that took place in his own church, and the state of evangelicalism today.

BIOGRAPHY:
I was born and raised in Chester in England. My father was a Baptist Evangelist and yet I never really grew up in Church. My Dad used to travel extensively to preach, and that meant that my mother and I seldom went with Dad to Church. That was until my Dad became the pastor of a local Church.

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October 14, 2005  |  Comments (13)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink